Mark Rice-Oxley of the Christian Science Monitor discusses the European reaction to John Kerry. The senator, of course, has made as a centerpiece of his foreign policy his promise to enlist Americas allies in the struggle for democracy in Iraq. But in this as in so much else, he has been short on specifics. As Robert Kagan has pointed out in Of Paradise and Power, Europe and the United States have been steadily growing apart since the end of the Cold War, and Europeans today are increasingly likely to view American "hyperpower" as more dangerous than terrorism. Indeed, opinion polls show that a sizable minority think that the United States has only itself to blame for the 9/11 attacks. While Kerrys personal style is likely to win more applause from European diplomats than Bushs "lone cowboy" image, the senator has given us no clue as to how he might bridge the growing divide.
In at least one sense, Rice-Oxley suggests, a Kerry victory might be the last thing Europeans should want. As Viennas Die Presse put it, a Kerry presidency would mean that Europe could no longer "turn up its nose at the coarse Texan George Bush and duck its responsibilities in international crises." My prediction is that, whichever candidate wins in November, Europeans will keep ducking--as they did in their very own backyard, the Balkans, in the 1990s.