The integration of the countries of the Atlantic region helped to transcend many old territorial disputes, irredentist claims and ethnic conflicts within and among member states. However, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when international economic centers were simply razed to the ground, have showed that the problems of world security and peace are still under the threat. The attacks on Madrid and London have also demonstrated that the threat is to all "Western" societies, and to the democratic principles on which they are founded, not only the United States.
These events as well as many regional conflicts and less destructive terror acts have pointed out that the ways of protecting the security and democracy should be far different from the measures undertaken earlier. Before the attacks, the aim of the NATO members was democratization of the Middle Eastern societies with an ultimate goal to promote stability and peace, which, in short term, led to absolutely opposite results, namely, to insecurity at home. Before these attacks, many countries of the Atlantic region disagreed that there was a common threat to the Atlantic security.
The problem is that building the new Atlantic community demands a strong leadership. In the long run, this leader should be the United States, but the US leadership was seriously shaken and weakened by the Bush administration's Iraq policies and the doubt of confidence in the EU's future. Hence, only by working together, the United States and its allies can effectively defend their democratic systems.
This led the Atlantic region to start developing a new Atlantic Community vision, however, the consensus on the ways of protecting democracy and structure of future security is not fully achieved yet. The countries strive for developing a more open, transparent and modernized concept, which would aim to spread democracy beyond the borders.
Nevertheless, the overall impression is still that the Western cooperation is burst open and there is much to be fixed. All shared values and common interests in the Atlantic region need to be reestablished. This demands innovative approaches to produce better mutual efforts in economic, political, social, financial and military aspects of the trans-Atlantic relationship.
In order to learn more about the process of integration and cooperation in the Atlantic region, visit the website of the Atlantic Community Initiative, an organization that aims at enhancing education, awareness and dialogue on most vital issues the Atlantic Community faces today.