Original

Original pieces written by Atlantic Council staff or affiliates.
  • Trump's Reversal of North Korea Sanctions Sends a Dangerous Signal

    US President Donald J. Trump’s stunning decision to reverse Treasury sanctions on North Korea because he “likes” Kim Jong-un sends a troubling message to the United States’ friends and foes.

    “Hard to believe, but the president is undercutting his own policy of maximum pressure/maximum diplomacy, which was arguable sound, in favor, it seems, of an obsequious gesture,” said Daniel Fried, a distinguished senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center who as the State Department’s coordinator for sanctions policy crafted US sanctions against Russia, the largest US sanctions program to date, and negotiated the imposition of similar sanctions by Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia. 


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  • Decision Time for Brexit, But Not Quite as Planned

    Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) will not take place on March 29, as British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised on countless occasions in the past two years. But a week which has seen the EU wrench the Brexit timetable from May’s hands will still be followed by one which could well set the course for Britain’s relations with Europe for generations to come.

    It is not just the decisions taken by the European Council, comprising the EU’s heads of government, that has so transformed the atmosphere. On March 20, May appealed over Parliament’s head to the British people. But the result was that she entirely lost her authority in Parliament itself, ensuring that it will be the House of Commons, and not her own government, that now has effective control of the Brexit agenda.


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  • Wanted: A Spirit of Creativity and Realism on WTO Reform

    For better or worse, the Trump administration has encouraged new soul-searching at the World Tarde Organization (WTO) in Geneva over the need for reforms to the multilateral trade system. But even well before Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States in November 2016, the United States and other WTO members were already confronting a series of existential questions. 
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  • USMCA is Not a Done Deal. It Must Still Clear Three Legislative Hurdles

    On November 30, the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), modernizing the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and “rebalancing” trade relations between the three countries, according to the US administration.  Before the new pact officially takes effect, however, the legislatures of all three countries need to approve the agreement.

    The USMCA would preserve the massive trading and shared-production networks that support millions of jobs in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Those networks support North America’s ability to compete effectively with China, Europe, and other economic powers. Approving USMCA this year would thus appear to be in the economic interest all three countries, providing certainty for the $1.3 trillion in three-way trade and for the many businesses, workers, and farmers that depend on the commerce and co-production that interlinks North America. Since USMCA will last at least sixteen years, its approval should provide certainty to encourage private sector investment in strengthening North America’s continental marketplace.


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  • The Only Thing Certain About Brexit is That it Won’t Happen on March 29

    The United Kingdom will no longer leave the European Union (EU) on March 29 as originally planned. However, policy makers on both sides of the English Channel still do not know when Brexit will happen, how it will be implemented, or even if it will really come to pass. Despite more than two years of negotiations, little is known about what will be the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the EU.

    Here is a quick look at where things stand and what to watch out for in the coming weeks:


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  • Trump’s Support for Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights May Hurt Israel

    In a departure from longstanding US policy, US President Donald J. Trump on March 21 tweeted that it was time the United States recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in 1967.


    While there is perhaps more than a touch of politics behind the timing of the tweet—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, is up for re-election on April 9—an actual shift in US policy on this sensitive issue could have serious consequences.


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  • US Joint Chiefs Chairman Makes the Case for Keeping US Troops in Europe

    The presence of US troops and military equipment in Europe is important, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford said on March 21, as Moscow would “be much happier if there was not a physical manifestation of our commitment to NATO because their message that we are not willing to meet our alliance [commitments] would be much easier to sell.”


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  • Far Right Grows in Opposition to Dutch Consensus Politics

    Far-right parties in the Netherlands posted their best result to date in midterm elections on March 20. The Party for Freedom (PVV) and Forum for Democracy took a combined 21 percent of the votes. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s four-party coalition government is projected to lose its majority in the Senate.

    It wasn’t all bad news for Rutte. His liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) still placed second and his government will not, as it feared, be completely dependent on the Greens in the new Senate. It should be able to do deals with the Labor Party and smaller parties on the center-right as well.


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  • Behind the Din Over Defense Spending, NATO Was Hard at Work in 2018

    Despite a year of public criticism and uncertainty on both sides of the Atlantic, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed 2018 as a year of tremendous progress for the transatlantic Alliance. Launching his Annual Report for 2018 on March 14, Stoltenberg said allies are “doing a lot more together — in more ways and in more places — than ever before.”

    Throughout 2018, NATO allies and their partners took steps to bolster the Alliance’s capabilities, strengthen its defense, and respond to changing security threats and technologies. Here is a quick look at what the Alliance accomplished in 2018, according to Stoltenberg’s new report.


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  • The ‘Caliphate:’ Gone by Tonight or With Us for Decades?

    US President Donald J. Trump’s announcement that ISIS (ISIL, Islamic State, Daesh) “will be gone by tonight” is welcome news.  An important battle in Syria has been won.  But the war will continue.  It will rage throughout the Muslim world until political legitimacy fills vacuums of governance that Islamist extremists will continue to contest; legitimacy that can only come about through the voluntary consent of the governed.  This is a war for the hearts and minds of Sunni Muslims; not buildings and trackless desert.
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