Canadian prime minister, South Korean president, pianist Lang Lang receive Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Award

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister and the recipient of the Atlantic Council’s 2017 Global Citizen Award, on September 19 delivered a passionate rallying cry to protect the alliances that have underpinned global security and prosperity since the end of World War II, warning that this decades-old global order is not cast in stone.

“Worldwide, the long-established international order is being tested,” Trudeau said, noting that Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its subsequent encroachment in Ukraine marked the first major territorial seizure in Europe since World War II.

“This is not the time for retrenchment,” said Trudeau. “This is a time for the Atlantic democracies to renew our commitment to universal standards of rights and liberty enforced through a multilateral rules-based order that has promoted peace and stability, and stood the test of time.”

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In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19, US President Donald J. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, called Iran a “rogue nation” and the nuclear deal with that country “an embarrassment,” said the United States was “prepared to take further action” on Venezuela, and lashed out at what he called a “corrupt, destabilizing” regime in Cuba.

Atlantic Council experts provided their analysis on the speech. Here is what they had to say:

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Chinese pianist, educator, and philanthropist Lang Lang will be honored at the Atlantic Council’s eighth annual Global Citizen Awards reception in New York on September 19.

The Global Citizen Award celebrates contributions by individuals toward improving the state of the world.

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Britain’s conservative Daily Telegraph splashed its front page September 14 with the banner headline “A United States of Europe.” The page was embellished with a half-photo of the face of Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, framed by the blue, gold-starred flag of the European Union.

The eurosceptic Telegraph was not, of course, hailing the imminent birth of a United States of Europe. On the contrary, the newspaper was using the further integration proposed in Juncker’s State of the Union speech to the European Parliament the previous day to demonstrate the wisdom of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU)—rejecting once and for all the closer European political union that most Britons have traditionally resisted.

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In a reaction that is sure to bolster the narrative of those claiming responsibility for the attack, US President Donald J. Trump released a series of tweets labeling the incident at London’s Parsons Green subway station on  September 15 an act of terrorism before British authorities had done so. Trump claimed, among other things, that Scotland Yard had failed to identify and prevent the attack and that the solution was to “cut off” the Internet and make his travel ban to the United States “far larger, tougher, and more specific.”

The perceived success of a terrorist attack is a subjective measure, filled with uncertainties and spin, and partly dependent on the level and type of coverage it receives in the media—this includes the reactions of world leaders and the effect those words have on their countries’ populations.

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A recent series of militant attacks that forced the closure of three of Libya’s key oil fields represents the latest blow to the North African nation’s efforts to revive its energy sector while reigning in the chronic instability that has plagued the country since its 2011 revolution.

Over the course of two weeks in late August, the Rayayina Patrols Brigade (RPG) targeted oil fields and other facilities along a key pipeline corridor in western Libya, disrupting production at  the Hamada el Hamra, El-Feel, and El Sharara oil fields by an estimated 360,000 bpd.

Though all three fields are scheduled to resume production this week following a negotiated settlement, the attacks underscore the challenges the Tripoli-based and internationally recognized Government of National Accord continues to face as it attempts to revamp production and stabilize the country amidst a fraught security environment.

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The US Department of Justice’s demand that a US affiliate of Russian state-sponsored news agency RT register as a foreign agent  follows an Atlantic Council report, which suggested that RT be labelled a tool of the Kremlin.

“We suspect that RT is likely violating US law by spreading propaganda on behalf of a foreign government without properly identifying itself,” Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) said at the launch of “Agent of Influence: Should Russia’s RT Register as a Foreign Agent?” at the Atlantic Council on September 9.

According to Cicilline, who delivered the keynote address, RT, a news agency which broadcasts local-language programs all over the world, “is the propaganda arm of the Russian government.” Not only is RT government-funded, but it spreads information which furthers Russia’s aims of destabilizing Western democracy, he said.

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As Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful ever recorded, leaves Florida battered in its wake, US energy infrastructure continues to bear the strain of long-term planning neglect. The damage wrought by the storms and the impact on the energy sector demonstrates that the time is right to prioritize infrastructure, particularly pipeline infrastructure planning.

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In the midst of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations in August, US President Donald J. Trump tweeted saying that NAFTA is the “worst trade deal ever made,” and threatened to withdraw the United States from the agreement because Canada and Mexico are being “difficult”. While many have brushed these statements off ahead of the third round of discussions, set to begin on September 23, one cannot help but wonder: How close are we to a new and improved NAFTA?

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Former US undersecretary of state, R. Nicholas Burns, discusses US options, the importance of Chinese pressure, and lessons learned from the Iran nuclear crisis

New sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on September 11 in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test are “not significant enough,” according to R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board member who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

Sanctions must be part of a “patient long-term strategy” that includes deterrence, working closely with allies, and negotiations, said Burns, laying out the United States’ options for dealing with the North Korean crisis. 

Capping a summer marked by defiant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un dramatically escalated the crisis on September 3 by successfully testing a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that is capable of being placed on an ICBM. On September 15, North Korea launched a missile over Japan—it's second such act in just over two weeks. The test was in defiance of a fresh round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea earlier in September. 

As the third-highest-ranking official at the State Department from 2005 to 2008, Burns was the lead US negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. Drawing on that experience, he emphasized the need for a multilateral approach to defuse the North Korean crisis. China, he said, would be a critical player in such an approach.

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