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.…

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…

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…

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…

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…
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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…