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  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In “Afghanistan Affectations,” a detailed report published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series in April 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown assesses how counterinsurgency, stabilization, and reconstruction dynamics have interacted with organized crime, illicit economies, and generalized predatory criminality since 2001 and warped and weakened the post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In “Myanmar Maneuvers,” a detailed report published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series in April 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown assesses complex interactions among illegal economies, conflict, peace, and political transitions in Myanmar since the 1990s. She analyzes the evolution of the illegal economies in drugs, logging, wildlife trafficking, and gems and minerals as well as land grabbing and crony capitalism, showing how they shaped political transitions and how political evolution and changes shaped them. She also examines the impact of geopolitics and the regional environment, particularly the role of China, both in shaping domestic political developments in Myanmar and the country’s illicit economies.
  • Topic: Corruption, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Myanmar
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Large-scale illicit economies and organized crime have received increasing attention from governments and international organizations since the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War brought a permissive strategic environment that allowed many states to focus on a broader menu of interests in their foreign policy agendas, such as the fight against drug trafficking and production. The post-Cold War era also exposed the fragility and institutional underdevelopment of many of these states, a deficiency perhaps exacerbated by globalization. At the same time, criminal and belligerent actors with significant power previously obscured by the shadows of Cold War politics were spotlighted by the international community, especially when their activities were associated with intense violence or corruption.
  • Topic: Corruption, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Esther Care, Helyn Kim, Kate Anderson, Emily Gustafsson-Wright
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: There have been increased calls globally for students to develop a broader set of skills during the years of formal education than in the past. Education has typically been seen as a preparation for adulthood and its work-related responsibilities. Recently, however, the focus on academic, vocational, and technical skills (e.g., Brewer, 2013) has shifted toward an aspiration for education to inform both work and life more generally (e.g., Pellegrino and Hilton, 2012). Many frameworks describe the skills or competencies that this 21st century world demands (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012; Lippman, Ryberg, Carney, and Moore, 2015), and in so doing, they display strong commonalities. The frameworks examine what competencies people need to function effectively in society, with descriptions varying from very high level (e.g., Delors, 1996) to very detailed (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012). Differences also emerge primarily in the degree to which skills or competencies alone are identified or whether a wider range of human characteristics are included. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2016) acknowledges this shift in the focus of education toward a broader approach. Of particular interest for Skills for a Changing World, Sustainable Development Goal 4 calls for skills beyond literacy and numeracy—including readiness for primary education (4.2), technical and vocational skills (4.4), and skills needed to promote global citizenship and sustainable development (4.7). These targets signal an emphasis on the breadth of skills necessary to prepare children, youth, and adults comprehensively for 21st century citizenship and life.
  • Topic: International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Geoffrey Gertz
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which links the United States with two of its largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. Officials in both Canada and Mexico have signaled they are open to renegotiations, and talks are expected to begin soon. New commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated he hopes the negotiations could be completed within a year.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Canada, Mexico
  • Author: Robert Einhorn
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as it has evolved since the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970, has been remarkably resilient. Despite predictions of a “cascade of proliferation,” there are currently only nine states with nuclear weapons, and that number has remained the same for the past 25 years.[1] The NPT is nearly universal, with 190 parties and only five non-parties (India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, South Sudan). Several countries voluntarily abandoned nuclear weapons development programs (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt); several others were forced diplomatically or militarily to give up the quest (Iraq, Libya, South Korea, Syria); three former Soviet republics inherited nuclear weapons but gave them up (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine); and one country built a small arsenal before unilaterally eliminating it (South Africa). With Iran’s path to nuclear weapons blocked by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for at least 10 to 15 years, there are no non-nuclear weapon states currently believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons, according to U.S. government sources. And despite cases of nuclear smuggling and continuing interest of terrorist groups in acquiring nuclear weapons, no thefts of enough fissile material to build a bomb are believed to have taken place.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dhruva Jaishankar
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Donald Trump’s election at a time of growing and converging interests between India and the United States necessitates a re-evaluation of several aspects of Indian domestic and foreign policy. This paper identifies four areas in which Trump’s election affects Indian interests: bilateral relations (encompassing trade, investment, immigration, and technological cooperation), the Asian balance of power, counterterrorism, and global governance. It argues that India must continue to engage with the Trump administration and other stakeholders in the United States—including the U.S. Congress, state governments, and the private sector—in all of these areas. New Delhi must attempt to convince Washington that India’s rise is in American interest. This idea provided the underlying logic behind the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations’ engagement with India, but it will be more difficult to sustain given the United States’ new political realities and impulses.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, India
  • Author: David Dollar
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Global value chains (GVCs) break up the production process so different steps can be carried out in different countries. Many smart phones and televisions, for example, are designed in the United States or Japan. They have sophisticated inputs, such as semiconductors and processors, which are produced in the Republic of Korea or Chinese Taipei. And they are assembled in China. They are then marketed and receive after-sale servicing in Europe and the United States. These complex global production arrangements have transformed the nature of trade. But their complexity has also created difficulties in understanding trade and in formulating policies that allow firms and governments to capitalize on GVCs and to mitigate negative side effects.
  • Topic: International Relations, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John R Allen
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: On June 12, 2017, Bruce Jones, director of the Brookings Foreign Policy Program, convened five Brookings experts—John Allen, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Tanvi Madan, Michael O’Hanlon, and Bruce Riedel—to discuss the history and future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. The edited transcript below reflects their assessments of evolving U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, progress to date, enduring challenges, regional dynamics, burden-sharing with coalition partners and regional stakeholders, domestic political support for ongoing U.S. commitment, and policy recommendations for U.S. strategy going forward.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Raj M. Desai, Homi Kharas
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Does an expanding middle class benefit society’s poorest? Much has been written recently about the rapid growth of the middle class as well as the rapid fall in absolute poverty (Kharas 2017; Kocharand Oates 2015; Burrows 2015). However, few studies seek to link these two trends. It is worth emphasizing at the outset that a growing middle class and a falling poverty rate are not simply two sides of the same coin; there is a large “vulnerable” (or near poor) cohort between the poorest individuals and the middle class. Additionally, the trends can be quite different. In the United States, for example, the percentage of middle-class households has steadily fallen since the 1970s, while the portion of households in the lowest income brackets has remained steady (Kochhar,Fry, and Rohal 2015). Similar trends have occurred in the European Union since the early 2000s (ILO 2015). By contrast, in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, most of those lifted out of poverty appear to have joined the ranks of the vulnerable rather than the middle class (Calvo-Gonzalez 2017; Chandy 2015). There, the middle class has stagnated despite reductions in poverty.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus