Atlantic Council, by Wikipedia

Atlantic Council, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:20 pm

Atlantic Council
by Wikipedia
August 16, 1017

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This article is about the US think tank. For the NATO body, see North Atlantic Council.

The Atlantic Council is an American think tank in the field of international affairs. Founded in 1961, it provides a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. It manages ten regional centers and functional programs related to international security and global economic prosperity. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

It is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Association.

History

The Atlantic Council was founded with a mission to encourage the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began after World War II. In its early years its work consisted largely of publishing policy papers and polling Europeans and Americans about their attitudes towards transatlantic and international cooperation. In these early years its primary focus was on economic issues—mainly encouraging free trade between the two continents, and to a lesser extent to the rest of the world—but it also did some work on political and environmental issues.[1]

Although the Atlantic Council did publish policy papers and monographs, Melvin Small of Wayne State University wrote that, especially in its early years, the Council's real strength lies in its connections to influential policy makers. The Council early on found a niche as "center for informal get-togethers" of leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, with members working to develop "networks of continuing communication".[1]

The Atlantic Council works outside Europe and the US also. The Atlantic Council was among the first organizations advocating for an increased Japanese presence in the international community, and in recent years has expanded its focus with the opening of its South Asia Center and Program on Asia. Its Asian programs have expanded in recent years due to the war in Afghanistan and the new challenge of coordinating with India and China on climate change efforts.[1][2]

In February 2009, James L. Jones, then-chairman of the Atlantic Council, stepped down in order to serve as President Obama's new National Security Advisor and was succeeded by Senator Chuck Hagel.[3] In addition, other Council members also left to serve the administration: Susan Rice as ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke as the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Eric K. Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Anne-Marie Slaughter as Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Four years later, Hagel stepped down to serve as US Secretary of Defense. Gen. Brent Scowcroft served as interim chairman of the organization's Board of Directors until January 2014, when former ambassador to China and governor of Utah Jon Huntsman, Jr.[4] was appointed.

The Atlantic Council has influential supporters, with former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling the Council a "pre-eminent think tank" with a "longstanding reputation",[5] and former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) noting that the Council is "held in high esteem within the Atlantic community".[6]


In September 2014, The Atlantic Council hired Call of Duty: Black Ops series director Dave Anthony as a nonresident senior fellow.[7]

In 2017, Tom Bossert, previously a nonresident Zurich Cyber Risk Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Cyber Security Initiative, was appointed Homeland Security Advisor to the Trump administration.

Political stance

The Atlantic Council has, since its inception, been a nonpartisan institution, with members "from the moderate internationalist wings of both parties."[8] Despite its connections, the Council is by charter independent of the US government and NATO, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[1] In March 2016, the organization met to discuss strategies for dealing with the populist movement in Europe, which they believe is threatening the globalist agenda on the continent.[9]

Events

The Atlantic Council creates a meeting place for heads of state, military leaders, and international leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. Recently, the Council hosted former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's first major US speech, in which he discussed issues such as Afghanistan, Russia, and the broader transatlantic relationship.[10] Prominent members of the US Congress have also appeared, including Senator Richard Lugar and Secretary of State John Kerry.[11][12] The Council often hosts events with sitting heads of state and government, including former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,[13] Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk,[14] and former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.[15]

The Council has hosted many military leaders from both sides of the Atlantic as well. The Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security has since January 2007 held periodic events known as the Commanders Series where it invites military leaders from the United States and Europe to speak about conflicts of interest to the Atlantic community.[16] As part of the Commanders Series, American military leaders such as former General George Casey[17] and former Admiral Timothy Keating[18] and European leaders like former French Chief of Defense General Jean-Louis Georgelin[19] and Dutch Lieutenant General Ton van Loon[20] have spoken on issues as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan, and security threats in Asia and Africa.

Its flagship annual events are Distinguished Leadership Awards in Washington, DC; the Future Leaders Summit [3]; the Global Citizen Awards in New York City; the Freedom Awards in Wroclaw, Poland; and the Atlantic Council Energy & Economic Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

Programs and Centers

Launched at the 2008 Bucharest summit, the Young Atlanticist Network brings together a community of emerging leaders who share a vision of closer Euro-Atlantic cooperation based on common values. Through online tools and regular events, the Young Atlanticist Network serves as a forum for open dialogue between young Atlanticists so they can exchange their views on a range of international issues. As a meeting place, the Network serves as a stage for global leaders to address the next generation and to share the perspective on current issues.[21]

The Young Atlanticist Network also manages the very competitive Future Leaders program. Building on years of experience convening emerging leaders at flagship events at the last five official NATO summits, the Council will host the 2014 Future Leaders Summit on the side-lines of the official 2014 Wales summit. This Future Leaders Summit will connect emerging leaders from NATO member countries with one another, the Alliance's current leaders, luminaries in the international security sphere, and a lasting global network of peers. The Council selects a cadre of exceptional emerging leaders to participate in this dynamic event through an open and competitive call for applications.[21]

The Program on Transatlantic Relations promotes dialogue on the major issues that will affect the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. At the heart of the program is the conviction that a healthy transatlantic relationship is an essential prerequisite for a stronger international system. The Council seeks to strengthen the transatlantic relationship by addressing specific areas of policy differences by identifying areas of potential cooperation and by building the personal networks and mutual understanding that form the basis for an effective partnership.[22] The Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security examines U.S. relationships with allies and adversaries in an effort to build consensus around policies that contribute to a more stable, secure and well-governed world.[23]

The Global Business and Economics Program works to build upon and strengthen the already deep economic integration between Europe and the United States as well as promote Transatlantic leadership in the global economy. Bringing together top business leaders, government policy makers, and economic experts, the program explores transatlantic and global issues of importance to the U.S. and European business community.[24]

Under the leadership of Shuja Nawaz, the South Asia Center is the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work on Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan as well as on relations between these countries and China, Central Asia, Iran, the Arab world, Europe and the U.S. As part of the Council's Asia program, the Center seeks to foster partnerships with key institutions in the region to establish itself as a forum for dialogue between decision makers in South Asia, the U.S. and NATO. These deliberations cover internal and external security, governance, trade, economic development, education and other issues.[25]

The Energy and Environment program explores the economic and political aspects of energy security and supply, as well as international environmental issues. It promotes open access and clean air and offers policy recommendations to meet developing countries’ needs through the increased flow of capital, technology and know-how in the energy and water supply sectors.[26]

The Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center fosters dialogue among regional leaders, as well with counterparts from key neighbors and global leaders. Combining in-depth understanding of Eurasia’s history with expertise on politics, economics and energy, the Center provides distinctive research and advice to governments and businesses worldwide. It seeks to promote an agenda of regional cooperation and integration based on shared values and common interest in a free, prosperous and peaceful future.[27]

The Africa Center was established in September 2009 with a mission to help transform US and European policy approaches to Africa by emphasizing the building of strong geopolitical partnerships with African states and strengthening economic growth and prosperity on the continent.[28]

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East seeks to produce original analysis of the forces transforming the region, as well as policy recommendations for the United States and Europe about how to promote closer and more productive relations with the region.[29]

The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center promotes a stronger partnership between Latin America, the United States, and Europe based on a shared foundation in transatlantic values and common strategic interests, and engages its robust network of political, business, and NGO entrepreneurs to develop ideas for policy and business leaders seeking innovative solutions to regional and global challenges.[30]

Leadership

• Jon Huntsman, Chairman
• Fred Kempe, President
• Jon Huntsman, Jr., Chairman of the Atlantic Council International Advisory Board
• Frederick Kempe, President and CEO
• Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President
• John Studzinski, Vice Chair
• Fran Burwell, Vice President and Director, Transatlantic Relations Program
• Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security
• Jason Healey, Director, Cyber Statecraft Initiative[31]
• Shuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia Center
• Peter Schechter, Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
• J. Peter Pham, Director, Africa Center
• John E. Herbst, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center
• David Koranyi, Director, Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center
• Maks Czuperski, Director, Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab)

Publications

The Atlantic Council produces publications and issue briefs about global policy issues ranging from NATO's global role to energy security. A list of the Atlantic Council's publications and issue briefs can be found on the Atlantic Council's publications webpage.[32]

Funding

In September 2014, the New York Times reported that since 2008, the organization has received donations from more than twenty-five governments outside of the United States, including $5 million from Norway.[33] Concerned that scholars from the organization could be covertly trying to push the agendas of foreign governments, legislation was proposed in response to the Times report requiring full disclosure of witnesses testifying before Congress.[34] Other contributors to the organization include the Ukrainian World Congress.[35]

References

1. Small, Melvin (1 June 1998). "The Atlantic Council--The Early Years" (PDF). NATO. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
2. "Admiral Timothy Keating Event Transcript". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
3. Allen, Mike (11 February 2009). "Politico Playbook - Exclusive: Senator Hagel succeeds Gen. Jones at Atlantic Council". Politico. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
4. Howell, Tom (16 January 2014). "Jon Huntsman tapped as Atlantic Council chairman". The Washington Times. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
5. [1] Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
6. [2] Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
7. Drennan, Justine (September 22, 2014). "Call of Duty: Star Video Game Director Takes Unusual Think Tank Job". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
8. Melvin Small, "The Atlantic Council — The Early Years," page 21 (Wayne State University: June 1, 1998)
9. "Confronting Far-Right Extremism in Europe", Atlantic Council. March 22, 2016. Retrieved 9 Feb 2017
10. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen: First Major U.S. Speech Archived September 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009
11. Senator Richard Lugar: Congressional Perspective on the Future of NATO Archived September 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 September 2009
12. Kerry and Hagel Unveil Atlantic Council's Pakistan Report Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 25 February 2009
13. Council Hosts Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 24 September 2008
14. Webcast: Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Atlantic Council, 12 March 2014
15. Young Atlanticist Discussion with President Vaira Vike-Freiberga Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 3 May 2007
16. Commanders Series Archived October 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council
17. General Casey: Complex Operations and Counterinsurgency Archived July 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 28 May 2009
18. Admiral Timothy Keating: Asia-Pacific Security Challenges Archived July 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 29 June 2009
19. General Jean-Louis Georgelin: France in NATO Archived July 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 10 September 2009
20. Ton van Loon: Taliban Have Lost the War Archived July 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Atlantic Council, 5 June 2007
21. "Young Atlanticist Program". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
22. "Transatlantic Relations Program". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
23. "Brent Scowcroft Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
24. "Global Business and Economics". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
25. "South Asia Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
26. "Energy and Environment". Atlantic Council. Archived from the original on 24 November 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
27. "Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
28. "Africa Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
29. "Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
30. "Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
31. "Healey, Jason". Atlanticcouncil.org. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
32. "Publications". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
33. Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confessore, Nicholas (6 September 2014). "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks". New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
34. "Proposal Would Require Think Tanks to Disclose Funding by Foreign Governments", Eric Lipton. New York Times. September 17, 2014. Retrieved 9 Feb 2017
35. "Honor Roll of Contributors", Atlantic Council. Retrieved 9 Feb 2017
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Re: Atlantic Council, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:29 pm

The Third Russian Revolution
by Harlan Ullman
Atlantic Council
June 14, 2013

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Make no mistake: On the current trajectory, Russia won't be immune to many of the forces that provoked the so-called colored revolutions in adjacent states and even the misnomered Arab Awakening.

A third Russian revolution is unfolding. The only questions are when will that revolution reach a critical mass and, most importantly, will the forces of autocracy or pluralism carry the day?

Russia, of course, experienced two revolutions in the 20th century. The Kaiser's Germany provoked the first by sending Lenin from Switzerland to Russia in the famous sealed train in 1917. That led to the undoing of the tsar and the Kerensky government as well as the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war with Germany and allowed the Bolsheviks to sweep away the opposition.

The second revolution came about in some seven decades later. The causes were a corrupt and fundamentally dishonest political system kept in place by a disciplined central leadership and dictatorship of the party. But that required able or at least competent leadership.

Instead, the ruling Politburo became a genitocracy headed by sick, old men. Leonid Brezhnev took years to die and was replaced by two even less well general secretaries. In the mid-1970s, CIA Director William Colby repeatedly predicted Brezhnev's pending demise. It wasn't until 1982 that Colby's forecast came true.

In the succession process, a few younger members were elevated to the Politburo. Because of the succession of antiquated leaders, Mikhail Gorbachev found himself moving from post to post from his appointment to the Politburo in 1979. In each post, he realized that the Soviet Union was an empty shell and each department was grossly mismanaged and underperforming.

Six years later, when he became general secretary, Gorbachev was determined to save the Soviet Union and modernize the failing system.

Gorbachev's tools were glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). The floodgates of reform were fully opened and the old and unworkable system couldn't resist them. By 1991, the Soviet Union was no more.

In the two decades since, Vladimir Putin has emerged as the Ironman of Russia. In the process, Russia has been described and viewed by many as a kleptocracy ruled by the few who have pillaged national wealth for their own benefits.

Under what Republicans and Democrats alike in the United States see as a government of and by thugs, human rights have been violated; dissidents and members of the media arrested; and opponents of the Kremlin subjected to purges and show trials leading to long prison sentences.

Russia's immediate neighbors are fearful of the return of the aggressive Russian bear anxious to spread its influence through manipulating its oil and natural gas reserves for political purposes and through military maneuvers designed to intimidate.

Further, cyberattacks, principally against Estonia, reinforce this perception of a neo-Soviet Union under the leadership of former KGB Colonel Putin. And Putin's commitment to far greater military spending as well as unwillingness to accept NATO's missile defenses raises sinister possibilities.

Within Russia, discontent on the part of many Russians is waxing. Outright theft on the part of oligarchs has gone too far. Persecution of political opposition is particularly vexing. And the health and longevity of a declining population reflects more than excesses of consumption of vodka and harsh winters.

Indeed, as a buffer to Putin's intent to ramp up his military, the Kremlin faces a very limiting factor: 90 percent of all Russian youth are unfit for military service.

Unfortunately, the West in general and the United States in particular have never been very good at Kremlinology (or indeed in understanding many foreign cultures).

Whether Putin is aware of the ticking time bomb over which he presides or not, Russia is still very important to Western interests. Syria and Iran are two major crises where Russian support could be important.

But exploiting the possibility of a third Russian Revolution requires skill, patience, comprehension and wisdom, not always Washington's longest suits. The analogy of triangular politics invented by the Nixon administration in which reconciliation with China was a strategic lever to use against Russia has some relevance provided we substitute Putin's domestic problems as the new lever.

Clever statecraft is essential.
On the one hand, incentives are vital such as accepting Russian arguments in opposition to missile defense. Russia believes that until it can reach parity conventionally with NATO, its tactical nuclear weapons are vital deterrents. Missile defenses in Europe do have capability in that regard although none against intercontinental weapons.

On the other hand, Putin should be worried about Russia's future economic prospects given the growing reductions in exports of gas and oil that will contract further.

Another "reset" isn't the solution. But a hardheaded discussion of Russia's potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities is.

Harlan Ullman is senior adviser at the Atlantic Council, and chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders of government and business. This article was syndicated by UPI.
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Re: Atlantic Council, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 5:57 pm

The Challenge Ahead in Eastern Ukraine
by Askold Krushelnycky
Atlantic Council
August 15, 2017

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Bloody fighting between government troops and pro-Kremlin separatists and Russian regulars has continued for three years in Ukraine’s east. Meanwhile, an equally fierce battle is being waged for the hearts and minds of civilians on the Ukrainian side, many of whose loyalties hover between Kyiv and Moscow.

The town of Lysychansk in Luhansk province recently commemorated the third anniversary of the Ukrainian army driving out pro-Kremlin forces. But while the festivities rallied a passionately pro-Ukrainian section of the town’s 100,000 residents, they also revealed many who were less than exuberant to be under Ukrainian control.

As a Ukrainian soldier walked toward crowds in the town’s main square, two middle-aged women approached and asked what was happening. The soldier replied, “We are celebrating the liberation of the town three years ago.”

One of the women snapped back, “Who did you liberate us from?” Her answer and tone made it clear she and her friend were not fans of the Kyiv government.


Eastern Ukraine is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking and has the country’s densest concentration of Russian ethnics. Lysychansk’s inhabitants formerly worked in the coal mining industry and oil refineries in Luhansk and Donetsk, which expanded during Stalin’s breakneck race for industrialization. Much of this industry was already withering as the USSR fell apart; it shriveled further during Ukrainian independence and the conflict sounded the death knell for most of it.

During Ukrainian independence, Lysychansk was controlled by shady businessmen who became fabulously wealthy. Using the TV stations they owned, they kept the area in a weird twilight world of nostalgia for the Soviet Union. Now Lysychansk is a depressed and depressing place: a grimy, worn out town encircled by smokestacks and skeletal industrial structures.

During the time Lysychansk was occupied, pro-Russian forces terrorized anyone deemed pro-Kyiv and tried to eradicate Ukrainian flags and symbols, and to block Ukrainian language lessons in schools. It was the scene of fierce battles to wrest back control of Ukrainian territory from the Russians, beginning on July 19, 2014. By the time it ended five days later, some twenty Ukrainian soldiers and scores of pro-Russian fighters had died.

The commemorations began with a convoy of cars fluttering blue and yellow Ukrainian flags driven by pro-Ukrainian activists; they halted to pay tribute at spots where the deadliest fights happened. In the evening, folk music and rock bands played on the central square. Nobody heckled or tried to disrupt the events, although a few stared with hostility.

One of the organizers of the commemorations, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, who is from the area, estimates that perhaps 20 percent of the town’s inhabitants are vigorous Ukrainian government supporters; a higher proportion, 30 to 40 percent, are sympathetic to Moscow. The remainder, he believes, will bend whichever way the wind blows.

Miroshnichenko served with Ukrainian peacekeeping troops alongside NATO forces in Iraq and was impressed by American efforts to interact with Iraqi civilians. He was instrumental in the Ukrainian army’s formation of its own Civilian Military Cooperation (CIMIC) unit. It operated where Ukrainian peacekeepers served and is now deployed across the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which are split between Ukrainian-held and pro-Russian areas.

He thinks the unit can help persuade the undecided to bend Ukraine’s way by providing information and practical help to those affected by the war, particularly the 1.8 million internal refugees who overwhelmingly fled to Ukrainian-held territory from Russian-occupied areas.

Miroshnichenko is now vice president of Ukraine’s Youth Atlantic Council, which is affiliated with NATO and acquaints young Ukrainians with Western values.

He says, “The government has to convince those who might support the separatists that it is serious about fighting corruption and implementing reforms in the economy, health, education [sectors]. Kyiv has to show that it can provide security and stability and that democracy and Ukraine’s independence will bring benefits to everyone.”

He believes it must be a priority to effectively counter the distorted and fake Russian news bombarding areas close to the conflict areas. He says, “We are trying to build a democracy and so we can’t forbid people’s right to choose; we can’t just switch the Russian channels off. Therefore, those responsible for Ukrainian TV and radio should provide high-quality programs that can out-perform Russian broadcasts.”

He adds, “We need a Marshall plan for the east of Ukraine that will prove to the people here that the West is indeed their friend.”

In Lysychansk’s main square, shielded by blue and yellow metal sheeting, are the legs from a statue of Lenin. Thousands of such statues have been torn down since Ukraine’s 2014 pro-Western revolution. For Ukrainians, they are symbols not only of Communism but of Russian rule.

Most of Lysychansk’s Lenin statue toppled when a hawser was cast around his neck and tugged by a truck. However, the legs obstinately resisted buckling. Thus they remain, hidden from view. Yet, like Lysychansk inhabitants who may not wish Ukraine well, their presence is known to all.

Askold Krushelnycky is a freelance journalist based in Washington, DC. His work has been published by Foreign Policy, The Independent, the Sunday Times, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.
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Re: Atlantic Council, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:02 pm

The Senate Just Passed a Monumental New Russia Sanctions Bill—Here’s What’s In It
by Edward Fishman
Atlantic Council
June 14, 2017

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Today, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would fortify existing sanctions on Russia and add new restrictions. If the bill becomes law, it would mark the most significant step taken by Congress on Russia policy in recent history. Though not perfect, the bill would substantially strengthen the West’s negotiating position vis-à-vis Russia on the conflict in Ukraine and send a strong message to Moscow that efforts to undermine US elections carry costly consequences.

“It’s clear,” another forensics investigator wrote, “that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.”

In addition, there is the adulteration of the documents Guccifer 2.0 posted on June 15, when he made his first appearance. This came to light when researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer’s top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath. They found that the first five files Guccifer made public had each been run, via ordinary cut-and-paste, through a single template that effectively immersed them in what could plausibly be cast as Russian fingerprints. They were not: The Russian markings were artificially inserted prior to posting. “It’s clear,” another forensics investigator self-identified as HET, wrote in a report on this question, “that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.”...

The FBI has never examined the DNC’s computer servers—an omission that is beyond preposterous. It has instead relied on the reports produced by Crowdstrike, a firm that drips with conflicting interests well beyond the fact that it is in the DNC’s employ. Dmitri Alperovitch, its co-founder and chief technology officer, is on the record as vigorously anti-Russian. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which suffers the same prejudice. Problems such as this are many....

In effect, the new forensic evidence considered here lands in a vacuum. We now enter a period when an official reply should be forthcoming. What the forensic people are now producing constitutes evidence, however one may view it, and it is the first scientifically derived evidence we have into any of the events in which Russia has been implicated. The investigators deserve a response, the betrayed professionals who formed VIPS as the WMD scandal unfolded in 2003 deserve it, and so do the rest of us. The cost of duplicity has rarely been so high.

-- A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack: Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system, by Patrick Lawrence


It is not yet a sure thing that the bill will become law. While the legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled on June 13 that the Trump administration might oppose it. The White House’s opposition could give House Republicans cold feet about voting on the bill.

But for now, it is worth examining the contents of the bill and explaining what it would mean for US policy toward Russia.

1. The bill locks in existing US sanctions against Russia and gives Congress a check on the president’s ability to lift sanctions.

The most basic element of the bill is that it codifies existing US sanctions against Russia—including three executive orders tied to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, one tied explicitly to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and two tied to malicious cyber activities. Absent such codification, President Donald Trump could terminate US sanctions against Russia with the stroke of a pen. By codifying the executive orders, the bill constrains the executive branch’s ability to remove any of the sanctions currently in place.

Moreover, the bill spells out what the president must do in order to remove sanctions: submit a report to Congress explaining the rationale, including what the United States expects to receive in return. Within thirty days of the submission of such a report (sixty if it is submitted during summer), Congress can approve or reject the president’s decision to remove sanctions.

By itself, this measure greatly strengthens US policy toward Russia. On Ukraine, it will give America’s sanctions partners (the European Union, Japan, Canada, and several others) confidence that Trump will not unilaterally back away from sanctions—which, in turn, will make it less likely that America’s partners will remove sanctions. Equally important, the provision will give Moscow clarity about America’s position: the United States will maintain sanctions until Russia changes the behavior that led to the imposition of sanctions in the first place.

2. The bill significantly expands US sanctions on Russia’s energy sector. If implemented proactively, it would cut off Russia’s hopes for developing its next-generation oil resources.

Current sanctions prohibit Western companies from providing goods or services to next-generation oil projects in Russia: specifically, Arctic offshore, deepwater, and shale projects. The bill expands US restrictions in two important ways. First, it brings projects in which Russian companies are involved—regardless of where they are located—under the purview of sanctions. That means Russian companies will be denied the opportunity to amass expertise in advanced drilling techniques by learning from Western partners.

Second, the bill requires the executive branch to impose sanctions on foreign firms that make significant investments in next-generation Russian oil projects. This provision—a classic case of secondary sanctions—will discourage companies around the world from investing in Arctic offshore, deepwater, and shale oil projects in Russia, diminishing the risk that lost US business will be backfilled by foreign competitors.

Taken together, the energy sanctions in the bill will likely block Russia’s development of next-generation oil resources, which can take many years to develop, for as long as the sanctions are in place. For Russia’s oil-dependent economy, this is a big deal.

3. The strongest sanctions in the bill concern transactions with Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors. These measures are the bill’s most important counterpunch against Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.

As a response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, the bill includes a number of sanctions that make sense thematically but will likely have minimal economic impact. But it does include one provision that packs a major economic punch: mandatory sanctions on any “person” (i.e., individual or entity) “that engages in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.” If the Treasury Department implements this provision aggressively, it will amount to a threat of secondary sanctions against any company around the world that buys substantial arms from Russia (which, as of 2016, accounted for roughly 8 percent of arms sales globally).

With Russia investing heavily in arms while it increasingly uses its military to defy international norms, it behooves the US government to take steps to impede the development of Russia’s military capabilities. This provision, therefore, not only represents the muscle of the bill on cyber deterrence but also advances strategic objectives by hindering Russia’s military modernization and incentivizing foreign militaries to diversify away from Russian arms purchases.

4. The bill includes an optional tool that could help the US government impede Nord Stream II—and enhance European energy security—if the White House decides to use it.

While most sanctions in the Senate bill are mandatory, one important measure is discretionary: sanctions on investment in the construction of Russian energy export pipelines. If the Treasury Department opts to use this provision aggressively, it could threaten sanctions against any company that makes a significant investment in Nord Stream II, the controversial gas pipeline that would connect Russia to Germany by way of the Baltic Sea. And if Treasury were to levy such threats credibly, the parties involved in Nord Stream II may well decide it is too risky to proceed with the project.

This would be a big deal, as it would scupper Russia’s efforts to deliver gas to Europe while bypassing Ukraine, and it would help the EU diversify away from Russian energy. It could also be a boon for American companies seeking to export liquefied natural gas to Europe.

5. Other sanctions in the bill are mostly symbolic.

Under current sanctions, American financial institutions cannot provide credit to the six largest Russian banks with maturity of thirty days or more. The bill tightens the debt maturity threshold to fourteen days. While the symbolism is clear—sanctions are tightening and inching closer to blacklisting the Russian banks entirely—it is doubtful such a move will have significant practical impact. Other measures included in the bill, such as sanctions on the corrupt privatization of state-owned Russian assets, are difficult to judge in terms of projected impact.

6. This bill sounds great—what’s the catch?

There are several loopholes in the bill. One obvious loophole is in sanctions on investments in next-generation Russian oil projects. The text of the bill allows the White House to opt not to impose the sanctions if “the president determines that it is not in the national interest of the United States to do so.” While waiver authority is necessary, the provision would be improved if it required a report to Congress each time the president decides not to penalize a worthy target. Thankfully, the strongest provision in the bill—which restricts transactions with Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors—includes a waiver that mandates Congressional notification.

Other quibbles with the bill are minor. The bill requires several reports from the executive branch, including a study on the potential impact of a ban on dealing in Russian sovereign debt. Reports, unfortunately, can suck up precious staff time that is better spent enforcing sanctions proactively. The bill would be much stronger—and more effective—if it simply imposed restrictions on dealing in Russian sovereign debt.

Nevertheless, senators on both sides of the aisle deserve much credit for designing legislation that will clearly advance US interests.

7. Keep your eyes on the EU’s reaction.

Had Congress passed such a bill during the Obama administration, the EU would have opposed it vocally. That’s because the bill alters certain sanctions that were initially negotiated multilaterally, without giving the EU or others a chance to weigh in. Moreover, because of the reach of the US financial system, European firms will likely comply with the new American sanctions whether or not their governments approve. And of course, the bill includes a number of secondary sanctions—which no foreign government likes.

In ordinary times, France could be expected to oppose the bill as a unilateral use of American power. But having been victimized by brazen Russian cyberattacks during his own campaign, President Emmanuel Macron may be tempted to support it—or at least to remain quiet. The same is true for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who may view the legislation as an opportunity to reestablish a degree of transatlantic unity on Russia policy.

The Latest: France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron
by Associated Press
June 1, 2017

5:30 p.m.

The head of the French government’s cyber security agency, which investigated leaks from President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, says they found no trace of a notorious Russian hacking group behind the attack.

In an interview in his office Thursday with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard said the Macron campaign hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

He said they found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as APT28, blamed for other attacks including on the U.S. presidential campaign, was responsible.

Poupard is director general of the government cyber-defense agency known in France by its acronym, ANSSI. Its experts were immediately dispatched when documents stolen from the Macron campaign leaked online on May 5 in the closing hours of the presidential race.

Poupard says the attack’s simplicity “means that we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country.”


Regardless, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin would be wise to send envoys to Europe to try to persuade US allies to sign on to similar sanctions. The West’s leverage in negotiations with the Kremlin is strongest when America and the EU project a united front.

8. What does the bill mean for broader US policy toward Russia?

One interesting hypothetical is what will happen if the bill becomes law but the Trump administration is apathetic about enforcing it. Such a move would muddle US policy toward Russia. After all, sanctions are only as useful as the policies they are meant to advance. But the executive branch will be required by law to implement most provisions in the bill, and the Treasury Department will take its legal obligations seriously.

Even if Trump persists in his pro-Russia rhetoric, the bill will provide much-needed clarity to US policy toward Russia. It will end worried speculation about the White House’s intentions on sanctions, and it will indicate once and for all that America remains committed to combating Russian aggression. That the US Senate was able to pass such a significant piece of legislation during a time of intense partisan division is no small achievement.

Edward Fishman, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, served as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and as the Russia and Europe Lead in the State Department’s Office of Sanctions Policy during the Obama administration. He tweets @edwardfishman.
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