Events: February - April 2010

The following list provides summaries of some events we have attended from February - April 2010. They cover topics related to the Streit Council and the work we do – everything from the EU’s foreign policy, to testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and ending with the ailing euro. These summaries are prepared for our Facebook webpage, which is updated regularly, but are provided here for easier access to those of you not visiting Facebook on a regular basis.

The events are:

s Perspective on Climate Change – 13 April 2010
Identity, Solidarity and Islam in Europe – 13 April 2010
The Foreign Policy of the European Union – 11 April 2010
Turkey’s Aspirations and its Cyprus Dilemma
– 2 April 2010
The Court and Foreign Law
– 1 April 2010
The United States and Europe in the Age of Obama
– 31 March 2010
Albanian FM IIir Meta
– 22 March 2010
Transatlantic Security in the 21
st Century: Do New Threats Require New Approaches? – 18 March 2009
Europe and Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions
– 12 March 2010
“Restoring America’s Reputation in the World”: House Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs
– 8 March 2010

Serbia, the United States, and the Riddle of Europe
- February 26, 2010

Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero on the EU and the Transatlantic Relationship
– February 4, 2010

NATO Military Committee Chairman at Heritage
- February 23, 2010

The Euro Under Attack - February 19, 2010
Kosovo Two Years After Independence: Political, Security and Economic Development – February 4, 2010

EPA’s Perspective on Climate Change
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
13 April 2010

Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA, opened her presentation by addressing the main sectors of the US economy that emit the most greenhouse gases (GHG). Electricity generation emits the largest of any industry, 35% of all GHGs. Next is transportation at 28%, which includes ‘light duty vehicles’ as well as all other forms of transportation (truck, train, marine, airplane, etc). Third is industry at 19%, and the rest is a combination of agriculture, commercial, and residential.

McCarthy definitively stated that climate legislation was in the processes of being created and that the EPA was fielding questions from both Senators Kerry and Lieberman. She stated that any steps forward toward energy efficiency or regulation would underpin the legislation in the works.

One of the most important recent steps forward is the declaration made on December 7th, 2009 stating that GHG’s present a threat to public health and welfare. She went on to argue that though detractors state this was only released to push an agenda before the December COP15 summit, the original initiative to investigate whether or not GHGs are a health risk started as far back as 1999. The declaration of endangerment due to GHGs is extremely important because then all GHG emissions are regarded as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.  The EPA is then required by law to regulate and enforce reduction. Obviously this is a hotly contested subject, but McCarthy guarantees that the EPA has investigated all aspects through independent research and nothing significant has yet to be shown to undermine the endangerment findings.

The EPA has currently been charged by Congress to investigate the usefulness of alternative fuels as well as the indirect environmental consequences of these fuels (such as land-use impact in countries such as Brazil).

Turning toward international climate issues, McCarthy only briefly touched upon Copenhagen to say that the EPA was very relieved to come out of the conference with the Copenhagen Accord. Also she was proud that when President Obama arrived he was instrumental in drafting the very language of the legislation.

Identity, Solidarity and Islam in Europe

School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
13 April 2010

Erik Jones, professor of European Studies at the SAIS Bologna Center, visited the Washington campus to discuss the issues facing Europe as it faces continuing tensions over the future admission of Turkey and tensions with Muslim immigrant communities throughout the continent. He cited many of his experiences on a recent trip to Turkey with his students, where they had met with a number of political, religious, and civil society figures. He asserted that the debate on Islam in Europe was too focused on identity, and should instead focus on solidarity.

The conventional wisdom in Europe was that Islam and immigration posed some sort of existential threat to Europe, but Jones found it unconvincing. Europe had a long history of forging ways for groups with fundamentally different identities to coexist in the same geographic space. He pointed to examples of communitarian power-sharing in Belgium and the Netherlands, and the Kemalist system in Turkey, which allowed different religious groups to function as long as they didn't proselytize. These formulas, however--elite accommodation in the Belgian case and strict assimilation in the Turkish one, wouldn't work for forging solidarity with Muslim communities in Europe. Their presence did present a real problem, but it was not an essential problem; the Muslim immigrants way of life was not fundamentally incompatible with Europe. Some modicum of trust had to be established, searching for some common values.

The Fo
reign Policy of the European Union
The Brookings Institution
11 April 2010

The Brookings Institution hosted a panel with co-authors of the new book The Foreign Policy of the European Union--Assessing Europe's Role in the World. Federiga Bindi, Brooking Senior Fellow, who edited the book, moderated the panel. Joining her were Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister of Italy and Vice President of the European Constitutional Convention, Daniel Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins SAIS, Andrew Moravcsik, Director of the European Union Program at Princeton University, and Pierre Vimont, French Ambassador to the United States. 

Amato remarked on the difficulties Europe had in figuring out what role it wanted to play on the world stage, and what the European Union ought to be. Europeans tended to be more unsatisfied than their accomplishments might warrant, and observed that he often heard more positive things about the EU when he came to the US than he did at home. One power that the European Union definitely has is the transformative power of attraction. The democracy and prosperity enjoyed by member countries had encouraged others in its neighborhood, like the former communist bloc, to develop their own democracies in the hope of joining, as many have done. But could that regional power translate into making the EU a major global actor? In order to do so effectively, Amato said, Europe needed to maintain strong transatlantic ties with the United States. 

Dan Hamilton set out his view that the European Union does not have a traditional foreign policy, and is not likely to have one anytime soon. In areas of "non-traditional foreign policy," it did have an impact, even more so after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Many of the changes dealt with justice and home affairs, which, although domestic in nature, would have impacts for foreign relations in terrorism-related cases and the like. Also significant is the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which guaranteed a number of positive social rights to EU citizens, and would create legal precedents that are likely to slip over borders. While an increased EU foreign policy capability is not likely to be seen in Washington, in third countries, especially in Europe's neighborhood, there could soon be EU ambassadors with more resources than their counterparts from the individual member states. 

Moravcsik presented himself as the most optimistic of the group, asserting that Europe is, after the US, the second superpower of the 21st century and isn't going to lose that status. Despite all the talk of rising India and China, Europe dwarfs all of Asia in military spending and deployment capability. In civilian power, such as humanitarian and development work, Europe is even more dominant than the U.S. And per capita income--which Moravcsik said is more important than aggregate income for projecting power--Europe is far ahead of potential challengers. Projecting power did not require Europe to always be unified, he said. Informal coalitions of like-minded countries could be effective without the federal structure that many used to think the EU would move toward. In the last generation, the centralized federal institutions, like the European Commission, had been curtailed, and more power absorbed by the European Council and the Council of Ministers, which are run by the national governments. This, in Moravcsik's words, is "coordination, not centralization," and it works well. Those who think the European project is losing ground need to adjust to this new narrative. 

Ambassador Vimont counted himself as cautiously optimistic. Having expanded to 27 members, the EU had difficulty in day-to-day management, trying to get everyone to agree. Debates that leaders had left aside in the past when they couldn't agree are coming back to bite them now; the weight on the euro from the Greek financial crisis was a good example. But he remained optimistic, he said, because most Europeans understood that they had to seize the opportunity to stay relevant in the world now. For more information, including audio and transcript of the event, click here.

Turkey’s Aspirations and its Cyprus Dilemma
The Brookings Institution
2 April 2010

Hugh Pope, Director of the Turkey/Cyprus Project at the International Crisis Group, addressed the Brookings Institution on "Turkey's European Aspirations and its Cyprus Dilemma." Pope has reported on the Middle East for three decades and has met with Turkish, Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leaders on numerous occasions. He described how Turkey and the EU (in its previous forms) had been talking tentatively about Turkish membership for decades, and had only really gotten serious in the last few years. This had provoked a reaction among Europeans who were scared of the prospect for some reason, and politicians like Nicolas Sarkozy had capitalized on it to win votes. For many Turkish politicians, the membership process was a goal in itself, and they didn't think too much about membership finally arriving. The rhetoric from hostile European politicians has angered the Turks, who sometimes aim rhetorical barbs back. This leads to talk of Turkey turning away from the West, gravitating toward the Middle East, and so forth, but Pope said that this was nonsense. Turkey was still very much a part of Europe. 

On the Cyprus issue, Turkey had been working for a settlement and reunification of the island since 2003, a complete reversal of their previous position. Since 2004, when the Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of a plan that the Greek Cypriots rejected, the European Union had attempted to make some overtures to the Turkish Cypriots, including opening direct trade. But since Greek Cyprus had been admitted to the EU at the same time, they blocked the move, along with much of the negotiations on Turkish membership. Eventually a substantial EU aid package was delivered to the Turkish Cypriots and some were granted EU passports. After a new Greek Cypriot president was elected in 2008, negotiations on reunification began again, with both sides apparently acting in good faith. But a resolution had not been reached, and now political developments in the north threaten to derail the process again. 

Pope argued that none of the major players could afford to let a solution elude them again, and that Turkish leaders, in particular, needed to get more involved. He described a meeting he had witnessed between the Turkish prime minister and a group of Greek Cypriots which had demonstrated that mutual mistrust could be overcome. The Greek Cypriots knew that a deal was in their interests, but they had little direct communication with Turkey, and still worried that Ankara might not follow through. But more frequent contacts between them could help build the necessary confidence. For more information, including audio and transcript of the event, click here.

The Court and Foreign Law
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
1 April 2010

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer spoke at SAIS about "The Court and Foreign Law," a subject of controversy in recent years when several decisions made reference to laws and rulings from Europe or in international law. A number of politicians and conservative legal minds complained, saying that the court's job was to interpret the US Constitution, and it had no business using foreign law to make decisions. Breyer asserted that reading decisions and other material from other countries, written by judges and professionals like him in similar situations, didn't present any problem or require any apology. Of course foreign law didn't bind the court, but why shouldn't he read the opinions if he still might learn something? And why not acknowledge the fact that he read it? 

Breyer said there were three kinds of questions involved in cases where foreign law might be mentioned in the Supreme Court's opinions. There were purely technical questions (which he didn't really cover). There were exciting questions that caused political argument, but were not really that important. The third kind of question, which Breyer focused on, were boring ones that didn't generate heated debate, but were much more important. There had been a great increase in recent years of cases reaching the Supreme Court where knowledge of foreign law, treaty law, and international law was absolutely necessary to decide the case. He recalled one where an Ecuadorian company was trying to sue a Dutch company using American anti-trust law, and the court had to decide whether they had the standing to do so. Others involved provisions of treaties, and how US courts should interpret them in relation to domestic law. The justices had to examine how other countries dealt with these kinds of cases. Even the most convinced "American exceptionalists" and "originalists" would acknowledge the necessity. But they weren't the kind of cases that the public usually hears about in the press. 

Foreign law was ultimately not the kind of thing that would be decisive for the justices, but it was something that they could use to help organize their thinking and from which they could learn about things that they sometimes really needed to know. Ultimately, it was similar to what judges, administrators, and other professionals did for policy makers; to inform, advise, and help. To view a video of the event, click here.

The United States and Europe in the Age of Obama
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
31 March 2010

Klaus Larres, Professor of History and International Affairs at the University of Ulster, and Professorial Lecturer in SAIS's European Studies Program, spoke on "The United States and Europe in the Age of Obama." He addressed the perception, widely discussed recently in Europe and among American conservatives, that President Obama is not committed the transatlantic alliance. European-American relations, in Larres's words, were "not the flavor of the month" in Washington. 

Larres asserted that the United States and Europe still had stronger shared values and interests than any other international partnership. The Obama administration had taken many positive steps for the transatlantic alliance, helping to move past the rifts it had experienced under George W. Bush. Obama had repudiated the aggressive unilateral policy of the Bush administration and embraced a cooperative, multilateral strategy, of which cooperation with Europe was a critical part. Obama shares many of Europe's views on international affairs, such as the importance of "soft power," and not seeing it as a zero-sum game. 

There had been some problems, though. Popular admiration and support of Obama is strong in Western Europe, but not so much in Eastern and Central Europe, where governments were angered by his decision to scrap plans for missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. The administration also seemed to be puzzled by the complex and evolving leadership structure of the European Union, and not really sure who is in charge. The president's decision not to attend a US-EU summit in Madrid in May caused consternation, especially from Spain. There had been missteps by European countries as well; even while they welcomed many of Obama's initiatives, their material responses had been weak. While they urge the closure of Guantanamo Bay, they have not been willing to accept any of the prisoners. Their economic stimulus efforts were less than Obama would have wanted, and they were deeply reluctant to send more troops to Afghanistan. 

Despite the difficulties, Larres believed that US-EU relations were on a constructive path. The Obama administration had renewed American support for European integration, which had lapsed since the 1970s. Fear of NATO being undermined by the European Union's Security and Defense Policy had gone from American governmental circles. It had happened often before that when the US was in dire straits, it asked Europe to do more, but when the US felt stronger, it tended toward unilateralism. Larres expressed hope that if the US emerged from the recession and the war in Afghanistan with renewed strength under Obama, this could be avoided.

Albanian FM IIir Meta at SAIS
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
22 March 2010

Albanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ilir Meta spoke at SAIS Thursday on "Albania in the Balkans and the World." Meta is serving as Foreign Minister for the second time, he also served as Prime Minister from 1999 to 2002. Albania achieved full membership in NATO last April, and is applying for EU candidate status. The first step in this process, a Stabilization and Association Agreement, will go into effect this April 1. 

Meta began by affirming Albania's support for Kosovo's independence, which he said was the right decision for long-term peace in the region. He pointed to hopeful signs from recent local elections in Kosovo in which participation by ethnic Serbs had increased. Meta's government had met with a delegation from the Serb community in Kosovo to encourage their participation in the country's political process. At the same time, Albania has been working to improve ties with Serbia. Meta recently visited Belgrade and met with Serbian leaders, including President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. The visit was considered a success. He made the first visit of an Albanian leader to the Preševo Valley, an ethnic Albanian-inhabited area in southern Serbia, just east of Kosovo. Meta became emotional in recalling his cooperation with the former Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated in 2003. This relationship, Meta said, had changed his whole perception of Serbs. 

Like all of the previous leaders who have visited SAIS in recent months, Meta endorsed the integration of all the Balkan countries into the EU and NATO. He also called for building economic interdependence between these countries, through measures such as visa liberalization.

Transatlantic Security in the 21st Century: Do New Threats Require New Approaches?
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
18 March 2009

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs heard testimony from four experts on the direction of the transatlantic security apparatus, adapting to new threats, and dealing with the reemergence of Russian power. The witnesses were Thomas Graham, Senior Director of Kissinger Associates and former Senior Director for Russia at the National Security Council, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former German Ambassador to the United States, Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, and Sally McNamara, Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. 

Graham began by asserting that the world two decades after the end of the Cold War was in constant flux, but that global dynamism was shifting away from the Euro-Atlantic region and toward the Asia-Pacific region. Domination of Europe, and the risk of it being dominated by one power, was no longer the big geopolitical battle. To deal effectively with present challenges, Graham believed it was necessary to have a united Europe, similar to the hope that had first been expressed at the end of the Cold War for a "Europe whole and free." However, it was now clear that Russia would be an independent actor, and no longer sought integration with the West and Europe, as it may have in the past. Graham argued that an entirely new security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area was not necessary, but the present one needed to evolve. He advocated moving toward a three pillar structure of the US, EU, and Russia. Regular US-Russia, EU-Russia, and US-EU discussions should be held, and the NATO-Russia Council should be used as the forum for dealing with "out-of-area" security issues. In the long term, NATO should become a pan-European security organization, including Russia along with the US and Europe. 

Ambassador Ischinger asserted that if the US and EU "get Russia right," most of the other challenges could be dealt with much easier. Russia recently made a proposal for a new European security treaty, appealing to the principle of indivisible security on the continent. While none of the witnesses advocated taking Russia up on this offer, Ischinger pointed out that it demonstrated that Russia saw itself as part of Europe. The new Strategic Concept currently being drafted by NATO offered the opportunity for a new grand bargain with Russia. Russia could even be considered as a future member of NATO, if it was willing to meet the criteria for joining. 

Dmitri Trenin, who served in the Russian military in the 1970s and 80s, held that the fundamental problem for European security was that Russia and some of the former Soviet republics found themselves outside the security framework. Relations between Russia and the Western countries suffered from a lack of trust. The roots of the “trust issue” between Russia and the west are largely psychological. There is no longer and ideological divide across Europe. There is an obsession in Russia with America’s intentions towards it--and an obsession in turn, particularly in central and eastern Europe, with Russian intentions. Trenin believed fears on both sides were "baseless, but not harmless." The US needed to take the lead on resolving this mistrust. The issue of missile defense, one of the most contentious, also could be a vehicle for resolution, if the US could take a truly cooperative approach with Russia, instead of moving ahead on unilateral plans. 

Playing devil's advocate for the day was Sally McNamara, who dismissed prospects for cooperation with Russia, and pushed for revitalizing NATO as the cornerstone of transatlantic security. NATO is relevant today as much as ever, it has focused in new threats and challenges. It’s a defense alliance and most importantly an alliance of values. NATO is not perfect, but reforming and revitalizing NATO is the answer to the new threats. On economic issues the EU has a role to play, but not on defense issues; defense spending by EU member states has continued to decrease. NATO must remain the cornerstone of the EU security. As long as Russia identifies NATO and the US as the major threat to its interests, there is no reason to believe a new approach will create positive relationship. Central and Eastern Europe have concerns that its security concerns are taken into concern as much as Western Europe. Article 5 needs to be reinforced. 

McNamara's viewpoint coincided perfectly with the committee's ranking Republican, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who also voiced great displeasure with France's recent agreement to sell Mistral warships to Russia. Rather unexpectedly, however, they were adamantly opposed by fellow Republican Dana Rohrabacher, who recounted his lifelong advocacy against communism, and took offense at the Cold War mentality that equated the Putin regime with the Soviet one. The US needed Russia on its side in the fight against Islamist terrorism, which was as much a threat to them as to us. From somewhat different angles, most of the committee members present agreed with Graham, Ischinger, and Trenin on the need for friendly outreach to Russia. For more information, including a transcript and video of the hearing, click here.

Europe and Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions
Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
12 March 2010

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a talk on Tuesday on Europe and Iran's Nuclear Ambitions, discussing the role European countries have played, and would continue to play, in the ongoing efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Three speakers participated: Bernard Hourcade, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and an expert on Iranian politics, Shahram Chubin, Public Policy Scholar at the Wilson Center, and Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador to the United States. 

Hourcade began by pointing to a "race between democracy and the bomb" taking place in Iran. In the presidential elections and their aftermath, the people of Iran have showed they have democratic values at their core. The linkage between the nuclear issue and politics in Iran appears different at present since there is an active opposition. In regards to the international community and its policies towards the nuclear threat, it is clear that international sanctions and attempts to promote "regime change" have failed. 

The new US policy of engagement towards Iran has been positive; it has weakened the Islamic regime. President Obama's outreach caused division within the regime over how to respond, and it undermined one of the regime's crucial pillars: the image of the United States as archenemy. The people of Iran have accepted the new policy of respect the Obama administration has pursued and it has also invigorated the democratic forces within Iran. There has been a shift from Islamism towards democratic nationalism in the Iranian society. The political opposition is not yet organized enough to depose the government, but there is a general social opposition that is headed towards “globalization”. “One year of non-intervention, has been more profitable than 30 years of embargo” Hourcade stressed. But he warned the advancements are in their infant stages and could be easily destroyed if the US policy of engagement is dropped.  

Furthermore Hourcade insisted that Iranian society has knowledge of globalization but has not experienced it. He insisted on the idea that the embargo had isolated Iranian society from “western influence” had a negative impact in the development of democratic values within Iranians. Hourcade argued that the strongest sanction would be the “removal of all sanctions”, hence giving the people of Iran the possibility to “mix” with western companies and visitors. It would be impossible for the regime to contain the influences and know-how that such an influx would bring. 

Chubin highlighted the organic relationship between the Europe and the Middle East as a factor that played a role in the development of European policy towards the region. The Middle East is contiguous with Europe, and Europe has a large Muslim population. Therefore, Chubin said, Middle Eastern issues are effectively domestic political issues for Europe. Chubin stressed that Iranian hardliners strategy towards Europe has so far been to play on the differences between Europe and the US. The US and its European partners were often not all on the same page. The Europeans tended to be more skeptical about whether economic sanctions could be effective, and whether they could be enforced. But if the US and Europe could agree on a sanctions-based approach, (and get the agreement of the UN Security Council) Europe could help increase the impact and legitimacy of those sanctions. Chubin stressed that the Iranian issue is not a bilateral issue between Washington and Tehran, it’s matter of importance to the international community and it should be dealt with as such. 

Ambassador Sharioth described Germany's involvement in negotiations with Iran since the beginning of the dispute in 2003. During the first two years, these talks had met with some success. The European countries had been able to engage Iran in discussion over the suspension of enrichment, reprocessing, and allowing IAEA inspectors into the country in exchange for technology and development. However, that is no longer the case, and Iran has restarted its enrichment program. The issue is the underlying Iranian desire to pursue “things beyond civil nuclear power and enrichment” Scharioth stated. He stressed the engagement of European countries with Iran was ignited by fear of an arms race in the middle east as a byproduct of a nuclear Iran and also by the “Iranian democratic potential”. The new US administration has followed the policy of direct engagement, but without the direct support and involvement of China and Russia no real impact can or will be made. Though the current sanctions are not successful, Scharioth advocated for target sanctions, specifically on the nuclear arms program and the Revolutionary Guard. Any sanctions that hurt these two sectors are society will benefit the democratic movement within the country. Also it is important to not isolate or alienate the middle class, for that is where much of the reform movement is located. 

Germany is a very important country in terms of negotiation with Iran because of its unique position as both a non-nuclear country and a non-permanent member of the Security Council, and yet is still a powerful country in its own right. Scharioth also made clear that he believes no change can occur from outside influences. Only a movement within will be credible enough to succeed.

“Restoring America’s Reputation in the World”
House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight
8 March 2010

The Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, part of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, held a briefing yesterday on the United States' reputation around the world and how it affects American policy, security, and economy. Three experts testified: Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center, Dr. Joseph Nye, Professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Dr. Michael Waller of the Center for Security Policy. 

The subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), referred back to hearings in 2007 and since, when evidence was presented showing the US image abroad at historic lows. In 2009, however, after the election of President Obama, there had been dramatic improvement. He asked the witnesses to explore how this could produce economic and security benefits for the US, and how improving public opinion figured into "smart power." Kohut, who has been involved in surveys taken around the world for the last decade, confirmed that there had been huge increases in positive feelings toward the US in 2009, especially in Western Europe. Much of this improvement was tied to Obama personally and the great expectations that he came to office with. It was not all good news; strong negative views of the US persisted in the Muslim world, and many still believed the US had a negative influence in their country (a belief fueled by the recession). However, Kohut reiterated several times that the increases were far beyond what he had expected. One way to promote US positive views abroad is to look intensely in different areas; one that particularly stands out is the way America does business. The US business model is admired all over the world and could be a diplomatic tool to showcase American values. 

Joseph Nye discussed the concept of smart power. “Soft and hard power combined creates smart power and this in my opinion is the policy the US diplomatic and foreign service should follow,” he said . Public opinion mattered to US power, as it can create an enabling or disabling environment when pursuing its policies on the world stage. Strong, persistent views of the United States, if positive, can increase our ability to cooperate with political leaders around the world, win support for our policies, and implement them multilaterally. Strong negative views, however, make this less likely. Other countries' leaders won't cooperate with the US if they face serious domestic political opposition for doing so. The effect of positive public opinion was generally modest, Nye cautioned, and wouldn't predict the outcome of any effort, but the US was still much better off with it. 

Nye also noted that attitudes toward the US had a correlation with the incidence of terrorism. When deeply negative views of the US persisted, terrorists found it easier to recruit. "It's not just whose army wins, it's whose story wins," Nye said. The invasion of Iraq and stories of abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo lent credence to the story promoted by America's enemies. “It’s their story that wins public support in the civil war within the Muslim civilization.” 

Michael Waller discussed the importance of strategic communication, and said that the US needed a much better campaign of public diplomacy to appeal to hearts and minds around the world. He likened what was needed to the "permanent campaign" nature of American politics, and asked rhetorically whether any politician would want their campaign run the way US public diplomacy currently was. Waller and Nye both regretted the 1999 abolition of the US Information Agency, which had carried out just such a mission. The current office of the Undersecretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy was not adequate , Waller said, as it was a bottleneck for too many big tasks. Nye emphasized that civilian capabilities were not adequately funded or empowered as compared to the military; the US government, he said, had "one giant and a lot of pygmies." 

The experts all welcomed the recent rebounding of the US image in the world, and felt that the Obama administration understood the importance of soft and smart power well. If better measures were implemented, improved public opinion could be leveraged well to America's advantage. For more information, including video of the hearing, click here.

Serbia, the United States, and the Riddle of Europe
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
26 February 2010

Vuk Jeremic, foreign minister of Serbia, spoke at SAIS today on "Serbia, the United States, and the Riddle of Europe," discussing Serbia's hopes to be part of the stable, democratic space on the European continent, and the outstanding issues that still present obstacles to this goal. Jeremic is a close associate of Serbian President Boris Tadic, and serves as a foreign policy advisor to him before becoming foreign minister. 

Jeremic began by stating his belief that Europe was one of the only strong and stable regions of the world, and that to maintain it as a zone of peace and stability, it had to be whole. This required not only bringing countries like his own into the European Union, but also involving the EU's eastern neighbors; forging a pragmatic, friendly relationship with Russia and embracing Turkey. He emphasized the importance of Turkey, because of its potential as an energy transit route and a "capacity multiplier" for European influence in the Middle East. It was interesting for him to be taking such a stand on Turkey's ambition to join the EU; he later responded to a question that this was his personal opinion, and the Serbian government had no official position. 

Since the end of the Milosevic regime, Serbia had consolidated its democracy and ended its isolation from the international community. A Stabilization and Association Agreement had recently been concluded with the EU, a first step toward membership. Serbia's relationship with the United States had also improved, and Jeremic was optimistic it would continue to do so. He then moved on to discuss the disagreements between Serbia and the US and EU, on issues relating to Bosnia and Kosovo. Preserving peace and democracy in the Balkans could not be achieved by "outside" actors "imposing predetermined outcomes." A "rigid agenda" for Kosovo's independence and a more centralized government in Bosnia would be illegitimate. Serbia had an absolute commitment to a "one Bosnia policy," and would never support the breakup of the country, just as it opposed threats to the territorial integrity of any UN member state. But it was clear enough that he was firmly against Bosnia moving to a more centralized political setup, dismantling the autonomy of the two current 'entities,' the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republica Sprska. It would appear from these statements that Serbia prefers the status quo, and is resistant to pressure from the West for Bosnia to come up with a different arrangement. 
Earlier this month, Kosovo's foreign minister had told an audience in the same room that the independence of Kosovo was settled, and could not be discussed any further. Jeremic said that the status of Kosovo was still an open issue. Because the unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 had not been endorsed by the UN Security Council, or recognized by a majority of UN member states, it was not sustainable. Jeremic called for a return to dialogue to find a solution that all sides could accept. An opportunity for such dialogue would be created, he said, once the International Court of Justice ruled on Serbia's challenge to Kosovo's declaration. Serbia was firmly committed to resolving the issue peacefully, but the world could not expect that it would acquiesce eventually.

NATO Military Committee Chairman at Heritage

The Heritage Foundation
23 February 2010

Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of NATO's Military Committee, spoke at The Heritage Foundation Monday about NATO's ongoing involvement in Afghanistan and its evolving role in the 21st century security environment. He noted that it was often said that the world was more dangerous now than it had been in prior years, perhaps even during the Cold War. While not necessarily agreeing, he said that current threats were perceived to be more dangerous because of their different nature. Instead of a hostile army on the border, the alliance was faced with an enemy that might strike anywhere, unpredictably, and people felt a greater risk of the threat reaching close to home. 

The origin of such threats was not easily pinpointed, Di Paola said, but the war in Afghanistan was crucial to defending against terrorism. In order to prevent the country from reverting to a hub for terrorist activity, the Afghans had to be empowered to maintain their own security. The international community had made progress in recent months, he asserted. For the first time in the war all the allies had a clear commitment, a clear strategy, were devoting resources to the mission and working with other countries in the region to establish stability. As a result of this, the tide is turning in the allies' favor in Afghanistan. Di Paola cautioned however, that the mission would require "strategic patience" and that there were "no dates" for completing the transition to Afghan security forces. 

Di Paola also touched on the process of drafting a new Strategic Concept for NATO, replacing one from 1999. The concept needed to be updated to reflect the new threats of terrorism, piracy, nuclear proliferation, and other key changes in the global security environment. A group of experts led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is advising NATO's Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who will present the final document. Di Paola stressed that the experts were taking part in an open and inclusive process, and that the product should be clear and understandable to average citizens of NATO countries and their partners elsewhere. "The milkman in Iowa, the plumber in Poland, the pizza maker in Italy...and even the kebab maker in Egypt" should be able to understand the new concept, he said. Otherwise, NATO could not rely on public support for its role. For more information, including video of the event, click here.

The Euro Under Attack
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
19 February 2010

As is well known, the euro is struggling with the poor European economic trends of late. Greece is currently the “poster child” for the euro’s downfall; yet, this problem is visibly apparent outside of Greece’s rocky borders – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain and others are also suffering. Therefore, while Greece is receiving the majority of the attention, the inherent problems in how the EU has set up its economic integration are now in the spotlight and too visible to ignore. What, then, is to be the future of the euro and, ultimately, the EU as a whole?

To discuss this issue were two panelists: Angel Ubide, an expert on European affairs, finance and central banking; and Desmond Lachman, a fellow at AEI who has had experience working at the IMF. The event was moderated by Uri Dadush, a senior associate and director in Carnegie’s International Economics Program. In the interest of brevity, the panelists’ view will be summarized briefly and the main highlights will be emphasized.  Ubide is confident in the future of the euro. For one, he says, the talk of countries leaving the eurozone is ridiculous – there are too many laws in place to impede this from happening quickly (would take approximately 2-3 years for the process to be completed). In fact, he equated such an event like California or Michigan leaving the United States; essentially, something not within the realm of possibility. What has happened, then, is that the eurozone has grown too quickly, and what we are witnessing is a period of “forced adjustment” by the nature of European economics. He has also recognized that there is an outcry about the problem’s spill over into other economies, most notably Spain. Ubide, however, believes these apocalyptic outcries are unfounded. For example, Ubide pointed out that Spain’s market share of exports has increased and that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is only 60% - a figure that some countries would kill for. Ultimately, while he is sure this economic episode will cause half of the G20 to suffer for the next few years, the policymakers of the EU will work together to fix this problem. The euro, he claims, is a “near optimum” currency; now, Europe’s economics leaders must impose a more stringent fiscal policy on the euro and the majority of the problems witnessed during this spell will be quickly forgotten.

Lachman, however, has a more pessimistic view of what this EU economic episode means for the future. At the core of his concern is that European countries do not have a currency of their own; instead, they are asked to fix their problems within a fixed exchange rate economy. Essentially, then, the euro was a political ploy, not an economic masterstroke. Also, with the reservations that Germany – Europe’s economic leader - is showing in helping Greece and other countries out, Lachman believes that the era of European cooperation is starting to witness its demise. Ultimately, the EU’s hubris to not accept a bailout by the IMF – which would allow for Europe to solve their financial woes on the dime of other countries – will be the future undoing of the “euro experiment.” The spillover of the crisis into other countries shows that this problem is not isolated in Greece, but that it is an EU-wide concern. Finally, since the euro is in a trap of a fixed exchange rate, it will continue to “ricochet” while the world market regulates. Thus, the world is in charge of the EU, not the other way around. In conclusion, the EU should not accept more countries and solve the inherent problems now before it makes the mistake of thinking it can get bigger. 

Ubide, being a recognized scholar in this field, has indicated excellent points to help the EU climb out of its hole: 1) ensure that policymakers have the will to make the changes needed to the economic structures that have led to such a crisis; 2) greater “coordination” is needed between each eruozone’s countries’ finance ministers to ensure the financial security of the EU as a whole. Ubide is also adamant that, at the end of the day, “the euro system works.” For us, then, we must try to prove why the euro system works so that this crisis is not blown out of proportion. There are current structural problems that have exposed the weaknesses of the system, but they need to be seen as only that – weaknesses, not fatal flaws. With the political will to solve these issues, the euro system will be back to functioning properly shortly. For more information, including video of the event, click here.

Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero on the European Union
Atlantic Council
4 February 2010

"Leadership sometimes means choosing the hard way," said Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero yesterday. He referred to the economic situation in Spain as well as in Europe and the conflict in Afghanistan, in his address to the Atlantic Council, which ended his 24-hour visit to Washington. "This is not an easy time,” he admitted, "there are many challenges mainly economic, but I know we will regain the strength by which Spain is recognized and respected in the world." Zapatero dismissed criticism of the Spanish and European economy. In particular, he believes that the doubts that have been planted on the Spanish Government's ability to cope with the red numbers are "unfounded." He dismissed criticism of the European economic situation by ensuring that 'some interpretations are speculative and in search of short-term profit and have no foundation', but he had to admit that they still have "influence on the markets." The president also has thrown a cloak to Greece, which currently is in the eye of the hurricane. He says that Spain supports Greece and the 27 EU members also support it. "We will fulfill our responsibilities and wager to better coordinate our economic policies," he stated.

Speaking on transatlantic relations, Zapatero has indicated that the agenda of the EU-US summit "has to build richer content." A tacit recognition of the reasons why Obama canceled his attendance at the event, scheduled for next May in Spain. Zapatero stressed that 'Obama has all doors open in Europe, and maintains the confidence intact.” He pointed out that he believes the U.S. will maintain leadership in global security and that Europe and Washington will be co-dependent on this issue. As acting president of the EU, Zapatero estimates that the EU "must take more responsibility for security." All a nod to bank information exchange to combat terrorism or Obama's request for more troops for Afghanistan. When national security adviser, General James Jones praised the Spanish decision to send 500 troops to Afghanistan at the request of Obama, Zapatero reminded listeners that 90 Spanish soldiers had lost their lives in that mission, stressing, "Spain is determined to stay there, although it is not easy to explain to public opinion." The Spanish public was not keen on the idea. Mr. Zapatero said the military mission to Afghanistan is to combat terrorism, but stressed that terrorists must also be defeated in the realm of ideas. He was confident that America would soon join its initiative of the Alliance of Civilizations, which he defended as a way to limit the spread of radicalism.

The greatest surprise, however, was his proposal that the transatlantic dialogue include South America and West Africa, where there are "some of the risks to the security concern." He said this, referring to Al Qaeda and other actors trying to create a presence and influence in the aforementioned areas. He added that Spain could bring a new approach in creating bridges of trust between NATO and those regions. Under questioning by an assistant, the idea is not to expand NATO, but to seek ways of collaboration, since "some countries do need to feel more connected to the international community." To read more about this event, please click here.

Kosovo Two Years After Independence: Political, Security and Economic Development

School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
4 February 2010

Kosovo's foreign minister Skender Hyseni spoke at SAIS, shortly before the second anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence. He recounted the process that had preceded the declaration, during which he was a key member of the Kosovo delegation to UN-sponsored status talks with Serbia. Hyseni asserted that Kosovo had always negotiated in good faith, but Serbia had refused to accept Kosovo independence. Kosovo had proposed a Treaty of Cooperation and Friendship--a bold move, Hyseni said, considering what Kosovo had so recently been through--which would have given Belgrade a say in issues relating to the Serbian community in Kosovo, but this was also rejected. Ultimately, Kosovo could not delay independence any longer, as the uncertainty was depriving them of a future.

In the two years since, Kosovo had begun the process of membership in many international and regional organizations (provided Serbia or Russia wasn't blocking them) and had recently completed the process with the IMF and World Bank. A new constitution had been adopted, the economy had grown, and "tangible achievement" had been made in the protection of ethnic minorities in Kosovo. Hyseni pointed to recent municipal elections, which had seen increased turnout among Serbs, several of who had won mayor's offices. Although one audience member, a Pristina-born Roma, pointedly challenged Hyseni about the government's real commitment to protection of minorities, the foreign minister asserted it was unwavering; Kosovo's ethnic Albanians valued their freedom highly, and would not discredit it by denying the same freedom to others.

Hyseni also said that there were "no parallels to be drawn" between Kosovo's situation and other secessionist movements, such as those in the Caucasus or Cyprus. He expressed confidence that the five EU member states, which had not recognized Kosovo, would eventually do so. He said he hoped that all the western Balkan countries, including Serbia, would achieve EU membership, as "Brussels is the common roof of all of us." To listen to audio of this event, please click here and scroll down.