Transatlantic democracies: converging or diverging?


The ‘Western ideal’ – a concept embodied in the democratic processes and free-market economies of the West – has long been a powerful draw for others, including originally for the countries of the former Eastern bloc as the Cold War came to an end, notes analyst Xenia Wickett.

The power and attraction of what this represents – democracy, leadership and economic prosperity – has proved itself many times over, not least in the continued ambition of other countries to join the EU and NATO, she writes in Transatlantic Relations: Converging or Diverging?, a new report from Chatham House, the London-based foreign policy think-tank:

Latterly, however, many of the characteristics that have historically been regarded as underpinning the Western ideal – among them its stability, power, influence and economic vitality – are no longer perceived as being quite so inviolable. are seemingly on the wane where previously they were seen as firmly established. States such as Turkey that were believed to be growing closer to the West now seem to be moving away from it, led by a president whose apparent interest in, and patience with, the EU and the US has waned.

In addition to the internal dilemmas that Western societies are experiencing, there are multiple external tests of, and challenges to, established systems. The rise of China continues to pose a challenge to Western expectations of, inter alia, economic dominance and notions of democracy and governance, Wickett adds:

The US, for its part, has since the Second World War exerted itself as a global superpower, perceiving a role as a guarantor of stability and democratic norms. In reality, administrations have shown inconsistency in prioritizing this objective, oscillating between interventionist and non-interventionist phases. RTWT

Now that the US has been removed from its role as a promoter of better domestic governance and democracy, a new world order is in the making, notes Chatham House Director Robin Niblett.

 In the end, the rest of the world cannot and should not wait for the US to keep the world safe, he writes for The Berlin Journal. Each country, each actor of scale–nationally, regionally, internationally–needs to step up to its own set of responsibilities as a beneficial stakeholder in the current system of international prosperity and relative stability that America has played such a central role in building. RTWT

Print Friendly, PDF & Email