Fostering a transatlantic renaissance to salvage the Western alliance
Is the Western alliance, which brought together the United States and Europe after World War II, in an inevitable state of decline, and if so, can anything be done to repair it? There seems little doubt that fragmentation of the Western alliance was under way even before Donald Trump’s unorthodox policymaking broadened the schism. Opinions differ as to the next step, however, with some taking the current divisions as a given and advocating the creation of a new group of like-minded democracies that would exclude the United States, while others seek to exploit the rift in hopes of furthering their own nationalistic ambitions for a postliberal world.
The authors outline a “transatlantic renaissance,” in which U.S. and European leaders would work together to craft a new Atlantic Charter that would restore the liberal objectives that animated the Western alliance for more than seven decades. Modernizing institutional relationships across the Atlantic should help both the United States and Europe address common challenges jointly and improve burdensharing. The world needs a vibrant and energetic West to protect fundamental values from illiberal forces, both internal and external.
Praise for Partners of First Resort
“At a time when the transatlantic relationship faces the most difficult moment since its creation, Partners of First Resort is an affirmation of the vital bonds that tie Europe and the United States: a common history and a shared destiny.”
—José Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission and former prime minister of Portugal
“In recent years, the concept of the ‘West’ has been eroded as a community of values as well as of interests. Today, Europeans do not recognize themselves in the values of today’s official America and our paths even diverge geopolitically. It is time for a reset, working together instead of working against each other. This book radiates that will.”
—Herman Van Rompuy, former president of the European Council
“Partners of First Resort presents a compelling, timely, and extremely important argument for the long-standing value of the transatlantic relationship—in terms of national security, economics, shared values, common heritage, and Western imperatives for the future—and, more significantly, for pursuing initiatives to update and reinvigorate that relationship.”
—General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former commander: NATO Training Mission–Iraq, Multinational Force–Iraq, NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; CIA Director (2011–2012)
“Partners of First Resort is an eloquent and convincing case for a renewed and renovated transatlantic alliance, reaffirmed in a new Atlantic Charter. Founded on liberal principles and common interests, driven by the need to cement common protection, the original Atlantic Charter rallied the democracies to resist the Axis powers in World War II.”
—Michael Doyle, Columbia University
“Partners of First Resort is a clarion call for a new Atlantic Charter to reaffirm the values and shared interests that formed the basis of the most successful alliance system in history. It also offers a detailed blueprint for what is needed to reimagine and reinvigorate an alliance that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have allowed to erode. The task is urgent, and the challenge is enormous.”
—Robert Hutchings, Princeton University; former chairman, U.S. National Intelligence Council
“Partners of First Resort comes across, then, as a bold attempt to set out a grand strategy for the West, perhaps timed to catch the attention of President Biden and his team of advisers.”
—Paul Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal
David McKean is a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund. Formerly he served as director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State and as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.
Bart M.J. Szewczyk is adjunct professor at Sciences Po in Paris. Formerly he served on the Policy Planning staff of the U.S. Department of State and as adviser on global affairs at the European Commission's think tank.
Los Angeles Review of Books