Reforms Needed to Guard Against the Populist Assault on NATO and the EU

A Joint Project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for American Progress

Washington, Defending the European Union, NATO, and other transatlantic institutions will require a forward-looking reform agenda, according to a new joint report from scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Center for American Progress.

The current populist backlash against international cooperation, multilateralism, and the transatlantic alliance was long in the making. European allies failed to invest in their military capabilities. Military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya mired the United States and Europe in long and costly wars.

President Trump’s assault on Europe as a partner is being met by growing anti-Americanism across the Atlantic. Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President of AEI’s Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, noted, “Even when they instinctually diagnose the problem correctly, the authoritarian populists’ proposed remedies ultimately harm the patient. Undermining alliances, trade wars, appeasement of dictators and absolutist, often racist, anti-immigration policies all end badly for free nations.”

“A growing cohort of political leaders seek to weaken European and transatlantic bonds and to accept rather than stand up to Russia’s aggression,” said Vikram Singh, Senior Fellow at American Progress, “This report explores ways to reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership in a politically sustainable, even populist, way.”

The report recognizes the need for change and argues for reform of institutions vital to global peace and security. NATO must adapt to a new security environment. The EU needs to stop stumbling from one crisis to the next through reform and fealty to its founding values. Both the political right and left need to innovate to ensure economic openness remains a cornerstone of broad prosperity. This report is the second in the series, “Defending Democracy and Underwriting the Transatlantic Partnership.”

Read the report: “Partnership in Peril: The Populist Assault on the Transatlantic Community”


The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization working to expand liberty, increase individual opportunity, and strengthen free enterprise. AEI does not take institutional positions on any issues, and the views expressed here are those of the author(s).

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.

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