Toward a New Transatlantic Bargain

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Policy Outlook
A renewed commitment from both sides of the Atlantic is essential to ensuring NATO’s continued success.
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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is often described as the most successful military alliance in history. In addition to longevity, those characterizing NATO this way are usually thinking of the Alliance’s role in protecting freedom and guaranteeing peace in Europe against a hostile Soviet Union, right up until the Iron Curtain fell. NATO’s role in ending ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and in helping to reintegrate Central and Eastern Europe into the mainstream of the continent, only added to this positive image of the Alliance.

For NATO to hold together all this time—even amid such monumental challenges as the Suez crisis, the Hungarian revolution, the Prague Spring, Vietnam, Pershing missiles, and Kosovo—it is clear that allies maintained an underlying commitment to each other and to the cause of an alliance greater than the sum of its parts. The recognition that each side of the Atlantic was willing to sacrifice a bit to the other for the benefit of the whole is what is meant by the concept of a “transatlantic bargain.” For decades, this transatlantic bargain—though predominantly unstated and uncodified—was instinctively understood and acted upon.

In more recent years, this transatlantic bond has been sorely tested, over the war in Iraq, over different perceptions of Russia, of missile defense, of terrorism, and even over differing interpretations of relations with Georgia and Ukraine. Whether or how NATO survives the severity of these tests still remains to be seen. NATO will surely come out best, however, if there is a renewed commitment on both sides of the Atlantic to some of the fundamentals of the Alliance that are important to both sides—a renewal of the transatlantic bargain.

This piece was adapted from the executive summary of The Transatlantic Bargain, a study sponsored by the NATO Defense College in Rome and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. The full study is available here.

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In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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