AmericA, europe, And the Future oF the West 5 America, Europe, and the future of the West “ By Helga Flores Trejo Thinking about the emerging new world disorder, one must acknowledge that the institutions, rules, and values that have defined global stability since the end of the second world war and that have been at the core of what has been perceived as the West, now lack legitimacy, efficiency, and cohesion. ” The world at a geopolitical envision the future of the West—and what intersection do Europeans and Americans need to do to reinvent the transatlantic alliance that is Afew monthsgoes beyond subprime loans ago in Davos, financier George Soros argued that the American economic crisis the core of the West and which has steered our societies through the second half of the 20th century? and lacking liquidity. It also signals a re- Thinking about the emerging new world ordering of the postwar economy and the disorder, one must acknowledge that the end of dollar dominance. He noted that institutions, rules, and values that have the “current crisis is not only the bust that defined global stability since the end of the follows the housing boom … It’s basically second World War and that have been at the end of a 60-year period of continuing the core of what has been perceived as the credit expansion based on the dollar as the West, now lack legitimacy, efficiency, and reserve currency.” There also were other cohesion. “The West” referred to here is not indicators suggesting that a new economic a geographic entity but a set of institutions realm may be further developed than and any given number of societies that acknowledged. Kamal Nath, the Indian represent liberal democracy, market Minister for Commerce and Industry, made economies, and that respect and defend clear that China was a more important individual rights. trading partner to his country than America It is important to acknowledge that these and that, for the same reason, his concern ideas are losing their appeal and become about a possible recession in the United inefficient when major parts of the world are States was limited. He might have added excluded from economic opportunities. A that emerging markets, including China, by considerable loss of legitimacy is occurring now hold the majority of the global foreign when the core principles are violated in exchange reserves and savings. A little later, Guantanamo and during the torture scandals. U.S. economist, Nouriel Roubini, wrote in The system based upon the monetary the New York Times that “the United States management of Bretton Woods has been in looks like an emerging market” because of shambles since 1944, the Doha Development its large deficits and weak currency. Roubini Round has stalled for years within WTO, pointed out that Brazil, an actual emerging the Non Proliferation Treaty exists only in market, had done a better job overhauling name, and NATO is facing a vital challenge its economy. And this was before Fannie in Afghanistan with a very uncertain Mae, Freddy Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman outcome. At the same time, a new world Brothers, AIG or even the recent decline in beyond the transatlantic sphere of influence the American stock market. is emerging. Parts of it are quite successful Combine this dire outlook with Charlie and respectable—for example, the Chinese Kupchan’s argument of the world facing effort of lifting millions out of poverty. But a geopolitical intersection that will on the other hand, this is not the only instance revolutionize the Atlantic order and enforce in Asia where economic success is decoupled what he calls “more sober and realistic from the expansion of democratic rights and aspirations,” and you have to ask a very according institutional standards. To further serious question: What will the West signify complicate the situation, authoritarian by the mid-21st century? How is one to regimes like Russia are enjoying an increased 6 AmericA, europe, And the Future oF the West leverage based on their natural resources. is not free of dangers and contradictions. The transatlantic conversation went from No reset button being about the United States and Europe to how the two partners’ global role could Theseneeds to acknowledge thatshifts seem economic and political irreversible, and the transatlantic alliance finally there is no be defined. To reflect on these changes of the past and also anticipate the challenges of the coming decade, we have asked some way back to the good old days of the Cold of our partners and friends to share their War. And with no reset button at hand, it thoughts in this publication in what we hope will be important to fundamentally rethink will contribute to a much needed exchange. Western institutions and understand the new global political and economic conditions and How to revitalize the ideas of how they interplay. Too often, new challenges the West? are still framed in the concepts and language of the past. For example, dealing with an assertive Russia might demand more sophisticated answers than expulsing the The reason for asuch necessityoperandi examination is the a thorough re- the foundation for new modus to set country from international fora that might within the next decade, while at the same be perceived as outdated Western clubs time dealing with economic turmoil, anyway. Just the same, tackling a climate resource scarcity, climate change, and new challenge of historic proportions demands an authoritarian players in foreign policy. entirely new understanding of dependency, Europe as well as the United States will cooperation, and innovative ways of sharing need to find an effective way to manage these responsibility with countries like China. paradigmatic shifts. This cannot be done within the terms of the transatlantic alliance Looking back alone if it is meant to be comprehensive and successful. There will be no other way than to When theitsD.C. in the fall of 1998, opened in Washington Heinrich-Böll-Foundation North American office tackle these problems within a much larger context and by establishing new coalitions. It would be dangerous to pursue the illusion a new coalition had just taken over that the mere revival of the Cold War era’s the German government in Bonn, and multilateralist traditions will suffice. The NATO was planning its first out-of-area new international actors on the global scene operation in Kosovo. Ever since, the Böll are not only emerging economies like China, Foundation has worked to promote a green but also NGOs, individuals, corporations, transatlantic network and to address non- regional organizations, and others. A new traditional challenges while not neglecting system of international governance will need the more traditional foreign policy debates. to be inclusive, since it will depend upon Challenges such as climate change and these actors. sustainable development, strengthening civil Astonishingly, there are still few society, advancing a broader understanding systematic debates about that fact within of national security, human rights and the transatlantic community; even though democracy promotion, international law, the economic, political, and environmental and global economic disparities have been indicators are already making themselves at the center of our transatlantic work fully known. We are much more—perhaps over the past decade. During this time, we excessively—concerned with the interior have seen major positive developments in design of the relationship. Therefore, the many areas. Climate change is no longer a debate about reinventing the West should preoccupation for environmentalists alone not exclude non-traditional allies. On the but considered a strategic matter. The contrary, it is essential to revitalize ideas challenges of climate change and energy that attract others as well as to provide have the potential to develop from having an answer as to how institutions and been a source of conflict and dissent in governments are supposed to steer the world the past to becoming a focal point of in an era of unprecedented transformation. transatlantic cooperation in the future, A more systematic political conversation as accurately described by Chris Flavin. has only very recently begun, addressing the As German expert on international law fact that established Western institutions Ulrich K. Preuss argues, human rights and have disintegrated after the end of the block democratic standards have become pillars confrontation—and that it is important to of foreign policy and are framed within think about the need for global governance. national security interests. However, this On the American side there were short lived extraordinary qualitative improvement illusions about the potential benefits of the AmericA, europe, And the Future oF the West 7 “unipolar moment.” But the aftermath of been slow in adapting to this new situation. the Iraq invasion has shattered that belief But no one will wait for Europe and the U.S. and entirely marginalized it even among to get back in form, and it seems the ball is most of its neo-conservative proponents in in the court of the transatlantic players. This Washington D.C. might be the most significant change that In the future, the West has to become a has occurred over the last decade. nucleus for global governance within existing The task is immense, because a international institutions and beyond them, reconstructed West must represent more promoting the rule of international law than common interest in economic and and providing mechanisms that counter security affairs. It must represent the shortsighted policies. This is especially renewal of the idea of a liberal, diverse, important since the 20th century’s universal and legal environment that mediates its human rights ideas have been called into respective national interests with the more question time and again in recent years. universal needs of the world at large. This Among the most compelling examples is new West will not merely be a region or Sudan, where China is building infrastructure territorial entity—it will be a condition of and helping maintain the regime while politics. From genocide to climate change, Europeans and Americans try to isolate it. the major challenges of the 21st century can Another example is Russia, which refuses to only be tackled if Europe and the United accept democratic changes in neighboring States lead by example and are perceived states and threatens the ones that join as representing something beyond narrow NATO. But the West will only be able to national interests. Is this too ambitious, as lead if it acknowledges that it cannot and Charlie Kupchan suggests? Perhaps, but should not exclude the new emerging actors that should not prevent us from trying. as it sets the new rules. Indeed, the West has Helga Flores Trejo has been the executive director of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation in North America since 2003. She is an expert on German and U.S. foreign policy and EU affairs. As head of the Böll Foundation’s North American operations in Washington, she focuses her work on global challenges confronting the United States and Europe, primarily regarding energy and climate change, engagement with China and Russia, and confronting fundamentalism in the Middle East, among others. Prior to leading the Foundation in Washington, Ms. Flores Trejo worked in the Balkans as a senior policy advisor for the OSCE Mission. Before that she served as a foreign and development policy advisor in the German Parliament. She served concurrently as senior advisor on European policy for the State Government of Hamburg. Helga Flores Trejo holds a Masters degree in Political Science and International Law from the Johann Wolfgang-Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and speaks Spanish, German, French, and English.