Sanctions are usually the first option in coercive diplomacy considering that the use of force is so morally tainted. But how effective they are is highly contested. There are costs and benefits to their use and one of the most notable cost is the “rally around the flag effect.”
Timothy Frye looks at this very aspect of Russian sanctions and writes,
I studied this issue in a recent working paper and found little evidence that economic sanctions influenced levels of support for the Russian leadership.6 To reach this conclusion, I conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,000 respondents in Russia in November 2016 just following the US presidential election, in which I randomly assigned respondents to receive questions with different prompts.7 In the baseline condition, respondents were asked, “To what extent do you support the Russian leadership (rukovodstvo) on a 5-point scale where 1 equals very negative and 5 equals very positive?” In the baseline condition where respondents received no additional information, the average level of support for the Russian government was 3.52.
Prior to receiving this question, one group of respondents was reminded that “since 2014 the United States has levied sanctions against Russia,” and another group of respondents were told that “since 2014 the European Union has levied economic sanctions against Russia.” If the “rally around the flag” argument was correct, we would expect support for the Russian government in these two groups to be higher on average than in the baseline group. Instead, in these groups the level of support for the Russian government was 3.40 and 3.46, respectively—lower than the support in the control group. Reminding respondents that the United States and the European Union had levied economic sanctions against Russia produced no discernible effect on the respondents’ support for the Russian government.
Short read and you can access the rest here.
The New American Foundation has this
In the post-9/11 era, conventional wisdom holds that the jihadist threat is foreign. The conventional wisdom is understandable; after all it was 19 Arab hijackers who infiltrated the United States and conducted the 9/11 attacks. Yet today, as Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who became a leader in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, put it in a 2010 post, “Jihad is becoming as American as apple pie.” Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident.
They also provide the following descriptions of successful terrorist post 9/11.
Of the thirteen lethal jihadist terrorists in the United States since 9/11:
- three are African-Americans
- three are from families that hailed originally from Pakistan
- one was born in Kuwait to Palestinian-Jordanian parents
- one is a White convert born in Texas.
- two came from Russia as children
- one emigrated from Egypt and conducted his attack a decade after coming to the United States
- and one each had families that originally came from Kuwait and Afghanistan
This only proves what so many have already pointed out; that the travel ban was about politics and not about policy.
Short with informative graphics. You can read more here.
I don’t intend for this blog to be a “watchdog” site but I found this interesting.
There is no single answer to this question. Construction costs per mile of road depend on location, terrain, type of construction, number of lanes, lane width, durability, number of bridges, etc. It costs more to build a new road than to rehabilitate a road or add lanes. Roads cost more to build in urban areas than in rural areas. Roads in mountainous terrain are more expensive to build than roads on flat land.
Nonetheless, some states have developed cost models to guide planning for their highway construction programs. These models give a ballpark figure for various kinds of highway improvements. The following are some examples:
- Construct a new 2-lane undivided road – about $2 million to $3 million per mile in rural areas, about $3 million to $5 million in urban areas.
- Construct a new 4-lane highway — $4 million to $6 million per mile in rural and suburban areas, $8 million to $10 million per mile in urban areas.
- Construct a new 6-lane Interstate highway – about $7 million per mile in rural areas, $11 million or more per mile in urban areas.
- Mill and resurface a 4-lane road – about $1.25 million per mile.
- Expand an Interstate Highway from four lanes to six lanes – about $4 million per mile.
The Florida Department of Transportation has published its generic cost per mile information for 2013 online. The Arkansas Highway Department’s estimated cost per mile for 2013 is available online.
That from American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
How on Earth can a one mile long 4 lane highway legitimately costs 8 to 10 million dollars?
Instead of deporting Muslims and Mexicans to “Make America Great Again,” why not focus on such blatant rent seeking like above?
Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. Interrogating detainees who have been abused could violate international law, which prohibits complicity in torture.
As if America’s image in the Middle East needs any more damage.
And this is for a war that has zero importance for America strategy. The best thing for America to do is try to diplomatically resolve the dispute claiming humanitarian motivations.
You can read more here.
Post includes vivid pictures worth scrolling through.
Its title is “The Pipe Dream of Easy War” and it was published in the NYT.
You can’t really pull one bit from the piece and have it be instructive of the writing as a whole, but here is what he offers as the “three age-old truths about war and how our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.his three points on war.”
- War is political
- War is human
- War is uncertain
The point is that many saw the cake walk of Iraq 91 and concluded that future wars would be relatively easy tasks better suited for engineers. McMaster instead argues for a deeper historical perspective of war.
You can read it in it’s entirety here.
The language is over the top but Ryan Cooper as a good point when he writes
Whatever Iran has done, when it comes to arming and supporting morally odious nations and factions in the Middle East, the United States simply doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And now we have elected President Donald Trump — our very own Ahmadinejad, except more inept. Worse still, many of the economic benefits for Iran predicted by the nuclear deal have failed to materialize, in part due to business worries that American hardliners will clamp down again.
Remarkably, the Iranian public did not respond to these developments by electing their own conservative hardliner in the May elections this year. On the contrary, they returned Rouhani to office again — and by a larger margin than his first term. It’s a triumph of willful optimism.
I think May 19, 2017 should be a viewed by Trump administration as a confidence building measure. Rouhani is a moderate. I’m aware that term isn’t all the meaningful when compared to the ranting clerics of Iran, but this election was a choice between a moderate path towards reconciliation or rigid ideogloy. Plus, he does have an Instagram. The Iranian populace is largely moderate and are becoming less thrilled with the ruling clerical regime. year by year. The governing grip of the religious body just seems to get weaker and weaker with each generation and the United States should be start preparing the groundwork for when the distribution of political power favors the moderate masses and not the religious nuts currently in charge.
This is at Quartz.
Options discussed include
- European Army
- Increase spending and pool resources
- “Get good at what’s actually possible without the US”
- Convince the US it needs Europe
- “Don’t do anything drastic”
The issue with NATO isn’t that the allies are free riding. Don’t get me wrong, NATO is “welfare for the rich” and its utterly stupid that Americans are arguably paying more for European security than Europeans do, but to me the issue is that the alliance has been extended into areas into territories that produce the security dilemma from a Russian perspective.
Taking political stock of the past 18 months, It is becoming clear that 1) the original NATO is becoming more essential than we realized and 2) it needs the United States to lead. There is too much latent populism and nationalism on the continent to let Germany rise without some sort of outside check to manage it. And frankly, NATO can’t survive without the United States. You have clear evidence of shrieking now. If the United States were to transfer power to NATO and the alliance was actually somehow needed, why would we assume buckpassing wouldn’t emerge as the dominant response?
Here is the editors note from a voxeu blog posting.
In assessing the underlying causes of the US’ significant trade deficits, the Trump administration’s focus appears to be on alleged unfair trade practices of foreign countries. This column argues that international trade policy has a negligible effect on trade balances. The aggregate US trade deficit results from macroeconomic pressures, while bilateral deficits are due to structural factors, supply chains, and how trade is measured.
Academic but readable. You can read the rest here.
Here is one bit
Is Trump making us more or less safe?
He’s made us less safe, primarily on the domestic front. He has alienated Muslims and empowered right-wing voices. This is a very dangerous dynamic that is likely to exacerbate the terror problem moving forward.
Dr. Byman is probably the country’s most insightful commentator on the politics of Islamic terrorism.
You can read the rest here.
Here is Trump’s reaction to the recent terrorist attack in Iran.
We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.
Here is Iran’s statement on the terrorist attacks on an American gay club.
“Based on its principled policy of condemning terrorism and its firm resolve for serious and all-out confrontation of this discouraging phenomenon, the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the recent terrorist attack in the US city of Orlando,” Jaberi Ansari said, according to a report by KhabarOnline, as translated by IFP.
Keep in mind of the ample opportunity for Iran to take a swipe considering American meddling in Iran and the fact that both homosexuality and alcohol are illegal in Iran.
Here is the American source.
Here is the Iranian.