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  • Author: David S. Mitchell, Jeremy Smith
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: On November 18, 2015, the Obama Administration's Department of Labor (DOL) published two important legal opinions that propose to give states new options for expanding retirement coverage for private-sector workers. These opinions open the door for states to move forward along one of two distinct paths: a payroll deduction plan that avoids ERISA, or a more traditional model that would fall under ERISA. This issue brief summarizes these rules and highlights the tradeoffs state policymakers will face when deciding which of these new avenues to pursue. The brief will be updated once the proposals are finalized.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Labor Issues, Governance, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991, it has been only the world's second Shi'ite-led state after Iran. Azerbaijan respects separation of mosque and state, and despite pressure from its neighbors, remains independent from political domination. Given its strategic importance, safeguarding the country's independence remains a US priority. And the threat from Iranian meddling is particularly acute. From Tehran's perspective, the combination of Azerbaijan's pre-19th-century Iranian past, modern Azerbaijan's embrace of secularism, and its relative economic success challenge Iran's legitimacy. As Iranian authorities have sought to undermine and destabilize Azerbaijan through political, clerical, charitable, and media channels, Azerbaijan's counterstrategy has been both restrained and effective.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Sovereignty, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sheng Zhang
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The China-US bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations have attracted attention due to the relative size and weight of both economies. Despite broad consensus about the importance of such a treaty, there is considerable debate about its shape and content. The debate is reflected in two recent Columbia FDI Perspectives. Donnelly argued that a China-US BIT should be modeled on the US Model BIT without "splitting the difference between Chinese and US positions", and that the possibility of meaningful BIT negotiations are "really up to China at this point".
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Colombia
  • Author: Micah Zenko
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As space systems increasingly perform and support critical operations, a variety of plausible nearterm incidents in outer space could precipitate or exacerbate an international crisis. The most grave space contingencies—viewed from the perspective of U.S. interests and international stability—are likely to result from either intentional interference with space systems or the inadvertent effects of irresponsible state behavior in outer space. The threats to U.S. space assets are significant and growing, as potential adversaries continue to pursue and could soon acquire counterspace capabilities. The United States has strategic interests in preventing and mitigating dangerous space incidents, given its high reliance on satellites for a variety of national security missions and unparalleled global security commitments and responsibilities. Like other technology-driven global governance challenges, the longer the United States delays preventive and mitigating efforts, the less dominant its position will be in shaping rules of the road for space.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Edward Alden, Rebecca Strauss
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Each year, U.S. state and local governments spend tens of billions of dollars to lure or retain business investment. The subsidies waste scarce taxpayer dollars that could better be used to strengthen public services such as education and infrastructure, or to lower overall tax burdens to create a more favorable investment climate. No state wants to dole out such subsidies, but most fear losing jobs to competing states if they refuse. States should take steps to curb subsidies, beginning with greater disclosure and cost-benefit analyses, and building up to a multistate agreement that creates strong disincentives for continuing subsidies. Existing international arrangements provide models and tools for achieving this.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Balkan Devlen
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: From the start of the Ukrainian crisis Turkey kept a low profile and adopted a strategy best described as "don't poke the Russian bear". Russia is a major Turkish trading partner and Turkey relies heavily on Russian natural gas for its energy needs, while Turkish prime minister Erdogan has also been dealing with serious domestic challenges in the last year. Therefore, due to both external and internal factors, Turkey will avoid confronting Russia directly and will pass the buck to the U.S. and EU. In the short to medium term there are three plausible scenarios under which Turkey will change its current policy. They include the oppression of Crimean Tatars by the Russian authorities; military confrontation in the Black Sea between Russia and NATO; or a more unified, tougher stance against Russia by the West. In the long term Turkey most likely will revert to its traditional role of balancing Russia by strengthening its ties with the West, while reducing its energy dependence on Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Leonard Wong
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 1970, the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force delivered its report to the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. In the report, better known as the Gates Commission due to the leadership of former Secretary of Defense Thomas Gates, the members of the Commission stated, "We unanimously believe that the nation's interests will be better served by an all-volunteer force, supported by an effective stand-by draft." They added, "We have satisfied ourselves that a volunteer force will not jeopardize national security, and we believe it will have a beneficial effect on the military as well as the rest of our society." In June of 1973, after years of debate, the statutory authority for the draft expired and the all-volunteer force became a reality.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mr Alain Guidetti
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: President Xi Jinping's July 2014 visit to Seoul indicates that the strategic partnership between China and the Republic of Korea is moving forward against a backdrop of growing power competition and instability in the region. Both Seoul and Beijing have strong interest in close cooperation: Beijing wants to prevent a full-fledged trilateral alliance between the US, Japan and South Korea aimed at containing China's rising power Seoul needs Chinese support in its efforts to reach out to Pyongyang and work towards future reunification.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Beijing, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Domenico Lombardi, Barry Carin, David Kempthorne
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The annual CIGI Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance assesses progress in four dimensions of international economic governance: macroeconomic and financial cooperation; cooperation on financial regulation; cooperation on trade; and cooperation on climate change. Governance related to these dimensions is scored on the following progress scale: 0%-19% represents "major regression"; 20%-39% represents "some regression"; 40%-59% indicates "minimal progress"; 60%-79% characterizes progress; and 80%-100% represents "major progress." Recognizing the difficulty of making objective judgments given the complexity of the issues, the results are offered as a range of subjective opinions from CIGI experts with diverse backgrounds.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Adam P. Liff
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Throughout the postwar period, the Government of Japan's (GOJ) definition and interpretation of collective self-defense and Article 9 of Japan's constitution have played a crucial role in how its leaders develop and employ military power. This issue also has had significant implications for its political and security relationship with the United States.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan