The Baltics, NATO and Why They Matter to the US

June 21, 2017

Daniel Kochis

Saber StrikeThe Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are more than NATO allies. They are also western democratic nations with innovative economies. They regained their independence from Moscow after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and became members of NATO and the EU in 2004. The U.S. has historically championed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these three small Baltic nations; but they are once again under threat from a resurgent Kremlin. The ability of the U.S. and NATO to overcome the unique geographic, military, and political difficulties in defending the region has far reaching implications for long term transatlantic security and support for western values.

Daniel KochisDaniel Kochis is a Policy Analyst in European Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. He specializes in trans-Atlantic security issues regularly publishing on US policy in Europe, NATO, US-Russian relations, and Arctic issues. Kochis is also a resident author for the Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of US Military Strength and Policy Analyst in European Affairs, the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy.

His writings have been featured in Forbes, Foxnews, RealClearWorld, the National Interest, and the Washington Times. A frequent media contributor, Daniel has provided expert analysis in hundreds of interviews for foreign and domestic outlets including Al-Jezeera English, FoxNews, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, and Voice of America. Daniel has presented at the Transatlantic Think Tank Conference in Brussels, Belgium as well as the US Southern Command, and has provided parliamentary evidence to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on the Arctic.

Please note: Mr Kochis will also be addressing the Albuquerque Committee on Foreign Relations (ACFR) dinner Tuesday, June 20. SFWAF members may attend at AFCR member prices. For more information please contact ACFR program chair Bob McGuire (remcg@comcast.net) or 505-281-1108.

This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

Past Programs

How China’s Banks Work: A Prism for Understanding China

September 3, 2015

Jim Stent, Independent Director of China Minsheng Bank and China Everbright Bank

Americans have difficulty comprehending how and why China works the way it does, giving rise to increasing friction between the two countries. This lack of understanding extends to China’s banking system, which is a microcosm of China’s political economy. Contrary to much media reporting, China’s banks have been transformed over the past 15 years into modern financial institutions. At the same time, shaped by centuries of Chinese institutions and values, and deeply embedded in the Chinese market socialist political economy, Chinese banks fundamentally differ from Western banks. Chinese banks play a dual role– provide shareholders with return on investment (the market role) and support the party-state’s national development agenda (the socialist role).

Categories: China|Tags: |

US-Cuba Relations, the Hemispheric Consequences and the OAS

August 17, 2015

Jane Thery, Director, Department of International Affairs of the OAS

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba after more than fifty years is expected to reverberate throughout the Western Hemisphere and impact relationships within the Organization of American States. How far will this new development take us and how open will Cuba be to development, private investment, greater freedoms and fundamental changes to its long held ideologies and political system?

Categories: Latin America, US foreign policy|Tags: |

Europe Whole and Free after Ukraine? A View from the Baltics

June 15, 2015

Anne Derse, U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania 2009 – 2012 and to Azerbaijan 2006 – 2009

It’s been 25 years since the breakup of the Soviet Union and the reemergence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as independent countries recognized as such by their neighbors including the Russian Federation. In 2004 the three Baltic republics joined the European Union and NATO for economic and security reasons. There have never been permanently based NATO forces on Baltic soil although NATO troops have been holding military exercises there as a result of Russia’s invasion of Crimea, its continuing military activities in Eastern Ukraine and particularly its threats against the countries that rim Russia’s northwest border. What are the Kremlin’s intentions?

Categories: Diplomacy, Europe & Russia, Russia, Ukraine|Tags: |

Finland and Russia’s Changing Policies

March 9, 2015

Jyrki Iivonen, Director for Public Policy at the Finnish Ministry of Defense until he retired in September 2013

For more than a year, the Russian Federation has been flying combat and surveillance aircraft – with transponders off – over the Baltic Sea approaching and occasionally entering Finnish and Swedish airspace. Such dangerous and provocative actions have come with no prior warning. In response, these two Nordic countries signed an agreement with NATO to increase cooperation and interoperability – meant to send a warning to the Russians. Finland has an 833 mile border with Russia, the Finns have fought innumerable wars with its much larger neighbor but have also managed to convince the Russians that a Russian military invasion of Finland is simply too costly. The post-World War II policy of Finlandization ended quietly with the demise of the Soviet Union as Finland joined the Council of Europe, the European Union and NATO’s Partners for Peace thereafter.

Categories: Europe & Russia, Russia, War & military strategy|Tags: |

A Recent Visit to Palestine

February 10, 2015

Arvid and Mary Jo Lundy, prior to this visit to the Palestinian territories, they worked on a Habitat for Humanity Orphanage rehabilitation project in Romania and earlier on drinking water projects in Ethiopia and Chiapas, Mexico

Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been almost continuous in our lifetimes – or so it seems. 2014 saw its renewed eruption with the Hamas kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank resulting in the summer’s horrific Gaza War. This was followed by numerous small but chilling incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem last fall. Simultaneously the Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully pursued the recognition of statehood by the UN Security Council, signed a number of UN agreements and will officially become a member of the International Criminal Court in April.

Categories: Middle East, Palestine|Tags: |

The Santa Rosa Model: A Colombia Success Story

January 26, 2015

John Heard, former Senior Foreign Service Officer with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps with tours in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, El Salvador, Bosnia and the Philippines plus a number of years in Washington

Although Colombia has been pushed off the front pages by Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine, Colombia remains one of the largest recipients of US foreign assistance. Colombia is also a US foreign policy priority in terms of the “wars” on drugs and terror as well as our commitment to strengthening democracies. Not only is Colombia America’s staunchest ally in the hemisphere, it offers an underappreciated model of successful cooperation with the U.S. Santa Rosa del Sur, a small town in Colombia’s Southern Bolivar Department, was once in the heart of northern Colombia drug production with a heavy involvement of leftist guerilla groups. The farmers had no choice but to grow coca for peanuts, so to speak. Ten years later they thrive by growing cocoa and other legally marketable crops. USAID helped to make that happen. Our speaker was part of this durable transformation, and this program will tell us how it came about.

Categories: Colombia, Economics, Latin America, Narcotics, US foreign policy|Tags: |
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