Archive for December, 2010

Securing the U.S.-Canada Border

December 21, 2010

According to a Wall Street Journal news update (12-20-2010), “Canada, U.S. Near Security Accord,” Canada and the U.S. are making great strides towards improving border security.  The details of a new immigration and border security pact are set to be unveiled over the next few weeks.  The details of the security framework will have broad implications for the U.S.-Canada relationship.

In the Summer 2010 National Strategy Forum Review, Susan Ginsburg analyzed the status of U.S.-Canada border security and provided a detailed assessment of how the challenges can be overcome.  Ms. Ginsburg’s article, Securing Human Mobility at the U.S.-Canada Border, offered a six-fold strategy to secure the border.  These measures include: 1) regular joint threat and risk assessments; 2) deeper mutual assistance; 3) a transatlantic privacy and data-protection framework; 4) a one-stop border pre-clearance  system; 5) aligned admission standards; and 6) integrated surveillance and security operations in the border zone.

As the U.S. and Canada unveil the border security deal, Ms. Ginsburg’s strategy offers a good point of reference for analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the new proposal.  Will the upcoming strategy make the U.S. and Canada more secure?

Ms. Ginsburg’s new book, Securing Human Mobility in the Age of Risk, has been very well received by security analysts.  The book is available for purchase at the Brookings Institute.

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CNA Corporation: National Security and the Threat of Climate Change

December 16, 2010

The environment has evolved from a domestic social issue to a national security issue.  As a consequence, the military is now paying closer attention to the challenges and consequences of  global environmental instability.  Addressing these new challenges requires a revision of traditional military planning and strategy.

In 2007, the CNA Corporation produced an important report titled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” on the environment and national security.  The report explains how these two subjects are interconnected in the 21st Century, and attempts to link the importance of environmental instability to national security strategy.

Read the full report summary by Peter Gatziolis, CNA Corporation: National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.

Growth Areas for Terrorist Cells

December 7, 2010

On November 11, 2010, Professor Bill Banks of  the Mapping Global Insecurity (MGI) team at Syracuse University addressed the National Strategy Forum on the topic of “black spots.”  The event titled “Growth Areas for Terrorist Cells” was recently broadcast on C-SPAN at the link here.

In addition, the Bill Banks Event Summary is also available on the recent speakers page of the National Strategy Forum website.

Black spots are a unique phenomenon affecting U.S. national security.  Traditional tools employed by the intelligence community often fail to identify these clandestine hot spots for crime and terrorism.  The MGI team is using a unique set of social science tools to study these areas and to provide an early warning system to forecast where the next area of instability is likely to emerge.

In the Fall 2010 National Strategy Forum Review, Dr. Bartosz Stanislawski, a director of the MGI research program, wrote about this fascinating research field.  Dr. Stanislawski’s article, titled “Mapping Global Insecurity,” describes how to identify, analyze, and forecast where these emerging security threats may develop around the world.

Green Coal?

December 3, 2010

As Sam complained in that famous Dr. Suess poem, “I don’t like green eggs and ham,” so too have environmentalists not preferred the terms “green” and “coal” on the same page.  Unfortunately, the reality of the environmental and energy challenges are growing more difficult by the day.  The U.S. and China—both the largest consumers of energy and the largest producers of carbon emissions—are facing unpalatable tradeoffs in their strategic energy portfolios as they plan for increased energy consumption in the future.  The link between the environment and national security is clear.  Environmental instability must be incorporated into a national security strategy. In the case of energy, the difficult tradeoff is providing the massive power necessary to fuel the world’s largest economy while remaining mindful of the damaging effects on the environment.

Are you willing to turn off your refrigerator or computers for the next 30 years while alternative energy technology catches up to power needs?  Would you expect the Chinese to do the same?  Riding the wave of alternative energy is satisfying, but it is bound to end in disappointment—at least for now.  Better to hitch a ride on “dirty” coal to power the economy of tomorrow, so argues James Fallows in his new article featured this month in The Atlantic, “Dirty Coal, Clean Future.” Fallows presents one of the most clear-eyed, realistic approaches to the energy and climate change problem in a long while.  It is time to seriously consider America’s strategic approach and financial investments in the energy economy of tomorrow.  Before betting the farm on alternative energy, a realistic assessment of this problem and the available solutions may save both the environment and a few bucks in the process.

Read the full article by Eric S. Morse: “Green Coal?  The Environmental / Strategic Tradeoff.”