Foreign Affairs

Greece’s Economic Woes Pose Challenges to the EU

The Guardian: “In many ways, the Greek debt drama has disappeared in the folds of other crises now stalking Europe: in quick succession, fractious debate has moved from the influx of refugees through the Aegean islands to repeated terrorist attacks and Britain’s shock referendum vote to leave the EU.”

“The runaway train that was carrying Greeks downhill at the height of the crisis has slowed down to the point where loss and sacrifice have almost been normalized.”

“Anti–EU sentiment is on the rise. In October, 70% thought it better for Greece to remain in the single currency; by July those backing the euro had fallen to 50%. Real recovery can only come if the country’s staggering debt burden is reduced.”

“‘If we continue down this road, a fourth, even a fifth, bailout should be expected,’ says Aristides Hatzis, associate professor of law and economics at Athens University. ‘I don’t see any progress. The economy is stagnant, the private sector devastated, the public administration underfunded and ineffective. And there is always the spectre of Grexit at the end of the tunnel.'”

Entrepreneurship Needs to Be a Bigger Part of U.S. Foreign Aid

Steven Koltai for Harvard Business Review: “Here are two surprising facts. First, the average American estimates that over 25% of the U.S. federal budget goes to foreign aid. That is wildly off. It is actually only 1% of the federal budget, or $35 billion for all nonmilitary assistance. Second fact: just 1% of that 1% goes toward promoting entrepreneurship.”

“Why is that surprising? Because entrepreneurship reliably generates jobs, and joblessness — especially among young people or failing states – is probably one of the most significant root causes of the unrest and extremism vexing American foreign policy and threatening American security today.”

“Scan the research and you’ll find studies indicating that 50% of young adults who join rebel movements do so because they can’t find a job; that the likelihood of civil war jumps dramatically with small declines in economic growth; that ‘Arab revolutions. . . were fueled by poverty, unemployment, and lack of economic opportunity.'”

Poll Shows Support for TPP Is Growing

The Hill: “A Morning Consult poll shows more people supporting the Obama-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership, although a majority of voters still say they have heard little or nothing about the agreement.”

“More than half of registered voters surveyed, 62 percent, said they have heard little or nothing about the agreement. Meanwhile, 35 percent said they somewhat support or strongly support the TPP, compared with the 22 percent who oppose it. Another 43 percent either didn’t know how they felt about the agreement or had no opinion.”

“That’s a slight shift from the same poll conducted in March. Then, 72 percent of voters either hadn’t heard of the TPP or didn’t know much about it, while 29 percent of respondents opposed it and another 26 percent supported it.”

This Time, Post-War Iraq Needs a Real Plan With Real Money

Defense One: “Military triumphs are unlikely to lead to an enduring peace without an essential component that isn’t as impossible as it sounds: reconciliation.”

“The U.S., the counter-ISIS coalition and international civilian agencies supporting Iraq have an opportunity to bolster that element of the strategy when they meet in Washington, DC, starting Wednesday.”

“While it’s obviously critical to provide electricity and water, and to build health clinics and schools, it also is essential that the conflicts underlying the destruction be understood and addressed.”

“Yet, the reconciliation component of the U.N. stabilization fund has received only $1.55 million from donors. Given the significant U.S. military investment of roughly $11.2 million a day to fight ISIS, it seems only prudent as part of the overall strategy to invest in a low-cost approach that gives military action the greatest chance for a lasting success, so that American forces don’t have to engage in combat again later.”

Trump’s NATO Comments Reaffirm His Popularity in Russia

New York Times: “Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have ‘fulfilled their obligations to us.'”

“The United States created the 28-nation alliance, and Article 5 of the NATO treaty, signed by President Truman, requires any member to come to the aid of another that NATO declares was attacked.”

Though the Kremlin’s Dmitry Peskov publicly denounced Trump’s comments, saying that it is “not the best formulation” to “unnecessarily talk about a hypothetical Russian attack on someone,” Politico reports that “the most passionate dreamers here [in Russia] imagine an almighty Trump ordering an American exit from NATO, just as the United Kingdom voted to exit the EU…”

“For Putin, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving.”

 

It’s Getting Too Hot to Work, and It Could Cost the Global Economy Trillions

Quartz: “The heat is rising, and it could cost the global economy $2 trillion by 2030.”

“New research suggests that climbing temperatures will make it harder for workers to do their jobs, particularly in the world’s poorest economies. The situation is worst for those in the lowest paid and most heat-exposed professions, such as construction and farming.”

“India and China together stand to lose $450 billion in output by 2030. The economies of richer nations, such as Japan and the UK, were unaffected by heat stress—only the US saw a modest dip of 0.2% of GDP.”

Turkey Coup Attempt Leaves America With Stark Choice

Bipartisan Policy Center: “In the aftermath of Turkey’s attempted, and failed, coup, Washington is primarily concerned about the future of the U.S.-Turkish alliance and its central objective these days: the fight against Islamic State (ISIS). In particular, U.S. policymakers are concerned about the fate of U.S. access to the Turkish airbase at Incirlik, from which assets used in the campaign against ISIS currently operate. Even though U.S. operations at Incirlik have resumed after being briefly suspended this weekend, there are good reasons to believe that the bases’ final status still hangs in the balance.”

“Erdoğan has already proven he is happy to manufacture evidence to achieve his political goals… And those political goals are increasingly authoritarian. The coup’s aftermath—with thousands of judges and police officers arrested—is evidence enough of that. Which puts the United States in a difficult position, after having stood up for Turkey’s democratically elected government, should it also stand up for other hallmarks of democracy, like rule of law, freedom of press and expression, checks and balances?”

“The United States did little as Erdoğan consolidated power and silenced critical voices prior to the attempted coup, but it should now have plenty of evidence of the dangers of ignoring Turkey’s declining democracy. Erdoğan’s abuses of power are directly linked to spiraling instability in this critical country, not only in the form of the coup attempt, but also a spate of ISIS attacks that has gone nearly unaddressed while the government wages an ethnic civil conflict against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.”

“The choice facing U.S. policymakers is thus whether to pursue more of the same—access to Incirlik while Erdoğan grows stronger and Turkey weaker—or to risk the one thing the United States has cared most about thus far—Incirlik—in order to take a stand against the destabilizing forces Erdoğan is unleashing.”

The Iran Deal, One Year Out

Brookings Institution experts gave their takes on the performance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed one year ago.

Strobe Talbott: “At the one-year mark, it’s clear that the nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers has substantially restricted Tehran’s ability to produce the fissile material necessary to build a bomb. That’s a net positive—for the United States and the broader region.”

Robert Einhorn: “A real threat to the JCPOA is that Iran will blame the slow recovery of its economy on U.S. failure to conscientiously fulfill its sanctions relief commitments and, using that as a pretext, will curtail or even end its own implementation of the deal.”

Suzanne Maloney: “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has fulfilled neither the worst fears of its detractors nor the most soaring ambitions of its proponents. All of the concerns that have shaped U.S. policy toward Tehran for more than a generation—terrorism, human rights abuses, weapons of mass destruction, regional destabilization—remain as relevant, and as alarming, as they have ever been.”

Bruce Riedel: “As I explain more fully here, one unintended but very important consequence of the Iran nuclear deal has been to aggravate and intensify Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iran’s regional goals and intentions. This fueling of Saudi fears has in turn fanned sectarian tensions in the region to unprecedented levels, and the results are likely to haunt the region for years to come.”

 

ISIS Loses Another 12 Percent of Territory

The Hill: “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) lost 12 percent of its territory in the last six months, according to a new analysis from research firm IHS. Coupled with last year’s 14 percent loss, the terror group’s territory in Iraq and Syria is now roughly the size of Ireland or West Virginia.”

“In addition to losing territory, ISIS has continued to lose revenue, according to IHS. The firm estimates ISIS has likely lost at least 35 percent of its $56 million revenue since March.”

Progress in the ground war could create new dangers.

“As the Islamic State’s caliphate shrinks and it becomes increasingly clear that its governance project is failing, the group is re-prioritizing insurgency. As a result, we unfortunately expect an increase in mass casualty attacks and sabotage of economic infrastructure, across Iraq and Syria, and further afield, including Europe,” Columb Strack, senior analyst at IHS and lead analyst for the IHS Conflict Monitor, said in a statement.

 

8,400 American Troops to Remain In Afghanistan

New York Times: “President Obama said on Wednesday that he planned to leave 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan, deferring a decision to cut the deployment to 5,500, and underlining that the United States will remain militarily entangled there for the foreseeable future.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Taliban have a significant footprint in Afghanistan, according to Bill Roggio, the editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that is tracking Taliban control. Mr. Roggio has been able to confirm that about one-fifth of the country is controlled or contested by the Taliban, but he emphasized that this was a conservative estimate. ‘They probably either control or heavily influence about a half of the country,’ he said.”

How Brexit Is a Win for Putin

“Putin, of course, did not cause the Brexit vote, but he and his foreign policy objectives stand to gain enormously from it,” former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul recently opined in the Washington Post.

“The first test will come over sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea and intervening in eastern Ukraine in support of separatists. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin made clear his prediction: ‘Without Great Britain in the E.U., no one will so zealously defend the sanctions against us.'”

“Second, other pro-Putin, anti-E.U. politicians and movements throughout Europe just became a little stronger. Marine Le Pen, whose National Front party is partially financed by a Kremlin-friendly Russian bank, celebrated the U.K. referendum result. Other nationalist, xenophobic, isolationist leaders and parties on the continent who share her views already have begun to call for E.U. exit referendums in their countries. Even the process of debating these initiatives will weaken European unity.”

“Third, new doubts about the utility of E.U. membership also weaken Putin’s opponents in Ukraine. Those who amassed on the Maidan in fall 2013 were demanding the very thing that British voters rejected — closer ties to the European Union.”