GMF, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in France, hosted Dr. Esther Brimmer as part of the U.S. Foreign Policy Speaker Series from December 1-3 in Paris. Brimmer was invited to Paris to discuss the role of multilateralism in transatlantic foreign policies, the implications of the “rise of rest” for the international system and the transatlantic perspectives on engaging with emerging powers. Brimmer is J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro professor of international affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and former assistant secretary of state for International Organizations (2009-2013).
This program aimed to provide the French audience with a better understanding of the dynamics that guide U.S. foreign policy in the international system and of how transatlantic partners cooperate to promote and protect the values of Western liberal order. During this three-day visit, Brimmer met with French officials from President François Hollande’s diplomatic staff, the French Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as European journalists, scholars, academics, and students.
Monday, December 1, 2014
On December 1, Esther Brimmer was invited to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she met with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, director of the bureau for the United Nations, International Organizations, Human Rights and Francophonie, to discuss the future of peace-keeping operations in a time of economic constraint. Brimmer and Lacroix shared their views on the need to improve the transition phases from peace-making to peace-keeping operations, and to foster international cooperation to help failed states assure their own security.
Brimmer also met with Justin Vaïsse, director of the policy planning staff of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss the French perspective on the “rise of the rest” and how France engages with emerging powers. Brimmer was particularly interested in the future role of BRICS countries on the global stage and international organizations, and how the recent crisis in Ukraine highlighted the divergence of narratives between transatlantic powers and emerging powers. The rise of India and Brazil were widely discussed thanks to Brimmer’s expertise on Brazil and the upcoming U.S. presidential state visit to India in January 2015.
Later, Brimmer was invited to a public conference at the Center for International Studies and Researches (CERI), to discuss the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris with Marie-Hélène Aubert, advisor in charge of international negotiations for climate and environment on Hollande's diplomatic staff.
Brimmer recalled her participation at previous COP summits while at the State Department and said she expects the 2015 climate conference to differ. While past meetings were limited by the global economic crisis, Brimmer expressed optimism following the September 2014 Climate Summit at the UN General Assembly. She and Aubert discussed France’s preparations for the Paris conference and what she envisions as the top objectives of participating countries.
The increasing role of private sector participation at UN Climate Summits will have an impact on policy outcome of upcoming COP meetings. Brimmer also cited President Obama’s efforts to increase reliance on green technology and renewable energy sources, highlighting the increase in wind and solar energy sources, overall reduced carbon emissions since 2005 and Washington’s commitment to finance UN climate efforts. Brimmer also addressed the discrepancies in objectives of developed and developing countries, citing this as a cause for concern at the negotiating table.
As the U.S. and China recently signed a climate agreement in November 2014, Brimmer predicts that Obama’s state visit to India in early 2015 may also seek to address climate issues on a bilateral level. Finally, Brimmer addressed the Department of Defense’s outlook on the evolving environmental landscape, as it addresses resources, migration of peoples, new trading routes – all of which implicate the U.S. military and their role as a global force.
Around 80 students and scholars attended the event.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
On Tuesday, December 2, Brimmer met with Nicolas de Rivière, director for political and security affairs at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This meeting was the opportunity to compare French and American perspectives on the “rise of the rest” and the future of multilateralism, but also on the implications of a British exit from the European Union.
Brimmer was also invited to talk at the Paris School of International Affairs as part of Dr. Olivier Dabène's master’s course on “Regionalisms in South and Central America.” Brimmer spoke about U.S. engagement with multiple regional organizations and institutions in Latin America, and the implications of South American regionalism on U.S. foreign policy in the region. The students were particularly interested in hearing Brimmer's views on anti-U.S. sentiments in Latin America and ways to improve cultural and economic exchanges between the U.S. and the rest of the Americas.
In the afternoon, GMF organized a lunch with French journalists on “The Future of U.S. Global Leadership: What to Expect in the Next Years to Come.” The discussion was moderated by Dr. Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer and was followed by a discussion with six journalists from French print media. Brimmer reflected on Obama’s past six years in office, as well as contemporary foreign policy issues such as the re-emergence of a security threat posed by Russia, the rise ISIS and the ongoing nuclear proliferation talks with Iran.
The discussion centered around the evolution of U.S. foreign policy since 2009, from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the U.S. pivot to Asia; to the re-deployment of military capabilities in the Middle East and Eastern Europe in 2014; to the state of U.S.-Russia relations after the so-called “reset” and Ukraine crisis; Palestinian statehood; the legacy of outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; and the implications a GOP-controlled Congress on foreign policy.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
On Wednesday, December 3, two final private meetings were organized with Cyril Piquemal, advisor in charge of Europe and global risks for Hollande’s diplomatic staff, and Mr. Luis Vassy, diplomatic advisor to the French minister of defense.
Piquemal and Brimmer discussed the opportunities to foster wider Atlantic dialogue, including North and South American countries, African countries and European countries, to address development issues in the region. Piquemal was particularly interested in the prospect of wider Atlantic cooperation in the fields of health and education.
Vassy presented the security objectives of French external military operations, as well as his perspective on the need for enhanced transatlantic cooperation in West Africa. They also explored the future of international peace-keeping operations and the implications of climate change on defense and security policies.