Original pieces written by Atlantic Council staff or affiliates.
  • Ecuador's Ruling Party Headed for a Split

    With new leadership shaking up Ecuador’s politics, the country has joined many of its neighbors in a renewed battle against corruption at the highest levels of government. In early August 2017, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno used an executive decree to strip his Vice President Jorge Glas of all his powers. Moreno’s measure—aimed at neutralizing Glas, rather than ousting him—resulted from growing disagreements with the vice president, who is enmeshed in corruption allegations.

    Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa repudiated Moreno’s move to strip Glas of authority, adding to his long list of criticisms against the new president. Although Moreno was Correa’s handpicked successor—he served as Correa’s vice president from 2007 to 2013, their relationship has turned sour. While Moreno has embraced a national dialogue with numerous political parties and civil society groups —his predecessor’s most bitter rivals included—Correa has accused his successor of a “mediocre” and “disloyal” betrayal. This rivalry has sparked rifts in the ruling party, setting the scene for a political clash that will determine the future of the party and the country.

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  • Drone Sale Would Cement US-India Ties

    On the eve of US President Donald J. Trump’s first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington on June 26, the US State Department approved the sale of twenty-two Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial System drones to India. This prospective purchase of drones manufactured by General Atomics marks the first of its kind from the United States by a country that is not a member of NATO. General Atomics (GA) and its affiliated companies now constitute one of the world's leading resources for high-technology systems ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

    Both governments will need to finalize the terms and conditions of this foreign military sale.

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  • Can Defense Industrialists Work with Trump?

    Whatever opprobrium the president is owed, his administration's more important initiatives deserve attention.

    Donald Trump’s twin business advisory panels have collapsed. Members of both the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum had been resigning quickly, and according to today's Wall Street Journal—“CEOs Scrap Trump Panels”—they voted yesterday just to disband. At first, the president asserted that he could replace all the “grandstanders” with compliant substitutes; he later claimed on Twitter that the disbanding was his idea, to save them all from public pressure. In “Why A&D CEOs May Be Happy To No Longer Counsel Trump” (Aviation Week, 16 August), Michael Bruno did opine that “few in the business world are likely” to consider the actions anything but “an astute public relations move.” Then again, Bruno also expressed worry about attracting talent to any organization too closely identified with Trump. In “Trump Loses Corporate America” (Wall Street Journal, 15 August), Holman Jenkins took the hard-nosed view that the administration is proving itself incapable of delivering useful change, so no one in business owes Trump the time of day. Or, we could permit business leaders some righteous outrage after those not-so-presidential prevarications following last weekend’s would-be fascist uprising in Virginia. Either way, after seven months of not-so-businesslike business in the White House, interest amongst business people in taking the man seriously seems to have evaporated.

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  • How Will Brexit Impact Intelligence Sharing?

    As the United Kingdom (UK) proceeds with negotiations to leave the European Union (EU), it must account for mounting security concerns regarding the potential drop-off in shared intelligence with EU countries.

    A recent report published by the UK’s House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee concluded there will be a “barrier” to security if data transfers between EU nations and the UK are obstructed after Brexit, which would negatively impact the national security and counter terrorism efforts of not only the UK, but EU member states as well.  

    In recent years, especially after the attacks in Brussels, Paris, Nice, and Berlin, there has been more cooperation within the EU to keep European citizens safe, highlighting both the growing importance and validity of intelligence sharing. The most recent attack in Barcelona on August 17, when a vehicle driven through crowds of pedestrians killed twelve and injured eighty, only underscores the growing need for collaboration in counterterrorism efforts throughout Europe. As a result, the UK needs to make the reconciliation between its security system and that of the EU a priority in the Brexit negotiations, working hard to secure the best UK-EU intelligence-sharing arrangement possible.

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  • The Challenge Ahead in Eastern Ukraine

    Bloody fighting between government troops and pro-Kremlin separatists and Russian regulars has continued for three years in Ukraine’s east. Meanwhile, an equally fierce battle is being waged for the hearts and minds of civilians on the Ukrainian side, many of whose loyalties hover between Kyiv and Moscow.
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  • How to Fix Ukraine’s Economy

    It’s been more than three years since Ukrainians were driven in large measure by the rampant corruption in Ukraine to retake their country. Yet state-owned enterprises (SOEs)—the organs of systemic corruption and deterrence for western investment—remain in the hands of the same elites who drain these state treasures of their financial and material resources. Even worse, this unwritten system scares away further capital, expertise, and technology required to restart an economy which is moving away from Russia. At the same time, the Ukrainian economy is starved for capital and the GDP growth required to support its population.

    Privatizing Ukraine’s state enterprises would send a powerful signal to corrupt elites and foreign investors.

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  • US Withdraws from Paris as Climate Impacts are Underscored

    On August 4, the administration of US President Donald J. Trump formally notified the United Nations (UN) of its intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, while a forthcoming report points to the increasing effects of climate change.

    In providing formal notification, Trump confirmed his June announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. However, in line with Trump’s desire for a better deal, Washington stipulated that the United States would be willing to re-engage with the terms of the Accord on “terms more favorable to it.”

    This move by the Trump administration raises more questions than it answers. Will the United States play a constructive role at COP23, the UN climate change conference in Bonn this fall, or will it be relegated to the sidelines? How will the rest of the world respond to US participation at COP23 and the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue to follow? More broadly, how will Washington engage in a process that is now driven by a framework (and a responsibility) for emissions reductions that it has rejected?

    Adding to these questions, the administration’s official notification was followed by a reminder of just how real, and how serious, the implications of a changing climate are.

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  • The Kenyan Elections: Too Soon to Relax

    Though incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has won the 2017 presidential election, the country remains on edge due to allegations of voter fraud by his opponent, Raila Odinga, which could plunge the country into post-election violence.

    In 2007, a horrific spasm of post-election violence swept across Kenya when Odinga, who has made four bids for the presidency, contested his defeat, claiming the vote was rigged. Every few years since then, Africans and Africanists abroad have watched the approach of elections in Kenya with dread. Taken off guard by the violence that occurred in 2007, and then over-pessimistic about the next elections that occurred in 2013, the international community seems unable to correctly predict whether significant bloodshed will occur, turning every Kenyan election into a nail-biting event. This year’s elections have upheld that pattern.

    According to the official results of the election, announced August 11, Kenyatta secured 54.27 percent of votes, while Odinga won 44.74 percent.  

    Even before the final result was announced, Odinga’s opposition party announced that it would reject the results of the August 8 election if he did not win. Despite pressure from the international community, he has not yet conceded, claiming the votes were manipulated and urging supporters to stay home from work in protest. Odinga has provided no evidence for this claim – but he may not have to. Though the Western nations and international observers denied it at the time, the 2007 election was certainly rigged, and so the current denials by the same groups of officials are likely to ring hollow to Odinga's supporters. Amid the controversy surrounding election results and allegations of inaccuracies, post-election violence is a looming threat with historical precedents.

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  • Eastern Europe’s Illiberal Trends Bode Badly for Ukraine

    A recent increase in illiberal trends in a number of Eastern European countries threatens to erode support for Ukraine in the region. Just as important, it may lead to disillusionment inside Ukraine, where reformers have drawn on the region’s democracy building experience as guidance for Ukraine’s own reforms.

    Immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Eastern European countries launched profound pro-market, pro-democratic, and pro-European transformations, quickly becoming members of NATO and the European Union. These young EU members were a source of inspiration for Ukraine’s pro-European activists and reformers at a time when Ukraine was perceived as “stuck in transition”—captured in the vicious cycle of an oligarchic economic model and corrupt political decision-making. Following the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine made important progress in energy pricing, procurement, and increased public service transparency by introducing electronic declarations, but is still striving to catch up in areas like the rule of law and protection of property rights.

    But Eastern Europe may no longer serve as a model for Ukraine’s reforms: some of these countries’ own democratic institutions are now under threat.

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  • The Statue of Liberty and the New Birth of Freedom

    White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was right in one part of his polemic with CNN’s Jim Acosta on August 2:  the Statue of Liberty was not, in its origins, a celebration of immigration. But the statue’s meaning, its original intent so to speak, will not advance Miller’s or anyone’s nativist agenda. 

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