People used to ask whether democracies had the makeup for war. But when it comes to Syria, it seems that it is diplomacy rather than warfare that is most difficult for Western onlookers to digest.
Areas of expertise
Geopolitics and Geoeconomics; China; EU-Russia relations; transatlantic relations; EU politics and institutions; public diplomacy and nation branding; UK foreign policy
English, French, German
Mark Leonard is co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the first pan-European think tank. His topics of focus include geopolitics and geoeconomics, China, EU politics and institutions.
Leonard hosts the weekly podcast “Mark Leonards’s World in 30 Minutes” and writes a syndicated column on global affairs for Project Syndicate. Previously he worked as director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform and as director of the Foreign Policy Centre, a think tank he founded at the age of 24 under the patronage of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the 1990s, Leonard worked for the think tank Demos where his Britain™ report was credited with launching Cool Britannia. Mark has spent time in Washington, D.C. as a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and in Beijing as a visiting scholar at the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences.
He was Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geoeconomics until 2016.
Honoured as a “Young Global Leader” of the World Economic Forum, he spends a lot of time helping governments, companies, and international organisations make sense of the big geo-political trends of the twenty-first century. He is a regular speaker and prolific writer and commentator on global issues, the future of Europe, China’s internal politics, and the practice of diplomacy and business in a networked world. His essays have appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, the Financial Times, the New York Times, Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, El Pais, Gazeta Wyborcza, Foreign Policy, the New Statesman, the Daily Telegraph, The Economist, Time, and Newsweek.
As well as writing and commenting frequently in the media on global affairs, Leonard is the author of best-selling books. His first book, Why Europe will run the 21st Century, was published in 2005 and translated into 19 languages. Leonard’s second book, What does China think? was published in 2008 and translated into 15 languages. He has published an edited volume on Connectivity Wars and in September 2021, his latest book on this topic The Age of Unpeace. How Connectivity Causes Conflict was released.
Europeans are losing faith in the EU
UKIP is just a small part of a broader phenomenon spreading across the developed world that resembles a political backlash against globalization and interdependence. But how should mainstream parties respond?
Although it may seem that Europe is down and out as it struggles with multiple crises, things are in fact far, far better than they appear on the surface.
A new ECFR analysis shows that trust in the EU has plummeted across the continent. Both southern debtors and northern creditors feel like they are victims.
Does the launch of a new Eurosceptic party in Germany suggest there is fertile ground for a real alternative ahead of elections later this year, despite Merkel's refusal to countenance change?
The two giant economies – Europe and the US – are no longer as different as they once were. Austerity and the prospect of decline have brought them back together.
With his State of the Union address, President Obama combined the two most powerful tactics of modern politics – big speeches and big data – to spur political action. Are we witnessing a reinvention of representative democracy?
Cameron's EU speech is a bad miscalculation that underestimates how much the world has changed, and how much Britain needs Europe if it is to retain an influential voice in global affairs.
New ECFR research reveals that Europeans are split about the long-term goals of the war in Ukraine. Unless political leaders find a new language to bridge the gap between emerging “Peace” and “Justice” camps, Europe could become polarised between – and within – countries.
Europeans are united around three key ideas about the war in Ukraine. The crisis will likely test their readiness to defend the European security order.
A majority of European citizens believe a new cold war with both China and Russia is under way – but they mostly do not think that their own country is involved
Europe’s covid-19 experience has been a tale of two pandemics – and the differences in each story could haunt the continent for many years to come
To engage more confidently with a world that is changing, outward-looking Germans need to shape a progressive new national identity before it is defined by the forces of isolation and exclusion
The EU should become a global standard-setter for the energy transition, and prepare to manage the profound geopolitical repercussions of the Green Deal in its relationships with its neighbourhood
Most Europeans rejoiced at Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, but they do not think he can help America make a comeback as the pre-eminent global leader
To manage in this new world, the EU and its members need to embark on a broad-based effort to recover their strategic sovereignty
The Trump years galvanised Europeans’ efforts to strengthen their own sovereignty; they now need to agree concrete offers they can make to the new administration
The shock of covid-19 in Britain may end the culture-wars politics set off by the Brexit referendum
Westerners regard Russia’s war as an attack on the rules-based order, but Chinese scholars see it as another harbinger of the denouement of US hegemony. While Americans and Europeans can argue with this position, it would be a mistake not to take it seriously.
For the European project to stay the same, everything must change
Russia’s war on Ukraine loomed large at Davos, where leaders once gathered to celebrate globalisation. The world has now entered an era dominated by geopolitics.
Although Europe has begun to make up for years of neglect in terms of defence spending, it remains woefully ill-equipped to win over other countries through the power of attraction and persuasion. Each side in the European culture war is uniquely unappealing to billions of people around the world.
As a paranoid dictator, Vladimir Putin has survived by eliminating anyone who could pose a threat to him. But now that he has triggered the survival instinct of Europe and the broader West, the world is entering a dangerous new phase of existential conflict.
The only way for Germany to escape its historical inhibitions and be true to its post-war development is to change
The current US administration might be the last one that sees itself as a European power. As the Munich Security Conference 2022 showed, Europeans will need to do far more to shape the rules of engagement between states.
Across Europe, national attitudes toward the Russian threat against Ukraine reflect a broad array of concerns and historical experiences. Yet underlying Europeans’ differences are key shared interests that they are increasingly willing to defend.
Mark Leonard and Jeremy Shapiro predict ten bright and bold policy projections for the year 2022
In the coming decades, the question of who sets the global rules, standards, and norms guiding technology, trade, and economic development will be paramount. Having lost their exclusive prerogative in this domain, some Western governments have begun to rethink the universality of the rules-based order.
Power is now defined by control over flows of people, goods, money, and data, and via the connections they establish. Only states that see the new map of geopolitical power clearly will be able to control the modern world.
New ECFR/YouGov research reveals huge fluidity in current voting intentions: 70 percent of Europeans certain to vote are yet to make their choice. Nearly 100m swing voters are up for grabs.
Mark Leonard is joined by ECFR’s Piotr Buras, Gustav Gressel, Kadri Liik, and Jeremy Shapiro to describe and debate the potential military, security, and economic aspects of the long-war plan
Mark Leonard, Carl Bildt, Karoline Edtstadler, and Thomas Wieser discuss the future of globalisation and the role of a geopolitical Europe in front of a live audience
Geoff Mulgan and Mark Leonard discuss how to restore political imagination and harness creativity to solve current and future problems
Mark Leonard discusses with Anna Sauerbrey her book “Machtwechsel” and the new generation of German politicians
Mark Leonard is joined by Nick Witney, Jana Puglierin, and Tara Varma, to evaluate the outcomes of the NATO Summit in Madrid, especially regarding European defence
Fareed Zakaria discusses the political, geopolitical, and geo-economic changes to the world order after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Mark Leonard will launch his newly released paperback edition of his book – The Age of Unpeace: How Connectivity Causes Conflict (Penguin) with a brand-new essay on the war in Ukraine and its implications for geopolitics
With the EU’s High Representative as our honoured guest, the panel will explore the birth of a geopolitical Europe and the new dimensions of European power with a focus on the tech, economic, and security terrains
In collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Madrid, ECFR has organised a public virtual debate to explore how the EU and the Indo-Pacific can build a strategic alliance and how the EU-Japan relationship can drive this process
How central is the EU to the US and its interests in Europe? And how does the public in European countries view Biden’s America?
ECFR’s latest polling finds that Europeans celebrated Joe Biden’s victory but are sceptical that we will see a global resurgence of US power and…
How to manage the geopolitical aspects of the European Green Deal and lead climate change efforts globally
The event will launch an exciting new report by Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard, based on public opinion polling in 11 countries
The EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, and Mark Leonard discussed why strategic autonomy matters