MotherJones.com: As you see it, the West is undergoing a crisis unlike any in recent history. How so?
Timothy Garton Ash: This is a crisis of the West that's quite different from all the crises we had during the Cold War, because then we were always brought together again by the common enemy, the Soviet threat, and now we're not. We see "the enemy" in different ways. I think the Iraq crisis brought to the surface something that was latent, and not just since 9/11, but from what I call "the first 9/11," Nov. 11, 1989 [9/11/89 in European notation], not the fall of the Twin Towers but the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the common enemy disappears and Europe ceases to be the center of world politics. If you're sitting in Washington, you say to yourself, "Well, what do I need Europe for? It's irrelevant." And I think somebody like Dick Cheney does say that to himself. I think that's the deepest root of the crisis. Of course, it was exacerbated by a) 9/11 and b) the Bush administration reacting as it did.
Ash is the author of Free World: America, Europe and the Surprising Future of the West. A brilliant, must-read critique of the book here (courtesy of the s lot). Related posts at the brand spanking new Progressive Blog Alliance HQ. Incidentally, if one requires a rational reason to support the PBA, et alia offers a pretty damn good one. It will be what people make it. It has a solid foundation now. If anyone wants to post to it without signing up, just ask.
Update: Francis Fukuyama reviews and dismisses Ash, although (predictably) for the wrong reasons entirely:
Although Europe is largely devoid of anyone resembling a Republican, and America has no socialists, both Europe and America have the equivalent of American Democrats. It is in that intersecting space that Ash sees the “surprising future” he proclaims in the subtitle of this book—the space where John Kerry’s America makes common cause with Euro-Atlanticists. These two forces can, he believes, nudge the U.S. toward greater multilateralism and Europe toward closer trans-Atlantic cooperation.
Ever heard of Bernie Sanders?
Prosecuting the war on terrorism does not even appear as an item on Ash’s common agenda, and yet it is, and will necessarily remain, a preoccupation for any future occupant of the White House. Americans tend to believe that September 11 represents only the beginning of a new age of nihilistic, mass-casualty terrorism, while Europeans tend to think of it as a single lucky shot, of a kind familiar to them through their experience with the IRA or the Baader-Meinhoff gang.
Um, Mr. Fukuyama? Does anybody hear us? (Are you even interested in listening?)