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Foreign Policy Program

Opinion
Summary: President Obama Talking transatlantic, turning toward
makes his first trip to Europe amid
growing signs that European lead-
Asia?
ers may resist his calls for help
on resolving the economic crisis, by John K. Glenn and Daniel Twining*
contributing to Afghanistan, and April 1, 2009
managing detainees from Guanta-
namo. Europeans quietly wonder
about the depth of President
Obama’s commitment to Europe. President Obama makes his first trip to have the largest bilateral trade relation-
Europe amid growing signs that Euro- ship in the global economy. Transatlantic
The upcoming NATO and G-20 pean leaders may resist his calls for help perspectives on climate change are much
summits, and the debates over on resolving the economic crisis, con- more closely aligned relative to those
Afghanistan and economic stimu- tributing to Afghanistan, and managing of developing Asian nations that face
lus, will test the commitment of detainees from Guantanamo. Just below different trade-offs between growth and
leaders from the developed and the surface, however, Europeans are wor- the environment. Most fundamentally,
developing worlds to the kind of ried that the United States may be lured Europeans and Americans share a set of
liberal internationalism neces- away from its historic commitment to the values grounded in liberal democracy and
sary to rekindle the prosperity trans-Atlantic alliance that defined the open societies – values that Asian pow-
and peace in which our common 20th century and toward a rising Asia that ers like Japan, India, and Indonesia also
values can flourish. some say will define the 21st. embrace, creating the possibility for East-
West convergence rather than divergence
Europeans quietly wonder about the in coming years.
depth of President Obama’s commitment
to Europe. After all, his first-ever visits Americans actually appear more Atlan-
to France and Germany took place only ticist than Europeans in some respects.
last summer. British observers pored Support for NATO has been declining in
over every diplomatic detail of Prime recent years in Europe – but not in the
Minister Gordon Brown’s recent visit to United States. Polling by the German
Washington for any hint of a slip in close- Marshall Fund shows that while Ameri-
ness (and found several). It did not go can support for NATO has been around
unnoticed that the first foreign leader to 60% since 2002, support in Germany fell
visit President Obama in the White House sharply from 74% to 62% in 2008 and in
was Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, or Poland from 64% to 51%.
that Asia was the destination of Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton’s inaugural trip Observers often suggest that an older gen-
abroad. eration of Europeans may be giving way
to a younger generation for whom the
In fact, U.S.-European ties have enduring Atlantic alliance is less important. This
strengths that will not easily be eroded appears to be true in the United Kingdom,
1744 R Street NW by the resurgence of Asian nations like where 77% of 55-64 year-olds still say
Washington, DC 20009 China and India. America and Europe NATO is essential, compared with only
T 1 202 745 3950 *
John K. Glenn is Director of Foreign Policy and Daniel Twining is Senior Fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
F 1 202 265 1662 The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the German Marshall Fund of the United States
(GMF).
E info@gmfus.org
Foreign Policy Program

Opinion
55% of 18-24 year-olds. But support for NATO in France and John K. Glenn, Director of Foreign Policy, German Marshall
Germany is actually highest among 35-44 year-olds and trickles Fund of the United States
downward among those above 65.
Dr. John K. Glenn joined the German Marshall Fund in 2004 as direc-
The fall in support for NATO in Europe partly reflects concerns tor of foreign policy, responsible for Transatlantic Trends, an annual
about combat. Although France will rejoin the military wing of survey of foreign policy attitudes in the United States and Europe, and
NATO at the summit, President Obama’s popularity in Europe the primary author of the Key Findings Report. He is also a visiting
is not translating into new European troop commitments to scholar at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Afghanistan. On the contrary: Europeans fear that Washington is of The Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to GMF, Dr. Glenn
“Americanizing” the mission there in ways that could undermine was executive director of the Council for European Studies, the leading
NATO. Americans counter that saving NATO means winning American professional association for the study of Europe in the social
the war in Afghanistan -- and that a division of labor in which sciences and humanities. He is a frequent commentator on internation-
Americans do much of the fighting while Europeans contribute al affairs, having appeared on CNN International, CNN’s Insight, BBC
to reconstruction and development may be the only way forward. World News, Reuters Financial Network, BBC World Service, Voice of
America’s FOCUS, Deutsche Welle, and NPR’s Marketplace.
The NATO summit offers an opportunity to bridge America’s
Atlantic and Pacific partnerships. NATO lacks a clear mission in Daniel Twining, Senior Fellow for Asia, German Marshall
the post-Cold War world, and engagement with Australia and Ja- Fund of the United States
pan are critical to its mission in Afghanistan. This doesn’t mean
Daniel Twining is Senior Fellow for Asia at the German Marshall
NATO should open its membership to the rest of the world, but
Fund of the United States (GMF). During the Bush administration,
it makes sense to have key global partners at the table when dis-
he served as a member of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s policy
cussing Afghanistan and other security challenges.
planning staff, with responsibility for South Asia and regional issues
in East Asia. He previously worked for over a decade for Senator John
In fact, America does not have a choice between Europe and
McCain, including as his Foreign Policy Advisor in the United States
Asia. From the international financial crisis to climate change,
Senate. Dan has also been the Fulbright/Oxford Scholar at Oxford
only coalitions spanning North America, Europe, and Asia can
University, a Transatlantic Fellow and director of foreign policy at
contribute to successful solutions. The good news is that unlike
GMF, and a staff member of the United States Trade Representative.
during the Cold War, when weak allies in Europe and Asia com-
His work on South and East Asia and U.S. foreign policy has been pub-
pelled America to assume unprecedented global commitments,
lished in newspapers, magazines, and peer-reviewed academic journals
today strong partners in the European Union and Asia mean it is
in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
possible to build coalitions capable of tackling these cross-cutting
challenges.
About GMF
Given its global position and interests, the United States is
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a
well-placed to serve as a convening power and a bridge between
nonpartisan American public policy and grantmaking institution
nations across these diverse regions. At the same time, securing
dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding
a world order where liberal values can flourish will require close
between the United States and Europe. GMF does this by supporting
cooperation between the United States and Europe in vesting
individuals and institutions working on transatlantic issues, by
countries like China as responsible stewards of the global com-
convening leaders to discuss the most pressing transatlantic themes,
mons on which we all depend.
and by examining ways in which transatlantic cooperation can
address a variety of global policy challenges. In addition, GMF
It won’t be easy. The NATO and G-20 summits, and the debates
supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democracies. Founded
over Afghanistan and economic stimulus, will test the commit-
in 1972 through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to
ment of leaders from the developed and developing worlds to
Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains a strong presence on both
the kind of liberal internationalism necessary to rekindle the
sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington,
prosperity and peace in which our common values can flourish.
DC, GMF has seven offices in Europe: Berlin, Bratislava, Paris, Brussels,
Belgrade, Ankara, and Bucharest.