Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran

Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran. James A. Baker III Institute. September 2012.

“At a time when debate on this critical issue is often driven by politics and based on unexamined assumptions about the ability of military action to achieve U.S. objectives, this paper seeks to provide a foundation for clear thinking about the potential use of force against Iran. The paper’s authors and signers, a bipartisan group of senior national security experts, recognize that this debate is part of a broader conversation about U.S. policy toward Iran. But we believe that it will be impossible to make a rational assessment of the role of military force in any overall Iran strategy, without first carefully assessing the likely benefits and costs of military action.” – The authors [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 31 pages, 899.14 KB].

Pathways to the Middle Class: Balancing Personal and Public Responsibilities

Pathways to the Middle Class: Balancing Personal and Public Responsibilities. Brookings Institution. Isabel V. Sawhill et al. September 20, 2012.

Americans have an unusually strong belief in meritocracy. In other nations, circumstances at birth, family connections, and luck are considered more important factors in economic success than they are in the U.S. This meritocratic philosophy is one reason why Americans have had relatively little objection to high levels of inequality, as long as those at the bottom have a fair chance to work their way up the ladder. Similarly, Americans are more comfortable with the idea of increasing opportunities for success than with reducing inequality. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 1.20 MB].

Middle East Protests: A Salafist Trap

Middle East Protests: A Salafist Trap. YaleGlobal. Fawaz A. Gerges. September 19, 2012.

Modern Salafi beliefs emerged from a reform-oriented movement of the late 19th century. The movement eventually became more conservative, evolving into multiple forms. Evidence suggests that a small group of ultraconservative Salafis may have hijacked protests over an obscure, anti-Islamic film and orchestrated attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, according to the author. “The Salafis are spearheading a drive to institute Islamic law or Shariah, desperately trying to outbid mainstream Islamists who recently won parliamentary majorities in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco,” argues Gerges. In turn, the attacks abruptly inserted foreign policy into the U.S. presidential race, which so far has centered on unemployment and other domestic economic concerns. Gerges expresses confidence that democracy and progressive values will show that U.S. interests and those of the region’s Muslims are in alignment. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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As China Sneezes, Will the World Catch Cold?

As China Sneezes, Will the World Catch Cold? YaleGlobal. Vikram Mansharamani. September 17, 2012.

The world became accustomed to double-digit growth in China. But such growth wasn’t sustainable, as Europe and the U.S. struggle with debt. Analysts concede that China’s growth, fueled by easy credit, is slowing. Vikram Mansharamani outlines the implications: In recent years, China has snapped up a lion’s share of commodities – steel, cement, aluminum, iron ore – and now demand is slowing. Inventories are piling up in China’s factories and ports. Emerging economies that contribute to China’s supply chain will feel the pinch. “A material slowdown in China will affect other emerging markets despite arguments about decoupling,” Mansharamani reports, adding that pooled funds have created more financial connections than ever before. Investors who counted on heavy growth for China and its suppliers can expect a portfolio hit. Predictions that China would surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy could be off by years or decades. Mansharamani expects China’s leaders to direct resources at promoting social stability, encouraging consumption and ultimately strengthening the economy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Global Citizens and the Global Economy

Global Citizens and the Global Economy. Center for Global Development. Nancy Birdsall. September 17, 2012.

Integration of the global economy has outpaced the ability of international institutions to address key market failures–inequality, volatility, and inadequate provision of global public goods, undermining the prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth. Nancy Birdsall argues that in the absence of an activist global political entity to address these issues, as national governments attempt to do within sovereign states, the growing number of people who are coming to regard themselves as global citizens should press their own governments to adopt policies that address these problems, domestically and internationally. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 14 pages, 413.89 KB].

The Economic Value of Citizenship for Immigrants in the United States

The Economic Value of Citizenship for Immigrants in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. Madeleine Sumption and Sarah Flamm. September 2012.

Beyond imparting political and social rights, naturalization appears to confer economic gains for immigrants in the United States, with a wage premium of at least 5 percent – even after accounting for the fact that naturalized immigrants have higher levels of education, better language skills, and more work experience in the United States than noncitizens. More than 8 million legal immigrants in the United States are eligible to apply for citizenship but have not done so. Naturalization rates in the United States are lower than most other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, the report notes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 24 pages, 3.02 MB].

Divided We Stand: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts

Divided We Stand: Libya’s Enduring Conflicts. International Crisis Group. September 14, 2012.

The violent death of the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues is a stark reminder of the challenges Libya still faces and should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities to urgently fill the security vacuum. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 49 pages, 2.53 MB].

Record Partisan Gap in Views of Economic News

Record Partisan Gap in Views of Economic News. Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. September 11, 2012.

With the election less than two months away, partisan differences in views of economic news have become wider than ever. Despite this month’s lackluster jobs report, there has been a modest decline in the percentage of Americans saying news about the economy is mostly bad – with virtually all of the change coming among Democrats. Just 15% of Democrats say recent economic news is mostly bad, down from 31% a month ago and among the lowest percentages over the last four years. Six-in-ten Republicans (60%) say news about the economy is mostly bad, as do 36% of independents. Opinions among Republicans and independents are largely unchanged from a month ago. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 10 pages, 141.57 KB].

The Candidates on Climate and Energy: A Guide to the Key Policy Positions of President Obama and Governor Romney

The Candidates on Climate and Energy: A Guide to the Key Policy Positions of President Obama and Governor Romney. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Updated September 7, 2012.

This voter guide outlines the records and positions of President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney on key climate and energy issues. A side-by-side summary at the top links to more details below. The nonpartisan guide is based on an examination of the candidates’ actions in office, public statements, campaign materials, news reports, and other publications. It is offered to inform the electorate and contribute to public debate about the nation’s pressing climate and energy issues. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) does not endorse candidates. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Extreme Weather Events and Crop Price Spikes in a Changing Climate

Extreme Weather Events and Crop Price Spikes in a Changing Climate. Oxfam International. September 5, 2012.

Agriculture is highly sensitive to climate variability and weather extremes. Various impact studies have considered the effects of projected long-run trends in temperature, precipitation and CO2 concentrations caused by climate change on global food production and prices. But an area that remains under-explored is the food price impacts that may result from an expected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 60 pages, 503.71 KB].