Wars & Conflicts

Western Responses to Ukraine Crisis: Policy Options

Chatham House yesterday convened an expert roundtable to discuss Moscow's objectives in Ukraine and the policy options available to the West. The meeting, which drew together diplomats and leading experts on Ukraine, Russia and the EU, is summarised in a new paper, Western Responses to the Ukraine Crisis: Policy Options. Are these measures an appropriate response to events in the region, do you have other recommendations? View

The Ukrainian Revolution: Lessons for EU Foreign Policy

Sweden, Poland, and the Baltic States - rather than the EU - were at the forefront of defending European values during the Ukraine crisis. Here, a diversity of voices yielded far better results than Brussels alone ever could have. While a common European foreign policy is a vital part of the argument in favor of deeper European integration, the events in Ukraine complicate this view. Europeans would do well to remember this foreign policy lesson. View

Only Western-Russian Cooperation Can Stop Ukraine From Fracturing

Only through cooperation can Russia and the West prevent the fragmentation of Ukraine. By teaming up to provide economic aid, resist the advance of ultranationalist forces, and protect nuclear power plants, Moscow, Brussels, and Washington can help avoid the division of Ukraine along cultural, spiritual, ideological, and linguistic lines. Failure to do so may well bring about a “wave of fragmentation,” effectively transforming Ukraine into the next Georgia. View

Ukraine: Pressing Matters From a Russian Perspective

Following the breakdown of Friday's proposal, the situation in Ukraine rests on a knife-edge. The prospect of a stable and democratic future for Ukraine is contingent on a number of factors, many of which remain uncertain. Most crucial of all is will Moscow recognise and support a new leadership in Ukraine? If not, how will EU nations, along with the US, proceed in halting the country's potential fracture as well as imminent economic collapse? View

Viva la Revolutsione! Now, Don't Mess it Up Like Everyone Else, Ukraine!

When a leadership neglects the best interests of its own population, it is well within the rights of the people to attempt to remove this leadership from power. Ukraine is now in the subsequent stages of a revolution which has ousted the former president from power. Now though, careful deliberation and planning is vital. Opposition leaders must not rush into conducting immediate elections, or they risk jeopardizing the very gains they have fought so hard to achieve. View

Crisis in Ukraine: The Way Out

With the Ukrainian situation worsening, decision-makers in Kiev and in the international community have decisions to make. The best course of action must be to conduct an internationally supervized parliamentary election followed by presidential elections. It is crucial for all, that a government, legitimate in the eyes of all Ukrainians, is in power. If the country were to go in the other direction and fracture, this would pose serious problems for Russia, the EU and the US. View

North Korea: Change on the Horizon?

Whether it be accusations of an ongoing political purge, or the detention of foreign nationals, the behavior of the North Korean government is, if and when it is made public, sure to capture the world's attention. Based on my visit to North Korea in late 2013, I believe that a shift in the political direction initiated by Pyongyang is likely. Kim Jung Un is attempting to restructure and modernize the country. There is also the possibility of renewed nuclear talks and there are signs of more cordial relations with Seoul. View

Canada: Too Quiet for Too Long

Canada's outstanding diplomatic reputation owes itself to the likes of Lester Pearson, a Canadian peacekeeping pioneer who helped broker stability during the 1956 Suez Crisis. With a new crisis rapidly emerging in the Central African Republic (CAR), the world once again needs Canada's help. Thus far, however, Ottawa's voice has been conspicuously absent. Unless something changes, Canada runs the risk of remaining too quiet for too long, a prospect the people of CAR can ill afford. View

Rethinking German Foreign Policy: The Long Road Ahead

In Munich, Federal President Gauck initiated the debate on the scope and depth of Germany's international role. It was high time. Germany is ready for it, but it needs to do its homework. Above all, a broad and inclusive discussion within German civil society and with international partners is necessary. When Germany finally learns how to employ all instruments of international politics at its disposal, pursuing primarily non-military options, it will become an even better partner to the world. View

Europe's Choice: Blood or Treasure

With its inefficient militaries and declining defense budgets, how can European NATO members regain their relevancy in an alliance increasingly dominated—both strategically and financially—by Washington? While answers to this question have thus far proven elusive, a cost-sharing strategy designed to incentivize greater European participation in training and deployments would be a solid first step in arresting the continent's military decline. View

The Secretary General's Annual Report 2013

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Annual Report 2013 focuses on NATO's achievements in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Turkey and against piracy and the ways to ensure an efficient and capable NATO for 2014 and beyond. He concentrates on the areas of Active Engagement, Broad Partnerships and Modern Defence. His emphasis lies on fiscal constraints in Europe and how NATO can remain strong despite these conditions. View

Europe's Other Deficit

Europe is suffering from a defense deficit, as evidenced by the European military action in Libya and Mali. This is a result of Europe's complacent Kantian worldview. Sadly, as recent tensions in Asia demonstrate, the world is a dangerous place. With America's declining willingness to protect the international world order, Europe must do more to boost its military capabilities by realizing the necessity for a more cooperative and specialized structure. View

EU Commission Presents Measures to Counter Radicalisation & Violent Extremism

Jennifer Baker is joined by Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, spokeswoman of the European Commission, to discuss the European Union's response to radicalisation and violent extremism. The Commission presents a communication encompassing various measures to counter and prevent radicalisation to terrorism and violent extremism on Wednesday 15 January. View

NATO Response Force 2014 Certified

The NATO Response Force 2014 has been officially certified. After a busy training season this autumn, NATO's rotational, quick-response force is now ready and capable to respond to various types of crises anywhere in the world. At the final certification exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 personnel from all 28 NATO and several partner nations demonstrated their ability to work together effectively in joint-multinational operations. View

Germany's Responsibility in South Sudan

New year. New government. Same old indifference. In South Sudan thousands of people fear for their lives. We Germans send some food and medicine and recommend they settle their conflicts peacefully. With that, we think, we have done enough. This however, is far from the case. Not only do we have a moral responsibility to protect the thousands of South Sudanese in grave danger, it is in Germany's own interests to contribute more. View

Highlights in 2013

We would like to thank all atlantic-community.org members for your contributions and to remind you of the standout achievements of our open think tank this year. Atlantic Community has continued to debate issues that are important to the transatlantic partnership through our Q&A's, Theme Weeks, and Atlantic Memos. Your ideas are making an impact, receiving responses from prominent policy officials, and we look forward to your contributions in the months and years to come. View

The Breakthrough Over Iran's Nuclear Program Shows A Deal Can Be Done Over Syria

As news arrives of an interim deal between the West and Iran over that country’s controversial nuclear program, it raises the possibility of hope for resolving another long-running regional stalemate. Interest in Syria’s civil war has died down somewhat since the Obama administration backed away from threatened military strikes this autumn, yet the fighting drags on with no sign that talks in Geneva this January will end in a ceasefire agreement. View

From Laggard to Top Student: How CSDP Started to Matter in Poland

The European Council December meeting is widely expected to fall short of materializing any substantial changes to EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. Low expectations echo a general sentiment of disappointment with the recent stagnation of European defense ambitions. However, against the backdrop of general torpor there is one beacon of optimism for CSDP to become more relevant: Poland's push for a more ambitious security policy. View

Afghanistan isn't Alone

A decade ago Afghanistan was under serious sanctions of the United States and the international community. It was a safe haven for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. But today it is a strong ally of the world community against terrorism and Al-Qaeda. It is not anymore under sanctions, but rather a strategic partner of the US and major Western states. Afghanistan is not yet perfect. After all it has come a long way from where it stood in the 1990s. View

How Defence Matters in NATO Countries

NATO has asked think tanks from eight European and North American allied countries to assess the national conversation on defence and to provide recommendations on how to stimulate this debate. Today, Carnegie Europe hosted a conference in Brussels to reflect on the conclusions of the "Defence Matters" project. In essence, defence still matters, but the wider strategic community needs to do a much better job at explaining why and how. View

NATO General Palomeros Responds to Member Questions

The Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Jean-Paul Paloméros, answers questions about procurement, multi-national air force projects, cooperation with the EU, Smart Defence and interoperability among Allies with different technological advancement. NATO's Allied Command Transformation drives, facilitates, and advocates continuous improvement of Alliance capabilities to maintain and enhance NATO's military relevance and effectiveness. View

EU-NATO Relations: Participate in Q&A with NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu

Following the mounting security threats in the EU’s neighbourhood, the issue of defence and CSDP will be addressed at the European Council in December. With this meeting in mind, Atlantic Community invites you to take part in a Q&A on EU-NATO relations with NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu. The EU-NATO relationship plays an important role in ensuring efficient defence policy. Submit your comments and questions by Sunday, November 24, 2013. View

The Sorry State of European Military Strength

Europe was famously described as a “military worm” by Mark Eyskens, Belgian foreign affairs minister in 1991; but in light of the current situation perhaps that was quite flattering, which lowly creature could he compare Europe with today? A worm certainly shares some key characteristics with EU militaries; both have no arms and no teeth. In the face of economic austerity Europeans have been cutting military spending, and those cuts run deep. View

Speak Clearly and Load for Bear: The EU Needs to Take Defense Spending Seriously

As US attention begins to shift away from Europe, it is becoming clearer that European defense capabilities need to respond to this pivot. At present, Europe’s neighborhood raises some serious security concerns that need to be addressed. The creation of a European Defence Force (EDF), through the pooling of a proportion of national defense budgets could be one way of ensuring that the EU could respond in a unified fashion to threats to its security and borders. View

Georgia Picks a New President: A Reply

In a response to Hillary Hurd's article on the election of a new Georgian President, Nikolay Shevchenko outlines his views on this momentous result. In order to gain full appreciation of the event that took place, it is necessary to look past the Georgian relationships with Russia and the EU, and instead focus on the peaceful transfer of power. Shevchenko asserts that Georgia’s victory might well transform into a shared victory for many other post-Soviet states. View

Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

Memo 46: Atlantic Community members have come to a consensus that, due to current US drone policy, drones need to be regulated to prevent the emergence of a customary law. The latest Atlantic Memo "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy" seeks reform on both domestic and international levels, resulting in increased transparency and restricted armed drone deployment. View

Georgia Picks a New President

On Sunday, October 27, Georgians voted to elect their new President. Georgy Margvelashvili won handily with 62 percent of the vote making him the third President since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the first President to win through the ballot box. As many Georgians have questioned the logic to isolate themselves from such a powerful neighbor, Margvelashvili will seek to ease tensions between Russia and Georgia, while maintaining close relations with Europe. View

Helicopters - and why they're Important

Despite often being expensive, high maintenance and tricky to operate, armed forces know they need helicopters. Whether it's getting troops in, or the wounded out, helicopters are often the 'go to' choice. As part of its "Smart defence - in action" edition, NATO Review looks at nations' ongoing need for helicopters -- and what they're doing to make it easier to use them together. View

The Erosion of Trans-Atlantic Trust

The NSA scandal and its (mis)management by the White House are causing a political tsunami in Europe. Until now it was the Iraq War that defined the recent nadir in trans-Atlantic relations. This time the fundamental issue of trust is at hand, and that means the consequences of a rupture are more severe. Americans and Europeans have been profoundly successful over the past seven decades establishing the close ties that, at least until recently, have bound them together. View

Draft Atlantic Memo: Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

Memo 46: The editorial team has written a draft Atlantic Memo, outlining policy recommendations from our Theme Week, on "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy." The authors, as well as members who contributed insightful comments, are now working together to produce a final draft, which will be sent to experts for feedback. You can still participate in the discussion by commenting below. View

Modern Defense: Better Smart Than Sexy?

A huge array of equipment that has flowed into Afghanistan over more than a decade must now leave in more or less 12 months. This means calling in some specialist kit to get the job done, including massive air transport planes. There are 14 countries (12 of them NATO members) who participate in a programme named Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS). NATO Review looks at how several countries have worked together to share this kit, saving money and time. View

Transparency Key to Reformed US Drone Policy

In order to repair the damage to its reputation, the US needs to reform its current drone policy. Many feel that the Executive Branch of the US Government has been acting without adequate checks and balances. The US Senate should demand more transparency and oversight and move to have explicit restrictions placed on the Executive Branch. A more transparent US drone policy would ease concerns of its allies and could allow the United States to lead the debate on international drone policy. View

Alternative Drone Discourse Needed From Europe

With the counter-terrorism policies of the US Government causing so much concern globally, it is necessary that an alternative discourse is initiated in Europe. This needs to be from the bottom-up and be a true representation of modern societies’ values. Europeans need to engage in the debate about drones in order to preserve key democratic values such as transparency, accountability, and rule of law. View

Civilian Safety Crucial in World of UAVs

With UAS become more and more common place, the necessity to ensure civilian safety is increasing. Regulations are needed to prevent the encroachment of authorities into the private lives of citizens or the endangerment of civilians in conflict situations, ensuring the maintenance of the principle of proportionality. As UAS are adapted to military and law enforcement roles, it is essential that we plan accordingly for the use of autonomous systems in the near future. View

International Watchdog Needed to Monitor Drone Operations

To avoid a scenario such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, transatlantic partners need to work together to regulate the use of UAVs. In an attempt to curtail countries exploiting the new technology, UAVs should be registered with their respective national aviation authorities and an international watchdog should be set up to monitor their compliance with foreign airspace. Such regulations would prevent the misuse of drones in the future. View

Drones as a Means of a Pre-emptive Security Strategy

In his poem "Little Advice to Damocles," Erich Kästner wrote about that famous mythical sword that not the sharpness of its blade, but the tininess of the string that holds it is what is actually posing the threat. Concerning the necessity of a Western combat drone policy today, his words show their wisdom: The solution lies in strengthening the string, not in blunting the blade. If the regulations imposed on the use of drones are strong enough, then the need for an outright ban can be avoided. View

Developing Drone Norms Through Domestic Legislation

Any constructive debate on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) ought to begin with an assertion that these platforms are here to stay. As such, they are not just an international issue but will very soon become a national issue, raising concerns about privacy and law enforcement. It is therefore necessary for any norms for drones to first of all be initiated at the national level. Domestic principles and norms should then be transferred to international operations. View

The Road to Establishing Global Norms for Drone Policy

The escalation of targeted killings by the US as a prominent counter-terrorism tool has drawn the world’s attention to the use of armed drones. This week, Atlantic Community will turn its attention to drones, asking the question: How can the transatlantic community cooperate to establish global norms for drone policy? We will publish articles on this topic throughout the week and invite you to engage in the debate. View

Poland Takes a U-Turn Towards Increased National Security

Amidst shrinking defense spending in most nations, Poland is launching its most ambitious military modernization program in decades. Yet the need for this Komorowski Doctrine, which champions increased homeland defense and domestic capabilities, should come as no shock, considering the troops Poland has sent to NATO missions. With little promise of quick response from NATO in return, it is time for Poland to rely on its own capabilities in light of an aggressive Eastern front. View

German Parties' Foreign Policy: More Aligned Than Apart

With the upcoming German federal election on September 22, it is necessary to evaluate the stance each party is taking on pressing foreign policy issues. Included in this discussion are the platforms of the five main parties: the CDU, SPD, FDP, the Greens, and the Left, on issues ranging from exiting Afghanistan to Turkey's accession to the EU. While there's more cohesion in German politics than one might find across the pond, splits can still be seen on issues like TTIP and NATO. View

Engage Lebanon Before it Becomes The Next Syria

Due to the protracted violence in Syria, neighboring Lebanon faces increasing bloodshed. While the West waited too long in Syria, there is still time to help Lebanon. In order to maintain its interests in the Middle East, Western countries must do so before it is too late. American and European military intelligence need to cooperate with the Lebanese government and its Armed Forces in combating an increasing number of terrorist threats from foreign insurgents and Hezbollah's grip on power. View

Delegates Seek Innovative Solutions at Y8 and Y20 Summit

Policy Innovation e.V. and Atlantic Community collaborated in May 2013 for a Theme Week on the Y8 and Y20 summits that would take place in June. Through Atlantic Community members' commentary on the policy papers of the German Delegation to the Y8 and Y20, Atlantic Community had the unique ability to help shape the positions of the delegation. Policy Innovation's Press-Delegate Matthias Kaspers presents an overview of the experience and recommendations yielded by the summits. View

Call for Articles: Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

In cooperation with the Politisch-Militärische Gesellschaft (pmg) e.V., Atlantic Community is launching its fifth Theme Week in 2013, addressing the international debate on whether we should, or how to, utilize drones for military purposes. We cordially invite you to submit your opinion on how the transatlantic partners can define globally recognizable norms for deploying drones in and outside of official war zones. View

Global Norms Needed for Drones

The United States has received a lot of criticism both at home and abroad for its use of armed drones, to conduct strikes against persons that it deems to be plotting terrorist attacks against the US. While the US uses the logic that it is in a perpetual war against Al Qaeda, most countries do not recognise this argument. The use of armed drones to carry out killings has raised many questions about the ethics, legality, and necessity of this type of operation. View

Why Russia Will Never Give up on Assad

Russian political and military support of Assad has led to aggressive criticism from Western powers due to the actions of the Syrian regime. The use of chemical weapons, the involvement of Hezbollah and the regional instability all offered Russia an opportunity to oppose Assad. But this anti-Russian sentiment fails to take into consideration Russia's desire to reassert its presence in the Mediterranean. Syria remains Russia's last hope to execute its geopolitical revival. View

Counterpoint: Five Reasons against Western Intervention in Syria

We are not prepared for the consequences of getting involved in the Syrian civil war, as doing so would endanger Western civilian populations and important Western allies. Any intervention, whether strategic or humanitarian, on the part of the West will likely escalate the conflict. Between remembering the lessons learned from Afghanistan and considering what could happen if forces unite against Western power, intervention is unwise. View

Four Reasons for Western Intervention in Syria

With an intervention by Iran and Hezbollah and quiet support from Russia, the tide of the war in Syria has turned and the downfall of Assad's regime – long considered inevitable – is less certain today. Saving him from domestic revolution and foreign intervention would strike a major strategic victory for Tehran and Moscow, the first such success for reactionary powers in the wake of the Arab Spring. Humanitarian and strategic considerations actually make a Western intervention desirable, here is why. View

More Time Needed to Set Up Legitimate Elections in Mali

In less than three weeks Mali is expected to hold elections, but major obstacles still lie in its path. While the situation in Mali is improving on a daily basis, the country still has a long way to go before any worthwhile elections can take place. The situation in northern Mali is uncertain, and ethnic tensions are a major threat even in the wake of the rebel ceasefire. The transatlantic community has to show flexibility in allowing Mali to postpone the upcoming elections in order to provide all logistical needs. View

Gilgit-Baltistan Holds Importance Beyond Kashmir

While it may be a lesser-known region, Gilgit-Baltistan serves as a buffer between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. The development of water resources flowing from Gilgit-Baltistan could improve the livelihood of rural Pakistan and thus lessen manpower heading towards extremist groups. Empowerment of the region could be accomplished through development assistance and encouragement of the local population by the transatlantic community. View

Thinking Beyond Intervention: A Limited Transatlantic Policy Towards Syria

Memo 45: Arming the opposition, creating a no-fly zone, and intervening in Syria are not feasible options despite currently dominating the headlines. Instead, Western governments should focus on creating political dialogue, inclusive of Assad’s government, that leads to the country’s federalization. They should also secure Syria’s chemical weapons, including through diplomacy with Russia. Lastly, the transatlantic partners should send military and technological support to Turkey’s southern border. View