Noted German dignitary lectures in Breed Hall
?The American people have not learned the extent of how unpopular the [Iraq] war was in Europe,? former German ambassador to the United Nations Hans Arnold said on October 17, following his lecture, ?Europe and the U.S.: Where Do We Go From Here??
Having served as Germany?s foreign minister under the administration of former Chancellor Willy Brandt ? noted for its infamous ?Ostpolitik? and voting scandals ? Mr. Arnold drew on his wide experience during his lecture. Among the topics of his lecture, Arnold focused on American-European relations.
In an interview conducted before his lecture, Arnold explained that although Europeans have a ?different approach to society,? they share many beliefs and ideals with their American counterparts.
Regarding the tense relationship between Europe and the Bush administration, Arnold remarked that ?day-to-day politics? generally fade away ? in time, the arguments would fall to the side.
During his lecture, Arnold focused on the importance of connections between the United States and Europe. He remarked that both parts of the world share ?strong mutual interests? and presented statistics to show that Europeans and Americans have what he believes are similar worldviews. Arnold emphasized that governments come and go, and although most Europeans may disagree with the current U.S. government, they have no quarrel with the American population as a whole.
In addition to stressing the importance of friendly transatlantic relations, Arnold explained the historical development of Europe and how this development led to its current foreign policy. He discussed the formation of the European Union, citing its significance as not only an economic connection, but a ?process? of combining language and culture.
?Europeans want to unite, but they do not want to be uniform,? he said.
Part of the difficulty in establishing such a union, he explained, lies in combining all the different languages and subtleties of each nation into one common forum for expression. At this point he related an anecdote about how when someone made a joke in the assembly, there would be a slow progression of laughter as it was translated throughout the room.
Further stressing the idea of diversity, Arnold presented a map of the European Union and showed how it has grown over the past decade. He detailed some
of the inner workings of the European Parliament and likened the system to the American establishment of equality between large and small states: Each country has an equal voice in the system, through a distribution of votes based not as much on population as on relative worth.
Following his lecture, the statesman answered questions from the audience, including one regarding the war in Iraq. Although he noted that the war was widely unpopular in Europe, he also stressed that the ?understanding of Americans and Europeans is the same.? He also remarked that he didn?t see another ?American-European conflict in sight? over such an issue.
Ultimately Arnold conceded that although the problems between the America and Europe are insignificant, there are also ?no real solutions? to many of the most pressing issues facing our world.
With regards to international relations, Arnold said, the best hope for avoiding future conflict is through the channels of the United Nations, although ?[that] organization is not perfect? in his opinion.