BOB GARFIELD: As the fighting in Afghanistan winds down and the war on terrorism moves elsewhere, the World Press which has so vacillated about the long arm of American influence seems to be changing its mind again. Joining us now once again is Martin Walker, chief correspondent of United Press International. Martin, welcome back to the show.
MARTIN WALKER: Hello again.
BOB GARFIELD: It, it truly seems that one moment America can do no right and then the next week America can do no wrong. Is it that the European press is just calling them as they see them or is there some sort of deeper struggle to find out where Europe fits in, in what is increasingly-- U.S. hegemony around the world?
MARTIN WALKER: Well, bear in mind the editorial writers and columnists and newspapers have got the burden of having to write something different every day, so I'm not surprised they zigzag a bit but at the root of all this I think is a, a real sense of-- of almost resignation to the fact that we live in a unipolar world dominated by a single superpower. And I've been looking at newspapers from around the world, and it's extraordinary how they're all talking about this new American unilateralism. Le Monde, for example. "If one analyzes American diplomacy since the September 11th attacks, it's obvious the United States has deliberately adopted a unilateral position on everything. It hasn't moved an inch on the Kyoto Protocol. It's not only maintained its position on [Baez Kyoti ?] but also vigorously fought against the Nairobi Conference Reforms. America has re-affirmed its opposition to the treaty on banning nuclear tests. In reality, this solitary conduct by the U.S. should not surprise us. It's a continuation of the policy adopted by President Bush from the beginning. The September 11th attacks did not change America's position on dealing with world issues."
BOB GARFIELD: A sentiment not unique to Europe, I gather.
MARTIN WALKER:Absolutely not. In fact one of the most interesting things I came across was the Russian language paper in Kazakstan, Express, which says "After the tragedy of September 11th many Kazakstanis came to view America in a different way -- with love or even veneration. The desire to forgive America for all of its past sins has swept across the globe. But in fact nothing has really changed America's overseas priorities. Just as before, America fancies itself the master of everything under the sun and behaves accordingly.
BOB GARFIELD:And yet when last we spoke, we were talking about the Kashmir issue, and you were quoting newspapers from around the world from Germany to China I believe to the Middle East -- all in unison saying that only American influence can end the standoff and bring some resolution to the Kashmir conflict. It's striking once again the overwhelming ambivalence the world seems to feel about American unilateralism! Do they want it? Do they not want it?
MARTIN WALKER: Well I think the, the, the lesson is that they want it when it's deemed to be useful or urgently necessary, but for the rest of the time would America please leave the world alone a bit. I was very struck by the way in which the, the official Chinese newspapers who really do speak for the Beijing government are, are quite clear. From Zin Hua [sp?] --"Unilateralism is a concrete manifestation of America's pursuit of power politics throughout the world and goes against the main trend of dialogue and cooperation which the world would prefer." Even American allies in Asia are saying the same thing. From Asai Shimbun [sp?] of Tokyo: "The world cannot move forward unless a fundamental change occurs in the behavior of this sole superpower which considers international organizations and other states as mere tools for pursuing its own national interests. The ongoing stalemate over issues related to the Kyoto Protocol, the Test Ban Treaty clearly indi--indicate the need for America to change its approach towards the rest of the world. it would make a nice change if they even listened to us."
BOB GARFIELD:You know what it reminds me of, Martin? It reminds me of the Godfather. Don Corleone, feared, in some ways hated, but every time anyone needed a problem solved, they came and kissed his hand and with respect asked for his assistance. So am I out too far on a limb on this one?
MARTIN WALKER: No, because you'll, you'll find that some of the - particularly of conservative commentators around the world agree with you. In, in Le Figaro which is a conservative paper in France it says "Europe has nobody to blame but itself for its being second-guessed by the Americans because of its own incompetence in the military sector. Afghanistan has simply summarized the new situation of European impotence. The allies have the obligation to participate in missions as decided by the United States, following the guidelines determined by Washington. In each instance rules are the same. At most the Europeans have the right to information or to the impression that they have been kept informed, but in general the European Union is absent, and given its weakness, so it deserves to be."
BOB GARFIELD: All right. Martin, once again, thank you very much.
MARTIN WALKER: My pleasure.
BOB GARFIELD: Martin Walker is chief correspondent for United Press International.