Laurent Cohen-Tanugi

Sentinelles of Freedom Publication date : January 1, 2003

Ever since the Enlightenment, Europe and America have been united by a shared way of thinking and a common destiny, characterised, most notably, by the liberating intervention of the United States in the two world wars.

Yet these close links have been seriously weakened during the past several years. Surprisingly, the attacks of 11 September have further widened the nascent gap between the two sides of the Atlantic. From environmental issues to the Iraqi question, sources of conflict between Washington and the various European capitals have continued to grow, while misunderstandings between Americans and Europeans have multiplied, leading to ideological divorce.

Rather than lessening these differences and blaming them on a passing European aversion to the Bush administration’s unilateralism, Laurent Cohen-Tanugi sees them as part of a more profound tendency, linked to developments that have occurred on both sides of the Atlantic and on the international stage. Europe and America are growing farther apart every day, due to factors such as the disappearance of the Soviet threat, the widening gap in military and strategic power between the U.S. and its NATO allies, Europe’s growing sense of identity as it constructs its Union, and the rise of Islamic terrorism.

But such a separation is laden with danger for world stability and for the influence of the Western heritage. It is thus urgent to rebuild Atlantic solidarity on new foundations. These, which will not be easy to establish, should be interdependent. The new Europe should fully assume its responsibilities on the international stage. The new U.S. should seek greater integration in the international community. And both should be fully aware that they share the same great civilisation in an uncertain world.

Laurent Cohen-Tanugi is an eminent international lawyer. Besides being one of the top French experts on the United States, he is also a specialist on European unity, to which he is ardently committed. He is the author of several celebrated works, including Le Droit dans l’Etat, L’Europe en danger and Le nouvel ordre numérique.