A Transatlantic Relationship for the Future

When discussing renewable energies, many Americans find it unceasingly necessary to focus on the troubles in Iraq. The US doctrine of preventive war, which was conceived by the architects of America’s National Security Strategy 2002, led America down a dangerous path and we are now paying for it in barrels — or rather, lack thereof.

However, a new doctrine must come to be. A doctrine that vividly suggests that violence begets violence, and instead of riddling election coverage with finger pointers and naysayers, the level of debate should evolve into something regarding not preventive war, but instead into preventing a “next time.” This doctrine must start by reevaluating the source: American energy dependence.

As we begin to look and think forward, it is first vital to look at the past. Currently, America’s GDP per person is heads above her competitors. America’s gross domestic product (GDP), however, is neck-and-neck with the European Union (EU) at around US $13 trillion. The reason for this discrepancy in GDP figures is simple: The European Union has 149 million more citizens than its transatlantic partner, the United States. If it is true that “might makes right,” then what are the implications of this powerful US-EU relationship? And how does this US-EU relationship influence the threat of war, the expansion of new markets and overall international security?

Well, an important question to ask is: How does the European Union use its economic power, and how does this differ from the ways the United States decides to use its?

The European Union leads the world in spending on development assistance and aid; the United States leads the world in military spending. The European Union has expanded its diplomatic reach to geographically strategic regions, such as the Middle East and Africa, through its Neighborhood Policy (ENP); the United States funds a war, waged for inauspicious reasons in order to secure resource materials and promote democracy in an historically undemocratic region. The European Union spends €7.1 billion [US $10.4 billion] a year on renewable energy and is an active participant in the Kyoto Protocol; the United States is not a ratified member of Kyoto for a bundle of political reasons, yet claims to be promoting “clean energy alternatives” nonetheless.

It is safe to say that these two world leaders in GDP — two democratic allies — choose to allocate money much differently.

Many economists look at the European Union’s actions as Europe’s only means of securing non-military power, or “soft power” in the world. This is incomplete. In fact, the European Union has begun to define its own doctrine of fiscally and environmentally sound international policy, because it has been phenomenally successful in focusing on opening up new markets in areas ranging from Latvia to China, and even to Russia.

Despite regional tensions between the EU and Russia, the European Union has helped Russia with its WTO (World Trade Organization) membership, and has shown that reworking a doctrine of responsible leadership after facing a threat is more of a policy of preventing a “next time,” instead of a policy of preventive warfare.

In early 2007, when Russian President Vladimir Putin shut off the natural gas pipelines to Europe out of a fear of “free riders” in Belarus, the EU president at the time, Chancellor Angela Merkle, responded by saying that Europe needed to retool its energy dependence, and began to rethink EU policy accordingly. Rather than turning the event into a US-style “show-down” and attempt to confront Russia forcefully, the EU used diplomacy and its trade power to influence Putin to defect. When the Europe Union was faced with energy constriction, it decided to negotiate and rethink its relationship with Russia. When the United States feels an energy restriction, it does not look for alternatives; it only looks to the powers of force.

The international system is complex, full of minutiae and caveats, and because we live in a world of cross-cultural communication and globalization, the United States needs to become more perceptive to the world around her. As one of the world’s leaders, America needs to develop its own new doctrine in the aftermath of Iraq, wherein fiscal responsibility, economic partnership and a relook at energy dependence brings nations across the globe back to the table of US-leadership, and US energy dependence no longer works as a vice that empowers those who promote death, destruction and impalpable influence in the world abroad.

Alex Kizer graduated Magma Cum Laude from Ohio University with a degree in Public Policy Studies in 2007. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at American University’s School of International Service program focusing on International Politics and Organizational Communication.

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