The Case for a New Atlantic Alliance.

AuthorGlastris, Paul
PositionEditor's Note

The degree to which Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, and Ukraine's brave resistance, is scrambling the global order is hard to exaggerate. It has reenergized the NATO alliance, drawn Pacific Rim democracies like Japan and Australia into the fight, and deepened Russia's dependence on China. At home, it has boosted Joe Biden's poll numbers and forced Putin apologists like J. D. Vance to backpedal. It has also caused citizens around the world to cheer for an embattled liberal democracy fighting dictatorial aggression while giving younger Americans reason to rethink their deep distrust of U.S. global power.

Nowhere has the change been more profound than in Germany. For a decade and a half under then Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin deliberately increased its dependence on Russian fossil fuels to support its profitable exports while under-investing in its military. In late February, Merkel's successor, Olaf Scholz, reversed those policies. He announced that he would halt a new gas pipeline from Russia, send antitank and antiaircraft weapons to Ukraine, and increase the German defense budget by a staggering 100 billion [euro]--which by some estimates would make Germany the third-largest military spender in the world (probably not what chess master Vladimir Putin had in mind when he launched the invasion). Astonishingly, the German public overwhelmingly rallied to the new chancellor's about-face strategy.

Biden is now positioned to make a similarly bold move. His administration has ably, even brilliantly, quarterbacked the U.S. and allied response to Russia's aggression, including sending weapons to Ukraine, using intel to expose Putin's next moves, and organizing sanctions that are crushing the Russian economy. Whether these actions will be enough to save Ukraine while avoiding a broader war remains to be seen. But a confluence of world events and shifts in public opinion gives Biden an opportunity to turn the energy behind the allied efforts into a more permanent set of economic arrangements--as ambitious as those the United States established after World War II.

As retired General Wesley Clark and others have argued in these pages, Biden should call for the creation of an "Atlantic Alliance" beyond NATO: a new, structured trade relationship between the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. While they have their differences, all three boast advanced economies and a shared commitment to liberal values--like representative...

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