Archive for the ‘Conference Reports’ Category

The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy

May 23, 2011

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is vital to U.S. interests in the Middle East.  The relationship has been especially strained recently, putting into question the future of U.S. aid and commitments to Pakistan.

This issue of the NSFR, titled “The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy”, is a report of a series of interviews with Pakistan VIPs conducted by the NSFR Editorial Board.  Our findings have been distilled and we have provided a number of policy options with the objective of reformulating U.S. relations with Pakistan.  Our suggestions are based on complementary strategy: the idea that the U.S. and Pakistan must understand each other’s objectives before hard negotiations can be effective.  Also in this issue are two articles by high level Pakistani political figures: General (Retired) Parvez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan, and Imran Khan, a prominent philanthropist and activist leader of a leading Pakistan political party.  Their thoughts add a unique Pakistani perspective to the analysis of this relationship.

Following the publication of the NSFR report, President Obama announced a new direction for America’s Middle East strategy.  Here are the key points of his speech:

  • Elevating trade and investment over financial aid handouts
  • Broadening and deepening regional trade initiatives between the U.S. and the region
  • Promoting the development of civil society
  • Demanding anti-corruption initiatives
  • Encouraging new forms of U.S. communication and outreach to the Middle East

These policy initiatives are consistent with our findings.  So far, President Obama has limited implementation to Tunisia and Egypt.  The NSFR report advocates that these principles be applied to Pakistan urgently.  A rupture of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship would be a serious set back to U.S. objectives in the region.

Click here to read the Spring 2011 issue of the National Strategy Forum Review:

“The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy”

Emergency Preparation

March 22, 2011

The devastating tsunami that hit Japan last week is a reminder for all of us to take stock of our emergency plans.  Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world.  Its infrastructure is designed to withstand incredible stress, and its citizens are well trained for emergencies.  The tsunami caused incredible damage, but it could have been even worse had its citizens not known how to respond effectively.

An article by STRATFOR titled “Taming Chaos with a Personal Plan” offers a prudent reminder for individual citizens to familiarize themselves with national and local emergency procedures.  For those living in Chicago and other parts of the US, how prepared are you and your loved ones from unexpected emergencies?

The National Strategy Forum has long promoted personal safety and emergency planning procedures.  Our 2003 report titled “Prudent Preparation: What Can I Do in the Event of a Mass Casualty Incident” provides practical resources and information for individuals and families to develop a plan.  In addition, a copy of the 2007 McCormick Foundation report titled “Civic Leaders Speak Out About Emergency Preparedness” provides information for both families and communities to build stronger emergency responses.  Finally, for parents interested in school safety procedures in the event of an emergency, the National Strategy Forum publication titled “School Safety in the 21st Century: Adapting to New Security Challenges Post-9/11” may be informative for evaluating your child’s school system.

Government emergency management is vital in the immediate aftermath of an event.  However, personal safety and security is the ultimately the responsibility of the individual.  Being prepared and having a plan multiplies the efforts of local and federal government in response to catastrophic events.  Take the time to evaluate your level of preparation and the threat environment that in which you reside; the future is unknown, but early preparation mitigates the consequences of unexpected events.

No More Secrets: Adapting to a World Where Everything is Out in the Open

February 28, 2011

The WikiLeaks incident suggests a provocative question: Is the world rapidly approaching a time when secrets no longer exist?  The U.S. government has traditionally depended on secrecy to gain a competitive advantage in counterintelligence.  However, the difficulty of keeping information secret is rising exponentially.  Technology has outraced the country’s defensive posture and is forcing greater transparency upon individuals, organizations, and governments who are more interconnected than ever before.  With the proliferation of sophisticated cyber-security threats, corporate espionage, and social media networking, the world may be approaching a time when there are no more enduring precious secrets.

Adapting to this new reality is challenging.  The government and private sector will need to develop strategies and reform current policies to limit the amount of secrets held if they are to survive in such a transparent environment.  Failure to adjust could present a dangerous vulnerability to national security.  A proactive shift in strategy may allow the U.S. to prevail over its adversaries.

The July 2010 conference titled “No More Secrets: National Security Strategies for a Transparent World” was sponsored jointly by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, and the National Strategy Forum.

The conference examined the likelihood of a world with no secrets.  It defined the concept of secrets, identified current inadequacies in managing critical information, and offered solutions to these problems.

The general consensus was that the government, private sector, and individuals must learn to address these new threats and challenges.  The government should engage with the private sector in developing new ways of doing business to enhance innovation and seek processes that require maintaining fewer secrets.  Ultimately, those who figure out how to operate with fewer secrets will gain an advantage over those who cling to traditional notions of indefinite information monopoly.

The conference report can be found here: No More Secrets: National Security Strategies for a Transparent World

Asymmetrical Warfare and International Law in the 21st Century

January 19, 2011

With the rise of non-state actors on the battlefield, conventional militaries are struggling to engage with new asymmetric threats. The current laws of warfare, based on traditional international law, are difficult to apply to non-state actors. As states wrestle with these challenges, the relevance and effectiveness of traditional international law are called into question. The international community should review the rules of warfare to adequately address the complex issues that arise from asymmetrical warfare, some of which include:

  • Is current international law adequate to address the complex issues and threats of today’s asymmetrical warfare?
  • How can new laws be formulated to achieve a balance between law and strategic objectives?
  • How can states and non-state actors be compelled to adhere to international laws of warfare?
  • What would be the markers of success to ensure the effectiveness of international law? (more…)