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Transatlantic Study Group: Temporary Irritation or Enduring Crisis? Exploring the Deep Structure of the Current Transatlantic Conflicts


Freie Universität Berlin

Principal Investigator:

Stiftung Deutsch-Amerikanische Wissenschaftsbeziehungen im Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft

Jan 01, 2003 — Dec 31, 2005


The transatlantic study group was a joint venture between the BMW Center for German and European Studies and the Mortara Center for International Affairs of Georgetown University, Washington DC, namely professors Jeffrey Anderson and John Ikenberry on the one hand, and the (then) Center for Transatlantic Foreign and Security Policy at the Freie Universtät Berlin, on the other.




The Iraq conflict has led to one of the most serious crisis in the history of the transatlantic relationship. Yet, the recent disputes between the U.S. administration and many European governments are no longer confined to specific issues, but extend over a whole range of policy areas. In international security, there seems to be little agreement on how to fight international terrorism, how to deal with dictatorships possessing weapons of mass destruction, and whether or not multilateral institutions such as the United Nations should have a major role in dealing with these questions. Concerning international arms control, the U.S. has abandoned or refused to join many international agreements held in high esteem by most European governments – from the comprehensive test ban treaty to the ABM treaty and the treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, to name just a few. With regard to global environmental questions, the EU has become the leading advocate of the international climate change regime, while the U.S. pursues a different track to combat global warming. The U.S. and Europe do not see eye to eye even in areas of alleged commitments to joint values such as international law, human rights and democracy, as conflicts over the International Criminal Court or the death penalty demonstrate. Last not least, it is far from clear whether the U.S. and Europe will be able to pull off jointly the next round of WTO negotations, even though one would assume an overwhelming common interest in maintaining a liberal international economic order.


Are we witnessing a deepening transatlantic rift with potentially wide-ranging consequences for the future of world order? Or are the contemporary conflicts simply another instance of “family disputes” in an enduring partnership that has been in trouble before? It is impossible to answer these questions by simply analyzing the various areas of transatlantic conflict in detail. Rather, a deeper look at core features and constitutive structures of the transatlantic relationship is required in order to determine the nature of the current rifts. This is the purpose of the proposed study group, which will engage in an effort at stocktaking of the transatlantic relationship from a multi-disciplinary perspective. We suggest to bring together a group of political scientists, sociologists, historians, economists, and legal scholars to analyze the deep structure of the European-American relationship and to explore potential structural changes.


1. Anderson, Jeff
2. Barnes, Samuel
3. Gerhards, Jürgen
4. Görtemaker, Manfred
5. Haftendorn, Helga
6. Hellmann, Gunther
7. Hitchcock, William
8. Ikenberry, John
9. Klingemann, Hans-Dieter
10. McNamara, Kathleen
11. Moravcsik, Andrew
12. Nau, Henry
13. Peters, Ingo
14. Risse, Thomas
15. Scherpenberg, Jens van
16. Michael Byers
17. Georg Nolte
18. Thomas Wright (grad.stud.)
19. Josh Busby (grad.stud.)
20. Tobias Heider. (ATASP)
21. Caroline Fehl (ATASP)
22. Kerstin Bihlmaier (conf. org.)