Make-or-Break Moment for the Atlantic Alliance

Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29, 2017
Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29, 2017 (La Moncloa)

This week could be a make-or-break moment for the Atlantic alliance. Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has put European leaders on the spot.

  • On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom — the thee European countries in the agreement — meet with Mohammad Javad Zarif, their Iranian counterpart.
  • On Wednesday, national leaders are due to discuss the issue over dinner on the eve of an EU summit in Sofia. Read more

Study Turns Conventional Wisdoms About American Politics on Its Head

Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in Fountain Hills, Arizona, March 19, 2016
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in Fountain Hills, Arizona, March 19, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

A study (PDF) by Vanderbilt University’s Larry M. Bartels, based on three years of opinion polling, turns some of the conventional wisdoms about current American politics on its head. Read more

Dutch Caribbean Caught Up in ConocoPhillips-Venezuela Oil Dispute

View of Willemstad, Curaçao, November 21, 2012
View of Willemstad, Curaçao, November 21, 2012 (David Kirsch)

The Dutch Caribbean have been caught up in a legal dispute between the American oil company ConocoPhillips and the government of Venezuela.

A judge has allowed Conoco to seize Venezuelan-owned and -operated refineries on the islands in order to collect $2 billion in compensation awarded by the International Chamber of Commerce for the 2007 nationalization of Conoco assets in the socialist-run country.

The seizure poses a “potential crisis” to the economy of Curaçao, Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath has told Reuters. The Isla refinery, which processes 335,000 barrels of oil per day, accounts for a tenth of the island’s economy. Read more

Europe Can Stand Up to American Threats on Iran

Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Donald Trump of the United States speak in Paris, July 14, 2017
Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Donald Trump of the United States speak in Paris, July 14, 2017 (DoD/Dominique Pineiro)

Leonid Bershidsky is optimistic the EU can stand up to American threats and continue doing business with Iran. He writes for Bloomberg that the stakes are higher than President Donald Trump seems to realize:

With its influence on SWIFT, the Brussels-based payment-facilitation system, and its trade power, the EU is capable of blunting US sanctions. If they prove ineffective, and Iranians merely rally around their government as Russians have done in the face of American restrictions, the US may be exposed as less of a fearsome global policeman than Trump would like it to be.

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Democrats Wisely Stay the Course

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013 (Jeffrey Zeldman)

In primary elections on Tuesday, Democrats in the United States largely went with the more sensible candidates.

Coming on the heels of Ralph Northam’s victory in Virginia and Doug Jones’ in Alabama, it suggests the party is not losing its mind in the age of Donald Trump and wisely staying the course.

Or, as Jonathan Bernstein puts it:

We’re now six states in and if there’s any sign that Democrats are either plagued by a dysfunctional overreaction to Trump or are having real difficulties handling the surge in new candidates, I’m not really seeing it.

Read more

Trump Further Isolates America by Withdrawing from Iran Deal

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear agreement his predecessor, Barack Obama, negotiated with Iran in 2015.

All the other parties — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia — want to keep the deal in place. Trump’s only allies on the issue are the Arab Gulf states and Israel, which consider Iran a regional threat. Read more

Trump Divides West on Iran

American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

President Donald Trump is expected to announce today that he will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, despite pleas from allies to remain in it.

The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted economic sanctions on the country in return for strict controls on its nuclear program. Read more