12. April 2024

Start of the lecture series "75 years of NATO" Start of the lecture series "75 years of NATO"

The role of the USA in the transatlantic alliance

NATO celebrated its 75th birthday on 4 April 2024. Since its foundation in 1949, the number of its member states has grown from twelve to 32, and the global political context and the public's assessment of NATO have changed significantly. Its anniversary is the occasion for the lecture series "75 Years of NATO", organised by the Henry Kissinger Professorship at CASSIS at the University of Bonn and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Against the backdrop of the latest turning point in the organisation's history, Russia's attack on Ukraine, the lecture series take a look on the current secruity situation in an exchange with international experts from practice and academia.

Auftaktvorlesung am 11. April 2024: „Die Rolle der USA in der transatlantischen Allianz“
Auftaktvorlesung am 11. April 2024: „Die Rolle der USA in der transatlantischen Allianz“ © CASSIS
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The series started with a discussion on "The role of the USA in the transatlantic alliance" on 11 April, which was also supported by AmerikaHaus NRW. Under the moderation of Henry Kissinger Professor Ulrich Schlie, Rachel Tausendfreund from the German Marshall Fund and Dirk Brengelmann, former ambassador and CASSIS Fellow, exchanged views with the audience.

In 90 minutes, the relationship between the USA and NATO was analysed from various perspectives: What impact does the systemic rivalry between China and the US have on American engagement in the transatlantic alliance? In view of its domestic political polarisation and a possible return of Donald Trump to the White House, can the USA itself still serve as a reliable partner for the European member states?

From my personal perspective, the most interesting insights from this kick-off event included Ms Tausendfreund's assumption that a second Trump administration would not necessarily lead to a complete withdrawal of the USA from the alliance. Asserting its own interests vis-à-vis Europe, for example by demanding compliance with the two per cent target, could be more important than a withdrawal.

To summarise, I would assume that, in the face of Russian claims to ownership in Eastern Europe, no one would now diagnose the 'brain death' or uselessness of NATO. However, I also share Mr Brengelmann's view that the European member states should ask themselves whether and how they could master the future challenges on their own. According to Mr Brengelmann, trust is at the heart of this, because "a security guarantee that does not have a solid basis of trust is a jelly."

Impressions from Maximilian Köhler. He is an intern at the Henry Kissinger Professorship for Security and Strategy Research at CASSIS. He is studying for a Master's degree in Political Science at the University of Bonn and also completed his Bachelor's degree in Politics, Sociology and Law in Bonn. His main areas of interest are transatlantic relations and US foreign policy.

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