New Atlanticist

  • Trump Recognizes Venezuelan Opposition Leader as Interim President

    US President Donald J. Trump has ramped up pressure on Nicolás Maduro’s embattled regime by recognizing opposition leader and National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.

    Announcing his decision on January 23, Trump said: “In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant.  The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law.”

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  • The New Treaty of Aachen: More Than Just a Symbol?

    The new Treaty of Aachen, signed on January 22 by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel bears great symbolic significance—historical as well as political. The question is whether it carries much practical significance.

    On Christmas Day in the year 800 AD, Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III in Rome as the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite Voltaire’s quip in 1756 that this construction was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, the Sacrum Imperium Romanum was to last until it was dissolved in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. Even today, the prince of Liechtenstein is a direct inheritor of one of the principalities composing the Holy Roman Empire.

    The capital of the empire was Aachen, known in French (and generally in English) as Aix-la-Chapelle. Charlemagne had become King of the Franks in 768 AD, upon the death of his father, Pepin the Short, and, as his father had done before him, he spent Christmas that


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  • International Support Urged For Ukraine in Face of Russian Aggression

    “There is a war going on in the middle of Europe. A very hot war,” according to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s vice prime minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, who urged policy makers to confront this “uncomfortable truth” about Russian aggression.

    Speaking in a panel discussion hosted by Ukraine House Davos in Davos, Switzerland, on January 22, Klympush-Tsintsadze said: “Ukraine needs to be given a hand, a shoulder, or some engagement to help against Russian aggression, especially in the year of elections.” Ukraine is gearing up for presidential elections on March 31.

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  • Transitional Justice in Tunisia—a Transition to What?

    January 14, the anniversary of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 2011 ouster, is a now a national holiday in Tunisia. It is also a moment to examine how things are going in the country that ignited “the Arab Spring”—the only country whose uprising did not go off the rails.

    This year’s anniversary coincided with a landmark in Tunisia’s transition: its truth commission is completing its four-year mission.  In the next few weeks, the Truth and Dignity Commission (TDC), an independent state body mandated by the 2013 Law on Transitional Justice, will publish its mammoth report on government repression from independence in 1956 to 2013, and recommend institutional reforms to prevent backsliding to dictatorship. The commission has referred cases to “special courts” that the law established to try the accused. It will recommend reparations for the thousands of victims of torture,


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  • With Wess Mitchell’s Resignation, the State Department is Losing a Committed Atlanticist

    Wess Mitchell, the United States’ top diplomat for European affairs, will resign from the State Department next month, sixteen months since he took the job. His last day as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs is February 15.

    As assistant secretary, Mitchell’s responsibilities have included diplomatic relations with countries in Europe and Eurasia, and with NATO, the European Union, and the OSCE.

    Mitchell cited “personal and professional” reasons in his resignation letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the news.

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  • #StrongerWithAllies: Serving with Pride

    When a reserved seventeen-year-old left his small rural hometown for basic training, he carried more than just his suitcases with him. Naval Lt. Jeremy Arsenault arrived at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for basic training in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as one of his town’s only residents to attend university and holding the heavy weight of a secret.

    “When I joined the CAF in 2006, I was still a closeted country boy,” he revealed. “I was very scared that someone was going to find out my secret and that it would negatively affect my career moving forward. I did everything I could to hide the fact that I was gay.”

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  • Yet Another Crisis Day in Britain's Brexit Saga

    There is uncertainty everywhere. In the Northern Irish city of Londonderry, police carried out a controlled explosion of a hijacked van and evacuated houses in the Creggan area less than forty-eight hours after a bomb exploded outside the city’s courthouse—luckily, with no casualties.

    Parliamentary exchanges on January 21 were spattered with references to the courthouse bomb and to the vexed issue of the Irish backstop, the mechanism agreed by the United Kingdom and the European Union to ensure that the current frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic—a key ingredient of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that ended thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland—will remain in place after the UK leaves the EU.

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  • Davos Edition: China-US Contest 'Problem of Our Time'

    DAVOS, SWITZERLAND  Former U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley poses the most significant question hovering over the global future as the World Economic Forum's annual meeting opens here Monday.

    "Can the United States and China be strategic competitors and strategic cooperators at the same time?" Hadley asked. "It's what the world requires, but it's also never been done before."

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  • Trump to Meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Again in February

    US President Donald J. Trump will meet Kim Jong-un for a second time in late February to push the North Korean leader to take steps toward denuclearization, the White House said on January 18. It did not announce a location. The two leaders last met in Singapore on June 12, 2018. That was the first meeting between a leader of North Korea and a sitting US president.

    Is a second summit a good idea?

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  • EU Lawmaker on Troubled Transatlantic Ties: ‘We Need to Have Contingency Plans in Place’

    Dutch member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake is a true-blue transatlanticist but even she is losing faith. Schaake, vice chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with the United States, is also losing patience with anyone not yet sufficiently alarmed about the state of what has traditionally been a stalwart relationship.

    “Under the Trump administration, the rift in transatlantic relations is so much worse and the change is so much steeper than I could have ever imagined. So I’m very, very worried about where [it’s] going,” said Schaake.

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