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Transatlantic Relations in the Age of Donald Trump

While the future of the transatlantic relations has been a serious question of concern since the end of the Cold War, the institutionalized security partnerships, complex economic relations, and common threat perceptions in the U.S. and the EU helped these international actors work together and continue the working relationship that they had established decades earlier. However, in recent years, the relationship has been exposed to serious difficulties and challenges. Trump’s critical rhetoric and statements about various European countries have been an irritant in transatlantic relations, and unpredictability is now considered the defining characteristic of the U.S. attitude toward Europe.

Transatlantic Relations in the Age of Donald Trump
A family photo of the NATO leaders during the summit in Brussels on July 11-12, 2018. Getty Images

A Reluctant Ally?

 Relations between the U.S. and its allies have been a hot issue in recent years for scholars of international relations. The changing nature and transformation of U.S. foreign policy in its relations with allies have serious implications for different regions around the world, as well as the broader international system. Although this debate has reached a heightened level with the presidency of Donald Trump, the process of U.S. disentanglement from its allies was visible in previous administrations. The unilateralism of the George W. Bush Presidency and the Obama Administration’s disregard for allies both generated a serious crisis in the United States’ alliance network. Many started to argue that the U.S. was becoming a “reluctant”1 or an “unreliable” ally.2 In a recent study, Jakub J. Gyrgiel and A. Wess Mitchell, who is currently serving as the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, described the current state of affairs between U.S. and allies as an ‘advanced crisis.’ According to them,

Many long-standing U.S. allies believe that the United States, for reasons of either decline or disinterest, is in the process of pulling back from decades-long commitments and inaugurating a multiregional diplomatic and military retrenchment… [A] steady succession of U.S. actions –cancellations of regionally deployed U.S. weapon systems, reductions in forward-deployed U.S. combat units, lessening of U.S. diplomatic support for traditional allies, participation in tacit bilateral bargaining with large authoritarian states, a much-touted but under-resourced Asian “pivot”– have seemed to confirm their suspicions.3

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