The Vital Partnership
May 1, 2005
The Vital Partnership is a political, historical, and intellectual assessment of the evolution of transatlantic relations. This partnership, warns Simon Serfaty, is clearly at a crossroads, and even at risk. The problem, he argues, is neither personal nor bilateral or even circumstantial — not even over Bush, France, or Iraq. Instead, the crisis is structural, the result of four interconnected facts. One is the preponderance of American power, which the end of the Cold war left without any immediate competitor. Another fact is the integration of Europe as a European Union whose non-military capabilities and institutional influence now enable it to resist the sway of that power. A third fact is the impact of globalization, meaning the inability for any country, including the most powerful among them, to remain indifferent to developments elsewhere. And the fourth fact is the emergence of a new form of war-like terror, unveiled most dramatically on September 11, 2001. Under such conditions, concludes Serfaty, the defining transatlantic issue is not over power and weakness, but over power and order. And Serfaty calls on the Bush administration to complete the postwar strategy pursued by President Truman during his own second term in office, when the institutional order organized around American power identified the like-minded states of Europe as its allies of choice for the management of the new security normalcy that threatened to engulf the West during the Cold War.
Simon Serfaty holds the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy at CSIS. He is also eminent scholar and senior professor of U.S. foreign policy at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.