A consideration of NASA's asteroid observation mission highlights the possibility that for rare events observation is not unambiguously positive. Although measurement is beneficial in the long run, and is required for eventual risk management or mitigation, it may at first actually increase the expected value of the risk. In the case of the asteroid mission, observation created a substantial risk of false positives that greatly outweighed the initial potential risk reduction from early warning or asteroid diversion, such that the total risk increased. These dynamics are explored with a simple model that can be extrapolated to improve the risk calculation for any rare threat.
This paper portrays the Spanish transition to democracy in the context of selected systems and negotiation theoretical arguments. Transition leaders’ ability to think in systems and to conceive a framework for negotiations centered on shared interests and common goals was crucial for the success and durability of the process. However, the common view of the Spanish transition as a sheer “success story” falls short of recognizing the sacrifices that were made to achieve peaceful transformation of the political system. In fact, the transition compromise engendered severe problems that strain the Spanish State and the political process until the present day.
Ventures selling distributed electricity directly to impoverished consumers achieve affordability by minimizing up-front prices and collecting post-sale revenue. Through interviews with 30 practicing entrepreneurs operating at the base of the pyramid (BoP), we evaluate two pricing methods, micro-finance and pay-as-you-go, that accomplish this task. Each of these methods has implications for other aspects of the venture’s business model. With further research, these models might be adapted to other undeveloped sectors around the world that also lack infrastructure and competition.
Katy Frank was employed as a lead instructor for the Refugee Affairs Division at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She is a subject matter expert in U.S. refugee law, policy, and processing having designed and delivered curricula on topics such as refugee law, U.S. immigration law, interviewing skills and cross-cultural communication. The following is the text of a written interview with her conducted by the SAIS Europe Journal Staff.
This article explores the rationale behind the 315 billion euro spending program of the European Union called the ‘Juncker Plan,’ and expands upon the analytical framework of McNamara in her 1998 book, "The currency of ideas." Policy elites believed that, at the member state level, Keynesian counter-cyclical fiscal expansion was an ineffective policy tool. This led directly to the creation of new budget rules for European Union member states under the European Semester and the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP). The Juncker plan is the product of the constraining institutions created before the shift towards Keynesian demand management -- which makes an expansionary fiscal policy at the Union level the logical path out of the crisis.
In the fall of 2014, the United States Secret Service was the subject of much scrutiny in the wake of an embarrassing string of compromises to President Obama’s safety. This article seeks to determine if such criticism was warranted through an analysis of the flawed risk model that lead to the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Even though there was ample evidence portending this risk model’s impotence, it was not put to good use because of the Shin Bet’s (Israel’s equivalent of the Secret Service) focus on a priori experience with little consideration for a posteriori knowledge, most likely caused by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s so called “conjunction fallacy.” Ultimately, I conclude that Rabin’s assassination was the result of a seriously flawed understanding of risk, one thankfully not shared with the contemporary Secret Service.
We are proud to introduce our readers to SAIS Europe’s new director with this interview. Michael Plummer, himself a 1982 SAIS graduate, has been the Eni Chair of International Economics at SAIS since 2008 and has taken on the role of SAIS Europe director as the Bologna campus marks its 60th anniversary this year. He is a distinguished economist, who has served as the head of the development division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Asian Economics. Prior to SAIS, Plummer was an associate professor at Brandeis University, also serving as the Director of M.A. programs at the university’s Graduate School of International Economics and Finance, now known as the International Business School. (Interview transcript has been condensed and edited for publication)
Is the legal maxim of “justice delayed is justice denied,” frequently leveled against the International Criminal Court for its poor track record, an accurate description of the current situation in Darfur? Or, on the contrary, could the imperative of immediate justice, so often heralded as the sine qua non of a durable reconciliation, be temporarily suspended in the interest of peace? With these questions in mind, will explore what impact a temporary deferral of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir might have, and whether this “surrender of justice” could expedite the peace process. In short, could deferring the ICC arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir lead to peace in Sudan?
As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, comparatively little is written about the stalemate the crisis has caused in neighboring Lebanon, where the ramifications of the Syrian Civil War go beyond the refugee crisis and spillover violence. The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati in March 2013 initiated a ten-month government collapse, paralyzing Lebanon’s political system as the country became further entrenched in Syria’s conflict. Although the Cabinet crisis was resolved in mid-February, Lebanon still faces electoral gridlock and political divisions. Despite formalizing a policy of “disassociation” from the Syrian crisis, the conflict has left Lebanon unable to tackle pressing concerns and fully end the resulting stalemate. This paper will analyze the impact of Syria on Lebanon’s political stalemate, the reasons behind the Cabinet “breakthrough,” and the prospects for ending this prolonged political gridlock.
The conflict between the Turkish government and the Partiya Karkeren Kuridstan or PKK has persisted to varying degrees of intensity since the latter’s founding in 1978. Over this time, tens of thousands have been killed on both sides. This devastating death toll combined with the litany of failed peace processes along the way have culminated to cement a stalemate with deep mistrust on both sides. Though the most recent peace overtures from the Erdogan government and subsequent withdrawal of PKK fighters from eastern Turkey brought hope of a breakthrough, that progress has now stalled as both sides look set to retrench against the perceived insincerity of the other. While the conflict is complex and dynamic, one aspect is often written off to the margins: the nature of the PKK itself. Many governments and analysts simply write the group off as a mere militant group, terrorist organization, or band of freedom fighters. In this paper, I argue that the stalemate currently being experienced is precisely because policymakers have failed to realize the true nature of what the PKK has become. Indeed, rather than conforming neatly to any one label, the PKK has transformed into a symbol of Kurdish ethno-nationalism. Only when the peace process takes this into account will the stalemate truly have a chance to be broken.
In the wake of a World War and under the control of an occupying army, the Japanese people accepted a constitution in 1947 that was unique in composition. The world’s first “Peace Constitution,” Article 9 of Japan’s founding document explicitly prohibits war and the maintenance of a standing army. Despite its imposed nature and numerous attempts by Japan’s conservative elite to alter this stricture, Article 9 has remained untouched due primarily to the efforts of the Japanese peace movement. However, with China’s rise and the popularity of Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calls for a return to military normalcy now seem to dominate those for restraint. This paper traces the rise and fall of the Japanese peace movement, as well as the incremental process of remilitarization, which has accelerated sharply over the last decade. Finally, it investigates the nature of Japanese remilitarization under Shinzo Abe and analyzes its effect on East Asian security and US foreign policy.
In Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced and thousands more killed since June 2011, when the government of Sudan began a campaign to crush an insurgency led by the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of groups aiming to overthrow the government of President Omar al-Bashir. Clashes between the rebels and the government have intensified since late 2013, but the conflict remains stuck in a stalemate. This paper analyzes the trajectory of this conflict, focusing primarily on South Kordofan state, and the relationship between current and past conflicts in Sudan, in particular the Second Civil War (1983-2005) and the Darfur conflict (2003-present). The aim of this paper is to conclude whether this armed struggle is a repeat of past conflicts – the same issues manifesting themselves in a different form – or whether it represents something new and different.
The World Trade Organization is hindering the ability of member countries to pursue green growth policies. As the nature of international trade evolves, the creation of global supply chains has forced us to measure trade in value added rather than goods produced. These same trends demand a more nuanced and accurate assessment of costs, both economic and environmental. By modernizing its rules governing fossil-fuel subsidies and unincorporated production processes, the WTO can usher in a new era of freer, "greener" trade.
More than twenty years of climate change negotiations have left many observers pessimistic about the prospects of reaching a meaningful global agreement. Despite the urgency of making deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, disagreements between parties seem to have led to stalemate. This paper takes a more optimistic view, examining two of the unexpected successes of the negotiations. The analysis suggests that while onlookers—in a realist mindset—predicted failure for both the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), negotiators used problem-solving to achieve consensus and concrete results. Based on the analysis of the integrative bargaining that led to these results, if negotiators and observers adopt the liberal "problem-solving mindset," a comprehensive agreement that creates value for all parties is more likely in the 2015 Paris negotiations.
The conflict over Kashmir has been going on for more than 60 years with no real end in sight. The Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947, 1965, and 1999 were explicitly motivated by the Kashmiri conflict. Multiple outside efforts at mediation have failed. What makes the conflict all the more dangerous is that both Pakistan and India are nuclear-armed powers. The author argues in his article that what is needed to break this stalemate is a fundamental rethinking of Pakistan’s concept of national identity. Although India can also take substantive steps to resolve the issue, it is Pakistan that holds the key to breaking the Kashmiri stalemate.
A vast and beautiful country rich in natural resources, Colombia suffers from a chronic social, political, and agrarian imbalance. Though many praise it for having eluded the path of military dictatorship taken by practically all of its continental neighbors in the mid-to-late 20th century, this acclaim masks an underlying truth behind Colombia’s democratic façade. While other South American republics fell to military dictatorship, Colombia’s elites were often too divided or jealous of their power to hand the reigns of the State over to a cast of battle-hardened Cold and Korean War veterans – as many of the country’s top generals between the 1950s-1980s were. Or almost just as bad, the elites were too geographically removed from the majority of the population to be concerned. While Colombia is democratic today, it remains mired by guerrilla and drug-related violence, especially in its interior regions, far from the urban haunches of the country’s upper classes.
The academic debate on whether world income inequality is rising or falling has reached a stalemate: parties are unable to agree on the analysis of these economic world trends. This commentary examines recent research that supports the opposing “convergence” and “divergence” camps to examine the origins of the debate, and to determine why consensus is so difficult to reach. While this analysis concludes that the main driver of disagreement is calculation methods and data, that conclusion poses a key question: Is studying world income inequality useful?