Friday News Roundup — July 1, 2022

A new security order in Europe; NATO Strategic Concept; 1937 Moment; Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment; Post Roe America

Hello from a sweltering Washington, D.C. on the first Friday of July. As we look forward to a long Independence Day weekend (and wish all our friends to the north a happy Canada Day), we at CSPC would like to take this moment to wish you a happy July 4th. This holiday is a chance to think about the foundation of our country, and to reflect on what the American experience means to us almost 250 years after the United States declared its independence from Great Britain.

Nothing roiled DC this week quite like the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, who was in the White House on January 6, 2021 as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadow’s top aide. In her June 29 sworn testimony before the January 6 Committee, Hutchinson revealed additional details of former President Donald Trump’s behavior during the events of the Capitol siege. According to the former aide, Trump had personally demanded that protesters with firearms be allowed into his rally which occurred shortly before the Capitol was attacked. She also stated that she had been told that President Trump had lunged to grab the secret service officer driving the presidential state car after he refused to take Trump to the Capitol and the increasingly violent group of his supporters there. The revelations from Wednesday’s testimony increasingly paints a concerning picture of the role President Trump played in the violence of that day, and raises important questions about his knowledge, endorsement, or support for the group of his supporters who would go on to violently storm the Capitol.

Just as last week, many of the most newsworthy moments in the country this week revolved around the Supreme Court. The Court’s decision on West Virginia v. EPA, which was handed down Thursday, limited the agency’s ability to regulate certain carbon dioxide emissions via the 1963 Clean Air Act. In addition to likely effects to U.S. environmental regulations, this decision is poised to similarly challenge the authority of Federal agencies to regulate in gray areas not explicitly defined in existing legislation. Another decision which made waves after being handed down was Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, which stemmed from a dispute concerning state law enforcement’s jurisdiction over crimes involving non-American Indians on tribal lands. While the majority opinion sided with state police authorities, Justice Neil Gorsuch penned a strongly-worded dissent which faulted the majority opinion for failing to adhere to U.S. government agreements with Native American tribes.

Also in the court this week, now-Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson officially was seated on the Supreme Court, becoming the first Black woman in the Court’s history to become a Justice and replacing Justice Stephen Breyer. Jackson could not have entered the court at a more pivotal moment in the Court’s relationship with the American people. Furor and discontent released by decisions such as the repeal of Roe v. Wade has cast a shawl of doubt over the institution in some circles, potentially leading to a crisis of the court’s public opinion.

This week, Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs Director, Joshua C. Huminski reviewed David Ucko’s “The Insurgent’s Dilemma” for the Diplomatic Courier. In it, Ucko argues that states have gotten progressively better at counterinsurgency operations and, at the same time, global conditions that favored insurgents have changed. Consequently, insurgents need to find new ways of securing necessary space for growth and operations, while avoiding the violent response of the states they seek to subvert. Ucko suggests three historically-grounded models that insurgents could pursue in the future.

Huminski also penned an op-ed for the Hill about the definition of “victory” in Ukraine, noting that it could well mean a stalemate, but that–more importantly–it is critical that policymakers start to have the hard conversations on what this means and what this entails.

This week Huminski interviewed Lt. Gen. David Barno and Dr. Nora Bensahel–co-authors of “Adaptation Under Fire” — and Michael Kofman of CNA about Russian and Ukrainian military adaptation in the current war. The video of this timely discussion will be available on CSPC’s website, soon.

Next week he sits down with Shashank Joshi, the Economist’s Defence Editor, to discuss defense and the future of warfare. You can register for that event, here.

This week, Wes and Ethan discuss this week’s NATO summit in Madrid Spain, with Wes taking the angle of changes to Europe’s security order cemented by the meeting, and Ethan analyzes updates to the alliance’s strategic concept. Joshua discusses UK General Sir Patrick Sanders’ warnings that the UK and Europe are entering a period which necessitates innovation and mobilization akin to 1937, and Alan takes a look at the G7’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.

2022 NATO Summit Builds a New Security Order in Europe

Wesley Culp

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo Credit: NATO

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine practically assured that this year’s NATO summit in Madrid (which took place on June 28–30) would help cement historic changes to the Transatlantic security order. This was indeed the case.

The Summit’s decision to officially invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO concluded a winding and surprising saga which began shortly after they officially requested to join the alliance in May. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had initially opposed the two Nordic countries joining the alliance on the claim that they were harboring Kurdish “terrorists.” Since every NATO member needs to vote in the affirmative to admit a new member, Turkey’s objection raised the prospect that the whole accession project for Finland and Sweden could be derailed. However, President Erdogan reached an agreement with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the hours prior to the start of the Madrid Summit (facilitated in part by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg) to lift Turkey’s objection. In return for lifting its hold, Ankara received guarantees that Stockholm and Helsinki would assist in extraditing individuals which Turkey alleges are part of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and amend relevant laws to facilitate relevant extradition requests.

Now that Finland and Sweden have decided to sign the accession protocols required for membership in NATO, they begin the accession process. This process involves consultations between the applicant and each NATO state, each NATO state signing the new states’ accession protocols, and the ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession by the legislatures of all 30 member states. Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO will do away with a security environment in northern Europe that was built upon Swedish and Finnish neutrality which was a relic of the Cold War environment, firmly anchoring the two states in the Transatlantic order. That said, NATO’s current members have said for years that Finland and Sweden were more than welcome in the alliance, given their membership in the European Union and military effectiveness.

According to CSPC Visiting Fellow Veera Parko, the security of both Finland and Sweden will be greatly enhanced by the decision to join the alliance. The extradition element of the deal will be more onerous for Sweden than it will be for Finland. Parko emphasized how Turkey’s demands for Sweden to extradite 73 individuals will be painful to fulfill. Finland, on the other hand, can more accurately claim that its agreement with Turkish demands de facto changes nothing, as it doesn’t have the same outstanding requests from Turkey that Sweden has.

The second large reorganization of the Transatlantic security order which occurred at the Madrid Summit was the decision to expand the size of the NATO Response Force to 300,000 troops from its current size of 40,000. In its current configuration, NATO’s Response Force is made up of rotational ground, sea, air, and special forces components contributed by NATO member states, and is designed to be deployed quickly to areas of need in moments of crisis, with some elements intended to be capable of moving out within two to three days of receiving orders to do so. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the NATO Response Force was activated to shore up NATO’s eastern flank, its first such deployment since it was created in 2002. Before that, the Force had only been used in disaster relief and security for large events.

While this expansion governs the forces that can be mobilized in a moment of crisis, the expansion of multi-state battlegroups on NATO’s eastern flank is a concrete change in the security dynamics formalized by this week’s summit. NATO’s battlegroups were originally created as multinational forces to be positioned in NATO’s easternmost countries to shore up their security following Russia’s seizure of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. Today, eight battlegroups are deployed in Europe, all on NATO’s eastern flank. In particular, these NATO battlegroups are deployed to the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as the central and southeastern European states of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. In the same pre-summit press conference where he revealed the expansion of the NATO Response Force, Secretary-General Stoltenberg announced that NATO’s battlegroups would be upgraded from battalion- to brigade-sized units.

The U.S. announcement that it would significantly beef up its own military presence in Europe gives certain weight to NATO’s promises to collectively build up the security environment of Europe. According to the White House, the U.S. intends to place the permanent headquarters of the newly re-formed V Corps in Poland, thereby further integrating the U.S. military into NATO’s presence on its eastern flank. The Biden Administration also announced its intention to maintain more rotational forces across NATO’s eastern flank, post two squadrons of F-35s to the United Kingdom, add two destroyers to the U.S. naval base at Rota, Spain, and station additional air defense systems in Germany.

The reaction from Russia to the arrival of several new changes to the security order of western and central Europe have been predictably testy, but have not threatened much beyond more abrasive messages. Some of the most active commentary from Moscow on the Madrid summit has come from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who declared that the summit showed the alliance demanded “total obedience” from its neighbors, and that expansion of NATO battlegroups on the eastern flank of the alliance was an unacceptable but long-planned policy of the alliance. According to Kremlin press secretary Dmitri Peskov, the Madrid summit demonstrated the “aggressive nature” of the NATO alliance. However, based on comments by President Vladimir Putin, Russia is unlikely to try to aggressively challenge Finland and Sweden now that they are officially on their way into NATO. Speaking from a summit in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Putin said that it did not matter if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, which the Russian president referred to as a relic of the Cold War. Russia’s deemphasis on Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO after weeks of thinly-veiled threats to the two states could reflect a realization in Russia that the range of potential actions which it could take to counter the two northern European states’ entry into NATO is limited.
This year’s Madrid NATO summit ironically cements many of the shifts to Europe’s security environment which Russia supposedly hoped to avoid in the lead up to its invasion of Ukraine (which its invasion itself kicked off), making Moscow arguably the biggest loser of the summit. Turkey achieved a significant diplomatic success by holding up the accession of Finland and Sweden. Apart from the two Nordic countries, who are now well on their way to joining NATO as they hoped to, the states of NATO’s eastern flank can walk away from the summit with the knowledge that they secured an expansion of the protective umbrella of the NATO multinational battlegroups and Response Force. It is undeniable that this year’s 2022 NATO summit will be remembered in history as the moment where many of the shifts in the security environment Europe that had been forming after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were made official by the preeminent alliance in Europe — NATO.

NATO: Braindead no longer

Ethan Brown

NATO leaders at Madrid summit ahead of the new Strategic Concept ratification (Bertrand Gray/AP Pool photo)

In what was easily the most highly anticipated gathering of NATO leaders in years, this week’s summit in Madrid, Spain was expected to produce some substantive and focusing changes in North Atlantic collective defense doctrine. Stealing the headlines was Turkey’s reversal on blocking Finland and Sweden’s application to become member states, which offers the chance for the alliance to bolster its own credibility and accountability writ large.

The changes to military force shaping, troop postures, and task organization of forces is summarized by the “Strategic Concept”, the warfighting doctrine for the Alliance that dictates the numbers, capabilities and deployment methodology of the NATO Response Force (NRF): a standing task force comprised of deployed units from across the alliance. These units detach from their home nation militaries and serve under a coalition command directly under the review authority of the Military Committee, who is decentralized into two components: the Allied Command Operations and Allied Command Transformation. The former is the actual maneuver command, in charge of operational missions, while the latter is concerned with readiness, force modernization, and development of new methodologies and technology into the NRF.

The Strategic Concept is regularly reviewed for applicability and efficacy, and is revised every ten years since the end of the Cold War (that particular strategic concept in its first form didn’t really require much in the way of revisions, because #FuldaGap). Amidst the rising tide of strategic competition, NATO leaders directed Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg — who has arguably had the busiest tenure of any NATO chairperson — to lead the update for NATOs warfighting doctrine during the June 2021 Brussels Summit. While the timing of the revision was thrown off by a year due to COVID, the Secretary General’s remarks on February 22, 2022 were a somber warning: “[we are] facing the most dangerous moment in European security for a generation”.

The 2010 Lisbon Strategic Concept:

The last time the Strategic Concept was revised was in 2010 at the Lisbon Summit, called ‘Active Engagement, Modern Defence’. Highlights from the concept paper include such comments as

  • “the Euro-Atlantic area is at peace and the threat of conventional attack is low”
  • “instability beyond NATO borders can directly threaten security, including by fostering extremism, terrorism, and transnational crime…terrorism poses a direct threat to areas of strategic importance to the alliance”
  • “Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, and a number of technological trends — laser weapons, electronic warfare, and impediments to space — appear poised to have major global effects that will impact NATO military planning and operations”

Over a decade ago, violent extremism and terror groups still gripped the strategic thinking of national leaders, while cyber, transnational illicit activity, and space were tertiary considerations. A decade+ has certainly changed the dynamic and international arenas, but the fundamental points of the 2010 Lisbon Summit Concept remain just as critical today, and more so for how the non-conventional mechanisms of international instability have risen to the fore of this great game we call strategic competition.

The NRF, as organized from the 2010 Strategic Concept, consists of a 40,000-strong multinational force, with a maneuver brigade of roughly 5,000 land warfare troops, as well as Air, Maritime, Special Operations, and logistics elements. The combat forces are organized under the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and the Initial Follow-On Forces Group (IFFG), with the former serving as the literal warfighting force and the latter serving as the post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction transition. The high readiness forces are set to respond within days of a crisis, made possible by the rotational organization of the forces, allowing the staging of personnel to respond to sudden threat of aggression. Readiness is achieved by regularly recurring wargaming exercises with NATO forces (often led by U.S. military training across EUCOM), which postures forces across Europe for the very purpose of demonstrating global access, adaptive formation, and integration between NATO and even non-NATO partners.

2022 Madrid Concept:

The biggest strategic changes to the new force doctrine have recognized the rise of authoritarian aggressors, signaling how significantly the world has evolved in the last decade. In a seemingly short-sighted and revanchist manifestation of old Cold War obsessions, the early bullet points of the concept decry the Russian Federation as “the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”. I call this shortsighted, because the entire doctrine seems aimed at preventing globally-broad authoritarian interventions in the Euro-Atlantic, thus, pinning a single-entity like Moscow as the penultimate threat (especially considering the quagmire of Ukraine holding Russia at a strategic disadvantage) is a case of recency-bias. However, to its credit, the doctrine recognizes the strategic importance of the African theater, the rising influence and threat from the People’s Republic of China, and cyber, space and climate as key vectors worthy of and critical to NATO interests.

The Strategic Concept lays out several new priority vectors — maritime security (pivotal for a Trans-Atlantic collective), space and cyberspace, digital information assurance, and infrastructural security as critical vectors for the alliance. Reassuringly, NATO has pivoted to improving integration of the technology innovation initiative, which is critical for achieving overmatch and will integrate technologies that help improve NATO forces capabilities to operate in denied environments. Recognition that antagonists are unlikely to challenge NATO directly (where the expanded conventional force will serve to deter that type of aggression much more effectively), the asymmetry of new force concepts demonstrate NATOs “facelift”, which as all will recall from a few years ago, was necessary following French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments about the alliance contending with “brain death”.

While the details will require another year and more to flesh out in terms of troop deployments, new rotational cycles of varying readiness statuses, and expansions to the NRF toolkit, the tea leaves indicate the dramatic change to the Alliance’s military response force in the future. Under the Madrid Concept, and per news releases in the preemptive planning phase of the Concept development, NATO’s NRF will expand to a 300,000-strong readiness force, resulting in the “biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War”, according to Stoltenberg.

The detractor to this new concept lay in similar criticisms to other grand strategic visions of recent note, like the revised U.S. National Defense Strategy: The critique is simply that the strategy for NATO is ‘do everything, all the time, and do it best’, rather than nailing down a handful of key points to truly sharpen ambitions for the sake of task organization. Admittedly, NATO is facing the most unstable international arena since its inception, meaning the defense arm of the trans-Atlantic treaty must account for a truly dynamic environment.

The pivot from brain-death is underway, along with NATO members ponying up their obligations in defense spending, and in the future, we will see a new, more capable NATO defense partnership to promote stability and liberal values in the Euro-Atlantic theater.

General Sir Patrick Sanders & the 1937 Moment

Joshua Huminski

Photo Credit: UK Ministry of Defence

General Sir Patrick Sanders, the United Kingdom’s Chief of the General Staff, warned “This is our 1937 moment,” as “we are living through a period in history as profound as the one that our forebears did over 80 years ago.” Speaking before the Royal United Services Institute, a policy think tank in London, General Sanders echoed remarks by then Brigadier Bernard Montgomery, who wrote in 1937, “We have got to develop new methods, and learn a new technique…. There is no need to continue doing a thing merely because it has been done in the Army for the last thirty or forty years — if this is the only reason for doing it, then it is high time we changed and did something else.”

According to General Sanders, “In all my years in uniform, I haven’t known such a clear threat to the principles of sovereignty and democracy, and the freedom to live without fear of violence, as the brutal aggression of President Putin and his expansionist ambitions.” In response, the British Army “is not mobilising to provoke war — it is mobilising to prevent war.”

The Chief of the General Staff’s remarks are certainly welcome and recognize both the threat, but also the shortcomings of the British military, and in particular the Army. The Royal Navy and Air Force have received the preponderance of resources in recent years, with the Army steadily reduced in size and scope. As CSPC wrote last week, as part of the Integrated Review the government announced that it would further draw down the Army to 72,500 soldiers by 2025 — the smallest force since 1714 — down from an official number of 82,040. The British Army has consistently been underinvested in, and suffered from procurement and acquisition challenges, limiting its performance and deployment capabilities.

The open question that the General’s remarks raised was how would the United Kingdom pay for these increased requirements whilst meeting current demands, modernizing its forces, and re-arming post-Ukraine. The United Kingdom, like the United States, is rushing considerable arms and munitions to support Kyiv’s fight, necessitating a rearmament and replenishment of depleted stocks. Additional commitments to deploy forces to NATO’s eastern front will also necessitate increasing readiness and force rotation, likely leading to a review of the Army’s size and force structure — something the General noted in his RUSI speech. Indeed, the Ministry of Defence recently announced that another 1,000 troops would join the mission in Estonia. The United Kingdom is also in the process of modernizing its Army.

Taken together these are considerable cost outlays at a time when inflation is rising, the country is still unpacking what Brexit means in practice, and domestic spending obligations are rising.

Undoubtedly timed and coordinated with the General’s remarks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at the NATO summit in Madrid that London would increase its defense expenditures to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. The Prime Minister said, “we need to invest for the long-term in vital capabilities like future combat air, whilst simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world”. As a commitment and signal, it is notable, but how 11 Downing Street (home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the Treasury will actually meet that commitment remains to be seen, given the aforementioned obligations and budgetary limitations.

It is nonetheless a welcome development and sensible policy given the threat Moscow represents to European security — albeit it one that is notably belated — but is also only one element of the equation. True force development and restricting takes time and sustained investment. There is also the risk that the force draws the wrong lessons from the present war in Ukraine. As Michael Kofman of CNA noted in a recent CSPC webinar, it is too early to tell what lessons should be drawn. While there are some outlines that are appearing, what the West thought it knew at the outside and opening weeks of the war is being reconsidered, and what the West knows in six months’ time will be markedly different than today’s analysis.

There is also the open question of the lagging indicators of this war and what will truly be needed in 24- or 36-months’ time. Russia’s ground forces are increasingly depleted, although it has not yet undertaken national mobilization and retains considerable strategic tools. The economy is under increasing pressure, but the full effect of sanctions has not yet been felt. While Russia will certainly undertake a rearmament program, how effective or how swift that is remains to be seen given the technology embargoes in place.

Arguably all of this investment, and force expansion and development would have been better used before the war, not after the fact. NATO could well be expanding and enhancing its capabilities in Europe to confront a markedly depleted threat in the near-term, potentially undermining its long-term sustainability. For Washington, the European reinvestment in continental security is absolutely to be welcomed, as it will enable the pivot to the Indo-Pacific, but much remains unclear and it is worth remembering that the war is only roughly 150 days old.

G7 Launches International Infrastructure Development Project

Alan Liu

Photo Credit: Government of Japan via Wikimedia Commons

On June 26, G7 leaders announced a plan to raise $600 billion from both private and public sources over the next five years to fund infrastructure projects in low- and middle-income countries. Originally unveiled at the G7 meeting in 2021 as “Build Back Better World,” the initiative has been renamed as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). While the project presents a path for developing countries to close the infrastructure gap, it could also be understood as a strategic competitor to the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). President Biden pledged that the United States will contribute $200 billion while Europe plans to mobilize $314.28 billion.

According to the White House, PGII will be guided by four main principles: addressing the climate crisis and reinforcing global energy security and resilience; developing, expanding, and deploying secure information and communications technology; advancing gender equality and equity; and upgrading the infrastructure of health systems. Among the planned investments is a $2 billion solar project in Angola, which will include solar mini-grids, telecommunications improvements, and home power kits. The project will be carried out by U.S. firms AfricaGlobal Schaffer and Sun Africa with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. “This isn’t aid or charity,” Biden said, “It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people and the people of all our nations.” PGII projects will aim to achieve one or more of the aforementioned guiding principles; and in the case of the flagship project in Angola, it will help the country increase its carbon-free power generation to 70% of its overall by 2025, according to a statement from the White House.

But perhaps more importantly, PGII serves as a strategic alternative to the BRI, which began in 2013 and was estimated to have at least 139 participant countries in 2021. The PRC’s infrastructure development project continues to elicit considerable concern from the United States and its allies, with many experts describing it as debt-trap diplomacy. BRI currently stands at roughly $1 trillion in total spending, the majority of which was used to build bridges, roads, ports, and other physical infrastructure in developing countries. Aside from having a strong presence in Africa, BRI has also strengthened the PRC’s alliance with several Pacific Island nations. While BRI seems popular in many regions, it is likely not a first-choice for some participating nations. For instance, BRI is heavily criticized for relying on Chinese labor rather than hiring locals in the host country. This then denies the host country skill transfer and substantial employment opportunities. If PGII manages to address some if not all of these grievances against BRI, then the former will likely gain a better chance to become more attractive for rapidly industrializing nations than the latter. Moreover, PGII should promote close partnerships with consultation and cooperation in order to accurately identify the priorities and needs of each partner. PGII should also push for greater transparency and accountability to allow for the selection of sustainable projects and maximize the impact of investments. PGII must minimize the amount of money that is wasted in corruption.

The U.S. Department of Treasury stated that PGII investments will improve supply chain resiliency and increase diversification while reinforcing multilateral cooperation. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen listed this among other reasons in her statement of support. The Treasury also said that it is helping PGII through the development of Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JEPTs), which are initiatives that encourage pollution-heavy developing markets to transition to clean energy. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent agency created by Congress in 2004 to promote global economic growth, also expressed support for PGII because it will “deliver game-changing projects to close the infrastructure gap in developing countries, strengthen the global economy and supply chains, and advance U.S. national security.” PGII will work closely with the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund projects around the world. PGII will also coordinate with other international organizations such as the World Bank, according to the White House.

While the PRC’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian welcomed PGII as an effort to promote international infrastructure development, he said he is “opposed to pushing forward geopolitical calculations under the pretext of infrastructure construction or smearing the Belt and Road Initiative.” Optimistically, competition in the arena of infrastructure development is a better outlet than direct military or political clashes for geostrategic rivals like the United States and China. However, U.S.-China relations could also worsen, splitting the world into two exclusive blocs, bound by their infrastructure. The Administration will likely have to walk a tightrope as it continues to navigate tensions with the PRC.

Post-Roe America

Yazmine-Gizelle Ali

Wikimedia Commons

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by a vote of 6–3. The decision effectively allows states to set their own laws governing abortions. 13 states have legislation that would automatically “trigger” bans on abortions once Roe was overturned. These include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. This could force women residing in these states to either travel to jurisdictions that allow abortions or seek out dangerous abortion methods, which experts say could add to the rising maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the United States, the developed country with the highest MMR.

The June 24 decision impacts not just Roe vs. Wade, but could also impact several other landmark rulings. While Justice Samuel Alito said that the court’s reasoning for overturning Roe would not be applicable to other cases, Justice Clarence Thomas indicated otherwise, writing, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” The statements of Thomas have the court’s liberals concerned that the protections for same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships, and contraception may be overturned, as was the case with the right to abortion. Hours after the court overturned Roe, President Biden stated, “Roe recognized a fundamental right to privacy that has served as the basis for so many more rights that we have come to take for granted…The right to use birth control, a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom, the right to marry the person you love.” However, this fundamental right to privacy has been called into question by the court.

The Roe v. Wade decision has significant political impacts alongside its broad legal implications. As a result of the decision, more people are becoming politically engaged and more aware of what their government is doing or planning to do, which could impact voter turnout. Democrats are having trouble coming up with a clear legislative response to the ruling, and there is a possibility that they could lose control of Congress in the midterm elections that are set to take place in November. Despite this, Democrats now have a clear rallying call to drive people to the polls, and Republicans may find themselves in a new defensive stance as they attempt to calm public worry over the court’s opinion — recent polls show 80% of Americans support the right to abortion, with reasonable limits. The Biden Administration is reportedly considering administrative measures it could take to make it easier for women and non-gender-specific people to access abortions in states where legislatures are controlled by the Republican party. The New York Times reported “Some of the ideas under consideration include declaring a national public health emergency, readying the Justice Department to fight any attempt by states to criminalize travel for the purpose of obtaining an abortion, and asserting that Food and Drug Administration regulations granting approval to abortion medications pre-empt any state bans, the officials said.”

The June 24 Roe v. Wade decision represents a significant redistribution of power toward individual state legislatures. These legislatures now have the right to implement their own abortion legislation, including bans, within their respective jurisdictions. After the Roe v. Wade decision was overturned, at least eight of the thirteen states that already had “trigger bans” barred the practice. The court orders in other states will take effect thirty days after the ruling; thus, not all “trigger bans” work in this manner. At the federal level, the United States Congress may seek to codify the right the abortion or affirm state abortion bans, depending on which party becomes the majority in the house in and Senate in 2023.

News You May Have Missed

Poland Decries Desecration of Polish Graves in Belarus

On June 30, the Polish government officially accused their Belarusian counterparts of creating a “atmosphere of acquiescence” to the desecration of Polish graves located in Belarus. Poland officially demanded that Belarus begin punishing the perpetrators of such acts, which has seen numerous Polish tombstones and memorials in western Belarus defaced by unknown perpetrators. The graves are concentrated in regions of Belarus which had previously been part of Russia before the start of the Second World War, during which the Soviet Union invaded Poland and attached its eastern regions to the Belarusian and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republics. Warsaw and Minsk have previously clashed over Belarusian weaponization of migrant flows against its western neighbors, including Poland.

Proposed Tunisian Constitution Gives President Vast Powers

Tunisia’s President has unveiled a draft constitution to be voted on by referendum next month. President Kais Saied’s draft has been nearly universally rejected by most political parties in the country. After launching what many have referred to as a coup in the summer of 2021 that usurped power from the Tunisian legislature, Saied has been ruling by decree since then. Next month’s referendum has no minimum participation required for the measure to become law, and it is most likely that the draft will pass with little public participation. The proposed constitution would massively increase the power of the President, granting the office full control over the judiciary and government, and creating a parallel legislative body to parliament known as the “Council of Regions.”

Australia and France Meet to Mend Ties from AUKUS Fight

On July 1, French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met to discuss the future of the Australia-France relationship in the wake of the diplomatic tussle resulting from Australia’s September 2021 rejection of an existing submarine construction contract with France and decision to acquire U.S. nuclear submarine technology under the auspices of the AUKUS pact. In his meeting with Albanese, President Macron expressed his hope that the relationship between the two countries could focus on the future instead of the past. Macron also said that Albanese “was not responsible for what happened,” as the AUKUS decision had been made under the government of his predecessor, Scott Morrison. Prime Minister Albanese and his Labor party had campaigned on repairing Canberra’s relationship with Paris in the 2022 Federal Election.

The views of authors are their own and not that of CSPC.



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