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  • Author: Steven A. Cook
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Egypt is experiencing a deep economic crisis. The country's foreign currency r e serves are less than half of what they were before the January 2011 uprising, threatening Egypt's ability to pay for food and fuel. Egypt's budget deficit is 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and its overall debt, which is the result of accumulated deficits, is more than the country's economic output. In this difficult economic climate, roughly 4 5 percent of Egyptians live on less than two dollars per day. Inflation, which reached as high as 12.97 percent after the July 2013 military coup, is currently at 11.4 percent. Tourism revenue—traditionally a primary source of foreign currency along with Suez Canal tolls and remittances from Egyptians working abroad—is less than half of what it was in the last full year before the uprising. Foreign direct investment has dried up outside the energy sector. Unemployment remains high at 13.4 percent. Among the unemployed, 71 percent are between fifteen and twenty-nine years old. This economic weakness makes it politically difficult to address the problems that contribute to a potential solvency crisis because the necessary reforms will impose hardship on a population that is already experiencing economic pain.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Regime Change, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Micah Zenko
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As space systems increasingly perform and support critical operations, a variety of plausible nearterm incidents in outer space could precipitate or exacerbate an international crisis. The most grave space contingencies—viewed from the perspective of U.S. interests and international stability—are likely to result from either intentional interference with space systems or the inadvertent effects of irresponsible state behavior in outer space. The threats to U.S. space assets are significant and growing, as potential adversaries continue to pursue and could soon acquire counterspace capabilities. The United States has strategic interests in preventing and mitigating dangerous space incidents, given its high reliance on satellites for a variety of national security missions and unparalleled global security commitments and responsibilities. Like other technology-driven global governance challenges, the longer the United States delays preventive and mitigating efforts, the less dominant its position will be in shaping rules of the road for space.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Edward Alden, Rebecca Strauss
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Each year, U.S. state and local governments spend tens of billions of dollars to lure or retain business investment. The subsidies waste scarce taxpayer dollars that could better be used to strengthen public services such as education and infrastructure, or to lower overall tax burdens to create a more favorable investment climate. No state wants to dole out such subsidies, but most fear losing jobs to competing states if they refuse. States should take steps to curb subsidies, beginning with greater disclosure and cost-benefit analyses, and building up to a multistate agreement that creates strong disincentives for continuing subsidies. Existing international arrangements provide models and tools for achieving this.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Isobel Coleman
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies are a global scourge. They distort markets, strain government budgets, encourage overconsumption, foster corruption, and harm the environment while doing little to remedy inequality or stimulate development. Yet despite compelling arguments for reform, fossil fuel subsidies remain deeply entrenched. Citizens have yet to be convinced that fuel subsidies can and should be replaced with more efficient poverty alleviation programs. As a result, governments refrain from phasing out fuel subsidies for fear of triggering a public backlash, and even civil unrest. To bolster the prospects for subsidy reform, the United States should support the creation of a new public-private partnership within the World Bank, the Global Subsidy Elimination Campaign (GSEC), to work with governments to execute country-specific communication programs that would build the case for fossil fuel subsidy reform among citizens. The GSEC would start with pilot programs in select countries, and on the basis of these efforts, expand its work to other countries interested in fuel subsidy reform. If the GSEC help s generate just a 5 percent reduction in the more than half a trillion dollars that governments now spend on fossil fuel subsidies, it would free up billions of dollars for more effective anti-poverty initiatives.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stewart M. Patrick, Jeffrey Wright
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Globalization has transformed the marketplace for medicines in recent decades, giving rise to new threats including the poor traceability of global supply chains, counterfeit and substandard medicines, and antibacterial resistance. Aware that public drug authorities must cooperate to meet the emerging challenges of modern medicines regulation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been discussing with counterpart agencies abroad creating a"global coalition of regulators." Yet a coalition alone is not enough; the devil, as always, will be in the details. In pursuit of this goal, the FDA and partner medicines regulatory agencies should design a coalition with five distinct features: narrow scope, to promote realistic goals; flexibility, to adapt to future circumstances; selective membership, to maximize like mindedness, particularly in the early stages; nongovernmental (NGO) participation, to leverage the capacities of both NGOs and for-profit corporations; and institutional partnerships, to orchestrate the activities of other regulatory organizations.
  • Topic: Globalization, Health, International Cooperation, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States has made economic development a central tenet of its national security policy, alongside defense and diplomacy. One of the best and most cost-effective avenues for furthering economic development is investing in locally owned businesses, and yet the United States currently has no means for effectively and efficiently doing so. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have shown great potential in spurring economies, but their owners—especially women—are often unable to acquire the skills, resources, and support necessary to grow and sustain their businesses. Promoting local programs and global initiatives that encourage investments in SMEs and women entrepreneurs in lower-income countries will strengthen growth engines, diversify economies, improve communal well-being, stabilize societies, and accelerate progress toward international development goals. All of these results are in the interest of the United States, and could be achieved more quickly with the creation of an American development bank that aims to invest in and direct technical assistance to entrepreneurs in lower-income nations—the next-generation emerging markets. This can be done by expanding on the work already under way at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Though several multilateral organizations have tackled pieces of this work, the United States has a unique role to play: investing in entrepreneurialism that creates jobs, bolsters the middle class, and spurs economic growth.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Stephen J. Hadley, Steven A. Cook, Madeleine Albright
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Among the most important developments in international affairs of the past decade is the emergence of Turkey as a rising regional and global power. Turkey has long been an important country as a stalwart member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an aspirant to European Union (EU) membership, and an important link between the West and the East. Yet the changes in Turkey over the past decade have been so dramatic—with far-reaching political and economic reforms, significant social reforms, and an active foreign policy—that the country is virtually unrecognizable to longtime Turkey watchers. Today Turkey is more democratic, prosperous, and politically influential than it was five, ten, and fifteen years ago.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Democratization, Economics, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Max Boot
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is approaching a major inflection point in its long and turbulent history. In 2014 most of the foreign military forces are due to pull out. With them will go the bulk of foreign financing that has accounted for almost all of the state's budget. Twenty fourteen is also the year that Afghanistan is due to hold presidential elections. Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the fall of the Taliban, has said he will not seek another term in office. Thus Afghanistan is likely to have a new president to lead it into a new era. This era will be shaped by many factors, principally decisions made by Afghans themselves, but the United States has the ability to affect the outcome if it makes a sustained commitment to maintain security, improve the political process, and reduce Pakistani interference so as to build on the tenuous gains achieved by the U.S. troop surge since 2010.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: Bonnie S. Glaser
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The risk of conflict in the South China Sea is significant. China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines have competing territorial and jurisdictional claims, particularly over rights to exploit the region's possibly extensive reserves of oil and gas. Freedom of navigation in the region is also a contentious issue, especially between the United States and China over the right of U.S. military vessels to operate in China's two-hundred-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). These tensions are shaping—and being shaped by—rising apprehensions about the growth of China's military power and its regional intentions. China has embarked on a substantial modernization of its maritime paramilitary forces as well as naval capabilities to enforce its sovereignty and jurisdiction claims by force if necessary. At the same time, it is developing capabilities that would put U.S. forces in the region at risk in a conflict, thus potentially denying access to the U.S. Navy in the western Pacific.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Oil, Natural Resources, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Malaysia, Israel, Taiwan, Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Brunei
  • Author: Mark P. Lagon
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The rule of law is critical for people to have a meaningful opportunity to thrive. Still, for billions of people around the world today, the rule of law exists on paper but not in practice. Even though a theme for the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Panel in fall 2012 is rule of law, various UN programs devoted to rule of law have not had a transformative impact. Traditional intergovernmental institutions will never offer enough to achieve systemic change. To supplement them and achieve what they alone cannot, the United States should take the lead to forge a more nimble partnership with public, private, and nonprofit sectors and establish a Global Trust for Rule of Law (“Global Trust”). Similar to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (“Global Fund”), a diverse board of donor states, philanthropists, rule of law experts, and civil society representatives would run this Global Trust. Its purpose would be to build developing nations' capacity to implement rule of law and unleash the potential of marginalized groups worldwide, promoting not only human dignity but, crucially, global economic growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Human Rights, International Cooperation, International Law, Non-Governmental Organization, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States