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  • Author: Leonard Wong, Dr. Stephen J. Gerras
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Previous studies analyzing disability compensation have decried its $76 billion annual budget or warned of its perverse ability to incentivize veterans not to work. This study focuses on the impact of this moral hazard on the US Army profession. If soldiers continue to capitalize on an extremely permissive disability system, the trust between society and the military may be threatened, and future Army readiness may be jeopardized should disability compensation be added to the marginal cost of a soldier. More importantly, many of today’s soldiers are rationalizing disability compensation as something owed to them—not for a debilitating injury, but for the hardships of service to the nation. This study uses US Army and Department of Veterans Affairs personnel files, soldier interviews, and discussions with senior leaders to support its conclusions. The intent of the study is to prompt the Army profession to act before the culture surrounding disability compensation becomes permanent. In the end, the essence of the entitlement—taking care of veterans—must remain sacrosanct. This call for reform is driven not by fiscal considerations, but by a desire for the Army to remain both an institution trusted by society and a profession marked by selfless service.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Government, Disability, Army, Veterans
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Albert B. Wolf
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Whoever wins, the result will intimate deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future. The Washington Institute has been sponsoring a series of discussions about sudden succession in the Middle East. Each session focuses on scenarios that might unfold if a specific ruler or leader departed the scene tomorrow. Questions include these: Would the sudden change lead to different policies? Would it affect the stability of the respective countries involved, or the region as a whole? What would be the impact on U.S. interests? Would the manner of a leader’s departure make a difference? The discussions also probe how the U.S. government might adjust to the new situation or influence outcomes. This essay, thirteenth in the series, assesses the situation in Iran, where a June election will determine the successor to President Hassan Rouhani. An IRGC-backed candidate such as Majlis speaker Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf or former defense minister Hossein Dehghan could ultimately prevail—but a history of election surprises in the Islamic Republic suggests no outcome is certain. Whoever wins, the result will offer clues about deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Elections, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: John C. K. Daly
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Amidst growing political dissatisfaction, the Russian government is grappling with the apparent vulnerabilities of the country’s internet. On February 1, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairperson of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, acknowledged during an extensive interview with Russian media what foreign analysts have long suspected: disconnecting Russia from the internet is possible (TASS, February 1). And as if to provide a rationale for such potential action, the previous week, the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NKTsKI) reported a threat of possible cyberattacks by the United States and its allies against Russia’s critical infrastructure (Interfax, January 22).
  • Topic: Government, Internet, Repression
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Motaz Zahran, Joey Hood, Paul Salem, Gerald Feierstein, Mirette F. Mabrouk
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East has become a kaleidoscope of evolving relationships and developments. Following almost a decade of near chaos, Libya has just elected an interim government, paving the way for a new transition. Despite several new normalization treaties with Arab states, Israel remains deadlocked in perhaps the most urgent of its relationships with Arab states; that with Palestine. A decade of stressful and largely fruitless negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is threatening to become even more complicated by Ethiopia’s internal conflicts and the possibility of a civil war spilling over its borders, threatening a fragile transition in Sudan and possibility of stability in the Horn of Africa. Amid all these developments, relationships and alliances are being reformed and reevaluated. Where does Egypt stand on all of these issues? MEI held a private, on the record roundtable discussion with the Ambassador of Egypt to the United States Motaz Zahran and Acting Assistant Secretary of State Joey Hood. MEI President Paul Salem gave an introduction and Senior Vice President Amb Gerald Feierstein and Egypt Programme Director Mirette F Mabrouk moderated the discussion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Regional Cooperation, Transition
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: 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: 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