Friday, October 20, 2006

Our Eastern European Amigos - Jak się masz?

In class this past week we discussed the relationships that various European states have with the United States. Of course, Poland and the United Kingdom are our close and trusted friends while there had been somewhat of a falling-out with most other European states. That is, except for the former Soviet states. This raised questions in my mind and I will try to flesh out these ideas here and hopefully input from others will help my understanding.

Now, according to our discussion, the former Soviet states are friendly to the United States, despite the fact that they are both geographically and culturally more predisposed to side with the traditional European powers. Could it be that they are seeking something from us? Just maybe?

Perhaps our soft power is attracting them? For this to be true, our cultural attractiveness would have to have complete primacy in their eyes. That is to say, it would have to be much more predominant than that of Western Europe, which is arguably more accessible to them. In his recent book about soft power as means to success in international politics, Joseph Nye Gives many indications that while American fast food and blue jeans are quite popular globally, Europe has many other sources of soft power that are equally as attractive as those of the United States. So, I think that we can rule out the attractiveness of the United States as a reason for their interest.

Instead, I think that the reason why they want to ingratiate themselves with us is that we have something to offer them militarily. This, of course, is the explanation that most people would point to right away anyway. However, with my inquisitive mind I couldn’t rule out soft power without a discussion (albeit brief) of this possibility. I like that idea, being the peace loving person that I am, but the military reasons are much more realistic. My inquiry, then, is what makes them interested. Do they want us to admit them to NATO? Do they seek advancement and credibility through association with us? Or are they simply motivated by their moral instincts?

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