On April 18, 2018, the Amerika Haus e.V. NRW and the Center for International Security and Governance hosted Prof. Earl H. Fry at Bonn University. The professor of Political Science and Endowed Professor of Canadian Studies at Brigham Young University held a talk on the transatlantic relationship and its future in a global context. He focused on the significant changes within the international system, which challenges the transatlantic relationship in particular.He addressed the new emerging tensions with Russia as well as the rise of China, but also domestic challenges that hamper the competitiveness of the US and Europe in the international arena.
With regard to the US, Fry sees Donald Trump as a “the most unusual presidency”. Especially emerging protectionism threats U.S. relations with many partners, including the European Union. Financially, the United States suffers from economic and fiscal complexities: U.S. GDP in 2016 was nearly the same as in 1900 and state debts have increased from $1.1 trillion in 1982 to $21.1 trillion in 2018, Fry mentioned. In addition, just like its transatlantic partner, the U.S. faces nationalism, populism, loss of economic competitive strength, as well as demographic changes.
Instead of having a pessimistic view on the future, Fry’s message is an optimistic one: The relationship between the US and the European Union is more resilient than the media and public figures currently state. However, Fry calls for intensifying economic, political, and military ties nevertheless. He underlines the fact that the United States are still ‘a big and strong global player’ with huge potential also for stronger cooperation with its European partners. According to Fry, economic power is a main element of a superpower, which is needed in order to stand up for values like the rule of law, democracy, human rights – the cornerstones of the liberal world order.