It was only a few minutes after his failed Vienna Summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had ended, but US President John F. Kennedy already feared the worst. Khrushchev had outmaneuvered and brutalized him, and Kennedy worried that he had left an impression of weakness that his adversary would exploit.

In a darkened room and behind closed blinds, a scene designed to conceal the meeting from other reporters, Kennedy sunk into a sofa and candidly answered a simply put question from the New York Times’ James “Scotty” Reston: “How was it?”

“Worst thing in my life,” Kennedy said. “He savaged me.”

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Bill Browder believes that US President Donald J. Trump will be “handing me over to my death” if he agrees to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to get access to eleven Americans in exchange for allowing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to interview twelve Russian intelligence officials indicted in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Browder spoke via Skype at a conference hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center on July 19. A financier and an outspoken critic of Putin’s, Browder inspired the Magnitsky Act after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian jail in 2009.

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Ten years after its founding, Israel established MASHAV—Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation—that has over the past six decades helped nations in need.

On July 18, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center co-hosted a celebration of MASHAV’s sixtieth anniversary.

Ambassador Gil Haskel, deputy director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and head of MASHAV, recalled that the agency was born out of a trip by then-Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir to Africa in 1957. On the trip, Meir “went into the communities first hand to see what the challenges were,” and, despite the considerable economic and political obstacles facing the Israeli state, “came back with a very deep conviction to establish an international development agency.”

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Donald J. Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 resulted in some very poor optics for the US president. While Trump faced tough questions from American journalists, the Russian president appeared on equal footing with his US counterpart. It is important, however, to not get caught up in the theatrics of the press conference. Little, if anything, is known about the content of Trump and Putin’s one-on-one meeting, which lasted more than two hours. Indeed, what wasn’t said at the press conference is potentially more important than what was said.

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In his interview with US President Donald J. Trump, Tucker Carlson of Fox News asked why the United States should come to the defense of Montenegro, a tiny country in the Western Balkans with a population the size of Washington, D.C., that is a NATO ally.

It’s a perfectly reasonable question, with a good answer.

Montenegro is a proud nation with a proud people, who have proven strong and resilient throughout their difficult history. They will defend their nation and now our alliance. And we are all stronger – including the nations of the Balkans, including Americans – for having Montenegro in NATO.

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Budgetary bombast aside, the agenda in Brussels was a political success, but the proof will be in the subsequent grunt work to produce results

BRUSSELS – Despite all the contradictory signals, divergent headlines, and alarmist bombast over defense spending during NATO’s July 11-12 summit in Brussels—and there was plenty of that coming from the US president—the meeting, in the end, was a productive one. But delivering the concrete follow-on results will be the big challenge.

By most NATO standards, the summit was a political success. Its communiqué was wrapped up and agreed nearly a week before—early by usual summit standards. There was no ambiguity over Article 5, NATO’s opposition to Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea was reaffirmed, and, perhaps most important of all, a long list of decisions and initiatives was approved.

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In the predawn hours of July 18, 1918, not far from the medieval cathedral town of Soissons in northeastern France, twenty-four French divisions, including two segregated American infantry divisions (the storied 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers” and the 93rd) under French command, supported by other Allied units—including eight other US divisions of the American Expeditionary Force led by Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing for whom the day would bring one of their first combat operations—crossed the Marne River, launching the massive counterattack that, one hundred days and just over 271,000 casualties later, would lead to the armistice ending the “Great War,” the most brutal conflict known to humankind up to that point.

That very same day, some 9,000 kilometers to the south, in the small village of Umtata, in the remote eastern part of the Cape Province of what was then the Union of South Africa, a baby boy was born among the local Thembu people. The child was given the name Rolihlahla, which in the Xhosa colloquial meant “troublemaker”; in later years, the man would be affectionally known by his clan name, Madiba (it was only when he was seven and sent to a nearby Methodist mission school that his teachers would have him christened with the English name of “Nelson” and register the name of his grandfather as his surname). Who would have predicted that the child would not just survive, but, overcoming his rather modest beginnings (his father died when he was not even ten years old, leaving behind four wives, four sons, and nine daughters) as well as the many vicissitudes of his long life, cause a great deal of “trouble” for some of the great and powerful of this world—all without recourse to arms?

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How do you respond to a cyberattack on a European airport, manipulation of UK aviation financial markets, and two emerging botnets? Team CDT had the winning response.

Our approach included confirming attribution for the attacks, collating intelligence research, employing law enforcement in digital control towers, and utilizing an apolitical spokesperson from the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) to disseminate information about the evolving scenario.

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First, a caveat: the public knows little of what happened in the one-on-one meeting (happily, there was reportedly an American interpreter present) or the larger plenary meeting.

Second, some bad things that did not happen, at least not as far as we know: US President Donald J. Trump did not offer to recognize Crimea as part of Russia. He did not suspend American military exercises in Poland or the Baltic States. He did not promise to lift sanctions (which he couldn’t do anyway, because Congress passed legislation blocking just that). He did not appear to accept the Russian narrative of NATO as a destabilizing factor in Europe best abolished.

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pdfRead the Recommendations (PDF)

  • Foreign interference in elections is an attack on citizens' fundamental right to freely select their representatives and to determine the path forward for their countries.
  • Democracies in the United States (US), Europe and elsewhere have experienced foreign interference in their elections through the spread of fake information, the amplification of divisive news, the leaking of sensitive information, the covert funding of candidates, and the targeting of voting systems.
  • Governments, legislatures, social media companies, and civil society should raise public awareness of the challenge -- reaching out in a non-partisan fashion about the dangers of malicious foreign interference and ways to minimize the threat. Public resilience to malign foreign influence starts with clear communication. Further, governments should evaluate the appropriate role for government in educating the public about recognizing Russian and other propaganda.

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