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Forwarded From: Frode Lindgjerdet <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2005 Mending the Atlantic Gap - - A Long Telegram From Norway US residents may be baffled at the development in Western Europe of an almost unison public animosity towards the foreign policy of the United States over the last years. Quite illustrating is it that in my nearest bookstore, you may easily find titles of Noam Chomsky on the shelves, but none of John Lewis Gaddis or Joseph S. Nye jr. The presidency of George W. Bush cannot be that harmful all in it self. At least from a Norwegian point of view, the Atlantic Gap may partly be ascribed to the hegemony of the New Left within the media and educational system over the last twenty years. Recent surveys shows that 2/3 of Norwegian journalists have party affiliations in this direction, with its implications on their views on the United States and its foreign policy. My own Master thesis in history also showed that of the authors of school text books in history covering the Cold War, 2/3 was a member of a Pugwash-like peace organization and a New Left party that propagated Norwegian withdrawal from NATO. The party in question never achieved more than 20% in national election. This massive hegemony must surely have had some impact on popular opinion. Some claim that the end of the Cold War and clumsy PR handling by Bush vis avis Europe account for much of the «Atlantic gap». But it can hardly account for every mile of it. Many European intellectuals were offended in very much the same fashion by the Cold War rhetoric of Ronald Reagan and his policies in Latin America. In their view, from 1980-1986, Reagan did not contribute to contain the Soviets. Rather, his attitudes threatened to unleash a nuclear holocaust. Despite this, the overall Norwegian opinion at that time remained pro- NATO and pro-American. The western victory in the Cold War and the charm of Bill Clinton made it difficult to be a New Left anti-Americanist during the 1990’s. With Bush, all returned to normal, but with some disturbing new consequences. The hippie - generation (or the 68’s as they are called in Norway) had risen to primacy within the media, government and the educational system. This have had serious implications on the way US foreign policies is portrayed in the media, which is far beyond the critical reviews in The NY-Times and Washington Post. This change of heart has even affected political conservatives and the military. Earlier, persons holding quite leftist views could still harbor a friendly attitude towards the US. Today, this is turned up side down. Israel has suffered a similar fait. During the 1987-1988 Palestinian intifada, news coverage remained balanced, or even pro-Israel. Today, this has changed in a likewise fashion, despite that the Palestinians to day resorts to suicide bombs and small arms instead of rocks and pebbles. Is Europe irretrievably lost for the US and the Atlantic gap a necessary result of the end of the Cold War? Hardly. European Great Powers continue to work even closer together; despite that they also lack a mortal enemy. But the gap would be hard to mend and even the most ardent American realist must realize that losing Europe would be a devastating drainage to US power. First, mere propaganda and pr. stunts might backfire in face of the blasé Europeans. Instead of Radio Free Europe- like devices, the United States should earn back its leadership through a much higher and more progressive profile in the UN, and by taking a lead on environmental issues. Adopting the Kyoto accords would split the European New Left adversaries and deprive them of many of their arguments. It would literally hit them in their own back yard. It may cost US business in the short run, but help preserve United States hegemony for the future. Another path that could contribute to mend the gap would be increasing the opportunities for young Europeans to study in the US, and by this, influencing the future leaders and analysts of the continent. Compared with the basic moral and political values of the Western European population, no more than 10-20% should be expected to harbor genuine anti-US opinions. At least in Norway, this is the percentage of the electorate that votes in favor of New Left policies on a domestic level. Frode Lindgjerdet, Independent Scholar, Norway