NATO Needs New Thinking, Not New Money

Donald Trump’s rough-and-tumble diplomacy in Europe overshadowed more pressing concerns for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Trump harangued allies to spend more on defense even though NATO members had already agreed in 2014 to strive for spending 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. “NATO’s European members already spend more than enough money given the relatively limited objectives they set themselves – deterring a weak and declining Russia; countering terrorist groups; engaging in limited crisis management missions mainly in Africa; and cyber defense,” explains Jolyon Howorth, visiting professor with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Nations confront a range of security threats and Russia has devised new attacks against the Western alliance, including election meddling with the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election. Howorth urges reform: “NATO needs to be radically re-thought because it fails to reflect the necessary reconfiguration of European and American forces in a world of rapid power transition.” Excessive military spending without adequate thought could cripple economies. – YaleGlobal

Technocratic Traps of Policy Reforms

Russia's President Vladimir Putin thanks fans and Russians demonstrate against reforms

Rejecting the expert opinions of educated specialists in trade, finance and other areas is tantamount to killing geese that lay golden eggs. “Nations that hope to contribute and compete in the modern world require skilled professionals, especially in complex areas such as taxation and banking, and political leaders cannot govern without such professionals,” explains Vladimir Gel’man, a professor at the European University at St. Petersburg/University of Helsinki. Disrespect for technocrats hinders reform efforts and encourages corruption. Trends include delegation of tasks for the purpose of blaming others, increased influence of outside special-interest groups, emphasis on quick fixes rather than long-term analysis, and intense focus on the whims of a few political leaders. Gel’man offers examples from post-Soviet Russia, but the warning applies to any nation with leaders who get their way by disparaging the experts. – YaleGlobal

Yale Cyber Leadership Forum reports on key areas of cyber risk

Oona Hathaway speaking at the Yale Cyber Leadership Forum

Cyber security experts from Yale University have released a report detailing the critical and challenging areas of cyber risk in the modern era. The report synthesizes discussions held at the second annual Yale Cyber Leadership Forum in April. Oona Hathaway, Director of the Yale Cyber Leadership Forum and a Professor at Yale Law School, edited the report, together with Ido Kilovaty and Edward Wittenstein. The report is free and available to the public on the website of the Yale Cyber Leadership Forum.

The Forum focuses on bridging the divide among the law, technology, and business communities in cybersecurity, and exploring effective approaches to recognizing, preparing for, preventing, and responding to cyber threats.

Replacement Fertility Declines Worldwide

Falling population, dropping support: A sharp drop in population is reported for Ukraine, and the United States is among the nations with low public spending for family benefits

Many countries in the world are undergoing demographic transition, with fertility rates below replacement level for more than 80 nations, about half of the world’s population. Women are choosing to have fewer children for many reasons related to financial and personal costs as well as uncertainty over good jobs and reliable social protections. Bleak projections warn of declines in populations, accompanied by smaller working-age populations and a larger proportion of elderly dependents. This problem is especially apparent in developed countries, and current immigration levels are not enough to offset the potential repercussions of a smaller working-age population and the economic costs of a larger elderly population. Too many governments ignore the challenge until confronted with costly government programs and a shrinking workforce. Fertility incentives are costly and deliver only modest impact. Demographer Joseph Chamie concludes, “Communities that refuse to adjust will only exacerbate the consequences of these powerful demographic trends.” – Yale Global

Leveraging Ambiguity in Foreign Relations

Protective ambiguity: Mikhail Gorbachev, George H.W. Bush and Helmut Kohl gather in 2005; Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrates new weapons to Russian parliament

Uncertainty in global economic or security affairs is often associated with risk. “And yet, ambiguity can be ‘constructive,’ bringing clear benefits in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution,” observes Mikhail Troitskiy, a political analyst in Moscow. “Ambiguity can be a force for common good if practiced consensually, that is, if all sides in a negotiation agree to a moderately ambiguous deal in order to end the talks on a positive note and avoid escalation of their conflict.” All sides must assess their positions, whether they are prepared for a range of unpredictable events that could unfold, while determining just how much ambiguity can be tolerated by future leaders or constituents. Such agreements that de-escalate conflicts allow parties to conserve resources and status. In US-Russian relations, three examples of agreements featuring ambiguity include German reunification, the New START Treaty and the Minsk agreement on eastern Ukraine. Flexibility increases prospects for resolution. – YaleGlobal

A Question of Values: Neal Keny-Guyer ’82 on Serving Humanitarian Needs in Conflict Zones

Getting help to those in need—whether those reeling from a natural disaster or crushed in the grip of extreme poverty—is always hard. It’s further complicated when relief organizations have to work inside an active conflict zone, or in territory controlled by warlords, repressive governments, or other bad actors. 

How do humanitarian groups navigate that ethical thicket? Are the lines different in a sudden crisis than in a seemingly endless conflict? 

We spoke with Neal Keny-Guyer ’82, the CEO of the global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps, about the ideas and values that have guided him in dealing with ISIS, the Taliban, North Korea, and other extreme groups and regimes. “Often, in situations of conflict around the world, there are no clean hands,” he said. “But if you’re going to address root causes, you’ve got to get those people at the table. You’ve got to build relationships.“

West’s Failure to Reform Threatens World Order

US training flight over South China Sea and illustration of 1815 Congress of Vienna

A rebalancing of world power is underway, and global and regional organizations are in need of reform. China and Russia challenge the post–World War II international order developed by the United States and its allies. China’s swift economic growth and Russia’s military interventions have caught the West off guard, explains journalist and author Humphrey Hawksley: “China… is stepping into an array of vacuums created by economic crises, weak governance and unpredictable populism, yet nether Beijing nor Moscow has the wherewithal to build rival institutions of the strength that has allowed the West to hold sway in the world order for centuries.” International organizations designed to promote cooperation have not kept pace with social and economic changes since 1945. Groups like the United Nations, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund must take voices of rising powers into account or risk losing credibility and influence. Hawksley concludes, “The West’s failure to act on modernizing the world order is becoming as much a threat to the West’s rules-based system as is Russia and China’s attempt to challenge it.” – YaleGlobal