Big Waves Ahead: Walter Russell Mead Discussing Expectations of a New U.S. Administration Towards Germany
The next U.S. president will have to develop responses to a changing international security order and may advance different foreign policy priorities than those of the outgoing Obama administration. This will have implications for Germany and transatlantic relations in general. During his visit to Berlin, Walter Russell Mead outlined possible expectations a new U.S. administration may have towards German policymaking and the extent to which Germany’s role on the international stage may be affected by a change in U.S. policies.
The global liberal order is challenged by the rise of authoritarianism, the reappearance of Russia as an aggressive actor, struggles for regional predominance in Asia and the Middle East, and the threat of global terrorism. The promises of an end to ideological rivalries and a continuous development towards liberal democracies around the world did not hold true. “After ’89, we thought that our political system will not be contested anymore. Now, however, we see that there are big waves ahead,” noted Mead at a public discussion hosted by The German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Berlin office.
To face these challenges, the transatlantic relationship remains of strategic relevance to both Germany and the United States. However, regardless of who will be elected president, the question of sharing and defining burdens and responsibilities among the transatlantic partners will emerge more prominently. The focus of U.S. foreign policy on Europe will lessen, and the United States will encourage its partners to increase their international engagement. According to Walter Russell Mead, a raise in defense spending within the NATO framework in order to meet the 2 percent goal will be one important factor. Given its central role within the European Union, Germany will be moreover expected to tackle tendencies inside and outside the EU forces that threaten to undermine European integration and unity. Economic malaise in Southern Europe and instabilities in the Eurozone, the unprecedented influx of refugees, the lack of common European positions on foreign policy questions as well as the rise of populist movements are pressing issues for the years to come.
“We are entering a new and stormier period of history,” commented Mead. The partners on both sides of the Atlantic have to intensify their cooperation and proactively face international challenges. “We have to learn to ride the storm, rather than hiding from it,” Mead concluded with regard to the future of the partnership.
Photo credit: The White House
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