• Now David Cameron Can Make History

    Posted by: Jan Techau September 19, 2014

    After the “No” vote in the Scottish referendum, British Prime Minister David Cameron must feel like the luckiest man on earth. Not only did he avoid Scotland's secession from the UK—an outcome that could have easily cost him his job and career—he now also has the chance to completely redefine Britain’s political narrative.

    Cameron gets this enormous chance despite the fact that he gravely miscalculated the Scottish referendum question, bungled the UK’s Europe policies (that other issue revolving around political union), and contributed very little to the victory of the Scottish No campaign.

    With luck being so massively on his side, Cameron can now do what few democratically elected leaders are ever given the chance to: fundamentally reshape the political landscape of a country toward a more modern design.

    Decentralization, parliamentary reform, tax and fiscal reform, electoral reform—all of these changes will have to be implemented at rapid speed and will give Cameron the opportunity to transform Britain more dramatically than Margaret Thatcher could have ever dreamed.

    Along the way, Cameron can demonstrate to the rest of Europe what modern state reform looks like. He can bring about a rejuvenation that the country desperately needs by inspiring citizens at the local and regional levels with greater powers and responsibilities. Those who have traveled to small and medium sized towns in England, Scotland, or Wales in recent years will know how desperately these locals need an infusion of civic spirit and communitarian enthusiasm.

    If played well, Cameron can create a period of Cool Britannia II. Only this time, it could have some real substance to it, as opposed to the empty Blairite babble of the late 1990s.

    The window of opportunity is small. The current economic upswing in the UK looks positive, but remains fragile. The super-grand coalition of the “Better Together” campaign will only feel bound by the promises given to Scotland for a short time. Already, Tory backbenchers are questioning the “devo max” policy.

    Yet, if Cameron manages to sustain this “Better Together” spirit over the coming months, uses the reform project to finally get a grip on the backbenchers in his party, and devises a bold and smart idea for what a federally structured UK might look like, he could go down in history.

    Cameron has been given an unexpected opportunity to become one of the truly great British prime ministers. He could carry this energy into the 2015 UK general elections and win them, marginalizing his Labour opponents in the process. Best of all, he could regain a leadership status within his own party that would make him a lot less vulnerable to attack from the euroskeptic radicals who wish to unseat him and lead the UK into the political wilderness.

    Not least, Cameron could improve his tarnished reputation in Europe, walk into EU negotiations with a strong mandate (similar to the one that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi currently enjoys), and face a 2017 referendum on the UK’s EU membership with confidence—and an arsenal of good arguments for staying in. If Cameron manages to win two existential referenda in the UK, a place in the history books will surely be his.

    All of this now depends on whether Cameron has the instinct, the strength, the forcefulness, and the skill to bring about meaningful constitutional change to the UK in the next few months.

    History has given David Cameron a seductive smile today. He now needs to show that he can conquer her.


  • Scotland Votes No to Independence

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, September 19, 2014

    Now that Scotland has voted to remain in the UK, Britain has to decide if it wants to remain in Europe.

  • If the Scottish Nationalists Win, What Does London Lose?

    Posted by: Alyson Bailes Thursday, September 18, 2014

    As Scots go to the polls to vote on whether to leave the United Kingdom, it is clear that well-founded fears lie behind the possibility of an independent Scotland.

  • Judy Asks: Has Obama Finally Discovered Foreign Policy?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

  • Why the EU Will Fail as Ukraine’s Guarantor

    Posted by: Jan Techau Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    For the first time in its history, the EU has become a regional guarantee power. Yet the union and its member states so far lack the capacity to maintain that role in the long term.

  • The West Is Not Prepared for the Long Haul Over Ukraine

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Monday, September 15, 2014 4

    The Kremlin is weakening Ukraine’s independence and eroding other parts of Eastern Europe. The West lacks the long-term resolve to deal with Russia’s actions.

  • Taking the Temperature in Brussels

    Posted by: Roderick Parkes Friday, September 12, 2014 1

    Amid the excitement over the appointment of the next generation of EU leaders, a curious and eclectic lexicon has emerged among the inhabitants of the Brussels bubble.

  • The Return of the European Commission to Foreign Policy Making?

    Posted by: Marc Pierini Thursday, September 11, 2014 1

    The incoming president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, hopes to improve foreign policy coordination among the EU institutions. That is a laudable aim.

  • Ukraine Is Changing the Post–Cold War World

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, September 11, 2014 2

    The Ukraine crisis is set to have a profound effect on how the West, particularly Germany and the United States, delineates its foreign policy responsibilities.

  • The New European Commission: Inward- or Outward-Looking?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    As Jean-Claude Juncker unveils his new European Commission, he has chosen to make domestic economic issues his priority. Foreign policy looks set to play second fiddle.

  • Judy Asks: Should Scotland Be an Independent Country?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Wednesday, September 10, 2014 2

    Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

  • European Humanitarianism: Fillip or Substitute for Foreign Policy?

    Posted by: Richard Youngs Tuesday, September 09, 2014 1

    As Europe’s humanitarian role becomes increasingly prominent, the EU must ensure that the other, more geostrategic components of its foreign policy develop in tandem.

  • NATO Isn’t Going Anywhere

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Monday, September 08, 2014 2

    Last week’s NATO summit in Wales tried to be optimistic about the alliance’s future. But there is still no strategy for dealing with the Ukraine crisis or the Islamic State.

  • Which Leader Had a Successful NATO Summit?

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, September 05, 2014

    As NATO’s summit in Wales draws to a close, some presidents and prime ministers have achieved what they wanted, while others will go home disappointed.

  • Three Questions on NATO

    Posted by: Jan Techau Friday, September 05, 2014 1

    As NATO’s much-anticipated summit in Wales continues, Carnegie Europe has asked a selection of experts three questions on the major developments to emerge from the meeting.

  • The West’s Repeated Mistakes Over Eastern Europe

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Friday, September 05, 2014 4

    The West and Russia are tacitly agreeing to a new cordon sanitaire of countries in Eastern Europe. The region’s civil society will not accept that.

  • NATO’s Summit Between Strategy and Tragedy

    Posted by: Jan Techau Thursday, September 04, 2014 3

    This week’s NATO summit in Wales has confirmed that the only safe border in Europe is the one protected by the alliance’s Article 5 mutual-defense clause.

  • NATO’s Reaction to Its Two Threats

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, September 04, 2014 2

    The lack of a shared threat perception among NATO allies has often hampered the organization’s ability to act decisively. Will Russia and the Islamic State change that?

  • How NATO Speaks to the Public

    Posted by: Judy Dempsey Thursday, September 04, 2014 2

    If NATO wants its member states to spend more on defense and security, it needs to reach out to the public to explain why defense matters.

  • How NATO Reinvented Itself in Less Than Six Months

    Posted by: Jan Techau Thursday, September 04, 2014 5

    As NATO leaders gather for their most important summit in years, they are set to make two major decisions that will radically transform the alliance’s outlook.


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Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe offers insightful analysis, fresh commentary, and concrete policy recommendations from some of Europe’s keenest international affairs observers.

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