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THE INDEX — October 19, 2009

The Electoral Complaints Commission has concluded that Afghan President Hamid Karzai failed to win a majority 50% of votes in the August 20 Afghan presidential election. Karzai was de

Nicolaus Mills: Remembering George Marshall

The following is excerpted from a talk Nicolaus Mills will deliver Oct. 24, 2009, at the Marshall Foundation. It is part of a symposium marking the 50th anniversary of the General George Marshall’s death. Fifty years ago this month, George Marshall, army chief of staff throughout World War II and in Winston Churchill’s words, “the organizer of victory,” died as a result of a crippling stroke. Marshall, at the request of Eleanor Roosevelt, was responsible for planning the funeral of President Franklin Roosevelt, but he had no desire for a state funeral of his own. In the instructions he wrote out for the arrangements at his own death, he forbade a funeral service in the National Cathedral, ruled out lying in state in the Capital Rotunda, and asked that no eulogy be said for him. This modesty was consistent with the way Marshall conducted his life and is one reason why he is not as well known today as many of the generals who served under him. Throughout World War II, Marshall refused all United States decorations. Even at his Pentagon retirement ceremony in 1945, he relented only long enough to allow President Truman to add a second Oak Leaf cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal he had been awarded in 1919. In this era of self-promotion, Marshall’s personal example sends a powerful message. But as the United States struggles with how to engage in nation building in a post-9/11 world, it is Marshall’s crowning achievement as secretary of state—the post-World War II Marshall Plan that from 1948 to 1952 provided the foreign aid essential to Europe’s economic recovery—that really shows what national modesty can achieve.

THE INDEX — October 12, 2009

While Shiite-Sunni tensions in Ira

Jonathan Power: There Are Many Irans

Let’s exaggerate. Iran has been singled out for persecution over its alleged nuclear bomb making program because in 1979 its Revolutionary Guards took the staff of the U.S. embassy hostage, causing outrage in America with even the esteemed Walter Cronkite ratcheting up the tension, putting up on the screen, as he read the nightly news, the number of days they had been incarcerated. The sitting president, Jimmy Carter, was deposed, tarred with the brush of utter failure. Something of an exaggeration that this was the sole or even the most important factor in building a pro bomb lobby in Iran. Still it has a grain of truth: Iran has been singled out unfairly. The West and Russia are engaged in discriminating against it. Brazil has had a nuclear enrichment program for decades (including a large ultracentrifuge enrichment plant, several laboratory-scale facilities, a reprocessing facility to make plutonium, and a missile program). In the 1980s it built two nuclear devices. Three years ago I asked the chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Brasilia if Washington was worried about Brazil. “Not at all,” he replied. “In the early 1990s Brazil dismantled its nuclear weapons program, and Argentina, its supposed enemy, has done the same.” “But,” I insisted, “Brazil still has its enrichment program and a reprocessing facility”. “We have no worries about Brazil,” he answered. “We see eye to eye.” However, Brazil still resists, in part, the probing eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog. In 1979 the attitude of the Carter administration toward Pakistan, then attempting to build its own bomb, was almost as harsh as is the attitude of the United States toward Iran today. All American military aid was suspended, even though the Taliban were a lurking potential threat. However, when Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in December of that year, Carter persuaded Congress to restart a large-scale arms program. For the next decade, in return for Pakistan’s help building up the anti-Soviet mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan (who later went to work for Osama bin Laden), Washington turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s effort to build nuclear weapons.

Frank Spring: National Innovation for a Globalized World

The White House’s National Strategy for Innovation, a white-paper from the National Economic Council and the Office of Science and Technology, was accompanied in September by a speech on innovation from President Obama in Troy, New York. Together, these efforts represent the Obama administration’s first attempt at a unified national innovation policy. This is not the first time an administration has unveiled an innovation policy. President Bush released a more limited plan in April 2004, but the latest effort is unquestionably the most comprehensive. This in itself is encouraging; globally, economic innovation policy is a sprawling issue deserving of thorough treatment. More immediately, though, the new American strategy is grounded in an understanding that innovation is not just a business phenomenon to be encouraged—it is central to the nation’s economic survival in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. If the United States is to compete in the twenty-first century economy, its national innovation policy must be internationally competitive. The administration’s strategy can certainly help the United States gain on its competitors. It focuses on increasing government funding for research and development, making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent, improving the country’s technical infrastructure, and producing a better-educated workforce. It also takes a page from President Bush’s 2004 plan, singling out alternative energy and healthcare information technology for special government attention while placing a new emphasis on advanced vehicle technology. Though its recognition of the importance of the issues is commendable, much of the National Innovation Strategy is simply a retroactive reclassification of existing policies.

THE BIG QUESTION—October 1, 2009

THE BIG QUESTION is a new multimedia project on the World Policy Blog.

David A. Andelman: The Acorn Dossier, by William Beecher

The ultimate nightmare for the nuclear age is not the behavior of a rogue nuclear power like North Korea, nor the potential for evil of a "wannabe" like Iran. Rather it is the all but totally unpredictable event of an errant nuke falling into the hands of an all but totally uncontrollable, not to mention unpredictable, even undetectable, hands of a nuclear terrorist. Undetectable, that is, before it's too late. This is the premise of the riveting nuclear thriller, The Acorn Dossier; an entirely new genre of spy caper from an author whose career has uniquely positioned him to offer us such a delectable and exciting yarn. William Beecher, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, served for years as the Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times. He then covered national security out of the Washington bureau of the Boston Globe before moving to the Department of Defense and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he was intimately involved with the teams that actually tracked the whereabouts of the world's nukes. Who better, then, to posture the nightmare scenario that unfurls in this book? As it opens, a team of elite retired Spetsnaz commandos are assembling quietly but most efficiently in a plush villa in Ljubljana, Slovenia; they have gathered from the four corners of the former Soviet empire for one final, highly lucrative, covert operation. The organizer of this rogue enterprise is former Spetsnaz general Nikolai Brik, codenamed "Merlin"—but whose full nickname is Merlin the Merciless. And merciless he certainly turns out to be. Merlin, it seems, is a veteran undercover operative. Put on the shelf in the post-Soviet world of Kremlin-backed oligarchs and what he sees as their American allies, he nurses a deep grudge against his former bosses, but especially against the United States. His reasons unfold as we wind through the intricacies of a tale centered on deeply hidden caches of "suitcase bombs," sequestered during the depths of the Cold War in various towns across America. Their "sleeper" handlers have long since been forgotten, it appears, by everyone but themselves, but Merlin prepares to change all that. The assumption is diabolical, frightening and deeply relevant, for the suitcase bomb is by no means the figment of the unquestionably vivid imagination of William Beecher.

GCLS UPDATE: Iceland's president: Our most pressing problems are interlinked

Closing Remarks: President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson of Iceland Summary by Josh Sanburn, World Policy Journal After three days in which global leaders, academ

GCLS UPDATE: Appetite for Reduction

PANEL: Global Commodity Crunch: Food, Water, Oil, Energy, Trade? Master of Ceremonies: John Authers, Investment Editor, Financial Times Panelists: Badr Jafar, Executive Director, Crescent Petroleum Group Josh Margolis, Co-Chief Executive Director, CantorCO2e Henk-Jan Brinkman, Senior Adviser for Economic Policy, World Food Programme Zachary Karabell, President, River Twice Research Panel summary by Mary Kate Nevin, World Policy Journal After Financial Times journalist John Authers introduced the panel, Badr Jafar examined the issue of oil shortages from an industry perspective, explaining that the "roller coaster" of oil prices in 2008 was precipitated both by oil speculation and the depletion of reserves. As demand for oil steadily increases in China and elsewhere in Asia, the threat of a serious shortage continues to loom portentously. Going forward, investments to increase capacity must come from public-private partnerships, too little of which currently exist, he says. "The next 10 years is going to be crucial in seeing whether we move more towards partnership or more towards conflict." He then addressed carbon emissions, presenting several practical ways to move toward their reduction. The most important thing the world can do is rid itself of its dependence on coal; "by displacing coal with natural gas worldwide," he said, "we can reduce carbon emissions by over 70 percent." He also called attention to rainforest degradation, imploring us to appreciate rainforests' natural carbon capture and storage capabilities and to take action to protect them. Josh Margolis of CantorCO2e, a business focused on environmental rights, also emphasized the urgency of cutting carbon emissions. The United States emits dozens more tons of carbon per person than places like India and China, but that these developing economies strive to someday consume like Americans "keeps [him] up at night." But he was optimistic about the global potential to address the issue, citing America's pending cap-and-trade bill that seeks to cut emissions by 8 billion to 1 billion tons by 2050. "We should never waste an opportunity presented by an acute crisis," he said, and the opportunity is there "if we accept that we really have to solve the problem."

GCLS UPDATE: Who Isn't a Journalist?

PANEL: Global Media Keynote: Li Xiguang, president of Tsinghua University's International Center for Communication Studies Master of Ceremonies: K

GCLS UPDATE: A Celebration of Innovation

PANEL: Innovation, Entrepreneurialism and National Competitiveness in a Global Age Keynote Speaker: Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen of Finland Special Speaker: H.E. Dr. Ivo Sanader, Former Prime Minister of Croatia Master of Ceremonies: Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD Panelists: Juan-Felipe Muñoz, Managing Director, The Otun Group Dr. Eric Bonabeau, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, Icosystem Corporation Stephen Shapiro, Founder and Advisor, 24/7 Innovation Bruce Mau, Creative Director and Founder, Bruce Mau Design Susan Polgar, Chess Grandmaster Panel summary by Mary Kate Nevin, World Policy Journal "Activity breeds innovation," Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen of Finland told an eager panel. "New things are not created without taking risks." And never has there seemed a more urgent need for new ideas than now, with the world's economies still reverberating from the worst slump in generations and public debts expanding almost beyond control. The key to a sustainable recovery will be entrepreneurship and innovation, he said, and in Finland, "it is in times of crisis when governments have to be particularly active" in promoting them. Finland's experience, he continued, shows that extraordinary difficulties can be overcome with the right policies and enterprise; so too for the rest of the world, "in the coming years governments will play a bigger role than before." Former Prime Minister of Croatia Ivo Sanader also shared his country's experience, illustrating how it has achieved its progress while shifting from a heavily controlled to a vibrant "knowledge-based" economy. The key, he said, was major investments in human capital and fostering of "competitiveness in everyday life." Education is one important component of this, but "this alone will not guarantee competitiveness;" it is essential to balance education with employment needs while giving special attention to rule of law and control of corruption. He concluded with a call to the European Union "to leave the doors of integration open" in order to ensure lasting peace and stability. Shifting the regional focus, Juan-Felipe Muñoz spoke of the rigid social systems in Latin America.

GCLS UPDATE: Substantive Growth in a Hollow Shell

PANEL: Geo-Politics and Geo-Economics of the Middle East Master of Ceremonies: David A. Andelman, Editor, World Policy Journal Panelists: H.E. Reza Pahlavi, Former Crown Prince of Iran Dr. Paul Sullivan, Professor of Economics, National Defense University Dr. Priya Satia, Professor of Modern British History, Stanford University Zachary Karabell, President, River Twice Research Dr. Mustapaha Tlili, Founder and Director, Center for Dialogues Islamic World, U.S.-The West, New York University Felice Friedson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Media Line Eyal Weizman, Director, Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College Panel summary by Max Currier, World Policy Journal David Andelman focused the morning panel on two flashpoints: Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  Reza Pahlavi began by reminding his New York audience that no place is “immune from the consequences of far away places.”  He described the Iranian government as “corrupt authoritarians” with a “stranglehold over a defenseless population.”  Noting especially the June 12 elections, he explained the government has “lost any semblance of legitimacy” and “robs Iranians of their dignity.”  Mr. Andelman announced the breaking news that Iran reported a previously undisclosed nuclear enrichment facility and asked Prince Pahlavi if there is a consensus in Iran about the peaceful use of nuclear power.  Nobody, Prince Pahlavi said, would suggest that sovereign nations could not use technology for its own peaceful means.  But he did add that Iran has not convinced the international community that its nuclear intentions are peaceful. Prince Pahlavi recommended, and Felice Friedson later agreed, that, because “the luster of the Iranian revolution has vanished,” the international community should show humanitarian support for the people of Iran, creating “internal pressure” such that the Iranian regime “will be forced to change its policy.”  Similarly, Zachary Karabell believes China’s economic growth, with enough political freedom to alleviate extremism, can be a model for the development in many Middle East countries.  Dr. Paul Sullivan believes that economic development is imperative across the region: “[Tension] has more to do with money and power than religions.” Dr. Sullivan emphasized the importance of water security in the region. 

GCLS UPDATE: The Road to Copenhagen and Beyond

PANEL: National Targets, Global Challenge: Climate Change, Copenhagen, and Beyond Master of Ceremonies: Josh Margolis, Co-Chief Executive officer, Cantor CO2e Panelists: Dr. Thomas Malone, Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management Robert Laubacher, Research Associate, MIT Sloan School of Management Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group Dr. Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics, Harvard University Dr. Gerd Leipold, Executive Director, Greenpeace International Dr. Renate Christ, Secretary, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr. Doug Arent, Director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Center for Strategic Energy Analysis Dr. John Felmy, Chief Economist, American Petroleum Institute Panel summary by Max Currier, World Policy Journal Jeff Felmy began with an impassioned plea: “The first thing we need to do is agree on the facts and then we can talk about policy.” Much of the subsequent discussion focused on diagnosing the problem of climate change from different perspectives without touching much on substantive policy prescriptions, although Aart de Geus did urge governments to levy taxes on emissions to encourage business growth in the “right direction,” and for governments to coordinate their actions “as collectively as possible.” “We’re dealing with a massive market failure,” Changhua Wu said.  Robert Laubacher added another failure, that of the mainstream media in “presenting complexity.” He lamented that the attendant issues (science, geopolitics, law) of climate change are “extraordinarily complex issues” which are “not easily understandable for the lay person.” The panel spent considerable time discussing why too few people support the dramatic changes that are required to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

GCLS UPDATE: The Future of Giving

PANEL: Social Entrepreneurs — The Next Generation of Smart Philanthropists Special introduction: Amir Dossal, Executive Director, United Nations Office for Partnerships Master of Ceremonies: Matthew Bishop, U.S. business editor and New York bureau chief, The Economist Panelists: Eric Broyles, Chief Executive Officer, Megree Akhtar Badshah, senior director, community affairs worldwide, Microsoft Corporation Kamran Elahian, philanthropist, chairman and co-founder, Global Catalyst Partners Robert Weiss, president and vice chair, X Prize Foundation Dr. Paul Jhin, CEO, The Information and Technology Corps Michael Landau, chairman, MAP International Noella Coursaris Musunka, founder, Georges Malaika Foundation Richard Samans, managing director of the World Economic Forum Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and founder of the Pearl Initiative Panel summary by Mary Kate Nevin, World Policy Journal After a special introduction by Amir Dossal, Matthew Bishop began the panel with a call for private-public partnerships. “Even Bill Gates, with all his money, realizes he cannot solve the problems he's grappling with on his own,” he said. Philanthropists need to forge smart and efficient alliances that use everyone’s skills effectively to address the pressing problems of the world, while “the public has to understand what's going on and be brought into the process as well.” Noella Coursaris Munsaka addressed education initiatives in her home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Congo, after 20 years of war, is a challenge to work [with],” she acknowledged, but she also spoke to the importance of forging effective partnerships between and among sectors. It is key to have government involvement, private sector activity, and especially community initiatives in education and literacy projects. “If we work together more, I think we can achieve more goals over there and more goals sitting around the table like this,” said Munsaka. Michael Landau then described MAP International’s creative solutions for infrastructure and education projects, especially in Uganda. Like the other panelists, he emphasized the importance of what he called “trilateral donor programs”—partnerships between governments, the private sector, and recipients. He put it bluntly: “it is not enough to have a partnership with [just] the government, because they don’t have money.” But government involvement is necessary, he allowed, to achieve anything “massively transformative."

GCLS UPDATE: Poland as a Global Power

PANEL: President Lech Kaczynski: Poland in Globalization Introduction: David A. Andelman, Editor, World Policy Journal Featuring: President Lech Kaczynski, Republic of Poland Panel summary by Max Currier, World Policy Journal Amid glazed sea bass and raspberry chocolate purse, David Andelman introduced Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland, as “the leader of perhaps the single most dynamic nation to emerge from the Warsaw Pact.” President Kaczynski agreed, pointing out through a translator that Poland is a large geographic nation with an emerging economy that will soon be the sixth largest in the European Union in terms of GDP growth per capita. Poland, he later added, should be the 20th member of the G-20 because it is robust economically and it seeks to “contribute” as an engaging and productive member of the global economy. Before a mixed European and American audience, President Kaczynski praised “the new U.S. administration” for taking “momentous decisions” regarding missile defense. “What we’re seeing is a new offer of American leadership in the world” based on “universal negotiations” for which “I wish all the best.” He characterized the U.S. "offer" in "the context of a changing multilateral world,” implying a difficulty in engaging both Europe and the United States, as well as Russia. “Reconciliation is better than conflict. … Development is always better than going backwards,” he said. "We will see in the coming years if this offer is doable.”

Clinton Summit: What We Talk About When We Talk About Infrastructure

PANEL: The Infrastructure of Human Dignity Star Spotter: Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher, Barbara Streisand, Ricky Martin, Eve Ensler Moderator:  John Podesta, president and CEO of Center for American Progress Panelists: Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health Wangari Muta Maathai, founder of The Green Belt Movement, Kenya Ingrid Munro, founder of Jamii Bora Trust and CEO of Jamii Bora Group By Ruthie Ackerman for World Policy Journal When we think of infrastructure we think of roads, sewage systems, and buildings. But a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative led by John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and former White House chief of staff under President Clinton, took a different look at infrastructure. Entitled “The Infrastructure of Human Dignity,” the panel focused on the systems that affect the world’s most vulnerable people: clean water, health care, and food systems. This is, as Podesta pointed out, the infrastructure needed “to support a decent standard of living for all people.” Each panelist represented a different starting point on the issue: Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work on the green movement in Kenya, believes environmental education should be a universal education in all schools, especially given the link between conflict and resource management. In wars around the world—and, especially, those in Africa such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo—battles over natural resources have sparked and prolonged those conflicts. The solution, Maathai said, is to develop a new consciousness over what she calls natural capital. “People come out of university with a lot of knowledge. They are full in the head. But it is important to be able to apply that knowledge. How do we tend the soil? This is important.”
FALL FUNDRAISER

 

PORTFOLIO


Nauru: A Cautionary Tale 

 

Vlad Sokhin documents life in Nauru, a tiny, once-wealthy Pacific island where land has been stripped bare and the hulking shells of the phosphate mining industry have been left to rust.


Those the Jasmine Revolution Forgot 

 

Photographer Nicholas Linn and writer Sam Kimball capture the struggles of the Tunisian underclass following the 2011 Revolution. 

Tough Love: Las Amorasas Más Bravas 

 

Bénédicte Desrus and Celia Gómez Ramos explore Casa Xochiquetzal, a shelter in Mexico City that allows sex workers to age with dignity.

Iran's House of Strength 

 

Jeremy Suyker penetrates the tight-knit community of zurkhanehs, traditional rooms for training warriors dating back to the Persian Empire, and the modern efforts to preserve this Iranian cultural heritage. 

        

Bolshoi Babylon 

 

Director Nick Read examines the dysfunction that led to an attack on Sergei Filin, artistic director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, before Russian President Putin stepped in to restructure the Bolshoi’s leadership.

 

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Millennium Project’s State of the Future 19.0: Collective Intelligence on the Future of the World

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