The question is not so much whether the crisis of the liberal order is exaggerated as whether policymakers realize that there is a crisis and what they do about it. In every crisis lies an opportunity.
The transatlantic partners and the West in general face many crises, internally as well as externally. The disruptive impact of the newly elected U.S. president is fundamentally challenging how societies—from policymakers and journalists to advocates and business representatives—do business. It has been a wake-up call that the West cannot take its democracies for granted. New alliances among different civil-society groups have led to tremendous public outcries, including over the executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States or over women’s rights. Private-sector associations, businesses, and NGOs are organizing new alliances to address the divisions in Europe.
More than ever, the Western world is being challenged on how to keep itself secure, peaceful, and prosperous. Whether the West remains this way has more to do with the way its societies treat its people—including women—than any other factor. As a starting point, people need to remember to look beyond grand strategies and states, and focus on how to keep reengaging citizens and create diversity-sensitive behavior and policies.
Corinna Hörst is deputy director of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. in Brussels and President of Women in International Security (WIIS) Brussels.
This article was first published on Carnegie Europe.