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Preview: Brookings: Series - Brookings Policy Brief Series

Brookings Series - Brookings Policy Brief Series

Brookings Series - Brookings Policy Brief Series

Published: Sun, 31 Jul 2016 15:58:43 -0400

Last Build Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0500


Uncharted Strait: On America's Security Commitment to Taiwan

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0500

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A few influential Americans have begun to suggest that the United States should reduce its long-standing security commitment to Taiwan. Some say that Taiwan itself has chosen to improve relations with China, so the island has less need for advanced U.S. weaponry and a defense pledge. Others argue that Washington, to avoid unnecessary tensions with a rising China, should accommodate Beijing on the most neuralgic issue—Taiwan. The first group overstates the limits of the ongoing Taiwan-China détente. True, progress has been made in normalizing, liberalizing, and institutionalizing the economic relationship. But, to the disappointment of many Chinese, none has occurred on political and security issues, because the Taiwan public is not ready to go there and serious conceptual differences exist on how to get there anyway. So the prospects for cross-Strait relations in the near-term are for modest, incremental progress only, or a stall. The second group misunderstands the benefits and costs of a significant American accommodation to China regarding Taiwan (e.g. by sharply cutting back arms sales). In fact, Washington has frictions with China on a growing list of issues. Conceding to Beijing on Taiwan will not help us elsewhere. Moreover, our friends and allies (e.g. Japan and Korea) will worry that the United States might sacrifice their interests next for the sake of good relations with China. Finally, the primary reason China has failed to incorporate Taiwan on its terms is not U.S. arms sales but because its negotiating position is unacceptable to the Taiwan public. As China rises and seeks to reshape East Asia more to its liking, how the United States responds will be a critical variable. It needs the right mix of accommodation and firmness. Giving way on Taiwan will neither pacify Beijing nor assure our allies. Introduction Should the United States abandon Taiwan? Until recently, even to pose such a question would have been unthinkable in Washington. While the U.S. relationship with Taiwan may have had its ups and downs over the past six decades, but the strong American commitment has endured. But now, individuals who previously served in senior positions in the U.S. government are calling it into question. Theirs is not a modest proposal, and it deserves careful examination. Some observers believe that Taiwan has become a strategic liability. They remind us that China regards the settlement of the Taiwan problem as its internal affair, yet the United States continues to provide the island with advanced weaponry and at least an implicit pledge to come to its defense. They echo Chinese diplomats who argue that our arms sales are the major obstacle to good U.S.-China relations. (These diplomats also assert that U.S. arms sales both discourage Taipei to negotiate seriously with Beijing and encourage Taiwanese politicians who have separatist agendas.) Therefore, it is argued, the United States needs to reconsider fundamentally its security support for Taiwan. The most prominent voice for this point of view is Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser. He argues that the hostility that arms sales foster in Beijing precludes whatever strategic cooperation a declining United States can secure from a rising China. Moreover, he says, “it is doubtful that Taiwan can indefinitely avoid a more formal connection with China,” and points to some version of the unification formula Beijing used for Hong Kong as a possible basis. That in turn would end the island’s need to depend on the United States for its security.[1] Others in this camp, more or less, include retired admiral Bill Owens, retired ambassador Chas Freeman, Charles Glaser of George Washington University, and the members of a policy panel assembled by the Miller Center of the University of Virginia.[2] To make the conversation even more interesting, there are two other versions of this abandonment idea, ones that start with how Taiwan has changed since 2008: At least one conserv[...]

More Prisoners Versus More Crime is the Wrong Question

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 17:09:00 -0500

Policy Brief #185 The unprecedented surge in incarceration since 1980 has stimulated a national debate between those who claim that locking up over 2 million people is necessitated by public safety concerns, and those who say the human and financial burden of imprisoning so many of our citizens is intolerable. But framing the incarceration debate as a tradeoff between public safety and public finance is far too narrow. The best evidence suggests the prison population would be substantially reduced with negligible effects on crime rates. Crime could actually be reduced if the savings were put to use in strengthening other criminal justice programs and implementing other reforms. Making this case requires that we confront widespread skepticism about the possibility of reducing criminal behavior on the outside. The research community has made real progress in identifying the causal effect of various crime-related policies in recent years, providing us with proven alternatives to prison for controlling crime. The key has been to make greater use of experimental methods of the sort that are common in medicine, as well as "natural experiments" that arise from naturally occurring policy or demographic shifts. RECOMMENDATIONS The resources currently dedicated to supporting long prison sentences should be reallocated to produce swifter, surer, but more moderate punishment. This approach includes hiring more police officers -we know now that chiefs using modern management techniques can make effective use of them.   Increased alcohol excise taxes reduce not only alcohol abuse but also the associated crime at very little cost to anyone except the heaviest drinkers. Federal and state levies should be raised.   Crime patterns and crime control are as much the result of private actions as public. The productivity of private-security efforts and private cooperation with law enforcement should be encouraged through government regulation and other incentives.   While convicts typically lack work experience and skills, it has proven very difficult to increase the quality and quantity of their licit employment through job creation and traditional training, either before or after they become involved with criminal activity. More effective rehabilitation (and prevention) programs seek to develop non-academic ("social-cognitive") skills like self-control, planning, and empathy.   Adding an element of coercion to social policy can also help reduce crime, including threatening probationers with swift, certain and mild punishments for illegal drug use, and compulsory schooling laws that force people to stay in school longer.   The unprecedented surge in incarceration since 1980 has stimulated a national debate between those who claim that locking up over 2 million people is necessitated by public safety concerns, and those who say the human and financial burden of imprisoning so many of our citizens is intolerable. This debate played itself out vividly in the U.S. Supreme Court's May 2011 decision (Brown v. Plata) requiring California to dramatically scale back the size of its prison population. The majority's decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy focused on inhumane conditions in California's prisons. In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia emphasized the "terrible things [that were] sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order," while Justice Samuel Alito argued the majority was "gambling with the safety of the people of California." These dissenting opinions will sound familiar to states considering cutbacks in incarceration to balance dwindling state budgets. However, framing the incarcerat[...]

The Comprehensive Patent Reform of 2011: Navigating the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act

Thu, 08 Sep 2011 16:07:00 -0400

Policy Brief #184 The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) approved in September 2011 constitutes the most significant overhaul of the American patent system in decades. This policy brief examines some key patent law changes and studies mandated by the legislation, and provides recommendations for companies on successfully navigating the new landscape. [Editor's Note: the legislation was signed into law by President Obama on September 16, 2011.] Perhaps most notably, the new law will move the United States away from a “first to invent” system and closer to the “first to file” approach used in much of the rest of the world. Other important changes include a new proceeding in the U .S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for third-party challenges to the validity of a recently issued patent, an expanded mechanism for a third party to provide information to the PTO that could be used to narrow or eliminate claims in a pending patent application being prosecuted by a commercial rival, and the introduction of a new, broadly applicable patent infringement defense based on prior commercial use. RECOMMENDATIONS Under the “first to file” provision of the AIA, companies should be more careful when producing pre-filing disclosures for venues such as conferences and trade shows, with the understanding that under the AIA those disclosures may play a much larger role than in the past with respect to patentability of the associated IP.   Under the AIA, rights to an invention prior to a filing date will depend more on the history of relevant disclosures and less on nonpublic, internal company documents such as laboratory notebooks. All companies—large and small—should consider how to modify their procedures for protecting, evaluating, and filing patents on their inventions accordingly.   The AIA provides a grace period during which inventors can disclose their invention without losing the right to patent it, but leaves uncertainty regarding the definition of “disclosure”. Companies should carefully monitor case law and PTO actions that will undoubtedly help clarify this issue in the coming years.   Companies should reevaluate the extent and manner to which they use provisional patent applications to preserve IP rights.   In light of the increased number of mechanisms available to challenge the validity of pending and issued patents, companies engaged in patent prosecution should reconsider the tradeoffs of performing their own thorough prior art searches during patent prosecution. By finding and disclosing relevant prior art to the PTO, companies may reduce the likelihood that the disclosed prior art will be used successfully against them in future validity challenges.     In addition, there are several other aspects of the AIA that do not change patent law, but may have far reaching consequences. For example, an AIA mandated study by the Government Accountability Office promises to furnish vitally important information on the economic impact of patent litigation by non-practicing entities, and will almost certainly influence future patent legislation. Under the AIA, the hurdles small businesses face in protecting their patents internationally will also receive attention through a PTO study. It will take many years to develop a mature body of case law and legal scholarship on the full impact of the AIA. What is clear today is that it will profoundly impact the ways that patents are filed, prosecuted, and litigated in the coming years. Companies and other entities that retool their patent strategie[...]

Korea, Colombia, Panama: Pending Trade Accords Offer Economic and Strategic Gains for the United States

Wed, 27 Jul 2011 16:14:00 -0400

Editor's Note, Oct. 12, 2011: Congress has passed a trio of trade agreements negotiated during the George W. Bush administration and recently submitted by President Obama. The authors of this policy brief say the pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will boost U.S. exports significantly, especially in the key automotive, agricultural and commercial services sectors. Policy Brief #183 A trio of trade agreements now pending before Congress would benefit the United States both economically and strategically. Carefully developed accords with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will boost U.S. exports significantly, especially in the key automotive, agricultural and commercial services sectors. Among the other benefits are: increased U.S. competitiveness enhancement of U.S. diplomatic and economic postures in East Asia and Latin America new investment opportunities better enforcement of labor regulation and improved transparency in these trading partners’ regulatory systems. The pacts are known as Free Trade Agreements, or FTAs. The Korean agreement (KORUS) was negotiated in 2006-2007 and revised in 2010. The Colombian agreement (COL-US, sometimes known as COL-US FTA) was signed in 2006. The agreement with Panama (PFTA, sometimes known as the Panama Trade Promotion Agreement) was signed in 2007. All have the support of the Obama administration. RECOMMENDATIONS The three FTAs will substantially reduce these trading partners’ tariffs on U.S. goods, opening large markets for U.S. commerce and professional services. In combination, they will increase the size of the U.S. economy by about $15 billion. Furthermore, they will help reverse a slide in U.S. market influence in two important and increasingly affluent regions of the globe. Approval of all three agreements is in the national interest. To move forward, both Congress and the administration should take these appropriate steps: Congress should approve the trade agreements with Korea (KORUS), Colombia (COL-US) and Panama (PFTA) without additional delays.   To maximize the trade and investment benefits of KORUS, the administration should actively engage in the KORUS working groups, such as the Professional Services Working Group.   Similarly, the U.S. Trade Representative should participate in the Joint Committee’s scheduled annual meetings, in order to maintain a highlevel focus on U.S.-Korea trade, drive further trade liberalization and enable the committee to serve as a forum for broader discussions on trade in East Asia.   The Colombia-U.S. Joint Committee should include representatives of Colombia’s Trade and Labor Ministers with their US counterparts. The presence of the Labor minister should facilitate progress under the FTA through strengthened labor standards and timely implementation of all elements of the agreed-upon action plan. This Committee and specialized working groups could increase the pace of bilateral interaction and help officials identify important areas for discussion, negotiation and agreement.   Panama has ratified the Tax Information and Exchange Agreement which entered into force on April 2011. Panama and the US should strengthen bilateral communication so that collaboration in the battle against money laundering is pushed even further with greater cooperation.     Economic Effects of the Korea Agreement The economic benefits to the United States from KORUS are especially significant, as the agreement will provide preferential market access [...]

Protecting Civilians in Disasters and Conflicts

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 14:24:00 -0400

Policy Brief #182Protection of people from oppressive governments, civil conflict and disasters has moved to the top of the international agenda. The United Nations Security Council authorized all measures necessary to protect civilians in Libya as the airstrikes began. Humanitarian agencies-working in more places and under more difficult conditions than ever before-are grappling with the aftermath of Japan's massive earthquake even as they are also working with displaced people in Haiti and Ivory Coast and responding to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Libya. And increasingly these agencies are not only trying to assist people through provision of relief items, but also trying to protect them. But with so many global organizations mobilizing to protect civilians when disasters strike and conflicts break out, the concept of protection has begun to lose its distinctive meaning. Can anyone "do" protection? In The Politics of Protection: The Limits of Humanitarian Action (Brookings Institution Press, 2011), I describe how protection has been stretched to include all manner of important activities-from provision of food to curriculum development, from advocacy to monitoring, from building latrines to voter registration. Beyond affirming the responsibility of governments to protect their people, international law offers no clear guidance on how to translate the principles of protection into action. Given the likelihood that conflicts will continue and natural disasters will increase in the future, much more attention is needed on the question of protection, which has emerged over the years from international humanitarian law, refugee law and human rights law. The most visible part of the international humanitarian system is the vast array of U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Yet military forces, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and thousands of civil society organizations are also major actors in humanitarian response. This brief describes observations and recommendations on protection in humanitarian work culled from my forthcoming book. RECOMMENDATIONS With changes in the nature of conflict and with the likelihood of increasing severity and frequency of sudden-onset disasters because of climate change, more attention needs to be paid to understanding how humanitarian actors can-and cannot-protect people. The United Nations and other humanitarian actors should consider the following recommendations:Humanitarian agencies need to re-evaluate what protection means in the context of today's conflicts and to recognize their own limitations in keeping people safe. If they are serious about protecting people, they need to work with national military and police forces which have the resources to provide such physical protection. This is hard for humanitarian agencies that see their work as grounded in principles of impartiality, independence and neutrality. NGOs should review their current policies and practices on protection to ensure that they are not promising more than they can deliver or being used as a cover for the lack of effective political action.  " As the term "protection of civilians" has come to mean different things for different actors, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs should develop a very short summary statement of what it means to protect civilians that can be broadly used by a range of different communities and individuals in different contexts. The office should then collect the best practices to illustrate how protection of civilians is effectively carried out on the ground.  As both conflicts and disasters take on a distinctive form when they occur in urban areas, much more work is needed to retool humanitarian assistance for urban environments. This means that humanitarian agencies need to work with municipal authorities in preparing for and responding to urban residents affected by violence and disasters.  In ligh[...]

Opportunity through Education: Two Proposals

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 14:06:00 -0400

Policy Brief #181The new normal for local, state and federal governments is fiscal austerity. Although President Obama supported education during his State of the Union address and in his budget proposal to Congress, cash-strapped localities and states—which foot most of the bill for educating America’s children—may have to balance their budgets with cuts to schools and teachers. The recession exposed a long-developing structural imbalance between public expenditure versus raising the revenue for public services. Especially on education, reality has set in, with a vengeance. Cutting public expenditure is not necessarily a bad thing. There are, however, some activities that have become so fundamentally governmental and so critically important to the nation’s future that they require special care during a period of severe budget trimming. Education is one such example. The Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings has recently developed proposals to ensure that federal investments in education have impact. These proposals present the dual advantage of low costs of implementation at the federal level coupled with the promise of considerable leverage at the state and local level. Two of those proposals are presented in this brief: increasing digital and virtual education and expanding consumer information on higher education. RECOMMENDATIONS One important path to individual opportunity is higher levels of educational attainment. The U.S. economy is marked by an increasing economic divide between those who are educated and those who are not. In a time of fiscal austerity, every federal dollar invested in education must have a return.Congress should: Increase digital and virtual education. In reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act, provide that parents of economically disadvantaged students who are eligible for federal Title I funding should be able to direct that the funding associated with their child be spent to cover the costs of enrolling their child in virtual courses or in a virtual school. Expand consumer information in higher education. Amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) to require that states that receive federal funds for statewide longitudinal data systems provide information on completion rates, employment levels, and annual earned income for each degree or certificate program and for each degree-granting institution that operates in the state. This information could be disseminated on the Internet. Downloads Download full policy brief Authors Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst Image Source: © Adam Hunger / Reuters          [...]

Improving Afghan War Strategy

Tue, 01 Feb 2011 09:51:00 -0500

Policy Brief #180 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The year 2010 in Afghanistan had some encouraging signs but on balance it was less positive than had been hoped. In 2011, therefore, it is important to do two things: first, look for further improvements in our strategy; and second, develop a backup plan, should the current approach not yield the kind of progress that is necessary and expected. This policy brief addresses the first challenge, improving the U.S./NATO counterinsurgency campaign. The basic logic of current strategy is accepted, but several new initiatives or ideas are explored to make it more promising and more effective. Three main ideas are developed: Promoting Afghan political organizations built around ideas and platforms, not individuals and ethnicities, in a change from longstanding American policy that could improve the quality of governance in the country.Taking pressure off the bilateral U.S.-Afghan relationship on the issue of anticorruption, largely by creation of an international advisory board consisting of prominent individuals from key developing countries like Indonesia and Tanzania that have had considerable success improving their own nations' governance in recent times. Offering a civilian nuclear energy deal to Pakistan, conditional on clear action by Islamabad to shut down insurgent sanctuaries that are currently using its territory to attack the Afghan government as well as NATO forces. The past year was not without good news in Afghanistan. It saw a successful deployment of nearly another 40,000 NATO troops to Afghanistan; twice as much growth in Afghan security forces together with a much more robust approach to their training; increases in American civilian capacity in Kabul and in the field; and highly effective targeting of Afghan (and Pakistani) insurgents within Afghanistan and just over the border with Pakistan. I would also count the September parliamentary elections as more good than bad, since it was Afghans who held other Afghans accountable for infractions, and since the Karzai government appears on balance to be tolerating an outcome that will reduce the strength of its cronies in the elected assembly (though this issue remains a work in progress). Finally, NATO's decision at the November Lisbon Summit to emphasize the year 2014 as the time when Afghanistan would assume full control of security operations-rather than President Obama's earlier preference to emphasize July 2011 as the point when the U.S. departure would begin-clarified the American and international commitments to get the job done right before going home. Among other benefits, this change should help convince more Afghan and Pakistani fence-sitters that they can count on us, rather than encouraging hedging behavior out of fear of a premature, hurried NATO exit. However, 2010 also witnessed a roughly 50 percent increase in the overall level of violence that can only partially be explained by our increased presence and tempo of operations. That increase reflects a very resilient insurgency. Problematic relations between the Obama administration and the Karzai government have also continued, the corruption problem has remained intractable (largely fueled by the western presence with all of its trappings), and the Pakistani government still tolerates sanctuaries for the Haqqani network and the "Quetta Shura Taliban" (that is, the Afghan Taliban) on its territory. For the most part, the strategy of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under General David Petraeus, and the efforts of the international community more broadly, seem sound. The paramount goal in Afghanistan is to put the country's government in a position to control its own territory. That is the way to ensure that no large terrorist sanctuaries re-emerge there that could threaten the United States, nuclear-armed Pakistan, or other core western[...]

Adjusting to China: A Challenge to the U.S. Manufacturing Sector

Thu, 13 Jan 2011 11:59:00 -0500

Policy Brief #179 During an "exit interview" with the Wall Street Journal, departing National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers argued that history would judge the United States based on how well we adjust to China’s emergence as a great power, economically and politically. In the face of China’s progress, America’s manufacturing sector faces major challenges in becoming and remaining competitive and our choice of national economic policies will affect how well we meet those challenges. It is essential that the U.S. trade deficit not balloon as the economy recovers. There is scope to expand our exports in services and agriculture, but improving the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing is vital. The U.S. Trade Deficit: Background Components of the Trade Deficit. The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services was just under $700 billion in 2008—4.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the deficit in goods trade was nearly $835 billion, which was partially offset by a $136 billion surplus in services trade. The latter surplus has grown consistently over a range of service types and has important potential to expand. Going forward, we can assume this surplus will remain around one percent of GDP. But services trade surpluses alone cannot solve the U.S. trade deficit problem, because of persistent large deficits in goods trade. Very important are deficits in the energy sector. In 2008, petroleum products accounted for $386 billion of the total trade deficit (2.7 percent of GDP). reducing energy imports (and consumption) is a significant challenge for the U.S. economy, and with global energy demand continuing to rise and supply constrained, oil prices are more likely to rise than fall. The U.S. bill for imported oil is unlikely to fall below 2.7 percent of GDP for years to come. In future, for overall U.S. trade in goods and services to be balanced, non-energy products (that is, manufactured and agricultural products) would have to achieve a surplus of around 1.7 percent of GDP. Added to the one percent services surplus, the two would balance out the almost unavoidable petroleum deficit. Obviously, elements in this rough calculation could shift, for better or worse, but if the U.S. economy is to achieve a more balanced growth path, the competitive position of U.S. manufacturing must improve sharply. Growth of the U.S. Trade Deficit. In 1999, the U.S. economy was experiencing strong growth and low inflation, but the trade deficit in manufactured and agricultural products was high—$262.5 billion—and concentrated in four broad industry categories. The largest deficit was in plastic, wood and paper products ($62 billion). Transportation equipment—from autos to aerospace—was close behind ($61 billion), followed by textiles and apparel ($52 billion) and computers and electronics ($44 billion). Only two categories had trade surpluses: chemicals at more than $9 billion and agriculture at $4 billion. By 2008, the trade deficit had risen to $400 billion, an increase of $138 billion or nearly 52 percent in nominal terms. The deficit in computers and electronics accounted for nearly half of the overall increase in the trade deficit (48 percent, a $66 billion increase). Two other industries had large deficit increases: plastic, wood and paper products; and textiles and apparel. By contrast, agricultural products contributed an additional $27 billion to a small 1999 surplus. And transportation equipment reduced its trade deficit by nearly $12 billion. Chart 1 illustrates how the increase in the U.S. goods trade deficit (excluding oil) was distributed by segment between 1999 and 2008. Rising Imports from China Simply put, the United States runs chronic trade deficits and China runs trade surpluses because we spend more than we produce, and they do the opposite. The U.S. trade deficit with China in manuf[...]

Creating a "Brain Gain" for U.S. Employers: The Role of Immigration

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 10:37:00 -0500

Policy Brief #178 One of the strongest narratives in U.S. history has been the contribution made by talented, hard-working and entrepreneurial immigrants whose skills and knowledge created a prosperous new country. Yet today, the nation’s immigration priorities and outmoded visa system discourage skilled immigrants and hobble the technology-intensive employers who would hire them. These policies work against urgent national economic priorities, such as boosting economic vitality, achieving greater competitiveness in the global marketplace and renewing our innovation leadership. In the long term, the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform. In the short term, policymakers should focus on reforms that are directly related to increasing the "brain gain" for the nation—creating new jobs and producing economic benefits—to produce tangible and achievable improvements in our immigration system. RECOMMENDATIONS Rebalance U.S. immigration policies to produce a "brain gain," with changes to visas that will allow employers to access workers with the scientific and technological skills they need to improve economic competitiveness, employment and innovationTie immigration levels to national economic cycles to meet changing levels of needUse digital technologies to modernize the current visa system Background Immigrants are now one-tenth of the overall U.S. population—a situation that defies facile stereotyping. Immigrants have made significant contributions to American science and economic enterprise, most notably in the areas of high-tech and biotech. Immigrants’ productivity raises the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by an estimated $37 billion per year  More than a quarter of U.S. technology and engineering businesses launched between 1995 and 2005 had a foreign-born founder  In Silicon Valley, more than half of new tech start-up companies were founded by foreignborn owners  In 2005, companies founded by immigrants produced $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers  Nearly a quarter of the international patents filed from the United States in 2006 were based on the work of foreign-born individuals (more than half of whom received their highest degree from an American university)  Economists calculate that, as a result of immigration, 90 percent of native-born Americans with at least a high-school diploma have seen wage gains  Historically, immigrants have made outsize contributions to American science and technology, with Albert Einstein perhaps the leading example. One-third of all U.S. winners of Nobel prizes in medicine and physiology were born in other countries Far from "crowding out" native-born workers and depressing their wages, well-educated, entrepreneurial immigrants do much to create and support employment for Americans. In order to fully reap the benefits of the worldwide talent market, U.S. immigration policy must be reoriented. Current policy is significantly—and negatively—affected by the unintended consequences of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act that made family unification its overarching goal. Although the law may have contributed to the high-tech boom by removing long-standing, country-specific quotas and expanding immigration from places with strong science and engineering education programs, its main effect was to enable immigrants to bring in family members, without regard for the new immigrants’ education, skill status or potential contributions to the economy. Thus, in 2008, almost two-thirds of new legal permanent residents were family-sponsored and, over the past few years, the educational attainment of new immigrants has declined. U.S. employers have a large, unmet demand for knowledge workers. They are eager to fill jobs with well-tra[...]

China-Japan Security Relations

Fri, 01 Oct 2010 09:59:00 -0400

Policy Brief #177 RecommendationsThe recent clash between a Chinese fishing vessel and the Japanese coast guard in the East China Sea demonstrates continuing potential for conflict between China and Japan over territory and maritime resources, one that could affect the United States. China’s stronger navy and air force in and over the waters east and south of the country’s coast is one dimension of that country’s growing power. But the deployment of these assets encroaches on the traditional area of operations of Japan’s navy and air force—and a clash between Chinese and Japanese ships and planes cannot be ruled out. Unfortunately, civil-military relations in these two countries are somewhat skewed, with China’s military having too much autonomy and Japan’s having too little. And neither country is well equipped to do crisis management. Avoiding a naval conflict is in the interests of both China and Japan, and the two governments should take steps to reach agreement on the now-unregulated interaction of coast guard, naval, and air forces in the East China Sea. The two militaries should also continue and expand the exchanges and dialogues that have resumed in the last few years. Finally, Japan and China should accelerate efforts to reach a follow-up agreement to implement the “political agreement” governing the exploitation of energy resources in the East China Sea. That will remove another potential source of tension. It is in neither country’s interest to see a deterioration of their relationship. The Basic Problem The clash on September 7 between a Chinese fishing vessel and ships of the Japanese coast guard exposes worrisome trends in the East Asian power balance. China’s power in Asia is growing. Its economy has just passed Japan’s as the biggest in the region. The capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are growing steadily while those of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are improving only slightly. The PLA’s budget has grown by double digits each year, while the SDF’s is essentially flat. Moreover, the focus of Chinese military modernization is power projection: the ability of its air and naval forces to stretch their reach beyond immediate coastal areas. Over the last ten years, the share of modern equipment in various platforms has increased (see table). TABLE 1: Modernization of the PLA Type 2000: percentage modern 2009: percentage modern Surface ships < 5% ~ 25% Submarines < 10% 50% Air force < 5% ~ 25% Air defense ~ 5% 40 - 45 % Source: Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2010,” August 2010 p. 45.[]. Japan does have a significant military presence in East Asia, in collaboration with the United States, its ally. Surface and subsurface vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force regularly patrol the East Asian littoral in order to protect vital sea lanes of communication and to assert the country’s maritime rights. Planes of the Air Self-Defense Force monitor Japan’s large air defense identification zone and scramble to challenge intrusions by foreign military aircraft. Both the maritime force and the Japan Coast Guard are responsible for protecting the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, located near Taiwan, which Japan regards as its sovereign territory. China views the East China Sea differently. It claims the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands as Chinese territory. It has undertaken oil and gas drilling in the continental shelf east of Shanghai, part[...]

The Drag on India’s Military Growth

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 13:43:00 -0400

Policy Brief #176 Recommendations India's remarkable economic growth and newfound access to arms from abroad have raised the prospect of a major rearmament of the country. But without several policy and organizational changes, India's efforts to modernize its armed forces will not alter the country's ability to deal with critical security threats. Our research suggests that India's military modernization needs a transparent, legitimate and efficient procurement process. Further, a chief of defense staff could reconcile the competing priorities across the three military services. Finally, India's defense research agencies need to be subjected to greater oversight.Introduction India’s rapid economic growth and newfound access to military technology, especially by way of its rapprochement with the United States, have raised hopes of a military revival in the country. Against this optimism about the rise of Indian military power stands the reality that India has not been able to alter its military-strategic position despite being one of the world’s largest importers of advanced conventional weapons for three decades.We believe that civil-military relations in India have focused too heavily on one side of the problem – how to ensure civilian control over the armed forces, while neglecting the other – how to build and field an effective military force. This imbalance in civil-military relations has caused military modernization and reforms to suffer from a lack of political guidance, disunity of purpose and effort and material and intellectual corruption.The Effects of Strategic Restraint Sixty years after embarking on a rivalry with Pakistan, India has not been able to alter its strategic relationship with a country less than one-fifth its size. India’s many counterinsurgencies have lasted twenty years on an average, double the worldwide average. Since the 1998 nuclear tests, reports of a growing missile gap with Pakistan have called into question the quality of India’s nuclear deterrent. The high point of Indian military history – the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971– therefore, stands in sharp contrast to the persistent inability of the country to raise effective military forces. No factor more accounts for the haphazard nature of Indian military modernization than the lack of political leadership on defense, stemming from the doctrine of strategic restraint. Key political leaders rejected the use of force as an instrument of politics in favor of a policy of strategic restraint that minimized the importance of the military. The Government of India held to its strong anti-militarism despite the reality of conflict and war that followed independence. Much has been made of the downgrading of the service chiefs in the protocol rank, but of greater consequence was the elevation of military science and research as essential to the long-term defense of India over the armed forces themselves. Nehru invited British physicist P.M.S. Blackett to examine the relationship between science and defense. Blackett came back with a report that called for capping Indian defense spending at 2 percent of GDP and limited military modernization. He also recommended state funding and ownership of military research laboratories and established his protégé, Daulat Singh Kothari, as the head of the labs. Indian defense spending decreased during the 1950s. Of the three services, the Indian Navy received greater attention with negotiations for the acquisition of India’s first aircraft carrier. The Indian Air Force acquired World War II surplus Canberra transport. The Indian Army, the biggest service by a wide margin, went to Congo on a UN peacekeeping mission, but was neglected overall. India had its first defense procurement scandal when buying [...]

The Future of Small Business Entrepreneurship: Jobs Generator for the U.S. Economy

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 09:55:00 -0400

Policy Brief #175 As the nation strives to recover from the “Great Recession,” job creation remains one of the biggest challenges to renewed prosperity. Small businesses have been among the most powerful generators of new jobs historically, suggesting the value of a stronger focus on supporting small businesses—especially high-growth firms—and encouraging entrepreneurship. Choosing the right policies will require public and private decision-makers to establish clear goals, such as increasing employment, raising the overall return on investment, and generating innovations with broader benefits for society. Good mechanisms will also be needed for gauging their progress and ultimate success. This brief examines policy recommendations to strengthen the small business sector and provide a platform for effective programs. These recommendations draw heavily from ideas discussed at a conference held at the Brookings Institution with academic experts, successful private-sector entrepreneurs, and government policymakers, including leaders from the Small Business Administration. The gathering was intended to spur the development of creative solutions in the private and public sectors to foster lasting economic growth. RECOMMENDATIONS What incentives and assistance could be made available to “gazelles” and to small business more generally? What policies are likely to work most effectively? In the near term, government policies aimed at bolstering the recovery and further strengthening the financial system will help small businesses that have been hard hit by the economic downturn. Spurred by the interchange of ideas at a Brookings forum on small businesses, we have identified the following more targeted ideas for fostering the health and growth of small businesses (and, in many cases, larger businesses) over the longer run: Improve access to public and private capital. Reexamine corporate tax policy with an eye toward whether provisions of our tax code are discouraging small business development. Promote education to help businesses struggling with shortages of workers with particular skills, and promote research to spur innovation. Rethink immigration policy, as current policy may be contributing to shortages of key workers and deterring entrepreneurs who wish to start promising businesses in our country. Explore ways to foster “innovation-friendly” environments, such as regional cluster initiatives. Strengthen government counseling programs. The term “small business” applies to many different types of firms. To begin, the small business community encompasses an enormous range of “Main Street” stores and services we use every day, such as restaurants, dry cleaners, card shops and lawn care providers. When such a business fails, it is often replaced by a similar firm. The small business community also includes somewhat bigger firms—in industries such as manufacturing, consulting, advertising and auto sales—that may have more staying power than Main Street businesses, but still tend to stay relatively small, with under 250 employees. While these two kinds of small businesses contribute relatively little to overall employment growth, they are a steady source of mainstream employment. If economic conditions do not support the formation of new businesses to replace the ones that fail, there would be a significant net destruction of jobs and harm to local communities. Yet another type of small business has an explicit ambition for rapid growth. These high-growth companies are sometimes known as “gazelles.” According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses account for two-thirds of new jobs, and the gazelles account for much of this job creation. The most [...]

Spurring Innovation Through Education: Four Ideas

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 18:13:00 -0400

Policy Brief #174 A nation’s education system is a pillar of its economic strength and international competitiveness. The National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed data from 146 countries, collected between 1950 and 2010, and found that each year of additional average schooling attained by a population translates into at least a two percent increase in economic output. A 2007 World Bank policy research working paper reported similar results. Based on these findings, if the United States increased the average years of schooling completed by its adult population from the current 12 years to 13 years—that is, added one year of postsecondary education—our gross domestic product would rise by more than $280 billion. The story also can be told by focusing on the returns to education for individuals. The difference in income between Americans who complete high school and those who drop out after 10th grade exceeds 50 percent. Large income differentials extend throughout the continuum of education attainment, with a particularly huge gap occurring between an advanced degree and a four-year college degree. Although education clearly pays, the education attainment of the nation’s youth has largely stagnated, falling substantially behind that of countries with which we compete. In 1960, the United States led the world in the number of students who graduated from high school. Today young adults in many countries, including Estonia and Korea, exceed their U.S. counterparts in education attainment. RECOMMENDATIONS America’s economic productivity and competitiveness are grounded in education. Our public schools and our higher education institutions alike are falling behind those of other nations. Four policy proposals offer substantial promise for improving American education, are achievable and have low costs: Choose K–12 curriculum based on evidence of effectiveness. Evaluate teachers in ways that meaningfully differentiate levels of performance. Accredit online education providers so they can compete with traditional schools across district and state lines. Provide the public with information that will allow comparison of the labor market outcomes and price of individual postsecondary degree and certificate programs. The problem of low education attainment is particularly salient among students from low-income and minority backgrounds. The graduation rate for minorities has been declining for 40 years, and majority/minority graduation rate differentials have not converged. Hispanic and black students earn four-year or higher degrees at less than half the rate of white students.The economic future of the nation and the prospects of many of our citizens depend on returning the United States to the forefront of education attainment. Simply put, many more of our students need to finish high school and graduate from college.At the same time, graduation standards for high school and college must be raised. Forty percent of college students take at least one remedial course to make up for deficiencies in their high school preparation, and a test of adult literacy recently given to a random sample of graduating seniors from four-year U.S. institutions found less than 40 percent to be proficient on prose and quantitative tasks.Barriers to Innovation and ReformOur present education system is structured in a way that discourages the innovation necessary for the United States to regain education leadership. K-12 education is delivered largely through a highly regulated public monopoly. Outputs such as high school graduation rates and student performance on standardized assessments are carefully measured and publicly available, but mechanisms that would allow t[...]

Hubs of Transformation: Leveraging the Great Lakes Research Complex for Energy Innovation

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 14:29:00 -0400

Policy Brief #173 America needs to transform its energy system, and the Great Lakes region (including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and western New York) possesses many of the needed innovation assets. For that reason, the federal government should leverage this troubled region’s research and engineering strengths by launching a region-wide network of collaborative, high intensity energy research and innovation centers.Currently, U.S. energy innovation efforts remain insufficient to ensure the development and deployment of clean energy technologies and processes. Such deployment is impeded by multiple market problems that lead private firms to under-invest and to focus on short-term, low-risk research and product development. Federal energy efforts—let alone state and local ones—remain too small and too poorly organized to deliver the needed breakthroughs. A new approach is essential. RECOMMENDATIONS   The federal government should systematically accelerate national clean energy innovation by launching a series of “themed” research and commercialization centers strategically situated to draw on the Midwest’s rich complex of strong public universities, national and corporate research laboratories, and top-flight science and engineering talent. Organized around existing capacities in a hub-spoke structure that links fundamental science with innovation and commercialization, these research centers would engage universities, industries and labs to work on specific issues that would enable rapid deployment of new technologies to the marketplace. Along the way, they might well begin to transform a struggling region’s ailing economy. Roughly six compelling innovation centers could reasonably be organized in the Great Lakes states with total annual funding between $1 billion and $2 billion.To achieve this broad goal, the federal government should:Increase energy research funding overall. Adopt more comprehensive approaches to research and development (R&D) that address and link multiple aspects of a specific problem, such as transportation. Leverage existing regional research, workforce, entrepreneurial and industrial assets.    America needs to transform its energy system in order to create a more competitive “next economy” that is at once export-oriented, lower-carbon and innovation-driven. Meanwhile, the Great Lakes region possesses what may be the nation’s richest complex of innovation strengths—research universities, national and corporate research labs, and top-flight science and engineering talent. Given those realities, a partnership should be forged between the nation’s needs and a struggling region’s assets.To that end, we propose that the federal government launch a distributed network of federally funded, commercialization-oriented, sustainable energy research and innovation centers, to be located in the Great Lakes region. These regional centers would combine aspects of the “discovery innovation institutes” proposed by the National Academy of Engineering and the Metropolitan Policy Program (as articulated in “Energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes: A Step toward America’s Energy Sustainability”); the “energy innovation hubs” created by the Department of Energy (DOE); and the agricultural experiment station/cooperative extension model of the land-grant universities.In the spirit of the earlier land-grant paradigm, this network would involve the region’s research universities and national labs and engage strong participation by industry, entrepreneurs and investors, as well as by state and local[...]

Economic Growth and Institutional Innovation: Outlines of a Reform Agenda

Tue, 01 Jun 2010 17:54:00 -0400

Policy Brief #172 Why Institutions MatterWhen experts and pundits are asked what the president and Congress should do to promote economic growth, they typically respond with a list of policies, often mixed with stylistic and political suggestions. Few focus on institutional change, which is too easy to conflate with yawn-inducing “governmental reorganization.”This neglect of institutions is always a mistake, never more than in times of crisis. Throughout American history, profound challenges have summoned bursts of institutional creativity, with enduring effects. The dangerous inadequacies of the Articles of Confederation set the stage for a new Constitution. The Civil War resulted in three amendments that resolved—at least in principle—our founding ambivalence between the people and the states as the source of national authority, between the states and the nation as the locus of citizenship, and between slavery and the equality the Declaration of Independence had proclaimed and promised. Similarly, the Federal Reserve Board, Bretton Woods international economic system, Department of Defense, National Security Council, CIA, Congressional Budget Office and Department of Homeland Security all arose through changes occasioned by great challenges to the nation.Today’s economic crisis is reflected in three distinct but linked deficits—the fiscal deficit, the savings deficit and the investment deficit. Meeting these challenges and laying the foundation for sustained economic growth will require institutional as well as policy changes.  RECOMMENDATIONS   Today’s economic crisis is characterized by three distinct but linked deficits—the fiscal deficit, the savings deficit and the investment deficit. Meeting these challenges and laying the foundation for sustained economic growth will require institutional as well as policy changes. The following institution-based recommendations would help the nation meet the current economic crisis and could help prevent future crises of similar destructiveness. To promote fiscal sustainability, change longterm budget procedures and create empowered commissions—answerable to Congress but largely insulated from day-to-day politics. To boost savings, consider new mandatory individual retirement accounts as a supplement to Social Security. To improve public investment, create a National Infrastructure Bank with public seed capital—this entity would mobilize private investment and force proposed projects to pass rigorous cost-benefit analysis as well as a market test. Today’s polarized political system is an obstacle to reform in every area, including the economy. A multi-year collaboration between Brookings and the Hoover Institution produced a series of suggestions. At least two of those suggestions are worth adopting:Alter redistricting authority, so state legislatures can no longer practice gerrymandering. Experiment, in a few willing states, with compulsory voting—to move politicians away from the red-meat politics of appealing only to their bases, which now dominate elections, and toward a more moderate and consensual politics.    Institutional reform Promoting fiscal sustainability Setting the federal budget on a sustainable course is an enormous challenge. If we do nothing, we will add an average of nearly $1 trillion to the national debt every year between now and 2020, raising the debt/ GDP ratio to a level not seen since the early 1950s and sending the annual cost of servicing the debt sky-high. Restoring pay-as-you-go budgeting and putting some teeth in it are a start, but not nearly enough. We need radical changes in rules and procedures. [...]

The Obama Administration’s New Counternarcotics Strategy in Afghanistan

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 16:58:07 -0400

Nearly eight years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime, Afghanistan remains far from stable. As President Barack Obama considers alternatives to increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, his administration’s new counternarcotics strategy meshes well with counterinsurgency and state-building efforts in the country. It is a welcome break from previous ineffective and counterproductive policies. The effectiveness of the policy with respect to counternarcotics, counterinsurgency and state-building, however, will depend on the operationalization of the strategy. The details are not yet clear, but the strategy potentially faces many pitfalls.Efforts to bankrupt the Taliban through eradication are futile and counterproductive since they cement the bonds between the population and the Taliban. But interdiction is very unlikely to bankrupt the Taliban either. Security needs to come first before any counternarcotics policy has a chance of being effective. Counterinsurgent forces can prevail against the Taliban, without shutting down the Taliban drug income, by adopting an appropriate strategy that provides security and rule of law to the population and by sufficiently beefing up their own resources vis-à-vis the Taliban. Rural development is a long term and multifaceted effort. Simplistic strategies that focus simply on price ratios or try to raise risk through “seed-burn-seed” approaches are ineffective. Wheat replacement strategy as a core of the alternative livelihoods effort is singularly inappropriate for Afghanistan. Shortcuts do not lead to sustainable policies that also mitigate conflict and enhance state-building.The Obama administration will need to reduce expectations for quick fixes and present realistic timelines to Congress, the U.S. public and the international community for how long rural development and other counternarcotics policies in Afghanistan will take to show meaningful and sustainable progress that advances human security of the Afghan people, mitigates conflict and enhance state building. Unless this is conveyed, there is a real danger that even a well-designed counternarcotics policy will be prematurely and unfortunately discarded as ineffective.The New Strategy in Afghanistan’s ContextIn summer 2009, the Obama administration unveiled the outlines of a new counternarcotics policy in Afghanistan. The new policy represents a courageous break with previous misguided efforts there and thirty years of U.S. counternarcotics policies around the world. Instead of emphasizing premature eradication of poppy crops, the new policy centers on increased interdiction and rural development. This approach strongly enhances the new counterinsurgency policy focus on providing security to the rural population, instead of being preoccupied with the numbers of incapacitated Taliban and al Qaeda.In Afghanistan, somewhere between a third and a half of its GDP comes from poppy cultivation and processing and much of the rest from foreign aid, so the illicit poppy economy determines the economic survival of a large segment of the population. This is true not only of the farmers who cultivate opium poppy frequently in the absence of viable legal and illegal economic alternatives. But, as a result of micro- and macro-economic spillovers and the acute paucity of legal economic activity, much of the economic life in large cities is also underpinned by the poppy economy. After a quarter century of intense poppy cultivation, the opium poppy economy is deeply entrenched in the socio-economic fabric of the society. Islamic prohibitions against opiates notwithstanding, the poppy economy inevitably[...]

Is the G-20 Summit a Step Toward a New Global Economic Order?

Fri, 11 Sep 2009 12:00:00 -0400

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYIn November 2008, President George W. Bush convened the first G-20 summit in Washington to address the worst global financial economic crisis since the Great Depression. This summit provided a long-overdue opportunity for a dramatic and lasting change in global governance. This was followed by the election of Barack Obama, who had campaigned on a distinctly different foreign policy platform compared with his Republican rival, Senator John McCain. These two events were no mere coincidence.The global crisis has moved the United States, along with the rest of the world, toward a new global economic order, with the G-20 summit as one of the principal manifestations of the new global governance system. Of course, movement toward this new economic arrangement and progress toward reformed global governance are not inevitable. It will take a clear and sustained commitment to a new set of values and strong leadership, especially from President Obama and the United States, to ensure that the G-20 summit is not a short-lived exception to what had been a long-standing stalemate in global governance reform. The effectiveness of the G-20 in addressing the global economic crisis could lay the foundation for a new global order and provide the impetus for the many other necessary global governance reforms. Whether or not this happens will depend to a significant extent on the direction chosen by President Obama. The president’s vision of inclusion and openness and his approach to governing, which favors innovative and far-reaching pragmatic responses to key national and global challenges, make him a great candidate for this role. In due course the G-20 summit can also serve as a platform for addressing other pressing global issues, including trade, climate change, energy and food security and reform of global institutions. To achieve such an outcome, President Obama and other world leaders need to demonstrate a clear vision and strong leadership starting at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh and beyond. “Old Economic Order” versus “New Economic Order” From recent debates on foreign policy and global governance, we have identified two different perspectives or sets of principles underlying the approaches toward U.S. and global foreign policy. Table 1 summarizes the key elements of what we call the “Old Economic Order” in juxtaposition to the “New Economic Order.” Table 1: Old versus New Economic Order(Note: This table is adapted from one first presented by the authors in a seminar at the IMF in June 2007. See )In the Old Order, the nation state is the point of departure, stressing the importance of sovereignty and national interest as the key principles driving a unilateral and assertive foreign policy. In contrast, the New Order’s starting point considers that we live in a global society, where interdependency and recognition of common interests are the key principles to be pursued in reciprocal relations and with mutual respect across borders. Under the Old Order the rules of national power politics prevail, as competing blocs and fixed alliances strive for predominance, with “hard power” if necessary. Instead, the New Order operates on the basis of a new multilateralism, which builds on the prevalence of global networks in all spheres of life and multiple coalitions across borders, where bargaining for compromise and the tools of “soft power” prevail. Finally, the Old Order promotes the notion that a single economic and political model should prevail, while the New Order accepts that different economic an[...]

A Global Fund for Education: Achieving Education for All

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 12:00:00 -0400

Executive SummaryIn order to realize the world’s commitment to ensuring education for all by 2015, important innovations and reforms will be needed in the governance and financing of global education. In 2008, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama committed to making sure that every child has the chance to learn by creating a Global Fund for Education. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently called for a new architecture of global cooperation that requires institutions to “combine the efficiency and capacity for action with inclusiveness.” A new Global Fund for Education should be an independent and inclusive multi-stakeholder institution that builds upon existing institutions and supports country-driven solutions. It must be capable of mobilizing the approximately $7 billion annually still needed to achieve education for all, while holding all stakeholders accountable for achieving results with these resources.None of these objectives will be achieved without a major rethinking of the global education architecture and an evolution of current mechanisms for financing education. More than 75 million children remain out of primary school, and only 53 of the 171 countries with available data have achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education. Achieving these two Millennium Development Goals, and the broader Education for All Goals set out by 164 countries, will require more capable international institutions. A Global Fund for Education that links funding to performance, that ensures a greater share of resources reach schools and that coordinates the efforts of diverse stakeholders is essential to putting these goals within reach. In order to realize President Obama’s vision for creating a Global Fund for Education, significant leadership by the United States on global education will be needed in the coming year. A clear commitment by the United States to leverage the contributions of other nations and work together to support country-driven strategies through a Global Fund for Education could catalyze unprecedented international energy around achieving education for all.Policy Brief #169Learning from Existing and Innovative Mechanisms The Global Fund for Education should reflect an evolution of the successful elements of existing multilateral mechanisms. Seven years ago, the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) was launched as the primary financing vehicle for achieving education for all. Working with key donors and international institutions, the FTI was supposed to mobilize the resources needed to close the massive education-financing gap. Housed within the World Bank, the FTI has not yet been able to build a strong public brand, engage the support of a number of leading donors or mobilize adequate resources from major donor countries. The FTI has not been capable of generating resources on a scale consistent with its founding vision of achieving universal education for all. Although the FTI initially focused on expanding bilateral investments in education, in 2003 it created a multilateral Catalytic Fund to mobilize additional resources with an early focus on countries without major bilateral donors. In 2006, the FTI’s multilateral Catalytic Fund represented approximately 2% of aid commitments to basic education. Although the number of countries contributing to the Catalytic Fund has increased in recent years, many of the biggest donors are still not participating, and just three countries accounted for over 70% of total pledges in 2008. As a result, the FTI faces a shortfall of $1.2 billion for the coming year, which is more than all the mo[...]

Global Governance Breakthrough: The G20 Summit and the Future Agenda

Wed, 17 Dec 2008 00:00:00 -0500

Executive Summary At the invitation of President George W. Bush, the G20 leaders met on November 15, 2008, in Washington, DC, in response to the worldwide financial and economic crisis. With this summit meeting the reality of global governance shifted surprisingly quickly. Previously, major global economic, social and environmental issues were debated in the small, increasingly unrepresentative and often times ineffectual circle of G8 leaders. Now, there is a larger, much more legitimate summit group which can speak for over two-thirds of the world’s population and controls 90% of the world’s economy. The successful first G20 Summit provides a platform on which President-elect Obama can build in forging an inclusive and cooperative approach for resolving the current financial and economic crisis. Rather than get embroiled in a debate about which country is in and which country is out of the summit, the new U.S. administration should take a lead in accepting the new summit framework for now and focus on the substantive issues. Aside from tackling the current crisis, future G20 summits should also drive the reform of the international financial institutions and address other major global concerns—climate change, poverty and health, and energy among others. With its diverse and representative membership of key countries and with a well-managed process of summit preparation and follow-up the new G20 governance structure would allow for a more inclusive deliberation and more effective response to today’s complex global challenges and opportunities. Policy Brief #168 A Successful G20 Summit—A Giant Step Forward Once announced, there was speculation that the G20 Summit would be at best a distraction and at worst a costly failure, with a lame duck U.S. president hobbled by a crisis-wracked economy and a president-elect impotently waiting at the sidelines, with European leaders bickering over seemingly arcane matters, and with the leaders of the emerging economies sitting on the fence, unwilling or unprepared to take responsibility for fixing problems not of their making. As it turned out, the first G20 Summit was by most standards a success. It served as a platform for heads of state to address the current financial turmoil and the threats of the emerging economic crisis facing not only the U.S. and Europeans, but increasingly also the rest of the world. The communiqué unmistakably attributes blame for the crisis where it belongs—to the advanced countries. It lays out a set of principles and priorities for crisis management and an action plan for the next four months and beyond, and it promises to address the longer-term agenda of reform of the global financial system. Very importantly, it also commits the leaders to meet again in April 2009 under the G20 umbrella. This assures that the November G20 Summit was not a one-off event, but signified the beginning of a new way of managing the world economy. The U.S. Treasury, which apparently drove the decision to hold the G20 rather than a G8 summit and which led the brief preparation process, deserves credit for this outcome. A Long Debate over Global Governance Reform Short-circuited With this successful summit a number of unresolved issues in global governance were pushed aside virtually overnight: The embarrassing efforts of past G8 summits to reach out to the leaders of emerging market economies with ad hoc invitations to join as part-time guests or through the well-meaning expedient of the “Heiligendamm Process”—under which a G8+5 process was to be insti[...]

Strengthen the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Better Results are Possible

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 00:00:00 -0500

Executive Summary The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is one of the outstanding innovations of the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. No other aid agency—foreign or domestic—can match its purposeful mandate, its operational flexibility and its potential muscle. In the first year after it became operational in May 2004, however, the MCC made a number of mistakes from which it has not fully recovered. It also had the bad luck of facing an increasingly tight budget environment as its performance improved. The MCC may not survive as an independent agency. Critics have advocated closing it down, while many supporters of foreign assistance reform would maintain the MCC program but consolidate it with the Agency for International Development and the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief under a single individual with broad development responsibilities. In our assessment, one of the singular achievements of this innovation is the “MCC effect”: steps taken by a number of countries to improve their performance against the MCC’s objective indicators in order to become eligible for an MCC compact. We conclude that the MCC is moving steadily to fulfill its potential of being the world's leading "venture capitalist" focused on promoting economic growth in low-income countries. The Obama administration can realize this potential by affirming the MCC's bold mandate, strengthening its leadership, and boosting its annual appropriations to at least $3 billion beginning in FY 2010.Policy Brief #167 A Rough Start The Millennium Challenge Corporation started off in the wrong direction in 2004. New leadership a year later put the MCC back on track. Unfortunately, however, the MCC has not been able to recover quickly enough from its early mistakes to compete successfully for funding in the face of increasingly severe government-wide budget constraints. After more than four years of operation, it has not yet achieved “proof of concept.” As a result, its future as an independent agency is in jeopardy. The Concept In March 2002, six months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush announced a commitment to increase U.S. aid to low-income countries by $5 billion per year, representing a jump of 50 percent from the baseline level of official development assistance (ODA). More remarkable than the size of the commitment was the nature of the commitment. It would not be more of the same. It would be better. It would reward good performance by focusing exclusively on poor countries implementing sound economic development and poverty reduction strategies, as reflected in objective indicators. It would achieve measurable results. President Bush’s initial concept did not specify the organizational form of the new program. Instead of putting it under the State Department or Agency for International Development (USAID), President Bush opted for creating a special-purpose government corporation—the Millennium Challenge Corporation—to run the program. Conception turned out to be the easy part. It took almost a year for the administration to send legislation proposing the MCC to Congress, and it took another year for the Congress to send authorizing legislation to the president. While the purity of the MCC concept was compromised significantly in the process of obtaining enough votes in Congress to establish it, six key elements were preserved: rewarding good performance; country ownership; measurable results; operational efficiency; sufficient scale at the country level to[...]