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  • Author: Leonard Wong, Dr. Stephen J. Gerras
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Previous studies analyzing disability compensation have decried its $76 billion annual budget or warned of its perverse ability to incentivize veterans not to work. This study focuses on the impact of this moral hazard on the US Army profession. If soldiers continue to capitalize on an extremely permissive disability system, the trust between society and the military may be threatened, and future Army readiness may be jeopardized should disability compensation be added to the marginal cost of a soldier. More importantly, many of today’s soldiers are rationalizing disability compensation as something owed to them—not for a debilitating injury, but for the hardships of service to the nation. This study uses US Army and Department of Veterans Affairs personnel files, soldier interviews, and discussions with senior leaders to support its conclusions. The intent of the study is to prompt the Army profession to act before the culture surrounding disability compensation becomes permanent. In the end, the essence of the entitlement—taking care of veterans—must remain sacrosanct. This call for reform is driven not by fiscal considerations, but by a desire for the Army to remain both an institution trusted by society and a profession marked by selfless service.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Government, Disability, Army, Veterans
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Albert B. Wolf
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Whoever wins, the result will intimate deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future. The Washington Institute has been sponsoring a series of discussions about sudden succession in the Middle East. Each session focuses on scenarios that might unfold if a specific ruler or leader departed the scene tomorrow. Questions include these: Would the sudden change lead to different policies? Would it affect the stability of the respective countries involved, or the region as a whole? What would be the impact on U.S. interests? Would the manner of a leader’s departure make a difference? The discussions also probe how the U.S. government might adjust to the new situation or influence outcomes. This essay, thirteenth in the series, assesses the situation in Iran, where a June election will determine the successor to President Hassan Rouhani. An IRGC-backed candidate such as Majlis speaker Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf or former defense minister Hossein Dehghan could ultimately prevail—but a history of election surprises in the Islamic Republic suggests no outcome is certain. Whoever wins, the result will offer clues about deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Elections, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: John C. K. Daly
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Amidst growing political dissatisfaction, the Russian government is grappling with the apparent vulnerabilities of the country’s internet. On February 1, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairperson of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, acknowledged during an extensive interview with Russian media what foreign analysts have long suspected: disconnecting Russia from the internet is possible (TASS, February 1). And as if to provide a rationale for such potential action, the previous week, the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NKTsKI) reported a threat of possible cyberattacks by the United States and its allies against Russia’s critical infrastructure (Interfax, January 22).
  • Topic: Government, Internet, Repression
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Motaz Zahran, Joey Hood, Paul Salem, Gerald Feierstein, Mirette F. Mabrouk
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East has become a kaleidoscope of evolving relationships and developments. Following almost a decade of near chaos, Libya has just elected an interim government, paving the way for a new transition. Despite several new normalization treaties with Arab states, Israel remains deadlocked in perhaps the most urgent of its relationships with Arab states; that with Palestine. A decade of stressful and largely fruitless negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is threatening to become even more complicated by Ethiopia’s internal conflicts and the possibility of a civil war spilling over its borders, threatening a fragile transition in Sudan and possibility of stability in the Horn of Africa. Amid all these developments, relationships and alliances are being reformed and reevaluated. Where does Egypt stand on all of these issues? MEI held a private, on the record roundtable discussion with the Ambassador of Egypt to the United States Motaz Zahran and Acting Assistant Secretary of State Joey Hood. MEI President Paul Salem gave an introduction and Senior Vice President Amb Gerald Feierstein and Egypt Programme Director Mirette F Mabrouk moderated the discussion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Regional Cooperation, Transition
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Roxana Elena Manea
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: Existing investigations of the impact of school feeding programmes on educational out- comes have provided mixed evidence of success. In this chapter, I investigate a potential explanation for this lack of consensus in the literature. I argue that the prevailing food security situation at the time and place of the programme's evaluation plays a major role. I study the case of rural Malawi. I use an instrumental variable approach and propensity score matching to estimate the impact of school feeding on primary school enrolment and retention rates. I focus on villages with overlapping characteristics. I estimate that school feeding has increased enrolments by 7 percentage points on average, but the im- pact on retention rates has been relatively limited. However, when I distinguish between food-secure and food-insecure areas, not only do I finnd a larger impact on enrolments in food-insecure areas, but I also uncover a significant increase of around 2 percentage points in the retention rate of students in these same areas. Across the board, impacts are not significant in food-secure areas. I conclude that school feeding programmes bear an impact on education as long as they also intervene to relax a binding food constraint.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Government, Food, Food Security, Nutrition
  • Political Geography: Malawi
  • Author: Paul Osei-Kuffour, Kofi Asare
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Ghana Center for Democratic Development
  • Abstract: The lack of adequate qualified teachers in rural schools, inadequate financing of basic education at the school/district level and delayed release of the Capitation Grant, lack of teacher accountability, lack of transparency, accountability, and value for money in education spending and low parental support for basic education continue to plague equitable progress in basic education.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Public Sector, Rural, Public Service
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Eric Maurice
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: For half a decade, the Polish government has been reshaping the country's judicial system in a process described by the European Union as a "threat to the rule of law". Despite numerous Council of Europe reports and resolutions, several infringement proceedings and decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), and the unprecedented activation of the so-called Article 7 procedure of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the transformation of the judiciary into relays of political power has continued and accelerated since the Law and Justice Party (PiS) won a new term in 2019 and the reelection of President Andrzej Duda in 2020, pushing Poland to the limits of the European legal order.
  • Topic: Government, European Union, Courts, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland
  • Author: Abigail Bellows, Nada Zohdy
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The pandemic is spurring elite and grassroots civic actors to cooperate more, but the gulf between them remains wide. Civic actors must seize the opportunity for reform on open government issues. From Africa to Latin America to Europe, the coronavirus pandemic has generated a surge in public demand for government transparency and accountability. To seize this window for reform, elite and grassroots civic actors concerned with open governance must overcome the cleavage that has long existed between them. Thus far, the pandemic has catalyzed some new civic collaborations, but not at the scale or depth needed to seize that window. In general, civil society groups report feeling more isolated during the pandemic. In some places, the urgency of tackling open government issues during the pandemic has helped overcome that isolation by deepening partnerships among existing networks. But in other places, those partnerships have yet to take shape, and new alliances are less likely to form without the benefit of face-to-face interactions. Even the partnerships that have crystallized or deepened do not appear to be changing the fundamental roles of elite and grassroots civic actors. It is possible that this shift may happen over time. Or it may be that the pandemic alone is not enough to dislodge structural barriers to deeper cooperation. The pandemic has dramatically changed the operations of elite and grassroots actors alike. The impact of those changes on collaboration between the two depends on preexisting levels of technological capacity. In places with limited connectivity, the pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide, adversely affecting grassroots actors. Meanwhile, in places with good connectivity, technology is enabling broader (though shallower) participation, laying the groundwork for more elite-grassroots collaboration. Although many civil society groups are struggling financially during the pandemic, those effects are mitigated to some degree by continuing donor interest in the open government sector. This is encouraging, as coalition building requires dedicated, flexible resources. Finally, it is a more dangerous time to be working on open government issues in general, and grassroots actors bear disproportionate risks in doing so. This underscores the need for more vertical alliances to mitigate civic space threats.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Armenak Tokmajyan
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In southern Syria, the regime, opposition, foreign powers, and local groups navigate a contentious zone of conflict. Any shift in this delicate balance could mean yet another escalation. Syria’s conflict has transformed the country’s southern border region into a zone of regional contention. The status quo there, largely forged and maintained by Russia since 2018, aims to prevent expanded control by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian and pro-Iranian military forces, which could trigger a regional confrontation. The south will remain a volatile area, probably for years, and its fate will be affected by regional politics, not the government’s will.
  • Topic: Government, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Hijab Shah, Melissa Dalton
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Following the August Beirut port explosion, the Lebanese Armed Forces must rebuild trust with the civilian population. The LAF can serve as a critical pillar in Lebanese government efforts to strengthen national security and identity in the midst of the crisis, in light of security sector assistance from the United States and other Western partners. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and Lebanon more broadly, is one of the largest recipients of foreign assistance in the Middle East. The United States and allied governments have sought to build the capabilities and professionalism of the LAF since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, focusing primarily on counterterrorism and border security. The LAF stood in stark contrast to other Lebanese security services in their restraint vis-à-vis the civilian population during the 2019 protests. However, recent reported violent incidents against civilians, ambiguity of the role of police forces, and concerns about both recovery efforts following the August 2020 port explosion in Beirut and extended powers under the state of emergency established by the Lebanese parliament have raised international concerns about the role of Lebanon’s security services, including the LAF. The LAF has a critical role to play in stabilizing Lebanon through a multi-faceted crisis, but will need to take concrete steps to bolster its professionalism. Lebanon’s modern politics have long been defined by confessionalism, a reality that persists even as the country is engulfed in crisis. International assistance to the LAF over the last fourteen years had intended to support the LAF as a legitimate national institution transcending confessions and supporting a broader sense of Lebanese security and identity. In the midst of the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, political turmoil at the helm of the country, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there is an important opportunity for the international community to support a new path for governance in the country—as shaped and envisioned by its populace. This opportunity hinges upon leveraging existing channels of support to the LAF and building in conditionality mechanisms that hold the LAF accountable for its actions, while continuing to promote a clear articulation of priorities for the LAF and a plan to improve military effectiveness through policy and doctrine; training and equipment, education, and exercises; operations; and institutional capacity building.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Politics, International Security, Military Affairs, Identity
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon