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
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.
UK Government Expects to Lose Brexit Trigger Case, Making Contingency Plans: Report
11 January 2017 - Reuters
Reports are beginning to circulate that the British government is drafting Brexit bills to put before parliament in anticipation of losing their case before the Supreme Court. Justices are expected to deliver their final ruling on whether Prime Minister Theresa May can unilaterally invoke Article 50 without parliamentary consent, which was rejected by the High Court last year. It is believed the government has drafted two potential bills and has asked the Supreme Court for “early sight” of their decision in order to provide for contingency plans in the event May is unable to personally trigger the Brexit process. It is believed government officials are hoping the ruling will enable May to put forth a “short bill or motion, narrowly focussed on Article 50” in order to circumvent the possibility for parliament to amend Britain’s exit from the EU.
Russia waging information war against Sweden, study finds
11 January 2017 – The Guardian
Russia is conducting a disinformation campaign in Sweden to influence public opinion and decision-making, according to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. The think tank said in a study that Sweden has been targeted by measures seeking to hamper "its ability to generate public support" in pursuit of policies in a way that is consistent with Russian strategic objectives.
Trump acknowledges Russian involvement in meddling in U.S. elections
11 January 2017 – The Washington Post
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic Party during the presidential election during a news conference Wednesday, but disputed intelligence claims that Russia acted to help him win. Trump also denounced reports of an unsubstantiated dossier obtained by U.S. officials that alleged Russia gathered potentially compromising information about him, calling it "fake news" and "phony stuff."
French Presidential Candidate Fillon to Propose Immigration Quotas
10 January 2017 – Reuters
France’s Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon, who is expected to prevail over National Front populist Marine Le Pen in elections next spring, is expected to outline his plans to impose immigration quotas and reform France’s asylum policies in an effort to combat terrorism on Wednesday. Fillon will publicize his policy proposals in Nice, the site of last July’s horrific Bastille Day truck massacre which killed 86 people. While the Schengen has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, spokesmen for Fillon’s campaign have reiterated that the candidate does not intend to pull out of the Schengen Agreement, but rather intends to impose quotas on the basis of France’s ability to take in migrants and successfully assimilate them.
Assuring EU Citizens of Right to Stay “Would Lose UK Negotiating Capital”
9 January 2017 - The Guardian
An open letter written by British Home Secretary Amber Rudd stated that while the government recognizes the economic and social contributions EU nationals make in the UK, no special accommodations can be made until London is assured that British nationals living in Europe will receive reciprocal rights. The status of the three million European nationals, as well as British citizens situated throughout the EU, has been referred to as a major bargaining chip ahead of Brexit negotiations.
Boris Johnson says Britain will be First in Line for U.S. Trade Deal after Meeting with Donald Trump’s Team and Paul Ryan
9 January 2017 - Telegraph
Following recent meetings with President-elect Donald Trump and his advisers, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reported that the UK can expect to be in the “front of the line” for negotiating a new trade deal with the United States. President Obama had warned in the run-up to June’s Brexit referendum that the UK would fall to “the back of the queue” if it decided to leave the EU, though following the meetings with Trump, the Foreign Minister claimed “[c]learly, the Trump administration-to-be has a very exciting agenda of change. One thing that won’t change though is the closeness of the relationship between the U.S. and the UK.” Johnson also met with Trump’s son-in-law, chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
Sturgeon Rules Out Scottish Independence Vote in 2017
9 January 2017 - Financial Times
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has backed off of threats to hold a second independence referendum - at least this year - as the UK will remain in the European single market. A majority of the country voted to remain during June’s Brexit referendum, though recent reports suggest that enthusiasm for independence has not increased despite the UK’s decision to divorce the EU. Sturgeon has claimed that she will not push for an independence referendum as long as the UK remains in the single market, but warned that she is “not bluffing” about triggering a referendum in the event the UK pursues a “hard” Brexit which would likely mean forfeiting access to the single market.
Angela Merkel Threatens to Restrict EU Single Market Access unless Theresa May Accepts Free Movement
9 January 2017 - Telegraph
Following recent suggestions made by British Prime Minister Theresa May which implied her government will pursue a hard Brexit emphasizing the restoration of sovereignty over British borders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that unless Europe’s “four freedoms” are met, access to the single market cannot be retained. Merkel, along with various other European leaders, have said that there can be no “cherry picking” when it comes to deciding how European a member wants to be, and that the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people are non-negotiable prerequisites for obtaining access to the single market.
U.S. intelligence study warns of growing conflict risk
9 January 2017 – Reuters
The risk of intrastate and interstate conflict will increase over the next five years amid slowing global growth and rising nationalism, according to a report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council released on Monday. The report states that trends converging "at an unprecedented pace" will make governance and cooperation more difficult, "fundamentally altering the global landscape."
Japan, France deepen defense ties with eye on unmanned systems
9 January 2017 – IHS Jane’s
Japan's foreign ministry announced that Japan will strengthen defense ties with France through an agreement to begin talks on the sharing and co-development of military equipment. The two countries decided to start negotiations on an acquisition and cross servicing commitment for joint operations. Japan is currently part of similar agreements with the U.S. and Australia, and has also started discussions with the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
Theresa May Prepares to Walk “Brexit” Tightrope with Speech
8 January 2017 – The New York Times
British Prime Minister May has promised to follow through with the wishes of the British people as expressed in the Brexit vote last June. For many Brexiters, the main issue was immigration. For Brexit Conservatives, however, the main issue was British freedom and sovereignty from the EU’s rules and regulations. May must take both of these concerns as priorities in the negotiations, which will in turn limit her negotiating options. This is because both would prevent the UK from staying in the single market or the customs union. Thus, a new trade deal with the EU would have to be negotiated and, in the meantime, a transitional agreement as well. Without a transitional agreement, the UK risks a “hard Brexit.”
Sturgeon reiterates hard Brexit threat of Scottish independence vote
8 January 2017 – The Guardian
Nicola Sturgeon reiterated her threat of a second Scottish independence referendum if the UK does not secure a soft Brexit. She stated, “I’m not going to sit back while Scotland is driven off a hard Brexit cliff edge with all the implications for jobs and the type of country we are that that would have.” Sturgeon’s opponents believe that she is exploiting this threat to placate her supporters in addition to obtaining greater powers for Scotland’s parliament.
U.S. military vows more complex training in Europe to deter Russia
8 January 2017 – Reuters
The U.S. military reiterated its commitment to deter Russia and ensure the territorial integrity of its allies by vowing to increase the scope of its European training exercises. The deputy commander of the U.S. European Command stated that the recent deployment of U.S. military equipment represents a "rock-solid commitment to Europe."
Trump Calls for Closer Relationship Between U.S. and Russia
7 January 2017 – The New York Times
U.S. President Elect Donald Trump called for a closer relationship between the U.S. and Russia following the release of a report by US intelligence agencies on Russia's role in the U.S. presidential election. Trump said on Twitter that Russia will respect the U.S. more once he is president, and that "only stupid people or fools" would believe that a good relationship with Russia is a "bad thing."
The “WTO option” for Brexit is far from straightforward
7 January 2017 – The Economist
In the event that the UK cannot reach a trade agreement with the EU, it will have to default to the “WTO option,” which would allow trade only under the World Trade Organization’s rules. WTO membership seems to be a positive option for trade; while economists believe leaving the Single Market will cause many economic losses for the UK, Brexit supporters argue that with the WTO Britain can make many more international trade deals without answering to the EU. However, becoming a solitary WTO member will be difficult for Britain. The UK is already a WTO member, yet it operates through the EU, and because of this Britain would need to make its own lists of international product tariffs and quotas in order to become a full-fledged member on its own. This would require a great deal of negotiations and modifications. These difficulties also extend to common external tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, and “most-favored nation” clauses that exist within the WTO framework.
U.S. intelligence agencies: Putin ordered intervention in presidential election
6 January 2017 – The Washington Post
U.S. intelligence agencies released a report on Friday that concludes that Russia was responsible for a cyber campaign to damage the U.S. democratic process, "denigrate" Hillary Clinton, and aid the campaign of rival Donald Trump. The report attributes Russian election hacking to Russian President Vladimir Putin. President-elect Donald Trump asserted that the hacking had "absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election" following a briefing on the report.
Nicola Sturgeon: Second Independence Referendum “Off the Table” in Event of Soft Brexit
6 January 2017 – Telegraph
While Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been adamant since June’s Brexit referendum that she will trigger a second independence referendum if Scottish demands are not met, her recent comments suggest that she would withdraw the threat if the UK is able to maintain single market access. Sturgeon added in a radio interview that she is willing to exercise patience within the “timescale of Brexit” to determine whether favorable conditions can be reached before launching another referendum. The First Minister faces resistance from almost every party other than the SNP, and a recent report indicated that over 60% of Scots are opposed to holding another referendum on independence from the UK.
Populism is not a coherent transatlantic trend
5 January 2017 - EU Observer
Pew Research Centre surveys indicate that in the U.S. and Europe populist politics share a common basis, but also that certain issues such as anti-establishment and anti-globalist ideas vary in importance between and within the two areas. The views felt by populist political movements may be similar in tone in both the U.S. and Europe, but that does not make them the same. Economic dismay is highly important to those that are Trump supporters as well as those who support the French far-right party FN. In Germany and the Netherlands, this issue is not as prevalent in the views of far-right supporters of AfD and PVV. In America, Trump supporters are highly critical of participation in the global economy, which is less seen in the support for FN, PVV, and AfD. For all three groups, the impact of refugees and immigrants, as well as isolationist policies, are at the forefront of political discourse.
Single Market Access not for Sale, Ex Top EU Official Warns UK
5 January 2017 - Bloomberg
As the UK prepares to trigger Article 50 by the end of March and enter into Brexit negotiations, one of the EU’s top former civil servants in Jonathan Faull claimed that attaining access to the single market cannot simply be purchased. Faull, a British citizen who served nearly forty years in the European Commission, warned that single market access is contingent upon membership either in the EU or EEA, and that countries outside either of those institutions cannot obtain access unless a comprehensive deal is consented to by the country in question and the 27 members of the bloc. The comments illuminate one of the more problematic themes as the UK and EU head into negotiations, as Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to retain as much access to the single market as possible while gaining complete sovereignty over British borders - a direct affront to the requisite freedom of movement necessary for market access.
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