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  • Author: Barack Obama
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they've done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, War, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Whitney Shepardson
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) did not exist today, the United States would not seek to create it. In 1949, it made sense in the face of a potential Soviet invasion to forge a bond in the North Atlantic area among the United States, Canada, and the west European states. Today, if the United States were starting from scratch in a world of transnational threats, the debate would be over whether to follow liberal and neoconservative calls for an alliance of democracies without regard to geography or to develop a great power concert envisioned by the realists to uphold the current order.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, NATO, International Cooperation, International Organization, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Canada, Soviet Union
  • Author: Bronwyn E. Bruton
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Somalia has been a failed state for the better part of two decades; bereft of central government, cantonized into clan fiefdoms, and wracked by deadly spasms of violence. Repeated efforts to create a viable national government have failed.1 For the United States, the principal concern, especially since 9/11, has been the fear that Somalia might become a safe haven for al-Qaeda to launch attacks in the region and even conceivably against the U.S. homeland. U.S. efforts to prevent that from happening, however, have been counterproductive, alienating large parts of the Somali population and polarizing Somalia's diverse Muslim community into “moderate” and “extremist” camps. Several indigenous militant Islamist groups have emerged and grown stronger in recent years. One coalition, headed by a radical youth militia known as the Shabaab, now controls most of southern Somalia and threatens the survival of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)—the latest UN-brokered effort to establish a functioning authority in the capital city of Mogadishu.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Daniel Markey
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: India faces the real prospect of another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations in the near future. Unlike the aftermath of the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, in which 166 people died, Indian military restraint cannot be taken for granted if terrorists strike again. An Indian retaliatory strike against terrorist targets on Pakistani soil would raise Indo-Pakistani tensions and could even set off a spiral of violent escalation between the nuclear-armed rivals. Given Washington's effort to intensify pressure on al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated militants operating from Pakistani territory, increased tensions between India and Pakistan would harm U.S. interests even if New Delhi and Islamabad stop well short of the nuclear threshold because it would distract Pakistan from counterterror and counterinsurgency operations, jeopardize the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and place new, extreme stresses on Islamabad.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, Washington, India, New Delhi, Mumbai
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Many people argue that inappropriate compensation policies in financial companies contributed to the World Financial Crisis. Some say the overall level of pay was too high. Others criticize the structure of pay, claiming that contracts for CEOs, traders, and other key professionals induced them to pursue excessively risky and short-term strategies.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Author: Jack Boureston, Tanya Ogilvie-White
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In September 2008, Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), described nuclear terrorism as the number one threat to world security. Before then, El-Baradei had repeatedly pointed out that terrorist organizations are seeking nuclear materials. “If they get it, they will use it,” he warned in 2006. Since then, the IAEA has released data from its Illicit Trafficking Database, which confirmed at least fifteen cases of nuclear trafficking in 2008 alone—a statistic that might represent only the tip of the iceberg. The release of this information coincided with the official launch of nuclear energy programs in countries where governance is patchy, regulation is weak, and terrorists are known to operate.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Author: Katherine J. Almquist
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Sudan faces the prospect of renewed violence between north and south over the next twelve to eighteen months. Under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan's bloody civil war, which claimed two million lives and displaced four million more, a referendum in southern Sudan must be held by January 2011 to determine whether it remains united with the north or secedes from it. Given that popular sentiment in the south overwhelmingly favors secession, two basic scenarios are conceivable: the south secedes peacefully through a credible referendum process, or the CPA collapses and the south fights for independence. There is no scenario in which the south remains peacefully united with the north beyond 2011. Further complicating prospects for averting renewed violence are the ongoing conflict in Darfur and potential conflicts in other marginalized areas of the north. The violent secession of the south would hinder efforts to resolve these conflicts, as well as increase the prospect for greater internecine fighting among historic rivals in the south. The resulting significant loss of life and widespread political unrest would threaten regional stability and challenge U.S. interests in Africa.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan
  • Author: Paul Lettow
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The international nuclear nonproliferation regime—the principal objective of which is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons—is under severe strain. The North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs have exploited and underscored weaknesses in the regime that must be fixed if it is to serve its purpose. Those weaknesses are both structural—ambiguities and limitations in the current rules—and result from a failure to enforce the rules that exist.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Runs by prime-brokerage clients and derivatives counterparties were a central cause of the World Financial Crisis. Worried about potential losses, many hedge funds withdrew their assets from brokerage accounts at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in the weeks before these banks failed. Although Morgan Stanley did not fail, it also suffered from the withdrawal of prime brokerage assets. These runs, together with runs by short-term creditors, precipitated Bear Stearns' and Lehman's demise. Even if these firms would have failed anyway, the runs made their failures much more sudden and chaotic, and made coherent policy responses much harder.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael A. Levi, Katherine Michonski
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Climate change has become a top-tier subject for international negotiation and debate, not only for environment specialists but also for people and institutions focused on economics, development, energy, technology, and other pressing international issues. Yet most discussions of institutions and governance for climate change remain narrow. Observers often focus on the negotiation process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the Kyoto Protocol (and more recently the Copenhagen Accord), along with its associated institutions, equating success and failure in combating climate change with success and failure in those arenas. Efforts to broaden the multilateral governance discussion beyond climate-specific forums still tend to emphasize how climate efforts fit within broader environment challenges and institutions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, International Affairs