Earl Anthony Wayne Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

U.S. Economic Policy after 9/11: Conversation with Earl Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State; December 13, 2004, by Harry Kreisler

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America and Europe

Talk a little about your work in various assignments vis-à-vis America's important role in the world, the responsibilities it has as a leader of the -- well, I guess now we would say the democracies. During the Cold War it was "the West." How does that impact on the negotiations that you have, and has it been changing? I would imagine when you started your career, America's preeminence was much more obvious than it is in today's more complex world.

In some ways, it seemed a lot simpler when we had the Cold War, because you knew who your adversaries were, you knew who your clear allies were. There was an undecided area of the world, and often you would compete in that area. It was more complicated than that, because we had differences in our own camp, there were differences in the Soviet Union's camp, and there were a lot of different actors in the third area; but you did have a framework that you could work in, and you could think through.

When the Cold War ended, we had to rethink what it meant for the United States to be the preeminent power. We started learning that it wasn't just the preeminent political power, it was also the preeminent economic power. Surprisingly, as it changed, our interlocking ties with the rest of the world became more important to us. They certainly became more important economically.

Personally, I started discovering during this period of the early 1990s and through the 1990s that economics had to be a much more central part of our international policy than it had been before. We weren't just dealing with our friends and partners [economically]. We were dealing with everybody in the world. We were selling more; we were buying more.

Information technology was changing the way we were interacting economically, and also just in the sharing of information about democracy, about freedom of speech, about secrets, about non-secrets. It was changing the way we were thinking -- it had to change the way we were thinking. As usual, there was a little bit of a lag. But that was a lot of what the 1990s was about. It was about adapting, in a sense, to this new paradigm of international politics.

Your portfolio dealt a lot with Europe, where a lot of the action was -- both in terms of the breakup of Yugoslavia and also all the steps that Europe was going through to create a European Union that could not only cooperate with the United States, but could also compete with the United States. Talk a little about the evolution of European attitudes toward the United States in this context of no longer needing the U.S. vis-à-vis the Soviets, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the nineties. A lot was going on there.

There was a lot going on, because at the same time we were evolving in our role. As you say, Europe was defining a new way forward, a closer set of political and economic relations [among the European states]. In part, it's my work on Europe that made me understand why economics was more important to the United States, too, because Europe was our largest trading and investment partner, not just trading partner -- that's one of the defining characteristics. It's not just that when you trade with somebody you have a certain amount of relationship, but when you invest in each other's economies, and you have each other's citizens, three to four million of them on each side of the Atlantic, working for "your companies," quote/unquote, it changes things a bit. So I came to realize that this relationship with Europe was political. It was cultural, of course, but was also innately economic in a way that tied us together.

Now, at the same time, as you say, it was more complicated, because Europe was trying to define a way forward to change from an economic community to a union, a European Union, that was more integrated both economically and also politically. That meant a more integrated foreign policy. Now, as we all know, this didn't happen overnight, but they were trying the way. They were trying to define their own policy, and sometimes that meant they bumped up against us or we bumped up against them. We had to work out new ways of discussing foreign policy issues, crises, trade issues, investment issues. We tried to have frameworks for that to go forward.

The biggest one we ran up against, you mentioned, which was the breakup of the former Yugoslavia during that period. The most trying one, the one where I think, in retrospect, we would all say we made some mistakes, we didn't handle it as well as we would have. But through it, we learned that we actually had to work very closely with each other, that we were partners in this. That we might bring the political or military "oomph," but the European Union, the European community becoming the Union, could bring the economic "oomph," which could help draw people together and make them look forward and maybe overcome some of their differences to get into this more prosperous community of the West, of Europe, of the Transatlantic relationship. That's what we were exploring, defining, and developing through the second half of the 1990s.

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