Kerry - as seen by Europe
Can he get more global support for the war on terrorism? Not likely, say analysts.
Europe hasn't followed events in Boston this closely since the Tea Party of 1773. America's allies across the Atlantic have been riveted by the Democratic convention, and intrigued by John Kerry's promise to prosecute the war on terror vigorously by rebuilding the international bridges damaged during the past four years.Skip to next paragraph
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But does the Kerry vision translate into a safer world? Would a Kerry presidency deepen multinational cooperation in the global battle against jihadists? Hopes are high in some European quarters.
The results may prove more complex and even disappointing to these Europeans, analysts warn. Despite deep divisions over Iraq, counterterrorism cooperation is already at an all-time high, even with countries like France and Germany. The Kerry camp vows to "isolate extremists rather than isolating ourselves." But that may prove difficult with the Iraq and Palestinian questions still looming large over US relations with the wider world. Al Qaeda and its jihadists, meanwhile, are unlikely to give a new US president - dove or hawk - a honeymoon period, experts say.
Yet certain improvements in the international climate could emerge from a Kerry presidency, political analysts say. A change of style, a leader promising reconciliation, coalition, and multilateralism, would offer the chance to thaw frosty relations between Washington and some European leaders.
"France, Germany, and Spain have backed themselves into a difficult position with the Bush administration, making it almost impossible to work with them," says Mark Joyce, head of the transatlantic program at the Royal United Services Institute, a security think-tank in London. "That might be repaired under a Kerry administration. In Paris they are praying for a Kerry presidency."
Kerry's own advisers talk of being "far smarter and wiser in getting the support of friends and allies." The hope is that, for example, by rebuilding bridges with France, Washington might be able to soften French opposition to using NATO forces in Iraq and broaden the "coalition of the willing." A new president might also offer European leaders like French President Jacques Chirac a chance to restore relations with the American leadership without losing face.
Indeed, some European politicians are warning: Be careful what you wish for. Die Presse in Vienna editorialized that a Kerry victory would mean that Europe could then no longer "turn up its nose at the coarse Texan George Bush and duck its responsibilities in international crises."
And it will take more than chumminess and goodwill to get a Kerry administration to resolve some of the recent transatlantic rifts over trade tariffs and quotas. "A change of style, of personality, could be a good thing, but I don't believe that it will remove all the problems," says Sergio Romano, a former Italian ambassador and a political commentator. "For example, the economic 'war' between Europe and US is going to be a fact of life for a long time."