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Uniting democracies has been the key international political trend of the last hundred years. Understanding this trend and enabling it to continue is the key to world political development.

What's New

New Book by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Kenneth Weisbrode
In Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers, historian Kenneth Weisbrode asserts that Old Diplomacyis not really that old—many of its concepts and methods date to the mid-nineteenth century—while the practices of New Diplomacy emerged only a couple of generations later. Moreover, "Diplomacy 2.0" and other variants of the post-Cold War era do not depart significantly from their twentieth-century predecessor: their forms, particularly in technology, have changed, but their substance has not. In this succinct overview, Weisbrode reminds us that to understand diplomatic transformations and their relevance to international affairs is to see diplomacy as an entrepreneurial art—and that, like most arts, it is adapted and re-adapted with reference to earlier forms. Diplomatic practice is always changing, and always continuous. To read more about this book, click here.

Kenneth Weisbrode, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is an Assistant Professor of History at Bilkent University, Turkey and has written and edited several books, including Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers; Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI; and The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America's Vital Alliance with Europe. He is also the co-founder of the Toynbee Prize Foundation's Network for the New Diplomatic History, and holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

New Book by Streit Council Board Member Richard Rosecrance

In The Resurgence of the West: How a Transatlantic Union Can Prevent War and Restore the United States and Europe, Richard Rosecrance calls for the United States to join forces with the European Union and create a transatlantic economic union. A U.S.-Europe community would unblock arteries of trade and investment, rejuvenate the West, and enable Western countries to deal with East Asian challenges from a position of unity and economic strength. Through this great merger the author offers a positive vision of the future in which members of a tightly knit Western alliance regain economic health and attract Eastern nations to join a new and worldwide international order. To read more about this book, click here.

At the Washington D.C. Summit on Cross Continental Cooperation,held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from November 4-7, Streit Council President Richard Conn Henry reviewed the history of the Streit Council, starting with Clarence K. Streit's self-publication of Union Now just prior to World War II, and continuing with the passing of the Atlantic Union Resolution in 1964. Henry also expounded his idea on a possible Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if adopted, would lead to a federal union with the European Union. His proposal can be found here.

Brendan Simms, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is a Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the think tank Project on Democratic Union, which supports a full political union of the Eurozone. He also founded and is the President of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank dedicated to fostering a strong British and European commitment to liberty; constitutional democracy; human rights; governmental and institutional reform; a robust foreign, security, and defense policy; and the transatlantic alliance. His publications include Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire 1714-1783 (2008) and Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001).

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Japan eyes defense budget hike to fortify island chain facing China
31 August 2015 – Reuters
Japan’s Ministry of Defense is seeking a fourth consecutive military budget increase to fortify the country’s island chain in the East China Sea. The funding would be used to acquire new military hardware from U.S. defense companies, equipping its first detachment of marines since World War II. Funding will also be used to build and extend military bases along the island chain. Japan and China contest ownership of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
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Hollande, Merkel, Putin back bid for new Ukraine ceasefire
29 August 2015 – Reuters
German, French and German leaders backed a new ceasefire in Ukraine during a phone call on Saturday. The ceasefire will begin on September 1st, and a summit with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be held in the coming weeks. Western leaders have voiced concerns about plans by rebel regions to hold elections outside the framework of Ukrainian law.
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Climate change happening “right now,” Obama says ahead of Alaska trip
29 August 2015 – USA Today
Ahead of a trip to Alaska this week, President Obama highlighted the danger posed by climate change. “This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now,” he said. “Think about that. If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now” He added: “I’m looking forward to talking with Alaskans about how we can work together to make America the global leader on climate change around the globe....Because what’s happening in Alaska is happening to us. It’s our wakeup call, and as long as I’m president, America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change before it’s too late.”
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NATO training center in Georgia a “provocation,” says Russia
28 August 2015 – Newsweek
Russia is warning Georgia that cooperating with NATO risks stability in the region after a joint NATO-Georgia training center opened. "We consider this step as a continuation of the policy of provocation of the alliance, which is aimed at expanding its geopolitical influence, often using the resources of the partner countries of the bloc," said Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry. NATO dismissed the accusation that the move is aggressive.
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NATO ready to help EU navies on sea migrants, if asked
28 August 2015 – EU Observer
A NATO official said on Thursday that the Alliance is ready to assist the EU with migrants as the latter organization’s military operation to dismantle smuggling networks gets underway. The late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi made deals with the Italian government to stop migrant smuggling, but the smugglers now operate with few constraints.
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Despite record surplus, Germany ignores calls to spend more
28 August 2015 – Reuters
Germany posted on a record 21 billion euro surplus in the first half of 2015, but is ignoring calls to cut taxes or increase spending to alleviate economic pressures in the Eurozone. German infrastructure also requires investment. French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told a Berlin audience this week Germany may have gone too far with austerity. "Germany can make a mistake of 'over-consolidating'," he said.
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Europe reels from more migrant deaths on land and sea
28 August 2015 – New York Times
Migrant deaths in and near Europe made headlines this week, with 150 drownings in the Mediterranean and 71 found dead in an abandoned refrigeration truck in Austria. The UN says that there is a 40 percent jump in the number of people fleeing to the EU this year – to 310,000 from 219,000 – and most are escaping conflict in the Middle East and Africa. More than 2,500 have died this year attempting to relocate to Europe.
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EU declares information war on Russia
28 August 2015 – Politico
The EU is setting up a unit under its External Action Service to counter Russian propaganda, and expects it to be operational by September. While it falls short of requests from Latvia to set up an EU-funded Russian language channel, it is intended to improve EU communication with Russian-speaking communities rather than produce counter-propaganda. “The team will carry out media monitoring and will work on the development of communication products and media campaigns focused on explaining EU policies in the region,” one official said.
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Ukraine crisis: Creditors “write off” 20% of debt
27 August 2015 – BBC
Ukraine and its creditors have reached an agreement to cut 20% of Ukraine’s debt and extend its repayment period. Ukraine’s economy has suffered since its conflict with pro-Russian rebels began in April 2014. The conflict closed businesses in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, increasing its unemployment rate and undermining its financial sector.
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Russia, NATO need new rules to cut risk of war, ex-ministers say
26 August 2015 – Reuters
A group of foreign ministers said on Wednesday that Russia and NATO need common rules to manage military encounters that could inadvertently trigger a war. "The situation is ripe with potential for either dangerous miscalculation or an accident that could trigger a worsening of the crisis or even a direct military confrontation," they said in a report published by the European Leadership Network. "History is littered with examples of international crises and tensions that developed a momentum of their own and resulted in conflict even when no one side intended it," they added.
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Politics derail Poland’s question for the euro
26 August 2015 – Deutsche Welle
The Polish electorate has turned decisively against adopting the euro in the wake of Eurozone crisis. In 2004, more than half of Poles supported joining the common currency area, while now 54% are against joining. However, Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said last week that a “Europe of two speeds” is not in the interest of Poland.
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Global insecurity and refugee crisis linked to climate change – expert
26 August 2015 – Reuters
Columbia University Professor Mark Levy, who conducts studies for the U.S. government, argues that climate change is exacerbating political instability and unrest around the world. One example is the record drought in Syria from 2006 to 2010, which undermined its agriculture sector and increased dissatisfaction with the Assad regime. Migrants are now fleeing Syria and other countries in the region because of violent conflicts that are partly driven by climate change.
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France pushes Germany on “convergence, transfers”
26 August 2015 – Politico
On Tuesday, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron spoke before German ambassadors and argued that if the EU does not build new institutions to coordinate economy policy and share financial risks, it could fall apart. “Today, in the current situation, no vision means the status quo, and the status quo means the dismantling of the eurozone, de facto. So we have to move forward,” he said. German officials are still opposed to the idea of a “transfer union.”
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France’s Hollande calls for Eurozone budget
25 August 2015 – Reuters
On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande called for a joint Eurozone budget to invest and converge fiscal and social policies. "There could be fiscal and social convergence between the economies and we could also seek extra rights particularly on labour issues," he said. "The euro zone needs an additional budget, its own budget, to make investments needed for energy transition, the digital sector and for youths," he added.
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Finland says without Britain there is no EU
24 August 2015 – Reuters
On Monday, Finland’s Finance Minister Alexander Stubb expressed support for the UK’s drive to reform the EU, stating that “without the United Kingdom there is no European Union.” His British counterpart, George Osborne, seeks to maintain the UK’s influence in Brussels as the Eurozone pursues deeper integration. Such protection is also sought by Sweden.
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Market turmoil, China fears roil Europe’s game plan for recovery
24 August 2015 – Wall Street Journal
Stock market slides and fears of a China-led slowdown in emerging economies are unravelling hopes that a weak euro will boost Europe’s economic recovery. The region remains plagued by high unemployment, low growth, and high debt burdens. “The Eurozone is very vulnerable to shocks,” said Ben May, economist at consultancy Oxford Economics. The impact on the Eurozone is expected to be largely driven by policy responses elsewhere.
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Hollande, Merkel urge ceasefire in Ukraine
24 August 2015 – Politico
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and new talks with Russia. “The Minsk accords must be the basis for a move toward peace in Ukraine,” Merkel said, adding that OSCE monitors have been harassed. Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko said that Russia has 50,000 soldiers on its side of the Ukrainian border and 9,000 in Ukraine.
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Sweden and Finland’s awkward NATO tango
24 August 2015 – Politico
Sweden and Finland are considering applying for NATO membership despite vocal opposition by Russia. “The old days are coming back,” said Alpo Rusi, a veteran Finnish diplomat now affiliated with Harvard University, of the rising threat from Moscow. “But back then, Sweden and Finland benefited from NATO without having to commit to membership in it. That’s not the case anymore.” Public opinion on NATO membership remains mixed, with support at 48 percent in Sweden and 27 percent in Finland.
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Poland’s new leader seeks greater regional unity, NATO bases
21 August 2015 – Associated Press
Poland’s new president, Andrzej Duda, wants to build an alliance from the Baltic to the Black Sea to form a more united front against Russia. The plan is part of a broader NATO strategy to place permanent bases and troops in the region, an idea opposed by Germany. Duda has the support of the three Baltic states and Romania, but faces an uphill battle in convincing Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, which have deep economic ties with Germany and Russia.
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EU tries to clear “fog of confusion” over U.S. trade pact
21 August 2015 – Reuters
The European Commission will regularly publish details on its negotiations with the U.S. for the world’s biggest trade and investment agreement – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Opponents of the deal, which is expected to produce gains of $100 billion in each economy, criticize the perceived lack of transparency of negotiations for the deal and are concerned it will erode EU standards. The deal is on track to be finalized by 2016.
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Germany, Brazil join forces on climate change action
20 August 2015 – Voice of America
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff committed to a joint stance on climate change ahead of global climate talks in Paris this December. Rousseff stated that she is committed to reducing deforestation in the Amazon to zero by 2030. Germany committed 550 million euros to financing environmental programs in Brazil. The two leaders also discussed trade and investment ties, including the potential conclusion of an EU-Mercosur trade deal.
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Russia and China have a cyber nonaggression pact
20 August 2015 – Defense One
On May 8th, China and Russia signed a bilateral agreement on information security, which outlines cooperative measures such as increasing the exchange of information and greater scientific and academic cooperation. The agreement follows one signed in 2009 under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as the two countries’ submission of information security codes of conduct to the UN. The treaty departs from Western conceptions of information security by defining cyber threats as the transmission of information that could compromise the “societal-political and social-economic systems, and spiritual, moral and cultural environment of states.” It also supports  a greater say for governments in governing the internet and includes a pledge of non-aggression.
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Pelosi: House Democrats will sustain Obama veto on Iran deal
19 August 2015 – Associated Press
The U.S. House of Representatives minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday that House Democrats have the votes to uphold Obama’s veto of a resolution against the Iran nuclear deal.  The comments come as Republicans voice opposition to a secret agreement between Iran and the IAEA that would permit Iran to use its own inspectors to investigate sites it is accused of using to develop nuclear arms.
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NATO warns Russia against territory grab in Ukraine
19 August 2015 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
NATO warned today that any attempt by Russian-backed separatists to take more territory in eastern Ukraine would be “unacceptable to the international community.” Citing Russia’s responsibility to find a political solution, the Alliance called on all sides to exercise restraint and ensure that monitors from the OSCE can perform their jobs “freely and without restrictions.”
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Russia wants Germany, France to pressure Kiev on peace plan
19 August 2015 – Reuters
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he wants Germany and France to place more pressure on Kiev to implement a February peace plan for east Ukraine. Ukrainian President  Petro Poroshenko will meet with the leaders of Germany and France on Monday. Moscow says Ukraine has failed to fully adhere to the peace plan, including the provision that Kiev hold direct talks with the self-proclaimed peoples’ “republics” Donetsk and Luhansk, which are backed by Russia.
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U.S. launches biggest allied airborne drills since Cold War
19 August 2015 – Agence France Presse
As fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. launched its biggest airborne drills since the Cold War. 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO states are taking part in “simultaneous multinational airborne operations,” the U.S. army said. The exercise, called Swift Response 15, is designed to “demonstrate the alliance’s capacity to rapidly deploy and operate in support of maintaining a strong and secure Europe.”
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Iran, Russia reach agreement on delivery of S-300 missile systems
19 August 2015 – UPI
Russia and Iran have reached an agreement on the delivery of S-300 long-range surface-to-air missiles, and Iran is expected to receive them later this year. Opposed by the U.S. and Israel, Russia repealed its ban on the delivery of missile air defense systems to Iran. The missile systems make a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities more difficult.
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IMF puts off decision on using China’s currency for reserve status
19 August 2015 – Voice of America
The IMF says it will delay a decision on whether or not to include China’s currency, the yuan, in its basket of reserve currencies. Reserve currencies, such as the dollar, euro, yen, and the pound, are held by central banks to pay international debt obligations or influence exchange rates. Christopher Whalen of the Kroll Bond Rating Agency predicts the yuan will not become a reserve currency unless Beijing allows it to move and trade freely.
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U.S. to defend new Syria force from Assad regime
2 August 2015 – Wall Street Journal
President Obama authorized the use of air power to defend a U.S.-backed fighting force in Syria if it is attacked by the regime or other forces. U.S. officials do not believe the regime will challenge the new force as it is focused on fighting the Islamic State. The promise of support could persuade prospective recruits that the U.S. is serious about protecting them, including against the regime. The decision comes as the U.S. and Turkey discuss joint operations to remove Islamic State militants from the Turkey-Syria border.  
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Schaeuble said to want to split EU Commission powers
30 July 2015 – EU Observer
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wants competition and single market policy matters to be removed from the purview of the European Commission. He believes the Commission can no longer combine its role as a “guardian” of the EU treaties as it assumes a larger political role. During the recent Greek debt negotiations, however, Schaeuble was irritated by the Commission’s intervention, which he believed strengthened Greece’s negotiating position. The Netherlands is expected to make this reform a focal point of its EU presidency next year.
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EU extends aid to farmers hit by Russian food ban
30 July 2015 – Euractiv
The European Commission announced that it will extend support to the dairy, fruit, and vegetable sectors hit by Russia’s ban on food imports from Europe. Aid will be extended until early 2016. The move comes in response to Russia’s extension of its ban, starting in early August. Russia originally imposed the ban in response to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. “With the [Russian] ban prolonged, we need to continue to provide a safety net in order to give security to producers who continue to face difficulties in relation to the ban," said Commissioner Phil Hogan, responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development.
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China, Russia to hold military drills in Sea of Japan
30 July 2015 – Reuters
Toward the end of August, China and Russia will hold joint naval exercises in the Sea of Japan. This decision may cause major concerns among Japan and its Western allies, above all the Unite States. Due to the current territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, Japanese-Chinese relations are increasingly tense.
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Fighting between Turkey and Kurds escalate amid NATO unease
30 July 2015 – Associated Press
While NATO allies were meeting in a rare emergency meeting at Turkey’s request and proclaimed “strong solidarity” with Ankara in the fight against the Islamic State, tension between the Turkish military and the Kurdish fighters of the PKK escalated into mutual acts of violence and retribution. Members of the Atlantic Alliance invited the Turkish government to continue the peace process with the Kurds yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declarations further fueled tension between the Kurdish minority and Ankara.
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Dombrovskis: Greece must evaluate sustainability of defense costs
30 July 2015 – The Baltic Course
Vice President and Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) said that Greece must evaluate how to sustain current expenses, among them defense spending. This subject will also experience significant cuts in the months to come to reduce the Greek debt. However, this cut will not go against NATO as Greece's defense spending exceeds 2% of GDP.
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After Russia UN veto, countries seek court for Flight MH17 prosecutions
30 July 2015 – Reuters
After Russia vetoed UN attempts to establish a UN-backed court to investigate the crash of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, countries such as Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine are now considering the establishment of an independent international tribunal. Russia’s veto has further fed rumors about Russian terrorists' guilt and the direct link between the Kremlin and the pro-separatist rebels who have been accused of mistakenly firing a Russian-made missile at the Malaysian airplane.
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France must stop farmers blockading food imports – German minister
29 July 2015 – Reuters
After blockades by French farmers disrupted food imports into the country this week, German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt and the European Commission called on the French government to ensure the free movement of goods in the EU. The French government is considering a buy-French scheme for food, which Schmidt cited as out of line with the spirit of the Single Market and an indication of the need for French agriculture to consider why it is not competitive in some sectors.
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Disappointed ECB says Eurozone economies further apart than at start
29 July 2015 – Reuters
On Wednesday, the European Central Bank said in an economic bulletin that Eurozone states are now farther apart than when the common currency area was launched, calling into question the argument that economic laggards would converge with richer members. "Moreover, Italy, initially a higher-income country, recorded the worst performance, suggesting substantial divergence from the high-income group," it added.
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