This graphic shows how the USSR compared to the US in terms of population, real GDP per capita (USD), defense spending (in billion USD) and nuclear weapons in the 1980s, as well as how the US compares to Russia in these key areas today. For an analysis of how different interpretations of the recent past still affect West-Russia relations and what is needed to rebuild trust, see Christian Nünlist’s chapter in Strategic Trends 2017 here. For more CSS charts and graphics, click here.
The U.S. ambassador to NATO has, when one thinks about it, just one job. No matter who holds the job, the U.S. ambassador to NATO has many priorities, as one would expect for a role that involves dealing with dozens of countries and trying to get them to agree on a coherent defense policy. But one would think that not provoking a nuclear war with Russia would be at the very top of the ambassador’s list of priorities. This seems like a no-brainer, but it helps to focus on the simple things. The United States has a special obligation to be the “adult in the room” and to keep the alliance focused on constructive responses to collective threats.
Last month, president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker proposed a new program that would aim to bolster economic growth in Africa as part of the European Union’s (EU) efforts to reduce irregular migration. Such a measure stands in contrast to others taken in recent years where, for example, Italy worked to stem the flow of migrants—with EU backing—by engaging local intermediaries, who have allegedly paid armed groups to cease smuggling. Avoiding the extreme flows of migrants as experienced in 2015 remains a top concern irrespective of the measures employed, not least to contain the rising tide of populism rooted in anti-migrant sentiment in Europe.
When asked about President Donald Trump’s July 2018 visit to Europe, Henry Kissinger presciently noted, “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” In other words, for all the uproar surrounding the president’s personality, something bigger is going on, and Trump has come to personify it. Perhaps the biggest challenge is, therefore, to put words to this shifting ground and imagine its potential consequences.