Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

26 May 2017

After the Manchester Terror Attack: What Comes Next?

Freddy Gray

President Donald Trump has emerged as an unlikely source of comfort for many Brits today. America’s commander in chief is widely regarded here, as everywhere else, as a dangerous fool—yet his response to last night’s terrorist attack at a pop concert in Manchester, in the north of England, has been well received by shocked and saddened Britons. “We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” he said. “So many young beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.”

25 May 2017

Britain says it’s ‘likely’ attacker had accomplices as focus turns to his Libya visits

Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Souad Mekhennet
May 24, 2017
MANCHESTER, England — Britain’s top domestic security official said Wednesday it was “likely” that the bomber who killed 22 people at a concert on Monday night was not acting alone, a day after the nation’s threat level was raised and the military deployed to guard public events.
In an interview with the BBC, Home Secretary Amber Rudd did not provide details of who suspect Salman Abedi may have been working with when he detonated explosives in an attack that targeted teenage concertgoers, but she said security services — which had been aware of Abedi “up to a point” before the bombing — are focusing on his visits to Libya, at least one of which was very recent.

Her French counterpart, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, told broadcaster BFMTV that Abedi may have also gone to Syria, and had “proven” links with Islamic State.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tuesday night announcement, which takes Britain’s alert level from “severe” to its highest rating, “critical,” clears the way for thousands of British troops to take to the streets and replace police officers in guarding key sites.
May announced the move after chairing an emergency meeting of her security cabinet and concluding that Abedi may have been part of a wider network that is poised to strike again. The decision, she said, was “a proportionate and sensible response to the threat that our security experts judge we face.”

On Wednesday, British Parliament announced that “due to the raised national security threat” all public tours would be stopped, with immediate effect. The Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace — a popular tourist attraction — was also cancelled.
The worst terrorist attack on British soil in over a decade was carried out by a British-born son of Libyan immigrants who was born and raised a short drive from the concert hall that he transformed from a scene of youthful celebration into a tableau of horror.

20 May 2017

The Ten Main Defense Challenges Facing Macron´s France

by the War on the Rocks,

OK, so what are going to be President Macron’s primary security challenges? According to Jean-Baptiste Vilmer, they include 1) funding France’s growing defense needs; 2) adapting or replacing Operation Sentinelle, the domestic protection program put in place after the 2015 terrorist attacks; 3) renewing two component’s of France’s nuclear forces; 4) confronting Russia’s “strategies of influence”; 5) preserving Euro-Atlantic unity, and much more. 

Emmanuel Macron will be the next president of France. For the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic (since 1958), both final candidates were outside the bipolar, mainstream left-right party system. The winner, France’s youngest-ever president, has never held elected office before, and is not a member of any political party. That is indeed a political “revolution” — the title of his campaign book.

Now is the time to consider the main defense challenges France will face with Macron at the helm. Although the unexpected twists and turns of recent history demand a certain humility when making forecasts, one can still wager that geopolitics will remain eventful over the next five years. Below are the ten main defense challenges, in no particular order, that await the presidency of Macron.

“COME AND GET THEM”: PRYING OPEN THE BLACK BOX OF EUROPE’S POWER POLITICS

GEORGE VLACHONIKOLIS

Varoufakis is the former Greek finance minister (January to August 2015) who became infamous for his unconventional style when he led his country’s debt negotiations with the European establishment. He is, it is fair to say, a very polarizing figure: Like Russell Brand, he is loquacious and loves peacocking. Like Donald Trump, he is arrogant and narcissistic. But he is also a well-regarded economics professor and self-confessed Marxist.

Hence, we are obliged to pay attention and Adults in the Room does not disappoint. It is a fascinating insight on a host of levels: From an international politics point of view, it really challenges those old political debates of who is in charge of a country. And what are the real intentions during political decision-making?

Varoufakis begins his story in a Washington meeting with Larry Summers, the former secretary of the treasury. Summers asks him point blank: Do you want to be on the inside or the outside? “Outsiders prioritise their freedom to speak their version of the truth,” Summers explained, “The price is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions.”

18 May 2017

BrexitUnited Kingdom Theresa May's Gamble

By Andrew Gawthorpe

Since her sudden and unexpected call last month for a general election in June, British Prime Minister Theresa May has managed to shed the reputation for indecisiveness that has dogged her since she took power from David Cameron last fall. Also contributing to public perceptions of her strength, she has gone on the attack against the European Union, handily manufacturing a spat by accusing Brussels of seeking to tip the election against her by leaking details of a tense conversation she had recently had with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a private dinner. As can be expected, the admixture of nationalist posturing to political combat has proven intoxicating. The woman once nicknamed “Theresa Maybe” has now been recast by the press as the reincarnation of Boudicca, a warrior queen who led ancient Britons in a revolt against Roman occupation.

All signs point to a dramatic victory for May’s Conservative Party in the upcoming election, scheduled to take place on June 8. Many observers hope that an increased parliamentary majority will free May from the right wing of her own party, which is pushing for the United Kingdom to drive what many consider an unrealistically hard bargain in its negotiations with Brussels. With such voices sidelined, she would be able to make compromises with the EU that will mitigate the damage of its departure. Apparently anticipating just such a result, money markets have grown more optimistic about the United Kingdom since the election was announced.

15 May 2017

Europe’s Migration Dilemmas

By Michael S. Teitelbaum

Over the 60 years since the creation of what is now the European Union, the aspirations of its founders have mostly been achieved. No disasters akin to the catastrophic violence and political collapses of the first half of the twentieth century have occurred within the EU, which has instead enjoyed decades of stability and prosperity.

Since around the turn of the century, however, the union’s problems have been growing: sluggish overall economic growth accompanied by deep recessions and high unemployment in some member states; instabilities in the euro; and growing criticism of the alleged democratic deficits of EU institutions. These and other challenges have given rise to anti-EU forces across the continent, exposing the conflict between many Europeans’ hopes for deeper integration and many others’ aspirations toward national identity, sovereignty, and independence.

In early 2015, as the European migrant crisis emerged, most EU leaders failed to understand how their responses to it would add to the bloc’s existing problems. Few anticipated that razor-wire fences would reappear along Europe’s internal borders; that the Islamic State (ISIS) would take advantage of chaotic refugee flows to send some of its militants into Europe; that polarizing cultural clashes would follow from such episodes as the mass sexual assaults in German cities committed in December 2015; or that a leading cause of the 2016 British vote to exit the EU would prove to be the union’s immigration entitlements for non-British nationals. Migration and the policies used to address it have widened the fissures afflicting the European project.

Three 'Black Holes' Facing NATO: Strategy, Russia, Weapons

by Harlan Ullman, United Press International

Black holes are not merely matters of physics. Strategic black holes may be even more confounding than those found in deep space. NATO, thus far history's most successful military alliance, currently must deal with three of them. The likelihood that this venerable alliance will do so is far from certain.

The first black hole regards strategy. Russian intervention into Ukraine and seizure of Crimea were chastening and frightening. So too, Russian "active measures" are roiling politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Russian engagement in Syria has sustained the diabolical regime of Bashar al-Assad. And Russia has become far more visible in Libya and the Persian Gulf.

While NATO has created new strategic concepts to deal with the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, its last real strategic revision was the Harmel Report of 1967. Led by Belgian Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel, his commission was charged with confronting the threat of Soviet increases in both nuclear and conventional weaponry and Charles De Gaulle's decision to eject NATO from Paris, leaving the military side of the alliance. The result was a shift from reliance solely on nuclear deterrence to a strategy of flexible response to deny Moscow advantages at all levels of the conflict spectrum…

14 May 2017

Europe´s Digital Power: From Geo-Economics to Cybersecurity

Stefan Soesanto 

This report explores the concept of European digital power. More specifically, it looks at 1) the status of the continent’s digital economy; 2) new digital innovations and cyber threats; and 3) evolving, digitally-fed perceptions of power. The text’s author ultimately concludes that Europe’s faltering progress towards a digital single market and its sluggish response to cyber threats are symptomatic of “a residual reluctance towards the digital medium.”

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13 May 2017

Hackers Came, but the French Were Prepared


By ADAM NOSSITER, DAVID E. SANGER and NICOLE PERLROTH

President-elect Emmanuel Macron at a rally at the Louvre on Sunday evening. His digital team began to notice “high quality” phishing mails in December. CreditPool photo by Philippe Lopez

PARIS — Everyone saw the hackers coming.

The National Security Agency in Washington picked up the signs. So did Emmanuel Macron’s bare-bones technology team. And mindful of what happened in the American presidential campaign, the team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers.

The Russians, for their part, were rushed and a bit sloppy, leaving a trail of evidence that was not enough to prove for certain they were working for the government of President Vladimir V. Putin but which strongly suggested they were part of his broader “information warfare” campaign.

Europe´s Digital Power: From Geo-Economics to Cybersecurity

Stefan Soesanto 

This report explores the concept of European digital power. More specifically, it looks at 1) the status of the continent’s digital economy; 2) new digital innovations and cyber threats; and 3) evolving, digitally-fed perceptions of power. The text’s author ultimately concludes that Europe’s faltering progress towards a digital single market and its sluggish response to cyber threats are symptomatic of “a residual reluctance towards the digital medium.”

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© 2017 European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) 

12 May 2017

Emmanuel Macron Wins In France. So What Next?


It’s the first time a candidate, not representing the mainstream parties, has been voted to the office of the French President.

Opinion is divided on whether Macron will be the right man to fix the ailing French economy.

Emmanuel Macron will be the next President of France. All of 39, Macron is certainly the youngest President since the Gaullian republic was proclaimed. The landslide victory of Macron was the culmination of a dream run that began 13 months back when he floated his 'neither left or right' bipartisan political movement, En Marche (On the Move).

A Europhile 'centrist' and an ex-Rothschild banker, Macron's landslide victory is unprecedented – it's the first time an independent candidate, not representing the mainstream parties, has been voted to the office of the French President.

Even the huge email leaks from Macron’s campaign team, which were allegedly a treasure trove of incriminating information establishing his close connection with global big finance and predictably described by his supporters as politically motivated hacking engineered by Russians, did little to mar his electoral prospects.

Lock Them Up: Zero-Deployed Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in Europe


How can non-strategic nuclear weapons holders, particularly Russia and the US, ensure these arms are not used in a conflict in Europe? This text advocates 1) transferring these warheads to a small number of storage facilities, and 2) developing verification procedures that would confirm the absence of deployed warheads at nearby, nuclear-capable bases. The virtue of this approach is that the parties involved wouldn’t have to disclose the number of warheads they possess, which has been a serious stumbling block in previous deterrence efforts.

10 May 2017

*** The Necessary Empire


By ROBERT D. KAPLAN

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year have brought much drama to the old Carolingian core, where Charlemagne founded his empire in the ninth century. This has always been the richest and most strongly institutionalized part of Europe. But should the European Union continue to weaken, the most profound repercussions will be felt farther east and south.

There, along the fault line of the Austrian Hapsburg and Ottoman Turkish empires, former Communist countries lack the sturdy middle-class base of core Europe, and in many cases are still distracted by ethnic and territorial disputes 25 years after the siege of Sarajevo. They depend on pro-European Union governments as never before.

Here in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country squeezed between Central Europe and the Balkans, officials and experts talk about a so-called phantom frontier that still exercises people’s imagination. This is the “Antemurale Christianitatis,” the “Bulwark of Christianity,” proclaimed in 1519 by Pope Leo X, in a reference to the Roman Catholic Slavs considered the front line against the Ottoman Empire. Croatia was the first line of defense against the Muslim Sultanate, and Slovenia the second. “When Yugoslavia collapsed, it was assumed that none of this earlier history was important,” one official said to me recently. “But a quarter-century after the disintegration of Tito’s Yugoslavia, we find that we are back to late-medieval and early-modern history.”

9 May 2017

Europe’s China Pivot

By Robert Manning

“The future has already arrived,” sci-fi writer William Gibson famously quipped, “it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” Few in the United States noticed when a freight train arrived in London in January 2017, completing a 7,500 mile journey from China, yet this train, its route an echo of the ancient Silk Road, just may have offered a glimpse of the future.

China is already the world’s largest trading nation, with some $3.9 trillion in two-way trade in 2016. The European Union, with its $17 trillion economy, roughly the size of that of the United States, looms large in China’s ambitious but still inchoate vision of connecting both ends of the Eurasian landmass with a 21st century version of the old Silk Road. And to the degree the United States retreats from the post-World War II multilateral system it created, the China-EU relationship could influence the balance of the emerging polycentric order.

Donald Trump’s “America First” posture, his cheerleading of Brexit, and his swift rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership spurred Europe and Asia to rapidly scramble in pursuit of multilateral deals to offset the U.S. retreat. In a letter to leaders of the 27 EU member states earlier this year, European Council President Donald Tusk described Trump, along with an assertive China and an aggressive Russia, as one of three external threats to Europe’s future. Tusk argued that “[w]e should use the change in the trade strategy of the U.S. to the EU's advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time.”

3 May 2017

*** The Man Who Saved Europe the Last Time


By Henry A. Kissinger

Konrad Adenauer (second from left), Sept. 21, 1949, with the high commissioners of the occupation (left to right), America’s John J. McCloy, Britain’s Sir Brian Robertson and France’s André François-Poncet. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE

The attribute of greatness is reserved for leaders from whose time onward history can be told only in terms of their achievements. I observed essential elements of Germany’s history—as a native son, as a refugee from its upheavals, as a soldier in the American army of occupation, and as a witness to its astonishing renewal.

Only a few who experienced this evolution remain. For many contemporary Germans, the Adenauer period seems like a tale from an era long transcended. To the contrary, they live in a dynamic established by Konrad Adenauer, a man whose lifespan, from 1876 to 1967, covered all but five years of the unified German national state first proclaimed in 1871.

Devastated, impoverished, partitioned, the Federal Republic came about after World War II by the merger of the American, British and French zones of occupation, containing just two-thirds of Germany’s prewar population. Five million refugees from Germany’s prewar territories needed integration; they agitated for the recovery of lost territories. The Soviet occupation zone, containing 18 million people, was turned into a communist political entity.

The Federal Republic’s advent capped a century of discontinuity. The Empire after Bismarck had felt beleaguered by the alliances surrounding it; the Weimar Republic after World War I had felt abused by an imposed peace settlement; Hitler had sought an atavistic world dominion; the Federal Republic arose amid a legacy of global resentment.

The Fight in Hungary Is Over George Soros's Legacy

By Leonid Bershidsky

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long avoided effective censure by the European Union, even though he has long since stopped adhering to the bloc's common values, denouncing liberalism and adopting an authoritarian style of government. But his attempt to close down the Central European University in Budapest, funded by George Soros, seems to be the last straw; the EU intends to sue Hungary over it, and sanctions may follow unless Orban leaves the CEU alone.

It's remarkable that the controversy over the Soros project is what has brought European unhappiness with Orban to a boil. But then, the stakes are especially high for the octogenarian philanthropist: This may be his final stand in a region where he has accomplished so much -- and yet seen at least as much failure.

In the final paragraph of her 2015 book, "Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy," Anna Porter wrote:

It would be ironic if the Soros legacy -- as viewed through the lens of the next century -- is the Central European University in Budapest. Ironic, because the one thing that Soros never wanted was an edifice, a building to house his ideas. But it is also fitting because CEU may yet turn out to be the incubator of future leaders and, with a bit of luck, they will lead to a better world.

2 May 2017

Europe’s China Pivot

By Robert Manning

“The future has already arrived,” sci-fi writer William Gibson famously quipped, “it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” Few in the United States noticed when a freight train arrived in London in January 2017, completing a 7,500 mile journey from China, yet this train, its route an echo of the ancient Silk Road, just may have offered a glimpse of the future.

China is already the world’s largest trading nation, with some $3.9 trillion in two-way trade in 2016. The European Union, with its $17 trillion economy, roughly the size of that of the United States, looms large in China’s ambitious but still inchoate vision of connecting both ends of the Eurasian landmass with a 21st century version of the old Silk Road. And to the degree the United States retreats from the post-World War II multilateral system it created, the China-EU relationship could influence the balance of the emerging polycentric order.

Donald Trump’s “America First” posture, his cheerleading of Brexit, and his swift rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership spurred Europe and Asia to rapidly scramble in pursuit of multilateral deals to offset the U.S. retreat. In a letter to leaders of the 27 EU member states earlier this year, European Council President Donald Tusk described Trump, along with an assertive China and an aggressive Russia, as one of three external threats to Europe’s future. Tusk argued that “[w]e should use the change in the trade strategy of the U.S. to the EU's advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time.”

An Onslaught of Islamist Violence Is Europe's New Normal

by Sam Westrop

Police secure the Champs Elysées after the April 20 shooting. 

Last Thursday, in an attack that has started to feel routine, Karim Cheurfi opened fire on French police on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, killing a police officer. Cheurfi then wounded two others before he was shot and killed. Police later found a note in which he expressed support for the Islamic State, which later declared him their "soldier."

Following similar attacks in London, Stockholm, Paris, Nice, Berlin and Israel, Europe is waking up to the fact that these abrupt acts of murder — using knives, guns and cars — are the new norm.

Over the last five years, there has been a noticeable change in jihadist methods. During the 2000s, Al Qaeda and other violent Islamist groups were preoccupied with large explosions –terrorist acts that took months of planning, networks of contacts, sources of funding, and supplies of explosive material. The effects, when successful, produced enormous casualties and made for dramatic television. But these plots were also ripe for discovery by law enforcement: large money transfers were noticed, explosive materials were tracked, conspirators were surveilled and Muslim informants exposed whole Islamist cells.

1 May 2017

** A Vote of Confidence for the European Union?

It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

After weeks of worry, EU institutions and governments can heave a sigh of relief. The scenario they most feared in France's presidential election — a runoff between two anti-globalization candidates — did not come to pass in the first round of voting on Sunday. Instead, centrist leader Emmanuel Macron wound up in first place, and opinion polls suggest he will defeat the populist Marine Le Pen in the elections' second round May 7. Stock markets in most European capitals rose Monday morning, buoyed by the vote's outcome. But though the results suggest that the status quo in Europe will survive another day, the political situation in France offers little room for complacency.

27 April 2017

A Profound Realignment in the Western World

By Daniel McCarthy

The populist Right that seems to be rising throughout the advanced world has two goals. One, obviously, is to win office. But the second, which can be achieved short of actually taking power, is simply to replace the center-right. Marine Le Pen will almost certainly lose to Emmanuel Macron in a few weeks’ time. She and her supporters can count it as a victory, however, that there will be no center-right candidate in the second round of France’s presidential election for the first time since Charles de Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic.

The Left has been undergoing a shakeup of its own. Macron represents a tendency toward the pro-market center that bears some comparison with the direction in which Bill Clinton and Tony Blair took the Democrats and Labour in the 1990s. But unlike Clinton and Blair, Macron does not lead an established party. He was formerly a finance minister in the Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. In picking a nominee earlier this year to succeed the disastrous incumbent Socialist president, François Hollande, the party ultimately faced a choice between the center-left Valls and a left-wing candidate, Benoît Hamon. Hamon won, but so deep is the disaffection with the Socialists that another, independent leftist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, outperformed him in Sunday’s first-round general election.