Of all American alliances around the globe, the transatlantic relationship is the crown jewel. Despite disagreements and quarrels, the United States and Europe have together built and defended the liberal order for more than seventy years.

March 8, International Women’s Day, is an official UN commemoration day and as such, part of that liberal order. Symptomatically for the current state of the transatlantic link, many thousands of pink-knitted “pussy hats”—a symbol of protest against US President Donald J. Trump—are expected to be seen on the streets in the United States and Europe on March 8. Over a month ago, on January 21, the Women’s March on Washington echoed all over the globe as one of the world’s bigger protests against the newly inaugurated US president.

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United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in 2000, had high hopes. Recognizing that women and children are the worst affected by armed conflict, the measure urged member governments and the UN itself to include more women in decision making and operations. It also “called on all parties to armed conflict to protect women and girls from gender-based violence [and]... emphasized the responsibility of all states to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, including those relating to sexual violence against women and girls.”

But so far, not so good. A February review of how UNSCR 1325 has been implemented worldwide, researched by the nonprofit Security Council Report, shows that rather than embracing the inclusion of women as “one of the central tenets which support conflict prevention and underpin long-term stability,” the UN system still “views gender issues as an ‘add-on’ component.”

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When former US secretary of state and then-presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the Atlantic Council in November 2015, she spoke of Latin America’s strides to achieve gender equity at the highest levels. “It may be predictable for me to say this, but there's a lot we can learn from Latin America's success at electing women presidents,” she said with a smile. The remark elicited chuckles from the audience, comprised primarily of many accomplished women, but it pointed to a key dynamic in Latin American politics. The region, with a history of female heads of government, seems to be leading the Western Hemisphere in terms of notable women in top-level leadership roles. But in what ways does the example set by Latin America contribute to women rising in all sectors of leadership?

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Bearing a title that obligates him to manage evolving security threats, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Sorin Ducaru has his hands more than full.  With the threat landscape against the alliance changing constantly in unpredictable ways, many of them breaking new terrain in warfare, Ducaru and his staff have to be prescient, agile, and humble about their abilities to predict what's next.

NATO defense ministers last month approved an "updated cyber defense plan" and moved forward with discussing how to practically incorporate "cyber" as their latest operational domain. That designation was formally made at the 2016 Warsaw Summit, obligating NATO to defend itself in cyberspace "as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea."  Easier said than done, needless to say, but Ducaru's office is on it.

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Republican official says defense spending should not come at the cost of foreign assistance

US President Donald J. Trump’s proposal to ramp up defense spending at the cost of foreign aid is attracting flak from within his Republican Party and retired generals who believe such a move is not in the United States’ best interests.

Trump is reportedly seeking $54 billion over the sequester caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, putting defense spending in 2018 at $603 billion. This proposed increase would come at the cost of State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding.

Matt Moore, chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina, told the New Atlanticist in an interview that these cuts would be “disastrous for American security.”

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US President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on February 28 marked “a new trajectory” for the administration by reassuring allies while ensuring continuity of US foreign policy when it comes to international alliances, according to Atlantic Council analysts.

Trump’s speech “covered some ground that needed to be covered, NATO, commitment to allies, working with Muslim allies… and so this was a necessary and critical first step,” to address uncertainties about US commitment and reassure US allies, according to Barry Pavel, Atlantic Council senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair, and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. In light of Trump’s statements, Pavel said the new administration “will pursue a lot of continuity in US foreign policy.”

“A lot more needs to happen,” said Pavel, “but this is a step we’ve all been waiting for, and now we can get going.” Pavel joined Alex Ward, associate director of the Scowcroft Center, for a Facebook Live discussion on March 1.  

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Our world is changing, and quickly. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Arctic region. For decades, Arctic sea ice has been shrinking, the result of higher temperatures driven by climate change. So too has Greenland’s ice sheet, for the same reason. While each new winter has brought with it evidence of deterioration in polar stability, the winter of 2016-2017 has been the most alarming of them all. In the first winter months of 2016, temperature readings in the Arctic were the highest ever recorded, by 20-35 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 11-19 degrees Celsius) above historic averages.

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My forty years in the Foreign Service—and the careers of many of my friends—became associated with the fall of the Soviet Empire and the putting in order of what came after:  the building of a Europe whole, free and at peace.  It is hard to recall today how improbable victory in the Cold War appeared.  For two generations, up through the mid-1980s, many thought we were losing the Cold War.  Even in early 1989, few believed that Poland’s Solidarity movement could win, that the Iron Curtain would come down, that the Baltic States could be free, that the second of the 20th Century’s great evils—Communism—could be vanquished without war.  But it happened, and the West’s great institutions—NATO and the European Union—grew to embrace 100 million liberated Europeans.  It was my honor to have done what I could to help.  I learned never to underestimate the possibility of change, that values have power, and that time and patience can pay off, especially if you’re serious about your objectives. Nothing can be taken for granted, and this great achievement is now under assault by Russia, but what we did in my time is no less honorable. It is for the present generation to defend and, when the time comes again, extend freedom in Europe. 

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If the current tension in the US-Mexico relationship gets out of hand it could disrupt crucial cooperation between the two countries on checking the flow of unauthorized migrants into the United States, said an Atlantic Council analyst.

“The great danger here is that, in all of this tension, something is going to boil over,” said Peter Schechter, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

Mexico provides essential security assistance in deterring migrants from Central America crossing into the United States. “That, too, is in danger if things boil over,” said Schechter. “I imagine all cooperation will stop and, therefore, all of these people will start flowing upward.” 

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The uncertainty created by US President Donald Trump’s questioning of whether the Alliance remains in the US’ interest has stalled the production of a new NATO strategic concept.

The last NATO strategic concept—the Alliance’s consensus statement on the threats and intended responses—was agreed in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2010. In 2016, some astute observers suggested that 2017 would be a good time to start work on a new concept. By that time, the Russian threat had re-emerged, NATO was mostly out of Afghanistan, and the challenges posed by mass migration from the south and the terrorism that sent people fleeing to Europe had fundamentally changed the strategic environment.

Now, in light of the new US administration, there is no way that the allies will agree to start work on a new concept.

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