The North American Global Powerhouse

by PSA Staff | July 22nd, 2013 | |Subscribe

George Shultz is a PSA Advisory Board Member and a former secretary of labor, Treasury and state, and is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. This article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal.

The North American Global Powerhouse

Discussions of rising economies usually focus on Asia, Africa and the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China. But what may well be the most important development of all is often overlooked: the arrival of North America as a global powerhouse. What’s going on?

The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas in 1992. It was ratified in the U.S. thanks to the leadership of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Since then, the integration of the three economies has proceeded at a sharp pace. Consider:

The three countries constitute around one-fourth of global GDP, and they have become each other’s largest trading partners. Particularly notable is the integration of trade. A 2010 NBER study shows that 24.7% of imports from Canada were U.S. value-added, and 39.8% of U.S. imports from Mexico were U.S. value-added. (By contrast, the U.S. value-added in imports from China was only 4.2%.) This phenomenon of tight integration of trade stands apart from other major trading blocks including the European Union or East Asian economies.

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A Generationally Balanced Deficit Agreement

by PSA Staff | July 18th, 2013 | |Subscribe

By Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Aaron Tucek.  Aaron Tucek is a student at Emory University and Nunn serves  as a PSA Advisory Board Member and co-chairman of The Concord Coalition.   This Op-Ed originally appeared in The Telegraph.

A Generationally Balanced Deficit Agreement

The House and Senate have each passed their own budgets. The president has submitted a budget proposal of his own. And yet, as we close in on the mid-point of the year, no action has been taken to resolve the differences and agree on an overall fiscal plan for the nation. This would be an abdication of responsibility under any circumstances, but it is particularly so now.

The trajectory of our federal budget is not just fiscally irresponsible; it is immoral. Unless we fix our $17 trillion-and-growing national debt, young Americans stand to be the first generation in our history that will inherit a country worse than the one handed to its parents. Ours will be a country that can neither afford to keep the promises made in the past nor make crucial investments in the future. As a result, Millennials will face a future of even more debt, higher taxes, fewer jobs and a lower standard of living. But this dismal outlook does not have to be our destiny if lawmakers can summon the political courage necessary to put our fiscal house in order, and soon.

Leaders in Washington must take a generationally balanced-approach to reduce our federal deficit. That means tackling the true drivers of the debt, protecting high-value investments and asking for shared sacrifice from all Americans. Unfortunately, recent deficit reduction measures have largely failed on all three accounts.

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How the world is saving the shark

by PSA Staff | July 16th, 2013 | |Subscribe

Tara D. Sonenshine is the former US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and a former PSA Board Member.  This article originally appeared on CNN.

How the world is saving the shark

As the summer ocean waves wash up onto America’s beaches, we find ourselves thinking, nervously, about Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” and the paralyzing fear that sharks inspire in us. Yet, paradoxically, we celebrate global attempts to protect the declining number of sharks. The world has figured out we need these species, along with all creatures of the Earth, to maintain a delicately balanced ecosystem.

Sharks, in particular, are “in” these days. Thanks to good public policy and the power of public education and multimedia campaigns featuring stars such as Yao Ming, Jackie Chan and Ang Lee, killing sharks for shark fin soup is no longer cool.

Shark fins dry in the sun on the roof of a factor in Hong Kong, one of the world’s biggest markets for shark fins.

The demand has been rising for decades, threatening sharks with extinction — up to 100 million sharks are killed each year just for their fins. But we have started to reverse the trend, particularly in affluent areas of the U.S. and overseas where restaurants once proudly displayed shark fin delicacies on the menu.

In California, and other states, a ban on the sale and possession of shark fin soup has gone into effect this year after aggressive marketing campaigns by WildAid and other organizations.

Overseas, marketing and public diplomacy efforts featuring posters on public transportation systems and TV ads have been underway for the past few years. These efforts all show signs of success, on both the supply side and the demand side of trade in shark fins. Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department tracked 3,100 metric tons of shark fin being imported from the island to China last year, but this year’s numbers are way down.

Stopping the killing of sharks is part of a broader movement to stop the killing of wild animals and the trafficking of wildlife products around the world — products that come from poaching elephants, tigers and rhinos, in addition to killing marine life.

In November, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a global strategy to protect wildlife, raising the level of urgency to a growing national security threat.

For example, the poaching of elephants in search of ivory tusks for luxury goods had became a full-scale war between poachers, who are sometimes terrorists, and governments in parts of Africa. Illegal shipments of tusks across porous borders bring in the prizes of money and weapons.

Once a marginalized issue of U.S. foreign policy, Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry have placed wildlife trafficking at the top of the agenda, given its wide tentacles to Africa, Asia, Russia, Indonesia and consumers in almost every country.

According to National Geographic, which has been tracking elephant poaching, the financial losses place the issue on the scale of global drugs and crime, with an estimated 30,000 African elephants being killed for their tusks last year — a rate of slaughter, say wildlife experts, that could drive the animals to extinction within the century. The dwindling of African elephant populations is alarming. Much of the ivory is destined for China to make chopsticks and jewelry, and the Far East, where it can fetch upward of $1,300 a pound.

Whether it is shark fin soup or ivory piano keys, killing animals is big business. Together with international partners, conservation groups, nonprofits and businesses, the United States is leading the worldwide effort to reduce demand for high-end jewelry, herbal medicines, skins, foods and other products that rely on killing animals and marine life. Working with governments through existing protocols and conventions, the U.S. is convening stakeholders to pressure those who provide sanctuary for the poachers or allow parts and goods to make their way out of countries to market.

Public diplomacy and public education, together with sound policy, give us a model for success. Using Facebook, Twitter, public service advertisements, the media, celebrity interviews, videos and classroom teaching, we can martial the forces to convince consumers that buying products that come from slaughtered elephants or harpooned sharks is simply wrong and dangerous.

And we can track the results of wildlife trafficking and punish the offenders.

This is one of those rare international tales of where the public and private sector, along with Hollywood, can create a very different kind of movie.

The War on Tusks

by PSA Staff | July 11th, 2013 | |Subscribe

Tara D. Sonenshine is the US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and a former PSA Board Member.  This article originally appeared in National Geographic.

The War on Tusks

Tusks up–in some parts of the world that means good luck; a saying full of irony considering the unfortunate plight of elephants today. Depending on your culture, elephants also convey strength, power, wisdom and patience. Whether in India, Africa or other lands, they are important and meaningful—and today they are receiving the global attention they deserve.

This month President Obama issued an executive order targeting the illegal trafficking of elephant tusks (and those of rhino horns and other products) promising a $10 million effort and a national presidential task force to increase anti-poaching efforts.  Building on what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began in 2012 as a global crackdown on illicit trade of wildlife, the President vowed to rein in the growing black market for illegal animal products, which experts estimate has reached an annual business of 7-10 billion dollars.

The threat posed by this lucrative trade is not only environmental. It is a security and counterterrorism issue for the United States and many other countries. There is mounting evidence of links between wildlife crime syndicates and terror groups, with traffickers bankrolling rebels and their militias, conducting military-style assaults on elephants and terrorists funding their violent agenda through the burgeoning market for luxury goods, religious articles, carvings and medicines.

The White House action came as new scientific research opens major possibilities for determining the age of elephant tusks—a key part of the poaching puzzle.  Reported by theProceedings of the National Academies of Science, the research on tracking the age of ivory uses atmospheric nuclear weapons testing residue from the 1950s and 1960s to connect the dots on the age of elephant tusks.  In what is akin to the DNA breakthrough on crime solving, this new research could help law enforcement and other agencies determine when the killing of an elephants occurred—a tool in citing violations of the 1989 ban on African elephant killing for tusks.  The mere fact that carbon footprints from radiation from nuclear testing can be linking to elephant footprints is an astonishing scientific leap that will also help in tracking the numbers of traffickers since estimates of poaching comes from examining elephant carcasses.

The world is waking up to the plain fact that we are losing elephants fast.  National Geographic’s  2012 cover story on “Blood Ivory” detailed a decade of poaching that hit a high in 2011, having the greatest impact in the central Africa region.  According to experts at Columbia University, we have only 400,000 elephants left in the wild.  30,000 elephants are killed each year. A public education awareness campaign must be waged worldwide to target the demand side of the elephant equation. Consumers have to understand that ivory comes from a dead elephant’s tusk and that without an end to the purchase of these products, we simply cannot win the war on trafficking.  Media campaigns like those spearheaded by National Geographic, WildAid, the World Wildlife Federation and hundreds of other conservation groups are critical.  The involvement of Hollywood figures like Jackie Chan have helped the wildlife trafficking issue to gain traction as has the work of athletes like Yao Ming.

In the end, this war will be won through changing hearts and minds—or in other words, public diplomacy.  We need education to reinforce the principle that killing animals is not cool and that the crime of poaching will lead to serious consequences.Whether it is good luck, wisdom or patience, elephants are vital to our planet and must stay front and center in the global mindset until their slaughter is stopped.

Reinvigorating the US-Japan Alliance

by PSA Staff | February 22nd, 2013 | |Subscribe

The author, Jamie Metzl, is Co-Chair of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared on Project Syndicate. Metzl is a former member of President Clinton’s National Security Council team and a current Senior Fellow of the Asia Society.

Reinvigorating the US-Japan Alliance 

NEW YORK – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current visit to the United States provides an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate the long-standing US-Japan bilateral alliance in the face of an increasingly aggressive China and persistent tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

For a half-century, the US-Japan alliance has been a cornerstone of Asian and global peace, security, and stability – and Japan has been an outstanding global citizen. Japan developed the economic-growth model that other Asian countries later emulated so successfully; actively contributed to global economic development; participated in the United Nations and other multilateral institutions (including paying a disproportionately high percentage of UN costs); and has helped to set a global standard for environmental protection and sustainable development.

As Abe arrives in Washington, DC, Japan and the US are both facing significant internal and external challenges, including rising tensions in Asia. In recent months, Chinese aircraft have repeatedly violated Japanese airspace over the East China Sea, and a Chinese naval vessel locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer and helicopter.

Likewise, a Chinese military intelligence unit in Shanghai has reportedly hacked – and stolen from – a multitude of US businesses. And North Korea conducted its third nuclear test earlier this month, sending shock waves through the region.

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The Need for US Leadership as China Continues to Exert its Influence in the South and East China Seas

by PSA Staff | January 16th, 2013 | |Subscribe

This article was written by Katherine Ehly and Matthew Hays, two Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.  All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

The Need for US Leadership as China Continues to Exert its Influence in the South and East China Seas

In late 2011 the Obama Administration announced that it would increase America’s visibility in Asia.  These efforts were described by the Administration as a “pivot” or “rebalancing” of U.S. military planning, foreign policy, and economic policy toward the region.  Washington, however, has wrestled with how to engage the most prominent and powerful country in the region, China.  With troops nearly gone from Iraq and drawing down in Afghanistan, this shift could not have come at a better time.  As the region has grown more prosperous, the issue of sovereignty over the South and East China Seas has become intense with China exhibiting worrisome acts of aggression toward its neighboring countries.  China, in attempting to control these waters, appears to be demonstrating its intent to exert dominance over the region.

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KORUS Free Trade Agreement: An Agent of Stability

by PSA Staff | February 6th, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Fall 2011 Fellows in PSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program.  All CFP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Fellows who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

KORUS Free Trade Agreement: An Agent of Stability

Almost sixty years ago at the end of the Korean War, the relationship between the United States and South Korea took on a new meaning.  The relationship was built on a cooperative framework between allied forces in order to promote stability on the peninsula through a strengthened commitment to the mutual goals of protecting democratic values, peace and economic security.

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Rethink our Russian Relationship

by PSA Staff | January 19th, 2012 | |Subscribe

Gary Hart is a member of the PSA Advisory Board, president of Hart International, Ltd. and chairman of the American Security Project. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until 1987. This article originally appeared in The Hill on January 18th, 2012 and can be found here.

As an American with more than average interest and experience in Russia, it is a mystery to me why, unlike virtually every other country on earth, U.S. policy has tended to be so dependent on the personal relationship between the respective leaders.

This was especially true of Presidents Clinton, with the late Boris Yeltsin, and George W. Bush, with then-President Vladimir Putin (“I looked the man in the eye.”). This mystery of Russian relations is not totally confined to U.S. leaders: Remember Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s famous report to President George H.W. Bush on Mikhail Gorbachev as “a man we can do business with.” A humorist might call it the vodka syndrome, except Clinton was never known as a drinker and, of course, the second President Bush had sworn off alcohol.

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OP-ED: How to Weaken the Power of Foreign Oil

by PSA Staff | September 22nd, 2011 | |Subscribe

Bud McFarlane, former national security advisor and PSA Board Member, along with James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence, authored this Op-ed in The New York Times about their new bi-partisan effort, the United States Energy Security Council, encouraging the introduction of flex-fuel cars into the US market to foster better competition and put America on the path to energy independence. The article can also be read here.

OUR country has just gone through a sober national retrospective on the 9/11 attacks. Apart from the heartfelt honoring of those lost — on that day and since — what seemed most striking is our seeming passivity and indifference toward the well from which our enemies draw their political strength and financial power: the strategic importance of oil, which provides the wherewithal for a generational war against us, as we mutter diplomatic niceties.

Oil’s strategic importance stems from its virtual monopoly as a transportation fuel. Today, 97 percent of all air, sea and land transportation systems in the United States have only one option: petroleum-based products. For more than 35 years we have engaged in self-delusion, saying either that we have reserves here at home large enough to meet our needs, or that the OPEC cartel will keep prices affordable out of self-interest. Neither assumption has proved valid. While the Western Hemisphere’s reserves are substantial and growing, they pale in the face of OPEC’s, which are substantial enough to effectively determine global supply and thus the global price.

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What China’s Behavior on Rare Earths Says About the Country’s Future Role in the World Order

by Alexis Collatos | October 22nd, 2010 | |Subscribe

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01468/chinaenergy_1468584c.jpg

Praseodymium, Gadolinium, Erbium: you may not have heard of them before, but chances are you’ve used them recently. All three are examples of rare earths, the 17 elements occupying the middle of the Periodic Table.  Rare earth elements- which, in actuality, are as globally ubiquitous as many other metals- are a critical component of both current and future technologies, helping to create products from cell phones to fiber-optic cables to electric cars.

These elemental tongue-twisters, once only the provenance of scientists and technology manufacturers, have become the object of much attention and speculation from policymakers in the past few weeks, courtesy of China. Although the PRC only has 35% of the world’s rare earth reserves, it has cleverly maneuvered its way into controlling 95% of global supply for the elements, thanks to heavy investment in the industry and a willingness to incur massive levels of environmental pollution while mining them. In the past few months, China has strategically wielded its monopoly as a diplomatic weapon, halting shipments to Japan during the two countries’ nasty territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Now reports say that China is using the same strategy against the U.S. in retaliation for the United States Trade Representative (USTR) accepting a petition alleging that China is subsidizing green energy investment in violation of WTO practices.  All in all, it appears that China is beginning to engage in tit-for-tat diplomacy that raises serious questions about its intentions and its ability to behave like the superpower it strives to be. (more…)

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All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.