Erdoğan on the Warpath with Germany Ahead of 2017 Elections

By Kamil Szubart

On Aug. 18, 2017, Turkish President Recep T. Erdoğan appealed to the members of the Turkish diaspora in Germany not to vote for four German major parties—the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union in Bavaria, Social Democratic Party (SPD), and Alliance 90/The Greens—in the Bundestag elections on Sep.24, 2017. In his view, all four parties—along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel—represent hostile attitudes to Turkey and its interests.

“Bilateral relations between the two countries have been simmering for a while now, and recently tensions have come to a boil.”

Erdoğan’s words are another escalation of tensions between Germany and Turkey, one that has been going on for a several months. Since the 2016 failed military coup, Turkey has increased its foreign policy assertiveness, including this latest attempt to redefine its relations with Germany. But although it might cause further difficulties in political and security cooperation between both countries—in counterterrorism and the migration crisis—Erdoğan’s pressure probably will not have a decisive impact on the outcome of the German elections.

To better understand the ongoing tensions between Germany and Turkey, it is necessary to take a look at internal and external factors influencing relations between Berlin and Ankara over the last months., including the strengthening of the Turkish diaspora.

The German-Turkish Bilateral Situation

Bilateral relations between the two countries have been simmering for a while now, and recently tensions have come to a boil. Firstly, on June 2, 2016, the Bundestag passed a resolution recognizing the 2015 Turkish massacre of the Armenians as the crime of genocide. Secondly, in the aftermath of the failed military coup, Turkish law enforcement and its secret service began a reprisal against political opponents. This action, endorsed by Erdoğan, was criticized by Merkel and the other members of her government. Compounding the issue, Turkey arrested 22 German citizens of Turkish descent and charged them with conducting terrorist activity and espionage. Among them were Deniz Yücel, a journalist for die Welt; Peter Steudtner, a human rights’ activist; and Tanner Kilic, head of the Turkish office of Amnesty International. Additionally, at the beginning of 2017 German authorities refused Turkish demands to hand over 414 Turkish diplomats, high-rank-soldiers, and family members serving in Germany who had sought a political asylum in the country. In response, Turkey accused Germany of a lack of progress fighting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian branch of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), both of which have a strong foothold in Germany.

Meanwhile, German newspapers—based on sources in the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz)—have reported on an increase of intelligence activity in Germany by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MiT). Turkey appears to have collected intelligence on top German politicians, businesses, and Turkish dissidents.

Finally, ahead of the Turkish constitutional referendum scheduled for April 16, 2017, German authorities at both federal and state levels suppressed Turkish politicians who wanted to conduct political rallies among the Turkish diaspora in Germany, a move that angered Erdoğan so much, he compared present-day Germany with the Nazi-era Germany.

Geopolitical Factors Affecting German-Turkish Relations

Pre-dating the above tensions, in late August 2014, Merkel and her government approved material and training support for Kurdish paramilitary units (the Peshmerga) fighting against Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq and Syria. In response, Ankara refused to permit German transport aircraft carrying supplies to the Kurds to stop at Incirlik Air Force Base. This step forced the Germans to look for an alternative: the British RAF Base in Akrotiri, Cyprus. Later, on Jan. 29, 2015, the German parliament set up a 12-month military training mission by Bundeswehr for the Peshmerga in northern Iraq.

Germany also maintains two military contingents in Turkey within the framework of the multinational coalition fighting IS. The first of them was stationed at Incirlik, alongside US troops. German aircraft conduct reconnaissance flights over Syria and northern Iraq, while troops provide logistical support for NATO aircraft in the region. The second German contingent is a part of the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) component in Geilenkirchen, Germany, which operates from the Forward Operation Base in southern Turkey. AWACS aircraft conduct reconnaissance flights over Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea. Although 17 NATO countries maintain AWACS, Germany is the most valuable contributor to the system.  

In June 2016, Turkish authorities rejected a request for Bundestag parliamentarians to visit German troops in Incirlik. This decision caused another diplomatic clash. Merkel, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier heavily criticized the Turkish decision, and, eventually, as a result of pressure from Germany and other NATO member countries, Ankara agreed to permit the parliamentarians to visit, on Oct. 5, 2016. However, to avoid further disputes, Germany took steps to relocate its contingent from Turkey to Al-Azraq Air Force Base in Jordan. The relocation started in July 2017, but it will take a few months for the contingent to reach full operational capacity.

Unfortunately, the withdrawal from Incirlik has not ameliorated tensions between the countries. In July 2017 another dispute erupted over access to the Forward Operating Base in Konya. On July 13, 2017, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs rescinded its permission for a group of German parliament members, led by Bundestag Defense Committee Chairman Wolfgang Hellmich, to visit German troops there. This escalating tension caught the attention of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who committed to resolving the dispute. Stoltenberg held talks with the foreign ministers of Germany and Turkey, proposing a consensus agreement to allow regular visits of German troops by Bundestag parliamentarians, who would receive the status of NATO visitors (a designation that means Turkey would not be able to halt their entry). On Aug. 8, 2017, the Turks announced that German parliamentarians, as members of a NATO delegation, would be able to visit the base on Sept. 8, 2017.

The Turkish Diaspora in Germany

The Turkish diaspora in Germany is 3 million strong, with 800,000 Turks holding German citizenship and 530,000 possessing dual German and Turkish citizenship. However, the diaspora represents only about 2.2% of all eligible voters in Germany. These numbers nevertheless allow the Turkish authorities to transfer to Germany certain political disputes and internal conflicts, including violent clashes between supporters and opponents of Erdoğan, which have taken place in the streets of German cities. Conversely, the political situation in Turkey is being influenced by the emigrants, whose support of Erdoğan is growing.

Influence of the diaspora in Germany is also fueled by Turkish intelligence, which provides support to Turkish nationalist organizations such as the Gray Wolves, the Turkish Federation in Germany (ADÜTDF), and the National Action Party (MHP), as well as combating the Turkish (Gülen Movement) and Kurdish opposition movements (PKK and PYD). MiT intelligence also appears to be running a propaganda and disinformation campaign targeting the German authorities and top politicians. For this purpose, it uses Turkish media outlets operating in Germany.

It’s worth mentioning that, although its overall electoral influence is small, the Turkish diaspora often has a high electoral turnout. In the last two Bundestag elections, Turkish voters went to the polls in high numbers: 71.5% (2013) and 70.8% (2009). In recent years, the center-left and left parties—such as SPD and the Greens—have dominated the Turkish vote. In the 2009 Bundestag elections, SPD received 50.2% and the Greens 31%. In the 2013 Bundestag elections, SPD acquired 64%, the Greens 12%, and the Left (die Linke) 11% votes.

Erdoğan’s popularity among members of the Turkish diaspora should not have a decisive impact on the outcome of the 2017 elections because of the negligible importance of Turkish votes in the context of the whole country. But Turkish votes might affect individual parties, such as the SPD, possibly undermining the party’s current position within the Turkish community and contributing to the party’s decline.

Conclusion: Erdoğan at the Poker Table

President Erdoğan wants to consolidate his support in Turkey. To achieve this goal, he is turning to foreign policy and foreign relations strategies with his country’s most important partners. According to Erdoğan, relations between Turkey and Germany remain asymmetric, and Turkey is the side that is being abused by its powerful counterpart. Therefore, Erdoğan thinks he needs to be assertive and to be seen as a powerful political leader who strongly articulates his nation’s interests.

Indeed, Erdoğan feels emboldened by his latest political successes, such as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) winning the 2015 political elections and the outcome of the 2017 constitutional referendum. He also continues the process of growing ties with Russia, which becomes a vital partner for Turkey and which, in his view, could be a substitute of Turkish relations with its partners from NATO and the European Union (EU).

Regarding geopolitics, Erdoğan holds a key card: he can moderate the migration crisis through stopping or allowing uncontrolled migrants from Syria to enter the EU. This migration flow is an essential factor in German politics, for the country has already taken 1.2 million migrants from the Middle East and North Africa regions. Conversely, Berlin could hypothetically put pressure on Turkey by using economic measures, freezing German direct investments in Turkey, for instance, or limiting the tourism industry by continuing issuing security alerts for German tourists planning visits to Turkey. Moreover, Germany, as the political and economic leader of the EU, can suspend the talks on Turkey’s accession to the EU. However, such steps will not be implemented before the 2017 elections, due to fears of protests or social unrest by members of the Turkish diaspora.

Another card Erdoğan holds is the role his country plays in the NATO coalition fight against IS. The United States, especially, relies on Incirlik Air Force Base, flying missions out of the base and storing tactical nuclear weapons there (within the framework of NATO’s Nuclear Sharing Policy).

US President Donald J. Trump might be considered Erdoğan’s “wild card,” allowing the Turkish president to continue his aggressive rhetoric against Germany. Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has been paying less attention than his predecessor to citizens’ rights, political pluralism, and democratic values, while arguably focusing more on the efficiency of the fight against terrorism, in which Turkey plays a crucial role despite its severe violations of democratic standards. Lack of criticism from Trump has meant that that responsibility for criticizing Turkey has been taken up by Chancellor Merkel, who has in the past few years become Erdoğan’s main political enemy.

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.



War Games: Robert B. Murrett Discusses North Korea Tensions with CNBC

US-South Korean war games provide trigger that could further inflame Pyongyang

(CNBC | Aug. 10, 2017) Annual war games exercises with tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean forces are expected to start later this month and could further inflame tensions with North Korea.

Defense experts see little or no chance Washington will call off the two-week drills. They believe doing so would jeopardize readiness and be the wrong signal to nuclear-armed North Korea and U.S. allies in the region. The North has previously indicated it might sit down for talks but first wanted joint military exercises to be halted.

The North Korean regime led by 33-year-old Kim Jong Un sees the drills as a provocation and sometimes responds with threats and a show of power. For example, last year the hermit regime conducted its fifth nuclear test exactly a week after the joint military exercises had formally concluded …

… In June, a North Korean diplomat raised the possibility that Pyongyang might be “willing to talk” with the U.S. about freezing its nuclear and missile tests but first asked for the U.S. to “completely stop” large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea, temporarily or permanently.

“I would be reluctant to trade on those terms because of a signal it may be sending to others around the world and specifically to others that rely upon us heavily in the region,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, deputy director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University.

Murrett, a former director of Naval Intelligence who also ran the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, added that it still maybe a good idea to “do a day in, day out” assessment because of the situation on the Korean peninsula …

To read the full article, click here.


Shoring Up the Eastern Flank: VP Pence’s Visit to Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro

By Kamil Szubart

From July 30 to Aug. 2, 2017, US Vice President Mike Pence paid a three-day visit to Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro. This trip took place less than a month after President Donald J. Trump’s visit to Poland, where he participated in the Three Seas Initiative Summit (TSI) in Warsaw, gathering political leaders from 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

“Pence’s visit to Eastern Europe—taking in two ex-Soviet republics—was primarily focused on the US commitment to NATO.”

The Pence visit can be seen as part of the new US strategy toward the region, which includes a reassuring US politico-military commitment to Central and Eastern Europe, especially significant after the 2014 Russian aggression in Ukraine, and increasing economic ties between US businesses and their partners in the region.

Some also looked for the Trump Administration to use Pence’s trip to underscore a hard line toward Russia and to counter the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. After the success of Trump’s visit to Poland, the White House has begun to consider Central and Eastern Europe as a strong foothold and as a strategic balance for US interests in Western Europe, and particularly in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Pence’s visit to Eastern Europe—taking in two ex-Soviet republics—was primarily focused on the US commitment to NATO. He echoed Article 5 by saying, “At the heart of our alliance is a solemn promise that an attack on one is an attack on all.” Trump previously had been criticized for failing to pledge commitment to the Alliance during his first visit in Europe and, specifically, during the NATO Meeting in Brussels on May 25, 2017.

Estonia: In the Shadow of Zapad 2017

In Estonia, Pence met with Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and the three Baltic States presidents: Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia), Raimonds Vējonis (Latvia), and Dalia Grybauskaitė (Lithuania). Estonia and its Baltic sister states are facing a tremendous threat from Russia. Despite the fact that these countries have been in NATO since 2004, their forces would be unable to counter Russian aggression, and Russian troops attacking from three sides (Belarus, the Kaliningrad Oblast, and the main Russian territory) could overrun the Baltic States within 45 to 60 hours.

Therefore, the Baltic States have increasingly invested in their armed forces. In fact, Estonia, along with Poland, is the regional leader in defense expenditures and is one of only five NATO member countries—the US, the UK, Poland, Estonia, and Greece—to invest more than 2% of GDP on defense. The Baltic States also spent plenty of diplomatic capital to bring NATO to the region. At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, the leaders of 28 NATO member countries agreed to deploy four multinational Battalion Battle Groups (BBG) to the Baltic States and Poland. And since 2004, NATO also has been responsible for protecting Baltic airspace within the framework of Baltic Air Policing. In response to the 2014 Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO enhanced its air mission adding four jet fighters to protect the states.  

The visit also was symbolic because it took place exactly one month before joint Russian and Belarusian military exercises called Zapad 2017. In recent years, Russia has increased its military capabilities through regular military exercises that often involved imagined aggression against NATO nations and their allies (a nuclear attack on Stockholm, for instance). Baltic leaders will also recall that the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia followed the Kavkaz 2008 military exercises. Russia further increased tensions by delaying its notification of Zapad 2017 to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), violating the 2011 OSCE Vienna Document that is designed to ensure transparency in large-scale military exercises. This year’s drills might engage up to two Russian divisions throughout Belarus, Kaliningrad, and the Russian Western Military District.

Georgia: Waiting for NATO

The second stop was Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where the Vice President met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Again, Pence reaffirmed the US commitment to Article 5. He also noted that the US and its allies are seeking better relations with Russia but that the US “strongly condemns Russia’s occupation on Georgian soil,” directly referring to the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Pence also attended the 2017 Noble Partner military exercises, involving the US, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Armenia.

Notably, Pence strongly supported Georgia’s ambition to join NATO. Although it was agreed at the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest that Georgia could become a member, there has been no consensus regarding the next enlargement of the Alliance. Most NATO member countries—and particularly France and Germany—are aware that putting Georgia on the formal road to membership will trigger a possibly hostile Russian response. Moreover, a Georgian membership could mean collective defense is required in the event of another conflict between Georgia and its neighbor. Currently, Georgia can only expect NATO support for political reforms, the strengthening of civilian control of the military, and participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP).

Montenegro: A Bulwark in the Balkans

Finally, on Aug. 2, Pence held a meeting with Montenegrin President Filip Vujanović and Prime Minister Duško Marković. On July 5, 2017, Montenegro became the 29th NATO member state, the first in nearly 10 years.

Montenegro’s role within NATO will be to help stop the spread of Russian influence throughout the Balkans. Recently, Montenegro accused Russian secret services of masterminding a coup attempt to prevent the country from joining the Alliance, and in June 2017 the Montenegrin High Court charged two alleged Russian intelligence officers with attempting acts against the constitutional order.

This episode illustrates that the Balkans have become increasingly unstable due to Russian influence, poor economic conditions, the rise of Islamist extremism, and foreign terrorist fighters returning from the Middle East and North Africa.

The visit in the Balkans is a clear signal to Russia that the US and its allies will stand together with Montenegro against any pressure and outside (i.e., Russian) interference. During the meeting with Balkan leaders, Pence underlined the need to keep the door open to further NATO enlargement in the region, which could help with stability, democracy, and human rights issues. Pence’s visit and words were also a boost to other countries in the region, especially Serbia, FYR Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are interested in joining NATO and enhancing bilateral ties with the US.

Whatever the Balkan nations took away from the visit, it is probable that Pence made a much better first impression on Montenegro’s Marković than President Trump did. At the NATO meeting in Brussells, Trump appeared to shove the Prime Minister aside to get to the front of a group photo opportunity causing a minor diplomatic stir!

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.


Remarks on President Donald J. Trump’s Visit to Poland

By Kamil Szubart

The second overseas visit of President Donald J. Trump to Europe began in Warsaw, Poland, on July 5 and 6, 2017. President Trump’s visit to Poland lasted less than 24 hours. However, he held bilateral talks under four eyes with Polish President Andrzej Duda and met with the leaders of 12 countries from Central and Eastern Europe taking part in the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) Summit in the Polish capital city.

“President Trump’s visit to Poland was an apparent success of Polish diplomacy.”

The last part of the visit was the public speech delivered by the US President in Krasinski Square, in front of the monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis costing 200,000 lives, mostly innocent civilians.

During the visit, Trump was accompanied by family members (First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner) and officials from his Administration (Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and National Security Advisor Herbert R. McMaster). Unexpectedly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not appear in Poland due to the growth of tensions in the Korean Peninsula; he joined the US delegation at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Military & Economic Issues Surrounding the Visit

The agenda of the visit was consumed with issues related to the US military presence on NATO’s Eastern Flank, emphasized by the Polish authorities, and economic cooperation—especially liquid natural gas (LNG) shipments—between the United States and Poland and other countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

A bilateral meeting with President Duda, which lasted only 25 minutes, focused on the US presence on NATO’s Eastern flank within the framework of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence initiative, according to the 2016 NATO Summit’s decisions. Moreover, Trump and Duda discussed the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and its potential consequences for the region, as well as economic aspects of the US-Polish relations.

Ahead of the meeting, the Polish Ministry of Defense signed a memorandum with the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) represented by US VADM Joseph W. Rixey, DSCA Director. The US government has agreed to sell Patriot missile defense systems (PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement) to Poland. The memorandum between the both governments opens the road to the second phase of negotiations between the Polish Ministry of Defense and Raytheon. Negotiations should finish with the signing of a Letter of Agreement at the end of 2018. 

During the bilateral talks, the Polish president insisted on strengthening the US military presence in Poland, turning the current rotation presence into the permanent presence of the US Armed Forces on Polish soil. Polish authorities attach vital importance to the US military presence in Poland. Currently, the US leads as a “framework state” one of the four NATO Battalion Battle Groups in Orzysz. Additionally, the Armored Brigade Combat Team formed by the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado, is deployed to Zagan. Eventually, the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) will have been built in Redzikowo in northern Poland.

Although Trump declared nothing new, he assured Poland and other European allies of the United States’ commitment to NATO and Article 5 of Washington Treaty. Moreover, he mentioned again the necessity of increasing military expenditures among European allies. The president underlined that Poland is one of an exclusive group of only five NATO member states (the United States, the UK, Greece, Estonia, and Poland) whose military spending meets the criteria of at least 2% of GDP with at least 20% of the annual military budget invested in modernization.

At the end of the meeting, both presidents touched on the Ukrainian crisis and on migration into the European Union. However, President Trump did not make particular declarations, only urging Russia to cease its destabilizing activity in Ukraine and elsewhere (e.g., in Syria).

The Chaos of the Joint Press Conference

Following the bilateral meeting, a joint press conference devolved into more discussions about President Trump’s campaign against what he terms “fake news” and the failures he sees that were made by President Barack Obama and his Administration. President Trump also unexpectedly called on the West to “defend our civilization.”

However, the press conference soon veered away from matters to do with Poland. Trump spent much of his press conference time responding to questions about the anti-CNN wrestling video footage he broadcast via Twitter and allegations on Russian interferences into the 2016 elections by saying that “nobody knows” who meddled in the elections. Trump went even further into this subject area and asked his counterpart, President Duda, about the situation in Poland and whether he is also a target of “fake news” spread by Polish mass media. The question caught the Polish leader by surprise.

Another off-topic subject that arose at the joint press conference was the latest North Korean test of the intercontinental ballistic missile, marking a significant step forward in its WMD program and an escalation of the nuclear standoff with the United States and the rest of the world.

The TSI Summit and Its Economic Background

The discussions at the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) Summit were focused on economic aspects of the further cooperation between the United States and the 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. President Trump said that the region has a particular importance to him, emphasizing the Slovenian roots of the First Lady, and he added that the United States stands with the TSI nations and looks forward to the opportunity to expand an economic partnership.

The energy-related issues referenced long-term LNG shipment contracts and further transit of natural gas to Poland and other countries in the region. Trump assured those present that he would be encouraging US energy companies to establish long-term cooperation with their Polish partners, by building or developing LNG hubs in Poland, Lithuania, and on Krk Island on the Croatian shore.

Trump’s Public Speech to the Polish People

In front of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising Monument, President Trump referred to some landmark points in the Polish history and assured that the United States is determined to defend its European allies according to the NATO obligations. Speaking of NATO, Trump indicated that “our defense is not just a commitment of money, but it’s a commitment of will.” These words appeared to be directed at Western Europe—notably Germany and France—and what the United States sees as their insufficient military expenditures, laid out in the last two NATO summits in Wales and Poland.

Trump also made multiple references to generals Kazimierz Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciusko, the Poles who fought for American independence during the American Revolutionary War, and to the 1920 Miracle of the Vistula when the Polish army countered the Bolshevist invasion of Poland and Western Europe.

A Success for Polish Diplomacy

President Trump’s visit to Poland was an apparent success of Polish diplomacy, which took steps to invite and then, alongside its American counterpart, to organize the visit. It will also have an impact of the Polish foreign policy conducted by the current Polish government and by President Duda. First, Poland seems now to have a chance to enhance its bilateral cooperation with the United States in the realms of energy, defense, and transportation. This future cooperation should also be extended to other countries of the TSI, although among them, Poland holds a dominant position due to its political, military, and demographic factors.

Secondly, Poland is one of the real exceptions among NATO member states that fulfills its commitment to spending 2% of GDP on military purposes. This makes Poland a credible partner to the Trump Administration. The decision to sign a bilateral memorandum between the Polish Ministry of Defense and the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency also allows for the opening of negotiations between the Polish authorities and Raytheon on purchasing Patriot missile defense systems, something that won’t be the US arms industry as a whole, which is interested in selling further US weaponry to Poland.

The visit to Warsaw inevitably brought benefits for President Trump. Firstly, it was a clear signal to the American people that a shift in US foreign policy toward European allies can be effective. Secondly, it was apparent in Poland that there are still European governments and societies that are not keen to criticize Trump’s controversial positions or mob orations. On the contrary, Trump was cheered by crowds in a country that, since the end of Soviet domination in the region, has remained one of the most pro-American countries and anti-Russian countries in Europe. The visit to Warsaw, then, was also a signal to Moscow.

Thirdly, Trump’s stated assurances about the US commitment to NATO and its obligations should calm down European allies throughout the Old Continent, while assuring a US commitment to the European security architecture should also quiet allegations about a pro-Russian foreign policy in the Trump Administration. Lastly, steps taken to strengthen the energy cooperation between Eastern and Central Europe and the US is a further blow to Russia, which would like to be the leading gas supplier to the countries of the region.

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.

Great Expectations: Looking Ahead to President Trump’s Visit to Poland

By Kamil Szubart

President Donald J. Trump will visit Poland on July 5 and 6, 2017, ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The visit primarily will focus on political and security-related issues, as well as economic cooperation between the United States, Poland, and the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

From the Three Seas to the Silk Road

During his visit to Eastern Europe, President Trump first will hold bilateral talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda and then meet with political leaders attending Three Seas Initiative (TSI) Summit in Warsaw.

TSI was launched in 2016 thanks to Poland’s inspiration and consists of 12 countries from Central and Eastern Europe: Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia (the Visegrad Group or V4 Group); Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia (the Baltic States); and Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Austria. The primary purpose of TSI is to enhance multilateral cooperation among the participating countries and to formulate a joint position within the European Union (EU).

The meeting of Trump and the TSI leaders seems like a clear signal by the Trump Administration that it wants these countries to enhance political, military, and economic cooperation among themselves and the United States. The United States seems to be alarmed by the growth of interest in Central and Eastern Europe by China, which has proffered the “16+1” initiative to these countries.

The “16+1” concept is China’s mechanism for bringing together European countries either from the EU or aspiring to join the EU—including countries such as Serbia and Belarus—and strengthening their economic cooperation with China. Beijing is offering these countries a strategic partnership within the framework of the Silk Road Initiative which will allow China and its economy access to overseas consumer markets, especially the EU.

A Frosty Forecast for the G20

President Trump should expect a frosty greeting from Western Europe’s leaders at the G20 Summit in Germany due to his recent announcement of the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, his scolding about military expenditures by NATO countries, and his failure to emphasize the United States’ commitment to NATO’s Article 5 during a meeting of NATO Leaders in Brussels in May 2017.

On the other hand, Trump wants to highlight the importance to his Administration of countries from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as US leadership on NATO’s Eastern Flank, where the United States leads one of the four Battalion Battle Groups, established within the framework of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Poland and the Baltic States at the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw.  

Support from Poland and the other countries from the eastern region should, therefore, be a desirous for the United States during robust future talks with Western European allies at NATO.

Furthermore, the Trump Administration looks forward to achieving economic goals regarding the dynamic GDP growth of TSI countries. For instance, Poland’s GDP is expected to grow by approx. 3.5% in 2017, and Warsaw continues its efforts to modernize the Polish Armed Forces, mostly based on equipment purchased from the United States. Raytheon—with its Patriot missile defense system—is currently vying for the highest arms industry contract in the history of the Polish Armed Forces ($10 billion). Additionally, the UH-60 Black Hawk—manufactured by Sikorsky—is being considered as a new main helicopter for the Polish Land Forces. The US arms industry can also look forward to announcing other government defense tenders, such as purchasing attack helicopters to replace the mothballed Soviet-era Mi-24 “Hind” gunship.

Protecting the Eastern Flank by Looking West

For Poland and Polish authorities, the visit of President Trump will build international prestige, and the visit is an undisputable success for long-term efforts taken by Polish diplomacy. It will also confirm US engagement in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence along NATO’s Eastern Flank and the role of Poland as a strong NATO member country that politically and militarily has been supported the United States in every conflict since 9/11.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and political changes in Central and Eastern Europe, Poland, along with other countries in the region, has established treaties with the EU and NATO, as well as a strong US commitment to Europe, as crucial cornerstones of its foreign and security policies. Since the 1999 NATO enlargement, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have pursued strategic partnerships with the United States, and this trend has mainly been seen in Poland that holds the strongest military, political, economic, and demographic capabilities among all countries in the region.

Poland’s pro-American orientation intensified after the 2015 parliamentary and presidential elections and the victory of the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) and presidential candidate Duda respectively.

Poland, therefore, welcomed the United States’ Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal, especially the amount of $64.6 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget that provides resources in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Operation Inherent Resolve against Islamic State, and US presence in Central Eastern Europe through the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).

Particular attention is being paid to the ERI, announced by President Barack Obama during his visit in Poland and Estonia in June 2014. It is considered by Poland and other US allies in the region as a guarantee of further US commitment to maintaining its defense capabilities and to defending European allies. Warsaw might also expect an increase of the US military presence in Poland, which could more efficiently deterrence Russia against aggression in the Baltic States.

Strengthening Domestic Policy Through Foreign Policy

A strategic shift of Poland towards NATO and the United States has also been fueled by the long-time weakness of the EU in the field of defense and security capabilities, ever since the Treaty of Lisbon (signed in 2007, in force since 2009), under the name of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).

Poland also counts on efficient cooperation with the United States in the United Nations Security Council. On June 2, 2017, Poland was elected for the sixth time as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, gathering 190 votes out of 192 voting UN member states, with two abstentions.

Poland—along with Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, and Peru—will start its two-year term on Jan. 1, 2018. Sitting on the UN Security Council will allow Poland to play a leading role in the discussion on global security issues and in seeking peaceful solutions to ongoing conflicts worldwide. Moreover, by being a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Poland will have a chance to increase its international prestige, to forcefully articulate the goals linked to Poland’s foreign and security policy, and become more actively engaged in strengthening and shaping global order.

Finally, Poland—along with the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia—await President Trump’s support to their resistance to the EU’s 2015 migrant resettlement program that seeks to resettle 160,000 refugees across EU countries, a program that is causing a major rift inside the EU.

The defiance is supported by a majority of citizens and is focused very strongly against immigration, particularly from Islamic countries. The official position of V4 countries is that a quota system to redistribute refugees within the EU will not work because many countries are not those in which refugees would like to stay, preferring to leave for Germany. Moreover, the quota system as a permanent mechanism that would allow the European Commission to distribute refugees according to individual economic indicators would be the breach of national sovereignty, according to V4 Group.

In addition to political and military-related aspects of the bilateral and multilateral relations with the United States, Poland looks forward to tighter cooperation in transport, energy, and the IT sector, which will make the region more competitive and therefore more attractive for American business. A first definite effect of the deepening cooperation between the United States and Poland was the first ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment from the United Stated (specifically, Louisiana) that arrived in Poland on June 7, 2017. For Poland, and other countries in the region, LNG is the fruit of a new energy policy that is allowing it to reduce near-total dependence on Russian imports. New Polish infrastructure follows closely behind Lithuania’s move to open a floating LNG terminal.

A Two-Speed Europe? Potential Consequences for Poland and the TSI Nations

President Trump’s visit to Poland will arguably not significantly change the place of Central and Eastern Europe within the priorities of US foreign policy. However, the Trump Administration may use Poland and other countries in the region as a foothold on which to rest its European policy and to accompany it through tough talks with Germany, France, and Italy, the nations seemingly most skeptical of Trump and his vision of transatlantic relations.

President Trump’s support for the TSI might help build its credibility with American business, which has access to both the financial and technological means necessary to implement particular projects. However, tightening of bi- and multilateral relations between the United States and TSI countries might have implications for their position within the EU and might subsequently split them off from the core of the union, especially if they decided to embrace their ties with the United States and continue to resist EU migration policy.

What could evolve is a “two-speed” Europe that would allow a core group of EU countries to press ahead with closer cooperation and integration on finance (e.g., tightening the Eurozone), tax policy, and national security, leaving the TSI countries on the periphery of union.

 INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.



Better Alternatives to President Trump’s Foreign Policies

By Louis Kriesberg

(Re-published from OUP Blog | April 16, 2017) President Donald J. Trump has hastily undertaken many misguided foreign policies. They are purported to meet terrible threats; but the threats are misdiagnosed and the crude policies to deal with them are often inconsistent with each other and counter-productive. Going beyond just saying “no,” I will discuss a few core ideas of the constructive conflict approach and relate them to current Trump’s foreign policies and better alternatives.

 “American citizens must resist the current backward steps and work for the better possibilities.”

A primary idea of the approach is that adversaries wage conflicts by various mixtures of non-coercive as well as by coercive inducements. Coercion itself ranges widely in degrees of violence and non-violence. Non-coercion includes diverse forms of persuasion and the provision or promise of benefits for compliance. Trump clearly unduly stresses reliance on military and other forms of coercion. This over reliance in countering the threat of terrorism against the American homeland is particularly misguided. In significant degree, the groups resorting to terrorist attacks are waging an ideological war, which requires recruiting supporters and fighters. Persuading members and potential recruits to such groups that America is not an enemy that aims to harm them is a central element in wining that war. Indeed, America is widely seen in many parts of the world as a model society. It possess great soft power, and was crucial in winning the Cold War. American-Soviet cultural exchanges and other experiences helped undermine Soviet leaders’ faith in their authoritarian Soviet system and seek democratic changes.

Another core idea is that conflicts are socially constructed, since the adversaries seek to define who the enemy is and seek to define themselves. Adversaries contend about these definitions, which undergo changes in the course of a conflict. It is generally useful for an adversary party to characterize the enemy in terms that shrink its size and capacities and characterize itself as large and inclusive. Since each side in a large-scale conflict is heterogeneous, the possibility of splintering the adversary is often present. This and related ideas have important implications for US efforts to defeat ISIS and other such organizations deriving from extremist Islamic thinking. This includes strengthening ties with Muslims in the United States and abroad as well as with the governments of countries with predominantly Muslim populations. Nearly all of them are already hostile to the extremists who claim their radical views of Islam are the only correct one. Another implication is to avoid US immigration policies that target Muslims in any categorical way. That lends credence to Islamic extremists’ accusation that the United States is against all Muslims.

Another core idea is that each conflict inter-connects with many others. Thus, adversaries in smaller conflicts are often also adversaries in larger ones (over time and space) and adversaries in one conflict also engage in different sets of other conflicts. Consequently, a change in salience of one conflict may affect the salience of others, as when a minor enemy moves up to be a major one, new alliances are likely. Bi-lateral relations turn out not to be isolated. Trump is beginning to recognize the problems this can cause, for example in trying to improve bi-lateral relations with Russia. However, there are also opportunities that these complexities can foster constructive conflict transformations. This is the case especially in the Middle East.

Finally, an important constructive conflict idea is that understanding the perspectives of one’s opponents is conducive to better policies. Interestingly, the new Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis (retired Marine General), stresses this. Having expert knowledge of the countries where US officials are engaged should not be limited to bilateral issues. Indeed, such knowledge can help discover shared or complementary interests and thereby transform a conflict.

A major implication of these observations is that the possible contributions of the US State Department are more important than ever. The State Department must play a major role in expanded persuasive efforts on many fronts. It needs to help assess the priority of various foreign issues, utilizing expert knowledge of the foreign actors’ perspectives. Furthermore, much work must be done to alleviate the consequences of wars and prevent their recurrence. Civilians fleeing wars and oppression and entering nearby countries desperately need assistance. The State Department is needed to help build peace in war-devastated countries so that wars do not re-emerge. Yet Trump is dangerously deconstructing the Department of State.

Trump and his close advisers are disrupting many achievements of US foreign policy. The considerable influence of Stephen K. Bannon on Trump regarding these matters is unfortunate. He offers a grand political theory about economic, ethnic, and cultural nationalism, the primacy of sovereignty and borders, and the deconstruction of the administrative state. This theory consists largely of assertions or preferences, but they are not grounded on solid evidence …

To read the full article, click here.

INSCT Afilliated Faculty Member Louis Kriesberg is Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Syracuse University.

The Trump-Xi Summit: A Rocky Relationship Takes Center Stage

By James B. Steinberg & Michael E. O’Hanlon

(Brookings | April 7, 2017) President Xi Jinping’s upcoming meeting with President Trump is a crucially important opportunity to take stock of the state of U.S.-China relations. Prior to taking office, Trump advocated a tougher line on China, decrying China’s economic policies and, to a lesser extent, its actions ranging from military activities in the South China Sea to its support for North Korea. He even implied that absent progress, he might rethink the long-standing “One China” policy.

“These actions require a resolute and sustained U.S. response, an effort which began with President Obama’s ‘rebalance’ policy and which must be reinforced by the new administration.”

The president’s post-inauguration letter to Xi and the follow-up visit by Secretary Tillerson seem to have dispelled the prospect of a radical shift, but the concerns Trump has expressed mirror a view voiced by many politicians and China scholars—that China is pursuing a range of policies hostile to U.S. interests, and that a more assertive American approach is needed to reverse the deteriorating trend in U.S.-China relations.

But while many Americans are rightly worried about China’s expansionist tendencies in the South China Sea, assertive behavior towards Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, and theft of American intellectual property as well as problematic activities in cyberspace, there remains a real danger of a difficult summit—and a general downturn in U.S.-China relations more broadly—if we fail to address these concerns in proper perspective. With China now well established as the world’s number two military power, the consequences of a serious deterioration in the relationship could be worse than at any point since the Korean War.

We share many of the concerns about China’s actions in the South and East China Sea, its application of pressure on its neighbors to conform to its desired policies, and its failure to address economic policies, which are inconsistent with its avowed support for open and fair trade. These actions require a resolute and sustained U.S. response, an effort which began with President Obama’s “rebalance” policy and which must be reinforced by the new administration. Additionally, the Trump administration has a crucial need to sustain U.S. regional economic engagement in the wake of Washington’s rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

At the same time, it is important not to lose sight of the positive dimensions of Sino-U.S. relations, not only on cooperative endeavors such as climate change, but also in managing the areas of our considerable differences. There is a danger that in overstating the state of the “China threat” the new administration might be driven to adopt policies that would exacerbate, rather than stabilize, U.S.-China relations by skewing the country’s China policies too far towards confrontation. What is often seen as prudent “hedging” against future Chinese hostility could become instead a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The record over the past several years has been mixed. For example, in the South China Sea, there are serious questions about whether China is adhering (in spirit as well as letter) to the commitment that Xi Jinping made to President Obama not to militarize the disputed islands. At the same time, China has, at least thus far, taken a low-key response to the 2016 decision of the Law of the Sea arbitration panel (which rejected almost of all China’s positions) and avoided provocative acts, such as unilaterally declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone or interdicting shipping in waters it claims. It has also agreed to a protocol on naval safety at sea with the United States.

On cyber, a number of prominent U.S. experts reported significant declines in cyber economic espionage following the 2015 Obama-Xi “agreement,” while former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last year simply stated that the “jury is out” regarding China’s compliance. On North Korea, China supported new sanctions following North Korea’s missile launch and announced plans to halt coal imports, while at the same time engaging in economic reprisals against South Korea for its decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system. On Taiwan, China appears to have taken some steps to pressure President Tsai Ing-wen to accept the 1992 consensus on cross-strait relations (reducing mainland tourists, blocking Taiwan’s participation in ICAO). But it has prudently reacted in rather low-key fashion to President Tsai’s famous phone call with president-elect Trump and her meetings with senior Republican leaders during her January stopover in the United States …

To read the full article, click here.

James B. Steinberg is an INSCT Distinguished Policy Advisor and University Professor, Social Science, International Affairs, and Law, Syracuse University. Michael E. O’Hanlon is Co-Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.

New Allies in an Ancient Conflict Zone: The Middle East of Today & Tomorrow, with Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot

Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Time: Noon
Location: Global Collaboratory (Eggers 060)
Part of the Carol Becker Middle East Security Speakers Series.

Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot (Res.) is former Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (2009-2014), where he helped identify and implement the Israeli Government’s civil policy in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. Prior to this position, he was a military secretary to three ministers of defense (2004-2009); Home Front Command Chief of Staff (2001-2004); and Head of Organization Department, Planning Directorate, IDF General Staff (1999-2001). Dangot holds an MBA (2014) from Bar-Ilan University. He comes to SU courtesy of the Our Soldiers Speak program.




Can Donald Trump Avoid a Dangerous South China Sea Showdown?

By James Steinberg & Michael O’Hanlon

(Re-published from The National Interest | Jan. 18, 2017) Donald Trump’s election has raised questions about the future of U.S. foreign policy—and perhaps nowhere more consequentially than for Sino-U.S. relations. During the presidential campaign, Trump focused most of his fire on China’s economic policies, but during the transition he has broadened his critique to include China’s military buildup and activities in the South China Sea, and he has called into question America’s long-standing One China policy. In light of these comments, it’s particularly timely to assess the state of the bilateral security relationship, and whether new developments warrant a fundamental rethink of our security policy toward China.

“In response to those developments, President Barack Obama elaborated an approach to China that responded to China’s actions while preserving the basic framework of the One China policy—an approach which has been called the Asia-Pacific rebalance or pivot. The rebalance focused not only on security, but also broader economic and political issues as well.”

Many scholars and policymakers would agree. But while there is ample reason to be concerned about trends, we would contend that the state of U.S.-China security relations is a glass half full. It is important that both sides make maximum efforts to stabilize the security relationship, lest tensions in both the economic and security dimensions feed on each other, and the risks of rivalry and conflict deepen.

Until recently, there was considerable bipartisan continuity in U.S. policy towards the PRC. The pillars of this policy have included support for economic engagement and diplomatic partnership with China, combined with ongoing security commitments to regional allies, a capable U.S. military presence to back up those commitments, robust trade and investment relations, and involvement in range of multilateral institutions. This strategy served U.S. interests well for decades—helping pull the PRC away from the Soviet Union and thus accelerating the end of the Cold War. It also preserved security for Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and East Asia. The peaceful regional environment provided a context for China’s leaders to launch a strategy of “reform and opening up,” which lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty and contributed to regional and global economic growth as transnational supply chains offered consumers lower prices for tradeable goods.

As the decades went by, however, this strategy produced other, more worrying consequences. China became the world’s top manufacturing nation and boasted the world’s second-largest economy. That status came with dramatic implications for jobs and investment, especially in the manufacturing sectors of developed countries—particularly the United States and Europe. Those developments gave China the wherewithal to field the world’s second most expensive military force, featuring a growing range of high-technology weapons, which now challenge America’s military supremacy in the Western Pacific. That burgeoning capability has been accompanied by an increasingly assertive foreign policy, particularly with respect to China’s territorial and maritime claims in the East and South China Seas. Taken together, the developments have led growing numbers of Americans to question whether China’s rise was of mutual benefit both on security and economic fronts. The tension in U.S.-China relations was exacerbated because the hoped-for political reforms, which were expected to follow the economic opening, failed to materialize. On the contrary, under President Xi Jinping, the movement toward a more open and rights-respecting China seems to have reversed course in favor of more central control and an assertive nationalism, which rejects what most people in the United States and countries around the world consider to be universal principles of human rights.

In response to those developments, President Barack Obama elaborated an approach to China that responded to China’s actions while preserving the basic framework of the One China policy—an approach which has been called the Asia-Pacific rebalance or pivot. The rebalance focused not only on security, but also broader economic and political issues as well. It has been generally well received among American strategists and leaders of both parties, and among American allies in Asia as well. Yet the new approach has not, by itself, stabilized the Sino-U.S. relationship. Many in China see the rebalance as thinly disguised containment, while critics in the United States fault the Obama administration for an inadequate response to China’s assertiveness—a critique reflected in the president-elect’s rather cryptic comments to date.

As we see it, the reality of Sino-U.S. relations since the launch of the rebalance is more complex.

If one dates the formal inauguration of the rebalance policy to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy article on the subject in October 2011, followed by President Obama’s visit to Australia and the broader region in November of 2011, then the regional security situation involving China deteriorated in many ways in the following months and years. In April 2012, China moved military forces into position to establish control of the Scarborough Shoal. (In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in The Hague ruled this action to be an infringement of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.) China also established a new administrative unit to oversee the Paracel and Spratly Islands of the South China Sea. China asserted an air-defense identification zone—without consulting other countries—in the East China Sea region in 2013. It moved oil rigs into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in 2014 and 2016 …

To read the complete article, click here.

INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member Jim Steinberg is University Professor of Social Science, International Affairs, and Law, and Former Dean, Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is also Former Deputy US Secretary of State. Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Obama, Kerry, & Israeli-Palestinian Realities

By Louis Kriesberg

(Re-published from Foreign Policy in Focus | Jan. 10, 2017) President Barack Obama’s decision that the US abstain on the vote at the UN Security Council regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Secretary of State John Kerry’s talk on the Israeli Palestinian conflict have been attacked too often with willful mischaracterizations. Such attacks demonstrate again how Americans are suffering from uncivil, nasty discourse, which is harmful to all parties.

“With Donald Trump’s electoral victory, another opportunity arose for Obama and Kerry to take some actions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Obama and then Kerry worked very hard to bring about serious negotiations to reach a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians that would benefit both sides. Most people in Israel and most Jews in the US believe that would be desirable. Obama and Kerry failed due to conditions they could not control. Those many conditions are well known, and Kerry listed many of them in his speech.

Even before the US election, there was serious discussion in the Administration about publicly setting forth the parameters for a two-state solution, which had emerged from prior negotiations and mediation. That statement could have served as a platform for possible renewed negotiations early in President Hillary Clinton’s administration. With Donald Trump’s electoral victory, another opportunity arose for Obama and Kerry to take some actions relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Obama and Kerry carefully explained their actions. The US UNSCR vote was an abstention, not an affirmative vote. The vote on the resolution had no negative votes, with Russia, China, England, France and all other members voting yes. By abstaining, the US revealed the isolation that the Israeli government had created for itself with its policies regarding the Palestinians. It made clear too, that the US has other concerns and interests in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, in addition to those of the Israeli government.

Furthermore, Benjamin Netanyahu warranted no personal favors from Obama and Kerry following his extraordinary partisan actions to fight against and subvert the work of the US and the other permanent members of the Security Council to negotiate the ending of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Netanyahu’s acceptance of the Republican invitation to address the US Congress and deliver a fear-mongering, partisan speech was shocking.

Kerry, in his comprehensive talk at the Department of State, analyzed the obstacles to successful negotiations arising from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, indicating what changes were needed …

Read the full article below:

Obama, Kerry, and Israeli-Palestinian Realities

INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member Louis Kriesberg is Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies at Syracuse University and the author of Realizing Peace (Oxford University Press, 2015); Louis Kriesberg: Pioneer in Peace and Constructive Conflict Resolution Studies (Springer, 2016); and co-author with Bruce Dayton of the fifth edition of Constructive Conflicts (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).