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Time to Grow up: What Obama's Re-election Means for Europe

European Council on Foreign Relations | November 2012

Abstract from the ECFR report by Dimitar Bechev, Anthony Dworkin, François Godement, Richard Gowan, Hans Kundnani, Mark Leonard, Daniel Levy, Kadri Liik and Nick Witney:

"Most Europeans are relieved at the re-election of Barack Obama. But in his second term, he will face even greater pressure to cut costs than in his first term and is likely to continue the US "pivot" to Asia, though the Middle East still has the potential to derail it. This means that, although transatlantic security co-operation will continue, Europeans will increasingly be expected to take responsibility for sorting out problems in their own neighbourhood.

Whereas Europeans seek to build a multilateral, rule-based world, Americans seek to craft a multi-partner world. Thus Europe may increasingly lack an engaged partner in on multilateral issues as well as in its own neighbourhood. Europe now needs to grow up and focus on developing its own power, relationships with rising powers and its ability to manage crises in its own backyard. In particular, Europeans need to reach out to their neighbours - especially Russia  and  Turkey  -  through  a  European security initiative. They should engage with the Syrian opposition; push back against any shift towards military action against Iran and focus on partial and immediate sanctions relief in exchange for verifiable suspension of uranium enrichment; and support the new democracies in North Africa.

Finally, a serious strategic debate in Europe - which is to say, a Strategic Review commissioned by the European Council - is now essential."

Download the ECFR report


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Thu, Dec 6th 2012, 13:49

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There is an emergent new world order and the tendency to rely upon a first level of analysis is a fallacy. The compulsions for Europe are divergent as are those for the USA with areas like AFPAK where they face divergent security & threat perceptions - given the varied histories of the them both in the region.

The tendency of the Arab Spring (a misnomer since largely Islamic & Islamists are taking over in most of the areas that are heralded as some democratization successes). Notably these noises largely emanate from the USA and its academia. The weakening of the Arab world is not a useful strategy even if it is seen as helping Israel since Israel barely enjoys any better legitimacy than those states whose weakening may seem to help Israel in the long run. Yet that is being done, giving a distinct medieval as well as a religious colour to the whole affair. Unfortunately that is also akin to attempt dragging the whole world into the European Dark Ages when the rest of the world does not share a similar history of having those periods marked as their Dark Ages even within Europe as a continent.

Then one also has an emergent China that not merely seeks a certain modernity and modernization of itself, but also follows a world view that is more conducive to the modern period and the twenty-first century than the effort by many to impose a medieval nightmare of the world and one begins wondering if it is the Vatican doing this though the voices largely remain from the USA and rather shrill at that! Hilariously when the USA came into existence much after the Dark Ages of Europe that should see such a biblical twist to geo-politics!

As real-politik, it remains a bad bet since the modernization drive is not akin to the Arab Spring that is largely seeing sectarian Islamists taking over from relatively 'secular' dictators and which does not remain a democratization drive. But such views and noises are expected in discussions over academia. Thankfully, such religion-oriented views aren't the reality in most of the world. US-EU relations would perhaps be factored more by shared threat perceptions in areas that matter: safeguarding the democratic freedom and encouraging modernity to emerge - most usefully within the US Think-Tanks!

South Asia is one region that does see a strategic socialization in terms of anti-modernity and smacks much more as Islamic than democratic, with all due apologies to the poor Hindu radicals that so swing between being aspirations to be modern and rabid medivalism!
Tags: | democracy | security | EU-USA |

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