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Article Alert of December 1, 2011

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Article Alert is a bi-weekly service that helps you select and read the best of America's journal literature on a variety of international relations topics, as well as U.S. domestics issues. It is published every 2 weeks except for August. When no full text is available online Article Alert subscribers can request a copy via email. Copyright legislation prevents us from making articles available to users outside of our area of jurisdiction: Belgium. Also, because of the Smith-Mundt Act, we cannot send articles to users in the United States. The materials on this site, especially those from sources outside the U.S. Government, should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein or as official U.S. policy. If this is the first time you've seen the Article Alert, please let us know if you would like to continue to receive it. Also, feel free to pass it on to any of your colleagues who might be interested in getting it.

Democracy Issues

The Multilateral Dimension. Ted Piccone, Journal Of Democracy, October 2011, pp. 139-152. "When it comes to backing democracy and human rights in international forums, the behavior of the world’s six most influential rising democracies ranges from sympathetic support to borderline hostility." READ MORE

Democratizing Africa: Two Decades of U.S. Policy.  Herman J. Cohen, American Foreign Policy Interests, 1 September 2011 , pp. 230-235. "Clean elections do not equal democracy. For this reason, U.S. policy began to shift away from support to democratization in Africa toward the promotion of 'good governance.' Even authoritarian regimes can be persuaded to adopt transparency in government accounts and exercise power fairly toward the different elements of the population. An analysis of U.S. foreign aid budgets in Africa over the past decade indicates that 'good governance' has become the main element of our 'democratization' programs. This policy is clearly based on achievable objectives and has given some good results in a growing number of African countries. It is also clear that transparent and accountable government is an important element of economic development, especially in the creation of an enabling environment for private investment. It is important, therefore, that these programs continue to receive funding." READ MORE

Democracy and Reconfigured Power in Africa. Richard Joseph, Current History, November 2011, pp. 324-330. "In July 2009, President Barack Obama declared in Accra, Ghana, that Africa no longer needs strongmen—it needs strong institutions. Almost a year later, at a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton contended that many African leaders seem more concerned with staying eternally in power than with ably serving their people. In some cases, she said, democracy 'as one election, one time' still prevails. How much do these views correspond with what is taking place in African countries? What patterns emerge in the configuration of political power? And finally, how do we assess Africa’s democratic prospects in light of global developments?" READ MORE

Arab Spring

Europe and the Arab Spring. Volker Perthes, Survival, December 2011-January 2012,  pp. 73-84. The European Union and the United States, taken by surprise by the sudden outbreak of the Arab Spring, have had to accept their lack of influence over these revolutionary upheavals. They may assist or obstruct, but they cannot determine the course of events. This applies even to Libya. Without NATO’s intervention, it would certainly have taken much longer to oust the Gadhafi regime. Whether Libya, however, remains divided or spirals into anarchy, whether the outcome will be a new dictatorship, some kind of tribal confederation or the emergence of a democratic system, will be decided by Libyans, not by Europe or NATO. If anything, the limited influence of Europe and the international community on the timing and progress of the uprisings is an advantage. Alongside their peaceful trajectory, the beauty of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions was that they were autochthonous, immune to accusations of foreign meddling. But having little influence is not the same as escaping all responsibility. READ MORE

The Palestinians’ Receding Dream of Statehood. Nathan J. Brown, Current History, December 2011, var. pages. "The drama of international diplomacy has only obscured an ongoing, steady erosion of statehood as a focus of Palestinian aspirations." READ MORE

Islamism After the Arab Spring. Ashraf El Sherif, Current History, December 2011, var. pages. "It makes no sense today to divide Arab politics into neatly crafted opposites, the 'Islamist' versus the 'civil democratic' blocs." READ MORE

The Precarious Economics of Arab Springs. Robert Springborg, Survival, December 2011-January 2012, pp. 85-104.  "Arab political economies have not been conducive to democracy. As measured by comparative shares of employment, credit, total output and other relevant economic indicators, governments have dominated private sectors to a degree unmatched in other emerging regions.1 Autonomous, nongovernmental political organisations thus have had few independent sources of capital on which to draw. Whether rich or poor, Arab governments have deployed their unequalled patronage resources to ensure the subordination, if not the loyalty, of their citizens. The balance of economic power has favoured government over opposition, authoritarianism over democracy. A brief examination of the prospects for the transformation of the Egyptian political economy as a result of the ‘January 25 Revolution’ into one that could better sustain a democracy may, because of Egypt’s importance as a trendsetter, suggest prospects for similar transformations elsewhere in the Arab world." READ MORE

The Arab Spring: U.S. Democracy Promotion in Egypt. Erin A. Snider and David M. Faris, Middle East Policy, Fall 2011, pp. 35-48. "The main cause is the nearly simultaneous emergence, starting in 2004, of digital activists using what Diamond calls 'liberation technologies,' independent journalists wielding press freedoms, organized laborers staging nationwide uprisings, and opposition groups normalizing protest politics — separate movements that have nevertheless managed to mount a frontal challenge to the Egyptian regime. Significantly, none of these critical developments appears to have been substantially affected by U.S. democracy-promotion efforts. By reviewing the history of these efforts, we hope to offer policy makers and scholars a new path forward for democracy promotion in Egypt, one that combines the lessons of the past with the opportunities of the future." READ MORE

The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood: Grim Prospects for a Liberal Egypt. Eric Trager. Foreign Affairs, Sep/Oct 2011,  pp. 114-125. "The Muslim Brotherhood, which largely avoided the limelight during the Egypt's revolt, is seizing the political momentum. The Brotherhood is Egypt's most cohesive political movement, with an unparalleled ability to mobilize its followers, who will serve it extremely well in a country still unaccustomed to voting. The Muslim Brotherhood is relying on this system to build a single political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, to which it will direct its millions of members and admirers. The Brotherhood's recruitment system virtually guarantees that only those who are deeply committed to its cause become full members. Meanwhile, its pyramid-shaped hierarchy ensures that these members dutifully execute the aims of its national leadership at the local level. As the parliamentary elections approach this fall, leaders of the Brotherhood are therefore highly confident about their chances. And the Brotherhood will use its hierarchic network to choose candidates on a district-by-district basis, as it has done in the past." READ MORE

China

China: Big Changes Coming Soon. Henry S. Rowen, Policy Review, December 2011, var. pp. Big changes are ahead for China, probably abrupt ones. The economy has grown so rapidly for many years, over 30 years at an average of nine percent a year, that its size makes it a major player in trade and finance and increasingly in political and military matters. This growth is not only of great importance internationally, it is already having profound domestic social effects and it is bound to have internal political ones — sooner or later. Two kinds of changes are in store: political and economic. The order in which they occur will affect their impacts, and that order is very uncertain. In any case, big discontinuities are likely before 2020. READ MORE

Economic Issues

Booms and Busts: How Parliamentary Governments and Economic Context Influence Welfare Policy. Christine S. Lipsmeyer, International Studies Quarterly, December 2011, pp. 959–980. "A crowded field of research has focused on the relationship between government ideology and welfare policy. In advancing this work, I refocus the debate on how the economic context can affect the manner in which governments shape welfare spending. In my analyses of social expenditures during times of economic booms and busts, I find that governments in recessions relax their ideological visions, while those in periods of prosperity have the room to make discretionary policy changes. By combining theories of government behavior with assumptions about preferences during diverse economic climates, these findings show how the economic environment affects governments’ abilities to implement ideological policies. More importantly, this transcends the extant literature, resulting in a more complete picture of the relationship between politics and welfare policies." READ MORE

Fiscal Union by Force. Alexander Nicoll, Survival, December 2011-January 2012, pp. 17-36. It was Christine Lagarde who began to impose some order on the European debt crisis. In her first speech as the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August 2011, she spelled out, in crystal-clear language, what needed to be done. Her former colleagues in France, where she had until very recently been finance minister, did not like what she said. But a month later, the outlines of a plan to deal with the crisis were looming out of the fog. After much wrangling, those outlines took more concrete form with an agreement on 27 October 2011 among leaders of the eurozone, the 17 countries using the euro as a common currency, to strengthen the measures they were taking to deal with the debts of Greece and to insure against debt problems in other member countries. Their meeting in Brussels was, they recognised, crucial for the survival of the euro: if markets did not see them taking convincing action to prevent contagion spreading from Greece to larger countries (especially Italy), then a disorderly disintegration of Europe’s monetary union seemed on the cards. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly said: ‘If the euro fails, then Europe fails’.  READ MORE

Climate Change

The Greeening of Federalism. Martin J Adamian, California Politics & Policy, Nov 2011, pg. 17-35. "Federal and state law and courts play an important role in the development of air pollution and climate change polices. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act unless it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change. In addition, the state of California successfully challenged the denial of a waiver permitting the state to enact stricter air quality standards. In the absence of federal legislation, more than half of the 50 states are contemplating, developing, or implementing climate policies. In 2006, California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires reduction of greenhouse gas emissions statewide to 1990 levels over the next decade. The fate of this law remains uncertain as a proper balance is sought between federal and state authority over these matters. This article looks at the intersection of federal and state air pollution and climate change policies, focusing on California and the evolution of environmental federalism."  READ MORE

Making the Climate a Part of the Human World. Simon D Donner, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Oct 2011, pp. 1297-1302. "Ongoing public uncertainty about climate change may be rooted in a perceived conflict between the scientific evidence for a human role in the climate and a common belief that the weather and climate are controlled by higher powers. Twenty years after the publication of the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the scientific community continues to struggle to convey the evidence for anthropogenic climate change and the argument for mitigation and adaptation. Uncertainty about climate change persists among the general public, particularly in North America (Pew Research Center 2009), despite repeated consensus statements by leading scientific organizations and groups of the world's leading scientists."  READ MORE

U.S. Issues

Pre-Occupied. The Origins and Future of Occupy Wall Street. Mattathias Schwarz, The New Yorker, November 28, 2011, var. pp. "Kalle Lasn spends most nights shuffling clippings into a binder of plastic sleeves, each of which represents one page of an issue of Adbusters, a bimonthly magazine that he founded and edits. It is a tactile process, like making a collage, and occasionally Lasn will run a page with his own looped cursive scrawl on it. From this absorbing work, Lasn acquired the habit of avoiding the news after dark. So it was not until the morning of Tuesday, November 15th, that he learned that hundreds of police officers had massed in lower Manhattan at 1 A.M. and cleared the camp at Zuccotti Park. If anyone could claim responsibility for the Zuccotti situation, it was Lasn: Adbusters had come up with the idea of an encampment, the date the initial occupation would start, and the name of the protest—Occupy Wall Street. Now the epicenter of the movement had been raided. Lasn began thinking of reasons that this might be a good thing." READ MORE

Election 2012: An Unusually Clear Policy Choice.Jay Cost, Policy Review, December 2011, var. pages."The presidential election of 2012 is shaping up to be an epic contest. It is uncommon for an incumbent president to be considered an underdog, yet as of this writing President Barack Obama’s odds of winning reelection, according to the Intrade prediction market, stand at less than 50 percent. An endangered incumbent always makes for a fascinating political dynamic, one that will be compounded by the enormously high stakes of the upcoming battle. With the unemployment rate stuck at near nine percent and the Democrats’ new health entitlement set to go into effect relatively soon, the winner of 2012 will have unusual power to set American domestic policy for the rest of the decade." READ MORE

Digital Education: Can technology replace classroom teachers? Marcia Clemmitt, CQ Researcher, December 2, 2011, var. pages.   "Digital technology is becoming increasingly commonplace in K-12 education, and many researchers argue that it will save money and transform schools into more effective institutions. But other experts contend that the evidence so far is slim on exactly what computers can accomplish in the classroom. The dominance of standardized testing means digital technologies must raise students' test scores to." READ MORE

Google's Dominance, Is the online-search giant too powerful? David Hatch, CQ Reseacher, November 11, 2011, var. pp. The meteoric rise of Google in just 13 years has revolutionized the Internet. But competitors are growing wary as the Silicon Valley icon, known for its “Don't Be Evil” motto, strengthens its dominance over online searching and advertising and rapidly expands into new areas. Up to 70 percent of online searches in the United States are conducted on Google, whose vast portfolio includes airline ticketing, comparison shopping, social networking and mobile-phone software. In addition, Google has proposed a $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a major manufacturer of wireless phones and other electronic devices. Critics portray Google as a monopoly that leverages its power in order to bully rivals. Google strongly denies the accusations and counters that alternatives are one click away. Now, regulators in the United States and abroad are examining whether Google has run afoul of antitrust laws and should be reined in.  READ MORE

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