Our international system based on human rights and the free movement of people and goods is disintegrating. The attacks come, in part, from Austria’s long-time ally, the United States. At the DAA Talk on January 23rd, Ambassador Eva Nowotny, foreign policy advisor to two Austrian chancellors, and Austria’s ambassador to France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, described the strains and the stakes.
Nowotny grounded her talk in history. Ambassador Nowotny highlighted America‘s pivotal role in establishing Austria’s post-War democratic system. That, and waves of Austrian immigration to the U.S., created a community of interests that has powered decades of close cooperation between the two countries. The election of Donald Trump, however, marks an abrupt deviation in how America views the world and its obligations. Great power politics— the premise that sheer power compels cooperation rather than mutual interests — has re-emerged after a century of hibernation. The U.S. is discarding treaties and weakening international institutions at break-neck pace — and China is rushing to fill the vacuum. China’s alternative model of economic development without human rights is peeling off European allies in Hungary, Poland, and Turkey.
During the lively discussion following her address, Ambassador Nowotny pointed to two developments occurring outside Washington, DC that encourage Europeans. Resistance to Trump’s policies has been rising, and environmental discussion is alive and well in states and regions around the country. Although the U.S. government has stepped out of treaties — Iranian nuclear treaty, Paris Climate Accord, TIPP, and the Continental Forces in Europe — Austrian diplomats have maintained communication and cooperation with their American counterparts. And then last week, Trump signalled a shift in attention from Iran to the EU. With Trump threatening a tariff war with Europe, Austria is watching the American election with closer attention than ever before.
—Tanya Lolonis, Member-at-Large