Extend NATO’s umbrella to Montenegro and Macedonia

By Michael Haltzel
Sunday, June 29, 2014

In reacting to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, President Obama has reassured exposed NATO members Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia of firm U.S. support, but he has shown little inclination to show needed leadership by putting another integral element of NATO policy on the agenda of September’s Cardiff summit : enlargement of the alliance. Obama’s hesitation, which has allowed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to put off the question of enlargement until next year, is unwise and unnecessary.

NATO enlargement, a bipartisan effort that has spanned the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, has been one of the most successful U.S. foreign policy achievements of the past two decades. As a result of their countries joining NATO, more than 100 million Central and Eastern Europeans in 12 nations from Estonia to Albania can freely elect their own governments and pursue national priorities without fear of foreign invasion.

Moreover, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the alliance has benefited from the contributions of the new members, even if few of them are yet spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, the NATO target. In the face of Moscow’s destabilization of Ukraine, one can only imagine the mood of the Baltic states and Poland if they were not protected by NATO’s Article 5 common defense guarantee.

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Has the West Gone Soft?

By Lord Powell of Bayswater
Chairman, Atlantic Partnership
Thursday, 19 June 2014

“Has the West gone soft?” That is the question I and others were asked to address yesterday at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty, hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies – and given recent events in Iraq, it is a question that is more urgent than ever.

It was always unavoidable that, as the power and capability of other nations rose, ours would fall in relative terms. But there has also been an avoidable decline in the West’s will to act – in short, our backbone. There is none of the passion, none of the moral sense that inspired foreign policy in the time of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. We are not driven by the desire to see freedom triumph. We can’t articulate the need to respond to the challenges we face, and, as a result, we can’t make the sacrifices that have to be made if our global needs are to be advanced.

Of course, today’s international environment is rather different from that in which Baroness Thatcher operated. I am not sure if she would have taken Britain into the second Iraq war, but I suspect she would have done, if with the limited aim of getting rid of Saddam and getting out – in the same way that she supported Reagan’s bombing of Libya because “that is what allies are for”. She would have supported our more recent intervention in Libya, and I am sure she would have backed retribution against Syria. But on Ukraine, I doubt she would have done more or else than the Government now.

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Further remarks made by Lord Powell at the Liberty2014 conference are available here.

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The Ukrainian Debacle

By Michael Haltzel
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ukraine’s decision to freeze its signing of a trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union in favor of a closer relationship with Russia constitutes a stunning triumph for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a major geopolitical defeat for the West, a stinging rebuke to the EU, and a tragedy for the long suffering Ukrainian people, a strong majority of whom see their country’s destiny as part of Europe.

Since Ukraine gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its government has distinguished itself by corrupt, dysfunctional, and occasionally comical misrule. Nevertheless, the well-endowed country of forty-six million has enormous potential. As has often been noted, without Ukraine Russia will remain an upper mid-level power; with a subservient Ukraine firmly in its sphere of influence, Russia could hope to reclaim its status as a great power.

Led by Poland and Sweden, the EU created an Eastern Partnership Program in 2009 with the aim of integrating post-Soviet republics Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine into the Western democratic, capitalist system with eventual membership in the EU an implied, although not promised, long-term goal.

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Preparing for a Less Stable Russia

By William Courtney and Michael Haltzel
Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Snowden affair has thrown Russia into the limelight, but longer-term issues deserve more attention — the country’s swerve toward authoritarian rule and diminishing political stability. The West should distance itself from President Vladimir Putin, support democrats, and prepare for a more unpredictable Russia.

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The Pacific President

By Freddy Gray
Saturday, 19 January 2013

LONDON – On Monday, as Barack Obama is sworn in again as President, his allies in the West will ask themselves the same nervous question they posed four years ago: how much does he care about us?

The British, in particular, are worried. War looms in Mali, yet Washington seems happy to let the French take charge, showing even less interest than it did in Libya two years ago. Cheerleaders for the ‘special relationship’ accuse Obama of taking a back seat, of failing to show leadership and even of betraying his country’s oldest friends. They look back to that much-discussed episode when the new President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and point out that he has steadily sought to disentangle America from its strategic partnerships with Europe ever since. Now, the man who once committed 30,000 more troops to the allied fight against the Taleban is planning to withdraw almost all American troops from Afghanistan before the end of next year. Is the President an isolationist? Is he anti-West? 

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An alliance the world can count on

By Barack Obama and David Cameron
Monday, 12 March 2012


Seven decades ago, as our forces began to turn the tide of World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Washington to coordinate our joint efforts. Our victories on the battlefield proved “what can be achieved by British and Americans working together heart and hand,” he said. “In fact, one might almost feel that if they could keep it up, there is hardly anything they could not do, either in the field of war or in the not less tangled problems of peace.”

Keep it up we have — not only winning that war for our survival but also building the institutions that undergird international peace and security. The alliance between the United States and Great Britain is a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share. But what makes our relationship special — a unique and essential asset — is that we join hands across so many endeavors. Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance.

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Can Europe Really Cram 17 Leaders in One Chair?

By Kati Suomenin
Tuesday, 22 November 2011

WASHINGTON—The European Commission’s economic proposals to be unveiled on Wednesday will include a call for the Eurozone nations to pool their representation at the board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into a single seat. Designed to boost the currency bloc’s clout at a time when emerging markets are seeking greater powers in the world body, the proposal is bound to meet resistance — not in Beijing or Brasilia, but right next door to Brussels, in Berlin and Paris.

The Commission’s calls for a single European seat go back a good decade, and reflect its interest in concentrating power in Brussels. Other prominent sponsors of the idea have included the former head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet, EU president Herman Van Rompuy, and the Fund’s former managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Today, the Commission’s calls are motivated by a sense of a global assault on European powers in the world body. Reserve-rich emerging markets such as China and India have expressed a willingness to rescue the ailing eurozone from its prolonged financial crisis, but in return would likely want expanded voting share at the IMF, where European nations (EU plus Norway and Switzerland) collectively still hold a hefty 34 percent of the total vote — and the subset of eurozone nations hold 20 percent. Europeans also hold a third of the 24 board seats; eurozone nations Germany and France, as well as Britain, have their own, nonrotating chairs, along with China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Japan, while Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and non-eurozone EU member Denmark as well as Switzerland represent groups of countries.

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Austerity not the way to go for Europe

By Joseph Stiglitz
Monday, 3 October 2011

Most economists thought that when the euro was put together, it was an incomplete task. They’d taken out too many adjustment mechanisms and had not put anything in its place.

One of the things that makes the American common currency work across the country is we have a common fiscal authority and high migration – we’re willing to allow North Dakota to become empty.

In Europe, there’s no fiscal authority, migration is more difficult and most of the countries are not willing to let themselves become empty. So the framework for allowing for an effective common currency is not there.

Now you might be able to make up for the deficiencies in one part by strengthening another part, for instance by having a stronger fiscal authority. But they don’t have that.

What they did fiscally was tie themselves to the stability and growth pact, which was a pact for recession rather than for growth because limiting deficits when you have a shock is a recipe for recession, which is what is happening in Greece.

So the question was always: when a crisis occurred would they be able to finish the task? And I think the jury is still out.

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George Will thinks NATO’s dying. That’s what he thought in 1999 too.

By David Bosco
Thursday, 18 August 2011

George Will has a gloomy column on NATO in today’s Washington Post that mostly mirrors former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ parting shot: Europeans don’t spend enough on their militaries for the alliance to be worth America’s while:

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UK-US special relationship ‘must be based on pragmatism, not nostalgia’

By Richard Norton-Taylor
Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shadow defence secretary will use speech in Washington to call for European Nato members to contribute more.

Britain must adopt a new, pragmatic approach to the “special relationship” with the US that is based neither on ideology nor nostalgia, the shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, will tell Americans in a speech in Washington.

He will also challenge a growing assumption that Britain should merely buy military equipment off the shelf from the US and say that European members of Nato must contribute far more to defence and to making their armed forces more effective.

“In the new security landscape we must assess where and when the UK-US partnership adds value. It is neither a prerequisite nor a luxury,” he will warn. “We have vital and historic links which foster an undoubted and important solidarity. Neither ideology nor nostalgia, however, will ensure we benefit from our close links in today’s world, and so pragmatism should define our approach.”

Murphy will tell an audience of American defence industrialists on Wednesday: “Our publics are wary and weary. The US is experiencing international reticence … At the same time the financial crisis has strengthened protectionist instincts, and so while multilateralist internationalism is more necessary than ever our scope to pool power is limited by sceptical domestic populations.”

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