The world’s newest country, South Sudan, acquired statehood on July 9 as a result of a partition of Sudan that was strongly encouraged by the U.S. (over many years) and ultimately by the EU as a last resort for ending civil war between the largely-Arab north and the sub-Saharan south.

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In strong terms of condemnation rarely heard from a U.S. secretary of defense, Robert Gates chose his last appearance at a NATO ministerial conference to admonish the European allies that their failure to maintain their military has put at risk the U.S. commitment to the transatlantic alliance. 

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UPDATE: In the last eight months, Somali-based piracy has expanded – despite the US-European patrolling operations – but attacks have become less successful, due to improved defenses on tankers. The major scholarly journal Geopolicity published a report concluding that the Somalian pirates were merely acting as "profit-maximizing entrepreneurs," and as such unlikely to abandon piracy. In fact, as illustrated by the Geopolicity map below, pirates expanded their operational range via the use of motherships from which to launch smaller skiffs. A full synopsis of the report is available at the bottom. (6/8/11)

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The European Institute hosted a meeting on June 2, 2011 with The Honorable Eric Hirschhorn, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security. In the ten months since Mr. Hirschhorn last spoke at The European Institute, notable progress has been made in the evolution of the Obama Administration’s Export Control initiative. Given the importance of this initiative for the economic and trade relationship that underpins European-American relations, Under Secretary Hirschhorn offered an update on the continuing evolution of export control reforms, and the prospects and challenges that lie ahead.

Could cuts in defense spending across the EU establish a collective capability to act autonomously or join the U.S. future military operations? Or will reduced troop and equipment levels across Europe leave the U.S. in a situation where it will have to act alone in expeditionary missions – a situation that many analysts say would jeopardize NATO’s collective future?

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