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.

Read more: http://bit.ly/RunningAgainstEurope

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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.

Read More: http://bit.ly/Baker_Piracy

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Rebuilding Central Europe

By Kurt Volker
Friday, 8 October 2010

Political relationships still have time to cement.

Central Europeans are known for their persistent pessimism. An old Hungarian joke sums it up well: “We know that next year is going to be an average year – because it’s going to be worse than this year, but better than the year after that.” That glass-half-empty mentality was on public display in July 2009, when several senior Central Europeans wrote an open letter to President Obama decrying the lack of engagement from the new U.S. administration. While the tactics of publishing such a letter were ill-considered, the feelings behind it were genuine.

One could be equally dismal about developments in Central and Eastern Europe, with nationalism again bubbling up, corruption hard to shake, the tragic death of many of Poland’s elite in the April plane crash at Katyn and the financial and economic crisis with its toll on vulnerable populations. Yet in the autumn of 2010, there somehow is renewed optimism.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwartzenberg lays out an agenda of political and economic cooperation, ranging from Afghanistan and missile defense to nuclear-energy partnership, outreach to the European Union’s Eastern Partners (Ukraine, Georgia and others) and academic exchanges.

A young and articulate Bulgarian foreign minister, Nikolay Mladenov, arrives in town with a view of strengthening his country’s partnership with the United States in NATO, the Balkans and the Black Sea region.

The Macedonian defense minister, Zoran Konjanovski, outlines his country’s contributions to NATO operations and restates Macedonia’s readiness to join the alliance as soon as the dispute with Greece over the country’s name is resolved.

All this was within in a 24-hour period. It is as though after staying up too late and drinking too much, we have awakened the next morning and realized we still need to get on with things. There is plenty of work to do.

Read More: http://bit.ly/VolkerRebuilding

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Afghanistan war: Is the US in it to win it?

By Kurt Volker
Tuesday, 28 September 28 2010

America’s engagement in Afghanistan remains vital. Now is the time to renew our resolve and pursue our broad-based strategy, not look for an exit.

Washington - When Gen. David Petraeus assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, he delivered exactly the right message: “We are in this to win.”

Surely, that message was welcomed by Afghan women who fear subjugation; by parents who fear seeing their daughters sprayed with acid for attending school; by decent people trying to build a future, but who fear retribution for being “collaborators” should the Taliban return.

Washington is thinking about an exit

Yet the general’s message – “we are in this to win” – is not something one often hears in Washington these days. Much of the Beltway crowd is absorbed by Bob Woodward’s new book that highlights the policy and personnel disputes among the war’s main players. And most of the public debate seems aimed at justifying a reduction in America’s engagement, rather than affirming our resolve, our long-term commitment, and our willingness to pursue our strategy to success. With an American public angry over the economy, jobs, deficits, and a tone-deaf Washington, the congressional midterm elections could become a tipping point.

Read more: http://t.co/Vzrr2O4

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The Transatlantic Economy 2010 Annual Survey of Jobs, Trade and Investment between the United States and Europe

With $4.28 trillion in commercial sales, transatlantic trade between the United States and Europe is the most important foreign commercial market for each side. This annual report conducted by Brookings and written by Daniel Hamilton and Joseph Quinlan offers the most up-to-date analysis on transatlantic job sourcing, investment, and trade for all 50 US states and all EU member economies.

For more information and the full text online, click here.

To order a paper version, click here.


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