Transatlantic Relations in the 21st Century

On April 19, 2006, the former German Defense Minister Volker Rühe gave a lecture on the transatlantic relationship. The event was co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut Bostonand the American Council on Germany. Responding to Volker Rühe was Thomas Berger, Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University. Echoing Chris Patten’s all for a renewed partnership between the US and Europe, Volker Rühe, another self- proclaimed Atlanticist, argued that it is impossible to assess the current state of transatlantic relations without taking into account the structural changes that have occurred in recent years. Europe, he said, is no longer divided. Nevertheless, he continued, “we do not need a divided world to be able to work together.” He said that the US despite its military power has never been more vulnerable. “Power in 21st century doesn’t come out of tanks,” he claimed, and in terms of exporting democracy, the “transformative power“ of the EU has been far more effective than the military interventions of the US. Rühe argued that the transatlantic partnership was just as important today as it was during the Cold War, but that it would have to be conceived in new terms based on a new understanding of power.

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