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Put simply, the generation of Americans that fought alongside European allies in the Second World War was no more. Indeed, if current trends were to continue, then by the middle of the 21st century the United States would have become a very different kind of country in terms of its population. Of course, such a transition could be read as a sign of multicultural success.

Other analysts were less certain.


Other factors, too, tended to compromise the quality of the transatlantic relationship. One, quite clearly, has been the ongoing problem of financing international security in general and European security in particular. This growing asymmetry might have caused political embarrassment in Europe. But more importantly, it caused and continues to cause even greater irritation across the Atlantic in Washington.


And one can easily understand why. Nor is this all.

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Not only does the US account for more than two thirds of all spending on NATO, it also spends just under 4 per cent of its GDP on defence, while the average defence budget of most Europeans countries is just about half that, with the richest European member Germany coming in at well below 2 per cent Kottasova, Beyond the question of spending, NATO itself also became the source of transatlantic friction. However, the unfortunate fact remains that Trump's claim only made public what other Americans had been saying privately for some time.

In addition, when in NATO took on the responsibility of intervening in Libya — albeit with a high degree of logistical support from the Americans — President Obama attacked the British and the French later for failing to follow through after the war had been won on the ground. This was not only less than diplomatic. To many European observers it seemed downright disloyal Goldberg, Yet, perhaps one should not have been so surprised. Barak Obama may have been personally popular in Europe, and certainly preferable to his republican predecessor.

The son of a Kenyan father and an independently minded liberal white mother, Obama was hardly the typical American politician. Raised for some years in Hawaii and then Indonesia, where for some time he had attended a Muslim school, Obama was bound to bring a fresh new view of the world to the White House. And indeed he did. In fact, almost from day one, he seemed to recognise that the world he had inherited was not the world of the Cold War or even the unipolar world of the s.

In and of itself, this new focus should not have been a concern to Europe. However, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began to talk in glowing terms of a rising Asia, to which the United States should be tilting, with barely a mention of Europe, the Europeans did start to worry — perhaps with good reason.

After all, the Obama administration now demonstrating an enthusiasm about Asia that it was no longer showing towards Europe. This was by no means her view alone.

The European Union Explained*

While Asia appeared to be moving up the policy food chain, Europe increasingly began to be seen in Washington as a source of woes. Of special concern among US policy makers was the Eurozone, whose problems even the Europeans themselves seemed unable to solve. Moreover, as the crisis deepened, or at least failed to get resolved, American opinion became increasingly negative with some on the right attacking the EU as a failed liberal project Buchanan, , while others of a more progressive outlook asked whether it could even survive.

Three crises and an opportunity: Europe’s stake in multilateralism

Stiglitz in particular was especially damning about the way in which the EU was being undermined by the Euro. Adopting a single European currency, he argued, had been a fatal error. The Euro, he went on, was not only causing a recession in those weaker economies where they needed monetary flexibility. If there was no reform to the system, the common currency could easily go on to destroy the European project in its entirety Stiglitz, Even the Obama administration did not remain neutral and urged European leaders to abandon what it saw as the dead end policy prescription of balanced budgets and deficit reduction Nelson et al.

Europe, however, seemed to be in no mood to listen to advice coming from across the Atlantic. Germany especially saw no reason to change direction while its own economy continued to prosper. But as critics went on to point out, Germany's good fortunes was in part based on the economic misfortune of others. No doubt on a personal level, Obama and Merkel enjoyed a decent relationship.

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However, there was no hiding the fact that US relations with its largest and most important partner were facing very testing times indeed. Nor, it seemed, was this just about economics. On a whole range of other issues from TTIP through to the use of electronic surveillance of German leaders, German views of America were turning decidedly negative Kundani, The transatlantic relationship therefore was already facing a series of important challenges some time before President Trump entered office. But his highly contested election turned a potentially problematic situation into a critical one, nowhere more dramatically than in Germany itself.

A German poll taken in early indicated as much, with only around 30 per cent of people expressing any degree of trust in the new American leader The Local, Nor was this just a German reaction alone. Across Europe, Trump provoked an almost unprecedented political storm. His open hostility towards the EU, his vocal support for Brexit, his positive views about Putin, not to mention his rejection of all things liberal, including globalisation, could not but have a disastrous impact on European public opinion.

Indeed, when it was mooted that he would soon be making a state visit to the UK some time in , well over a million people objected, including many MPs and the Speaker of the House of Commons BBC News, Others across Europe were equally concerned. Marine Le Pen may have welcomed his election, as did others on the far right. However, most European opinion formers seemed genuinely appalled. Bush, they felt, had been bad enough.

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  7. But here was a newly elected leader of the free world with views closer to those of the National Front in France than the political mainstream. The article continued that hardly anybody in Europe had truly believed that Americans would ever elect someone so obviously unfit to lead the most powerful nation in the world. Tragically, however, they had. Many feared the worst. Not only would he be bad for America. Clearly, some very difficult and dangerous days lay ahead Wergin, The relationship might be entering choppy waters. The West might yet survive Cox, a. This latter group has in turn divided rather neatly into those who feel China as a rising power can gently ease itself into the welcoming arms of the liberal international order and others of a more realist persuasion who insist that the outcome is likely to be anything but peaceful Buzan and Cox, But there is little consensus, or so it would seem, about whether it can continue to rise for ever and what all this might mean for the rest of the world.

    A New Europe in the Changing Global System

    In the wider debate about China in the West, the American voice has clearly been dominant. Europeans meanwhile, with a few notable exceptions, have tended to focus less on the big strategic questions — presumably because Europe no longer does strategy — and to concentrate instead on economics and how much Europe on the one side and China on the other can benefit materially from the relationship.

    Of course, this does not mean the relationship is not without its economic stresses and strains. Thus, while Europe insists that China is still not a full blown market economy and needs to push ahead with more reforms, China attacks Europe for not transferring more of its high technology or, more sensitively, of not selling the PRC more weaponry. That said, the relationship seems to be functioning to most people's satisfaction with China over the past few years having become the EU's second largest trading partner — just behind the United States — and the EU in turn having become China's biggest.

    Moreover, both sides believe the relationship still has a long way to go economically. As a recent report noted, though the relationship has brought benefits to both sides, investment flows continue to show vast untapped potential, especially when taking into account the size of the two economies. With China accounting for just 2 to 3 per cent of overall European investments abroad and Chinese investments in Europe remaining relatively low, it is evident that enormous possibilities exist European Commission, The stress on both sides about the mutually beneficial character of the relationship with few of the strategic tensions apparent in, say, China's increasingly fractious relationship with the United States, should not, however, obscure the very real challenge the new China poses for Europe.

    On the other hand, there remain a number of outstanding issues. Nor, it seems, is the situation likely to improve any time soon, given the enormous spare capacity in so many Chinese industries. As a European Commission report explained, the Chinese government basically has one priority: to keep as many people employed as possible. One way of doing this, of course, was and remains dumping goods onto foreign markets, including European markets European Commission, There is also the additional problem of what might happen in the future if China were to be granted full market status.

    If this were to happen then China, naturally enough, would be delighted. But for Europe the results could be economically very damaging indeed with the possible loss — according to one report — of somewhere between 1. While job losses in Europe itself pose a very real challenge to European leaders, so too has China's highly successful drive to win market share — as well as hearts and minds — in both Africa and South America.

    The basic facts are now clear. In , the two continents were effectively within the Western economic sphere of influence. Fifteen years later and China had become a significant economic player both south of the Rio Grande and south of the Maghreb Economist Intelligence Unit, Four years later in , the total volume of trade between the two was 24 times larger than it had been back in They often had to work and live in appalling conditions. Only at the end of the century did their situation improve with the gradual attainment of voting rights.