Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 279–289 | Cite as

An ocean apart: The legacy of the Bush years in transatlantic security

  • Carl Cavanagh HodgeEmail author


The foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration is commonly credited with contributing to a significant alienation of Europe from the United States, possibly unprecedented since the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. The sources of estrangement cited are both manners of style, in the administration’s often bellicose or messianic rhetoric, and matters of substance, in its casual disregard for multilateral policymaking in principle, accompanied by its explicit embrace of preemption in the National Security Strategy of September 2002. However, this article argues that the sources of strategic drift between Europe and the United States are structural and wholly predictable, if regrettable, products of post-Cold War change. Although strained transatlantic relations ought in theory to have stimulated the development of a European Security and Defence Policy, substantive progress in this area has been surprisingly modest. Indeed, it is as reasonable to talk of a measure of strategic drift among European states as it is to note the political widening of the Atlantic Ocean. The early evidence from a new administration in Washington testifies less to its hostility and more to its indifference to a global role for Europe.


George W. Bush NATO transatlantic relations ESDP Barack Obama 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Subsequent to the Lisbon treaty’s coming into effect on 1 December 2009, ESDP has been officially termed the ‘common security and defence policy’, or CSDP. In this article I will continue to refer to it by the more well-known acronym.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Gillingham, European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy? (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945–1963 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 114.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Beatrice Heuser, Nuclear Mentalities? Strategies and Belief in Britain, France and the FRG (New York: St. Martin’s, 1998).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gillingham, European Integration, 480.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Angela Stent, Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, the Soviet Collapse, and the New Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 200–1.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jörg Eigendorf, ‘Vorbild Deutschland’, Die Welt, 16 March 2010, 9.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Norman Bowen, ‘Multilateralism, Multipolarity, and Regionalism: The French Foreign Policy Discourse’, Mediterranean Quarterly 16, no. 1 (2005): 94–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Philip Stephens, Tony Blair: The Making of a World Leader (New York: Viking, 2004), 209–37.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Julian Borger and Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘France Offers to Join Forces with UK’s Submarine Fleet’, Guardian, 19 March 2010.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ivo H. Daalder and Michael O’Hanlon, Winning Ugly: NATO’s War to Save Kosovo (Washington: Brookings, 2000).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See for example, Condoleezza Rice, ‘Promoting the National Interest’, Foreign Affairs 79, no. 1 (2000): 45–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002, 1–15,
  14. 14.
    Marc Trachtenberg, ‘Preventive War and U.S. Foreign Policy’, Security Studies 16, no. 1 (2007): 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 14a.
    See also Mackubin Thomas Owens, ‘The Bush Doctrine: The Foreign Policy of Republican Empire’, Orbis 53, no. 1 (2009): 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 15.
    Arthur Schlesinger, ‘Seeking Out Monsters’, Guardian, 19 October 2004.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Stephen E. Ambrose, The Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy since 1938 (New York: Penguin, 1976)Google Scholar
  18. 16a.
    Melvin Leffler, A Preponderance of Power (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Patrick Keller, Neokonservatismus und amerikanishe Außitenpolitik: Ideen, Krieg und Strategie von Ronald Reagan bis George W Bush (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2008), 165–245.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    US Department of Defense, News Transcript, 22 January 2003,
  21. 19.
    Alexander Moens, ‘ESDP, the United States and the Atlantic Alliance’, in Defending Europe: The EU, NATO and the Quest for European Autonomy, ed. Jolyon Howorth and John T.S. Keeler (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 25–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 20.
    Julian Lindley-French, ‘Headline Goal 2010 and the Concept of the EU Battle Groups: An Assessment of the Build-up of a European Defence Capability’, Cicero Foundation, Paris, 9 December 2005.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    Muriel Asseburg and Ronja Kempin, eds., ‘Die EU als strategischer Akteur in der Sicherheits und Verteidigungspolitik’, SWP-Studie, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Deutsches Institute fu¨r Internationale Politik und Sicherheit, S32 December, 2009, 168.Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    Ibid., 50–77.Google Scholar
  25. 23.
    Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force, ‘Commander’s Initial Assessment’, NATO International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, US Forces Afghanistan, 30 August 2009.Google Scholar
  26. 24.
    Ronja Kempin and Stefan Steinicke, ‘EUPOL Afghanistan: Europas ziviles Engagement am Rande des Glaubwu¨rdigkeitverlustes’, in Muriel Asseburg and Ronja Kempin, eds., ‘Die EU als strategischer Akteur in der Sicherheits und Verteidigungspolitik’, SWP-Studie, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Deutsches Institute fu¨r Internationale Politik und Sicherheit, S32 December, 2009, 150-63.Google Scholar
  27. 25.
    See, for example, Andrew Sullivan, ‘The Euro Menace: The Threat of European Integration’, New Republic, 16 June 2003, 22–26.Google Scholar
  28. 26.
    Esther Brimmer, ‘Seeing Blue: American Visions of the European Union’, Chaillot Paper, no. 105, European Union Institute for Security Studies, September 2007.Google Scholar
  29. 27.
    Office of the Press Secretary, ‘Remarks by the President on a New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan’, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 27 March 2009.Google Scholar
  30. 28.
    ‘Gates Calls European Mood a Danger to Peace’, New York Times, 24 February 2010; Michael Steen, ‘Dutch Government Collapses over Afghan Troop Mission’, Financial Times, 21 February 2010.Google Scholar
  31. 29.
    Hans-Joachim Spanger, ‘Die Wiederkehr des Staates: Staatszerfall als wissenschaftliches und entwicklungspolitisches Problem’, HSFK-Report 1/2002, Hessische Stiftung Friedens-und Konfliktforschung.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaOkanaganCanada

Personalised recommendations