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 edition by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan
The latest edition of Stanley R. Sloan's book on transatlantic security relations - Defense of the West: NATO, the European Union and the Transatlantic Bargain (Manchester University Press, 2016) - surveys the history of NATO, analyzes interactions between contemporary internal and external threats facing the Alliance, and offers a net assessment of its future. Click here for his summary of the book, and here for peer reviews.
The Streit Council's Statment on the Brexit Referendum Outcome
On June 23rd, the British people voted to leave the European Union in a close 52%-48% referendum outcome that few predicted. As an organization committed to deepening integration among the world’s established liberal democracies as a means to expanding individual freedom, the Streit Council views this development as a step backward. Since joining the European Community in 1973, the United Kingdom has shaped European integration in a direction consistent with its liberal values and interests, making all Europeans freer. This has been experienced in many forms, including the freedom to live in peace, greater financial freedom, and freer movement across borders. While these benefits have not accrued evenly across the Union, they nonetheless accrued. Read the full statement.
Streit Council Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan on "Rebuilding Washington's Transatlantic Alliance"
In an article for the National Interest, Stanley R. Sloan argues that the next president of the United States will need to rebuild the transatlantic relationship to address threats to Western security and fundamental values. In Ukraine, NATO and the EU need to support the reform of the country's political and economic system while holding off on the provision of lethal arms. To ensure a lasting defeat of ISIS, Western allies should engage Middle Eastern states and the broader international community to stabilize and govern retaken territory. While the next president must remember that the Russian agenda often runs contrary to that of the U.S., cooperation on managing strategic arms, promoting a peaceful end to the Syria conflict, counterterrorism and other issues is in America's interest. Click here for the full article.
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.
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
Trump takes over as U.S. president, vows to end “American carnage” in defiant speech
20 January 2017 – Reuters
Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, pushing for policies that put "America first" during his inaugural address. Trump also criticized establishment politics for abandoning Americans, pledging to end "American carnage" by ensuring trade, taxation, immigration, and foreign policies "benefit American workers and American families."
Trump to develop missile defense system against Iran, North Korea: White House
20 January 2017 – Reuters
The incoming Trump Administration will develop a "state of the art" missile defense system to counter threats from Iran and North Korea, according to a policy position posted to the White House website on Friday. The statement does not specify what changes the Trump administration seeks to missile defense systems currently under development.
EU trade commissioner says trade deal with UK post-Brexit may take couple of years
20 January 2017 – Reuters
European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Thursday it would likely take a couple of years to negotiate a trade deal with the United Kingdom after it leaves the bloc. She noted a deal with Canada had taken around seven years and was still pending approval by the EU parliament, but said others were quicker.
Stoltenberg warns of spike in cyberattacks on NATO
19 January 2017 – Deutsche Welle
NATO was the target of 500 cyberattacks every month in 2016 - a 60 percent increase from last year, according to alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg noted that most of the attacks on the alliance's data network were attributed to foreign state institutions, and that boosting cyber defense will play a major role at NATO's next summit.
May wants “bold and ambitious” trade deal with EU
19 January 2017 – Deutsche Welle
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would step up to a new leadership role as a strong advocate for business, free markets and free trade after Brexit. She outlined a "bold and ambitious" trade agreement with the European Union when the country leaves the 28-nation bloc.
Brexit: EU Parliament chief negotiator warns Theresa May she can’t expect "tariff-free" access to the Single Market
19 January 2017 – The Independent
In an article for The Guardian, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, warned British Prime Minister May that she cannot expect tariff-free access to the European Single Market by “cherry-picking” the best parts of the EU. His statement is a response to May’s speech on Tuesday where she set out main Brexit priorities, including “tariff-free trade.” However, the former Belgian prime minister did agree with May on guaranteeing EU citizens residency rights in Britain, while citing this as a high priority for the European Parliament in negotiations.
Lithuanian Politicians Push for Defense Spending Hike Over NATO Target
18 January 2017 – Newsweek
The Lithuanian parliament's National Security and Defense Committee urged an increase in defense spending of over 2.5 percent of GDP by 2020 in order "to be able to prepare and deter new threats," according to the chairman of the committee. The proposal cites the impact of the U.S. presidential election, Brexit, cyber warfare, and threats to NATO's external borders. It also seeks to "send the message" that the country can "take leadership in the region and address problems that we did address until now."
Tajani Election Breaks European Parliament’s “Grand Coalition”
18 January 2017 - Financial Times
The election of Italian center-right candidate Antonio Tajani as replacement for socialist Martin Schulz as President of the European Parliament signals the breakup of the “grand coalition” in parliament which has existed since 2014. This coalition between socialists and democrats of the center-left, combined with the European People’s Party on the center-right, enabled parliament to mitigate the full effect of the sizeable euroskeptic minority which has developed exponentially over the past three years. The coalition was also able to ensure that executive and other vital positions in the EU bureaucracy remained firmly in the hands of responsible leaders committed to the preservation of the establishment.
Moldova turns from EU to Russia
18 January 2017 – EU Observer
Igor Dodon, Moldova’s president, stated that he would like to end his country’s free-trade and political association treaty with the EU in 2018 and that he is preparing to join a Russian bloc of six former Soviet states instead. He said in a press conference that Moldova has gained nothing from the treaty. “If Moldova were to scrap the EU treaty, it would mark another reversal for the EU’s policy of aligning itself with former Soviet countries.” EU figures do not support Dodon’s claim that Moldova has not gained anything; Moldovan exports to the EU have increased by 27% since the treaty was signed according to the EU foreign service. Putin agreed with Dodon and stated that Russian sanctions against the country would be lifted if Moldova questioned its EU partnership.
EU and U.S. publish TTIP state of play assessment
18 January 2017 – New Europe
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman published a joint assessment of the progress made in the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This joint report sells the benefits of the massive trade pact, including better access to markets for EU and U.S. firms, simplifying technical regulations without lowering standards, and setting global trade rules. The rationale for the TTIP "is even stronger today than it was when we started these negotiations," Froman said.
Japan to boost defence sales in Asia-Pacific region as part of diplomacy strategy
18 January 2017 – IHS Jane’s
Japan is seeking to increase defense exports in Asia to "like-minded countries" in order to boost regional influence, according to a senior official of Japan's Self-Defense Forces. The move, which would include increased defense funding assistance and industrial collaboration, follows the easing of the country's ban on sales of military goods over the last two years.
Read Joe Biden’s speech warning the collapse of the “World Order”
18 January 2017 – Fortune
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, warned about the collapse of the liberal world order in the coming years. He urged world leaders in Europe and the U.S. to defend liberal democracies from imminent dangers, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. He admitted that “the United States has not always been the perfect guardian of our order,” but that under the Obama Administration, America strove to lead by example with regard to the liberal international order.
Independence vote more likely after single market move, Sturgeon signals
18 January 2017 – Guardian
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, stated that Theresa May’s decision to take the UK entirely out of the EU Single Market makes a second Scottish independence vote very likely. She said that quitting the Single Market could be “economically catastrophic” and against Scotland’s national interests.
Conservative Tajani is New EU Parliament Speaker as Euroskepticism Surges
17 January 2017 - Reuters
In another victory for euroskeptics throughout the EU, Antonio Tajani was elected to replace Martin Schulz as the next president of the European Parliament. The new president was able to ascend to the office off of support from coalesced conservative parties, namely those from the UK and Poland which have become particularly critical of what they perceive to be an increasingly meddlesome superstate based in Brussels. Tajani was elected largely on slogans suggesting that resolutions for Europe’s current ailments “are not found in more and more Europe.”
World leaders should consider reopening G7 to Russia: Italy
17 January 2017 – Reuters
Italian Foreign Minister, Angelino Alfano, stated on Tuesday that Russia is a critical international player and other international partners should consider inviting the country back to G7 summits. Russia was excluded from the annual summits after the 2014 Ukraine crisis. Following the lead of Donald Trump, Alfano believes that better relations between the U.S. and Russia would be good for the world. Russia has been, he states, “a reliable partner in energy supply, and at the same time a very useful partner in fighting international terrorism.” Alfano did not discount Trump’s comments on NATO, saying that the alliance remains highly focused on Cold War-era strategy.
Theresa May's blueprint for Brexit
17 January 2017 – Financial Times
Theresa May confirmed that Britain will leave the EU’s Single Market and said there is no option that leaves Britain “half-in, half-out” as she set out 12 key priorities for the Brexit negotiations. Those priorities include control over immigration and removing Britain from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, retaining workers’ rights, building a strong trading relationship with the EU and rest of the world, and making Britain an attractive place for investors and students.
Germany says in interests of EU and U.S. to pursue TTIP talks
17 January 2017 – Reuters
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday that Germany still regards the TTIP deal as an important project and believes it is in both European and U.S. interests to continue negotiations even though U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has opposed it.
Germany hits back at Trump’s protectionist threats
17 January 2017 – Irish Times
Berlin has hit back at U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to impose import penalties on German car makers. BMW – mentioned by Mr. Trump in an interview with Bild and the London Times – pointed out it already has a U.S. plant that employed 70,000 people. Trump’s remarks have sparked fresh fears of a transatlantic trade war after the EU and U.S. shelved plans for a new transatlantic trade agreement.
China, Vietnam agree to “manage differences” on South China Sea
16 January 2017 – IHS Jane’s
China and Vietnam have agreed to "manage maritime differences" and avoid escalation in the South China Sea, according to a joint communique cited by Chinese state media. The document was issued during a visit by the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam to China last week.
Trump Offers Britain Quick Trade Accord as he Shuns Europe
16 January 2017 - Bloomberg
In a recent interview with The Times, President-elect Donald Trump stated that he would attempt to establish a quick and fair trade agreement with the UK. Trump’s comments are a notable departure from President Obama’s prior to the Brexit referendum last June, when he warned that Britain would fall “to the back of the queue” if it decided to leave the EU. With Trump’s apparent willingness to cooperate with Britain, many are now beginning to push for a hard Brexit which would also entail leaving the customs union prior to the invocation of Article 50, thus allowing the UK the ability to hold trade discussions.
Germany's Merkel calls for “cross-border cooperation” on EU security
12 January 2017 – Deutsche Welle
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for greater EU security cooperation through a wider exchange of data and the creation of a register tracking people entering and leaving the bloc's Schengen Area. Merkel, who spoke during a joint press conference with Luxembourg's prime minister, warned that countries will independently establish their own border controls and imperil free movement if cross-border cooperation is not achieved.
Avoiding China's wrath, Philippines puts off upgrades to South China Sea isles
12 January 2017 – Reuters
The Philippines will defer upgrade plans for Philippine-claimed territories in the South China Sea, according to the country's military chiefs, in order to avoid provoking China. The deferral would be a continued adherence to a moratorium on construction in the Spratly Islands in order to avoid "any aggressive action in the West Philippine Sea."
Merkel Warns “Eternal” U.S.-EU Ties Not Guaranteed
12 January 2017 – AFP
With the election of Donald Trump calling into question the existential integrity of transatlantic relations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned that the EU cannot rely on virtually limitless or “eternal” American support, and must assert itself as an independent entity. Merkel also recently argued in Brussels that the EU must remain united as the bloc prepares for the UK’s triggering of Article 50 by late March. With both the U.S. and UK in mind, Merkel claimed the rest of Europe “should see [these decisions] as an incentive to work together...to hold Europe together now more than ever, to improve it further and to bring the citizens closer together again.”
Placing Russia first among threats, Defense nominee warns of Kremlin attempts to “break” NATO
12 January 2017 – The Washington Post
U.S. Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis called for greater U.S. support for European allies in order to counter Russian attempts to "break" NATO during a confirmation hearing. Mattis also urged the U.S. to cultivate and embrace international alliances and security partnerships, suggesting different views from Trump's statements on NATO and Russia.
U.S. Senate Committee Backs Montenegro's Bid To Join NATO
12 January 2017 – RFE/RL
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve a resolution on Montenegro's accession to NATO, with the committee's chairman expressing hope for "swift action" on the issue. The resolution will now move to the full Senate, where it requires a two-thirds majority for approval.
Russia says U.S. troops arriving in Poland pose threat to its security
12 January 2017 – The Guardian
Russia criticized the deployment of U.S. forces to Poland as a threat to Russian interests and security, with 1000 of the expected 4000 troops arriving in the country this week. A Pentagon spokesman called the move a demonstration of a "continued commitment to collective security," reassurance of allies, and dedication to regional stability by the U.S. following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Tillerson says China should be barred from South China Sea islands
12 January 2017 – Reuters
Rex Tillerson, nominee for Secretary of State for the incoming Trump administration, said that China should be denied access to its manmade islands in the South China Sea. Tillerson compared China's building of the islands to "Russia's taking Crimea" in Ukraine and called for the U.S. to "send China a clear signal" to stop island-building.
Ukraine power cut “was cyberattack”
11 January 2017 – BBC
A Ukrainian cyber-security company hired by Ukraine’s national power company to investigate a power cut that hit Kiev in December has determined that the incident was the result of a cyberattack. The company also claims that other recent attacks in Ukraine were connected to the blackout, including one in 2015.
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