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Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 57

Reconfiguring USAID for State-Building

Authors: Max Boot and Michael Miklaucic

The United States needs a civilian capacity to foster better-functioning institutions in chaotic countries, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should lead that effort. To embrace a state-building mission, however, USAID will have to be transformed. Max Boot and Michael Miklaucic argue that the agency will need to do less but do it better, and limit its efforts to strategically important states while enhancing its focus on building core state functions. 

See more in United States; Foreign Aid; Nation Building

Video

Trade and the U.S. Presidential Election

The next president's trade policy will affect millions of Americans, as well as the health and competitiveness of the country’s economy. This video breaks down the decisions the president will face in developing a trade policy that promotes growth, while helping Americans adjust to new competition and ensuring regulatory standards.

See more in United States; Trade

Foreign Affairs Article

The Innovative Finance Revolution

Authors: Georgia Levenson Keohane and Saadia Madsbjerg

Assessments of how governments and international organiza­tions have dealt with global challenges often feature a familiar refrain: when it comes to funding, there was too little, too late. The costs of economic, social, and environmental problems compound over time, whether it’s an Ebola outbreak that escalates to an epidemic, a flood of refugeesthat tests the strength of the EU, or the rise of social inequalities that reinforce poverty.

See more in Global; Financial Markets

Foreign Affairs Article

Having It All

Author: Victoria de Grazia

The historian Frank Trentmann has written the first total history of consumption. Empire of Things is an original, ambitious account that begins in the fifteenth century, spans the globe, and examines a wide range of regimes, from liberal democracies to fascist dictatorships. The book could hardly be more relevant: since the Great Recession began in 2007, the world has been mired in a global economic crisis with the consumer at its core. As inequal­ity soared in the years leading up to the crash, middle-class consumers, in the absence of rising incomes, relied on credit to sustain their standards of living. Sensing an opportunity, banks and other financial firms began selling mortgages to people who could not afford them.

See more in Global; Economics

Foreign Affairs Article

Russia's Perpetual Geopolitics

Author: Stephen Kotkin

For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century, Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. By 1900, it was the world’s fourth- or fifth-largest industrial power and the largest agricultural producer in Europe.

See more in Russian Federation; Society and Culture

Foreign Affairs Article

Putin's Foreign Policy

Author: Fyodor Lukyanov

In February, Moscow and Washington issued a joint statement announcing the terms of a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria—a truce agreed to by major world powers, regional players, and most of the participants in the Syrian civil war. Given the fierce mutual recriminations that have become typical of U.S.-Russian relations in recent years, the tone of the statement suggested a surprising degree of common cause.

See more in Russian Federation; Politics and Strategy

Foreign Affairs Article

How Putin Silences Dissent

Author: Maria Lipman

In December 2015, the Russian antigraft activist Alexey Navalny released adocumentary in which he exposed the corrupt business dealings of the children of Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general—the top law enforcement official in the country. In the film, Navalny accuses Chaika’s son Artem of “continuously exploit[ing] the protection that his father, the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation, gives him to extort from and steal other people’s companies.”

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Censorship and Freedom of Speech