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  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2020, President of the United States Donald Trump launched an unprecedented electoral manipulation campaign in an attempt to secure himself a second term in office regardless of what voters decided. This Working Paper seeks to answer three questions: What electoral manipulation methods did Trump use? In what ways were his methods similar to those used previously by other incumbents to interfere with elections in their respective countries? And in what ways did his methods resemble those of election meddling by foreign state actors? To answer the aforesaid questions, this paper seeks to develop a model to describe Trump’s electoral manipulation campaign. The paper finds that Trump used seven different methods: Disinformation, voter suppression, intimidation and violence, intraparty pressure, attacking government institutions, breaking democratic norms, and attempted collusion with one or more foreign states. While most of the methods were not new, their combination was unique. That was to be expected, as Trump was the first 21st century incumbent in a well-established Western democracy to undertake such a massive electoral manipulation campaign.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Violence, Voting, Misinformation , Election Interference
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen, Garret Martin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The relief in Europe following Joe Biden’s election has been tempered by uncertainty as to how the new administration might approach transatlantic relations. This paper lays out three paths that the US could take. The benign neglect model assumes that Washington will be consumed by domestic challenges and competition with Beijing, de facto downgrading Europe as a priority. In the primacy model, the US sees its leadership as indispensable for sustaining the international order and battling authoritarianism. The US would expect Europe to follow its lead, while old reservations about European strategic autonomy would resurface. The major reform model would see a humbler US foreign policy, understanding that it cannot repair the fragile international liberal order alone. Supporting European strategic autonomy would be key in devising a new transatlantic division of labor. Domestic challenges and ingrained policy habits mean that the US will likely gravitate toward neglect or primacy in its dealings with Europe. A major reform of the transatlantic relationship, while desirable, would require significant political will and investment on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Leadership, Transatlantic Relations, Autonomy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Lauri Tahtinen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: “What worries me most, however, is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged. Quite surprisingly, not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor: the US.” Tus spoke Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council in advance of the G7 Summit of 2018.1 In doing so, he was echoing the sentiments of many others. Sabre-rattling at friends and foes alike defned the Trump administration’s approach to trade policy, not unlike in many other policy felds. It also demonstrated Donald Trump’s preference for bilateral agreements, the most prominent of which was the so-called Phase One deal with China. Trade policy was a defnite pri- ority for the Trump administration, but it took some self-contradictory forms. Often Trump wanted to wreak havoc for its own sake, which both held back part of his “negative agenda”, such as confronting Chi- na, and the “positive” one of bilateral mini deals, as in the late 2020 trade-smoothing with Brazil. By contrast, trade has not been a priority for either the Biden administration or the 117th Congress thus far.2 Tere is little sign that President Biden would ei- ther immediately roll back Trump-era tarifs and re- classifcations – much less sanctions – or initiate his own positive trade agenda. Tis lack of initiative stands in contrast to rapid executive action on climate, Cov- id-19, US manufacturing and other policy priorities. Congress, too, has been conspicuously silent on trade. With organized labour a resurgent force within Dem- ocratic Party politics, any talk of new trade deals over assistance for the deindustrialized homeland will face some headwind. Te silence around trade suggests that while Biden will attempt to smooth over the worst rows over com- merce, the easiest course for his administration is, by and large, to underwrite a policy shift on trade. Te rest of the world must come to terms with this change, but also formulate cogent responses to it. Te stakes are high because a functioning and fex- ible trading system is essential for tackling the great- est challenges of our time, including the fght against climate change and the production of vaccines against COVID-19. Instead of turning against internation- al cooperation, these and many other priorities need to be integrated into the global trading system. First and foremost, the world needs a proudly pragmatic approach, in place of a “summit for democracy” or any such high-minded initiative which runs the risk of preventing partnerships and ringing hollow. An al- liance of democracies may be the outcome of cooper- ation but should not be positioned as its prerequisite. At the end of World War I, the United States fa- thered the Covenant of the League of Nations but rejected it at birth; Washington withheld its rec- ognition of the child, never joining the League. The United States received a second chance at the end of the World War, founding the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, and a third one at the end of the Cold War when the World Trade Organization came to supersede the General Agreement on Tarifs and Trade (GATT). Now, America is edging closer to rejection, again. Te main argument of this Briefng Paper is that not only has US governmental policy on trade shifted, but also that the environment in which it is developed has altered radically – not least due to US policy itself. Tis means that, one, rules-based trading will need new champions and, two, others must coax the United States to come along when they can fnd shared rea- sons for doing so. The paper looks at both the worlds that the US chose to mould and the ones that it rejected: the US- MCA and the TPP. It also asks how Europeans might orient themselves in the direction of the United States, examines what trade without deals may mean and, f- nally, situates current policy in the longer trajectory of the US role on trade.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Trade Wars, Trans-Pacific Partnership, USMCA
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: US-Turkey ties are strained because of conflicting interests in Syria and on a more fundamental level due to Turkey’s different interpretation of the ongoing global power shift, and its concurrent search for strategic autonomy and cooperation with Russia and China. EU-Turkey ties have long been dysfunctional, with the EU focusing on maintaining the refugee deal, while Turkey has become increasingly authoritarian and aggressive in its external relations, resulting in a permanent ‘wait-and-see’ approach by the EU. While the US and the EU have recently agreed that they should synchronize their stance on Turkey, both are also characterized by an increasingly feverish internal debate about how best to respond to Turkey’s behaviour. A genuine fresh start in Turkey-West relations is somewhat illusionary as most of the underlying problems are more likely increasing rather than decreasing, pointing to a more permanent dual-track policy of cooperation and containment, both by the US and the EU.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, European Union, Leadership, Conflict, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States under President Joe Biden is strengthening efforts to constrain China in the Indo-Pacific region. At least for now, a new US focus on the region is aimed primarily at reinforcing “minilateral” alignments, potentially at the expense of the EU and its member states.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Hegemony, Multilateralism, Influence
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Lauri Tahtinen
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Increased deforestation in the Amazon is the outcome of Brazil’s long political crisis. What started in 2013 with a bus fare hike has traversed through contestable impeachment and populist uprising into a constitutional stalemate. European institutional investors have been in the vanguard of checking Brasília’s lax approach to deforestation and other environmental challenges. While investors continue to carry a big stick, European and US political leadership should consider what carrots they can offer Brasília. Brussels and Washington have changed course rapidly from an approach that emphasised closer ties with Brasília to one of dissatisfaction and distancing. This is both a cause and an effect of Brazil’s international standing diminishing both in terms of economy and country brand. In recent years, Brazil has simultaneously tried to raze more rainforest and build North Atlantic trading relations; the two cannot be done at the same time. A politics of rapprochement with Brazil requires much closer coordination between Europe and the United States than the parties are accustomed to; a commitment to a climate-sensitive globalisation is necessary from Brasília.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Globalization, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brazil, South America, North America
  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Voters’ trust in the American elections has eroded. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States, an alarming number of voters lacked confidence in the fairness of the upcoming elections. Ensuring that Americans can vote safely despite the pandemic requires major changes to how the elections are conducted. This increases the risk of mistakes and failures, partisan feuds over the rules, and accusations of foul play. If disputes over the practicalities of voting are prolonged, it could cause large-scale voter confusion and lead to a low turnout and high ballot rejection rates. Many voters are likely to vote by mail to protect themselves from the virus. However, few states are adequately prepared to receive a large percentage of their ballots by mail. To make matters worse, the United States Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. The result of the elections may be unclear for days or even weeks, firstly due to delays in counting the absentee ballots and thereafter because of litigation. This may result in both presidential candidates declaring themselves the winner and bring about an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Jyri Lavikainen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Non-compliance and disputes between Russia and the US resulted in the US exiting the Open Skies Treaty. If Russia withdraws in response, European countries will lose an important source of intelligence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Intelligence, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Bart Gaens, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States and China are posited to be at the epicenter of an emerging and – by most accounts – intensifying rivalry. This report delves into the theoretical underpinnings as well as the geostrategic and geo-economic dynamics driving this great-power competition. It explores future prospects for contestation and engagement in key issue areas, such as arms control, trade and sanctions. The chapters in this volume also examine the Indo-Pacific as the immediate regional frontline of the unfolding great-power contest and explore the role that Europe has to play in this game. As the world is crossing the threshold into a new age of great-power competition, the debate on the US-China rivalry reveals the complex and contested nature of the meanings, causes, policy implications and future prospects of what is set to become the “new normal” in global politics.
  • Topic: Hegemony, Geopolitics, Conflict, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US president has considerable power over the country’s foreign policy. The different worldviews espoused by President Trump and presidential candidate Biden are likely to have an impact on how the most significant foreign policy challenges of the coming years are addressed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections, Party System
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Speculation is rife that China could take advantage of the potential confusion during the US presidential election and invade Taiwan. Although China has never relinquished the military option for resolving the Taiwan issue, there are sound reasons to downplay the risk of a military confrontation at the present time.
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Elections, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, North America
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen, Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Bart Gaens, Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Te election of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Har- ris as vice president of the United States has generally been welcomed across the world. Allies and partners are relieved that they will again be treated with respect as common issues are addressed, while having been re- minded that they too must ‘step up’ and not only rely on the United States. Even adversaries and competitors acknowledge that it is preferable for the north star of US foreign policy to be something other than impul- sive unpredictability. Based on Joe Biden’s worldview, the world will see a return to more traditional foreign policy precepts. Tis is refected in Biden’s choice of individuals for senior security policy positions in his administration. While the United States is a global power, each ad- ministration addresses the more enduring national interests in diferent ways. In the coming years, key issues to address include, frst, global challenges such as climate change and pandemics; second, strength- ening the transatlantic relationship and global coop- eration between democratic states more broadly; and third, reinforcing the US relationship with various Asian allies and partners, and managing competition with China. From a Nordic perspective, the Biden ad- ministration is expected to continue the cooperative agenda regarding regional security (bolstering defence cooperation and deterring against Russian encroach- ment) carried over from the Obama and Trump admin- istrations, while more robustly addressing global issues such as climate change.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, International Cooperation, Hegemony, Leadership, Transition
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Matti Pesu, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The transatlantic relationship is undergoing a period of turmoil. President Trump’s unorthodox policies have exacerbated historical sources of mistrust between the U.S. and its European allies. This working paper approaches the transatlantic bond from the perspective of asymmetric trust, a perennial factor in transatlantic security and defence affairs. For Europe, the U.S. remains the ultimate guarantor of security, rendering allies dependent upon Washington’s decisions and goodwill. From the American perspective, the European allies are not crucial in ensuring U.S. national security, but remain a pool of reliable partners, whom Washington can periodically draw upon to pursue its global ambitions. This paper evaluates how mistrust has featured within the asymmetric alliance setting, and places the current friction between the U.S. and Europe within this broader context. Acknowledging the sources of mistrust and managing mutual suspicions are crucial for the sustainability of the alliance in an increasingly competitive international arena.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America, Atlantic Ocean
  • Author: Katja Creutz, Tuomas Iso-Markku, Teija Tilikainen, Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The forms of global political transition contradict each other. The Western leadership of the world seems to be in decline, with the US political and military hegemony being challenged by the rise of China and other emerging powers and with global power structures evolving towards multipolarity. At the same time, however, there are increasing signs of a diffusion of state power. It involves a growing group of non-state actors challenging state power in very different forms and different capacities. This report focuses on the axis of state power considered the most important in terms of its global implications: the relationship between the US and China. This relationship is studied with the aim of assessing how the mutual interdependencies are evolving, and what the goals of the two actors look like in respect of their own global role. The im¬plications of this power transition in the key fields of global governance – also covering the simultaneous diffusion of power to non-state actors – forms another relevant topic under review in the global context. Lastly, the report analyses how the EU contends with these forms of power transition and safeguards its own influence in this changing environment. The project also addresses the international role and influence of one of the northernmost EU members, Finland. It investigates how the changes in the global and regional setting should be understood from the Finnish point of view and how Finland should act in order to consolidate its international role in economic as well as political terms.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Non State Actors, Hegemony, Leadership, Liberal Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The heightened tensions between the United States and Iran should be understood in the context of the Trump administration’s broader foreign policy approach. Even if neither side wants a military confrontation, the “maximum pressure” campaign by the US has raised the risk of a potential miscalculation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Christopher Kojm
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Headlines are rife with stories about political turmoil in transatlantic relations, and bitter disputes over trade and defence spending. Yet for the US Intelligence Community, ties with transatlantic partners have remained insulated against political differences. History shows that intelligence relationships follow their own logic.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Regional Cooperation, Alliance, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Mikael Wigell
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: For all the rhetorical rage surrounding ‘hybrid warfare’, Western democracy is being threatened more acutely by hybrid interference. Using liberal democratic values and infrastructure for cover, authoritarian actors use a panoply of covert, non-military means to subtly drive wedges between democratic societies and undermine their internal cohesion. This paper outlines the strategic logic of hybrid interference and shows how it puts Western democratic governability in jeopardy. It argues that deterrence policies need to be revamped in the face of this new challenge and suggests a new strategic concept – democratic deterrence – as a framework for dissuading hybrid interference. The concept of democratic deterrence shows how liberal democratic values need not be security vulnerabilities, as often presented in the current debate, but how they can be turned into strengths and tools for a credible deterrence response against hybrid aggressors, all the while making our Western democracies more robust and resilient.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Democracy, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A newfound focus on great-power competition has brought geoeconomics to the forefront of strategic thinking in Washington D.C. The United States is well positioned to use coercive economic tools, particularly unilateral sanctions, in this game because of its structural advantages in the global economy and financial system. President Donald Trump and his administration have also signalled a preference for the unilateral use of sanctions to excel in the competitive international geostrategic environment and confront “rogue regimes”. Meanwhile, wrangling between Congress and the White House over sanctions policy has intensified since the 2016 presidential election. These systemic, policymaker-bounded and domestic-political factors have created a perfect storm in US sanctions policy. While the US may be able to pursue sanctions unilaterally in the short term, in the long run this may dissuade allies from cooperating and erode America’s structural advantages as other states resort to hedging.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Christopher Kojm
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump’s words and actions are disrupting US-European relations. Yet the structural basis for strong transatlantic ties endures. Key institutions and forces involved in the making of US foreign policy exhibit more continuity than change with respect to transatlantic relations. Congress strongly supports NATO. It agrees with the President on the need for greater burden-sharing, yet opposes the President’s harsh and gratuitous attacks on the Alliance. Executive Branch Departments, especially the Department of Defence, have longstanding institutional ties with European counterparts. High-level meetings, defence cooperation agreements, military exercises, and relationship-building continue without interruption. The US business community strongly opposes tariffs, and has been able to blunt the Administration’s further imposition of tariffs on European partners. Public opinion still strongly supports transatlantic defence and trade relations, even as partisan differences grow.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Tariffs, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North Atlantic, North America