America and Europe in the Wake of post-Atlanticism Along with Russia and China

Historically, the first stage of global order transformation took place after the First World War, having a temporal soothing effect while a number of great economic powers were in the process of recovery.

Historically, the first stage of global order transformation took place after the First World War, having a temporal soothing effect while a number of great economic powers were in the process of recovery. On top of that, an intricate system of alliances before the WWI induced imperial and colonial rivalry for wealth and resulted in the fiasco of the European balance of power.

The second stage of the global paradigm shift occurred after the Second World War. International actors claimed neighbour territories and expansionism had been the driving force behind nationalistic states expanding their territorial boundaries by means of military aggression.

At the end of the Second World War, the U.S. perceived and ranked the involvement in the European Security framework as the top national priority in order to avoid the emergence of a new hegemonic power in Europe on the debris of the European balance of power.

The risk that the Soviet Union could succeed where Nazi Germany had collapsed inevitably elicited the U.S.-European security partnership and forming of the Atlantic political order. Click to Tweet

Subsequently, during the Cold War, bloc based security systems emerged and European states along with the U.S. established a number of security institutions. The main aim of multi-layered institutional arrangements was to prevent and avoid Soviet pressure and influence in the rest of Europe.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. enjoyed the role of the only remaining superpower. After a while though, China has emerged among highflyers while the Russian Federation came back to the political stage making the world order turn multipolar.

Earlier, the hegemonic dominance of the U.S. successfully fostered the NATO enlargement process starting with the German reunification, the Visegrad Group, the Vilnius Group and finally reaching aspiring countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Macedonia. However, due to geographical proximity, NATO faced challenges and difficulties from a newly emerged Russian Federation.

In spite of intensive cooperative frameworks with particular stakeholders in targeted countries and regions, a possible

NATO membership of Georgia and Ukraine became a difficult task due to Russian aggression with a strong opposition to any NATO expansion plans. Click to Tweet

On top of that, the long-term strategic shift by the U.S. from Europe to Asia puts the Euro-Atlantic security cooperation into question. There is no clear projection if the U.S. security planners focus on the Asian continent and let Europe face challenges alone or the Transatlantic relationship remains steady.

Moreover, the

EU is enthusiastic about developing a European military dimension which could undermine NATO and weaken interoperability within NATO. Click to Tweet
However, the Russian activities in Ukraine are jeopardizing the concept of a whole, secure and free Europe resulting in U.S. roll-back of its rebalancing strategy. In a chain of political reactions, Russia unreasonably acts as a protective fence to China, hindering the U.S. re-balancing strategy against China while the European Security structure is challenged by Russia in the wake of post-Atlanticism.

In this geopolitical game, the Western position must re-focus on a practical cooperation and extended dialogue with the Central Asian region since geographically Central Asia is divided between Russia and China. Currently, an institutional outreach of the EU and NATO is almost non-existent there.

Thus, a key to success is to look through the prism of China on the Central Asian region. Needless to say, these territories in the past were under Chinese imperial influence. Still, recent military activities and economic developments illustrate that China’s current bid on its own Central Asian provinces – Xinjiang and Tibet – is significantly projecting power on Central Asian countries.

In this regard, while the post-Atlanticism is a new trend the outreach of EU institutions is very weak in this region.

EU presence in Central Asia is understood through the chain of “neighbours of EU neighbourhood”. Click to Tweet

Besides, comparing the EU’s presence to that of China, Central Asian countries are immediate neighbours for Beijing. By contrast, referring to the Russian approach towards Central Asian countries, these states are still claimed to be in the sphere of Russia’s influence similarly as the South Caucasus is claimed as Russia’s backyard.

In advance, common European values in the 21st century in the scope of the Transatlantic relationship seem to be losing their importance. Emerging powers – China, Brazil and India – are far more attractive and vital for U.S. interests, but strategic move from Europe to Asia temporarily sacked the U.S. strategic manoeuvre due to Russian political awakening which poses an open challenge to European Security framework.

Finally, in spite of all challenges and difficulties based on the wider global context, the strategic move from Europe to Asia is a critical necessity for U.S. interests. Meanwhile, however, the U.S. is facing a complex political juggle, keeping the strong Euro-Atlantic bond, avoiding the realization of the EU’s military dimension, protecting European Security framework from Russian aggressive stance and keeping the Asian re-balancing strategy.

Originally published in European Security and Defence magazine

You might be interested in Georgia – A New Cornerstone in Transatlantic Relations

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Author

  • Beka Kiria is Director of the Gagra Institute. Prior to founding the Institute, Kiria was an independent political analyst and worked at the Ministry of Defence of Georgia in the capacity of Senior Specialist at Defence Policy and Planning Department. He developed a number of key national defence and security documents and led a legislative review of the defence and security sector acts. Kiria graduated from the University of Leicester, UK with Master’s degree in Public International Law. Previously, he studied International Relations at Cambridge Art and Science College, UK.

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