Yuval Weber | Will Lustration Help or Hinder Ukrainian Reform?

This news story first appeared on October 31, 2014. For more information, click here.

Tower Center Associate, Yuval Weber is an assistant professor in the Department of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia.

Will Lustration Help or Hinder Ukrainian Reform? 

By Yuval Weber, Carnegie Moscow Center; October 29, 2014

Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Ukraine confirmed the electorate’s preference for a pro-European government promising to address the immediate economic and security challenges the country faces. The success of President Petro Poroshenko’s eponymous bloc and other pro-Western parties hinges not only on delivering peace and economic security, but, perhaps more crucially, on implementing institutional reforms to stamp out the corruption that has bedeviled the economy and exacerbated political polarization since the earliest days of independence.

Public anger over an opaque political system that rewards corrupt insiders at the expense of the public good has been at the heart of large-scale political protests in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution in 2004. Recent pre-election opinion polls put the struggle against corruption and concerns over the economy as the first and second most important issues affecting Ukrainian citizens across all age groups and nearly all regions.

Accordingly, Euromaidan protestors and subsequently the Ukrainian electorate demanded the lustration of officials connected to the Yanukovych regime and an end to the corruption responsible for Ukraine’s anemic post-Soviet economic performance. The previous Verkhovna Rada responded by passing a lustration law on September 17 (signed into law by President Poroshenko on October 9) that creates an audit mechanism to screen people with dubious histories and loyalties. On October 23, Poroshenko signed into law a bill creating a National Anti-Corruption Bureau to address endemic corruption. With support for the current lustration bill hovering at around 57 percent and general support for lustration of some kind at nearly 80 percent, passing such laws in the run-up to an election was smart electoral politics.

Yet the failure to implement lustration and anti-corruption measures transparently and evenhandedly could easily torpedo the current government and plunge Ukraine back into political struggle. Lustration is a social process in which a new political administration identifies officials who actively participated in violations of human rights during previous regimes and potentially bars them from participation in public affairs. When pursued to achieve truth and reconciliation, as across Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa after the fall of military regimes, or to expose the corrosion of public trust through secret police forces in Communist regimes in Central Europe, lustration aims to identify what was wrong in the past, punish those who benefited, and then draw a line between the past and the present to rebuild political and social institutions.

The consequences of having overly broad lustration processes can be seen in the de-Ba’athification that occurred in Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. As part of the dismantling of that regime, the entire Ba’ath Party was outlawed, its members expelled from public service, and the Iraqi Army, secret police, and paramilitary units disbanded. Though it is true that those “power ministries” were responsible for grievous human rights abuses, de-Ba’athification largely disenfranchised the Sunni community and placed the population at risk for revenge from those they had previously brutalized. Without formal ways to defend themselves and without opportunities for participation in post-Hussein Iraq, the disbanded military and purged political community became the Sunni insurgency that plagues Iraq and the larger Middle East (ISIS) to this day.

The lustration process in Ukraine cuts deep into the ranks of those who served in the previous Yanukovych regime, affecting anyone associated with pacification of the Maidan protests, as well as Soviet-era political officials. The law as designed has “lopsided regional effects” and fails to provide a procedure to allow a person who knows he has violated the public trust to apologize, come clean, and apply for reinstatement even if he or she wants to contribute positively to a new political system. Lustration in its current iteration does not provide an incentive for moderate officials who served under Yanukovych in the east of the country to place their allegiance with the Ukrainian state, which would weaken support for the rebels—essentially a group of individuals who feared revenge and disenfranchisement—and potentially bring an end to the civil war.

The Ukrainian government retains the prerogative and responsibility to exclude violators of public trust from further government service while new political and economic institutions are built. It remains to be seen how lustration and anti-corruption laws will be implemented. It is unclear that endemic corruption resulted merely from the personal characteristics of individuals and not from a perverse incentive structure. Transparency, public participation, and some mechanism to prevent lustration from degenerating into “score-settling” would serve the Ukrainian government and public best in their long-term goals.

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Shlomo Weber & Yuval Weber | Будет ли украинская люстрация похожа на иракскую?

This news story first appeared on October 31, 2014. For more information, click here.

Tower Center Associate, Shlomo Weber is the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Trustee Professor of Economics, SMU.

Tower Center Associate, Yuval Weber is an assistant professor in the Department of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia.

Будет ли украинская люстрация похожа на иракскую?

By Shlomo Weber and Yuval Weber, RBC; October 31, 2014

После выборов в Раду люстрация грозит множеству украинских чиновников. Чем украинский механизм люстрации отличается от аналогичных кампаний в других странах и на какие подводные камни он может наткнуться?

В октябре этого года президент Украины Петр Порошенко подписал закон о люстрации, принятый Радой в сентябре – таково было одно из основных предвыборных требований Майдана. Согласно закону, украинские власти должны выявить и назвать государственных служащих, нарушавших права и свободы человека; им будет запрещено на 5 или 10 лет занимать должности в органах власти и местного самоуправления. Таких, как предполагается, будет около 1 миллиона.

Закон нацелен на кадры режима Януковича и на тех, кто замешан в коррупции и нарушении прав человека, в том числе при подавлении протестов на Майдане. Он также распространяется на бывших работников КПСС, политруков советской армии и работников советского МВД, но объем люстрации этой группы лиц будет довольно ограниченным – документов, относящихся к советскому периоду, на Украине почти не осталось. Закон не распространяется на избранных депутатов – считается, что выборы представляют собой часть люстрационного процесса. И сам президент Порошенко по подписанному им закону ответственности не подлежит.

Провести такую масштабную люстрацию будет очень сложно, тем более, что правительство планирует завершить люстрацию государственных служащих, судейского корпуса и органов прокуратуры в течение двух лет. Процесс уже начался: пока увольнения чиновников измеряются сотнями, более масштабные проверки начнутся в ноябре. Точные оценки давать трудно, но масштаб люстрации, конечно, будет серьезным. МВД Украины ожидает потерять 20% своих сотрудников в результате применения закона. Партия «Батькивщина» под руководством Юлии Тимошенко провела «внутреннюю» люстрацию: исключила из своего состава более 1500 депутатов местных советов.

В последние десятилетия люстрационные процессы происходили в Латинской Америке, Восточной и Центральной Европе, а также в Южной Африке и Ираке. В странах Латинской Америки и Южной Африке на практике наказание понесли лишь немногие из прежней власти; люстрация в этих случаях превращалась в процесс национального примирения и поиска правды. Процесс примирения становился успешным как раз потому, что элиты, возникшие и процветавшие при старой власти, сильно не пострадали.

Серьезные люстрации произошли в Чехии и Польше. Принятый в Чехии в 1993 году «Закон о незаконности коммунистического режима» коснулся около 140 тысяч человек, в основном сотрудников служб госбезопасности и партийного аппарата. Закон о люстрации, принятый в Польше в 1997 году, предполагал в основном проверку достоверности письменных заявлений кадров коммунистического режима об их сотрудничестве с органами госбезопасности при прежней власти. Естественно, закон вызвал множество публичных скандалов и доносов на общественных и государственных деятелей, включая Леха Валенсу. Кстати, Валенса, как и Вацлав Гавел в Чехии, был противником такого закона и его широкого применения.

Возможно, самый масштабный люстрационный процесс за последнее время произошел в Ираке после падения режима Саддама Хусейна. После ликвидации режима Хусейна правящая партия «Баас» была объявлена вне закона. В рамках «дебаасизации» иракская армия, полиция и ополчение были распущены, и около 30 тысяч суннитских учителей, профессоров университетов, сотрудников муниципальных и государственных учреждений были уволены. Это привело к почти полной изоляции и незащищенности суннитского меньшинства; оно подверглось атакам со стороны шиитов и курдов, притесняемых во время правления Хусейна. Оставшись без четко обозначенной роли и будущего, расформированные военные части при поддержке гражданского населения стали центром суннитского сопротивления, которое в виде ИГИЛ стало самой серьезной на сегодня проблемой региона.

На Украине закон о люстрации получает довольно широкую поддержку: по одному из опросов, 57% населения поддерживают закон в его нынешней форме, а 80% считают, что та или иная форма люстрации необходима для развития страны. При этом понятно, что отъезд 800 тысяч человек с территории страны в течение последнего года и то, что жители Крыма уже не являются украинскими гражданами, привели к серьезным демографическим изменениям. Тем не менее, жители и запада, и центра, и востока Украины называют развитие экономики и борьбу с коррупцией двумя самыми важными задачами, стоящими перед страной.

Люстрация также может привести к резкому сокращению раздутого государственного аппарата, что является  необходимым условием для получения международной финансовой поддержки. Но у закона в нынешней формулировке есть несколько очень серьезных недостатков. Его можно упрекнуть в противоречии принципу персональной ответственности, нарушение которого может быть рассмотрено Европейским судом по правам человека. Почти полностью исключена возможность апелляции в случае получения искаженной информации о попавшем под люстрацию человеке. Закон также не допускает возвращение на должность в случае признания ошибок прошлого, как, например, было предусмотрено в законе о люстрации в Польше. И даже генпрокурор Украины Виталий Ярема посчитал, что закон противоречит конституции и международному праву. Вероятно, в него будут еще вноситься изменения.

Люстрация не должна превращаться в чистку, в искоренение каких-либо враждебных конспиративных групп. Цель люстрации – выявление ошибок прошлого, наказание тех, кто этими ошибками воспользовался, и отмежевание от действий этих лиц с целью создания новых политических и социальных институтов. Если процесс люстрации не будет открытым и прозрачным, он утратит легитимность. Кроме того, развитие экономики и общества, в котором так нуждается Украина, возможно только при создании атмосферы доверия в стране.

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Neil Foley | The Changing Face Of America (KERA THINK)

This news story first appeared on November 3, 2014. For more information, click here.

Tower Center Associate, Neil Foley is the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Chair in History at SMU.

The Changing Face Of America

THINK, KERA; November 3, 2014

By 2050, nearly a third of all U.S. residents will be Latino. This hour, we’ll talk about how this growing segment of the population is affecting everything from politics to cultural identity with Neil Foley, the Robert H. and Nancy Dedman Chair in History at SMU. His new book is Mexicans in the Making of America. The entire interview can be heard here.

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Joshua Rovner: Nevermind ISIS and Putin — Asia matters more to U.S. strategy

This news story first appeared on November 4, 2014. For more information, click here.

Nevermind ISIS and Putin — Asia matters more to U.S. strategy

By Joshua Rovner, The Dallas Morning News; November 4, 2014

The grisly war with the Islamic State and the crisis with Russia continue to dominate the news — and capture the attention of U.S. leaders. Despite all this turmoil, the long-term focus of American foreign policy will not be on the Middle East or Europe. Instead, Washington will be drawn irresistibly to Asia.

No other region is as important for America’s long-term economic well-being. The U.S. trades twice as much with Asia as with Europe, and it is the largest market for U.S. exports outside of North America. Growing Asian economies demand an increasing share of the world’s energy resources, and China is also close to becoming the world’s biggest oil importer.

The military landscape also is changing. For a long time, the regional balance was clear: China was the dominant land power while the United States ruled the waves. As long as neither side could seriously challenge the other, there was little chance of a major regional war.

But China has invested heavily in forces that could complicate U.S. operations in the event of a conflict. This has caused some analysts to worry about China’s regional ambitions and the United States’ ability to defend its regional allies.

Rising powers try to expand and status quo powers try to resist them. The results can be catastrophic if managed carelessly. The U.S. approach to China, however, remains unclear. Washington continues to engage China in trade and encourage its participation in international organizations.

At the same time, it has increased the size of the U.S. military presence and developed a new war-fighting approach to counter China’s military capabilities. Whether the U.S. chooses to treat China as a rival or partner is an open question. We still do not know what the “pivot to Asia” means.

The answer will have profound implications. If the United States decides that the pivot is about containing China, it will need to shift resources from other regions and concentrate on Asia. For policymakers, this means rejecting calls for an open-ended military commitment to the Middle East and efforts to offload Europe’s security requirements to NATO’s European members.

For the military, it means focusing more on high-intensity air and naval operations and less on ground-intensive counterinsurgency warfare.

For diplomats, it means solving two puzzles: how to send deterrent threats to Beijing without being needlessly provocative and how to reassure allies about U.S. support without encouraging them to act recklessly.

Finally, defining the pivot will affect the defense industry, which has a large presence in Dallas-Fort Worth. Critical decisions about defense spending rest on readiness, strength and modernization. Sustaining high levels of readiness for a large ground force in the context of two wars has meant limiting investment in new platforms. Indeed, the rise in defense spending since 9/11 has been driven largely by skyrocketing personnel and operating costs, not by new acquisition. Policymakers might free up resources by focusing on Asia, even if that means living with instability elsewhere. The balance of defense spending, and the effects on the local economy, will depend in part on how policymakers deal with China.

Today’s headlines are about whether the United States will escalate the war in Iraq and whether it will do more to stave off Russian adventurism in Europe. These are important decisions and worthy of debate. But the truth lies just beyond the headlines: Untangling U.S. policy toward China will occupy policymakers long after the current crises have passed, and no other dilemma will have a greater impact on long-term U.S. interests.

Joshua Rovner is the John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair in International Politics and National Security at Southern Methodist University.

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Building Research Bridges in Mexico

Building Research Bridges in Mexico

By Edward T. Rincón, Ph.D., Associate Member

SMU Tower Center for Political Studies

r1Learning About U.S. Marketing Trends: While Mexico is often the subject of inquiry by U.S. scholars, you may be surprised to know that Mexicans are also interested in “los norte americanos.” Such was the purpose of a recent lecture delivered by Dr. Rincón to the faculty and students of the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEM). The lecture, which was coordinated by faculty members Dr. Lenin Martel and Paul Valdes, addressed U.S. multicultural and Hispanic marketing trends – a topic that Dr. Rincón has studied over the past 35 years in his research practice and taught at area universities.

r2An Attentive Audience: The audience had many questions for Dr. Rincón and appeared captivated by the dramatic growth of the multicultural population in the U.S. The lecture focused on demographic trends, the acculturation process, indicators of economic power, the marketing process and the complexities of marketing to this segment, and the importance of segmentation research. Highlights of the Dallas/Fort Worth Latino Trendline Study were also discussed. At the conclusion of the lecture, Dr. Rincón was rewarded with a round of applause, a certificate of recognition, and a great lunch at local restaurant in Toluca.


Interest in Survey Methodology:  The presentation at the university was followed by a workshop by Dr. Rincón at Parámetro – a local political opinion research firm (http://www.parametro.com.mx). The six-hour workshop focused on common problems and solutions in designing surveys for diverse audiences in the U.S. The problems discussed included issues related to sampling, questionnaire design and translation, data collection modes, and weighting of raw data.

During the workshop, it became evident that the research practices in the U.S. and Mexico varied in three important ways:

  • In Mexico, the use of one universal language practically eliminated the complexities of designing surveys in multiple languages. By contrast, multiple languages are increasingly being used in many U.S. surveys in addition to English. Although survey companies in the U.S. do not consistently provide language options other than English, Dr. Rincón emphasized that multiple language options should always be provided in linguistically-diverse communities.
  • In Mexico, most of the survey data collection is conducted in households via in-person interviews, a method that provides a more complete sampling frame for probability sampling and greatly reduces coverage bias. Listings of telephone numbers and email addresses are not readily available in Mexico and suffer from high coverage bias. In the U.S., survey researchers have easy access to complete listings of household addresses, landline and wireless telephones – allowing the collection of data by telephone, online, and mail methods. However, listings of telephones – whether landline or wireless – are also limited in their coverage of households, while online surveys are dependent on the use of panels that include volunteer participants who are compensated for completing surveys.
  • Mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, have greatly facilitated the collection of survey data in the U.S. However, concerns about the personal security of the field interviewers and potential theft discourage the use of these devices in Mexico. Consequently, much of the survey work in the field is recorded on paper questionnaires.

Although the visit was a learning experience for everyone, Dr. Rincón is no stranger to research in Mexico. In past years, for example, he conducted a market study of 1,200 Mexican consumers in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City that involved household interviews. More recently, Dr. Rincón assisted a U.S. non-profit organization (MATT – Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together) in gathering survey data for 600 returning migrants in Guadalajara. The workshop, nevertheless, was a good reminder of the challenges that survey firms are likely to encounter when conducting research in Mexico and the U.S.

In summary, the visit to Toluca was professionally and culturally rewarding, and provided the foundation for a new research partnership with UAEM faculty and Parámetro research staff that can be used to facilitate the implementation of future studies on both sides of the border.

EdHeadShot300dpiEdward T. Rincón is president of Rincón & Associates LLC, a privately-owned research company that provides research and consultative support to organizations that seek to understand diverse communities in domestic and global markets. He received his master’s in School Psychology and doctorate in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in survey and experimental research methods, psychometrics, and statistical analysis.

He has taught various courses at area academic institutions, including Statistics and Hispanic Marketing at Southern Methodist University; Mass Communications Research at The University of North Texas; and Survey Research Methods at The University of Texas at Dallas.  In addition, he has provided workshops to the public and community organizations on selected topics such as retrieving and analyzing Census data, principles of Hispanic marketing, designing effective questionnaires for diverse audiences, data analysis with SPSS, and designing effective visual presentations of research data.

Dr. Rincón’s scholarly interests include survey and polling methodology, demographic analysis, measurement bias, and qualitative research with a focus on multicultural populations.  His perspectives have often challenged high-stakes measurement systems utilized by The Nielsen Company, aptitude testing in college admissions, competency testing in Texas schools, and affirmative action programs in public contracting. His research studies and perspectives have been cited in national and regional publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Advertising Age, Forbes.com, Ad Week, Broadcasting and Cable, The Dallas Morning News, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Miami Herald, Multi-Channel News, National Public Radio, Restaurants & Institutions, and others.

Over the past 35 years, Dr. Rincón has consulted with a broad variety of private and public organizations, and has testified before governmental bodies and court cases as an expert witness. In the political arena, his clients have included Pete Sessions for Congress Campaign, Consortium of Public Broadcasters 2000 Presidential campaign poll, Zan Holmes for Mayor Campaign poll, Eastfield College bond election campaign, UT-Arlington and SMU political poll of perceptions of immigrants, and a WFAA political opinion poll concerning race relations in Dallas.  In the non-political arena, some of his clients have included Proctor & Gamble, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Texas Rangers, Texas Instruments, DFW International Airport, Verizon Information Systems, Educational Testing Service, Coca Cola North America, Circle K/Tosco Marketing, Pepsi Cola, Dr Pepper/Cadbury North America, KERA, WFAA, The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Palm Beach Post, ABC and CBS Network Television, City of Dallas, Dallas Zoo, State of Texas, State of North Carolina Library Association, Comerica Bank, Catholic Diocese of Dallas, General Baptist Convention of Texas, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Trial Psychology Institute, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Baylor Health Care System, and Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

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Canada boosts oil exports, but U.S. missing the boat

This news story first appeared on October 16, 2014. For more information, click here.

Tower Center Associate, Bernard L. Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an adjunct professor of business economics in the Cox School of Business at SMU.

Canada boosts oil exports, but U.S. missing the boat

By Bernard L. Weinstein, Star-Telegram; October 16, 2014

Partly because of President Barack Obama’s indecision on the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada is looking at Europe as a major potential market for its growing output of crude oil.

A pipeline is under construction that will bring oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to export terminals in Canada’s Atlantic Provinces. Several tankers have already delivered Canadian crude to refineries in Europe.

The Canadians are also lining up customers in India and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, because of the U.S. ban on crude oil exports, we’re missing the boat. The restrictions were enacted in the 1970s in response to the OPEC oil embargo, with the aim of reserving American oil for American customers.

The logic of the ban — if there ever was one — no longer applies.

Opponents of repeal continue to argue that crude exports will harm the U.S. economy by boosting the costs of refined products such as gasoline, diesel and home heating oil.

They also argue that exporting oil will weaken our energy security because we’re still a net oil importer. But the energy landscape has changed dramatically.

Today, thanks to the shale boom, the U.S. is the world’s third-largest oil producer, and the International Energy Agency projects we’ll be number one by 2016.

At the same time, domestic consumption of oil-based products has fallen by more than 2 million barrels per day since 2005, as we continue to become more efficient in our use of refined products.

This has been a boon to some refiners who are using their excess capacity to ship gasoline and other refined products, which aren’t subject to the ban, to buyers abroad.

U.S. imports of crude oil have dropped from almost 13 million barrels per day in 2007 to less than 6 million at present. And most of what we import comes from non-OPEC countries like Canada and Mexico.

Because oil is an internationally traded commodity and its price is determined by global supply and demand, keeping American oil at home doesn’t convey any benefits to consumers.

As for energy security, it’s hard to envision a scenario that would result in our inability to import oil.

Even with political unrest in Libya, Iraq, Syria and other petroleum exporting countries, oil prices are at a four-year low. And we still have the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the unlikely event of a major conflagration that would disrupt oil flows.

But the strongest case for removing the crude oil export ban is the growing importance of the oil and gas industry to the American economy.

Nearly five years after the end of the Great Recession, America’s economy is far from robust; but if it hadn’t been for the shale boom the economy would be even weaker.

A decade ago, the industry accounted for less than two percent of the nation’s economic output. Today, it’s about eight percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Direct employment in oil and gas extraction has doubled over the past decade to more than 200,000, a faster growth rate than any other sector of the economy.

It’s time to acknowledge that oil today is no longer “liquid gold” but simply an ordinary, globally traded commodity.

Continuing to restrict oil exports is not in the public interest, nor does it enhance our national security. The 40-year ban has outlived its usefulness and should be repealed as soon as the new Congress convenes.


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Political Science and Policy: It Ain’t Just Academic

This news story first appeared on September 29, 2014. For more information click here.

Paul Avey is a postdoctoral fellow at the Tower Center for Political Studies.

Political Science and Policy: It Ain’t Just Academic

By Paul Avey, War on the Rocks; September 29, 2014

Earlier this month, well-known defense reporter Thomas Ricks wrote a scathing review of the current issue of International Security. Ricks writes that he was excited to see it in his mailbox, but was so turned off by the article titles that he couldn’t get past the table of contents. What he saw was a list of arcane topics that had nothing to do with real-world policy problems, and he lamented that the “extraordinary irrelevance of political science is creeping into the magazine’s approach to the world.” In a follow-up post, Ricks cites an article by Michael Desch and myself in which we report the results from a survey of 234 former U.S. national security officials to support his earlier claims, noting that “the more something looks like contemporary political science … the less useful it tends to be.”

There is no doubt cause for concern that political science is becoming less relevant to policymakers. I want to focus here on the more narrow issue that inspired Ricks’ initial review because it is particularly troubling. International Security is generally viewed as one of the more policy-relevant political science journals. Ricks is an influential and thoughtful commentator on national security issues, and he has an audience within military and policymaking circles. International relations scholars should be especially concerned when someone like Ricks seems so disenchanted with their work. It suggests that the many efforts to bridge the gap between scholarship and policy – such as the Tobin Project and American University’s aptly named Bridging the Gap initiative – are inadequate.

Is International Security really becoming irrelevant? Are policymakers likely to turn away from the kind of research it publishes?

Answering these questions first requires addressing what policymakers want from social scientists. In our article, we found that national security policymakers do follow academic research, but are skeptical of analyses that privilege technique over substantive importance. As Ricks notes, we argued that policymakers are not inclined to read articles with esoteric language and exotic methods, though we are careful to add that this finding is most applicable when there is no clear policy implication to the article. Method is not automatically an enemy of relevance. In addition, policymakers seek what Alexander George called “mid-range theories” that attempt to explain subclasses of more general phenomena. At their best, such theories can illuminate necessary elements for strategies to succeed in specific cases. Good scholarship, in short, helps policymakers make sense of the world in brief, jargon-free articles.

When judged by these criteria, the recent issue of International Security does quite well. Take the article by Ja Ian Chong and Todd H. Hall, which examines the relevance of pre-World War I Europe to contemporary East Asia. This analogy is commonplace in Washington. But Chong and Hall argue against the tendency to focus on the Anglo-German power transition before WWI and draw lessons for the rise of China today. The reason is simple: the power transition was not central to the outbreak of WWI. Other factors were far more important. This is significant because if rising power was the main culprit, then U.S. policy should focus on either doubling down on containment or moving aside to accommodate a rising China. Instead, their analysis points to different policy solutions, including efforts to effectively manage East Asian security commitments, work with regional actors to reign in nationalism, and prevent disagreements from festering into repeated crises.

Or consider Jerry Mark Long and Alex S. Winer’s article, “Delegitimizing al-Qaida.” Long and Winer argue that undermining the al-Qaida narrative may be more important to U.S. strategy than military strikes. Their mid-range theory about political persuasion speaks not just to the war on al-Qaida but also to ongoing efforts against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), clearly an issue front and center in the national security debate. If al-Qaida’s “message loses credibility,” they note, “al-Qaida loses adherents – a cost to the organization and its leadership.” And they do more than present a theory by providing recommendations to show susceptible audiences that al-Qaida’s presentation of itself and its portrayal of the West are wrong.

Finally, Liam Anderson wrestles with the problem of governing ethnically riven countries like Iraq. This obviously matters for the United States. After all, no less a policymaker than President Obama has acknowledged that military action alone will not be enough to stop ISIL if Iraq is unable to forge a durable political order. Anderson takes issue with critics of ethnofederalism – a constitutional arrangement wherein the territory of federal units matches ethnic group boundaries. He shows that it often succeeds, and in cases where it has failed it is unclear that there was any viable alternative. Though the term is cumbersome, this analysis is relevant to American policymakers confronting a fluid situation in the Middle East, especially because Iraq is at least a partial ethnofederation in which “one or more (but not all) of the subunits are ethnically defined.” The analysis does not necessarily provide reasons to be optimistic about Iraq’s future, and unfortunately Anderson does not directly address the Iraq case in the article (though he has elsewhere). At the least, though, he points out that policymakers will need to look beyond its particular institutional structure if Iraq is to remain a unified political entity.

These are not short articles, to be sure, and policymakers may not have the time or inclination to read them. Yet as Desch and I note, rigorous evidence for an argument remains necessary to reach sound conclusions. So scholars have a dual responsibility: they must continue to write long-form research articles while simultaneously distilling them into shorter and more accessible policy pieces. Outlets like War on the Rocks, The Duck of Minerva, and Monkey Cage are at the forefront of disseminating these types of scholarly arguments. Policymakers can read these and, if they wish to see more in-depth analyses, they can turn to the academic outlets—in this case, the articles in the most recent issue of International Security.

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Student Blog – Anika Reza | “After Al Qaeda” Event Report

afteralqaedaModern American grand strategy is frequently heavily disputed and criticized by academics, scholars, and the American public in general. Many argue that the Obama administration has lacked a sufficient grand strategy in recent times but others disagree. I regard the Obama administration’s grand strategy as logical and reasonable for the status quo of the U.S. and for what can be expected in the future, however, it does contain various gaping holes that create room for problems. The Tower Center event “After al Qaeda: The Future of American Grand Strategy” featured two highly distinguished academics and their slightly differing stances on the Obama administration’s grand strategy and what can be seen as the strengths and weaknesses of President Obama’s plan.

Dr. Hal Brands of Duke University argues that President Obama has the right idea in regards to a grand strategy for the United States, however, his grand strategy does consist of many issues. Brands states that Obama’s strategy encompasses three big ideas: wanting to “preserve the order” established for the U.S. in the post-Cold War era, striving to prevent from “overstretching” in regards to the difficulties the U.S. faces with Iraq, and wanting to “disentangle” the U.S. from the Middle East because of the rising concerns of East Asia as of recent times. Brands argues that these basic principles have essentially “anchored” how the president thinks and shapes his grand strategy. Brands claims that although none of these principles are necessarily wrong, there are many problems that Obama’s grand strategy encounters. First off, his grand strategy has very weak rhetoric in that he often pronounces many “inspirational goals” but no logical way of attaining them. Second, President Obama’s objectives are solid but they are “endangered” by current global trends. Third, with Europe becoming increasingly unstable, the U.S. finds itself facing more problems in regards to military presence and how to allocate resources for this. Fourth, although President Obama wants to pivot away from the Middle East in his grand strategy, he finds this increasingly difficult to do due to the decrease in U.S. security this would cause. Lastly, pulling back militarily may be just as destabilizing as overreaching poses to be. Brands addresses many prominent and relevant gaping holes within President Obama’s grand strategy that need to be filled in order to lead the United States in the right direction.

Dr. Barry Posen of MIT provides a slightly different view when it comes to the President’s grand strategy. He claims that the post-Cold War strategy has not worked very well for the U.S. and that broadening national security abroad is not necessary for national security at home. Posen argues that the U.S. is very safe due to its possession of nuclear weapons, having a strong military, and having oceans and stable nations as borders. Although these instances protect the U.S. in certain ways, the U.S. still needs strong national security abroad to ensure the protection of its national interests. Posen also discusses the problem of “cheap free riding” that the U.S. faces when it provides defenses for other nations. The U.S. essentially provides other nations with a blank check and those foreign countries take advantage of this luxury. Posen describes these countries as “reckless drivers” and how the U.S. pays the price for their reckless driving. This is a valid point and an instance the U.S. needs to be wary of when forming its grand strategy. Furthermore, Posen argues that for a strong grand strategy, the U.S. should focus on a small number of key problems instead of paying attention to what can be seen as irrelevant issues to the U.S. He states that just because “something is interesting doesn’t make it a national interest.” Posen also discusses the United States goal of spreading democracy and how this is flawed because other nations have strong nationalism and are not going to accept the United States and its democratic ways with open arms. He believes that the world resists the United States. However, this is not always true. Although there are certain parts of the world that do not accept the U.S. and its ways, other nations require the stability that democracy would provide and in these instances the U.S. should continue attempting to put democracy in place.

These two academics present contrasting opinions in regards to President Obama’s grand strategy but both bring up some valid concerns. President Obama’s grand strategy is strong in some aspects but needs tweaking in others to prevent placing the U.S. in a detrimental position.


Anika Reza is a junior at Southern Methodist University double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in the Middle East, and minoring in Arabic. She is a Pre-Law Scholar and in the University Honors Program. Anika plans on attending law school after graduating from SMU and hopes to work in foreign service in the future.

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SMU’s Tower Scholars Program receives over $4 million in gifts

This news story first appeared on September 4, 2014. For more information click here.

SMU’s Tower Scholars Program receives over $4 million in gifts

By Robert Miller, The Dallas Morning News; September 4, 2014

Gifts totaling more than $4 million will endow and provide operational support for the new Tower Scholars Program at Southern Methodist University.

The program provides an immersion experience for undergraduates in public policymaking through SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

A $2 million gift from Highland Capital Management LP will endow the Highland Capital Management Endowed Tower Scholars Program Fund. Participating students will be recognized as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars.

A $1 million gift from the Hamon Charitable Foundation will endow the Jake L. Hamon Endowed Internship Program in the Tower Scholars Program Fund.

A $1 million gift from The Berry R. Cox Family Foundation will support the endowment and provide operational support.

SMU has received additional donations of more than $400,000 toward operation of the Tower Scholars Program fund that will allow it to start the program before the endowments mature.

Ten sophomore students will be selected as Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars every year. Students may apply to the program during the fall term of their sophomore year, and the first applications are being accepted this fall. The students will begin their studies in spring 2015 leading to a minor in public policy and international affairs.

They will study domestic and foreign affairs, national security and defense, and international political economy.

“Few American universities offer a program designed for undergraduates with as much real-world policy education and experience as does the Tower Scholars Program,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said. “The gifts that make this program possible allow students to begin gaining professional perspectives while working toward their undergraduate degrees, bridging the usual gap between graduation and career development.”

The Tower Center is a signature program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, dean Thomas DiPiero said.

“Transformative education initiatives are a key focus of our philanthropy,” said James Dondero, Highland Capital Management co-founder and president. “This program will offer students extraordinary opportunities to interact with global and national leaders, influential policy makers and top employers that call Dallas home.”

Highland Capital Management is a global alternative asset manager with headquarters in Dallas.

The invitation-only Tower Scholars Program and associated minor is open for application from all majors across SMU’s schools. The minor in public policy and international affairs requires 15 hours of political science courses.

“By focusing solely on undergraduate students, the Tower Scholars Program distinguishes SMU from peer institutions that offer this type of curricula only to graduate students,” Hamon Foundation president Kelly E. Roach said. “The opportunity to begin working with political, government and business leaders at this stage of their education is going to nurture leadership skills at a pivotal point in these students’ lives.”

Berry R. Cox is a private investor with interests in oil and gas, real estate and public and private securities worldwide. He and his wife, Jeanne Tower Cox, are stalwart SMU supporters.

“SMU strives to educate students who think globally. The idea behind the Tower Scholars program is to connect students with the public policy and international affairs aspects of whatever their chosen field may be — the engineering student, the business student, the journalism student — any student who wants to understand the relationships between politics, public policy, international affairs and international economies,” said Jeanne Cox, an SMU alumna who’s the daughter of the late Sen. John Tower.

The gifts to fund the Tower Scholars Program count toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which has raised $874 million.

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Texas Entrepreneurs Want More Work Visas

This news story first appeared on August 28, 2014. For more information click here.

Tower Center Fellow, Pia Orrenius is Senior Economist and Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Texas Entrepreneurs Want More Work Visas

By Lauren Silverman, KERA; August 28, 2014

Nearly a quarter of Texas business owners are foreign born. These entrepreneurs brought in a total income of $10 billion dollars in 2010. Still, immigration is a sticking point, and some Texas entrepreneurs are pushing for more high-skilled visas.

Famed futurist and physicist Michio Kaku has said that America has a secret weapon.

“That secret weapon is the H-1B,” Kaku said, “Without the H-1B the scientific establishment of this country would collapse! Forget about Google. Forget about Silicon Valley, there would be no Silicon Valley without the H-1B.”

So what exactly are H-1B visas? They’re visas for highly-skilled, foreign born workers. And they’re hard to get. Companies looking for these employees snatch them up fast – in October, it took less than a week for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to hit the cap of 65,000 for 2015.

“It’s a talent war,” says Shams Juma. He’s CEO of a Dallas business consulting startup called Quantifye.

“It’s very difficult for us to find good talent, and in house.”

Juma shared his struggle with a group of startup enthusiasts a few weeks ago at an event put on by local startup group LaunchDFW and the national lobby group FWD.us. FWD.us has been called the Zuckerberg PAC, for its Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

Not everyone searching for an H-1B visa wants to work in IT for Google, Facebook, or a consulting firm. Adrian Avendano wants to work at his own company, but it’s not that easy.

Tricky Transition From School To Startup

Avendano moved here from Mexico six years ago to finish his Ph.D. While at the University of Texas at Dallas, he founded Ares Materials, a company to fabricate electronics on flexible materials. Since Avendano’s on an F-1 student visa, he’s not allowed to work.

“I think it’s kind of backwards,” he says, “Because there’s people who come here, six, ten years to pursue their grad school, that U.S. and taxpayer dollars funded to prepare, and then when they’re done, immigration law sends them back home.”

Avendano says he wants to contribute to the economy, and feels stuck because he can’t find an H1-B visa. In September, he’ll apply for an OPT (Optional Practical Training), which would give him 12 months to look for a job and work in the U.S.

Pia Orrenius says it’s the dream of many foreign students to stay here and find work in high tech.

“But since the private sector runs out,” she says, “these are very hard visas to get.”

Orrenius is Senior Economist and Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and a Fellow in the Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU. She says North Texas is in serious need of more H1-B visa workers.

“We’re growing at a blistering pace,” she says, “We are a poster child for an economy with labor shortages so we are bringing in lots of migrants not only from other states but also from out of the country.”

Opposition And Limited Options

Opposition to H1-B visas generally comes from workers in the U.S. who say the visas allow companies to import cheaper, younger competition. And the biggest employer of foreign tech workers aren’t startups, they’re consulting firms.

In an interview with NPR, Ron Hira called them “offshore-outsourcing firms.” Hira, author of Outsourcing America and associate professor at Howard University, says companies use H1-B visas to “bring in on-site workers who are cheaper on the H-1B and undercut American workers right here.”

And there’s another problem with the visas – H1-B visas don’t allow entrepreneurs to work for themselves, they have to be sponsored by an employer. Which is why some in the startup community are pushing for something called the Startup Visa.

“In principal the idea is a good one,” Hira says. “I mean we want to encourage innovation and startups and so on, I think the devil is in the details.”

Hira says a visa for people who have raised money from American investors is worth considering, but worries founders could become reliant on investors to stay in the country.

“I don’t think things have been vetted very well in the public discussion. There really haven’t been careful analyses of what the impacts of the startup visa would be either by think tanks or through congressional hearings.”

Conversations like the one at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center are a good start, even if they’re frustrating. Immigration reform is slow, and many entrepreneurs here are anxious to start working in the growing North Texas tech community.

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