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From Spaghetti Bowl to Jigsaw Puzzle? Addressing the Disarray in the World Trade System

December 16, 2014 Comments off

From Spaghetti Bowl to Jigsaw Puzzle? Addressing the Disarray in the World Trade System
Source: Asian Development Bank

The rise of mega-regionals suggests that the world trade system is fragmenting to the point it appears more like a jigsaw puzzle than a spaghetti bowl. There are both regional and global jigsaw puzzles to be solved—in that order—to rectify the situation but this appears impractical.

Therefore, a way forward is to return to the most widely used modality of trade liberalization—unilateral actions—but this time involving the multilateralization of preferences.

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How OFAC Calculates Penalties for Violations of Economic Sanctions, CRS Legal Sidebar (December 1, 2014)

December 16, 2014 Comments off

How OFAC Calculates Penalties for Violations of Economic Sanctions, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is charged with enforcing a range of economic sanctions programs in connection with which it has taken recent enforcement actions involving staggering amounts of civil money penalties. This has raised questions as to how OFAC confronts apparent violations and deals with the myriad types of companies and financial institutions that must comply with economic sanctions. OFAC’s sanctions regulations prohibit or regulate transactions with, and order the blocking of property of certain foreign nations, persons, or entities identified as threatening the national security of the United States. Sanctions are imposed pursuant to specific statute or by Presidential Executive Order issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 (IEEPA).

Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, Public Diplomacy, 1917-1972, World War I

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, Public Diplomacy, 1917-1972, World War I
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, Public Diplomacy, 1917–1972, World War I. This is the first chapter in a retrospective volume which will augment the series’ coverage of U.S. public diplomacy. While the series began to document the subject in a sustained and concerted way starting with the second administration of President Richard M. Nixon, previous FRUS coverage of U.S. public diplomacy efforts have been far less consistent. This retrospective volume will fill that gap, which stretches from the First World War to the early 1970s. This compilation covers World War I; subsequent compilations, which will document up to the end of the first Nixon administration, will be published as they are completed. The compilation also features the first inclusion of film in a Foreign Relations of the United States volume.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Legitimate Weapon Systems or Unlawful Angels of Death?

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Legitimate Weapon Systems or Unlawful Angels of Death?
Source: Pace International Law Review

Since the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States has utilized Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to locate, surveil and kill members of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and its associated forces. Such killings have decimated the leadership of these groups and disrupted their operations. However, there are collateral effects from UAV killings including civilian deaths. These deaths increase resentment and hatred toward the US, which is channeled by terrorist groups to recruit new members and for local support. Moreover, targeted killings outside a combat zone have political and diplomatic consequences. This paper argues that the current uses of UAV are legal under international and domestic law. However, it proposes amended targeting criteria, greater transparency and increased checks on the executive branch for future use of UAVs.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — November 2014

December 10, 2014 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — November 2014
Source: General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (Central Library)

In October, EU think tanks were still charting the new institutional landscape. We see joint proposals for strategic orientations, such as in the New Pact for Europe report, and references to ‘politics’ and ‘politicisation’ of the EU arena or specifically of the European Commission – although academics also mention its ‘presidentialization’.

In line with the ‘wait-and-see’ mood, the October European Council was seen as a ‘transition’ summit, although by no means a low-impact one, by a leading commentator. The same mood obviously facilitates creative speculation, as in the joint paper by the German DGAP and the Polish PISM. The authors ask a counterfactual “what if…?” in various policy areas, including tricky questions such as “what If the British had voted to leave in 1975?” and “what if Yugoslavia had joined the EU?”.

The Spanish Real Instituto Elcano, in a wide self-reflection exercise, beautifully maps the networks between EU think tanks, tracing how they convey “ideas locales que viajan en inglés“. To be read in conjunction with a recent article on think tanks as fora for interest mediation, in the open access Journal of Contemporary European Research. We also look forward to a panel on think tanks at the next International Conference on Public Policy in Milan in July 2015.

Effect of Increased Levels of Liquefied Natural Gas Exports on U.S. Energy Markets

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Effect of Increased Levels of Liquefied Natural Gas Exports on U.S. Energy Markets (PDF)
Source: Energy Information Administration

This report responds to a May 29, 2014 request from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE) for an update of the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) January 2012 study of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export scenarios. This updated study, like the prior one, is intended to serve as an input to be considered in the evaluation of applications to export LNG from the United States under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act, which requires DOE to grant a permit to export domestically produced natural gas unless it finds that such action is not consistent with the public interest. Appendix A provides a copy of the DOE/FE request letter.

Documents in the News — Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary
Source: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The Committee makes the following findings and conclusions

#1 The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

#2 The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

#3 The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

#4 The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

#5 The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

#6 The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

#7 The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

#8 The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

#9 The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.

#10 The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

#11 The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

#12 The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

#13 Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

#14 CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

#15 The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

#16 The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

#17 The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

#18 The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

#19 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

#20 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

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