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  • Author: Michael McFaul
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: President-elect Joseph R. Biden has an opportunity to forge a bipartisan, sustained grand U.S. strategy for Russia. With decades of experience in foreign affairs, especially transatlantic relations, he knows Russia, he knows Vladimir Putin and, equally important, he knows the region. When I worked at the National Security Council during the Barack Obama administration, I traveled with then-Vice President Biden to Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia. Unlike his immediate predecessor, President Biden rightfully will not try to befriend Putin. He and his expert team of foreign policy advisors understand that the central objective in U.S. policy towards Russia today is to contain Putin’s belligerent behavior abroad. At the same time, the incoming Biden administration offers the U.S. a chance to develop a more predictable pattern of bilateral relations with the Russian government and Russian people, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. After relations with China, competing with Russia is the second-greatest foreign policy challenge of our time, complicated by the fact that China and Russia today are closer to each other now than they were during the Cold War. To successfully achieve American objectives will require the implementation of a comprehensive, sophisticated and nuanced strategy for containing Putin’s belligerent actions abroad and simultaneously cooperating with Moscow on a small set of issues of mutual benefit.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Steven Pifer
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: For nearly five decades, Washington and Moscow have engaged in negotiations to manage their nuclear competition. Those negotiations produced a string of acronyms—SALT, INF, START—for arms control agreements that strengthened strategic stability, reduced bloated nuclear arsenals and had a positive impact on the broader bilateral relationship. That is changing. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is headed for demise. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) has less than two years to run, and the administration of Donald Trump has yet to engage on Russian suggestions to extend it. Bilateral strategic stability talks have not been held in 18 months. On its current path, the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control regime likely will come to an end in 2021. That will make for a strategic relationship that is less stable, less secure and less predictable and will further complicate an already troubled bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power, Deterrence, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Gonul Tol
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: For decades, Turkey’s conflict with its own Kurdish minority has hindered the country’s democratization. But neither Turkey’s democratization nor the Kurdish quest for political rights has occupied an important place in U.S. policy. Turkey’s democratic shortcomings have been ignored by U.S. administrations for the sake of greater geostrategic interests. In a similar fashion, Kurdish rights have been overlooked in the game of power politics. Today’s regional context, however, ties Turkish democracy and the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question to the U.S. security interests in the region. The United States must therefore pay closer attention to both. There is no doubt that most freedoms under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been dramatically curtailed. Opposition leaders continue to face arrest and prosecution. Authorities use anti-terror laws broadly against those who are critical of the government. Thousands of people—including minors, journalists, foreign journalists, human rights activists, and social media users—who exercise their right to freedom of expression face criminal prosecutions on trumped-up terrorism charges. The mainstream media are largely controlled by the government and routinely carry identical headlines. Most concerning of all, however, is the ongoing conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). A string of clashes in the mainly Kurdish region between the PKK and Turkish security forces has killed thousands since the ceasefire broke down in 2015—including 464 civilians, 1,166 Turkish security personnel, and 2,544 PKK militants—and displaced 350,000 people[1]. Both the PKK and the Turkish state played a role in the destruction of major segments of Kurdish cities. The political ramifications of the fighting have been equally disastrous. The Turkish state response has largely criminalized Kurdish political expression. Hundreds of Kurdish news outlets have been shut down. Thousands of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) activists and dozens of Kurdish co-mayors and HDP parliamentarians remain in prison. The Turkish government has removed elected mayors in Kurdish regions and installed government-appointed trustees in all but a few of the 102 HDP-controlled municipalities.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Democracy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Hans Kiemm
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: When Bill Clinton came to Bucharest in 1997, he made history as the first U.S. President to visit Romania since the fall of communism. Speaking to the Romanian public, he announced, “Your President and I have agreed to establish a strategic partnership between our nations, a partnership important to America because Romania is important to America—important in your own right and important as a model in this difficult part of the world. Romania can show the people of this region and, indeed, people throughout the world that there is a better way than fighting and division and repression. It is cooperation and freedom and peace. Our friendship will en­dure the test of time. As long as you proceed down democracy’s road, America will walk by your side.” This year marks the 20th anniversary of that U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership, which President Donald Trump, during a meeting with President Klaus Iohannis this past June in Washington, said is now “stronger than ever.” The Partnership is unique because it is not based upon any written agreement, treaty, or compact, but by mutual respect and un­der­stand­ing, strengthened continuously over time. It is a friendship based on shared values and aspirations, including democracy, freedom, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. While usually invoked when speaking of government-to-government bilateral re­lations, the Partnership extends to people-to-people ties as well. More than 90 percent of the Romanian public rates relations with the United States as good or very good, and overall, associations between the two countries expand far beyond diplomatic obligation.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Diaspora
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Romania, 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
  • Author: Ross Wilson
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Turkey has recently come to look like a beat-up boy. At home, it seems to have regained the authoritarianism of its past. Abroad, its behavior looks rough edged and militaristic. It gets blamed for not doing enough, or the right things, on Syria, the problem of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Europe’s migrant crisis. Some have concluded that this country, its regional policies in tatters and under the assault of an autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, can no longer be regarded as an ally. Much of the criticism is on target, some less so. Real issues exist in Turkey and in the relationships that the United States and European countries have with it. At a tough time for the region, concerted and effective strategies to protect the interests the United States and its allies have in and with this key European and Middle Eastern country are more important than ever.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Authoritarianism, European Union
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia