Dear European friends of America,

In these challenging times, I am writing to ask that you not abandon your American ally. We have fallen on hard times, and our new leader, Donald Trump, is different from any other in our history.

I know that some have compared Trump to one of his predecessors—Andrew Jackson. But Jackson was president in simpler times, when news moved at the speed of the pony express, and there was no country that could destroy ours in a matter of minutes. Or, for that matter, we were not able to wipe out virtually any other country on Earth.

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In devising a strategy to counter Russian aggression, the new US administration must keep in mind the significance of fundamental values and frame a foreign policy accordingly, said Simon Palamar, a senior fellow with the Center for International Governance and Innovation.

“Invoking values… is useful for reminding us about what we’re doing this for and why we’re pursuing this policy,” he said. While US President Donald J. Trump has expressed a desire for improved relations between the White House and the Kremlin, Palamar said, “Russia and the United States still simply have incompatible positions and interests on a lot of things.” These opposing positions cannot be bridged solely by good relations between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the values informing the US stance on the world stage must not be disregarded for the sake of expediency, according to Palamar. “That leads to discord; that leads to resentment.”

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US President Donald J. Trump’s draft budget, which proposes to increase defense spending by slashing funding for the US Department of State and foreign aid, would imperil national security efforts and weaken the US stance on the world stage, according to two US lawmakers—one a Democrat and the other a Republican.

“You cannot balance the budget on the back of discretionary spending,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). “If [increased defense spending] comes at the expense of the State Department, it’s not a recipe for success; it’s a recipe for making our national security weaker.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) echoed Moulton’s concern over the proposed budget, warning: “If you’re going to cut State, you’re going to have to increase the bullets. That does translate into body bags.”

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Trump administration must defuse crisis with its ally, says Sir Peter Westmacott, a former UK ambassador to the United States

US President Donald J. Trump’s support for an unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, asked Britain’s spy agency to eavesdrop on him is a “strange allegation” that “calls into question very important elements of our intelligence relationship,” said Sir Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States and a distinguished ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council.

“This sort of thing does not go on between such very close allies,” Westmacott said, adding, “the intelligence relationship between the US and UK is uniquely close and very precious. It would, in any case, be against US law for any American official to ask us to act in such a way.” Westmacott served as the UK’s ambassador to the United States from January 2012 to January 2016.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer first repeated the spying allegations made by Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano. Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, the espionage agency known as the GCHQ, flatly denied the allegations calling them “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous.”

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US President Donald J. Trump’s administration should pursue a policy of “constrainment”—an attempt to hinder Russian revanchism while bolstering Western alliances—to counter Russia’s aggression on the world stage, according to a new Atlantic Council report.

Ash Jain, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security, joined James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, for a Facebook Live discussion to examine the idea of constrainment and how it can help the United States oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine the West. This policy is outlined in Strategy of “Constrainment”: Countering Russia’s Challenge to the Democratic Order of which Jain is a co-author.

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Energy sector reform will continue with or without the United States, said former Mexican official

Though recent political tensions threaten the stability of US-Mexico relations, Mexico’s ongoing energy sector reform will continue without US partnership, if necessary, according to Mexico’s former deputy secretary of energy.

“Mexico’s energy reform does not depend on the United States,” Lourdes Melgar, who now serves at the Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies, said at the Atlantic Council on March 16. “If the United States does not want to have business with Mexico,” Melgar cautioned, “I think they’re missing the picture, because Mexico has options.”

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While Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was on the fourth leg of his three-week Asia tour, his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), became the first Saudi royal to visit the White House during the administration of US President Donald J. Trump. With the king wrapping up his state visit in Japan before going to China, and MbS in Washington, the timing sent a message that Riyadh is seeking to work with allies, friends, and partners across the world. These visits occurred at a time when the kingdom is pursuing an economic transformation in line with Vision 2030, a blueprint for improving the future of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is also facing a host of financial challenges stemming from cheap oil as well as ongoing security crises near and within its borders.

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Three years ago this month, Russia illegally annexed Crimea and laid the groundwork for its ongoing campaign to destabilize Ukraine.  That moment marked the end of a period of more than twenty years when the countries of the West looked to Russia as a partner. Of course, even before 2014, Russia had demonstrated a pattern of destabilizing countries in its neighborhood, particularly Moldova and Georgia. But Russia’s aggression against Ukraine—including the first changing of borders by force in Europe since World War II—represented a new strategic reality, and a wake-up call for the United States and its allies.

That new strategic reality is even starker today:  Russia has not only continued to undermine the post-World War II and post-Cold War international order through its illegal occupation of Crimea and its continuing war of aggression in eastern Ukraine; Russia has also engaged in political aggression against our societies, using cyberattacks, disinformation, propaganda, and influence operations to affect the outcome of elections and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.   

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We are entering a new era of clean energy disruption. This transformation will have a global impact, including on energy security, climate change, economic development, that will have repercussions for geopolitics and international relations.

More and more governments are realizing the importance of renewable and sustainable energy resources. Hydrocarbons will continue to play a role in industrial processes, but will gradually fade out as a transportation fuel. Electric engines and batteries for cars have been developing rapidly, as a result, electric cars have become an attractive and economically feasible option for the public, with an unprecedented increase in sales in the past couple of years.

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When approaching security in the Asia-Pacific region, new trends such as deepening intra-Asian defense cooperation and significant increases in Asian defense spending, now on par with that of North America, must be considered, said an Atlantic Council analyst.

“There is a trend of very significant increases in Asian defense spending, as well as concomitant intra-Asian defense cooperation” which provide opportunities for “multilateral hedging against some of the uncertainties associated with China’s rise,” and “in some cases North Korea,” said Barry Pavel, senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair, and director of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

Pavel said recent agreements between Singapore and Vietnam, Japan and Australia, India and South Korea are all examples of how Asian countries can “train together, exercise together, develop new capabilities together,” with the broad mission of promoting security and prosperity in the region.

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