Toward an Atlantic Divorce?

LONDON: Trends on both sides of the Atlantic are undermining the half-century’s-old partnership between North America and Europe. If these challenges become the cockpit of rivalry, allowing one side to seek advantage over the other, the world will a become less peaceful, less stable, and less prosperous place.

What forces are beginning to drive America and Europe apart? One is the extent to which North America’s center of gravity is shifting westwards. California long ago overtook New York as the most populous US state. British Columbia plays an increasingly important role in Canada. Silicon Valley and Microsoft are both on the West Coast. Japan, despite recent difficulties, remains an economic giant. And China, is, for the US, both its greatest opportunity as a market and its greatest potential superpower rival.

Today, trade disputes have gotten closest to fracturing transatlantic relationships. Attempts by the US to exert extra-territorial jurisdiction including the attempt to ban British businessmen from visiting Cuba, incite European resentment. European attitudes to the import of Caribbean bananas and hormone treated beef arouse strong reactions in North America. That trading relationship will remain difficult to manage, for commercial interests do differ. Governments are increasingly called to assist their own companies. Conflicts are inevitable.