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.
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
ECB President Mario Draghi Says Eurozone Returning to Growth After Policy Moves
1 October 2015 – Wall Street Journal
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday that growth in the Eurozone is picking up and the area is becoming more resilient. In a speech at the Global Citizen Awards hosted by the Atlantic Council, Draghi attributed sustained growth in the Eurozone to the ECB’s monetary policy. He said that the results were “good news for everybody, everywhere,” and called for more EU integration to further promote growth.
G7, Gulf states pledge $1.8 billion to UN aid agencies
1 October, 2015 – Deutsche Welle
G7 member states along with several Persian Gulf and European states pledged $1.8 billion dollars to help with the world refugee crisis. Most of the funds will go to the UN refugee agency and the World Food Program, and will target refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
EU court rules migrants who defy expulsion can be jailed
1 October, 2015 – Reuters
The European Court of Justice, the EU’s top court, on Thursday ruled that EU countries can imprison migrants who come back over their borders after being expelled.
With “ring of fire” at EU border, some EU lawmakers want better defense
30 September 2015 – Reuters
On Thursday, center-right EU lawmakers urged the Union to consider a collective defense policy similar to NATO’s as it faces conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, and a growing migration crisis. France supports the idea, as do Eastern European states that fear Russian aggression. Germany is more reluctant, while Britain prefers to act through NATO.
EU Sets Course for U.S.-Style Lending to Stimulate Growth
30 September 2015 – New York Times
EU financial officials laid out plans on Wednesday aimed to stimulate growth in Europe by making more sources of investment available to European business. The plan would encourage venture capital and fundraising in the region so that European business can become less dependent on financing by banks. Parts of the proposal would require the approval of EU governments, and may take years to pass.
Eurozone economic sentiment hits 4-year high in September
29 September 2015 – Reuters
European Commission data shows that overall economic sentiment in the Eurozone hit a four year high in September. Sentiment rose to 105.6 in September, up from 104.1 in August, making it the highest reading since April 2011 when it was 106.1. The rise may be due to more optimism in industry as well as increased confidence in the retail and service sectors.
Russia begins airstrikes in Syria; U.S. warns of new concerns in conflict
30 September 2015 – Washington Post
Russia started launching airstrikes in Syria today, in areas where the U.S. said Islamic State militants were most likely not present. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said the U.S. intends to conduct its operations against Islamic State militants unimpeded, and that Russia seemingly intends to defend embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against all his enemies.
TTIP negotiations not half done
29 September 2015 – Politico
According to a European Commission internal assessment, negotiations between the EU and U.S. on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are not even halfway done. The report shows that the two sides have not exchanged positions on 10 of the 24 chapters of the agreement, raising doubts that the agreement will be completed before the end of the Obama administration. The 11th round of TTIP negotiations is scheduled for mid-October.
Berlin agrees steps to curb migrants as Merkel faces backlash
29 September, 2015 – Financial Times
Germany is cutting cash payments to migrants and adding Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro to a list of “safe countries of origin” in an attempt to relieve pressure on overburdened migration centers.
Hungary, “canary in the coal mine” of EU press
29 September, 2015 – Politico
A report issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists called Hungary “the most egregious practitioner of controlled press in the EU.” Pointing to unfair taxes and regulations on opposition media amid other abuses, the CPJ report calls on the European Commission to strip Budapest of its voting rights based on Article 7 of the EU treaty.
Russia props up Assad as he reinforces coastal heartland
28 September 2015 – Reuters
Russia is building up its military forces in Syria to bolster President Bashar al-Assad despite the collapse of his army in the face of rebel advances. Analysts believe Assad aims to consolidate the partitioning of Syria, but it is not likely that Russia is capable of helping Assad regain lost ground. Two thirds of Syria is now controlled by Islamist rebels, including those backed by regional powers and the cross-border Islamic State.
China, EU discuss investment treaty
28 September 2015 – Xinhua
Chinese and European Union leaders discussed a new investment treaty at the fifth China-EU High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue on Monday. Both sides signed an agreement to cooperate in fifth-generation (5G) mobile communication services. They also discussed integrating China’s Belt and Road trade and infrastructure network with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s Investment Plan for Europe.
Obama, Putin clash over Syria crisis at the United Nations
28 September 2015 – Washington Post
U.S. President Obama and Russian President Putin openly diverged on Syria and related issues at the UN on Monday. While calling for cooperation with Russia and other actors to resolve the Syrian civil war, Obama suggested that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must transition away from power given the level of casualties he has inflicted in that country’s civil war. Putin called this “an enormous mistake,” and argued that Assad’s forces are best equipped to fight the Islamic State.
France warns U.S. over Transatlantic treaty
28 September 2015 – The Local
Arguing that negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have so far promoted U.S. interests over French concerns, French Secretary of State for Foreign Commerce Mathias Feki said Paris could pull out of the TTIP negotiations entirely. “We do not feel the U.S. is taking into account our wishes around services, nor on the issue of private arbitration courts. The negotiations should certainly enable our small and medium sized companies and farmers to have access to the markets," he said.
Dutch expected to vote on EU-Ukraine treaty
28 September 2015 – EU Observer
Dutch citizen groups skeptical of EU expansion have gathered 450,000 signatures, enough under a new law to force a plebiscite on an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, already signed by EU leaders in 2014. The non-binding referendum is likely to be held in the spring.
VW Scandal to Hurt its Financing Arm
27 September 2015 – Wall Street Journal
Volkswagen faces greater financing costs and a strain on its ability to offer loans to boost sales after the European Central Bank suspended purchases of some bonds issued by the company’s financing arm. Last week, Volkswagen revealed that as many as 11 million diesel cars contained software that U.S. authorities say allowed the company to duck emissions standards. The cars could be subject to a global recall.
Macron calls for radical reform to save euro
24 September 2015 – Financial Times
French economy minister Emmanuel Macron has called on Eurozone member states to set up a common treasury, saying that “[i]f we don’t move forward, we decide for dismantling the eurozone.” Last June, the heads of the European Commission, European Council, eurogroup, European parliament, and European Central Bank recommended the creation of a euro area treasury, but urged that such steps not be taken until at least 2017.
Let’s talk to Syria’s Assad, Merkel says
24 September 2015 – Washington Post
In a statement following an EU summit on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the West to negotiate with embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The view is the opposite of that of the U.S. and France, which view Assad’s departure as a prerequisite for a political solution to the Syrian civil war. Merkel’s statement comes as the EU struggles to cope with an escalating refugee and migrant crisis.
Egypt to buy French Mistral landing ships originally intended for Russia
23 September 2015 – Washington Post
The two French Mistral-class landing ships originally intended for Russia will now be sold to Egypt, French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday. The deal with Russia was scrapped in September 2014 because of Russia’s involvement in the war in Ukraine. France refunded Russia $1 billion for the cancellation.
EU leaders agree to modest measures for handling growing migrant crisis
23 September 2015 – Wall Street Journal
At a summit this week, EU leaders agreed to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers already in Europe. The agreement was reached by a qualified majority vote, which forces some smaller EU countries that oppose the plan to adhere to it. The plan may not have a large effect as 500,000 asylum seekers have already arrived in Europe this year. EU leaders also agreed to give more money to Syria’s neighbors to settle and integrate refugees fleeing that country’s civil war, as well as funding for EU countries most affected by the increased migration and UN agencies.
Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Puts European Rivals on Offensive
23 September 2015 – Wall Street Journal
After accusations that Volkswagen cheated on U.S. emissions tests, backlash against diesel-powered vehicles is growing and other European car companies are scrambling to show that their own diesel engines meet standards in Europe. European automakers have spent billions of euros to develop clean diesel technology. In the wake of the VW accusation, shares for other companies like the French Renault and Italian Fiat have fallen, concerning investors that the scandal could have greater repercussions.
NATO expands cooperation with Ukraine, support for its armed forces
22 September 2015 – Wall Street Journal
On Tuesday, NATO signed agreements with Ukraine to expand defense cooperation as Ukrainian officials insisted on overhauling their armed forces and combating corruption to integrate with Europe. Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, stated that he wants Ukraine to enter NATO. “Our membership in NATO and our struggle for our freedom is part of the struggle of the free world,” he said. The Russian Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, called the move an example of NATO’s “destructive role” in the Ukraine crisis.
Tsipras to back Greek bailout with Tsakalotos as finance minister
22 September 2015 – Reuters
Newly reelected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras kept his core economic team intact, reappointing Euclid Tsakalotos as finance minister and promoting Giorgos Houliarakis to deputy finance minister. The move aims to assure wary European partners that the new government will stick to its “cash-for-reform deal.” The appointments come ahead of a review by lenders on Greece’s progress in meeting bailout targets, recapitalizing the country’s banks, and discussing any debt relief.
EU working on agreement with Turkey on migrants, Croatian Foreign Minister says
21 September 2015 – Wall Street Journal
According to Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, the EU is working on an agreement with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants. Last week, the European Commission stated that could it give up to one billion euros to help Turkey accomplish this task. Pusic expects an agreement to materialize within a few weeks. The EU itself, however, has not internally agreed on how to handle the crisis, leaving member states to fend for themselves.
Bank of Spain warns Catalonia secession would mean euro exit
21 September 2015 – ABC News
On Monday, Spain’s central bank warned that Catalonia would be automatically ejected from the European Union and the eurozone if it declares independence. Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region will elect regional lawmakers Sunday and many recent opinion polls predict that pro-secessionist parties will win a majority. The pro-secessionist parties in Catalonia say that they will push for independence within 18 months if they win a majority in the 165-seat parliament.
Russia to establish air base in Belarus
20 September 2015 – Financial Times
Russia plans to build an air base in Belarus, raising concerns about Russian intentions in the Baltic states and Poland. The new base will be the first to be built since the end of the Soviet Union. Northern European countries are increasingly concerned about Russian air activity near their airspace, though the Russian government has defended it as a response to NATO expansion toward its borders. The move comes after Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenko, was seen as reluctant to accept the new air base.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras now faces stiff economic challenge
20 September 2015 – The Australian Financial Review
Alexis Tsipras’ leftist Syriza party won a new term in government to try to put through their economic reforms. Winning Greece’s fifth election in six years, Tsipras called it the “victory of the people.” He must now oversee the implementation of Greece’s austerity program as the Greek economy continues to contract. Tsipras will be challenged to negotiate the terms of fresh capital into the country’s banks and to start negotiations on the restructuring of Greece’s debt.
U.S. will accept more refugees as crisis grows
20 September 2015 – New York Times
The Obama administration announced on Sunday that the U.S. will increase the number of refugees it accepts every year from 70,000 to 100,000. Under the plan, the annual limit on refugee visas would increase to 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017. While a substantial increase, the move is not expected to relieve much pressure on European countries, which are experiencing a much larger influx of refugees and migrants.
ECB chief economist declares "readiness and decisiveness" to act
19 September 2015 – Reuters
In an interview with Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, European Central Bank chief economist Peter Praet reiterated the bank’s “readiness and decisiveness” to adjust its trillion-euro bond-buying program if merited by the economic landscape. Earlier this month, the ECB cut its growth and inflation forecasts and the bank’s President Mario Draghi explicitly said for the first time that the program might be extended.
Japan enhances military’s role as security bills pass
18 September 2015 – Washington Post
Japan’s parliament approved legislation that enhances the country’s security role on Saturday. Opponents say the legislation violates Japan’s constitution and places the country at risk of becoming embroiled in U.S.-led wars. The Japanese military can now defend its allies even when they are not under attack, and can work more closely with the U.S. and other countries. It will now be able to participate in international peacekeeping, compared to its previous and mostly humanitarian missions.
Sweden could join NATO if Russia’s aggression persists
17 September 2015 – Deutsche Welle
Reflecting concern about Russian aggressiveness, a recent poll found that 41 percent of Swedes are for joining NATO and 39 percent are against. Four years ago, the respective percentages were 23 and 50. In addition, two conservative parties, the Christian Democrats and the Center Party, recently changed their stances and now favor joining NATO. But as, Anna Wieslander, deputy director of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, pointed out, “three requirements - the Finnish political situation, the Social Democrats' internal political situation and the opinion polls - aren't there."
Fed Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged
17 September 2015 – New York Times
On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would keep interest rates near zero for the time being. Stating that the Fed still plans to raise rates this year, Chairwoman Janet Yellen said that officials would continue to assess the impact of increased uncertainness abroad and slow inflation. The Fed policy-making committee will watch for more evidence of recovery from the Great Recession, including continued job growth.
Japan takes key step to passage of security bills despite protests
17 September 2015 – Reuters
An upper house panel of the Japanese Parliament approved a security policy shift that would allow troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Despite a rally of thousands of demonstrators outside parliament to protest the bills, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supported the move as necessary given China’s actions in the disputed South China Sea. While the bills loosen restrictions on Japanese military action, it only does so “under very strict conditions.”
EU makes pitch for arbitration court to unblock U.S. trade talks
16 September 2015 – Reuters
European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has proposed a new European court system to settle trade disputes. The plan would involve a court system with 15 independent judges and an appeal tribunal open to the media and others. The proposal aims to unblock discussions with the U.S. on the issue of investor-to-state disputes as part of negotiation on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The TTIP would be the world’s biggest free-trade agreement.
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