Rachel Ansley

  • Changing Nicolás Maduro’s Calculus in Venezuela

    The United States, working with its allies, must gradually ramp up economic sanctions on Venezuela as part of a strategy to change Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian behavior, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “The goal of the sanctions is to change the calculus of President Maduro and his supporters… so they realize there are much more significant costs to his government pursuing these undemocratic steps,” said David Mortlock, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. However, he added, “those sanctions must be accompanied by a clear narrative” of what the United States and the international community expects to see change.

    “The end goal here is not the sanctions themselves but a negotiated diplomatic solution,” said Mortlock, adding that the cost to all governments, to the oil sector, and to the global economy, should Venezuela collapse due to unrest and economic recession, “is too great to simply step back...

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  • Putin Lashes Out

    Will Russia’s reaction to US sanctions be short-lived?

    [Editor's note: US President Donald J. Trump signed the new sanctions bill on August 2.] 

    The Kremlin’s reaction to the new US sanctions indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a “lashing-out mood,” that, while unsettling, will be short-lived, according to Daniel Fried, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative.

    “I would not take this terribly seriously,” said Fried of the Kremlin’s mandate on July 30 that the United States must cut 755 members of its diplomatic staff in Russia. “These kinds of diplomat wars seem important at the time,” he added, yet, when comparing the current situation to a similar diplomatic fallout between the United States and...

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  • Trump’s Transgender Ban Raises Legal Questions

    Is a tweet legally binding directive, asks former US Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning

    [Editor's note: On July 27, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that military policy regarding who may serve will not change until US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis issues new guidelines. "In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect," said Dunford in a letter to the military service chiefs.]

    US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to ban transgender troops from the US military via tweet raises “a question of legality,” and widespread concerns regarding the implementation of this sweeping order, according to former US Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning.  

    “The question is,” said Fanning, “is a tweet from the president a legally binding directive?” Ultimately, “It remains to be...

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  • Brazil’s Prosecutor-General Touts Impartiality of Corruption Probe

    Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s conviction on corruption charges is not a political statement, but an enforcement of the law demonstrative of Brazil’s commitment to combat corruption at the highest levels of society, Brazilian Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot said at the Atlantic Council on July 19.

    “What we do is to apply criminal law… and look for the criminals despite the fact that they have political mandates,” said Janot in a keynote address. An investigation such as Operation Car Wash, a sprawling anti-corruption probe that has garnered a great deal of international attention for its scope and efficacy, is “not a political action, but applying the law, enforcing the law,” he insisted.

    “The law that exists is to be applied to everyone regardless of their religion, their race, or their status,” said Janot.

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  • Zapad: A Window into Russia’s Military Mind?

    Russia’s large-scale military exercise to be conducted in September can provide critical insight for NATO allies seeking to improve their readiness posture against an increasingly revanchist Russia, according to an Estonian defense official.

    “Russians train exactly as they intend to fight, thus Zapad will give up ample information on their military and political thinking as it is right now,” Kristjan Prikk, undersecretary for defense policy at Estonia’s Ministry of Defense, said at the Atlantic Council on July 11. According to Prikk, “we don’t consider this year’s Zapad exercise in itself to be a direct threat to us [NATO] or a cover for an attack, but we have to keep in mind that the Russians have the nasty habit of hiding their actual military endeavors behind exercises.”

    “We have to be calm, vigilant, flexible,” in the months leading up to and following Zapad 2017, said Prikk.

    In September, Russia will conduct a joint military exercise with...

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  • Atlantic Council Honors Champions of Freedom

    The political, security, and humanitarian challenges facing the world today cannot be overcome without international cooperation and a concerted effort to strengthen the “solidarity of values” of the transatlantic community, Daniel Fried, a recipient of the Atlantic Council’s 2017 Freedom Award, said at the awards ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, on July 7.

    The post-World War II international order created by the collaborative efforts of the United States and Europe “is at risk and under assault from without—from Russia—and from within—from those who doubt the value of what the free world achieved and what the free world stands for,” said Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for Europe who is currently a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Future Europe Initiative.  

    In an ardent call for transatlantic cooperation, Fried said: “We must equally recommit to the free world and the common values which have...

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  • Trump States US Commitment to Europe, Article 5

    US President Donald J. Trump’s speech in Poland ahead of the G20 summit on July 7 reassured allies and emphasized the importance of the transatlantic relationship, noting that a strong Europe is beneficial for the United States and the whole of the West.

    “When your nations are strong, all the free nations of Europe are stronger, and the West becomes stronger as well,” Trump said in a speech on July 6 in Warsaw. “Together, our nation and yours can bring greater peace, prosperity, and safety to all of our people.”

    “We live today in an era of global volatility…[and] we appeal for transatlantic cooperation,” to deal with the myriad threats facing the international community today, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski said in a keynote address at the Atlantic Council’s Global Forum in Warsaw.

    Noting the significance of Trump’s trip to Poland and the gravity of his vocal support for the US-European relationship, Waszczykowski called...

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  • Addressing Twenty-First-Century Threats

    Conventional forces called critical component of NATO’s toolkit

    Though the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign poses a significant threat to Western security, NATO allies working to counter Russian aggression must remember the importance of bolstering conventional forces, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “Conventional forces are back,” said Ian Brzezinski, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. Citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, he described how “yes, there was hybrid warfare, but there were also 30,000 Russian special forces that were sent into Crimea.”

    Russia’s military is “a much more capable force than they were ten years ago,” according to Brzezinski, whereas NATO troops are now stretched thin.  

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  • Trump’s Budget Cuts Seen as Detrimental to US Effort to Fight Russian Propaganda

    US President Donald J. Trump’s proposed cuts to the State Department’s budget would deprive the United States of the tools it needs to combat Russian hybrid warfare, Madeleine K. Albright, a former US secretary of state, said at the Atlantic Council on June 29.

    Trump’s proposed budget would sharply cut funding for diplomacy and development. With these cuts, “we are losing a tool to deal with what is hybrid warfare,” said Albright.

    US Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), meanwhile, echoed Albright’s call to bolster diplomatic efforts in the fight against disinformation stating: “We can’t cut the State Department 30 percent because we need our diplomats out there working with their partners,” to counter the spread of disinformation.

    Albright and Hurd spoke at the DisinfoWeek conference jointly hosted by the Atlantic Council and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Washington, DC. The...

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  • Striking a Balance Between Privacy and Security

    In an age of increasing connectivity and data-collection technologies, policymakers must grapple with the central tension between the public’s desire for privacy and the need for security.

    “We’re going to have to make this fundamental trade between how much do we value national security and protection, versus how much do we want to behave in a free society,” said Robert Schukai, global head of design and digital identity solutions at Thomson Reuters. “Technology can solve a lot of problems,” said Schukai, “but if we can’t figure out the rules of the road… it’s an asymmetric battle.”

    Leslie Ireland, who served as assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Department of the Treasury in the Obama administration, said “there needs to a broader conversation in our country about what needs to be done for protection and what that cost can be to your privacy.”

    “I wonder if there’s going to have to be such a [large-scale] privacy breach...

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