7PQ site
Oct 222012

Transworld Op-Ed

by Thomas Risse,
Freie Universität Berlin,
October 18, 2012

The EU and the US seem to have lost their way in terms of using their power capabilities in a globalized world. Regardless of who wins the US election, they need to work on improving their ties, writes Thomas Risse.

What do President Obama and the European Union have in common? They have both been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the EU received the prize in recognition of its 60 years securing peace and prosperity and in spite of its current crisis. In contrast, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize just one year into his presidency as an encouragement for the future and in spite of a hitherto non-existing foreign policy record. Today, it remains unclear whether Obama actually deserved the prize in light of the past three years, while it is equally unclear whether the EU will be worthy of the prize in the years to come.

Nevertheless, the two Nobel Peace Prizes symbolize the hopes of the international community in the US and its president as well as in the EU and its members. But are these hopes justified? The US and the EU face similar challenges in the coming years and irrespective of who wins the American presidential elections. These challenges have in common that they all concern the alignment of the three Ps that it takes to influence international affairs in a globalized world – power, purpose, and practice.

The three Ps

The first challenge concerns the very base of being a force in world politics to be reckoned with – power. The challenge is domestic and concerns maintaining economic growth and prosperity while controlling budget deficits and public debt levels which have spiraled out of control. For the EU, this is a matter of sheer survival as a community, since the entire project of European integration is at stake. This means, however, that the chances are pretty good that the EU will be able to meet the challenge. If financial markets bet against the ability of the EU to overcome its current crisis, they will lose a lot of money.

As to the US, the chances are less clear and again irrespective of who wins the presidential elections. Getting the US debt levels under control requires bipartisanship in Congress. The fate of the Bowles-Simpson report of 2010 (Presidential commission set up to improve fiscal sustainability – the ed.), however, does not bode well for the US ability to deal with the challenge, since it fell victim to partisan bickering in Washington.

The second challenge relates to the ability of the US and the EU to use its power for purpose and practice, the other two Ps. If the US and the EU meet the first challenge and manage to overcome their current domestic problems (big “ifs”), they will retain sufficient – hard and “soft” – power capabilities that are necessary to play significant roles in a globalized world. But they have to translate power into purpose, that is, into strategic visions of how the world should look like and where one wants to be in the future.

The US used to have a liberal internationalist vision, but this vision is increasingly blurred by growing isolationist as well as unilateral tendencies, both among Republicans and among Democrats. The EU has developed a vision during the past ten years of “effective multilateralism” or “multilateralism with (military) teeth” promoting peace, human rights, and democracy. Yet, neither the US nor the EU have been very eager and successful in translating their power capabilities and their purpose into practice over the past 10 years.

As to the US, it must get used to the fact that the rise of China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and other “emerging powers” will change world politics in fundamental ways and that its formidable military power cannot be translated into political influence without a purpose that is considered legitimate by the international community. Moreover, the presidential election campaigns document that American purpose and practice are increasingly contested between unilateral tendencies (exemplified by some forces in Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team), continued liberal internationalism (the majority in Obama’s camp), and growing isolationism among both Republicans and Democrats (increasingly supported by a war-weary electorate). So, at the moment, the US projects more confusion than consistency with regard to purpose and practice.

As to the EU, it has a fantastic track record in maintaining peace and prosperity among its members and in bringing in new members in the community. But the EU has yet to learn that in a globalized world, one must “either hang together or assuredly will hang separately,” to quote Benjamin Franklin. The EU’s foreign policy has not yet managed to turn purpose into practice which means first and foremost to speak with one voice in world politics.

Testing transatlantic ties

If the US and the EU get their acts together and meet the second challenge of putting power and purpose into practice, they still face a third challenge, that is, managing their own transatlantic relationship. This relationship has suffered over the past 12 years, and not much has changed since President Obama entered office, unfortunately. NATO, the transatlantic security community, is still trying to find a purpose in a globalized post-Cold War world. It has not come to grips with its future mission, whether it wants to assume a global role or whether it should remain a primarily regional alliance.

With regard to economic issues, the US and the EU have not been able to get their act together and to agree proposals for world economic governance in the aftermath of the 2008 economic and financial crisis. The public diplomacy between President Obama and the Europeans during the euro crisis demonstrates significant differences in macro-economic policies. So, the transatlantic relationship is somehow “hanging in there,” but its purpose and its practice are increasingly blurred.

In sum, the US and the EU face similar challenges in the coming years. While they maintain formidable economic and military power capabilities, their purpose and their practice are not aligned at the moment. Yet, their future influence in a globalized world depends on both a common vision and the ability to put this purpose into action.

(published in “DW” <http://www.dw.de/>)

 Posted by on October 22, 2012
Oct 032012

Transatlantic Relations and the future of Global Governance

The United States and Europe: Quo Vadis?
Transworld Op-Ed

Stephen Walt
Ever since the end of the Cold War, politicians and commentators on both sides of the Atlantic have worried that the United States and its European allies might eventually drift apart. Such concerns help explain why NATO chose to expand eastwards in the 1990s, and why [...]Read more
September 2012 Issue 1

Multipolarity and transatlantic relations
, by J.Peterson, N.Tocci, R.Alcaro
A theoretical framework is needed to make sense of a new international order and the place of the transatlantic alliance in it. We focus on three variables: 1)
rising multipolarity; 2) the future of multilateralism, and 3) the scope for
transatlantic leadership. The authors argue that systemic theories of
international relations are likely to fail … Read more

Determinants and features of international alliances and structural partnerships
, by T.Risse
The end of the Cold War resulted not only in the collapse of the communist
regimes in Europe but also in fluctuating transatlantic relations once NATO’s
foe was gone. Today, with the US struggling with a reeling economy and the EU
mired in the Eurozone crisis, the number of possible trajectories of the
transatlantic partnership … Read more
The evolution of the transatlantic partnership, by M.G.Cowles and M.Egan
Despite recent perceptions that the end of the Cold War deprived the
transatlantic partnership of its central rationale, successive American
administrations have faced the challenge of reassuring European leaders that
they share common interests in the international arena. Europeans have
alternated between full embrace of US views, voicing limited disagreement on
certain issues, and occasional  … Read more

Three scenarios for the future of the transatlantic relationship
, by N.Tocci and R.Alcaro
In a world of growing interconnectedness and shifting power balances, the
transatlantic relationship has lost its bearings. Old transatlantic paradigms
have run their course, and yet no credible alternative has emerged. To this end,
three steps are necessary: first, identify the changes, at both systemic and
actor level, that have contributed to transforming transatlantic relations;… Read more

Transworld has started!

Transworld was publicly launched on April 20th during a conference in Rome. In a
world in flux, characterized by the emergence of new powers and the overall
fragmentation of the international system, the traditional leadership role of
the European Union and the United States in global governance is being
increasingly disputed. The future of the … Read more

WP 1 first workshop

TRANSWORLD’s work package on developing a ‘Conceptual Framework for the
Redefinition of the Transatlantic Relationship’  held its first workshop at
the University of Edinburgh on 10-11th September 2012. Hosted by the
University’s Europa Institute, it brought together 15 colleagues from 5 of
TRANSWORLD’s institutional partners and other Universities to debate and discuss
5 papers that will be published as deliverables at the end of September… Read more

Transatlantic Library online

Transatlantic Library, the online transatlantic database, is now available on
Transworld’s website. The Transatlantic Library is a user-friendly database
collecting hundreds of texts on the various dimensions of the transatlantic
relationship, providing an invaluable instrument for researchers willing to
deepen their knowledge on the history and the most important features of
relations between the United States and Europe .. .Read more
9th & 10th
November 2012

Florence: Work Package IV & V first workshop
25th & 26th April 2013
London: Plenary Conference

About Transworld


Advisory Board
Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) Rome, Italy, iai(at)iai.it
 Posted by on October 3, 2012
Oct 012012

Transworld Working Paper 04

by Nathalie Tocci and
Riccardo Alcaro

In a world of growing interconnectedness and shifting power balances, the transatlantic relationship has lost its bearings. Old transatlantic paradigms have run their course, and yet no credible alternative has emerged.
To this end, three steps are necessary: first, identify the changes, at both systemic and actor level, that have contributed to transforming transatlantic relations; second, define a spectrum of possible outcomes involving three ideal typical scenarios: structural drift, functional relationship, and enduring partnership; and third, distinguish the factors that might drive the US-European relationship towards one of these scenarios.
In so doing, the stage is set for re-conceptualizing 21st century transatlantic relations.