This article, first published in Austria’s Der Standard, argues that the key to a peaceful world order lies in the Middle East. With the foreign policy shifts that President Obama is expected to bring, EUISS Research Fellow Walter Posch assesses the prospects for real progress from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The role and importance of the United States in international affairs is far from a new subject - it has been the subject of debate for quite some time. A new dimension to the currently ongoing debate though is the decrease in US power (which has remained largely unchallenged since the end of the Cold War). For decades, the prevailing view has been that a very limited number of global issues can be resolved without America. With the financial crisis, questionable foreign policy choices and growing global competition from other international actors, most notably China, does this view still hold? Is US decline inevitable and what does it imply? If decreasing US power is indeed a fact, how will the US manage this new situation and what will be its influence be in the future ? What will become of the United States? Will it remain a leading power, one of many powers or just a regional power?
At the same time, the United States has clear expectations towards its European partners. As President Obama put it recently: "We want strong allies. We are not looking to be patrons of Europe. We are looking to be partners of Europe". He spoke specifically of European defence capabilities, but this attitude can nonetheless be traced in other areas ranging from the war in Afghanistan, the Middle East Peace Process, the fight against terrorism or the economic recovery. So what kind of partner should the European Union aim to be?
Prior to the elections, the EUISS asked experts experts from EU Centers of Excellence in the United States to identify the most important domestic or foreign policy issues that are set to shape transatlantic relations in the coming years.
This collaborative effort of the EUISS research team highlights what it considers to be the major political event of 2009: the election of President Barack Obama and the impact that the change in the American administration will have on the world. It covers the priority areas for US-EU cooperation of global governance, climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and transatlantic relations.