Recent Events

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. 
On December 20, The Hon. Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the US Air Force returned to the Atlantic Council for a special roundtable discussion with junior staff members on “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in National Security: A conversation with the Hon. Deborah Lee James.” The session featured a keynote address by the Secretary, and a moderated discussion and Q&A led by Lauren Speranza, Assistant Director, Transatlantic Security Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

Secretary James has been a vocal champion for issues relating to diversity and inclusion during her tenure as the Secretary of the Air Force, introducing various initiatives to increase opportunities for women and minorities in service. She joined junior staff members to speak on an array of lessons for female foreign policy professionals, sharing her own career story, answering questions, and discussing approaches and innovative ways to deal with challenges women face in the industry.
On December 16, the Atlantic Council hosted private roundtable discussion with John Manza, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations. Manza provided an update on the planning and execution of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

Manza has served as NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations since July 2016. Recently, he has expanded his duties at NATO having been appointed the Alliance’s Senior Civilian Representative in Baghdad, where he will be standing up the new NATO Mission to Iraq. Previously, Manza served as Director for NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His career includes positions at NATO (Kabul), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense, as well as 20 years in the Marine Corps, with deployments to Central America, Asia and the Middle East.
On December 8, we partnered with the Norwegian Embassy for its annual Henry Bacon Seminar. This year’s seminar, The North Atlantic–Old Security Landscape Reemerging, focused on the growing security challenges in the North Atlantic, in light of Russia’s increasing assertiveness and military build-up in the region. With the new US administration preparing to take office, the event contributed to the conversations on the US’ future role in European and transatlantic security, as well as what steps NATO Allies and partner countries should take to bolster security and stability, particularly in the North Atlantic region. Expert panelists also explored Russia’s capabilities, modernization plans, and grand strategy for the region, as well as some of the broader threats related to maritime security and the GIUK gap.

The Atlantic Council supported the event, as a part of our long-standing partnership with the MOD, by furnishing select speakers, including Christine Wormuth, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council, and Magnus Nordenman, Director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
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.
An undercurrent of apprehension regarding global affairs and concern in the aftermath of the US presidential elections defined the 6th Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, held on November 29 by the Körber Foundation in Berlin, Germany.

In a wide-ranging and deeply contemplative dialogue, Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance, made the case for a strong Germany within a united Europe, as the world prepares for the possibility of the United States playing a smaller role on the global stage.
The US-led coalition offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the final major foothold of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq, has progressed slowly but positively over the course of the past month. However, questions still remain whether the offensive, Operation Inherent Resolve, will prove to be a coalition of convenience that dissolves without a clear and common enemy, or if political wills in Baghdad and Erbil, both in Iraq, are able to hash out a post-conflict structure that preempts ethnic opportunists and revenge killing. The battle for Mosul may mark the culmination of a protracted effort to build some semblance of unity amidst Iraq’s factionalist disorder.
On December 2, the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a discussion on the incoming administration’s Asia policy and its potential impacts for the region. The session was led by David Wertime, a senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine.

Following a welcome and introductory remarks by the Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Wertime moderated a panel on President-Elect Trump’s Asia policy featuring Russell Hsiao, executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute; Shihoko Goto, senior associate for Northeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program; and Meredith Miller, vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group.