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  • Author: Isabella M. Pesavento
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Adoption, particularly adoption out of foster care, has not been well studied within the field of economics. Researchers may avoid this topic because the adoption market greatly deviates from a typical market, and the system and data collection are highly fragmented, with relatively little federal coordination. Rubin et al. (2007) and Thornberry et al. (1999) show that instability in foster care placements produces negative welfare outcomes, and Hansen (2006), Barth et al. (2006), and Zill (2011) demonstrate that adoption out of foster care is socially and financially beneficial. Yet, children waiting to be adopted out of foster care are in excess supply, which has been exacerbated in recent years. I hypothesize that this is, in part, due to misaligned incentives of government officials and the contracted foster care agencies. I show that earnings are prioritized over ensuring permanent child placement, which hinders the potential for adoption, and government oversight fails to correct such iniquities because of career interests.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Children, Incentives, Foster Care, Adoption
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael J. Casey
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For all the upheaval of 2020, it’s perhaps not surprising that the 50‐​year anniversary of a major piece of financial legislation came and went with little fanfare. But the 1970 U.S. Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) deserves much scrutiny.1 In mandating that financial institutions maintain customer identity records and report illicit activity to government agencies, the BSA was a landmark statute by any measure. It paved the way to an ever‐​expanding system of international surveillance that’s a cornerstone of U.S. economic power.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Finance, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Lincicome, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising U.S.-China tensions, American policymakers have again embraced “industrial policy.” Both President Biden and his predecessor, as well as legislators from both parties, have advocated a range of federal support for American manufacturers to fix perceived weaknesses in the U.S. economy and to counter China’s growing economic clout. These and other industrial policy advocates, however, routinely leave unanswered important questions about U.S. industrial policy’s efficacy and necessity: What is “Industrial Policy”? Advocates of “industrial policy” often fail to define the term, thus permitting them to ignore past failures and embrace false successes while preventing a legitimate assessment of industrial policies’ costs and benefits. Yet U.S. industrial policy’s history of debate and implementation establishes several requisite elements – elements that reveal most “industrial policy successes” not to be “industrial policy” at all. What are the common obstacles to effective U.S. industrial policy? Several obstacles have prevented U.S. industrial policies from generating better outcomes than the market. This includes legislators’ and bureaucrats’ inability to “pick winners” and efficiently allocate public resources (Hayek’s “Knowledge Problem”); factors inherent in the U.S. political system (Public Choice Theory); lack of discipline regarding scope, duration, and budgetary costs; interaction with other government policies that distort the market at issue; and substantial unseen costs. What “problem” will industrial policy solve? The most common problems purportedly solved by industrial policy proposals are less serious than advocates claim or unfixable via industrial policy. This includes allegations of widespread U.S. “deindustrialization” and a broader decline in American innovation; the disappearance of “good jobs”; the erosion of middle‐​class living standards; and the destruction of American communities. Do other countries’ industrial policies demand U.S. industrial policy? The experiences of other countries generally cannot justify U.S. industrial policy because countries have different economic and political systems. Regardless, industrial policy successes abroad – for example, in Japan, Korea and Taiwan – are exaggerated. Also, China’s economic growth and industrial policies do not justify similar U.S. policies, considering the market‐​based reasons for China’s rise, the Chinese policies’ immense costs, and the systemic challenges that could derail China’s future growth and geopolitical influence. These answers argue strongly against a new U.S. embrace of industrial policy. The United States undoubtedly faces economic and geopolitical challenges, including ones related to China, but the solution lies not in copying China’s top‐​down economic planning. Reality, in fact, argues much the opposite.
  • Topic: Government, Industrial Policy, Manufacturing, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Mueller
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: China, even if it rises, does not present much of a security threat to the United States. Policymakers increasingly view China’s rapidly growing wealth as a threat. China currently ranks second, or perhaps even first, in the world in gross domestic product (although 78th in per capita GDP), and the fear is that China will acquire military prowess commensurate with its wealth and feel impelled to carry out undesirable military adventures. However, even if it continues to rise, China does not present much of a security threat to the United States. China does not harbor Hitler‐​style ambitions of extensive conquest, and the Chinese government depends on the world economy for development and the consequent acquiescence of the Chinese people. Armed conflict would be extremely—even overwhelmingly—costly to the country and, in particular, to the regime in charge. Indeed, there is a danger of making China into a threat by treating it as such and by engaging in so‐​called balancing efforts against it. Rather than rising to anything that could be conceived to be “dominance,” China could decline into substantial economic stagnation. It faces many problems, including endemic (and perhaps intractable) corruption, environmental devastation, slowing growth, a rapidly aging population, enormous overproduction, increasing debt, and restive minorities in its west and in Hong Kong. At a time when it should be liberalizing its economy, Xi Jinping’s China increasingly restricts speech and privileges control by the antiquated and kleptocratic Communist Party over economic growth. And entrenched elites are well placed to block reform. That said, China’s standard of living is now the highest in its history, and it’s very easy to envision conditions that are a great deal worse than life under a stable, if increasingly authoritarian, kleptocracy. As a result, the Chinese people may be willing to ride with, and ride out, economic stagnation should that come about—although this might be accompanied by increasing dismay and disgruntlement. In either case—rise or demise—there is little the United States or other countries can or should do to affect China’s economically foolish authoritarian drive except to issue declarations of disapproval and to deal more warily. As former ambassador Chas Freeman puts it, “There is no military answer to a grand strategy built on a non‐​violent expansion of commerce and navigation.” And Chinese leaders have plenty of problems to consume their attention. They scarcely need war or foreign military adventurism to enhance the mix. The problem is not so much that China is a threat but that it is deeply insecure. Policies of threat, balance, sanction, boycott, and critique are more likely to reinforce that condition than change it. The alternative is to wait, and to profit from China’s economic size to the degree possible, until someday China feels secure enough to reform itself.
  • Topic: Government, GDP, Geopolitics, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Risto Rönkkö, Stuart Rutherford, Kunal Sen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In this paper, we examine the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of the poor. We use an unusually rich data set from a ‘financial diaries’ study known as the Hrishipara Daily Diaries Project. The data set tracks the economic and financial transactions of 60 individuals and their families in a semi-rural setting in Bangladesh on a real-time basis from October 2019 to September 2020. We document individual diarists’ behavioural responses to COVID-19, which reveal the varied experiences of the poor during the pandemic. We find that the pandemic and associated government lockdowns had significant negative effects on the livelihoods of the poor in our study, with financial inflows and outflows, incomes, and household expenditures below pre-pandemic levels during the pandemic period. To cope with the pandemic, households drew down on their cash reserves at home, as well as cutting down on non-food expenditures to protect their spending on food.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Finance, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia
  • Author: Mark Lerner
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: We have seen software failures across every layer of government over the course of this pandemic. State governments have had significant issues with their unemployment insurance websites. Local governments have had outages and troubles with vaccine distribution services. Software systems at the Federal level have experienced significant security breaches. Trust in government is at “near-record lows,” in no small part because modern public services continually fail to meet people’s needs. The past year has shown that our public services continue to fail in the traditional ways: they cost too much, take too long to deliver, have a subpar quality, and regularly face security breaches. We have not made significant enough progress in improving government technology to prevent these troubles, let alone to provide effective, modern digital tools and technologies. Government services have largely not kept up with the raised expectations of the digital era, leaving many people without access to critical services they need. And yet, there is incredible momentum growing in the government technology space. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we are seeing a wave of technologists from the private sector expressing deep interest in working in the government, with many actually coming into government for the first time. Anecdotally, I’ve personally heard from all manner of technologists—from fresh graduates to high-level executives— looking to work in the public sector for the first time. Thousands of technologists are applying for jobs at the U.S. Digital Service, and thousands more are signing up to volunteer with the U.S. Digital Response. These people are deciding to work and make public services better after years of becoming more aware of the ways in which our public infrastructure is failing our neighbors in most need. The federal government is also allocating more money towards these problems, in recognition of their severity. The American Rescue Plan gave $200M to the U.S. Digital Service, and $1B to the Technology Modernization Fund. The Biden-Harris Administration’s FY2022 budget request calls for even more money for tech modernization programs. These massive investments show that Congress and the Administration take these challenges seriously, and are looking for ways to address this years-long problem. If we want to have a lasting impact on the way that our country serves its people, we need to make the most of this momentum to address the root causes beneath these repeated failures. We need to focus our efforts onto the long-term work of addressing the systemic problems that cause our most critical services to fail when they are most needed. I believe that hiring more in-house technical talent might be a silver bullet to addressing the federal government’s technology problems. In this report, I hope to convince you that we need to make hiring in-house technical talent our number one technology priority in building better digital services.
  • Topic: Government, Science and Technology, COVID-19, Information Technology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Yang Jiang
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Almost every governmental policy decision made today has a China angle, and building understanding of China has become more pressing for Australian policymaking than ever. Despite the urgent demand within the Australian public service for China expertise and language skills, the existing skills of many Chinese-Australians are being overlooked. Australia has a significant, diverse, and growing population of Chinese-Australians, but they are underrepresented and underutilised in the public service. A better harnessing of the skills and knowledge of this community — including via improved recruitment processes, better use of data, skills-matching, and reviewing and clarifying security clearance processes and requirements — would have substantial benefits for Australian policymaking in one of its most important bilateral relationships.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Bilateral Relations, Public Service
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Marcus Noland, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By Election Day 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had killed 234,244 Americans and caused the sharpest macroeconomic downturn in US history. Hypothetical calculations using county-level electoral data show that in a “no pandemic” scenario or a scenario in which the severity of the pandemic was mitigated by 30 percent, Donald Trump would have lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote. In the 20 percent mitigation scenario, the electoral vote would have been tied, giving Trump a presumptive victory in the House of Representatives. For the second time in a row (and the third time since 2000), the candidate who lost the popular vote would have been elected president of the United States.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections, Donald Trump, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Anderson, Francesco Papadia, Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: n 2020, European governments mitigated the economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and other pandemic-fighting programs through a host of initiatives, including efforts to support credit, such as guarantees for bank loans, particularly to small and medium-sized enterprises. This paper presents detailed information about these national credit support programs in the largest national economies of the European Union (France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) and the United Kingdom. The information was collected through thorough examination of published material and extended exchanges with national authorities and financial sector participants. The analysis focuses on (1) how countries positioned themselves on the many tradeoffs that emerged in designing and implementing the programs; and (2) what explains differences in usage across countries and its leveling off everywhere in the second half of 2020.
  • Topic: Government, European Union, Finance, Fiscal Policy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Anna Gelpern, Sebastian Horn, Scott Morris, Brad Parks, Christoph Trebesch
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China is the world’s largest official creditor, but basic facts are lacking about the terms and conditions of its lending. Very few contracts between Chinese lenders and their government borrowers have ever been published or studied. This paper is the first systematic analysis of the legal terms of China’s foreign lending. The authors collect and analyze 100 contracts between Chinese state-owned entities and government borrowers in 24 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Oceania, and compare them with those of other bilateral, multilateral, and commercial creditors. Three main insights emerge. First, the Chinese contracts contain unusual confidentiality clauses that bar borrowers from revealing the terms or even the existence of the debt. Second, Chinese lenders seek advantage over other creditors, using collateral arrangements such as lender-controlled revenue accounts and promises to keep the debt out of collective restructuring (“no Paris Club” clauses). Third, cancellation, acceleration, and stabilization clauses in Chinese contracts potentially allow the lenders to influence debtors’ domestic and foreign policies. Even if these terms were unenforceable in court, the mix of confidentiality, seniority, and policy influence could limit the sovereign debtor’s crisis management options and complicate debt renegotiation. Overall, the contracts use creative design to manage credit risks and overcome enforcement hurdles, presenting China as a muscular and commercially savvy lender to the developing world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Debt, Government, Banking
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Julien Maire, Adnan Mazarei, Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Among the best-known sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)—government-owned or controlled investment vehicles—are those funded by hydrocarbon revenues in the member economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises all the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This Policy Brief compares the GCC SWFs with each other and with other funds in terms of their transparency and accountability on the fifth SWF scoreboard, available here. Several factors, including the decline in oil prices in recent years, have slowed the growth of the GCC’s SWFs. This slower growth could further diminish their governance and transparency standards, which are already weaker than those of other SWFs. Efforts to improve their governance and accountability will be important to garner public support for these SWFs.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Markets, Governance, Regulation, Capital Flows
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Julien Maire, Adnan Mazarei, Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the last two decades, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)—funds accumulated by a government that are invested in whole or in part abroad to benefit the country in the future—have faced increased public scrutiny over their investment patterns, financial results, and governance. This Policy Brief updates and expands a prototype scoreboard rating the transparency and accountability of SWFs, which Truman established in 2007. This fifth edition of the scoreboard shows that the average scores continued to improve for the 64 SWFs examined, but governance issues remain. New funds have emerged—many of them government holding companies or strategic investment funds—but the growth of assets under management by SWFs has slowed, in some cases partly because of withdrawals to help finance expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising questions about their future role.
  • Topic: Government, Markets, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Governance, Regulation, Capital
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Open Sub-navigation BackOpen Sub-navigation Publications Back Policy Briefs Working Papers Books PIIE Briefings Open Sub-navigation Commentary Back Op-Eds Testimonies Speeches and Papers Topics & Regions PIIE Charts What Is Globalization? Educational Resources Open Sub-navigation Back Senior Research Staff Research Analysts Trade Talks Open Sub-navigation Back RealTime Economic Issues Watch Trade & Investment Policy Watch China Economic Watch North Korea: Witness to Transformation 中文 Open Sub-navigation Back All Events Financial Statements Global Connections Global Economic Prospects Stavros Niarchos Foundation Lectures Trade Winds Open Sub-navigation Back News Releases Multimedia Media Center Open Sub-navigation Back Board of Directors Staff Employment Contact Annual Report Transparency Policy POLICY BRIEF VIEW SHARING OPTIONS Will industrial and agricultural subsidies ever be reformed? Gary Clyde Hufbauer (PIIE) Policy Brief21-5 March 2021 Photo Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse One economic argument for government subsidies is that they are necessary to compensate firms and industries for benefits they provide to society at large but cannot capture in the prices they charge for goods or services. For example, subsidies to renewable energy are defended because renewable energy limits carbon emissions. When a major economy subsidizes extensively, however, its trading partners are drawn into the game, with losses all around. As the prisoner’s dilemma suggests, a better outcome would entail mutual restraint. But the goal of mutual restraint is no less difficult in international trade than it is in international arms control. Both the European Union and the US federal system try, in different ways, to regulate industrial subsidies. Hufbauer examines efforts to contain unjustifiable subsidies and proposes modest improvements, bearing in mind that as countries struggle to overcome the global economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little appetite for restoring a free market economy—one in which firms compete with minimum government assistance or regulation. Selective upgrading of the rulebook may nevertheless be possible.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Government, Reform, European Union, Regulation, Manufacturing, Industry, COVID-19, Subsidies
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • 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: Leah Mason, Jodi Sanger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: This paper explores U.S. government scholarship opportunities available to U.S. students interested in an international experience, highlighting different sponsoring agencies. It analyzes how the scholarships support U.S. government programming goals of encouraging citizen diplomacy, strengthening national security, and building a globalized workforce. Case studies presented in this paper demonstrate the contributions of U.S. government scholarship programs to study abroad and the international experiences of U.S. students.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Education, Globalization, Government, National Security, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Finance Minister Ayman Ben Abdel Rahman (60 years old) has been assigned to form the new Algerian government, as he is a technocrat who is not affiliated with any political or ideological currents. This is in addition to his economic and financial expertise, which will be critical in handling the internal challenges, particularly with respect to dealing with the Hirak movement, tackling economic crisis and facing security threats. On June 30, 2021, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune issued a decree appointing Ayman Ben Abdel Rahman as Prime Minister to succeed Djerad, who submitted his resignation on June 24, following the announcement of the final results of the latest parliamentary elections. Abdel Rahman was assigned to consult with the winning political parties to form a new government as soon as possible. Abdel Rahman was assigned as the country's Prime Minister, in accordance with the provisions of the 5th and 7th paragraphs of Article "91" of the Algerian constitution, which grants the Algerian president the authority to assign a person to form a national government to manage the country's affairs.
  • Topic: Government, Finance, Economy, Ideology, Hirak Movement
  • Political Geography: Algeria, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The formation of the new Algerian government led by Ayman Benabderrahmane, former minister of finance, was announced on July 7, following his consultations with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the political parties which won the recent parliamentary elections. The new cabinet is made up of 34 ministers, including 17 new ministers, who joined those who retained their positions in the former government.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Political stability, Political Parties, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Algeria, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On the Tunisia’s 64th Republic Day -Sunday, July 25, 2021- the so-called 25 July Movement called for massive protests all over the country. Consequently, many responded and started protesting in Bardo Square, near the parliament, in the capital Tunis. The protests soon spread across other governorates, such as Sousse, the coastal governorate, Sfax (in the south), and El-Kef (in the northwest). In response, President Kais Saied announced, on July 26, 2021, the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and his cabinet, which consisted of 25 ministries. Saied decided to take charge of executive power until he chooses another politician to form a new government. He further suspended the current parliament and lifted the parliamentary immunity of all its members. Besides, he decided to rule by issuing decrees instead of the laws, which the parliament was supposed to pass. These decisions were announced after the emergency meeting that was chaired by president Saied, and attended by military leaders and security officials on the day the protests and rallies broke out. The protesters demanded reforming the economy, combatting corruption and terrorism, dismissing the Mechichi cabinet, and dissolving the parliament.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Reform, Crisis Management, Ennahda Party
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The political and technical dimensions of granting or revoking nationality have recently escalated in several countries of the region. This is associated with a number of motives relevant to enhancing the state’s global position, as reflected in the UAE granting nationality to competent scientists, doctors, intellectuals, specialists and talented individuals, to encourage the flow of investment into the country. The Jordanian government adopted the same approach to improve the internal economic conditions. The Algerian government justified this course to confront terrorist operations and irregular migration that caused tensions in the relations with the EU countries. Furthermore, the Sudanese transitional government withdrew the Sudanese nationality by naturalization, especially from Syrians, as some were obtained through illegal procedures. Israel also passed the Law of Return this March in an attempt to enhance the demographic structure of the country.
  • Topic: Government, European Union, Citizenship, Nationality
  • Political Geography: Sudan, Middle East, Israel, Algeria, North Africa, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Karam Saeed
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On January 27, 2021, the political climate in Tunisia was charged up, following the parliament’s approval on a cabinet reshuffle on January 26, supported by 144 parliamentarians. This included new ministers joining the government of ‘Hichem Mechichi’, which had been formed on August 24, 2020. The proposed amendments intensified the political crisis in the country, against the backdrop of President Kais Saied’s announcement of his rejection of the cabinet reshuffle under the claims of the potential corruption of some ministers. Yet, Mechici resorted to the parliamentary majority led by Al-Nahda movement to gain the confidence of the parliament. Despite the lapse of a week since the new reshuffle won the confidence of the Parliament, the President rejected summoning the new ministers to take the constitutional oath, which paves the way for more complications in the Tunisian scene. Furthermore, the Parliament's approval of the amendments may fuel a constitutional struggle between the Prime Minister and the President.
  • Topic: Government, Conflict, Demonstrations
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Israel and Iran are witnessing significant political changes that affected the ruling elites. The developments came in the wake of early legislative elections held in Israel in March leading to the formation of a new coalition government headed by Naftali Benett, leader of the right-wing party Yamina. In Iran, presidential elections held on June 18, were won by hardline chief justice Ebrahim Raisi. The internal political dynamics in Tel Aviv and Tehran cast a shadow on the whole political landscape in both countries, and are projected to have an impact on the trajectory of the non-traditional conflict between the two sides, which escalated over the past few months.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Anwar Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The election, which was held in Ethiopia on Monday, June 21, 2021, was the most complicated election that the country has witnessed in more than three decades, or, more accurately, since the 1994 constitution was approved. The reason is that this election was held amid lots of internal challenges, not to mention the strong criticism of its legitimacy (both domestically and internationally) even before it was held. Ethiopians are warily looking forward to the results, which are supposed to be announced within a few days, despite that it is not unlikely that these results will escalate the tensions in an already unrest-ridden country.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Conflict, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Tigray
  • Author: Ahmed Nazif
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The political crisis in Tunisia has been spiraling over the past months with no solution in sight. The reason, in part, is that the country’s constitution, approved in 2014, features complex intertwined interests of the governmental institutions. This situation eventually led to the current conflict between the president, on one side, and the parliament and the government, on the other. In an attempt to resolve the current gridlock, President Kais Saied, on several occasions, called for a radical change of the current political system, while the Islamist Ennahda Movement and its allies fear that they might lose the electoral privileges they have gained thanks to the power-sharing system and the current voting system. The last of Saeid’s calls came up more detailed and within a clearer framework to be shaped by “national dialogue.”
  • Topic: Government, Constitution, Political Crisis, Dialogue
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Mustafa Gamal Omar
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: While many Libyans look forward to implement the outcome of the Berlin II Conference on Libya and achieve stability across their country, others believe that the first steps towards such stability should be through breaking the deadlock on unresolved issues. Such issues require urgent but decisive action, and the most prominent of which is the reopening of the coastal road between Sirte and Misrata. The announcement on June 20, 2021, by head of the National Unity Government, Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, that the main coastal highway will be re-opened, following months of talks on a ceasefire, has revived Libyan hopes. The move is projected to yield significant political, security and economic benefits for the country. However, according to media reports circulated in late June, the 5+5 committee, formally named the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission, decided to put off the re-opening of the vital highway, claiming that only damages will be repaired, which made the situation murky once again. The 5+5 committee, on July 2, dispelled the confusion by announcing that the highway linking Sirte to Misrata will be re-opened over the next week upon the completion of maintenance work. Member of the committee, Major General Faraj Al-Sousaa, confirmed that arrangements were underway for the re-opening.
  • Topic: Government, Armed Forces, Conflict, Ceasefire
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Ahmed Nazif
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On the 64th anniversary of the Republic, President Kais Saied chose to declare ‘state of imminent danger’, invoking the constitution shaped by the Islamist Ennahda movement. On July 25, Saied took exceptional decisions ousting the government led by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, freezing the activities of parliament, and stripping parliament members of legal immunity. He considers the measures necessary for saving the state. The political forces took different stands depending on their position in the political hierarchy as well as their closeness to President Saeid.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Hamdy Abdul Rahman
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Two years after the overthrow of Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir, political transition is going through a critical and highly complicated phase. The government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is facing diverse challenges and hurdles, including widespread popular protests against fuel and consumer price increases, as well as resurgence of violence in Darfur region. If the situation remains unchanged, the country can fall in a fresh structural crisis that would prompt key figures of the ousted regime to make a comeback to power. It should be noted that over the past decade, prior to the fall of al-Bashir regime, had already faced huge challenges. The secession of South Sudan caused economic shocks to Sudan, while the civil war did not only damage the Sudanese economy, but also caused an increase in the number of refugees and internally displaced persons. This article seeks to discuss the country’s political transition and challenges facing it while also explaining what the interim government should do to bring the country back to the right track.
  • Topic: Government, Displacement, Crisis Management, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Nawar Samad
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 26, 2021, Lebanese President Michel Aoun appointed former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to form a new government, after Saad al-Hariri's apology ending a rough 9 months path of fruitless negotiations with President Aoun. Despite optimism surrounding the formation of the new government by Mikati, highlighted by President Aoun’s statement on August 14 that he hopes "white smoke" will appear soon with regards to the formation of a new government, a key question remains: Will Mikati succeed in dismantling the complications that hindered forming a new government, particularly with the emergence of new domestic and regional dilemmas?
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Military Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • 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: Tom Uren
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, the myGov website was overwhelmed by a demand surge from citizens seeking to rapidly access digital services. In 2016, the online Census (eCensus) suffered a series of relatively small distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. While they didn’t overwhelm the platform, the attacks ultimately resulted in the eCensus being taken offline. What do these two examples have in common, and what lessons should we learn to ensure more robust digital government services? To answer those questions, this paper will examine five points: The nature of the DDoS attacks The CIA (confidentiality, integrity and availability) triad model for digital security How to predict demand How to respond to unpredictable demand The structure of reliable data systems
  • Topic: Government, National Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marcus Hellyer
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Once again, the Australian Government has delivered exactly the funding it promised in the 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) and subsequent 2020 Defence Strategic Update (DSU). If the government was willing to recommit to the DWP’s funding line in the depths of the Covid-19 recession, it was very unlikely to walk away from it now that the economy is recovering faster than expected. This year, the consolidated defence funding line (including both the Department of Defence and the Australian Signals Directorate) is $44.6 billion, which is real growth of 4.1%. It’s the ninth straight year of real growth, and, according to the DSU’s funding model, that will continue until the end of the decade.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, National Security, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Australia
  • Author: Marcus Hellyer
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Last year’s war between Azerbaijan and Armenia was short, sharp and decisive. By effectively employing precision guided weapons, the former rapidly forced the latter to capitulate and accede to its political demands. The conflict confirmed the centrality of guided weapons to modern war fighting and showed how small states can now master the technologies and techniques needed to use them. Last year also witnessed the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the supply-chain crisis it triggered. That provoked much soul-searching from governments and companies about how to manage the risks presented by modern just-in-time supply chains that span the globe. When we take those two events together, it’s clear that the ADF will not only need many kinds of guided weapons across the spectrum of conflict, but also need to guarantee their availability in times of crisis when supply chains will be under pressure and threat. That will be difficult, since Australia currently manufactures virtually no guided weapons. The Australian Government is also aware of both needs. Its 2020 Defence Strategic Update plans on investing tens of billions of dollars in guided weapons over the next two decades. It also directs Defence to explore the potential for new sovereign guided weapons production capability to mitigate supply risks. It appears that exploration has determined that the potential can be turned into reality: on 31 March, the government announced that it was ‘accelerating’ the development of a sovereign guided weapon manufacturing capability. This report examines two fundamental questions. First, would the manufacture of guided weapons in Australia enhance ADF capability and provide greater self-reliance? Second, is it viable to manufacture guided weapons in Australia? The answer to both questions is ‘yes’. The report also presents some key considerations about how the industry should be established.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Weapons , Investment, Defense Industry, Supply Chains
  • Political Geography: Australia
  • 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: Hanmin Kim
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Pacific Forum
  • Abstract: State-funded news media outlets and the ways in which they convey the messages of government and government-affiliated officials represent an essential but under-emphasized area of study in the realm of international diplomacy. Through a case study of the Hong Kong protests of 2019, this paper draws on theories from journalism and public diplomacy to analyze articles by state-funded media covering the unrest. This paper argues that the state-funded news outlets of the US and China used the same frame—violence and conflict—but approached the Hong Kong protests differently. Using this frame, state media outlets made themselves channels for government officials during the US-China rivalry, but made different arguments regarding the violence that occurred there. While US government-funded media focused on the violence of the Hong Kong Police Force as a danger to the territory’s democracy, Chinese state media emphasized the violence of the Hong Kong protestors as a danger to national security.
  • Topic: Government, Communications, Media, Protests, Journalism
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Hong Kong
  • Author: Owen Mangiza, Joshua Chakawa
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: This Policy and Practice Brief (PPB) discusses the implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on border communities, principally in relation to border controls by governments and trans-border activities by community members living close to the border in Zimbabwe.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Border Control, Pandemic, Community, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Petar Jolakoski, Branimir Jovanovic, Joana Madjoska, Viktor Stojkoski, Dragan Tevdovski
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: If firm profits rise to a level far above than what would have been earned in a competitive economy, this might give the firms market power, which might in turn influence the activity of the government. In this paper, we perform a detailed empirical study on the potential effects of firm profits and markups on government size and effectiveness. Using data on 30 European countries for a period of 17 years and an instrumental variables approach, we find that there exists a robust relationship between firm gains and the activity of the state, in the sense that higher firm profits reduce government size and effectiveness. Even in a group of developed countries, such as the European countries, firm power may affect state activity.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, International Political Economy, Profit
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Kunal Mangal
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
  • Abstract: Government jobs in India are valuable, not just because they pay relatively higher wages, but also because they provide many valuable amenities, such as lifetime tenure, access to bribes, and prestige. Does the value of these amenities compete with the nominal wage itself? I use the observed search behavior of candidates preparing for highly structured competitive exams for government jobs to infer a lower bound on the total value of a government job, including amenities. Based on a sample of 120 male candidates preparing for state-level civil service exams in Pune, Maharashtra, I estimate a total value of at least 425,000 INR per month. This estimate implies that the amenity value of a government job is at least 81% of total compensation. The high amenity value is not driven by misinformed beliefs about the nominal wage, nor by a high value placed on the process of studying itself. I conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for policy and the questions it raises for future research.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Employment, Public Sector, Job Creation, Workforce
  • Political Geography: India
  • 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
  • Author: Zeinab Abul-Magd, İsmet Akça, Shana Marshall
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Egyptian and Turkish military businesses have used their institutional privileges to dominate their respective economies, but they have key differences. Turkey’s military businesses are centrally managed while Egypt’s use multiple complex conglomerates. In recent years, Turkish and Egyptian military institutions have followed divergent paths in their respective states. After many decades of full or partial control over the government, the Turkish military today is largely marginalized in politics. By contrast, after periods of exclusion from power, the Egyptian military is now in full control of the state. Despite these differences, both military institutions are powerful economic actors within their states. They have developed extensive civilian economic enterprises over the decades, dominating important sectors by capitalizing on their political influence, legal and regulatory privileges unique to their enterprises, and opportunities provided by market liberalization.
  • Topic: Government, Economy, Business , Liberalization
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Matt Grossmann
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Matt Grossmann analyzes the policy consequences of increasing Republican control of U.S. state governments since the 1990s. He finds that Republican states have enacted some new conservative policies, but many other liberal policy revolutions have continued unabated. He argues that conservative policymaking is difficult because federal policy and electoral incentives incentivize continued government expansion.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Conservatism, Political Science
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Crow, James Ron
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: David Crow and James Ron look at how global publics view the relationship between human rights organizations and the U.S. government. They argue that ordinary people across various world regions do not perceive human rights groups as “handmaidens” of U.S. foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organization, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Alexander B. Downes
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: The rapid-fire overthrow of the theocratic Taliban regime in Afghanistan (2001) and Saddam Hussein’s Baathist dictatorship in Iraq (2003) by the United States—and the disastrous aftermaths of those and other recent interventions (such as the ouster of Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011)— has sparked popular and scholarly interest in the causes and consequences of foreign-imposed regime change (FIRC). One of the enduring puzzles about FIRCs is that, as highlighted in Melissa Willard-Foster’s terrific book Toppling Foreign Governments, three-quarters of them are carried out by great powers against minor powers in situations of extreme power asymmetry. “Though this asymmetry of power makes an imposed change feasible,” writes Willard-Foster, a political scientist at the University of Vermont, “it should also make that change unnecessary” because “militarily weak leaders who are bereft of allies should back down when confronted by stronger states” (pp. 2–3). The 133 regime changes in Willard-Foster’s study, however, testify that the weak regularly defy the strong—and pay the price for it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Regime Change, Political Science
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America
  • Author: Ryan D. Williamson
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In 2017, then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan broke the record for most closed rules in a single session. Ironically, this feat came only two years after vowing to lead the House in a more open and inclusive manner than his recent predecessors had. This about-face was not new or unique to Ryan, though. Indeed, he was simply the next in a string of Speakers over the previous few decades to promise greater debate, only to renege shortly thereafter. Chronicling this decline of deliberation in Congress is the focus of Donald R. Wolfensberger’s work. The former Republican staff director for the House Rules Committee offers a detailed yet accessible insight into how Congress has evolved in recent history. Beginning with a brief discussion of the history of majoritarian politics in Congress, Wolfensberger specifically looks at a litany of case studies from the last two decades. Topics cover a wide range, including health care reform, budgets and deficits, and the Iran nuclear deal, to name a few. Within each, a common theme pervades—the majority party must “rely on extraordinary consultation, pressures, and compromises within its own ranks, as well as on a creative use of the rules, to eke out a victory on contentious legislation” (p. 57).
  • Topic: Government, Book Review, Political Science
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Risa Brooks
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The U.S. military’s prevailing norms of military professionalism are poorly suited to meet today’s civil-military challenges. These norms, based on Samuel Huntington's objective civilian control model, argue that the military should operate in a sphere separate from the civilian domain of policymaking and decisions about the use of force. Yet, these norms also undermine the military’s nonpartisan and apolitical ethos, weaken civilian leaders' control of military activity, and undercut the country’s strategic effectiveness in armed conflict.
  • Topic: Government, Military Affairs, Public Policy, Norms
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael A. Carrier
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Big Tech is in the news. At the center of our political and economic dialogue is the effect that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have on our lives and what, if anything, governments should do about it. In this article, I explain how Big Tech has come under scrutiny, the antitrust implications of the industry’s behavior, and the potential remedy of breaking up the companies.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Science and Technology, Regulation, Internet, Social Media, Business
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tim Glawion
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Central African Republic (CAR) could be a case of hope. After years of violence, the main armed groups and the government signed a peace agreement last year. At the end of 2020, elections are set to take place that could strengthen the democratic credentials of the country and grant its institutions the legitimacy needed to rebuild the state. As surveys have shown the populace is tired of the armed groups scattered (and fighting) throughout the country and demand the return of the state. The state is building up its army and deploying troops across a growing part of the country’s territory with the help of international actors. However, the restoration of state authority in the CAR remains unlikely. The state’s history is one of neglect, meaning there remains little to be “restored” and much to be built in the first place. Whether the state is willing and able to live up to the population’s demands is questionable. The military approach to state authority restoration and the integration of armed actors risks marginalizing the calls for an emphasis on public services. Locals hope for the return of the state—and one that is robust and caring. The reality of a militarized and inefficient state would shatter these hopes.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Governance, State, Society
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central African Republic
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Most Syrian refugees in Lebanon have thought many times about going home but in the end deemed the risks too great. Donors should increase aid allowing the Lebanese government to continue hosting the Syrians, so that any decision they make to leave is truly voluntary. What’s new? Pressure on Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return home is rising. Although Syria remains unsafe for most, refugees are trickling back, escaping increasingly harsh conditions in Lebanon and hoping that the situation will improve back home. Procedures that clarify refugees’ legal status are making return more plausible for some. Why does it matter? While even a small number of successful repatriations represents positive news, conditions are too dangerous for mass organised returns. Yet the Syrian government and some Lebanese political factions increasingly insist that it is time for large-scale returns to begin. What should be done? Donors should plan for many refugees to stay for many years, and provide support to help Lebanon meet Syrians’ needs, ease the burden on Lebanon’s economy, and reduce friction between refugees and their Lebanese hosts. The Lebanese government can take additional administrative steps to ease voluntary returns.
  • Topic: Government, Refugees, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Anthony Bubalo
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The examples of Egypt and Saudi Arabia show the risks in betting on the stability of autocratic regimes in the region. Despite the Arab uprisings of the last decade, most countries in the Middle East remain in the grip of autocrats, with a widespread view that this is the 'default setting' for the region. However, an examination of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where authoritarianism has been revived, reveals both regimes are struggling for popular legitimacy. Increasingly reliant on repression, these regimes risk provoking civil unrest, and external powers should reconsider their assumption that autocracy guarantees stability in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Authoritarianism, Political stability, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Egypt
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia has much economic potential but the trade-off between growth and stability continues to bind its growth ambitions. Indonesian economic policy continues to prioritise stability over growth but the adequacy of economic growth has become the bigger issue. President Joko Widodo’s commendable pro-growth efforts have so far only stabilised Indonesia’s trajectory rather than boost it. Doing better will require reforms to be calibrated to make the trade-off between growth and stability less binding while enhancing productivity.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Economy, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Christophe Abi Nassif
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: When protests broke out across Lebanon on 17 October 2019, very few people anticipated the political, economic, and financial consequences that the country finds itself facing today. In an unprecedented buildup of events, a government resigned, a monetary crisis sharply accelerated, and uncertainty about the future of a nation spiked. And while the first few weeks have been particularly raging, a relative status quo between protesters and the government seems to have prevailed. This article makes the case for four essential changes that the Lebanese revolution may want to consider to avoid stagnation and potential decay and ultimately achieve results and a significant breakthrough in political representation.
  • Topic: Government, Social Movement, Crisis Management, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Ulrich Schetter
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In this paper, we develop a heterogeneous agent general equilibrium framework to analyze optimal joint policies of a lockdown and transfer payments in times of a pandemic. In our model, the effectiveness of a lockdown in mitigating the pandemic depends on endogenous compliance. A more stringent lockdown deepens the recession which implies that poorer parts of society find it harder to subsist. This reduces their compliance with the lockdown, and may cause deprivation of the very poor, giving rise to an excruciating trade-off between saving lives from the pandemic and from deprivation. Lump-sum transfers help mitigate this trade-off. We identify and discuss key trade-offs involved and provide comparative statics for optimal policy. We show that, ceteris paribus, the optimal lockdown is stricter for more severe pandemics and in richer countries. We then consider a government borrowing constraint and show that limited fiscal space lowers the optimal lockdown and welfare, and increases the aggregate death burden during the pandemic. We finally discuss distributional consequences and the political economy of fighting a pandemic.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Political Economy, Inequality, Economic Growth, Fiscal Policy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tamirace Fakhoury
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Prior to 2011, Lebanon was no traditional gatekeeper in managing migrant and refugee flows to the EU. Following mass refugee influx from Syria, the small Middle Eastern state acquired key importance in the EU’s architecture of externalisation, alternatively framed as the set of norms and practices that the EU crafts to govern migration from a distance. Lebanon currently hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees and since 2012 the EU has been the key funding power seeking to help the refugee-hosting state cope with the spillover effects that mass displacement brought about on the country. The EU’s recently published New Pact on Migration and Asylum reiterates support to refugees and refugee-hosting countries – including those in Syria’s neighbourhood – as one of the central elements of cooperation with third countries on migration and displacement. After nearly a decade of cooperation between the EU and Lebanon in this area, and ahead of the EU’s new budgetary and policy-planning cycle (2021–27), now is a key moment to critically assess EU-Lebanon cooperation on displacement from Syria.
  • Topic: Government, Foreign Aid, European Union, Refugees, Economy, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US monetary system faces significant challenges from advances in technology and changes in the macroeconomy that, left unaddressed, will threaten the stability of the US economy and financial system. At the same time, low interest rates mean that central banks will not have the policy ammunition they had in the past during the next recession. The Federal Reserve needs new tools to meet its mandates of price stability and maximum employment. It also needs to preserve the safety and soundness of the financial system in a rapidly digitizing world. The authors propose a Fed-backed digital currency to solve both problems. Their proposal creates a regulated system of digital currency accounts for consumers managed by digital payment providers and fully backed by reserves at the Fed. The system would be limited in size, to preserve the functions and stability of the existing banking system. Fed backing would mean low capital requirements, which would in turn facilitate competition. Low fees and no minimum balance requirements in the new system would also help financial institutions reach the roughly 25 percent of the US population that is currently either unbanked or underbanked. Digital accounts for consumers could also provide a powerful new stabilization tool for both monetary and fiscal policies. For fiscal policy, it could facilitate new automatic stabilizers while also allowing the Fed to provide quantitative easing directly to consumers. This tool could be used in a timely manner with broad reach to all Americans.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Banks, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the second part of their Policy Brief, Coronado and Potter discuss how the system of digital payment providers (DPPs) proposed in their first Policy Brief on this topic adds a new weapon to the monetary toolkit that could be implemented in a timely, effective, and inclusive manner. They describe how a digital currency backed by the Federal Reserve could augment automatic fiscal stabilizers and—more importantly—harness the power of “helicopter” money or quantitative easing directly to consumers in a disciplined manner. To implement QE directly to consumers, Coronado and Potter propose the creation of recession insurance bonds (RIBs)—zero-coupon bonds authorized by Congress and calibrated as a percentage of GDP sufficient to provide meaningful support in a downturn. Congress would create these contingent securities; Treasury would credit households’ digital accounts with them. The Fed could purchase them from households in a downturn after its policy rate hits zero. The Fed’s balance sheet would grow by the value of RIBs purchased; the initial matching liability would be deposits into the DPP system. The mechanism is easy for consumers to understand and could boost inflation expectations more than a debt-financed fiscal stimulus could.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Insurance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Chad P. Bown
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: While the public was transfixed by the Trump administration’s policies alleging that imports were a threat to America’s national security during 2017–20, there was a concomitant and more quiet US policy shift on the export side. Addressing the national security threat presented by exports posed different economic and institutional challenges from those associated with import policy, including the acknowledgment that export controls for legitimate national security reasons can be the first-best policy to confront the problem at its source. Yet, export controls could also be misused as a beggar-thy-neighbor policy to redistribute economic well-being across countries, even from one ally to another. This paper describes how US export control policy evolved over 2017–20, as well as the international institutions—first the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), then the Wassenaar Arrangement—historically tasked with multilateralizing US export restrictions used to protect national security. With the potential for US export control policy to brush up more frequently against WTO rules designed to limit the use of export restrictions, the paper also highlights new challenges for the WTO’s system of resolving trade disputes. Overall, a US failure to strike the right balance for its export control policy would result in it being ineffective at addressing national security risks, costly for the economy, and problematic for trade and diplomatic relations.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, National Security, Exports, Trade
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Unemployment, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ana González, Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By refusing to fill vacancies in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body—the top body that hears appeals and rules on trade disputes—the Trump administration has paralyzed the key component of the dispute settlement system. No nation or group of nations has more at stake in salvaging this system than the world’s big emerging-market economies: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand, among others. These countries have actively and successfully used the dispute settlement system to defend their commercial interests abroad and resolve inevitable trade conflicts. The authors suggest that even though the developing countries did not create the Appellate Body crisis, they may hold a key to unlock it. The Trump administration has also focused its ire on a longstanding WTO practice of giving these economies latitude to seek “special and differential treatment” in trade negotiations because of their developing-country status. The largest developing economies, which have a significant stake in preserving a two-step, rules-based mechanism for resolving trade disputes, could play a role in driving a potential bargain to save the appeals mechanism. They could unite to give up that special status in return for a US commitment to end its boycott of the nomination of Appellate Body members.
  • Topic: Development, Government, World Trade Organization, Developing World, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Brazil, North America, Mexico, Thailand, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: With interest rates persistently low or even negative in advanced countries, policymakers have barely any room to ease monetary policy when the next recession hits. Fiscal policy will have to play a major and likely dominant role in stimulating the economy, requiring policymakers to fundamentally reconsider fiscal policy. Blanchard and Summers argue for the introduction of what they call “semiautomatic” stabilizers. Unlike purely automatic stabilizers (mechanisms built into government budgets that automatically—without discretionary government action or explicit triggers—increase spending or decrease taxes when the economy slows or enters a recession), semiautomatic stabilizers are targeted tax or spending measures that are triggered if, say, the output growth rate declines or the unemployment rate increases beyond a specified threshold. The authors argue that the trigger should be changes in unemployment rather than changes in output, and the design of semiautomatic stabilizers, whether they focus on mechanisms that rely primarily on income or on intertemporal substitution effects (changing the timing of consumption), depends crucially on the design of discretionary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Sean Hagan
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past 40 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has played a central role in the sovereign debt restructuring process. If the COVID-19 pandemic leads to a significant wave of sovereign debt distress, this role will be closely scrutinized. The paper analyzes how IMF policies have evolved to shape the incentives of sovereigns and their creditors at each stage of the sovereign debt restructuring process. It also identifies a number of issues that the IMF will likely have to address as a result of the pandemic, including (1) assessment of debt sustainability in a macroeconomic environment of considerable uncertainty, (2) treatment of official bilateral creditors, and (3) potential benefits—and challenges—of introducing additional incentives to maximize creditor participation in any debt restructuring.
  • Topic: Debt, Emerging Markets, Government, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, Macroeconomics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Erica Bosio, Simeon Djankov, Edward Glaeser, Andrei Shleifer
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper examines a new dataset of laws and practices governing public procurement, as well as procurement outcomes, in 187 countries. The authors measure regulation as restrictions on the discretion of the procuring agents. They find that laws and practices are highly correlated with each other across countries, and better practices are correlated with better outcomes, but laws themselves are not correlated with outcomes. To shed light on this puzzle, they present a model of procurement in which both regulation and public sector capacity determine the efficiency of procurement. In the model, regulation is effective in countries with low public sector capacity and detrimental in countries with high public sector capacity because it inhibits the socially optimal exercise of discretion. The paper finds evidence broadly consistent with this prediction: Regulation of procurement improves outcomes but only in countries with low public sector capacity.
  • Topic: Government, Law, Regulation, Procurement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Government, Labor Issues, European Union, Unemployment, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Isaiah Wilson III
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Almost no more need be said. This is not the traditional “monster” America prepared to destroy. But, it is the monster we face. The coronavirus, COVID-19, typifies the “compound” nature of today’s security threats. This deadly adversary is inimical to accepted international laws and conventions regarding warfare and human security protections. It is a true omnivore, respecting no borders and consuming all classes, genders, races, and faiths. This adversary has driven mass societal disruption and managed in about four months’ time to infect over 1.2 million (confirmed cases) with nearly 72,000 deaths, in the United States alone. Worldwide economic recession, even depression, seems likely and national publics now question their governments’ capacity and will to contain the adversary. Should governments fail to do so (most experts agree that the opportunity to contain COVID-19 is lost), big-data computer projections predict as many as 173,000 could die in the United States by the end of May 2020. The yet untold damage from such a toll across all sectors—political, economic, and societal—is incalculable. The potential for a global paradigm shift in the way we should perceive these threats is real. Some may ask, why speak of combatting a global pandemic as though we are waging an epochal war? This moment takes the popular fashion of war rhetoric beyond the metaphorical: We are at war against this virus…or at least we should be. We should regard this threat and its compounded implications as the security issue it is. COVID-19 is indicative of the changed nature of many of today’s threats.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: David Makovksy
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Benny Gantz’s party lost the head-to-head battle, Avigdor Liberman’s favorable influence on the coalition math has left the general in a stronger position—and taken some diplomatic weight off the Trump administration’s shoulders. Israel’s third round of elections last week seemed inconclusive at first, but the deadlock may now be broken. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did better this time than in September’s round two, but his gains were insufficient to form a new government. Potential kingmaker Avigdor Liberman jettisoned his previous idea of getting the two top parties to join forces; instead, personal antipathy and policy differences have led him to definitely state that he will not join any government Netanyahu leads. Thus, while centrist Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz may have options to shape a new government, Netanyahu has no pathway on his own. In theory, the center-left bloc has the requisite number of seats for a bare majority in the 120-member Knesset, since anti-Netanyahu forces won 62 seats. In reality, the situation is more complex.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elena DeLozier
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sultan Haitham will now be free to put his own stamp on the country's government and foreign policy, and a recent dust-up on the Yemeni border could provide the first indicator of his approach. On February 20, Oman will begin its next era in earnest. The new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, was officially sworn in on January 11, but he has remained quiet and mostly out of sight during the forty-day mourning period that followed the death of his cousin, Sultan Qaboos. Now that this period is drawing to a close, he is free to put his stamp on Omani policy. Notably, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead the first international delegation to see Sultan Haitham in the post-mourning period. When the meeting was first scheduled, the secretary likely saw it as a chance to get to know the new leader, and also as a symbolic visit to make up for sending such a low-level delegation to offer condolences. Yet the two may have more to talk about now. Earlier this week, a flare-up occurred between Saudi forces and Omani-backed locals in the Yemeni border province of al-Mahra. The confrontation may be Sultan Haitham’s first regional test, and identifying the actors who help him get through it could help Washington discern future power centers within Oman’s often opaque government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Oman, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Reilly Barry
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Challengers to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are proliferating, with two breakaway parties drawing particular notice. In December 2019, Ahmet Davutoglu, who served under Erdogan as foreign minister and then prime minister, formed Gelecek (Future) in an attempt to resurrect a gentler version of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). And this past March, former finance minister Ali Babacan, credited with masterminding the country’s “economic miracle” in the early Erdogan years, established the Democracy and Progress Party as another right-leaning alternative to the AKP. The remaining aspirants include the Peoples’ Democratic Party, whose capable leader remains imprisoned for allegedly supporting Kurdish militants. This Policy Note, by Soner Cagaptay and Reilly Barry, examines the political identities of Turkey’s opposition parties as compared to the AKP and allied Nationalist Action Party. It does so through an unconventional method: analyzing voter outreach through Twitter, a medium widely used by Turks. The results reveal striking trends in how these parties view Turkey’s republican (and imperial) past, and what these views suggest about the country’s political future.
  • Topic: Government, Domestic politics, AKP
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Katherine Bauer, Kevin Mathieson
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tehran is pressing Seoul regarding the billions in Iranian oil revenues held by South Korean banks, creating an opportunity to expand the U.S. humanitarian trade mechanism. On July 21, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to lodge a complaint over Tehran’s heightened rhetoric regarding access to funds frozen in South Korea. The week before, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson had accused Seoul of having a “master-servant relationship” with Washington, while the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) had previously threatened legal action to access the funds, which Tehran says it plans to use for humanitarian purchases. Although the U.S. government authorized use of the funds for such purposes in February, South Korean banks appear hesitant to move forward without additional U.S. assurances—a reluctance compounded by the $86 million fine that U.S. regulators levied on the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) in April for failing to identify large-scale Iranian money laundering. With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in the Islamic Republic, Washington should work with Seoul to ensure that trade for medicine, equipment, and other humanitarian items moves forward—albeit with strict oversight.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Trade
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Asia, South Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Knights, Hamdi Malik, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Three experts examine one of the most sensitive problems facing Iraq's new prime minister: the future of militias that were mobilized to fight the Islamic State but have since balked at subsuming themselves to the government's authority. On May 20, The Washington Institute held a virtual Policy Forum with Michael Knights, Hamdi Malik, and Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, coauthors of the recent study Honored, Not Contained: The Future of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces. Knights is a senior fellow with the Institute’s Military and Security Studies Program. Malik is a London-based Middle East analyst at IITV. Tamimi is an independent analyst and a doctoral candidate at Swansea University. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Government, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Militias, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Zachary Abuza, Luke Lischin
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Just over a year ago, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was formally established as part of a peace agreement to end nearly five decades of conflict between the Philippine government and Moro secessionists. This report discusses the many notable achievements of the BARMM government during its first year while cautioning that these accomplishments are not irreversible, and that the BARMM will need international support—including from the United States—to confront future challenges.
  • Topic: Government, Separatism, Peace, Autonomy
  • Political Geography: Philippines, United States of America
  • Author: Sameer P. Lalwani, Gillian Gayner
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On August 5, 2019, the government of India revoked the constitutional autonomy of its Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. This report—based on field interviews, new data collection, and extensive research— focuses on the revitalized insurgency and mass uprising between 2013 and 2019, explains how the Kashmir conflict evolved to a point that contributed to India’s extraordinary political gambit, and lays out both New Delhi’s strategy and the challenges the government faces going forward.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Insurgency, Territorial Disputes, Conflict
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Kashmir
  • Author: Peder Østebø
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: While all states face massive challenges when responding to COVID-19, some are in a more precarious position than others. In Venezuela, the pandemic arrived at the worst possible time for its citizens. Facing one of the deepest economic crises outside of wartime in recent years, its consequences have spilled over to all aspect of social life.1 However, the timing seems to have suited the leaders of the Venezuelan regime well. Rather than constituting a threat to the stability of a regime that has lost both democratic legitimacy and the capacity to provide services and security, the government of Nicolas Maduro (2013-present) has seemingly managed to consolidate itself after several years of instability. The starting point of the discussion is an apparent paradox: how can a regime with neither legitimacy nor capacity, two commonly invoked criteria for effective crisis management, strengthen itself during a crisis such as that spurred by COVID-19? The brief presents an overview of how the Venezuelan regime has responded to COVID-19, and how the government of Nicolás Maduro has applied different strategies to consolidate a favorable political status quo. It takes as its starting point three concepts, namely “state capacity,” “legitimacy,” and “power,” all of which are frequently upheld as fundamental for understanding the varying ways in which states have responded to the pandemic. It highlights how relative power relations have shifted in recent years, and how the pandemic has contributed to skewing the balance of power further in favor of the Maduro government.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South America, Central America, Venezuela
  • Author: Raffaello Pantucci, Abdul Basit, Kyler Ong, Nur Aziemah Azman, V. Arianti, Muh Taufiqurrohman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has redefined almost all spheres of modern life. While states around the world are redeploying their financial resources, energies and military capabilities to cope with the challenge of the coronavirus, terrorist groups across the ideological spectrum have positioned themselves to exploit the gaps created by these policy re-adjustments. Terrorist groups are milking people’s fears amid confusion and uncertainty to promote their extremist propagandas. The rearrangement of global imperatives will push counter-terrorism and extremism down the priority list of the international community. Anticipating these policy changes, existing counter-terrorism frameworks and alliances should be revisited to devise cost-effective and innovative strategies to ensure continuity of the fight against terrorist groups. With these considerations in mind, this special issue of the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features four articles that identify and assess important security risks around COVID-19, given its far-reaching social, economic and geopolitical impact. In the first article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that COVID-19 will have a deep-seated and prolonged impact across government activity, both in terms of the categorisation of risks, as well as the resources available to tackle other issues. Perceptions of risk around terrorist threats may shift, with states grappling with stark economic, social and political challenges. At the same time, security threats continue to evolve, and may even worsen. According to the author, some of the tools developed to deal with the pandemic can potentially be useful in tracking terrorist threats. However, resource constraints will require states, on a global scale, to think far more dynamically about how to adequately buffer much-needed security blankets both within and beyond their borders. In the second article, Abdul Basit outlines the opportunities and potential implications that COVID-19 has created for terrorist groups across the ideological divide. According to the author, terrorist groups have exploited the virus outbreak to spread racial hatred, doomsday and end-of-times narratives. Among jihadist groups, IS has taken a more totalitarian view of the coronavirus pandemic, while Al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Taliban have used it as a PR exercise to gain political legitimacy. Far-right groups in the West have spun it to promote native nationalism, border restoration and anti-immigration policies. Terrorist groups have increased their social media propaganda to radicalise and recruit vulnerable individuals. At the same time, these groups have urged their supporters to carry out lone-wolf attacks and use the coronavirus as a bioweapon. In the post-COVID-19 world, revisiting existing counter-terrorism frameworks to devise more adaptable and cost-effective strategies would be needed to continue the fight against terrorism. In the next article, V. Arianti and Muh Taufiqurrohman observe that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a varied impact on Indonesia’s security landscape. On the one hand, it has emboldened IS-affiliated Indonesian militant groups to step up calls for attacks, with the government seen as weakened amidst a worsening domestic health crisis. On the other, ongoing indoctrination and recruitment activities of militant groups have also faced disruptions. According to the authors, counter-terrorism strategies will need to be reoriented as circumstances evolve, particularly in dealing with the arrest of militants and the subsequent processes of their prosecution and incarceration. Finally, Kyler Ong and Nur Aziemah Azman examine the calls to action by far-right extremists and the Islamic State (IS), which reveals varying degrees of organisational coherence in the respective movements. According to the authors, such variations influence these two groups’ preferred techniques, tactics and procedures adopted in seeking to exploit the health crisis. For its part, IS has a more organised hierarchical structure, even if it has increasingly granted autonomy to its affiliates to plan and execute attacks. In comparison, the absence of a central authority, or command structure in the far-right, can lead to a fragmentation of interests. These factors invariably create uncertainties in how, when and where extremists of both ilk may seek to operationalise an attack.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Health, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Lina Gong
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Chinese government formed two new bodies in 2018 that have been expected to improve China’s response to natural hazards and humanitarian emergencies in other countries. What are the implications for Southeast Asia, where the risk and threat of different types of disaster persist?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Risk, Disaster Management
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jose Montesclaros
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Given the credible threat of disease re-emergence and evolution, governments today should allocate resources to preventing future novel diseases, even as they face ‘wartime conditions’ in battling COVID-19.
  • Topic: Government, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The so-called “truce” in the trade war with the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement on January 15 comes amid indicators that the intense U.S. government consensus pushback against a wide range of perceived challenges posed by China may be subsiding.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kelly M. McFarland
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  • Abstract: In recent years, a growing number of governments, non-state actors, and citizens have rapidly expanded their use of pernicious information operations against other countries and even their fellow citizens. Social media and the internet have become the main tool. The current technological revolution has lowered the cost of entry for those wishing to spread misinformation and disinformation. Some use the internet to propagate an alternative version of the global order they seek to dominate, to damage a regional rival, or to influence their own or others’ elections. The players, tactics, tools, and topics will continue to expand in the months and years ahead, and the coronavirus pandemic has only enhanced the salience of these activities. Information operation campaigns sow confusion, further divide deeply partisan societies, and are an existential threat to democracies around the world. Thus far, governmental, tech sector, and civil society responses have fallen short, although some have fared better than others. In fall 2019 and the spring 2020, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy convened a series of working group meetings that included academics and practitioners, private sector specialists, and representatives from civil society. The attendees mapped out this space and identified the challenges inherent in this new form of incipient and widespread information operations. This group also identified potential areas of further engagement, collaboration, and research within the private sector, academia, and civil society. Ultimately, the group came up with a set of principles and policy recommendations for governments, private sector companies, and civil society to enact in both the near-and-long-term in order to mitigate information operations.
  • Topic: Government, Science and Technology, Information Technology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Dylan O'Driscoll, Amal Bourhrous, Meray Maddah, Shivan Fazil
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Nearly a decade after the Arab Spring, the substantial political change that many across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have hoped for has yet to be seen. In fact, as the 2019 wave of protests shows, street protests continue to endure in the region, often over the same recurring issues. This paper takes a regional approach to understanding the state of the social contract in MENA countries. It describes, country-by-country, the impact of protest movements, or their absence, on relations between society and the state, and the likely effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on those relations. It then examines the roles and impact of external actors, and the attitudes that they have adopted towards protests. Based on this analysis, the authors recommend that the European Union (EU) adopts a new approach to regional security and stability that takes the needs of the populations as the starting point. This would involve a broader EU agreement on priorities in MENA that emphasize aspects that answer those needs.
  • Topic: Government, Arab Spring, Protests, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Turkmenistan, far and away the most closed country in the former Soviet space, seldom receives much attention except as the butt of dismissive jokes or, more recently, when its leaders tried to deny that COVID-19 is present in their country even as they took measures intended to hinder its spread (see EDM, July 21). But multiple reports over the last few days suggest Turkmenistan is fast descending into an economic crisis that makes its continued socio-political stability ever less likely. Moreover, this Central Asian country now has an opposition based abroad that is increasingly capable of providing leadership to local Turkmenistanis infuriated by the domestic situation they find themselves in as a result of the authorities’ oppressive policies.
  • Topic: Government, Crisis Management, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Turkmenistan
  • Author: Łukasz Maślanka
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron initiated a Franco-Russian dialogue aimed at improving bilateral relations, as well as EU-Russia relations. This effort could be confounded by the growing Russian engagement in Africa, mainly through their military, business, and propaganda activities. These are increasingly harmful to France, which traditionally engages in the politics and economies of African states. The French government hasn’t yet prepared any coherent strategy vis-à-vis the Russian challenge, preferring to wait it out.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Europe, Eurasia, France
  • Author: Marek Wąsiński, Mateusz Piotrowski
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The coronavirus outbreak is spreading throughout the United States. After its initial underestimation of the threat, the Trump administration has acted to fight against the pandemic, including the introduction of a national emergency. The effectiveness of these actions will be an important factor in whether Trump is re-elected. The limits on social life despite the enormous financial support from the government and the Federal Reserve have dramatically slowed the economy, heading into a recession. Public debt will increase much more rapidly, which may force budget cuts in the coming years.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Financial Crisis, Health Care Policy, Crisis Management, Donald Trump, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sebastian Płóciennik
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The prospect of dire economic repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the German government to expand its intervention tools. The latest package puts the emphasis on helping the smallest companies and self-employed, offering more loan guarantees, as well as the possibility of temporary state purchases of shares in companies. The crisis is a challenge for fiscal policy—it will lead to a large deficit in public finances and to rising pressure on the German government to accept joint financial measures in the eurozone.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Fiscal Policy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Kinga Raś
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At the end of January 2020, the Latvian government approved the country’s climate neutrality strategy until 2050, and in March it supported even more ambitious EU targets for reducing emissions. These declarations are connected with the need for a thorough transformation of the economy. The Latvian authorities combine these changes with the outlook for economic growth, including the development of the newest technologies in the energy sector. Latvia’s approach, subordinated to climate action, coincides with the policy of other countries in the region, but differs from the Polish vision of energy transformation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government, Europe Union, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland, Latvia
  • Author: Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iran’s official figures on cases and deaths from COVID-19 (the disease resulting from coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2) do not reflect the real scale of the pandemic in that country, which might be among the hardest hit in the world. The pandemic will deepen the economic crisis and disfunction of the state, becoming a challenge to Iran’s ruling elite. The regime might survive thanks to the security apparatus and, in parallel, continue its support of Shia militias in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, and the Syrian government. Only the succession of power after Ali Khamenei will be the real test of the coherence of the Iranian elite, and in case of disruption, it might result in the collapse of Iran’s theocracy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Government, Health, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Elites
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Israel took early preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic that contributed to low infection and mortality rates. This allowed lifting the restrictions and restarting the economy at the end of April. The cooperation undertaken with the Palestinian Authority helped limit the spread of COVID-19 across the Palestinian territories. The successful fight against the spread of the coronavirus in Israel has strengthened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the newly earned support may be halted by the impending economic slowdown.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Bartlomiej Znojek
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The spread rate of COVID-19 in Brazil is increasing and the policies of the federal government, headed by President Jair Bolsonaro, do not contribute to a slowdown in the pandemic. Bolsonaro downplays the threat and rejects restrictive measures as he priori-tises support for the economy. He has clashed with state governors who introduced restrictions and with the Federal Supreme Court, which defended their autonomy. The deteriorating situation in Brazil amid the pandemic and political situation diminish Bolsonaro’s chances of re-election in 2022 and may strain his government’s relations with EU partners.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Politics, Health Care Policy, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Jair Bolsonaro
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Author: Wang Feng
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
  • Abstract: On October 7, 2020, Wang Feng, Professor of Sociology at UC Irvine joined Columbia's Qin Gao, Professor of Social Policy and Social Work and director of the China Center for Social Policy for an event: "Public Transfers and Inequality in China." With expanded fiscal capacity and rising concerns over economic inequality, the Chinese government in the last decade and a half has vastly rebuilt and expanded its social welfare regime. Using the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) methodology and both micro-level survey data and macro-level government statistics, this study examines the distribution of public transfers in education, health care and pension across generations and income groups in 2014 and compare it with those in 2010. While per capita public transfers in absolute terms remained in favor of higher-income groups and the elderly in 2014, as in 2010, the gap in receiving public transfers between the rich and the poor was reduced notably in this short time period. Public transfers also became more progressive in relative terms, with the bottom income group receiving much higher public transfers relative to their per capita household income than the wealthier groups. These results reveal that although the unequal distribution of public transfers continues and it in part results from the fragmented program design and the legacies of socialist inequalities, China’s expanded social welfare programs have contributed to narrowing the vast income inequality in this country.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Inequality, Welfare
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Xian Huang
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
  • Abstract: On October 14, 2020, Xian Huang, Assistant Professor of Political Sciencee at Rutgers University joined Qin Gao, Professor of Social Policy and Social Work and director of the China Center for Social Policy for an event: "Social Protection under Authoritarianism: Health Politics and Policy in China." Why would an authoritarian regime expand social welfare provision in the absence of democratization? Yet China, the world's largest and most powerful authoritarian state, has expanded its social health insurance system at an unprecedented rate, increasing enrollment from 20 percent of its population in 2000 to 95 percent in 2012. Significantly, people who were uninsured, such as peasants and the urban poor, are now covered, but their insurance is less comprehensive than that of China's elite. With the wellbeing of 1.4 billion people and the stability of the regime at stake, social health insurance is now a major political issue for Chinese leadership and ordinary citizens. In this book talk, Xian Huang analyzes the transformation of China's social health insurance in the first decade of the 2000s, addressing its expansion and how it is distributed. Drawing from government documents, filed interviews, survey data, and government statistics, she reveals that Chinese leaders have a strategy of "stratified expansion," perpetuating a particularly privileged program for the elites while developing an essentially modest health provision for the masses. She contends that this strategy effectively balances between elites and masses to maximize the regime's prospects of stability.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Health, Authoritarianism, Political stability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Chuks Ede, Nokukhanya Noqiniselo Jili
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: One of the bequests of the current democratic dispensation in South Africa is the choice by the citizenry to express their feelings without let or hindrance. Since 1994, the people of South Africa have recouped much power as to expressing their grievances towards their government in some of the worst viciously known manners ever recorded among black Africans within the continent-. Since recent times, South Africans have aggravated their protest revolts over what they perceive as government’s failure in the delivery of vital (basic) services, such as electricity, water and sanitation, with some other protests flanking on the provision of quality higher education at affordable cost or possibly no cost at all. With incidents of violent protests almost becoming frequent occurrences, the main aim of this article is to explore the main question that is still remaining “Do South African mega cities really stand to lose much more for not doing enough for their constituencies”? Attempts at providing answers to this question have resulted in an in-depth reviewing of literature into the antecedents of service delivery protests in South Africa. The article reveals that the cost of unaccountability by the failure of megalopolises’ authorities to render adequate municipal services to their people, outweighs by far the very cost of remedying the situational consequences accruing therefrom. Therefore, South African cosmopolitan authorities must be able to deliver based on the expectations of their masses who elect them into power; they also need to put adequate security measures in forceful place to clampdown on civilian protestors in their megalopolises.
  • Topic: Government, Social Movement, Democracy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa
  • Author: Hamza Al
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Bilgi
  • Institution: Sakarya University (SAU)
  • Abstract: Türkiye, 2017 yılında, 1876 yılından beri uygulamada olan Parlamenter hükümet sistemine son vererek, Başkanlık sistemine geçti. Uzun süreden beri yaşanan politik, ekonomik ve toplumsal sorunlar, Başkanlık sistemine geçişin gerekçesi olarak sunuldu. Parlamenter sistemden Başkanlık sistemine geçiş sürecinde, yeterli olmasa da, konu tartışıldı. Birçok konuda olduğu gibi bu konuda da baskın iki görüş ortaya çıktı. Başkanlık sisteminden yana olanlar, genellikle Türkiye’de yürürlükteki Parlamenter sistemin sonuçları üzerinden konuya yaklaştılar. Parlamenter sistemden yana olanlar ise Başkanlık sisteminin özellikle Latin Amerika’daki uygulamaları üzerinden konuyu ele aldılar. Artık Türkiye, Başkanlık sistemine geçtiğine göre yapılması gereken, Başkanlık sisteminin zayıf noktalarına ve yürürlükteki Cumhurbaşkanlığının eksiklerine odaklanmaktır. Böylece yürürlükteki sistem, daha güçlü hale gelebilir ve sistemden kaynaklanan sorunlar bir nebze olsun giderilebilir. Bu bağlamada çalışmada, hükümet sistemlerinin doğuşu, aralarındaki farklar, yaygınlıkları ele alındıktan sonra Başkanlık sisteminin zayıf noktaları ortaya konularak yürürlükteki Cumhurbaşkanlığı sisteminin eksiklikleri üzerinde durulmuştur. Buna göre, daha önceki Hükümet sistemi gibi, yeni Hükümet sisteminin de zayıf halkası yasama organıdır. Bu bağlamda Türkiye, yasama organını güçlendirilerek, muhtemel sorunların üstesinden gelebilir.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Presidential Elections
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Guilherme Sandoval Goes
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: AUSTRAL: Brazilian Journal of Strategy International Relations
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program in International Strategic Studies, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • Abstract: This article is the result of research carried out in the postdoctoral stage of the Postgraduate Program in Aeronautical Sciences at the University of Aeronautics (PPGCA), whose theme was “Geopolitics, Culture and Law: Epistemological dialogues needed in times of postmodernity” Thus, it collimates to examine the scientific connections that unite geopolitics and law, disciplines that overlap in such a way that they end up guaranteeing fundamental rights for ordinary citizens, aiming to analyze the geopolitical control of law from the influence of neoliberal geopolitics on constitutionalism. of the countries of late modernity, as is the case of Brazil, thus it was possible to demonstrate the influence of real factors of world power in the legislative process of the countries of the Global South of neoliberal globalization, whose leadership is being disputed by the United States and China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Globalization, Government, Governance, Law, Neoliberalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Brazil, South America, North America, United States of America, Global South
  • Author: Harold Furchtgott-Roth, Kirk R. Arner
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: American businesses and consumers have an unequal relationship. Consumers generally are and should be sovereign because a consumer—not a seller, nor a third party, nor even the government—usually decides what to purchase. Consumers must like a business to buy its product or service. If a business has poor service, sales will suffer. And if a business is tainted by scandal, customers will flee. As courtiers of purchasing power, businesses go on bended knee to pay homage to the consumer. Typically, a business need not like a consumer to sell products or services. In most lines of business, a seller must sell to anyone willing to pay. And although there are types of businesses where a seller can legally refuse a sale, most rational sellers seek as many customers as possible.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Sovereignty, Regulation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The North Korean government response to the coronavirus has been extreme, but prudent and reasonable in context. It has closed the border to China almost entirely to both goods and people though surely some transports are still getting through. No travel is allowed to or from China although there must be exceptions to this rule as well. The state (under the banner of the Red Cross, whose branch in North Korea operates as a government entity) has dispatched people around the country to inform people about the virus. No reports have been confirmed at this time of writing, but exile journalists based in South Korea have reported several deaths from the virus from North Korea. Its actions have been blunt and all-encompassing, mainly because the state lacks the necessary capacity to act differently. North Korea doesn’t have the sort of equipment required to monitor people coming from China or to test people at the pace required.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Authoritarianism, Border Control, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: David Manley, Rani Febrianti, Hari Subhash
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Indonesia’s system of funding provincial, district and city governments is one of the most complex in the world, and has undergone substantial expansion over the last two decades. While the system allows thousands of authorities to function, it is failing in three respects: inequality of funding between regions persists, funding for some governments is unpredictable and volatile and some oil- and gas-rich regions have not sufficiently prepared for a possible future with much lower revenues. Indonesia’s planning ministry, Bappenas, should investigate these issues further focusing particularly on clarifying policy objectives, ensuring more reliable funding, supporting oil- and gas-rich regions in becoming more resilient to a long-term decline in prices and clarifying the published rules around the funding system.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Oil, Gas, Media, Mining, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Aaron Sayne, Melanie D. Reed
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: The complex, secretive nature of foreign corruption calls for a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach. Corrupt actors go to great lengths to hide their wrongdoing, using layers of legal entities, transactions, secrecy jurisdictions and middlemen. No one response can detect and prevent every bad act, and different anticorruption actors have their own unique interests, mandates and abilities. In many cases, they may struggle even to learn the facts of what went wrong. Prosecuting a corruption crime generates reams of valuable information. This can include the names of bribe takers and payers; the industries, countries and public institutions involved; how the proceeds of crime changed hands; and who facilitated or turned a blind eye. Who should get to see this information? Thought leaders on anticorruption, from Transparency International (TI) to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Working Group on Bribery (OECD WGB), have long endorsed greater transparency in foreign corruption cases. They argue, for example, that access to information raises awareness, gives guidance to anticorruption practitioners, encourages cooperation with prosecutors and boosts confidence in law enforcement. Conversely, opacity in corruption cases can weaken the deterrent value of prosecutions, open doors for prosecutorial misconduct and thwart efforts to make victims whole. These concerns are particularly keen in cases that settle via tools like deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) or plea bargains. Many governments share evidence from corruption cases confidentially, through formal legal instruments and close working relationships. But how does public disclosure of facts from corruption cases, whether by courts or other law enforcement bodies, aid the broader fight against corruption? Put differently: At a time when enforcement of anticorruption laws remains low in many countries, could more transparency help anticorruption efforts by regulators, companies, the media, civil society and others? To answer this question, the authors of this briefing analyzed materials from foreign corruption cases that have arisen since the inception of laws banning foreign bribery. During the past four years, they also conducted over two dozen interviews with experts government, the private sector, civil society and the press. From this work, they found instances in which other anticorruption actors used published facts from court cases to do their jobs more effectively. Although they undertook this research as part of the Natural Resource Governance Institute’s (NRGI’s) programming aimed at reducing corruption risks in the oil, gas and mining sectors, they did not limit themselves to cases in the extractive industries. Accordingly, their findings and recommendations apply broadly to corruption in other sectors.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Economy, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrick Heller, Ethan Elkind, Ted Lamm
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: The global transition from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) will require the production of hundreds of millions of batteries. The need for such a massive deployment raises questions from the general public and critics alike about the sustainability of the battery supply chain, from mining impacts to vehicle carbon emissions. Growing demand for the mineral inputs for battery production can provide an opportunity for mineral-rich countries to generate fiscal revenues and other economic opportunities. But where extraction takes place in countries with weak governance, the benefits expected by citizens and leaders may not materialize; in some cases extraction might even exacerbate corruption, human rights abuses and environmental risks. Many EV proponents and suppliers are aware that supply chain governance problems pose a challenge to the evolution of the EV industry, but outstanding questions remain about how these challenges materialize. This brief, jointly published by UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) provides basic information on the EV battery supply chain and key battery minerals, such as cobalt and lithium, and addresses the following questions: What does the supply chain for EV batteries comprise? How do carbon emissions from EVs compare to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles? What are the most significant challenges in managing the mineral extraction necessary for the EV supply chain, and what sustainability and human rights initiatives apply?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Government, Human Rights, Natural Resources, Governance, Regulation, Legislation, Supply Chains
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Carrie Cordero
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: As the United States nears a consequential November election in a charged political environment and society reels this year from a global pandemic, historic unemployment, and a summer of civic unrest and violence, the threat of malign foreign interference in the campaign season and election system looms. In 2016, policymakers and intelligence community leaders were reluctant to release information publicly regarding the activities of the Russian government intended to affect the election. This year, a new playbook is needed to ensure that the intelligence community, policymakers, and the public are in sync regarding transparency expectations about foreign threats to the election. The discussion that follows provides context—how intelligence transparency was addressed in the 2016 election, adjustments that were made for the 2018 midterms—and articulates responsibilities of the intelligence community versus the risks involved in greater transparency. The paper concludes with recommendations for transparency about election threats in order to protect against and mitigate ongoing foreign efforts to damage our stressed democracy.
  • Topic: Government, Intelligence, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Russia, North America, United States of America