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Rethinking Transatlantic Relations in a Multipolar Era


In an era of emerging powers and growing interconnectedness, transatlantic relations have lost their bearings. Elaborating a paradigm replacing the Cold War-era notion of a community based on shared interests and identity is, however, an exercise fraught with problems. The empirical evidence is contrasting: signs of estrangement, such as the US 'pivot to Asia', coexist with instances of cooperation that hint at an enduring partnership, such as the plan for a transatlantic free trade area. Theoretically, the evolution of the relationship appears in a different light depending on the assumed perspective. In this article we build three alternative scenarios based on a neorealist, constructivist and liberal understanding of social politics. We argue that, by using the scenarios as analytical tools rather than predictions of the future, we may draw a more accurate picture. We then identify the conditioning factors that may set transatlantic relations on a specific path of development.

Revised and updated version of Three scenarios for the future of the transatlantic relationship, Roma, IAI, September 2012 (Transworld Working Paper 4).

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