Shifting Sands: The Lure of “Alignments a la Carte” and the True Meaning of “America is Back”


Because the Trump administration was such a harrowing experience for most European countries, for the EU itself and many others around the world the election of Joe Biden resulted in a deep sigh of relief. In power, Biden moved fast domestically and talked the good talk towards allies in various platforms. Yet, nearly ten months into his term Biden’s policies suggest a surprising degree of continuity with his immediate predecessor. He is also finally putting more substance into President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” strategy. In an age when the United States turns its attention and most of its resources to competing with China and containing Beijing’s ambition, what is Europe to do? In light of the American nonchalance about European allies, is the “strategic autonomy” championed by President Macron of France the way out? Should Europeans really choose between China and the US as Washington clearly wants them to? Would German disdain for claiming strategic leadership and the Europeans’ own complacency turn Europe into a geopolitical void?
The new era in international relations is full of surprises and fluidity. Nimble political reflexes and strategic will are of utmost importance. Will the EU deploy them where it can and must?

Soli Özel is a senior lecturer at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

The Monthly Lecture was moderated by IWM Permanent Fellow Ivan Krastev