The Anglo World and its Enemies
After the Second World War, the United States and Great Britain took the lead in constructing a series of transatlantic institutions to organize the Western democracies in common defence against the challenge posed by the Soviet Union. These institutions helped deter and ultimately transform the Soviet Union without resorting to large-scale interstate conflict. However, in the post-Cold War era, the Atlantic Alliance has faced deep-seated structural problems. There remains no common position on how to respond to Russian encroachment in Ukraine and its ambitions in the Baltic or how to deal with Europe’s unstable Middle Eastern and North African periphery, let alone the rise of China or the Iranian nuclear issue. The majority of European members states fail to honor the NATO commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense. Consequently, the burden falls overwhelmingly on the United States, which spends three times as much on defense as the rest of the alliance put together. Understandably, Americans are growing tired of underwriting a “military welfare state.” As the former U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates cautioned Europeans in 2011, their refusal to invest sufficient funds in their own defense risks dooming the alliance to a “dim and dismal future.” Even the proposed pivot of the United States to East Asia has done little to shake Western European states out of their lethargy. Furthermore, this comes at a time when the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone remains unresolved and the risk of Grexit looms ever closer. The technocratic response to the euro crisis has only exacerbated the fundamental democratic deficit at the heart of the European project. This threatens the entire Western security structure.
A new framework is required to ensure greater Euro-Atlantic integration, enhance democratic accountability within transatlantic institutions and encourage closer cooperation on the common security threats that we face. To that end, the Forum on Geopolitics and Grand Strategy is convening a conference on the future of democratic security in the twenty first century, in partnership with the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. The conference will explore how to enhance the security co-operation between the democracies and investigate whether more formal mechanisms can be established for addressing non-military issues, including political, cultural and economic affairs. Themes from this conference will then be taken forward to form the basis of one of the Centre’s “Laboratories for World Construction.”