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  • Author: Thomas G. Mahnken, Grace B. Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: On NATO’s entire Eastern and South-Eastern flank, the Allies face a major, pressing and subtle challenge. Using sub-conventional grey zone tactics, Moscow has repeatedly tried, and at times succeeded, in expanding its influence, eroding international norms, undermining the rules-based in- ternational order, and shifting the balance of power in its favour. Preventing Russia from launching such op- portunistic acts of aggression is particularly import- ant because its armed forces are developing the ability to attack quickly – under the cover of increasingly capable defences – countries on their periphery in a clear effort to impose a fait accompli.1 NATO countries are at a particular disadvantage in this type of compe- tition. Their force structures consist of expensive and technologically complex information-gathering platforms, such as satellites and manned aircraft, which due to their high costs are also scarce and employed with reluctance by states who generally hesitate to put them in harm’s way. Additionally, the prohibitively high cost of these platforms deters some countries from investing in these types of capabilities. As debates within NATO about cash, capabilities and contributions continue to hold the stage, highlighting Allies’ needs for different types of capabilities – less expensive, more resilient, and relatively more disposable – is important.2 Equal- ly critical is the need for Allies to develop new concepts of operations as well as new organi-zations to employ them effectively. The solution may not involve fielding exotic new capabilities so much as employing existing ones in innovative ways. It will also benefit greatly from approaches that allow Allies and partners to participate fully. If we do not adapt, we risk being surprised by potentially catastrophic events in a future conflict.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, Eastern Europe, North America, Southern Europe
  • Author: Olivier Rittimann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: What is commonly known as the “Ber- lin Plus” arrangements, signed in March 2003, provides for the European Union (EU) to draw upon NATO’s assets and capabilities for operations in which the Alliance would not be militarily involved. Following lengthy delays incurred by the Cyprus question, it was only as of 2003 that the agreement was successfully implemented with the transfer of operations from NATO to the EU in both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2003) and then in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2004). The Berlin Plus agreement guarantees EU access to NATO planning capabilities, which contribute to EU- led military operations through the identification of command options, procedures for release and recall of NATO assets and capabilities, and the exchange of classified intelligence under reciprocal security protection rules. At the end of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia (1999), the EU had no defence staff fit to plan nor conduct an operation, and it is only fifteen years ago that member states established national Operation Headquarters (OHQ), which nations make available for EU operations, as was done in 2006 in the Demo- cratic Republic of Congo and in 2007 in Chad. At the end of the 1990s, the Berlin Plus proposal made em- inent sense: it prevented any duplication (by the EU) of assets and fostered the emergence of a European operational culture. But is the Arrangement still fit for purpose almost 20 years later?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Chloe Berger, Cynthia Salloum
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Russia’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a significant component of contemporary Russian foreign and security policy. Moscow’s approach to NATO’s South1 has undoubtedly undergone considerable change since the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, it had built a set of alliances with Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Algeria and Libya, among others, which gave Moscow important leverage throughout the region. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stirred resistance and opposition in the Muslim world, marking a major turning point in its Middle Eastern foreign policy. With the demise of its empire, in addition to its economic and military weaknesses, Russia faced a series of new challenges: a further disintegration of its own south, notably in the South Caucasus, the rise of radical extremism in Chechnya and Dagestan and a NATO programme of partnerships and cooperation that threatened its influence. All of these constrained Moscow’s foreign policy at large, including its Middle Eastern arrangements. In pursuing interests above values, Russia, in the last twenty years, developed channels of dialogue and cooperation with several Sunni Arab states traditionally close to the US, including Saudi Arabia, while deepening diplomatic and military ties with Iran and the Syrian regime. Russia maintained relations with Fatah and recognized Hamas after it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, while successfully engaging pragmatically with Israel.2 Keeping contacts open with all relevant parties marks continuity between Soviet and Russian foreign policies. Moreover, in the last decade, the increasing instability across the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab Spring, from which Moscow kept its distance, offered new opportunities for influence and power projection, most notably in Syria and Libya. Putin is tracking two main objectives there: one is building status as a regional actor; the other is enhancing his prestige domestically.3 From the Libyan power vacuum to the US retreat from Afghanistan, the Kremlin is making the most of strategic opportunities and may continue to do so. However, it remains to be seen whether its regained confidence will lead to a more permanent Russian presence and influence. In the South, Moscow has today a relative free rein. But an increasingly mature European Union and most importantly a powerful and more strategically oriented US under President Biden may seriously constrain Russia’s room for manoeuvre. Several drivers, ranging from domestic and economic politics to regional and global geopolitics, could explain Russian involvement in the MENA. Firstly, Russia is building a defensive strategy aimed at reinforcing its front line against Western encroachment and Islamist terrorist attacks. Secondly, it is displaying an expansionist drive, aimed at controlling at least parts of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean by consolidating old alliances and building new coalitions including with business and arms traders. Thirdly, Russia’s presence in the MENA can be seen as a classic zero-sum game of power politics with the US whereby Moscow is trying to fill the void left by Washington. Last, but certainly not least, it is also driven by domestic considerations that strengthen Putin’s grip on power, and Russia’s regional influence and international prestige. While all these factors play a role, this edited volume shows that opportunism and contingency remain key variables to explain Russian behaviour in the MENA. All of these drivers were somehow on display in Syria, which became an ideal case-study to explain Russian policy in the South. Yet, beyond the specific rationale, some questions still remain about Russia’s future role and influence in the region. Is the MENA region significant enough to help Russia recover a status of global power beyond regional leadership? Do status and prestige suffice, and if so, at what cost? What are Russia’s current and future investments in the region and what are their consequences on trade, energy, and its military posture? What would the real benefits of a Russian return to the MENA region be for its economy and power? Most importantly, what would be the consequences of an assertive Russia for NATO and its partners in the South?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Andris Banka
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In recent years NATO has markedly increased its presence in the Baltic states. Relatively “light”, yet highly diverse multinational forces have been placed across the Alliance’s frontline with an underly- ing objective: to deter Russia. In this effort, the United States has served as a critical ballast. The Pentagon has directed sophisticated military exercises and rotated US service members throughout the region. These mea- sures, however, often did not align with US President Donald Trump’s spoken words nor written tweets. This obvious dichotomy disoriented Allied governments and shook bedrock assumptions about US security commitments. As political power changes hands in Washington, this lends an opportunity for a retooling of the transatlantic partnership. Domestically, incoming US President Joe Biden ran on the platform “Build Back Better”. In the spirit of that slogan, this Policy Brief lays out policy cor- rectives that both sides of the Atlantic could pursue to strengthen the US-Baltic security link.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Heinrich Brauss, Christian Mölling
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO must “stay strong militarily, be more united politically, and take a broader approach 1 globally”. When launching the reflection pro- cess on NATO’s future role, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg set these three priorities to frame his vision of NATO 2030. At their meeting in London in December 2019, NA- TO’s political leaders mandated a “forward-looking re- flection process” on how NATO should further adapt to ensure it was able to successfully cope with a world of competing great powers due to the rise of China and Russia’s persistently aggressive posture, together with instability along NATO’s southern periphery, new trans- national risks emerging from pandemics, climate change and disruptive technologies. Establishing a unified stra- tegic vision is vital for upholding the Alliance’s cohesion, credibility and effectiveness. Looking forward, what does this mean for NATO’s military dimension?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Anahita Motazed Rad
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As the Biden and Rouhani administrations’ position to renew diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file with European support, they face more challenges than their predecessors did in 2015, when the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was originally signed. Today, domestic, regional and international confrontations have increased; hardliners and conservatives in Tehran and Washington, on the one hand, and in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the other, are now more aligned and coordinated against a diplomatic success than they were in 2015.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah E. Mendelson
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The Joseph Biden Administration has rather famously committed to convene a Summit for Democracy, likely later in 2021 or early in 2022. The Summit has become, as some diplomats have suggested, “the talk of the town,” not only in Washington but also in multiple other national capitals. A cottage industry has sprung up debating the who, the what and the where. More focus is needed on the why — which, in turn, ought to shape the how. To my mind, albeit one preoccupied for over a quarter of a century with human rights and democracy, the why is rather straightforward. The alternatives — bending to the rise of authoritarians, or leaving unaddressed the weakened liberal international order that the United States originally helped create —are not in our or our allies’ national interest. Many democracies are experiencing intense challenges on multiple levels. Chief among these is the global pandemic, which revealed deep socioeconomic inequities in societies that have long been labeled “developed,” when in fact these democracies have not been delivering to many communities. Freedom House has now recorded 15 straight years of decline globally in democracy. The crises at home have been widely broadcast: the new Congress came under physical attack January 6 after a U.S. President attempted, as part of a protracted effort, to overturn the 2020 election and prohibit the peaceful transfer of power. How then the Summit for Democracy can help repair and revive democracy here and among our allies needs more consideration and detail. Numerous factors roll up to a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink and refresh exactly how we advance democracy at home and abroad. New approaches, themes and methods can help revitalize strategy and policy. Such new approaches need to connect and account for domestic shortcomings and link progress at home to efforts abroad. In doing so, post-pandemic democracy promotion needs to reflect a comprehensive focus on rights that includes socioeconomic issues and sustainable development (e.g., democracies must deliver dignity). The Biden Administration ought to consider labeling the Summit “Democracies Deliver Dignity and Development” or the 4Ds Summit. The Summit can provide the road map for these new approaches while being informed and shaped by extensive consultations at home and abroad. Finally, new methods should include data-driven, human-centered design shaping foreign assistance as well as elevating local voices. Internationally, that would be a significant change to the dominant modalities, largely Congress-driven, supporting specific types of institution building, such as central election commissions. Such work will undoubtedly continue, given support in Congress and among the U.S.-based NGOs that receive the funding (notwithstanding the damaged credibility of our democracy). At a minimum though, demonstrably demand-driven assistance ought to supplement this older business model in order to better deliver to populations, listening and responding to the multitude of needs.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Authoritarianism, Democracy, NGOs
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • 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: Richard N. Holwill
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The U.S. policy of normalization toward Cuba in the Barack Obama Administration was reversed by President Donald Trump, largely because it failed to address an underlying issue. The Cuban “revolution,” though consolidated on the Island, was soundly rejected by the Cuban exile community who view their country as mired in an unresolved civil war. The importance of the Florida vote was sufficient to prompt President Trump to “cancel” President Obama’s efforts at normalization. Meaningful change will require a more comprehensive approach to the challenge of implementing an effective Cuba policy. In truth, there is no justification for overt hostility toward Cuba. The Cold War is over, and the role that Cuba played in that conflict – an alliance with the Soviets, exporting violent revolution and doctrinaire socialism – has ended, as well. Going forward, the Biden Administration must adjust policies to reflect the fact that Cuba is on the verge of becoming a failed state, which would have negative consequences for the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Fragile/Failed State, Conflict, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Cuba, Caribbean, North America, United States of America
  • Author: John M. Logsdon
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed that “the new horizons of outer space must not be driven by the old bitter conflicts of imperialism and sovereign claims.” Kennedy announced that the United States would “urge proposals extending the United Nations Charter to the limits of man’s exploration of the universe, reserving outer space for peaceful use, prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in space or on celestial bodies, and opening the mysteries and benefits of space to every nation.”[1] Just over five years later, after several rounds of negotiations carried out primarily with the Soviet Union but within the framework of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activity of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” was opened for signature on January 27, 1967.[2] As of February 2021, 111 nation states, including all major space-faring countries, are party to that treaty; another 23 have signed the treaty but not yet ratified it. The principles set out in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, supplemented over the more than 50 years since 1967 by four implementing treaties and a number of non-binding statements of principles and multilateral agreements, constitute today’s international governance framework for space activities. It was Kennedy’s 1961 speech that started the process of creating that framework. President Joseph Biden has a similar opportunity, 60 years later, to take the lead in updating space governance for the 21st century.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Governance, Space
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America