Data set forth in a recent Atlantic Council report shows that ushering in female leadership at the upper echelons of society is “not just a moral decision,” but a strategic one, Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy at the US Department of Defense, said at the Atlantic Council on May 31.

“You have to take a comprehensive, systematic approach” to gender equality, said Flournoy in a keynote address. “From a talent-management perspective, why would you keep half of your talent off the table?” she questioned. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Flournoy described how business literature and research, such as that compiled in the Atlantic Council’s newest report, Women’s Leadership in Latin America, show that when women are included in leadership roles, from the realms of business to peace and security processes, companies and governments experience greater success. “One of the most important things about this report is just putting the data out there,” according to Flournoy. “All of the data is there,” she said, “we just have to actually act on it.”

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albright circle                                    Madeleine Albright
US Secretary of State (1997-2001)

“His absence will be felt, and his presence sorely missed, but Zbig’s ideas and his worldview will continue to influence the foreign policy debate for many years to come. In today’s complicated world, we need leaders like Zbig who are both thinkers and doers, who understand history and the need for America’s active involvement in world affairs.”

Jose-Manuel Barroso updatedGBE                                    Paula J. Dobriansky
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (2001-2009)

“Zbigniew Brzezinski had a deep, lasting and positive impact on a wide range of crucial US foreign policy matters, including our relations with China, the Middle East, and the future of Central Europe. His brilliant strategic vision and enormous contributions in managing international crises will long endure as prime examples of extraordinary US statecraft.  I feel privileged to have worked with him.” 

Stuart-E.-Eizenstat                           Chuck Hagel
US Secretary of Defense (2013-2015)

“Zbig Brzezinski was one of those unique individuals who possessed both great strength and intellect as well compassion and decency. He’ll be missed by so many of us who relied on his wise counsel and friendship.”

Anders-Aslund-GBE                                    Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Chairman, Atlantic Council
Governor of Utah (2005-2009)

“Zbigniew Brzezinski embodied the quintessence of strategic leadership. His sharp wit and discerning intellect were matched by his unwavering optimism to secure a better future—a cause he dedicated his life and career to. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Bajnai Gordon 2                                    Gen. James L. Jones, Jr. (ret.)
Chairman, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council
US National Security Advisor (2009-2010)

“The nation has lost one of its most respected and listened to voices with the passing of Zbigniew. His contribution to the national security dialogue was critical to the culmination of the Cold War and to the freedom that Poland and other Eastern European countries enjoy today. His passion for democratic values and the freedom that comes with them will be long remembered by millions of people the world over.”

Thomas-Barrett                                    Henry Kissinger
US Secretary of State (1973-1977)

“Zbig was a seminal and inspirational figure in American thought on international affairs.”

Neil-R.-Brown                                    Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft (ret.)
US National Security Advisor (1975-1977 and 1989-1993)

“America—and the world we inspire—has lost a remarkable statesman. Zbig had clear, articulate views on the large issues that defined the Cold War era and the still-turbulent phase we entered after 9/11. When Zbig spoke, without notes but in his characteristic complete paragraphs—a skill I envied—people listened and learned. He was a voice of conscience on intractable issues such as Middle East peace. I cherished our debates and the many occasions where, perhaps to the disappointment of conference organizers, we shared similar views. America has lost a wise advocate of our values. I have also lost a good friend.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski Tribute

On Friday, May 26, my father, Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski passed away at the age of eighty-nine. He lived a long and impactful life. 

He came from a family of courageous Polish diplomats who saw firsthand Hitler’s brutality in Germany and stood up against it. The Nazis’ carnage and subsequent Soviet occupation prevented his family from returning to their cherished homeland, Poland. He later became a scholar in the United States who examined the structures of authoritarian regimes and empires. He was a strategist who leveraged that knowledge to help roll back the Iron Curtain.

He was a counselor to presidents, both Republican and Democratic.  As national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter he helped steer the course of the transatlantic relationship amidst a dangerous confrontation with the Soviet Union, craft the Camp David Accords, and deepen US relations with China. Every US president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama called upon him for his advice and perspective on multiple issues of national security.

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The NATO summit in Brussels on May 25 was an important opportunity for US President Donald J. Trump to turn his recent statement about the Alliance no longer being obsolete in his opinion into real progress in transatlantic relations. However, Trump’s boorish behavior at the summit, his failure to endorse the Alliance’s mutual defense clause, and his hectoring about European defense contributions only reinforced pre-existing European doubts about the administration’s commitment to the Alliance. 

When coupled with the drift in transatlantic relations over the past couple of decades, as the United States under Trump turns its focus to bilateral deals with other countries and Europe focuses on addressing domestic challenges, Trump’s rhetoric in Brussels may result in European nations acting independently and in a decreased US influence in Europe.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s administration aims to position the United States for “energy dominance” as a leading exporter of oil and gas. So far, this vision of US energy dominance has assumed that policies favoring reduced emissions are a hindrance rather than an opportunity.  In fact, the nation’s ability to expand production and compete in the burgeoning global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, which faces excess supply and weak demand in the near term, may depend on the United States staying in the Paris climate agreement and using its voice to support the role of natural gas in decarbonization.

Ratified in 2016, the Paris Agreement aggregates the national commitments of 195 countries to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and transition to cleaner energy sources. While public attention (and Green Climate Fund resources) have focused on the increased role for renewable energy in developing countries, the reality is that natural gas plays a major role in reducing GHG emissions and meeting new demand for electricity. It is no coincidence that introduction of natural gas has been the major source of emissions reduction in the United States and plays a similar role in Mexico.

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One of the key characteristics—and potential vulnerabilities—of the European energy market is its dependence on imports. The European Commission has drawn up a list of 195 key energy infrastructure projects, known as Projects of Common Interest (PCI), to create a more competitive energy market and alleviate this dependence. Some of these projects could considerably improve the competitiveness and reliability of Southern European energy markets.

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The cuts to foreign aid proposed in US President Donald Trump’s new budget, if passed, would drastically diminish US influence in Africa, threaten US security interests, and make way for countries like China to fill the void, according to a former White House official.

“We can’t be ceding this space to China and to other players to have them deepen their economic ties and their political ties and have the US really lose out,” said Grant Harris, who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2015.  

Trump’s new federal budget would put an end to important US engagement on the continent, engagement which, according to Harris, is vital for US national security. This is the premise of his recently published Atlantic Council report: Why Africa Matters to US National Security. “Far too many people think that Africa is of secondary importance to US interests, where, in reality, it’s really important to US national security,” Harris said in a Facebook Live discussion with Karen Attiah, the global opinions editor with the Washington Post, at the Atlantic Council on May 25.

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While US President Donald J. Trump admonished the United States’ NATO allies at a meeting in Brussels on May 25 for not spending enough on collective defense, it is the threat posed by Russia that has been a bigger factor in galvanizing the allies’ defense commitments, according to a former deputy secretary general of NATO.

“Vladimir Putin probably had more of a role in increasing defense spending than Donald Trump,” said Alexander Vershbow, who now serves as a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

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As US President Donald J. Trump prepares to head off for Memorial Day weekend, he should pause and reflect on the nature of war and reconsider his administration’s plans to gut American soft power. History tells us that support for overseas development initiatives and institutions like the United Nations is critical for promoting peace, security, and prosperity.

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A horrific suicide bombing in Manchester has put a spotlight on Libya—the North African nation where the chaos that has prevailed for the better part of the past six years has become a fertile breeding ground for a mélange of terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

“What Manchester shows is that it is possible for a radicalized kid to go to Libya and potentially receive the kind of training that would allow him to return to his home country and commit an act of terrorism,” said Karim Mezran, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

On May 22, a bomber identified by British authorities as Salman Abedi, the twenty-two-year-old British-born son of Libyan immigrants, detonated explosives at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena, killing himself and twenty-two other people. Fifty-nine people were wounded. Abedi had earlier traveled to Libya to see his parents who have moved back; he also visited Syria. The British government on May 23 put the entire country on the highest level of alert—a sign that another attack “may be imminent.”

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