The End of the West? Crisis and Change in the Atlantic Order

In This Review

The End of the West? Crisis and Change in the Atlantic Order

Edited by Jeffrey Anderson, G. John Ikenberry, and Thomas Ri
Cornell University Press, 2008
312 pp. $59.95
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Ever since the Iraq war provoked the biggest transatlantic split since the Suez crisis in 1956, observers have been asking themselves whether that split was a phase that would pass -- like so many transatlantic crises before it -- or the start of a lasting or even permanent divide. In this volume, leading political scientists, economists, and theorists have come together to try to bring some analytic rigor to the question. On balance, they lean toward the former conclusion. None denies that the transatlantic divisions were and are serious, but even the most pessimistic contribution, that of Charles Kupchan, does not conclude that the crisis marks "the end of the West," to use the words of the book's provocative title. Putting the best light on the fact that scholarly projects like this one take years to come to fruition, the co-editor Risse notes that whereas in 2003 (when this project was conceived) U.S.-German relations were deeply strained, by 2006 U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were sharing a wild-boar barbecue in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania -- a reminder that crises need to be put in a longer-term perspective. The most interesting chapters include those by the political economists Jens van Scherpenberg and Kathleen McNamara, both of whom demonstrate that the transatlantic political crisis had little impact on transatlantic economic relations -- and vice versa. The good news, in other words, is that the next crisis should not prevent U.S.-European trade and investment from expanding; the bad news is that expanding trade and investment will not prevent the next crisis.