Entries by Palacio & Asociados

The EU Merry-Go-Round

EU leaders have tended to operate on the assumption that Europe is inevitable, and that Europeans are inescapably bound together in a community of fate. But many citizens don’t see it that way, and if they aren’t given a more convincing rationale for European integration, the only inevitability will be the EU’s demise. MADRID – […]

A Democratic Doomsday?

For years, liberal democracies have been beset by deepening political polarization, declining confidence in the rule of law, and widespread institutional decay. With the COVID-19 crisis accelerating these trends, the need for a clear strategy to defend liberal democracy has become more urgent than ever. MADRID – In 1947, two years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki […]

NATO Is Dying

Last December, NATO commemorated 70 years of underpinning peace, stability, and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. But cracks in the Alliance are deepening, raising serious doubts about whether it will reach its 75th anniversary. The time for Europe to shore up its defenses and capabilities is now. The Franco-Turkish spat began in mid-June, […]

Multilateralism in a G-Zero World

When effective global leadership eventually reemerges, the world can get to work building a better multilateral system, underpinned by common interests and a sense of shared responsibility. In the meantime, political leaders must do whatever it takes to keep the current multilateral system, flawed and limited as it is, alive and viable. MADRID – This […]

Disunited States

Long held up as a model for Europe, the United States is now also suffering from balkanization, internal competition, out-of-touch and short-sighted leadership, and narrow turf battles. Given the large number of pressing global challenges, the world must hope that America does not go further down that road. MADRID – In 1946, with war-ravaged Europe […]

Can Liberal Democracy Survive COVID-19?

Even if Western leaders manage to limit the COVID-19 outbreak’s immediate fallout, it will mean little without forward-looking efforts to strengthen liberal-democratic systems from within. Such a failure would could well amount to handing China victory in the global contest of ideas that is now underway. MADRID – By some mix of cruel irony and […]

A European Strategy Is Missing in Action

Each February, the Munich Security Conference offers an opportunity to take the temperature of international affairs, especially transatlantic relations. This year’s results are far from encouraging. Speeches and conversations highlighted, yet again, the widening divide between the United States and Europe, even as they pointed to a shared preoccupation with China. Perhaps more consequentially, they […]

Forgetting Auschwitz

This week, world leaders are gathering in Jerusalem to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the democratic world, recalling the lessons of this painful history could not be more important. These are difficult times for liberal democracy. […]

Europe Must Avoid Self-Fulfilling Pessimism

Over the last decade, the requisite year-end reflections and predictions have become increasingly bleak. This pessimism is understandable: inequality has been rising sharply in much of the world; democratic values and norms of governance have been steadily eroded; and technology has transformed our societies and economies so rapidly that many have been left feeling overwhelmed […]

Europe on a Geopolitical Fault Line

Two months ago, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his fear that a “Great Fracture” could split the international order into two “separate and competing worlds,” one dominated by the United States and the other by China. His fear is not only justified; the fissure he dreads […]

Russia Is a Strategist, Not a Spoiler

On October 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced his government’s support for an agreement that would lead to elections in the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk – large parts of which were seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014 – with the ultimate goal of granting them special self-governing status. It was an important development, […]

The Twilight of the Global Order

MADRID – We live in an era of hyperbole, in which gripping accounts of monumental triumphs and devastating disasters take precedence over realistic discussions of incremental progress and gradual erosion. But in international relations, as in anything, crises and breakthroughs are only part of the story; if we fail also to notice less sensational trends, […]

The European Parliament’s Misguided Ambitions

MADRID – In moments of political transition, initial signals make all the difference, because they set the tone for the process that follows. As new leaders take over the European Union’s core institutions, the first signs are not promising – and in particular those coming from the European Parliament. The EU is undergoing this succession […]

Europe’s Partnership with Morocco

MADRID – Twenty years ago this month, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne, and a new era in European-Moroccan relations began. Given Morocco’s importance to the European Union – not only on matters relating to migration and security, but also as a bridge to the rest of Africa – it is worth considering […]

American Power Without Wisdom

Over the last seven decades, US global leadership has been underpinned by a delicate balance between persuasion and raw power. By relying solely on force to advance US interests, President Donald Trump is undermining America’s international position and courting catastrophe. MADRID – In Greek mythology, it was prophesied that Zeus’s first wife Metis, the goddess […]

The EU’s Four Challenges

Whatever the next European Parliament’s composition, the imperative will be the same: EU institutions must trade ambition for humility, focusing their attention not on their own power or status, but rather on upgrading and fortifying the project for which they claim to stand. If they fail, the road ahead will only become more perilous. MADRID […]

Closing Europe’s Confidence Gap

The dearth of public trust and self-confidence in the European Union is contributing to policy paralysis, fueling public outrage, and undercutting the EU’s ability to determine its own destiny. Both before and after next month’s European Parliament election, these deficits must urgently be addressed. MADRID – In Spanish, the word confianza has a double meaning. […]

A Reprieve for Global Governance

As the deal struck at COP24 in Katowice shows, world leaders can address myriad shared challenges when they embrace compromise and cooperation. But they will also require something more: new ideas about how global governance should be organized. MADRID – The last-minute deal struck at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, […]

Democracy vs. Disinformation

Efforts to combat disinformation in the West have so far focused on tactical approaches that target the “supply side” of the problem. To succeed, they must be accompanied by efforts that tackle the demand side of the problem: the factors that make liberal democratic societies today so susceptible to manipulation. MADRID – These are difficult […]

What Venezuela Tells Europe About Russia

Russia’s enduring support for Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan president whose legitimacy is now being challenged, underscores the extent to which the Kremlin, buoyed by its success in Syria, is doubling down on its role as global disruptor-in-chief. But, unlike in Syria, Russia’s resolve in Venezuela seems to be weakening. MADRID – On January 23, National […]

The Transatlantic Leadership Void

Since the end of World War II, the United States, as the dominant European (and world) power, has piloted transatlantic security. But under President Donald Trump, the US isn’t doing much leading, and it is not always even clear who in Trump’s administration is really in charge. WASHINGTON, DC – Transatlantic security today looks a […]

A Reprieve for Global Governance

As the deal struck at COP24 in Katowice shows, world leaders can address myriad shared challenges when they embrace compromise and cooperation. But they will also require something more: new ideas about how global governance should be organized. MADRID – The last-minute deal struck at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, […]

The Hollowing Out of the G20

Since helping to mitigate the global financial crisis, the G20 has degenerated from a platform for action to a forum for discussion. In the age of Donald Trump, it could sink even further, becoming a vehicle for legitimating illegal behavior, from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine to Saudi Arabia’s murder of a journalist. WASHINGTON, DC – […]

Did the Global Order Die with Khashoggi?

A world in which all that matters is the deal is one where citizens do not know what to expect from their leaders and countries do not know what to expect from their allies. Such an unpredictable and unstable world is not one that we should blindly accept. WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier this month, Jamal […]

Europe’s Critical Election

Ahead of the European Parliament election in May 2019, nationalist parties across Europe are unifying behind a message that is clear, forceful, and, for many, compelling. If Europe’s defenders are to win, they will need to offer a vision that is similarly powerful – and not hide behind French President Emmanuel Macron. MADRID – Discussions […]

Europe’s Dog Days of Summer

Addressing the challenges Europe faces will demand the sustained implementation of smart, forward-looking policies, carried out by the EU’s core institutions. Yet, following a five-year period of unprecedented political fragmentation in the EU, the outlook for the functionality of these institutions appears grim. MADRID – August is always a good time for taking stock. Between […]

Saving NATO From Trump

The upcoming NATO summit does not have to be a high-drama, make-or-break moment for the transatlantic alliance, as some have presented it. It can instead be a constructive meeting that emphasizes strengthening the foundations for defense – even if Donald Trump refuses to cooperate. MADRID – Sixty-nine years ago, the foreign ministers of 12 countries […]

Confronting the Migrant Threat to the EU

More than any other challenge facing Europe today, the ongoing migration crisis has the potential to destroy the European project. Rather than debating European Commission diktats and lamenting member states’ rebelliousness, EU leaders must consider fresh approaches, including third-country disembarkation platforms. MADRID – The European Union loves giving itself ultimatums, whether it is the two-year […]

Counting the Costs of Trump’s Iran Policy

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is likely to make addressing that country’s nuclear development more difficult. More broadly, it threatens to rob the world of a new and innovative approach to global governance and multilateral diplomacy at a time when such approaches are badly needed. MADRID – With President Donald […]

Macron’s Vital Message

In a recent speech, Macron set out a potent agenda: the EU must convince its citizens that it deserves their support, by engaging with them directly and offering a compelling narrative that emphasizes its unwavering commitment to liberal democracy. Everyone who believes in the EU should now be stepping up to support that vision. MADRID […]

Can Mike Pompeo Save US Foreign Policy?

After more than a year of struggling to engage constructively with US President Donald Trump’s administration, the world should start thinking realistically, instead of hopefully. Mike Pompeo’s takeover as Secretary of State could provide an ideal opportunity to do just that. MADRID – Rex Tillerson’s tenure as US Secretary of State was one of the […]

Jean-Claude Juncker’s Dangerous Defense Strategy

Post-mortems of this year’s Munich Security Conference amounted to something of an indictment of the increasingly rudderless global order. The one big idea – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s call to shift authority over foreign and defense policymaking in the EU from the member states to the Commission – is a very bad one. MADRID […]

Davos Man Kowtows to Trump

By so easily betraying the values that have long underpinned the rules-based liberal world order – such as multilateralism, democracy, and the rule of law – the toadies in Davos have put the lie to the entire system. This is bad news for everyone, because, while that order certainly is in need of reform, it […]

Europe’s Chance in 2018

With no looming crisis and only one major election in 2018, the coming year is on track to be one of relative calm for Europe, providing a rare opportunity for the European Union to make progress on long-term challenges, from climate leadership to migration. Three areas, in particular, stand out. MADRID – It has become […]

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 much worry and not a little warfare. Today, with the collapse of negotiations to form a new […]

Opinion Catalonia Crisis: One Generation Since Dictatorship, We in Spain Can’t Risk Becoming a House Divided

The media has reduced the Catalonia crisis to dueling nationalisms, and a Manichean conflict between legal formalism and popular legitimacy. But simplifications like these endanger an already fractured Spain This article was originally published on October 10, 2017 and republished after Catalonia’s regional parliament declared independence from Spain. The ever-evolving crisis in Spain following the […]

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 a fudge. Despite asserting “the mandate that Catalonia become an independent state in the form of a republic,” he […]

Catalonia and the King’s Speech

As the debate surrounding Catalonia’s illegal referendum on independence continues, there is a need to focus on what is truly at issue. On Tuesday night, in his first institutional speech since ascending to the Spanish throne in 2014, King Felipe VI did precisely that. His remarks were short and to the point. The Catalonian regional […]

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 of support I have received in recent weeks, there have been more than a few […]

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 manner of spectacle: grotesque, depressing, surreal. But perhaps nothing captures how far off the rails of sanity things have gone than […]

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 an already-existing agreement. And not just any agreement: President Donald Trump’s […]

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 its place as the global hegemon in that system, China will be the country to lead the world. […]

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 […]