Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

John Bolton, President Trump's national security advisor, threatened Europe with economic sanctions over the Iran deal, reinforcing a growing fear of a new world of no permanent alliances.

Quick take: Bolton's threat, made on CNN, further undermines the seven-decade alliance between the U.S. and Europe, a central factor in a sharp rise in global living standards and peace among the major powers.

Why it matters: If Europe decides it cannot rely on the U.S. and American rivals understand the same thing, Trump could risk jeopardizing an international system that had — until now — been led by the U.S.

  • The centrality of the Atlantic Alliance cannot be overstated. Look at the rest of the world, and you grasp how unusual it is. Since the Soviet collapse, Russia has formed no similarly fixed alliances, but instead has transactional relationships with countries like Iran, Syria and Hungary. Similarly, China's closest relationships may be with North Korea and Pakistan.
  • Yet history, writes the FT's Edward Luce, may recall this as the time "the U.S. abandoned its belief in allies."

I asked several foreign policy hands whether we are watching the end of alliances as we've known them, at least for now. Here are their replies:

  • Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group
"America’s alliances are deteriorating because we are leaving a world of values-based relationships; the United States is becoming much more transactional in international orientation. Our allies are, in turn, hedging much more accordingly.
But NATO isn’t going away. Institutions are pretty sticky. The problem is they’re getting eclipsed by new areas of engagement and new threats: In the same way that NAFTA isn’t as relevant because most U.S.-Mexico trade is services and data, NATO isn’t as relevant because most national security isn’t about tanks coming across the border. And there’s very little effort to bolster existing institutions or create new ones. 
China is developing increasingly strong fixed alignments, if not quite alliances, based on economic (and, increasingly, technological) dependence."
  • Mathew Burrows, director at the Atlantic Council and former counselor, U.S. National Intelligence Council:
"Trump would like to deal bilaterally with everyone and dispense with multilateral frameworks. But the Europeans at least increasingly see their missions as trying to preserve them, hoping that after Trump, the U.S. will revert back to supporting multilateral institutions. For trans-Atlantic institutions like NATO, the Department of Defense doesn’t want to see it wither and can put a brake on Trump — at least so long as [Secretary James] Mattis is around. As we saw with the recent Syrian strikes, Trump had to go along with Mattis. He also got convinced that it was better to do the airstrikes with two allies. 
The big test for trans-Atlantic relations will be if the U.S. sanctions EU firms doing business in Iran. There are French-German differences over what the EU should do. If the EU takes the U.S. to the WTO over the sanctions or steel tariffs and wins big, then I think you will see a huge trans-Atlantic crisis. You could see Trump defy the WTO.  I think that could open the door much wider to economic nationalism and protectionism on the part of others.         
In general, global institutions are waning, but I would not count them completely out. It’s hard to really kill them. The Europeans for one want them. Even Russia and China have found them useful at times. And the U.S. has a love/hate relationship depending on who is in power and what the issue."
  • Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group:
"Alliances are in the hospital but not not dead. This is the Trump period, we have to remember. This president is way out of the American mainstream. Under any future president, U.S. alliances will get a shot in the arm. And the EU faces a dilemma — where else are they going to go? Are Germany and France really going to leave the U.S. umbrella? No.
Now, if Trump is re-elected, it's a different ballgame. Can the "allies" stand six more years of being ignored? Open question. Then there's a real chance it's game over with alliances."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.