Transatlantic relations have long been predictable. Stability has served the interests of the transatlantic partners well. For the US, the European allies individually, and through the forums of NATO and the EU, have remained the partners of first choice. For Europe, the alliance has served to keep the Americans involved in European issues. But now, for the first time in generations, the very concept of “alliance” is being called into question by a major US presidential candidate. Without a radical reshaping of the burdens and purposes of the alliance, the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, claims that under his presidency America will simply walk away from Europe. The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, presents a much less fundamental challenge, but her approach to Russia, as well as the growing American demand for Europeans to take greater responsibility for their own security, will nevertheless pose a serious challenge to European leaders.
Paper presented at the ninth edition of the Transatlantic Security Symposium entitled “Europe’s Security Governance and Transatlantic Relations”, Rome, 29-30 September 2016. Published also: "The everyday and the existential: how Clinton and Trump challenge transatlantic relations", in ECFR Policy Memos, 12 October 2016, ISBN 978-1-910118-90-0.
1. Trump’s existential challenge
1.1 America’s crappy allies
1.2 Bad trade deals
1.3 The advantage of the strong man
1.4 The Trump challenge to the transatlantic alliance
2. Clinton’s serious challenge
2.1 The essential continuity between Obama and Clinton
2.2 A gendered foreign policy
2.3 Clinton’s Russia problem
3. Challenges on both sides