In the aftermath of 9/11, the European countries joined the US in their “War on Terror”. In fact – while continuing to pursue their commercial and monetary integration – they decided to collaborate militarily and politically with Washington in reshaping the Central Asia and the Middle-East assets. That was active synergy on the global stage.
A decade later, the EU and the US are gradually but evidently implementing two different strategies on a wide range of crucial matters, such as how to solve the debt crisis and regulate financial markets, how to limit the effects of climate change and what type of relations to establish with the BRICS.
In the short term, Washington and Brussels will inevitably tend to polarize their own positions. As a main consequence of this lack of common vision, the international status of the whole West will definitely decline. If things continue to stay like this, the West is destined to lose its historical supremacy in the world arena, especially regarding the vital competition for energy resources, commercial partnerships and military alliances.
In the long term, the combination of the increasing weakness of the West and the rise of new powers implies that the international balance of power will inexorably shift in favor of some Asian and Latin American countries. Thus, for the first time in the last 200 years, the West is seriously risking not to fight to impose and enlarge its hegemony but rather to defend it, so as not to be subordinated to a new dominant bloc. Because of this situation, more and more members of Western elites sustain that Europe and the US should rapidly begin to work together with the priority of stabilizing and unifying the West, with the alternative of facing a future, potentially violent, redistribution of global power. Significantly, on both sides of the Atlantic, more and more representatives of governments, the private sector and academia are fully aware that from any geo-strategic point of view, perpetuating the current situation by continuing to think, act and react in separate (sometimes even opposite) ways is a neither desirable nor sustainable option.
Against this background, the Western countries should above all strengthen their ideological cohesion and improve their practical cooperation. In concrete terms, they should increase and coordinate their national political force, economic capacity, cultural global influence and military capability. However, four years after the beginning of the financial crisis and one year after NATO intervention in Libya, the EU and US cannot simply recuperate and enhance their traditional friendship but have to re-build it materially to put it back on both an innovative as well as effective basis.
In fact the transatlantic partnership grew as a result of a historical process determined and affected by some fundamental events such as World War II and its aftermath, the Cold War dynamics, the fall of the Soviet Union, German reunification and globalization. Today, the international affairs environment has largely changed. For these reasons, in 2012 the first challenge for Europe and the US is to use their precious, common heritage to build a modern and efficacious alliance, on the one hand, defining and discussing all their concerns, interests and objectives, and on the other hand, synthesizing a unique common strategy of thinking and action.