August 18, 2021

Sharper: The Future of European Leadership

Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

By Carisa Nietsche, Nicholas Lokker and Anna Pederson

When President Biden declared that "America is back," many European partners breathed a sigh of relief that the future may bring a much-desired era of stability—and predictability—in the transatlantic relationship. Uncertainty about the future still looms, though, and key shared security challenges persist. What is the role of NATO as the threat landscape evolves? CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation about the state of U.S.- Europe relations in 2021, and how both sides of the Atlantic can work together to confront these critical issues. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.

Features

Forging an Alliance Innovation Base

America’s current approach to allies on technology innovation and protection remains a work in progress, write experts Daniel Kliman, Ben FitzGerald, Kristine Lee, and Joshua Fitt in a CNAS report. The report presents a blueprint for a community of technology innovation and protection anchored by America and its allies. Unless the United States builds this community—an “alliance innovation base”—it will steadily lose ground in the contest with China to ascend the commanding technological heights of the 21st century. Given that technology will increasingly determine future military advantage, underpin economic prosperity, and function as a tool for promoting liberal and illiberal visions of domestic governance, the stakes could not be higher.

Charting a Transatlantic Course to Address China

The United States is set for a prolonged period of competition with China. To be successful, however, Washington cannot compete alone. The United States must amass influence, resources, and know-how among its allies and partners, including in Europe. Authors Julianne Smith, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche, and Ellison Laskowski outline a roadmap for how the United States and Europe can deepen coordination and cooperation to navigate the challenges posed by China’s growing influence, and argue that the time is ripe for greater transatlantic cooperation on China.

Common Code: An Alliance Framework for Democratic Technology Policy

The 21st century will be defined by competition—a contest of economic power rooted in technological advances. The ways world leaders decide to compete will shape the lives of billions of people. In a CNAS report, authors Martijn Rasser, Rebecca Arcesati, Shin Oya, Ainikki Riikonen, and Monika Bochert argue that multilateral cooperation among like-minded countries is needed to maximize effectiveness across a range of technology policy areas. The report lays out a blueprint for this alliance framework, including its structure, top policy priorities, and potential long-term agenda.

Indo-Pacific Security

Forging an Alliance Innovation Base

America’s current approach to allies on technology innovation and protection remains a work in progress....

Transatlantic Security

Charting a Transatlantic Course to Address China

Working together to collectively strengthen the United States’ and Europe’s ability to compete with China provides an opportunity for a reinvigorated partnership....

Technology & National Security

Common Code

The world’s tech-leading democracies should spearhead the creation of a new multilateral architecture for technology policy—a technology alliance....

Podcasts

Merkel’s White House Visit and the Future of U.S.-German Relations with Cathryn Clüver and Jeff Rathke

What is the significance of Angela Merkel’s July White House visit for the future of U.S.-German relations? Cathryn Clüver, director and CEO of the German Council on Foreign Relations, and Jeff Rathke, president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University, join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend on an episode of Brussels Sprouts to discuss the most important aspects of the meeting and how the United States and Germany can work together on a range of issues going forward.

CNAS 2021 National Security Conference | Live Podcast: Brussels Sprouts
with Steven Erlanger, Anne Gearan, Susan B. Glasser, and Constanze Stelzenmüller

As part of Day 2 of the CNAS 2021 National Security Conference on June 9, 2021, the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program hosted a live, interactive recording of the Center’s Brussels Sprouts podcast with co-hosts Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend, featuring journalists Steven Erlanger, Anne Gearan, Susan B. Glasser, and Brookings senior fellow Constanze Stelzenmüller.

Transatlantic Security

Merkel’s Upcoming White House Visit and the Future of U.S.-German Relations with Cathryn Clüver and Jeff Rathke

What is the significance of Angela Merkel’s upcoming White House for the future of U.S.-German relations? Cathryn Clüver and Jeff Rathke join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Tow...

CNAS 2021 National Security Conference | Live Podcast: CNAS Brussels Sprouts

As part of Day 2 of the CNAS 2021 National Security Conference on June 9, 2021, the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program hosted a live, interactive recording of the Center’s Br...

Special Event

A Conversation with The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom released “Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy,” a strategic document which outlines the government’s vision for Britain's role in the world over the next decade. In March, CNAS hosted a virtual fireside chat between The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, UK secretary of state for defence, and CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine. Following their discussion, they were joined by CNAS Andrea Kendall-Taylor, senior fellow and director of the Transatlantic Security Program, and Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the Defense Program, for a broader discussion surrounding the integrated review and associated command paper.

Defense

Special Event: A Conversation with The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence

In March 2021, the United Kingdom released “Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy,” a strategic docum...

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Commentaries

It’s Still Hard to Be America’s Ally

"Sometimes it’s hard to be an ally. The administration’s new approach is a breath of fresh air after four years of damage and disparagement, but complications will rise to the surface as soon as the honeymoon wears off," writes CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine for Foreign Policy. "Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s gratuitous disputes with allies were self-defeating, but Biden’s welcome celebration of U.S. alliances raises its own set of ambiguities and contradictions. The drive to enshrine a U.S. foreign policy for the American middle class may, in particular, pose new dilemmas for long-term allies."

The Stakes are High

"The Biden administration never expected that such steps would quickly repair relations after four years of Trump, but progress in revitalizing the relationship has proven more difficult than anticipated," argue Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Carisa Nietsche in Internationale Politik Quarterly. "The series of summits with NATO and the European Union were seen as a success on both sides of the Atlantic and were a step in the right direction. The message was clear: America is back and committed to its allies. Yet, questions remain about what tangible progress will come of the summits and where US-Europe relations will go from here. Underneath the veneer of goodwill remain persistent European concerns about the reliability of the United States as a partner, threatening to weaken transatlantic cooperation.

Indo-Pacific Security

It’s Still Hard to Be America’s Ally

The drive to enshrine a U.S. foreign policy for the American middle class may, in particular, pose new dilemmas for long-term allies....

Transatlantic Security

The Stakes are High

Underneath the veneer of goodwill remain persistent European concerns about the reliability of the United States as a partner, threatening to weaken transatlantic cooperation....

Broadening the Transatlantic Partnership to Address the China Challenge

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been a turning point in Europe’s calculus regarding China. Beijing’s ham-fisted mask diplomacy, attempt to rewrite the pandemic’s origins and use of the World Health Organization to advance the objectives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) underscored for Europe the nature of Beijing’s objectives. Europe has grown more attuned to the “strategic challenge” China poses in the economic, technology and global governance realms as a result," observes Carisa Nietsche in Istituto Affari Internazionali. "The growing convergence between US and European perspectives on China provides a solid foundation for future cooperation between the transatlantic partners. Yet, addressing the China challenge will require broadening beyond the transatlantic partnership and bringing Indo-Pacific partners to the table."

Why Berlin And Washington Should Compromise On Nord Stream 2

"After four years of chaos in US-EU relations, it was as if the clouds immediately parted on 3 November 2020. Transatlanticists in Washington and across Europe breathed a sigh of relief as Americans voted for a president who is both pro-EU and pro-NATO. The work of repairing a damaged transatlantic relationship could finally begin," writes Rachel Rizzo in European Council on Foreign Relations. "Unfortunately, that honeymoon period may be coming to an abrupt halt. Progress on several pressing transatlantic issues in the next four years will depend on deep coordination and healthy relations between the United States and Germany. That bilateral relationship is on thin ice. At the top of the list of irritants is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which is around 95 per cent complete and is set to provide Russian natural gas to the European market."

Transatlantic Security

Broadening the Transatlantic Partnership to Address the China Challenge

Addressing the China challenge will require broadening beyond the transatlantic partnership and bringing Indo-Pacific partners to the table....

Transatlantic Security

Why Berlin And Washington Should Compromise On Nord Stream 2

Progress on several pressing transatlantic issues in the next four years will depend on deep coordination and healthy relations between the United States and Germany. That bil...

In the News

Featuring commentary and analysis by Richard Fontaine, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Martijn Rasser, and Jim Townsend.

Transatlantic Security

US, Germany stand strong in fight to defend democracy

The president of the Centre for New American Security, Richard Fontaine, said the meeting ­between the two leaders had not necessarily bridged differences ­between the US and ...

Transatlantic Security

Strongmen who got cozy with Trump get the cold shoulder from Biden

The Biden administration has zinged Russia and China over human rights and alleged thuggery against their neighbors, cut off some arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and stiff-armed T...

Technology & National Security

Europe was the world’s great tech enforcer. Not anymore.

When it comes to taking on Big Tech, there are new sheriffs in town: Beijing and Washington. From enacting the world’s strictest privacy law to placing guardrails against the ...

Transatlantic Security

Declaring ‘America is back,’ Biden tries to regain Europe’s trust

President Biden tried to reassure U.S. allies Friday that he is turning the page on his predecessor’s “America first” approach, and restoring a foreign policy that values coop...

About the Sharper Series

The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.

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