European Affairs

  • john barry 1“Andy Goodpaster,” as everyone called him during his two decades as a military elder-statesman in Washington, would counsel that in any enterprise – especially military ones – it was invariably tempting but always fatal to confuse rhetoric and reality. He had personal experience. In the aftermath of World War II, as the formidable Colonel Andrew Goodpaster, engineer and soldier-scholar with a war record of some bravery, he was picked by Eisenhower to help transform NATO from rhetoric into a functioning military alliance.

  • MichaelWhite2016Champions of American exceptionalism, those who still believe their country’s historic circumstances are unique, face another disappointment in the summer ahead. The 2016 fight for the White House is not the only important battle for votes which has sunk to demeaning levels of superficiality and abuse. Britain’s June 23 referendum debate over its 43-year membership of the European Union (EU) is not doing well either.

  • bod.hunter2The United States and Russia are now at daggers drawn over Syria. Following the collapse of the ceasefire negotiated last month by Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the United States has abandoned talks with the Russians on Syria. Meanwhile, in a supposedly unrelated part of the relationship, Russia has suspended the 2000 agreement between the two countries on ridding themselves of excess stocks of weapons-grade plutonium. 

  • larrybarrettIn 1969 Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser in Richard Nixon’s new administration, shared his boss’s dissatisfaction with the data and analysis flowing daily from the Central Intelligence Agency. Kissinger decided to enlist an outside expert with top security clearance to evaluate the CIA’s reporting process.

    For this delicate task he chose Andrew W. Marshall, who in two decades at the RAND Corporation had become the think tank’s Director of Strategic Studies. Marshall had also earned a reputation among defense intellectuals as an apostate in the cathedral of conventional wisdom.

  • Perhaps it is the new speed of communications in this era of America's first internet president that impels Barack Obama and some of his closest foreign policy aides and advisors to produce memoir style defenses of the administration's foreign policies even before they are out the door.

  • spellmanIn summoning the heads of Europe’s top telecommunications companies to a recent meeting (January 12), the European Commission has signaled that it wants Europe to lead development and implementation of the next generation of technologies that cellphones and other wireless devices will use, the so-called “5G” bundle of software and hardware expected to be widely available around 2020, if not sooner.

  • By Claire Swinko, Washington

    Poland, an EU member country with a rich post-Soviet era history of upholding democratic values, has come under fire in recent months for its “democratic backsliding”— the so-called reversion toward authoritarianism based on non-democratic values and lack of respect for the rule of law and basic fundamental freedoms. 

  • BarrettAllen W. Dulles, grandson of one Secretary of State and nephew of another, was a worldly WASP who knew that America could not avoid World War II. He had served as a diplomat during the previous war, continued to advise the State Department while making big bucks as an international lawyer, and lived large as a serial philanderer.

  • WalterNicklen2015If future generations are to look back at the historic, 195-nation climate accord reached in Paris this past weekend with a sense gratitude for turning the world away from fossil fuels and deforestation, then special thanks must go to the Europeans, especially the French hosts. Despite the previous (Copenhagen) climate summit’s perceived failure six years ago and despite the then lack of credible leadership from the world’s two biggest carbon generators (China and United States), the European Union and its member states (the third biggest carbon producer) continued after Copenhagen to make climate policy an urgent priority.

  • BarrettThe battles of Tsushima and Verdun raged in different decades on opposite sides of the globe between different adversaries. Russian and Japanese fleets dueled off Korea’s southeast coast in 1905 at Tsushima. Massed French and German ground forces soaked Verdun’s acreage in blood in 1916. To discern a common relevance of these disparate conflicts, and to project their impact forward to wars of the 1940’s and 1950’s requires a military historian of unusual imagination and erudition.


    As pressure on Greek’s banking system mounted with depositors queuing last week to withdraw €4 billion in savings, and the dire situation reverberating in financial markets, creditors today signaled that Athens’ latest package of reforms was “broadly welcomed” as a “positive step” in securing rescue funds needed to meet a key debt payment due June 30. The next 48 hours are critical in ironing out the details, officials said.

  • spellmanOn many fronts, Europe is at a watershed entering 2016.

    Its agility in negotiating economic, political, and social challenges ahead goes to the heart of the European Union’s future—its purpose, effectiveness, resiliency, and evolution.

  • Spellman 1Central in forecasting 2017 and beyond is whether a new economic order is taking shape.  Before the U.S. elections, economists were inclined to advise investors “to expect more of the same in the months to come,” as Lazard Asset Management did in October.[1]   After Donald Trump’s win, the paradigms that shaped the U.S. and European economies and policies over the past decade suddenly seem to have abruptly shifted or collapsed.  Cheap oil.  A stock market crash, the worst since the Depression.[2]   Investment banks on life support.  Negative interest rates.  Bull market for bonds.  Deflation.  Weak dollar.  All were the decade’s recurring headlines, but these are less frequent now.  These days, it is:  Record stock indices.  Reflation.  Strong dollar.  Higher gas prices.  Bear market for fixed income.

  • bill marmon april 2013An unconventional 74 year-old, who sports a gold earring and large lizard tattoo on his right wrist, Thessaloniki’s dynamic mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, sat down with European Affairs this week to speak about his philosophy of government and hopes for a renaissance in Greece’s second largest city.

  • MichaelWhite2016As the nations and people of the North Atlantic hurtle towards 2017, the populist forces which are unraveling the certainties that have bound them together since World War II become more powerful with every passing week. Britain’s vote on June 23 to “Brexit” the European Union (EU) was not the first centrifugal explosion. But it was certainly the most dramatic signal of changing times until November 8 brought the election of Donald Trump, an economic nationalist and diplomatic isolationist, to the U.S. presidency.

  • alexanderpriviteraA visibly irritated Mario Draghi has politely, but resolutely rebuffed German critics of the European Central Bank’s ultra-loose monetary policies. The president of the ECB used the press conference following this month’s meeting of the central bank’s governing council to launch a broad defense of the central bank’s independence and the appropriateness of its policies. Among other things Draghi said that he doesn’t take orders from politicians but is only bound by the law and the ECB’s mandate of achieving and maintaining price stability, defined as a rate of inflation below but close to two percent.

  • jacquelinegrapin2015c

    Early in the morning, at the very moment when the second French raid targeting terrorist ringleaders was going on in Saint Denis, North of Paris, on Wednesday, November 18, a packed assembly of around 500 CEOs and senior executives from multinational companies with sizable operations in France was gathering at the Conseil Economique et Social for a day of discussions on “Les Etats de la France.” Under the circumstances, the topic of the day as well as the meeting itself, “Is France attractive for international business?”, may have seemed strange. The organizers had wondered whether they should cancel the meeting. Not at all said the government. All the leading participants showed up, including the French minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron and a number of senior representatives of the Administration. They agreed that the best way to fight adversity and terrorism is to focus on what needs to be done.
  • michaelmosettig.newThe seven plus decades of twists and turns in the "special relationship" between the United States and United Kingdom have long been fodder for commentary between London and Washington. But it has taken the British referendum on its membership in the European Union to demonstrate that the sometimes mythologized U.S.-U.K. bonds still run as strong or stronger than ever in Washington's think tanks.

  • Spellman 1The European Union recently proposed a framework for scrutinizing incoming foreign investments that may affect “public order” or “security,” a veiled initiative to address Europeans’ rising concerns over China’s state-owned companies acquiring EU-based businesses that are seen as key for Europe’s competitiveness in the global technology tsunami.[1]

    In introducing the proposal in his state of the union address (September 13), the EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said it "strikes a smart balance between strengthening the EU's role where appropriate, a more coordinated approach and the preservation of member states' decision-making authority. The proposal promises to tackle potential national security issues.”[2] He assured Europeans he is not “a naive advocate of free trade,” a signal to those arguing that there is little reciprocity from China and other countries for accessing EU’s open markets.

  • Spellman 1Europe’s central bank announced last week it will taper its unprecedented stimulus by reducing purchases of debt (“lower for longer”) and holding interest rates steady, tactics calibrated to support Europe’s accelerating recovery, curtail the euro’s recent appreciation, and stoke inflation’s embers.

    The Frankfurt-based institution will cut its monthly purchases of government and corporate bonds by half starting in January to $35 billion (€30 billion) and continue that pace until at least through September next year. Nearly three years ago, the bank began buying assets, including public and private bonds, to stabilize the euro, hold interest rates low, and pump more money into the economy. These “quantitative easing” measures augmented the negative interest rates the bank had set.[1]