Is the transatlantic relationship, arguably the single most important bilateral relationship in the world for much of the 20th century, decreasing in vitality and importance? What is the role of NATO and the U.S.-EU relationship in a world in which power is shifting toward Asia and Europe is largely stable? Is the United States, led by a President Barack Obama whose personal biography is not dominated by experience with Europe, losing interest in this relationship? Are the common values that ostensibly unite North America and Europe strong enough to sustain this partnership and the alliance in a globalizing world? Or has our relationship just become one of many important ones?
In recent months, these questions have echoed across the Atlantic as one columnist after another has questioned the ability of the United States and the European Union as well as NATO to adequately respond to a variety of new challenges. President Obama's decision not to attend the U.S.-EU Summit this spring was interpreted by some, rightly or wrongly, as a downgrading of Europe and the European Union in America's foreign policy priorities. Many question whether the passing of the Lisbon Treaty has really given the European Union the new tools to assume more global responsibility. And what is the future role of NATO in this increasingly unpredictable world?
While President Obama is arguably the most popular U.S. president in decades, the European public's love affair may be waning and is slowly being replaced by complaints and squabbling about his ostensible lack of commitment to this relationship. Twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the transatlantic relationship is portrayed by many on both sides of the Atlantic as less relevant for the future. But what is the alternative? Are there any other allies waiting in the wings to be partners of the United States in places like Afghanistan? And can President Obama pursue his multilateralist vision -- or the EU its commitment to multilateralism -- without a thriving transatlantic core?
Baroness Catherine Ashton
Baroness Catherine Ashton was appointed high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy in 2009. Prior to her appointment as high representative, she served as European commissioner for trade, where she has initialed an ambitious and far-reaching free trade agreement with South Korea, and solved a number of high-profile trade disputes with major trading partners. She has also championed trade as a means of promoting development around the world, putting the EU's economic relationship with African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries on a firmer footing. Baroness Ashton has represented the European Union in the Doha Round of world trade talks, and built on already strong bilateral trade and investment relationships. As trade commissioner, she co-chaired the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. In 2007, she was appointed leader of the House of Lords, and lord president of the Queen's Privy Council in Gordon Brown's first Cabinet. Baroness Ashton took responsibility in the House of Lords for equalities issues and moved the Lisbon Treaty through the U.K.'s upper chamber.
David R. Ignatius
Washington Post columnist associate editor David Ignatius has had a distinguished and wide-ranging career in the news business, serving at various times as a reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and columnist. He has written widely for magazines and published several novels.
Ignatius' twice-weekly column on global politics, economics and international affairs debuted on the Washington Post op-ed page in January 1999. He continued to write weekly after becoming executive editor of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune in September 2000. When the Post sold its interest in the IHT in January 2003, Ignatius resumed writing twice a week for the op-ed page and was syndicated worldwide by the Washington Post Writers Group. His column won the 2000 Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary and a 2004 Edward Weintal Prize.
Prior to becoming a columnist, Ignatius served as the Post's assistant managing editor in charge of business news, foreign editor, and editor of the "Outlook" section. Before joining the Post in 1986, Ignatius spent 10 years as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and was an editor at The Washington Monthly. He has published articles in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Talk Magazine and The Washington Monthly. Ignatius has written seven novels, including 2007's Body of Lies, which was adapted into a Warner Bros. film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.
Raised in Washington, D.C., Ignatius attended Harvard College, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1973. He received a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard and studied at King’s College, Cambridge University, where he received a diploma in economics.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves became the fourth president of Estonia in 2006. Born in Sweden to Estonian refugees, President Ilves grew up and went to school in the United States. After earning his degrees, President Ilves became a teacher and researcher at Columbia University; assistant director at the Open Education Center in Englewood, New Jersey; and a lecturer in Estonian literature and linguistics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. In the 1980s, he worked as a journalist for Radio Free Europe in Munich and became actively involved in Estoniaâ€™s politics. In 1993, two years after Estonia gained its independence, he became the countryâ€™s ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Three years later, he became Estonia's foreign affairs minister. After a brief year-long period as chairman of the North Atlantic Institute, he was again appointed foreign affairs minister. From 2002 to 2004, he was a member of Estonia's Parliament, and then served a two-year term as a member of the European Parliament. President Ilves earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively.
Anne-Marie Slaughter is currently the President and CEO of New America, a think tank and civic enterprise with offices in Washington and New York. She is also the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009–2011 she served as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. Upon leaving the State Department she received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for her work leading the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, as well as meritorious service awards from USAID and the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.
George Voinovich is a Republican senator from the state of Ohio. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998. He holds a degree in government from the University of Ohio along with a law degree from Ohio State University. His public service career began in 1967 as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives. Sen. Voinovich served as mayor of Cleveland, lieutenant governor of Ohio, and governor of Ohio for two terms before his election to the U.S. Senate. He currently serves on the Committee on Appropriations, where he is the ranking minority member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, and on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he is ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. He is also ranking member on the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, advises the U.S. and Europe to include China in their economic, developmental, and diplomatic relationship. With China's cooperation, she says, problems like energy and climate change will be solved more easily.