- Young Professionals Summit
Session Descriptions 2014
- Europe in Transition NATO in Transition Is Europe Losing its East?
- Will the World’s Emerging Economies Ever Emerge?
- Beijing’s March West: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China’s Rise
- The Fate of Syria Three Years On
- Can Europe Grow Again?
- Getting the Workforce to Work
- Global Energy Transitions and Economic Competitiveness
- Uprisings, Realignments, and Confusion in the Middle East and North Africa
- The Future of Trade
- The Return of History: Is Europe’s Past Asia’s Future?
- Transatlantic Trust: Is it Damaged? Can It Be Restored?
- Global Nuclear Security: Realities and Responsibilities
- Changing Leaders in a Changing World: The Rise of Female Leadership and its Impact on Global Strategy
- Europe’s Stake in U.S. Strategy
- A World Transitioning
A World Transitioning
After the end of World War II, international relations were shaped by the conflict between West and East, the United States and its allies in Europe on one hand, and communist Russia and its partners on the other. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, these seemingly clear frontlines defining the international order started to blur. The underlying raison d’etre for the transatlantic alliance seemed to diminish. Questions were raised about the purpose of the alliance, burden sharing, and common values and strategies. At the same time, globalization and growing interconnectedness followed by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression led to political, economic, social, and technological transitions around the globe. Traditional institutions and players had to adjust to the arrival of new players — state and non-state actors alike — and old and new conflicts — ranging from the wars in the Balkans, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa to continuous struggles in Europe’s own neighborhood — led to changing alliances and partnerships within the international system. Through all these different phases in international relations, the German Marshall Fund of the United States — created by the German government as a memorial to Marshall Plan assistance in 1972 — worked to strengthen transatlantic relations, recognizing that strong ties across the Atlantic would strengthen the international system as a whole. Through its leadership development programs, GMF has helped to develop several generations of decision-makers invested in the transatlantic relationship. GMF’s work first in the Balkans, then in Black Sea countries, and now in North Africa has contributed to bringing peace and stability to troubled regions. And the organization’s convening efforts — both large and small — have fostered open and honest exchange between the transatlantic allies and their partners around the globe. All these efforts have helped navigate the changing dynamics between decision-makers and agents of change in the United States, Europe, and beyond.
- What are the biggest challenges to managing transitions today? What do we see as current moments of transition, and what do we foresee as lasting changes for the future?
- Reflecting on key moments of transition of the past, what lessons can be taken from how governments, business, and societies managed these periods of uncertainty, and how do they relate to our current time?
- Are institutions and governments prepared to manage future policy challenges, or do we need new ways of thinking and responding? What role do non-government organizations like GMF play in helping manage change and transitions?
- What opportunities do these transitions present?
Can Europe Grow Again?
The economic situation in Europe remains frail. In 2013, overall growth in the European Union was stagnant. There were positive signs in the second half of the year as the eurozone finally emerged from its long recession, but growth numbers have varied significantly across member states, and questions regarding the sustainability of the economic recovery, particularly in the EU’s periphery, persist. Sovereign debt and unemployment levels remain high and questions about the state of Europe’s banks ahead of this summer’s stress test are adding further worries. In many countries, significant reform packages are being discussed and some implemented. But many of these reforms may only deliver economic gains in the long-term, if at all. Some core countries, like Germany, have seen solid economic performances, but can they function as growth engines for the rest of Europe? In light of these developments, this session will assess the current state of Europe’s economic recovery.
- Under the adverse circumstances, where will growth originate?
- What are potential growth models?
- What can be done in the short and medium-term?
- What are implications for the transatlantic and global economy?
Will the World’s Emerging Economies Ever Emerge?
Over the last few years, global economic growth has been driven by the demand for resources, manufacturing capacities, and consumers of the world's emerging economies. As those economies move into the next phase of their economic development, the question of where the next phase of global growth will come from remains open. China, Brazil, Turkey, and India will need to enact serious economic reforms if they are going to get anywhere near the growth rates they managed in the early 2000s. Others — like Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Pakistan — hold the potential for massive growth, but are held back by a combination of low investment in infrastructure, political instability, historical handicaps, and out-dated economic policies. In all of the cases mentioned, the debates among economists about correct policies pale in comparison to the political difficulties that economic reforms entail.
- In the next decade, will any of these countries be able to navigate the political and social hurdles required in order to enact reforms? If so, how much will they able to contribute to global economic growth?
- How can the international community support the reform processes currently taking place in some of these countries, and being considered in others?
Getting the Workforce to Work
In December 2013, the national unemployment rate in the United States fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest in more than five years. In the EU, an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent indicated stability — at the very best, the start of a downward trend — but still considerably far from the 7.1 percent of 2008. But by themselves, unemployment rates cannot describe the profound malaise across the Atlantic concerning job markets. Deep transformations are required and are already underway to adjust to post-crises economic balances. Measures to promote jobs are disparately proving their efficiency; in all cases, they indicate the need to work closely with industrial and social partners. Getting the workforce to work implies adjusting skills to the economy of tomorrow. It also implies recognizing the local challenges that come with increasingly global supply chains. Efforts that are made to support job seekers, economic migrants, successful or failing entrepreneurs, retirees willing to work again, and young graduates are also, and irremediably, political choices. They will determine the society of tomorrow. Indeed, while solutions to fighting mass unemployment require serious structural changes, they bear — by design — considerable long-term risks that not everyone is willing to take. Economic recovery itself requires adjustments and targeted investments that will necessarily have an impact on the jobs of today and tomorrow. For policymakers, a holistic approach is required to identify, champion or compensate the winners and losers of economic and social transitions across the Atlantic.
- What are the interactions and interdependencies involved in framing policies for sustainable growth and jobs?
- What are enterprises doing to adapt the job market to the post-crisis economy? How can they accompany social transitions consequent to this changing reality?
- How can national, regional, and local governments work together in fighting mass unemployment? Is there a role for international organizations?
- Would private-public partnerships be an option? What about a Marshall Plan for employment within the EU for recovering countries?
- What are examples for apprenticeship and social safety nets? What are the consequences of education and life-long training?
- How can policymakers work with industries to shape the employment market of the future while preserving competition and promoting competitiveness in Europe and the United States?
Is Europe Losing its East?
When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, many saw the world, and Europe in particular, embarking on a transition towards more cooperative and stable relationships internationally, and toward liberal democracy and market economy domestically. A mere quarter of a century later, it is clear that those expectations have only partially been fulfilled. Worse even, elements of Cold War geopolitics have returned to Europe and threaten to once again divide the continent. Situated between the European Union and Russia, a stretch of countries from Belarus via Moldova and Ukraine to the South Caucasus increasingly find themselves at the center of a new competition among their larger neighbors. To the West of this region, the European Union is slow to overcome its economic and fiscal crisis, has yet to come to terms with its Eastward enlargement, and remains lukewarm in its support for democratic reform and European integration of the Eastern neighborhood. To the east, by contrast, Russia has become increasingly assertive, feels emboldened by recent foreign policy successes, and pursues the re-establishment of its hegemony in the post-Soviet space through a Eurasian Union. This unequal race risks confining tens of millions of Eastern Europeans in autocracy and kleptocracy for decades to come. No less importantly, a loss of its East will deprive the EU of what has been at the core of its successful development to date: the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace with itself.
- Will the EU once again muster the political will to embrace its East as an integral part of European integration?
- Can Eastern neighbors, their societies, and elites break out of the deadlock and set themselves on a path of domestic reform and EU integration?
- Is Russia’s centuries-old hegemony over the region coming to an end?
- And will the United States retain its critical advocacy and support for democracy and independence among the nations in Eastern Europe?
NATO in Transition
Since NATO’s founding 65 years ago, a great deal of history has been made in Europe. The Berlin Wall went up, the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany reunited, and the Eastern Bloc nations joined the Alliance and the European Union. NATO engaged in “out of area” operations first in the Balkans and then in Afghanistan and assisted with disaster relief in areas far from the traditional borders of Europe. And, on September 12, 2001, the Alliance, for the first and only time in its history, invoked Article V of the 1949 Washington Treaty, which supports the use of force to protect signatory nations, after the United States was attacked by al Qaeda. At the end of this year, with the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, NATO, for the first time in 20 years, will not be engaged in any major out-of-area military operations. For some, the idea of a “peace dividend” is very attractive. For others, the idea of an “operational pause” will allow their armed forces to properly reset and restock itself and prepare for the next mission. And yet a third group will continue to stay engaged in military operations, whether it will be in the form of supporting EU missions, UN missions, national missions, or NATO maritime missions, thus requiring continued equipping and modernization of their militaries. The recent Ukraine crisis with Russia has certainly raised the importance of answering the question of just what kind of NATO the Allies want post-2014. Prior to the events of the past month, the debate and discussion was mixed: return to the roots of a territorial-focused NATO or remain engaged as an organization who seeks to engage itself globally where actions threaten the well-being of the transatlantic community? Hold off on enlarging NATO to new aspirants for a few more years or welcome those who have been trying to join the Alliance and have made the necessary reforms in order to show the two-decade old policy of a “Europe whole, free, and at peace” still is in force? Accept that there are capability gaps such as air-to-air refueling, strategic lift, and ISR but that, as long as the United States is part of the Alliance, it will cover those deficiencies and NATO can conduct the necessary missions or truly develop some European capacity by investing in these enablers so that Europe can do more on its own if it wanted to as well as be a better partner to the United States?
- How should NATO reset itself post-2014? What should its post-2014 mission be?
- Should there be a global NATO or a NATO with global partners?
- How will leaders ensure that, even at a time of scarce resources, allies maintain credible military capabilities for the Alliance?
- What should NATO leaders say about further enlargement?
- How can NATO’s leaders build on the lessons and experiences of Afghanistan and the Balkans where operationally significant partnerships have been formed with 50 nations since the attacks of September 11, 2001?
- How should the Alliance address the Russia issue? Can NATO and Russia truly be partners?
Europe in Transition
Europe has undergone a number of transitions at key points in its history: 100 years ago, World War I; 25 years later, the continent entered a dark period of its history with the arrival of the Nazis taking Europe into World War II. But in its aftermath, Europe has witnessed unprecedented levels of political, economic, and social integration. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Europe welcomed a new era in its history bringing East-West rivalry to an end and allowing for the unification and integration of a formerly divided continent. This period has given way to a new phase characterized by integration on one hand and increasing division and uncertainty on the other. Europe is struggling to find its way out of multiple crises. Challenges persist not only in the sovereign debt markets and banking sectors, but in societies and political systems. The economic and social models of a number of member states are under severe pressure. The European elections may reveal dissatisfaction and voters’ strong support for populists may put European and national policymakers under pressure. Meanwhile, a new crisis is looming on Europe’s eastern borders. Today, Europe is at another crossroads, facing growing opportunities and responsibility to take leadership on the world stage while having to cope with strong political pressure, the risk of social unrest at home, and new conflicts on the continent. Against this backdrop, national and European policymakers must frame new policy approaches and lead profound change both within the EU and in its external relations. These changes will shape the future of Europe in the decades to come and in turn determine its role on the global stage.
- What are the biggest challenges to managing the ongoing transitions in Europe?
- How can Europe’s leaders best manage their citizenry in these times of transition? What can be expected from Europe’s leadership?
- Will Europe manage to cement its role on the world stage as a leader of peace and democracy? Or have recent political, economic, and social crises tainted the continent for the foreseeable future?
Global Nuclear Security: Realities and Responsibilities
The agreement reached late last year between the United States and Iran restricting the Iranian nuclear program stands as a significant step forward for many in the international nuclear non-proliferation community. However, as macro-level policies target the question of who may enter the nuclear club and how many nuclear weapons are appropriate, other questions of nuclear security remain neglected or unaddressed. Global stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium are staggering and securing these stores remains problematic. Likewise, we are in an era where the technological capability to create a nuclear weapon is no longer the province of just a few states. If nations cannot work together to reduce the threat posed by the proliferation of materials, impeding the acquisition of these materials by terrorists and other extremists who may seek to use them will grow increasingly difficult. Concerns surrounding nuclear stockpile security, undocumented materials transfers, new state acquisition, and antiquated and unstable nuclear weapons technologies lurk in the back of the mind of the international community.
- Even with the recent momentum created by the Iranian agreement, what place does “nuclear zero” have on the international stage?
- Is the international community resigned to an indefinite continuation of the status quo, or have recent successes created a path to finding permanent solutions to many of the nagging questions surrounding nuclear security? Moreover, how do recent developments influence the ambitions of other nations also seeking nuclear capabilities, namely in Northeast Asia.
- If all international efforts are centered on questions of who and how many, what political inertia is left for securing vulnerable nuclear material worldwide?
- Given the intransigence of many nations, how does the international community create momentum to solving the number of outstanding issues of nuclear security?
Global Energy Transitions and Economic Competitiveness
President Barack Obama has presided over a fossil fuel boom in the United States that has freed the country from fears of peak oil and allowed the country to surpass Russia as the world’s top natural gas producer. In just six years, the United States has reversed course from building natural gas import terminals to preparing to become a key natural gas exporter. At the same time in Europe, renewable energy sources are upending traditional models for power generation and spurring new investments and technologies. Germany is so convinced of the economic potential of green technologies that it is reorienting a dramatic portion of its economy around renewable energy. These transitions help shape the energy choices for countries around the world, as India, China, and other fast-growing nations strive to find the right balance for their energy supplies. And in Japan, where the Fukushima nuclear accident overturned years of assumptions about nuclear power, leaders are also searching for the best way to feed their energy-hungry industries. The shale gas boom is lauded for jump-starting U.S. manufacturing as the country emerges from a recession. In the United States, natural gas is three to four times cheaper than in Europe or East Asia, which has inspired the unexpected return of energy intensive industries. Other countries are following the United States’ example. The U.K. and Poland are exploring for shale gas on their own soil, and utilities in Asia and Europe are eager to buy cheaper U.S. gas once export infrastructure is completed. But some experts argue that the United States’ reliance on shale gas is short-sighted. The U.S. shale gas boom may turn into a bust if U.S. natural gas prices go up. Moreover, the U.S. fossil fuel bonanza may slow investment in green energy technologies around the world by distracting leaders from working toward a more sustainable, low-carbon future. Many Europeans view steady investment in renewable energy technologies as a better bet for their region’s long-term competitiveness. With the EU well on its way to meeting an existing target of 20 percent renewables by 2020, the European Commission this winter proposed a target of 27 percent renewable energy by 2030. Europe’s commitment to green technologies puts it at the forefront of tremendous societal transformations. Households are shifting from being mere electricity consumers to feeding homemade electricity back into the grid, and cars may become electricity storage devices. This presents an opportunity for Europe to become the world leader in developing the technologies to manage these changes. For the moment, however, the high cost of integrating renewable energy is leading Europe reconsider the wisdom of moving too quickly with its green agenda. With European electricity prices so much higher than in the United States, some industries argue that energy-intensive manufacturing may leave Europe for good. As European political leaders search for the right balance, Europe’s energy landscape will be anything but stagnant in the years to come.
- How do varied national and regional responses to new technologies influence economic competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic?
- Are benefits of the U.S. shale gas boom transferable to other countries? Could shale gas production have the same effects in Europe or in Asia?
- How will Europe’s proposed 2030 climate and renewable energy targets affect economic competitiveness in the EU?
- What role can renewable energy have in securing Europe’s long-term competitiveness? Would renewable energy production in other parts of the world help or hurt an economy based on green growth?
Beijing’s March West: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China’s Rise
When the U.S. and NATO footprint in Afghanistan and Pakistan grows smaller after 2014, the future of the region will increasingly hinge on its powerful neighbors. After a decade of sitting on the sidelines of a war in Afghanistan that it did not want either side to win, China is now increasingly concerned about the impact of instability there on its own internal security. Rising militancy also threatens its ambitious plans for a “new silk road” of ports, pipelines, and road and rail connections running from its Western borders to the Middle East and Europe. The vast scale of investments that China is planning in Pakistan alone has been described by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as a “game-changer” for the whole region. Yet China’s rise and its political relationship with “all-weather friend” Pakistan has turned it into a target for extremist groups, making it the most dangerous place in the world to be a Chinese worker abroad.
- Can China’s “March West” succeed in bringing stability to a troubled region in which the U.S. and European military and development efforts have struggled?
- How does China’s vision for the region fit with that of its closest friend, Pakistan?
- Will growing strategic competition with the United States in East Asia be mirrored to China’s west or is this a place where interests converge?
Transatlantic Trust: Is it Damaged? Can It Be Restored?
Well before the U.S. National Security Agency and WikiLeaks scandals, questions of trust had been part of the transatlantic debate. Misjudgments on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the failure to close Guantanamo are two relatively recent examples. As the experience of World War II made clear, instances of mistrust abound, even among wartime allies. But recent crises over data privacy and spying on allies have brought questions of trust to the forefront on both sides of the Atlantic. European publics are uneasy about the United States’ ability to collect data on a vast scale, and are increasingly skeptical of the idea that such practices are essential for counter-terrorism. European political and business leaders are irked over revelations of espionage targeting high-level policymakers. All seem dissatisfied with the U.S. response, and resentful of perceived U.S. disregard for European sensibilities. Beyond questions of style and behavior lurks an even more serious worry, however unfounded, that Europe can no longer trust the United States’ strategic commitment to Europe. From a U.S. perspective, trust is a two-way street. It is assumed that major European governments also engage in surveillance and espionage on a meaningful scale. Moreover, many U.S. observers have a lack of confidence, verging on a lack of trust, in Europe’s willingness and ability to act on critical questions, from relations with Russia to issues of trade and finance. Europe’s financial travails have also fuelled a debate over trust within Europe, and this too, has transatlantic echoes and implications.
- Has the crisis of trust been exaggerated, or are we entering an era of growing mistrust?
- What are the drivers? What are the strategic consequences?
- If it is seriously damaged, how can transatlantic trust be restored?
The Fate of Syria Three Years On
Three years on, the war in Syria has decimated the country’s population, forced millions out of their homes, devastated the infrastructure, caused major strain on regional resources, and metastasized into multiple proxy battles — but remains as of yet without any plausible end in sight. What began as localized protests grew, amidst repression, to a countrywide peaceful uprising against one of the world’s most ruthless regimes. Attempts by the regime at reinstilling fear through a brutal crackdown failed, but resulted in the degeneration of the confrontation into an armed conflict, with multiple regional powers supporting anti-regime rebels. With consistent help from its Iranian and Russian allies, and with deliberate subversive actions, the regime achieved partial success in redefining the conflict as one in which regional order, the fate of minorities, and a resurgence of terrorism are at stake. Still, while the regime’s pursuit of a military solution to its terminal crisis remains unattainable, it has imposed a debilitating toll on Syria’s near future. Policymakers in the United States face a tough choice: intervene and receive blame for the inevitable damage, or refrain from intervening and be criticized for not shaking the magic wand.
- What role is there for the United States, Europe, and NATO in the Syria crisis moving forward?
- Can the interests and concerns of Russia and China be recognized in a common international roadmap for the resolution of the Syria crisis?
- Is there light at the end of the tunnel without a Saudi-Iranian entente?
- The spillover, both through the outflux of refugees and the influx of militants, is an established threat to Syria’s neighborhood; what steps could be taken to mitigate the catastrophe while waiting for a resolution?
- Syria is now an incubator for present and future jihad, but also exposes jihadism’s schisms. What are the prospects of radicalism and counter-radicalization in light of the Syria conflict?
The Future of Trade
The global trade landscape is undergoing momentous changes. Measured as a share of global output, trade today is almost three times the level of the early 1950s. The last decades have seen global trade patterns changing in profound ways as new economic actors are emerging. And, while multilateral negotiations under the Doha round seem stalled, the world has witnessed a proliferation of regional and preferential trade agreements, followed in recent years by mega-regional trade talks in the Pacific and Atlantic. Expectations are high as the United States and the European Union, the two biggest economies in the world, have begun ambitious talks on a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The size and importance of the transatlantic economy all but guarantee that an agreement would not only deliver economic gains, but likely affect rules and standards for trade on a global scale. In addition, a successful deal could help contribute to a “transatlantic renaissance” and repurpose the strained relationship across the Atlantic. At the same time, questions regarding the potential impact on third countries and on global trade more broadly are being raised. The agreement reached at the World Trade Organization’s ministerial in Bali in December 2013 has revived hope for multilateral negotiations in some quarters. All of these developments raise questions about the future of trade.
- Mega-regional negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and TTIP are intended to cover trade issues going beyond previous WTO agreements. How do the mega-regional trade talks, specifically TTIP, fit in with the multilateral agenda? How can we prevent regional deals from leading to discrimination and becoming a source of trade conflicts?
- How does the changing global trade landscape affect businesses? What are the challenges and how can a globalized private sector adapt to new mega-regional trade deals?
- As transatlantic negotiations continue, public attention regarding TTIP is likely to grow. In light of election years for the European Parliament and for the U.S. Congress, is political pressure on specific pieces of the negotiations going to increase? And how will leaders be able to maintain a comprehensive agreement under such circumstances?
- Going beyond the immediate realm of ongoing negotiations, the changing trade landscape has the potential to impact the future geo-economic and geo-strategic setup in profound ways. What do the new trade negotiations mean for transatlantic engagement with Asia and in particular with China? What does TTIP mean for the Wider Atlantic, including EU/U.S. economic relations with Africa and Latin America?
The Return of History: Is Europe’s Past Asia’s Future?
A quarter century ago, Francis Fukuyama wrote an essay — “The End of History?” — that captured the hopeful spirit of the waning years of the Cold War. With Solidarity’s victory, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Velvet Revolutions in Europe and the Tiananmen Square protests in China, liberal democracy appeared ascendant, and the ideological conflicts of the past several centuries were expected in some quarters to come to an end. But was the success of liberal democracy pronounced too prematurely? In recent years, the durability and success of non-democratic nation-states has once again raised the troubling possibility of competition between national ideologies — possibly resulting in more adversarial great power relations. In a world in transition, the prospect of a peaceful and integrated international community, one that broadly accepts shared values and norms related to the rule of law and use of force, is uncertain. Europe has recently witnessed a dangerous increase in tensions with developments in Ukraine. But Asia too has seen rising nationalism, saber-rattling, military build-ups, and resource competition. The extension by China of its Air Defense Identification Zone into the East China Sea raised tensions with South Korea and Japan, and prompted the United States to send military aircraft into the area. The visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, led to deteriorating ties with China and South Korea, and raised concerns about the implications of Japan’s “normalization” as a military power for stability in Asia. Meanwhile, China and India experienced a tense stand-off in the Himalayas as troops belonging to China’s People’s Liberation Army set up camp in disputed territory. Much of Southeast Asia — including Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei — remains concerned about China’s maritime boundary claims in the South China Sea. And the execution by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un of his uncle — a key interlocutor with the outside world — generated worries about the country’s future and drew attention to the anachronism and volatility of its regime. These issues are arguably of greater worldwide salience today because Asia has become the primary driver of global economic growth. China, Japan, India, South Korea, and Southeast Asia are integral parts of the global supply chain, and Asia is now vital to global trade and the health of the international economy. The preservation of strategic stability in Asia — or, for that matter, in Europe — is no longer simply a regional concern, but a global one. As longstanding guardians of liberal democratic values, both the United States and Europe have an important stake in the world’s normative evolution. It could very well be that developments in Asia — along with those in Europe’s periphery — will help determine whether history will end after all.
- What are the prospects of great power conflict today? Which arenas are least likely to see rising tensions contained?
- What stakes do the United States, Europe, and Asia’s emerging democracies have in preserving a peaceful, prosperous, and progressive global order — one characterized by universal values? How can they work together, and with other major powers, in ensuring global stability? Does Europe have a role to play in Asia’s territorial disputes, and do Asian powers in Eastern Europe’s?
- Does a peaceful world order require a certain level of ideological convergence? Are regimes that are outliers sustainable? And is the “end of history” still a worthy, desirable, and achievable goal?
Uprisings, Realignments, and Confusion in the Middle East and North Africa
Beyond the tragic war raging in Syria, and the still unresolved Israeli-Palestinian question, Europe’s near abroad continues to challenge the global order. Three years after a series of uprisings shook Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Libya, with repercussions stretching across much of the Middle East and North Africa, their outcomes created political confusion across the region and produced dismal results. With NATO’s help, Libya toppled a despotic regime, but the collapse of fragile state institutions has put weapons in the hands of countless militias and disbanded fighters perpetuate chaos and instability. In Bahrain, the uprising was temporarily contained through repressive measures that were effectively condoned by the world community. However, these efforts failed to dissuade activists from demanding constitutional rights, rule of law, and fair representation. In Yemen, the creation of a federal system is being considered more to counter the potential of irreversible fragmentation than from a desire for an effective decentralization of power. In Egypt, democrats rose against autocrats, but their revolution was seemingly usurped by theocrats. In turn, these usurpers were overthrown by autocrats amidst heavily contested narratives of revolution and counter-revolution. Only in Tunisia can some progress be noted towards the emergence of a functional political system, which could address exacerbated concrete economic and security dilemmas. These dramatic developments compound the greater regional governance deficiencies, and violent extremism, thereby ensuring that a geopolitical pivot out of the region will be improbable for the foreseeable future.
- How will the post-Arab Spring states of North Africa develop?
- Will violent extremism be contained?
- Will Islamism prove compatibility with democracy?
- Will “liberals” in the region prove their acceptance of democratic principles?
- What role with the euroatlantic alliance play in resolving these plaguing questions? What is the role of the greater international community?
Europe’s Stake in U.S. Strategy
While the decade after September 11, 2001, brought with it a period of intensive U.S. engagement across the globe, economic turbulence on both sides of the Atlantic, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and public statements by prominent Americans in and out of government about a need to “focus on home” have raised questions about whether the United States will follow through on its commitments overseas or is “disengaging” from the world. Is there a real crisis of U.S. commitment or is there a natural pause, as happened after World War II and the Cold War? Is the lack of Congressional interest in global affairs a long-term challenge in the United States? On the other side of the Atlantic, Europeans are anxious about the perceived trends of the transatlantic dynamic. Some European leaders believe terms such as “rebalancing” and “pivot” presage a loss of influence on the United States. Simultaneously, Europe is looking to define its role in the world given changes to the strategic landscape. Is Europe’s uncertainty regarding its own role in the world driving their perceptions of U.S. actions?
- In what ways will European interests have primacy in the development of U.S. foreign policy? Put another way, in what ways should European interests have primacy in the development of U.S. foreign policy?
- Have we begun to resolve the issues of “trust” borne of the Snowden disclosures? Has cooperation in areas such as terrorism, non-proliferation, cybersecurity, and piracy suffered as a result of the public spat over U.S. intelligence collection?
- How can Europe and the United States forge a shared vision for using the transatlantic partnership to cooperate and coordinate efforts in Europe’s near abroad, as well as in East Asia?
- Does Europe’s anxiety reflect too much emphasis on U.S. “military” presence abroad as the measure of engagement vice partnership in other arenas (economic, cultural, and diplomatic)?
Changing Leaders in a Changing World: The Rise of Female Leadership and its Impact on Global Strategy
The accelerating rise of women into the world’s most powerful leadership positions is one of the most profound leadership shifts of the 21st century. This change is having a great impact in terms of strategies and outcomes, and institutions resisting this change will not remain competitive. Yet globally, the majority of women are not part of this shift, an indicator of the fragility of the current global system. The commitment to women’s advancement is an essential element for the transatlantic partners to keep the competitive edge and to lead in addressing global challenges.
- What is the impact of women in power today on the formulation of policy and the conduct of statecraft?
- While we see a phenomenal shift of women into top leadership roles, the vast majority of women are still left behind. Which nations are in the vanguard or the exceptions, and what can the new generation of leaders do to change this dynamic for the long term?
- If the premise is true that the fragility of the current global system cannot be overcome until women’s equity is addressed, what are next steps?