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Peak Atlantic Unity?

A few short years after being declared brain dead, the transatlantic alliance is thriving, with Americans and Europeans coordinating their response to Russian aggression and sharing similar views on China. But new storm clouds are gathering, and Europeans must prepare for darker days ahead.

WASHINGTON, DC – European leaders are breathing a huge sigh of relief following the Republicans’ failure to achieve a “red wave” in the US midterm elections. While the final composition of the House of Representatives remains unknown, the Democrats have held on to the Senate, and it is already clear that Congress will not be flooded with isolationist supporters of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. But rather than using this time to celebrate, Europeans need to prepare for the next potential storm.

Europe, after all, has benefited from an extraordinary moment of transatlantic unity over the last year. The US-European partnership has responded seamlessly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with coordinated sanctions, and with the United States consulting European governments before pursuing any conversations about the future of European security with the Kremlin. NATO, the alliance that French President Emmanuel Macron called “brain dead” in 2019, is now thriving and poised to welcome Finland and Sweden as new members. And Europeans are finally spending more on defense, with even Germany hitting the long-promised target of 2% of GDP.

Americans and Europeans also generally agree about the strategic challenge that China poses, especially now that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has ruled with economic threats and belligerent foreign policies, has extended and consolidated his power. There is a strong sense that “the West is back.” The US and Europe are channeling a newfound political unity in support of shared values and a common vision of the kind of world they want.