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  • Author: Elizabeth Shackelford
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: In U.S. foreign policy circles today, the bar to justify ending a military intervention is higher than it is to keep one going. Small wars have become routine foreign policy tools, executed with minimal oversight or scrutiny. Somalia offers a clear example of how this approach leads to high accumulated costs for the American people with little to show in gains for the U.S. national interest. The current military-led strategy promises no end to lethal interventions, and the costs and risks associated with it exceed the threats it is meant to address. Expanding U.S. military activity over the past five years has done little to impede the Somali terrorist insurgency group al–Shabaab, but it has continued to overshadow and undermine diplomatic and development efforts to address Somalia’s political and governance problems. At the same time, military intervention has propped up an ineffective government, disincentivizing Somali political leaders from taking the hard steps necessary to reach a sustainable peace and build a functioning state. The U.S. military cannot be expected to stay indefinitely in Somalia to maintain a messy stalemate. Rather than reflexively increase U.S. military activity when it falls short of stated objectives, the United States should reassess its overall strategy in Somalia by returning to basic questions: Why is the U.S. military fighting a war there? What U.S. national interest is the war serving? And are America’s actions in Somalia and the region furthering that national interest?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, War, Military Strategy, Governance, Military Affairs, Military Intervention, Peace
  • Political Geography: United States, Somalia
  • Author: Jean-Jacques Hallaert
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: China’s rise and the U.S. response to the perceived threat it represents to its predominance jeopardize the world order and affect international institutions. The paralysis of the WTO and the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO are the most visible examples, but not the only ones. This article presents the case of the International Monetary Fund. Quotas are the cornerstone of IMF governance. They determine each member’s contribution to the institution’s resources and their voting power. As the world evolves, the quota distribution needs to be adjusted. Adjustments in quota shares and thus voting powers have always been politically difficult. However, they were possible. In the early 1990s, members agreed to an increase in the representation of Japan. In the 2000s, they agreed to increase substantially the voting power of emerging economies. In contrast, the 15th General Review of Quotas concluded early 2020, failed to increase and realign quotas. The proximate cause for this was the opposition of the United States to a change in quotas. This paper argues that the U.S. decision was in large part motivated to prevent an increased influence of China. The failure to increase and realign voting powers may have long-lasting consequences. In the absence of a quota increase, the IMF will need to continue to rely on borrowed resources to avoid a drop in its lending capacity. This extension of the “temporary” recourse to borrowed resources undermines the governance of the Fund as voting powers (which are not linked to borrowed resources but only to quotas) are disconnected from member’s total contributions to the Fund and to their economic weight. This may trigger a new legitimacy crisis and provide incentives for countries like China to support the development of new and competing institutions which would better represent their interests and economic weight. Such a development would undermine the complex and fragile international financial architecture.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Political Economy, Governance, IMF, WTO
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Global Focus
  • Author: Margaret Myers, Rebecca Ray
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: Over the past two years, U.S. officials have sought to highlight China’s negative effects on the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region’s development and stability, whether to U.S. or Latin American audiences. As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a trip to Mexico City in October 2018, "China has invested in ways that have left other countries worse off." Pompeo and other U.S. officials have also taken this message elsewhere in the region, cautioning against the effects of Chinese engagement on LAC governance, security, regulatory capacity, and financial stability, and in a rage of other areas. For Latin Americans, though, relations with China aren’t so black and white. China may be an imperfect partner for LAC, as many in the region will attest, but it is an increasingly important one. After nearly two decades of enhanced Chinese economic engagement with the region, LAC governments and economic sectors rely heavily on China’s economic partnership and inputs. China is LAC’s second most important trading partner, second most important source of mergers and acquisitions foreign direct investment, and top source of development finance. For South America, China’s importance is even more pronounced: It became the top export destination for South American goods in 2010. China’s effects on regional development are also mixed, as we demonstrate below. China’s contributions to the region’s economic growth are well-documented, but Chinese demand for raw materials has also accentuated regional dependence on these commodities, in a process of “re- primarization” in South American economies, with troubling implications for the region’s long-term development prospects. Chinese investments have transformed the energy sectors in some countries, but the environmental effects of hydroelectric and other projects will be long-lasting in certain cases. To achieve a wide range of development objectives—economic, environmental, and social—LAC must depend on increasingly well-planned and coordinated engagement from all of its major economic partners and donor nations, including China. This is especially true in times of growing uncertainty, as the region grapples with humanitarian and migration crises, growing populist tendencies, relentless corruption, and climate change, among other factors.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Imperialism, International Cooperation, Governance, Regulation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Latin America, North America
  • Author: Andrea Venezia, Su Jin Gatlin Jez
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: California’s community colleges play a wide range of crucial roles in providing educational opportunities for state residents, including providing transfer for students to four-year universities. Transfer students represent about half of each entering class in the California State University System (CSU) and almost one-third in the University of California. In 2010, California enacted legislation to streamline transfer from community college to the state’s four-year universities by creating a new transfer degree. It was implemented in 2012. This study examined how students experience policies and practices related to transfer from community college to California State University in the context of the new degree. Key findings reveal that, although there are improvements, capacity within the CSU and other factors have kept transfer complex and confusing for most transfer students. Major implications are that the state and systems need to continue to simplify the transfer process and strengthen supports for students.
  • Topic: Education, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Glenn Wright, Tasha Elizarde
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Since the early 1980s, Alaska has relied on oil taxes for almost all of its state government revenue. Like many resource-based economies, including many of the Western states, the result is a boom and bust economy. With production declining and the price of Alaska’s North Slope crude around $75 per barrel, the state is in a bust cycle, with a large state government deficit. Although Alaska is experiencing a somewhat improved revenue outlook compared to 2017, the state’s executive and legislative branches continue to wrestle with unpopular political choices; do we implement a state income tax, tap the state’s Permanent Fund sovereign wealth fund (and thereby reduce or eliminate Alaska’s annual Permanent Fund Dividend payment to Alaskan residents), or some combination of those two approaches? In Spring 2018, the Alaska State Legislature—supported by Independent Governor Bill Walker—chose the first of these options, tapping Alaska’s Permanent Fund to fund state government operations for the first time. The result is a dramatically improved fiscal position for 2019, and although the state remains in deficit, chances of a balanced budget are much improved. Use of the Permanent Fund has not been popular, however; a number of incumbents who supported the use Permanent Fund earnings were defeated in November 2018 by opponents who campaigned on the issue. At the moment, Alaska’s fiscal future remains in doubt.
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Alaska
  • Author: Brian DiSarro, Wesley Hussey
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: California passed a 2018‒2019 budget with record budget surpluses as the state attention shifted to the upcoming 2018 election. This was Jerry Brown’s final budget after sixteen years as governor, a state record. Brown was concerned the state’s volatile income tax revenues might not hold up during a future recession and wanted to store as much of the surplus away in the state’s emergency “rainy-day” fund. Continuing the annual pattern, Democratic legislators wanted to spend some of the surplus on social services, including the increasing problems of homelessness and affordable housing. In addition, legislators began to address the long-ignored problem of sexual harassment in the capitol and was on the front line of the #MeToo movement, leading several legislators to resign. Democrats did well in the November elections, leading to an even bluer California.
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Colin D. Moore
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: Hawaii adopted a state budget that authorizes $14.3 billion in spending for FY2019. The Aloha State’s economy continues to benefit from record-breaking tourist numbers and robust federal military spending. Although the state’s unemployment rate is among the lowest ever recorded for any state in the nation, the cost of housing has made it increasingly difficult for working families to purchase a home. Tax revenues are strong, but they remain very dependent on the tourism industry. Hawaii also faces huge liabilities for pension and health care payments that are promised to retired state employees.
  • Topic: Governance, Health Care Policy, Budget, State Funding
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Kim Seckler
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: In January 2018, the New Mexico State Legislature convened for its regular session, a thirty day budget session, per its constitutional mandate. Thirty days later the legislative session ended quietly and the state of New Mexico closed the book on the great recession and a decade of financial and political strife. The 2018 legislature passed a $6.38 billion dollar budget, re-supplied dangerously low general fund reserves, and provided small raises to teachers and state employees. Oil and gas revenues are up, unemployment is slowly coming down and legislative-executive political battles have muted. The balanced budget, signed by the governor in early March, brings the state back to where it began almost 10 years before, leading one observer to refer to the time as the “lost decade in New Mexico” (Cole 2018).
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, New Mexico
  • Author: Mark Henkels, Brent S. Steel
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: California Journal of Politics and Policy
  • Institution: Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Abstract: The 2018 midterm elections strengthened the Democrats’ control of Oregon’s state government. Governor Kate Brown won re-election with 50percent of the vote defeating moderate Republican Knute Buehler with 46.6percent of the vote. Democrats also increased their seats in both the House and Senate, leading to super majorities in both houses. Governor Brown and the Democrats in Salem have taken fairly strong progressive policy stances in 2017 and 2018, particularly opposing President Trump’s immigration and marijuana policies, reinforcing the West Coast carbon-reduction pattern, and strongly supporting health care coverage expansion. With a booming economy and unemployment at record lows, the state seems to be able to deliver on its progressive agenda for the 2017-19 biennium, but funding progressive policies in the future will be a challenge for the governor for a variety of reasons. The fate of this progressive vision depends on five elements: (1) the continuation of the favorable economy and the corresponding revenue growth in the approaching budget cycle; (2) the ability to manage the ongoing taxing and spending structures that include major obligations for the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS); (3) the constraints of ongoing dependency on income taxes; (4) the vicissitudes of Trump era politics and policy with declining federal funds; and (5) continued public support for expansive public policies.
  • Topic: Governance, Domestic politics, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Oregon
  • Author: James Michel
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “Fragility”—the combination of poor governance, limited institutional capability, low social cohesion, and weak legitimacy—leads to erosion of the social contract and diminished resilience, with significant implications for peace, security, and sustainable development. This study reviews how the international community has responded to this challenge and offers new ideas on how that response can be improved. Based on that examination, the author seeks to convey the importance of addressing this phenomenon as a high priority for the international community. Chapters explore the nature of these obstacles to sustainable development, peace, and security; how the international community has defined, measured, and responded to the phenomenon of fragility; how the international response might be made more effective; and implications for the United States.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Fragile States, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus