Spring 2007

Financial Sanctions Are Tehran's Achilles Heel

James KitfieldLate last summer Bush administration officials were re-thinking their strategy for out-playing an Iran that seemed to hold all the cards. U.S. forces had done Iranians the service of toppling their traditional foes the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and now found themselves tied down in Iraq. Tehran seemed to be waging proxy-war across the region, almost certainly green-lighting Hezbollah’s attacks that triggered war with Israel last summer as well as the subsequent campaign to destabilize the Western-backed government in Lebanon. Iranian support for the terrorist group Hamas was similarly adding fuel to the Israel-Palestinian violence. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards agents reportedly were arming Shiite militias in Iraq with armor-piercing explosives of the type responsible for the deaths of an estimated 170 U.S. and coalition soldiers.



Ambassador John Bruton: The EU's Man in Washington

EU and U.S. Need to Imagine the Planet's Future Together

John BrutonThe Washington office of the European Commission’s Delegation represents the EU in the U.S. Interestingly, it pre-dates not only the Commission but even the EU and even the EEC. It was set up in 1954, under the auspices of Jean Monnet, two years after the day in 1952 when the United States recognized the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)—the first non-member to extend international recognition to this seminal entity. In opening the ECSC office in Washington in 1954, Monnet was partly motivated by a political setback in Europe when plans for a European Defense Community fell through. He was concerned that U.S. officials might lose enthusiasm for the European integration project and wanted to make a move to maintain momentum in Washington.

Since 2004, the mission has been headed by Ambassador John Bruton. A former Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), he helped transform the Irish economy into the “Celtic Tiger.” He served as Finance Minister in the 1980s. And during his tenure as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997, Ireland had one of the fastest-expanding economies of the world, growing at an annual average rate of 8.7 percent, peaking at 11.1 percent in 1997.



Visa Waivers: A Damaging U.S.-EU Imbroglio

Helle DaleCurrently, the U.S. visa process is the most contentious and damaging issue between the United States and some of its staunchest allies in Europe. The problem is that some new EU member-states are not recognized by Washington as qualifying for their citizens to enter the U.S. under what are called “visa waiver” permissions. As a result, all these would be visitors have to obtain visas from U.S. consulates in their countries—a procedure that often turns out to be slow, expensive, frustrating—and can wind up in a bureaucratic dead end.

It is not a small problem—neither for the affected nations nor, if one thinks about it, for Washington. What is normally perceived as just a procedural problem has, in fact, got wrapped around some very big axles as anti-terrorism concerns mounted sharply in the U.S. in the same year as the most recent EU enlargement took in a large batch of new member-states. Of the 12 countries that feel particularly discriminated against, 11 are from the EU: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, and Malta. The remaining frustrated ally is South Korea.


EU Confronts Climate Action and Business Cost

Honor MahonyThe European Union has found a new raison d’être: it’s called the fight against climate change.

In March, it set itself ambitious targets on carbon-emissions cuts that make it the global leader on this increasingly high-profile issue. At a summit meeting in March, the EU’s 27 member-states made a binding collective commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels) and to ensure that renewable energy accounts for 20 percent of energy consumption (with bio-fuels providing 10 percent of transport consumption).



EU Defending Food Chain Against Bio-Attack

Isabelle BénolielSince 2002, there has been strong recognition worldwide of the existence of a genuine terrorist threat to the global food supply. However, this is not a new threat. There have been a number of deliberate attacks on food around the world over the years.

For example, in 1984, there was an attack on candies in Japan and another on salad bars in Oregon in the United States. In 2002, Chinese supplies of breakfast food were also targeted. Since 9/11, some evidence has been discovered in the Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan which indicates that they have studied the idea of using specific agents to contaminate food supplies.