April 18, 2018

The Dish | April 18, 2018

By Jim Townsend and Julianne Smith

Welcome to The Dish! Curated by the CNAS Transatlantic Security Team, the Dish sends you the latest in transatlantic relations once a week. If this is your first time receiving the Dish, click here to sign up!

April 18, 2018

  • Would You Hold Our Coats for a Moment?: Why did Germany just hold the coats of its three closest allies when they went after Assad’s chemical capability last week? The German Government clearly supported the strike and SECDEF Mattis consulted with German MOD Ursula von der Leyen beforehand. Given Germany’s capable military and new activist role in support of foreign policy, shouldn’t Germany have done more?
    Interesting discussion between SWP’s Justyna Gotkowska and Lorenz Hemicker, Political Editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine about Germany’s role in the Syria strike: 
    • Hemicker points out that two important German interests collided: non-proliferation of chemical weapons and preventing tensions between the West and Russia. This helped cause Merkel to opt out of participating in the strike, which also separated Germany from its closest allies. Tweeted Hemicker, “It’s unclear so far, how Germany should stay away of military operations on the one hand and on the other hand fully support a united and resolute answer. In case of the Assad regime, diplomacy and de-escalation have failed.”
    • Gotkowska responded that many didn’t care about Germany’s reaction (although French President Macron asked for Bundeswehr support, according to Hemicker). “Key is that Germany expresses political support; but in case it didn't, it would bring more harm to Berlin than to the US-UK-FR. All this shows where Berlin is in international security policy with the slogan ‘more responsibility’” tweeted Gotkowska.
  • Rumor Has It: Speigel Online reports that well-known German diplomat and colleague Emily Haber is slated to replace Peter Wittig, currently Germany’s hard-working Ambassador to Washington. While this move is still to be confirmed by the German Federal Cabinet, German hands in Washington are excited by the prospect that Haber could be the next occupant of the magnificent German ambassador’s residence on Foxhall Road. She is currently Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior but has a long association with official Washington from her time in the Foreign Office where she headed the Political Department. Emily Haber was the “must see” official for any trip to Berlin. Speigel says she has an excellent reputation as a hard, tough negotiator in Berlin; in Washington she’s also known as a good colleague and as someone who can get things done. We don’t want to jinx it Emily, but welcome!
  • Russian Military Buildup in the Eastern Med: Dominik P. Jankowski, Head of OSCE and Eastern Security Unit in the Polish MFA’s Security Policy Department tweets a reminder that the Russian buildup isn’t just for show.
    “After an exercise in the Baltic Sea RU organizes another missile firing exercise. This time on the southern flank off the ‪#Syria coast (on the map marked w/red). RU strategy remains the same: escalate in order to (force the West to) de-escalate.”
  • “Map Maker, Map Maker, Make Me a Map…”: Dish fans will remember the hard time the New York Stock Exchange had a few weeks ago distinguishing between the Swedish and Swiss flags to hang in honor of Spotify going public. It seems this geographic blank spot in our nation’s education is worse than we thought. Max Fisher from The New York Times has tweeted a collection of geographic horror stories from the television news. The Dish staff agreed with Max that this particular example is a real gem:
    “Finally, please put on your felt gloves and breathing mask while handling the JEWEL OF THE COLLECTION, Fox News’ *exquisite* Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia has reunified, except for Serbia, which is now Hungary, and also Yugoslavia is now Bulgaria, which is nameless. It’s beautiful.”
  • Starry, Starry Night: Nighttime Europe from above looks like the Milky Way. Thanks to author and aviation enthusiast Ron Eisele for tweeting the photo (which you should enlarge for the full effect). Which bright spot of light is you?
  • What the EU Will Miss: Bastian Giegerich from IISS and Christian Mölling from the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) recently a piece(funded by the UK Foreign Office) detailing how the UK military and defense industry stacks against their peers in the EU. The report included some interesting stats that were not surprising but they served as a reminder of the world of hurt for the EU militarily when the Brits are gone. Looks like France will have to carry the defense load…unless Germany can step in to help, but that won’t happen any time soon. The answer is to keep the band together, at least on defense and the authors offer some suggestions on how. “The UK is a power of great importance to European security and defence. Every significant security and defence challenge for EU member-state capitals will also be a concern for London. Therefore, the challenge is to find pragmatic solutions and policies that enable the EU member states and the UK to work together for the security of their citizens.” It’s a major mistake if they can’t work it out.
  • Double Portion of Brussels Sprouts: Our podcast listeners will be treated to two timely editions of Brussels Sprouts this week. First, out today, is our discussion with Norwegian Deputy Minister of Defense Tone Skogen. Tune in for an insightful conversation about Norway’s challenges in the North Atlantic and the new NATO Command Structures. Later this week, look out for our podcast with the French Ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, who invited us to his office at the French Embassy to discuss what we can expect from President Macron’s long anticipated visit to Washington on April 23rd-25th.

We want to hear from you, too! Have a Dish you want us to add? Send it to Jim Townsend at jtownsend@cnas.org or on Twitter at @jteurope.

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