Farewell to the Transatlantic Academy
After nine very successful fellowship years, the Transatlantic Academy is formally closing on June 1, 2017. It held its final conference on May 23, reuniting its former fellows and the Academy’s partners. The German Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Peter Wittig, hosted a reception at the conclusion of the conference at his residence, a fitting close given that Ambassador Klaus Scharioth opened the Academy with a dinner at this residence in 2008.
The Transatlantic Academy was established in 2007 on the initiative of The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. The Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation quickly joined the group of partners, to be followed by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. These institutions believed that Europe and North America remain indispensable partners for one another, but that the challenges were now less on the security side and had more to do with maintaining and developing the Western liberal order in a period when non-Western, and often illiberal, powers were rising. The West was confronted not only by the rise of China, but by the decline of transatlantic cooperation at a time when this order was under siege in ways quite different from those the struggle with the Soviet Union had presented. It was important to bring the best in academic thinking to the policy communities in North America and Europe, but especially to Washington as a way of demonstrating the renewed relevance of the transatlantic partnership.
Over its nine fellowship years, Transatlantic Academy fellows have focused on both common external challenges like the rise of China, Turkey’s changing foreign policy, the competition for natural resources, and the resurgence of Russia, and also internal Western issues like immigration and integration, democratic deficits, and illiberal populism. The Academy concluded with an examination of the German-American relationship.
Over these nine years, the Transatlantic Academy has hosted 120 fellows and produced an impressive amount of research, including nine collaborative reports, two joint books, and two State of the Transatlantic World essay collections, along with many policy papers, op-eds, and blogs, and a series of excellent workshops and discussions. Our network of scholars drawn from 23 countries will be important intermediaries and interpreters in this testing time for transatlantic relations.
In conclusion, as Executive Director I would like to express my appreciation for the contributions of all those who served as fellows and for the support that the partners have provided over this past decade. One could not have had a more congenial group of fellows or a better support mechanism of institutions whose only demand was the expectation of quality research. Final thanks go to the small but incredibly dedicated staff for having supported me in administering this very special institution.
The Academy website will be kept online for the next year in order to allow access to all of the publications produced during the past decade. Reports and papers will continue to be available on the website of The German Marshall Fund of the United States.
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In the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first European trip of his administration, and of rhetoric from Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her challenger Martin Schulz, and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, you may find the Academy’s final collaborative report Suspicious Minds: U.S.-German Relations in the Trump Era, helpful. The report argues that despite suspicion and misunderstanding on both sides of the Atlantic, Trump and his administration must value the importance of the transatlantic relationship to the United States and work with European partners on key challenges like counterterrorism, Russia, China, and trade, while Germany should creatively increase defense spending and capabilities as part of its own national interest.
I would also like to draw your attention to our other publications from this month. Bosch Public Policy Fellow Michael Kimmage, who recently served on the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio, re-examines the conflict in eastern Ukraine and a renewed diplomatic push from the Trump administration toward resolving the conflict, in “Getting Beyond Minsk: Toward a Resolution of the Conflict in Ukraine.” Two prominent security experts, Christopher S. Chivvis and Guido Steinberg, who shared a residence at the Academy as Bosch Public Policy Fellows in January and February, consider “Countering the Islamic State in Germany and Abroad: German-American Policy Options,” in a new policy brief, stressing the need for transatlantic counterterrorism cooperation and strengthened counterterrorism efforts on the part of Germany. And in his provocative paper “Surplus Germany,” Senior Fellow Wade Jacoby argues Germany has grown disruptively reliant on trade, has used policy instruments that tend to restrict consumption and investment, and must change these policies.
In June, we will publish two final Academy papers, Senior Fellow Mary Elise Sarotte’s “The Renewal of the Russian Challenge in European Security: History as a Guide to Policy” and Bosch Public Policy Fellow James Sherr’s “The Militarization of Russian Policy” on our website.
Thank you for your interest in the Academy and our work.
Stephen F. Szabo
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.