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
Donald Trump says the EU is “wonderful”
24 February 2017 – Newsweek
During an interview with Reuters, President Trump declared his support for the EU, deeming the bloc “wonderful.” This statement comes after much euroskepticism from the Trump Administration as well as the president’s very public pro-Brexit stance. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has conveyed anti-EU sentiments in the past, citing the public’s want of a nationalist state. Trump’s comments come after Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Brussels to pledge America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance.
Dutch parliament ratifies the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, despite rejection by population
24 February 2017 – New Europe
Dutch MPs in the lower house of parliament voted to ratify the EU-Ukraine Association agreement, which leaves a vote in the upper house as the last obstacle before implementation. The Netherlands’ parliamentarians voted for the agreement even though 2/3 of the voters in the country rejected it in a referendum last year. The Netherlands is the only EU member state that has not ratified the agreement. Due to the referendum result, the Dutch government decided to add a supplement to the agreement in negotiations with the other EU member states.
UK faces 60 billion euro Brexit bill, Austrian leader says
23 February 2017 - Bloomberg
While claiming that there is still some uncertainty about the final sum, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested the UK may receive a 60 billion euro bill for choosing to leave the European Union. British Trade Secretary Liam Fox called the estimation “absurd” and reaffirmed that the UK will not be providing funds for any European project signed after November. The estimated bill is based on Britain’s commitment to finance certain projects which have yet to be completed, as well as pensions.
Brexit: EU backs Dublin on open Northern Ireland border
23 February 2017 – BBC News
Agreeing with the Irish government, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker stated that Brexit should not lead to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Juncker said this after talks with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister. Border controls in the region were removed in 1998. The Commission and the Irish government are committed to working closely to ensure that the 1998 agreement will be protected.
Brussels calls for common stand against takeover of Polish court
23 February 2017 - Financial Times
Amid growing tensions between Brussels and Warsaw over the Polish government’s de facto usurpation of its judiciary, EU officials are calling on member states to take a stand against the ruling Law and Justice Party. It is feared the growing conflict between EU leadership and Poland could become a “lightning rod” for euroskeptic fervor, as it illuminates the greater debate on the appropriate bounds of political power between sovereign states and centralized control based in Brussels. Nevertheless, the Polish government’s stripping of judicial independence threatens the fundamental western tenet and EU requisite of rule of law, as its highest court is practically powerless to strike down legislation it finds unconstitutional.
Trump wants to expand U.S. nuclear arsenal, make it “top of the pack”
23 February 2017 – Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump said that he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the "top of the pack," calling the New START nuclear arms treaty "a one-sided deal." Trump also expressed anger over North Korea's ballistic missile tests, adding that China is capable of ending what has become "a very dangerous situation."
Dumped by U.S., Europe and Asia get together on trade deals
23 February 2017 – Foreign Policy
The United States, after President Donald Trump took office, nixed a big trade pact with Asia, and let another big trade accord with Europe die on the vine. Now both those partners are getting together — threatening to leave the United States out in the cold as the world’s biggest economic blocs reshape their trading relationships.
Support for Euroskeptic Le Pen grows in France
22 February 2017 – Investopedia
National Front French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is now polling at 27% for the first round vote, according to a survey conducted by communications firm Elabe for French television station BFMTV. Le Pen’s support is benefitting from stumbles made by her two main competitors Macron and Fillon in recent weeks. However, polls currently predict Le Pen will lose to Macron in the second round of voting.
Jean-Claude Juncker: UK faces hefty Brexit bill
22 February 2017 – BBC News
The European Commission President advised Britain that there will be a “very hefty” bill for the Brexit process as well as two years of “tough negotiation.” The UK could be required to pay as much as 60 billion euros during Brexit proceedings. This number covers Britain’s share of project and program costs it signed up to as a member, in addition to pensions for EU officials.
As Brexit nears, support for leaving the EU falls in this member
21 February 2017 – Bloomberg
While euroskeptic sentiment is rising in many EU member states in the midst of the Britain’s impending exit from the Union, in Slovakia recent polls show support for exiting the Union falling. However, euroskepticism is higher than the 23% measured in June before the UK referendum.
ASEAN unsettled by China weapon systems, tension in South China Sea
21 February 2017 – Reuters
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay expressed concern over Chinese installation of weapons systems in the South China Sea, calling the move "very unsettling." Yasay was unanimously joined by ASEAN members in urging a dialogue to stop the escalation of "recent developments" in the region, and that demilitarization should be a key component of the ASEAN-China relationship.
“No circumstances” where Scotland stays in EU, independent or not
21 February 2017 – The Telegraph
On Wednesday, Scottish Secretary David Mundell will tell MSPs that Scotland will not stay in the EU after the UK’s exit, regardless of the result of a potential second independence referendum. Even if Scotland votes for its independence, it will have to start the application process for EU membership from the beginning, which would dash any “easy assumptions” about the length and terms of the process. Mundell’s statements come after an analysis from members of the Friends of Europe think tank and Edinburgh University’s Europa Institute that asserted that the Scottish application would progress faster than the typical prospective EU member state’s application.
EU pushes for 2017 conclusion to free trade talks with Japan
21 February 2017 – Euractiv
The European Union should be able to conclude a free trade agreement with Japan this year after failing to hit an end-2016 deadline, a European Commission source close to the negotiations said on Monday. A trade deal between the two has taken on added significance after U.S. withdrawal from a planned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal including Japan and as the EU looks beyond America for trade partnerships.
Pence reaffirms commitment to NATO, but says Europe must commit more
20 February 2017 – NPR
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO but stated that the Trump Administration expects "immediate and steady progress" on increased member defense spending during a speech at NATO headquarters on Monday. Pence also expressed U.S. support for the EU, saying that the U.S. wishes to "continue cooperation and partnership" with the bloc.
General known for sharp questions will be Trump's new top security adviser
20 February 2017 - Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump has chosen Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new national security adviser, calling him "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience." McMaster will replace Michael Flynn, who was fired last week over reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence over the discussion of sanctions in his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.
U.S. to deploy 1,000 troops to Poland
18 February 2017 – Deutsche Welle
The U.S. Army's European headquarters announced that a unit of 1,000 US troops and supporting equipment will be deployed to northeastern Poland by the end of March. The unit will be part of a total of 4,000 US troops sent to NATO's eastern flank on a rotational basis for the alliance's Forward Presence initiative.
Reassurances do not prevent priorities from diverging at Munich Security Conference
18 February 2017 – Deutsche Welle
U.S. Vice President Pence’s speech at the Munich Security Conference was an attempt to assuage European worries about the future of transatlantic relations. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Europeans cannot ask the U.S. to commit more to Europe’s defense if Europeans themselves are not willing to commit more to the cause. Europeans have different opinions; EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini believes that investment in education, job growth, and good governance are all ways to invest in European security.
NATO will be obsolete unless it is a Euro-Atlantic Community
17 February 2017 – New Europe
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense General Mattis extended an ultimatum to NATO allies which insisted on more defense spending by European members or a more moderate U.S. commitment to Europe’s defense. There were two responses to this ultimatum, one from the European defense ministers at NATO’s headquarters and the other from President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at the Munich Security Conference. The former decided to show some understanding to the demands while expressing that it was a “fair point.” The latter, however, insisted that security is not solely about defense spending and that foreign aid should be considered as part of the equation.
Juncker predicts Brexit deal will take more than two years
17 February 2017 – Politico
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker believes that it is highly unlikely that a Brexit deal will be able to be reached within two years, concluding that an EU-UK trade agreement is next to impossible in that time period. Juncker described Brexit as “a very difficult enterprise,” which would entail Britain to change upwards of 20,000 laws before its official exit. Also, the UK would not be allowed to partake in bilateral trade deals with other countries before the conclusion of its exit.
Schaeuble says Germany will spend more on defense
17 February 2017 – Reuters
Germany can and will spend more on defense to meet its obligations to NATO and Europe, according to Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Schaeuble, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, called spending a "matter of security" within NATO and in ensuring "a more efficient European contribution."
Brexit the most “dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition”
17 February 2017 – Politico
According to the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Colum Eastwood, an attempt to create a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be “economically and politically damaging.” The Irish politician asserted that Brexit is the most “dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition.”
Europe must not bow to U.S. spending demands on NATO: EU's Juncker
17 February 2017 – Reuters
Europe must not allow itself to be pushed into U.S. demands to raise military spending, says European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Juncker stated that raising defense spending must be part of larger effort to bundle defense spending and spend resources more efficiently.
EU's Moscovici wants euro zone budget, finance minister, treasury
17 February 2017 – Reuters
The European Commission's top financial official called on Thursday for deeper integration in the Eurozone, dismissing fears that a move in that direction would split the EU as it reels from Britain walking away. “Some argue that deepening the euro area might be divisive as not all 27 member states are members of the euro. I believe this would be a deep mistake," Pierre Moscovici, a French socialist and European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, said in a speech in Vienna.
Greece says "not a euro more" in cuts as EU officials call for speedy deal
17 February 2017 – Reuters
European Union officials urged Greece and its lenders on Thursday to conclude a long-overdue bailout review quickly to safeguard economic recovery, but Athens said it wouldn't ask "a euro more" from its austerity-wracked citizens. Inconclusive talks between Greece and its international creditors on economic reforms and debt relief are in danger of retriggering the crisis that almost ended in Greece being pushed out of the Eurozone.
NATO European allies to jointly buy planes, set up new elite HQ
16 February 2017 – Reuters
European NATO allies have agreed to a multinational effort to jointly procure planes and submarines, in addition to opening a new command headquarters for elite troops. The alliance's deputy secretary general called the move a way for members to improve armed forces while ensuring the greatest value for taxpayer funds.
NATO and Finland step up cyber defense cooperation
16 February 2017 – NATO
NATO and Finland have committed to increased cooperation in cyber defense through a Political Framework Arrangement intended to protect and improve Finnish networks. The agreement will introduce an exchange of early warning information between Finland and the alliance, in addition to opportunities for training and exercises in cyber defense.
NATO: Russia targeted German army with fake news campaign
16 February 2017 – Deutsche Welle
NATO diplomats have said that an effort to spread false rape claims about German soldiers stationed in Lithuania is an attack aimed at undermining the alliance's presence in Eastern Europe, and was likely perpetrated by Russia, according to the German media. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO has recorded several previous attempts to spread disinformation.
Protectionism, political risk threaten Eurozone economy revival: Reuters poll
16 February 2017 – Reuters
Potential anti-establishment upsets in France, the Netherlands and Germany, alongside a global rise in protectionism, pose the biggest threats to the Eurozone economy, according to a majority of economists polled by Reuters. These risks come ahead of impending divorce negotiations between the European Union and Britain.
Germany, Romania and the Czech Republic deepen defense ties
16 February 2017 – NATO
German, Romanian and Czech defense ministers have signed an agreement to deepen defense ties under NATO's Framework Nation Concept. The agreement, announced by the alliance's assistant secretary general, integrates Romanian and Czech capabilities into German forces by contributing a brigade to a German-led multinational division.
Democrats demand inquiry of Russian role in U.S. Affairs; G.O.P. concern grows
15 February 2017 – The New York Times
U.S. lawmakers are demanding a broader investigation into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia following the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and reports that Trump associates were in contact with Russian intelligence officials during last year's election. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for an "independent, nonpartisan" investigation, while Republican leadership said Flynn would likely be asked to speak to the Senate’s Intelligence Committee.
People are ignoring the biggest threat to the Eurozone – and it isn’t the French or Dutch elections
15 February 2017 – Business Insider
European investors are focusing on the political risks associated with upcoming elections in the Netherlands and France. However, they should be focusing on another major risk in Italy, according to BNP Paribas Investment Partners. Italy has been ignored in the mainstream discourse surrounding the EU in the wake of Brexit, but with an unstable banking sector and a destabilizing vote on political reforms, the nation could remain a serious problem for the foreseeable future.
French senate report says UK must not be better off after Brexit
15 February 2017 – The Guardian
A cross-party report from the French senate argued that Britain must not be allowed to exit the EU with a better situation than it has now; if required, its withdrawal without an agreement must be examined. This document also dismisses giving some British industries special access to the EU single market. The report insists that discussions on the EU-UK future relationship cannot begin until the divorce terms are settled.
Defense Secretary Mattis issues new ultimatum to NATO allies on defense spending
15 February 2017 – The Washington Post
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned NATO that the U.S. may "moderate its commitment to the alliance" if allies do not increase defense spending in support of common defense. Mattis also called NATO the "bedrock" of transatlantic ties, but stated that American taxpayers cannot "carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values."
Russia tells White House it will not return Crimea to Ukraine
15 February 2017 – Reuters
Russia's foreign ministry said that it will not return Crimea to Ukraine or discuss the matter with foreign partners following a statement by the White House that U.S. President Donald Trump expects Russia to return the territory. A spokeswoman called Crimea "territory belonging to the Russian Federation," and said Russia cannot give back its own territory.
Bucking Trump's anti-trade trend, EU clears deal with Canada
15 February 2017 – Associated Press
The European Union and Canada on Wednesday cast their newly-approved trade deal as a much-needed beacon for cooperation, with the EU criticizing President Donald Trump's protectionist bent as a threat to the continent's prosperity. After about seven years of negotiations, the EU parliament approved a deal with Canada that will eliminate most tariffs for business between the EU's economy of half a billion people and Canada's 35 million.
Spanish court blocks Catalan independence referendum
15 February 2017 - The Local Spain
Spain’s Constitutional Court has ruled against Catalonia’s bid to hold an independence referendum later this year. The Catalan parliament adopted a resolution last fall to hold an independence referendum in September 2017, but further review from the court ruled that such a referendum is unconstitutional. Former Catalan President Artur Mas tried to hold a similar referendum in 2014 only for it to face a similar fate in the court; however, he held a symbolic referendum nonetheless, and the region voted by an 80% majority to secede. Mas and two of his associates were charged with “serious civil disobedience and misconduct,” and stood trial for the first time last week.
Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence
14 February 2017 – The New York Times
Members of U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and other associates were reportedly in repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials before the election, according to current and former American officials. The officials said they have not seen evidence suggesting collusion with Russia on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year, but that intercepted communications suggest wider contact between Trump associates and the Russian government.
Russia deploys missile, violating treaty and challenging Trump
14 February 2017 - New York Times
As the Trump Administration continues filling appointments for top State Department positions, Russia launched a new cruise missile violating a Reagan era treaty banning both countries from deploying intermediate-range missiles on land. Officials from the Trump Administration claim Russia now has two battalions of the missile in question, dubbed “SSC-X-8,” and representatives from the Pentagon suggested the U.S. might respond by supplying additional missile defenses to Europe and/or developing air or sea based cruise missiles.
EU proposes voting changes to stem growing euroskepticism
14 February 2017 – U.S. News & World Report
The European Commission proposed voting reform aimed at curtailing the rise of growing euroskepticism by promoting simple majority decisions. The reforms are being considered specifically due to controversial bills on GMOs, which the Commission unilaterally passed after several members abstained from the vote. It is hoped the voting reforms will not only make abstentions irrelevant, but force member states to take accountability so the EU is not blamed for passing unpopular legislation.
Trump expects Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine: White House
14 February 2017 – Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump expects Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine in order to de-escalate violence in the country, according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer. Spicer stated that Trump has made the expectation "very clear" but added that "he fully expects to and wants to get along with Russia."
Visions of unity clash in “future of EU” debate
14 February 2017 – Euractiv
Today, European MEPs clashed on the vision for the future of the EU, with one group wishing to maintain unity, while the other wants a two-speed or multi-speed European project. The former is proposed by Italy’s Mercedes Bresso of the S&D party and Germany’s Elmar Brok of the EPP party, and the latter is touted by Guy Verhofstadt of the ALDE party. However, the two proposals can be complementary and are part of a deal that clarifies the European Parliament’s position on the future of the EU.
Germany wants Greece in Eurozone, IMF says no special deals
14 February 2017 – Reuters
On Monday, Germany voiced support for Greece to stay in the Eurozone and the European Commission dispatched a senior official to Athens to persuade it to take on further reforms to salvage its bailout accord. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, meanwhile, remained firm that as a lender the IMF could not cut any special deals for the crisis-hit country, which has received three bailouts since 2010.
EU and trade partners readying WTO challenge to U.S. border tax
14 February 2017 – Irish Times
Lawyers for the European Union and other trading partners have started laying the groundwork for a legal challenge to a United States border tax proposal that could trigger the biggest case in WTO history. The preliminary moves come as Republicans in Congress work to convince President Donald Trump to back a shake-up of the U.S. corporate tax regime that would include a “border adjustment” system. It would see U.S. imports subject to tax and export revenues exempted.