Analysis

 Economic incentives, specifically the expansion of trade and increased investment in the Asia-Pacific region, could provide the best opportunity for strengthening the Atlantic-Pacific partnership, according to Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., chairman of the Atlantic Council.

These economic incentives could serve as a point of common interest to overcome the geographic and political divisions among the three major players of the Atlantic-Pacific partnership—namely the United States, the European Union, and parts of Asia such as Japan and, in some cases, China.

“Despite the numerous challenges set forth by an increasingly volatile geopolitical climate,” said Huntsman, who previously served as the US ambassador to China and Singapore, “market developments in the Asia-Pacific region offer huge opportunities to the United States and Europe, providing a historic opening to expand trade and investment and strengthen relations generally.”
Challenges emanating from the Mediterranean region, including those posed by failed states, terrorism, and a historic flow of migrants, have contributed to a surge in populism on both sides of the Atlantic that could imperil transatlantic unity and the European project itself, Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, said on February 1.  

Vershbow, who previously served as deputy secretary general of NATO from February 2012 to October 2016, said that these challenges “threaten to undermine the traditional values of openness and tolerance on both sides of the Atlantic.” Consequently, these conditions necessitate a fresh look at the security situation in the Mediterranean, focusing in particular on drivers of instability.

“The security interests of the transatlantic community and the Mediterranean have been closely intertwined for centuries… but never more intertwined than today,” he said.  
In facing the challenges of the world today, leaders and policymakers can draw on examples from the past in order to create hope for the future.  As described by Fred Kempe, president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Council, one such example can be found in the late Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, a military leader and statesman who worked through the twentieth century to help establish the current rules-based global order.

The Life and Work of General Andrew J. Goodpaster: Best Practices in National Security Affairs by C. Richard Nelson is a biography detailing the renowned general’s life and the ways in which he embodied “the defense of values, the defense of constructive leadership in the world alongside friends and allies to create a more secure future,” said Kempe.
US President Donald Trump’s decision to take the United States out of a free-trade agreement with eleven other Pacific Rim nations is a “gift” for China because it undermines a deal through which the United States had sought to write the rules of the road for global trade, according to two Atlantic Council analysts.

“Donald Trump is enabling [Chinese President] Xi Jinping to make China great again,” said Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and its Strategic Foresight Initiative.

On January 23, Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a signature agreement of his predecessor Barack Obama. The decision was not surprising. On the campaign trail, Trump had provided plenty of clues as to his dislike for the TPP. Following his election on November 8, he put out a video in which he implicitly stated his intention to withdraw the United States from the TPP “from day one” of his term as president. Describing the agreement as “a potential disaster for our country,” he said, he would “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back.”
The United States must take on a “more assertive” role on the global stage as President-elect Donald Trump and his newly appointed team devise a cohesive national security strategy to deter and counter both immediate and looming challenges, according to the Atlantic Council’s Barry Pavel, who is a former member of the National Security Council staff.

“It’s a propitious time for a more assertive US approach to a world that’s very complex and full of a lot of dangerous and unpredictable challenges,” said Pavel, vice president, Arnold Kanter Chair, and director of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. Comparing the incoming Trump administration’s commentary on global challenges with the approach of the Obama administration, he said: “We’ve been relatively withdrawn over the last several years. I don’t see too many areas where a softer approach would be useful. It’s probably a good time for the Trump administration to be more assertive.”
Though inauguration speeches are not known for their foreign policy pronouncements, the world’s complexity demands that US President-elect Donald J. Trump mention foreign policy in his address to the nation during his inauguration on January 20. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt used his speech to describe how the United States could continue on the path to becoming a global power. In his inaugural address in 2009, Barack Obama talked about getting out of Iraq, denuclearization, and working with authoritarians who would “unclench” their hold on power. Otherwise, that speech is known more for its call to heal social and political divides in the United States.

No doubt Trump will attempt to strike a similar message on January 20 using “Reagan’s style and Kennedy’s vision.” Though it is hard to predict what Trump and his inaugural speechwriter, Stephen Miller, are drafting (and revising, and editing, and re-revising…) with regard to US foreign policy, common threads abound in Trump’s worldview, as a result at least some thematic projections can be made.
China could retaliate in several ways that would cause serious damage to the United States if President-elect Donald Trump were to overplay his hand with the Asian nation, according to an Asia expert at the Atlantic Council.

Noting that Trump has a “grotesquely inflated sense of American leverage,” Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and its Strategic Foresight Initiative, said: “What would he do if China took its $1.3 trillion in Treasury bonds that fund our deficit and put it into euros? Our economies are very interdependent and there is a mutually assured destruction if we start getting into tit-for-tat trade wars.”

ISIS claims responsibility; official response ‘measured’ 

German authorities have been “careful not to jump to conclusions” following a December 19 attack on a Christmas market in Berlin despite the fact that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has claimed responsibility, said Jasmine El-Gamal, a senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

“They’re being very measured,” El-Gamal said. “[T]hey’re not quick… to shift the blame to someone else because they’re still in fact-gathering mode.”

El-Gamal joined Fran Burwell, vice president for European Union and Special Initiatives at the Atlantic Council, for a Facebook Live discussion on December 20 to examine the security situation in Europe in light of the attack, as well as the potential political implications. 
Exemplified by his extraordinary phone conversation with the leader of Taiwan and his tweets criticizing China, US President-elect Donald Trump’s undefined stance on Asia has created uncertainty and anxiety throughout the region.

“The United States is a very important strategic and economic partner,” consequently, countries throughout the region are “anxious to find out what the new administration is going to do…and anxious to work with the new administration,” said Meredith Miller, vice president of Albright Stonebridge Group.

On December 2, Trump spoke with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, in what the Washington Post reported was “a breach of protocol that could disrupt US-China ties before the inauguration.” The call was the first by a US president-elect or president since Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan in 1979. Since 1979, US-China relations have been governed by the “one-China” policy under which the United States acknowledges Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China.
France occupies a unique geopolitical position and can positively influence Europe’s trajectory, but first it must undertake significant domestic reforms, Jérémie Gallon, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative, said in a Facebook Live discussion on December 6.

Gallon joined Jeffrey Lightfoot, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security, to discuss their forthcoming publication, Spotlight France: Europe’s Swing State.

In the report, both authors argue that “what happens in France matters across Europe and it matters around the world.” Lightfoot and Gallon agreed that the future France decides to pursue, a pressing concern in light of upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in May and June of 2017, respectively, will set the tone for the rest of Europe with regard to rising populism, economic reform, and the integration of Muslim populations into European society.


    

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