U.S. Sen. McCain Urges Transatlantic Action on Crises around the Globe
Iran, Russia, Sudan identified as priorities for transatlantic alliance during inaugural Brussels Forum gathering
BRUSSELS (April 28, 2006) — In a strongly worded speech touting transatlantic cooperation on a wide-ranging list of urgent global crises, U.S. Senator John McCain called on the United States and Europe to “define their policy not just by what we stand against, but also by what we stand for.” He delivered this message at the opening session of a new transatlantic meeting set to address a new set of global issues — Brussels Forum: Transatlantic Challenges in a Global Era.
“Whether we turn our attention to the regime in Iran, the displaced in Sudan, troops under NATO command in Afghanistan, or to our own citizens, individuals everywhere look to the United States and Europe for unity and leadership,” McCain told a gathering of American and European political, business, and thought leaders gathered for Brussels Forum.
Pointing out major concerns for the transatlantic alliance, McCain singled out Iran saying, “An Iran emboldened by a nuclear arsenal and the missile systems to deliver weapons would feel unconstrained to sponsor even more deadly terrorist attacks.” He went further to say that an unchecked Iran could lead to a Middle East arms race, “Iran’s moves could induce Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and others to reassess their defense posture and arsenal.”
While he praised the efforts of the EU3 — France, Germany, and Britain — he called on the UN Security Council to apply sanctions on investment, travel, and assets on Iran’s leaders and nuclear scientists. “The nuclear danger reaches beyond the possibility of terrorism,” he said, noting that the Iranian president’s “messianic impulses are cause for grave worry.” In an ominous warning, he reminded the audience of Europe’s own painful history with a dangerous dictator. “In the 1930s too few took at face value a dictator’s threats to destroy peoples and countries, and the world paid a terrible price.”
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who introduced McCain, called for NATO reform. He offered a three point plan for transformation of the institution. First, he said NATO should become a genuine partnership based on two pillars, an American pillar and a European pillar. Second, it should “streamline its current imbroglio of cooperation agreements, partners, and contact countries into a genuine Global Security Network.” Finally, it should act as a “Security Forum” capable of dialogue with outside organizations such as the African Union and ASEAN.
In his speech, McCain added that NATO should be expanded to provide logistical and communications support for peacekeeping forces, and the allies should look at NATO enforcement of a no-fly zone over Darfur, a place that needs a similar transatlantic commitment as the one in the Balkans in the last decade.
“Just as ethnic cleansing in the Balkans cried out for transatlantic action in the 1990s, so today does genocide clamor for our attention,” McCain said. “We need to be blunt — to stop the killing and expedite the return of over 2 million displaced Darfurians requires us to act. If we do not, the pledge of ‘never again’ will once more ring hollow.”
Pointing the spotlight on another potential threat to stability, McCain turned to Russia’s troubling domestic and foreign policies. “The Kremlin pursues greater autocracy at home and undermines democracy abroad. It appears to define affairs in the Black Sea region and Central Asia in 19th century zero-sum terms.”
Introducing the event, German Marshall Fund President Craig Kennedy cited Brussels’ history as a historic center of European liberalism. “This is a place where ideas have been created,” he said.
Javier Solana, the Security General of the European Council and the European Union’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, gave brief remarks at dinner.