The notion that the Atlantic Ocean connects North America to Europe is ingrained in the geographic DNA of most Americans by the time they finish grade school. Certainly for a generation of baby boomers who saw their security tied to a coalition of states in Western Europe that symbolized the post-war liberal international order, these are connections that unite. Today, many Americans do not think twice about crossing the pond to what appears to be a place where we find continuity of culture and historical roots. Europe is where the rule of law, open markets, and respect for human rights is a shared heritage.
However, what if you are citizen of a ‘rising democracy’ in the Global South? If you are a Brazilian, for example, the Atlantic has other connotations – such as the country’s status as a rising global power. And what about other emerging powers? South Africa undoubtedly holds a different view of its growing importance on the global stage. So, just as the rise of US sea power in the early 20th century turned the Atlantic into an “American lake,” the 21st century has potentially laid the foundations for a new geopolitical space – a ‘wider Atlantic’ that better reflects the multipolarity of the contemporary international system.
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