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“ISIS should not top US foreign policy list” warns Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama, fellow at Stanford University and expert speaker on political philosophy, wrote in the Financial Times that ISIS risks distracting the US from more menacing foes.

Francis believes that the “focus of today’s debate [over Western intervention] ought to be: how should we prioritise the threats facing us and how bad are the most serious?” Authoritarian forces are on the move, as seen with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South and East China seas, and the collapse of the Iraqi government’s power. Francis argues that the latter is “the least consequential of these challenges in terms of core US interests.”

Instead, Francis contends that Russia’s annexation of Crimea crossed the most important threshold. He points out that the “entire post-cold war order in Europe rested on Russia’s acceptance that ethnic Russian minorities stranded in neighbouring states would remain in place. President Vladimir Putin has thrown all that into question, with effects that will be felt from Moldova to Kazakhstan to Estonia.” He goes on to say that “strategy is about setting priorities, saying that some things are more important than others and explaining why this is so.”

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To book Francis Fukuyama as a speaker, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk, at or on 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

John Hulsman: a Goldilocks assessment of Putin

In his latest posting for City A.M., John Hulsman, a leading expert on political risk, argues that the Western weakness in responding to the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine comes from a failure to grasp Putin’s motives.

John shows that on the one hand there is Senator John McCain, the leading American neoconservative hawk who believes that Putin is another Adolf Hitler, and that the West must quickly wake up to this horrifying fact. However, as John points out, “every foreign policy challenge does not approximate 1939. Hitler alone was Hitler, with very few other problems posing such a clear cut distinction between good and evil.”

On the other hand, ex-British Army head Lord Dannatt suggests that British troops be retained in Germany to force the Kremlin to realise that the British mean business. Again, John points out that the present crisis does not signal a reversion to the Cold War; Russia is simply not strong enough, and the West’s level of commitment has fallen since 1991. John adds that under-reactions are just as dangerous as over-reactions – the predicament of Goldilocks.

John believes that NATO’s present command has the correct assessment of Putin; they are worried about the Russian-speaking areas which are not covered by the alliance’s security blanket, particularly eastern Moldova and eastern Ukraine. Based on this insight, Putin can be said to be “intent on restoring the perception of Russian national greatness, after two decades of Western encroachments into what he regards as his sphere of influence…[he is] intent on snatching up as much Russian-speaking territory adjoining his country as possible.”

What is the “just right” response that the West should take? Click here to find out.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns on Crimea and the crisis in Ukraine

Nicholas BurnsAmbassador Nicholas Burns wrote an interesting op-ed in the Financial Times today on how the international community should respond to Putin’s aggression in the Crimea. NATO has no legal security obligations to Ukraine, and in any case a US and European military intervention would risk a major war between nuclear armed powers. Instead, the international community should launch a comprehensive diplomatic strategy to keep the crisis in check:

1) Assemble a chorus of global leaders to denounce Putin’s actions. This would mean he’d lose some of the soft power gained by the Sochi Olympics (which is important to Putin).

2) The US should not (and probably will not) attend the June G8  Summit. The other G8 members should also boycott, and Russian should be permanently expelled from the group.

3) The US and EU should suspend trade negotiations with Russia.

4) The US and Europe should provide public support to the fragile new Ukrainian government e.g. foreign ministers from the US, Poland, Germany, UK and France should all travel to Kiev in a show of solidarity. They should also advise the government in Kiev to go out of its way to show public acceptance of the millions of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine who were alienated by the protests.

5) NATO should publicly reaffirm the Article V pledge of mutual defence in a crisis., especially to the 10 new members fro central Europe who part of the Warsaw Pact (or even the USSR itself) not so long ago. If necessary NATO should build up collective defence of these countries.

For more information, or to book Nicholas Burns as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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