Volume 6, Issue 2: Spring/Summer 2011

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Letter from the Editor

Mai Truong, Editor-in-Chief (2010-2011)


The Discovery of Mineral Resources in Afghanistan: Opportunity or Curse?
An Interview with General Stanley McChrystal

General Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army, ret.) is a former Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander of United States Forces Afghanistan. 

Leading by Example: The Shift Towards Renewable Energy in Portugal
An Interview with Manual Pinho

Manuel Pinho was Minister of Economy and Innovation in Portugal from 2005 to 2009.

Breaking the Monopoly of Oil: A National Security Imperative
An Interview with James Woolsey

R. James Woolsey is a national security and energy expert and was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Clinton administration.


Does Transparency Work? The Challenges of Measurement and Effectiveness in Resource Rich Countries
By Alexandra Gillies and Antoine Heuty

This paper investigates the impact of transparency initiatives on improving governance and economic outcomes in oil, gas, and mineral rich developing countries. We provide two explanations for the apparent shortcomings in impact. Methodological challenges prevent its accurate observation, and work in this area requires a more politically-nuanced and explicitly-stated casual chain between the disclosure of information and improved development outcomes. Second, shortcomings and limitations in the design of existing transparency initiatives hinder a demonstrable and transformative impact on development outcomes. In particular, many initiatives are externally driven and target transparency too narrowly, which affects both the intent and character of their implementation.

Oil-to-Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse Through Cash Transfers
By Todd Moss

Many of the world’s poorest and most fragile states are joining the ranks of oil and gas producers. These countries face critical policy questions over managing and spending this new revenue in a way that is beneficial to their populations. At the same time, a growing number of developing countries have initiated cash transfers as a response to poverty and these programs are showing some impressive results. This paper proposes marrying these two trends in a new policy prescription: countries seeking to manage new resource wealth should consider distributing income directly to citizens in the form of cash transfers. Beyond serving as a powerful and proven policy intervention, cash transfers may also mitigate the corrosive impact of oil on governance.

The Soybean Republic
By Mariano Turzi

A global model of industrialized agriculture has been consolidating during the last decades. Agribusiness is based on the use of genetically modified crops, agrochemicals and new sowing techniques. The control of the new means of production has empowered multinational chemical and trading companies, and their vertical integration along the production chain is generating a commanding production structure. Companies have used their scientific and technological superiority to advance the sale of their agrochemical products, integrating with traders and processors and leveraging scale advantages to establish dominant buying positions by drawing on financial strength. For South America, this is giving rise to new geopolitical fault lines. National borders are losing ground to a corporate-driven model of territorial organization. The new model is dictating production conditions and infrastructural developments; rearranging the geoeconomic space throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay into a single, unified “Soybean Republic.”

Russia Seeks Northern Riches
By Richard Weitz

For several years, the Russian government has set forth ambitious territorial claims in the Arctic region reinforced through recent scientific research expeditions and military measures. The Russian government has recently taken decisions that could mark the beginning of its effort to extract the mineral resources, especially oil and natural gas, located on Russia’s Arctic shelf. Since these claims are contested, they hold the potential to spark a major rivalry among the world’s great powers. Yet, the opportunity to exploit the Arctic’s riches could also serve as a factor encouraging greater economic and diplomatic cooperation between Russia and its neighbors. Indeed, Russian policy toward the Arctic has become more moderate in recent years.

The Struggle for Resources in Central Asia: A Curse or an Opportunity?
By Georgiy Voloshin

This article examines the geopolitical importance of Central Asia as a major source of natural resources coveted by great powers. Whether or not the region has fallen victim to a New Great Game, an all-out rivalry modeled after the Russo-British struggle for influence in South Asia in the 1800s, it has been gradually lured into a new century’s competition for resources that are further translated by those who possess them into factors of strength, both material and intangible. While Central Asia serves as a principal supplier of so much sought-after oil, gas and the like with regard to today’s most ambitious players in international relations, the future of the region itself looks rather bleak. Huge environmental risks, rampant corruption, lack of democratic transformations, inadequate reforms and the dangerous intersection of political and military alliances – does all this, together with ingrained mistrust among neighbors, fare well for the region and its population?

The ATCA and Trans-Boundary Corporate Environmental Abuse: A Case Study of the Gulf Oil Spill
By Haley St. Dennis

The Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) is a U.S. statute enabling aliens to sue in American civil courts for certain egregious human rights violations. It has come to be the tool wielded for most international human rights litigation against corporations. This article explores the potential ATCA liability resulting from corporate trans-boundary environmental abuse through consideration of BP and the Gulf oil spill. This hypothetical “case” demonstrates that though an ATCA claim against BP would likely fail based on the ultimate concentration of damage to U.S. territory, had the damage primarily hit foreign waters, shores and communities, the prospects of bringing an ATCA claim are real and present. Further, the symbolic repercussions of such a claim could develop both international law and industrial standards.

The Year of the Rat: China’s Rise and the Importance of Private Military Corporations to Its Global Power
By Michael D. Gambone and John H. Riley

In the modern era, private military corporations (PMCs) have become increasingly important to the modern state. Although scholarship addressing U.S. and western PMCs is vast, it is mostly silent regarding comparable Chinese companies. Given the size and dynamic nature of Chinese global expansion, it is a topic of significant importance, not only with respect to its potential scale, but the inherently unique qualities that China will likely introduce to the use of armed private security in foreign affairs.

Fathoming FATA: the Taliban Insurgency in Pakistan’s Tribal Area
By Orla MacRae and Osman Haneef

Recent reporting out of Pakistan tells the story of a country plagued by suicide bombers, U.S. drone strikes, car bombs, the Taliban, a power crisis, displaced people, water shortages, and hostile relations with its neighbor, India. Much of the violence has its roots in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), which occupies an uncomfortable and unstable historical, political, and cultural space. In the international sphere, the complexity of the region is often reduced to a “terrorist hotspot” (or other similarly loaded terms). Yet, the increasingly volatile situation there needs to be understood in the context of several wider issues.


Securing Rare Earth: Leveraging U.S. Drug Policy for Technological Advantage
By Jesse Salazar

Rare earth minerals are necessary for America’s industrial future, yet the United States has not developed its own domestic rare earth production capacity, nor have policymakers effectively secured foreign markets. In 2010, China secured its monopoly of global rare earth supplies, leaving the United States on a political and diplomatic search for access to the minerals necessary for new technological innovation. To combat China’s lock on these important strategic resources, the United States must search for new suppliers of these minerals.

The United States Needs to “Get Religion” In Afghanistan
By Knox Thames

Religion matters in Afghanistan. However, the United States has accorded the religious dynamic insufficient consideration in its strategic planning, and this disregard could lead to the eventual establishment of neo-Taliban rule. To prevent this outcome, the United States must first understand the negative impact of the current religious narrative offered by the Taliban. It then needs to challenge it directly by engaging the religious landscape in a way that promotes U.S. national security and individual freedoms.

What the WikiLeaks Documents Tell Us About Asian Security
By Nicholas Khoo and M.L.R. Smith

The release of the mass of sensitive American diplomatic materials over the internet was intended to embarrass the U.S. government. What the exposure of these documents has done, in fact, is to illuminate the stark realities of Asian diplomacy, a murky world of intrigue and power politics disguised frequently by an excess of diplomatic euphemism. While the documents need to be supplemented by other sources before definitive conclusions can be drawn on specific issues, they nevertheless add to our general understanding of the international relations of a far-from-tranquil region.

China as Peacekeeper: Implications for Humanitarian Intervention
By Robert Weiss and Steven Hill

The conflict in Libya highlights ongoing tensions between Western-led interventions and China’s increasing influence in the area of UN peacekeeping. While tension remains between contemporary humanitarian thinking and Beijing’s traditional emphasis on the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention, China’s engagement in UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) is likely to increase over time, with positive implications for the efficacy and capacity of PKO missions.

Turkey between the Ottoman Past and the Kemalist Republic
By Mustafa Gokhan Sahin

Since 2002, the conservative Justice and Development Party (AK Party) under Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won all elections – including two referendums, three national and two local elections  – making it a record-breaking success in Turkey’s relatively short and unstable democratic history. However, Turkish history, like anywhere else, is home to many inconsistencies.

Resourcing America’s Security Cooperation
By Seth Johnston

Established funding mechanisms for America’s international security cooperation programs no longer meet contemporary needs for dynamic, interagency solutions. To improve our security cooperation funding, new mechanisms should emphasize greater interagency coordination, faster staffing and approval timelines, and fewer but larger and more flexible lines of funding authorization.

The End of an Order
By Ryan Arant

The convergence of developing countries and the relative decline of the United States and the West will have a largely negative impact on relations between states. Institutions will cease to function with any semblance of effectiveness, economic liberalization will recede, and the threat of military conflict between powerful states will dramatically increase. While the adoption of certain policy prescriptions could help to ameliorate these consequences, the challenges presented by the changing balance of power far outweigh the opportunities.

An Unlikely Alliance in the Middle East
By Daniel DePetris

In the exceedingly tense political atmosphere in the Middle East today, reaching a comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute seems more intractable than ever.

Why We Need a U.S.-China Emissions Reduction Agreement: The Implications for Global Cooperation and Peace
By Yuhan Zhang

Anthropogenic climate change is a non-traditional geopolitical threat that has significant implications for global stability and peace. A bilateral emissions reduction agreement requiring the United States and China to substantially reduce carbon emissions is vital to stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentration, bolster mutual trust, as well as promote global climate negotiation cooperation and peace.


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In association with the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs