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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[…]

Start with climate change.

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