By Heather A. Conley, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Heather Conley is senior fellow and director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and author of a new CSIS report, ‘A New Foreign Policy Frontier: U.S. Interests and Actors in the Arctic.’ The views expressed are the writer's own.
Last August, then U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides declared that, for the United States, the Arctic is “one of the last true frontiers in the United States. It is becoming a new frontier in our foreign policy.”
He was right. The Arctic is a new frontier in the sense that the polar ice cap is melting so rapidly – confounding and deeply disturbing most climatologists and earth scientists – that once-frozen and nearly impenetrable borders in the region are now being traversed with increased frequency. The Arctic also presents a new opportunity for U.S. policymakers to address the emerging political, diplomatic, economic, and security dynamics caused by unprecedented climate change.
But what is America’s vision for its piece of the Arctic – the state of Alaska? Will the United States view the Arctic like a new frontier that must be explored, claimed, and developed along the lines of Teddy Roosevelt’s vision of Winning of the West, embodying America’s pioneering spirit? Or will Washington seek to protect and preserve the Arctic? What are U.S. policy objectives and priorities? What financial resources will be needed to implement these priorities? What are the right organizational and coordination structures to ensure that an American Arctic strategy is implemented and federal agencies are held accountable?
By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.
The release of China’s biennial defense white paper has been getting some press for its revelations about the People’s Liberation Army’s force structure. Chinese media outlet Xinhua, for example, reported that “the Chinese government on Tuesday declassified the designations of all 18 combined corps of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as the latest step to increase transparency of its armed forces.”
While it is difficult to applaud the PLA for declassifying information that was already common knowledge (see, for example, the sinodefence.com page on army organization, last updated four years ago), more transparency is certainly better than less. Still, the American focus on Chinese transparency is misplaced. Of course, the Pentagon would like to see its Chinese counterpart be more candid about PLA capabilities and investments; to the extent the United States can coax China towards such candor, it should do so. But disclosures like those in the Chinese white paper do little to address the underlying problem in the U.S.-China relationship: a dearth of strategic trust.
By Stewart Patrick, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Stewart Patrick is senior fellow and director of the international institutions and global governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are his own.
As Mayor of New York, the late Edward Koch famously asked constituents, “How’m I doing?” He got an earful. But he valued the instant feedback and even adjusted occasionally. As we commemorate Earth Day, we might ask the same question of ourselves – but on a planetary scale. When it comes to addressing the world’s gravest ills, how are we doing?
Not so well. That is the big takeaway from the first Global Governance Report Card, released today by the Council on Foreign Relations. Designed in the old grade school style, Report Card grades the international community and the United States on how they are responding to six big challenges: global warming, nuclear proliferation, violent conflict, global health, transnational terrorism, and financial instability. The grades, available online, reflect input from fifty prominent experts.
Beyond assigning letter grades for each of the six “subject areas,” the Report Card evaluates performance in specific sub-categories. Thus for climate change, it evaluates global progress in critical objectives like curbing emissions or using carbon sinks. It also singles out countries or organizations deserving praise as class “leaders,” as “most improved,” or worthy of a “gold star.” Finally, it calls out actors who undermine global solutions, labeling them “laggards,” “truants,” or (in the case of North Korea on the nuclear issue) “in detention.”
By Stephen E. Flynn, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Stephen Flynn is founding co-director of the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security and a professor of political science at Northeastern University. The views expressed are his own.
The twin bombings at the Boston marathon and the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers captivated the nation last week. Nearly a dozen years after 9/11, a great American city was once again under attack. The response by Bostonians was to care for the wounded, support efforts by law enforcement to identify and apprehend the culprits, and take back their lives. As Fenway Park roared back to live on Saturday, fans armed with “Boston Strong” signs, cheered on their home team who had swapped out “Red Sox” for “Boston” on their uniforms.
The people of Boston have shown the nation how to cope with the new face of terrorism.
“Boston is a tough and resilient town,” President Barack Obama rightly observed, and resilience is the critical ingredient for confronting this ongoing risk. Terrorism’s primary appeal for an adversary is its potential to cause the targeted society to overreact in costly, disruptive, and self-destructive ways. So when an attack is met with fearlessness, selflessness, and competence, it fails. The British and Israelis have learned this lesson and practice it. As an Israeli friend reminded me shortly after the bombs went off on the finish line of the Boston marathon: “The most effective way to cope (with) and to beat terror is to return as fast as you can to routine.”
By Robert Schaefer, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Robert Schaefer is a Special Forces (Green Beret) and Eurasian Foreign Area Officer and author of The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, From Gazavat to Jihad. The views expressed are his own.
As we all struggle to make sense of the Boston bombings, and the revelation that the two suspects are ethnic Chechens, there has been a rush to reacquaint ourselves with the troubled North Caucasus region in the hope that we might be able to answer questions like “why did this happen,” or “are we under attack again?” And as the airwaves and the blogospheres are swarmed with facts and opinions, it’s worth taking a step back to put this deluge of information in some context.
It’s not as though we haven’t heard of Chechnya before, it’s just that it’s one of those places that is only occasionally in the news before fading again as our attention is pulled elsewhere. Yet it isn’t actually all that long ago that we were hearing about the two wars of independence that Chechnya fought against Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. And although we may remember President Bill Clinton drawing comparisons between Boris Yeltsin’s efforts to quell the Chechen independence movement with the U.S. Civil War, many may not be aware that the same law that Yeltsin used to declare Russia’s independence from the Soviet Union gave Chechnya (and many other Russian regions) the legal basis to do the same. It was this that created a constitutional crisis that almost destroyed Russia in the mid-1990’s, and created the conditions that resulted in a de-facto independent Chechen republic from 1996-1999.
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly about the lessons from the attack in Boston this week, and how New York law enforcement is working to protect the city.
Congressman Peter King says that what we need, what this Boston marathon attack proves is we need a more aggressive and explicit targeting, or targeting investigation of America's Muslim communities. Would you agree with that?
Well, I certainly wouldn't single out a community, but what we do is follow leads wherever those leads take us. As I said, we've been targeted 16 times, a combination of good work on the part of the federal government, NYPD, and sheer luck we haven't been attacked. But we will follow leads wherever those leads take us, irrespective of the community that we're talking about.
But the vast majority of those attacks did come from people who would have been Muslim radicals, Islamic radicals?
That's correct, yes.
And as a result of that, presumably, the NYPD had a program of listening in on mosques, infiltrating communities. And last August, in court testimony, however, your department asserted or acknowledged that, in six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloging mosques, it did not generate a single lead…
That’s incorrect information. Basically, and I know this is somewhat detailed, but we have a stipulation, the Handschu agreement, that's been in place since 1984, which limits our ability to investigate political entities.
In 2002 we petitioned the court to change that so we could do a more effective job in investigating terrorism. And in fact the court did that. And it said, particularly, we could do three things. We could go to any public meeting that the public is invited to. We can go to any website the public has access to. And we can do reports and analysis that will enable us to have context as to what's going on in a particular area, particular neighborhood. And that's precisely what was done with our reports.
By Arthur L. Kellermann, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Arthur Kellermann holds the Paul O'Neill-Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The views expressed are his own.
A pair of deadly bomb blasts marked a violent and tragic finish to this year’s Boston Marathon. But as shocking as the attack may have been, an act like this has been anticipated for some time. It was a surprise, because none of us awoke the morning of the Marathon anticipating the race would end this way. Yet a terrorist attack against a symbolic target or a heavily attended event was something for which authorities had long prepared.
Authorities have known for some time that a wide range of terrorist organizations, extremist groups and individuals – both foreign and domestic – seek to inflict harm on the United States. And this knowledge motivated federal, state and local agencies to devise protocols to enhance their response to mass casualty events. Although official after-action reports are still being compiled, it looks like Boston’s first responders and hospitals delivered under difficult circumstances.
By Heather Gautney, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Heather Gautney is an assistant professor of sociology at Fordham University, and author of ‘Protest and Organization in the Alternative Globalization Era.’ The views expressed are her own.
The United States has become one of the most unequal countries in the world. Just 1 percent of Americans own about 40 percent of our wealth, gaining all of the nation’s income growth from 2009-2011. The income of the average middle class family is lower today, in real dollars, than it was 17 years ago. And 46 million people live in poverty, including about one in five children by some estimates.
CEO pay scales are both a symptom and cause of these terrible trends.
Defenders of high pay levels argue that corporate executives are our nation’s job creators. If only that were true. Despite a record-high Dow and soaring corporate profits, our workforce remains stymied around 8 percent unemployment, a gross underestimate if you include those actively looking for work. The truth is that employers are content with boosting productivity and racing workers to the bottom.
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.
For those Indians, Chinese and others with advanced degrees who have been waiting years for a U.S. employment-based visa, the prospect of American immigration reform this year may yet prove a siren call. The fact is that despite the political rhetoric emanating from Washington, and press reports of an immigration deal shaping up in the U.S. Senate, U.S. immigration reform is not a priority for many Americans – especially some in the Republican Party.
“The time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address in February. Many Republican Congressional leaders now see the need for liberalizing visa requirements, after once opposing such measures, as a self-preservation move for their party, which is losing ground among Hispanics and Asian Americans. Organized labor and the business community have apparently struck a deal on work permits. And the public would like to see change in principle. The trouble is there is just no consensus on the details, which are devilishly complicated.
By Fareed Zakaria
I have long argued that cutting government spending in the midst of a weak recovery is not a path toward growth. But I have also argued that America does have a debt and deficit problem and we need to take it very seriously.
The fact is the vast majority of our debt problems relate to the costs of health care in America. Now that the debate over Obamacare is over, we should start thinking seriously about how to get America's health care costs under control. As it turns out, two new works – a book and a magazine cover story – provide some very useful ways to think about this.
The central debate between Democrats and Republicans is over whether the free market works well in health care. In a new book, Catastrophic Care, David Goldhill makes the case for the market, arguing that people need to become consumers of health care so that they, not insurance companies, not the government, actually see, feel and pay the bills. That will force producers of health care – doctors and hospitals – to push down prices and drive up quality. That's what happens with groceries or television sets or computers.
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.
What a difference a generation makes! Japan’s decision to join negotiations to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership with the United States and other Pacific nations reflects, in part, the sea change in public opinion that has transformed U.S.-Japan relations. A quarter of a century ago, ties between Washington and Tokyo were characterized by public distrust and animosity. Today, there is support for deeper integration of the two economies through greater trade. The upcoming TPP negotiations will be contentious. But the political context in which these talks will take place is far more supportive than ever before.
In the last few decades, despite periodic trade tensions, Americans have generally held a favorable overall opinion of Japan. In 1990, near the high point of the Washington-Tokyo battles over trade in autos, rice and other goods, almost two-thirds of Americans nonetheless thought well of Japan, according to a survey by the Times Mirror Corporation. By 2009, 67 percent of Americans still felt favorably disposed toward Japan, according to the Pew Research Center.
But trade relations have long been a neuralgic irritant in bilateral relations. In 1989, 63 percent of Americans believed Japan practiced unfair trade, while a little more than half wanted to increase tariffs on products imported from Japan. In 1995, 61 percent of the American public approved of President Bill Clinton’s decision to impose import duties on imports of luxury Japanese cars.