Trump & North Korea: Beware the Boogeyman

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Jurist | Aug. 11, 2017) Tyrants need a war. Looking back over the past hundred years one finds that tyrants come to power in conflict and remains in power largely due to conflict. It centers the populace, distracting them from other societal challenges to include their civil liberties.

Historically these conflicts created by a tyrant, dictator or insecure leader rarely succeed. The immediate result may be a distraction, but in the long term that nation, and its leader, end up weakened and in some cases worse off than they were before the conflict.

Politically weak or insecure leaders also need a distraction. I call those distractions boogeymen–nations, a peoples, or culture that the leader perceives to be a threat to the national security. This boogeyman also distracts from the political challenges both real and imagined that leader faces. Hitler had the Jews; Stalin capitalism; the Ayatollah the “Great Satin,” and Assad “terrorists” by way of a few examples.

Dictators and other leaders need a populace that is afraid. Fear is a powerful psychological tool to govern with and leaders use it for various reasons. A populace that is afraid of “something” looks to its leader for security and a solution. This is where the shadow of a boogeyman is useful. Fear can bring a society together in common cause.

Historically these conflicts created by a tyrant, dictator or insecure leader rarely succeed. The immediate result may be a distraction, but in the long term that nation, and its leader, end up weakened and in some cases worse off than they were before the conflict. Various circumstances intervene that were unintended consequences. History shows that these unintended consequences rarely benefit a leader.

Only the citizens of that country suffer those consequences. Simply put some of their loved ones do not come home. Tens of thousands perish their nation weakened politically and economically by the conflict. The nation itself loses stature internationally. Weakened trade through sanctions and other action only bring more unrest and insecurity.

The result is a country in worse shape than before the conflict. It all blows up in the tyrant’s face, with more unrest and division a result. In this information age, conflict is bad for global trade and business, unlike the industrial age where conflict was good for business. The world suffers from this type of threat and conflict as well.

As our President, politically weak, deeply insecure and challenged on all fronts looks for a distraction and a boogeyman, he conveniently has been handed one in the guise of Kim Jong-un and North Korea. From the President’s point of view, he has a “twofer,” a threat worthy of a conflict and a boogeyman. To maintain his political relevancy (and to silence whatever demons whisper to him) a looming crisis with nuclear implications is just what the doctor ordered. Words such as “fire and fury” ring true to him.

Suddenly the Russia scandal is off the front page. No one is talking about collusion, conspiracy, perjury or obstruction of justice. Attention is diverted across the Pacific Ocean to a hermit kingdom led by a crafty leader who uses just this type of tension to maintain his own power.

Kim Jong-un is a dictator, he needs a looming conflict, and he needs that boogeyman, as well, to distract his citizenry away from daily famine towards an impending attack by their boogeyman, the United States. The President has handed him politically a reason to lead his nation and consolidate power on a silver platter.

We have an insecure and an unstable leader in our President now in a possible “dance of death” with a brutal tyrant who is “crazy like a fox” …

To read the full article, click here.


Lady Liberty’s Promise Matters to Immigration Law

By Ryan J. Suto 

(Re-published from The Hill | Aug. 4, 2017) President Trump and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue’s (R-Ga.) White House announcement of the new version of the RAISE Act, a bill that aims to lower legal immigration to the U.S. by more than 40 percentby turning away non-English speakers and low-skilled or unskilled immigrants, flies in the face of American ideals and is simply bad policy.

Miller’s dismissal of the reference to the Statue of Liberty in a policy discussion shows a narrow understanding of the framing of ‘American tradition.’” 

The bill itself is problematic first because it awards points for “English-language ability,” which will discriminate against millions of hard-working and well-meaning individuals from non-English speaking countries. This preference reflects the broader demographic goals implicit in the Trump administration’s other policies, such as the wall on the Mexican border and Muslim ban.

Second, the bill makes no economic sense. The Bipartisan Policy Center stated, “The RAISE Act’s goal of reducing legal immigration is a threat to the U.S. economy and would place additional strains on the Social Security system by reducing the size of the labor force.”

Later that day, White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller answered questions about the new RAISE Act from the Brady briefing room. At the start of a heated exchange, CNN’s Jim Acosta, a first-generation Cuban American, invoked “American tradition” in challenging the law, referencing the Emma Lazarus poem, “The New Colossus,” that appears on the monument: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

In response, Miller stated, “The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of Liberty enlightening the world, it’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to was added later is not part of the actual Statue of Liberty.” During the exchange with Acosta, Miller rhetorically asked what number of immigrants would meet the “Statue of Liberty poem’s law of the land.”

Miller’s dismissal of the reference to the Statue of Liberty in a policy discussion shows a narrow understanding of the framing of “American tradition.” That tradition includes more than just what is found in dusty law books, but also what is called meta-doctrine. Meta-doctrine is composed of the concepts and prescriptions that provide structure and limitations to specific legal doctrines. They form the spirit of the country and define our goals and how we see ourselves …

To read the full article, click here.

INSCT CAS in Postconflict Reconstruction alumnus Ryan J. Suto (JD/MS/MAIR ’13) is Government Relations Manager for the Arab American Institute, an organization that encourages the direct participation of Arab Americans in political and civic life.

Shoring Up the Eastern Flank: VP Pence’s Visit to Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro

By Kamil Szubart

From July 30 to Aug. 2, 2017, US Vice President Mike Pence paid a three-day visit to Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro. This trip took place less than a month after President Donald J. Trump’s visit to Poland, where he participated in the Three Seas Initiative Summit (TSI) in Warsaw, gathering political leaders from 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

“Pence’s visit to Eastern Europe—taking in two ex-Soviet republics—was primarily focused on the US commitment to NATO.”

The Pence visit can be seen as part of the new US strategy toward the region, which includes a reassuring US politico-military commitment to Central and Eastern Europe, especially significant after the 2014 Russian aggression in Ukraine, and increasing economic ties between US businesses and their partners in the region.

Some also looked for the Trump Administration to use Pence’s trip to underscore a hard line toward Russia and to counter the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. After the success of Trump’s visit to Poland, the White House has begun to consider Central and Eastern Europe as a strong foothold and as a strategic balance for US interests in Western Europe, and particularly in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Pence’s visit to Eastern Europe—taking in two ex-Soviet republics—was primarily focused on the US commitment to NATO. He echoed Article 5 by saying, “At the heart of our alliance is a solemn promise that an attack on one is an attack on all.” Trump previously had been criticized for failing to pledge commitment to the Alliance during his first visit in Europe and, specifically, during the NATO Meeting in Brussels on May 25, 2017.

Estonia: In the Shadow of Zapad 2017

In Estonia, Pence met with Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and the three Baltic States presidents: Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonia), Raimonds Vējonis (Latvia), and Dalia Grybauskaitė (Lithuania). Estonia and its Baltic sister states are facing a tremendous threat from Russia. Despite the fact that these countries have been in NATO since 2004, their forces would be unable to counter Russian aggression, and Russian troops attacking from three sides (Belarus, the Kaliningrad Oblast, and the main Russian territory) could overrun the Baltic States within 45 to 60 hours.

Therefore, the Baltic States have increasingly invested in their armed forces. In fact, Estonia, along with Poland, is the regional leader in defense expenditures and is one of only five NATO member countries—the US, the UK, Poland, Estonia, and Greece—to invest more than 2% of GDP on defense. The Baltic States also spent plenty of diplomatic capital to bring NATO to the region. At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, the leaders of 28 NATO member countries agreed to deploy four multinational Battalion Battle Groups (BBG) to the Baltic States and Poland. And since 2004, NATO also has been responsible for protecting Baltic airspace within the framework of Baltic Air Policing. In response to the 2014 Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO enhanced its air mission adding four jet fighters to protect the states.  

The visit also was symbolic because it took place exactly one month before joint Russian and Belarusian military exercises called Zapad 2017. In recent years, Russia has increased its military capabilities through regular military exercises that often involved imagined aggression against NATO nations and their allies (a nuclear attack on Stockholm, for instance). Baltic leaders will also recall that the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia followed the Kavkaz 2008 military exercises. Russia further increased tensions by delaying its notification of Zapad 2017 to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), violating the 2011 OSCE Vienna Document that is designed to ensure transparency in large-scale military exercises. This year’s drills might engage up to two Russian divisions throughout Belarus, Kaliningrad, and the Russian Western Military District.

Georgia: Waiting for NATO

The second stop was Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where the Vice President met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Again, Pence reaffirmed the US commitment to Article 5. He also noted that the US and its allies are seeking better relations with Russia but that the US “strongly condemns Russia’s occupation on Georgian soil,” directly referring to the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Pence also attended the 2017 Noble Partner military exercises, involving the US, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Armenia.

Notably, Pence strongly supported Georgia’s ambition to join NATO. Although it was agreed at the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest that Georgia could become a member, there has been no consensus regarding the next enlargement of the Alliance. Most NATO member countries—and particularly France and Germany—are aware that putting Georgia on the formal road to membership will trigger a possibly hostile Russian response. Moreover, a Georgian membership could mean collective defense is required in the event of another conflict between Georgia and its neighbor. Currently, Georgia can only expect NATO support for political reforms, the strengthening of civilian control of the military, and participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP).

Montenegro: A Bulwark in the Balkans

Finally, on Aug. 2, Pence held a meeting with Montenegrin President Filip Vujanović and Prime Minister Duško Marković. On July 5, 2017, Montenegro became the 29th NATO member state, the first in nearly 10 years.

Montenegro’s role within NATO will be to help stop the spread of Russian influence throughout the Balkans. Recently, Montenegro accused Russian secret services of masterminding a coup attempt to prevent the country from joining the Alliance, and in June 2017 the Montenegrin High Court charged two alleged Russian intelligence officers with attempting acts against the constitutional order.

This episode illustrates that the Balkans have become increasingly unstable due to Russian influence, poor economic conditions, the rise of Islamist extremism, and foreign terrorist fighters returning from the Middle East and North Africa.

The visit in the Balkans is a clear signal to Russia that the US and its allies will stand together with Montenegro against any pressure and outside (i.e., Russian) interference. During the meeting with Balkan leaders, Pence underlined the need to keep the door open to further NATO enlargement in the region, which could help with stability, democracy, and human rights issues. Pence’s visit and words were also a boost to other countries in the region, especially Serbia, FYR Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are interested in joining NATO and enhancing bilateral ties with the US.

Whatever the Balkan nations took away from the visit, it is probable that Pence made a much better first impression on Montenegro’s Marković than President Trump did. At the NATO meeting in Brussells, Trump appeared to shove the Prime Minister aside to get to the front of a group photo opportunity causing a minor diplomatic stir!

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.


Supporting Post-9/11 Military Veterans in Higher Education

By Corri Zoli, Daniel Fay, Sidney Ellington, and David Segal

(Re-published from Military Times | July 27, 2017)  A question: “How many active and former service members are there in the United States today?” What’s your best guess? It may surprise that for an accurate answer, you won’t be able to turn to the Veterans Administration (VA), the US Department of Defense, nor the Department of Education or the Census Bureau — these agencies can’t reliably or consistently answer this question either.

“Why is there not a greater push to help student veterans seeking educational support?”

Likewise, despite the well-established role of the GI Bill in transitioning veterans to civilian life, we do not know how many veterans take advantage of this hard-earned benefit. Nor do we have a good handle on how well veterans do in school, which degree programs they choose, or whether they achieve success in post-service careers.

“Big data” — the tracking of our lives and habits — might be one of the buzzwords of the moment, but when it comes to keeping demographic track of service members and veterans, big data is still in its infancy.

Why should we care about such data?

Because without it, it is nearly impossible for Americans to ensure that veterans are getting a good return on taxpayers’ $14 billion-a-year investment in their education and whether they are successful transitioning out of service.

Furthermore, despite our own research and some important new efforts by the Student Veterans of America, lack of information can easily become a lack of concern for an important generation of Gulf War and Post-9/11 military veterans.

Making matters worse, colleges and universities are not asked whether they actually help veterans get the most out of the GI Bill on campus and beyond. For instance, the Obama administration’s 2012 executive order (establishing “Principles of Excellence” for schools) had no reporting metrics, and even though more 250 campuses registered for the “8 Keys to Veterans Success” (a 2013 Department of Education and VA initiative), this program also included no follow-up assessment or metrics. Some schools are exceptions, like Syracuse University, Columbia University, and perhaps new efforts at Wesleyan.

What we do know is that half of all veterans choose not to use their hard-earned GI Bill benefits, and that many veterans who do go to university face cultural and bureaucratic barriers, even discrimination. Yet our research also indicates that, given service members’ training and professionalization, many veterans are “pre-qualified” for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, among other professions. However — again with some exceptions — few pipelines exist inside the academy to match veterans’ skillsets to degrees and jobs.

Distressingly, elite universities that should be leading the way for others are falling down on the job. Most Americans don’t realize how few veterans are enrolled at top colleges. GI Bill recipients comprise nearly 5 percent of the national collegiate student population, yet less than 1 percent of top 20 universities. Moreover, Inside HigherEd’s Wick Sloane notes that among the Ivy League, only Columbia University stands out, with 375 student veterans in 2016. Other Ivies enrolled just 62 service members total in 2016, with just one veteran at Princeton and three at Harvard.

Yet we know that universities can rally quickly to serve populations they deem “underserved.” Nearly 50 campuses, including the entire Ivy League, signed a letter opposing President Trump’s Jan. 27, 2017, immigration order, which academic leaders claim undermines support for vulnerable foreign, immigrant, and undocumented students. Although most universities advocate for “diversity,” this concept rarely includes student veterans, despite the fact that the military is the most demographically diverse institution in American life.

So why is there not a greater push to help student veterans seeking educational support? How long will veterans on and off campus remain demographically “invisible,” thanks to federal data research priorities, or underserved in higher education, thanks to lack of oversight and a narrow understanding of “diversity”?

To read the full article, click here.

Photo: Senior Airman Jasmine Helm-Lucas working with data in June 2017 at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. (Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam/Air Force)

A Step Backward: The Closure of the Office of Global Criminal Justice

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Jurist | July 21, 2017) With the raspy barking of a US President in the background trying to “Make America Great Again,” the world shrinks away in surprise and confusion. As the light begins to wane on that bright and shining experiment on the hill called “America”, the international community faces the yawning maw of a retrenching America, once again looking inward, shrinking away from a leadership position it has held since World War II. Unprepared for any of this, the West is losing its way uncertain and weakened. They look for any indication of someone to lead.

“The United States has always been at the forefront in creating justice mechanisms.”

It will not be America. From the environment to trade, the US has chosen to step away from not only legal but also moral obligations. This past week another indication of further retrenchment was manifest when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that he was closing the Office of Global Criminal Justice (OGCJ), the office where the US asserts leadership and support for international justice and holding accountable those who feed upon their own citizens. Like much else this new US administration has done, this is wrong!

The United States has been the cornerstone for the creation of modern international criminal law. It played the leading role at the International Criminal Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945, the subsequent Council 10 trials, up to and including the establishment of the tribunals and courts for Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia, as well as the International Criminal Court. BUT FOR the support of the United States, most of these justice mechanisms would not have come into existence or would have had existential and overwhelming challenges at the beginning. The United States has always been at the forefront in creating justice mechanisms.

Past administrations have had policy differences with the world community on the administration of international justice, but, at the end of the day, they did not waiver in the perception that the rule of law is important for a more stable world. This administration, a newly forming kleptocracy, is facing the rule of law with almost a blatant disregard, certainly a jaw-dropping disrespect not seen in the history of the republic. Ruefully, commentators have said that in Washington “nothing matters” …

To read the full article, click here.


“Added Flexibility”: Corri Zoli Addresses Expanded Military Footprint in Iraq & Syria with Al-Monitor

Pentagon wants to build new US facilities in Iraq, Syria

(Al-Monitor | July 13, 2017) The Donald Trump administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new “temporary” facilities in Iraq and Syria as part of the US-led campaign against the Islamic State.

“It looks to me like what they’re trying to do is get a little more maneuverability to create some infrastructure for deepening the fight beyond Raqqa and Syria.”

In a policy statement released Tuesday night, the White House argues that US troops are hamstrung by legal restrictions on their ability to expand US military infrastructure “in both Iraq and Syria.” The administration wants lawmakers to extend existing authorities that only cover the “repair and renovation” of facilities to also encompass “temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection.”

“These facilities, supply points, and assembly areas will enable the pursuit of [IS] into the Euphrates River Valley and help improve the security of Iraq’s borders,” the statement reads. “Current authorities … severely limit the coalition’s maneuverability and its ability to respond quickly to changing operational conditions.”

Tuesday’s Statement of Administration Policy, which the White House uses to present its views on pending legislation, takes the House Armed Services Committee to task for not including the change in its annual defense authorization bill released last month, although it is not clear if lawmakers had received the request from the Pentagon in time. The Senate Armed Services Committee draft, released this week, does, however, include the requested change. The House began floor consideration of the bill Wednesday.

The added flexibility would enable the Defense Department to go on the offensive to root out IS safe havens in Iraq and Syria, according to Corri Zoli, the director of research at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.

“It looks to me like what they’re trying to do is get a little more maneuverability to create some infrastructure for deepening the fight beyond Raqqa and Syria,” Zoli told Al-Monitor. “It’s kind of an attempt to create a lily-pad structure in the Levant to go after [IS] and their entrepreneurial efforts to start miniature caliphates in the region.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Zoli added, “is thinking a couple steps ahead. He wants to win the peace, stabilize the region and militarily pressure Iran. If he can do it with logistics all the better.”

But detractors say the effort could further draw the United States into Syria’s complex civil war, even as Congress continues to resist launching a full-fledged debate over updating the 2001 use of force authorization that remains the main legal justification for US involvement in the region …

To read the whole article, click here.


What Did Trump’s FBI Nominee Know of US Torture Post-9/11?

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Hill | July 12, 2017) [On July 12, 2017] Washington’s attention turns to the confirmation hearing of Christopher Wray, nominated by President Trump as FBI Director following the firing of James Comey in that position.

“But perhaps the most disturbing recent official effort to sweep our torturous past under the rug is the Administration’s surrender of most copies of the 6,770-page study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices to the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

In the inevitable focus on the Russia investigation and Comey firing fallout, Senate Judiciary Committee members would be remiss not to use the opportunity to probe the issue of Wray’s previous role as Assistant Attorney General in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department. What are his past and current views on the use of torture in interrogations?

In the years following 9/11, our government unleashed a program of illegal torture and rendition of suspected enemies.

Recent efforts to bury the most comprehensive account to date of the U.S. torture program, coupled with Administration appointments of those who played a key role in it, raise sharp concerns about human rights, government transparency and accountability.

Wray served in  a Justice Department which sought to justify the use of torture by since-repudiated legal gymnastics. Glimpses from highly redacted government documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU indicate that, at the very least, Wray knew about detainee abuse and was involved in discussions about harsh interrogation techniques.

His stance in those conversations remains a mystery, but members of Congress and the American public have a right to a full picture of what happened. Nothing less will prevent a repeat of these mistakes.

Wray is not an outlier among recent appointees who played a role in this dark chapter of American history.

Steven Bradbury, a key enabler of the torture program, was nominated as General Counsel of the Transportation Department. Bradbury has suffered no consequences for his 2007 memo that helped authorize the since-discredited program.

These two nominations follow the February appointment of Gina Haspel as Deputy Director of the CIA; who, according to multiple reports, personally oversaw the use of torture at a black site in Thailand.

But perhaps the most disturbing recent official effort to sweep our torturous past under the rug is the Administration’s surrender of most copies of the 6,770-page study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which produced the report.

This recall was requested by the Chair of that Committee Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The declassified summary of the report contains a damning assessment of the CIA’s tactics as both ineffective and damaging to America’s reputation and influence.

It raises the distinct possibility that some of these actions violated both international and domestic law …

To read the full article, click here.


Remarks on President Donald J. Trump’s Visit to Poland

By Kamil Szubart

The second overseas visit of President Donald J. Trump to Europe began in Warsaw, Poland, on July 5 and 6, 2017. President Trump’s visit to Poland lasted less than 24 hours. However, he held bilateral talks under four eyes with Polish President Andrzej Duda and met with the leaders of 12 countries from Central and Eastern Europe taking part in the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) Summit in the Polish capital city.

“President Trump’s visit to Poland was an apparent success of Polish diplomacy.”

The last part of the visit was the public speech delivered by the US President in Krasinski Square, in front of the monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis costing 200,000 lives, mostly innocent civilians.

During the visit, Trump was accompanied by family members (First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner) and officials from his Administration (Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and National Security Advisor Herbert R. McMaster). Unexpectedly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not appear in Poland due to the growth of tensions in the Korean Peninsula; he joined the US delegation at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Military & Economic Issues Surrounding the Visit

The agenda of the visit was consumed with issues related to the US military presence on NATO’s Eastern Flank, emphasized by the Polish authorities, and economic cooperation—especially liquid natural gas (LNG) shipments—between the United States and Poland and other countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

A bilateral meeting with President Duda, which lasted only 25 minutes, focused on the US presence on NATO’s Eastern flank within the framework of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence initiative, according to the 2016 NATO Summit’s decisions. Moreover, Trump and Duda discussed the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and its potential consequences for the region, as well as economic aspects of the US-Polish relations.

Ahead of the meeting, the Polish Ministry of Defense signed a memorandum with the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) represented by US VADM Joseph W. Rixey, DSCA Director. The US government has agreed to sell Patriot missile defense systems (PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement) to Poland. The memorandum between the both governments opens the road to the second phase of negotiations between the Polish Ministry of Defense and Raytheon. Negotiations should finish with the signing of a Letter of Agreement at the end of 2018. 

During the bilateral talks, the Polish president insisted on strengthening the US military presence in Poland, turning the current rotation presence into the permanent presence of the US Armed Forces on Polish soil. Polish authorities attach vital importance to the US military presence in Poland. Currently, the US leads as a “framework state” one of the four NATO Battalion Battle Groups in Orzysz. Additionally, the Armored Brigade Combat Team formed by the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado, is deployed to Zagan. Eventually, the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) will have been built in Redzikowo in northern Poland.

Although Trump declared nothing new, he assured Poland and other European allies of the United States’ commitment to NATO and Article 5 of Washington Treaty. Moreover, he mentioned again the necessity of increasing military expenditures among European allies. The president underlined that Poland is one of an exclusive group of only five NATO member states (the United States, the UK, Greece, Estonia, and Poland) whose military spending meets the criteria of at least 2% of GDP with at least 20% of the annual military budget invested in modernization.

At the end of the meeting, both presidents touched on the Ukrainian crisis and on migration into the European Union. However, President Trump did not make particular declarations, only urging Russia to cease its destabilizing activity in Ukraine and elsewhere (e.g., in Syria).

The Chaos of the Joint Press Conference

Following the bilateral meeting, a joint press conference devolved into more discussions about President Trump’s campaign against what he terms “fake news” and the failures he sees that were made by President Barack Obama and his Administration. President Trump also unexpectedly called on the West to “defend our civilization.”

However, the press conference soon veered away from matters to do with Poland. Trump spent much of his press conference time responding to questions about the anti-CNN wrestling video footage he broadcast via Twitter and allegations on Russian interferences into the 2016 elections by saying that “nobody knows” who meddled in the elections. Trump went even further into this subject area and asked his counterpart, President Duda, about the situation in Poland and whether he is also a target of “fake news” spread by Polish mass media. The question caught the Polish leader by surprise.

Another off-topic subject that arose at the joint press conference was the latest North Korean test of the intercontinental ballistic missile, marking a significant step forward in its WMD program and an escalation of the nuclear standoff with the United States and the rest of the world.

The TSI Summit and Its Economic Background

The discussions at the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) Summit were focused on economic aspects of the further cooperation between the United States and the 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. President Trump said that the region has a particular importance to him, emphasizing the Slovenian roots of the First Lady, and he added that the United States stands with the TSI nations and looks forward to the opportunity to expand an economic partnership.

The energy-related issues referenced long-term LNG shipment contracts and further transit of natural gas to Poland and other countries in the region. Trump assured those present that he would be encouraging US energy companies to establish long-term cooperation with their Polish partners, by building or developing LNG hubs in Poland, Lithuania, and on Krk Island on the Croatian shore.

Trump’s Public Speech to the Polish People

In front of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising Monument, President Trump referred to some landmark points in the Polish history and assured that the United States is determined to defend its European allies according to the NATO obligations. Speaking of NATO, Trump indicated that “our defense is not just a commitment of money, but it’s a commitment of will.” These words appeared to be directed at Western Europe—notably Germany and France—and what the United States sees as their insufficient military expenditures, laid out in the last two NATO summits in Wales and Poland.

Trump also made multiple references to generals Kazimierz Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciusko, the Poles who fought for American independence during the American Revolutionary War, and to the 1920 Miracle of the Vistula when the Polish army countered the Bolshevist invasion of Poland and Western Europe.

A Success for Polish Diplomacy

President Trump’s visit to Poland was an apparent success of Polish diplomacy, which took steps to invite and then, alongside its American counterpart, to organize the visit. It will also have an impact of the Polish foreign policy conducted by the current Polish government and by President Duda. First, Poland seems now to have a chance to enhance its bilateral cooperation with the United States in the realms of energy, defense, and transportation. This future cooperation should also be extended to other countries of the TSI, although among them, Poland holds a dominant position due to its political, military, and demographic factors.

Secondly, Poland is one of the real exceptions among NATO member states that fulfills its commitment to spending 2% of GDP on military purposes. This makes Poland a credible partner to the Trump Administration. The decision to sign a bilateral memorandum between the Polish Ministry of Defense and the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency also allows for the opening of negotiations between the Polish authorities and Raytheon on purchasing Patriot missile defense systems, something that won’t be the US arms industry as a whole, which is interested in selling further US weaponry to Poland.

The visit to Warsaw inevitably brought benefits for President Trump. Firstly, it was a clear signal to the American people that a shift in US foreign policy toward European allies can be effective. Secondly, it was apparent in Poland that there are still European governments and societies that are not keen to criticize Trump’s controversial positions or mob orations. On the contrary, Trump was cheered by crowds in a country that, since the end of Soviet domination in the region, has remained one of the most pro-American countries and anti-Russian countries in Europe. The visit to Warsaw, then, was also a signal to Moscow.

Thirdly, Trump’s stated assurances about the US commitment to NATO and its obligations should calm down European allies throughout the Old Continent, while assuring a US commitment to the European security architecture should also quiet allegations about a pro-Russian foreign policy in the Trump Administration. Lastly, steps taken to strengthen the energy cooperation between Eastern and Central Europe and the US is a further blow to Russia, which would like to be the leading gas supplier to the countries of the region.

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart is a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.

“Armed Conflict and Compliance in Muslim States” with Corri Zoli Now Online

Although many empirical studies have explored state conflict behavior by a range of factors, relatively few studies have examined the conflict behavior of Muslim-majority states. Even less research systematically examined the role of state compliance with international humanitarian law as a variable in such conflict behavior.

This work builds a new dataset based on an international humanitarian law definition of war, and provides an overview of modern armed conflict behavior and compliance with international law governing armed conflict for Muslim states from 1947-2014.

PARCC Conversations in Conflict Studies 2017.