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Council on Foreign Relations State and Local Officials Bulletin
August 2012

August 2012

Trends in U.S. Military Spending

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Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense (Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)


With President Obama proposing a military spending ceiling of 3.7 percent of GDP and Governor Romney advocating a floor of 4 percent of GDP, the topic will continue to be a subject of debate during the presidential campaign. View the most recent CFR Chart Book, compiled by the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, which uses data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to track historical trends in U.S. and global defense spending.

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Latin Lessons: Hispanic Americans at the Polls

To better understand how Hispanic Americans vote, PBS's "NewsHour" senior correspondent Ray Suarez reviews Latinos in the New Millennium, a comprehensive account of the political and personal sentiments of Latinos across all lines of national origin, citizenship and immigration status, income, and educational levels.

This data-rich book sheds light on an important demographic sector of the U.S. population, and reminds us that America's success rests on integration of this population into all facets of society. Access this premium Foreign Affairs article>>

U.S. Drought and Rising Global Food Prices

Climatic conditions across the U.S. farm belt are triggering a rise in global food prices that threatens to fuel political unrest in developing countries, says CFR Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative Isobel Coleman in this CFR interview.

Coleman offers domestic and international policy responses to help alleviate this problem. She argues, in conjunction with many governors, that Washington needs to revise the mandated use of ethanol in gasoline. Beyond our borders, Coleman advocates that the United States "should be looking at how to build in more resilience into the global food system," so that developing nations will become less dependent on other countries for their staple resources.

Read the interview to learn more about the effects of the drought and review Coleman's policy recommendations>>

The U.S. Labour Market Doesn’t Work

CFR Director of the Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Senior Fellow for International Economics Sebastian Mallaby argues that the current state of the U.S. workforce should convince politicians of the urgent need for tax, welfare, and education reforms. Read more »