By Justin Dargin
(This article first appeared in Fair Observer)
Global carbon trading could potentially be the most effective economic tool to regulate industrial CO2 emissions in the fight against climate change.
As concern about global climate change and carbon emissions mitigation is becoming ever more important, governments and corporations across the world have introduced innovative strategies to reduce steadily rising carbon emissions. Some of these strategies such as carbon taxes, energy efficiency strategies, command and control policies and market-based pollution trading mechanisms have been around for some time. However, they were previously used for other pollution control purposes, besides that of carbon emissions mitigation, with varying degrees of success. Nonetheless, since their success in the US to reduce domestic sulfur dioxide deposits in the 1990s, market-based instruments have again risen to the forefront in the fight against climate change. Continue reading
By Kayhan Barzegar
This article was first published on December 17, 2012 in Persian by Tabnak
The Arab Spring has resulted in a shift in the nature of Iran’s regional policy from a traditional “reconciliation and resistance” approach to a “regional cooperation” approach. The new approach aims to strike a balance between strengthening cooperation with states in the region and containing threats through maintaining traditional relations with ideological movements. As a result, a new kind of pragmatism has emerged in Iran’s regional policy.
Prior to the Arab Spring, Iran was only able to enhance its role and project influence in the region through establishing close relations with the Arab Street and Islamist movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Of course, the establishment of a Shiite-majority government in Iraq and its closer relations with Iran was a turning point. But with the Arab Spring and the emergence of new nationalist-Islamist governments, such as that of Egypt, which seek an independent and active role in regional issues, an opportunity has emerged for Iran to simultaneously establish close relations with these Arab states. Continue reading
Ben W. Heineman, Jr.
By Ben W. Heineman Jr.
(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman writes frequently)
The international media have made a huge story out of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s power-consolidating decrees and the balloting on his proposed constitution. How the fundamental political disputes — between factions of the religious and secular, Islamic and Christian, and civilian and military, and between rich and poor and urban and rural — will be resolved in the Middle East’s most populous nation is seen as a harbinger for the political impact of the Arab Spring.
A companion story has received much less mainstream media attention: Egypt’s escalating economic crisis since the Tahrir Square uprising. Yet the question of whether and how Egypt deals with these economic issues is deeply intertwined with the salient political questions, and has significant implications for the future. Indeed, a lack of economic opportunity was arguably as significant a cause of the Egyptian “revolution” as political repression. Continue reading
Ben W. Heineman, Jr.
By Ben W. Heineman Jr.
(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman wries frequently.)
Just after the New Year, President Obama will have to decide whether to take a dramatic, high-stakes gamble on a very unsexy topic: a U.S.-E.U. free trade agreement. It will be one of the key high-risk, high-reward choices of his second term.
By removing all barriers on goods and by facilitating fairer and more transparent competition in services, investment, and public procurement, such an agreement could stimulate growth and increase jobs in the world’s two largest economies, which together comprise more than 50 percent of the world’s GDP.
Such economic benefits could occur without any additional government expenditure. An agreement could provide a needed, long-lasting jolt to the ailing economies on both sides of the Atlantic. It could avoid the dilemmas posed by the current policy choice between austerity at a time of anemic growth and stimulus at a time of fiscal disarray. Continue reading
By Leonardo Maugeri
Roy Family Fellow, Geopolitics of Energy Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Although quite late, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has noticed that American crude oil production is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and that it will continue to do so. In a report published only one year ago, the Agency had largely underestimated the phenomenon, as had many others.
In its new World Energy Outlook 2012, the IEA now expects that the US will produce 11.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum and natural gas liquids (NGLs) by 2020, compared to little more than 8 million bpd in 2011. In a study published by the Harvard Kennedy School in June (Oil, the Next Revolution), I had hypothesized even higher American production, 11.6 million bpd by 2020. This did not include biofuels, which by that year could raise overall American liquids production to more than 13 million bpd. The additional studies that I am carrying out on more than 2,500 tight oil and shale oil wells in the United States lead me to believe that American production could be even higher by 2020 .Other observers have forecast similar growth rates during the same period or sooner (including Citibank).
But the IEA numbers suffer from more than tardiness. Continue reading
By Kayhan Barzegar
The Arab Spring can be seen as a turning point in the regional balance of power of the Middle East. Previously, the “balance of power” was determined at the level of classic players—the states—and therefore was easier. However, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the roles of states are now combined with the “dynamics of internal politics”—making them much more complicated.
From the outset of the Arab Spring, the domestic socio-political issues of the Arab countries—democratization, political reform, Islamization, elimination of authoritarianism, establishment of a market economy and middle class, and human rights issues have become the priorities in these countries. This development has impacted the objectives of the regional players in the context of balance of power.
In these new circumstances, each of the regional and trans-regional players seeks to restrain threats and enhance its influence. Turkey and the West pursue a greater role in order to extend their political leadership. On the other hand, Iran, Russia, China, and even Saudi Arabia seek greater roles to contain threats and enhance their security. Therefore, factors such as “model,” “ideology,” and “economy” are all employed to enhance the roles of the players. Continue reading
By Tytti Erästö
Stanton Nuclear Security Predoctoral Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom
At different stages of the Iranian nuclear dispute, a window toward resolution has seemed to open up. For example in 2003 Iran proposed comprehensive negotiations with the Bush administration but the window was quickly slammed shut due to the latter’s unwillingness to break the old tradition of containing Iran. This position also effectively prevented the pursuit of the diplomatic track until most of the UN sanctions resolutions against Iran had been adopted.
Obama’s openness for negotiations created the first opportunity for reaching a compromise deal in 2009. This time, however, the opportunity was lost due to domestic pressures on the Iranian side. The result was an increased determination in the West to continue with the sanctions track—a determination which also prevented the P5+1 from seizing another diplomatic opportunity, offered to them by Turkish and Brazilian mediators in 2010. In spring 2012 a dim light of hope again emerged but soon faded away as discussions between Iran and the P5+1 only seemed to confirm the incompatibility of the two sides’ positions. Particularly since the latest round of discussions, there has been a sense of surrender to the interpretation that there simply is no diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear dispute.
Surrendering to cynicism and worst-case scenarios, however, is premature as diplomatic means have by no means been exhausted. The real challenge is that the multilateral nuclear diplomacy with Iran has fallen hostage to the US-Iranian and Iranian-Israeli conflicts, which have reinforced the mutual lack of trust and created formidable obstacles for dialogue on both sides. Continue reading
By Francisco Martin-Rayo
The recent attacks against U.S. embassies around the world, the murder of U.S. diplomats, and their associated hateful images, have shocked the American public and confounded policymakers. Although many Americans and academics have asked the question, “What changed?” these attacks are simply the most recent example of a long-term trend in the region that undermines U.S. values and interests. Unless U.S. policymakers take concrete steps to counter the influence of extremists in these countries, the United States will find itself more isolated, ineffective, and unable to defend its national interests in the most important region in the world. Continue reading
By Simon Saradzhyan
This is an extended version of the author’s “Mixing Turncoats and Terrorism” op-ed published in The Moscow Times on September 9, 2012.
Events of one August day in Russia’s volatile republic of Dagestan have once again highlighted how turncoats can enhance terrorists’ capabilities to carry out deadly attacks in the North Caucasus and other regions of Russia.
On Aug. 28, Aminat Kurbanova, an ethnic Russian woman whose original name is Alla Saprykina, visited Said Afandi al-Chirkawi, the spiritual leader of two major Sufi orders in the North Caucasus. The prominent sheikh was initially reluctant to meet Kurbanova, but the 29-year-old woman said she was a Russian who wanted to convert to Islam and he eventually agreed to receiver her in his village home. In reality, this former actress-cum-dancer had not only already converted to Islam, but had also joined the ranks of the believers in Salafiyyah, the so-called pure Islam. Once in the same room with the sheikh, the woman detonated the bomb concealed under her clothes to kill him and seven others, including herself. Continue reading
By Hui Zhang
Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Since the New START Treaty entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011, concerns have grown about Chinese nuclear modernization. Some are concerned that China would reach nuclear parity with the United States as it cuts down its arsenal along with Russia. Such concerns are greatly increased, in particular, as reports are disseminated on China’s testing a new and more capable generation of intercontinental ballistic missile—Dongfeng-41.
However, China’s nuclear arsenal and its modernization are constrained by its inventory of fissile materials, and most importantly by its nuclear policy—a no-first-use pledge and “minimum deterrence.” Continue reading