As we entered the new decade, the crisis between Iran and the United States reached new levels, providing a harsh reminder on the turbulence and turmoil that characterize most of world politics in this era of power transition. The transatlantic relationship is highly affected as well.
Ahead of the new year, I was asked by the foreign policy think-tank Chatham House in London to contribute to their Visionary Survey answering the question: As we look ahead to the next decade, what is a pivotal US foreign policy issue you will be watching? How do you imagine this issue could best be addressed? My short answer was ”I will be watching closely the US commitment to the defence of Europe”, elaborated further upon here: https://americas.chathamhouse.org/article/2020-visionary-survey/.
On January 7, I had the pleasure to discuss the US-Iran conflict with Patrik Oksanen, senior fellow at the Freeworld Forum and Rouzbeh Parsi, Head of Programme at UI, in a podcast by the national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish) https://www.svd.se/pa-gransen-till-krig-i-iran
And last week I was asked by Judy Dempsey at Carnegie Europe to contribute to Strategic Europe: ”Should NATO Stay Away From the Middle East? In brief, NATO is caught between a rock and a hard place. Given the turmoil in the ME, it can hardly leave, but there is not much more it can do either: https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/80815.
Some highly recommended readings from the Atlantic Council on the US-Iran crisis:
On Jan 12-14 the annual Swedish defense conference arranged by Folk och Försvar took place in Sälen, Sweden in presence of His Majesty the King of Sweden and Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess, as well as participation of several members of the Swedish Parliament, Government, state agencies, civil society, and mass media. The Atlantic Council was well represented on stage by Anders Åslund, who made a presentation on Putin’s Russia, and myself, participating in a panel on Sweden’s security cooperation with the other Nordic countries, NATO and the EU. The conference was also broadcasted on Swedish Television public service (in Swedish):
- Anders: https://www.svt.se/nyheter/svtforum/rysslands-globala-ambitioner
- Anna: https://www.svt.se/nyheter/svtforum/sveriges-sakerhetspolitiska-samarbeten
On December 12, I was engaged as speaker on ”NATO and the Arctic in the 2020s”, at a roundtable at Loughborough University, London, United Kingdom, arranged by the university and NATO Transformation Foresight Group. I am delighted and honored to have been accepted to the George Marshall Center Alumni Scholars Program for 2020 to do research on hard security and institutional frameworks in the Arctic, which enables me to have a longer stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, while also attending the Munich Security Conference on Feb 14-16.
In order to nuance the gloomy introduction of this newsletter, I would like to round up on a happier note by sharing AC CEO and president Fred Kempe’s inflection points for 2020, that give you six reasons to be optimistic:
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback,