SFS Professor Angela Stent addresses for The Washington Post the disconnect between President Trump and his advisers on Russia, with the president preferring “a much more open and friendly policy”. “The United States essentially has three Russia policies: the president’s, the executive branch’s and Congress’s”, adds Stent.
SFS Professor Mark Jacobson argues that the Ministry of Defense should provide more evidence for its announcement that the number of Russian trolls went up after the air strikes in Syria. “It may be completely correct — not like Jim Mattis’ Pentagon to ever put out something that is not correct — but it would be more helpful for them to explain in a bit more detail so we understand what’s going on,” says Jacobson.
“Even with Nord Stream 2, transit through Ukraine of some Russian gas into Europe will continue,” says SFS Professor Brenda Shaffer. The project will probably go forward as it is indispensable for Europe’s gas supplies, but Merkel might insist on a bigger role for Ukraine.
Robert Gallucci, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, does not expect immediate progress on North Korea’s denuclearization after the Trump-Kim summit. He adds that “you should really work to avoid the worst outcomes here” and he expects the summit to take place somewhere in Asia, maybe in Beijing.
Professor Angela Stent spoke to The New York Times about the potential meeting between Trump and Putin. She reasoned that Russia may be following news accounts “about divisions over Russia policy and they want to set a possible meeting in motion before Bolton and Pompeo assume their new jobs.”
Dr. Farid Hafez, Senior Research Fellow at the Bridge Initiative, says that anti-Semitism “is part of many of the rank and file as well as of the leadership of FPO,” which is the junior coalition partner in the Austrian government. Hafez adds that former FPO supporters are “realizing that the FPO is not serving them but the upper and middle classes.”
SFS Professor Angela Stent warns that a U.S. withdrawal from Syria would “give Moscow a free hand and weaken the forces fighting Assad.” Stent adds that this move would also embolden Iran, whose forces are fighting alongside Russia in the conflict.
SFS professor and former head of the Foreign Service Institute Nancy McEldowney has joined a letter by more than 200 former U.S. ambassadors and veteran diplomats expressing alarm over the condition of the State Department. The signatories see the recent reshuffle at the State Department as an opportunity “to restore the power and influence of American diplomacy.”
SFS Professor Dennis Wilder describes the meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un as “a big statement” from China, which is worried about being left out of a potential agreement between North Korea and the US.
SFS Professor Sassoon notes how difficult it is to research any modern Arab country due to the lack of open archives. During his research on Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, Sassoon was surprised by the “massive information they gathered about so many individuals from high school age to retirement”. He believes that such an archive can help Iraq chart a stronger future course.
SFS Professor Skylar Mastro argues that China arranged Kim Jong-un’s visit to “gauge whether or not Kim is ready to talk in good faith” and then relay its impressions to Washington. Skylar Mastro also argues that China is hoping for more influence over North Korea’s domestic policy.
SFS Professor Green describes Kim Jong-Un’s visit to China as a “propaganda coup”. Green is skeptical of the impact of this visit on the prospects of North Korea’s denuclearization. “When the North Koreans say denuclearization of the peninsula, they mean after the United States stops protecting South Korea and Japan,” adds Green.
Professor Victor Cha, a former White House official, discussed recent trade negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea. The countries are in talks to renew the current cost-sharing agreement of U.S. troops on South Korean soil, which expires at the end of the year. Cha notes that South Korea may agree to take on more of these costs.
A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but North Korea has since remained silent on this potentially historic meeting. “One would think that the North would have a comment,” professor and former U.S. Ambassador Robert Gallucci told CNBC.
In the aftermath of the expulsions of a number of Russian diplomats worldwide, SFS Professor Angela Stent argues for Bloomberg that “there is a huge degree of mutual suspicion between the intelligence services that never went away”.
Sarah Stewart Johnson, an astrobiologist and professor in the Science, Technology, and International Affairs program, and her team have found a new strategy to detect extraterrestrial life with a genome sequencer. “You could have a completely different biochemistry,” she says. “But you could still see a signal.”
SFS Professor Angela Stent calls out the U.S. administration for the perceived lack of solidarity with the U.K. over its sanctions against Russia, following the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in London. “It’s striking the contrast between what the Brits have done and what the U.S. has not done”, says Dr. Stent for the AP.
Terrorist groups are taking advantage of a power vacuum in Libya and Egypt’s Western Desert to build up presence and escalate operations in the region. Former Director of Security Studies Bruce Hoffman highlights that al-Qaeda is consolidating its presence in the region, with around 6,000 fighters being linked to the organization.
Speaking on Turkey’s decision to not fund the 23rd annual Turkish-German film festival, Institute for Turkish Studies director Sinan Ciddi said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made electoral gains from promoting Islamic culture and vilifying the West.
Georgetown alum and former U.S. ambassador to Panama John D. Feeley (SFS ’83) said to The Washington Post that he decided to resign from the State Department because he no longer felt he could serve an administration whose policies and values he did not agree with. A career diplomat who also served in Mexico, Feeley opposed the Trump administration’s disregard for a “rules-based” and “respectful” diplomatic approach.
Institute for the Study of Diplomacy director and retired U.S. ambassador Barbara Bodine said that Rex Tillerson was fired from his position as Secretary of State due to his conflicting stances on North Korea, Iran, and Russia, among other foreign policy issues.
In the wake of the poisoning of two Russians in London, Professor Mark Jacobson noted there has been little U.S. pressure to counter Russia’s suspected activities. “During the Cold War the Soviets were constrained by the threat of a US reaction,” Jacobson said. “Today there is no threat of action by this White House.”
Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, says that Russia has filled a power vacuum in the Middle East. A recent Saudi-Russian oil deal signals a shift from U.S. ties to Russian influence, which Stent attributes to geopolitical power moves between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Oriana Skylar Mastro commented on Beijing’s past involvement in North Korean negotiations, as well as their likely reaction to being left out of the most recent set of talks agreed upon by President Trump and Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
SFS Professor Kroenig argues that the worst response to Russia’s new missile would be “doing nothing as an enemy builds weapons to engage in aggression against you and your allies”.
SFS Professor Stent sees Russia’s new nuclear weapons systems, which were exaggeratedly called “invincible” by President Putin, as a response to President Trump’s talk of building up the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
SFS Professor Opalo argues that China’s decision to abandon presidential term limits, thus allowing President Xi Jinping’s to rule indefinitely, is a bad idea because “lifelong presidencies remove incentives for those in power to be accountable and innovate.”
Dennis Wilder, Professor in the SFS Asian Studies Program, speaks with the Asia Experts Forum about the recent release of the U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy and what the reports tell us about the future of U.S. foreign policy toward China.
In 2017, reports of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 57%. Jacques Berlinerblau, Professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Director of Georgetown’s Center for Jewish Civilization tells ABC news: “It’s fairly obvious that what shifted in 2017….we had a new president and with this new president came a new form of public discourse perhaps not seen from the White House since prior to World War II.”
SFS Professor Ambassador Nancy McEldowney advises civil servants to document abuses of power they may witness. “When you work for the federal government, your first responsibility is to the law — and the law clearly stipulates that partisan activity must never be allowed to undermine the integrity of government operations,” says McEldowney.