Reports

The Pacific Alliance–an innovative pact among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru–has unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on political changes in Brazil and Argentina and move the region into a new era of regional integration. A new publication by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and the Bertelsmann Foundation, released just weeks ahead of the Alliance’s Sixth Presidential Summit in Chile, says that now is the moment for the Alliance to deepen engagement with Mercosur and build on efforts to strengthen financial market, energy, trade, and foreign policy coordination.

 

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After more than three years of negotiations to forge a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), many elements of the agreement are still far from settled. However, it is possible to reach agreement in 2016. The negotiators are determined, and there is mounting awareness that an agreement that underscores the importance of the transatlantic economic relationship and strengthens the strategic relationship between the European Union (EU) and the United States is needed.

 

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NATO has the capacity to win a conventional war in the Baltics, if appropriate steps are taken.

Effective defense of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—and deterrence built upon such defensive capabilities—is one of the key challenges facing NATO and its member nations. Russia’s actions, geopolitical rhetoric, and geographic proximity to the Baltics have generated the requirement for a significant defense capability. This report sets forth how such a capability should be achieved, for both conventional and hybrid conflicts. Certain of the capabilities discussed below will also have relevance to issues in NATO’s South, and to resilience for nations throughout the Alliance. As set forth in the report NATO’s New Strategy, however, such considerations are of equal importance to the threat to the Baltics, and require action by the Alliance. NATO, of course, is only one of the West’s possible responses to geopolitical challenges, and the proposals below are therefore intended to fit within the overall international context faced by the NATO nations and their partners. The paper, however, focuses specifically on the Baltic defense challenge. In fact, NATO has the capacity to win a conventional war in the Baltics, even in the face of a short-notice Russian attack—if appropriate steps are taken to provide a substantial defense. Accordingly, to build on steps taken by NATO at the 2014 Wales Summit, by ministers since then, and by the United States under the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), this paper recommends that NATO should take the following actions.

 

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Petrocaribe, Caracas’ eleven-year-old energy and diplomatic alliance, is weakening. As Venezuela spirals closer to economic demise, the United States and the international community have an unprecedented opportunity to support Central America and the Caribbean’s transition away from Petrocaribe. A report released today by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center proposes new strategies for the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean to advance together toward a more sustainable energy future. As regional leaders prepare to meet in Washington, DC on May 4 to discuss energy security, now is the time to take immediate steps to prepare against the inevitable destabilization that will result from Venezuela’s collapse.

 

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The United States and the European Union (EU) share the largest trade and investment relationship in the world, with more than $5.5 trillion in commerce every year and up to fifteen million jobs generated on both sides of the Atlantic. Currently under negotiations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will bolster this key partnership, increasing efficiency, spurring job creation, and generating opportunities for innovation and small and medium enterprises. At a time of slow recovery from the 2009 recession, a comprehensive agreement that protects high quality standards can send a powerful signal to the rest of the world, highlighting the United States’ and Europe’s dynamism.

 

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The era of Pax Americana in the Gulf, and perhaps in the broader Middle East, is changing. Regional transformation and chaos resulting from the Arab uprisings, the rise of ISIS and its global terrorist reach, shifting US priorities around the world, and the rise of other outside powers in the Gulf have contributed to an acceleration of the transition from a Gulf security architecture with almost exclusive US access and control to a more penetrated system in which the United States is still militarily dominant. However, major powers like Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France are more confidently stepping in, pursuing their self-interests, and assuming more expansive political, economic, and security roles that either compete with or complement US policies and interests.


 


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The forced displacement of unprecedented numbers of people within and beyond national borders has become an enduring yet fluid phenomenon across the Middle East and North Africa over the past decade. The Middle East Strategy Task Force's Rebuilding Societies: Strategies for Resilience and Recovery in Times of Conflict report, published in cooperation with the United States Institute of Peace, discusses what can be done now to plant the seeds for a full recovery and social cohesion in societies that are in the midst of protracted violent conflicts, and provides more sustainable, coherent, and substantive answers to the ongoing refugee crisis.

The increased risks being taken by refugees and asylum-seekers, including those who are crossing the Mediterranean in very dangerous conditions, and the sharp increased flow through the Balkans and Europe illustrate their level of desperation. They are also a reflection of the failure of both national leaders and the international community to address the violent conflicts as well as the elements of fragility that lead to them in a sustainable way.

 


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Innovation will be a crucial requirement for US leadership and national security in the twenty-first century. The United States faces an era of global competition across all elements of national power. In the economic arena, American domination has necessarily been comparatively receding as the world continues to develop. Militarily, challenges have expanded geographically and qualitatively as multi-polarity and diffusion of power increases the number of capable state and nonstate actors. Diplomacy has become more complex as information capabilities are available throughout the world, populaces are more engaged, and there are strong ideological challenges to the Western, liberal rules-based model. The United States is still the most powerful nation, but maintaining successful leadership and strong national security will require the United States to build on and enhance its existing strengths. A crucial element of that requirement will be the capacity to innovate regularly and effectively. Innovation will be a prerequisite to leadership across all elements of national power.


 


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The United States and the European Union (EU) have a historic opportunity—perhaps their last—to be leaders in building the digital market of the future. To do so, they must seize the opportunity to create a transatlantic digital single market stretching from Silicon Valley to Tallinn, Estonia. Together, they can give a new burst of energy to a global Internet economy centered on thriving digital commerce, innovation, creativity, online security, and citizens’ rights. The newest report of the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative, “Building a Transatlantic Digital Marketplace: Twenty Steps Toward 2020,” evaluates the state of play on the most pressing digital policy issues across five interlocking areas, and identifies twenty steps that the United States and the EU can begin to take between now and 2020 to build a transatlantic marketplace, encourage trust, and preserve the Internet as a global commercial commons and a public good.


 


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While President Putin announced the end of Russia’s military operations with much fanfare, the modest forces withdrawn thereafter suggest that by no means is Russia’s military role in Syria over. 

The complete report is available online: http://publications.atlanticcouncil.org/distract-deceive-destroy/

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