How should the U.S. reengage with Europe?
Dennis Ross is an American diplomat and author. He has served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and is currently a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (that includes Iran) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ambassador Dennis Ross is The Washington Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow. For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to reach the 1995 Interim Agreement; he also successfully brokered the 1997 Hebron Accord, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together.
A scholar and diplomat with more than two decades of experience in Soviet and Middle East policy, Ambassador Ross worked closely with Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright. Prior to his service as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Ambassador Ross served as director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. In that capacity, he played a prominent role in U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition. During the Reagan administration, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment. Ambassador Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton, and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department's highest award.
Question: How should the U.S. reengage Europe?
Dennis Ross: Well I think one thing that helps everywhere, but certainly in Europe, would be on the right side of issues like climate change as an example.
The EU [European Union] as a body has staked out much more ambitious policies on the issue of climate change than we have. We’re seen almost always as the one trying to hold back, trying to resist. We need not only not to be seen as someone trying to block progress on climate change. We need to transform our image and the reality of what we’re doing by being a leader on this.
The next president is going to have climate change as one of his or her priorities. It needs to be one of his or her priorities. And it’s going to have to be a comprehensive policy. It’s going to have to be a comprehensive policy that basically engages mandates or guidelines – mandatory guidelines for utilities and for car companies. It’s going to have to have a policy that, in a sense, deals with creating a price for carbon usage, carbon emissions so that in effect, you basically begin to transform the circumstances in which we’re dealing with this issue. It’s going to require leadership verbally. But it’s going to require, in a sense, the kind of courage that it takes to do what is going to be difficult.
There’s going to be resistance to it. But the more you take steps that are hard both domestically, but also in a globalized world where everything is connected, everybody else sees what you’re doing. So if you suddenly have presidential leadership that shows we’re staking out a dramatically new posture on this, even doing things that might be resistant like the pricing of carbon emissions, creating incentives for utilities to create rewards for conservation as opposed to being rewarded for greater usage.
You know that sends a message to the Europeans as well that it’s a new day. The Europeans don’t want to be opposing us. And certainly with democratic governments in Europe, having their populations be anti-American limits what they can do. It puts them on the defensive when they want to be working with us. So we need to stake out a position where we’re also communicating with the European publics in a way that has them saying it’s a new day. Now the truth is a new administration creates already the possibility to show it’s a new day. Now you actually have to act that way with your policies.
Recorded on: September 12, 2007
Start with climate change.
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