Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Atlantic Community Exclusive

The Lantos Doctrine
by Stuart Noble
4 December 2006

On Friday, December 1, 2006, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos participated in a panel discussion on the direction of American foreign policy at the University of Southern Denmark. The event was sponsored by the university’s Center for American Studies.

Also participating were the congressman’s son-in-law, Ambassador Richard Nelson Swett, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark (1998-2001), and his daughter, Katrina Swett. Earlier that day, Ms. Swett defended her dissertation on the role of the U.S. congress in global human rights issues and was awarded her Ph.D. from the University of Southern Denmark.

Congressman Lantos, who is soon to chair the House International Relations Committee, was earlier that week in Latvia, attending NATO’s Riga summit. According to Lantos, “Riga was a disgrace to NATO”. The congressman complained about “the venomous anti-Americanism” and “Europe’s lack of collective responsibility.” He went on to stress that, “it must be made perfectly clear that Afghanistan is not Iraq, Afghanistan is a NATO operation.”

Germany is said to be among Europe’s “anti-American camp”. Lantos went on to illustrate the extent to which the U.S. has aided Germany over the last 60 years and stated, “The Germans should get down on their knees every morning and thank the U.S.”

Speaking in general terms about Transatlantic relations, Congressman Lantos said there would be a major shift in “tact and tone” and that U.S. relations would be “dramatically more courteous and respectful towards are European Friends.” A major theme to be expected was a U.S. push for greater European burden sharing. Mr. Lantos said that Europe can not continue to leave it up to the Americans to deal with “the ugly things of this world” and that the U.S. can no longer carry the burden alone. He noted that Denmark has been “a stand-up ally” and that Denmark’s share of global humanitarian relief ranks among the top in the world but that Denmark and Europe must make greater contributions to security. He went on again to state that, “burden sharing will be one of our primary goals” and, “we will insist that you take your share of the burden”. According to Congressman Lantos, nations and societies which are privileged have a duty to act and support less fortunate nations and societies.

On the U.N., he basically warned Europeans not to be too giddy over the role of the U.N. He thought that Europeans mistakenly see a clear line between Republicans as anti- U.N. and Democrats as pro U.N. According to Rep. Lantos, this kind of thinking is too simplistic and that while the new Democratic congress will be stressing greater cooperation and multilateralism, the U.N. is still in need of major reform. According to Mr. Lantos, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council is a farce.

As a co-chair Congressional Human Rights Caucus, he was particularly proud of a recent humanitarian aid bill which will go to support the aids crisis in Africa. “15 Billion dollars to the Aids Crisis in Africa was a triumph.” He stated his disappointment in that the European press paid so little attention to this.

While U.S. foreign policy would be seeking greater burden sharing from its allies, he believes, “the United States is still the indispensable nation” in global security. “It won’t be Luxemburg that keeps the sea lanes open.”

The congressman also stated concerns that Russia was returning to authoritarianism and that it is perhaps time to consider re-forming the G8 back to the G7 (exclude Russia).

In January he says there will be congressional hearings on the new and alarming role of political assassinations taking place around the world.

When asked about how the incoming Democratic congress will influence the Bush administration’s foreign policy he concluded, “the strongest pressure on the administration to change its policy on foreign affairs will come from the surviving Republicans in the congress in order to prevent a further landslide in 2008.”

Stuart Noble is a freelance writer living abroad in Denmark. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Southern Denmark’s Center for American