The lack of a transatlantic policy to prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction is perplexing. The United States has declared that the "proliferation of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to our national security", and that "there are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD." The EU equally proclaims: "WMD and missile proliferation puts at risk the security of our states, our peoples and our interests around the world. Meeting this challenge must be a central element in the EU's external action."
So what would be more commonsensical than tackling this existential threat jointly?
The reality is, however, that the existing U.S.-EU policy framework hardly goes beyond a polite exchange of views during bi-annual summits. The lofty U.S.-EU communiqués hide the fact that there is simply no transatlantic WMD proliferation policy to speak of. The status quo is untenable, and the United States and EU should work urgently to make amends.
Halting WMD proliferation tops strategic agendas on both sides of the Atlantic, but this is where the parallel ends. President Bush opens the 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy with the ominous words "My fellow Americans, America is at war", whereas the EU's Security Strategy of 2003 begins with the blue-eyed statement that "Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free." The contrast could not be starker: the United States feels beleaguered, pressured to take rapid and proactive measures aimed at immediate success. In contrast, the EU sees security threats as management challenges, with time not running out, but often working in Europe's favor.
This disparity could have made for a well-functioning, complementary partnership, with the United States more gung-ho and Europe a bit more contemplative. Instead, it has resulted in a major strategic disconnect.