Entries by Palacio & Asociados

Britain’s European Ties That Bind

MADRID – Since the official start of Brexit negotiations last month, attention has been focused largely on the most contentious issues: how much the United Kingdom owes to the European Union, whether the UK will remain subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and what rights British residents of the EU […]

A Future for Western Sahara

MADRID – International politics is replete with unresolved territorial disputes, from conflicting claims by China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea to the prolonged disagreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. But one such dispute, over Western Sahara, is often overlooked, despite the very real possibility of resolving it. With […]

The Shrinking of the Presidency

MADRID – US President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was.” But Donald Trump is testing that maxim. In Trump, who is somehow managing to reduce the position to his size, America’s presidency may have met its match. The president […]

Liberalism in the Trenches

MADRID – After a dizzying few months, in which Donald Trump’s young presidency called into question the entire post-World War II global order, the geopolitical status quo appears to have reemerged. But this is no time for complacency: the liberal world order remains far from secure. To be sure, recent developments are encouraging. Trump’s chief […]

The EU’s Road to Rome

MADRID – At the end of this month, European Union leaders (except for British Prime Minister Theresa May) will gather in Italy to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. Anniversary celebrations are always a good excuse for self-congratulation, and the rhetoric filling the air in the run-up to the Rome summit suggests […]

The European Unraveling?

MADRID – After years of intensifying fragmentation and tension, the European Union may be on the verge of losing its most precious assets: peace, prosperity, freedom of movement, and values such as tolerance, openness, and unity. Will Europeans unite in time to save them? The danger facing the EU became starkly apparent last June, when […]

Adrift in Trump’s New Century

WASHINGTON, DC – The late British historian Eric Hobsbawm famously called the period between Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in 1914 and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 the “short twentieth century.” For Hobsbawm, the end of the Cold War marked a new and distinct era in world affairs. Now, with more perspective, we should reconsider […]

The Next World Order

MADRID – The annus horribilis of 2016 is behind us now. But its low points – the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the election of Donald Trump as US president, the ongoing atrocities in Syria – were merely symptoms of a process of dissolution of the liberal rules-based global system that began […]

Engaging Trump

WASHINGTON, DC – If Donald Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election was an earthquake, then the transition period leading up to his inauguration on January 20 feels like a tsunami warning. The entire world is speculating about what will happen, and, depending on who has appointments at Trump Tower that day, the mood […]

Europe Against the Ropes

MADRID – On November 8, as Donald Trump was sealing his shocking victory in the United States presidential election, a conference in Brussels commemorated the legacy of the late Václav Havel, the first post-communist president of Czechoslovakia (and later the Czech Republic). As the world enters the Trump era, that legacy could not be more […]

Trump and the World

The institutional and principled foreign policy of postwar United States will be replaced by a transactional approach. It is an unstable basis for world order. onald J. Trump’s electoral victory on November 8 is an inflection point for the United States and the world. Trump was a change candidate and change is coming both domestically […]

The Brexit Paradox

MADRID – The French mathematician Blaise Pascal famously said, “It is not certain that everything is uncertain.” Had he been around for Brexit, he might not be so sure. While a moderate outcome remains likely, uncertainty and animosity have been on the rise in recent weeks. This is the Brexit paradox: the longer it takes […]

The End of the European Supernation?

MADRID – Since the eurozone crisis began in 2008, the European Union has, from a political perspective, led an intergovernmental life in supranational clothing. But as the EU prepares to negotiate Britain’s exit, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Union no longer has any clothes at all. The question now is whether the EU’s […]

Reason in the Age of Trump

MADRID – In the classical Greek tragedy The Bacchae, the god Dionysus, powered by a thirst for vengeance, battles the inflexible and closed-minded King Pentheus for the soul of Thebes. Ultimately, Pentheus’s rigidity – his attempt to suppress, rather than understand or adapt to, the emotions inflamed by the passionate and unconventional Dionysus – proves […]

Securing Post-Brexit Europe

MADRID – It is said that good things come to those who wait. If so, then the European Union’s new Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, more than a decade overdue, must be a very good thing. Actually, it is exactly what Europe needs. But the timing of its release – in the immediate […]

Tips for the TTIP

MADRID – Three years ago, the United States and the European Union launched negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), promising to complete them on “one tank of gas.” But now the talks are running on fumes, with sniping on both sides and the political window for an agreement closing fast. The obstacles […]

Clarifying Europe’s Refugee Problem

MADRID – Even by European Union standards, the response to the so-called refugee crisis is a mess. This seems to defy logic: While the crisis is certainly a challenge, human rights – and, indeed, refugee protection – are embedded in Europe’s DNA. Moreover, the EU’s aging and demographically challenged member states need immigrants. Yet, instead […]

A Europe of Citizens

MADRID – Last month was another cruel one for Europe, culminating in the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22. The aftermath has seen a new round of soul searching, with Europeans mulling over the European Union’s institutional failures and sheer incompetence, not to mention the existential challenge it currently faces. Such considerations seem […]

Europe’s Stillborn Security Strategy

If a strategy is announced and nobody is listening, does it make a sound? The European Union will find out the answer this June, when Federica Mogherini, its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, presents a long overdue foreign and security strategy for Europe – just when all eyes will be on the […]

Europe on the Sidelines

The liberal international order that has helped stabilize the world since the end of the Cold War is under strain. A revanchist Russia, chaos in the Middle East, and simmering tensions in the South China Sea are all symptoms of a system that is beginning to fray. The drivers of instability are many. They include […]

The Causes and Consequences of Brexit

The prospect of a British exit from the European Union is well and truly upon us. It seems increasingly likely that the upcoming European Council meeting will result in a deal on the conditions of the United Kingdom’s EU membership – a deal that will be put before British voters in a referendum, possibly as […]

Homesick Politics

World order – or the lack thereof – is a hot topic these days. Our fixation with the future of global structures and systems is evident everywhere – in the news and at conferences, on bestseller lists, even in popular television shows. People are anxious. The world seems to be undergoing fundamental change: new actors […]

Migration Beyond Crisis Mode

Over the past seven years, Europe has been in crisis mode almost without interruption. From Ukraine to Greece, events have led the continent from the frying pan to the fire and back again, with all of the attendant summitry, declarations, and brinkmanship. Now, it is a migration crisis – one that is unlikely to be […]

A Strategic Rallying Cry for Europe

At the end of June, Greece was hurtling toward implosion and the European Union was consumed by an increasingly vicious internal debate over migration. That might not sound like the most auspicious time for the European Council to give final approval for the preparation of a long-awaited new “global foreign and security strategy” for the […]

A Lifeline for European Solidarity

A human tragedy is unfolding in the Mediterranean, with hundreds of thousands of refugees risking – and, in many cases, losing – their lives for the chance to find refuge in Europe. How the European Union responds to this crisis matters not just for humanitarian reasons; it will also be a bellwether of the future […]

The Mealy-Mouthed West

Among the numerous challenges the West faces, one is consistently overlooked: its addiction to meaningless rhetoric. From US President Barack Obama’s oxymoronic first-term mantra “leading from behind” to the recent German variant “leading from the center,” empty phrases have become the currency of Western governments’ foreign policies. Of course, the inherent complexity and unpredictability of […]

Renewing American Leadership

December always provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what was and what will be. This year, one of the conclusions that such reflection yields is that the United States remains firmly at the center of the liberal world order. Another is that the US needs to do more to lead in the way […]

Turkey’s Diplomatic Dogfight

Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane risks opening a new front in the violence engulfing Syria, thereby dashing the hopes for a rapprochement between Russia and the West that had arisen in the wake of the Paris massacre. With Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now engaged in a war of […]

The Despotic Temptation

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when asked about American support for the notorious Nicaraguan despot Anastasio Somoza, purportedly replied, “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Whether or not the quip is apocryphal, it sums up a longstanding Western approach to much of the world – and […]

The BRICS Fallacy

The recent downgrade of Brazil’s credit rating to junk status was followed by a raft of articles heralding the crumbling of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). How predictable: schadenfreude almost always follows bad news about the BRICS, whose members were once hailed as the world’s up-and-coming economic powerhouses and next major […]