Issue Briefs

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“It is vital for American interests in Asia to have India as an economic and strategic ally,” writes Bharath Gopalaswamy and former Minister Manish Tewari in “Transforming India from a Balancing to Leading Power,” a new brief from the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

 

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Despite the popularity of economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool, their ability to deliver sustained impacts on target countries is often called into question. In “Economic Sanctions–A Vital Foreign Policy Tool,” author John Forrer, associate research professor of strategic management and public policy at the School of Business at George Washington University, explains the reasons behind sanctions’ enduring popularity. The author argues the most compelling reason for their appeal is that they can be designed and deployed to achieve many foreign policy goals. 

 

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The rise in US natural gas production, enabled by the shale boom, is influencing global markets and geopolitics. As domestic natural gas production grows, so too has US export capacity and the potential to drive shifts in the global market for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

 

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“Gazprom is one of the Kremlin’s main cash generators and international political tools. The company subsidizes Russia’s wars in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the Kremlin’s well-funded effort to undermine European unity through propaganda and support for anti-European parties,” writes Ilya Zaslavskiy in "The Kremlin’s Gas Games in Europe: Implications for Policy Makers," a new brief from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu’s Eurasia Center and the Free Russia Foundation.

 

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A turbulent security environment in Europe and strong rhetoric from President Trump have brought renewed attention to NATO, its role in dealing with shared security challenges, and the future of the United States’ relationship with its allies. Front and center are legitimate questions about commitments to defense burden sharing, as well as NATO’s role in counterterrorism. This serves an opportunity to renew the transatlantic security relationship. As part of the Atlantic Council’s project ‘A New Deal for NATO,’ NATO and Trump: The Case for a New Transatlantic Bargain provides pivotal insight and recommendations on how the United States and European allies can move forward to renew the transatlantic security and defense agenda, and make progress on these crucial areas, with the goal of bolstering our shared security.

 
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This issue brief is the product of a pilot project of the Atlantic Council’s efforts to establish an Asia-Pacific Center. It is drawn from a series of workshops exploring the key question of how to strengthen Trans-Atlantic-Pacific cooperation on regional and global issues. The core mission of the Council’s planned Center is to create an Atlantic-Pacific Community that brings together the United States with its European and Asia-Pacific allies and partners to assess key aspects of the long-range trajectory of the region and to develop a strategic perspective for adapting and revitalizing the rules-based international order.

 
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In 2016, a series of highly impactful and publicized disruptions provided a wake-up call to societies on both sides of the Atlantic making obvious their dependence on inherently unpredictable technology. Just before the year began, a targeted attack disrupted the Ukrainian energy grid, forcing its operators to fall back on decades-old manual processes, and a similar attack followed late in the year. The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles was forced to shut down for weeks as a critical patient-care system was unintentionally disrupted by ransomware—a common plague that impacted many other parts of societal infrastructure through the year, including San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), US electricity providers, and hospitals in the United States and across Europe. At the same time, a botnet of poorly secured devices disrupted large portions of the US Internet and knocked more than one million German households offline. And while the Russian breach of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the associated influence campaign continue to shock many in the United States and beyond, the specter of hackable voting computers also cast doubt on the US electoral system in the lead-up to and aftermath of the presidential election.

 

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The European security environment is at its most volatile since the Cold War, and much of the friction between NATO and a newly assertive Russia can be found in the maritime domain, particularly in the Baltic Sea region. This means that NATO must once again address the role of the maritime domain in collective defense and deterrence, and in particular NATO’s ability to conduct sea control and effect reinforcements across the sea. Germany, a key NATO ally in the Baltic Sea region, is currently rebalancing its navy toward the Baltic Sea, and to a lesser degree the North Atlantic, after more than two decades of tending to crisis management tasks. This presents a real opportunity to strengthen collective defense and deterrence in northern Europe and to help fill some of the capability and command and control gaps in the region. 

 

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This spring, the Swedish government is expected to bring back its military draft after seven years. In this, Sweden will join its neighbor Norway, which never abolished its military draft but did make it gender-neutral last year. A third European country, Lithuania, has also reinstated the draft after abolishing it a decade ago. “The Return of the Draft” by Elisabeth Braw, a nonresident senior fellow in the Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, takes a deeper look at how the draft is returning in a modernized fashion. The author outlines the key policy issues related to recruiting the best conscripts and how to maximize their benefit to the armed forces.

 
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Germany’s historical experience explains how the energy transition (Energiewende) came about, and largely explains the resilience of the policies to abandon nuclear power and to scale-up renewables in the face of the challenges they have posed to Germany’s consumers, utilities, and international competitiveness. Whereas the success of the Energiewende to date has come from the way it takes a unifying approach to energy, environment, and labor policies, its success will require expanding the scope from a German to an EU-wide scale.