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ISIS 2.0 and the Information War

20 days ago

The Islamic State (ISIS) has launched a new worldwide communications offensive, enabling the group to contest the global view that it has been defeated following the collapse of its caliphate. In doing so, ISIS has created a digital battlespace in which an online narrative of victory can translate into success on the ground.

WASHINGTON, DC – In December 2018, US President Donald Trump declared victory over the Islamic State (ISIS), tweeting that “ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We’re coming home!” And in the first three months of this year, Trump said or tweeted 16 times that ISIS was either completely defeated or soon would

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Post-American Networks

July 22, 2019

In an effort to bend the Iranian regime to its will, the Trump administration has fundamentally undermined one of America’s primary sources of global power and influence. With the United States no longer trusted to oversee global financial flows, new networks are emerging to offer countries alternatives to the dollar.

WASHINGTON, DC – In today’s world, access to global networks is a critical source of power, but the resulting interdependence can also generate vulnerability. The power flows from centrality: being a hub that connects all (or most) other nodes. The threat of denying access to such hubs can be a powerful sanction against bad actors. But if that power is abused – if asymmetrical

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A Woman in the White House? Yes, She Can

July 16, 2019

A record number of women have thrown their hats into the ring to be the Democratic nominee in the 2020 US presidential election. But with the party still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss in 2016, many are asking, “Can a woman beat Donald Trump?”

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Mr. Orbán Goes to Washington

May 10, 2019

By hosting a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the White House, US President Donald Trump has already handed a victory to yet another authoritarian leader. Judging by Trump’s record, Orbán will leave with everything he came for, and US interests and national security will have been further undermined.

WASHINGTON, DC – On May 13, US President Donald Trump will host Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the White House. According to some pundits, Trump will try to use the meeting to dissuade Hungary – ostensibly a US ally – from establishing deeper ties with China and Russia.
The Economy We Need

PS OnPoint

Keith Bishop/Getty

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How to Govern a Digitally Networked World

March 25, 2019

Because the Internet is a network of networks, its governing structures should be, too. The world needs a digital co-governance order that engages public, civic, and private leaders on the basis of three principles of participation.

WASHINGTON, DC – Governments built the current systems and institutions of international cooperation to address nineteenth- and twentieth-century problems. But in today’s complex and fast-paced digital world, these structures cannot operate at “Internet speed.”

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Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images

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Recognizing this, United Nations Secretary-General António

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Afghanistan’s Forgotten Half

January 18, 2019

Many diplomats privately concede that women’s rights are not a high priority in peace talks with the Taliban. But a peace agreement without some guarantees for half the Afghan population is not worth having, and a deal that is not partly negotiated by women is much less likely to hold.

WASHINGTON, DC – When Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in September 2018, an end to America’s longest war seemed finally to be in sight. Now, following President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement in late December that the United States will withdraw 7,000 of its troops from the country, the pressure on Khalilzad to secure a deal with the Taliban by spring has increased dramatically.

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US Foreign Policy After the Midterm Election

November 21, 2018

Foreign policy was scarcely mentioned in the US midterm elections. But that is likely to change, as a cornered President Donald Trump attempts to exploit external problems – concerning Syria, Iran, and Russia, in particular – to undermine the Democrats’ popularity following their takeover of the House of Representatives.

WASHINGTON, DC – One thing missing from the recent US midterm election campaigns was a focus on foreign policy. While much was made of the migrant caravan making its way from Central America through Mexico, issues such as trade with China, Iran, North Korea, and even Russia and cyber subterfuge didn’t get much traction. With the Democratic Party having regained control of the US House of Representatives, that

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Closing the Political Gender Gap

September 25, 2018

Efforts to improve female representation in politics have often focused on quotas and reserved shares. What is really needed is a nuanced approach that tackles the underlying, interconnected barriers that women face in getting nominated for elected office and conducting successful campaigns.

WASHINGTON, DC – A record number of American women are running for elected office in 2018, many of them motivated by outrage over US President Donald Trump’s policies and attitudes. But running is not winning, and outrage alone cannot produce the kind of steady progress needed to achieve political equality. To produce a substantial increase in the number of women in Congress, changes that run deeper than the current electoral “pink wave” will be needed.

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Our Bodies or Ourselves

July 23, 2018

The collection and storage of people’s biometric data fundamentally changes the relationship between citizen and state. Once “presumed innocent,” we are now, in the sinister words of former UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, “unconvicted persons.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Technological developments in recent years have highlighted not only the benefits of big data, but also the need to come to terms with the dangers it poses to our privacy, civil liberties, and human rights. Nowhere is this question more relevant than with the latest source of that data: our bodies.

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The Philippines’ Chinese Invaders

May 21, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to China in October 2017 has led to a $328 million plan to rebuild Marawi City, recently liberated from the control of ISIS-affiliated extremists. But the reconstruction plan could fuel the fans of Islamic radicalism again.
MANILA – Ironic. That is how Sultan Abdul Hamidullah Atar described the planned rehabilitation of Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur province on the Philippine island of Mindanao, a year after the Maute Group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, launched an attack on the city on May 23, 2017. The five-month battle that followed resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people and displaced 360,000 more.

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EZEQUIEL

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Trump’s War on Maternal Health

March 19, 2018

Around the world, women continue to die from complications arising in childbirth, even though maternal mortality is a problem that we know how to solve. What is missing is not the know-how, but funding and political leaders who are brave enough to put women’s health before partisan politics.
WASHINGTON, DC – In December 2014, the cover of Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue featured Salome Karwah, a nursing assistant who not only survived the Ebola epidemic in her native Liberia that year, but also helped waves of patients arriving at her Ebola ward. Karwah was a hero who met a tragic end. One year ago, she died from complications in childbirth, a killer that every month takes twice as many lives as the entire Ebola epidemic.

The

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Can Ramaphosa Fix South Africa?

January 23, 2018

Cyril Ramaphosa’s victory in the ANC’s leadership contest in December is an important sign that many within the ruling party understand that they risk being remembered for allowing an avaricious few to sell off the country. But President Jacob Zuma and his allies are unlikely to give up easily.
WASHINGTON, DC – Cyril Ramaphosa’s victory in December’s contest to lead South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) was a resounding repudiation of President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa will now almost certainly be elected South Africa’s president in 2019 – if not before. He has promised to stimulate the country’s moribund economy and implement a wide-ranging anti-corruption agenda.

The Year Ahead 2018

The world’s

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The Platform Economy

November 21, 2017

While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.
WASHINGTON, DC – Hardly a day goes by without another article, conference, or research initiative devoted to the future of work. The robots are coming, or they’re not coming as fast as we think; when they do come, they’ll put everyone out of work, or they’ll create as many jobs as they destroy. Thus the conversation goes. But what if, instead of trying to predict the future, we look at realities that exist today for billions of people?

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Trump’s Bigger Russia Problem

September 21, 2017

Donald Trump’s stated desire to improve US relations with Russia is understandable; indeed, it is a goal shared by the last several US administrations. But betraying core American values for the sake of short-term gains is not worth the bargain.
WASHINGTON, DC – Shortly before taking office, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to outline his vision for his country’s relationship with Russia. “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he declared in one tweet. “When I am President,” he proclaimed in another, Russia and the US “will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

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Paula

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Nationalists and Globalists

March 23, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – The Dutch election was the first bright spot in a while for people in Europe and the United States who are deeply worried that the backlash against globalization will bring even more white “Judeo-Christian” nationalist parties to power. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte defeated the anti-Islam candidate Geert Wilders, who has called for closing Dutch borders, shutting mosques, and banning the Koran.

The standard way of describing political forces ranging from Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party in Hungary to Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France to Donald Trump’s supporters in the United States is “populist.” Populism means a politics of the people, juxtaposed against a politics of the elites. But in the US at least, Trump’s ideology – which has little to do with traditional Republican conservatism – frames the axis of division not as the many versus the few, but as nationalists versus globalists.

In the first issue of American Affairs, a new conservative journal dedicated to “exploring the true content of our common citizenship,” Georgetown University Professor Joshua Mitchell writes that for “several generations conservatives have thought that the domestic enemy was progressivism. Now they imagine they face a new problem: populism.

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Robots and Refugees

January 31, 2016

DAVOS – The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos was the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The subtitle should have been: Of Robots and Refugees. Although many of the panels focused on the technological marvels of the near future, others highlighted the world’s inability to address one of humanity’s oldest problems: how to feed, house, and succor large populations driven by conflict from their homes and countries.
The First Industrial Revolution occurred with the invention of the steam engine and mechanical production; the second was defined by electrification and mass production; and the third was the digital revolution, which began in the 1960s with the invention of computers, semiconductors, and the Internet.

According to WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is beginning now, “characterized by a much more ubiquitous and mobile Internet, by smaller and more powerful sensors that have become cheaper, and by artificial intelligence and machine learning.” It is ushering in a world in which virtual and physical systems are intertwined in manufacturing, services, and the human body itself.
The WEF’s programs featured panels on robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and space travel. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London created an interactive exhibit called “This Time Tomorrow.

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The Paris Approach to Global Governance

December 28, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – As a former president of the American Society of International Law, I should bemoan the recent Paris agreement on climate change as a failure. By the standards of a traditional treaty, it falls woefully short. Yet its deficits in this regard are its greatest strengths as a model for effective global governance in the twenty-first century.
The international legal gold standard is a treaty, a binding document that can be enforced by courts and arbitration tribunals. Such agreements comprise more than expressions of intent; they contain codified, enforceable rules, along with sanctions for non-compliance. Indeed, they must be ratified by national parliaments, so that they become a part of domestic law.

The Paris agreement is none of these things. In the United States, as a matter of domestic law, it is an executive agreement, binding only on President Barack Obama’s administration. An executive-legislative agreement would have the same status as a treaty, except that a treaty must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, whereas an executive-legislative agreement must be adopted by the Senate and the House under the same rules that apply to all domestic legislation. An executive agreement made by one administration is not necessarily binding on its successor, but it would have to be explicitly repudiated.

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New Refugee Homelands

November 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Countries across Europe and states across the United States are debating the danger of admitting more refugees from Syria or, indeed, any majority Muslim country where Al Qaeda or Islamic State (ISIS) members or sympathizers could slip in with their families. This debate misses the point in two important ways.
First, no evidence yet exists that any of the Paris attackers actually came from Syria as refugees. The Syrian passport found near the body of one attacker appears to have been stolen. The attackers that the police have identified grew up in Belgium or France. They are radicalized citizens, not fleeing foreigners.

Second, the world now has 60 million refugees. That is a number roughly the size of six Belgiums, Hungarys, or Swedens. If they were to create their own country, it would be the size of France. In the face of such staggering numbers, commitments to take thousands or even tens of thousands of people will do almost nothing to alleviate the misery of millions.
Rather than conflating the issues of refugees and terrorism, politicians and policymakers should be addressing each separately. On the question of refugees, Western countries should take in as many as their populations can assimilate, demonstrating a willingness to make good on the universal values they profess for both moral and political reasons.

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Engaging the World in Syria

October 30, 2015

ABU DHABI – A global security crisis of historic proportions is raging in the Middle East, and spreading by the day, as millions of refugees flee Syria and Iraq. The crisis is now affecting not just all of Syria’s immediate neighbors, straining their resources and exacerbating social and ethnic tensions; it now directly involves all of the current permanent members of the Security Council except China. It is time for all would-be permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – namely, Germany, India, Japan, Brazil, and Egypt – to step up.
The desire for a political settlement that could end the Syrian civil war is palpable; but just what that settlement would look like remains open to debate – or to further conflict. Indeed, Russia and the United States are circling each other like boxers before the contest actually begins, supporting different factions and trying to ensure that their allies in the multi-sided conflict are advancing, or at least holding ground.

The need for broad cooperation – and the support of the entire UN Security Council – is apparent. That is why US Secretary of State John Kerry is talking to the Russians, the Saudis, and the Turks to build support for a new round of international talks.

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The Gendered Politics of Care

September 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – In the United States, the revolution for equality between men and women is stuck halfway. Over the past 50 years, women’s roles have changed dramatically, with almost 60% of American women now in the workforce. Men’s roles, however, have barely budged.
Despite insisting on the equal dignity and value of men and women, we still regard men’s traditional work of breadwinning as more valuable and important than women’s traditional work of caregiving. The result is a profound social and economic imbalance that is holding back women and men alike.

The solution is to focus less on women and more on elevating the value of care and expanding the roles and choices open to men. Electing and appointing more women to powerful roles remains essential. But focusing on women’s advancement is biased toward tracking how many are rising to the top: the overall percentage at work, their average salaries, and how many become CEOs, senior managers, tenured professors, bankers, surgeons, law partners, parliamentarians, presidents, and ministers.
A focus on care, by contrast, opens the door to the dual problem of too few women at the top and far too many at the bottom. American women hold less than 15% of executive-level positions in Fortune 500 companies and 62% of minimum-wage jobs.

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A No-Fly Zone for Syria

August 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – A recent front-page photo in the New York Times of a boatload of Syrian refugees drifting on the Mediterranean Sea beneath an enormous setting sun could not have been more apt. The sun seems to be setting on Syria itself.
In the words of David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary and current president of the International Rescue Committee, the disaster in Syria has reached “almost biblical proportions.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that, over the last four years, nearly 250,000 people have been killed, including more than 100,000 civilians, many of whom were killed in horrific ways by their own government. The United Nations estimates that over half of the country’s 22 million citizens have left their homes, something the world has not seen since World War II. Today’s rising tide of disease, hunger, squalor, and illiteracy – more than half of the refugee children are not in school – will affect an entire generation for life.

Fortunately, the United States’ foreign-policy elite finally seems ready to do something to protect Syria’s people. Generals, diplomats, national-security officials, and development professionals are approaching a consensus in favor of a no-fly “safe zone” along one of Syria’s borders.
In fact, Turkey’s government proposed such a sanctuary (calling it a “buffer zone”) four years ago.

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