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  • Author: Ryan C. Berg
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Daniel Ortega’s suppression of protestors and civil society continues unabated. Since April 2018, Nicaragua’s security forces have killed hundreds of people, thousands have been injured or held as political prisoners, and more than 100,000 Nicaraguans have fled to neighboring countries or the United States. Ortega’s authoritarian consolidation began well before April 2018; the keys to his regime’s ruthless survival strategy are the National Police and Nicaraguan Army, co-optation of the judiciary, domination of the media, and a highly complicit private sector that long ago embraced a modus vivendi with his socialist government, among others. The US should ramp up its sanctions against the Ortega regime; target individuals and industries, especially those connected to Ortega or the military; sequence its sanctions rollout; and synchronize external pressure with the domestic opposition to develop an effective strategy for achieving key political and electoral reforms ahead of the general elections in 2021. Reinvigorated diplomacy, particularly with the European Union and other Latin America governments, should seek to expand the international coalition against Ortega’s repression to maintain steady pressure for a definitive change in the character of the regime.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Civil Society, Sanctions, Protests
  • Political Geography: Central America, Nicaragua, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Hal Brands, Tim Nichols
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: America is moving from one era of foreign policy to another: The primacy of counterterrorism has faded, and competition with authoritarian great powers is the dominant concern. While special operations forces (SOF) understand that they must play a role in great-power competition, they often lack a clear understanding of what that entails. SOF can support great-power competition in five ways: gathering information, working with allies and partners, imposing costs, handling crisis response, and undertaking strategic raids. In addition, retaining competency in counterterrorism is itself a crucial contribution to great-power competition, because suppressing non-state threats is the prerequisite to allowing the rest of the American government to focus on other things.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Armed Forces, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Brett D. Schaefer
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In a pandemic, a global health organization that is overly deferential to one nation and incapable of being an honest broker costs the very lives it exists to save. While China deserves primary blame for the devastation of COVID-19, the WHO also played a key role by failing to alert the world to Beijing’s lack of transparency. The WHO’s failures cannot be allowed to recur. Without change, it will fail again. It must implement reforms if it wants to restore confidence and earn US support.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, World Health Organization, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Karen E. Young
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Much energy has focused on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the debt-trap diplomacy it represents. But there is another set of players on the scene whose growth and influence in this sphere have been largely ignored. Gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have increasingly embraced an aggressive growth, investment, and development model for the broader Middle East. This report and the accompanying Gulf Financial Aid and Direct Investment Tracker are an effort to understand the breadth and scope of Gulf aid and financial intervention into a representative set of cases in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and West Asia. The objective is to demonstrate the competitive landscape for foreign investment in the receiving case countries and indicate the growing strength of Gulf capital investment, as it measures against a perception of Chinese capacity in the wider Middle East and emerging markets broadly. Most important, the comparative data here also demonstrate how private capital flows from the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union compete against flows of capital from state capitalism sources such as China and the Gulf.
  • Topic: Foreign Direct Investment, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Investment, Strategic Competition, State Capitalism
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Emily Estelle
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Great-power competition and the terrorist threat intersect and interact with one another in Africa and the Middle East. US disengagement from these regions to prepare for great-power competition in other theaters will increase a growing vacuum that is drawing more regional and global actors—states and non-state extremist groups—into a series of vicious cycles that will pose grave threats to American national security in the coming decades. Breaking the vicious cycle will require the US and its allies to separate the Libyan and Syrian conflicts and disentangle and discourage proxy conflict by external players while supporting the development of responsive governance in the two countries. Preventing similar crises will require a proactive strategy to seal off localized conflicts and prevent them from becoming larger competitions between external players while taking action to improve governmental responsiveness in at-risk areas.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Power Politics, Violent Extremism, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Iran has embraced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a major pillar of its military strategy. Iranian officials may exaggerate their capabilities, but Western analysts should not dismiss the threat posed by Iranian drones. Iranian authorities have invested in and experimented with drones for 35 years. Iranian authorities use drones for two main purposes: surveillance and attack. Iranian controllers now have the ability to conduct missions over the horizon and in most weather. Attack drones fall in two categories: Those with the ability to drop bombs or launch missiles and return to base and “kamikaze” drones that seek targets of opportunity. Iranian authorities have had more success with the latter. The biggest danger posed by Iranian UAVs, however, in years to come may be the result of Iranian proliferation of its drones to proxy groups, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and the transfer of the ability to manufacture those drones. This will create some ambiguity in the operational environment as uncertainty about the identity of the drone’s controller can undercut momentum to hold that controlling country or group to account. This ability to escape accountability might actually make the use of drones more likely in surprise and terrorist attacks in the coming years.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Weapons , Drones
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Kenneth Pollack
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: For the first two to three decades after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian-led “Axis of Resistance” was little more than rhetoric, ascribing greater unity of effort to an amalgam of states, semi-states, and non-state actors that opposed the Middle Eastern status quo than was ever the reality. Because of the events of 2014–16, when key Shi’a groups and governments faced severe threats, there has been a significant shift in the Axis’ composition and effectiveness. Today, the Axis is comprised of an increasingly cohesive coalition of groups functioning more directly under Iranian guidance. Iranian support for these groups has also shifted from covert terrorist collusion, funding, intelligence sharing, rhetorical support, and tacit diplomacy to overt force deployments, joint military operations, economic assistance, deterrence, and alliance solidarity. Nevertheless, Iran’s successes have led to additional problems. The Axis of Resistance strategy was born out of necessity, and it is unclear, especially without Soleimani, whether Iran will be able to adapt moving forward.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Non State Actors, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Ryan C. Berg
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Much of Brazil’s deadly urban violence is the direct result of territorial battles involving the country’s powerful transnational organized crime groups, many of which trace their origins to the country’s dangerous and overcrowded prisons. The Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), or First Capital Command, took shape in São Paulo during the early 1990s, as inmates organized against poor prison conditions to impose order and preserve lives. Eventually, the PCC developed an ability to project its influence and control well beyond prison walls and into Brazil’s sprawling urban slums. The PCC has vanquished many of its domestic rivals, enjoys a footprint in every state in Brazil, runs operations in almost every country of South America, and is now more globally minded than ever before, recruiting guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Venezuelan refugees and partnering with European mafia groups and Lebanese Hezbollah. Law-and-order strategies that “stuff” Brazil’s crowded prisons with new inmates may actually exacerbate the problem, given that the PCC has effectively converted the country’s prisons into logistical hubs and training centers of illicit activity. To fight the PCC, the US should designate it as a transnational organized crime group to confer the benefits of multiple pieces of legislation and seek extradition of key PCC leaders.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Non State Actors, Law Enforcement, Prisons/Penal Systems, Violence
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Sahel-based Salafi-jihadi groups including al Qaeda and the Islamic State coordinate and cooperate across organizational divides united by common objectives, shared histories, and ethnic ties, creating a unique ecosystem of ideology and terror. The Salafi-jihadi ecosystem in the Sahel is strengthening rapidly. The number of attacks will continue to rise and will become deadlier as groups’ capabilities improve. The groups’ coordinated effort to transform Sahelian society and governance into their vision under Islam has helped destabilize the region and has created additional opportunities for Salafi-jihadi growth.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Non State Actors, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Salafism, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Sahel
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Partial decoupling from China is overdue. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) suppresses foreign competition and infringes intellectual property. It is an ugly dictatorship at home and increasingly aggressive overseas. Decoupling involves a range of tools and economic activities. Policymakers should quickly move to document and respond to Chinese subsidies, implement already legislated export control reform, monitor and possibly regulate outbound investment, and provide legal authority to move or keep supply chains out of the PRC. Decoupling has costs—higher prices, lower returns on investment, and lost sales. But they are dwarfed by the costs of continued Chinese economic predation and the empowerment of the Communist Party.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As expected given COVID-19, China’s construction and, especially, investment around the world plunged in the first half of 2020. The decline may be exaggerated by Chinese firms not wanting to report global activity, but Beijing’s happy numbers are not credible. From what little can be discerned, the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming more important, primarily because rich countries are more hostile to Chinese entities. American policy needs to shift. Incoming Chinese investment is now extremely small, but technology is still being lost due to lack of implementation of export controls. Growing American portfolio investment in China is unmonitored and may support technology thieves, human rights abusers, and other bad actors.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Investment, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Chinese investment and construction around the world contracted in 2019, regardless of Beijing’s claims to the contrary. However, the decline is concentrated in large, headline-winning deals, and Chinese firms remain active on a smaller scale. A contraction in acquisitions in rich economies has boosted the relative importance of greenfield spending. The number of countries in the Belt and Road continues to expand, and power plant and transport construction continues to be preeminent. American policymakers were initially spurred to act by intense Chinese investment in 2016. This has dropped sharply, but there are challenges related to investment review that are more important, starting with strengthening export controls.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Nicholas Carl, Marie Donovan
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces are organized around headquarters that are meant to coordinate the operations of Iranian paramilitary forces and support the Quds Force’s use of proxy groups such as Iraqi Shi’a militias abroad. Their basing in Iran indicates a primary focus on suppressing internal unrest and waging irregular warfare in the rear of an invader rather than on defending against an invasion conventionally. Their organizational structure and the pattern of their operations in Syria suggest that they might be challenged to coordinate large-scale (multi-division) operations abroad and possibly at home. The fact that the Iranian leadership has not yet had to use them on a large scale to suppress growing domestic unrest suggests that the regime still has a potent reserve force to ensure its survival even if the unrest grows considerably, as long as it does not also face a requirement for large-scale military operations abroad.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Qassem Soleimani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Aaron M. Renn
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The culture of particular places, often developed and cast into institutional form during their founding period, affects their economy in important and understudied ways. Case studies suggest several cultural traits can potentially help places be more economically successful over the long term: (1) open civic networks, which help places better adapt to change; (2) investment in civic leadership and institution building by local elites; and (3) an emphasis on education and rewarding excellence. Civic culture is difficult to change. Doing so requires first acquiring a deep understanding of it and then focusing on the most addressable areas for change, such as incubating new relationships and connections between different actors in the community.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Culture, Cities
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: There is a considerable chance China will stagnate by 2040, with gross domestic product growth at 1–1.5 percent. The process has started, seen most clearly in stark trends for debt and aging, but better-quality data on productivity would clarify how far along stagnation is and whether it at some point reverses. China shows no sign of adopting pro-productivity reform. It will not spur growth by leveraging or bolster a shrinking labor force through current population and education policy. Innovation will help, but a large economy requires broad innovation, and the party dislikes competition. A twist comes from China’s global position, which will not deteriorate much. Outbound investment has retrenched, and the yuan’s rise was exaggerated. Consumption exports and commodities imports will stall. But China will easily be a top-two market in most sectors, and other countries are not acting to displace it. Instead, localization will occur. Commodities producers and some developing countries will lose, the latter as Chinese capital dries up. Countries that make difficult reforms will win. Consumer goods will see inflation, but innovation will be healthier with less Chinese influence. American firms will seek new pastures, and Chinese stagnation means production may relocate to the US.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, GDP, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Vincent H. Smith
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The federal government annually appropriates funds for food aid programs that the US Agency for International Development manages to benefit some of the neediest individuals in the world. This report analyzes how one interest group, the US maritime industry, has managed to obtain rents from the Title II food aid program through cargo preference requirements in the name of national security. We find that removing cargo preference requirements would allow for between $36 and $64 million of already appropriated funds to go to feeding the hungry and would benefit US soft power globally.
  • Topic: Maritime, USAID, Mercantile Policy, Food Assistance
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Contrasting China at various stages of reform to Japan and Korea at analogous stages shows China as less successful. The payoff is personal income, where China’s growth in local currency terms is similar to Japan’s. But it is slower than Korea’s, and, in comparable dollar terms, China is far behind Korea and Japan 40 years into the respective “miracles.” In evaluating key contributors to income gains—agricultural productivity, labor quantity and quality, leveraging, and innovation—China failed to extend education in the first 25 years of reform. A recent failure is the explosion in leveraging in the past decade. Other indicators of success roughly match Japan but trail Korea. China’s size makes it important even with less development success. For example, Chinese research and development spending affects the world while being inadequate to offset aging and indebtedness. When projecting economic size, though, trend extension is misleading. Korea and Japan illuminate how innovation and other factors will alter China’s trajectory.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, Reform
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: Jessica Trisko Darden
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: US counterterrorism policy must draw on all available tools to succeed. This includes combining security, development, and humanitarian assistance when necessary to target environments that enable violent extremism to flourish. US foreign development assistance can effectively support counterterrorism efforts when centered on four pillars: (1) prioritizing local physical security, (2) responding to humanitarian need, (3) improving governance, and (4) targeting and tailoring programming to local contexts. A refined development approach to counterterrorism should more effectively target at-risk populations, address local governance concerns, and shape economic conditions in ways that support America’s counterterrorism goals.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Karen E. Young
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) remain heavily reliant on natural resource revenue as a source of government spending and a driver of growth. Diversification efforts now often include new ways to generate revenue through state investments in energy projects abroad (including refining and petrochemical production) and national oil companies. Since 2015, the GCC countries have become more competitive with each other in altering their policy landscapes to streamline fiscal expenditure and attract foreign investment and resident investors. There is significant variation in policy approaches to foreign labor and tax. Each of these governments faces enormous strains on public finances and challenging economic outlooks, due to depressed oil prices, demographic pressures, high unemployment rates, and a lack of economic diversification. Debt has become a tool of choice, but the capacity to repay and the capacity to grow are both beginning to differentiate the GCC states.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Government, Natural Resources, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Cooperation Council, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt, Ashton M. Verdery, Zeng Yi, Wang Zhenglian, Wang Feng, Shen Ke, Cai Yang, David E. Scharff, Jacqueline Deal, Michael Szonyi
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Over 2,500 years of family tradition in China is on an unavoidable collision course with 21st-century China’s new demographic realities. The demographic forces transforming the Chinese family are extraordinary and historically unprecedented. Curiously, despite the small library of studies on population change in modern China, little has been written on what these changes in the Chinese family portend. This cross-disciplinary volume is an exploratory foray into that intellectual terra incognita. The chapters in this volume describe the demographic dimensions of the changes in family structure already underway and visible out to the horizon, as well as their implications for China’s people, economy, and role in the world. The volume features works by authors Ashton M. Verdery; Zeng Yi and Wang Zhenglian; Wang Feng, Shen Ke and Cai Yong; David E. Scharff; and Jacqueline Deal and Michael Szonyi—leading scholars in their respective fields.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Demographics, Family
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The US is losing against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other like-minded groups, which are all part of the Salafi-jihadi movement. US counterterrorism efforts have made Americans safer, but the Salafi-jihadi movement is more than its terrorism threat. That movement now prioritizes developing its relationships with local Sunni communities, from which it draws its strategic strength, to transform the Muslim world. Winning today means adopting a strategy beyond counterterrorism that will defeat the Salafi-jihadi movement, instead of just countering the terrorism threat. The US must reframe its approach against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other groups. With the help of partners, the US must sever the ties of the Salafi-jihadi movement to local Sunni communities. America and its allies must offer these communities a viable alternative to these terror groups.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Salafism, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dalibor Rohac, Matt Browne, Max Bergmann, Ismaël Emelien, Karin Svanborg-Sjövall, Andreas Johansson Heinö, Agata Stremecka
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since 2016, concern over the resurgence of illiberal populist political parties and movements has been palpable in Europe and the United States. The election of Donald Trump, the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, and the electoral advances of far-right parties in many European states, including France and Germany, created the sense that populist parties were a new, unstoppable political force in democratic politics.1 Yet in 2019, the notion that populist parties are the future of European politics seems far less certain. The term “populism” itself may have outlived its usefulness. Originally, it referred to parties and leaders who described themselves as true voices of the people against self-serving, out-of-touch elites—and it was prone to run roughshod over established political norms and institutions. Over the past three years, differences in approaches, tactics, and outlooks between different populist parties have emerged, making it clear that there is no clear populist governing strategy. Accordingly, beyond disrupting the current order, anti-establishment political forces in Europe share no actual transnational policy agenda. Yet populist and anti-establishment forces have upended European politics and contributed to fragmentation and uncertainty. As the example of the record turnout in the 2019 European parliamentary election illustrates,2 the EU itself has become an important dividing line for voters. The high turnout and raucous nature of the 2019 election portends animated debates over European policies. Gone are the days when the EU could move initiatives forward without much public attention or concern. In short, Jean Monnet’s “salami-slicing” method of incremental, technocratically driven European integration3 is dead. A more engaged and aware European public is in itself a positive development. Yet simultaneously, for better or worse, the sudden salience of European policies can present an obstacle to policy initiatives that otherwise would be seen as uncontroversial. Just as partisan divisions in the United States have plagued Washington with significant policy paralysis, the emergence of a similarly contentious and partisan politics in Europe may make it hard for Brussels to act. Europe has proven resilient over the past decade, but that resilience should not be taken for granted. The EU largely has failed to address its structural weaknesses that were exposed following the 2008 financial and fiscal crisis, meaning that the EU would confront a future economic crisis with the same limited toolbox it had in 2008.4 To make matters worse, influential populist actors could also obstruct swift action while benefiting politically at home from the EU’s failings. Unlike only a few years ago, fears of the EU’s sudden unraveling seem farfetched. Yet a protracted death by a thousand cuts, caused by populist leaders undermining EU rules and norms, remains a distinct possibility. The new instability of European politics poses a real challenge to the trans-Atlantic alliance. Unity among free and democratic states of the West is hard to sustain in the current political environment on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet at a time when the alliance faces a rising challenge from autocratic powers such as China and Russia, the case for unity and cooperation is stronger now than at any point since the end of the Cold War. This report seeks to chart a course for the EU and for the trans-Atlantic alliance, while acknowledging that the anti-establishment sentiments that reverberate through European politics are here to stay. While there is a strong case to be made for a Europe that works together to defend democratic values at home and abroad as well as a trans-Atlantic alliance that is willing to work in proactive partnership to tackle big global challenges—from climate change to terrorism to nuclear proliferation—that goal is still a long way off.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Authoritarianism, European Union, Populism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt, Alex Coblin
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Due to extremely low levels of fertility over the past generation, urban China now requires a constant inflow of rural migrants to maintain, much less increase, the workforce in China’s cities. Beijing’s current official “urbanization drive” is attempting to bolster China’s flagging economic growth rates by accelerating the movement of peasants into the cities. But since most highly skilled labor from the countryside is already working in urban areas, the next wave of migrants may be less productive than authorities anticipate. “Migration with Chinese Characteristics” means police state controls on urban influx, including Beijing’s notorious hukou system for individual identification and registration. Since authorities still prevent most migrants from obtaining new hukou where they currently reside and work, China now has hundreds of millions of “illegal aliens” toiling in its cities. The urbanization drive does not plan to fix this problem.
  • Topic: Demographics, Migration, Urbanization, Population Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Yemeni al Houthi movement claimed the drone and missile attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14, 2019, but the attack on Abqaiq was planned and executed by Iran. The al Houthi claim to have conducted the attack diverted the Western discussion away from Iran’s role and focused instead on the war in Yemen and on Saudi Arabia’s misdeeds. The Iranian attack on Abqaiq was part of a pattern of Iranian military escalation in response to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. The US should conduct a military strike to deter continued Iranian military escalation. Refraining from retaliation will embolden Iranian proxies and allies and encourage the regime to stand fast with its nuclear program, regional activities, and repression of its own people.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Houthis
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Gary J. Schmitt, Michael Mazza
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) interference in Taiwan’s democracy—efforts to influence politics in Taiwan through both overt and covert, both legal and illicit means—is a matter of importance not only for Taiwan but for the United States as well. As the Taiwan Relations Act (1979) states unequivocally, “It is the policy of the United States … to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means … a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of gave concern to the United States.” The issue of PRC interference in Taiwan’s democracy came to a head in the November 2018 elections for local mayors, county magistrates, and township councils. Although the exact extent of the interference is difficult to quantify, that it existed is not difficult to see. And while the margins of electoral victories for the Kuomintang (KMT) suggest that the interference was unlikely to have been decisive in many or most instances, the PRC’s efforts almost certainly boosted KMT candidates and eased their paths to victory. Understanding the level and character of this interference is important if for no other reason than that future elections—such as the upcoming national election for president and the legislative assembly in January 2020—may be closer and, in such elections, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence operations could well make a real difference. For Americans, understanding what happened in Taiwan is undoubtedly informed by our own recent experience with foreign interference in elections. But there are important differences to be kept in mind and which make the case of China and Taiwan unique. First, China has the advantage of being ethnically and linguistically far more in sync with Taiwan than Russia could ever be with the United States. Second, the United States is a country of 330 million. As sophisticated as the Russian operation might have been, Moscow’s capacity to move the electoral meter in the United States was always going to be marginal, even if important in key instances.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Democracy, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Vincent H. Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The smallholder paradigm for economic growth underlies the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) agricultural assistance, but it is flawed as an engine of growth. Smallholder farmers lack scale and are reluctant entrepreneurs. Midsize farms are emerging as the effective engine of commercial agricultural growth and rural transformation. Rural education policies are needed to ensure a successful economic transition out of agriculture and into other industries and occupations requiring more human capital and skills. The delivery of USAID programs exhibits massive leakage. US for-profit development firms, US universities, and urban interests in recipient countries mostly capture the resources.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, International Development, USAID
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joseph W. Glauber
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In retaliation for adverse trade actions from the Trump administration against foreign imports, many countries have imposed tariffs on US agricultural exports. To shore up political support from an important constituency, the Trump administration has authorized an estimated total of $28 billion in 2018 and 2019 to farmers and ranchers in compensation packages for their losses in those years. This report uses estimates of the distribution and size of the 2018 and 2019 trade aid packages to evaluate how these programs will affect World Trade Organization domestic support limits and their potential consequences for US trade relations.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Humanitarian Aid, World Trade Organization, Tariffs, Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Neena Shenai, Joshua Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The US–China economic relationship has reached a critical juncture. Over the past year, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports and China has retaliated, raising tariffs on a similar amount of US exports. At the G-20 leaders’ summit in November 2018, Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to resolve the trade dispute within 90 days—by March 1, 2019, though this deadline has been recently extended. The US concerns that underpin these bilateral trade tensions stem from specific practices endemic to China’s economic model that systematically tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese companies domestically and globally. Progress on specific trade issues will require China to comply with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and to make certain reforms that will likely touch on areas of state control over the economy. In addition, new trade rules are needed to address China’s economic practices not covered by its WTO commitments, including in areas such as state-owned enterprises (SOEs), certain subsidies, and digital trade. These issues also come at a time of increasing US concern over the national security risks China presents, particularly with respect to technology access. All of these matters underscore the complexity of US-China bilateral negotiations as well as the stakes at play. Resolving US-China differences in a meaningful way will take time. This policy brief assesses the state of the US-China trade relationship by first looking at the economic impact on the US The policy brief then looks at why the Chinese economic model is so concerning. Despite the challenges the US has had at the WTO, the policy brief argues that the WTO should be central to resolving US-China trade tensions. We outline a multi-prong strategy, including bilateral, multilateral, and unilateral actions as well as working with allies that together would constitute positive next steps for this critical economic relationship. In taking this multifaceted approach, the US needs to stay true to its values and not accept short-term gains or “fig leaf” deals. In particular, creating a managed trade relationship with China would not be a constructive outcome. Instead, the US should work with China to agree on long term solutions. The resulting deal should address the real issues at hand in a free market manner and strengthen the multilateral global trading system and rule of law that the US has championed in the post-World War II era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When will China pass the US in economic size? “The year 2030” is not a bad estimate, but so is “never.” Claims that China’s economy is already the world’s largest may be exaggerated by up to 30 percent. They are also dubious because purchasing power parity often does not hold. National wealth is not well measured, either, but shows the American lead expanding. The more popular belief that China is smaller than the US but will catch up soon is similarly unconvincing. Chinese government statistics are unreliable, since Beijing publishes sanitized data and many transactions may be close to worthless. More important, projections of Chinese growth are sensitive to unjustified optimistic assumptions. Debt and aging indicate true Chinese growth is lower than reported, and low growth now could put off Chinese catch-up indefinitely.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jessica Trisko Darden
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Young people serve as a vital source of support for terrorist groups. Extensive youth participation creates an intergenerational terrorism problem and lays the foundation for future conflicts. Youth end up in terrorist groups through forced and voluntary recruitment. They perform a range of roles that vary according to age and gender, with girls and young women often being subject to gendered social roles and sexual and domestic violence. To effectively counter terrorists’ exploitation of youth abroad, governments should adopt a data-based approach to improve the targeting of terrorism prevention programs, move beyond a traditional focus on young men, address the potential for radicalization within the family, and emphasize attitudinal and behavioral change among those most vulnerable to recruitment.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Radicalization, Islamic State, Youth, Boko Haram
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy repeats mistakes made by the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Taliban repeatedly fail to keep diplomatic commitments. Treating the Taliban as independent from Pakistani command-and-control will undercut the utility of any peace deal struck with the Taliban. Diplomatic outreach and Taliban empowerment are directly proportional. The Afghan perception of Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is colored heavily by a personal history about which many in Washington, DC are unaware.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Taliban, Al Qaeda
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karen E. Young
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Energy-dependent growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, whether in traditional oil and gas exports or petrochemical production and global refinery operations, will be sensitive to shifts in Asian economies and new technology and efficiency innovation. Without structural reforms to subsidies and labor markets, a reliance on debt finance now kicks the can down the road toward difficult fiscal choices in the future. MENA economies are becoming more integrated into emerging markets not by increased trade but through state-led development partnerships and the use of aid and economic statecraft.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Energy Policy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf Cooperation Council, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Successes on the battlefields against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other like-minded groups have not led to their defeat or permanently reduced their threat to the United States. The deterioration of conditions in the Muslim world has made communities vulnerable to and created opportunities for the Salafi-jihadi vanguard to develop local ties. The reliance of the Salafi-jihadi movement on its relationship with Sunni communities to strengthen and expand beyond ideological supporters is a key vulnerability. The US should reorient its efforts to focus not only on disrupting and preventing active terror plots as a national security priority but also on severing the relationships the Salafi-jihadi movement has formed with Sunni communities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Al Qaeda, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Clay R. Fuller
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The effects of authoritarianism are amplified and obfuscated by growing economic interconnectivity. Combating authoritarianism and addressing the dark networks that support its consolidation are the unavoidable strategic challenges to global security. The authoritarian-corruption nexus is the growing convergence of licit and illicit state and non-state actors that facilitates and launders the profits of illegal activity, reinforcing the strength and survival of authoritarian systems of governance everywhere. It depends on and resides in the complex and rapidly changing global economic currents flowing in and out of American markets and is the defining threat to freedom in the 21st century. Domestic and international efforts are needed to dismantle the authoritarian-corruption nexus, including addressing the (ab)use of anonymous shell corporations and reestablishing the Group of Seven.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Corruption, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andres Martinez-Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas remain a potent challenge for regional security and development. The ELN is growing in Colombia and Venezuela, thanks to its involvement in illegal mining, now the most important revenue source for the guerrilla group. The ELN’s illegal mining remains virtually unrestricted in Venezuela, thanks to the Nicolás Maduro regime’s complicity. At the same time, despite the Colombian government’s recent efforts, illegal mining continues to take place throughout Colombia, benefiting armed groups like the ELN. To cut off the ELN from this vital revenue source, the United States and Colombia must work to expand the presence of the state in areas affected by illegal mining, formalize artisanal miners, strengthen the state’s enforcement and investigatory capacities, and isolate Venezuela from global gold markets.
  • Topic: Crime, Mining, Organized Crime
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Venezuela, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: China’s investment and construction around the world plunged in the first half of 2019 and is unlikely to return to 2016–17 levels in the foreseeable future. The principal cause is fewer large transactions by state-owned enterprises. These firms rely on foreign currency provided by Beijing for global activities, and hard currency may be rationed indefinitely. There are brighter spots. The raw number of investments held up better than transaction size. The private share of China’s global investment climbed, and the greenfield share rose sharply. Investment in the Belt and Road Initiative outperformed that in traditionally favored rich economies such as Australia. Chinese investment in the US has been minor in size for two years. Policymakers should shift focus from screening to unwanted activity by Chinese firms, including intellectual property theft and other criminal acts. Enforcement targeting specific firms is superior to tariffs but should go beyond largely empty steps taken to date.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Business , Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Jason D. Delisle , Preston Cooper
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: An analysis of the higher education systems of 35 developed countries reveals that nations face trade-offs between large government subsidies for higher education and other desirable qualities, such as widespread degree attainment and well-resourced universities. The United States ranks 31st of 35 countries on government support for higher education but 11th on degree attainment and third on resources available to colleges. It is rare for a country to design a higher education system that combines high attainment and well-resourced schools with high government subsidies.
  • Topic: Education, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Official Chinese economic data are often the only game in town, but they are untrust­worthy. Sometimes they prove inaccurate; during downturns they are falsified outright. Finding inconsistency in official statistics demonstrates the problem but offers no solution, since it is rarely clear which series is better. Examining 15 major indicators for importance and reliability shows that growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita should be deemphasized. To illustrate, China’s GDP per capita is twice as high as official per capita disposable income. The latter can be spent; the former is an accounting result. Another conclusion: Arguably the most valuable indicators are the worst measured. Debt is reasonably estimated at present, but factor productivity and human capital are vital to medium-term performance and receive far too little attention.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Monetary Policy, GDP, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Beijing
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Chinese investment around the world fell sharply in 2018. The decline was most evident later in the year and among state-owned enterprises. These companies also engaged in fewer power construction projects. The number of countries in the Belt and Road Initiative keeps expanding, but activity levels per country are flat. One explanation for weakness in various Chinese efforts to “Go Out” is caution in drawing down foreign exchange reserves. The US has restricted Chinese investment, but it was already small in size in 2018. Serious problems remain—for example, theft and coercive transfer of technology. Firms violating American law should face sanctions, not just investment bans.
  • Topic: Globalization, Foreign Direct Investment, Sanctions, Business , Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gary J. Schmitt
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although changes in American and Chinese leadership have brought current tensions between the two nations to the fore, the underlying reasons for the tensions are not tied to either President Donald Trump or President Xi Jinping coming into office. Rather, the strategic competition between the US and China is principally the product of regime-driven differences over both what constitutes their national interests and what their respective visions were for the character of China’s rise. The administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy is a relatively coherent response to the challenge China poses. But questions remain about the administration’s ability to resource it sufficiently and carry it out steadily given President Trump’s own idiosyncratic America First policy views.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: We already have a fairly reliable picture of China’s population profile for the year 2040 because the overwhelming majority of people who will be living in China in 2040 are already alive and living there today. China’s population is on track to peak in the coming decade and to decline at an accelerating tempo thereafter. China is set to experience an extraordinarily rapid surge of population aging, with especially explosive population growth for the 65-plus group, even as its working-age population progressively shrinks. These trends can only make for serious economic headwinds, presaging the end of China’s era of “heroic economic growth.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Demographics, Political Economy, Population
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Stephanie Mercier
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This study outlines the evolution and history of US food aid programs including the Food for Peace program and provisions in recent farm bills. Early in their existence, these programs provided rents to interest groups through cargo preference requirements and purchasing requirements for in-kind aid. These requirements, along with monetization, shift program dollars toward commodity producers, shipping companies, and nongovernmental organizations in the United States, raising program costs. The result is that these programs are not efficiently achieving their goals of increasing US soft power and alleviating global hunger.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Foreign Aid, Hunger, Mercantile Policy, Rent
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Karen E. Young
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Arab Gulf states are expanding their political and economic ties with China as a bridge strategy to create a next-generation energy market in traditional oil and gas products, as well as petrochemical production and future market access in expected areas of consumer growth. China is also a competitor in some areas where Arab Gulf states are investing in infrastructure, ports, and political outreach to secure new security partnerships, particularly in the Horn of Africa. China and the Arab Gulf states share a model and vision of economic development that is state centered and profitable to state-owned enterprises and financial institutions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Asia, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Author: Dan Blumenthal, Michael Mazza
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The United States and Taiwan can create a free trade agreement (FTA) that serves the interests of both sides. Taiwan should seek to set the gold standard in economic openness, as well as in the legal, regulatory, and standards frameworks that will govern emerging technologies and industries such as 5G, the internet of things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), and the future industries to be built upon them. In pursuit of the United States’ vision for a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, it would be wise for the US to enlist in its effort countries that are, themselves, already free and open. Taiwan should be considered a crucial partner in the Trump administration’s strategy. This monograph serves to provide a framework for a US-Taiwan free trade agreement (FTA), outlining areas of concern for the United States, in addition to areas that provide opportunities for closer bilateral cooperation. Importantly, such cooperation could give greater impetus for free trade negotiations, advance the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, and bolster the United States’ National Security Strategy. In order to deepen economic ties and to, at the same time, advance the Indo-Pacific strategy, the United States should prioritize a free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan. The US has not completed or ratified a free trade agreement since the U.S.-Korea deal. It is now negotiating with Japan and the Philippines. But, as this paper will show, an FTA with Taiwan would have substantial strategic benefits and would, moreover, be far easier to conclude than other agreements under discussion.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Free Trade, Trade
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Neena Shenai, Joshua P. Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The US–China economic relationship has reached a critical juncture. Over the past year, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports and China has retaliated, raising tariffs on a similar amount of US exports. At the G-20 leaders’ summit in November 2018, Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to resolve the trade dispute within 90 days—by March 1, 2019, though this deadline has been recently extended. The US concerns that underpin these bilateral trade tensions stem from specific practices endemic to China’s economic model that systematically tilt the playing field in favor of Chinese companies domestically and globally. Progress on specific trade issues will require China to comply with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and to make certain reforms that will likely touch on areas of state control over the economy. In addition, new trade rules are needed to address China’s economic practices not covered by its WTO commitments, including in areas such as state-owned enterprises (SOEs), certain subsidies, and digital trade. These issues also come at a time of increasing US concern over the national security risks China presents, particularly with respect to technology access. All of these matters underscore the complexity of US-China bilateral negotiations as well as the stakes at play. Resolving US-China differences in a meaningful way will take time. This policy brief assesses the state of the US-China trade relationship by first looking at the economic impact on the US The policy brief then looks at why the Chinese economic model is so concerning. Despite the challenges the US has had at the WTO, the policy brief argues that the WTO should be central to resolving US-China trade tensions. We outline a multi-prong strategy, including bilateral, multilateral, and unilateral actions as well as working with allies that together would constitute positive next steps for this critical economic relationship. In taking this multifaceted approach, the US needs to stay true to its values and not accept short-term gains or “fig leaf” deals. In particular, creating a managed trade relationship with China would not be a constructive outcome. Instead, the US should work with China to agree on long term solutions. The resulting deal should address the real issues at hand in a free market manner and strengthen the multilateral global trading system and rule of law that the US has championed in the post-World War II era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Globalization, Bilateral Relations, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America