tv Brookings Institution Discussion on Europes Global Leadership CSPAN January 25, 2021 2:05pm-2:32pm EST
please. >> thank you. >> up next, the brookings institution hosted a discussion on europe's leadership and the future of transatlantic relationship with the u.s. it included the eurasia group founder. foreign policy experts explore the policy of eu resentment to the u.s., if europe should engage china, and what needs to be done to win back trust of the european allies. >> good morning, everyone. very delighted that everyone can join us today for the discussion
between two of the leading global, not just international and transatlantic commentators on the title of the book written by one of our participants today, the world in danger. the former ambassador to the united states and germany, the head of a conference, who most people know only too well. i don't have any further introduction. and the head of the eurasia group. on the televisions these days from his undisclosed location in secrecy in quarantine. [laughter] as all of us are these days. i am really glad everyone could join us from where they are today. a book has been published in
germany, in german but we -- in german, but we just got an english translation. clearly, as the nature is with books, they are written quite some time before they are published. the title is extraordinarily prescient now coming out in 2 021 after a global pandemic has raged and engulfed us all. when he was writing the book, of course this emerged. you could not really have foreseen the impact it would have had over the course of that following year. not worried much about the u.s. and european relationship.
several years of tension with the trump administration and european parts, but also perhaps you could not have seen the events in the united states as a shock to all of us here and you as well. i want you to give us some thoughts on the book and how it sets the stage for where we are now. for the audience, before we get to the discussion, we already received ahead of time about 22 questions on different themes here. i have the names of the people who submitted ahead of time. if you have a question, please use the chat function. my colleagues will send that to me. thank you so much, and thank you to everyone for joining us this morning, afternoon, evening, depending on where you are.
wolfgang, the inevitable problem we have and we are doing zoom, i think you are on mute. having an issue. we will see if our technicians can help. >> it is coming now. >> there we are. >> yeah. fiona, first of all, let me say thanks to you and ian for doing this. it is a wonderful opportunity for me. i wish i could have pursued my original plan, which was to go on a book tour once the english version came out late last year. but of course, because of the pandemic, that is not possible. i am looking forward to the moment where we can more easily
travel again across the atlantic. you know, when i started thinking about this book, the original intention was of course to write a book addressed to a german audience. and my original intention was in 2018, a year or so after donald trump had taken over, to kind of write a wake-up call type of book for germans, my fellow germans have been told ever since 1990, when we had german reunification, that paradise has now begun because we are now only surrounded by friends. the soviet union is gone. poland is now an ally. why do we need an army?
we are living in a happy state of being surrounded by friends. that kind of thinking, i thought, true enough almost two years ago, needs to be shaken up a little bit because it has prevented many of my fellow germans from seeing that as we enjoyed our life in this european cocoon. we did not pay enough attention that there was terrorism continuing in afghanistan and the war in syria and the breaking apart of a country that most people can't find on a map called mali with enormous security implications for that region. i could go on and on. the original intention was to explain that the world has become more risky. threats have been growing, and
we need to worry about that, and we cannot simply sit there and wait for our american patron friend in washington, d.c., to take care of it because donald trump has actually sown the seeds of doubt with respect to the substance of the nato arrangement of the north atlantic alliance. -- threats have been growing, and we need to worry about that, and we cannot simply sit there and wait for our american patron friends in washington, d.c., to take care of it because donald trump has actually sown the seeds of doubt with respect to the substance of the nato arrangement of the north atlantic alliance. that was the original intention. then we saw that -- what happened before the pandemic broke out a year ago i thought it would be a useful idea to revise the book and adapted so it would also hopefully be found interesting as a european view by non-european audiences in
terms of, what about the future of europe? what about the future of the transatlantic alliance? how should europe interact with china? and what about our future relationship with russia? i am really delighted with the help of brookings press we were able to publish this english language revised version, and quite frankly, i have had a number of phone calls from friends in america who thought it really quite funny that i included in the book my anecdote about how i met in a very naive way as far as i'm concerned donald trump at mar-a-lago in early 2005, where he had just opened this resort hotel, and they arranged for a big charity ball, and i and a couple of my fellow ambassadorial friends were invited.
it was a white tie affair, a a -- affair, very formal, fancy, and i even had a small jet with donald later that evening about his german roots, and i had absolutely no idea, and i cannot forgive it to myself, i had absolutely no idea that i should consider this person a future candidate and future president, and now looking back at it today the only one who was ever impeached twice. i had no idea in 2005. diplomacy is also full of surprises occasionally. ms. hill: i think lots of people are looking back to all kinds of encounters that they had never anticipated, and certainly the
way that things would unfold over this period, and i think it is interesting that you started here with taking us back to 1990 and the german view that a new world of peace and prosperity had broken out. the expression used about a cocoon. this idea about the end of history, also thinking about where we had come into this area -- era of struggles with ideology had passed away along with the end of the cold where along the lines you have laid out here. what happens even from 2005, and your encounter in mar-a-lago, and you mentioned china. ian, you have been looking at the china rise for a considerable period of time.
you and i met in grad school looking at these. i am sure we don't want to talk about how long ago that was but we had a similar perspective on the way the world was unfolding, and the rise of china also was not anticipated in that particular period. i remember working on a research project and looking about how the relationship with the soviet union and russia would evolve, but china was not being factored in any particular way in the 1990's. let's try to forgive wolfgang for not seeing this, but how do you think we should have anticipated things would unfold as we look back at that? mr. bremmer: if wolfgang had
thought trump would be president in 2005, i would have asked for his head to be checked. to be clear, i think we can forgive him for that oversight. i am delighted to be with both of you i've known for a long time. one thing i would say is i think all three of us are wrestling right now in very personal ways with the fact that we are just historically scholars and public intellectuals and talk in the realm of ideas, and yet all three of us in personal ways had to become intellectual activists in this environment, and it has been kind of forced on us because we see developments in the world that we think are dangerous, that we understand represent a tipping point, and we want to do something about it. that is one of the reasons i was particularly happy to join the two of you for this event this morning. you are right that we used to
talk about china and india as the rising emerging markets. so many books and economists have written about that, talked about that. china is going to be the largest economy in the world. it looks like 2028. that is pretty significant. their growth last year with the pandemic of 2%, their expected growth of 7% or 8%. after they finally admitted to the pandemic occurring in their country and spreading internationally. their ability to shut it down was quite extraordinary. this reflects one of a few things that i think the western commentariat has gotten wrong. you pointed to the end of history, and i think a better argument in retrospect is that
1991 showed the beginning of the end of the american order precisely because we were so indifferent to what might happen to russia as a consequence of the loss of soviet empire, and our lack of engagement, whether it was the nato russia council. you remember the debate. all of us to. a second big one we got wrong , that everyone got wrong, was the idea that as china got more powerful and wealthier, they would have to reform to look more like the united states both economically and politically or they would fail. that is completely wrong. xi jinping today has consolidated more power. he is more authoritarian. he has ended term limits. he is more a state capitalist.
we have not heard from jack ma about it a month. tech is becoming the new strategic sector on top of ai and a bunch of things. the commentariat got wrong the idea that brexit would be the beginning of the end for europe and would make europe weaker and more divided. wolfgang and i talked about this a couple of weeks ago. actually, the european response is we need to come together in a more constructive way, and i think you have seen the use of the crisis to provide massive redistribution from wealthy countries in europe to poor countries. i think brexit had borne that to a degree. it will not always lead to chaos and disappointment, but i think there are opportunities too and the fact that the new global order will not be an american lead to order. the fact that the new global order does not mean the united states is back the way we used to be does also create opportunities for the incoming biden team to think differently.
on climate, they are clearly doing that. on other issues, too early to say. maybe i am a little skeptical. they can change, so we will see. we will see what we will get. ms. hill: that's brilliant. thank you so much. many of the questions we have gotten i will weave in because i will start to listen. divided us with perfect segues to touch on these issues. this point on everything is not always pass dependent is an important one. looking back we can obviously see the way that things have evolved as we look for the present forward. we do not think there is something that can throw these off and what spurred you to write the book, pointing out that the past was different from what we saw in 1990 has been from this vantage point in 2020, and the future is likely to be too. as we pick up on that idea as well, ian has talked about
climate. we have three big c's. covid, which has had a huge dislocation effects. we have to be careful about how that will play out too. still have a long way to go before it burns it itself out. major climate change. china may not be well-positioned to deal with that. certainly, technologically, china has all the hallmarks of a successful response, but it is also a country with serious problems with water and natural resources. the last 20 years they have also , been on the pollution bender we have all been on since the industrial revolution. other issues for china to contend with. then, we have climate, covid,
and china that are all wove together as the c's of the future. what are the implications of what ian just said for the future of the e.u.? as ian said, brexit has not been the end of europe. it is certainly causing major problems for the united kingdom, but what does the larger landscape look like for the e.u. with these other big challenges in the next couple of years or so, and what do you think the biden administration should do with these? some questions being asked in the chat as well. -- as well to the position itself visibly europe because there is no going back to the relationship that proceeded the trump administration in the last four years. too much has changed in that time. amb. ischinger: quite clearly, for the european union, which has established itself, which
had established itself as a major trading bloc and economic power, no doubt about it, for the e.u. the challenge going forward is to become an adult member of the global strategic community. to develop the ability to be taken slightly more seriously as a global player, which the european union so far is not really. we would love to play a more significant role. we have been looking rather helplessly at what developed in syria. and libya. and elsewhere. our efforts to play a role when it comes to, for example, peacekeeping or military
activities have been weak because our capabilities were not there. so i think for the european union going forward, the big challenge is, can we develop capabilities, and can we develop , as 27 nations, decision-making processes that will not -- that will avoid the situation but we -- situations that we have been -- situation that we have been having almost on a daily basis that each time some question comes up, one of the 27 will find a reason to cast a veto and to make the european union look undecided and impotent. so, i think that is a challenge. as a matter of fact, i am actually quite optimistic that given our performance in the pandemic, or the lessons learned
from the pandemic, i am more optimistic today than i would have been a year ago. the european union, after initial despair and disorganized separate national reactions, the e.u. has actually gotten its act together. we have big debates at this moment. was it a good idea or was it not a good idea to make the european union the organization that gets all the vaccine material distributed throughout the e.u.? but the fact is, we took that decision, and we also took the decision, which i think is a historic one last summer, for the first time in history, the european union, given the magnitude of the economic crisis because of covid-19, allowed itself to enter into a debt situation.
that was contested literally for decades not only by my country, but in particular by germany. so, actually, i think the e.u. -- and i am really delighted i can say that seriously -- the e.u. is actually coming out of this triple crisis. i mean, covid-19, the transatlantic dispute about nato, etc., and, of course, brexit, the e.u. is coming out relatively unharmed and maybe even slightly stronger and hopefully better prepared. and i am so glad that we can now hope that the incoming biden administration on day one, hopefully, as i understand, will announce that they would rejoin
the parents climate accord -- the parents climate accord -- the paris climate accord. speaking of climate, that is what you in america call low hanging fruit. everybody in europe, from the far-right to the far-left, will applaud that decision when it is taken by the biden administration. there are a number of things that biden administration can do or has already announced that they will do, which would be seen in europe as most welcome decisions to bring the transatlantic community together again. not working against each other, but trying to work together. the big one, my concluding point, the most important medium and long-term challenge, as far as i am concerned, for the transatlantic community between biden and ursula von der leyen, and biden and the successor to chancellor merkel and macron, etc., will be how to manage and figure out a way to coordinate our relationship with china.
i think that's the big one, and i hope we can address that this year in a meaningful, organized transatlantic manner. ms. hill: thanks. this really gets to the heart of a number of the questions we've got. really focused in on the future of the european union or the consequences of brexit and trying to repair in some way the relationships of the u.s. after the damage of the last several years, but also this shift in the nature of the relationships. a lot about handling the relationships with china. as i am listening to you, i'm thinking what you are describing is an e.u. that is trying to describe itself as completely separate from the u.s. and china. all of our questions are really putting the e.u. back in the relationship with either the u.s., traditional relationship
going back to world war ii and during the cold war, and then thinking about a new relationship with the e.u. and china. and it is actually giving the european union a little less agency in this. you are describing in many respects an e.u. that is an amalgamation of independent sovereign states but as a sort of separate power trying to secure its own sovereignty and its own place in the world and then interact with others, but not defining itself just in terms of the relationships between the u.s. and china. i think that does raise some major questions about how you handle this complex of relations. because, certainly, president trump did not want to coordinate with the european union on china. he repeatedly said, this is about the u.s. relationship with china, i'm not going to do all the heavy lifting and then have you take advantage of it. he didn't see the european union or even some individual european countries like germany -- the u.k. was extolling the idea of a golden age of u.k. relations with china -- as a partner on
this. i think that does raise some questions, particularly in light of the e.u. investment agreement with china, about how we work this out. let me ask ian, first of all, about -- obviously, there has been a lot of heavy breathing here in the united states about that agreement. there was a tweet from jack sullivan, obviously in a mild way because of the restrictions on the incoming administration being able to engage in any way -- any formal way with foreign counterparts. i found a tweet that suggested some concern about the way that the europeans have rushed into this agreement that has been unfolding for some time. if you think about it from the u.s. perspective here, ian, is it going to be difficult with an e.u. that is trying now to flex sovereign muscles and have its own set of relationships and won't always be taking the u.s. perspective into consideration? how should we think about it?