Archive for the ‘think tanks’ Category

Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges

July 16, 2015 Comments off

Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges
Source: RAND Corporation

Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. dominance in conventional power projection has allowed American airpower to operate from sanctuary, largely free from enemy attack. This led to a reduced emphasis on air-base defense measures and the misperception that sanctuary was the normal state of affairs rather than an aberration. The emergence of the long-range, highly accurate, conventional missile (both ballistic and cruise) as a threat to air bases is now widely recognized in the U.S. defense community, and, with that recognition, there is a growing appreciation that this era of sanctuary is coming to an end. Consequently, there is renewed interest in neglected topics, such as base hardening, aircraft dispersal, camouflage, deception, and air-base recovery and repair.

This report is intended to provide a reference on air-base attack and defense to inform public debate, as well as government deliberations, on what has become known as the anti-access problem, specifically as it applies to air-base operations. The report explores the history of air-base attacks in the past century and describes the American way of war that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union. It then argues that emerging threat systems are disruptive to this way of war and will require new concepts of power projection. Finally, the report identifies five classes of defensive options that have proven valuable in past conflicts and offers recommendations on how best to win the battle of the airfields.

Pentagon acquisition policy: Three-quarters right, one-quarter broken

July 14, 2015 Comments off

Pentagon acquisition policy: Three-quarters right, one-quarter broken
Source: Brookings Institution

The American defense debate is afflicted by a certain schizophrenia about how the Pentagon buys its weapons and other equipment, and about the state of America’s defense industrial base. On the one hand, the media narrative often fixates on horror stories concerning $600 toilet seats, billion-dollar aircraft and ships, fighter jets costing three times what was originally expected, and programs canceled for poor performance. The Department of Defense went into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars only moderately well prepared, in terms of equipment and training, for the kind of fighting that ensued, and took several years to find its stride. Eisenhower’s warnings of a military-industrial complex bilking the taxpayer and putting the nation’s economy at risk still echo today—but now it is the military-industrial-congressional complex that adds parochial politics and log-rolling appropriators to the witches’ brew as well.

US biofuels policy, global food prices, and international trade obligations

July 9, 2015 Comments off

US biofuels policy, global food prices, and international trade obligations
Source: American Enterprise Institute

Key Points

  • US energy policy requires that motor fuel is blended with large quantities of biofuels, produced from crops like corn and soybeans. This disrupts domestic production, prices, and trade for major crops.
  • Recent studies estimate that corn prices in the US are about 30 percent higher than they otherwise would be because of biofuel production, and staple food prices have increased worldwide by 20 percent.
  • International agricultural trade negotiations must expand beyond trimming farm payments to curtail the broader policy instruments that affect agriculture and, particularly, that divert large amounts of crops out of the food supply and drive up prices.

Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy

July 7, 2015 Comments off

Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy
Source: Brookings Institution

“Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy” builds on political realism, an emerging school of thought that is characterized by respect for transactional politics and by skepticism toward idealistic political reforms. In our era of intense polarization and gridlock, Jonathan Rauch asks: How can political home truths – truths our grandparents took for granted – help modern politicians negotiate, compromise, and govern?

The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty

July 7, 2015 Comments off

The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty
Source: Institute for Policy Studies

Poor people, especially people of color, face a far greater risk of being fined, arrested, and even incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping in a park can all result in jail time. In this report, we seek to understand the multi-faceted, growing phenomenon of the “criminalization of poverty.”

In many ways, this phenomenon is not new: The introduction of public assistance programs gave rise to prejudices against beneficiaries and to systemic efforts to obstruct access to the assistance.

This form of criminalizing poverty — racial profiling or the targeting of poor black and Latina single mothers trying to access public assistance — is a relatively familiar reality. Less well-known known are the new and growing trends which increase this criminalization of being poor that affect or will affect hundreds of millions of Americans. These troubling trends are eliminating their chances to get out of poverty and access resources that make a safe and decent life possible.

Patenting and Innovation in China: Incentives, Policy, and Outcomes

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Patenting and Innovation in China: Incentives, Policy, and Outcomes
Source: RAND Corporation

China has undergone a patenting boom, with yearly increases in patent applications averaging 34 percent. Since 2000 this has resulted in a 16-fold increase in the annual number of patents and according to the United Nations, China’s patent office has received more patent filings than any other country (UN December 11, 2012). Previous literature indicates that this trend is driven by large volumes of low-quality patents. Given this, I was motivated to understand the drivers of this trend, the impact of patenting-promoting policies, and the innovative outcomes of Chinese firms. This dissertation examines these three questions in three separate essays: (1) What are the drivers of this patenting boom, and what implications exist for Chinese technical innovation? (2) What are the innovative impacts of the Indigenous Innovation Policy, which is designed to promote patenting? (3) How innovative are leading Chinese firms?

Internet Freedom Software Tools Developed by the United States Do Not Facilitate Cybercrime

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Internet Freedom Software Tools Developed by the United States Do Not Facilitate Cybercrime
Source: RAND Corporation

Software tools created by the U.S. State Department to encourage the free flow of information online and on mobile phone networks are not likely to be used by criminals to pursue illegal activities, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

While some technologies supported by the State Department’s efforts have the potential to be used for illicit purposes, there are numerous alternative technologies that are better suited for criminal activity, according to the report.


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