Summary of the town hall “Catalyzing our Allies and Partners for Global Action” at the 2011 Annual Members’ Conference.


A conversation with Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor
Moderated by Frederick Kempe,** President and CEO, Atlantic Council

During the capstone town hall of the members’ conference, many of the themes discussed during the day came together in a conversation about how the United States can catalyze and mobilize its friends, allies, and partners to tackle emerging global challenges.

Considering recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, Atlanticism and the idea of the west as an engine for global progress and action is far from dead. The NATO effort in Libya showcased successful burden sharing between the United States and its European allies, as well as a productive European leadership role in a major crisis. Furthermore, the UN resolution authorizing a civilian protection mission in Libya was the product of close transatlantic cooperation, where the United States took the lead on driving it forward with the assistance of France and Britain. Also, the continued European commitment to Afghanistan, as well as the evolving NATO missile defense system, further demonstrates the idea of Atlanticism in action.

While bearing these recent successes in transatlantic action in mind, it is also important to remember that there is a global power shift underway, where countries such as China and India are rising to prominence both economically and politically. While Europe will remain America’s natural partner for global action, it is important that emerging powers are brought into the discussion, and given a seat at the table (but also held accountable) to more effectively solve global challenges. At the same time, one should not underestimate the domestic challenges of countries such as China, where strong growth must be maintained to assure stability and a smooth leadership transition.

The transatlantic community is currently undergoing a combined political and economic crisis, where robust growth has not returned after the recession, and the political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic is struggling to find policy solutions and to find the political capital to convince their publics and get the appropriate measures through legislatures. The situation is further complicated by the competing priorities of boosting growth in order to create jobs in the near term, while also cutting deficits in order to ensure long-term fiscal solvency. The way to restore the transatlantic community to strong growth and a healthy fiscal state will require close collaboration across the Atlantic, and between government and private institutions

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