Transatlantic Relations and US Foreign Policy

Obama and the World: New Directions in US Foreign Policy

Author/s (editor/s):

David Hastings Dunn, Benjamin Zala

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:

David Hastings Dunn and Benjamin Zala, ‘Transatlantic Relations and US Foreign Policy’, in Inderjeet Parmar, Linda B. Miller and Mark Ledwidge (eds), Obama and the World: New Directions in US Foreign Policy, 2nd edn, London & New York: Routledge, 2014, pp. 197‒218.

The potential for change in transatlantic relations in part depends on how much scope there is for ‘agency’ in the ‘structure-agency’ debate. There has been much speculation since the low point of 2003 as to how much relations across the Atlantic between the United States and its erstwhile European opponents have improved. While 2003 marked the low point, relations were strained across the Atlantic before this, due to a range of issues including disagreement over climate change, the ABM Treaty, the International Criminal Court, and the CTBT. These issues provided the backdrop to the diplomatic confrontations which occurred in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Since then, although there has been a marked improvement in the tone of the transatlantic dialogue, structural factors seem set to intervene once more as the American turn toward Asia-Pacific is set to create new challenges in the future. A close examination of the driving forces behind the 2003 crisis to the restoration of transatlantic ties from the Bush second term through to Obama’s ‘pivot’ towards Asia highlights the complexity of structure and agency in this most critical of international relationships.

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