This blog entry wishes to continue the debate on the future of transatlantic relations started by Euan MacDonald in his "Bush in Europe: Towards a Genuine Rapprochement? ". In an article published in the German Law Journal Juergen Habermas says,
The “universalism” of the old empires was of this sort, perceiving the world beyond the distant horizon of its borders only from the centralizing perspective of its own worldview. Modern self-understanding, by contrast, has been shaped by an egalitarian universalism that requires a decentralization of one’s own views to the interpretive perspectives of equally situated and equally entitled others…If thousands of Shiites in Nasiriya demonstrate in equal measure against both Saddam and the American occupation, they express the truth that non-Western cultures must appropriate the universalistic content of human rights from their own resources and in their own interpretation, one that will construct convincing connection to local experiences and interests.
For many United States foreign policy under George W. Bush operates on the logic of “universalism” of old empires, while the European Union, Common Foreign and Security Policy, however, uncoordinated and often vague, comes closer to the “egalitarian universalism.” Through, its policies of conditioned enlargement and generous economic aid the EU proposes, but do not impose, the model to follow.
Would one make this distinction 30 or 40 years ago? Did we (EU and US) grow so different over the last decade, especially after the second Iraqi war? Is EU policy tending towards “egalitarian universalism” because of a genuine abandonment of old imperialist policies or because of a simple lack of power to assert itself in the way US does? Are we growing so different as far as our internal political and legal systems are concerned? Is the difference between the US and EU purely the product of the current global balance of power as the realists would suggest? I prefer to leave these questions open for the moment.