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Report Blames U.S., Europe for Crisis in Transatlantic Ties

March 20, 2004|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A task force of 26 prominent Americans and Europeans concluded that transatlantic relations are at a dangerously low ebb, and they faulted both sides.

The war in Iraq brought the strains to a crisis point, with France and Germany organizing resistance to U.S. war policy and the Bush administration trying to split the alliance, the task force said in a report released Friday by the private, nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations.

"They see us as bullies," Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard University and co-chairman of the project, said at a news conference.

Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, the other co-chairman, said the transatlantic alliance was based on mutual values as well as mutual interests.

The U.S.-European relationship will be relevant in the future but has to be examined to find ways to make it work better, said Kissinger, who described himself as a strong supporter of the Bush administration.

Many Europeans assumed malign intent on the part of the administration, and "the conviction that the United States is a hyperpower to be contained has become fashionable in Europe," the report said.

The Bush administration, trying to avoid limitations on its actions, spurned offers of help in retaliating against the Al Qaeda network and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan, the report said.

Many North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, meanwhile, complained of U.S. unilateralism and questioned the Bush administration's insistence that the security of all nations was at risk.

These divisions carried over to the war in Iraq, pushing transatlantic relations to the crisis point, the report said.

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