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Axis of Convenience

Moscow, Beijing, and the New Geopolitics

Bobo Lo

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.

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Back to the Future

Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

Josh Freed

The Golden Age of nuclear energy in the United States has passed, and the accidents, if not disasters, at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima have damaged nuclear power's rise in some parts of the world. And yet today, as Third Way's Josh Freed illuminates in the latest Brookings Essay, a flood of young engineers are exploring safer and cleaner nuclear energy technologies as the best option for powering the world and addressing the looming threat of climate change. Yet as Freed demonstrates, advanced nuclear energy is too big, complex, and expensive to take off without significant political backing and changes in how the government supports innovation. If the U.S. doesn't invest in advanced nuclear, he argues, it's inevitable that another country will lead the way in this game-changing field.

THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay is a multi-platform product aimed to engage readers in open dialogue and debate. The views expressed, however, are solely those of the author. Available in ebook only.

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The Bad News about the News

Robert G. Kaiser

The digital revolution has forever changed American journalism, and not for the better. Robert Kaiser, former managing editor of The Washington Post, writes in his new Brookings Essay that the changing media landscape is not only a threat to traditional news, but to the future of democracy. A news industry without a viable business model, distracted by the need to attract eyeballs and discover new revenue streams, could lose the ability to provide the balanced, comprehensive, and investigative journalism that is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.

THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay is a multi-platform product aimed to engage readers in open dialogue and debate. The views expressed, however, are solely those of the author. Available in ebook only.

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The Battle for Congress

Consultants, Candidates, and Voters

James A. Thurber

This volume provides an in-depth examination of six political campaigns waged during competitive 1998 races for the U.S. House of Representatives. The case studies evaluate the professional political consultants who managed each campaign, their interaction with the candidates, and the impact of the campaigns on voters. Relying on unparalleled access to both the consultants involved and the candidates themselves, the contributors explore the electoral setting and context of the congressional districts, the strategy, theme, and message of each campaign, the consultants' decisionmaking, fund-raising, and spending, and any outside forces that entered into the races. The book features new data on tracking, polls, and television advertising budgets.

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Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa

edited by Robert I. Rotberg

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).

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Behavioral Science & Policy

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.

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The Believer

How an Introvert with a Passion for Religion and Soccer Became Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Leader of the Islamic State

William McCants

In The Believer, Will McCants tells the story of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS), a group so brutal and hardline that even al-Qaida deemed them too extreme. Baghdadi, an introverted religious scholar, with a passion for soccer, now controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria. McCants shows how Baghdadi became radicalized in the Saddam Hussein era and found his path to power after connecting with other radicals in an American prison during the Iraq War, culminating in his declaration of a reborn Islamic empire bent on world conquest.

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Besieged

School Boards and the Future of Education Politics

edited by William Howell

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.

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Between Dictatorship and Democracy

Russian Post-Communist Political Reform

Michael McFaul, Nikolai Petrov, and Andrei Ryabov

For hundreds of years, dictators have ruled Russia. Do they still? In the late 1980s, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev launched a series of political reforms that eventually allowed for competitive elections, the emergence of an independent press, the formation of political parties, and the sprouting of civil society. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, these proto-democratic institutions endured in an independent Russia. But did the processes unleashed by Gorbachev and continued under Russian President Boris Yeltsin lead eventually to liberal democracy in Russia? If not, what kind of political regime did take hold in post-Soviet Russia? And how has Vladimir Putin's rise to power influenced the course of democratic consolidation or the lack thereof? Between Dictatorship and Democracy seeks to give a comprehensive answer to these fundamental questions about the nature of Russian politics.

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Between Religion and Politics

Nathan J. Brown and Amr Hamzawy

In recent decades, Islamist political movements in many Arab countries have strategically invested in a political process that was stacked heavily against them. And, to the surprise of many, they have actually succeeded by gaining more seats in parliaments and demonstrating their position as the only opposition movements with a popular base. Between Religion and Politics is a broad, cross-national study of Islamist parties in Arab parliamentary elections. The book focuses on those movements that have cast themselves, at least in part, as electorally oriented political parties. It probes the environment in which the movements operate, the checkered relationship between Islamists and national rulers, the Islamists' political platforms, and efforts to build alliances with other opposition groups. By examining the debates within the Islamists movements, Between Religion and Politics is able to assess the party leaders' evaluations of their political experiences and their prospects for future participation.

Contents include

• The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Islamist Participation in a Closing Political Environment

• Jordan and Its Islamic Movement: The Limits of Inclusion?

• Party for Justice and Development in Morocco: Participation and Its Discontents

• Pushing toward Party Politics? Kuwait's Islamic Constitutional Movement

• Between Government and Opposition: The Case of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform

• Hamas: Battling to Blend Religion, Politics, Resistance, and Governance

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