Alliances (read: geopolitical relationships) first wrangled, then sustained global economic progress and relative stability after two devastating World Wars. The end of the Cold War ushered in a brave new world of threats, notably from non-state actors (Al-Qaeda, ISIS), technology (cyber, biochemical), and climate change. To address these challenges, cooperation among allies with shared values and goals is no less critical.
For the past 80 years, global security and economic alliances such as NATO, the UN, and the EU enabled and facilitated cooperation among nations. These institutions have been responsible for both economic progress and the prevention of major armed conflict among nations. The working theory has been that the economic benefits of capitalism and the social value of upholding fundamental liberties and human rights would make it too costly for nations to go to war with one another.
Today, the value of these alliances is being challenged. Britain has pulled out of the EU despite the benefit to its economy. President Trump has questioned the value of NATO and long-term diplomatic alliances in favor of a transactional approach with both adversaries and friends. A mood of “go it alone” nationalism has emerged in Europe, and China has taken a more globally active role.
Security issues, while paramount—especially in the Middle East—are not the only concern. Pandemics, the refugee crisis and migration flows, environmental degradation, natural disasters, and mass scale global development initiatives all require cooperation and coordination to be effectively addressed. How will we meet these challenges as alliances fray and a more fractured world order emerges?
Suggested readings for our policy salon on Monday, June 5th:
- China and EU Strengthen Promise to Paris Deal with U.S. Poised to Step Away (June 2017)
China and the EU will forge an alliance to take a leading role in tackling climate change in response to Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.
- To Defeat ISIS, Cooperation is Key (April 2017)
Cooperation is the best hope for defeating ISIS, but countries need incentives to work together, share information, modify their laws, and protect communities that are vulnerable to radicalization.
- Russia and China’s Enduring Alliance (Feb 2017)
Sino-Russian ties have been improving more or less steadily since the waning years of the Cold War due to a shared political vision for world order.
- Merkel, After Discordant G-7 Meeting, Is Looking Past Trump (May 2017)
Angela Merkel has concluded that the U.S. is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.
- In Praise of a Transatlantic Divorce (May 2017)
Trump’s trip wasn’t a “home run,” but it’s not bad for Europe to start taking more responsibility for itself.
Additional articles will be posted to our Facebook page.
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