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  • Author: Edward Alden, Bryan Roberts
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In response to record numbers of illegal border crossings and the security fears triggered by the 9/11 attacks, over the past two decades the United States has steadily increased its efforts to secure its borders against illegal immigration. The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has risen from fewer than 3,000 to more than 20,700; nearly 700 miles of fencing have been built along the southern border with Mexico; and surveillance systems, including pilotless drones, now monitor much of the rest of the border. In a speech in El Paso, Texas, in May, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed that the United States had "strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible." Yet according to spring 2011 Rasmussen poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans think the border is no more, or even less, secure than it was five years ago. Some administration critics claim that the United States' frontiers have never been more porous. This contradiction stems in part from the fact that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has never clearly defined what border control means in practice. A secure border cannot mean one with no illegal crossings -- that would be unrealistic for almost any country, especially one as big and as open as the United States. On the other hand, the borders cannot be considered secure if many of those attempting to enter illegally succeed. Defining a sensible middle ground, where border enforcement and other programs discourage many illegal crossings and most of those who try to cross illegally are apprehended, is the challenge. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has failed to develop good measures for fixing goals and determining progress toward them. Since 2005, the DHS has reported how many miles of the country's land borders are under its "operational control," but it has done so without having clearly defined what that standard means and without providing hard data to back it up. The lack of sound measurement has left the administration touting its efforts rather than their results: during a press conference in 2010, Obama noted, "We have more of everything: ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], Border Patrol, surveillance, you name it. So we take border security seriously."
  • Topic: Security, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Peter R. Orszag
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States' fiscal future depends on whether the country can limit health-care costs. Obama's reforms were a major step in the right direction, argues the former White House budget director. But to finish the job, the U.S. medical system must evolve so that it emphasizes evidence and pursues quality rather than quantity.
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: F. Gregory Gause III
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The vast majority of academic specialists on the Arab world were as surprised as everyone else by the upheavals that toppled two Arab leaders last winter and that now threaten several others. It was clear that Arab regimes were deeply unpopular and faced serious demographic, economic, and political problems. Yet many academics focused on explaining what they saw as the most interesting and anomalous aspect of Arab politics: the persistence of undemocratic rulers. Until this year, the Arab world boasted a long list of such leaders. Muammar al-Qaddafi took charge of Libya in 1969; the Assad family has ruled Syria since 1970; Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of North Yemen (later united with South Yemen) in 1978; Hosni Mubarak took charge of Egypt in 1981; and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ascended to Tunisia's presidency in 1987. The monarchies enjoyed even longer pedigrees, with the Hashemites running Jordan since its creation in 1920, the al-Saud family ruling a unified Saudi Arabia since 1932, and the Alaouite dynasty in Morocco first coming to power in the seventeenth century. These regimes survived over a period of decades in which democratic waves rolled through East Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Arab countries' neighbors in the Muslim Middle East (Iran and Turkey) experienced enormous political change in that period, with a revolution and three subsequent decades of political struggle in Iran and a quasi-Islamist party building a more open and democratic system in secular Turkey.
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Sandy Hornick
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: New books by Witold Rybczynski and Edward Glaeser celebrate the ever-changing American urban experience. In proposing how to revitalize modern cities, however, both books underplay the critical role of the government.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: David M. Rodriguez
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In the summer of 2011, I visited the Afghan army's Regional Military Training Center in Helmand Province. The recruits had been there for two weeks, and they looked as strong as any group of U.S. soldiers in basic training. The Afghan drill instructors were as competent, and had the same cocky swagger, as American ones. "Sir, look at all of our volunteers," one drill sergeant proudly said to me. "They're great. We have already won. . . . We just don't know it yet." To comprehend the United States' progress in Afghanistan, it is important to understand how and where we have focused our resources and what work lies ahead. To be sure, the United States and its coalition partners still have plenty of challenges left to tackle in Afghanistan. However, there are indisputable gains everywhere we have focused our efforts. In 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops, with the help of David Petraeus, then the commander of the U.S. Central Command, worked hard to design a comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign for Afghanistan that would "get the inputs right," as Petraues often said. The upshot was more resources, troops, and civilian support and better command coherence. There are now more Afghan and coalition soldiers in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces alone than there were in all of Regional Command East, the formation responsible for security in Afghanistan's 14 eastern provinces, when I commanded the latter from 2007 to 2008. As 33,000 U.S. troops begin the drawdown, returning to the United States by next summer, 352,000 Afghan soldiers and police will be in place to continue their work. There are clear signs of progress in Afghanistan, and coalition forces have regained the initiative. The strategy has worked because it sought to match the coalition's goals with available resources. It involved four major concepts. First, use a bottom-up approach founded on good governance, capable security forces, and engagement with local communities. If towns had good leaders and security providers, populations would find local solutions to their local problems, with just a little help from Kabul. Insurgents could no longer exploit popular grievances about security, justice, and a lack of basic services.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America
  • Author: Benjamin A. Valentino
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As forces fighting Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi consolidated control of Tripoli in the last days of August 2011, many pundits began speaking of a victory not just for the rebels but also for the idea of humanitarian intervention. In Libya, advocates of intervention argued, U.S. President Barack Obama had found the formula for success: broad regional and international support, genuine burden sharing with allies, and a capable local fighting force to wage the war on the ground. Some even heralded the intervention as a sign of an emerging Obama doctrine. It is clearly too soon for this kind of triumphalism, since the final balance of the Libyan intervention has yet to be tallied. The country could still fall into civil war, and the new Libyan government could turn out to be little better than the last. As of this writing, troubling signs of infighting among the rebel ranks had begun to emerge, along with credible reports of serious human rights abuses by rebel forces. Yet even if the intervention does ultimately give birth to a stable and prosperous democracy, this outcome will not prove that intervention was the right choice in Libya or that similar interventions should be attempted elsewhere. To establish that requires comparing the full costs of intervention with its benefits and asking whether those benefits could be achieved at a lower cost. The evidence from the last two decades is not promising on this score. Although humanitarian intervention has undoubtedly saved lives, Americans have seriously underappreciated the moral, political, and economic price involved. This does not mean that the United States should stop trying to promote its values abroad, even when its national security is not at risk. It just needs a different strategy. Washington should replace its focus on military intervention with a humanitarian foreign policy centered on saving lives by funding public health programs in the developing world, aiding victims of natural disasters, and assisting refugees fleeing violent conflict. Abandoning humanitarian intervention in most cases would not mean leaving victims of genocide and repression to their fate. Indeed, such a strategy could actually save far more people, at a far lower price.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, Libya
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence, Richard Katz, Michael Spence
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: TROUBLE ON THE HOME FRONT Richard Katz A decade ago, the great American jobs train fell off its tracks. Traditionally, boosts in private-sector employment have accompanied recoveries from economic downturns. In the first seven years after the beginning of the 1980 and 1990 recessions, for example, the number of private-sector jobs increased by 14 percent. Yet in January 2008, seven years after the previous pre-recession peak and before the most recent recession began, private-sector jobs were up only four percent. Today, for the first time in the postwar era, there are fewer of these jobs than there were ten years before. Ignoring the overall dearth of jobs, Michael Spence (“The Impact of Globalization on Income and Unemployment,” July/August 2011) singles out the fraction of employment in sectors related to trade. He claims that China and other developing countries have taken U.S. jobs and blames globalization for the substantial increase in income inequality across the country. It is misleading, he says, to argue that “the most important forces operating on the structure of the U.S. economy are internal, not external.” He is wrong: the fault lies not in China or South Korea but at home.
  • Topic: Globalization
  • Political Geography: China, America, South Korea
  • Author: Carlisle Ford Runge, Carlisle Piehl Runge
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In the late eighteenth century, the English political economist Thomas Malthus took a look at two sets of numbers and had an unnerving vision: with food supplies increasing arithmetically while the number of people grew geometrically, the world population would eventually run out of food. "By that law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man," he wrote in 1798, "the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal. This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall some where and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind." He was right, at least at the time: in Malthus' day, food production was essentially limited by the availability of land, whereas procreation faced few restraints. Malthus did not foresee, however, that new technologies in the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century would dramatically raise agricultural productivity. Farmers worldwide learned to use new fertilizers, petrochemical-based herbicides and insecticides, genetically improved plants (especially wheat, corn, and rice), and massive diversions of water for irrigation, notably in China and South Asia. Crop yields soared, and in the United States so much so that by the 1950s chronic surpluses and low prices were becoming problems. The economist Willard Cochrane wrote in 1965 that thanks to the recent technological revolution in U.S. agriculture, the previous decade had witnessed "the greatest gain in productive efficiency of any ten-year period in the history of American farming." Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, crop yields continued to rise, not only in rich countries but also in many parts of the developing world. In India, Mexico, and elsewhere the "green revolution" was launched by plant breeders, such as the legendary Norman Borlaug. New varieties of wheat, maize, and rice raised yields by amounts that seemed miraculous at the time. The effort provided a new model for traditional farmers and improved their food security. And it encouraged a sense of purpose for agricultural research: to end world hunger. But it also exacerbated the disadvantages of poor, landless farmers relative to land-rich ones, who could afford the innovations. Landed farmers could find the credit to invest in irrigation and purchase high-yielding seeds, but those without access to credit, and thus the new inputs, were left behind.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, South Asia, India, Mexico
  • Author: Peter Osnos
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The rise of American foreign reporting was marked by outsized personalities and an expansive sense of mission. Today, the craft is in steady decline. But what will be lost if journalism disappears?
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Niall Ferguson
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: NIALL FERGUSON is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His most recent book is The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than The Course of Empire, a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hang in the New-York Historical Society. Cole was a founder of the Hudson River School and one of the pioneers of nineteenth-century American landscape painting; in The Course of Empire, he beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America, Iran
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: More than 16 years after the euphoria of the Oslo accords, the Israelis and the Palestinians have still not reached a final-status peace agreement. Indeed, the last decade has been dominated by setbacks -- the second intifada, which started in September 2000; Hamas' victory in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections; and then its military takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 -- all of which have aggravated the conflict.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Michael E. Mandelbaum
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Michael O'Hanlon
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Nine years ago, the United States worked with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban government in Kabul. The world was united, the cause for war was clear, and U.S. President George W. Bush enjoyed the support of roughly 90 percent of Americans. That was a long time ago. Today, the war in Afghanistan is a controversial conflict: fewer than half of Americans support the ongoing effort, even as roughly 100,000 U.S. troops are in harm's way. Troops from more than 40 countries still make up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but fewer than ten of those countries take substantial risks with their forces in the turbulent south and east of the country. And as the Netherlands prepares to depart Afghanistan this year and Canada remains committed to doing so in 2011, two of these coalition partners will likely soon be gone. Meanwhile, support for the coalition among Afghans has declined to less than 50 percent from highs of 80-90 percent early in the decade. Over the years, the U.S. mission has lost much of its clarity of purpose. Although voters and policymakers in the United States and elsewhere remain dedicated to denying al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan, they have begun debating whether a Taliban takeover would necessarily mean al Qaeda's return; whether al Qaeda really still seeks an Afghan sanctuary, as it did a decade ago; and whether U.S. forces could contain any future al Qaeda presence through the kinds of drone strikes now commonly employed in Pakistan. The most pressing question is whether the current strategy can work -- in particular, whether a NATO-led military presence of nearly 150,000 troops is consistent with Afghan mores and whether the government of President Hamid Karzai is up to the challenge of governing and keeping order in such a diverse, fractious land.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America, Taliban, Netherlands, Kabul
  • Author: Joseph S. Nye Jr.
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: It is currently fashionable to predict a decline in the United States' power. But the United States is not in absolute decline, and in relative terms, there is a reasonable probability that it will remain more powerful than any other state in the coming decades.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Richard N. Haass, Roger C. Altman
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The U.S. government is incurring debt at an unprecedented rate. If U.S. leaders do not act to curb their debt addiction, then the global capital markets will do so for them, forcing a sharp and punitive adjustment in fiscal policy. The result will be an age of American austerity.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: Arne Duncan
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: U.S. students now compete throughout their careers with their peers in other countries. But thinking of the future as a contest among countries vying to get larger pieces of a finite economic pie is a recipe for protectionism and global strife. Instead, Americans must realize that expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the pie for all.
  • Topic: Cold War, Economics
  • Political Geography: America, South Korea
  • Author: Richard K. Betts
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: After the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer each presented a bold vision of what the driving forces of world politics would be. The world in 2010 hardly seems on a more promising track -- a reminder that simple visions, however powerful, do not hold up as reliable predictors of particular developments.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: Anne-Marie Slaughter
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States' unique ability to capitalize on connectivity will make the twenty-first century an American century.
  • Topic: War, Communications
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, America, Georgia
  • Author: Amy B. Frumin
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security, Fragile/Failed State, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington
  • Author: Leslie H. Gelb
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States is declining as a nation and a world power. This is a serious yet reversible situation, so long as Americans are clear-eyed about the causes and courageous about implementing the cures, including a return to pragmatic problem solving.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America