December 2012

UK and Europe: For better, not for worse

The UK grows increasingly euro-sceptic, vetoing the Banking Union, threatening the EU's long-term budget and promising a referendum on membership. However, a EurActiv ranking of the "40 most influential Britons on current EU policy-making" underlines British influence on European issues. Complementing a federal eurozone, Britain may opt for a 'focused membership’ centred on a better regulated single market, write Christophe Leclercq and Sharon Leclercq-Spooner.

A U.S. Air Force Detachment in Poland Presents a Strategic Opportunity

By Andrew A. Michta

Ever since NATO’s initial post-Cold War enlargement, the absence of U.S. military assets in Central Europe has been seen as indicative of the new NATO members’ second-tier status. The perception has endured, even though the Barack Obama administration pushed through NATO contingency plans for the defense of Central Europe and the Baltics. The administration’s “reset” with Russia, the new strategic guidance of 2012, the so-called “pivot” to Asia, and U.S. public relations missteps in Poland only deepened the sense of disconnect. 

Arrest of Maxim Bakiyev raises concerns over his activities in the United Kingdom

Documents in an ongoing insider trading prosecution in the US appear to allege that Maxim Bakiyev, the son of the former president of Kyrgyzstan who now resides in the United Kingdom, has been using a US$45 million Latvian bank account for insider trading deals on the stock exchanges of the US, the UK and elsewhere. This, along with the recent arrest of Maxim Bakiyev in London in relation to this case, raises concerns regarding his activities in the United Kingdom.

Could Syria Be a Test of France’s Reemergence?

By Martin Michelot

French President François Hollande faces no shortage of domestic problems following the unveiling of his government’s controversial budget. But at a November 13 press conference, Hollande diverted attention to foreign policy by announcing France’s recognition of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, making it the first Western country to embrace that organization. This decision was celebrated as a crucial step toward the end of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and as a symbol of Hollande’s ability to make tough decisions. 

Iran must be President Obama’s immediate priority

By Henry A. Kissinger

In the aftermath of an exhausting reelection campaign, the most urgent decision facing the president is how to stop Iran from pursuing a military nuclear program. Presidents of both parties have long declared that “no option is off the table” in securing this goal. In the third presidential debate, the candidates agreed that this was a matter of the American national interest, even as they described the objective alternately as preventing an Iranian “nuclear weapon” or “breakout capacity” (President Obama), or a “nuclear-capable Iran” (Mitt Romney). As Iran continues to elaborate its enrichment capacity and move it underground, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a spring deadline for counteraction. In this fraught environment, what operational meaning should be given to America’s declared objectives?