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  • Author: Robert M. Gates
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Pentagon has to do more than modernize its conventional forces; it must also focus on today's unconventional conflicts -- and tomorrow's.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq
  • Author: Monica Hughes
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The most important and most overlooked energy issue today is the growing crisis of global energy supply. Cheap, industrial-scale energy is essential to building, transporting, and operating everything we use, from refrigerators to Internet server farms to hospitals. It is desperately needed in the undeveloped world, where 1.6 billion people lack electricity, which contributes to untold suffering and death. And it is needed in ever-greater, more-affordable quantities in the industrialized world: Energy usage and standard of living are directly correlated. Every dollar added to the cost of energy is a dollar added to the cost of life. And if something does not change soon in the energy markets, the cost of life will become a lot higher. As demand increases in the newly industrializing world, led by China and India, supply stagnates -meaning rising prices as far as the eye can see. What is the solution? We just need the right government "energy plan," leading politicians, intellectuals, and businessmen tell us. Of course "planners" such as Barack Obama, John McCain, Al Gore, Thomas L. Friedman, T. Boone Pickens, and countless others favor different plans with different permutations and combinations of their favorite energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, ethanol, geothermal, occasionally nuclear and natural gas) and distribution networks (from decentralized home solar generators to a national centralized so-called smart grid). But each agrees that there must be a plan-that the government must lead the energy industry using its power to subsidize, mandate, inhibit, and prohibit. And each claims that his plan will lead to technological breakthroughs, more plentiful energy, and therefore a higher standard of living. Consider Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, who claims that if only we follow his "repower American plan"-which calls for the government to ban and replace all carbon-emitting energy (currently 80 percent of overall energy and almost 100 percent of fuel energy) in ten years-we would be using fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home. . . . We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses. And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America. . . . [W]e can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses. And Gore claims that, under his plan, our vehicles will run on "renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline." Another revered thinker, Thomas L. Friedman, also speaks of the transformative power of government planning, in the form of a government-engineered "green economy." In a recent book, he enthusiastically quotes an investor who claims: "The green economy is poised to be the mother of all markets, the economic investment opportunity of a lifetime." Friedman calls for "a system that will stimulate massive amounts of innovation and deployment of abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons." How? Friedman tells us that there are two ways to stimulate innovation-one is short-term and the other is long-term-and we need to be doing much more of both. . . . First, there is innovation that happens naturally by the massive deployment of technologies we already have [he stresses solar and wind]. . . . The way you stimulate this kind of innovation-which comes from learning more about what you already know and doing it better and cheaper-is by generous tax incentives, regulatory incentives, renewable energy mandates, and other market-shaping mechanisms that create durable demand for these existing clean power technologies. . . . And second, there is innovation that happens by way of eureka breakthroughs from someone's lab due to research and experimentation. The way you stimulate that is by increasing government-funded research. . . . The problem with such plans and claims: Politicians and their intellectual allies have been making and trying to implement them for decades-with nothing positive (and much negative) to show for it. For example, in the late 1970s, Jimmy Carter heralded his "comprehensive energy policy," claiming it would "develop permanent and reliable new energy sources." In particular, he (like many today) favored "solar energy, for which most of the technology is already available." All the technology needed, he said, "is some initiative to initiate the growth of a large new market in our country." Since then, the government has heavily subsidized solar, wind, and other favored "alternatives," and embarked on grand research initiatives to change our energy sources-claiming that new fossil fuel and nuclear development is unnecessary and undesirable. The result? Not one single, practical, scalable source of energy. Americans get a piddling 1.1 percent of their power from solar and wind sources, and only that much because of national and state laws subsidizing and mandating them. There have been no "eureka breakthroughs," despite many Friedmanesque schemes to induce them, including conveniently forgotten debacles such as government fusion projects, the Liquid Fast Metal Breeder Reactor Program, and the Synfuels Corporation. Many good books and articles have been written-though not enough, and not widely enough read-chronicling the failures of various government-sponsored energy plans, particularly those that sought to develop "alternative energies," over the past several decades. Unfortunately, the lesson that many take from this is that we must relinquish hope for dramatic breakthroughs, lower our sights, and learn to make do with the increasing scarcity of energy. But the past failures do not warrant cynicism about the future of energy; they warrant cynicism only about the future of energy under government planning. Indeed, history provides us ample grounds for optimism about the potential for a dynamic energy market with life-changing breakthroughs-because America once had exactly such a market. For most of the 1800s, an energy market existed unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes, a market devoid of government meddling. With every passing decade, consumers could buy cheaper, safer, and more convenient energy, thanks to continual breakthroughs in technology and efficiency-topped off by the discovery and mass availability of an alternative source of energy that, through its incredible cheapness and abundance, literally lengthened and improved the lives of nearly everyone in America and millions more around the world. That alternative energy was called petroleum. By studying the rise of oil, and the market in which it rose, we will see what a dynamic energy market looks like and what makes it possible. Many claim to want the "next oil"; to that end, what could be more important than understanding the conditions that gave rise to the first oil? Today, we know oil primarily as a source of energy for transportation. But oil first rose to prominence as a form of energy for a different purpose: illumination. For millennia, men had limited success overcoming the darkness of the night with man-made light. As a result, the day span for most was limited to the number of hours during which the sun shone-often fewer than ten in the winter. Even as late as the early 1800s, the quality and availability of artificial light was little better than it had been in Greek and Roman times-which is to say that men could choose between various grades of expensive lamp oils or candles made from animal fats. But all of this began to change in the 1820s. Americans found that lighting their homes was becoming increasingly affordable-so much so that by the mid-1860s, even poor, rural Americans could afford to brighten their homes, and therefore their lives, at night, adding hours of life to their every day. What made the difference? Individual freedom, which liberated individual ingenuity. The Enlightenment and its apex, the founding of the United States of America, marked the establishment of an unprecedented form of government, one established explicitly on the principle of individual rights. According to this principle, each individual has a right to live his own life solely according to the guidance of his own mind-including the crucial right to earn, acquire, use, and dispose of the physical property, the wealth, on which his survival depends. Enlightenment America, and to a large extent Enlightenment Europe, gave men unprecedented freedom in the intellectual and economic realms. Intellectually, individuals were free to experiment and theorize without restrictions by the state. This made possible an unprecedented expansion in scientific inquiry-including the development by Joseph Priestly and Antoine Lavoisier of modern chemistry, critical to future improvements in illumination.18 Economically, this freedom enabled individuals to put scientific discoveries and methods into wealth-creating practice, harnessing the world around them in new, profitable ways-from textile manufacturing to steelmaking to coal-fired steam engines to illuminants. . . .
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Bruce M. Sugden
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Should the United States deploy conventional ballistic missiles (CBMs) in support of the prompt global strike (PGS) mission? Most important, do the political-military benefits outweigh the risks of CBM deployment? The United States, if it works to mitigate the risk of misperception and an inadvertent nuclear response, should deploy near-term CBMs in support of the PGS mission. The prompt response of CBMs would likely be sufficient to defeat many time-sensitive, soft targets, provided actionable intelligence was available. Near-term CBMs, those options capable of being deployed prior to 2013, would have the required attributes to defeat their targets: payload flexibility, throw weight, and accuracy. More specifically, the U.S. Navy's Conventional Trident Modification is a cost-effective, near-term PGS option that would mitigate the concerns of CBM opponents. The large-scale use of midterm and long-term CBMs against mobile targets and hard and deeply buried targets, however, will require a wider range of technologies that have yet to mature. Thus, the United States should continue investing in research and development for a broad portfolio of PGS options to cover the emerging target set.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tullio Treves
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Attacks against ships off the coast of Somalia have brought piracy to the forefront of international attention, including that of the Security Council. SC Resolution 1816 of 2008 and others broaden the scope of the existing narrow international law rules on piracy, especially authorizing certain states to enter the Somali territorial waters in a manner consistent with action permitted on the high seas. SC resolutions are framed very cautiously and, in particular, note that they 'shall not be considered as establishing customary law'. They are adopted on the basis of the Somali Transitional Government's (TFG) authorization. Although such authorization seems unnecessary for resolutions adopted under Chapter VII, there are various reasons for this, among which to avoid discussions concerning the width of the Somali territorial sea. Seizing states are reluctant to exercise the powers on captured pirates granted by UNCLOS and SC resolutions. Their main concern is the human rights of the captured individuals. Agreements with Kenya by the USA, the UK, and the EC seek to ensure respect for the human rights of these individuals surrendered to Kenya for prosecution. Action against pirates in many cases involves the use of force. Practice shows that the navies involved limit such use to self-defence. Use of force against pirates off the coast of Somalia seems authorized as an exception to the exclusive rights of the flag state, with the limitation that it be reasonable and necessary and that the human rights of the persons involved are safeguarded.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Kenya, United States, United Kingdom, Somalia
  • Author: Michael J. Green
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. decision to rescind the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism tested the bilateral relationship this quarter as the Bush administration was perceived in Japan as having softened its commitment to the abductee issue in favor of a breakthrough on denuclearization in the Six-Party Talks, which ultimately proved elusive. The Aso government managed to extend the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) refueling mission in the Indian Ocean for one year, though bilateral discussions on defense issues continued to center on whether Japan could move beyond a symbolic commitment to coalition operations in Afghanistan. Japanese domestic politics remained tumultuous as the opposition led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) thwarted the Aso legislative agenda to increase pressure for a snap election. Prime Minister Aso's approval rating plummeted over the course of the quarter due mostly to frustration with the response to the financial crisis, prompting him to postpone the widely anticipated Lower House election in an attempt to shore up support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Public opinion polls revealed increased interest in offering the DPJ a chance at the helm with most observers predicting an election sometime next spring. Other polls at the end of the quarter showed the Japanese public less sanguine about the U.S.-Japan alliance, a sobering development as President-elect Obama prepared to take office.
  • Topic: Development, Terrorism, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Oct. 1, 2008: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) becomes the world's largest bilateral development agency. Oct. 3, 2008: The Bank of Japan injects 800 billion yen ($7.6 billion) into the international financial system to prevent a global credit crunch from increasing interest rates. Oct. 3, 2008: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill meets Saiki Akitaka, director general for Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul to discuss Hill's visit to Pyongyang for discussions concerning a verification protocol for North Korean denuclearization under the Six-Party Talks.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Political conflict in Thailand between the ruling, rural-based pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) and an urban elite coalition calling itself the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) – though actually opposing democratic elections – turned violent in November and shut down Bangkok and the capital's airports for several days. The PPP government was forced to postpone the ASEAN summit scheduled for early December because of the violence and rescheduled the meeting for February 2009 to the dismay of other ASEAN leaders. Nevertheless, the new ASEAN Charter, which provides the Association with a legal personality for the first time, was activated at a special meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Jakarta on Dec. 15. Southeast Asian leaders welcomed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's election as the next U.S. president although some commentators noted that the Democratic Party has sometimes followed a trade protectionist policy when the U.S. economy is in difficulty. The Democrats have also taken a tougher position on human rights. In general, though, no significant change is foreseen in U.S. policy for Southeast Asia under President-elect Obama.
  • Topic: Security, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Satu Limaye
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: India's relations with the U.S. and East Asia during 2008 took place amidst remarkable flux domestically, within the South Asian region, and around the world – all of which directly and indirectly influenced developments in bilateral relations. The two issues that dominated U.S.-India relations during 2008 were the civilian nuclear cooperation deal and, at the end of the year, the U.S.-India-Pakistan triangle including the issues of terrorism and Kashmir. India's relations with East Asia were quiescent during 2008. A notable development was the completion of an India-ASEAN free trade agreement, although its economic implications remain uncertain. India accentuated the positive with Myanmar as bilateral relations became more cordial while relations with China seemed to be on hold for most of the year as the border dispute remained unresolved and India responded cautiously to the Chinese handling of unrest in Tibet.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia, India, East Asia
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S.-China relationship got off to a good start under the Obama administration, putting to rest Chinese worries that a prolonged period would be required to educate the new U.S. president about China's importance. “Positive” and “cooperative” were the two watchwords used repeatedly by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her discussions with Chinese leaders, which focused on the need to deepen and broaden the U.S.-China relationship, and to elevate cooperation to address urgent global problems, especially the financial crisis and global warming. In late February, U.S.-China military-to-military ties, which had been suspended by Beijing after the U.S. sold a large weapons package to Taiwan last October, partially resumed with the visit of U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney to Beijing. A naval confrontation between U.S. and Chinese ships took place near Hainan Island, which was quickly defused, although the underlying causes remain. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Washington D.C. in March to prepare for the first meeting between the two countries' presidents, which took place on the margins of the G20 meeting in London on April 1.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing, Taliban
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Looking back, it was a hostage to fortune to title our last quarterly review: “Things can only get better?” Even with that equivocating final question mark, this was too optimistic a take on relations between the two Koreas – which, as it turned out, not only failed to improve but deteriorated further in the first months of 2009. Nor was that an isolated trend. This was a quarter when a single event – or more exactly, the expectation of an event – dominated the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia more widely. Suspected since January, announced in February and awaited throughout March, despite all efforts to dissuade it North Korea's long-anticipated Taepodong launched on April 5. This too evoked a broader context, and a seeming shift in Pyongyang. Even by the DPRK's unfathomable logic, firing a big rocket – satellite or no – seemed a rude and perverse way to greet a new U.S. president avowedly committed to engagement with Washington's foes. Yet, no fewer than four separate senior private U.S. delegations, visiting Pyongyang in unusually swift succession during the past quarter, heard the same uncompromising message. Even veteran visitors who fancied they had good contacts found the usual access denied and their hosts tough-minded: apparently just not interested in an opportunity for a fresh start offered by a radically different incumbent of the White House.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang