Jussi M. HanhimäkiNov 4, 2021
America and Europe in the Post-Cold War Era
Oxford University Press 2021
Is the West finished as a political idea? In recent years, observers have begun pointing to signs that the transatlantic community is eroding. When the European Union expanded, the classic European nation state was in decline. Now, nationalism is on the rise. Furthermore, nations within the EU are less willing to cooperate with the US on policies that require sacrifice and risks, such as using military force alongside the US. Today, following the twin shocks of Brexit and Trump’s election, the concept of a unified Western transatlantic community seems to be a relic. But, in Pax Transatlantica: America and Europe in the Post-Cold War Era (Oxford UP, 2021) the international historian Jussi Hanhimäki explains why the West is far from over.
Hanhimäki argues that despite Trump’s inflammatory, dismissive rhetoric, NATO continues to provide robust security for its member states. NATO has survived by expanding its remit and scope, and it is viewed favorably by member states overall. Moreover, the transatlantic relationship boasts the richest and most closely connected transcontinental economy in the world. Despite the potential fallout from current trade wars—especially between the US and China—and the rise of economic nationalism, the West still benefits from significant transatlantic trade and massive investment flows. Lastly, Hanhimäki traces the parallel evolution of domestic politics on both sides of the Atlantic, focusing on the rise of populism. He contends that populism is not causing a rift between the US and Europe. Rather, the spread of populism evinces that their politics are in fact closely integrated.
Shifts and even crises abound in the history of the transatlantic relationship. Still, the West endures. Conflicts, rather than undermining the relationship, illustrate its resilience. Hanhimäki shows that the transatlantic relationship is playing out this cycle today. Not only will the "Pax Transatlantica" continue to exist, Hanhimäki concludes, it is likely to thrive in the future.
Jussi Hanhimaki is Professor of International History and co-director of the History and Policy Initiative at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He is the author of many books, including the award-winning The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy (2004) and The Rise and Fall of Détente: American Foreign Policy and the Transformation of the Cold War (2013).
Joe Renouard is Resident Professor of American Studies and Fei Yi-Ming Journalism Foundation Chair of American Government and Comparative Politics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Nanjing, China.