Wars & Conflicts

Russia, Germany, and the European Order

For a large part of their history, the destiny of the peoples living in Europe has been shaped by the interests of the great powers. This is still a reality of international politics. Yet, a reliable and sustainable order in Europe can only be achieved if states, both large and small, are prepared to establish a fair balance of interests and influence. View

Montenegro is in NATO. What's next for the western Balkans?

On June 5th, Montenegro has become the 29th member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This is the only success story coming from the Western Balkans in a long time. As such, it gains a particular importance beyond the reach of the small country of 620,000 inhabitants in the Southern part of Europe and has multiple implications. View

How Germany and the United States Can Strengthen Cooperation

“Federal governments should no longer be viewed as the sole source for action and solutions both because of the current administration in the US and a continued power shift towards NGOs and local actors. Engagement at the subnational level is ever more critical.” This is one of the key conclusions from the first “Atlantic Expedition”. View

EU's Litmus Test in the Western Balkans

Moscow's meddling in the western Balkans has increased, while the West's attention has focused on Russian activities in Ukraine and in the Baltic region. With the exception of Serbia, all the other countries in the western Balkans have indicated their desire to be part of the NATO alliance (Albania and Croatia are NATO members). Each of them have EU integration as their main foreign policy goal. In an attempt to weaken the region's ties to the West, Russia´s main objective is the creating of a "non- alignment zone". View

Smaller and Larger Nations: Concert of Big Powers or Fair Balance of Interests?

The destiny of the people living in Europe has been shaped for many years by the interests of the great powers. For centuries, the Russian, Ottoman and Habsburg empires, as well as France and Britain, have dominated the European continent. From the nineteenth century until the end of World War II, first Prussia and then Germany—directly and indirectly—joined this competition for influence. Indeed, during the Yalta Conference, the great powers of the time shaped the European political landscape for decades to come. View

The Trump-Merkel Summit: After the Storm, a Vital Trans-Atlantic Agenda

Dr. Ariel Cohen, Atlantic Council US, consider the massive snowstorm that postponed Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House as symbolic of the chill in the US-German relations: President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Frau Merkel’s open borders policy, which has brought over 1,250,000 refugees to Germany since 2015. Merkel has responded with a strong defense of freedom of movement, refugee rights, and freedom of the press. View

The Lesson From Lithuania

Balance of power is a fairly straightforward dynamic within the Russia-NATO relationship but "balance of passion" seems to be an overlooked, but very crucial ingredient within long term confrontations. Lithuania is demonstrating to its NATO allies how to be more cohesive and unified than Russia both in message and purpose. Its citizens are preparing to confront invaders armed only with small arms, knowledge of their surroundings and a huge dose of patriotism. View

NATO Should be Worried About the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has long been at the forefront of the NATO alliance as one of the strongest military powers with a highly capable military, second only to that of the United States. This will slowly come to an end over the next decade with the erosion in the military capability of UK armed forces, the lack of a grand strategy emanating from London and the diminishing importance in the special relationship between London and Washington. NATO should be prepared for a less capable full spectrum UK military. View

Germany Needs to Address Fake News and Digital Illiteracy

If hacking, espionage, cyber-attack and identity theft are to be considered existential threats in the cyber world, then ‘fake news or digital lying' can be considered emerging threats. As the Bundestag approaches the 2017 election, protection from fake news and increasing digital literacy are the needs of the hour, especially as first generation internet users have rebooted to ‘App-generation internet user'. Public-private partnerships are key for balancing security, privacy and free enterprise. View

The UK Cannot Afford Capability and Contribution Gaps to NATO Post-Brexit

Post-Brexit and at a time of precarious power dynamics the UK cannot afford to have significant capability gaps which would harm the credibility and image of the UK as a significant global contender. The UK government has an obligation to fulfill its part towards collective security and defence for the NATO alliance. What you do wrong is far more often remembered than what you do right. Britain must remain vigilant. View

Trump and NATO: Opportunities and Dangers

The Atlantic world is not coming to an end. Not yet, at least. It is facing turbulence, which means serious risks. Change always brings both opportunity and risk. The best way to head off risk is, in most cases, to find and focus on opportunities. On the evidence thus far, the risks from Trump are less, not greater, than they have been from Obama and Bush II. The latter two were very different, but both were bad for the Atlantic Alliance. View

Defense of the West: NATO, the European Union and the Transatlantic Bargain

NATO now faces what could be the most profound threat in its history – a threat with roots inside the alliance and linked to challenges from outside. I hope that President Trump will reaffirm the values of "democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law" articulated in the North Atlantic Treaty and will disavow previous statements that the US commitment to collective defense is contingent on specific defense efforts by individual allies. View

Enhanced EU Defense Cooperation: Good News for NATO?

Despite recent commitments, it is unlikely that many NATO members will reach the 2% target on defense spending by 2024. While some seek to project their power globally, others are comfortable in their role of regional powers, or suffering from sluggish economies. Thus, the potential of Europe as an agent in international security remains largely untapped. Enhanced defense cooperation at EU-level might encourage better engagement with international security by some EU powers. View

Improving Participation in the NATO Defense Planning Process

Memo 53: The North Atlantic Council needs an advisory voting system and more transparency. Regional interest blocs and enhancing the status of civil-military cooperation would incentivize more active participation in the NATO Defense Planning Process. View

The EU Must Become a Crisis Management Leader

The EU's Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) has not risen to recent challenges, in Libya in particular. The EU should institutionalize a more responsive structure that will ensure rapid military response where and when necessary. Such a structure will also be depended upon for securing European borders while concurrently preventing EU member states from responding to crises as a European pillar of NATO. View

Enhancing NATO Cohesion: A Framework for 21st Century Solidarity

Memo 52: A diverse set of policies is needed to unify a diverse set of peoples against a diverse set of threats. NATO should reorganize itself, develop a shared clean-energy grid and strengthen links between different national publics. View

China vs US or China vs Law: How Europe Can Make the Difference

Terrorism, a belligerent Russia, and the refugee crisis are no excuses for Europe forgetting its international duties, like the preservation of the rules-based world order. The EU must affirm its commitment to international law by supporting the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling that China has no claim to expanded control of the South China Sea. The EU and the international community can show that this conflict is not China vs USA, but China vs international law. View

Redefining Relationships Inside and Outside the Alliance

Memo 51: In order to learn from past mistakes, NATO should seek to bring Russia into the fold of European security, refrain from humanitarian missions better conducted under UN auspices, sanction non-compliance to the 2% defense spending promise, and strengthen its democratic norms. View

Georgia and Russia: Smoldering Conflict at a Geopolitical Intersection

Georgia can be a strategic pillar of stability in an otherwise volatile region and we should consequently place it much higher on our political agenda. Georgians want nothing more than NATO membership and the West cannot deny the evident successes of democratization and economic reform. The internal logic of realist politics however demands other factors also be considered. Georgia joining NATO would further exacerbate the conflict with Russia. View

Future-Proofing NATO: A Forthcoming Decade of Change

Memo 50: NATO must adopt hybrid models of national defense, coordinate efforts on economic and electronic warfare, and secure its space-based infrastructure. The Alliance should also establish a partnership with China and strengthen its presence in the Arctic. View

Why NATO Must Revert to Basics and Adapt to Russian Aggression

With the risk that the EU will collapse following the UK's decision to leave, it is a pivotal time for NATO to assume responsibility for the unity and security of Europe. NATO's biggest mistakes have been its commitment to widen its scope both globally and in terms of its activities pursued, whilst failing to deal with the Russian security threat. NATO must simplify and return to its core objective of collective security and propose Russian integration into the Alliance. View

The Moscow Integration That Never Happened

NATO’s failure to proactively include Russia after the collapse has led to 25 years of ongoing conflict. By examining history, the organization is a fundamentally anti-Russia group focused on surrounding, isolating, and deterring aggression from a country different to its late Cold War identity—the USSR. The introduction of a formal military agreement and a change in NATO’s image, led by Western leaders, are necessary to rekindle relations. View

Winning Asymmetrical Warfare with Economic Policies and Measures

When facing asymmetric warfare conventional military measures are often highly ineffective. Thus, incorporating well-thought-out market and economic policies and measures into NATO’s politico-military “toolbox” seems essential. Failing to do so, and failing to understand or comprehend market realities might even be directly harmful to NATO’s goals as demonstrated by the case of Afghan drug industry and by the counternarcotic eradication programs in this article. View

Containment Is Dead. Long Live Containment

They say old foreign policies never die, only fade away. Three decades removed from the height of the Cold War, American troops are heading back to Europe: the next war is no longer a matter of if, but when. From the day NATO opened its doors to the East, could we have expected anything different? View

Lessons from Libya: Indecision, Air Power and the Light Footprint

The fall of Colonel Gadhafi’s regime in Libya, brought about in part by a sustained NATO air campaign, was lauded as a triumph by the international community. However, as with every intervention of this kind in recent memory, what replaces such violent rule is the crucial determinant of success. This is where NATO fell short in Libya. Its failure represents a threat not only to the stability of Libya as a nation, but also to the stability of North Africa and the Middle East. View

Why We Should Build a Bridge of Trust Between NATO and Russia

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization must extend its hand towards the Russian Federation to avoid further military conflict and sow the seeds of future cooperation. A bridge of trust must be built between NATO and Russia in order to mitigate the effects of future harm in the case of continued tension and rivalry. View

Why Kosovo Matters

Kosovo, Europe's youngest country, is also the capital of Europe's organ and drug trafficking market. Less than 20 years after NATO's occupation, bombing, and liberation of Kosovo from Serbia, the region has become poorer than ever. The policies the West enact in response to each misdiagnosed nation leads to further hostility and distrust by Balkan citizens, thereby hindering NATO’s credibility in the region. Why does Kosovo matter and how does the West fix it? View

How NATO Underestimated Russia

NATO redefined itself by expanding its membership in three waves, but underestimated Russia's future capabilities. These waves of enlargment provoked Russia, which responded through a first step of testing the Alliance, in 2008, through the Georgian war. Putin continued with the decision to test at a fully-length pace, NATO's response, through the annexation of Crimea and the start of the Ukrainian war in 2014. View

Enable German Rearmament to Kickstart NATO's Transformation

To transform NATO, rearm Germany. The Euro-Atlantic security community should welcome Germany's military growth, and help turn it into a wider process leading to a necessary and long overdue shift of security responsibilities away from the U.S. and towards major European powers. View

If NATO Cannot Be a Lion, It Must Be a Fox

Imagine you are Vladimir Putin. If you wanted to invade a Baltic NATO ally, you could: you are certainly not deterred by NATO's defenses. Currently, Russia is capable of achieving a victory – albeit limited – against NATO: thus, NATO has failed to be a lion. It should raise the cost of a Russian invasion by being a fox. It should adopt hybrid defense; adapting policies such as the Swiss model of national service to counter the threat of Russia. View

NATO Should be Targeting the Financial Infrastructure of the Enemy

NATO is the most powerful military alliance on the globe; this will not change in 2026. Consequently, the future conflicts involving NATO will be asymmetric. Economic warfare is a tool to both address this changing environment, and respond effectively to future threats and imbalances. Targeting the elements of the financial infrastructure of the enemy will complement and increase the effectiveness of NATO’s regular military efforts. View

The Battle for Tallinngrad: New Ways to Fight an Old War

NATO is failing to respond to a revanchist Russia and must do much more to deter further aggression. An imbalance of force parity in the Baltics and a one-sided information war is sending all the wrong signals to Moscow. By examining a potential conflict ten years in the future, this article outlines the nightmare scenario facing NATO if steps are not taken now to win the goodwill of Estonia's Russian population, thereby thwarting Russian influence. View

NATO Must Keep Up with Opposing Force Research

Over the next ten years a series of revolutions stand to up-end the way wars are fought. To stay ahead of the curve NATO not only needs to invest in this research itself, but in comprehensive understanding of possible future opposing forces. Without such research, NATO's battlefield supremacy will be in serious jeopardy. Therefore, NATO needs an Opposing Force Office, and it needs one now, not in 2026, and not a day later. View

NATO Must Adapt to the Battlefields of Tomorrow

With the increasing use of the internet in cyber warfare, the premier Alliance of the West must focus strongly on its offensive cyber capabilities to deter potential enemies: after all, enemies would be more wary of attacking NATO if they knew the Alliance had the ability to fight back. Therefore, in order to become a formidable player in the cyber arena NATO must create dedicated task forces of cyber experts, and ensure they are structured into an effective military heirarchy. View

A Holistic Approach to Defeating the Islamic State

NATO and its allies are insufficiently addressing the Islamic State, which will significantly backlash in the next 10 years. In order to sufficiently tackle this huge threat, we need a more comprehensive approach that addresses not only the Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria, but worldwide. The key to a successful strategy lies in a holistic two-fold approach – using special forces and the establishment of non-democratic governments. View

Pakistan: the Islamic State’s Path Towards Nuclear Proliferation

As NATO shifts its focus towards Syria and ever-escalating tensions with Russia, NATO is blind to a new threat rising from a nuclear-armed Pakistan. By 2026 the country, and its nuclear arsenal, could be controlled and influenced by an expanding IS, a resurgent Taliban, or another extremist organization. We must take radical steps now to prevent further radicalization and the expansion of nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and across the globe. View

The Importance of Cyber-Security for NATO

In the probable event of an extensive cyber-attack in the next decade, it would be difficult to create a spontaneous and cohesive response. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that NATO and its member states turn their attention in order to prioritize cyber-security policies – they cannot afford to waste time. View

Shaping our NATO: Young Voices on the Warsaw Summit 2016

Our new policy workshop competition gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to reflect on the most pressing issues facing NATO today and to shape the future of the Alliance. Five winners will receive a trip to Berlin to present the collective ideas to decision-makers. View

Bibliography on NATO: Some Guidance for Getting Started

As a think-thank comprised mainly of Political Science students, we are keenly aware of the endless activities that foment procrastination when writing an article. In order to get the proverbial mental ball rolling for the "Shaping our NATO" competition, we have compiled some recent publications regarding NATO. These articles range from introductory texts to more area-focused and technical papers. View

Diverging Perceptions Between Russia and EU Complicate Solutions in Ukraine

Atlantische Initiative, publisher of atlantic-community.org, has concluded a German-language project "Germany and the Ukraine conflict" in which participants discussed their ideas on the causes and possible solutions for the Ukraine conflict with eminent policy-makers. Following this consultation, all parties deemed Russia a key factor in the conflict's escalation, and civil society the chief actor needed to counter the increasing divergence of perceptions between Russia and the West. View

The Sunni Genocide in Syria

The Sunni population in Syria is facing extermination. Obama’s policy of non-intervention has allowed Shia militias to proliferate and facilitated their expansion into previously Sunni controlled areas. The missed opportunity for democracy means that crucial safeguards against genocide have been dismantled. It is certain that the Sunni communities will suffer from the consequences stemming from domestic repression and global inaction. View

EU has to Prevent Cooperation between Boko Haram and IS

Boko Haram's pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State increases the possibility of international joint attacks that could destabilize North Africa and the Sahel. This could dramatically worsen the already overwhelming immigration crisis for the EU. In order to counter these threats, the EU must form a coalition and prepare to intervene in Libya. This will help provide much needed stability in the region. They must act quickly to avoid catastrophic consequences. View

Stop Blaming the West for Russia's Aggression

Adam Reichardt, Editor in Chief of New Eastern Europe, argues that Russia's actions in Eastern Europe should be viewed similarly to that of a bully in the schoolyard. The bully will force you to hand over your lunch money and will beat you up if you refuse to play by his rules. No one ever blames the victim (or his friends) for the bully's actions; so why are we blaming ourselves for Russian aggression? It is absurd and only proves to Putin that he is right in his assumptions that the West will not stand up for its own principles. View

Clinton Expresses Strong Support for NATO and Europe

Hillary Clinton is much more supportive of NATO and Europe than all the other presidential candidates. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave an impressive speech describing NATO as “one of the best investments America has ever made”. She stressed the need for US leadership and collaboration with allies in the struggle against ISIS. Bernie Sanders has yet to give a major speech on NATO. Donald Trump's opinion on NATO reflects widely held sentiments in the US. View

The Libyan Chaos: Options for the International Community

High expectations for a short-term solution in Libya are misconceived. Since the deposal of Gaddafi, the country has devolved into a diffused state of anarchy. International efforts to reconcile the Tripoli and Tobruk governments are now faltering. What is needed is more inclusive dialogue between the parties. This will empower actors in the country to find more resilient and sustainable solutions to the conflict. View

Living on the Edge: Germany and the Refugee Crisis

The European refugee crisis has occasioned a new era in German political thinking. In the face of the sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year's, Germany has been forced to make some very tough decisions. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already made policy amendments regarding refugees, and many more can be expected in the near future. What was previously seen as the promised land for asylum seekers, may very well be changing, and quickly so. View

EUPOL Afghanistan: What can the EU learn?

EUPOL Afghanistan is amogst the most negatively rated police missions of the EU. While it has been successful in developing strategies for sustainable solutions to civil insecurity in Afghanistan, it has failed to have significant impact. The lack of a cohesive action plan, insufficient resources and inefficiency within the project have hindered its success. Now is the time for the EU to learn from its mistakes. This is crucial if it is to become a key player in international conflict management. View

What to do When the Syrian Ceasefire Fails

Russia and the West are not just seeking different outcomes, but different types of outcomes in Syria. While the Russian strategy is pragmatic and realistic, there are many pitfalls in the Western one. If the current truce collapses, as is likely, Western policymakers will be left with a few unpalatable options. The heroic diplomacy that led to the current ceasefire is laudable, but once the war resumes, a new approach will be needed. View

A Gleam of Hope for Syria after Munich

This year's Munich Security Conference confirmed that politicians from the "West" and from the "East" struggle to find a common vocabulary to address their worries and their demands. Yet it is time we start speaking the same language. Increased cooperation and communication with Russia will provide a pragmatic solution to the crisis in Syria. Only then shall we gain the space and maneuverability necessary to implement a peaceful program of reconciliation and reconstruction in the region. View

Ending the Inertia: Confronting the Middle-East Problem

Western governments are haunted by ghosts of the past. The memories of failed interventions in the Middle-Eastern remain etched into our collective consciousness. However, today, action is integral to securing stability. We must draw robust and credible red lines in the region, establish protected zones in Syria to mitigate the refugee crisis, and use available opportunities with more determination. The longer we avoid confronting conflicting interests of other powers, the greater the chance of failure. View