United States

  • President Trump: 'I Want Europe to Pay'

    [Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan] is working so hard on the military. We have a — we were taken advantage of by so many countries on our military.
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  • Financial Transparency Legislation Would Help Defend US National Security

    This is the first in a two-part series.

    On December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Congress declared war on Japan. Two weeks after al Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, the CIA was on the ground in Afghanistan.

    The Russian attack on US democracy in 2016 was not deadly, but it was similarly harmful to US national security. The West, however, has still not pushed back strongly enough to stop the hybrid war Moscow continues to wage against the United States and its European allies.

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  • US Troop Drawdown from Afghanistan Needs to be Done Responsibly

    US President Donald J. Trump’s demand that the Pentagon plan for the withdrawal of 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan should not be viewed in isolation as it coincides with his decision to disengage from Syria, which, in turn, seems to have triggered the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis—viewed by many as a seasoned strategist and supporter of a nuanced approached to the US missions in Syria and Afghanistan.

    Trump’s Afghan withdrawal coincides with an ongoing effort, kicked off with the appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as the US special representative in September, to end the seventeen-year-old war in Afghanistan. If not coordinated, the withdrawal of US troops could hinder Khalilzad’s efforts and bolster the Taliban’s negotiating position. This, in turn, could weaken the positions of the US and Afghan governments, including political elites in Afghanistan, domestically as well as at the regional level. 

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  • How President Trump is Breaking a Destructive Cycle in the Middle East

    Presidential decision-making is one of the world’s most difficult tasks. The late and distinguished Fred Greenstein reminded us in his classic book, The Hidden-Hand Presidency, that things in the White House are often not exactly as they appear. In President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s case, he didn’t get the proper credit for governing diligently based on a fully-formed worldview. Is it possible that, despite the constant lashing of media pundits and armchair military strategists, President Donald J. Trump’s foreign policy decisions are more enlightened than meets the eye? Is it possible that his strategy will yield more peace and stability than neoconservative military interventionism? Yes and, almost certainly, yes.

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  • Mattis Out. What Now?

    US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ departure removes the strongest Cabinet voice against dismantling the US-led post-World War II international order. Mattis’ stunning resignation letter is a historic rebuke of the policies and person who chose him two-plus years ago to lead the US armed forces.  There were disquieting trends in the Mattis Department of Defense, but there is little doubt that the outgoing secretary served the nation with distinction and was able to thwart some of US President Donald J. Trump’s worst impulses. 
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  • The End of the Great War and the American Grand Strategy in the American Century

    On December 13, 1918, Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, the first US president to leave American soil while president, aiming to make peace of a new kind at Versailles. The Allies had won the Great War, as World War I was known at the time, thanks to US power, and Wilson was trying to use military success to lock in a strategic breakthrough at the upcoming peace conference in Versailles, which was to begin the next January. Instead of a settlement which gave a province or two to the winners, Europe’s practice for centuries, Wilson—in a breathtaking combination of vision and ambition—would try to set to order a rules-based world which favored freedom, a lasting peace built on a foundation of US power, and reflected US values.

    Wilson had set out US war aims—his famous Fourteen Points—in January 1918. These challenged the imperial, balance-of-power system of the European powers (on both sides) that had started the war, and at the same time took on the revolutionary alternative which Lenin’s Bolsheviks had proclaimed. The French, British, and Italians, US allies, had fought for territorial prizes, spelled out in secret treaties between them.

    Wilson was trying to have none of that.

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  • NATO Owes Secretary Mattis a Debt of Gratitude

    Back in the spring of 2008, I was enjoying a quiet moment in my office at NATO headquarters when the phone rang. My assistant told me that the new Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), Gen. James Mattis, was making his courtesy calls to NATO in Brussels and would drop by in ten minutes to talk to me. 

    Frankly I was mystified.  NATO has two supreme commanders, SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) and SACT, and in all my thirty-eight years on the NATO international staff I have never known either of these individuals to call on an official below the rank of secretary general, the chairman of the Military Committee or the NATO ambassadors on the North Atlantic Council. At that time I was the director of the Policy Planning Unit. If he had an issue at my level, Mattis would normally dispatch an aide or one of his section chiefs. What could I contribute that would make our new SACT wish to come to see me in person?  

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  • A Path Forward in Afghanistan

    One year on, there appears to be little to show for US President Donald J. Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan. The administration needs to implement this strategy in a way that creates an opportunity to end the war in Afghanistan while advancing core US interests of defeating terrorism and demonstrating that a moderate Islamic state, aligned with the international community, can succeed.

    The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center convened policymakers, analysts, and diplomats to assess the gaps in and imminent challenges facing the US strategy in Afghanistan. In a resulting report, “A Review of President Trump’s South Asia Strategy: The Way Ahead, One Year In,” these experts provide some important recommendations to the administration. Here’s a look at those recommendations.

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  • Trump, Trudeau, and Peña Nieto Sign New Trade Agreement: Here’s What You Need to Know About the USMCA

    In 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement went into force, it intrinsically linked the economies of the United States, Mexico, and Canada; becoming the lynchpin of the North American economy and amplifying its competitiveness in the international market.

    Nearly twenty-five years later, a new, modernized trilateral trade deal between these three countries was signed by US President Donald J. Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Argentina on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 30.

    Trump called it a “truly groundbreaking achievement.” The USMCA must still be approved by the US Congress where Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives in January.

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  • Trump Cancels Meeting With Putin

    ‘Better no meeting than a bad one,’ says the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried

    Hours after the Kremlin confirmed a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald J. Trump on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, the US president cancelled the appointment with his Russian counterpart citing the continued detention of Ukrainian naval vessels and their crew by Russia.

    “Better no meeting than a bad one,” said Daniel Fried, a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center.

    Fried was referring to the last Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in July.

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