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  • Author: Shannon K. O'Neil
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: North America was once called the New World. The people, their ideas, and the resources of the continent shaped the histories of the Old World—East and West. Today, North America is home to almost five hundred million people living in three vibrant democracies. If the three North American countries deepen their integration and cooperation, they have the potential to again shape world affairs for gen-erations to come.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Edward Alden, Bryan Roberts
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In response to record numbers of illegal border crossings and the security fears triggered by the 9/11 attacks, over the past two decades the United States has steadily increased its efforts to secure its borders against illegal immigration. The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has risen from fewer than 3,000 to more than 20,700; nearly 700 miles of fencing have been built along the southern border with Mexico; and surveillance systems, including pilotless drones, now monitor much of the rest of the border. In a speech in El Paso, Texas, in May, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed that the United States had "strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible." Yet according to spring 2011 Rasmussen poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans think the border is no more, or even less, secure than it was five years ago. Some administration critics claim that the United States' frontiers have never been more porous. This contradiction stems in part from the fact that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has never clearly defined what border control means in practice. A secure border cannot mean one with no illegal crossings -- that would be unrealistic for almost any country, especially one as big and as open as the United States. On the other hand, the borders cannot be considered secure if many of those attempting to enter illegally succeed. Defining a sensible middle ground, where border enforcement and other programs discourage many illegal crossings and most of those who try to cross illegally are apprehended, is the challenge. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has failed to develop good measures for fixing goals and determining progress toward them. Since 2005, the DHS has reported how many miles of the country's land borders are under its "operational control," but it has done so without having clearly defined what that standard means and without providing hard data to back it up. The lack of sound measurement has left the administration touting its efforts rather than their results: during a press conference in 2010, Obama noted, "We have more of everything: ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], Border Patrol, surveillance, you name it. So we take border security seriously."
  • Topic: Security, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: David M. Rodriguez
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In the summer of 2011, I visited the Afghan army's Regional Military Training Center in Helmand Province. The recruits had been there for two weeks, and they looked as strong as any group of U.S. soldiers in basic training. The Afghan drill instructors were as competent, and had the same cocky swagger, as American ones. "Sir, look at all of our volunteers," one drill sergeant proudly said to me. "They're great. We have already won. . . . We just don't know it yet." To comprehend the United States' progress in Afghanistan, it is important to understand how and where we have focused our resources and what work lies ahead. To be sure, the United States and its coalition partners still have plenty of challenges left to tackle in Afghanistan. However, there are indisputable gains everywhere we have focused our efforts. In 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops, with the help of David Petraeus, then the commander of the U.S. Central Command, worked hard to design a comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign for Afghanistan that would "get the inputs right," as Petraues often said. The upshot was more resources, troops, and civilian support and better command coherence. There are now more Afghan and coalition soldiers in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces alone than there were in all of Regional Command East, the formation responsible for security in Afghanistan's 14 eastern provinces, when I commanded the latter from 2007 to 2008. As 33,000 U.S. troops begin the drawdown, returning to the United States by next summer, 352,000 Afghan soldiers and police will be in place to continue their work. There are clear signs of progress in Afghanistan, and coalition forces have regained the initiative. The strategy has worked because it sought to match the coalition's goals with available resources. It involved four major concepts. First, use a bottom-up approach founded on good governance, capable security forces, and engagement with local communities. If towns had good leaders and security providers, populations would find local solutions to their local problems, with just a little help from Kabul. Insurgents could no longer exploit popular grievances about security, justice, and a lack of basic services.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America
  • Author: Benjamin A. Valentino
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As forces fighting Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi consolidated control of Tripoli in the last days of August 2011, many pundits began speaking of a victory not just for the rebels but also for the idea of humanitarian intervention. In Libya, advocates of intervention argued, U.S. President Barack Obama had found the formula for success: broad regional and international support, genuine burden sharing with allies, and a capable local fighting force to wage the war on the ground. Some even heralded the intervention as a sign of an emerging Obama doctrine. It is clearly too soon for this kind of triumphalism, since the final balance of the Libyan intervention has yet to be tallied. The country could still fall into civil war, and the new Libyan government could turn out to be little better than the last. As of this writing, troubling signs of infighting among the rebel ranks had begun to emerge, along with credible reports of serious human rights abuses by rebel forces. Yet even if the intervention does ultimately give birth to a stable and prosperous democracy, this outcome will not prove that intervention was the right choice in Libya or that similar interventions should be attempted elsewhere. To establish that requires comparing the full costs of intervention with its benefits and asking whether those benefits could be achieved at a lower cost. The evidence from the last two decades is not promising on this score. Although humanitarian intervention has undoubtedly saved lives, Americans have seriously underappreciated the moral, political, and economic price involved. This does not mean that the United States should stop trying to promote its values abroad, even when its national security is not at risk. It just needs a different strategy. Washington should replace its focus on military intervention with a humanitarian foreign policy centered on saving lives by funding public health programs in the developing world, aiding victims of natural disasters, and assisting refugees fleeing violent conflict. Abandoning humanitarian intervention in most cases would not mean leaving victims of genocide and repression to their fate. Indeed, such a strategy could actually save far more people, at a far lower price.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, Libya
  • Author: Michael O'Hanlon
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Nine years ago, the United States worked with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban government in Kabul. The world was united, the cause for war was clear, and U.S. President George W. Bush enjoyed the support of roughly 90 percent of Americans. That was a long time ago. Today, the war in Afghanistan is a controversial conflict: fewer than half of Americans support the ongoing effort, even as roughly 100,000 U.S. troops are in harm's way. Troops from more than 40 countries still make up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but fewer than ten of those countries take substantial risks with their forces in the turbulent south and east of the country. And as the Netherlands prepares to depart Afghanistan this year and Canada remains committed to doing so in 2011, two of these coalition partners will likely soon be gone. Meanwhile, support for the coalition among Afghans has declined to less than 50 percent from highs of 80-90 percent early in the decade. Over the years, the U.S. mission has lost much of its clarity of purpose. Although voters and policymakers in the United States and elsewhere remain dedicated to denying al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan, they have begun debating whether a Taliban takeover would necessarily mean al Qaeda's return; whether al Qaeda really still seeks an Afghan sanctuary, as it did a decade ago; and whether U.S. forces could contain any future al Qaeda presence through the kinds of drone strikes now commonly employed in Pakistan. The most pressing question is whether the current strategy can work -- in particular, whether a NATO-led military presence of nearly 150,000 troops is consistent with Afghan mores and whether the government of President Hamid Karzai is up to the challenge of governing and keeping order in such a diverse, fractious land.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America, Taliban, Netherlands, Kabul
  • Author: Jeb Bush, Thomas McLarty
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States, a country shaped by generations of immigrants and their descendants, is badly mishandling its immigration policy, with serious consequences for its standing in the world. The urgency of this issue has led the Council on Foreign Relations to convene an Independent Task Force to deal with what is ordinarily regarded as a domestic policy matter. America's openness to and respect for immigrants has long been a foundation of its economic and military strength, and a vital tool in its diplomatic arsenal. With trade, technology, and travel continuing to shrink the world, the manner in which the United States handles immigration will be increasingly important to American foreign policy in the future. The Task Force believes that the continued failure to devise and implement a sound and sustainable immigration policy threatens to weaken America's economy, to jeopardize its diplomacy, and to imperil its national security.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Amy B. Frumin
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Security, Fragile/Failed State, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington
  • Author: David M. Marchick, Alan P. Larson
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Despite the significant benefits that foreign investment brings to the U.S. economy, a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 53 percent of Americans believe foreign ownership of U.S. companies is “bad for America,” a sentiment that reached a boiling point with the proposed acquisition of the U.S. port operations of P Steam Navigation Company by Dubai Ports World (DPW). The DPW case brought to the public's attention the little-known executive committee charged with reviewing the security risks of foreign investment—the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—and ignited a flurry of congressional activity to change its mandate and operations under the Exon-Florio Amendment to the Defense Production Act of 1950.
  • Topic: Security, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Dubai
  • Author: Bob Graham, Brent Scowcroft
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In November 1999, the Council on Foreign Relations and Inter-American Dialogue established an independent task force to review and offer recommendations on U.S. policy toward Colombia. The co-chairs of the task force have decided to issue this interim report to make an impact on deliberations in Congress, as well as respond to an immediate opportunity to shape the current debate about U.S. policy. We plan to publish a final report in June 2000 that will provide a more comprehensive and systematic examination of U.S. policy toward Colombia. That report will, for example, discuss the wider challenge of addressing a serious drug problem in which many countries—the United States includedare involved, and which calls for shared responsibility and joint action. On January 11, the Clinton administration put forward a bill that seeks an "emergency supplemental appropriation" to provide some $950 million in assistance to Colombia this fiscal year, and a total of $1.6 billion through fiscal year 2001. The administration's bill was formulated in the context of Plan Colombia, a mutually agreed framework between the Colombian and U.S. governments. The plan identifies the country's critical needs and makes clear that the Andean nation's interrelated problems—powerful insurgent and paramilitary forces, massive narcotrafficking, widespread human rights abuses, and deep economic recession—have reached crisis levels. It further indicates that the Colombian government is prepared to tackle these problems, and is committed to addressing all of them together. While the Colombian government is prepared to contribute $4 billion of the $7.5 billion the plan will cost, Colombia has also asked for immediate help from the international community. In response, the Clinton administration has put together a two-year aid package that emphasizes equipment and training for the military and police to carry out counter-narcotics operations. Other elements of Plan Colombia are supported to a much lesser degree. In focusing the aid package in this way, the administration recognizes the close linkages that have developed between Colombia's illegal narcotics industry and the country's insurgent and paramilitary forces. As such, it deals with key concerns for both the United States and Colombia. Security assistance aimed at reducing drug production and trafficking is but a piece of a broader effort that seeks to extend legitimate authority in the country. For this reason—coupled with the fact that such support would signal strong US commitment to help a troubled country at a critical moment—we urge Congress to move quickly and approve the administration's aid package. We also suggest that Congress make two adjustments in the proposed package: strengthen a regional approach to the drug problem, and improve Colombia's economic situation by enhancing its trade benefits. Although it will make a contribution, the administration's aid proposal responds only partially to the formidable policy challenge posed by Colombia. An effective package must get beyond the current emphasis on fighting drugs. The main emphasis should, rather, be on helping the Colombian government strengthen its capacity to protect its citizens and effectively exercise control and authority over its territory. But a lack of consensus within the U.S. government has made it difficult to focus on that overall objective in U.S. policy toward Colombia. As currently formulated, the bill is an essential first step, but more is required, both from Washington and Bogotá. With its proposal, the administration has affirmed that the stakes for the United States are high. We agree. We therefore urge the White House to develop an integrated, long-term plan that has a broader focus than merely the drug problem. The administration and Congress must recognize that a serious policy response to the challenges posed by Colombia implies a U.S. commitment to the country beyond the two-year period of the proposed bill. A successful approach will require high-level, sustained engagement, supported by a bipartisan majority in Congress, during at least a half dozen years. As part of a longer-term policy, the main focus in the security area should be on reforming Colombia's armed forces and making them more professional, thereby establishing the conditions under which the United States could provide effective military assistance. Training is particularly crucial to upgrade the military capability of the armed forces and improve their human rights performance. Professionalization would also enhance the Colombian government's moves toward a political solution to the conflict, and reinforce efforts to deal more successfully with both insurgent and paramilitary forces. Under no circumstances should U.S. combat troops be deployed in Colombia for military intervention. Levels of support above those reflected in the current bill should be considered for other critical areas in addition to security. Extension of current preferential trade arrangements for Colombia should benefit its economy. Special efforts are needed to improve the country's judicial system and help Colombia strengthen its ability to undertake alternative development strategies. The United States should encourage a multilateral approach, working in concert with Colombia's hemispheric partners, European friends, and relevant multilateral institutions. A more balanced U.S. policy (that is, one less narrowly focused on drugs) would make other governments and institutions more inclined to join in a common effort. Finally, Colombia's problems demand strong, focused leadership from Bogotá that reflects a Colombian commitment and national consensus behind a set of realistic policies. The United States can and should respond to Colombian initiatives in accordance with its own national interests. It cannot, however, solve Colombia's problems.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Colombia, South America, Latin America, North America
  • Author: Marshall Bouton, Frank Wisner, Farida Burtis, Amit Sarkar, Shri Jaswant Singh, Corinne Shane, Trudy Rubin, Gligor Tashkovich, Robert Kleiman, Paul Heer
  • Publication Date: 09-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: I'd like to welcome you to this luncheon with the Honorable Jaswant Singh, Minister for External Affairs for the Government of India. Mr. Minister, I believe this is your third visit to the Asia Society. We and the Council on Foreign Relations are deeply honored, again, to provide a forum for exchange between the Government of India and interested Americans. As you can see from the attendance here today, there is much interest in hearing from you.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: America, South Asia, India, Asia