Regions

Op-Ed

Civil War Within Nigerian Islam

Author: John Campbell
The Cipher Brief

There is a leadership struggle underway within Boko Haram, the violent, extremist movement that has claimed more than 20,000 lives since 2011 and destabilized the secular Nigerian state and its neighbors. The personal struggle between Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab al-Barnawi reflects in part the rivalry between Boko Haram and a splinter group, “Ansaru,” and are part of a complex, intra-Muslim conflict across the Sahel, including competition between rival al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State.

See more in Nigeria; Religion

Article

Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation

Author: Varun Sivaram
MIT Energy Initiative

Venture capital (VC) firms spent over $25 billion funding clean energy technology (cleantech) start-ups from 2006 to 2011 and lost over half their money; as a result, funding has dried up in the cleantech sector. In this report, we present the most comprehensive account to date of the cleantech VC boom and bust, aggregating hundreds of investments to calculate the risk/return profile of cleantech, compared with those of medical and software technology investments. The results are stark—cleantech offered VCs a dismal risk/return profile, dragged down by companies developing new materials, chemistries, or processes that never achieved manufacturing scale. We conclude that the VC model is broken for the cleantech sector, which suffers especially from a dearth of large corporations willing to invest in innovation. Fortunately, new public and private capital may be on the way after announcements made at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit. If a new and more diverse set of actors avoids the mistakes of the cleantech VC boom and bust, then they may be able to support a new generation of cleantech companies."

See more in Global; Energy and Environment

Other Report

Global Economics Monthly August 2016

Author: Robert Kahn

Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics Robert Kahn argues that markets have absorbed the initial economic shock from Brexit, but navigating the new landscape will remain a challenge. Two months after the vote, the politics of Brexit is producing a lengthy and uncertain renegotiation of Britain’s place in Europe and the world. Such extended uncertainty is likely to produce a long-lasting drag on both UK and European economies, which could ultimately threaten the viability of the European Union (EU).

See more in Europe; Economics

Article

The Problem With Vows to 'Defeat' the Islamic State

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle and Jacob Shapiro
The Atlantic

In recent weeks, ISIS has suffered territorial losses on multiple fronts, including in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The organization may look nearer to defeat than at any time in the past two years, but there is still a great deal of fighting to be done before the group is destroyed, or more likely beaten back to an underground terrorist organization as it was in 2009.

See more in Iraq; Syria; Counterterrorism

Article

Future Warfare in the Western Pacific

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle and Ivan Oelrich
International Security

Adjunct Senior Fellow Stephen Biddle and his co-author, Ivan Oelrich, argue in the latest issue of the journal International Security that Chinese antiaccess/area denial is a real, but limited long term threat. It can allow China to gain control of its own airspace, it can deny the U.S. wartime freedom of movement across much of the South and East China Seas, and U.S. counter-efforts are unlikely to prevent this in the 2040 time frame on which we focus.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Wars and Warfare

Article

The Costs of an American ‘No First Use’ Nuclear Doctrine

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

The desire to leave an enduring legacy can inspire presidents to do great things — also foolish ones. That Barack Obama is considering a change in strategic doctrine, declaring that the U.S. would never use nuclear weapons first, is the subject of op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post, of agreat video explainer in The Wall Street Journal, of countless news articles, and of cabinet-level controversy.

See more in United States; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

Article

The Refugee Problem in New York

Author: Richard N. Haass
Project Syndicate

Every September, many of the world’s presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers descend on New York City to mark the start of the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass. This year, they will once again highlight the international community's inability to address a pressing global challenge.

See more in Global; International Organizations and Alliances; Refugees and the Displaced

Article

What a Failed Soviet Coup Can Teach Us About 21st-Century Populism

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Washington Post

Twenty-five years ago this week, a group of Politburo hard-liners launched a coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The effort to depose him provoked a gigantic popular protest and collapsed in just three days. With the failure of the coup, the communist system itself began to unravel. “The 20th century” — so claimed Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s rival, rescuer and eventual successor — had “essentially ended.” People power had defeated the Soviet state.

See more in Russian Federation; Conflict Assessment; Diplomacy and Statecraft