The early June trip to Europe by President Bush was instructive to me on a couple of points. First, in his Warsaw speech on June 15, he very methodically outlined the principles that should undergird the post-Cold War order: “no more Munichs, no more Yaltas”, no more insecure states serving as a buffer zone between Russia and Europe, and an emphasis on an American partnership with a Europe extending from the Atlantic to the Urals. In his view, this partnership should be based on much more than materialism and consumerism, but rather the vision espoused by Pope John Paul II, of “man as a creature of intelligence and free will, immersed in a mystery which transcends his own being and endowed with the ability to reflect and to choose, and thus capable of wisdom and virtue.”
Second, I was struck by the chasm that seems to exist between this vision and that of many of Europe’s elites (if not its people), of a Europe defined by its anti-Americanism in many respects. Media reports made much of the juxtaposition of U. S. views with many European leaders on the issues of global warming, the death penalty, strategic missile defense, the effects of globalization, and others. In fact, one editorial made the point that, to many European leaders, the U. S. is increasingly the misfit of the Western democracies, with its insistence on the primacy of property rights, non-confiscatory taxation, free speech, etc., not to mention the worst of their complaints, our tendency toward “unilateralism” in foreign policy. Much of this chasm, I believe, can be explained by our history as what Charles Hill calls the “anti-Europe”, a nation founded in opposition to the social contract theory of Hobbes and Rousseau, in which the individual relinquishes his sovereignty in exchange for security and social welfare and in deference to the “general will”. In this, as I have commented in previous issues, America is exceptional, and it is President Bush’s belief in this exceptionalism within the context of a shared history “reaching from Jerusalem and Athens to Europe and Washington” that will enable him to craft a new post-Cold War order with the people of Europe. After all, as Condoleeza Rice has noted, the debate over the so-called “values gap” is taking place at a time when our core values—the common values of Western civilization—are ascendant.