May 15, 2018

The Dish | May 15, 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 15, 2018

  • Early Eulogy: The returns are coming in from the JCPOA reality show last week and they are not good for transatlantic relations, with eulogies being preached from pulpits across the Alliance. But as RUSI’s Jonathan Eyal tweeted: the transatlantic alliance “…was solemnly pronounced dead every single decade, since the 1950s. The Atlantic Alliance had more funerals than European aircraft carriers.” Still, just the way the announcement was made was hard to take. Some notable reviews of the JCPOA rollout…and the serious days ahead:
    • Der Spiegel rallies Europe to resist America (with naughty cover art to boot): “The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership…Clever resistance is necessary, as sad and absurd as that may sound. Resistance against America.”
    • Carl Bildt in the Washington Post on the U.S. assault on European sovereignty: “Strong voices are now demanding that Europe stand up for its sovereignty by being more confrontational with Trump. It’s tricky, and unlikely to be completely successful, but possible.”
    • Lawrence Freedman emeritus of Kings College and in the Pantheon of wise persons warns in a tweet that it is secondary sanctions that could do us in: “This is going to be the big issue. In the end US sanctions are directed against Europe. If Europe resists and continues with deal Trump ends up with a futile gesture. This is an enormous issue for Atlantic Alliance.”
  • Watch the Video, Read the Thread: Polly Polak tweeted this video of a Spanish member of the European Parliament addressing a European Parliament session commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which set off quite a debate about the EU and Brexit as you will read in the thread. Watch the video (quite inspiring actually) and then read the thread. You’ll see what it’s like to sit around a dinner party table in Brussels.
  • “Sing Me No Song, Read Me No Rhyme, Don't Waste My Time, Show Me”: As sung by a frustrated Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” the International Leadership Network’s Alice Billon-Galland and Sir Adam Thompson are similarly frustrated with European talk of autonomy that can’t be backed up by action, “If European ‘strategic autonomy’ is just political hot air, it will eventually confirm the prejudice that the EU is just talk, complicate relations within NATO, signal weakness to potential adversaries, and do damage with Americans who are already disenchanted by what they see as the serial inability of the richest economies on the planet to look after their own security.” They show us a more serious approach to European strategic autonomy that concentrates on key building blocks for autonomy that a subsequent ELN policy paper will consider in more detail: addressing military readiness, filling key capability gaps, fostering strategic convergence, and preparing for next generation threats. Eliza Doolittle would agree they show us a better approach than more rhymes from Brussels.
  • Tales from the Encrypt: Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor continues to try and ban Telegram – a messaging app. In the last week, it has blocked a range of IP addresses and VPNs but it appears to have caused damage to everyone, including Facebook and Google, except Telegram. A quote in the Moscow Times described Roskomnadzor as ‘an agency filled with monkeys with grenades.’ The Dish can’t claim to understand the technology completely (this article from last month helps) but we do note that protests in Moscow continue to defend the rights of citizens to private correspondence and internet freedom, and that the Russian government continues to send mixed messages – possibly because of the wait for President Putin to make senior appointments. Meanwhile the monkeys remain in charge.
  • Everything is Pici: It’s pasta time (sorry) for Italy to form a new government and it looks as though there may be a breakthrough in coalition negotiations. Following an unexpected concession by former PM Silvio Berlusconi – that his party would extend support for the government in parliament without formally joining the cabinet – the probability of a Five Star and Lega coalition government has increased sharply. Everything could yet unravel – there is no agreement at the time of writing on a candidate to be Prime Minister – but a coalition could be announced in the next day or two. If it does, the Dish is anxious to see what the foreign policy platform mixing the far right and the anti-establishment results in. Will there be a move away from campaign rhetoric and towards Brussels, or will there be a more confrontational approach to the EU? And after two months of protracted negotiations and with the prospect of another election is even that prospect better than yet more uncertainty?
  • Netanyahu and Netta Yahoo!: The Dish would have loved to make this whole edition Eurovision themed. Unfortunately, the world won’t stop for long enough but in short, for unaware American readers, every May a European city – this time Lisbon - plays host to a singing competition. Every country in Europe (plus, for reasons lost in time, Israel and Australia) gets to submit a song. The four hour long show is then split in two halves: the singing competition itself, followed by a highly political voting system (for example Brexit means that the UK need never worry about winning again – finishing 24th out of 26th this time). We doubt you have time to re-watch the whole affair (although you really should) but spare time for Israel’s by Netta, referencing the #MeToo movement and replete with chicken sounds. And for the Israeli PM’s chicken dance tribute. The Dish thinks the Cyprus entry – that came second – was still the better song.
  • Across the Pond, in the Field and Back Home (for Now): Last year the Transatlantic Security Program launched a new project, “Across the Pond, in the Field,” which has been taking small groups of Europeans and Americans to cities across the United States to talk about foreign policy. With three trips behind her, Julie Smith recently published a piece in the Texas National Security Review, outlining some of the initial takeaways. Read her piece to learn why Russia isn’t a good way to start a conversation and how Americans outside of Washington talk about burden sharing.
  • Do Not Fear PESCO: In December, 25 out of 28 EU members signed on to the continent’s latest, and perhaps most promising, effort at coordinating defense investments. But PESCO has been met with bewilderment and concern on this side of the Atlantic. In Defense One, Rachel Rizzo and Gene Germanovich argue that the U.S. should welcome and embrace these attempts. After all, hasn’t the U.S. called on Europe to do more for years? Although in its nascent phase, PESCO could be a step in the right direction.
  • Hackers and Phishing and Bots, Oh My!: Lithuanian Vice Minister of Defense, Edvinas Kerza, is the point man for all things cyber in his Baltic country and he was kind enough to record an episode of Brussels Sprouts with us, out tomorrow. Have a listen as we discuss Lithuania’s latest cyber security report, cyber threats, and the Lithuanian proposal for a cyber rapid response team to be included in PESCO.

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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