Mending the Transatlantic Rift
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 ushered in an era of dramatic change for foreign policy and the international system. Most obviously, the United States’ sense of invulnerability eroded as an acute awareness to the perils of terrorism gripped the American public. In American foreign policy, the dominant paradigms evolved. Whereas the Cold War notion of the centrality of powerful nation-states had helped order the Bush administration’s outlook before the attacks, the new paradigms explicitly accounted for the importance of non-state actors and rogue regimes as the salient elements of American foreign policy. In emphasizing rogue states, President George W. Bush focused on regime change in…show more content… Established as a Cold War-era counterweight to Soviet power, NATO is characterized by its “commitment to democratic values and practices that, along with its unique, integrated military structure, sustains it even at times when its members’ short-term strategic calculations diverge.” (Hunter) In theory, then, the bonds between the United States and Europe should be close and enduring. Indeed, the interests of the two entities have largely converged throughout NATO’s half century history despite occasional differences.
A rift has emerged in this alliance in the aftermath of the attacks of September11, 2002 that analysts characterize as “unprecedented in its scope, intensity, and, at times, pettiness.” (Asmus) Immediately after the attacks, Europe coalesced in support for the United States as sympathy for Americans dominated public opinion. The goodwill evaporated quickly, however, when it became clear that the United States planned to use the altered geopolitical landscape as one of the justifications for a preemptive war to displace Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial