[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 09:15 GMT
Bush to Europe: Let's be partners
Analysis
By Paul Reynolds
World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website

In the major speech of his European visit, President Bush made some effort to accommodate European sensitivities - principally over the Middle East - but his main aim was to present his own agenda, by inviting Europeans to join him in the "hard work of advancing freedom and peace in the world".

President Bush speaking in Brussels  at start of European visit
Bush in Brussels seeking Europeans as "partners"
This is now his world view and it is one he argues with great confidence.

Whether Europeans respond with great enthusiasm remains to be seen.

The traditional EU approach to changing the world is less declaratory. It prefers to work by example and argument.

For Mr Bush, that is not enough. He prefers pressure.

The president papered over some cracks. He played up the positives and played down some negatives. But underneath, he was not giving much away

That is the philosophical divide between the current US administration and much, though not all, of Europe.

And it was evident in this speech.

Europeans tend not to use phrases like: "Terrorists will not stop the march of freedom." Mr Bush does. He used the word "freedom" twenty-five times in this speech and "liberty" five times. This keeps up his strike rate with these words. He used them forty-nine and twenty-two times respectively in his Inaugural and State of the Union addresses.

The president papered over some cracks. He played up the positives and played down some negatives. But underneath, he was not giving much away.

Iraq

The biggest cracks have been over Iraq and here he sought to look ahead, referring rather blandly to the divisions as "passing disagreement of governments." There was no admission of any fault, over intelligence or invasion.

Indeed, Iraq was presented as the "world's newest democracy" in need of help - as if it had sprung up in peace and enthusiasm, like the countries of Eastern Europe after communism.

Middle East

However, the president did hold out some olive branches. The first issue he dealt with at length in fact was the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. And this was important.

Europeans will be pleased that Mr Bush has recognised that unrest across the Middle East is fuelled by this conflict.

His reference to "our immediate goal" in his statement, "Our greatest opportunity, and our immediate goal, is peace in the Middle East", was a significant diplomatic signal of US priorities.

He went beyond his usual formula of calling for calling for a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank. "A state of scattered territories will not work," he declared, a sign to Israel not to squeeze Palestinians into little parcels of land joined by narrow corridors.

Europeans will be pleased that Mr Bush has recognised that unrest across the Middle East is fuelled by this conflict

He upped his rhetoric to include the call to "raise the flag of a free Palestine".

But he said little about how he saw all elements of a final settlement shaping up. And that is where the crunch will come.

Kyoto

On climate control, he did call for everyone to "work together".

But this was a limited offering, because he then went onto to suggest that the solution really lay in technology, something he has said before.

But at least he framed his arguments in positive terms. His hostility to Kyoto was left unspoken.

Iran

On Iran, it was noticeable that while he said that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, he did not use immediately threatening language ("Iran is different from Iraq").

He appears ready to wait and see what happens in the talks between Iran and Britain, France and Germany. But again, this issue has not gone critical.

Mr Bush spread his advice widely. US allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt were included, in quite gentle terms, in the calls for greater democracy and so was Russia, whose leader he meets on Thursday. Syria was told to leave Lebanon.

But there was one omission - he did not mention the lifting of the EU arms embargo against China.

There are perhaps enough problems to be getting on with.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How disputes over Iraq strained transatlantic ties



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific