Friday, April 20, 2007

Europe as a Critical Focus

I would like to introduce a blog on European affairs, entitled “Certain Ideas of Europe”, which is published by the Economist. While people pay more attention to terrorism in the Middle East and the rise of Asian powers these days, Europe is a key player in international politics. Americans and Europeans are in a position to lead liberal democracy and intellectual progress throughout the world. Japan can assume itself one of the first class world powers, because it belongs to the top players club of transatlantic nations.

Now, Europe is becoming a critical focus, as state leader elections will be held in France and Britain. The media talk much about domestic issues, but the result of both elections will have significant influence on international politics. Particularly, I pay attention to the impact on transatlantic relations.

In France, center right Nicolas Sarkozy is the front-runner, but not strong enough to win overwhelming majority. I have left the following comment to the post, entitled “What's there to the Franco-American relationship anyway?”.

Speaking of Franco-American relations, I am more interested in security issues. Can the next President of France repair the transatlantic chasm? I am asking this, because France and Germany opposed to US plan for missile defence against Russia, while Britain and New European nations accepted it. It seems to be that the gap between New Europe and old Europe appears again, as it happened over the Iraq War.

If Nicolas Sarkozy were to be elected, will he be able to fill the perception gap on security?

Quite interestingly, Sarkozy shares common backgrounds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He is a son of Greek and Hungarian parents, and Merkel is from former East Germany. Both leaders are immigrants from pro-American New Europe.

While Merkel does not manage to fill this gap, can Sarkosy succeed in doing this?

As to economic policy, you can read “What kind of socialism?” to understand agendas in this election.

Regarding Britain, I would focus on whether conservatism revives or not. It was expected that Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown would be the top candidate for the next prime minister. However, he lags behind Opposition Leader David Cameron, according to the recent poll. Moreover, the Iraq War has divided Labour Party. In the previous parliamentary debate on Trident replacement, Prime Minister Tony Blair needed Tory support in order to defeat Labour leftists who insist on denuclearization of British forces.

Cameron may be able to win the election this summer, but David Frum, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, criticize his policy in “Britain's Empty Conservatism” (National Post, October 7, 2006). Whether Brown or Cameron, the impact of election result on the Anglo-American special relationship is a significant issue for Europe and the world.

“Certain Ideas of Europe” discusses a broad range of issues. On this blog, Europe includes not only Western and Eastern Europe but also Russia and Central Asia. If you need to understand this Greater Europe easily and quickly, I would recommend this blog.