The (Beginning of the) End of the Political Unity of the West? Four Scenarios of North Atlantic Futures
Title: The (Beginning of the) End of the Political Unity of the West? Four Scenarios of North Atlantic Futures
Author: KROTZ, Ulrich
Series/Report no.: EUI RSCAS; 2008/31; Transatlantic Programme Series
Will future historians write about the last half-decade of the twentieth and the first half-decade of the twenty-first century as the beginning of the end of political unity of the West? If it will not be a more or less politically unified West, what will it be like? The breaking up of the North Atlantic world, “the West,” into two or more parts could constitute an international structural transformation of the magnitude of the end of the Cold War. This paper explores the main forces shaping the North Atlantic order at the beginning of the new millennium. Thereby the paper develops four scenarios of North Atlantic futures and assesses the likelihood of each to become reality: continued (or regained) political unity of the West; Europe as a unitary and autonomous actor in world politics; North Atlantic politics as dominated by various bi- and minilateral groupings; and renationalization. The paper finds that the loosening and weakening of pan-Western cohesion is likely to last. The emergence of a full international actor Europe is plausible longer-term, but not yet likely in the quarter century ahead. Bilateral configurations will play significant roles in the area’s future, but are not able to supply a full-blown institutional future all by themselves. A more strongly re-nationalized regional system remains possible if pan-Western cohesion further wanes, and if the drive toward a high politics actor Europe stalls or falters. The North Atlantic world has entered a messy transition period leading toward reconfigurations of basic regional institutional practices.
Subject: transatlantic relations; future scenarios; international relations; North Atlantic
Type of Access: openAccess