Atlantic Community: encouraging open dialogue on the challenges facing Europe and North America

The politics and economies of the transatlantic community are constantly changing. As the first online foreign policy think tank, we value the importance of rich, diverse discussion and hope to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discussions between transatlantic partners.

Atlantic Community: encouraging open dialogue on the challenges facing Europe and North America

The politics and economies of the transatlantic community are constantly changing. As the first online foreign policy think tank, we value the importance of rich, diverse discussion and hope to facilitate the exchange of ideas and discussions between transatlantic partners.

EU must seek transatlantic climate cooperation to lead global energy transition

2020 is the first year of delivery for the EU’s climate ambitions. The European Commission has set itself a goal to tackle climate change with unprecedented urgency and ambition through its European Green Deal plan, at the heart of which is the objective to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. Yet as the EU produces only about 9% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, it is absolutely vital that these ambitions have a strong external element to them as well. The transition must thus be built upon realistic targets and pragmatic diplomatic approach to credibly project the EU’s normative power.

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Same-Same but different: The Evolving Qualitative Arms Race

During the Cold War, an ever-increasing quantity of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles determined the strategic parameters of international security. In the 30 years since then, the global nuclear stockpiles have been reduced gradually. This process has, at least for the time being, come to an end with the New START treaty on deployed strategic nuclear weapons. It was signed by the US and Russia in April 2010. Despite its overall success, the prospects for further (nuclear) disarmament are bleak. Instead, we are witnessing an evolving arms race that will, however, differ significantly from the Cold War tradition. Two main issues drive this process.

The first is the rise of China. Since its inception in the 1960s, nuclear arms control has been a bilateral affair between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia. Even today, both nuclear superpowers account for approximately 90% of existing warheads. Nevertheless, the US government has frequently called upon China – which, according to public sources, still possesses less than 300 warheads compared to the more than 6000 in the respective US and Russian arsenals – to join strategic nuclear arms control negotiations. Because Washington views Beijing as the main geopolitical competitor in the 21st century, it seeks to protect its technological and strategic edge by either constraining China or lifting formal limits on its own capabilities. The US withdrawal from the INF-treaty is a case in point. Russia’s treaty violations notwithstanding, the US primarily reacts to the growing Chinese arsenal of intermediate-range missiles and radar capabilities that potentially hold US military assets and allies in East Asia at risk. In August 2019, the US for the first time tested a ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missile, followed by a second test of a ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile in December that year.

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Water Security – Where Cooperation is Possible

Water is the basis of life. The access, possession and control of water therefore mean power, make it a potential source of conflict. But the hypothesis that as nations run of out of water they may go to war is one-dimensional and linear. It underestimates other factors including how nations operate, what motivates war and the actual cost of war.
Shared water resources i.e. the approximately 276 water bodies, lakes and rivers shared by some 148 countries around the world, are generally seen as issues of potential conflict. Empirical evidence reveals, however, there have been more instances of cooperation than conflict over shared water resources in the past decades. On occasion countries have used their shared water resources to forge ties often leading to cooperation in other spheres as well.

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Healing the WTO: Cure or Amputate the Appellate Body?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) currently faces the biggest crisis since its inception in 1995. Events that appear as bureaucratic chess games threaten to risk the business rules of major trading nations around the globe. On 11 December, the Appellate Body, the committee dealing with WTO members’ appeals became incapacitated after its membership dropped from three – the minimum to take decisions on cases – to only one remaining adjudicator. New appointments have been blocked by the United States since June 2017. This effectively shuts down the body, because the minimum requirement for any decision is three judges. In a recent move, the U.S. government has placed a veto on any funding for the Appellate Body’s secretariat in Geneva, meaning that it will have to stop operating at the beginning of 2020.

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Beijing’s Perspective on the EU’s new China policy

In the past few months, the European Union (EU) has pursued a noticeable transition in its China policy, suggesting that Europe is taking an increasingly critical stance on China. In March 2019, a ten-point plan published by the European Commission explicitly described China as “an economic competitor in pursuit of technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance”. Calling China a “strategic competitor” reflects the EU’s growing concerns of rising competition with China. Moreover, it institutionalizes the reoccurring criticism over the lack of reciprocity of market access for European companies in China. The EU has also raised security concerns over foreign direct investment (FDI) from Chinese state-owned enterprises and technology companies.

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The INF Treaty is Dead. Long Live the Arms Race.

On August 2, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia officially collapsed, freeing the world’s two largest nuclear hoarders to develop weapons once banned by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Less than three weeks later, with the corpse of the Treaty still cooling, the United States launched a new ground-based cruise missile off the coast of Los Angeles with a range previously prohibited by the defunct agreement.

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The Arctic: Stable Governance Amid Melting Ice

Governance of the Arctic region is robust, orderly and sound. There are multiple forums for cooperation. These forums have survived and thrived through conflict and tension. There is no indication that any state might withdraw from any of these forums, or that the future of any institution is in question.

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Russia’s Foreign Policy – Coping with Overextension and Uncertainty

Nothing in its recent behaviour suggests reasons to be optimistic that Russia’s foreign policy will become more accommodating, less defensive or less aggressive in the next decade or so. Nothing suggests either that any single actor, whether a state or organisation, is in a position to be regarded and heard by the Kremlin as a critical friend and so to sway Russia’s foreign policy.

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