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Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan
After more than a decade of great effort and sacrifice by America and its allies, the Taliban still has not been defeated, and many Afghans believe that a civil war is coming. Aspiration and Ambivalence analyzes the U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan and offers detailed recommendations for dealing with the precarious situation leading up to the 2014 transition to Afghan control and beyond. Vanda Felbab-Brown argues that allied efforts in Afghanistan have put far too little emphasis on good governance, concentrating too much on short-term military goals to the detriment of long-term peace and stability. The Western tendency to ally with bullies, warlords, smugglers, and other shady characters in pursuit of short-term military advantage actually empowers the forces working against good governance and long-term political stability. Rampant corruption and mafia rule thus persist, making it impossible for Afghans to believe in the institutional reforms and rule of law that are clearly necessary. This must change otherwise, the chances of building responsive and sustainable governmental structures are slim, indeed.
Felbab-Brown combines thorough research and analysis with vivid personal accounts of her time spent in the war-torn nation powerful vignettes illustrating the Afghan aspirations for peace, stability, and sovereignty and the stubborn obstacles to securing them.
"The year 2014 will mark a critical juncture in Afghanistan's odyssey. After more than a decade of arduous fighting and political involvement, the U.S. and international presence there will be significantly reduced and circumscribed. Although the international community has committed itself not to abandon Afghanistan as it did in the 1990s, the onus will be on the Afghan government to provide for the security of the country, its economic development, and governance that attempts to meet the needs of the Afghan people. Difficult challenges, major unresolved questions, and worrisome trends surround all three sets of processes. The biggest hole in the U.S. strategy and international efforts to stabilize the country is the failure to adequately address the country's fractured and brittle political system and very poor governance." from Aspiration and Ambivalence
Changing the Way America Saves
Automatic offers an innovative new way to think about how Americans can save for retirement.
Over the past quarter century, America's pension system has shifted away from defined benefit plans and toward defined contribution savings programs such as 401(k)s and IRAs. There is much to be done to improve the defined contribution system. Many workers fail to participate and those who do often contribute too little, invest the funds poorly, and are not adequately prepared to manage funds while in retirement.
To resolve these problems, the authors propose that employees should be automatically enrolled into a 401(k) plan when they are hired, with the right to opt out, change the amount that they contribute, or change investment choices if they choose. If the employer does not sponsor a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, they would be enrolled in a payroll deduction Automatic IRA. This vision of a transformed defined contribution system incorporates key positive features of defined benefit plans to improve retirement security. Employess contributions would increase over time, their investments would benefit from professional management and rebalancing, and they would receive lifetime income upon retirement. These automatic features will make the 401(k) and similar plans a more effective tool for retirement saving, and they can be extended to the many workers who do not currently have access to an employer plan.
In Automatic, the authors present proposals to implement automatic features in all phases of the 401(k) and in IRAs for workers with no employer plan. They also draw from the experience of countries that have implemented automatic saving structures.
A Study in Comparative Political Economy
Aviation performance is an important cog in modern globalized economies, which demand flexibility, mobility, efficiency, and dependability. Airport delays have gone from being a nuisance to being a salient public concern, drawing the ire of even the White House. In this important book, international transportation experts compare and contrast how different nations have managed their airports and air traffic control systems and how well they are meeting the needs of their people. The book's cross-national approach encompasses several different institutional arrangements, making it a timely and valuable study in comparative political economy. Among the countries studied, the United States is sometimes seen as a bastion of free markets, at the forefront of airline deregulation, but its airports and air traffic control system are publicly owned and operated. The same is true in continental Europe, for the most part. In contrast, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada are experimenting with privatization, while even mainland China is allowing the private sector to participate in airport ownership. Which methods work best, and under what circumstances? This book provides the answers.
America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back
India and Pakistan will be among the most important countries in the twenty-first century. In Avoiding Armageddon, Bruce Riedel clearly explains the challenge and the importance of successfully managing America's affairs with these two emerging powers and their toxic relationship.
Born from the British Raj, the two nations share a common heritage, but they are different in many important ways. India is already the world's largest democracy and will soon become the planet's most populous nation. Pakistan, soon to be the fifth most populous country, has a troubled history of military coups, dictators, and harboring terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.
The longtime rivals are nuclear powers, with tested weapons. They have fought four wars with each other and have gone to the brink of war several times. Meanwhile, U.S. presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have been increasingly involved in the region's affairs. In the past two decades alone, the White House has intervened several times to prevent nuclear confrontation on the subcontinent. South Asia clearly is critical to American national security, and the volatile relationship between India and Pakistan is the crucial factor determining whether the region can ever be safe and stable.
Based on extensive research and Riedel's role in advising four U.S. presidents on the region, Avoiding Armageddon reviews the history of American diplomacy in South Asia, the crises that have flared in recent years, and the prospects for future crisis. Riedel provides an in-depth look at the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008, the worst terrorist outrage since 9/11, and he concludes with authoritative analysis on what the future is likely to hold for America and the South Asia puzzle as well as recommendations on how Washington should proceed.
China's Economic Restructuring
The days of rapid economic growth in China are over. Mounting debt and rising internal distortions mean that rebalancing is inevitable. Beijing has no choice but to take significant steps to restructure its economy. The only question is how to proceed.
Michael Pettis debunks the lingering bullish expectations for China's economic rise and details Beijing's options. The urgent task of shifting toward greater domestic consumption will come with political costs, but Beijing must increase household income and reduce its reliance on investment to avoid a fall.
The Role of Strategic Planning in American Foreign Policy
After World War II, George Kennan became the State Department's first director of policy planning. Secretary of State George Marshall's initial advice to Kennan: above all, "avoid trivia." Concentrate on the forest, not the trees, and don't lost sight of the big picture. Easier said than done. Avoiding Trivia critically assesses the past, future, and future role and impact of long-term strategic planning in foreign policy.
Strategic planning needs to be a more integral part of America's foreign policymaking. Thousands of troops are engaged in combat while homeland security concerns remain. In such an environment, long-term coordination of goals and resources would seem to be of paramount importance. But history tells us that such cohesiveness and coherence are tremendously difficult to establish, much less maintain. Can policy planners in the Pentagon, the State Department, Treasury, NSC, and National Intelligence Council rise to the challenge? Indeed, is strategic planning a viable concept in 21st century foreign policy? These crucial questions guide this eye-opening book.
The contributors include key figures from the past few decades of foreign policy and planning individuals responsible for imposing some sort of order and strategic priority on foreign policy in a world that changes by the minute. They provide authoritative insight on the difficulties and importance of thinking and acting in a coherent way, for the long term.
Contributors: Andrew P. N. Erdmann, Peter Feaver, Aaron L. Friedberg, David F. Gordon, Richard N. Haass, William Inboden, Bruce W. Jentleson, Steven D. Krasner, Jeffrey W. Legro, Daniel Twining, Thomas Wright, Amy B. Zegart.
Moscow, Beijing, and the New Geopolitics
Few relationships have been as misunderstood as the "strategic partnership" between Russia and China. Official rhetoric portrays it as the very model of international cooperation: Moscow and Beijing claim that ties are closer and warmer than at any time in history. In reality, however, the picture is highly ambiguous. While both sides are committed to multifaceted engagement, cooperation is complicated by historical suspicions, cultural prejudices, geopolitical rivalries, and competing priorities. For Russia, China is at once the focus of a genuine convergence of interests and the greatest long-term threat to its national security. For China, Russia is a key supplier of energy and weapons, but is frequently dismissed as a self-important power whose rhetoric far outstrips its real influence. A xis of Convenience cuts through the mythmaking and examines the Sino-Russian partnership on its own merits. It steers between the overblown interpretation of an anti-Western (particularly, anti-American) alliance and the complacent assumption that past animosities and competing agendas must always divide the two nations. Their relationship reflects a new geopolitics, one that eschews formal alliances in favor of more flexible and opportunistic arrangements. Ultimately, it is an axis of convenience driven by cold-eyed perceptions of the national interest. In evaluating the current state and future prospects of the relationship, Bobo Lo assesses its impact on the evolving strategic environments in Central and East Asia. He also analyzes the global implications of rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing, focusing in particular on the geopolitics of energy and Russia-China-U.S. triangularism.
With so much attention paid to America's war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, the world has all but forgotten the spread of terrorism in other regions. From South Asia to South America, terrorist groups are on the rise. One of the most dangerous regions is the greater Horn of Africa along with Yemen, its volatile neighbor. This book offers authoritative insight into the struggle against terrorism in the Horn—what has been done and what work remains. Robert Rotberg and his colleagues analyze the situation in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. The esteemed contributors are prominent scholars and practitioners, including several former U.S. ambassadors. Their contributions reveal how each country's government —with or without U.S. help—is (or is not) working to combat terrorism within its own borders and to prevent its spread. Rotberg provides an overview of the entire region, drawing lessons particularly for U.S. policy. Ba ttling Terror in the Horn of Africa is a handbook on what needs to be done at the tension-filled crossroads of Arabia and Africa. It is important reading for all those with an interest in African or Middle Eastern affairs or the need to learn more about international terrorism. Contributors include Robert D. Burrowes (University of Washington), Timothy Carney (former U.S. ambassador to Sudan), Johnnie Carson (former ambassador to Kenya), Dan Connell (Grassroots International), Kenneth J. Menkhaus (Davidson College), Robert I. Rotberg (Harvard University), and Lange Schemerhorn (former ambassador to Djibouti).
Vol. 1 (2015) through current issue
Behavioral Science & Policy is an international, peer-reviewed journal that features short, accessible articles describing actionable policy applications of behavioral scientific research that serves the public interest. Articles submitted to BSP undergo a dual-review process. Leading Scholars from specific disciplinary areas review articles to assess their scientific rigor; at the same time, experts in relevant policy areas evaluate them for relevance and feasibility of implementation. Manuscripts that pass this dual-review are edited to ensure their accessibility to scientists, policy makers, and lay readers. BSP is not limited to a particular point of view or political ideology. BSP is a publication of the Behavioral Science & Policy Association and the Brookings Institution Press.
School Boards and the Future of Education Politics
School boards are fighting for their survival. Almost everything that they do is subject to regulations handed down from city councils, state boards of education, legislatures, and courts. As recent mayoral and state takeovers in such cities as Baltimore, Chicago, and New York make abundantly clear, school boards that do not fulfill the expectations of other political players may be stripped of what few independent powers they still retain. Teachers unions exert growing influence over board decision-making processes. And with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government has aggressively inserted itself into matters of local education governance. B esieged is the first full-length volume in many years to systematically examine the politics that surround school boards. A group of highly renowned scholars, relying on both careful case studies and quantitative analyses, examine how school boards fare when they interact with their political superiors, teachers unions, and the public. For the most part, the picture that emerges is sobering: while school boards perform certain administrative functions quite well, the political pressures they face undermine their capacity to institute the wide-ranging school reforms that many voters and local leaders are currently demanding.