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Is the West finished? In recent years, observers have begun pointing to signs that the transatlantic community is eroding in all manner of ways. Nationalism on the rise. Its economic twin, protectionism, resurgent. Europeans unwilling to cooperate with the US when it comes down to the use of military force. Since 2016, following the twin shocks of Brexit and Trump’s election, the concept of a unified transatlantic community seems to have become a relic. But, in Pax Transatlantica, the international historian Jussi Hanhimäki explains why the West is far from over.
By examining three aspects of the post-Cold War transatlantic relationship, Pax Transatlantica provides a robust repudiation of the widespread pessimism about the state of the West. First, Hanhimäki argues that—despite inflammatory and dismissive rhetoric—NATO has thrived by expanding its remit and scope. Second, the transatlantic relationship boasts the richest and most closely connected transcontinental economy in the world. Lastly, Hanhimäki traces the parallel evolution of domestic politics in the transatlantic space. He contends that populism is not causing a rift between the US and Europe. Rather, the spread of populism evinces that their politics are in fact closely integrated.
Shifts and even crises abound in the history of the transatlantic relationship. Still, the West endures. Conflicts, rather than undermining the relationship, illustrate its resilience. Hanhimäki shows that the transatlantic relationship is playing out this cycle today, not least evidenced by the impact of the presidency of Joe Biden and the challenge of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Not only will the West continue to exist, Hanhimäki concludes, it is likely to thrive in the future.
Annabelle Littoz-Monnet, Professor, International Relations/Political Science and Director of the Global Governance Centre, the Graduate Institute
Hanhimaki, Jussi. 2021. Pax Transatlantica: America and Europe in the Post-Cold War Era. Oxford University Press.
This event is organised in collaboration with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the International History and Politics Department at the Graduate Institute in Geneva