crypto and public policy

Why the US and Europe Need Each Other

Filed under: General December 18, 2003 @ 7:50 pm

In May 2003, Bill Clinton delivered a fantastic commencement speech at Syracuse University, where he urged students to consider the difference between the headlines – what’s in the news – and the trend lines – what’s really happening in the world:

The trend line is, we are growing more interdependent. We cannot escape each other. We reap enormous benefits and assume greater risks. Your job, as a citizen of this country or some other, as a citizen of the world, is to spread the benefits and reduce the risks, to move us from an age of interdependence to a global community where we share values and benefits and responsibilities. That is the trend line.


Because the trend line is toward cooperation. Did you know that there are only two groups of soldiers in Afghanistan today, where the people live who caused September 11, who are training the new Afghanistan army — French soldiers and American soldiers, working side by side. That is the trend line.

Just a few days ago, Wesley Clark expressed similar thoughts from the military point of view:

I was the NATO commander when we put the contributions of 19 NATO allies together to wage the war in Kosovo. Was it more cumbersome to fight that way? Perhaps. Did it require more persuasion and argument to get things done? You bet.

But we were far stronger together. We won the war, in no small measure because Belgrade could not break the will of 19 democracies united in common cause.

And then there’s the pragmatic, economic aspect: over the years, we have built a complex web of economic interdependencies between the US and Europe from which we all benefit. This is superbly explained by Barry Lando of Salon (you’ll have to pay a subscription fee or watch and ad to read this article). By punishing “Old Europe,” the US is indirectly punishing itself.

In the end, Europe and the US must work together. Cooperation is difficult and often requires a certain amount of compromise. But going it alone is just not an option in today’s world. A unilateral approach endangers the worthiest of goals.

The US needs friends. The US needs a team. At all costs.

UPDATE: Aaron points to another great Clinton statement along the same lines.

1 Comment

  1. Aaron Swartz:

    Sounds familiar.

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