10
Jul

Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability

By Kenneth N. Waltz

The past several months have witnessed a heated debate over the best way for the United States and Israel to respond to Iran’s nuclear activities. As the argument has raged, the United States has tightened its already robust sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic, and the European Union announced in January that it will begin an embargo on Iranian oil on July 1. Although the United States, the EU, and Iran have recently returned to the negotiating table, a palpable sense of crisis still looms. 

It should not. Most U.S., European, and Israeli commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the current standoff. In fact, it would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East. 

POWER BEGS TO BE BALANCED

The crisis over Iran’s nuclear program could end in three different ways. First, diplomacy coupled with serious sanctions could convince Iran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. But this outcome is unlikely: the historical record indicates that a country bent on acquiring nuclear weapons can rarely be dissuaded from doing so. Punishing a state through economic sanctions does not inexorably derail its nuclear program. Take North Korea, which succeeded in building its weapons despite countless rounds of sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions. If Tehran determines that its security depends on possessing nuclear weapons, sanctions are unlikely to change its mind. In fact, adding still more sanctions now could make Iran feel even more vulnerable, giving it still more reason to seek the protection of the ultimate deterrent.

The second possible outcome is that Iran stops short of testing a nuclear weapon but develops a breakout capability, the capacity to build and test one quite quickly. Iran would not be the first country to acquire a sophisticated nuclear program without building an actual bomb. Japan, for instance, maintains a vast civilian nuclear infrastructure. Experts believe that it could produce a nuclear weapon on short notice. 

Such a breakout capability might satisfy the domestic political needs of Iran’s rulers by assuring hard-liners that they can enjoy all the benefits of having a bomb (such as greater security) without the downsides (such as international isolation and condemnation). The problem is that a breakout capability might not work as intended. Read more…

Kenneth N. Waltz is Senior Research Scholar at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies.

As published by Foreign Affairs (July/August 2012 – Print Edition). 

9
Jul

Why is the U.S. afraid to lead the global economic recovery?

By Kati Suominen 

The release of another weak U.S. jobs report this Friday, July 6 — which showed the economy adding only 80,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate holding steady at 8.2 percent — raises some serious red flags. It’s just one of many signs these days that the world economy is once again on the brink of an abyss. Nearly four years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, U.S. growth is flailing, central banks are racing to cut interest rates, and several European nations have plunged back into recession. Instead of powering the 21st-century world economy, export-dependent emerging markets remain hostage to the transatlantic economic morass. We should be out of this by now. The missing ingredient? U.S. leadership.

In the 20th century, beginning with the creation of the Bretton Woods system in 1944, America’s great contribution was to champion an economic paradigm and set of institutions that promoted open markets and economic stability around the world. The successive Groups of Five, Seven, and Eight, first formed in the early 1970s, helped coordinate macroeconomic policies among the world’s leading economies and combat global financial imbalances that burdened U.S. trade politics. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) spread the Washington Consensus across Asia and Latin America, and shepherded economies in transition toward capitalism. Eight multilateral trade rounds brought down barriers to global commerce, culminating in the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.

Meanwhile, a wave of bank deregulation and financial liberalization began in the United States and proliferated around the world, making credit more available and affordable while propelling consumption and entrepreneurship the world over. The U.S. dollar, the world’s venerable reserve currency, economized global transactions and fueled international trade. Central bank independence spread from Washington to the world and helped usher in the Great Moderation, which has produced a quarter-century of low and steady inflation around the world. Read more…

Kati Suominen is resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington. Her latest book is “Peerless and Periled: The Paradox of American Leadership in the World Economic Order”.

As published in www.foreignpolicy.com on July 6, 2012.

6
Jul

Throughout the past year, a MIR 2011/2012 student and soon to be graduate, Tomofumi Fukamiya, ran 12 marathons in 12 months in different European countries and environments (including the Swiss Alps) in order to raise money for the victims of the April 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on the east coast of Japan. Not only did Tomofumi complete this impressive challenge but he also raised over 2,100 British Pounds for the victims.

Here is where Tomofumi ran over the past year (2011/2012): Apr: Madrid (4:11:58), May: Copenhagen (3:49:46), Jul: Swiss Alpine (06:06:30), Sep: Warsaw (4:13:26), Oct: Munich (4:06:18), Nov: Athens (3:58:11), Valencia (4:06:16) Jan: Gran Canaria (3:59:53), Feb: Sevilla (around 3:52:00), Mar: Rome (around 3:50:34), Barcelona (4:02:10), Apr: Vienna (around 3:53:00)

 We in the Master in International Relations are very proud of Tomofumi for his commitment to helping his people and country.

For more information please visit: (http://tomofumi-fukamiya.blogspot.com/) and http://www.justgiving.com/tomofumi-fukamiya/ for donations to the cause.

5
Jul

In 2006, Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat portrayed a global population that was more borderless and interconnected than ever before.

By Aaron Levie Co-founder and chief executive, Box

Entire industries are being remade thanks to ever-better connectivity, writes Aaron Levie

Starting in the 1980s and 1990s – with the rise of Netscape, global supply chains, outsourcing and off-shoring – came a dramatic flattening of how we connect and communicate across the world. Since Friedman’s book, we’ve moved even further into the future, with nearly six billion connected mobile devices and two billion people on the internet. Together, these shifts have created a much tighter world economy – an interconnectedness that’s been painful at times given the financial crisis, but with benefits that are also striking. Just pull out an iPhone to appreciate the sophistication of today’s supply chains.

Or look at the near-ubiquitous adoption of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, and other global internet phenomena – transformative technologies that haven’t just bolstered our social lives, but have also catalysed civil wars, toppled political regimes, and helped elect new leaders. And we’re only now starting to see these forces of disruption and levelling at work in the software that powers our businesses.

New wave

Today organisations can tap into scalable, on-demand cloud-computing resources from Amazon Web Services and Google. They can adopt social technologies like Yammer, Jive and Salesforce Chatter to connect globally dispersed employees, and they can implement content storage and sharing services like Box to make it easy for employees to work from anywhere, on any device. This new wave of cloud services is challenging long-standing assumptions about how information should and can be shared, and how organisations should be structured.

Most traditional enterprise technologies were designed to lock information down, confining it to a team, a network, or a physical environment. This silo-ing of information – whether intentional or unavoidable, thanks to rigid infrastructure – has had cultural implications as well, creating and perpetuating silos and hierarchies within and between organisations. Read more…

Aaron Levie is the chief executive and co-founder of Box, a cloud-based online storage company based in San Francisco.

As published in www.bbc.co.uk on June 29, 2012.

4
Jul

By Thomas L. Friedman

Is the election of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, as president of Egypt the beginning of the end of the Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, it could actually be the beginning of a real peace between the Israeli and the Egyptian peoples, instead of what we’ve had: a cold, formal peace between Israel and a single Egyptian pharaoh. But, for that to be the case, both sides will have to change some deeply ingrained behaviors, and fast.

First, let’s dispense with some nonsense. There is a mantra you hear from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel and various right-wing analysts: “We told you so.” It’s the idea that somehow President Obama could have intervened to “save” President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and he was just too naïve to do so, and the inevitable result is that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken power. Sorry, naïveté is thinking that because it was so convenient for Israel to have peace with one dictator, Mubarak, rather than 80 million Egyptians, that this dictator — or some other general — would and could stay at the helm in Egypt forever. Talk about naïve.

I truly appreciate the anxiety Israelis feel at seeing their neighborhood imploding. But it is also striking that a people for whom the Exodus story of liberation is so central — and who for so long argued that peace will happen only when the Arabs become democratic — failed to believe that the liberation narrative might one day resonate with the people of Egypt and now proclaim that the problem with the Arabs is that they are becoming democratic. This has roots.

“In their relations with power, Jews in exile have always preferred vertical alliances to horizontal ones,” notes Leon Wieseltier, the Jewish scholar and literary editor of The New Republic. “They always preferred to have a relationship with the king or the bishop so as not to have to engage with the general population, of which they were deeply distrustful — and they often had reason to be distrustful. Israel, as a sovereign state, reproduced the old Jewish tradition of the vertical alliance, only this time with the Arab states. They thought that if they had a relationship with Mubarak or the king of Jordan, they had all they needed. But the model of the vertical alliance only makes sense with authoritarian political systems. As soon as authoritarianism breaks down, and a process of democratization begins, the vertical model is over and you enter a period of horizontality in which the opinions of the people — in this instance, ordinary Arabs — will matter.” As a result, Israel will have to make the man on the street “not only fear it, but also understand it. This will not be easy, but it may not be impossible. Anyway, nostalgia for dictators is not a thoughtful policy.” Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on July 3, 2012 (a version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 4, 2012, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: What Does Morsi Mean For Israel?).

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