As the mid-point of 2017 approaches, shifts in the international landscape illuminate the importance of globalization and interdependency. It is no secret: For better or worse, our world is becoming more connected. As such, it is essential for two international powerhouses, the United States and Germany, to strengthen their transatlantic relationship. Both nations shoulder the responsibility to prevent future atrocities and thus share a brass-bound bond. Yet, strengthening this relationship is not only a task sustained by political leaders, but by ordinary citizens participating in global partnerships, such as the Atlantische Initiative. Leaders at both local and global levels must set examples for future generations to show that we are not only stronger together, but if one fails, we all fail.
Amid financial recessions and accelerating conflict, receding and hiding back into isolationism and nationalism may appear the easier option, but to move forward, we cannot necessarily look to the easy way out. The solutions we develop will most likely be equally difficult and complex as the problems we face. Therefore, it is essential to strategically modernize these transatlantic partnerships, while getting decision-makers’ input and winning public support.
The campaign to revitalize German-American relations begins with four primary challenges to consider: 1. Promoting Peace, Stability, Democracy, and Development; 2. Responding to Global Challenges; 3. World Markets and Trade; and 4. Improving Communication. These four areas call for a new communication campaign which continues to involve those already engaged in organizations while finding creative solutions to developing new partnerships and expanding engagement with diverse audiences. Bilateral partnerships not only occur at the political level. Ordinary citizens can make a difference in strengthening relations between the two nations and can share expertise in diverse arenas, such as cyber-security and ethnic tensions. Fortunately, in such an interconnected world, reaching out to new audiences is easier now than ever before in history, and often begins with information sharing.
To reach and win new actors and allies, organizations, such as the Atlantische Initiative, need to engage the next generation of leaders in a dialogue about ways to move the German-American alliance forward by developing partnerships with local universities and encouraging exchange opportunities. Modeled after the Soliya program, which works in conjunction with American and Middle Eastern students, the organization could arrange weekly video chats connecting American universities with Germany universities in which students discuss important current events and controversial topics in a safe space while disbanding cultural misunderstandings. These conversations often unveil the priorities and aspirations of young people, thus giving the organization a profound opportunity to understand the needs of future target audiences.
Furthermore, organizations could partner with start-up enterprises and media outlets in both the U.S. and Germany, such as SnapChat, WhatsApp, or Buzzfeed. These forums not only raise awareness of ongoing issues, but ignite a dialogue on how to utilize technologies to keep lines of communication open and ongoing. In addition, partnerships with Silicon Valley and other innovative start-up private sector entities builds bridges to new target audiences that have passions with important international applications, such as finance or medical research/public health. Expanding areas of interest will increase public support for a common transatlantic agenda, thus more people will feel personally invested and encouraged to continue to work towards strengthening the transatlantic relationship. Even merely starting a dialogue between these diverse groups fosters a more politically transatlantic civil society. By making new initiatives accessible to the public, organizations can demonstrate their vital role affecting policy and thus create a self-sustaining cycle of participation.
Not only do start-ups foster innovative ideas and design thinking, but they can provide tangible deliverables to help decision-makers solve ever-present challenges, such as developing an app to assist in the refugee crisis – an issue close to both Germany and the United States. However, any long-lasting shift in the organization needs to stem from its leadership by showing support and using the technologies themselves.
To modernize German-American relations and smoothly move forward, it is paramount to keep the relationship robust and secure by embracing globalization and inviting people from all walks of life into the conversation. This invitation is extended by implementing new technological tools to keep the lines of communication strong between these two nations who deeply understand the importance of embodying both future-forward leadership and innovation.