The Danger of a Post-German Europe

MADRID – Over the last two centuries, the “German question” – how to contain a Germany whose dominance was buttressed by its commanding size, high productive capacity, and geographic position at the heart of Europe – has occasioned…

International Mediation is Not the Answer in Catalonia

MADRID – On the evening of October 10, Catalonia’s separatist president, Carles Puigdemont, stood before the regional parliament to deliver what was widely expected to be a unilateral declaration of independence. But he ended up offering…

Preserving Spain

MADRID – Nothing brings concerned friends out of the woodwork like a crisis. That has certainly been the case with the current situation in Spain, where Catalonia has called a referendum on independence for October 1. Among the many messages…

Catalonia and the Malady of Democracy

Spain’s present troubles are a reflection of the challenges facing liberal democracy throughout the West. The procés leading to the promised October 1 Catalonian referendum and its fait accompli independence declaration has produced all…

Saving the Iran Nuclear Deal

MADRID – There is an old rule of thumb in diplomacy: if you cannot reach agreement on an issue, expand the scope of the discussion. Today, the United States may be set to turn this approach on its head, broadening the discussion to destroy…

The Guardian of the Liberal World Order

MADRID – The global financial crisis, which began ten years ago this month, showed that the Western-led rules-based international order’s long-term survival is not inevitable. It is often assumed that if and when the United States loses…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…