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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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