What's New

What Does a Nuclear North Korea Really Mean for the International System? 
In the last four months, North Korea has transformed the strategic landscape of East Asia, achieving both its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and first thermonuclear weapon. This new reality for the United States, Japan, South Korea – and the wider liberal international order – must be confronted. For decades, like-minded free democracies have invested heavily in collective defense, extended deterrence, and non-proliferation; but now those fundamental pillars of the global system are at risk. If they buckle, it may trigger events that would effectively end the post-Cold War status quo – all without North Korea firing a shot. (Read More)

John Davenport joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board
John Davenport is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Fordham University. Professor Davenport has published and instructed widely on topics in free will and responsibility, existential conceptions of practical identity, virtue ethics, motivation and autonomy, theories of justice, and philosophy of religion. He has published and spoken about the need for a federation of democracies, and is currently working on a book titled A Federation of Democracies: Towards Universal Basic Rights and the End of Tyranny. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University.

The European Defense Fund: What Does it Mean for Transatlantic Security?
The European Commission launched the European Defense Fund (EDF) on June 7, 2017. It will provide €590 million through 2020, and at least €1.5 billion per year after 2020, to incentivize collaborative defense research, development and acquisition within the EU. The aims of the fund are to reduce duplication in defense spending, produce more defense capability for every euro spent, and enhance the interoperability of European forces. (Read More)

NATO, Trump, and the Return of the Burden-Sharing Debate
As North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders prepare for a summit meeting in Brussels on May 24-25, they face heightened uncertainty about the future of the Alliance. U.S. President Donald Trump, like his predecessors, has voiced support for NATO while emphasizing the need for a more equitable defense spending burden within the Alliance. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has suggested that the U.S. may not aid NATO allies when attacked if they do not meet the Alliance’s non-binding pledge to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. (Read More)

Streit Council Advisory Board Member Brendan Simms on the Post-Brexit European Order
The challenges facing the United Kingdom over the next two years are numerous and increasing by the day. All of these issues are hugely important and they are closely interconnected. At root, however, they are a question of order, not so much of the “rules-based” global international community, significant though that is, but of the European order around which the world system was originally constructed and that remains – for the UK, at least – the primary pivot. (Read More)

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Migration: EU summit fails to bridge east-west divide
15 December 2017 – Deutsche Welle

An EU summit failed to resolve divisions over how to deal with the ongoing influx of migrants. Leaders from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic reiterated their rejection of refugee redistribution quotas agreed to by the majority of EU member states. But the four countries – which compose the so-called Visegrad Group – agreed to an EU project to enhance border protection in Libya, and offered 35 million euros to support it.
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NATO sounds alarm on banned Russian missile system
15 December 2017 – Reuters

On Friday, NATO allies publicly raised concerns about a Russian cruise missile system that the alliance says may break a Cold War-era pact banning such weapons. The U.S. believes Russia is developing a ground-launched cruise missile system with a range that is prohibited by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. According to an April U.S. State Department report, Washington determined in 2016 that Russia was in violation of its treaty obligations, and last week the State Department said the U.S. reviewing military options, including new intermediate-range cruise missile systems.
(Read More

U.S. trade chief hails WTO splinter groups as victory
14 December 2017 – Reuters

While the WTO failed to conclude any new agreements at its biennial meeting this week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer hailed the development of groupings of countries to break negotiating impasses in the organization. Among these, the U.S. agreed to team up with the EU and Japan to counter the market-distorting trade policies of China and other members.
(Read More)

EU extends sanctions against Russia over Ukraine
14 December 2017 – ABC/AP

In a widely anticipated move, the European Union has decided unanimously “on the roll-over of economic sanctions on Russia” as a consequence of faltering peace efforts in Ukraine. Despite several years of political and economic pressure on Russia to curtail violence by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, the fighting continues to rage. Cease-fire agreements and negotiations have, to this point, proven ineffective at securing an end to Russia’s presence there.
(Read More)

Austria gas blast exposes Italy weak link
13 December 2017 – Reuters
A recent gas explosion in Austria cut off a vital supply line to Italy, which is a crossroads for international gas pipelines that run into Western Europe. Although the link was restored, gas prices soared on fears of an energy shortage. At present, only a small amount of gas arriving in Italy leaves the country; but Italy is working to connect its network to other EU pipelines.
(Read More)

Macron shifts focus away from Eurozone reform to court Merkel
13 December 2017 – Euractiv
French President Emmanuel Macron is shifting his policy agenda away from Eurozone reform and toward other areas of EU cooperation. After encountering resistance to his proposals to reform the common currency area, French officials say they do not want to get bogged down when there is other work to be done. Without a German government, and opposition from other member states, they say Eurozone reform is not currently politically viable.
(Read More)

Trump adviser says Russia and China are “undermining international order and stability”
13 December 2017 – Bloomberg, Associated Press

Speaking at length for an event hosted by UK think-tank Policy Exchange, U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called Russia and China “revisionist powers.” He also argued Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are “undermining the international order and stability,” saying both leaders ignore “the sovereign rights of their neighbors, and the rule of law.” McMaster also railed against complacency in the American foreign policy establishment, contending that the U.S. needs to accept that “geopolitics are back,” and that the “holiday from history we took in the so-called post-Cold War period” is over. His speech comes just days before the first official U.S. national security strategy under the Trump Administration is published.
(Read More)

Taiwan eyes “important role” in alternative Asian sphere of influence
13 December 2017 – Nikkei Asian Review
Taiwan is turning to Southeast Asia and beyond as part of a strategy to reduce its economic dependence on China. While this policy started last year, it is being bolstered by Chinese President Xi Xinping’s strong-arm rule and Japan’s now-leading role in forging a Pacific trade pact. President Trump’s references to Indo-Pacific alliances are also driving the move. China regards Taiwan as a part of China rather than an independent state.
(Read More)

Tusk reignites EU refugee row with call to end quotas
12 December 2017 – Financial Times

As the EU attempts to begin the arduous process of overhauling its asylum policy and immigration laws in Brussels this week, European Council President Donald Tusk called compulsory migrant quotas “ineffective” and “highly divisive.” His comments have prompted criticism from numerous officials and member states, as tensions over the issue persist. The EU’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, called Tusk’s alternative solutions to the matter “unacceptable” and “anti-European.” While members like Germany and the Netherlands want to make sure all EU states share refugees, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and others have made it clear they will not accept refugee quotas.
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U.S., EU, Japan slam market distortion in swipe at China
12 December 2017 – Reuters
On Tuesday, the U.S., EU, and Japan vowed to work through the WTO and other multilateral groups to eliminate unfair competitive conditions caused by subsidies, state-owned enterprises, “forced” technology transfer, and local content requirements. While not mentioned specifically, China’s policies and its flooding of international markets provoked the move.
(Read More)

Top EU economic powers warn U.S. about tax plans
11 December 2017 – Associated Press

The EU’s top five economies are warning the United States that its tax overhaul could have a “major distortive impact” on trade. They are particularly concerned about the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax Senate bill, which aims to counter profit-shifting by some multinationals. The measure could, they warn, distort international financial markets by harming the international banking and insurance business.
(Read More)

EU’s Federica Mogherini rebuffs Netanyahu on Jerusalem
11 December 2017 – BBC

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, stated during a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that “there is full EU unity” regarding the “international consensus on Jerusalem.” Many EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have also urged against plans to make Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel. Mogherini added that the EU supports a two-state solution in which the city will be “capital of both the state of Israel, and the state of Palestine,” referring to the long-separated areas of East and West Jerusalem. Controversy over Jerusalem has renewed in recent weeks with President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. Embassy in Israel will be moved from Tel Aviv to the Holy City for the first time in American history.
(Read More)

Twenty-five EU states sign PESCO defense pact
11 December 2017 – Deutsche Welle

On Monday, European Union member states moved closer toward establishing a defense union after the European Council adopted the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) as first set out in the Lisbon Treaty. This will allow member states to jointly develop military capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance their respective armed forces. Officials have earmarked 17 joint projects that will fall under the scope of PESCO.
(Read More) 

Putin orders withdrawal of Russian troops in visit to Syrian base
11 December 2017 – CNN

During a visit to Syria on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops saying: “In two years, the Russian armed forces, together with the Syrian army, have defeated the most lethal group of international terrorists. In this regard, I have decided that a significant part of the Russian military contingent in the Syrian Arab Republic is returning home to Russia.” This is not the first time Putin has declared his intention to withdraw troops from Syria, and Putin added that two Russian bases in the country, in Hmeimim and Tartus, will continue to operate.
(Read More)

UK, EU hail Brexit breakthrough despite unresolved questions
8 December 2017 – Associated Press

The UK and European Union have finally reached an agreement on the key parameters of Brexit, and now official negotiations on post-Brexit relations are cleared to begin. Both sides settled the hotly debated issue of the border between the EU’s Ireland and UK’s Northern Ireland – determining that it will remain fully open even after the UK departs in 2019. The two parties came to terms on the rights of British citizens abroad, EU citizens in the UK, and London’s financial responsibilities to Brussels – which are expected to total nearly $60 billion USD. If EU members vote to endorse the deal, then further pieces of the Brexit negotiations will move ahead in January.
(Read More)

EU, Japan conclude world’s largest free trade agreement
8 December 2017 – Reuters
The EU and Japan have completed negotiations for a free trade deal that will encompass 30 percent of global economic output. “This is the biggest trade agreement we have ever negotiated for the European Union,” EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said. “It sends a powerful message in defense of open trade based on global rules.” The EU also aims to conclude trade agreements with Mexico and Mercosur.
(Read More)

As Russia subverts missile treaty, U.S. looking at new weapons
8 December 2017 – Foreign Policy

Amid U.S. concerns that Russia is violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF), American leadership is now considering the development of new weaponry to keep pace with Moscow. Congress has authorized $58 million in research funding for a new missile system that will be on par with new Russian IRBM designs, and should “close the capability gap.” U.S. State Department officials have commented that “the United States cannot stand still” amid the “significant risks” presented by Russia’s treaty violations.
(Read More

Japan to acquire air-launched missiles able to strike North Korea
8 December 2017 – Reuters

Japanese officials have announced procurement plans for two specific “standoff munitions” – the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) – which will allow its air units to attack North Korea beyond engagement range. Mountable on fighter jets like the F-16 or F-35, these short-range cruise missiles can hit targets from 500-1000km away, while Japan’s existing anti-ship and anti-ground missiles currently possess maximum ranges of just 300km. As significant pressure has mounted over the past several months on Tokyo to develop either a conventional regional strike capability, or its own nuclear arsenal, PM Shinzo Abe has chosen the former to deter the Kim regime.
(Read More)

Martin Schulz calls for “United States of Europe”
7 December 2017 – Financial Times

The head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party urged EU members to fully commit to forming a “United States of Europe” by 2025, as he laid out his plan for far-reaching European reforms. Martin Schulz argued that a new constitutional convention should be convened, and that EU states unwilling to sign a new constitutional treaty would “automatically leave the EU.” Notably, Schulz also agreed to opening talks with Angela Merkel on the creation of a coalition government. While Schulz has called for similar reforms to those Emmanuel Macron has pushed, his positions on the Eurozone and austerity would depart heavily from those of the Merkel government.
(Read More)

Tillerson holds tough line on Russia sanctions over Ukraine
7 September 2017 - Reuters

During a visit to Europe on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held his tough line on Russia, saying in front of his Russian counterpart that Washington would keep sanctions in place until Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine. At the meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in Vienna, Tillerson went even further into spelling out Russia’s involvement in the conflict and the consequences. He also said that Russia has been “arming, leading, training, and fighting alongside anti-government forces.”
(Read More

EU states and Israel sign gas pipeline deal
6 December 2017 – EU Observer

Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Israel have agreed to construct a gas pipeline that will reduce the EU’s energy dependence on Russia. The new pipeline, which is projected to start operation in 2025, will provide the EU with five percent of its annual gas consumption. It will cost 4 billion euros to construct.
(Read More) 

Stoltenberg stresses NATO’s “defense and dialogue” approach to Russia
6 December 2017 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Speaking to reporters in Brussels during the second and last day of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO will continue to pursue dialogue with Russia while also strengthening its deterrence capabilities and support for partners in Eastern Europe. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that NATO ministers had agreed that there will be “no normalization” of ties with Russia at the current time, but added that the U.S. is pushing hard for an agreement with Moscow on deploying a UN peacekeeping force to eastern Ukraine.
(Read More)

Commission wants more centralized Eurozone by 2019
6 December 2017 – EU Observer

The European Commission released a new proposal that will change the Eurozone’s emergency fund – the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – into a European Monetary Fund (EMF) before the end of 2019. The shift would give the European Commission more power over Eurozone affairs, and would also allow greater flexibility in crafting bailout measures and lending. Commission Vice President Vladis Dombrovskis commented that the move will help build a “strong management toolbox,” which is “another step in the ongoing process of a more stable EMU [Economic and Monetary Union].”
(Read More)

Japan, China agree to implement East China Sea crisis management hotline
6 December 2017 – The Diplomat

China and Japan have brokered a deal to create a crisis management and communication “hotline” to avoid air and naval clashes across widely disputed swaths of the East China Sea. Reminiscent of Cold War-era communication hotlines between the U.S. and Russia to avert a nuclear mishap, Japanese and Chinese officials both view the arrangement as a “breakthrough” accomplishment after days of tense negotiation in Shanghai. Aside from the hotline, the two countries also agreed to additional confidence building measures, including “standardized communication protocols between civilian law enforcement vessels,” and annualized joint assessments.
(Read More)

Japan to help finance China’s “Belt and Road” projects
6 December 2017 – CNBC/Reuters

Japan, a leading skeptic of China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, announced that it plans to financially support bilateral private sector partnerships involved in the project. After its previous unwillingness to get involved in the multi-continental infrastructure plan, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe decided that Japanese central bank loans to promote better relations between Japanese and Chinese private enterprise advances Tokyo’s interests.
(Read More)

Japan to compile 2.9 trillion yen extra budget to reinforce missile defense: sources
6 December 2017 – Reuters

Japanese government officials announced Wednesday that the government is set to compile a supplementary budget of around 2.9 trillion yen ($25.9 billion) for the fiscal year through March to cover spending on missile defense and new economic measures, amid tensions over North Korea. Japan is preparing to acquire precision air-launched missiles that would give it the capability to strike North Korean missile sites for the first time.
(Read More)   

Eurozone members split over Brussels’ reform plan
5 December 2017 – Financial Times

The European Commission’s push to reform the Eurozone – through the creation of a European Monetary Fund and increased financial support to members in trouble – is facing pushback from some member states. Germany, and other northern members, oppose the use of taxpayer money to assist other members in the common currency area. The Commission is expected to present its reform plan on Wednesday.
(Read More

NATO seeks increased cooperation with European Union
5 December 2017 – U.S. Department of Defense

Foreign ministers from Europe and North America will examine new ways to increase interoperability between NATO and the European Union this week. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the meeting will begin with a discussion of NATO’s partnership with the European Union, with an emphasis on military mobility, adding that representatives from Finland and Sweden will be at the talks.
(Read More)

Canada’s Trudeau says he will keep exploring trade deal with China
5 December 2017 – Reuters

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced today that he has extended his visit in Beijing to pursue a free trade agreement with China. Initial talks over a trade deal have proceeded very slowly, as Trudeau has repeatedly failed to win key commitments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Both parties seem interested in continuing the process, though, as Li stated: “We have an open attitude toward the process of negotiations, and an open attitude toward their contents.” Trudeau is pursuing a landmark deal with China largely due to the United States threatening a withdrawal from NAFTA. If the United States leaves the agreement, and trade relations with Canada sour, officials inside the Trudeau government feel they have no choice but to protect their economy by looking to make major agreements with China and other East Asian states.
(Read More)

Russia names Radio Free Europe and Voice of America “foreign agents”
5 December 2017 – The Washington Post

On Tuesday, Russia named Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and seven other affiliated news services as foreign agents – in retaliation for similar moves by the U.S. against the English-language Russian network RT. The U.S. Justice Department required RT to register as a foreign agent because of its alleged role in interfering in U.S. affairs and the 2016 presidential election. On Monday, a Duma committee moved to propose that any U.S. media named foreign agents be banned from attending its sessions.
(Read More)

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