May 02, 2018

The Dish | May 1, 2018

By Julianne Smith and Jim Townsend

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!

May 1, 2018

May Day Edition. Workers of the world unite

  • On the Junck Heap of History: Just in time for May Day, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx by giving a speech in Trier, the birthplace of the famous German political philosopher, economist, mathematician, historian, political theorist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist (and sometimes confused with Groucho Marx). Juncker will also unveil a statue of Marx, which was a gift from the Chinese, who know something about Marxism. This decision is not being widely celebrated in that part of the EU that got to see Marxism up close and personal. Says the Poland Daily, “The decision is a slap in the face of the almost 100 million EU citizens who were forced to live under communist occupation after 1945.” The EU doesn’t see it that way, "Nobody can deny that Karl Marx is a figure who shaped history in one way or the other, and not speaking of him would come close to denying history," said the Commission on Friday. Looking forward to the speech!
  • From our Americas Desk: Pompeo & Circumstance: After Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sworn in, he left for NATO as his first trip abroad, going to Europe first like transatlanticists used to do in the day, saying when he arrived, "As soon as I was sworn in, I hopped on a plane and came here. There's a reason for that. Our work here is invaluable." Props for that, but it was luck and circumstance that a NATO Foreign Minister’s meeting just happened to be scheduled for the day after his swearing-in. As tweeted by Rachel Rizzo he didn’t really have a choice, not going would have been a huge snub. However, it will take more than one trip to show that the new Secretary is on top of his Europe portfolio. Foreign Policy provides the Secretary a map to show him where we still need U.S. ambassadors.
  • Macron/Merkel Hotwash: Washington has moved on to other things since the Macron/Merkel visits, but post-visit analysis is quite good about what it all meant in Europe. Here are some of the greatest hits:
    • GMF blogpost by Christoph von Marschall “‘Punish France, ignore Germany, forgive Russia.’ That was the summary of U.S. policy toward Europe attributed to then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in the spring of 2003 during the transatlantic bust-up over Iraq... ‘Forgive France, Punish Germany, Ignore Russia’ is the new motto of the day.”
    • Carnegie’s Erik Brattberg tweets: “Great set of answers to @Judy_Dempsey’s question of the week – ‘Is Europe behind Macron?’ Most of us conclude no.”
    • Judy Dempsey in the Washington Post: “The bottom line is that unless Merkel can throw caution to the wind in her fourth term and run with the French president’s bold plans for the E.U., Germany’s strategic and political timidity will undermine both Macron and Europe.”
    • The Royal Elcano Institute’s Ulrich Speck’s tweet string: “After this week we know that Trump doesn't take France and Germany serious. What Macron or Merkel think is irrelevant for him. He doesn't listen to them and he doesn't think he needs to convince them. In his view, they are clients who have to follow orders.”
  • Small Dish of Lichtenstein: It is a rare opportunity indeed to have the Dish serve up even a small plate of Lichtenstein until today. And here it is… don’t get used to it!
  • I’m Not Dead Yet!: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office felt the need to remind everyone after Macron’s triumphal entry into Washington that the special relationship resides in London, not Paris. So they released a spiffy video on the occasion of the announcement of President Trump’s July 13 drive-by the UK that makes the case why. Who are the Brits trying to convince?
  • Arbre-ushed Out: The Dish staff understood that Presidents Trump and Macron had a relatively civilized and conciliatory conversation about global warming during their Summit. So we were surprised when it looked as though the latest victim of climate change was the tree, taken from the World War One USMC battlefield of a Belleau Wood, that the two of them planted together as a reminder of the “ties that bind us.” A flurry of reporting implied that even trees were fleeing the White House. Not so. The French Ambassador took to Twitter to provide reassurance – “It is in quarantine … mandatory for any living organism imported to the US [and] will be replanted afterwards.” Speaking of Ambassador Araud, be sure to give a listen to our recent podcast with him if you haven’t already.
  • Transatlantic Beginnings: A notable development in academia as Ambassador Nicholas Burns and the Harvard Kennedy School launched the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship last week. The exciting new project is setting out on an ambitious agenda in developing the next generation of Europeanists – something we wholly endorse. Watch this space!
  • Not a Dry Eye in the House: For NATO druids past and present, it was hard not to have a lump in the throat from the words of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as he gaveled to a close the last Foreign Ministers meeting in the old HQ building. While it will be a new day tomorrow for NATO, it will be built on the shoulders of so many who lived in that house.
  • Berlin Sprouts: Our podcast will be on a short hiatus this week (see it as an opportunity to catch up on some of our wonderful past episodes) but we will soon be recording with Christian Mölling of the German Council of Foreign Relations. Expect a fascinating discussion on the new German government’s defense policies in the near future.

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

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