Newsbud Exclusive- The ‘Rimland Imperative’: How Trump’s Chief Diplomat for European-Eurasian Affairs Wants to Counter Russia, China & Iran.

Since his appointment as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Aaron Wess Mitchell has mostly stayed out of the spotlight but his geopolitical views are already having a profound impact on U.S. foreign policy, as illustrated by the Trump administration’s newly released National Security Strategy and the decision to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.

One week before U.S. President Trump unveiled the 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS), his National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster gave a preview of the strategy at an event hosted by the British think tank Policy Exchange in Washington.

McMaster disclosed that the Trump administration views Russia and China as “revisionist powers” which “are undermining the international order and stability” and “ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law.”

“Geopolitics are back, and back with a vengeance, after this holiday from history we took in the so-called post-Cold War period,” McMaster emphasized.[1]

He tried to reassure U.S. allies that President Trump doesn’t stand for a “new isolationism,” as some critics have suggested.[2]

McMaster once again referred favorably to the work of Aaron Wess Mitchell and Jakub Grygiel,[3] two scholar-practitioners who argue that America’s allies “have been the ‘glue’ of the U.S.-led global order.”[4]

Mitchell and Grygiel both joined the State Department in 2017 after Trump chose Mitchell as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Prior to joining the State Department, the duo worked at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a leading transatlantic think tank co-founded by Mitchell.

During their time at CEPA, they tried to draw attention to a “coherent geostrategic pattern”[5] that poses a growing challenge to American global power.

Mitchell and Grygiel first wrote about this pattern in 2010, claiming that U.S. allies in East-Central Europe, the Middle East and East Asia were faced with “a sudden surge in revisionist rhetoric and behavior by Russia, Iran and China respectively.”[6]

They began arguing that these revisionist powers try to rearrange the global security order by using a strategy of “probing” – that is, “a combination of assertive diplomacy and small but bold military actions to test the outer reaches of American power and in particular the resilience of frontier allies.”[7]

America’s frontier allies share a number of characteristics: “All are small or mid-sized states occupying strategic faultlines; most are democracies; all sit in proximity to larger, potentially revisionist power centers; all look to the United States as security provider of last resort.”[8]

Mitchell and Grygiel analyzed this pattern in a series of opinion pieces and CEPA analytical briefs as well as the 2016 book The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Power, which has received endorsements from the likes of Anne Applebaum, Zbigniew Brzezinski and H.R. McMaster.[9]

In a March 2016 Wall Street Journal review of The Unquiet Frontier, McMaster lauded Mitchell and Grygiel for painting “a stark and compelling picture of the emerging geopolitical landscape.”


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