The unification of experienced democracies has been the key international political trend of the last one hundred years, persisting despite rapid changes in international affairs. Understanding this trend and enabling it to continue is the key to world political development.
Streit Council Advisory Board Member Brendan Simms on the Post-Brexit European Order
The challenges facing the United Kingdom over the next two years are numerous and increasing by the day. All of these issues are hugely important and they are closely interconnected. At root, however, they are a question of order, not so much of the “rules-based” global international community, significant though that is, but of the European order around which the world system was originally constructed and that remains – for the UK, at least – the primary pivot. (Read More)
The European Union in 2017: Fragmentation or Integration?
As the European Union (EU) approaches the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, its leaders and institutions face a rising tide of political risk. Long-held and growing doubts about the EU’s ability to reduce unemployment, stem migration, and counter terrorism have set the stage for electoral gains by euroskeptic parties in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and – if an early election is called – in Italy. These risks are compounded by Russia’s support for euroskeptic parties; the uncertain fate of the EU-Turkey refugee deal; Brexit negotiations; and an increasingly likely economic downturn. What can be done to strengthen the Union? (Read More)
Streit Council Advisory Board Member Brendan Simms co-authors a new book: Donald Trump: The Making of a World View
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump won the American presidential election, to the joy of some and the shock of many across the globe. Now that Trump is Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful country on Earth, Americans and non-Americans alike have been left wondering what that means for the world. It has been widely claimed that Trump's foreign policy views are impulsive, inconsistent and that they were improvised on the campaign trail. Drawing on interviews from as far back as 1980, historians Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman show that this assumption is dangerously false in this new book. (Read More)
New Book edition by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan
The latest edition of Stanley R. Sloan's book on transatlantic security relations - Defense of the West: NATO, the European Union and the Transatlantic Bargain (Manchester University Press, 2016) - surveys the history of NATO, analyzes interactions between contemporary internal and external threats facing the Alliance, and offers a net assessment of its future. Click here for his summary of the book, and here for peer reviews.
The Streit Council's statment on the Brexit referendum outcome
On June 23rd, the British people voted to leave the European Union in a close 52%-48% referendum outcome that few predicted. As an organization committed to deepening integration among the world’s established liberal democracies as a means to expanding individual freedom, the Streit Council views this development as a step backward. Since joining the European Community in 1973, the United Kingdom has shaped European integration in a direction consistent with its liberal values and interests, making all Europeans freer. This has been experienced in many forms, including the freedom to live in peace, greater financial freedom, and freer movement across borders. While these benefits have not accrued evenly across the Union, they nonetheless accrued. (Read More)
Streit Council Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan on "Rebuilding Washington's Transatlantic Alliance"
In an article for the National Interest, Stanley R. Sloan argues that the next president of the United States will need to rebuild the transatlantic relationship to address threats to Western security and fundamental values. In Ukraine, NATO and the EU need to support the reform of the country's political and economic system while holding off on the provision of lethal arms. To ensure a lasting defeat of ISIS, Western allies should engage Middle Eastern states and the broader international community to stabilize and govern retaken territory. While the next president must remember that the Russian agenda often runs contrary to that of the U.S., cooperation on managing strategic arms, promoting a peaceful end to the Syria conflict, counterterrorism and other issues is in America's interest. (Read More)
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
Russia says U.S. missile strike on Syria was a threat to its forces
26 April 2017 – Reuters
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called a U.S. missile strike against a Syrian airbase this month "a crude violation of international law" that is a threat to Russian forces in the region. Shoigu stated that Russia is taking "extra measures to ensure the safety of Russian forces." U.S. officials said that Russian troops were informed ahead of the strikes, and that no Russian personnel were injured.
Austria interior minister Sobotka calls for indefinite extension of border controls
26 April 2017 – Deutsche Welle
Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka called for the European Commission to renew an extension of border controls for the country, saying that the measure is necessary for "public order and internal security." The Commission is due to announce a decision on allowing additional border controls, which also affect Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, next week.
Ukraine, Poland to jointly build helicopters
26 April 2017 – Defense News
Ukraine and Poland are due to cooperate in the construction and modernization of helicopters for the two countries' armed forces, according to Ukraine's deputy prime minister. Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said last year that Poland and Ukraine had been discussing plans for a joint helicopter production effort for military use by Central and European allies.
World’s largest cyber defense exercise takes place in Estonia
26 April 2017 – NATO News
Locked Shields 2017, the world's largest cyber defense exercise, began in Estonia this week. The exercise, organized by NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, involves 800 participants from 25 countries, and simulates over 2500 cyberattacks in cooperation with Estonian, UK, and Finnish defense forces in addition to the U.S. European Command and industry partners.
Georgia formally ratifies EU energy treaty
25 April 2017 – United Press International
On Tuesday, leaders from the EU welcomed the former Soviet republic of Georgia as the newest member of the European energy community. The Georgian Parliament recently ratified an agreement to unite its energy policies with the European bloc. The ratification comes after a decision by the partners behind the Nord Stream gas pipeline, including Russian-owned Gazprom, to expand the network through the Baltic Sea to Europe.
Labour rules out second Brexit referendum
25 April 2017 – The Boston Globe
Labour, the UK’s opposition party, has released its latest campaign outline which effectively rules out any possibility of a second referendum on EU membership. Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, attempted to assuage the 48% that voted “remain” last year with the pledge to immediately guarantee the residency rights of EU citizens if Labour wins a majority in the snap election on June 8. Lagging behind in the polls, Labour seeks a strategy that will avoid a landslide victory for May and the Tories by focusing on trying to keep the benefits of the single market and customs union.
Poll blow for Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish independence support drops to 40 per cent
25 April 2017 – The Telegraph
According to the Kantar Scottish Opinion Monitor, support for Scottish independence has weakened to 40%, undermining First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call for another independence vote. The poll was published as Sturgeon asserted that the general election has no impact on her demand for a second referendum. The head of Kantar in Scotland, Tom Costley, pointed to the survey’s results as a “cautionary reminder that the positive feeling towards the EU expressed in the EU referendum doesn’t necessarily translate into full support for independence.”
Turkish court declines to hear referendum appeal, Anadolu reports
25 April 2017 - Reuters
Following an appeal from the main opposition in the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Turkish High Court rejected their case calling for an investigation into the referendum which afforded President Erdogan a sweeping array of new powers. The case was predicated on constitutional irregularities and voter fraud, as CHP challenged the legitimacy of the vote on the grounds that the administration counted unofficial ballots. The High Court stated they had no jurisdiction over decisions made by the High Electoral Authority (YSK), and the Board has since stated the official results will be released any day now. Preliminary results show the referendum will pass by a 51.4% margin of victory. Erdogan has publicly dismissed widespread international criticism over his administration’s lack of transparency, and the YSK has rejected appeals to investigate the referendum from both the CHP and two other opposition parties.
Mogherini says EU sanctions to stay, criticizes Russia over Chechnya reports
25 April 2017 – RFE/RL
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that EU sanctions against Russia will remain in place following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during her first official visit to the country in over two years. Mogherini also criticized Russia over reports of violence and abuse against gay men in Chechnya, calling for Moscow to "protect its own citizens in full respect of human rights principles."
Brexit university “brain drain” warning
25 April 2017 – BBC News
A recent report from the education select committee of British MPs states that in order to avoid a “damaging brain drain,” university staff from other EU members should be given the right to stay and work in the UK post-Brexit. The committee also wants international students to be removed from migration figures. The MPs are worried that the international competitiveness and long-term success of the British higher education sector will suffer as a result of Brexit.
Russian hackers who targeted Clinton appear to attack France’s Macron
24 April 2017 – New York Times
A hacking group linked to a Russian intelligence unit and likely responsible for the hacking of the U.S. Democratic National Committee last year has been targeting the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, according to a cybersecurity firm. Security researches claim that the group, known as Pawn Storm or Fancy Bear, had been sending emails linking to fake websites in order to gain access to campaign officials' accounts.
French election is “referendum” on EU membership – EU commissioner Moscovici
24 April 2017 – Financial Times
The EU Commissioner for economics, Pierre Moscovici, asserted that the upcoming second round of the French presidential election is an opportunity for France to have a pseudo-referendum on EU membership. In light of this, he urges Europe to ensure that Marine Le Pen receives as little support as possible. Moscovici has publicly backed candidate Emmanuel Macron, deeming him the choice for “a France at the heart of Europe,” rather than “a France without Europe.”
EU hardens Brexit position on financial services, citizens
24 April 2017 – Bloomberg
After a meeting in Brussels on Monday, the EU27 further toughened their position on Brexit – specifically on financial services and citizens’ residency rights. The draft negotiating guidelines state that the bloc must not accept financial services as a part of any future trade deal unless the UK is willing to follow EU rules. On EU citizens’ rights, the draft states that reciprocal guarantees should include “the right to acquire permanent residence after a continuous period of five years.”
Russia hacked Danish defense for two years, minister tells newspaper
24 April 2017 – Reuters
Denmark's intelligence service reported that "a foreign player" hacked Danish defense and spied on employee emails and unclassified documents, according to the country's defense minister. The report does not name the country responsible, but Foreign Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said hacking efforts are ongoing and linked "to the intelligence services or central elements in the Russian government."
Tillerson briefs Poroshenko on Russia visit, vows "firm" support
24 April 2017 – RFE/RL
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, reiterating a "firm" U.S. commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty and calling Russia's role in eastern Ukraine "an obstacle" improving U.S.-Russia relations, according to a spokesman. Tillerson also stated that sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia fully implements the Minsk agreements and returns the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine.
U.S. reopens door to reviving EU trade talks
23 April 2017 – Financial Times
The Trump Administration’s top trade official opened the door to reviving stalled talks for a U.S.-EU trade agreement to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Europe. But progress is unlikely until the German election in September, and the administration’s primary concern at this time is to renegotiate NAFTA.
Liberal Democrats promise second Brexit referendum
23 April 2017 - Financial Times
British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron confirmed that the party platform for June’s elections is based on providing the British people a second referendum on accepting or rejecting the terms of a final Brexit deal. Farron has distanced his party from Labour, which Farron claims has resigned itself to a “hard” Brexit. While the Liberal Democrats occupy just eight seats in parliament, it is believed turning the upcoming elections into another mandate on holding a Brexit referendum could improve the party’s strength. Currently, the Liberal Democrats poll at 11%, just ahead of UKIP.
General election: Tory victory “will not strengthen May’s Brexit hand”
22 April 2017 – BBC News
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit coordinator, downplayed British Prime Minister Theresa May’s claims that the general election will help strengthen her hand in the upcoming Brexit talks. Verhofstadt insisted that it is irrelevant if the conservatives increase their majority in the UK Parliament after the June election, asserting that May was driven to call the election because of her “political opportunism.”
U.S. congressional leader Ryan: U.S. stands with NATO, Poland
21 April 2017 – ABC News
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan reaffirmed America’s "steadfast commitment" to NATO and its "strategic partnership" with Poland during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo in Warsaw on Friday. Ryan also stated that the U.S. shares Polish concerns about "Russian aggression."
Bundeswehr plans reorientation towards NATO, home defense
21 April 2017 – IHS Jane’s
A newly proposed German military strategy reportedly seeks to change the country's military posture to national and NATO territorial defense rather than overseas operations. The strategy calls for the armed forces, the Bundeswehr, to return to NATO defense planning as the basis of German military capabilities and to prioritize national and alliance territory.
Paris shootout leaves police officer and gunman dead
21 April 2017 – The New York Times
A gunman killed one police officer and wounded three others, including a bystander, before being shot dead in central Paris on Thursday, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for the attack. The attack, which President François Hollande called an act of terrorism, comes ahead of France's presidential elections on Sunday.
French business leaders urge voters to reject euroskeptic candidates
20 April 2017 – Fox Business
Ahead of Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election, more than 200 business leaders have asked the public not to vote for euroskeptic candidates because of the serious damage it would inflict on the national economy. Recent polls show a close race between four candidates: centrist Emmanuel Macron, conservative François Fillon, nationalist Marine Le Pen, and leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The two latter candidates wish to have a referendum on EU membership and pull France out of the economic bloc.
EU eyes years of Brexit payments, immigration: document
20 April 2017 – Reuters
According to the draft EU negotiating documents, the UK will be required to pay dues to Brussels for years after Brexit while remaining under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The document outlines the key demands for negotiations and the directives for the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Additionally, the paper states that the EU’s number one priority is to ensure the rights of Europeans living in the UK on Brexit day. However, the paper did not discuss any plans for the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
G7 urges compliance with UN ruling on sea row
20 April 2017 – The Philippine Star
G7 Foreign Ministers have issued a declaration for the implementation of a ruling by a UN-supported court which invalidates China’s claims in the South China Sea. The ministers also repeated their opposition to the building of new military outposts in the disputed territory. The ruling, which was issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, confirmed the Philippines’ claims in the West Philippine Sea. Beijing has refused to honor this ruling.
Japan and Australia to deepen ties amid North Korea tension
19 April 2017 – ABC
Japanese and Australian foreign and defense ministers met for discussions on increasing defense cooperation through expanded joint exercises and defense procurement and trade. The talks also included discussion of the North Korean missile threat, in addition to China and the South China Sea.
Russia blocks UN statement condemning North Korea despite Chinese support
19 April 2017 – CBS
Russia objected to a U.S.-proposed UN Security Council statement condemning North Korean missile tests. The draft statement was reportedly approved by China, according to a Security Council diplomat, who said "it is not clear why" Russia wanted to slow down the move. A Russian diplomat stated that Russia had requested continued work on the draft, which the U.S. rejected, and had not “blocked” it.
Brexit: U.S. ready to strike trade deal with UK “as soon as possible,” says senior U.S. politician Paul Ryan
19 April 2017 – The Independent
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, announced that America is ready to make a bilateral trade deal with the UK “as soon as possible.” He added that he wished that Britain and the EU would come together to make a lasting agreement during the Brexit talks. Ryan also asserted that the U.S. would work closely with the EU to forge a path forward on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations.
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