Research Library

Chinn, Menzie D, and Jeffry Frieden. 2011. America as Argentina. Harvard Magazine. Website
Alt, James. 2011. Disentangling Accountability and Competence in Elections: Evidence from U.S. Term Limits. Journal of Politics. WebsiteAbstract
We exploit variation in U.S. gubernatorial term limits across states and time to empirically estimate two separate effects of elections on government performance. Holding tenure in office constant, differences in performance by reelection- eligible and term-limited incumbents identify an accountability effect: reelection-eligible governors have greater incentives to exert costly effort on behalf of voters. Holding term-limit status constant, differences in performance by incumbents in different terms identify a competence effect: later-term incumbents are more likely to be competent both because they have survived reelection and because they have experience in office. We show that economic growth is higher and taxes, spending, and borrowing costs are lower under reelection-eligible incumbents than under term-limited incumbents (accountability), and under reelected incumbents than under first-term incumbents (competence), all else equal. In addition to improving our understanding of the role of elections in representative democracy, these findings resolve an empirical puzzle about the disappearance of the effect of term limits on gubernatorial performance over time.
Debating U.S.-Cuban Relations
Domínguez, Jorge I, Rafael Hernandez, and Lorena Barberia. 2011. Debating U.S.-Cuban Relations. Routledge. WebsiteAbstract
Two decades ago affairs between the United States and Cuba had seen little improvement from the Cold War era. Today, US-Cuban relations are in many respects still in poor shape, yet some cooperative elements have begun to take hold and offer promise for future developments. Illustrated by the ongoing migration agreement, professional military-to-military relations at the perimeter of the US base near Guantánamo, and professional Coast Guard-Guardafrontera cooperation across the Straits of Florida, the two governments are actively exploring whether and how to change the pattern of interactions.The differences that divide the two nations are real, not the result of misperception, and this volume does not aspire to solve all points of disagreement. Drawing on perspectives from within Cuba as well as those in the United States, Canada, and Europe, these authors set out to analyze contemporary policies, reflect on current circumstances, and consider possible alternatives for improved US-Cuban relations. The resulting collection is permeated with both disagreements and agreements from leading thinkers on the spectrum of issues the two countries face—matters of security, the role of Europe and Latin America, economic issues, migration, and cultural and scientific exchanges in relations between Cuba and the United States. Each topic is represented by perspectives from both Cuban and non-Cuban scholars, leading to a resource rich in insight and a model of transnational dialogue. Rafael Hernandez is the editor of Revista Temas, Cuba's leading magazine in the social sciences. He has been professor and researcher at the University of Havana and the High Institute of International Relations; director of US studies at the Centro de Estudios sobre America; and a senior research fellow at the Instituto Cubano de Investigacion Cultural "Juan Marinello" in Havana.Loren Barberia is a program associate at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.
Hanna, Rema, and Michael Greenstone. 2011. Environmental Regulations, Air and Water Pollution, and Infant Mortality in India. Harvard Kennedy School. WebsiteAbstract
Using the most comprehensive data file ever compiled on air pollution, water pollution, environmental regulations, and infant mortality from a developing country, the paper examines the effectiveness of India’s environmental regulations. The air pollution regulations were effective at reducing ambient concentrations of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The most successful air pollution regulation is associated with a modest and statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. However, the water pollution regulations had no observable effect. Overall, these results contradict the conventional wisdom that environmental quality is a deterministic function of income and underscore the role of institutions and politics.
HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP11-034, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.Harvard DASH repository: PDF
Rodrik, Dani. 2011. The Future of Convergence. Harvard Kennedy School. WebsiteAbstract
Novelists have a better track record than economists at foretelling the future. Consider then Gary Shteyngart’s timely comic novel Super Sad True Love Story (Random House, 2010), which provides a rather graphic vision of what lies in store for the world economy. The novel takes place in the near future and is set against the backdrop of a United States that lies in economic and political ruin. The country’s bankrupt economy is ruled with a firm hand by the IMF from its new Parthenon-shaped headquarters in Singapore. China and sovereign wealth funds have parceled America’s most desirable real estate among themselves. Poor people are designated as LNWI (“low net worth individuals”) and are being pushed into ghettoes. Even skilled Americans are desperate to acquire residency status in foreign lands. This is sheer fantasy of course, but one that seems to resonate well with the collective mood. A future in which the US and other advanced economies are forced to play second fiddle to the dynamic emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere is rapidly becoming cliché. This vision is based in part on the very rapid pace of economic growth that emerging and developing economies experienced in the run-up to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Latin America benefited from a pace of economic development that it had not experienced since the 1970s, and Africa began to close the gap with the advanced countries for the first time since countries in the continent received their independence. Even though most of these countries were hit badly by the crisis, their recovery has also been swift. Optimism on developing countries is matched by pessimism on the rich country front. The United States and Europe have emerged from the crisis with debilitating challenges. They need to address a crushing debt burden and its unpleasant implications for fiscal and monetary policy. They also need to replace growth models which were based in many instances on finance, real estate, and unsustainable levels of borrowing. Japan has long ceased to exhibit any growth dynamism. And the eurozone’s future remains highly uncertain—with the economic and political ramifications of its unraveling looking nothing less than scary. In such an environment, rapid growth in the developing world is the only thing that could propel the world economy forward and generate increasing demand for rich-country goods and services—the only silver lining in an otherwise dreary future. The question I address in this paper is whether this gap in performance between the developed and developing worlds can continue, and in particular, whether developing nations can sustain the rapid growth they have experienced of late. I will not have anything to say on the prospects for the advanced economies themselves, assuming, along with conventional wisdom, that their growth will remain sluggish at best. My focus is squarely on the developing and emerging countries and on the likelihood of continued convergence.
HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP11-033, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.Harvard DASH repository: PDF
Norris, Pippa. 2011. Making Democratic-Governance Work: The Consequences for Prosperity. Harvard Kennedy School. WebsiteAbstract
Does democratic governance expand wealth and prosperity? There is no consensus about this issue despite the fact that for more than half a century, rival theories about the regime-growth relationship have been repeatedly tested against the empirical evidence, using a variety of cases, models and techniques. To consider the issues, Part I of this paper reviews and summarizes theories why regimes are expected to influence economic growth directly, either positively or negatively. After considering these debates, Part II discusses the technical challenges facing research on this topic and how it is proposed to overcome these. Part III presents the results of the comparative analysis for the effects of democratic governance on economic growth during recent decades. The descriptive results illustrate the main relationships. The multivariate models check whether these patterns remain significant after controlling for many other factors associated with growth, including geography, economic conditions, social structural variables, cultural legacies, and global trends. The evidence supports the equilibrium thesis suggesting that regimes combining both liberal democracy and bureaucratic governance are most likely to generate growth, while by contrast patronage autocracies display the worst economic performance. The conclusion considers the implications.
Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP11-035, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.Harvard DASH repository:http://nrs.harvard.ed/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:5131502Download PDF
Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border
St. John, Rachel. 2011. Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border. Princeton University Press. WebsiteAbstract
Line in the Sand details the dramatic transformation of the western US-Mexico border from its creation at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 to the emergence of the modern boundary line in the first decades of the twentieth century. In this sweeping narrative, Rachel St. John explores how this boundary changed from a mere line on a map to a clearly marked and heavily regulated divide between the United States and Mexico. Focusing on the desert border to the west of the Rio Grande, this book explains the origins of the modern border and places the line at the center of a transnational history of expanding capitalism and state power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.Moving across local, regional, and national scales, St. John shows how government officials, Native American raiders, ranchers, railroad builders, miners, investors, immigrants, and smugglers contributed to the rise of state power on the border and developed strategies to navigate the increasingly regulated landscape. Over the border's history, the US and Mexican states gradually developed an expanding array of official laws, ad hoc arrangements, government agents, and physical barriers that did not close the line, but made it a flexible barrier that restricted the movement of some people, goods, and animals without impeding others. By the 1930s, their efforts had created the foundations of the modern border control apparatus.Drawing on extensive research in US and Mexican archives, Line in the Sand weaves together a transnational history of how an undistinguished strip of land became the significant and symbolic space of state power and national definition that we know today.
The Resurgence of the Latin American Left
Levitsky, Steven. 2011. The Resurgence of the Latin American Left. The Johns Hopkins University Press. WebsiteAbstract
Latin America experienced an unprecedented wave of left-leaning governments between 1998 and 2010. This volume examines the causes of this leftward turn and the consequences it carries for the region in the twenty-first century.The Resurgence of the Latin American Left asks three central questions: Why have left-wing parties and candidates flourished in Latin America? How have these leftist parties governed, particularly in terms of social and economic policy? What effects has the rise of the Left had on democracy and development in the region? The book addresses these questions through two sections. The first looks at several major themes regarding the contemporary Latin American Left, including whether Latin American public opinion actually shifted leftward in the 2000s, why the Left won in some countries but not in others, and how the left turn has affected market economies, social welfare, popular participation in politics, and citizenship rights. The second section examines social and economic policy and regime trajectories in eight cases: those of leftist governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as that of a historically populist party that governed on the right in Peru. Featuring a new typology of Left parties in Latin America, an original framework for identifying and categorizing variation among these governments, and contributions from prominent and influential scholars of Latin American politics, this historical-institutional approach to understanding the region's left turn—and variation within it—is the most comprehensive explanation to date on the topic.
Nye, Joseph S., Jr., Stephen M Walt, and Jr. Allison, Graham T. 2011. What Role Should the U.S. Play in Middle East?. Website
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. Is Greece a Failing Developed State?. The Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy Yearbook 2011. WebsiteAbstract
Is the Greek crisis an isolated case or the first of a series of future failing developed states? The Greek financial crisis is not on the front page of the Financial Times anymore, but it is far from over. The financial crisis did not manifest itself in Greece alone. Ireland has also sought an equally large EU-IMF rescue plan. Portugal and Spain have been under the microscope of the media and credit rating institutions. Such other instances in the Eurozone’s periphery have repercussions for the currency as a whole as well as for the EU (Straubhaar, 2010). Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are members of the Eurozone area, which means that they share the same currency with economic giants such as Germany and France.
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. This is No 1989 Moment for the Arab World. WebsiteAbstract
Analogies will be drawn in the coming weeks between the recent popular uprisings, most notably in Egypt, and the events beginning in 1989 and continuing into the early 1990s that brought democracy to much of the former Eastern bloc. In what is known as the third wave of democratisation (the first being in the early 1800s and the second being after the second world war), the Solidarity movement in Poland informed the peaceful transitions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the transition to democracy in Hungary and the reunification of Germany. It is no stretch to say that the political leadership and leaders of the opposition movements learned from one another throughout the tumult of the 1980s and into the 1990s. Much as social media today has been touted as a spur to democratic movements in the Middle East, pirate radio bombarded the Eastern bloc with information about democratic successes in other countries, as well as the ominous alternative posed by Tiananmen Square. But while the wave following the fall of the Berlin Wall created a period of unprecedented security across the European continent, the current wave of uprisings could create a corridor of failed states stretching from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the frontiers of Europe in southern Turkey. The "fourth wave" narrative goes something like this: just as a host of communist dictators—Jaruzelski in Poland, Honecker in Germany and Németh in Hungary—were swept away by the third wave, the fall of Bakiev in Kyrgyzstan and Ben Ali in Tunisia and the uncertain perches of Mubarak in Egypt and Saleh in Yemen signal a new wave of democratisation. The continuing crisis in Egypt, Saleh's announcement that he will not seek re-election, the reshuffling of the Jordanian cabinet and whispers of protest in Syria contain the promise of a "1989 moment" throughout the greater Middle East. But important differences between recent events and the third wave are already apparent. In the third wave, Romania was the only country that experienced a violent transition to democracy. Things look different this time around, in great part because today's nondemocratic leaders took their own lessons from the third wave. Instead of tanks and troops, and top-down repression a la Tiananmen Square the new oppressors of democratisation are the Basij, the "pro-government protesters," the plainclothes security personnel, the agents provocateurs inciting violence and instability. As the iron curtain began to fall in Europe, leaders such as Honecker and Jaruzelski weighed the costs of violent repression on the stability of their regimes, essentially deciding between increased authoritarianism and liberalisation. If there truly is a "new wave", it is characterised by a group of regimes that have learned to pass the decision between power and stability on to the protestors by creating environments of insecurity and fostering the conditions for state failure through tactics such as throwing open the prison doors and sponsoring thugs engaged in street violence. The opposition movements are left to decide whether to continue to press for their ideal outcome while the apparatus of governance teeters closer to collapse, or to negotiate with the regime while facing the potential erosion of the movement's credibility. Further complicating this "new wave" is the role political Islam plays in western security circles. The transition of Soviet bloc states into the democratic fold was seen and understood as a victory against an ideological enemy: the vast USSR. The third wave delegitimated the Soviet style of governance as the massive bureaucratic state crumbled under increasing pressure for political liberalisation, both internally and externally. In the "new wave", things are different. In the eyes of the west, the crowds are as likely to be its ideological enemies as are the regimes in power—autocracy in the presidential palace is balanced by the spectre of radical Islam in the streets. Whether these fears are well grounded remains to be seen, but western states look to the electoral successes of Hamas and Hezbollah as establishing a worrying precedent in the region. And for all the democratising potential of social media, today's improved analogue to Radio Free Europe, its powers are particularised and circumscribed. While it is true that social media have increased the capacity of the population to hold autocrats more accountable, they cannot solve pressing problems such as blocked social mobility and sky-high unemployment rates. Even if today's movements manage to oust dictators and move toward free and fair elections, the frustrations and grievances of the populations supporting the movements will not necessarily be addressed. Such a development might lead to further disillusionment inside the protest movements—and this time with democracy. The characteristics of this "new wave" matter for reasons that go beyond the potential satisfaction of seeing democracy flourish in new spots on the globe. Where in the past authoritarian leaders clamped down on their populations, snuffing democracy but maintaining security, there seems to be an emerging trend of authoritarian leaders letting their states collapse like poorly built houses of cards, with no guarantee of democracy or security. While it is possible that the Egyptian uprising may result in a Turkish-style democratic state, a corridor of state failure from Kinshasa to Beirut is also not an unlikely outcome. That such stakes are now in play only underscores the necessity of re-examining the west's historical role in supporting the type of personalistic dictatorships that are now under siege, and the familiar cultural arguments that these states have never been democratic—and lack the capacity ever to be become democratic.
Co-author Wilder Bullard is a research assistant at the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia.
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. The End of Peaceful Protest?. WebsiteAbstract
During the three days that the Greek Parliament was discussing and voting on the latest round of austerity measures, 138 police officers were injured, more than 500 protesters were hospitalized with breathing problems caused by the use of tear gas by the police, Syntagma metro station resembled a wartime hospital, tens of protesters were wounded, while 46 demonstrators were taken to police stations and 11 of them arrested on June 29 alone. The police brutality was unprecedented according to Skai news and many witness accounts. Through Twitter, Facebook, email, and text messages, the Greek protesters spread the word of indiscriminate police beatings. A peaceful protester injured by the police called a radio station to express his consternation at the attack he suffered at the hands of the police, “who are supposed to be there to protect citizens.” He further argued that he was there to “protest for Greece and its rights, so why was I attacked by another Greek?” Another citizen claimed that he was almost beaten by motorcycle police while walking around recording the events with a camera and that what saved him was an old expired press pass. At the same time, families were calling in reporting brute force without any provocation on their part. Many citizens, especially older ones, claim that they tried to talk to the police officers and dissuade them from using chemicals against simple protesters but to no avail. Amnesty International had already condemned Greece for the use of force against protesters on June 15. June 29 was much worse. There are several possible explanations for why Greek police used such force. One view is that it was hard for them to tell which were peaceful demonstrators and which were troublemakers. The police might have felt threatened by the mayhem. They may have determined that if they did not strike first, the protesters would attack them. An alternative explanation is that the government wanted to break the “Indignant” movement using force. The vast majority of protesters saw the events as a strategy employed by the state to keep them from protesting. After all, most protesters were family types who were not going to remain there under such circumstances. And as expected, they fled the scene. The ones left were younger, more determined and enraged and, again expectedly, engaged in street fights with the police. Thus, what was a peaceful demonstration that challenged the legitimacy of the government, if not the Parliament as a whole, turned into the “usual” fight between the “known unknowns” -- as they are often referred to -- and the police forces. On top of this, some believe the government planted provocateurs among the peaceful protesters to justify the escalation. Regardless of whether this hypothesis is true or not, the mere perception is damaging to the reputation of the government and the police. Let’s hope that these events have not killed peaceful protest. All this violence was happening while those inside the Parliament had just voted in favor of the new austerity measures. Many think that it was much more convenient for the government that people were discussing police brutality rather than the midterm plan that was being voted on. Regardless of motivation, that was indeed the case. The next day, June 30, when the government had to vote on the implementation law of the plan, there was hardly anyone in the ruins of Syntagma Square and the discussion within the Parliament had turned into a discussion about the quality of democracy and the right of people to demonstrate freely. Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis, who is ironically now called the citizens’ protection minister, made an analytical distinction between governmental and police responsibility. The head of the main opposition New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, suggested that the scenes raised questions about the existence of state-sponsored provocateurs. However, ND deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis later rushed to congratulate the police officers and, together with Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, repeated the high number of police officers wounded during the street battles. The leader of the right-wing nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, suggested that special recognition should be given to the Evzones presidential guards because they remained in position before the Parliament during the fighting despite the fact that tears were running down their faces due to the chemicals used against the protesters. Dora Bakoyannis, the head of the Democratic Alliance political grouping who was expelled from the main opposition ND party in 2010, commented only on the destruction of Hania MPs’ offices by a raging crowd. The parties of the left were furious and suggested that the democratic foundations of the political system have cracked. Of course, in the end the vote passed.
Nye, Joseph S., Jr. 2011. Zakaria's World. WebsiteAbstract
Fareed Zakaria is one of our most perceptive analysts of America's role in the world, and I generally agree with him. But in the case of his new special essay for Time, "Are America's Best Days Behind Us?," I think he paints too gloomy a picture of American decline. Americans are prone to cycles of belief in decline, and the term itself confuses various dimensions of changing power relations. Some see the American problem as imperial overstretch (though as a percentage of GDP, the United States spends half as much on defense as it did during the Cold War); some see the problem as relative decline caused by the rise of others (though that process could still leave the United States more powerful than any other country); and still others see it as a process of absolute decline or decay such as occurred in the fall of ancient Rome (though Rome was an agrarian society with stagnant economic growth and internecine strife). Such projections are not new. As Zakaria notes, America's Founding Fathers worried about comparisons to the decline of the Roman Republic. A strand of cultural pessimism is simply very American, extending back to the country's Puritan roots. English novelist Charles Dickens observed a century and a half ago: "[I]f its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed, [America] always is depressed, and always is stagnated, and always is at an alarming crisis, and never was otherwise." In the last half-century, polls showed Americans believed in their decline after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, after Richard Nixon's devaluation of the dollar and the oil shocks in the 1970s, and after the closing of Rust Belt industries and the budget deficits of Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s. At the end of that decade, a majority of Americans believed their country was in decline; yet within the next 10 years they believed that America was the sole superpower. And now, after the 2008 financial crisis and recession, polls show a majority believes in decline again. These cycles of declinism tell us more about Americans' collective psychology than underlying shifts in power resources, but as British journalist Gideon Rachman argued in these pages recently, maybe this time decline is real. After all, as the Congressional Budget Office warns, on current trends the U.S. national debt will be equal to its GDP in a decade, and that will undermine confidence in the dollar. Zakaria lists other worrying indicators related to education and infrastructure. According to the OECD, American 15-year-olds rank 17th in the world in science and 25th in math. The United States is 12th in college graduation rates, 23rd in infrastructure, and 27th in life expectancy. On the other side of the ledger, America ranks first among rich countries in guns, crime, and debt. All these are very real problems, but one could also note that the United States is still first in total R&D expenditures, first in university rankings, first in Nobel prizes, first on indices of entrepreneurship, and according to the World Economic Forum, the fourth-most competitive economy in the world (behind the small states of Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore).The United States remains at the forefront of technologies of the future like biotechnology and nanotechnology. This is hardly a picture of absolute economic decay, ancient Rome style. The truth is that one can draw a picture of the United States today that emphasizes either dark or bright colors without being wrong. No one can be sure which shade better portrays the future because the number of potential futures is vast, and which one comes to pass will depend in part on decisions not yet made. Drawing on the thinking of Mancur Olson, the late great political economist, Zakaria believes that America's very success has made its decision processes sclerotic, like that of industrial Britain. But American culture is far more entrepreneurial and decentralized than that of Britain, where the sons of industrial entrepreneurs sought aristocratic titles and honors in London. If Olson is right, Zakaria says, the solution is to "stay flexible." And despite recurrent historical bouts of concern about it, immigration helps keep America flexible. In 2005, according to Forbes, foreign-born immigrants had participated in one of every four technology start-ups in the previous decade. As Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew once put it, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, but the United States not only draws on a talent pool of 7 billion, but can recombine them in a diverse culture that enhances creativity in a way that ethnic Han nationalism cannot. Zakaria also worries about the inefficient American political system. But the Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances precisely to preserve liberties at the price of efficiency. Moreover, just because we are now going through a period of excessively partisan politics and mistrust of government doesn't mean the American political system is in decline. Some aspects of the current mood are probably cyclical and related to unemployment, while others represent discontent with the bickering and deadlock in today's political process. Compared with the recent past, party politics has indeed become more polarized, but nasty politics is nothing new and goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers. Supporters of John Adams reputedly once called Thomas Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." Part of the problem of accurate assessment is that faith in government became abnormally high among the generation that survived the Great Depression and won World War II. Over the long view of American history, it was overconfidence in government in the 1950s and early 1960s, not low levels thereafter, that was the anomaly. American government and politics have always had problems, sometimes worse than today's. In assessing political decline, one must beware of the golden glow of the past. It is easy to show decline if one compares the good in the past with the bad in the present. In addition, we sometimes mistakenly idealize the efficiency of the political process in authoritarian countries like China. When it comes to infrastructure, for example, it is far easier to build high-speed rail lines where there are weak property rights and few lawyers. But if one looks at the important question of how Chinese leaders are struggling to implement their 12th five-year plan -- reducing dependence on exports, shifting to internal demand, and reducing regional inequality by moving industry to the west -- China is far from efficient. Although central bankers and economic planners know that revaluing the yuan would promote these goals and help head off inflation, a strong coalition of coastal export industries and associated local party bosses seeks to preserve the status quo. Zakaria notes that one Asian country after another is learning the secrets of Western success, and he is right. In The Future of Power, I argue that one of the two great power shifts of this century is the recovery of Asia to what it represented before the Industrial Revolution led to the ascendance of the West: more than half the world's population and its economic production. We should herald Asia's recovery -- it has brought millions out of dire poverty-- but those with excessive fear of China should remember that Asia is not one entity. In his important book Rivals, Bill Emmott reminds us that Japan, India, and others that are concerned about the rise of China welcome an American presence. Can anyone similarly imagine Canada and Mexico seeking a Chinese alliance to balance American power in their neighborhood? Nor is China likely to surpass America anytime soon. Yes, barring political uncertainties, China's size and high rate of economic growth will almost certainly increase its strength relative to that of the United States. Still, China won't necessarily become the world's most powerful country as a result. Even if China suffers no major domestic political setback, many of the current projections based on GDP growth alone are too one-dimensional. They ignore what are likely to be enduring U.S. military and soft-power advantages, as well as China's geopolitical disadvantages in the internal Asian balance of power. Zakaria is correct that the United States faces serious problems. But issues that preoccupy us today, such as long-term debt, are not insoluble; see for example, the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission, and remember that only a decade ago some people worried about the government surplus. Of course, such solutions may forever remain out of reach. But it is worth distinguishing situations for which there are no solutions from those that could, in principle, be solved. The greatest danger to America is not debt, political paralysis, or China; it is parochialism, turning away from the openness that is the source of its strength and resting on its laurels. As Zakaria says, in the past, worrying about decline has helped avert it. Let us hope that his intelligent though darkly drawn picture will yet again start that healthy process. 
Iyer, Lakshmi. 2011. The Power of Political Voice: Women's Political Representation and Crime in India.. Harvard Business School. WebsiteAbstract
Using state-level variation in the timing of political reforms, we find that an increase in female representation in local government induces a large and significant rise in documented crimes against women in India. Our evidence suggests that this increase is good news, driven primarily by greater reporting rather than greater incidence of such crimes. In contrast, we find no increase in crimes against men or gender-neutral crimes. We also examine the effectiveness of alternative forms of political representation: large scale membership of women in local councils affects crime against them more than their presence in higher level leadership positions.
Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 11-092, March 2011.Download PDF
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. Analysis of Greece’s Cabinet Reshuffle. WebsiteAbstract
Three weeks of peaceful street protests; a couple of Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) members of parliament resigning this week; a few more PASOK members of parliament challenging the leadership qualities of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou; rampant unemployment; violent clashes with the police; and one of the worst financial crises in modern Greek history culminated today in...a cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister Papandreou is facing the most intense criticism since his election in October of 2009, both from his party and from Greek society. What on Wednesday night looked like a grand coalition government with the main opposition party, Nea Demokratia, was transformed on Thursday into an intra-party “reshuffling for elections.” The new government was sworn in on June 17 and will be up for a confidence vote on June 21. The opposition parties are not impressed with the reshuffle. Most citizens reacted by saying “same old, same old.” Not much is expected from this new government. Why is that? To begin with, Papandreou's effort to regain the confidence of the Greek public began with the ambitious idea of a coalition government including many technocrats but ended up with a mild cabinet reshuffling satisfying the narrow interests of the ruling political party rather than effectively tackling the mounting problems. For example, his efforts to recruit Lucas Papademos, an experienced economist that has served as vice president of the European Central Bank, as a Minister of Finance did not bear fruit. This is just one example of the failure of Papandreou to bring technocrats into the government. Instead, Evangelos Venizelos, a professor of constitutional law and until today defense minister, took up the burden. Moreover, Theodoros Pangalos remained deputy prime minister despite the fact that he has been the target of most of the chants of the street protesters for the past three weeks. Most ministers were not changed and three important ministers were demoted but not fired—the Ministers of Finance, Interior, and Justice. However, there is a more positive way to read the news. Papandreou managed to build a team that agrees with him, to improve the internal cohesion of the party, and to share the burden with the rest of PASOK. One step was to remove Katseli, who was probably a victim of her disagreements with the Troika (European Central Bank, IMF, European Commission), from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. To appease the political base of PASOK and silence a wave of internal criticism that has been mounting within his party he removed from the government some of his close friends that had been intensely criticized and included some of his personal critics in the government. Last but not least, by promoting Venizelos—his party rival and contestant for the leadership of the party just a few years ago—to deputy Prime Minister. Adding a second deputy Prime Minister position for Venizelos, Papandreou significantly changed the dynamic within PASOK. Party cohesion is a arguably a precondition for the government to pass the new bundle of austerity measures required to secure more loans from the EU/IMF. Despite these cooptation tactics, however, the new government has already found its critics from within the party. A few minutes after the new government was sworn in, PASOK MP Voudouris argued that the reshuffle was unsatisfactory. Regardless, as a result of this reshuffle, the whole political party is seen as an “accomplice” of Prime Minister Papandreou in this effort. There are also important changes in the functioning of the government. The Prime Minister re-created a “Government Committee”—something that has been a demand of many party members—where the most important policies are normally decided. The irony is that it is both oversized, with ten Ministers participating, and lacks the key Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense. These changes aim to enhance Papandreou’s ability to delegate responsibility and for the government to coordinate more efficiently. Another important fact is that Pangalos will not be part of the “Government Committee” — something that might appease some of his many critics. Turning to the Ministry of Finance—the hot potato of this affair—most people believe that Venizelos may be better in the negotiations than the previous Minister of Finance, Papaconstantinou. Venizelos is an experienced politician and charismatic speaker. He has served as minister of culture, justice, transportation, and development. Nevertheless, he is not an economist and thus he will have to rely on the advice of others. Finally, two promising new faces in the government are Stavros Lambrinidis, (BA from Amherst, JD from Yale), the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and LSE Professor Elias Mossialos, the new government spokesman and Minister of State. In the meantime, this Sunday the Eurogroup is meeting in Brussels to decide on the next installment from the EU/IMF bailout package. It seems that the developments in Greece have also alarmed Sarkozy and Merkel to the point that they rushed to declare that they will provide further assistance to Greece and that the private sector can also participate in this scheme on voluntary basis — a highly contested point so far. Nevertheless, with few exceptions, the changes have not impressed the Greek people—who are still waiting for social justice, more just redistribution, and have grown impatient with political parties— and it is unlikely that they will restore the confidence of our foreign creditors. If this new government fails to regain the confidence of the people then we will have early elections. And one thing is certain. From these elections a one party government will not emerge.
Trade and Poverty: When the Third World Fell Behind
Williamson, Jeffery G. 2011. Trade and Poverty: When the Third World Fell Behind. The MIT Press. WebsiteAbstract
Today's wide economic gap between the postindustrial countries of the West and the poorer countries of the third world is not new. Fifty years ago, the world economic order - two hundred years in the making - was already characterized by a vast difference in per capita income between rich and poor countries and by the fact that poor countries exported commodities (agricultural or mineral products) while rich countries exported manufactured products. In Trade and Poverty, leading economic historian Jeffrey G. Williamson traces the great divergence between the third world and the West to this nexus of trade, commodity specialization, and poverty. Analyzing the role of specialization, de-industrialization, and commodity price volatility with econometrics and case studies of India, Ottoman Turkey, and Mexico, Williamson demonstrates why the close correlation between trade and poverty emerged. Globalization and the great divergence were causally related, and thus the rise of globalization over the past two centuries helps account for the income gap between rich and poor countries today.
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. The Empire Strikes Back?. WebsiteAbstract
The ripples from the debates in the capitals of European powers concerning military intervention in an oil-producing Middle Eastern country run by an enigmatic dictator once thought to have a WMD program spread far. Accusations of military adventurism under the cloak of humanitarian intervention strain alliances. This could be a description of the relationship between the Bush administration and the United Kingdom on one side, and France and Germany in the 2002–03 buildup to the Iraq War. But now the roles have changed. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged caution and limited goals and methods. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Alain Juppe recognized the Libyan rebels as the legitimate government and flew the first sorties against targets in Libya before the allies could agree on a proper course of action. Only Germany has remained constant by effectively withdrawing from not only the campaign in Libya, but from its Mediterranean NATO presence. What has changed? The drama of the Surge, followed by the new administration in Washington, made uncertain the possibility of another military intervention in the Middle East or elsewhere. In the US and in France, Obama and the new French President Sarkozy opposed the war in Iraq and sought to rebuild their alliance. Although Sarkozy changed the direction of France’s foreign policy during the Chirac years, Rumsfeld’s label of Old Europe remained. Sarkozy pushed and received parliamentary support for France's military mission in Afghanistan and, while holding the EU rotating presidency, spearheaded the effort to begin negotiations and a ceasefire for the Russia-Georgia War in 2008. France, from the opposition, began turning into a member of the “coalition,” leading up to a more aggressive role patrolling the Horn of Africa, conducting military operations in West Africa, and most recently in the Libyan and Ivory Coast interventions. So what caused this change? New leadership in France, the United Kingdom and the United States? A spirit of multilateralism over unilateralism? Another period of UN activism, similar to the early 1990s—at least before the Somalia failure? The legal explanation would be to assert that unlike the current campaign in Libya, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 had no direct and public support from the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, or the Arab League. However, while UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, France acted unilaterally, conducting offensive operations before the allies, both Atlantic and Middle Eastern, agreed to a course of action and the scope of operations. The public support of Arab states, absent in 2003, might have also added to the legitimacy of the French unilaterally beginning kinetic operations and recognizing the rebel leadership. The Tricolor can be seen waving in the streets of Benghazi. But skeptics remain. Following a slow start getting in sync with the "Arab Spring," Sarkozy's charge in Libya comes from a desire to recover prestige lost in Egypt and Tunisia and hopes for his countrymen to rally around the flag during election season. A show of successful military intervention in the cause of humanitarian intervention can help in the polls. Still material determinists look to the oil refineries at Ras Lanuf or Brega and see an explanation there, but Ivory Coast is less of a clear-cut case. While the true motivators for France’s “return” may remain unclear in perpetuity, a more assertive France has large implications for business-as-usual across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. When many European powers have contributed men and firepower to the mission in Libya, the European Union has been remarkably absent. When discussions of the Common Security and Defense Policy of the EU begin, the question "Where were you in Libya?" might be a difficult one to overcome. Ironically, European states seem to take more action when the EU is not involved. Cathy Ashton, the bloc’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, was hardly central in the decision to intervene or the coordination of the multinational force. The unintended consequence of Sarkozy’s policy may be the erosion of the EU as a security policy-making institution. Until the crowds in places like Benghazi or Yamoussoukro cheer a flag with golden stars on a blue background, the Tricolor, the Union Jack, and the Stars and Stripes will continue to be the key players in international security.
Co-author Wilder Bullard is a research assistant at the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia.
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. From Possibility to Austerity. WebsiteAbstract
In the wake of the Cold War, the United States faced an ongoing dilemma of superpower proportions: Should it accept the global policeman’s badge and use its military might to patrol the world’s trouble spots? In many cases, it did. Ironically, following a decade-long spending spree, the question is no longer whether the US should continue honoring this responsibility, but rather whether it can afford to do so.Trumpeting the benefits of economic interdependence around the globe, US policymakers have overlooked the potential costs of free trade and unrestricted capital flows that developing country politicians internalized years ago. Now U.S. officials are reminded that when economic interdependence turns into economic dependence, it creates a harsh reality where the politics of possibility can quickly become the politics of austerity. A growing foreign debt has not only changed US domestic politics, but also infused more of a multilateral tone into its global politics. Notwithstanding the US’s seismic economic and military strength, partisan conflict over domestic budgetary pressures exposes the fault lines of the post-Cold War hegemonic order. Over the last decade, the US government adopted a strategy from the Latin American playbook, opting to use foreign funds to finance its budget deficits. In a management blunder of historic magnitude, George W. Bush swung the federal budget surplus deeply into the red. Borrowing trillions of dollars from foreigners, including China, the Bush administration funneled debt proceeds toward lofty tax cuts, a dual-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan, “global war on terror,” and homeland security spending. Shockingly, the Bush administration not only expanded national debt by one-quarter of its size in eight short years, but in doing so, became increasingly reliant on foreign creditors. This practice was a clear break from the past. By the end of Bush’s time in office, foreigners held about two-thirds of the government’s total debt. In light of the dollar’s global reserve currency status, the US government should continue to readily attract foreign capital for the foreseeable future. However, the US suffers from a more immediate vulnerability. Against the backdrop of the Republicans’ mid-term election victory, spending cuts have again taken center stage. Reminiscent of the Contract for America, House Speaker John Boehner and his cadre of Republican peers are proposing billions in budget cuts that include foreign military and developmental aid. In his State of the Union address, President Obama similarly seized the “post-crisis” political window, emphasizing the need to reverse the country’s “legacy of deficit spending.” The emergence of austerity politics in North America has important geopolitical implications. Is the United States’ ability for global leadership waning? While a wave of democratization and the proliferation of new states flourished in the 1990s under the watchful eyes—and active support—of the United States (and its allies), today this commitment may be wavering. The substantial drop in US foreign aid, investments and contributions toward weak states around the developing world could be seen as important signs of this trend. Pundits have commented on the US absence in the most recent wave of protests in the Middle East; part of this was dictated by the politics of austerity at home. Despite its low-profile and multilateral approach during the Libyan intervention, the Obama administration still met significant domestic resistance from across the political spectrum. In the hopes of enhancing its geopolitical sphere of influence, the US government has often invested in the smallest nations (e.g. trading preferences, IMF financing privileges, military investments, and development aid). Indeed, although the economic rules of the game are skewed in its favor, the US sometimes changes these rules to benefit the smallest nations for political purposes. With the rise of austerity politics, however, the U.S. may not be as willing—or able—to extend such trade and finance benefits to smaller nations. Cloaked in a rhetoric of economic nationalism and austerity, the US may withdraw support from small, strategically less important countries, like Djibouti, placing the latter’s economic and political survival at risk. The US urges developing nations to open their borders, yet it champions “Buy American” shovel-ready projects and its own protection for pharmaceuticals. Refusing to liberalize its agricultural sector, the US has left the multilateral Doha development round mired in a stalemate, instead aggressively negotiating bilateral deals with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. Faced with such economic institutional gridlock globally and higher budget constraints domestically, does the United States still have the political will and resources to preserve all of its spheres of influence? Is it willing to be the world’s sheriff, especially given its recent difficulties in Afghanistan and Pakistan? There is a very real temptation for the United States to neglect the prosperity and security of the periphery. Mired in its own economic struggles, the US may contemplate withdrawing from its geopolitical commitments. But there is rarely a void in the international system. Other actors, such as Iran, Russia or China, may seek to fill it. Whether conflict is instigated internally such as in Libya or by the interference of stronger neighbors such as in Bahrain, political opportunism could quickly escalate into full-blown conflict. Like the slow plunging of ice shelves into the arctic, the vulnerabilities least visible from the center may be precisely those that most threaten the global system’s long-term viability.
Co-author Stephen B. Kaplan is an assistant professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.
Kay, Tamara. 2011. Legal Transnationalism: The Relationship between Transnational Social Movement Building and International Law. Law & Social Inquiry: Journal of the American Bar Foundation. WebsiteAbstract
This article examines the compelling enigma of how the introduction of a new international law, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), helped stimulate labor cooperation and collaboration in the 1990s. It offers a theory of legal transnationalism—defined as processes by which international laws and legal mechanisms facilitate social movement building at the transnational level—that explains how nascent international legal institutions and mechanisms can help develop collective interests, build social movements, and, ultimately, stimulate cross-border collaboration and cooperation. It identifies three primary dimensions of legal transnationalism that explain how international laws stimulate and constrain movement building through: (1) formation of collective identity and interests (constitutive effects), (2) facilitation of collective action (mobilization effects), and (3) adjudication and enforcement (redress effects).
Allison, Graham T., Jr. 2011. America’s Choices—and Their Costs. WebsiteAbstract
America's last 10 years might be called “The Decade the Locusts Ate.’’ A nation that started with a credible claim to lead a second American century lost its way after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Whether the nation will continue on a path of decline, or, alternatively, find our way to recovery and renewal, is uncertain.The nation began the decade with a growing fiscal surplus and ended with a deficit so uncontrolled that its AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in its history. Ten years on, Americans’ confidence in our country and the promise of the American Dream is lower than at any point in memory. The indispensable superpower that entered the decade as the most respected nation in the world has seen its standing plummet. Seven out of every 10 Americans say that the United States is worse off today than it was a decade ago. While many of the factors that contributed to these developments were evident before 9/11, this unprecedented reversal pivots on that tragic day - and the choices made in response to it. Those choices had costs: the inescapable costs of the attack, the chosen costs, and the opportunity costs.Inescapable costs of 9/11 must be counted first in the 3,000 innocent lives extinguished that morning. In addition, the collapse of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon destroyed $30 billion of property. The Dow plunged, erasing $1.2 trillion in value. Psychologically, the assault punctured the “security bubble’’ in which most Americans imagined they lived securely. Today, 80 percent of Americans expect another major terrorist attack on the homeland in the next decade.Were this the sum of the matter, 9/11 would stand as a day of infamy, but not as an historic turning point. Huge as these directs costs are, they pale in comparison to costs of choices the United States made in response to 9/11: about how to defend America; where to fight Al Qaeda; whether to attack Iraq (or Iran or North Korea) on grounds that they had chemical or biological weapons that could be transferred to Al Qaeda; and whether to pay for these choices by taxing the current generation, or borrowing from China and other lenders, leaving the bills to the next generation.Unquestionably, much of what was done to protect citizens at home and to fight Al Qaeda abroad has made America safer. It is no accident that the United States has not suffered further megaterrorist attacks. The remarkable intelligence and Special Forces capabilities demonstrated in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden suggest how far we have come.But the central storyline of the decade focuses on two choices made by President George W. Bush—his decision to go to war with Iraq and his commitment to cut taxes, especially for wealthy Americans, and thus not to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The cost of his decision to go to war with Iraq is measured in 4,478 American deaths, 40,000 Americans gravely wounded, and a monetary cost of $2 trillion.Bush justified his decision to attack Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein might arm terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, arguing that “19 hijackers armed by Saddam Hussein… could bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.’’ In retrospect, even Bush supporters agree that we went to war on false premises—since we now know that Saddam had no chemical or biological weapons.Suppose, however, that chemical weapons had been found in Iraq. Would that have made Bush’s choice a wise decision? What about the many other states that had chemical or biological weapons that could have been transferred to Al Qaeda, for example Libya, or Syria, or Iran? What about the state that unquestionably had an advanced nuclear weapons program, North Korea, which took advantage of the US preoccupation with Iraq to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons and conduct its first nuclear weapons test?As for cutting taxes for the wealthy, Bush’s decision left the nation with a widening gap between government revenues and its expenditures. Brute facts are hard to ignore: having entered office with a budgetary surplus that the CBO projected would total $3.5 trillion through 2008, Bush left office with an annual deficit of over $1 trillion that the CBO projected would grow to $3 trillion over the next decade.Finally, and most difficult to assess, are opportunity costs, what could be Robert Frost’s “road not taken.’’ In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the United States was the object of overwhelming international sympathy and solidarity. The leading French newspaper declared: “We are all Americans.’’ Citizens united behind their commander in chief, giving him license to do virtually anything he could plausibly argue would defend us against future attacks.This rare combination of readiness to sacrifice at home plus solidarity abroad sparked imagination. Would Americans have willingly paid a “terrorist tax’’ on gas that could kick what Bush rightly called America’s “oil addiction’’? Could an international campaign against nuclear terrorism or megaterrorism have bent trend lines that leave Americans and the world increasingly vulnerable to future biological or nuclear terrorist attacks? What impact could $2 trillion invested in new technologies have had on American competitiveness?That such a decade leaves Americans increasingly pessimistic about ourselves and our future is not surprising. American history, however, is a story of recurring, impending catastrophes from which there is no apparent escape—followed by miraculous recoveries. At one of our darkest hours in 1776 when defeat at the hands of the British occupying Boston seemed almost certain, the general commanding American forces, George Washington, observed: “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.’’