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.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Jim Wright (Dem. of Tex.) died in Fort Worth, Texas on May 6, 2015. An 18-term U.S. Representative, Wright was a close personal friend of Clarence K. Streit and a decades-long member of the board of Federal Union, Inc., the predecessor of The Streit Council. He was a longtime supporter of Atlantic Union and Streit's call for federal institutions first articulated in his bookUNION NOW, to solidify the Atlantic Alliance in World War II and later with NATO. While in the U.S. House, Wright was a supporter of U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver's (Dem. of Tenn.) "Atlantic Union Resolution" and, later, the similar efforts of U.S. Rep. Paul Findley (Rep.of Ill.). For many years, Wright was often a spokesperson for the concepts of Clarence K. Streit in the U.S. Congress. The photo to the left is of Wright at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver with D. Bruce Shine, Chairman of the Board of The Streit Council, where both were convention delegates.
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
Experts Worry China May Soon Establish South China Sea ADIZ
29 July 2015 – VOA
China’s rapid reclaiming of land and the making of artificial islands in the South China Sea is arousing both Japanese and American concern. The creation of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) would represent the directly challenge claims of territorial sovereignty of the contested islands and spike geo-political tension with neighboring countries such as Japan.
United Nations warns Turkey against calling buffer a “safe zone”
28 July 2015 – Reuters
UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien warned Turkey yesterday against calling its planned buffer in northern Syria a “safe zone” without sufficient protection for civilians. "What you don't want to do is call something a safe zone, people flee to it, but it hasn't got sufficient protection," he said. "As our primary objective is the protection of civilians we need to make sure there is protection in place and that is not always the role of the humanitarians, it needs to be established by others," he added.
Turkey's fight against ISIS prompts rare NATO meeting
28 July 2015 – CBS News
After the NATO meeting to discuss the threat that the Islamic state militants are posing to Turkish security, NATO officers proclaimed strong solidarity with Turkey yet invited Ankara not to use excessive force in fighting extremists. Above all, NATO officers asked Turkey to continue the peace process with the Kurdish PKK and refrain from attacking Kurdish fighters who have been the most effective ground forces against ISIS.
OSCE reviews operations in Ukraine conflict after monitor injured
28 July 2015 – CNN
Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, fell victim to major injuries due to the violations of cease-fire from both Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists. Although both factions were notified about the presence of international monitors, neither of them stopped firing. Moreover, the rising number of casualties and the inability of the international community to enforce the cease-fire is fueling hostility toward the OSCE representatives on the ground.
National Endowment for Democracy is first “undesirable” NGO banned in Russia
28 July 2015 – The Guardian
The National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit funded largely by the U.S. Congress, has become the first undesirable NGO banned in Russia. According to Moscow, the organization poses a serious threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation. This decision is part of a broader strategic plan led by the Kremlin to limit external interference in Russian domestic affairs.
Obama may not accept rejection of Iran deal
28 July 2015 – WND
Secretary of State Kerry’s ambiguous response about President Obama’s possible violations of the constitutional law to override the power of veto of the Congress on the nuclear deal with Iran is drawing caused major criticism from the Republican Party. These criticisms have been further boosted by the administration’s refusal to submit the deal for ratification to the Congress. So far the agreement has not been categorized as a Treaty but rather as a deal that does not require two-thirds of the Congress’ votes to be approved.
Syria’s grim statistics “speak for themselves,” reflect need for political settlement, Security Council told
28 July 2015 – UN News
Top United Nations humanitarian officials said that the current war situation in Syria and humanitarian catastrophe demands for a decisive action to find a political settlement and stop this brutal conflict. Officers reported that about 12 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance today and 220,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict. They also added that the presence of multiple factions and the fragmentation of the country under the control of a myriad of extremist groups is making almost impossible to safely deliver humanitarian aid to the population.
German advisers say Eurozone exit should not be taboo
28 July 2015 – Reuters
The German government’s independent panel of five economic advisers favors creating an insolvency mechanism for Eurozone states, and argues that exits from the common currency area should not be ruled out. "In a currency union, the basic rules must be adhered to and for this reason the exit of a member state should not be taboo, for otherwise partners are susceptible to blackmail," council member Lars Feld told reporters on a media call. In a critique of proposals for debt mutualization, the council argued: "Making the euro area collectively responsible for potential costs without member states giving up any national sovereignty over fiscal and economic policies would - sooner or later - make the currency union more unstable.”
Ukraine War Risks Reigniting as OSCE Warns of Troop Buildup
28 July 2015 – Bloomberg
The current fight between Ukraine’s army and the rebels is at its highest since February, international observers reported. As a result, both civilians’ casualties and violations to the Minsk agreements are steadily increasing. Although Kiev approved greater political autonomy for the separatist regions, the measure has been labelled as insufficient by both Moscow and the pro-Russian rebels.
Russia Seen Reassessing Support for Assad
27 July 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
Syrian officials have confirmed a shift in Moscow’s long-standing support for President Assad. After more than four years of war that have killed a quarter million people, Moscow appears willing to consider an alternative to President Assad. Although the Syrian President can still count on Iran’s support, the recent nuclear deal with the West could also soften Iran’s firm stances in support of Damascus. Russia’s drastic cut of financial and military support to Assad’s regime as well as changes to its policy of vetoing UN sanctions against Syria may play a pivotal role to bring peace to the country and stabilize the region. Also, the new relationship between Russian and Saudi Arabia could significantly impact future developments in the regional balance of power.
Kurds cut key IS supply route in northern Syria: monitor
27 July 2015 – AFP
On Monday Kurdish fighters took control of a key supply route in northern Syria, further isolating the jihadists' de facto Syrian capital of Raqa in the east. As a result, Islamic militants’ attacks against the Kurdish stronghold of Aleppo should also decrease from now on. This is one of the latest successes of the Kurdish forces that had already defeated the jihadists in Kobani in January.
Ukraine Sees Record Truce Breaches as Army Reinforces Port City
27 July 2015 – Bloomberg
Ukraine announced that breaches of the cease-fire recently reached the most since February. Pro-Russian separatist shelled governmental units nearby the port city of Mariupol. Despite the ongoing talks between international negotiators, Ukraine, and separatists, the problematic definition of political autonomy for the secessionist regions have stalled any possible agreement.
Obama’s Russia Recalibration
27 July 2015 – The National Interest
Following the recent nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran, President Obama praised Russia’s outstanding contribution to the negotiations. According to Obama, President Putin played a pivotal role in making the deal possible. Although sanctions against Moscow for the Ukrainian crisis stay in place, this rhetorical shift suggests a major possible change in American-Russian relations in the months to come. As a result, not only Ukraine but also Syria could greatly benefit from the recalibration of U.S.-Russian relations.
Italy’s Pier Carlo Padoan calls for “political union” to save euro
26 July 2015 – Financial Times
Italy’s finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan is calling for deeper Eurozone integration, including political union, to improve economic conditions and save the euro. Italy is calling for the completion of banking union, a common Eurozone budget and common unemployment insurance to strengthen the currency union. Padoan suggested the creation of an elected Eurozone parliament and a European finance minister position. “To have a full-fledged economic and monetary union, you need a fiscal union and you need a fiscal policy,” Mr Padoan said. “And this fiscal policy must respond to a parliament, and this parliament must be elected. Otherwise there is no accountability.”
Turkey calls for rare NATO talks after attacks along Syrian border
26 July 2015 - CNN
NATO agreed to meet this week after Turkey called for special talks. Turkey invoked Article 4 according to which members of the Atlantic Alliance can call for consultations if their territorial integrity is under threat. This follows the recent attacks carried out by Islamic militants inside Turkey. Turkey’s Foreign Minister will display the new security measures that his country is taking to respond the terrorist threat coming from both the Islamic State and the PKK.
Syria's Embattled President Bashar Assad Admits Army Manpower Shortage
26 July 2015 – NBC
On Sunday, Syria’s President Assad publicly addressed the country by acknowledging major territorial losses to the rebel groups. Assad’s speech came at a time of further uncertainty as Turkey is beginning striking Islamic militants and Kurdish fighters. In his speech Assad promised amnesty for thousands of Syrians who deserted from the Army by joining the rebels or fleeing the country in the last few years. Although almost 70,000 soldiers have been killed since 2011, President Assad restated his confidence in the Army and in military victory.
Foreign insurers are looking at Iran after its nuclear deal
26 July 2015 – Business Insider
Many international financial experts are looking at Iran’s marine and energy sectors as very attractive markets. According to these experts the removal of economic sanctions will open a market of about $8 billion to global firms investing in Iran. Although there are some concerns about Iran’s political trustworthiness and the implementation of the deal, global firms have already begun to invest in the country.
Ambitious trade talks head to Hawaii for final stage
25 July 2015 – AFP
Negotiators from 10 Asia-Pacific countries are meeting in Hawaii this week to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. The deal, which would cover 40 percent of the world economy, is expected to advance the U.S. agenda for a new international framework for trade in services, investment and the protection of intellectual property, as well as the even larger Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both the U.S. and China see the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as building blocks for a broader Asia-Pacific trade deal.
Turkey stages first airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria
24 July 2015 – Reuters
On Friday, Turkish warplanes attacked Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time as its president vowed more decisive action against the group. The strike was accompanied by the seizure of hundreds of suspected militants across Turkey. Ankara also approved the use of its airbases by U.S. and coalition aircraft to mount attacks against the Islamic State.
Eurozone yields fall as weak growth data ups QE expectations
24 July 2015 - Reuters
A number of economic indicators sent Eurozone yields falling yesterday. The subdued consumer sentiment survey, a manufacturing slowdown in China, and Germany’s weaker-than-expected private sector growth in July were all contributing factors to the movements in bond yields.
Violence heating up along Turkey-Syria border
24 July 2015 – Los Angeles Times
On Thursday, clashes between the Turkish Army and the Islamic militants caused the death of a Turkish soldier and an Islamic militant. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has dispatched reinforcements to the border. At the same time, the Kurdish minority in Turkey has increasingly appealed to Ankara to stop the flow of foreign fighters to Syria through the Turkish border and accused the Turkish government of complicity with the Islamic State. Kurdish militants in Turkey have been also accused for the murder of two policemen in the southern city of Diyarbakir. In response, Ankara has stepped up security measures inside the country and fortified its border with Syria.
Sec. Kerry Fiercely Defends Iran Nuclear Deal to Congress
23 July 2015 – NBC News
Secretary Kerry firmly defended the nuclear deal with Iran from the criticism of the Republican representatives in the U.S. Congress on Thursday. Kerry recognized that Iran has now extensive experience with nuclear fuel cycle technology and the deal is the best means to control it.
Ukraine separatists protest against OSCE mission in east
23 July 2015 - Reuters
In rebel-held Donetsk about 300 people protested against the OSCE mission in Eastern Ukraine. People, mainly women, vigorously protested against the failure of the organization to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements whose continuous violations are provoking the death of innocent civilians.
Greek crisis weakens Eurozone consumer confidence
23 July 2015 - WSJ
A survey of consumer sentiment in the Eurozone fell more than expected, to -7.1 from -5.6 in June. The fall in the sentiment survey has been attributed to the Greek crisis. The survey, however, was conducted prior to Greece’s agreement with creditors on July 13th.
Spain’s unemployment rate at lowest level since 2011
23 July 2015 - WSJ
Unemployment in Spain fell to 22.5% in the second quarter, according to Spain’s National Statistics bureau. The economy added 411,000 jobs during that timeframe, the highest number since the second quarter of 2005. Spanish economists have predicted that the unemployment rate will fall below 20% by the end of this year.
Relief for Tsipras as lawmakers pass second key reform bill
23 July 2015 - Fortune
Greek lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a reform bill yesterday required to secure another bailout from creditors. Importantly, 36 Syriza members abstained or voted against the measure, which could diminish the influence of Alexis Tsipras going forward. The reform package included a number of measures that restructured Greece’s financial sector and reined in preferential treatment for farmers.
Turkey reinforces border with Syria in wake of suspected suicide attack
23 July 2015 - The Guardian
After a suspected Islamic State suicide bombing killed about 32 people in a Turkish-Syrian border town, Ankara decided to reinforce its border with Syria by installing wire fencing and digging extra ditches. The wall will be about 90 miles long and the Turkish government will also use drones to strengthen security along the border. These new measures should also contain the migration of foreign fighters toward the Islamic State who, so far, greatly relied on the Turkish smugglers network to reach Syria.
Eurozone borrowing rises to record as recovery remains weak
22 July 2015 - Financial Times
The average debt-to-GDP ratio of countries using the euro reached 92.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015, up from 91.9% in the first quarter of 2014. Although the Eurozone returned to growth in the first quarter, the pace of growth is not enough to make up for the large volume of government borrowing.
Official: NATO exercise in Georgia shows alliance commitment
22 July 2015 – Stars and Stripes
On Wednesday, NATO troops concluded two weeks of military drills in Georgia, an exercise that proved the Alliance’s commitment to Georgia’s security and independence from Moscow’s expansionist strategy. Although some NATO members vouched for Georgia’s membership with NATO, countries such as Germany fear a possible reaction from Russia. Nonetheless, the Alliance will continue to further deepen political and military cooperation with Georgia.
Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa
22 July 2015 – VOA
Due to widespread popular protests against the large presence of U.S. military bases in Okinawa, opponents of Tokyo’s defense policy are gaining increasing popular support in the island and across the country. Both environmental and pacifist groups firmly oppose the American presence and its detrimental effect on life in Okinawa. Recent incidents caused by U.S. marines have further aggravated tension between the population and the U.S. Army.
Russia denies it violates Georgian sovereignty with border markers
22 July 2015 – Reuters
Russian Foreign Ministry denied Georgian accusations that Moscow violated its territorial sovereignty by placing border markers in the southern region of Ossetia. Although Ossetia and Abkhazia moved away from Georgia’s control after a brief war with Russia in 2008, the United Nations still considers these regions as integral part of Georgia.
U.S. Defense Secretary Says Saudis Back Iran Nuclear Deal with Some Reservations
22 July 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
After prolonged criticism against the U.S.-Iranian nuclear negotiations, Saudi officers appeared more accepting of the agreement signed last week. While the Saudis expressed their approval of the deal with some reservations, Israel is firmly opposing it and looking for support inside the American Congress. Indeed, the Saudis’ main concern relates to the implementation of the deal rather than the deal itself. Despite these concerns, Washington has restated its commitment to the security of both Israel and Saudi Arabia against the Iran-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon.
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China calls Japan foreign policy “two-faced”
22 July 2015 - Reuters
China’s Defense Ministry claimed that China reserves the right to a “necessary reaction” after the publication of Japan’s defense review and its emphasis on possible responses to Beijing’s building of oil and gas exploration platforms near the disputed waters in the East China Sea. China accused Japan of fueling tension between the two countries and reasserted the legitimacy of its construction activities.
John Kerry on Iran: Supreme leader's remarks “disturbing”
21 July 2015 - Politico
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry claimed that Iranian claims about the unchanging nature of Iran’s policy toward an “arrogant” country such as the United States were disturbing. Although Kerry condemned Ayatollah Khomeini ‘s public statements he also recognized that they could have been made for public consumption. Meanwhile, the Iranian leader portrayed the nuclear deal as an outstanding success for Iran. At the same time, the U.S. government reasserted its firm commitment to guarantee security in the region as well as its intention to closely monitor Iran’s future nuclear policies.
Ukraine, rebels reach preliminary deal to broaden weapons withdrawal
21 July 2015 - Reuters
The head of the OSCE security watchdog claimed that separatists and Ukrainian forces have reached a preliminary deal to withdraw tanks and smaller weapons systems from the front line in eastern Ukraine. This agreement on lighter weapons follows the Minsk agreement whose terms have remained mostly on paper so far.
India, EU to resume talks on FTA
21 July 2015 - Live Mint
India and the EU will meet at the end of August to resume talks on a free trade agreement. The negotiations began in 2007, but negotiators have missed various deadlines set to secure a deal. India has agreed to reduce tariffs on wines and spirits, but is currently unwilling to yield to pressure to liberalize IT markets.
Russian President Putin “Obsessed” with “Testing NATO” in Ukraine conflict, could confront Baltics, Governor Says
20 July 2015 – IBT
On Monday, The Independent reported that Russian President Putin is obsessed with testing NATO. According to Odessa’s new Governor, Putin does not respect national borders and firmly pursues an expansionist agenda in Eastern Europe. By contrast, Putin has constantly denounced NATO’s expansion toward Russian border while greatly profiting from the support of pro-Russian separatist groups inside former Soviet satellites, above all in Ukraine.
QE feeding Europe house price bubble
20 July 2015 - Financial Times
Germany, Norway and the UK are the most risk of developing housing price bubbles due the ECB’s QE program. Since 2010, German house prices have risen 25% and have continued on an upward climb despite recent corrections in sovereign debt markets. In late 2013, the Bundesbank stated German house prices may be overvalued by 10%, and as much as 20% in some big cities.
U.S. to Europe: don’t move my cheese
20 July 2015 - Politico
U.S. and European regulators are sparring over the intellectual property rights on names of food and beverages—i.e. does Greece have the exclusive right to own the label “feta”? European negotiators are steadfast in their belief that individual countries should have this labeling right, while the U.S. is attempting to use the TPP to combat the Europeans and set looser standards for “geographic indicator” labels.
Kremlin criticizes NATO over drills in Ukraine
20 July 2015 - DW
Moscow harshly criticized NATO’s military drills in Western Ukraine on Sunday. While Kiev welcomed the military exercises as a proof of Western commitment to Ukraine’s freedom and sovereignty, the Kremlin saw it as a further demonstration of the West’s aggressive strategy against Russia.
Syria Kurds Say in Near Complete Control of Hasaka City
20 July 2015 - Reuters
A Syrian Kurdish militia took almost complete control of the northeastern city of Hasaka at expense of the Damascus government. Controlling the city would also inflict a major loss to the Islamic State militants who are currently holding territory in bordering Iraq. From this point of view, Hasaka represents a strategic crossing point at the center of the territory controlled by both Kurds and loyalists of President Assad.
UN Moves to Lift Iran Sanctions After Nuclear Deal, Setting up a Clash in Congress
20 July 2015 - The New York Times
The UN Security Council’s approval of a resolution to lift economic sanctions against Iran provoked a furious reaction from both Israel and factions of the U.S. Congress. The resolution also included the agreement with Tehran to let international observers visit Iranian facilities to guarantee the use of nuclear power for peaceful goals. However, the agreement does not remove the embargo on sensitive technology and weapons. Meanwhile, also the EU approved the lifting of economic sanctions yet left the prohibition to export ballistic missiles to Iran as well as human rights sanctions in place. The United States, on its part, has about 90 days to get the deal approved by the American Congress.
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