The West: Divided in Freedom and Fear?

  • Ville SinkkonenEmail author
  • Henri Vogt


This chapter takes a critical look at the prevailing narrative of transatlantic estrangement from the perspective of freedom, one of the constitutive pillars of the Western community of values. The articulations of freedom in US and European foreign-policy discourses can be perceived as a metric for gauging in which ways the value structures on the two sides of the Atlantic possibly differ. We find that both actors strongly emphasise sovereignty as an indispensable manifestation of freedom. However, with the Trump presidency, the respective takes on the world point to different directions: the European Union focuses on local resilience, whereas the United States emphasises a world of competition. In spite of this, seeking common ground through the various faculties of freedom theorised in the chapter might, over time, lead to a more legitimate rule-based system of global governance.


The United States European Union Foreign policy Freedom 


  1. Aaltola, Mika, Juha Käpylä, and Valtteri Vuorisalo. 2014. The Challenge of Global Commons and Flows for US Power. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  2. Acharya, Amitav. 2018. The End of American World Order. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Adler, Emanuel, and Michael Barnett. 1998. A Framework for the Study of Security Communities. In Security Communities, ed. Emanuel Adler and Michael N. Barnett, 29–65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Albright, Madeleine K. 1998. Albright Interview on NBC-TV: “The Today Show”. U.S. Department of State, February 19.
  5. Anderson, Jeffrey J. 2018. Rancor and Resilience in the Atlantic Political Order: The Obama Years. Journal of European Integration 40 (5): 621–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnett, Michael, and Raymond Duvall. 2005. Power in International Politics. International Organization 59 (1): 39–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berlin, Isaiah. 1969. Four Essays on Liberty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bolton, John. 2018. Full Text of John Bolton’s Speech to the Federalist Society. Al Jazeera, September 10.
  9. Bourbeau, Philippe, and Ryan Caitlin. 2018. Resilience, Resistance, Infrapolitics and Enmeshment. European Journal of International Relations 24 (1): 221–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brooks, Stephen G., and William C. Wohlforth. 2016. America Abroad: Why the Sole Superpower Should Not Pull Back from the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Campbell, Kurt, and Ely Ratner. 2018. The China Reckoning: How Beijing Defied American Expectations. Foreign Affairs 97 (2): 60–70.Google Scholar
  12. Cha, Taesuh. 2015. American Exceptionalism at the Crossroads: Three Responses. Political Studies Review 13 (3): 351–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cox, Michael. 2012. Too Big to Fail? The Transatlantic Relationship from Bush to Obama. Global Policy 3 (Suppl 1): 71–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Daalder, Ivo, and James Lindsay. 2018. The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of global Leadership. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  15. de Graaff, Naná, and Bastiaan van Apeldoorn. 2018. US-China Relations and the Liberal World Order: Contending Elites, Colliding Visions? International Affairs 94 (1): 113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. EEAS. 2016. Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe: A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy. European External Action Service, June 2016.
  17. European Commission. 2017. The New European Consensus on Development: ‘Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future’. European Commission: International Cooperation and Development, June 8.
  18. Foreign Affairs. 2018. Did America Get China Wrong? The Engagement Debate. Foreign Affairs 97 (4): 183–195.Google Scholar
  19. Forsberg, Tuomas, and Graeme P. Herd. 2006. Divided West: European Security and the Transatlantic Relationship. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Fuchs, Dieter, and Hans-Dieter Klingemann. 2008. American Exceptionalism or Western Civilization? In The End of the West? Crisis and Change in the Atlantic Order, ed. Jeffrey J. Anderson, G. John Ikenberry, and Thomas Risse, 247–262. London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gauchet, Marcel. 2016. Droite et gauche en redéfinition. Le débat 192: 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldberg, Jeffrey. 2016. The Obama Doctrine. The Atlantic, April 2016.
  23. Gourevitch, Alex. 2007. Neo-Wilsonianism: The Limits of American Ethical Foreign Policy. In Rethinking Ethical Foreign Policy: Pitfalls, Possibilities and Paradoxes, ed. David Chandler and Volker Heins, 25–49. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Green Cowles, Maria, and Michelle Egan. 2016. The Historical Evolution of the Transatlantic Partnership. In The West and the Global Power Shift: Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance, ed. Riccardo Alcaro, John Peterson, and Ettero Greco, 75–97. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Honneth, Axel. 2011. Das Recht der Freiheit. Grundriss einer demokratischen Sittlichkeit. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  26. Ibrahim, Solava S. 2006. From Individual to Collective Capabilities: The Capability Approach as a Conceptual Framework for Self-help. Journal of Human Development 7 (3): 397–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ikenberry, G. John. 1998. Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Persistence of American Postwar Order. International Security 23 (3): 43–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ikenberry, G. John. 2008. Explaining Crisis and Change in Transatlantic Relations: An Introduction. In The End of the West? Crisis and Change in the Atlantic Order, ed. Jeffrey Anderson, Thomas Risse, and G. John Ikenberry, 1–27. London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ikenberry, G. John, Michael Mastanduno, and William Wohlforth, eds. 2008. International Relations Theory and the Consequences of Unipolarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Juncker, Jean-Claude. 2018. State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty. European Commission, September 12.
  31. Kagan, Robert. 2003. Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  32. Katz, Mark N. 2018. The US-Russia Relationship. In Between Change and Continuity: Making Sense of America’s Evolving Global Engagement, ed. Mika Aaltola, Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Juha Käpylä, and Ville Sinkkonen, 153–164. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  33. Kioupkiolis, Alexandros. 2009. Three Paradigms of Modern Freedom. European Journal of Political Theory 8 (4): 473–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kupchan, Charles A. 2002. The End of the West. The Atlantic, November 2002.
  35. ———. 2018. The Clash of Exceptionalisms: A New Fight Over an Old Idea. Foreign Affairs 97 (2): 139–148.Google Scholar
  36. Kydd, Andrew H. 2005. In America We (Used to) Trust: U.S. Hegemony and Global Cooperation. Political Science Quarterly 120 (4): 619–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laderman, Charles, and Brendan Simms. 2017. Donald Trump: The Making of a World View. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  38. Larik, Joris. 2018. The EU’s Global Strategy, Brexit and ‘America First’. European Foreign Affairs Review 20 (3): 343–364.Google Scholar
  39. Layne, Christopher. 2008. It’s Over, Over There: The Coming Crack-up in Transatlantic Relations. International Politics 45 (3): 325–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lucarelli, Sonia. 2006. Interpreted Values: A Normative Reading of EU Role Conceptions and Performance. In The European Union’s Roles in International Politics: Concepts and Analysis, ed. Ole Elgström and Michael Smith, 47–65. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Macron, Emmanuel. 2017a. Speech on New Initiative for Europe. Élysée, September 26.
  42. ———. 2017b. Initiative pour l’Europe – Discours d’Emmanuel Macron pour une Europe souveraine, unie, démocratique. Élysée, September 26.
  43. Mahbubani, Kishore. 2018. Has the West Lost It? A Provocation. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  44. Maier, Charles S. 1977. The Politics of Productivity: Foundations of American International Economic Policy After World War II. International Organization 31 (4): 607–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mattis, Jim. 2018. Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge. U.S. Department of Defense.
  46. Mayer, Hartmut. 2006. The ‘Mutual’, ‘Shared’ and ‘Dual’ Responsibility of the West: The EU and the US in a Sustainable Transatlantic Alliance. In A Responsible Europe? Ethical Foundations of EU External Affairs, ed. Henri Vogt and Hartmut Mayer, 57–75. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  47. Mckeown, Anthony, and John Glenn. 2017. The Rise of Resilience After the Financial Crises: A Case of Neoliberalism Rebooted? Review of International Studies 44 (2): 193–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McMaster, H.R., and Gary D. Cohn. 2017. America First Doesn’t Mean America Alone. The Wall Street Journal, May 30.
  49. Merkel, Angela. 2018a. Speech by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Reception for the Diplomatic Corps in Meseberg on 6 July 2018. Bundesregierung, July 6.
  50. ———. 2018b. Merkel: Rede von Bundeskanzlerin Merkel beim Jahresempfang für das Diplomatische Corps am 6. Juli 2018. Bundeskanzlerin, July 6.
  51. Mogherini, Federica. 2017. Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the 2017 Bled Strategic Forum. European External Action Service, September 4.
  52. ———. 2018. Speech by HR/VP Mogherini at the Annual EU Ambassadors Conference 2018. European External Action Service, September 3.
  53. Müller, Jan-Werner. 2014. Who Is the European Prince? A More or Less Machiavellian Meditation on the European Union. Social Research 81 (1): 242–267.Google Scholar
  54. Myrdal, Gunnar. 1964. An American Dilemma. Vol. 1. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  55. Nau, Henry R. 2008. Iraq and Previous Transatlantic Crises: Divided by Threat, Not Institutions or Values. In The End of the West? Crisis and Change in the Atlantic Order, ed. Jeffrey J. Anderson, G. John Ikenberry, and Thomas Risse, 82–110. London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Nicolaïdis, Kalypso. 2005. The Power of the Superpowerless. In Beyond Paradise and Power: Europe, America and the Future of a Troubled Partnership, ed. Tod Lindberg, 93–120. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Nye, Joseph S. 2011. The Future of Power. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  58. Obama, Barack. 2015. National Security Strategy. White House, February 2015.
  59. ———. 2016a. Address by President Obama to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. White House, September 20.
  60. ———. 2016b. As Your Friend, Let Me Say that the EU Makes Britain even Greater. The Telegraph, April 21.
  61. ———. 2016c. Remarks by President Obama at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece.
  62. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). 2018. European Deterrence Initiative.
  63. Pettit, Philip. 1996. Freedom as Antipower. Ethics 106 (3): 576–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Raik, Kristi, Mika Aaltola, Jyrki Kallio, and Katri Pynnöniemi. 2018. The Security Strategies of the US, China, Russia and the EU: Living in Different Worlds. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  65. Risse, Thomas. 2008. The End of the West? Conclusions. In The End of the West? Crisis and Change in the Atlantic Order, ed. Jeffrey Anderson, G. John Ikenberry, and Thomas Risse, 263–290. London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Risse-Kappen, Thomas. 1996. Collective Identity in a Democratic Community: The Case of NATO. In The Culture of National Security, ed. Peter J. Katzenstein, 357–399. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Rosanvallon, Pierre. 2006. In Democracy Past and Future, ed. Samuel Moyn. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Shklar, Judith. 1989. The Liberalism of Fear. In Liberalism and the Moral Life, ed. Nancy L. Rosenblum, 21–38. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Singer, David J. 1961. The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations. World Politics 14 (1): 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sinkkonen, Ville. 2015. A Comparative Appraisal of Normative Power: The European Union, the United States and the January 25th, 2011 Revolution in Egypt. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sinkkonen, Ville, and Henri Vogt. 2019. Connected in Freedom? Reconstructing a Foundational Value in EU and US Foreign Policy Discourses. Journal of Transatlantic Studies (published online, June 3, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sjursen, Helene, and Guri Rosén. 2017. Arguing Sanctions. On the EU’s Response to the Crisis in Ukraine. Journal of Common Market Studies 55 (1): 20–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Skinner, Quentin. 2002. A Third Concept of Liberty. Proceedings of the British Academy 117: 237–268.Google Scholar
  74. Trump, Donald J. 2017a. National Security Strategy of the United States of America. White House, December 2017.
  75. ———. 2017b. Remarks by President Trump at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference. White House, June 8.
  76. ———. 2017c. Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland. White House, July 6.
  77. ———. 2018. Remarks by President Trump to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. White House, September 25.
  78. U.S. Department of State. 2015. Enduring Leadership in a Dynamic World: Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
  79. Wallace, William. 2016. Are Values Diverging across the Atlantic? European Foreign Affairs Review 21 (3): 355–363.Google Scholar
  80. Walt, Stephen M. 1985. Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power. International Security 9 (4): 3–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Waltz, Kenneth N. 2001. Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis. Rev. ed. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Zakaria, Fareed. 2011. The Post-American World: Release 2.0. London: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Finnish Institute of International AffairsHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.University of TurkuTurkuFinland

Personalised recommendations