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  • Author: Dalibor Rohac, Matt Browne, Max Bergmann, Ismaël Emelien, Karin Svanborg-Sjövall, Andreas Johansson Heinö, Agata Stremecka
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since 2016, concern over the resurgence of illiberal populist political parties and movements has been palpable in Europe and the United States. The election of Donald Trump, the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, and the electoral advances of far-right parties in many European states, including France and Germany, created the sense that populist parties were a new, unstoppable political force in democratic politics.1 Yet in 2019, the notion that populist parties are the future of European politics seems far less certain. The term “populism” itself may have outlived its usefulness. Originally, it referred to parties and leaders who described themselves as true voices of the people against self-serving, out-of-touch elites—and it was prone to run roughshod over established political norms and institutions. Over the past three years, differences in approaches, tactics, and outlooks between different populist parties have emerged, making it clear that there is no clear populist governing strategy. Accordingly, beyond disrupting the current order, anti-establishment political forces in Europe share no actual transnational policy agenda. Yet populist and anti-establishment forces have upended European politics and contributed to fragmentation and uncertainty. As the example of the record turnout in the 2019 European parliamentary election illustrates,2 the EU itself has become an important dividing line for voters. The high turnout and raucous nature of the 2019 election portends animated debates over European policies. Gone are the days when the EU could move initiatives forward without much public attention or concern. In short, Jean Monnet’s “salami-slicing” method of incremental, technocratically driven European integration3 is dead. A more engaged and aware European public is in itself a positive development. Yet simultaneously, for better or worse, the sudden salience of European policies can present an obstacle to policy initiatives that otherwise would be seen as uncontroversial. Just as partisan divisions in the United States have plagued Washington with significant policy paralysis, the emergence of a similarly contentious and partisan politics in Europe may make it hard for Brussels to act. Europe has proven resilient over the past decade, but that resilience should not be taken for granted. The EU largely has failed to address its structural weaknesses that were exposed following the 2008 financial and fiscal crisis, meaning that the EU would confront a future economic crisis with the same limited toolbox it had in 2008.4 To make matters worse, influential populist actors could also obstruct swift action while benefiting politically at home from the EU’s failings. Unlike only a few years ago, fears of the EU’s sudden unraveling seem farfetched. Yet a protracted death by a thousand cuts, caused by populist leaders undermining EU rules and norms, remains a distinct possibility. The new instability of European politics poses a real challenge to the trans-Atlantic alliance. Unity among free and democratic states of the West is hard to sustain in the current political environment on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet at a time when the alliance faces a rising challenge from autocratic powers such as China and Russia, the case for unity and cooperation is stronger now than at any point since the end of the Cold War. This report seeks to chart a course for the EU and for the trans-Atlantic alliance, while acknowledging that the anti-establishment sentiments that reverberate through European politics are here to stay. While there is a strong case to be made for a Europe that works together to defend democratic values at home and abroad as well as a trans-Atlantic alliance that is willing to work in proactive partnership to tackle big global challenges—from climate change to terrorism to nuclear proliferation—that goal is still a long way off.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Authoritarianism, European Union, Populism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Official Chinese economic data are often the only game in town, but they are untrust­worthy. Sometimes they prove inaccurate; during downturns they are falsified outright. Finding inconsistency in official statistics demonstrates the problem but offers no solution, since it is rarely clear which series is better. Examining 15 major indicators for importance and reliability shows that growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita should be deemphasized. To illustrate, China’s GDP per capita is twice as high as official per capita disposable income. The latter can be spent; the former is an accounting result. Another conclusion: Arguably the most valuable indicators are the worst measured. Debt is reasonably estimated at present, but factor productivity and human capital are vital to medium-term performance and receive far too little attention.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Monetary Policy, GDP, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Beijing
  • Author: Dalibor Rohac
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: What distinguishes the governments of Hungary and Poland are not their views on immigration nor their defense of national sovereignty or Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage. Rather, it is their distinctly authoritarian and anti-market features. With a new Fundamental Law, electoral reform, and other far-reaching changes adopted in Hungary on strictly partisan lines, as well as a politicization of the judiciary and attacks on free media and civil society in both countries, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) and Fidesz governments have sought to entrench themselves and prevent meaningful democratic contestation of their power. In both countries, key achievements of the post-1989 transition to the free enterprise system are being reversed. In Poland, for example, 40 percent of all banking-sector assets are now held by the government. Hungarian and Polish authoritarianism, as well as the rise of political kleptocracy in Hungary, pose a direct threat to the values on which the transatlantic alliance was built and America’s interest in the region. The United States cannot afford to become a cheerleader for either Fidesz or PiS, no matter how convincing their conservative bona fides might seem.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia, Poland, Hungary
  • Author: Dorothée Fouchaux
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The following National Security Outlook is the ninth in AEI's Hard Power series, a project of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. In it, Dorothée Fouchaux examines the state of French forces and France's most recent effort to prioritize its strategic goals and square them with its military capabilities.1 Certainly since Charles de Gaulle's presidency, France has maintained a tradition of thinking strategically for itself-often, admittedly, to the aggravation of its allies. This tradition remains strong and, if anything, has been reinforced in recent years by the sense that the United States is pivoting away from Europe and would like to reduce its footprint in Europe's troubled periphery. With its latest defense white paper, Paris has laid out a program to maintain its "strategic autonomy" through a combination of nuclear deterrence, enhanced intelligence efforts, and discrete power-projection capabilities. But France faces flat defense budgets, the increased cost of its military interventions in Africa, and prospects that budget shortfalls will not be overcome by the sale of public shares of national defense companies or export sales of military hardware. Consequently, some doubt that an even smaller French force will have sufficient resources to address existing problems in readiness and needed capabilities while sustaining a defense research-anddevelopment base sufficient to keep future French forces armed with advanced equipment. In short, France really is living on the strategic edge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Author: Bryan McGrath
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Despite the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) taking its name from the ocean that ties Canada and the United States to their European allies, for most of NATO's history the alliance focused primarily on land power. However, with continental Europe at peace, the drawdown in Afghanistan, the rise of general unrest in North Africa and the Levant, and the American intent to pivot toward Asia, questions are increasingly arising about the capabilities of NATO's European navies to project power and sustain operations around their eastern and southern maritime flanks. These questions have grown even more urgent in the wake of those same navies' uneven performance in the 2011 military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. Examining the major navies of America's European allies reveals a general desire, with the exception of Germany, to maintain a broad spectrum of naval capabilities, including carriers, submarines, and surface combatants. But given the significant reduction in each country's overall defense budget, procuring new, sophisticated naval platforms has come at the cost of rapidly shrinking fleet sizes, leaving some to wonder whether what is driving the decision to sustain a broad but thin naval fleet capability is as much national pride as it is alliance strategy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Cold War, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: James W. Ceaser
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: What in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville could conceivably be thought to offer any guidance for the study of contemporary China? Tocqueville was born early in the nineteenth century (1805) at a time when China lay in near total isolation from Europe. Matters changed during Tocqueville's lifetime with the so-called Opium War (1839–41), in which China suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Great Britain. This reversal helped set in motion a series of events that led to the destabilization of the Manchu (or Qing) dynasty, which eventually fell in 1911. Tocqueville commented in his personal notes on a few of the early occurrences in this sequence, but he never undertook an extensive analysis of developments in the Far East. His focus in his published works was on the West, or what he often called “the Christian world.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Markets, Religion
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, China, Europe
7. Putin-3
  • Author: Leon Aron
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In the past nine years, Russian foreign policy has been examined several times in these pages. At no other time, however, has its direction been as troubling as it is today. To understand the causes of this disturbing evolution and to gauge its future course, the changes have to be examined in the context of the regime's ideological and political transformation since 2000, when Vladimir Putin was elected president.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Leon Aron
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Throughout Russia's history, the weakness of institutions and laws has ensured that the successor regimes rarely, if ever, turn out as intended by the previous ruler. Instead of continuity, the national tradition of highly personalized government often produces a very different political organism ostensibly from the same institutional framework. Yet with former president Vladimir Putin's staying on as a kind of regent–prime minister to the dauphin-president Dmitri Medvedev, at least for the next few years, the ideology, priorities, and policies of the Putin Kremlin—what might be called Putinism—are almost certain to inform and guide the Medvedev administration. Part I of this Outlook discusses the components of the new Russian authoritarianism, and parts II and III examine the elements of “Russia, Inc.”—the corporatist state that Putin has built—and the factors that may affect Russia's economic performance, stability, and foreign policy in the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The name Fethullah Gülen is virtually unknown in the United States. Self-exiled here for more than a decade, this prominent Turkish theological and political thinker is the leader of a movement estimated conservatively to have more than a million followers in Turkey. The movement controls a business empire of charities, real estate, companies, and schools. Thousands of Gülen's followers populate Turkey's bureaucracies. AEI's Michael Rubin believes that, just as many people remained clueless or belittled concerns about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's intentions in Iran thirty years ago, many may be making the same mistake today about Gülen, who professes to want to weld Islam with tolerance and a pro-European outlook. Rubin introduces us to a man who could play a prominent role in Turkey's future at a time when Turkey's "secular order and constitutionalism have never been so shaky."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Scott Wallsten
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although success stories do exist, most high-technology cluster-development projects do little to enhance regional economic growth. The taxpayer costs for a wide array of tax incentives offered by politicians to corporations and research institutes as inducements to move facilities into their districts are rarely recouped, and often only wealthy organizations and developers benefit from the projects.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia