On Monday, June 27, 2016, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in collaboration with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) hosted Ken Gude, senior fellow of the Center for American Progress; and Christiane Hoehn, advisor to the EU counterterrorism coordinator for the Council of the European Union, for an event on the U.S. elections and counterterrorism strategy. The discussion was moderated by Ernst Stetter, secretary general of FEPS. Ian Lesser, senior director for Foreign and Security Policy at GMF and executive director for GMF’s Brussels office, gave brief opening remarks.
Gude began his remarks by discussing Trump’s popularity and why it should be alarming to the U.S. public. He focused specifically on political issues like racism and populism and following campaign issues like low funding and a lack of permanent staff as reasons for concern.
Next, he moved to the counterterrorism strategies of both candidates, repeatedly emphasizing that, “a Hillary Clinton administration represents continuity with President Obama’s foreign policy.” He also addressed the unrealistic nature of many of Trump’s foreign policy promises. Hoehn spoke about how the terrorist threat was still high in both the U.S. and the EU, especially with home-grown terrorism. However, she mentioned that, “the U.S. and EU have grown closer in recent years after a period of divergence in counterterrorism strategies following 9/11.” Like Gude, Hoehn also emphasized that Clinton would represent continuity with many of President Obama’s foreign policies, but she also added that this continuity would be particularly important for data sharing policies between the U.S. and the EU. Although they both had little to say on Trump’s foreign policy, as he purposefully tries to make it unpredictable, according to the speakers, Hoehn did say that, “Trump creates an us versus them mentality, which can make destroying radicalism difficult.”
The discussion was followed by a question and answer session with the audience consisting of 70 participants ranging from representative from EU institutions, think tanks, foundations, academia, and the media. Many of the questions focused on the advantages, disadvantages, and protections for citizens with information sharing. The consensus seemed to be that governments were already involved in information sharing and that there were protections in place for citizens’ private information, but if the U.S. and EU want to step up their fight against terrorism, information sharing needs to be increased.