Europe must continue to do justice to Ronald Reagan’s legacy: it would be wrong to view the changing relationships between Europe, the US and the world’s emerging economies in ‘zero-sum’ terms

By János Martonyi
Tuesday, 06 July 2011

HUNGARY — Yesterday, Britain paid tribute to a great leader of the free world, President Ronald Reagan. My country has also unveiled a statue of President Reagan to mark his centennial. The moment had special poignancy for Hungarians. President Reagan was a decisive factor in helping us to win back our freedom 20 years ago, as of course was Baroness Thatcher. It is an appropriate moment to remember the debt of gratitude we owe to them both. But it also serves as a timely reminder for all Europeans of the importance of strong transatlantic ties.

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A leap of faith? Divergent EU and U.S. choices on nuclear power

By Thomas Legge
Friday, 10 June 2011

WASHINGTON — Germany’s decision last week to phase out nuclear power has sharpened the differences between Europe and the United States on energy policy. Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, a senior voice on energy policy in the U.S. Congress, led the chorus decrying that removing nuclear power from the energy mix would undermine global efforts to combat climate change because the technology emits much fewer greenhouse gases than coal or natural gas, the other main fuels used to generate electricity. The decision highlights an apparent contradiction: Europe is committing itself to a low-carbon future while it moves away from nuclear power, whereas the United States, a laggard on climate action, insists that nuclear power is essential to avoid climate change.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted to the crippling of the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan by immediately ordering the temporary closure of seven older nuclear power plants. She has since expanded what appeared to be a panicky sop to public opinion into a revised energy policy that will see all nuclear power stations in Germany closed by 2022.

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Europe Starts to Get Serious About its Neighbors

By Alina Inayeh
Thursday, 26 May 2011

BUCHAREST — Nearly four months after a young Tunisian fruit seller burned himself alive out of despair over the corruption of his country and sparked a popular revolt against autocracy that swept the region, thunderstruck leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are finding their voice again. Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a major speech that compared the uprisings with America’s civil rights movement. This week, it was Europe’s turn to answer the call from Northern Africa and the Middle East. By European standards of deliberation, the European Union’s response was atypically timely.

On Wednesday, Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, and Stefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy,  released a joint policy paper called, in characteristically dry EU-speak, “A New Response to a Changing Neighborhood.” Technically, this document is the result of a routine review of the EU’s existing neighborhood policy, and was scheduled long before the Arab upheavals. But as events unfolded, it became clear that Europe’s response could no longer be routine. So the advance word was that this would be a bold reaction to the dramatic changes in what remains a very dynamic neighborhood.

But the paper published on Tuesday falls somewhat short of a genuinely bold vision. It does not go so far as to sketch out a desired democratic end state for the nations of the region. That kind of clarity might have made relations with some countries easier. Still, by European standards, it’s a courageous document. Most importantly, it rectifies the chief flaw of the earlier policy by introducing genuine conditionality; it seeks to encourage democratic reforms by offering the carrot of economic support–and threatening to withdraw it in case of backsliding. This in itself is a remarkable affirmation of European principles and values. Civic and opposition party leaders had asked for it in vain for years, and watched in frustration as the EU gave funds to regimes that paid no more than lip service to reform, if that.

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Remarks by the President to Parliament in London, United Kingdom

President Barack Obama
Wednesday, 25 May 2011

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

My Lord Chancellor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, my lords, and members of the House of Commons:

I have known few greater honors than the opportunity to address the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster Hall.  I am told that the last three speakers here have been the Pope, Her Majesty the Queen, and Nelson Mandela — which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke.  (Laughter.)

I come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest, one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known.  It’s long been said that the United States and the United Kingdom share a special relationship.  And since we also share an especially active press corps, that relationship is often analyzed and overanalyzed for the slightest hint of stress or strain.

Of course, all relationships have their ups and downs.  Admittedly, ours got off on the wrong foot with a small scrape about tea and taxes.  (Laughter.)  There may also have been some hurt feelings when the White House was set on fire during the War of 1812.  (Laughter.)  But fortunately, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

The reason for this close friendship doesn’t just have to do with our shared history, our shared heritage; our ties of language and culture; or even the strong partnership between our governments.  Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.

Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta.  It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders.

Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown.  Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in an elected parliament that’s gathered here today.

What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world.  But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic.  As Winston Churchill said, the “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”

For both of our nations, living up to the ideals enshrined in these founding documents has sometimes been difficult, has always been a work in progress.  The path has never been perfect. But through the struggles of slaves and immigrants, women and ethnic minorities, former colonies and persecuted religions, we have learned better than most that the longing for freedom and human dignity is not English or American or Western –- it is universal, and it beats in every heart.  Perhaps that’s why there are few nations that stand firmer, speak louder, and fight harder to defend democratic values around the world than the United States and the United Kingdom.

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U.S.-Pakistan Relations: Are the Partners Finally Headed for Divorce?

By Louise Langeby
Friday, 6 May 2011

The latest twist in U.S.-Pakistani relations has come to reveal a deepening rift that is proving increasingly difficult to mend. Last weekend’s killing of Osama bin Laden in the heartland of Pakistan has caused tensions to plummet, but relations have clearly been deteriorating for some time. The current low was initiated by CIA agent Raymond Davis’ killing of two Pakistanis with alleged links to the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency. A high-profile diplomatic dispute ensued, eventually leading to Mr. Davis’ release in exchange for $2.3 million in compensation to the victims’ families. Closely following this, U.S. drone strikes hit a tribal jirga in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, killing several Pakistani civilians and causing tensions to exacerbate. Combined with bin Laden’s killing these events call into question the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s Af-Pak Strategy adopted just two years ago, and with the latest White House report on the state of the war in Afghanistan affirming “there remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency (in Pakistan)”, we may be witnessing the start of a new phase of U.S.-Pakistani relations. Clearly, both Islamabad and Washington have contributed to the current downward spiral and despite the allies’ inherent co-dependency this trend is likely to persist, unless both sides manage to reconcile their strategic interests. However, as long as the Pakistani military remains a powerful political, economic, and social actor, this will prove exceedingly difficult.

Since coming to office President Obama has worked to shift the focus of the so-called War on Terror to Pakistan, recognizing the direct link between a stable and prosperous Pakistan and success in Afghanistan. This acknowledgement has not only translated into increased financial support for the civilian government, estimated at $7.5 billion, but also a military aid package of $2 billion, and increased intelligence sharing between the CIA and the ISI. Moreover, the counterterrorism effort conducted in Pakistan’s tribal areas has become one of the administration’s top priorities. However, despite the Pakistani government’s official support for the strategy, military and intelligence officials widely see it as a breach of sovereignty and thus have become increasingly reluctant to provide the Americans with intelligence support. The unilateral U.S. operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden last weekend is a prime example of the strategy.

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Coordinate the Means but Not the Ends—Justifying U.S. and European Intervention in Libya

By Ben Veater-Fuchs
Thursday, 7 April 2011

On March 28th, President Obama addressed the American public to explain Operation Odyssey Dawn—the ongoing military campaign in Libya—and shed some light on what pundits have termed the “Obama Doctrine.” But the speech was at times ambiguous and confusing: calling for the ouster of Moammar Gaddafi but stating that this was not the objective of the mission, making it clear the United States was not acting unilaterally, but not clarifying the U.S. role in the coalition.

Representative of his usual political caution, the speech’s ambiguity reflects the mixed public sentiment on America’s proper role in Operation Odyssey Dawn.  A USA Today poll showed a divided public about whether the U.S. should take a leading role (10%), a major but not leading role (29%), a minor role (36%) or withdraw altogether (22%).

But one thing Obama did make clear was that he would “never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests.” This bold, clear language was surely aimed toward the more hawkish members of the American public.  But when he talked about protecting a city “nearly the size of Charlotte” from an unjust, cruel, and violent dictator, he was appealing to a wider audience.

The argument that war is sometimes necessary to obtain justice (an emerging theme in the “Obama Doctrine”) is something that 74% of Americans agree with according the GMF’s Transatlantic Trends survey. A majority Republicans (95%), Independents (79%) and Democrats (66%) feel the same way.  Being vague about the tactics and clear about the motivations makes good political sense given the public mood—even if it makes for questionable policy.

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Why Europe Can’t Lose the IMF

By Terence Roth
Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Will Greece default? Does Spain face a popular revolt? Can Irish banks hold on?

Little wonder that Europe is clinging to its monopoly on seating the head of the International Monetary Fund. For any number of contingencies, Europeans will need all the friends they can get inside the world’s ATM for countries facing bankruptcy.

Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, is their logical choice to put the shine back into the IMF after the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn for alleged sex offenses. She is widely respected and would become the first woman managing director.

More paramount, she is European.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s sudden departure left Europe stunned, coming right in the middle of discussions on how to keep Greece financially afloat. To do that, Europe needs the help of the IMF. The fund participated in the €110 billion bailout for Greece a year ago, and the rescues of Ireland and Portugal since then.

Europe likes the tradition that a European runs the IMF, just as an American runs the World Bank.

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Running Against Europe?

by Sean Mulvaney
Wednesday, 27 October 2010

WASHINGTON — Next Tuesday’s U.S. midterm election is shaping into a debate about the role of government.  Age-old differences on the role of the market and the size of government are being used to score political points.  Candidates, most of them Republican, are making frequent references to “Europe” as  verbal shorthand for the heavy hand of the state. Some seem to be running against Europe rather than against their opponents.  But some Democrats are caught in the debate, too. They are at odds with their own president.

There is nothing trivial, nothing superficial about the topics of this election campaign. Serious philosophical differences about the degree of spending and taxation underlie campaign talking points and battles over the airwaves.  U.S. government spending as a share of GDP is now up to as much as 25 percent. Although the dollar costs of the military deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq are included in that figure, it is the government spending on the stimulus program, the bank bail-out, and healthcare reform that are drawing much of the ire.  Candidates of both parties are seeking to capitalize on voter sentiment.  NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd says that the role of government represents the bright line of distinction and debate between parties.

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Swapping Pirates for Commerce: An African Maritime Growth Initiative

By Michael Lyon Baker
Monday, 4 October 2010

On September 22, in a vivid display of the spreading dangers in African waters, pirates armed with Kalashnikov rifles attempted to seize an oil platform off the coast of Nigeria. Although they failed, the pirates kidnapped three Frenchmen and a Thai mariner. It was at least the 11th attempted act of piracy in Nigerian waters this year.

Meanwhile, on the same day in New York City, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the UN Millennium Summit and signed a Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the first of its kind. Through his new policy, Obama intends to “foster the next generation of emerging markets by enhancing our focus on broad-based economic growth and democratic governance.”

Although the act of piracy and Obama’s speech occurred half a world apart, the two events were deeply interconnected. The African maritime sector, ridden with piracy on its eastern and western seaboards, plays a largely unheralded but critical role in the attempt of African states to emerge onto the global market. A new U.S. emphasis on African maritime development — dedicated not only to rooting out piracy and preventing transport of narcotics and weapons but also renovating ports, streamlining maritime bureaucracies, and investing in businesses and job creation — could serve as a bold effort to implement the president’s development strategy. To that end, and to support ongoing military and diplomatic efforts to counter piracy and other crimes at sea, the administration should develop a signature program geared toward growing (and revolutionizing) Africa’s maritime sector.

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For Pakistan, the West Remains a Scapegoat

by Dhruva Jaishankar
Wednesday, 6 October 2010

WASHINGTON — In recent days, the world’s attention has turned once again to the terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan. Last week, the American and British governments issued heightened travel alerts for continental Europe following revelations of an extremist plot hatched in Waziristan. The operationalization of this plot, which reportedly involved coordinated raids on European cities in the vein of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, resulted in a dramatic increase in U.S. drone strikes in northwestern Pakistan over the past month. On Monday, one such attack killed several German militants training in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Also last week, a cross-border strike by NATO forces resulted in three Pakistani military deaths and the subsequent closure by Pakistan of vital supply routes to Afghanistan. This was followed by multiple militant raids on depots in Pakistan and the destruction of fuel and other supplies intended for NATO forces.  And on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the presence of a critical White House assessment that bluntly accused Pakistan of being unwilling to take action against militants on its soil.

The centrality of Pakistan has long been acknowledged by members of the counterterrorism community in the West. But Pakistan’s approach to the festering terror threat at home — alternatively defensive and lackadaisical — has, due to the incapability or unwillingness of its government and security forces to take further action, ultimately been ineffective. For several reasons, the international community has demonstrated a high level of tolerance for Pakistan’s apparent ambivalence. As underscored by the recent standoff, the United States and NATO remain dependent on Pakistan as a conduit for supplies to Afghanistan. The United States also lacks an adequate intelligence infrastructure in northwestern Pakistan and consequently relies on Pakistani agencies for their support. Additionally, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons — and the risks they pose both in terms of proliferation and escalation — further limit the leverage of the United States and its partners.

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