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June 19, 2018
The World Cup Edition: This is how Europe fights today. Putin’s World Cup has begun.
- Yes, we’ll get to the World Cup, but first this--the Summit Survival Kit!: No, it’s not gin. You need in your briefcase on United flight 950 to Brussels (or in the Secdef’s E-4B) the NATO Summit Primer titled “More Than Burden Sharing: Five Objectives for the 2018 NATO Summit” and produced by the Transatlantic Security Program at CNAS! It’s a quick read that examines 5 issues Summiteers should tackle as well as two European regions that don’t get enough attention at NATO: Russia and the Balkans. The primer is a must-read for the Summit (or in the back pocket of the bosses briefing book!). Everyone will be reading it at NATO HQ; you need to be seen reading it too! Download it here. Now you’re good to go
- WTF Germany?!: Football (as in soccer) should be a simple game. In the words of former England striker Gary Lineker “22 men chase a ball around for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win.” But clearly Mexico didn’t get the message, prompting calls to find out how much the German National team spends on their defense. Definitely not 2%. Perhaps they will be back in Kroos control for their remaining group games against Sweden and South Korea. The Germans did lose their first match in 1982 and still got to the final. Away from the pitch, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have won the right to host the 2026 World Cup having beaten a rival proposal from Morocco. They will stage the games under the name “United.” Let’s hope NAFTA still exists to allow the free movement of players.
- What Were the Other .4% Watching?: According to @footballiceland 99.6% of all people in Iceland watching TV during Iceland’s match against Argentina were watching the match. With another 11 people on the pitch we wonder what the remaining 0.399967% were watching…maybe the fishing channel?
- Nordic Solidarity: The Finns didn’t make it to the World Cup and so join the U.S. sitting in the stands. Unlike the U.S., which remains likely oblivious to the World Cup anyway (why care about the world cup when you have the “world” series!), the Finnish Embassy tweeted out this rather unsettling expression of their support for their Nordic brethren who did make it to the World Cup. Check it out (but not at night…).
- The Best Game So Far: That was the 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal. Twice the Spaniards went behind, and twice they equalized before taking the lead through a Nacho goal - a crisp finish that will take some topping. But in the closing minutes Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up and hit a free kick in to the top left corner for his third goal of the game. If the Spanish tax authorities can’t stop him why should the players be able to?
- Speaking of Germany: The compromise between Chancellor Merkel and Interior Minister Seehofer to wait until the upcoming EU Summit before making any moves to strengthen German integration rules has kicked the immigration can down the road. But the internal coalition strife of the past few days between Mutter and Seehofer show how different the politics are in Berlin today and especially in the coalition where the Chancellor no longer has the strong hand she held in previous coalitions. But her leadership in Europe remains critical. As Ulrich Speck tweeted: “If Merkel falls, the chances for the EU to build a new system that keeps internal openness (Schengen), remains true to its humanitarian outlook and keeps the social peace in Europe is going to diminish dramatically. Merkel is the leader in Europe who knows this dossier best, has immense experience, and the ability to strike a deal on the European level. She is the best hope for a liberal solution of the crisis. For the alternative look at Hungary, or the current Italian government.” But she is getting help from an unexpected corner…the White House. What may help solidify her power are unprecedented Presidential tweets attacking her; in the words of Anne Applebaum, “The U.S. president wants to bring down the German chancellor. This is a turning point.” With help like this from the President, she may get stronger. And just in time.
- FINALLY! It’s a miracle but Greece and Macedonia/FYROM have agreed on what Macedonians will call their “new” nation: North Macedonia. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Read Brookings’ Amanda Sloat on the significance of this underappreciated problem. Membership in NATO and the EU can be next and one more Balkan country can be integrated into Europe (remember “a Europe, whole, free and at peace?). Will North Macedonia be given NATO membership at the July Summit? They joined PFP in 1995, MAP in 1999 and at the 2008 Bucharest Summit Heads of State and Government agreed that “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be invited to start accession talks as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the issue over the country’s name has been reached.” So let’s get this party started (before anyone changes their mind!).
- You Need to Read These: You’ve seen these articles referenced over and over on social media, now here’s your chance to read them and you should. Carnegie’s Bob Kagan writing in the Washington Post and IISS’ Kori Schake appearing in the New York Times provide sharp and clear-eyed analysis of the ongoing major shift in the U.S.-European relationship away from the familiar touchstones and institutions of the post-World War II era to something else.
- Kagan: “Since the end of the Cold War, it has widely been assumed that U.S. foreign policy would follow one of two courses: Either the United States would continue as primary defender of the international order it created after World War II, or it would pull back from overseas commitments, shed global responsibilities, turn inward and begin transitioning to a post-American world. The second approach was where U.S. foreign policy seemed headed under President Barack Obama, and most saw the election of Donald Trump as another step toward withdrawal. It turns out there was a third option: the United States as rogue superpower, neither isolationist nor internationalist, neither withdrawing nor in decline, but active, powerful and entirely out for itself.”
- Schake: “The administration’s alternative vision for the international order is a bare-knuckled assertion of unilateral power that some call America First; more colorfully, a White House official characterized it to The Atlantic as the “We’re America, Bitch” doctrine. This aggressive disregard for the interests of like-minded countries, indifference to democracy and human rights and cultivation of dictators is the new world Mr. Trump is creating. He and his closest advisers would pull down the liberal order, with America at its helm, that remains the best guarantor of world peace humanity has ever known. We are entering a new, terrifying era.”
- Kori and Bob are not alone. Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a widely quoted speech, “That world order that we once knew... this world order no longer exists.” We are well down the road to a new, unknown destination.
- Dragnea to Hell: More worrying news from Eastern Europe on the rule of law. In Romania the governing Social Democratic Party has long called for the chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, to be fired. President Iohannis (a former leader of the opposition National Liberal Party) has been resisting those calls, but the constitutional court ruled against him in late May. On 9 June, the governing Social Democratic Party organized a rally in Bucharest protesting a “parallel state” that they claim is run by Iohannis, Kovesi and other prosecutors with support from the Romanian intelligence agencies. More than 100,000 people attended, many local officials and public servants bussed in by the Social Democratic Party. At the rally the leader of the Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea likening prosecutors to “rats.” With Iohannis still to agree to Kovesi’s dismissal, impeachment is being discussed. The situation looks likely to get worse rather than better. As in Hungary and Poland we should be paying attention.
- The Tofurky Election?: There is less than a week to go until Turkey’s 24 June presidential and parliamentary elections. Remarkably the results do not seem clear cut and polls suggest that President Erdoğan may not reach the 50% (plus one vote) mark needed to win in the first round. Similarly, while his AKP party tops the polls, its majority is not guaranteed. The deciding factor may be whether the pro-Kurdish HDP manages to pass the 10% threshold (polls vary between 8 and 11%) to enter parliament. If it does AKP is unlikely to have sole control. More on the outcomes next week. For now the Dish hopes for a free and fair election. The OSCE published an interim election monitoring report on 15 June that highlighted that the state of emergency put in place after the 2016 coup attempt has led to restrictions on freedom of assembly, association and expression. And leaked footage shows Erdoğan urging AKP officials to obtain a dominant presence in ballot box committees responsible for vote counting.
- A Riesling To Be Cheerful: The Russian Embassy in London celebrated Russia Day last Tuesday with apparently delicious wine from Crimea. But they seemed not to have noticed that at least one was from 2013 – so Ukrainian even by their standards. We wonder if the mission staff have immunity from promoting stolen goods.
- From Our TDY Desk: Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell travels to Romania, Croatia, Czech Republic and Belgium from June 17-22 to, according to the State Department, “address regional security, economic cooperation, and more.” Certainly a lot more.
- For our Washington-based readers, be sure to attend the launch of our NATO Summit report next Tuesday, July 26th. The event will kick off with a speech by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Søreide, followed by a panel discussion with our CNAS experts, Julie Smith and Jim Townsend, the Atlantic Council’s Ian Brzezinski, and moderated by Georgetown’s Professor Rosa Brooks. You don’t want to miss this! RSVP here!
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