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.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Jim Wright (Dem. of Tex.) died in Fort Worth, Texas on May 6, 2015. An 18-term U.S. Representative, Wright was a close personal friend of Clarence K. Streit and a decades-long member of the board of Federal Union, Inc., the predecessor of The Streit Council. He was a longtime supporter of Atlantic Union and Streit's call for federal institutions first articulated in his bookUNION NOW, to solidify the Atlantic Alliance in World War II and later with NATO. While in the U.S. House, Wright was a supporter of U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver's (Dem. of Tenn.) "Atlantic Union Resolution" and, later, the similar efforts of U.S. Rep. Paul Findley (Rep.of Ill.). For many years, Wright was often a spokesperson for the concepts of Clarence K. Streit in the U.S. Congress. The photo to the left is of Wright at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver with D. Bruce Shine, Chairman of the Board of The Streit Council, where both were convention delegates.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NATO steps up Ukraine mission in response to Russia
29 July 2015 – PBS
Although Moscow still denies it, many Western countries claim that Russian separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 that crashed in a field in Eastern Ukraine last year. In response, Russia vetoed a UN resolution for the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the incident. Meanwhile, the United States confirmed the expanding role of its troops in Ukraine to support NATO and the training of Ukrainian forces.
Saudi Arabia Responds to Iran Deal: Give Us 600 Patriot Missiles
29 July 2015 – DefenseOne
In response to the recent nuclear deal with Iran which has left the Iranian missile program intact, Saudi Arabia asked for 600 patriot missiles to boost its defense system. Many other Gulf countries are expected to take this move in the weeks to come to strengthen their security and geopolitical stability in the region.
UN Envoy for Syria Seeks to Resume Peace Talks
29 July 2015 – The New York Times
The UN Special Envoy to Syria invited the conflicting parties to restart peace talks after four years of war. A genuine shared sense of urgency, the rise of the Islamic militants, and the incumbent humanitarian emergency are forcing President Assad and the government’s opposition to peace talks. President Assad’s recent recognition of significant territorial and human losses also appear to facilitate possible negotiations between opposing factions.
Experts Worry China May Soon Establish South China Sea ADIZ
29 July 2015 – VOA
China’s rapid reclaiming of land and the making of artificial islands in the South China Sea is arousing both Japanese and American concern. The creation of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) would represent the directly challenge claims of territorial sovereignty of the contested islands and spike geo-political tension with neighboring countries such as Japan.
Fighting escalates between Turkey and Kurdish rebels amid NATO unease
28 July 2015 – StarTribune
According to Ankara, the attack of Kurdish fighters against Turkish soldiers caused the bombing of the rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Tuesday. Although NATO stated its solidarity with Turkey, it also warned the Turkish military not to extend its attacks against the Kurdish fighters, a valuable ally in the fight against the Islamic militants. The Kurds are an ethnic group living in a region spanning present-day Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia who has been struggling for autonomy.
EU takes France to court for $11 million over Ryanair deals
28 July 2015 – Newsweek
On Monday, the EU announced that it is suing France for breaching EU state aid guidelines. The EU argues that France allowed airlines Ryanair and Transavia to pay lower fees for the use of French airports. European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia said, "taxpayers' money should not be used to grant an undue advantage to certain airlines, distorting competition in the Single Market."
United Nations warns Turkey against calling buffer a “safe zone”
28 July 2015 – Reuters
UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien warned Turkey yesterday against calling its planned buffer in northern Syria a “safe zone” without sufficient protection for civilians. "What you don't want to do is call something a safe zone, people flee to it, but it hasn't got sufficient protection," he said. "As our primary objective is the protection of civilians we need to make sure there is protection in place and that is not always the role of the humanitarians, it needs to be established by others," he added.
Turkey's fight against ISIS prompts rare NATO meeting
28 July 2015 – CBS News
After the NATO meeting to discuss the threat that the Islamic state militants are posing to Turkish security, NATO officers proclaimed strong solidarity with Turkey yet invited Ankara not to use excessive force in fighting extremists. Above all, NATO officers asked Turkey to continue the peace process with the Kurdish PKK and refrain from attacking Kurdish fighters who have been the most effective ground forces against ISIS.
OSCE reviews operations in Ukraine conflict after monitor injured
28 July 2015 – CNN
Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, fell victim to major injuries due to the violations of cease-fire from both Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists. Although both factions were notified about the presence of international monitors, neither of them stopped firing. Moreover, the rising number of casualties and the inability of the international community to enforce the cease-fire is fueling hostility toward the OSCE representatives on the ground.
National Endowment for Democracy is first “undesirable” NGO banned in Russia
28 July 2015 – The Guardian
The National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit funded largely by the U.S. Congress, has become the first undesirable NGO banned in Russia. According to Moscow, the organization poses a serious threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation. This decision is part of a broader strategic plan led by the Kremlin to limit external interference in Russian domestic affairs.
Obama may not accept rejection of Iran deal
28 July 2015 – WND
Secretary of State Kerry’s ambiguous response about President Obama’s possible violations of the constitutional law to override the power of veto of the Congress on the nuclear deal with Iran is drawing caused major criticism from the Republican Party. These criticisms have been further boosted by the administration’s refusal to submit the deal for ratification to the Congress. So far the agreement has not been categorized as a Treaty but rather as a deal that does not require two-thirds of the Congress’ votes to be approved.
Syria’s grim statistics “speak for themselves,” reflect need for political settlement, Security Council told
28 July 2015 – UN News
Top United Nations humanitarian officials said that the current war situation in Syria and humanitarian catastrophe demands for a decisive action to find a political settlement and stop this brutal conflict. Officers reported that about 12 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance today and 220,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict. They also added that the presence of multiple factions and the fragmentation of the country under the control of a myriad of extremist groups is making almost impossible to safely deliver humanitarian aid to the population.
German advisers say Eurozone exit should not be taboo
28 July 2015 – Reuters
The German government’s independent panel of five economic advisers favors creating an insolvency mechanism for Eurozone states, and argues that exits from the common currency area should not be ruled out. "In a currency union, the basic rules must be adhered to and for this reason the exit of a member state should not be taboo, for otherwise partners are susceptible to blackmail," council member Lars Feld told reporters on a media call. In a critique of proposals for debt mutualization, the council argued: "Making the euro area collectively responsible for potential costs without member states giving up any national sovereignty over fiscal and economic policies would - sooner or later - make the currency union more unstable.”
Ukraine War Risks Reigniting as OSCE Warns of Troop Buildup
28 July 2015 – Bloomberg
The current fight between Ukraine’s army and the rebels is at its highest since February, international observers reported. As a result, both civilians’ casualties and violations to the Minsk agreements are steadily increasing. Although Kiev approved greater political autonomy for the separatist regions, the measure has been labelled as insufficient by both Moscow and the pro-Russian rebels.
Russia Seen Reassessing Support for Assad
27 July 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
Syrian officials have confirmed a shift in Moscow’s long-standing support for President Assad. After more than four years of war that have killed a quarter million people, Moscow appears willing to consider an alternative to President Assad. Although the Syrian President can still count on Iran’s support, the recent nuclear deal with the West could also soften Iran’s firm stances in support of Damascus. Russia’s drastic cut of financial and military support to Assad’s regime as well as changes to its policy of vetoing UN sanctions against Syria may play a pivotal role to bring peace to the country and stabilize the region. Also, the new relationship between Russian and Saudi Arabia could significantly impact future developments in the regional balance of power.
Kurds cut key IS supply route in northern Syria: monitor
27 July 2015 – AFP
On Monday Kurdish fighters took control of a key supply route in northern Syria, further isolating the jihadists' de facto Syrian capital of Raqa in the east. As a result, Islamic militants’ attacks against the Kurdish stronghold of Aleppo should also decrease from now on. This is one of the latest successes of the Kurdish forces that had already defeated the jihadists in Kobani in January.
Ukraine Sees Record Truce Breaches as Army Reinforces Port City
27 July 2015 – Bloomberg
Ukraine announced that breaches of the cease-fire recently reached the most since February. Pro-Russian separatist shelled governmental units nearby the port city of Mariupol. Despite the ongoing talks between international negotiators, Ukraine, and separatists, the problematic definition of political autonomy for the secessionist regions have stalled any possible agreement.
Obama’s Russia Recalibration
27 July 2015 – The National Interest
Following the recent nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran, President Obama praised Russia’s outstanding contribution to the negotiations. According to Obama, President Putin played a pivotal role in making the deal possible. Although sanctions against Moscow for the Ukrainian crisis stay in place, this rhetorical shift suggests a major possible change in American-Russian relations in the months to come. As a result, not only Ukraine but also Syria could greatly benefit from the recalibration of U.S.-Russian relations.
Italy’s Pier Carlo Padoan calls for “political union” to save euro
26 July 2015 – Financial Times
Italy’s finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan is calling for deeper Eurozone integration, including political union, to improve economic conditions and save the euro. Italy is calling for the completion of banking union, a common Eurozone budget and common unemployment insurance to strengthen the currency union. Padoan suggested the creation of an elected Eurozone parliament and a European finance minister position. “To have a full-fledged economic and monetary union, you need a fiscal union and you need a fiscal policy,” Mr Padoan said. “And this fiscal policy must respond to a parliament, and this parliament must be elected. Otherwise there is no accountability.”
Turkey calls for rare NATO talks after attacks along Syrian border
26 July 2015 - CNN
NATO agreed to meet this week after Turkey called for special talks. Turkey invoked Article 4 according to which members of the Atlantic Alliance can call for consultations if their territorial integrity is under threat. This follows the recent attacks carried out by Islamic militants inside Turkey. Turkey’s Foreign Minister will display the new security measures that his country is taking to respond the terrorist threat coming from both the Islamic State and the PKK.
Syria's Embattled President Bashar Assad Admits Army Manpower Shortage
26 July 2015 – NBC
On Sunday, Syria’s President Assad publicly addressed the country by acknowledging major territorial losses to the rebel groups. Assad’s speech came at a time of further uncertainty as Turkey is beginning striking Islamic militants and Kurdish fighters. In his speech Assad promised amnesty for thousands of Syrians who deserted from the Army by joining the rebels or fleeing the country in the last few years. Although almost 70,000 soldiers have been killed since 2011, President Assad restated his confidence in the Army and in military victory.
Foreign insurers are looking at Iran after its nuclear deal
26 July 2015 – Business Insider
Many international financial experts are looking at Iran’s marine and energy sectors as very attractive markets. According to these experts the removal of economic sanctions will open a market of about $8 billion to global firms investing in Iran. Although there are some concerns about Iran’s political trustworthiness and the implementation of the deal, global firms have already begun to invest in the country.
Ambitious trade talks head to Hawaii for final stage
25 July 2015 – AFP
Negotiators from 10 Asia-Pacific countries are meeting in Hawaii this week to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. The deal, which would cover 40 percent of the world economy, is expected to advance the U.S. agenda for a new international framework for trade in services, investment and the protection of intellectual property, as well as the even larger Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both the U.S. and China see the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as building blocks for a broader Asia-Pacific trade deal.
Turkey stages first airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria
24 July 2015 – Reuters
On Friday, Turkish warplanes attacked Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time as its president vowed more decisive action against the group. The strike was accompanied by the seizure of hundreds of suspected militants across Turkey. Ankara also approved the use of its airbases by U.S. and coalition aircraft to mount attacks against the Islamic State.
Eurozone yields fall as weak growth data ups QE expectations
24 July 2015 - Reuters
A number of economic indicators sent Eurozone yields falling yesterday. The subdued consumer sentiment survey, a manufacturing slowdown in China, and Germany’s weaker-than-expected private sector growth in July were all contributing factors to the movements in bond yields.
Violence heating up along Turkey-Syria border
24 July 2015 – Los Angeles Times
On Thursday, clashes between the Turkish Army and the Islamic militants caused the death of a Turkish soldier and an Islamic militant. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has dispatched reinforcements to the border. At the same time, the Kurdish minority in Turkey has increasingly appealed to Ankara to stop the flow of foreign fighters to Syria through the Turkish border and accused the Turkish government of complicity with the Islamic State. Kurdish militants in Turkey have been also accused for the murder of two policemen in the southern city of Diyarbakir. In response, Ankara has stepped up security measures inside the country and fortified its border with Syria.
Sec. Kerry Fiercely Defends Iran Nuclear Deal to Congress
23 July 2015 – NBC News
Secretary Kerry firmly defended the nuclear deal with Iran from the criticism of the Republican representatives in the U.S. Congress on Thursday. Kerry recognized that Iran has now extensive experience with nuclear fuel cycle technology and the deal is the best means to control it.
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