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  • Author: Kenneth I. Juster
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The conventional wisdom is that the foreign policy of Donald Trump’s Administration severely damaged relations with U.S. allies and partners. Commentators point to repeated criticism by the United States of friends in Europe and Asia, as well as the abrupt withdrawal from trade and other arrangements. But such critics overlook the U.S. relationship with India, which made significant advances and will be an area of substantial continuity in Joseph Biden’s Administration. The U.S.-India partnership has grown steadily since the turn of the century, with the past four years seeing major progress in diplomatic, defense, economic, energy and health cooperation. The strengthened bilateral relationship has become the backbone of an Indo-Pacific strategy designed to promote peace and prosperity in a dynamic and contested region. The longstanding U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific has underpinned the stability and remarkable economic rise of this region over the last 70 years. While the concept of the Indo-Pacific has been many years in the making, in the past four years the United States and India have turned it into a reality. For the United States, the Indo-Pacific agenda meant working with India to provide coordinated leadership in addressing the threat from an expansionist China, the need for more economic connectivity and other challenges in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kurt W. Tong
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The summer of 2019, with all its compelling political drama, will certainly be remembered as a pivotal moment in the history of Hong Kong. In the end, however, will 2019 will be remembered as a tragic turning point, heralding Hong Kong’s increasing instability and irrelevancy in the coming years? Or, optimistically, will future historians see this year as a moment when Hong Kong’s key stakeholders, inside and outside the city, were sufficiently reminded of the city’s special value and characteristics to do what is necessary to keep its “one country, two systems” dream alive? The answers to this set of questions will have important implications for the national interests of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Social Movement, Political stability, State Formation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, Hong Kong, United States of America
  • Author: H.E. Shinsuke J. Sugiyama
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: When I was appointed as Japan’s Ambassador to the United States in early 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other political leaders had very clear instructions to me: they told me to go outside of the Capital Beltway as often as possible to explore the many communities that make up the United States of America. Following this instruction, I have visited nearly 30 states so far. As a diplomat who has frequently interacted with the United States during my career, even I was surprised by the depth of my feelings during these visits. I am finding that this is truly the “United” States of America! In city after city, even as people express worries about the current state of the world, they also mention that the Japan-U.S. alliance and the ties between our people have become a stable constant in these unsettled times. I believe that this full maturation of the Japan-U.S. relationship into a global partnership will allow us to build a more peaceful and prosperous world together.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jude Blanchette, Qiu Mingda
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: After two days of intense talks with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and his delegation crossed the street to the White House on the afternoon of October 11th to meet with President Donald Trump for the first time since the negotiations collapsed in May. The visit marked the 13th round of the bilateral trade talks and concluded with an announcement from the Oval Office of a “phase one” agreement. According to President Trump, this included China’s commitment to purchase $40-50 billion of U.S. agricultural products and a pledge to strengthen its intellectual property protection regime domestically. Moreover, Beijing would make still-unknown adjustments to how it manages its currency, the renminbi. For its part, the United States delayed a scheduled tariff hike on $250 billion of Chinese goods from 25% to 30% on October 15th. In addition, the Treasury Department would potentially review its previous decision to designate China a currency manipulator. All in all, it seemed to mark a turning point in the bilateral tensions. According to a tweet from President Trump two days later, this was the beginning of a larger deal that would be spread over three phases and that would benefit American farmers and potentially put an end to the trade hostilities between the two nations. In short, he tweeted, “the relationship with China is very good.” Though he acknowledged that the actual terms of any deal are still being worked out, the President repeatedly expressed optimism that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping could ink a deal by mid-November during their meeting at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Santiago, Chile. Unfortunately, such confidence is misplaced. The decided lack of details on the scope, timing and mechanics of the phase one announcement is an indication of just how preliminary the agreement is. Second, Beijing remains unwilling to make more substantive concessions on core structural issues, ranging from its preferential treatment of its state-owned enterprises to a credible commitment that it will protect the intellectual property of foreign companies. Finally, even if phase one comes to fruition, this won’t do much to reduce the uncertainty that likely will define the U.S.-China relationship for years to come, as both countries begin to openly acknowledge that they are entering a period of prolonged strategic rivalry.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Monica Damberg-Ott
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, or IVLP, is often referred to as the “gold standard” of exchange programs within the public diplomacy community. The program celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015, and more than 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP, including more than 505 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government,[1] since its inception in 1940. Margaret Thatcher, Hamid Karzai, and Indira Gandhi, to name just a few, are alumni. But with recent budget constraints and the need to demonstrate immediate, results-driven programming, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is placing greater emphasis on its most flexible rapid-response exchanges. Among those programs is the highly adaptable and policy-responsive option: the IVLP On Demand. So how does it differ from the original model, how does it compare, and how might it help show results more quickly? Each year, nearly 5,000 exchange participants come to the United States on the IVLP,[2] a foreign policy tool that helps strengthen U.S. engagement with countries around the world and cultivates lasting relationships. The program connects current and emerging foreign policy leaders with their American counterparts through short-term visits to the United States. Ambassadors often chair the rigorous, annual selection committees that embassies overseas use to nominate key contacts viewed as leaders in their respective fields to participate in the program. Each embassy fills its “IVLP slate” with nominees whose participation in the program helps to advance the mission’s key bilateral or multilateral goals. The majority of IVLP exchanges include visits to four U.S. communities over three weeks, although projects vary based on themes, embassy requests and other factors. From D.C. to St. Louis, from Kalamazoo to Seattle, and everywhere in between, participants meet with professional counterparts, visit U.S. public- and private-sector organizations related to the project theme and participate in cultural and social activities. (Baseball games are usually a big hit!) The program benefits the U.S. economy as well—a large portion of the funding goes back to the states in the form of visitors’ hotels, restaurants, transporta­tion and tourism. The success of the program is in its diversity—regional, political, religious and thematic. As the Exchanges Coordinator for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, I had the opportunity to meet and brief nearly 2,000 International Visitors from 2014-2016. Government officials, teachers, judges, law enforcement officers, human rights activists and other leaders from all over Asia participated in programs exploring topics ranging from judicial reform to cyber-security, from disability rights to maritime security, from food safety to trade regulation. For most participants, the program is transformational. I saw it firsthand in their excitement and gratitude in being selected. I witnessed it in the questions they asked and the discussions that ensued. I read it in the emails I received months later from participants who said the program changed their lives and inspired them to start a project, set up a conference or draft legislation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Anthony Luzzatto Gardner
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Four years ago the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for the “over six decades [in which it has] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe.” How quickly the mood has changed. While it has become fashionable to charge that the European Union is on the verge of collapse in the face of dire current challenges, rumors of the European Union’s demise would appear premature. The successes achieved in 2015, as well as the potential future areas of good news, are frequently underappreciated. The United States is firmly committed to investing in its relationship with the European Union. This is a partner­ship that delivers, as it will bring dividends to both the United States and the European Union for the long term. The aphorism of Jean Monnet, the key Founding Father of the European Union, that “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises” has proven to be correct. The serious strains put on the European Union during this past year because of multiple terrorist attacks—most recently in Brussels on March 22—and the unprecedented migrant flow is already resulting in significant pooling of sovereignty by member states, like in the fields of law enforcement and border protection. Europe’s unity has countered Russia’s violation of the post-War norm against changing borders by force, and the United States and the European Union are working intensively on many regional and global challenges. First and foremost, the United States and the European Union are focused on creating more economic opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic with a comprehensive trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The United States and the European Union already have a broad and deep economic partnership, the largest trade relationship in the world, accounting for almost one third of global trade and supporting about 14 million jobs. We have invested over $4 trillion in each other’s economies (which combined account for almost half of world GDP). TTIP is an opportunity to fine tune that relationship in a common-sense way to unlock opportunities to support jobs and fuel growth on both sides of the Atlantic, while maintaining our high standards for protection of health, safety, labor conditions, and the environment. Through TTIP, the United States and the European Union can strengthen our respective economies and extend our strategic influence if we choose to lead on global trade rather than be left on the sidelines. There really is no other choice. Since last Fall, we have exchanged second tariff-eliminating market access offers (removing all but three percent of tariffs) and proposals for services market access and government procurement. We have made significant progress in tabling text in almost all chapters and hope to have consolidated text for the entire agreement by July, which would line up the most difficult issues for negotiation and decision through the Fall. Despite some of the more pessimistic predictions, it remains an achievable goal to reach a high standard comprehensive agreement under the Obama administration (although ratification in Europe and passage into law in the United States would take place under the next US President). Working with member states, the European Commission has also made significant contributions to the creation of an integrated energy market—a requirement for healthy economies—in which gas and electricity flow more freely among the member states. The European Commission has also tabled its first proposals to deepen and broaden Europe’s capital markets and to stimulate investment in critical infrastructure. To address one of the Eurozone’s fundamental structural weaknesses, the Commission has nearly completed the creation of a banking union. And looking to the future, the European Commission has launched an ambitious Digital Single Market strategy aimed at reducing national barriers to the creation of a true single market for the delivery of digital services. We are supportive of all of these critical initiatives because they enhance European security and growth potential, as well as provide opportunities for transatlantic investment and collaboration. At the same time, we have made great strides to modernize and reform our relationship in other areas related to data, the most recent example being the conclusion of the US-EU Privacy Shield, which replaces the fifteen-year-old Safe Harbor framework with a new set of robust and enforceable protections for the personal data of EU individuals. The Privacy Shield provides transparency regarding how participating com­panies use personal data, strong US government oversight, and increased cooperation with EU data protection authorities (DPAs). While the United States and the European Union are working closely together to reinforce economic and commercial ties, coordination on political efforts is as robust—and as necessary—as ever. For example, the European Union played a vital role in close collaboration with US leaders to produce the historic agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the historic agreement in Paris on climate change. Moreover, the European Union quickly announced and repeatedly renewed, in close partnership with the United States, a set of extensive sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s occupation and attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and aggression in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. Even a few years ago, few would have considered that possible because of the radically different historical perspectives and economic ties that the 28 member states have with Russia. Despite occasional talk of engaging Russia with conciliatory gestures, Europe has thus far resisted the Kremlin’s efforts to divide the member states or to split Europe from the United States. Like the United States, the European Union continues to support reformists in the Government of Ukraine and Ukrainian civil society. Our diplomatic missions in Kyiv and in Brussels cooperate closely on providing financial support, in-kind assistance and training, and exposing and countering disinformation. The United States and the European Union both support independent media and nongovernmental organizations; both support the aspiration of the Ukrainian people to live free in a stable, prosperous, and independent state governed by the rule of law rather than by lawless oligarchs. For over a year, challenges in developing a comprehensive European response to unprecedented, irregular refugee and migration flows have been the European Union’s most serious concern. The European Union is well aware that it must manage this issue in order to demonstrate its effectiveness and relevance. As a country of immigrants that has also taken in many refugees, the United States is supporting the European Union’s efforts by providing humanitarian assistance and sharing its experience in areas such as border control and the identification, resettlement, and integration of refugees. If Europe manages to support the integration of refugees and open its labor markets, the positive economic impact could prove substantial. The European Commission estimates that overall migrant inflows will add additional regional growth of 0.2 to 0.3 percent of GDP by 2020. According to the estimates, Germany could see an increase of GDP of about 0.4 percent in 2016 and 0.7 percent by 2020. Many economists believe that, if assimilated well, the refugee and migrant inflow could be a critical antidote to Europe’s looming demographic time bomb—a rapid inversion of the age pyramid whereby working age people are supporting greater numbers of retirees on pensions. By mid-century the ratio will have shrunk by half to 2:1, endangering the stability of social security systems. We are also collaborating closely on terrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE), including the fight against Daesh and the threat posed by foreign fighters who travel to and from Syria and Iraq. The United States welcomes the European Union’s development of a common EU Passenger Name Record system and looks forward to its approval in the European Parliament soon. The United States has engaged the European Union in helping border security officials get access to the information they need to prevent acts of terrorism by foreign terrorist fighters. As the United States has introduced new security enhancements in its Visa Waiver Program (VWP), a key counterterrorism tool, we are working closely with both the European Union and member states partici­pating in VWP to insure that our travelers and citizens are safe from terrorist threats. Similarly, we have increased law enforcement cooperation with the European Union to enhance security and decrease crime for our citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. Far from weakening the European Union or transatlantic cooperation, the threat of terrorism has encouraged stepped-up joint CVE efforts. The March 22 attacks on the Brussels Airport and metro and the November 2015 attacks in Paris struck not only the residents of those cities, but also international victims and were carried out by multinational terrorists. Along with attacks in Denmark, Turkey, and other parts of Europe, they prompted greater intra-European and transatlantic law enforcement and security cooperation, and demonstrated starkly why such cooperation is essential. Whether sharing infor­mation on the movement and activities of suspected terrorists or combating illicit financial transactions by these and other criminals, we have a shared desire to protect our citizens and strengthen key institutions like Europol. In cases like rescuing children from child sexual exploitation rings, where it’s important to seek the shortest possible interval between discovering the crime and putting an end to it, we have seen good results. Operations that once took years to organize can now take mere months or less through the working relationship US law enforcement has developed with European authorities. After being forced by the Inquisition to recant his view that the earth rotates around the sun, Galileo Galilei allegedly whispered: “Eppur si muove” (and yet it moves). To many observers the European Union may appear immobile; and yet it moves. If it struggles to meet some of the challenges it currently faces, this is a reflection of the scope and number of those challenges, not the resilience of the Union. The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with the European Union as a partner, ready to face together the many regional and global challenges that we share. In preparing for future challenges, we continue to work together to ensure a better future for people on both continents (and elsewhere), whether in pursuing nuclear nonproliferation, combating climate change, terrorism, and military aggression, or in furthering trade rules that set high standards and rule of law for all. This is a partnership that delivers on a number of fronts; the European Union will continue to be an essential partner for the United States in an increasingly turbulent world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, European Union, Trade
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America