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Asymmetric Interdependence: Do America and Europe Need Each Other?

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Under President Obama, the transatlantic allies are largely of one view about the tasks and threats that lie ahead in the 21st century. In the search for a correlation of interests -- whether it be in combating terrorism, shaping the worlds financial systems, formulating climate policy, or dealing with matters of human rights, nonproliferation, or Middle East policy -- it soon becomes evident that there exists a greater congruency of interests and goals with the United States than with any of the worlds other emerging great powers. Emerging powers may profit from a stable international order, but they generally do not contribute to its stability. Since neither the United States nor the European Union EU can successfully pursue global policies alone, where can they turn in the new multipolar constellation of powers but to each other Each, therefore, is the others indispensable partner Today, Europe may have more to offer the United States, but does Europe have what it takes to deal with the United States on an equal footing in discussions over matters of importance First of all, just because both sides are dependent on each other does not mean that they are equally dependent on each other. The European Union is in many ways more vulnerable than the United States. It has too few natural resources of its own, and those countries that supply it with needed resources are often under the control of unstable, authoritarian regimes. Secondly, mutual dependence does not mean that there are no differences of opinion over strategy or how to approach a problem. These differences exist and provide the grist for conflict. They arise out of differing historical experiences, but they are also due to asymmetries of power, to Americas insistence on having a dominant role in world affairs, and to European shortcomings in security policy, particularly with regard to burden sharing.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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