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Has illiberalism brought the West to the brink of collapse?
Series: Pocket Politics

The West of which we speak is defined by the values of liberal democracy, individual freedom, human rights, tolerance and equality under the rule of law. This book explores how Islamist terror and Russian aggression as companion threats to the West when terrorists target Russia as well as the United States and its allies. The threats posed by Islamist terror and Russian aggression present themselves in very different ways. In the time of transatlantic traumas, the Islamist terrorist threat and the Russian threat have worked diligently and with some success. The book examines the hatred of Islamists towards Western democracies, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union for their involvement in the Middle East politics for several decades. There is no single explanation for the rising popularity of illiberalism in the Western democracies; a combination of factors has produced a general sense of malaise. The book discusses the sources of discontent prevailing in the Western countries, and looks at the rise of Trumpism, Turkey and its Western values as well as the domestic tensions between Turkey's political parties. It suggests a radical centrist populist Western strategy could be applied to deal with the threats and challenges, reinvigorating the Western system. The book also touches upon suggestions relating to illiberalism in Europe, Turkey's drift away from the West, and the Brexit referendum.

Transatlantic relations from Truman to Trump

This book is an interpretive history of transatlantic security from the negotiation of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1948–1949 to the turbulence created by President Trump, British departure from the European Union (Brexit) and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The book concludes with analyses of possible futures for the West and observes “the most disruptive force of all has been the American presidency of Donald J. Trump. Trump refused to accept virtually all the political and strategic assumptions on which transatlantic political, economic, financial, and security relations have been based for 70 years. And, given the transatlantic alliance’s heavy reliance on American leadership and involvement, Trump’s lack of commitment has placed huge question marks over the West’s future.”

Stanley R. Sloan

In the time of transatlantic traumas, the Islamist terrorist threat and the Russian threat have worked diligently and with some success. This chapter analyses how did these threats develop. It provides the answers for the hatred of Islamists towards Western democracies, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) for their involvement in the Middle East politics for several decades. The chapter also looks into the internal divisions in Islam, the Sunni and Shia factions, and the conflicts between them which has given rise to turmoil in the Middle East and fleeing of refugees to other countries. It examines the NATO and EU responses to the refugees problem and explains that the Islamist and Russian threats converge in Syria, which had been a Soviet ally since 1956.

in Transatlantic traumas
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new tasks, new traumas
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter opens with the positive notes for the alliance of Barack Obama’s ascent to the US presidency and France’s return to NATO’s command. A worldwide “great recession” cast a dark cloud over the West. But with the uncertainties surrounding the Bush administration’s commitment to the alliance gone, the allies set about preparing a new strategic concept. The 2010 Lisbon concept adjusted NATO’s mission to reflect new realities, including preparing for more non-Article 5 crisis management contingencies. Possibilities for improved relations with Moscow were dashed in 2014 by Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region and intervention in the eastern parts of the country. The West responded at the Wales Summit with new sanctions and commitments to increase defense spending. The chapter looks also at NATO’s awkward intervention in Libya, helping remove Muammar Gaddafi from power but leaving the country in chaos. The chapter concludes by examining the traumas that confronted the West in the middle of the decade including a general tendency toward illiberal politics in many NATO and EU nations, Turkey’s drift away from the West, the British decision to leave the EU and, most prominently, the shock of Donald Trump’s antagonism toward Europe, NATO and the EU, autocratic inclinations, and friendship with Russian President Putin.

in Defense of the West (second edition)
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Stanley R. Sloan

If Brexit was a shock for transatlantic relations, the election victory of Donald Trump was a tsunami, arguably jeopardizing nearly seventy years of transatlantic commitments, political assumptions and security cooperation. This chapter examines the psychological profile of Trump that apparently lies behind virtually every policy utterance, speech or, yes, tweet on the subject. It surveys the contemporary record of Trump after providing a brief comparative historical note on the US participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Trump's position of NATO before his election came from his largely profit-oriented, transactional point of view that underlies the "America First" appeal to his base of support. The chapter discusses Trump's policies on NATO after he assumed office and the turmoil felt by NATO at its May 2017 Brussels meeting and the subsequent G7 meeting. It also addresses the issue of whether the US is abdicating leadership of the West.

in Transatlantic traumas
Stanley R. Sloan

Illiberalism has not yet brought the West to the brink of collapse. This chapter provides suggestions about how a radical centrist populist Western strategy could be applied to deal with the threats and challenges, reinvigorating the Western system. Radical centrist populists should promote creative and constructive approaches as important tools for reducing the future threat of Islamist terrorism. While it is critically important for the United States to remain actively involved in NATO's defenses against Russian threats, Europeans can also take steps to maintain transatlantic values and cooperation while they are being questioned in Washington. The chapter also touches upon other suggestions relating to illiberalism in Europe, Turkey's drift away from the West, and the Brexit referendum. A key goal of those Americans who believe in Western values should be to protect freedom of the press unlike President Trump's assault of press sources that do not support his goals.

in Transatlantic traumas
Stanley R. Sloan

As a member of NATO since 1952, Turkey should value Western ideals and, indeed, millions of its citizens do. However, the April 2017 Constitutional referendum has given President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power to the presidency; the referendum is seen by many as the first step toward the creation of a Putin-style regime under Erdogan's control. This chapter examines whether and how the West can encourage Turkey to hold to Western values while continuing to serve significant alliance interests in the region. It looks at Turkey's shifting external alignments, as seen by the nations pursuit of closer working relationships with Russia and Islamic nations, including Iran. The chapter discusses the domestic tensions between Turkey's political parties, and focuses on 2016 purges as the tipping point of the country's drift away from the West. Four-plus months after the purges began, the European Union parliament formally adjourned its membership discussions with Turkey.

in Transatlantic traumas
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Stanley R. Sloan

The 2016 referendum favoring by a close margin British departure from the European Union (EU) was a shock to British politics and to the EU. But it also created uncertainties affecting transatlantic relations, international affairs and the future of the West more generally. This chapter deals with the shocking Brexit referendum by focusing on its expectations, surprises and consequences. While pollsters predicted a "Remain" triumph, it was a surprise that the "Leave" finally won, albeit by only 3.78 percent. The chapter looks at Britain's half-hearted European convictions, highlighted by the country's refusal to join the Schengen zone and the Eurozone monetary union. It examines the UK party politics over the debate to remain or leave the EU and the rise of Nigel Farage's United Kingdom Independence Party. The Brexit vote had a major impact on the UK's future financial, economic and political health and its international commitments and influence.

in Transatlantic traumas
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter inventories the external threats and the internal challenges, while examining the interactive dynamic between the two categories and dis­cussing the circumstances under which NATO and EU member states may, or may not, be successful in dealing with them. The chapter sets the stage for considering the future of the transatlantic alliance and the West more broadly, examining the external threats to the West, including those from Russia, Middle Eastern instability, terrorism, cyber and information warfare, and China. It then assesses the internal challenges arising from the vulnerabilities of liberal democracy, consequent illiberal tendencies, British departure from the EU, and Donald Trump’s autocratic nationalism and retreat from international leadership. It concludes that “while the external threats to the West are real—far more than ‘risks and challenges’—internal weaknesses could block Western democracies from working together to deal with them. If transatlantic solidar­ity fails, then the future of the West would be in doubt.”

in Defense of the West (second edition)
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter opens by remarking on the resilience of both the transatlantic alliance and the West, but it warns that the alliance has never faced such an existential threat in its entire 70-year history as has been posed by the Trump presidency. It argues that the West is more than just the transatlantic alliance, but that values, interests, and key institutions grounded in transatlantic relationships are the heart of the West. The chapter’s core focuses on three potential scenarios for the future. One features optimistic projections about the ability of the West to rebound from the current crises, including the pandemic, and build stronger national democracies, European integration, and Western cooperation. A second scenario postulates survival, but without any great leaps forward. The third, and most concerning, examines the potential consequences of the illiberal tendencies and Trump presidency combining with Russian goals to destroy the alliance and devastate Western values and interests. It concludes by judging “The current collision between history and disruptive forces of change has posed a huge challenge to the United States, Canada, and their European allies. Future histories of the next decade of transatlantic relations will record the people’s ultimate decisions and the success or failure of the attempts to manage the crisis.”

in Defense of the West (second edition)