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What is Atlanticism?

Atlanticism is the ideological belief in the necessity of deep cooperation between the peoples and governments of Europe and Northern America on political, economic, cultural, and military issues. The term derives from the Atlantic Ocean, which is bordered by Europe and Northern America. Though Atlanticism has existed in various forms since permanent European settlement of the Americas began in 1492, Atlanticism manifested itself particularly strongly during the Second World War and the Cold War, through the establishment of various Atlanticist institutions, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Marshall Plan.

While Atlanticism enjoys a broad base of support across the North Atlantic, it varies in popularity from region to region and country to country based on various historical and cultural factors, and is often considered to be particularly strong in Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and the British Isles. In the 21st century, Atlanticism has tended to be slightly stronger on the political center-right in Europe, but on the political center-left in Northern America. However, the partisan division should not be overstated, and Atlanticism enjoys support from most prominent political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

Who are Atlanticists?

Atlanticists believe there are deep bonds between Europe and Northern America, wish to maintain and further deepen this special relationship, and have an affinity for North Atlantic peoples, cultures, languages, histories, traditions, and values. Atlanticists generally hold that the peoples of Europe and Northern America together form a single civilization generally called Western civilization, and sometimes European civilization. Some Atlanticists regard Latin America as belonging to European civilization, while some Atlanticists regard Latin America as being civilizationally distinct.

The concept of pan-European identity and solidarity is popular among many Atlanticists and often provides the philosophical basis for integration and cooperation across the North Atlantic. While a sense of pan-European identity has been present since Alexander the Great spread Hellenism, greatly increased with the Roman Empire, and was then promoted to varying degrees by such entities as the Byzantine, Carolingian, Holy Roman, and French empires; pan-European identity rapidly gained popularity following the Second World War with the improvement of technology, as a bulwark against the expansion of communism, and as the countries of the North Atlantic sought to prevent major wars between European nations from breaking out again through political, economic, cultural, and military cooperation and integration. While the vast majority of Atlanticists believe in varying degrees of pan-European identity, many Atlanticists simply support Atlanticism out of pragmatism, as they have observed it makes their countries and the world as a whole a better place.

Well-known Atlanticists include such figures as U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Joe Biden; U.K. Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown; German Prime Ministers Konrad Adenauer, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl, and Angela Merkel; French Presidents Charles de Gaulle, Jacques Chirac, and Emmanuel Macron; and Ukrainian Presidents Leonid Kuchma and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

What are some examples of Atlanticist institutions?

The North Atlantic Council is considered the premiere Atlanticist organization being the principal political decision-making body of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Other prominent Atlanticist organizations include the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the G-6/7/8, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, European Horizons, the Atlantic Council, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

Does Atlanticism conflict with Continentalism?

There is some tension between Atlanticism and Continentalism on both sides of the Atlantic, with some preferring increased regional cooperation in Europe or North America over trans-Atlantic cooperation. However, most Atlanticists believe continental integration, particularly in Europe, is complementary with Atlanticism and often use the term Euro-Atlantic to describe these shared institutions and values. Most organizations that promote a stronger trans-Atlantic relationship also promote integration within Europe itself.

Atlanticists believe that maintaining close ties with the United States and Canada is of vital importance to the economic wellbeing and security of Europe. Many argue that without the assistance of Northern America much more of Europe would have fallen to communism and that the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain may still exist today. In modern times Atlanticists highlight that the United States has provided the vast majority of funds to defend Ukrainian sovereignty from Russian invasion, and that without Northern America's continued special relationship with Europe, Russia may be tempted to try to violently reconstitute large swaths of the Soviet Empire.

What do Atlanticists believe about economic and political cooperation between North Atlantic countries?

The vast majority of Atlanticists support stronger economic and political ties between Europe and Northern America. Atlanticists believe that maintaining the integrity of the North Atlantic Alliance, which they often regard as the most successful and impactful military alliance in human history, requires also maintaining and expanding cooperation between Europe and Northern America on political, economic, and cultural issues. Many Atlanticists support the free movement of people, goods, capital, and services across North Atlantic countries. Support for such agreements as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union is very high among Atlanticists. The legal mechanism by which the increased movement of people, goods, capital, and services across North Atlantic countries is achieved is generally not important among Atlanticists so long as it is achieved.

Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty attempts to bind together member states on economic and political fronts stating that "The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them."

Many Atlanticists see the Atlantic project as a potential solution to the problems of Euroscepticism and multi-speed Europe. While support for the free movement of people, goods, capital, and services across Europe remains very high, many Europeans are skeptical of the ever-increasing federalization and pooled sovereignty of the European Union. While the most prominent example of this was the United Kingdom's 2016 decision to leave the European Union, this remains a problem across much of Europe.

What do Atlanticists believe about extracivilizational military intervention?

Military intervention in in Asia or Africa by the countries of the North Atlantic is highly controversial among Atlanticists. The United States led Korean War included military support from many European and Northern American countries including United Kingdom, Canada, Greece, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. However, the next major United States led war in Asia against communism, the Vietnam War, had no military support from any other countries in Europe or North America. The War in Afghanistan had high levels of participation across the North Atlantic with 38 countries in Europe and Northern America committing soldiers. However, the Iraq War only two years later only had forces from the North Atlantic countries of United States, United Kingdom, Spain, and Poland.

In the decades following the devastation of European civilization during the first and second world wars there would be a number of wars of national liberation during the post-war decolonization period that involved the French, Portuguese, and Dutch as European empires around the world collapsed including the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949), the First Indochina War (1946–54), the Algerian War (1954–62), and the Portuguese Colonial War (1961-1974). By the 1970s Europe had lost nearly all of its imperial possessions in Asia and Africa and the countries of Europe have largely been reticent to engage in significant military conflict outside of Europe since.

Many North Atlantic Alliance countries have participated in airstrikes on Libya, Syria, and Yemen over the past couple of decades, with most military strength being provided by United States, United Kingdom, and France. However, these strikes have been limited in scope and often not heavily discussed by the general population in Europe and Northern America.

The North Atlantic Alliance was heavily involved during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia into its constituent nationalities to maintain some level of peace, including military intervention in Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. While these actions were relatively controversial they had notably more support among Atlanticists than military intervention in Asia or Africa.

What do Atlanticists think about the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War?

Today, the most notable example of North Atlantic military intervention is the providing of military aid and expertise to Ukraine during the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War to help fend off the Russian invasion. While nearly all Atlanticists are Europhiles and therefore have a great deal of appreciation for Russian culture, history, and achievements as the Russians are among the most impactful of the European peoples, the vast majority of Atlanticists support Ukrainian sovereignty and are opposed to the Russian invasion and annexation of Ukrainian territory. Nearly every country in Europe and Northern America has provided military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, totalling more than $100 billion since the Russian invasion began in 2022. Supporting Ukraine has been perhaps the most cohesive European Civilization has been on a military matter since the times of the Roman Empire and enjoys broad public approval.

Many Atlanticists view the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War as being partially motivated by an ideological struggle between the concepts of Europeanism and Eurasianism. The Ukrainian people and state largely view themselves as a European nation and desire to be a member of Euro-Atlantic institutions such as the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization and promote the concept of Europeanism. However, many in the Russian state promote the concept of Eurasianism and do not support Russia, or the other Eastern Slavic nations of Ukraine and Belarus, being part of pan-European projects. Eurasianism is a socio-political movement in Russia that emerged in the early 20th century which states that Russia does not belong in the "European" or "Asian" categories but instead to the geopolitical concept of Eurasia governed by the "Russian world", forming an ostensibly standalone Russian civilization. Eurasianism, as a relatively new concept, conflicts with the historic state policy of the Russian Empire which was Euro-centric and considered itself a European power and indisputable part of European civilization. Many Atlanticists believe that long term stability in Eastern Europe will not be achieved until Europeanism overtakes Eurasianism as the underlying philosophy of the Kremlin.

What do Atlanticists believe about the expansion and contraction of Euro-Atlantic institutions?

The vast majority of Atlanticists support enlarging NATO to include Ukraine, Austria, Switzerland, Serbia, Ireland, Bosnia, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, and Cyprus as soon as conditions are met. Some Atlanticists even support including Russia and Belarus in the Atlantic Alliance to guarantee a lasting peace in Europe once these countries have implemented free multi-party elections, the rule of law, opened their markets to North Atlantic trading partners, and ceased all hostilities and border disputes with the rest of Europe.

Some Atlanticists believe Turkey should withdraw from NATO as some Atlanticists believe Turkey is fundamentally not a European country and does not share similar values, culture, or traditions with the European countries of the North Atlantic. Additionally, a small though growing number of Atlanticists believe Mexico, and some or all of the rest of Latin America, should eventually be integrated into NATO and the broader Atlantic project as developmental goals are reached. While some of these Atlanticists believe the eventual integration of Mexico to be a practical matter given its special relationship with the United States, the most important country in the Atlantic Alliance, many of these Atlanticists regard the cultures, languages, peoples, and countries of Latin America as being primarily European in origin and therefore view Latin America as being part of European civilization, or "The West" as it is colloquially known, and believe it should be allowed to participate in Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Most Atlanticists believe continental European integration to be complementary with Atlanticism and support as many countries in Europe as possible participating in such agreements as the European Economic Agreement, Schengen Agreement, or European Union as long as pre-conditions are met and the domestic populations show widespread interest.