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You are cordially invited to the BIED Society's International Affairs Academy!
In The US and North America
Jay Rosato
Winter 21 Cohort
Winter 21 Cohort
Nov 24, 2020
A major goal of any country's foreign policy strategy should be to secure economic wellbeing for its citizens. Internal economic issues can distract from other policy goals of an administration and lead to stagnation of a nation's influence and ability to project power abroad. After all, it is hard to unify a country around a foreign policy goal when its citizens are not confident the government can satisfy their needs at home. It is also hard to justify spending money on aid programs, security programs, or wars when most Americans don't even feel they have the ability to secure their own interests, let alone the interests of others. It is for these reasons that it is vital we study domestic as well as foreign policy issues to get a full picture of a nation's status. A nation that is able to create an opportunity for its citizens and maintain their wellbeing will present a stronger and more unified front abroad. As evidence for this, we can look to Africa, where economic instability is a reality for many citizens across the continent. Unemployment is one of the biggest issues that the African people face, with one Afrobarometer survey suggesting it was the number one issue for Africans. Widespread unemployment and a lack of economic security are what motivate many to seek opportunities with terrorist groups or criminal organizations, which as can be seen in Mali and Burkina Faso, can undermine the state's core institutions and be detrimental to the security of the region. The findings of this document were pretty interesting. Given the increase of wealth inequality in the US over the past couple of decades, it was not much of a surprise to me that the wages of the highest earners had seen impressive jumps in their incomes. I was also not very surprised to learn that high school workers' wages have actually declined, as we move to an increasingly advanced economy that requires specialized educations to stay valuable. It was also good to see that women with college degrees had seen substantial improvements to their earnings. Perhaps the biggest cause for concern is the relative stagnation of the middle class. This suggests that the US economy is not doing a good enough job of creating economic opportunity for most Americans, and perhaps signals the need for a better-educated society that can pursue more competitive jobs. Though this could potentially also a side effect of decreased economic growth, as US GDP growth rates have been declining over the last couple of decades as the US economy evolves. It was also really interesting to note that increased education had a positive association with the number of hours worked. Which further suggests that in this economy, education creates opportunity. I would be interested to read the other briefs in this series to get a better idea as to what specific challenges pressure US economic security and to see what recommendations they put forward to better American economic security in the future.
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National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Dec. 2017)
In The US and North America
Jay Rosato
Winter 21 Cohort
Winter 21 Cohort
Nov 23, 2020
I have now read the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the National Military Strategy and it has been interesting to see how each strategy gets more specific as each one's scope gets smaller. The NSS sets out a strategy to mobilize many different sectors of the US government to achieve broad goals. The NDS then specifically narrows in to focus on how the Pentagon can work to achieve these goals, while the NMS narrows even further to look at what specifically the joint chiefs and the combatant commanders can do to achieve these goals. It is really interesting to watch this strategy continue to narrow further and look at how each part of the US government individually works to accomplish the same broad goals. Much of the NMS did not come as too much of a surprise for me. The shift from regional to global conflict and the identification of China and Russia as two of the largest security threats for the US is reflective of the trend towards "great power competition" as laid out in the NSS and the NDS. I will say I was glad to see the Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that the armed forces need to be prepared for more global conflicts. Paul Millers "Five Pillars of American Grand Strategy" notes that sticking to the idea that our military needs to be able to fight a two-front war at any given time is antiquated, as the US could potentially need to have troops stationed in many different theaters all over the world due to the nature of modern warfare. This version of the NMS is nearly outdated at this point, as the Biden administration is sure to redirect many of the US chief foreign policy and national security objectives. Michele Flournoy is the current frontrunner for the position of Secretary of Defense. Somewhat counter to Biden, she continues to assert that China is a great threat to the US, and as such may not drastically alter the current defense department policy. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see revised strategies come out over the next couple of years, and get more detail about what this administration values in its foreign policy.
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You are cordially invited to the BIED Society's International Affairs Academy!
In The US and North America
Jay Rosato
Winter 21 Cohort
Winter 21 Cohort
Nov 19, 2020
As a specialist in Africa, USAID is an organization that comes up frequently in my research. In 2019, $8.3 billion was distributed across 47 African countries, showing the impact this organization has on the development of African countries. Within Africa, there are eight regional programs that seek to advance USAID's goals across different regions and different functions. These offices being east, west, south, Sudanese, the office of development programs, the office of sustainable development, the office of the assistant administrator, and the administrative management staff. USAID is doing a lot of great work across many different francophone African countries. One of which is the DRC. USAID works to promote fair and transparent elections in the country by providing technical assistance to political parties, improving campaign management, and promoting civic engagement from traditionally underrepresented groups, such as the youth and women. Another interesting thing that USAID does in the DRC to improve democratic governance is providing training to media officials to make access to good information easy for all citizens of the country. USAID also does a lot of work in Burkina Faso, which despite being a fairly stable nation, has only had one democratic transition of power in nearly 30 years. Because of this, USAID does a lot of work in assuring that the young Burkinabe democracy is conducting business transparently and inclusively. USAID has supported 30 civil society organizations across the country, including 12 youth organizations. USAID has also trained 100 members of the independent electoral commission in an effort to build transparent and fair elections. With specific regard to Burkina Faso, I am curious to see how USAID will react to the Burkinabe government declaring certain regions of the country as too dangerous to have voter registration, and denying nearly 400,000 citizens their right to the vote in the November 22 elections. This disenfranchisement could potentially further destabilize the young democracy, and USAID may need to take note of this situation to preserve democratic governance.
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Jay Rosato
Winter 21 Cohort
Foreign Affairs
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