Without so much as a farewell tip of the hat, President Barack Obama has pulled the plug on his much-promoted goal of comprehensive climate-change legislation. In his agenda-setting State of the Union address, he dropped any U.S. move toward EU-style cap and trade. Significantly, the word “climate” was never uttered.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned the feuding ethnic factions in Bosnia and Herzegovina that if they did not resolve their differences, their country was in danger of missing its opportunity to join the European Union and NATO and become a vibrant part of the modern, democratic West. Unfortunately, there are few indications that her message will be heeded.
How Can the U.S. Come Back as an Exporting Power? Germany Holds Lessons on Manufacturing Striving to bring back the U.S. from economic slump and recover from an opposition victory in recent Congressional elections, President Barack Obama has put his political capital behind the idea that the U.S. can rebound economically by pushing innovation and thus increasing exports.
Much of the public discussion about threats in cyberspace has focused on cyber war, crime and short-term malicious activity for economic, political, or public relations gain. Too often each threat is seen as a discrete problem that is approached in a reactive manner geared to the intended targets. Instead, the problem should be viewed as a larger, interconnected issue – really, a continuum of malicious activity -- that requires a strategic and proactive approach by key government and private-sector stakeholders working together, both nationally and internationally.
In the space of half a generation, the Internet has become one of the most important mechanisms on the planet. Every human being, whether aware of it or not, depends upon it for material well being and for broader, non-economic benefits in social, cultural, political, and other realms.The Internet's unprecedented growth is not the only unusual thing about it.
In his recent article in European Affairs, Airbus consultant Charles Hamilton asserts that, five years after the U.S. filed a case with the World Trade Organization against European government subsidies to Airbus, “nothing has changed.”
Seeking a global response to the crisis, the U.S. assigns priority to coordinated stimulus. Germany, France and some other European nations emphasize better global financial regulation - perhaps partly to punish Wall Street but also to prevent a recurrence of abuses. Leadership now by Obama is needed on both issues because the world's confidence and trust in U.S.-style capitalism has been shaken.
The American economic guru explains how he missed the signs that the economy was going off a cliff during the decade he was chairing "the Fed," the body that functions as the U.S. central bank. A strong believer that markets can self-regulate thanks to the enlightened self-interest of the players, he failed to recognize the danger signals of the U.S. financial collapse that also engulfed Europe.
David Smick's book, The World Is Curved, explains that financial engineering has outpaced the understanding of regulators and governments - and even of many of the people involved in the business. His book, reviewed by journalist and consultant, Martin Walker, predicts that worse is still to come for the U.S. and also for highly-leveraged banks in Europe holding "toxic" assets.
Timed for the Obama administration's Pentagon, this RAND study says government leaders should take more account of the lessons learned from people "on the ground" in recent successful (and unsuccessful) ventures in state-rebuilding. Best practice means strong local command (involving the military under civilian leadership) which is heeded in national capitals.
Gazprom, the Russian monopoly, has been on a shopping spree to acquire commercial interests (and political leverage) in "downstream" gas and energy companies and distributors in Europe. Here is a partial list of those European holdings gleaned from the chapter entitled "Buying Europe: Purchase as Politics" in a new book on this monopolistic strategy by Janusz Bugajski.
A practitioner in the oil and gas business warns that Europe's worst weakness regarding natural gas supplies comes from the absence of a free internal market in natural gas among the EU nations. Freeing up the flows in Europe would drastically reduce the rigidities that Gazprom exploits. A good investment would be gas storage facilities, but such infrastructure is costly.
Bakoyannis argues that the OSCE needs to recover its international stature: it is the only security body involving the U.S. and Russia, plus Europe. The pressing challenge is Georgia: Can the OSCE mission in Georgia be redefined so it can continue its technical work without getting caught in the political impasse over the breakaway enclaves between Russia and Georgia?
Following his acceptance of The European Institute\'s Transatlantic Leadership Award at a December 2008 ceremony in Washington, DC, Chertoff sat down with European Affairs to reflect on his relations with European governments - which proved much more productive than many observers initially feared. He also shared his views on future challenges from Guantanamo to failed states, including the need for a new consensus on dealing with states that tolerate international terrorists on their soil.
A curious notion has emerged about how the United States has tried to navigate the seas of global security since the September 11 terrorist attacks. It depicts Washington as charting a solitary course characterized by premises, principles, and policies which diverge dramatically from those of other nations – notably its European allies.
Suddenly, the lights go out. Communication lines fall silent. Internet connections are lost. People venturing into the congested streets discover that banks are closed, ATMs are malfunctioning, traffic lights are jammed. Radio and TV stations cannot broadcast. The airports and train stations are shut down. Food production halts, and the water supply starts rapidly diminishing as pumps stop working. Looters are on the rampage; panic grips the public; the police cannot maintain order. This grim picture is not the opening scene of a Hollywood fantasy, but the beginning of a cyber attack, as described by Sami Saydjari, president of Professionals for Cyber Defense, to a Congressional homeland defense subcommittee in April 2007. In vivid terms, he described how a superpower can be reduced to third-world status by a cyber take-down of a nation's electronic infrastructure. The defense expert called his description “a plausible scenario” – and one for which the United States is unprepared. Even if military computer systems are usually protected against outside interference, most civilian electronic systems remain vulnerable to a massive assault that enjoyed the sponsorship of a state.
The NATO allies are now being required to face the possibility that they may not prevail in Afghanistan. Facing new challenges from Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, the Afghan government and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are by no means certain of success. Equally at risk are economic, political, and social developments to give the average Afghan a sense that supporting the government in Kabul and its ISAF allies is the best bet for the long haul. Militarily, NATO commanders have made it clear that they need more troops - at least two more combat brigades - and more helicopters. But they also need greater flexibility in the use of those forces that are available, and limitations here are posing difficulties at least as troubling as shortfalls in numbers.
Already the buzz this year in financial circles, sovereign wealth funds have been initially welcomed in the United States (and to a lesser degree in Europe) as white knights whose capital investments have helped rescue troubled financial institutions and other companies stricken by the credit-market crisis. But these funds, even as they are currently sought after by financially-bleeding companies, could easily become controversial with public opinion and regulators in the United States and European countries because of their potential political dimensions. The very fact of their emergence is a symptom of profound new shifts in the global financial order. To head off potential jingoist reactions against the proposed buy-ins by these new investors, there is a need to probe a set of questions about how these funds work and about whether rules can be reached – by mutual agreement – to ensure that the funds prove compatible with global capital movements.
Economics, Government, and International Trade and Finance
The world has modernized thanks to waves of Western inventions, and the next wave must be a regulatory revolution to ensure that discoveries spread horizontally as far and fast as possible. It is an agenda for the newly formed Transatlantic Economic Council.
Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, and Science and Technology
Germans have developed a new mindset, especially about military force, and they are offended, not swayed, by attempts to play on their nation's guilt for World War II. How badly Bush and Blair blundered in misunderstanding this new Germany is described by Serfaty in this excerpt from his new book, Architects of Delusion.
European Affairs traces the path that has brought a new, more statesmanlike tone to Polish foreign policy. As both Warsaw (and Prague) proceed with plans to accept the U.S. missile defense system, Sikorski sets the initiative in broader NATO context.
International Relations, Defense Policy, Government, and International Political Economy
Muddled thinking is dangerous for international development. For one thing, cost benefit arguments neglect the high price exacted by failed states. For another, as noted in an important new book, The Bottom Billion, some countries are trapped by special circumstances that need special remedies.
Foreign Policy, Development, Emerging Markets, Humanitarian Aid, and International Trade and Finance
Richard Descoings, a reform-minded educator who heads the prestigious Sciences-Po, says in an interview that French universities are boxed into mediocrity by state control and state under-funding. Outside Britain, European universities need more control over their finances to compete in a globalized market.
The blueprint for the U.S. capital called for a unique cityscape reflecting the states of the nation. It was a baroque design, studded with monuments. But the original vision is hard to see under accumulated layers of bad urbanization, exploitive development and bombastic memorial-building.
The two main Serbian war criminals have been protected by the diplomatic goals of the main powers, which were courting Serbia. Europeans wanted to see Belgrade join the EU; Russia wanted to preserve a Slavic bloc; the U.S. deferred to Moscow. Justice lost out, according to this book, yet to be translated into English.
International Law, International Organization, War, and International Security
Russia's actions in Georgia showed that Moscow has rejected the Western-sponsored vision of transcending military threats in Europe for the ex-Soviet regime. Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, explains what was lost. Dieter Dettke, a veteran German policy analyst, sees Berlin will not confront Moscow. With much of the global financial superstructure in meltdown, EA's previous analyses are followed up in this issue with a discussion on the limits of sovereign wealth funds as a source of salvation for U.S. and European businesses. In defense, despite the urgent need of a new aerial refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force, politics has forced an unfortunate delay in the battle between Airbus and Boeing for the order. The book reviews in this issue include an insightful account of the long-term trends making it almost unthinkable for Europe to field enough soldiers to fight any of the world's new wars. Presciently, France's former foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, talked to EA in the summer about the return of nationalist real politik after the demise of over-optimistic assumptions about a Pax Americana.
NATO and Cold War
Russia, United States, Europe, Moscow, and Georgia
The post-cold war vision proffered by the U.S. and its allies in NATO was an inclusive model of security for all the countries in Europe and for Russia and its neighbors to the south. Russia's leadership has turned away from it, but the vision remains sound and open to Moscow – if the Kremlin thinks wisely about the future.
Security, NATO, and International Political Economy
According to Kishore Mahbubani, a strategist in Singapore, the West – especially Europe – has presumed too long that Asia is and will remain “dormant.” As Marmon explains, Mahbubani is perhaps the most articulate exponent of a widely-held view in Asia: that Westerners are dangerously behind the curve in reading the major trends of global change.
Western countries need and largely welcome the fresh capital that can be injected by SWFs. But these funds are liable to arouse controversy, often because they are run by countries disliked in the West. Their tax-free status (as government-owned entities) may offer politicians a handle on these funds.
Economics, Globalization, Government, and International Political Economy
The Pentagon chose the Northrop-EADS tanker because it fits the plan to integrate strike fighters and UAVs for sustained ground-support action. Protectionist Congressmen seem to ignore the need for a global supply-chain that alone can provide an affordable path for the U.S. Air Force to modernize.
European defense firms can find U.S. markets. The Pentagon's procurement budget will be cut by billions, and no Congress will turn down proposals that offer many more weapons, far more cheaply – especially when U.S. companies do not even produce the same systems. There are many niche markets.
U.S. export controls have become increasingly complex. The State Department has instituted reforms and initiatives to improve its ability to manage this challenge in a way that protects the U.S. while ensuring that allies have what they need to participate in common military operations. These initiatives include enhanced leadership and staffing, more robust enforcement activities, innovative new treaties and a number of business practice reforms.
The Transatlantic Economic Council was a major U.S.-EU innovation designed to negotiate away non-tariff barriers between the two markets. To consolidate the promise of its first year at work, it needs to choose its issues and do something tangibly effective about them, according to Dan Price, the White House point man in the TEC.
The U.S. and EU are tackling many of the same challenges in energy technology, ranging from renewables to nuclear. Strong emphasis is needed on coal and the potential of carbon capture and sequestration systems to enable countries to use this abundant resource cleanly.