In December 2015, a forty-year ban on US crude oil exports lifted. Rapid advancements in US shale oil production played a crucial role in lifting this ban. However, in an energy market awash in oil surplus, whilst large-scale exports are unlikely, there is a significant appetite for “test cargoes” globally.
In recent years, the ambitious Russian military build-up, coupled with revanchist Russian rhetoric and increasingly aggressive behavior, has made it clear that the security environment in the Baltic Sea region has changed. This situation is likely to last for a long time, emphasizing the need for a coherent response and deeper defense cooperation. In "Enhanced Defense Cooperation: New Opportunities for US engagement in the Baltic Sea Region," the Swedish Embassy's Defense Adviser Johan Raeder argues that it is in the interests of Finland and Sweden, already strong partners, to contribute to Baltic security by facilitating NATO's efforts and promoting US engagement and presence. Whether developing NATO's Readiness Action Plan, planning for Baltic Air Policing, or supporting forces stationed in Europe, enhanced Finnish and Swedish defense cooperation would provide the United States with new opportunities and help develop standards for smart defense.
On January 16, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran had implemented key measures under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a result, nuclear-related sanctions previously imposed by the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States were lifted. The removal of these sanctions opens up a wide range of possibilities for investment in and trade with Iran.
The risk of nuclear war between NATO and Russia may be higher now than at any time since the 1980s. Over the past decade, Russia has made nuclear weapons a predominant element of its national security strategy and military doctrine, while NATO has consciously de-emphasized its nuclear posture. Moscow is currently revitalizing all three legs of its nuclear triad and may be prepared to use nuclear weapons, if necessary to avoid losing a regional war with NATO. In "The Renewed Russian Nuclear Threat and NATO Nuclear Deterrence Posture," Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Matthew Kroenig writes that NATO needs to realign its priorities by increasing the importance of its nuclear deterrence mission and considering possible modifications to its conventional and nuclear posture in order to deter the Russian nuclear threat.
Largely neglected after the end of the Cold War, the use of information and public diplomacy to influence audiences and help achieve national objectives is making a comeback. This comeback however is not from the United States, but from actors such as ISIS, Russia, and China, whose objectives often run counter to ours. Using graphic imagery, misinformation, and censorship, they undermine US efforts around the globe and challenge US influence.
As oil prices fall to their lowest in decades, Nigeria's oil revenue has plummeted nearly $2 billion since the start of 2014. While Africa's most populous nation has continued to sell roughly 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, it has struggled to achieve a robust price. Brent crude—the benchmark against which Nigerian oil is priced—traded last week below $35 a barrel, the lowest price in more than a decade and considerably down from the $100 or higher that oil commanded between 2011 and 2014.
September 2015 marked the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's speech outlining the administration's strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Yet, ISIS celebrated in June its own first-year anniversary of setting up a state by conducting three nearly simultaneous terrorist operations in three different countries—France, Tunisia, and Kuwait. Just this past month, ISIS also shocked the world with its attacks in Paris and Beirut and its downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing more than 400 people combined and injuring hundreds more. While nobody expected the destruction of a resilient and agile foe such as ISIS within a couple of years, it is deeply troubling that the coalition is having such a hard time even disrupting its activities.
The eyes of the world are on the United Nations Climate Conference, also known as COP21. Leaders from around the world are gathered in Paris in an effort to combat the effects of climate change. One of the best chances we have to mitigate these harmful effects are renewable technologies.
Germany may be seeking to expedite the construction of Russia's Nordstream 2 pipeline by shielding the controversial project from tough the laws of the European Union (EU), according to a transcript of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Energy Minster Sigmar Gabriel, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Alan Riley writes in "Nordstream 2: Too Many Obstacles, Legal, Economic, and Political to Be Delivered?".
In "The Militarization of Crimea under Russian Occupation," Crimean activist Andrii Klymenko explains how the Kremlin has moved to tighten its grip on Crimea as the world turns its focus toward Syria. Indeed, Russia has proven itself to be settling in for the long haul in Crimea, with mass relocations of Russian military servicemen to the peninsula spurring housing shortages and massive infrastructure projects.