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  • Author: Hossein Askari
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Over the last 100 years, crude oil has been priced between $10 and $30 per barrel (adjusted for inflation, in 2010 U.S. dollars), with the exception of two periods: 1973-1983 and 2001-2011.1 These two periods were both marked by conflicts, upheavals, and disruptions in the Middle East. The resulting oil price shocks were dramatic and led to large swings in current account balances, as oil producers rapidly acquired cash for their increasingly valuable resources. Large current account surpluses signify net annual savings in a country's transactions with the rest of the world, and large imbalances put stress on the international financial and banking system. These massive surpluses and corresponding deficits played a leading role in the developing-world debt crisis of the 1980s and may have a contributing factor to the global financial crisis of the late 2000s. In this paper, we begin by taking a brief look at the factors affecting oil prices, a subject that is often the victim of popular misconceptions. Then, we turn to a significant result of higher prices, large swings in current account balances, and potential financial crises. We conclude by proposing a change in U.S. and international policies to contain conflicts, reduce violent swings in oil prices, better manage and recycle the current account surpluses of oil exporters, and reduce the likelihood of recurring and severe financial crises.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: David Galbraith
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As revolution swept across the Arab world beginning in early 2011, the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) appeared largely immune. In Bahrain, the only GCC country where mass protests did erupt, the government suppressed them violently with the political and military support of neighboring GCC countries. This crackdown was a leading exhibit in what observers termed the “counterrevolution.” Yet to think of the Gulf states as immune to unrest ignores the internal challenges that have been inspired by the Arab Spring over the past two years. Although these challenges differed from country to country, three trends broadly hold: they represent an intensification of trends that pre-dated the Arab Spring; except in Bahrain, they have not evolved into broad-based movements that question regime legitimacy; and no regime has chosen to open up meaningful new institutional political space in response. The United States has been criticized for hypocrisy in the wake of the Arab uprisings because it maintains strong alliances with the Gulf monarchies even as it supports democratic transitions elsewhere. However, the United States should not push strongly for systemic political reform across these countries in the absence of broad social mobilization. A more targeted and softer approach, adjusted to the internal dynamics in each country, is the right course.
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia, Bahrain
  • Author: Thomas X. Hammes
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Even as America continues its withdrawal from Afghanistan, a crucial problem is emerging for the U.S. defense establishment. It must meet an increasing variety of threats with decreasing resources. Despite the fervent wishes of those who seek to refocus on state versus state war, the spectrum of conflict continues to expand. Further, defying the Pentagon's best efforts to fight short, decisive wars, today's wars are often ambiguous, indecisive, and protracted. While the demands increase, defense resources are being squeezed by three major factors. First, and most obvious, are the looming cuts in the defense budget. Second, is the inability of the Department of Defense (DoD) to control the cost of new weapons systems. Third, is the near doubling of military personnel costs since 2001. Balancing the demands of the expanding spectrum of war with the decline in defense resources represents the fundamental issue for defense planners. To succeed, the Pentagon cannot continue to operate as it has over the last two decades. This article will take a brief look at the expanding spec- trum of threats, as well as the concomitant budgetary pressures that face U.S. defense. It will then address the strate- gist's fundamental problem of achieving balance among ends, ways, and means. It will close with modest suggestions for how to match today's declining resources with expanding demands.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America
  • Author: Travis Sharp
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Washington has failed to have a legitimate debate of the risks involved with budget cuts. This lack of sophisticated discourse about the strategic risks of defense cuts may lead American political leaders to make poor choices that imperil U.S. interests.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington
  • Author: William Handel, Nora McGann
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 1950 six nations created the European Coal and Steel Community, laying the foundations for what would later become the European Union. Since then many other regions have integrated and the number of regional organizations has proliferated. In Africa alone there are several, and often countries are members of multiple organizations. Regional organizations are key actors in tackling tough problems, such as protecting human rights, preventing and resolving conflict, strengthening regional cooperation, and promoting economic growth. The purpose of this issue's Forum, consisting of five articles, is to provide readers with a theoretical and practical overview of key aspects of regional integration and regional organizations. The first two articles provide a theoretical discussion on regional integration, while the following three articles present case studies on regional organizations – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Arctic Council, and ASEAN. These pieces are summarized in Piero Graglia's introduction. Other contributions to this issue include articles about self-defense groups in Mexico, reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal, the Chinese middle class, and Scotland's referendum on independence. The issue also features interviews with Ambassador Joseph D. Stafford III on his experience in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the hostage crisis, Professor Joseph S. Nye on American leadership, and Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer on global women's issues. In selecting the topics for this issue we have reached beyond the headlines in an effort to explore tough and persistent global problems. We are proud to end our tenure as Editors-in-Chief with an issue that looks to the future. We are grateful to Dean Jennifer Windsor and Allyson Goodwin for their invaluable advice and support as well as to our dedicated team of editors for their tireless work on this issue of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Stephen Blank
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The SCO grew out of a Chinese initiative (hence its name) from the late 1990s that brought together all the states that had emerged from the Soviet Union in 1991 and signed bilateral border-delimiting treaties with China: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In 2001, these states and Uzbekistan formally created the SCO. Since then it has added observer states—Mongolia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, and Pakistan—and dialogue partners—Turkey, Belarus, and Sri Lanka. The SCO's original mandate seemingly formulated it as a collective security organization pledged to the defense of any member threatened by secession, terrorism, or extremism—for example, from Islamic militancy. This pre-9/11 threat listing reflected the fact that each member confronted restive Muslim minorities within its own borders. That threat may indeed be what brought them together since China's concern for its territorial integrity in Xinjiang drives its overall Central Asian policy. Thus, the SCO's original charter and mandate formally debarred Central Asian states from helping Uyghur Muslim citizens fight the repression of their Uyghur kinsmen in China. Likewise, the charter formally precludes Russian or Chinese assistance to disaffected minorities in one or more Central Asian states should they launch an insurgency. In practice the SCO has refrained from defense activities and followed an idiosyncratic, even elusive, path; it is an organization that is supposed to be promoting its members' security, yet it is difficult to see what, if anything, it actually does. Officially published accounts are of little help in assessing the SCO since they confine themselves to high-flown, vague language and are short on specifics. We see from members' actual behavior that they primarily rely on bilateral ties with Washington, Beijing, or Moscow, or on other multilateral formations like the Russian-organized Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), itself an organization of questionable effectiveness. Therefore, this essay argues that the SCO is not primarily a security organization. Rather, it provides a platform and regulatory framework for Central Asian nations to engage and cope with China's rise and with Sino-Russian efforts to dominate the area. As such, it is attractive to small nations and neighboring powers but problematic for Russia and the United States. Analyzing the SCO's lack of genuine security provision, its membership expansion considerations, and Russia's decline in power will help clarify the organization's current and future roles.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, United States, China, Iran, Washington, Central Asia, India, Shanghai, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Beijing, Tajikistan, Soviet Union, Moscow
  • Author: Baz Lecocq
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Finally, the situation in Mali was rotten enough for international intervention. First because the mujahideen of Ansar Dine, the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), along with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), only had to exercise a little pressure at the front in Konna, to let the last remnants of the Malian Army fall apart.1 Second because the Malian Interim President, Dioncounda Traoré, installed after the coup d'état against President Amadou Toumani Touré of 22 March 2012, faced yet another coup d'état from this same decrepit army, set heavily against foreign intervention as it might upset its power within Mali, which led him to formally ask France for military support, believing he had nothing to lose.2 Undoubtedly, the French Ministry of Defense and French Military HQ État-Major des Armées had a plan ready despite President Hollande's public assurances that France would not pursue a neocolonial intervention in a sovereign state. France has historically intervened militarily in West Africa whenever the situation allowed.3 In the past decade, Mali had become more and more part of the U.S. sphere of influence in Africa as U.S. armed forces trained Malian troops in counter terrorism operations. This was without much success, as is now clear, but France must have looked with disquiet upon their loss of influence. Then there are the uranium mines at Imouraren in neighboring Niger, only a few hundred kilometers from the mujahideen controlled zone in Mali. A further degradation of the security situation in Mali would certainly pose a threat to these French strategic interests
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, France, West Africa, Mali
  • Author: Stevan Weine
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Obama administration's landmark new approach to countering violent extremism through engaging community partners calls for no less than a paradigm shift in how we understand the causes of terrorism. The shift is away from a pathways approach focused on how push and pull factors influenced one person's trajectory toward or away from violent extremism, and towards an ecological view that looks at how characteristics of the social environment can either lead to or diminish involvement in violent extremism for the persons living there. The core idea of this new paradigm, conveyed in the White House's December 2011 Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States (SIP), is that of countering violent extremism through building resilience. Denis McDonough, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, expressed this at an Islamic center in Virginia, stating, “we know, as the President said, that the best defense against terrorist ideologies is strong and resilient individuals and communities.” Subsequent White House documents have further unpacked this, for example, in stating: “[n]ational security draws on the strength and resilience of our citizens, communities, and economy.” Resilience usually refers to persons' capacities to withstand or bounce back from adversity. It is a concept derived from engineering perspectives upon the durability of materials to bend and not break. In recent years, resilience has come to the forefront in the fields of public health, child development, and disaster relief. To scientists and policymakers, resilience is not just a property of individuals, but of families, communities, organizations, networks, and societies. Resilience-focused policies and interventions that support or enhance its components have yielded significant and cost effective gains in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission, and helping high-risk children and disaster-impacted populations. Though the present use of resilience sounds more like resistance, today's hope is that such approaches could also keep young Americans away from violent extremism. A resilience approach offers no quick fix, not in any of the aforementioned fields or in countering violent extremism. It depends upon adequately understanding what resilience means for a particular group of persons and how it has been shaped by history, politics, social context, and culture. It also depends upon government establishing and sustaining partnerships with the impacted families, communities, networks, and organizations. Additionally, it depends on government working in partnership to design, implement, and evaluate what interventions can really make a difference in building resilience, a process certain to involve trial and error
  • Topic: Security, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joseph Cirincione
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In any given week, there is significant competition for the title of “most dangerous country in the world.” Some may believe it is Syria or Mali, Iran or North Korea, China or Russia, or dozens of others. As tragic as conditions may be in these countries, as potentially harmful as their policies may seem, no state truly comes close to the multiple dangers inherent in Pakistan today. Trends in this nation may converge to form one or more nuclear nightmares that could spread well beyond the region to threaten international security and the lives of millions. Experts estimate that Pakistan has between 90-110 nuclear weapons and enough fissile material to produce 100 more. It has an unstable government, a fragile economy, strong extremist influences in its military and intelligence structures, and Al Qaeda, as well as half a dozen similar terrorist groups operating inside the country. The confluence of these factors not only increases the potential for a nuclear escalation between Pakistan and its regional rival, India, but perhaps the even more terrifying scenario that a terrorist group will acquire fissile material, or an intact weapon, from Pakistan's burgeoning stockpiles. Both of these risks are unacceptable. The United States can and must take concrete steps to reduce the risks posed by Pakistan's unique combination of instability, extremism, and nuclear weapons…
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Russia, United States, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria
  • Author: Joseph D. Stafford III
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: GJIA: What has been your favorite part about being a career Foreign Service Officer, and why? Stafford: I think my favorite part has been having the opportunity to live and work overseas, in other cultures, and to work on issues of importance to the United States and our international relations. The assignments in Washington have also been interesting but, in my mind, the most stimulating and enjoyable part of my Foreign Service career has been the chance to work overseas and meet ordinary citizens and members of civil society across the world, and to represent the US government.
  • Political Geography: United States, America