By Edward Alden, CFR
Editor's Note: Edward Alden is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This entry of Renewing America was originally published here. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, is famously believed to have said that he has no wish to eliminate government, but only to “shrink it to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” Americans up and down the east coast can be grateful in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that he has not yet succeeded, or they might well have drowned in their own homes.
For those who wonder just what it is our tax dollars pay for, consider just a small list of government actions before and during the storm that made it far less catastrophic than it might have been:
Editor's Note: Soner Cagaptay is a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is the co-author, with Scott Carpenter, of Regenerating the U.S.-Turkey Partnership.
By Soner Cagaptay - Special to CNN
In 1999, two massive earthquakes struck Western Turkey just outside of Istanbul, killing thousands of people. The quakes shook not only the Anatolian tectonic plate but also the Turks’ confidence in their much-respected secular elites who, soon after the quakes, were voted out of power for failing to respond in time to the devastating tremors.
Just as the 1999 quakes were a test of competency for the country’s secular elites, the October 23 quake in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish east will serve as a test for the self-proclaimed leaders of the Kurdish nationalist movement, which ranges from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a socialist outfit, to religious orders (tariqats) and faith-based NGOs.
Editor's Note: Vishnu Sridharan is Program Associate in the Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation. This post is part of the Global Innovation Showcase created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square.
By Vishnu Sridharan - Special to CNN
Since July, at least 745 people have been killed and 8 million affected by monsoon rains and flooding across Southeast Asia. In response to the floods of the past week, a number of countries pledged assistance: U.S. Marines arrived in Bangkok last Saturday with equipment and sandbags; China has provided 64 rescue boats and water-purifying equipment; Japan has come forward with tents, blankets, mattresses and electricity generators. In addition to the provision of these ‘in-kind’ goods, however, Australia and the Philippines stepped in with a kind of aid that only a couple years ago was considered controversial: cold, hard cash.
Editor's Note: Paul Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University and the author of The Bottom Billion. Following the Haitian hurricanes of 2008, he worked with the Haitian government on the report Haiti: From Natural Catastrophe to Economic Security.
By Paul Collier, Foreign Affairs
The catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, was the 9/11 of humanitarian disasters. The death and misery that resulted were beamed out to a global television audience, unleashing public sympathy on an unprecedented scale. More than half of all U.S. households donated to the relief operation. But whereas the government responses to the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11 have ensured that that event has remained at the center of global attention for the decade since, memories of the more than 200,000 Haitians slain by the earthquake, and of the approximately 4,000 more who died of cholera after it, have quickly faded.
Back during the devastating tornadoes that hit America in late April, 2011, CNN's Amar Bakshi interviewed Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool it, about the relationship between what Tom Friedman calls "global weirding" and global warming.
Bjorn argued that there is no correlation between tornadoes and global warming. But more controversially, he contended that even if there was such a correlation, it would be much more cost-effective to invest more heavily in adaptation mechanisms to limit their damage rather than putting the preponderance of climate-change-related money into trying to curb global warming in the near term.
Check out an excerpt of Bjorn's remarks below and see if you agree.
Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter (who was most recently on GPS last month) lays out a vision of a brighter world in 2025, but warns that it may take cataclysm to get there. Below are some highlights of her piece, which is well worth reading in full on ForeignPolicy.com.
In 2025, Slaughter envisions:
1. A much more multilateral world.
"By 2025 the U.N. Security Council will have expanded from the present 15 members to between 25 and 30 and will include, either as de jure or de facto permanent members, Brazil, India, Japan, South Africa, either Egypt or Nigeria and either Indonesia or Turkey."
She also envisions more and stronger regional organizations from the African Union and Association of Southeast Asian Nations to a new Middle East free trade region. "Each will follow its own version of economic and political integration, inspired by the European Union, and many will include representation from smaller sub-regional organizations."
Editor’s Note: Ayako Doi is an independent journalist and associate fellow of the Asia Society, an organization devoted to improving U.S.-Asia relations.
By Ayako Doi – Special to CNN
In the wake of the massive earthquake, devastating tsunami and nuclear catastrophe in Japan, it's hard to find a silver lining. Most certainly, the people struggling to survive don’t see it – nor do those who are frantically trying to help them.
But watching the unfathomable human tragedy unfold from afar, I can already see some real and potential positives.
Here's what I've been reading this morning:
What's happened in Japan is a tragedy but it's a very resilient country. In the Financial Times, Martin Wolf reminds us us that Japan is a rich country with lots of assets:
In its thorough way, Goldman Sachs has produced an estimate of the total cost of damage to buildings, production facilities and so forth of some Y16,000bn ($198bn). That would be 1.6 times the destruction from the 1995 Hanshin earthquake, which devastated Kobe. Since this quake was more powerful, that is hardly surprising. If this sum were to be correct, the cost would be 4 per cent of gross domestic product and less than 1 per cent of national wealth. Yet the Japanese stock market has lost $610bn since Friday, 12 per cent of GDP – probably an overreaction.
Editor’s Note: Naotaka Matsukata is a senior policy adviser at Alston and Bird, LLP. He has served as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Trade Representative and Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.
By Naotaka Matsukata – Special to CNN
Japan's history provides some important clues to how Japan will respond in the short, medium, and long term to crisis. If history is a guide, recovery is certain and the progress will be rapid and eye-opening.
In the short term, this crisis provides an opportunity for Japan to come together politically, formulate agreed-upon policies and lay the foundation for stronger economic growth.
Kyodo news agency reports that approximately 2,000 bodies were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's northeast coast. CNN notes that “if confirmed, the discovery would be the largest yet of victims from last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami.”
CNN reports: “Tokyo Electric Power Company says a core meltdown might have occurred in the No. 2 nuclear reactor of its Fukushima No. 1 power plant.”
According to The Mainichi Daily News, “experts have issued warnings that the explosion at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 14 could be far more serious than initially predicted.”
Editor’s note: Steve Clemons is founder and senior fellow of the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation. He publishes the popular political blog The Washington Note.
by Steve Clemons, Special to CNN
When faults in the Earth’s crust erupt or other major natural disasters hit, they can also expose and trigger fault lines in our own societies and can topple rigid or weak states while barely bothering dynamic and resilient ones.
This happened in the U.S. when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, exposing enduring and disturbing divisions of race and class. The 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China, flattened hundreds of major structures, including schools that had passed their inspections through bribes. Meanwhile, a single school whose principal had reinforced the structure and trained his students in emergency response survived, along with all of the children.
Now, in Japan, the largest seismic event in the country’s recorded history has struck. An 8.9-magnitude tectonic rip just 80 miles off the shore from Sendai is now exposing painful fault lines in Japan’s political and economic order.