Council Special Reports
Council Special Reports (CSRs) are concise policy briefs that provide timely responses to developing crises or contributions to current policy dilemmas. The Studies Program commissions a CSR when events make a particular situation or conflict ripe for useful intervention and the window of opportunity is likely to close if action is not taken in a timely manner. Because a Special Report can be prepared quickly, it can have an impact when changing events create a space for useful involvement.
The Canadian oil sands present an important challenge to policymakers: they promise energy security benefits but present climate change problems. Michael A. Levi assesses the energy security and climate change effects of the oil sands and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers within the context of broader bilateral relations with Canada.
See more in Canada; Climate Change; Oil
Seaborne commerce remains the linchpin of the global economy. And beyond trade, a host of other issues, ranging from climate change and energy to defense and piracy, ensure that the oceans will hold considerable strategic interest well into the future. In this report, Scott G. Borgerson explores an important element of the maritime policy regime: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He examines the international negotiations that led to the convention, the history of debates in the United States over whether to join it, and the strategic importance of the oceans for U.S. foreign policy today.
See more in United States; Oceans; Treaties and Agreements
In this report, Benn Steil shows that the financial crisis is the inevitable bust of a classic credit boom, and explains how monetary, taxation, and home ownership promotion policy combined with other features of the financial system to fuel an unsustainable buildup in debt. He recommends significant reforms to reverse the debt financing bias and make the system more resilient to falls in asset prices. This report is also available in Arabic.
See more in International Finance; Financial Crises
As the economic crisis has spread from financial markets to real economies in countries around the world, governments have understandably focused on short-term measures to contain the damage. But in order for policymakers to tackle today’s global economic crisis, this report argues, they must go beyond bailouts and stimulus packages and focus on one of the crisis's root causes: imbalances between savings and investment in major countries. This report is also available in Arabic.
See more in Financial Crises; Global Governance
This report looks at Russia's rise as an energy power, analyzing its control of supplies and delivery systems and its investments in energy infrastructure across Europe, as well as questions about the potential of its production, recognizing that European dependence on Russian energy will be a reality well into the future and that Europe can increase its energy security only by working with--not against--Russia.
See more in Europe; Energy Policy; Russian Federation
North Korea has long been a serious concern to Washington. Now, with President Kim Jong-Il reportedly in bad health and possibly naming a successor, the United States must consider possible outcomes should the situation deteriorate and the current North Korean government collapse. This report examines the challenges that these scenarios would pose--ranging from securing Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal to providing humanitarian assistance--in the context of the interests of the United States and others in its valuable recommendations.
See more in North Korea; Conflict Prevention
This report comprehensively analyzes Ukraine's difficulties, related to both domestic conditions and foreign policy, and recommends ways for the United States to encourage Ukraine on a path of stability and integration with the West.
See more in Conflict Prevention; Ukraine
This report lays out a thoughtful agenda for U.S. policy toward the Democratic Republic of Congo, arguing that what happens there should matter to the United States—for humanitarian reasons as well as economic and strategic ones.
See more in Congo, Democratic Republic of; Peacekeeping
Unlike during the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack now comes from rogue states that receive their weapons from sovereign nations. In this report, Michael A. Levi outlines how to discourage those nations from giving their nuclear technologies to terrorists, how to prevent accidental transfers, and the role that nuclear attribution plays in contemporary proliferation.
See more in United States; Proliferation; State Sponsors of Terrorism
In this report, Bruce W. MacDonald illuminates the strategic landscape of military space competition between the United States and China and highlights the dangers and opportunities the United States confronts in space.
See more in Space; China
The rise in China's trade surplus, the increase in oil prices, and a slowdown in demand for U.S. assets from private investors abroad has increased the United States' reliance on foreign governments for financing. This report examines whether the United States' ability to secure large quantities of external financing from foreign governments is a reflection of its political power, a constraint on its ability to exercise power, or a combination of the two.
See more in United States; Financial Crises
This report outlines the nature of the challenges in Pakistan's tribal areas, formulates strategies for addressing those challenges, and distills the strategies into realistic policy proposals worthy of consideration by the incoming administration.
See more in Pakistan; Politics and Strategy
This report analyzes the debate over U.S. use of assurances against torture, explaining the contexts in which they are used, how they can be conveyed, and what they can contain, and recommends a number of ways to respond to criticism so that the United States can continue using assurances.
See more in Terrorism and the Law; United States
In the past three years, many countries have adopted or expanded regimes to review inward foreign direct investment (FDI) for either national or economic security purposes, reducing the quantity and quality of global FDI flows. The policy recommendations in this report aim to correct this protectionist drift by proposing guidelines for how countries can better regulate FDI yet still reap its economic benefits.
See more in Global; Foreign Direct Investment
In this Council Special Report, Mona Yacoubian and Scott Lasensky make a strong case that the Bush administration’s policy of diplomatic isolation of Syria is not serving U.S. interests, and offer informed history and thoughtful analysis of the country and its external behavior. This report is also available in Italian.
See more in Diplomacy and Statecraft; Syria
Connections between climate change and national security are receiving unprecedented attention from policymakers and analysts. Joshua W. Busby moves the discussion from broad assessments of the links between climate and security to a plan for action. This report is also available in Chinese.
See more in Defense and Security; Climate Change
Since 2000, President Robert Mugabe’s refusal to tolerate challenges to his power has led him to systematically dismantle the workings of Zimbabwe’s economic and political systems, replacing them with structures of corruption, intimidation, and repression. Michelle D. Gavin surveys the current situation in Zimbabwe, identifying current structural and legal impediments to economic and political recovery.
See more in Zimbabwe; Nation Building
A flexible labor market and an open economy are crucial to economic competitiveness, but can sometimes cause prime-aged and older workers to suffer large, long-term income losses. This report explains why existing government programs, which emphasize retraining and insurance for short-term job loss, don't assuage workers' fears about globalization. It also proposes a shift of resources from existing programs to wage insurance.
See more in Business and Foreign Policy; Trade; United States; Labor
With IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato resigning in October, a new report analyzes the reform measures that will be bequeathed to Mr. de Rato's successor, and argues that the reform measures deserve the support of the United States, including the U.S. Congress when it is asked to implement some of the key measures.
See more in United States; International Organizations and Alliances
This report examines the contributions that an expanded use of nuclear energy can make to improving energy security and reducing global warming while balancing these benefits against the risks and lingering questions over nuclear energy’s safety and security.
See more in United States; Nuclear Energy
No Exit from Pakistan
The story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and a call to prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes. More
Pathways to Freedom
An authoritative and accessible look at what countries must do to build durable and prosperous democracies—and what the United States and others can do to help. More
The Power Surge
A groundbreaking analysis of what the changes in American energy mean for the economy, national security, and the environment. More
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