May 20, 2002



SUBJECT: The President’s Trip to Europe & Kagan’s “Power and Weakness”

This week President Bush will visit Germany, Russia, France and Italy. Much of the focus of the trip will be on the new relationship being forged with Russia and the effort to build a Europe “whole and free” through NATO’s continued expansion. In these matters, considerable progress has been made and the administration can rightly point with some pride to that success.

However, the president is also likely to talk about the significant and growing gap in military capabilities between the United States and our European allies. In this connection, I would like to draw your attention to a new essay (“Power and Weakness”) by Project director Robert Kagan. (The article is being published in the June-July issue of the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review and is available on-line at In the article, Kagan argues that not only has this gap “produced differing strategic judgments, differing assessments of threats and of the proper means for addressing threats” but is itself a product of a deeper divide between Europe and the United States on the “principles regarding the utility and morality of power” itself.

Whether the gap in military capabilities can be overcome in any significant way without first addressing the larger division in strategic culture is doubtful. However, if President Bush is serious about the long-term health of the transatlantic alliance, it is essential that the latter be as much on the trip’s agenda as increased defense spending on the part of our allies.