From Identification to Division: Contesting the Unity of the West from Within

  • Johanna VuorelmaEmail author


The idea that the West is getting divided into two separate entities offers an interesting and analytically valuable perspective to examine the crisis of the liberal West. In this chapter, the ‘two Wests’ debate is approached comparatively with a focus on, first, the narrative of the transatlantic split at the start of the Iraq War in the early 2000s and, second, the resumed discussion over the ‘dead alliance’ following the presidency of Donald Trump in the late 2010s. It is argued that while the two debates share some characteristics, there are significant differences in the way that the division of the West is narrated in the 2000s and the 2010s. Firstly, there is a move from the idea of a geographical split towards a more complex picture where there are ideologically driven networks forming across the two continents and threatening the unity of the West. Secondly, while the idea of ‘two Wests’ in the early 2000s largely rested on different approaches towards security and foreign policies, the latter debate puts more emphasis on economic policies following the global economic crisis that erupted in 2008. Finally, there is also a move from a moralistic distinction between the righteous self and the repugnant other towards a more critical and ironic self-image.


Europe The United States Identification Irony 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Advanced Social ResearchTampere UniversityTampereFinland

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