Wars & Conflicts

The Munich Consensus and the Purpose of German Power

The Munich consensus has not radically transformed German foreign policy, but it has started an evolution. Germany is showing signs of strategic leadership in the international sphere. It must now reflect carefully about the preconditions for its economic wealth and act to reform the liberal international order in such a way that this liberal order can be sustained without disruption by major-power conflict. View

Why the West Must Champion Soft Power towards Iran

Concerned over Israel’s security, many skeptics and critics cast doubt on the Iranian nuclear deal and oppose it. However, the alternatives are few and far between. Bombing Iran or abandoning the deal will not bring security to Israel or solve its security concerns. Instead the West must champion the use soft power towards Iran. Where hostility and hateful rhetoric once dominated Iranian-Israeli relations, the US and Europe must now encourage diplomacy and communication. View

Why the EU Should Reflect on its Past to Shape its Future

The refugee crisis threatens the fabric of the EU more than anything has before. It is time to remember the origin of the union and to put national interest aside for the greater good. The EU must reaffirm its founding principles and stand closer together. Indeed, in order to confront the mounting issues Europe must mitigate growing divides within its boundaries and work together to provide a framework of security and safety from those who flee violence and war. View

NATO: The State of the Alliance

Jens Stoltenberg has just released his second annual report as NATO Secretary General. The report describes NATO’s responses to a security environment “of complex challenges and unpredictable threats.“ Atlantic-community.org is highlighting a few key statistics and interesting graphics about defense spending, military exercises and other topics to promote informed debate about NATO’s achievements, shortcomings and challenges. View

Political Risks Threaten the Global Economy

Political risks have increased in recent years, while policy makers, including central banks, have less power to mitigate those risks. Global stock prices, however, do not reflect these developments as the markets have been distracted by cheap and abundant liquidity. "Great Power Sclerosis" and the weakness of Pax Americana have created a vacuum in global governance. The bank Citi raises awareness about the "new convergence between geopolitical and vox populi risks". View

Nimr Al-Nimr: Victim of Saudi Anger over Iran's Nuclear Deal

The execution of Shiite cleric Nimr Al-Nimr is a symptom of growing Saudi anger over the Iran‘s nuclear deal. Saudi-Iranian tensions following the execution are not a result of Sunni-Shiite division but an indicator of the increasing Saudi-Iranian fight for dominance in the region. Both Saudis and Iranians use Sunni-Shiite factors as a tool. The US needs to make sure that its closest ally in the Gulf behaves responsibly. Otherwise, the situation may grow into a serious conflict. View

Nuclear Sharing is Caring

Russia constitutes a real threat for NATO’s easternmost nations. The unpredictable Kremlin seems to be willing to use tactical nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear neighbors. While Russia’s saber-rattling is reaching new heights, NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy seems to be stuck in a bygone era. Unsurprisingly, one of the Alliance’s frontier members seems to be considering strengthening regional deterrence possibly via participation in Nuclear Sharing. View

Modernity Versus Archaics

In the latest years globalization has made great progress, having left critically little space for archaics. The scared archaic societies have demonstrated an aggressive reaction, considering (not without reason) the current state of affairs in the world as a threat to their existence. This situation is particularly exemplified by Russia and the West, further triggered by events in Ukraine. It's time to decide which side we shall take in the struggle of modernity and archaics. View

In Syria, Russia is Certainly not an Ally

It is almost a common refrain these days. With Russia’s intervention in Syria, is there not a chance to build a new coalition with the Kremlin against a common foe? Such arguments take attention away from an important reality. The Kremlin and the Islamic State share a vested interest in upending the existing international order. But the danger these actors pose vary and prudent foreign policy demands that we set the right priorities and do not fall for false choices. View

A Long View of Transatlantic Crises

Since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, its relations with the US have shaped not only its foreign but also its domestic policy. In the future, too, the US will remain Germany's most important partner outside the European Union. Differences between the US and Germany notwithstanding common interests and values prevail. As repeated periods of discord exemplify, with increasing closeness comes increasing friction in the transatlantic relationship. View

Russian Plane Downed in Turkey: What Should NATO Do?

As Turkey shoots down a Russian plane, NATO is indirectly involved as Turkey is an Alliance member. What could/should be role of NATO (if any) in the current situation when we should probably firstly find a way to deescalate the situation? Read a few comments from US experts weighing in on the issue. View

NATO Should Strengthen Deterrence in Baltics

Aggressive, revanchist and opportunistic Russia perceives NATO as its top enemy. Would Russia dare to challenge NATO in the Baltic states? Yes, it looks like it would, as long as Putin believes that the Russian military could do that successfully, quickly, and with impunity. Would the United States risk nuclear holocaust in order to punish Russia's occupation of the Baltics? Ultimately, NATO needs to establish a permanent and hefty military presence in the Baltics to deter Russian aggression in the region. View

Four Words to Change the World

Gary Kasparov, former chess world champion and pro-democracy leader, gave this keynote at the Aspen Institute Germany’s Annual Gala Dinner in Berlin on October 14. He argued that Assad, Putin, and ISIS will not go away on their own, thus “we must fight and we must start now, because the price will only be higher tomorrow. The alternative is not to avoid conflict, because conflict is unavoidable. It is already here. This battle is for our values. This battle is for the modern world we have built on those values.” View

Armament and Sanctions: Hard Power Versus Soft Power

The options on arming Ukraine and on sanctions against Russia, and how they relate to the options on NATO membership must also be given ample consideration in this situation, as well as all of the leftover in-between options experts have to offer. The necessity of choice is certainly important considering the amount of time that has lapsed since this conflict began. This choice is equally as difficult as it is important, because the wrong choice could have dire, and even violent, consequences. View

Europe's Migration Crisis May Have Spillover Effects for NATO

In the past few months, a hitherto unseen influx of migrants* has caused societal and political upheaval in Europe. Responses are debated on a European Union and an individual member-state level with NATO mainly left out of this conversation, but in light of current events the potential role of NATO will come under increased scrutiny. Migration, which has until now mainly been seen as a socioeconomic question, is quickly becoming a securitized, and in certain cases, militarized, issue. View

Ukrainian NATO Membership as a Bargaining Chip with Russia

There are two ways of using the NATO membership question in negotiations with Russia: soft-line and hardline. Both aim at a deal for peace in Ukraine, but on different terms; one would refuse Ukraine membership in return for a deal, the other would not grant membership unless Russia agreed to a good enough deal. The former would need a compromise formulation, to avoid alienation of Ukrainians and help ensure compliance, while the latter is simply unlikely to materialize given recent hostility. View

Diverging Policies on Iraq/Syria Threaten Peace and Stability

Europe is currently witnessing the highest number of refugees at its borders since the end of WWII. Lacking common borders, the US is widely untouched by this mass exodus from war-prone countries. However, since the US is vastly responsible for the chaos in the region and thus the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it bares most responsibility for the consequences. Its NATO allies of the EU should claim solidarity, but they must be a lot more committed to forging a common military-political strategy. View

The Emergence of a New Reality

In the last two years, out of the four options on Ukraine, Russia, and NATO, one that in the past had seemed the least likely, has suddenly materialized: Russia treated Ukraine so badly that it has driven Ukrainians into NATO's arms. This option came second on the list, but last on expectations. It depended on two failures: the failure of the two countries moving toward joining NATO together, and the failure of Ukraine’s balancing between East and West in the face of pressures to choose sides. View

Why the Syrian Refugee Crisis Requires a German-Polish Initiative

The refugee crisis is dividing Europe, and media coverage seems to be exacerbating this division. Sharing not only a border, but also historical experiences of displaced persons in wars previously, Germany and Poland should come together to offer a common solution for the crisis, thus demonstrating the strength, sustainability and, most importantly, the solidarity of the European Union. View

The Four Original Options on Ukraine and NATO

In the conditions of a strongly anti-NATO popular leaning, from 1991 to 2013, Ukraine could not join NATO, nor could it join a Russian-dominated union without coercion, and the attempts, of its respective westernizers and easternizers to do so, backfired. The pressures to simplify and choose sides came from both ends, East and West. Their symmetry eliminated the more complex, but better, cooperative options. Their moral non-equivalence ultimately drove Ukrainians into choosing the side of the West. View

Western Approach to Migrants Destined to Fail

If there is anybody to blame for the current migration crisis in Europe, it is France and Germany, not Poland nor Hungary. However, not only does Western Europe not understand the mistakes in its short-sighted policy but also, it wants to transform its disastrous approach to Central Europe. These factors have led to a negative representation of Hungary, which is both hypocritical and ignorant. Central Europeans are not feeling "solidarity" from their Western counterparts in light of recent events. View

Lukashenko's Chicanery - What Will He Do to Remain President?

The next presidential elections in Belarus will take place on October 11, this year, and a principle candidate for the presidential post is Aleksander Lukashenko, the incumbent leader of Belarus. Some essential features of his campaign were highlighted during his recent meeting with journalists from foreign and domestic media outlets. It appears that his campaign is mainly aimed at concealing his reputation of manipulation and repressive methods for the purpose of winning the upcoming elections. View

How Should the West Respond to Ukraine's NATO Bid?

It used to be that Ukrainians were heavily pro-Russian, and would have agreed to join NATO only alongside Russia’s joining. However, in light of the conflict ignited almost two years ago, it appears that Ukrainians have finally had enough and today, a supermajority favors joining NATO without Russia. The new thinking in Ukraine requires the West to do its own new thinking. It needs to make a decision on Ukraine and NATO, at a time when either option, yes or no, is riskier than ever. View

West Should Respond to Russian Militarization of the Arctic

While Western nations tend to view the Arctic as the "Global Commons," an increasingly unpredictable and desperate Russia seems to think differently. As Moscow begins military exercises in the region, the West should be wary of what might be next. From threats of full militarization to oil exploitation, the potential environmental and security risks are not to be underestimated. View

Is Turkey Going Rogue?

Turkey's geo-political maneuvers may urge reconsideration of its NATO membership. While the threat from Daesh grows, Ankara is more focused on the continuing fight with the Kurds. The Erdoğan government is undermining the core values of what NATO stands for, and its anti-Kurdish policy spells problems for its role in the region. NATO has to make a statement and also work behind the scenes to engage Erdoğan to prioritize the war against Daesh. View

Iran: An Enemy to Fear or a Powerful Ally to Acquire?

The Iran nuclear deal is portrayed as weak by many Republican presidential candidates, but in reality the deal allows for the US to gain a new ally in the fight against Daesh. As previous US involvements in the Middle East have shown, there needs to be regional cooperation in order to erect change. Iran has the incentive and the means to destroy Daesh in the region and by securing the nuclear deal, the US and others have given Iran the green light to proceed. View

The Gulf's Cold War: The Return of Guerrilla Warfare?

Iran and Saudi Arabia’s competition for influence in the Middle East is shaping civil wars in the region. At the same time, radical Islamist ideology’s global character provides disparate insurgencies with access to transnational funding and recruitment networks. Both of these factors have the potential to increase the number of irregular civil conflicts and extend their duration in ways similar to the superpower competition of the Cold War. View

How To Fix The Afghan Peace Talks

The Afghan government has been struggling for peace for a decade, but the current talks are doomed to fail again if the process is not amended. These changes need to happen at multiple levels in order for there to be a real chance for peace including negotiating with insurgents. All players must be willing to work with each other, not against, to see peace have a chance in Afghanistan. View

The Dismantling of Iraq

History shows that people fight the hardest for their own independence and Iraq should utilize this fact to their advantage. The fight against Daesh (IS) is only intensifying and as the Western Allies do not have a concrete strategy, it's time for Iraq to start trying unconventional stategies. The solution lies in dividing the country into three sovereign states so they can unite in the battle against Daesh and ultimately win while upholding their commitment to reform. View

NATO Solidarity: Atlantic Community is a Vision, not yet a Reality

The Pew Research Center’s new transatlantic survey indicates a high degree of security complacency and a lack of solidarity across NATO member publics. Evidently, the Atlantic Community is still a distant future, with this vision being marred by an absence of real unity. We must encourage more policy dialogue between citizens throughout Europe and across the Atlantic and in consequence create empathy and a shared identity. View

Intervention in Syria & Iraq is Hopeless

As the Islamic State took the Syrian town of Palmyra, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Frederica Mogherini informed them that destroying Palmyra’s archaeological treasures would constitute a war crime. Mogherini’s words, however, are as irrelevant as they are true. The sad truth is that following an ineffective nine month military intervention by a US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq, her warning is representative of the powerlessness of the West in combatting the Islamic State. View

Thomas Friedman on the World's Most Disruptive Forces

The Market, Moore’s Law and Mother Nature are the three biggest forces shaping the world today. That was Thomas Friedman’s central thesis at a recent event hosted by the American Academy in Berlin. He described how the expansion and speed of globalization (the market), the exponential acceleration of computing power (Moore’s Law), and climate change, the extinction of biodiversity, and population growth (Mother Nature) affect individual careers, national economies, and entire civilizations. View

The Patriot: The German Military's Best Option

Germany risks isolating itself from its fellow NATO allies, at the same time as spending considerable additional money, were it to purchase the MEADS missile defence system. Given the recent history of military intervention, a lacklustre position on defence spending is understandable and perfectly legitimate. But MEADS fails on both strategic and financial fronts and therefore should no longer be under consideration; Germany should, instead, choose the Patriot. View

The EU's Peter Pan Syndrome

The EU's refusal of Indian Prime Minister Modi's request for a summit level meeting in Brussels has damaged the relationship between India and the EU. If the EU hopes to build upon its strategic partnership with Modi's reform minded government, it must stop treating the relationship as being of secondary importance. To convince New Delhi of its commitment to their continued partnership, Brussels should seek out high level talks and be more receptive to Indian interests. View

The EU Eastern Partnership Needs More Attention to Security

On March 6-7, 2015, the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs reached the conclusion that the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) requires transformation and further development. The current situation in the EaP Region, frozen conflicts, and aggression against Ukraine demands more attention to the security dimension of the EU initiative and it is very important for the Eastern partner-countries to find ways to meet these key challenges. View

Holding Putin over a Barrel

Authors Sijbren de Jong, Willem Th. Oosterveld, Willem Auping and Daniel Fiott write that the collapse of the price of oil has masked the fact that Europe's response to the Ukraine crisis has been vacillating, slow, and toothless. Yet worsening economic conditions in Russia should not tempt Europeans to consider prematurely easing sanctions. Rather, European states should remain vigilant in their military preparedness and mindful of the dangers of internal divisions with regard to Russia. View

Russia's Policy Toolbox

The current diplomatic disconnect between Russia and US-EU is monumental. Having returned from the Munich Security Conference former German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger stated at the Hertie School of Governance, "Trust between the two sides is virtually at zero." With the recent crisis in Ukraine it is vital that the Atlantic community assess Russia's policy toolbox on the European continent. Thus, it is necessary to plan and familiarize ourselves to the tools at Putin's disposal. View

EU Should Cooperate with Eurasian Union: Putin's Legacy

Both in democratic countries, and especially in more authoritarian ones, leaders approaching the end of their political careers focus on their legacy. If the European Neighbourhood Policy is to promote dialogue in EU-Russia relations, the revised ENP needs to seriously take into account Putin's desired legacy. Through this policy officials from the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union could negotiate a free trade agreement. View

Defending the Rules-Based Multilateral Order against Putin's Multipolarism

The Ukrainian crisis represents the clashing of world orders; Putin's multipolarism with European multilateralism. Principles such as the rule of law, democracy, individual rights and civil liberties have no place in Putin's world of power politics and spheres of influence, but Europe should work hard to preserve them, and stand up to Russian aggression. Power matters always, but in a rules-based multilateral order law and institutions are the framework that organize and limit power. View

Book Review: "Want, Waste, or War?"

The authors of this book, Philip Andrews-Speed et al., present a compelling case for taking a resource nexus approach in analyzing global resource use by considering the interconnectedness among natural resources. This approach helps to understand the potential implications across regions. Without a fairer and more effective approach to resource governance, risks for increased waste, want and war will likely become more pressing in the future. View

Counterinsurgency and Tribal Politics

Findings of this research are focused on NATO capabilities in the light of requirement and planning assumptions required to conduct missions tailored to certain operations within tribal society. The key aspects are related to the strategies of the International Organizations and its implementation while facing an unpredictable threat in hostile environment relevant to the hybrid wars and asymmetry. View

NATO Enlargement: Why a Fourth Round is Long Overdue

The events in the Ukraine over the last year and a half have led to some calls for a ceasing of NATO's successful enlargement process. However, this would be detrimental to the future stability and security of the Western Balkans region. As of 2015, Albania, Croatia and Slovenia are formal members of NATO. Why, therefore, should Montenegro and Macedonia not be the next states to join the alliance from this region? The fourth phase of NATO's enlargement should occur for a third time in the Western Balkans. View

NATO's Large Nuclear Arsenal Serves Little Purpose

The nuclear powers of NATO should reduce their nuclear arsenal to a much smaller level, but still retain enough force to retaliate against a nuclear strike. Considering that a couple hundred nuclear explosions would cause a nuclear winter and destroy civilization as we know it, why maintain such a large nuclear arsenal? NATO realistically needs to only maintain a few hundred weapons to serve the same purpose of the few thousands it maintains and upgrades today. View

No Trust, No Deal: Underneath Obama's Threat to Veto New Sanctions for Iran

In President Obama’s State of the Union address on 22 January 2015 he repeated his threat to veto new sanctions for Iran if Congress impeded the chance of reaching a nuclear deal with Iran. However, despite any congressional legislation measures the deal with Iran will not be accomplished unless both countries start to invest in a trustful relationship. To build up trust Iran and the United States need to be reliable, honest and keep the promises they make to each other. View

When Solving Ukraine Focus on Ukraine, not Russia

When trying to solve the Ukraine crisis, the United States and its European allies concentrated their efforts on punishing Russia. While Moscow is a major stakeholder in the crisis, the keys to peace are in Ukraine. The transatlantic partners must turn to Kiev, Donetsk, and Lugansk in their attempt to bring the country back to normality. There are no more concessions Russia would be willing to make with respect to the crisis, but those are not needed. Instead, the transatlantic partners must exercise their full influence with Kiev. View

A Momentous Opportunity to Embrace The Arab Peace Initiative

The Arab Peace Initiative (API) presents an unprecedented and vital opportunity to change the course of events in the Middle East by realizing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. At no time since the API was introduced in 2002 by Saudi Arabia has the development of events in the region converged to create a new environment, making the API more relevant than before; Israel must urgently adopt it as the basis for peace negotiations. View

Germany's Excessive Love of Rules and What to do About it

The Economist magazine suggested recently that Germany remains one of the most rule-bound economies in the world. Despite modernisation efforts, German public administration remains an excessively legalistic and rule-bound one. German policies in Europe are often attacked for being rigidly focused on adherence to fiscal rules at the expense of growth and employment. Rules are important but so is the context within which they are applied and the consequences that their application entails. View

Divided They Stood

The “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong became popular through media-winsome pictures of civil disobedience against both the Hong Kong government and China’s perceived supremacy. Protests in 2014 have exposed the city’s split in terms of future of business and governance. It may appear as Tiananmen revisited—it was rather a conflict about Hong Kong’s identity and “Occupy Central’s” credibility. View

What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel

Matti Friedman, reflecting on his years reporting from the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, discusses the increasingly subjective role reporters play in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, moving from observers to more active players in the region. Friedman also highlights his reasons why international NGOs and humanitarian groups are conspicuously absent from the debate. View

Afghanistan's Best Asset: Its Youthful Optimism

Afghanistan of 2001 is not comparable with the Afghanistan of 2015. With 352,000 strong Afghan National Security Forces, backed by the US and NATO, an increasingly vibrant civil society sector, and a large youth population, Afghans are hopeful that their country will never return to the dark era. For this to remain effective, Afghanistan and its partners must continue to broaden those achievements over the next decade, ushering in a new era of transformation. View