By John Hamre and Rhonda Zygocki, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: John J. Hamre is president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Rhonda I. Zygocki is executive vice president of policy and planning at Chevron Corporation. The authors were members of the CSIS study’s Executive Council on Development. The views expressed are the writers’ own.
The world’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion in the next forty years, which will inevitably increase demand for food, water, land, energy and jobs. Such challenges will be closely connected to the United States’ economic and national security. Yet improving capacity to meet basic human needs will require more than just public assistance.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that America engages in trade, investment and development assistance. But while much of the nation’s engagement in these areas has until now been facilitated by the U.S. government, the current budget environment means that some of the best new opportunities lie in catalyzing the strength and drive of the private sector.
U.S. businesses, in particular, are ambassadors of American values and are more engaged in the economies where they operate, especially in the rapidly growing markets of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. By putting those values into action, the private sector can serve as the leading edge of American influence by promoting entrepreneurism; empowering communities; and demonstrating all the advantages of contracts, competition, transparency and fair dealing in the marketplace. Capitalizing on these opportunities will not only improve the lives of those in the developing world, but also improve America’s economic future and national security.
By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.
The forced budget cuts, known in Washington as sequestration, are now in force in the United States and $85 billion in spending cuts are in the process of being implemented, with about half of them coming out of Washington’s spending on international engagement. The impact on America’s capacity for global leadership will not be felt overnight. But these reductions in defense spending, anti-terrorism activities, foreign aid and the budget for the State Department will shrink the U.S. footprint around the world, with consequences for the projection of both U.S. hard and soft power.
In the wake of the sequester, the questions now heard outside the United States include “what does this say about Americans’ willingness to pay for future global commitments?” “How much of this austerity is driven by Tea Party sentiments and influence?” And, most broadly, “are American fiscal rectitude and isolationism converging?”
The answers are not clear cut – in part because it’s possible that the Obama administration and Congress will rejigger the terms of the spending cuts in the months ahead.
By Richard Wike, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Richard Wike is associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. The views expressed are his own. You can follow him @RichardWike.
For decades, Hollywood has been a big part of brand America, and U.S. movies continue to break box office records around the world. Over the past year, blockbusters like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises have earned over half a billion dollars outside the United States. And this weekend, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, viewers in more than 225 countries will tune into the Oscars.
Surveys consistently show that movies – and more broadly, American popular culture – are a strong suit of U.S. soft power. And, while studio executives spend considerably more time thinking about box office returns than public diplomacy, Tinseltown is actually pretty effective at nudging America’s international image in a positive direction. (Certainly, with anti-Americanism still strong in the Middle East and among some other nations, brand America needs all the help it can get).
American culture is especially attractive in Europe. The continent may have a long tradition of intellectuals deriding U.S. culture, but average Europeans embrace it. A 2012 Pew Research Center poll found solid majorities in all eight European Union nations surveyed saying they like American movies, music, and television, including 72 percent in France, home to the Cannes Film Festival, Jean-Luc Godard, and (until recently) Gérard Depardieu. As is the case with nearly all things American, U.S. pop culture is more popular among Europeans in the Obama era than it was during George W. Bush’s presidency, although even during the Bush years, when European anti-Americanism was surging, most still had a favorable opinion of American entertainment. And it’s not just Europe – about seven-in-ten of those surveyed in Japan, Brazil, and Mexico, for example, say they enjoy U.S. movies, music, and television.
Editor's note: Daniel Kurtzer is the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East policy studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. During a 29-year career in diplomacy, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Egypt and to Israel. The views expressed are his own.
By Daniel Kurtzer, Special to CNN
Some years ago, while on a trans-Atlantic flight, I was reading a thriller novel when I came across a stunning passage: the American ambassador in Cairo was assassinated by the villains in the novel. What was so disconcerting personally was that I was the American ambassador at that time!
The novel got me thinking about the day after such an assassination: that is, the reactions of family, friends, colleagues and American government. Surely, there would be favorable obituaries and fond remembrances. There would be outrage over the murder and calls for bringing the perpetrators to justice. Over time, the personal sense of loss among family members would linger, while the professional friends would naturally move on.
These ruminations of long ago came back to me upon hearing the news of the assassination of Chris Stevens and three of his colleagues in Benghazi at the hands of heavily armed militants. This was an act of terrorism — horrific, inexcusable, intolerable assaults against a prominent diplomat — and a message to all Americans. FULL POST
By Brad Glosserman, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Brad Glosserman is executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS, a Honolulu-based think tank that focuses on U.S. foreign policy and Asia. The views expressed are his own.
For much of the postwar era, numerous U.S. security officials and analysts argued that Japan was a “free rider” in its alliance with the United States. Yet although the alliance is unequal, this charge goes too far. After all, the treaty establishing the security relationship between the two nations acknowledged the limitations imposed by Japan’s “Peace Constitution,” which officially forswears war as an instrument of state policy. (And don’t forget this Constitution was forced on Japan by the United States during the occupation).
In practical terms, the United States is obliged to come to Japan’s defense in the event of an attack on its territory, while Japan is under no similar obligation if the U.S. is attacked. In return, however, the United States has forward bases on Japan, which makes the island, in the words of one former prime minister, “an unsinkable aircraft carrier.”
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shook hands Wednesday with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in a historic gesture marking an advance in the peace process around British rule of Northern Ireland.
The handshake comes 14 years after the end of a conflict that claimed about 3,500 lives and illustrates one example of when a handshake is more than just a handshake.
A few other handy examples in the history books: FULL POST
Editor's note: Christopher Alessi with the Council on Foreign Relations interviews Jacob Funk Kierkegaard, a senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics, for this look at the eurozone and G-20's possible impact. Read the original post here
The eurozone sovereign debt crisis dominated the G20 leaders' summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18-19, as the United States and other G-20 members struggled to secure Europe's commitment to a concrete timeline for further political and fiscal integration. "The United States and the G20 as a whole have very limited leverage over the intra-euro area political process of integration," says the Peterson Institute's Jacob Funk Kirkegaard. Still, Kirkegaard applauded the euro area's public and "detailed commitment" to banking sector integration and reform, saying "quite far-reaching announcements on this issue" should follow the June 28-29 European Council summit.
What were the main takeaways of the summit?
Editor's note: Bruce Stokes is the director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Economic Attitudes, which released a new survey on Wednesday. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Bruce Stokes.
By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
A recurring theme of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s attacks on President Barack Obama has been that America’s stature in the world has declined under Obama’s stewardship. In January, after winning the New Hampshire primary, Romney charged that “(Obama) believes that America’s role as leader in the world is a thing of the past.” In late May, President Obama pushed back. In a commencement address to the graduates of the Air Force Academy he asserted: “Let's start by putting aside the tired notion that says our influence has waned, that America is in decline.”
The presidential campaign promises more of this to and fro as each candidate attempts to seize the high ground as the champion of American triumphalism. The anti-Americanism around the world during the Bush era profoundly challenged Americans’ self-image. Romney seems intent on convincing voters that the bad old days of Ugly America are returning thanks to Obama. The president implies that the Obama-mania that swept much of the world in the wake of his election in 2008 remains a positive asset for the United States.
Editor's Note: Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian – Israeli Middle East analyst and the co-author of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and The State of Iran. The following post was originally published in The Diplomat, a stellar international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region.
By Meir Javedanfar, The Diplomat
A new round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, namely the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, is upon us. Based on the failures of previous talks, the upcoming discussionsscheduled for April 14 have had an air of pessimism hanging over them.
But not all hope is lost.
A recent proposal by the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), as well as a leaked report about U.S and European demands for the upcoming talks, suggest some common ground may be emerging between the two sides.
The report, leaked to the New York Times, find the U.S and European position in the upcoming talks is centered around demands that Iran ceases uranium enrichment of 20 percent at the Fordo nuclear site near the city of Qom. This is in addition to a demand that Iran transfers its existing stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. FULL POST
By David Schenker – Special to CNN
President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to U.N. envoy and former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s six-point plan to end the bloodshed in Syria. Al-Assad was wise to do so. The U.N. initiative, which endorses al-Assad’s oversight of a “political process to address the legitimate aspirations” of the Syrian people - is a boon to the dictator and a setback for the opposition.
Al-Assad had little to lose by signing on to the plan. The concessions he made in the deal- - the ceasefire, the ensuring of humanitarian assistance, a release of political prisoners, allowing entry to journalists, and permitting demonstrations - can all be reversed relatively quickly. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning in the US State Department (2009-2011), is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. For more from Slaughter, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Anne-Marie Slaughter.
By Anne-Marie Slaughter, Project Syndicate
On February 1, the United Nations Security Council met to consider the Arab League’s proposal to end the violence in Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represented the United States. Midway through her remarks, she began speaking not to the Syrian ambassador, who was in the room, or even the Syrian government, but directly to the Syrian people. She said that change in Syria would require Syrians of every faith and ethnicity to work together, protecting and respecting the rights of minorities.
Addressing those minorities, she continued: “We do hear your fears, and we do honor your aspirations. Do not let the current regime exploit them to extend this crisis.” She told Syria’s business, military, and other leaders that they must recognize that their futures lie with the state, not with the regime. “Syria belongs to its 23 million citizens, not to one man or his family.” FULL POST