In need of an Atlantic Community
Back in 2003, when US and European leaders were at odds over the Iraq intervention, we thought it was time to act. The future of transatlantic relations should not rely on politicians and elites alone, but should be based on a much broader transatlantic discourse and debate. In 2004 the German NGO Atlantische Initiative e.V. / Atlantic Initiative was founded and the website Atlantic-Community.org launched. Over more than a decade, we encouraged and facilitated exciting debates on a variety of topics, ranging from NATO summits to TTIP and climate change. The best ones were summarized as Atlantic Memos, distributed widely across the community and shared with policy makers.
Over the last fourteen years we’ve also witnessed a world that is changing in a speed unseen in the past 100 years. It is only comparable to the transformation of international politics and societies in the greater 19th century, between 1789 and 1915. This was a period when industrialization and the new distribution of power among European societies gave rise to social questions and created ideologies and political movements such as Communism and Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism and finally Nationalism. It was a time, when only a few European powers dominated the world and when the United States began its successful rise.
A new era began in 1989. The end of the Cold War defrosted the world. Many countries were suddenly able to define their own destiny; others broke up, sometimes peacefully, sometimes in brutal wars of dissolution. This process saw the advent of two phenomena: Globalization and digitalization. Each revolutionized economic relations and transformed societies around the world. China, India and other powers siezed the opportunities of the new era and positioned themselves as primary players on the international stage. Europe and the United States and Canada remain extremely wealthy, and they are at the leading technological edge of many fields. The military arsenal of NATO is still impressive, and US forces alone are unmatched. Yet the number of challenges and the number of challengers is rising across the board. These include non-state actors as diverse as terrorist organizations working through crude websites and international private companies that own the data of billions of people. The same complexity applies to global challenges like climate change and other cross-national issues, where the Atlantic Community relies on partners to identify solutions. In a world of increasing multipolarity, who will define the technological standards of the future, as well as its ethics, norms and rules?
On this website we will ask experts from around the world to elaborate on these and other, aspects of today’s international relations and transatlantic societies. We believe that the Atlantic Community has an important role to play in shaping the world of tomorrow. Although, we do not see it as a given that leaders and elites will always think in transatlantic terms, we are convinced that deep and solid transatlantic ties will be crucial for the societies in America and Europe to maintain prosperous and secure futures. We know from history books that countries can fail to meet their own interests – and even cease to function.
We are convinced that close transatlantic bonds have an important value, but we also want to see this conviction confirmed or challenged. We want to learn about fields and politics where the Atlantic Community can make a difference, or whether the idea of transatlanticism or even “The West” is an outdated and backward-looking concept.
We want to read, learn and listen in order to understand your view, your ideas and your concerns. And we want you to engage with others and discuss.
We want you to use Atlantic-Community as your open think tank!