Europe’s Arc of Fire
Robert D. Kaplan
Time for Some Straight Talk on NATO
Andrew A. Michta
Good evening, listeners! No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. This week we have three—count ’em, three!—excellent guests on the show to discuss everything from Europe in crisis to Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy to America’s role in NATO to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
First, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security Robert D. Kaplan joins us to discuss what he sees as Europe in crisis as policymakers face challenges from abroad and within. He notes that some are asking whether the continent’s post-war settlement is in meltdown, before noting that Europe is once again one of the major focuses for geopolitics. He argues that Russian aggression in 2014 was nothing new, but rather the latest instance in a pattern of behavior we’ve already been seeing in recent year, and says the real crisis in Europe is if anything moral and spiritual—that EU leaders think more about their own countries than of the strategic interests of the continent.
Then, Andrew Michta, the M. W. Buckman Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) returns to the show to discuss NATO’s role in Europe. He describes how establishing permanent bases along NATO’s flanks could serve the defensive and deterrent purposes, and pushes back against the notion that NATO enlargement has led to the current state of play with Russia, noting instead that enlargement has had a stabilizing effect on peripheral European states. He argues that Putin can’t reasonably feel threatened by NATO aggression, and instead puts down recent Russian aggressions to Vlad’s decision to change the direction of Russian foreign policy.
Tom Switzer, research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, joins us from Australia to reflect on the legacy of the late Lee Kuan Yew. He remarks that Lee will go down as one of the most influential figures of his time in the region for being able to completely transform Singapore into one of the world’s richest countries, crediting Lee’s tough stance against communism and his unashamed advocacy of free markets. He tempers that by looking at Lee’s propensity to crack down on political opponents and restrict civil liberties, but insists that these must be put in their regional and historical context, and talks of Lee’s role in Nixon’s famous visit to Beijing in 1972. Mr. Switzer also talks about Australia’s announcement that it plans to join the AIIB, noting that Australia is struggling to ride two horses as it balances its strong security alliance with the U.S. against its hugely important trade relationship with China.