From R. Nicholas Burns, Damon Wilson & Jeff Lightfoot, the New Atlanticist: Europeans today worry more about a weakened America than one that is too influential. Today, European leaders are worried about saving the Euro. European attention is fixated on the urgent need to preserve the common currency and the supranational solidarity that underpins the Euro’s credibility. . . .
The end of past theological disputes between Washington and its European allies should mark a positive and optimistic era in the transatlantic relationship. Instead, today’s Europe is on the verge of losing the capabilities to be Washington’s primary global partner. But the European crisis is also one of will and ambition. As the economic crisis has spread, Europe’s global political vision and energy has diminished.
The United States cannot afford to lose a vigorous, confident, and outward-looking Europe. From the Arab uprisings to Iran’s nuclear program to climate change and the rise of China, there are too many challenges to Euro-Atlantic interests and values for Europe to turn inward for too long. Europe must maintain its global vision, even as it faces the urgent tasks of saving the Eurozone and designing a more sustainable European Union. NATO is an alliance of sovereign equals, each of which is expected to commit to the Alliance and contribute according to its abilities. But Europe’s fate as a global player and valued strategic partner of the United States will depend by and large on the future development of the Alliance’s most important members: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey.
R. Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, is professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at the Harvard Kennedy School and a board director of the Atlantic Council. Damon Wilson is executive vice president of the Atlantic Council. Jeff Lightfoot is deputy director of the Council’s International Security Program. This piece is adapted from the Atlantic Council publication “Anchoring the Alliance.”