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  • Author: Benjamin Dean
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, numerous countries around the world have developed and implemented national cybersecurity strategies. Yet very few of these strategies have been subject to evaluations. As a result, it is difficult to judge the performance of strategies, the programs that comprise them, and the cost-effectiveness of funds spent. Natural and quasi-natural experiments are a promising set of research methods for the evaluation of cybersecurity programs. This paper provides an overview of the methods used for natural or quasi-natural experiments, recounts past studies in other domains where the methods have been used effectively, and then identifies cybersecurity activities or programs for which these methods might be applied for future evaluations (e.g., computer emergency response teams in the EU, cybersecurity health checks in Australia, and data breach notification laws in the United States).
  • Topic: National Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Data
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Justin Key Canfil
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Concerns about state-directed cyber intrusions have grown increasingly prevalent in recent years. The idea that state principals can obfuscate their involvement in such attacks by delegating operational tasks to non-state agents poses a particularly significant challenge to international enforcement and remedies. Gaps in international law, coupled with obstacles to detection in such cases, may make it more difficult to bring sponsoring states to justice. This paper offers a roadmap for assessing the propensity of states to delegate to non-state actors and correct for false positives in standard (typically more technical) cyber attack attribution methods. I conclude that the conditions under which attacks are likely to have been backed by sponsoring states occupy a much narrower window than conventional wisdom suggests, and that the universe of transgressors can be identified when standard indicators overlap with specific conditions.
  • Topic: Security, Elections, Cybersecurity, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North Am
  • Author: Sorin Ducaru
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Cyber issues are rapidly growing in importance to defense alliances. The Journal of International Affairs talked to Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges, about NATO’s efforts to improve its cyber defenses against emerging threats.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Adam Segal, Rob Knake
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: When transition planning gets underway in earnest this fall, one of the hardest memos to write will be the outbrief from the current National Security Council (NSC) team on what to do about China’s ongoing campaign of cyber espionage targeting the intellectual property of U.S. companies. While long a focus of both the president’s cyber and China teams, there is little chance that in the coming months the issue is going to be brought to any type of resolution. Instead, the next president will inherit a partially implemented plan that has produced positive results in the short term, but its long-term sustainability remains uncertain. He or she would be wise to follow the playbook left by the Obama administration, with a redoubled focus on the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime. Critics of the administration on this topic generally fall into two camps. One, summed up nicely by the title of a book by Peter Kiernan, is the Becoming China’s Bitch camp.[1] In this view, the United States is so dependent on China that the Chinese can do what they want and there is little Americans can do to stop them. They hold U.S. debt, Americans can’t manufacture anything without them, Chinese students are leaps and bounds smarter than American students, and there are millions more of them studying science and math. The Chinese are strategic, looking around the corner of history and shaping it in their interests. They are playing three-dimensional chess and President Obama has been playing checkers. They put the blame on what they would characterize as Obama’s willingness to “lead from behind.” They then quote Sun Tzu, reference Unrestricted Warfare, and drop the mic.[2] The second view is the Coming Collapse of China camp.[3] In this view, despite an aggressive anti-corruption campaign and a more assertive foreign policy, China is weak, wounded, and dangerous. The Communist Party made a deal with the devil, offering economic growth in exchange for loyalty to the regime. Now, the leadership can’t keep up with their end of the bargain. Growth is slowing, and at a faster pace than the official figures acknowledge. Over investment continues and economic reforms have stalled. Air and water pollution are a drag on the economy and a threat to citizen health. Paranoid about any dissent, the party has tightened restrictions on the Internet and the media and arrested feminists, civil rights activists, and lawyers. One spark could start protests that lead to widespread instability and perhaps the end of Communist Party rule. What’s interesting is that these divergent views of China’s place in the world similarly predict there is little chance that China will cease stealing intellectual property. In the first view, China holds all the cards, and there is simply nothing the United States can do to impose costs and stop the hacking of companies. If China is desperate and dangerous, then it can’t stop stealing technology and business secrets because they are needed to fuel the economy.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Intellectual Property/Copyright, Cybersecurity, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: David Bosco
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Several of the Trump administration’s opening foreign policy salvoes have been aimed directly at the world’s multilateral structures. The president and his nominees lambasted the UN Security Council for its December resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal. A draft executive order reportedly called for funding cuts of up to 40 percent to the United Nations and an end to new multilateral treaties. The administration withdrew funding from the UN Population Fund and hinted that it might spurn its Human Rights Council as well. “A wave of populism … is challenging institutions like the United Nations and shaking them to their foundations,” said UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. The United Nations is far from the only multilateral target. The president quickly pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and demanded changes to the longstanding North American Free Trade Agreement. His team floated the idea of tariffs on Mexico that could violate World Trade Organization rules. He pledged to review U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Just days before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and predicted that more members would abandon the European Union. In a sign of displeasure at what he perceives as freeloading NATO members, Trump reportedly presented German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a “bill” for underinvestment in her country’s military. The president’s apparent aversion to key alliance structures and multilateralism has fed growing alarm that the administration plans to abandon the post-World War II international order. In this publication, scholar and former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter warned that “the next four to eight years may well see the end of the United Nations as a serious forum for global decisionmaking about peace and security.” Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor who worked in the Bush Justice Department, called Trump’s early moves “the beginnings of the greatest presidential onslaught on international law and international institutions in American history.” Others have argued that China may now be more committed to key global institutions than Washington. Major multilateral organizations like the UN, WTO, and EU and multilateral treaties are not, of course, the whole of the international order. Informal norms, habits of cooperation, and embedded power realities arguably play an even greater role in maintaining a modicum of order in the international system. But formal organizations and treaty regimes undoubtedly play an important role, which has become more prominent since the end of the Cold War. The prospect of an American administration actively undermining these instruments is unnerving. As with much else in the administration’s troubled first months, however, there’s confusion about what exactly lies beneath the smoke and steam. The draft order on UN funding has been delayed for further review. Senior U.S. officials have repeatedly toned down (or openly contradicted) several of the president’s most outlandish comments. Both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence sought to reassure European allies that Washington does in fact value NATO and the EU. So how serious and unprecedented is the Trump administration’s challenge to multilateralism?
  • Topic: International Cooperation, United Nations, Military Strategy, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Richard Gowan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: In her last days at the UN, Samantha Power practiced "end times diplomacy" in anticipation of President Trump but Nikki Haley has followed Power's diplomatic playbook.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Steve A. Yetiv
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: United States foreign policy in the Middle East over the last few decades has been controversial and checkered, and Washington has certainly flexed its muscles in the region. However, the question arises as to how aggressive America has been with regard to oil in the region. I distinguish between two perspectives in how America is viewed, which we can simply call the offensive and defensive perspectives, recognizing that there is a continuum of views. From the offensive perspective, America is viewed as having one or more of these goals: steal or own Middle East oil; control Middle East oil in order to undermine Muslims; dominate Middle East oil to advance global hegemony; or exercise “puppet” control over oil producers like Saudi Arabia to coerce them into charging far lower oil prices than markets would warrant.1 By contrast, from the defensive perspective, America chiefly aims to prevent others from threatening oil supplies in a manner that would spike global oil prices and possibly cause a recession or depression. Muslim opinion polls have revealed that oil issues are a broader source of tension in relations between elements of the Muslim world and the West. The U.S. role in oil-related issues feeds into historical, political, and religious perspectives of an imperialist and power-hungry America. In fact, a not uncommon view in the Middle East is that America seeks to exploit, even steal the region’s oil resources, a viewpoint much in line with the offensive perspective described above. I argue that the history of America’s role in the region suggests that this is largely a misconception, and that this misconception is not immaterial. It seriously raises the cost of the use of oil and of American regional intervention. This misconception not only stokes terrorism and anti-Americanism, but also complicates America’s relations with Middle Eastern countries, affects its image among Muslims, and hurts its global leverage insofar as such views become internationally prominent. Indeed, it is almost a maxim in many capitals in the Middle East that close cooperation with Washington carries a domestic political cost. Recall, for example, that the Saudis were initially reluctant to host American forces after Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, even though they felt seriously threatened by Saddam Hussein.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Oil, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North America, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Amy Myers, Jaffe Jareer Elass
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Oil has shaped international conflict for decades. According to one estimate, twenty-five to fifty percent of interstate wars between 1973 and 2012 had oil-related linkages. 1 But the cyclical nature of oil’s contribution to global conflict is not well understood. Not only are oil prices cyclical, but the geopolitics of oil are linked inexorably to the same boom and bust price cycle. Military adventurism, proxy wars and regional pathologies in the Middle East expand and contract with the ebb and flow of massive petrodollar accumulations related to the oil price cycle. The massive inflow of petrodollar revenues when oil prices are high creates disposable incomes that can be easily dispensed on regional arms races, especially since oil consuming countries like the United States are incentivized to increase arms sales as a means of solving oil import related trade deficits. Besides transferring wealth from industrialized countries to oil producers in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region and Russia (and stimulating renewed drilling for oil and gas in North America), high global oil and natural gas prices also slow global economic growth and encourage energy conservation. This causes petroleum demand to slow globally, lowering oil prices. Social and political problems in the region reemerge as oil prices recede. Regional governments have fewer resources to spend on restive populations that have become accustomed to generous handouts enabled by high oil prices. Job creation and visible social programs slow, dissatisfaction rises, and the consequences of economic downturns incite support for militants. Ensuing instability forces governments to use newly purchased arms, which ironically begins the cycle yet again, as new conflicts disrupt oil supplies. In this manner, the world experiences perpetuating patterns of military conflict, followed by oil supply crises, and accompanying global financial instability. In effect, the Middle East resource curse has become globalized. The challenges this is presenting on humanitarian, security and economic fronts have become increasingly dangerous. The arms race that has accompanied the rise of oil prices over the 2000s has been no exception and is now all the more complicated due to the violent participation of sub-national radicalized groups that are less susceptible to diplomatic pressures or initiatives. In this emerging geopolitical context, the rise of violent subnational groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda are increasingly putting oil infrastructure at risk, laying the groundwork for a future oil crisis that may prove harder to solve than in the past. As borders and ruling institutions have become contested, so has control of the region’s major oil and gas facilities. Initially an outgrowth of disunity inside Iraq, the conflict over oil and gas facilities is now accelerating across ungoverned territories, with important long-term consequences for global energy markets. Mideast oil and gas production capacity, along with surface facilities, are increasingly being damaged in ways that will make them hard to repair. Export disruptions, which were once sporadic, are becoming a more permanent feature of the civil war landscape. The level of destroyed capacity is currently estimated at about 2 million b/d and rising.2 The longer Mideast conflicts fester, the more that infrastructure could become at risk. There is an additional element to this oil and war story that links structurally with the oil boom and bust cycle. As oil prices recede, along with a decreased demand for oil and accelerating regional conflict, wealthy oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, are often tempted to use large oil production capacity as a strategic asset. They flood the market with increased supplies in order to lower prices, thereby hurting geopolitical rivals. This price war strategy, which was notably present during the prolonged Soviet war in Afghanistan and the eight year Iran-Iraq War, temporarily ameliorates the short run effects of war on surface export facilities through excessive production rates. In addition, it lays the seeds for the future uptick in the oil market, by discouraging investment in future oil productive capacity outside the Middle East when prices are extremely low. In the case of the 2000s, the destruction caused by ISIS on the oil sector in many locations around the Middle East, combined with expected losses in investment in other parts of the world (like Canada’s oil sands and the Arctic due to current low oil prices), may be creating the conditions for a future oil supply crunch. This has major implications on U.S. policy. This article asserts that the United State would be, in light of these circumstances in the Middle East, unwise to dismantle its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as has been suggested on Capitol Hill. It would be similarly unwise for the United States to lose focus on the importance of conservation efforts in the transportation sector which has both national security and climate benefits. The United States would benefit strategically from a reevaluation of its ban on oil exports. Finally, the United States should place a greater emphasis on conflict resolution in troubled states. By resolving internal conflicts over the distribution of oil revenues, the United States can better pave the way for long-term solutions whereby those same revenues can be integrated into national budgets in ways that brings economic prosperity to populations instead of rising military expenditure.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Military Strategy, Gas, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North America, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Yasir Kuoti
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: This paper examines the origins of political violence in Iraq. It argues that, in the wake of the democratic transition process in from 2004 to 2005, Iraqi exiles, who were chiefly Shiite Muslims and Kurds appointed by Paul Bremer, Iraq’s U.S. civilian administrator, moved to write a constitution and set up a political system that deliberately marginalized minorities. Since then, the Sunni minority began and continues to engage in or support violence against the state. It suggests that violence and instability in Iraq are to be understood in terms of local contexts of meaning, notably the nature of struggle for political power.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Political Power Sharing, Violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, North America