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
Don’t let Brexit threat hold Eurozone back, France’s Sapin says
11 February 2016 – Reuters
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin argued on Thursday that the threat of a British exit from the EU should not prevent the Eurozone from pursuing deeper integration. European Council President Donald Tusk offered London a way of slowing Eurozone integration without granting it a veto. "It's perfectly legitimate that we take each side's interests into account, but nothing must block the deepening of economic and monetary union in the coming years," Sapin said.
U.S., Russia agree to a deal for a cease-fire in Syria’s civil war
11 February 2016 – USA Today
Early Friday, U.S. and Russian diplomats agreed to implement a cessation of hostilities in Syria’s civil war and bring aid into the country. The ceasefire, which starts on March 1st depends on the cooperation of hundreds of rebel groups that are pitted against Bashar Assad, as well as that of Assad.
Russia boosts ties with Iraq in challenge to U.S. influence
11 February 2016 – Reuters
Russia has launched a drive to strengthen commercial and security ties with Iraq in a move potentially designed to erode U.S. influence in the country. Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said recent discussions with Russia revolved around providing military assistance to defeat the Islamic state.
NATO to send warships to Aegean to tackle smuggling
11 February 2016 – USA Today
NATO said on Thursday that it will deploy three warships to the Aegean Sea to help stop the smuggling of migrants between Turkey and Greece. The Alliance is expected to work with national coastguards and the EU to accomplish this. The decision is a response to a request by Turkey, Germany and Greece to assist with the targeting of smugglers.
South Korea, U.S. to discuss missile defense; South cuts power to Kaesong park
11 February 2016 – Reuters
South Korea and the U.S. will soon be meeting to discuss the deployment of a U.S. missile system in response to North Korea’s most recent rocket launch. On Wednesday, South Korea closed down operations and cut off electricity and water to the Kaesong industrial zone run jointly with North Korea, a move North Korea has called “a declaration of war.” Though South Korea and the U.S. state that the missile system would only be focused on the North, China and Russia remain concerned.
Canada will seek seat on UN Security Council
11 February 2016 – CTV News
In a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada wishes to “re-engage robustly” with the UN and the global community by placing a bid for a place in the UN Security Council. Canada lost its bid to Portugal in 2010, an event that was blamed on the actions of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. Ban called Canada “one of our most important partners” and had a constructive exchange with Trundeau on a number of issues related to global security.
China’s trade with Maritime Silk Road countries rises 18% annually
11 February 2016 – Xinhua
Activity along the Maritime Silk Road accounts for 20 percent of China’s total foreign trade volume, an increase from the prior decade’s 14.6 percent. The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) also reports that direct investment from Chinese companies along the route increased from $240 million to $9.27 billion as well. The SOA set up a China-ASESAN maritime cooperation center and plans to take action in advancing the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative this year.
EU exit means uncertain future for British-Irish trade - business leader
10 February 2016 – Belfast Telegraph
John McGrane, director general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, said that Ireland-UK trade could be weaken if Britain exits the EU. He said it is unlikely that Northern Ireland would gain from a Brexit.
EU vote: Lloyd’s of London says Brexit will damage business
10 February 2016 – Financial Times
Lloyd’s’ chief risk officer Sean McGovern will argue in a coming speech on Wednesday that with UK as an EU member London’s insurance market can benefit greatly from the EU market. He will say that with Brexit, the UK will become “less attractive to foreign investors,” and new foreign businesses would be less likely to invest in Britain.
Weak Eurozone industry raises fears for growth
10 February 2016 – Financial Times
Eurozone countries are facing sharp falls in industrial production, seen in France, Italy, and Germany. The UK is also suffering from low production. Experts say that 0.2% GDP growth in the last quarter did not meet the original 0.3% forecast.
Yanis Varoufakis: Europe is sliding back into the 1930s and we need a new movement
10 February 2016 – Independent
Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, describes his new movement, “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025” (DiEM25) project, as an attempt to distribute wealth from the elite to poor citizens. He warned that unemployment in Greece is giving rise to Nazism, and Europe is becoming more elitist. He hopes his movement will be “leader-less” and become a pan-European movement.
West’s military advantage is being eroded, report warns
9 February 2016 – The Guardian
The most recent report on defense spending submitted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies states that the West is declining as access to advanced weapons-related technology is widening. Some of the survey’s key findings include a rise in Russia’s defense budget accounting for 20% of the total worldwide increase in military spending, and Asia spending nearly $100 billion more on defense than NATO’s European members. The director general of IISS concludes that, “[s]lowing this emerging trend or reversing it will be a key preoccupation of western strategists in the coming decade.”
Europe to call on G20 finance chiefs for urgent action on growth
9 February 2016 – Reuters
As fears of China’s economic slowdown creep in, the G20 finance ministers will meet in Shanghai at the end of February to discuss their strategies for boosting global economic growth. Their draft message for the Shanghai meeting encourages quick action and adjustment of growth strategies to produce an additional two percent global economic growth by 2018. The depreciation of currencies and weakness in emerging market economies will also be discussed in Shanghai.
Weakness of international order to be at heart of debates at 52nd Munich Security Conference
9 February 2016 – Times.am
This year’s Munich Security Conference will run from February 12 to 14 and see representation from 30 heads of state and over 70 foreign and defense ministers. Some of the key topics of this year’s conference will include Europe’s response to the refugee crisis, the Syrian war, and stability in sub-Saharan Africa, along with the first conference session on epidemics and global stability. MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger stressed that considering the dangers of today’s conflicts and crises in comparison to the Cold War, the importance of decision-makers convening to discuss ideas for conflict resolution and strengthening the international order is very high.
North Korea may get plutonium from restarted reactor in weeks: U.S.
9 February 2016 – Reuters
Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper reported that North Korea has been gathering plutonium from a restarted nuclear reactor, and may have stockpiles in a matter of weeks. North Korea announced its intent to “refurbish and restart” the Yongbyon nuclear facilities in 2013, including a uranium enrichment facility and a plutonium production reactor. Clapper concluded that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs would “continue to pose a serious threat to U.S. interests and to the security environment in East Asia in 2016.”
U.S. intel chief: Islamic State produced, deployed chemical weapons
9 February 2016 – Breitbart
According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the Syrian government has been using chemical warfare on multiple occasions despite its signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Clapper also reports that “ISIL has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent Sulfur mustard.” This adds to existing reports of IS being capable of manufacturing chemical weapons.
Stimulus and cheap oil responsible for Eurozone growth: ECB
9 February 2016 – Channel NewsAsia
ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure said on Monday that global economic insecurity comes from uncertainties about China and the U.S., not the Eurozone; the Eurozone is affected by its monetary stimulus and oil prices. He claims that the Eurozone does not have a bubble problem.
New research says EU’s Single Market will bring 75,000 new jobs to London
8 February 2016 – Politics Home
London First, a business group campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, published research that shows staying in the EU and signing the TTIP will benefit the UK around 15 billion pounds and create 75,000 new job positions by 2030. Jo Valentine, chief executive, insists that UK should stay in the EU to promote an open market on the continent.
China continues to buy more gold as it sells other foreign reserves
8 February 2016 – Forbes
Media reports state that the People’s Bank of China has been buying more gold on a monthly basis, adding 580,000 ounces to its official reserves last month. In the midst of these gold purchases, China’s foreign reserves have also fallen to their lowest level since May 2012. Analysts say that buying gold is part of the central bank’s plan to stabilize the yuan, along with selling some of its foreign reserves to move away from the U.S. dollar.
Iran no longer accepting dollars for oil, demanding euros instead
8 February 2016 – MintPress News
Iran recently informed its trading partners that it will exclusively accept euros on new and outstanding oil sales instead of the U.S. dollar. According to an official from the National Iranian Oil Company, this policy change was conceptualized before the sanctions had been lifted. Hossein Yaqoubi-Miab, director for international affairs at the Central Bank of Iran, reported that India already plans to make their payments in euros, totaling around $6.5 billion.
German, French Central Bank Chiefs Call For Closer Eurozone Ties
8 February 2016 – International Business Times
German and French central bank chiefs met last week to discuss further integration of Eurozone countries, proposing creation of a European treasury. The two chiefs recognized that the ECB eased the financial crisis, but in order to boost EU economy in the long term “sovereignty and powers to the European level” is needed.
Thousands to protest in Brussels against relaxing China trade defences
8 February 2016 – Reuters
Next Monday, industries will protest in Brussels against the EU lowering trade barriers on China. EU industries feel threatened by dumping of Chinese goods which may lead to a further increase in unemployment, and do not believe that the WTO can protect these industries. Supporters stress the need to maintain access to China’s large market.
EU faces tough sell on TTIP compromise
7 February 2016 – Politico
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is proposing a plan to give investors right to sue over governments’ regulations, which the U.S. is not agreeing to. European citizens are critical towards courts when investors are filing claims against states. Negotiations may be open for more public tribunal, but an international court as Malmström proposes is difficult to achieve.
EU proposals will force multinationals to disclose tax arrangements
7 February 2016 – The Guardian
The European Commission is drafting legislation to be presented in April to make large multinational firms to publicize their tax arrangements, including U.S. firms like Google, Facebook and Amazon. The Commission was criticized earlier when multinational corporations did not publicly report their taxes and were able to avoid certain taxes.
PM Modi flags sea-borne terror, piracy as threat to maritime security
7 February 2016 – The Indian Express
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi identified terrorism and piracy as the two major challenges to maritime security. These remarks also made reference to the disputes in the South China Sea, as he stated that countries must “respect and ensure freedom of navigation and cooperate, not compete.” Modi stated that India would continue to promote its geopolitical, strategic, and economic interests on the seas, and will host the first-ever global maritime summit in April.
“If the Brits want to leave, let them leave,” say EU leaders
5 February 2016 – Telegraph
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz revealed that there was quiet exasperation from EU leaders regarding the UK’s threat to leave. Schulz added that while many EU leaders were saying to “let them leave,” he did not support this sentiment. With the UK’s leading internal financial market and the security the EU provides, Schulz stated that, “the UK and the EU both stand to win by remaining together.”
India, China talk maritime security
5 February 2016 – The Asian Age
On Thursday, India and China held the first round of talks on maritime cooperation, discussing issues such as security perspectives and future prospects. International institutions such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the International Maritime Organization also added to the discussions. These talks are occurring amid tensions over the South China Sea.
U.S. panel says yuan will erode, not challenge, dollar dominance
5 February 2016 – Bloomberg News
According to a U.S. congressional panel, the dollar’s role in trade may decrease over time due to the yuan’s new status as a currency reserve. While this may have an effect on the dollar, former chief of the IMF’s China Division Eswar Prasad reassured that, “[the yuan] will erode but not seriously challenge the dollar’s status as the dominant global reserve currency.” Prasad continued that while the yuan will see a greater increase in use for cross-border transactions, China’s financial markets will likely be a source of constraint for this otherwise forward momentum.
German judges slap TTIP down
4 February 2016 – Deutsche Welle
Judges in the German Magistrates Association oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s (TTIP) investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision that would allow investors and corporations to sue national governments, on the grounds that it has no legal basis. The association also opposes the European Commission’s proposal to replace ISDS with an Investment Court System (ICS) to protect investors as a threat to the sovereignty of European legal systems.
Obama seeks $10-per-barrel oil tax to fund clean transport
4 February 2016 – Associated Press
In an effort to promote the fight against climate change, U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed that oil companies pay a $10 fee on every barrel of oil. This proposal will be released in the budget request for Congress starting Tuesday. The $10 fee is to be phased in over five years, providing $20 billion in traffic reduction.
INTERVIEW: G20 may need fiscal policy action at summit to boost growth (IIF)
4 February 2016 – Reuters
The collapse of oil, the possibility of yuan devaluation, and increasing capital outflows from China, has the world on edge in fear of a global recession. Chief financial leaders from the G20 member states will meet on February 26-27 to discuss strategies to strengthen the economy. A chief economist stated that while China should detail a strategy for future exchange rate policy at the event, the G20 could also take charge in promoting growth.
Trans Pacific Partnership signing brings on international protests
3 February 2016 – San Diego Free Press
As representatives from 12 Pacific Rim nations gather in New Zealand for the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, organized protests have been occurring around the world in opposition. The deal must still be ratified by at least six of the member states, and ratification has been unofficially put off until after the November elections in the United States.
“Russia’s economic blockade of Ukraine has failed”: Kyiv hails success of the new “Silk Road”
3 February 2016 – Ukraine Today
Though the first test shipment along the new “Silk Road” took a few days longer than expected, the Ukrainian government is optimistic about its trading future with China. The prime minister of Ukraine announced: “We’ve succeeded in launching the test shipment and in showing Russia that the economic and transit blockade of Ukraine will fail.” Ukraine is currently in the process of promoting the route among EU member states, and expects that the issues experienced with the test shipment will be resolved quickly.
Italian rail company in 5bn EUR Iran deal
4 February 2016 – Railly News
The Transport Ministers of Italy and Iran have signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the return of state owned Italian rail transportation to Iran. The company providing the transportation, Ferrovie dello Stato, has been active in Iran since 2001. The company will carry out contracts worth up to 5 billion euros.
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