A Conversation with President José Maria Aznar: The Challenge to the West

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Summary

During the second day of the FPI Forum, FPI Director Bill Kristol hosted a conversation with former President Joseph Maria Aznar of Spain. President Aznar spoke at great length about the need for Europe and the U.S. to work together in today’s changing political, financial, and security environment. The emergence of China, India, and a global middle class have caused shifts in the balance of power and have put unrestrained pressures on the demand for natural resources and energy diversification. Europe and the United States must maintain a relationship through compatible security, political, economic, and cultural policies in order to deal with new threats and opportunities brought on by globalization.

Aznar asserted that NATO is crucial to the future of Europe and international security. He was clear on the fact that the EU is failing because it is ineffective without official instruments and tools, like NATO, to give force to its institutions and its policies. Aznar also explained that the EU’s financial insecurities must be dealt with discipline and stability rather than protectionist policies. He held the U.S. devaluation of the dollar accountable for exacerbating the world economy. He argued that the U.S. should not be making unilateral decisions that affect the international economy and that it is in the global interest for the U.S. to be involved in multilateral agreements to set economic policies.

Aznar made it abundantly clear that he is not a supporter of President Obama, but he respects him as the leader of the United States. He felt that the Obama Administration has not been treating Europe as a priority and that Obama’s policies have been inconsistent in Afghanistan and Iran. He stated that Obama’s political and economic leadership has been weak, and President has failed to project the force and presence of the United States in the international arena.

President Aznar also gave his opinions on the political and security situations in Latin America—particularly Brazil, Mexico, and Cuba—Israel, and Iran. Brazil has become more proactive in its development and state building efforts; therefore, it is important for Europe and US security strategies to become its ally. The former president is also one of the founding members of “Friends of Israel Initiative” and is quite proud of the organization’s success as a non-Jewish group. At the FPI Forum, Aznar explained that Israel’s democracy is essential to Western security. On the topic of Iran, Aznar showed that Europe, unfortunately, cannot interfere unilaterally even though this nuclear program poses a threat to the Western world.

President Aznar covered a wide range of international topics and with great depth during his conversation with Bill Kristol. His main message concerned the importance of Europe and the United States aligning their foreign policies in order to adapt to today’s ever-changing world.

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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