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  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: The report analyzes current and historical U.S. public opinion polls on global engagement, military intervention, and defense spending, finding significant fluctuation in public sentiments. The report assesses these in light of changes in policy, strategic conditions, and the economy. A comprehensive review of opinion surveys shows a trend of growing public discontent with aspects of post-Cold War U.S. global policy. This has been misconstrued by some as evidence of "neo-isolationism." In fact, a solid majority of Americans continue to support an active U.S. role in the world. Public dissent focuses more narrowly on U.S. military activism and the idea that the United States should bear unique responsibility for the world's security. Official policy along these lines has weakened public support for global engagement generally, but the public does not prefer isolation. On balance, Americans favor cooperative, diplomatic approaches to resolving conflict and they tend toward a "last resort" principle on going to war. Still, Americans will support forceful action against aggression when vital U.S. interests seem at risk. And, in prospect, they express a willingness to stem genocide. The public's initial impetus to war may be strongly emotive, tied to a catalytic event. However, polls show that more pragmatic considerations soon come into play. Ongoing support requires that the costs of war match the perceived benefits. Domestic economic conditions are key in determining the perceived "opportunity cost" of war. To gain and sustain support, military goals must be perceived as realistic, pragmatic, and cost-effective. Generally speaking, Americans do not favor involvement in most third-party interstate wars or in any civil wars. They also do not now support regime change efforts, armed nation-building, or persisting constabulary roles. On balance, the U.S. public lacks a "crusading spirit" with regard to the use of force abroad – whether the aim is posed in moral, humanitarian, political, or geopolitical terms. The current spike in support for bombing ISIS is consistent with the limits and precepts outlined above. Support will waver if the mission grows or fails to show real progress. Opinion surveys show a chronic gap between elite and public views on military intervention and America's global role. A preference for military activism and dominant global leadership finds greater representation among foreign policy elites than among the general public. Among the public, there is greater representation of selective engagement, cooperative security, and isolationist views (although the latter view is not predominant). Elite-public differences may reflect differences in how costs and benefits are experienced. Singular events such as the 9/11 attacks can temporarily close the gap, but it re-emerges if and when the public begins to feel that the costs of military activism are exceeding its benefits. One consequence of public displeasure with recent wars is reduced support for defense spending. Counter-balancing this is an enduring desire for superior defense capabilities – a preference that does not imply support for military activism. The public will support relatively high levels of defense spending as a deterrent and an insurance policy, while not intending to write a blank check for military activism. Public perceptions of security threats and of the health of America's defenses are pivotal in determining sentiments about defense spending. They also are quite malleable. Partisan political dynamics are another factor significantly affecting public opinion on defense spending. Military spending is a perennial political football, and public preferences about spending are partly determined by partisan allegiances. Today, opinion continues to favor reduced spending, although this may soon change. Looking back over a 40-year period, there have been several "pivot points" during which attitudes about spending rapidly changed from "spend less" to "spend more." Conditions characteristic of those pivot points are increasingly evident today. With the advent of intensely polarized electoral campaigns, now and historically, the security policy debate shifts in a hawkish direction. Political actors desiring increased Pentagon spending and/or a more confrontational posture abroad have at their disposal several effective "issue framing" devices for biasing public debate and opinion. One effective framing device is to pose the defense budget discussion in terms of the putative danger of a "hollow military." Another is to define current security challenges and choices using Second World War metaphors – such as references to Hitler, Munich, appeasement, and isolationism. Both devices are now fully deployed, making it likely that leading presidential nominees will advocate significant boosts in Pentagon spending in 2016. Although public opinion may swing into support for higher spending levels as an acceptable assertion of national strength, historical precedent suggests that the public will not soon support a return to big protracted military operations abroad. Precedent also suggests that increased support for spending, should it emerge, will not last long if national leaders continue to over-reach internationally, as already seems likely.
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Henry Lee, Scott Moore, Sabrina Howell, Alice Xia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In recent decades there has been a gradual transformation in environmental policy away from command-and-control policies and toward the use of more flexible, market-based mechanisms. This transformation is evident in the environmental policy of the United States, and the European Union where many scholars and policymakers have accepted the argument that, in comparison with more traditional regulatory approaches, market-centered solutions offer a cheaper and more efficient way to achieve many environmental policy objectives. While market mechanisms may work in certain economies and certain countries, whether they are appropriate for addressing the problem of climate change for countries without an institutionalized domestic market economy, such as china, is still an open question. This report summarizes the discussions, conclusions, and questions posed during The Harvard- Tsinghua Workshop on Market Mechanisms to Achieve a Low-Carbon Future for China. As the report makes clear, most participants believe that market mechanisms have a powerful role to play in achieving a low-carbon future for China. However, considerable differences emerged among the participants regarding the proper design and implementation of market mechanisms, and sig-nificant questions remain concerning the proper role of market mechanisms in addressing climate change. This report, and the workshop it summarizes, does not attempt to resolve these differences, but aims to contribute to an ongoing discussion on the future of climate policy in China. The re¬mainder of this Introduction describes the context for the workshop, its three thematic sessions, and outlines three over-arching themes that emerged. These themes are explored in the summaries of the three thematic sessions, while the Conclusion raises issues for further research. The impetus for the workshop was laid out in three public keynote speeches that addressed, respec¬tively, China's desire to achieve a low-carbon future, reasons to prefer market mechanisms over other potential solutions, and the importance of sustaining innovation in achieving climate policy objectives. China has adopted pilot cap-and-trade programs in five Provinces and two cities – to¬gether accounting for seven percent of the country's total carbon dioxide emissions. These pilots support a vision of achieving a “third industrial revolution” where economic growth and value-creation is de-coupled from carbon dioxide emissions. Second, market mechanisms are generally preferred by economists to regulation and subsidies as a means to reduce emissions because they achieve reductions at a lower overall cost, tend to direct emissions to their highest-value uses, and demand less institutional capacity since emitters rather than governments decide how to reduce emissions. Third, emissions reductions need to be linked to continual technological and policy in¬novation, as well as the need for proper design and implementation of market mechanisms. This point was emphasized with reference to the European Union Emissions Trading System (EUETS), where initial carbon permit prices were too low to incentivize low-carbon research and develop¬ment. The low initial price of the EUETS made it more palatable to industry, but too low to send a significant market signal due to institutional weaknesses and the economic downturn. The keynote addresses framed the discussion for the remainder of the workshop, which consisted of three off-the-record thematic sessions. Each thematic session focused on a different set of mar¬ket mechanisms to address different facets of the climate policy challenge. The first session exam¬ined instruments designed to limit and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, either by imposition of a tax designed to internalize the external cost of climate disruption or through establishment of a cap-and-trade system whereby permits to emit carbon dioxide are issued under an overall cap set by government, and which can then be traded as some emitters make efficiency improvements. The second session examined the use of subsidies and other incentives to encourage clean technol¬ogy innovation, and the third session examined the potential for a water-rights trading system to allocate water resources under conditions of increasing scarcity triggered by disruption in precipi¬tation and increased evaporation rates. The workshop concluded with a session devoted to developing a framework for further research and debate on the use of market mechanisms to refine and advance China's climate policy. The framework centered on three over-arching issues concerning market mechanisms: policy mix, innovation systems, and governance. The first of these issues concerns the inclusion of market mechanisms in a broader mix of policy responses, including command-and-control, which may be combined to achieve specific policy objectives. The second concerns the use of market mecha¬nisms to develop, sustain, and enhance innovation systems that continually create new solutions and technologies to achieve a low-carbon future. The third concerns the importance of institutional design and governance systems to ensure the proper functioning of market mechanisms.
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Alexander N. Pan, Randall Kempner
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: From our perspective at ANDE, we have seen impact investing become an increasingly important tool used to support small and growing businesses in the developing world that are capable of creating jobs, stimulating long-term economic growth, and generating social impact. However, impact investing is still very much an emerging tool. If it is to scale and become a viable solution to social issues in the United States. There are several key lessons from the international context that the industry should consider.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Dave Grossman (Rapporteur), Roger Ballentine, Andy Karsner
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The U.S. electricity sector is nearing an historic inflection point. A confluence of mutually-reinforcing factors is putting unprecedented pressure on the century-old model of monopolistic supply of electrons at approved rates of return, flowing from central generation stations to end-users. Cleaner energy generation technologies continue to improve, are getting less expensive, and are being deployed at an accelerating rate. Innovations in the financial markets and in business models are spurring cleaner energy deployment and increasing competition for providing customers with energy services. A new generation of customers accustomed to transparency, control, and choice in all aspects of their consumption of goods and services is increasingly expecting the same from energy providers. Information technologies that have enabled rapid change in communications and entertainment are now starting to be applied to energy. And public policies are beginning to enable, if not encourage, fundamental changes in how electricity is generated and provided. The current utility model is colliding with this confluence of factors, leading to a system in conflict, with the old system trying to accommodate more irregular dispatch, customer or third-party owned distributed generation, a range of social equity issues, and societal desires for a stable, clean, interactive, and hardened system. While part of the answer to these challenges may lie in a reformulation of the regulated utility business model, others believe that a more fundamental re-ordering of how energy is produced, delivered, managed, and owned is in the offing. This vision of a re-ordered, more diverse, more competitive, and more integrated electricity system could be thought of as “Clean tech 3.0”. This vision involves better systems (not just better devices), smart and connected devices of all sorts, a dynamic and flexible two way grid, more active and involved consumers, and business models that do not rely on subsidies. It also envisions clean energy not just as a commodity but as a way to provide value to customers (e.g., comfort, mobility, health). Achieving Clean tech 3.0 will require society to grapple with some tough equity and policy challenges, including whether to keep and/or adapt the traditional regulatory compact, how to treat low-income consumers and consumers not generating their own power, and which policies and institutions should be created, reformed, or eliminated to create the proper enabling environment for change. The electricity sector is already starting to witness the rise of a class of customers empowered by technological advances to start to re-think their relationship to energy. These empowered customers have social needs and practical preferences for which they are willing to pay, including price certainty, reliability, resilience, and cleanness. The industry is thus entering a new era that focuses less on selling electrons than on offering consumers valuable services. The path, however, is not without obstacles. The role for traditional utilities in this customer-focused market is unclear; such a focus has not historically been part of their business and is not one of their strengths, and the utilities have been operating in a sector unaccustomed to significant change. Clean energy companies, too, can find it challenging to develop new profitable business models. Even the energy efficiency industry, which offers the fastest and lowest cost pathway to a cleaner energy future, may struggle to sell and scale energy efficiency unless market structures and enabling policies can align with improving technologies to realize the full value proposition of smarter energy delivery and consumption. Regulators have been struggling to figure out how to address the suite of changes facing the electricity sector as well. Current physical and policy infrastructures do not seem to be up to the task. There appear to be three interdependent tectonic plates in motion – long term utility generation planning, mid-term smart grid design, and very near-term device and software design and deployment – that are not aligned, are moving at dangerously different speeds, and are not properly engaging with each other on a regular basis. Regulatory models must be devised that are more flexible, adaptive, and open to rapid advances in technology. There are some places now, such as Hawaii and New York, where regulatory innovation is occurring to try to get ahead of some of these issues. While the challenge of rethinking utility regulatory models falls largely in the hands of state policy makers, the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, issued under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, might have profound implications for how state policies and markets will impact energy efficiency and clean energy. The draft rule would set 2030 emissions goals for states and then give states flexibility on how to meet those goals. The draft 111(d) rule is complex, and a variety of concerns have been raised about it. It is not known how the final rule will be modified to address concerns and comments, nor how the almost certain litigation will be resolved. At the very least, the draft rule is already spurring conversations in every state that have not been had to this point at the level and scale necessary, forcing states to think about how emissions reductions will be achieved, what their energy mix will be, what role clean energy will play, and how state policies and market structures need to change in the years ahead. Those conversations can help contribute to broader discussions about creating a clear and compelling vision of the near-future state of U.S. clean energy. Those discussions need to include a range of actors, including the many regulators and utility executives who think the U.S. is still in Clean tech 1.0 and does not need to go anywhere else. There is a need to figure out how to bring those people along and help them start to understand the speed and nature of the changes that are occurring.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Aaron Shull, Paul Twomey, Christopher S. Yoo
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The US government has announced that it is prepared to unilaterally relinquish its historical control of the key technical functions that make up the modern-day Internet. This control stems from the foundational role played by the United States in the creation of the Internet, and has been exercised through the law of contract over the organization that performs these functions, a not-for-profit corporation based in California, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Under the existing contractual arrangement, ICANN has been accountable to the US government for the performance of these functions. However, if the US government is no longer party to this agreement, then to whom should ICANN be accountable? The existing contractual arrangement includes much more than simple contractual terms. In fact, these obligations make up many of the core tenets of contemporary multi-stakeholder Internet governance. These core principles should be preserved during the transition, and this paper advances two main arguments to achieve this. First, the existing contractual accountabilities held by the US government could be transitioned through the law of contract to the existing customers of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) services, creating direct accountability for the performance of those functions between the organization performing those services and the organizations using them. Second, in order to increase support within the broader community, modest revisions could be made to ICANN's independent review process to expand the grounds of review, allowing the review tribunal to hear additional cases on a broader range of complaints, with expanded powers of administrative review of decision-making processes.
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Mariana Llanos, Magna Inácio
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on the evolution of the institutional presidency – meaning the cluster of agencies that directly support the chief of the executive – in Argentina and Brazil since their redemocratization in the 1980s. It investigates what explains the changes that have come about regarding the size of the institutional presidency and the types of agency that form it. Following the specialized literature, we argue that the growth of the institutional presidency is connected to developments occurring in the larger political system – that is, to the political challenges that the various presidents of the two countries have faced. Presidents adjust the format and mandate of the different agencies under their authority so as to better manage their relations with the political environment. In particular, we argue that the type of government (coalition or single-party) has had consequences for the structure of the presidency or, in other words, that different cabinet structures pose different challenges to presidents. This factor has not played a significant role in presidency-related studies until now, which have hitherto mostly been based on the case of the United States. Our empirical references, the presidencies of Argentina and Brazil, and typical cases of coalitional as well as single-party presidentialism respectively all allow us to show the impact of the type of government on the number and type of presidential agencies.
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil, Argentina