There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Reset’ Button

José María Aznar, President of FAES (The Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis) and Distinguished Scholar at Georgetown.

From José María Aznar, Foreign Policy:  The United States and its allies have all the tools at their disposal to defeat our shared enemies. Success will depend on three basic commitments: American leadership, a stronger Europe, and a common transatlantic vision.

Unfortunately, we have recently been witnessing the opposite: an internationally reluctant American president, a Europe which is mired in its own problems, and an eroded Atlantic bond. …

Those Europeans have watched as Obama has given special attention to Moscow and only a lukewarm reception to his closest allies. Today, the growing perception among European elites is that the U.S. president is not interested in Europe at all. Many of those elites instead believe that, as president, Obama is mainly concerned with improving America’s image in the Muslim world.

Europe is concerned because America’s new foreign policy seems to suggest a casual disregard of America’s closest traditional allies. …

The persistent transatlantic tension has no doubt affected our common projects. Take Afghanistan, for instance. The European public has had a difficult time coping with the presence of European NATO troops, especially as the fight has intensified in recent years. European leaders should make a clearer case for the necessity of the fight against al Qaeda. But public doubts are also fueled by the fact that the United States is itself seemingly getting ready to leave.

American exhaustion is understandable. But it’s still a mistake. Nobody is prepared to take America’s place as leader of the free world. Those who defend the virtues of a multipolar world, in which the United States is just another country, will soon find themselves in a nonpolar universe that is spinning out of control. Russia will happily reclaim its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe; a nuclear Iran will become the new hegemon in the Persian Gulf; global jihadists will be emboldened. Meanwhile, a more economically reticent (or protectionist) America will endanger any short-term recovery of the global economy and give new impetus to the anti-capitalist axis that stretches from Beijing to Tehran to Caracas.

Excerpts from a speech, "Resetting the World," delivered by José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, at the Transatlantic Center of the Johns Hopkins University. (photo: Reuters)

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