The Futile Goal of “Winning” Wars

The Futile Goal of “Winning” Wars. YaleGlobal. Louis René Beres. March 2, 2017

Wars and the technology for fighting them have evolved rapidly in recent decades. “We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” lamented US president Donald Trump shortly before announcing plans to increase US military spending. “We’ve either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.” However, Louis René Beres, author and professor emeritus of international law, describes that assessment as “dangerously simplistic” and suggests that “traditional criteria of winning and losing in war have generally become outdated and counterproductive.” Societies have much to lose with any attack, regardless of whether they win or lose, and “the overriding point of US military involvements must be to blunt or prevent infliction of substantial military harms upon the population, not to flaunt any viscerally satisfying exclamations of machismo.” The United States already spends more on defense than any other nation, almost three times as much as China, the next biggest spender, and strategic calculations are complex and endless. “Going alone is no longer an option,” and “nothing is more practical than a coherent strategic doctrine, nuanced and well thought out.” Beres concludes, “Winning modern wars is an illusory goal.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Strategic Insights: Is the European Union Really That Important to U.S. Security Interests?

Strategic Insights: Is the European Union Really That Important to U.S. Security Interests? Strategic Studies Institute. Dr. John R. Deni. March 9, 2017

Questioning long-held assumptions and challenging existing paradigms in U.S. security policy can be a useful way to ensure that American leaders are not pursuing strategies that do not actually support and promote U.S. interests. However, on the question of whether the European Union’s (EU) existence is in U.S. interests, the evidence is consistently clear. It most definitely is, and undermining it—for example, by promoting Brexit or suggesting other countries would or should follow the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the EU—risks the further unraveling of the international order that is central to American prosperity and security. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How Does the U.S. Refugee System Work?

How Does the U.S. Refugee System Work? Council on Foreign Relations. Claire Felter and James McBride. February 6, 2017

The United States has long accepted refugees fleeing persecution or war. From taking in hundreds of thousands of Europeans displaced by World War II to welcoming those escaping from Communist regimes in Europe and Asia during the Cold War, the United States has helped define protections for refugees under international humanitarian law. Beginning in 1980, the U.S. government moved from an ad hoc approach to the permanent, standardized system for identifying, vetting, and resettling prospective refugees that is still in use today.

The size of the U.S. refugee program has often fluctuated. But the war in Syria and the resulting migration crisis in Europe has increased policymaker scrutiny on arrivals from the Middle East, beginning with the Barack Obama administration. President Donald J. Trump, citing mounting concerns over the potential for terrorist infiltration, ratcheted up that scrutiny with his January 2017 executive order placing a temporary ban on all refugee arrivals, sparking debate over the scope of U.S. refugee policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Marc Labonte. February 7, 2017.

Congress has delegated responsibility for monetary policy to the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve (the Fed), but retains oversight responsibilities for ensuring that the Fed is adhering to its statutory mandate of “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” To meet its price stability mandate, the Fed has set a longer-run goal of 2% inflation.
The Fed’s control over monetary policy stems from its exclusive ability to alter the money supply and credit conditions more broadly. Normally, the Fed conducts monetary policy by setting a target for the federal funds rate, the rate at which banks borrow and lend reserves on an overnight basis. It meets its target through open market operations, financial transactions traditionally involving U.S. Treasury securities. Beginning in September 2007, the federal funds target was reduced from 5.25% to a range of 0% to 0.25% in December 2008, which economists call the zero lower bound. By historical standards, rates were kept unusually low for an unusually long time. In December 2015, the Fed began raising interest rates and expects to gradually raise rates further.

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Transport Emissions & Social Cost Assessment: Methodology Guide

Transport Emissions & Social Cost Assessment: Methodology Guide. World Resources Institute. Su Song. January 2017

The Transport Emissions & Social Cost Assessment is a project under the World Resources Institute’s Sustainable and Livable Cities Program, funded by the Caterpillar Foundation. The project aims to develop a methodology guide, with a simple MS Excel– based tool, to estimate transport emissions inventories and evaluate the associated social impact costs. The scope of the guide and tool covers six air pollutants (NOX, SOX, PM2.5, PM10, CO, and HC) and three GHGs (CO2, CH4, and N2O) for 18 types of transport modes at either the national or city level, specifically for the regions with limited data accessibility and weak data quality. With the methodology of social cost evaluation, the guide and tool can help with more cost-efficient policy-making. The MS Excel– based tool (Transport Emissions & Social Cost Assessment: TESCA version 1.0) is provided in a separate file. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How Americans Encounter, Recall and Act Upon Digital News

How Americans Encounter, Recall and Act Upon Digital News. Pew Research Center. Amy Mitchell et al. February 9, 2017

Anyone who wants to understand today’s news environment faces a challenge: How to discern the nuances of digital news habits when Americans’ attention spans are fractured, human memory is naturally limited and news comes at them every which way.

To tackle this complex question, Pew Research Center, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, took on the unusual task of staying in touch with more than 2,000 U.S. adults who get at least some news online over the course of a week. The study ran from Feb. 24 to March 1, 2016. Respondents were asked twice a day whether they got news online within the past two hours and, if so, were asked about their experience with that news. This technique was used to improve the chances that respondents would be able to accurately recall their recent news interactions and allowed researchers to ask about sources and behaviors with a high level of detail. This amounted to up to 14 completed surveys per person for a total of 25,602 interviews – 13,086 of which included online news consumption. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Attracting Private Investment to Landscape Restoration: A Roadmap

Attracting Private Investment to Landscape Restoration: A Roadmap. World Resources Institute. Sofia Faruqi and Florence Landsberg. February 2017

Many restoration projects seek to raise capital, but restoration leaders often lack knowledge of the investment process. The New Restoration Economy—part of the Global Restoration Initiative at the World Resources Institute—has found that successful efforts to attract private capital involve four steps. The roadmap elaborates on each of these four steps in turn and is based on our global experience in restoration and our insider perspective on the investment process. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages, 402.9 KB].