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 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.
At the Washington D.C. Summit on Cross Continental Cooperation,held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from November 4-7, Streit Council President Richard Conn Henry reviewed the history of the Streit Council, starting with Clarence K. Streit's self-publication of Union Now just prior to World War II, and continuing with the passing of the Atlantic Union Resolution in 1964. Henry also expounded his idea on a possible Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if adopted, would lead to a federal union with the European Union. His proposal can be found here.
Brendan Simms, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is a Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the think tank Project on Democratic Union, which supports a full political union of the Eurozone. He also founded and is the President of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank dedicated to fostering a strong British and European commitment to liberty; constitutional democracy; human rights; governmental and institutional reform; a robust foreign, security, and defense policy; and the transatlantic alliance. His publications include Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire 1714-1783 (2008) and Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001).
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
EU Agrees To Extend Sanctions On Russia
2 September 2015 – Radio Free Europe
Targeted sanctions on Russian firms and individuals are set to be extended an additional six months, EU ambassadors agreed at a meeting on Wednesday. The agreement sends a stronger signal of European unity against Russian aggression in Ukraine, as previously there had been “some discussion” of extending the sanctions only up to the end of January.
Czech officials initiate Visegrad Group meeting on migrant crisis
1 September 2015 – Radio Prague
As migrant flows into Europe swell, the Czech Republic is calling for improved EU coordination. It is also holding a meeting of the Visegrad Group – which also includes Slovakia, Hungary and Poland – to coordinate their positions within the EU. Prague is pushing for the EU to distinguish between refugees and those seeking economic opportunity, arguing that the EU cannot accept an unlimited number of migrants. Prague seeks assistance from Serbia in particular, as it is a key transit country for migrants seeking entry into the EU.
Eurozone unemployment falls to three-year low in July
1 September 2015 – Reuters
According to Eurostat, unemployment in the Eurozone fell to 10.9 percent in July, its lowest rate in more than three years. In France, Finland and Lithuania, however, unemployment rates increased. The lowest unemployment rates were in Germany, the Czech Republic and Malta. For the EU as a whole, the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.
Swedish party in U-turn on Nato membership
1 September 2015 – The Local
Responding to perceived threats from Russia, the Swedish Centre Party, a prominent voice in the center-right opposition, came out in favor of NATO membership Tuesday. Sweden’s center-left government remains opposed to NATO membership, in line with the nation’s historical position of neutrality.
U.S. weighs sanctioning Russia as well as China in cyberattacks
1 September 2015 – Reuters
The U.S. is considering sanctions on individuals and companies in Russia and China for cyberattacks on commercial targets. U.S. officials suspect that the recent cyberattack on the Office of Personnel Management that compromised information on government workers was the work of China, though the sanctions under consideration would only apply to attacks on commercial enterprises. The step is unlikely to be taken before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House this month.
French economy minister calls for full fiscal union in Eurozone
31 August 2015 – The Telegraph
The French economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, wants to “re-found the EU,” creating a new representative body with substantial powers over the Eurozone economy. Echoing previous comments by French President Hollande, Macron gave the most detailed proposal yet from the French government, calling for a commission with transfer authority, wide borrowing powers, and a say in labor market policy. The proposal is likely to be met with skepticism in both the UK and Germany.
EU may bring back border controls, Angela Merkel suggests
31 August 2015 – The Telegraph
German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stated that the EU may be forced to revive border controls in the wake of the migrant crisis. Merkel suggested that the Schengen zone, which permits passport-free travel across most of Europe, could be abolished unless EU countries accept their fair share of migrants. Germany is set to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times the amount in 2014 and more than any other EU country. “We stand before a huge national challenge. It will be a central challenge not only for days or months but for a long period of time, she said.
France’s Macron for “EU, Eurozone rebirth”
31 August 2015 – Deutsche Welle
In an interview with a German newspaper, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron called for a complete overhaul of the EU and the Eurozone. Citing the Greek crisis as evidence that the currency union is not viable in its current form, and recommended a joint economic government to coordinate fiscal and social policies and have a say in labor market issues and investment programs.
Japan eyes defense budget hike to fortify island chain facing China
31 August 2015 – Reuters
Japan’s Ministry of Defense is seeking a fourth consecutive military budget increase to fortify the country’s island chain in the East China Sea. The funding would be used to acquire new military hardware from U.S. defense companies, equipping its first detachment of marines since World War II. Funding will also be used to build and extend military bases along the island chain. Japan and China contest ownership of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Hollande, Merkel, Putin back bid for new Ukraine ceasefire
29 August 2015 – Reuters
German, French and German leaders backed a new ceasefire in Ukraine during a phone call on Saturday. The ceasefire will begin on September 1st, and a summit with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be held in the coming weeks. Western leaders have voiced concerns about plans by rebel regions to hold elections outside the framework of Ukrainian law.
Climate change happening “right now,” Obama says ahead of Alaska trip
29 August 2015 – USA Today
Ahead of a trip to Alaska this week, President Obama highlighted the danger posed by climate change. “This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now,” he said. “Think about that. If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now” He added: “I’m looking forward to talking with Alaskans about how we can work together to make America the global leader on climate change around the globe....Because what’s happening in Alaska is happening to us. It’s our wakeup call, and as long as I’m president, America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change before it’s too late.”
NATO training center in Georgia a “provocation,” says Russia
28 August 2015 – Newsweek
Russia is warning Georgia that cooperating with NATO risks stability in the region after a joint NATO-Georgia training center opened. "We consider this step as a continuation of the policy of provocation of the alliance, which is aimed at expanding its geopolitical influence, often using the resources of the partner countries of the bloc," said Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry. NATO dismissed the accusation that the move is aggressive.
NATO ready to help EU navies on sea migrants, if asked
28 August 2015 – EU Observer
A NATO official said on Thursday that the Alliance is ready to assist the EU with migrants as the latter organization’s military operation to dismantle smuggling networks gets underway. The late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi made deals with the Italian government to stop migrant smuggling, but the smugglers now operate with few constraints.
Despite record surplus, Germany ignores calls to spend more
28 August 2015 – Reuters
Germany posted on a record 21 billion euro surplus in the first half of 2015, but is ignoring calls to cut taxes or increase spending to alleviate economic pressures in the Eurozone. German infrastructure also requires investment. French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told a Berlin audience this week Germany may have gone too far with austerity. "Germany can make a mistake of 'over-consolidating'," he said.
Europe reels from more migrant deaths on land and sea
28 August 2015 – New York Times
Migrant deaths in and near Europe made headlines this week, with 150 drownings in the Mediterranean and 71 found dead in an abandoned refrigeration truck in Austria. The UN says that there is a 40 percent jump in the number of people fleeing to the EU this year – to 310,000 from 219,000 – and most are escaping conflict in the Middle East and Africa. More than 2,500 have died this year attempting to relocate to Europe.
EU declares information war on Russia
28 August 2015 – Politico
The EU is setting up a unit under its External Action Service to counter Russian propaganda, and expects it to be operational by September. While it falls short of requests from Latvia to set up an EU-funded Russian language channel, it is intended to improve EU communication with Russian-speaking communities rather than produce counter-propaganda. “The team will carry out media monitoring and will work on the development of communication products and media campaigns focused on explaining EU policies in the region,” one official said.
Ukraine crisis: Creditors “write off” 20% of debt
27 August 2015 – BBC
Ukraine and its creditors have reached an agreement to cut 20% of Ukraine’s debt and extend its repayment period. Ukraine’s economy has suffered since its conflict with pro-Russian rebels began in April 2014. The conflict closed businesses in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, increasing its unemployment rate and undermining its financial sector.
Russia, NATO need new rules to cut risk of war, ex-ministers say
26 August 2015 – Reuters
A group of foreign ministers said on Wednesday that Russia and NATO need common rules to manage military encounters that could inadvertently trigger a war. "The situation is ripe with potential for either dangerous miscalculation or an accident that could trigger a worsening of the crisis or even a direct military confrontation," they said in a report published by the European Leadership Network. "History is littered with examples of international crises and tensions that developed a momentum of their own and resulted in conflict even when no one side intended it," they added.
Politics derail Poland’s question for the euro
26 August 2015 – Deutsche Welle
The Polish electorate has turned decisively against adopting the euro in the wake of Eurozone crisis. In 2004, more than half of Poles supported joining the common currency area, while now 54% are against joining. However, Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said last week that a “Europe of two speeds” is not in the interest of Poland.
Global insecurity and refugee crisis linked to climate change – expert
26 August 2015 – Reuters
Columbia University Professor Mark Levy, who conducts studies for the U.S. government, argues that climate change is exacerbating political instability and unrest around the world. One example is the record drought in Syria from 2006 to 2010, which undermined its agriculture sector and increased dissatisfaction with the Assad regime. Migrants are now fleeing Syria and other countries in the region because of violent conflicts that are partly driven by climate change.
France pushes Germany on “convergence, transfers”
26 August 2015 – Politico
On Tuesday, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron spoke before German ambassadors and argued that if the EU does not build new institutions to coordinate economy policy and share financial risks, it could fall apart. “Today, in the current situation, no vision means the status quo, and the status quo means the dismantling of the eurozone, de facto. So we have to move forward,” he said. German officials are still opposed to the idea of a “transfer union.”
France’s Hollande calls for Eurozone budget
25 August 2015 – Reuters
On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande called for a joint Eurozone budget to invest and converge fiscal and social policies. "There could be fiscal and social convergence between the economies and we could also seek extra rights particularly on labour issues," he said. "The euro zone needs an additional budget, its own budget, to make investments needed for energy transition, the digital sector and for youths," he added.
Finland says without Britain there is no EU
24 August 2015 – Reuters
On Monday, Finland’s Finance Minister Alexander Stubb expressed support for the UK’s drive to reform the EU, stating that “without the United Kingdom there is no European Union.” His British counterpart, George Osborne, seeks to maintain the UK’s influence in Brussels as the Eurozone pursues deeper integration. Such protection is also sought by Sweden.
Market turmoil, China fears roil Europe’s game plan for recovery
24 August 2015 – Wall Street Journal
Stock market slides and fears of a China-led slowdown in emerging economies are unravelling hopes that a weak euro will boost Europe’s economic recovery. The region remains plagued by high unemployment, low growth, and high debt burdens. “The Eurozone is very vulnerable to shocks,” said Ben May, economist at consultancy Oxford Economics. The impact on the Eurozone is expected to be largely driven by policy responses elsewhere.
Hollande, Merkel urge ceasefire in Ukraine
24 August 2015 – Politico
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and new talks with Russia. “The Minsk accords must be the basis for a move toward peace in Ukraine,” Merkel said, adding that OSCE monitors have been harassed. Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko said that Russia has 50,000 soldiers on its side of the Ukrainian border and 9,000 in Ukraine.
Sweden and Finland’s awkward NATO tango
24 August 2015 – Politico
Sweden and Finland are considering applying for NATO membership despite vocal opposition by Russia. “The old days are coming back,” said Alpo Rusi, a veteran Finnish diplomat now affiliated with Harvard University, of the rising threat from Moscow. “But back then, Sweden and Finland benefited from NATO without having to commit to membership in it. That’s not the case anymore.” Public opinion on NATO membership remains mixed, with support at 48 percent in Sweden and 27 percent in Finland.
Poland’s new leader seeks greater regional unity, NATO bases
21 August 2015 – Associated Press
Poland’s new president, Andrzej Duda, wants to build an alliance from the Baltic to the Black Sea to form a more united front against Russia. The plan is part of a broader NATO strategy to place permanent bases and troops in the region, an idea opposed by Germany. Duda has the support of the three Baltic states and Romania, but faces an uphill battle in convincing Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, which have deep economic ties with Germany and Russia.
EU tries to clear “fog of confusion” over U.S. trade pact
21 August 2015 – Reuters
The European Commission will regularly publish details on its negotiations with the U.S. for the world’s biggest trade and investment agreement – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Opponents of the deal, which is expected to produce gains of $100 billion in each economy, criticize the perceived lack of transparency of negotiations for the deal and are concerned it will erode EU standards. The deal is on track to be finalized by 2016.
Germany, Brazil join forces on climate change action
20 August 2015 – Voice of America
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff committed to a joint stance on climate change ahead of global climate talks in Paris this December. Rousseff stated that she is committed to reducing deforestation in the Amazon to zero by 2030. Germany committed 550 million euros to financing environmental programs in Brazil. The two leaders also discussed trade and investment ties, including the potential conclusion of an EU-Mercosur trade deal.
Russia and China have a cyber nonaggression pact
20 August 2015 – Defense One
On May 8th, China and Russia signed a bilateral agreement on information security, which outlines cooperative measures such as increasing the exchange of information and greater scientific and academic cooperation. The agreement follows one signed in 2009 under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as the two countries’ submission of information security codes of conduct to the UN. The treaty departs from Western conceptions of information security by defining cyber threats as the transmission of information that could compromise the “societal-political and social-economic systems, and spiritual, moral and cultural environment of states.” It also supports a greater say for governments in governing the internet and includes a pledge of non-aggression.
Pelosi: House Democrats will sustain Obama veto on Iran deal
19 August 2015 – Associated Press
The U.S. House of Representatives minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday that House Democrats have the votes to uphold Obama’s veto of a resolution against the Iran nuclear deal. The comments come as Republicans voice opposition to a secret agreement between Iran and the IAEA that would permit Iran to use its own inspectors to investigate sites it is accused of using to develop nuclear arms.
NATO warns Russia against territory grab in Ukraine
19 August 2015 – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
NATO warned today that any attempt by Russian-backed separatists to take more territory in eastern Ukraine would be “unacceptable to the international community.” Citing Russia’s responsibility to find a political solution, the Alliance called on all sides to exercise restraint and ensure that monitors from the OSCE can perform their jobs “freely and without restrictions.”
Russia wants Germany, France to pressure Kiev on peace plan
19 August 2015 – Reuters
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he wants Germany and France to place more pressure on Kiev to implement a February peace plan for east Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet with the leaders of Germany and France on Monday. Moscow says Ukraine has failed to fully adhere to the peace plan, including the provision that Kiev hold direct talks with the self-proclaimed peoples’ “republics” Donetsk and Luhansk, which are backed by Russia.
U.S. launches biggest allied airborne drills since Cold War
19 August 2015 – Agence France Presse
As fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. launched its biggest airborne drills since the Cold War. 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO states are taking part in “simultaneous multinational airborne operations,” the U.S. army said. The exercise, called Swift Response 15, is designed to “demonstrate the alliance’s capacity to rapidly deploy and operate in support of maintaining a strong and secure Europe.”
Iran, Russia reach agreement on delivery of S-300 missile systems
19 August 2015 – UPI
Russia and Iran have reached an agreement on the delivery of S-300 long-range surface-to-air missiles, and Iran is expected to receive them later this year. Opposed by the U.S. and Israel, Russia repealed its ban on the delivery of missile air defense systems to Iran. The missile systems make a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities more difficult.
IMF puts off decision on using China’s currency for reserve status
19 August 2015 – Voice of America
The IMF says it will delay a decision on whether or not to include China’s currency, the yuan, in its basket of reserve currencies. Reserve currencies, such as the dollar, euro, yen, and the pound, are held by central banks to pay international debt obligations or influence exchange rates. Christopher Whalen of the Kroll Bond Rating Agency predicts the yuan will not become a reserve currency unless Beijing allows it to move and trade freely.
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