From Ulrike Guérot, World Politics Review: To paraphrase Robert Kagan, this new isolationalism is not new, but it should at least be recognized as a major game-change in trans-Atlantic relations. And although neither the U.S. nor Europe fully grasps the consequences of a downgraded trans-Atlantic relationship, this is bad news.
Beyond Europe, though, the question many international observers are left with is whether there is any strategy guiding U.S. foreign policy at all, or if instead Washington is being governed by pragmatism, with U.S. global strategy reduced to a series of ad hoc drone strikes. Many Europeans have noted regretfully that Obama’s record over the past four years has been disappointing in terms of human rights, democracy and development, as Anne-Marie Slaughter complained when she quit the State Department in early 2011. An emphasis on soft power and inclusive diplomacy was precisely what Europe had hoped for after the legacy of George W. Bush. Instead, the U.S. has moved further away, not only from Europe, but also from a more progressive concept of foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the world is clearly shifting from being dominated by geostrategy to being driven by geo-economy, much to the detriment of the U.S., whose basic economic data — unemployment, social inequality, budget deficits, debt and growth rates — leave it at best in the global B-range. According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development statistics, the U.S. ranks in the middle range on these indicators compared to crisis-ridden Europe, not to mention high-tax countries such as Sweden that have an “inclusive growth” concept. Undoubtedly, Europe has its economic problems, ranging from demography and productivity to structural problems in both national economies and the eurozone. But if the eurozone were to be considered as an aggregated economy, it would largely outperform the U.S. on both deficit-to-GDP ratio (6 percent) and debt-to-GDP ratio (80 percent), to compare only these two figures. . . .
Clearly, the U.S. needs a strong partner to combine strategy and economy again, as it did in the past century, and its best choice for developing such a partnership lies in rebuilding a close trans-Atlantic relationship. But to do so, the U.S. must first pay more attention to Europe and strongly support the EU as it takes its first steps toward political integration, rather than just pointing fingers and giving lessons on how to fix the euro-crisis by calling for more spending alone.