Atlantic Community: encouraging open dialogue on the challenges facing Europe and North America

The politics and economies of the transatlantic community are constantly changing. As the first online foreign policy think tank, we value the importance of rich, diverse discussion and hope to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discussions between transatlantic partners.

Atlantic Community: encouraging open dialogue on the challenges facing Europe and North America

The politics and economies of the transatlantic community are constantly changing. As the first online foreign policy think tank, we value the importance of rich, diverse discussion and hope to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discussions between transatlantic partners.

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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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.

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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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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.

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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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