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#COMMUNITY

Brexit and Defence Negotiations

In the enthusiasm about the EU’s numerous new defence initiatives in Germany, a discussion of the consequences of Britain’s withdrawal from the union is often curiously absent. Close alignment between post-Brexit Britain and the EU27 in the...

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Trumping Transatlantic Relations

President Trump’s last international trip to the G7 Summit resulted in the worst meeting of its kind since its inception, given his outburst at America’s usual allies, and was compounded  by the contrast a day later with his cordial meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jung Un in Singapore. Many Transatlanticists were prepared for the worst as Trump made his way to NATO and the UK before seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The good news, is that the NATO summit went better than expected, though many commentators still called it the worst in history. The bad news, however, is that despite lowered expectations, damage was still done to transatlantic relations. The question now is: how severe and long-lasting will this damage be?

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Zero-Sum Games, Media, Megalomania & Cold Calculation

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both celebrate the summit in Helsinki as a success, showing once again their mastery of public relations. Cold negotiating Putin and the intuitive American president seem to have dealt with several open conflicts in a constructive manner. Yet, their logic of geopolitics and zero-sum games doesn’t allow for much long-term détente – lest for their European partners.

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Beyond the NATO Summit: Why There Is Long-Term Transatlantic Trouble Ahead

NATO summits are usually highly organized events. Heads of State and Government adopt previously negotiated decisions and define work plans up to the next summit. Above all, they aim to demonstrate unity and solidarity so that friend and foe alike believe that the NATO allies will defend each other in the event of a crisis. But this summit threatens to disrupt this process, because no one knows how US President Trump will behave. Will we see a revival of a brash Mr. Trump G7 Summit when the US President retrospectively ‘unsigned’ the communiqué via tweet? Or will he act as a patriarch, whose stubborn grumblings are ultimately met with cooperation, and keep the family bound together?

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Out of the comfort zone? Norway and the transatlantic estrangement

Like most members of the Atlantic Alliance, Norway has been unsettled by the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Policymakers and commentators struggle to understand how Trump’s Washington works. Most unsettling, perhaps, is the overall impression that in an ever more complex world and in an ever more challenging security environment, Norway’s most important ally fails to show leadership. Instead, Trump is unraveling the multilateral order on which countries like Norway rely.

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Wrap-Up: Atlantic Basecamp in Berlin

In a very intense and thought-provoking week in April, 30 American and German fellows gathered in Berlin to present their strategies and concrete projects aimed at modernizing transatlantic relations in the form of an Atlantic Action Plan. The 30 fellows taking part in the Atlantic Basecamp represent a fine selection of the two previous Expeditions and cover a broad range of professional backgrounds – from economics and law, to governmental policies and banking, to journalism and international institutions as young professionals or advanced students. Their diverse and multidisciplinary expertise has been a crucial asset in developing policy and communication recommendation.

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Breaking Free? The Status of the German-American Westbindung

Germany and the United States have a deeply intertwined relationship, historically, politically, economically, and culturally. The end of the Cold War, however, has arguably catalyzed a transition to a new world order, in which Germany has broken away from its traditional dependence on the West, the so-called Westbindung. Given the two divided camps of thought this development has caused, this thesis analyzes if, how, and to what extent the German-American relationship has changed. I evaluate the German-American relationship of recent years in three dimensions: Germany’s military actions and role in international crises compared to those of the United States, in respect to the Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and Syria conflicts; Germany’s economic policies and preferences regarding the TTIP; and German public opinion of the transatlantic relationship. To inform my thesis, I conducted a literature review of existing academic opinion on the subject, analyzed German media coverage of the case studies in question and extracted data from polls conducted of German citizens. I conclude that a break from Atlanticism is unlikely, as doing so would contradict Germany’s core economic and political interests.

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Searching for common cause on opposite sides of the Atlantic

The transatlantic democracies are an alliance in search of a mission.  The European powers have differing views about what that mission should be in the age of Trump.  On the other side of the Atlantic, more than a year into office, it remains unclear whether the Trump administration has a contribution to the debate. These facts were on full display last week with the visits of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Washington.  The receptions each received were a study in contrast. Macron was welcomed with the honors of a full state visit, including President Trump’s first state dinner.  The two leaders almost reveled in their physical embrace of each other.  The Merkel-Trump interaction, on the other hand, was short and to the point, warm but business-like.

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The French approach to ‘America First’: Disagreement, but with Dialogue

Ours is a time when even the most Atlanticist countries talk about Europe’s need for strategic autonomy, and when some of its leaders are realizing that “the times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over,” to use Angela Merkel’s words. So readers may have been surprised when they saw France’s president praise his relationship with his US counterpart, especially with this US president, who was instrumental at convincing Merkel that “we have to fight for our own future ourselves.”

But if Emmanuel Macron is taking great care of his personal relationship with Donald Trump, it does not mean that he dismisses France’s traditional pursuit of independence. Since his election, Macron has been rather consistent with his campaign references to De Gaulle. Beyond the displays of “bromance,” Macron had several occasions in Washington to make his differences clear, and he seized them.

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From Geopolitics to Singularity: Transatlantic Relations in the 21st Century

Let’s be traditional first: The main purpose of the transatlantic relationship in the 21st century will look familiar to those who have studied its history since 1949: To prevent a situation from emerging in which Europeans feel they need to call Moscow first, instead of Washington, in questions of international politics. Add Beijing to the equation, and you get an idea of how daunting the task will be.
Transatlantic relations are the permanent suspension of conventional geopolitics for the purpose of limiting other powers’ influence over a Europe they could otherwise own. Look at the map, and you understand that, based on size, wealth, population and location, it is Russia that should dominate Western and Central Europe. It does not do so because America’s presence and promise of security to Europe creates an artificial barrier that Moscow has been unable to overcome since the end of World War II. With NATO and EU expansion, this barrier has moved eastward by a few hundred kilometers, and this is where, if all goes well, it will remain for some time to come.

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The Atlantic Community under Strain

Western democracies are facing tough times. The United States is suffering from deep divisions, witnessing challenges to political institutions and retreating from a global emphasis on democratic values. Its traditional partner, the European Union, has turned inward after the financial crisis and refugee crisis as well as the acrimonious Brexit negotiations. Elections over the last two years saw gains by right-wing populist parties in Austria, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Governments in Hungary and Poland are threatening media and judicial independence. Voters on both sides of the Atlantic are worried about the adverse effects of globalization, displacement caused by new technologies and perceived immigration threats. Political parties, particularly on the center-left, have struggled to address these concerns.

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Going Beyond Borders: Transatlantic Relations in the Era of ‘America First’”

The crises facing the transatlantic community are more profound that many citizens on either side of the Atlantic realize. A host of challenges, including migration, terrorism, low and uneven growth, high youth unemployment, significant debt, Russian disinformation campaigns, Brexit and the euro crisis, continue to erode domestic politics, economies, and security policies. While we should be proud of the many transatlantic institutions and initiatives that we’ve forged together over the past 70 years, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must engage in candid conversations about what is working – and what is not – and focus our attention on revitalizing the transatlantic community to more effectively tackle global challenges.

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#SECURITY

Brexit and Defence Negotiations

In the enthusiasm about the EU’s numerous new defence initiatives in Germany, a discussion of the consequences of Britain’s withdrawal from the union is often curiously absent. Close alignment between post-Brexit Britain and the EU27 in the...

read more

Culture of Restraint or Structural Pacifism: German Security Policy & NATO

In contrast to Trump’s overt embrace of zero-sum power politics, Germany is often characterized, both internally and externally, as a “Culture of Restraint” regarding security policy. Yet such a culture implies the ability to project power and a reluctance to use it. But what if the perceived culture of reluctance is in fact structural pacifism, which internally inhibits Germany’s use of military force as a political instrument? And what does this mean for German security policy in the context of the NATO alliance?

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Domestic Enemies and the Collapse of the Transatlantic Order

The sustainability of the transatlantic alliance lies not so much on the external environment that surrounds it but rather on the will of the people than live within it. Why citizens in France, the UK, Hungary or the US have decided to question that order so openly must surely be one of the central questions that analysts of transatlantic relations attempt to answer. And yet, what one normally finds at the core of analyses produced on the state of transatlantic relations are exogenous structural factors. These are issues like Russian revisionism in Eastern Europe or the rise of China and its geopolitical consequences. On both accounts the argument normally goes as follows: These emerging and revisionist powers pose a particular threat to shared European and American interests.

read more

From Geopolitics to Singularity: Transatlantic Relations in the 21st Century

Let’s be traditional first: The main purpose of the transatlantic relationship in the 21st century will look familiar to those who have studied its history since 1949: To prevent a situation from emerging in which Europeans feel they need to call Moscow first, instead of Washington, in questions of international politics. Add Beijing to the equation, and you get an idea of how daunting the task will be.
Transatlantic relations are the permanent suspension of conventional geopolitics for the purpose of limiting other powers’ influence over a Europe they could otherwise own. Look at the map, and you understand that, based on size, wealth, population and location, it is Russia that should dominate Western and Central Europe. It does not do so because America’s presence and promise of security to Europe creates an artificial barrier that Moscow has been unable to overcome since the end of World War II. With NATO and EU expansion, this barrier has moved eastward by a few hundred kilometers, and this is where, if all goes well, it will remain for some time to come.

read more

The Atlantic Community under Strain

Western democracies are facing tough times. The United States is suffering from deep divisions, witnessing challenges to political institutions and retreating from a global emphasis on democratic values. Its traditional partner, the European Union, has turned inward after the financial crisis and refugee crisis as well as the acrimonious Brexit negotiations. Elections over the last two years saw gains by right-wing populist parties in Austria, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Governments in Hungary and Poland are threatening media and judicial independence. Voters on both sides of the Atlantic are worried about the adverse effects of globalization, displacement caused by new technologies and perceived immigration threats. Political parties, particularly on the center-left, have struggled to address these concerns.

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#ECONOMY

China’s Trojan Herd

Through its “Made in China 2025” industry strategy, China is making great strides to become the global leader in high-tech industries and manufacturing. The initiative was launched in 2015 as part of a government funded effort for Beijing to achieve its goal of surpassing the likes of the US and Germany to dominate global tech and automation by 2049

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Urgent Need for Renegotiation

The WTO has succeeded to globally promote free trade and to economically integrate developing countries over the last 25 years. As a consequence, the WTO was probably the most successful approach in fighting global poverty in history. With the US as guarantor for a multilateral ruled-based trade order, the triumph of free trade and market economy seemed irreversible until recently. However, the US has apparently become sick of its role as ‘benevolent dictator’—not only in free trade but also in security aspects—and thus, it increasingly challenges what it has proclaimed for decades. In the light of this remarkable turnaround in US foreign policy, we must rethink the global order.

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The French approach to ‘America First’: Disagreement, but with Dialogue

Ours is a time when even the most Atlanticist countries talk about Europe’s need for strategic autonomy, and when some of its leaders are realizing that “the times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over,” to use Angela Merkel’s words. So readers may have been surprised when they saw France’s president praise his relationship with his US counterpart, especially with this US president, who was instrumental at convincing Merkel that “we have to fight for our own future ourselves.”

But if Emmanuel Macron is taking great care of his personal relationship with Donald Trump, it does not mean that he dismisses France’s traditional pursuit of independence. Since his election, Macron has been rather consistent with his campaign references to De Gaulle. Beyond the displays of “bromance,” Macron had several occasions in Washington to make his differences clear, and he seized them.

read more

Does India benefit from a closer Transatlantic Alliance?

India’s history with the transatlantic alliance has, for much of its history, been problematic. On one hand, for Indian society at large, the values and lifestyle of the US-Europe compact were aspirational, both in terms of looking up to the West, from an academic standpoint, as an anthropological end goal, as well as the West being a prime destination for economic migration. Politically however, there was a sharp contrast. The rapid industrialisation of agrarian states that socialism seemed to achieve, was seen as desirable in what was and remains a desperately poor country. Being the only democracy that refused to tow a moral line with regards to personal freedoms put India at odds with the US-Europe grouping.

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#GLOBAL_PERSPECTIVES

China’s Trojan Herd

Through its “Made in China 2025” industry strategy, China is making great strides to become the global leader in high-tech industries and manufacturing. The initiative was launched in 2015 as part of a government funded effort for Beijing to achieve its goal of surpassing the likes of the US and Germany to dominate global tech and automation by 2049

read more

A Community of Shared Values — The Transatlantic Community and Japan under Pressure

The Atlantic Community is still needed today – but less as a geographical concept. The (trans)atlantic community in the postwar period has always been a community of values, and this aspect is now more important than ever before. Given the rise of authoritarian models of politics, economy and society, exemplified not least by Russia and China and their increasing challenges to the rules-based liberal international order, those who are in a position to defend and strengthen the values and order need to cooperate with each other more. This necessitates the countries in the Atlantic community to cooperate with other like-minded countries, such as Japan, India and Australia, because this enormous job cannot be done solely by the countries of the Atlantic community in the geographical sense of the term.

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Does India benefit from a closer Transatlantic Alliance?

India’s history with the transatlantic alliance has, for much of its history, been problematic. On one hand, for Indian society at large, the values and lifestyle of the US-Europe compact were aspirational, both in terms of looking up to the West, from an academic standpoint, as an anthropological end goal, as well as the West being a prime destination for economic migration. Politically however, there was a sharp contrast. The rapid industrialisation of agrarian states that socialism seemed to achieve, was seen as desirable in what was and remains a desperately poor country. Being the only democracy that refused to tow a moral line with regards to personal freedoms put India at odds with the US-Europe grouping.

read more

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