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CRS — Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (August 5, 2014)

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS), particularly since late 2013, have heightened concerns among observers that ongoing disputes over these waters and some of the islands within them could lead to a crisis or conflict between China and a neighboring country such as Japan, the Philippines, or Vietnam, and that the United States could be drawn into such a crisis or conflict as a result of obligations the United States has under bilateral security treaties with Japan and the Philippines.

More broadly, China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and EEZ claims have led to increasing concerns among some observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region, or Chinese actions that are perceived as being aimed at achieving such domination or control, could have major implications for the United States, including implications for U.S.-China relations, for interpreting China’s rise as a major world power, for the security structure of the Asia-Pacific region, for the long-standing U.S. strategic goal of preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another, and for two key elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II—the non-use of force or coercion as a means of settling disputes between countries, and freedom of the seas.

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CRS — India’s New Government and Implications for U.S. Interests (August 7, 2014)

August 22, 2014 Comments off

India’s New Government and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The United States and India have been pursuing a “strategic partnership” since 2004, and a 5th Strategic Dialogue session was held in New Delhi in late July 2014. A May 2014 national election seated a new Indian government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and new Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Top U.S. officials express eagerness to engage India’s new leadership and re-energize what some see as a flagging relationship in recent years. High hopes for the engagement have become moderated in recent years as expectations held in both capitals remain unmet, in part due to a global economic downturn that has dampened commercial activity. Yet the two countries, estranged through the Cold War period, have now routinized cooperative efforts through myriad working groups on an array of bilateral and global issues.

CRS — Guatemala: Political, Security, and Socio-Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations (August 7, 2014)

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Guatemala: Political, Security, and Socio-Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Since the 1980s, Guatemala, the most populous country in Central America with a population of 15.5 million, has continued its transition from centuries of mostly autocratic rule toward representative government. A democratic constitution was adopted in 1985, and a democratically elected government was inaugurated in 1986. A violent 36-year civil war ended in 1996.

This report provides an overview of Guatemala’s current political and economic conditions, relations with the United States, and several issues likely to figure in future decisions by Congress and the Administration regarding Guatemala. With respect to continued cooperation and foreign assistance, these issues include security and governance; protection of human rights and human rights conditions on some U.S. military aid to Guatemala; support for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala; combating narcotics trafficking and organized crime; trade relations; intercountry adoption; and unaccompanied children at the U.S. border.

CRS — U.S. – Vietnam Economic and Trade Relations: Issues for the 113th Congress (August 13, 2014)

August 22, 2014 Comments off

U.S. – Vietnam Economic and Trade Relations: Issues for the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Since the resumption of trade relations in the 1990s, Vietnam rapidly has risen to become a significant trading partner for the United States. Along with the growth of bilateral trade, a number of issues of common concern, and sometimes disagreement, have emerged between the two nations. Congress may play a direct role in developing U.S. policy on some of these issues.

Bilateral trade has grown from about $220 million in 1994 to $29.6 billion in 2013, transforming Vietnam into the 27th-largest trading partner for the United States. Vietnam is the second-largest source of U.S. clothing imports (after China), and a major source for footwear, furniture, and electrical machinery. Much of this rapid growth in bilateral trade can be attributed to U.S. extension of normal trade relations (NTR) status to Vietnam in 2001. Another major contributing factor is over 20 years of rapid economic growth in Vietnam, ushered in by a 1986 shift to a more market-oriented economic system.

DOE — 2013 Distributed Wind Market Report (August 2014)

August 21, 2014 Comments off

2013 Distributed Wind Market Report
Source: U.S. Department of Energy

In 2013, 30.4 megawatts (MW) of new distributed wind capacity was added, representing nearly 2,700 units across 36 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Since 2003, nearly 72,000 wind turbines have been deployed in distributed applications across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the USVI, totaling 842 MW in cumulative capacity. The 83% decline from 2012 to 2013 of distributed wind capacity additions is in line with the 92% decline from 2012 to 2013 in overall U.S. wind capacity deployed.

To compensate for weaker domestic sales, U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers shifted their focus to growing international markets. Exports from U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers increased 70% from 8 MW in 2012 to 13.6 MW in 2013. U.S. small wind turbines were exported to more than 50 countries in 2013, with top export markets identified as Italy, UK, Germany, Greece, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Nigeria. In 2013, 76% of U.S. manufacturers’ new small wind sales capacity went to non-U.S. markets, a substantial increase from 57% in 2012.

The purpose of this report is to quantify and summarize the 2013 U.S. distributed wind market to help plan and guide future investments and decisions by industry, utilities, state and federal agencies, and other interested parties. Distributed wind is defined in terms of technology application based on a wind project’s location relative to end-use and power-distribution infrastructure, rather than on turbine or project size. While the distributed wind market includes wind turbines and projects of many sizes, this report breaks the market into two segments when appropriate: wind turbines up through 100 kW (in nominal capacity) referred to in this report as “small wind,” and wind turbines greater than 100 kW used in distributed applications.

EU — Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

As we become increasingly dependent on the internet for all aspects of our lives, how can Europe on the web work best while ensuring that everyone can trust online services?

STOA has examined the latest technological advances with regard to the internet and information technologies in Europe. STOA is the Science and Technology Options Assessment body,which provides independent scientific advice to the European Parliament.

Technology could help foster a European civil society and political sphere, particularly if the European institutions widened their e-participation efforts. This was the conclusion of the 2011 STOA study on ‘E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe’. The study did not currently recommend e-voting. However, technology could start addressing the perceived ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union. The European institutions could broaden e-participation, involving citizens more in the legislative process and creating an ‘e-public’, a European political sphere, perhaps a basis for a shared sense of European citizenship.

Networks of Military Alliances, Wars, and International Trade

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Networks of Military Alliances, Wars, and International Trade
Source: Social Science Research Network

We investigate the role of networks of military alliances in preventing or encouraging wars between groups of countries. A country is vulnerable to attack if some allied group of countries can defeat the defending country and its (remaining) allies based on their collective military strengths. We show that there do not exist any networks which contain no vulnerable countries and that are stable against the pairwise addition of a new alliance as well as against the unilateral deletion of any existing alliance. We then show that economic benefits from international trade provide incentives to form alliances in ways that restore stability and prevent wars, both by increasing the density of alliances so that countries are less vulnerable and by removing the incentives of countries to attack their allies. In closing, we examine historical data on interstate wars and trade, noting that a dramatic (more than ten-fold) drop in the rate of interstate wars since 1950 is paralleled by the advent of nuclear weapons and an unprecedented growth in trade over the same period, matched with a similar densification and stabilization of alliances, consistent with the model.

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