By Stephen Biddle, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1985–1987; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security, Jeffrey A. Friedman, Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2012–2013 and Jacob N. Shapiro
Why did violence decline in Iraq in 2007? Many credit the "surge," or the program of U.S. reinforcements and doctrinal changes that began in January 2007. Others cite the voluntary insurgent stand-downs of the Sunni Awakening or say that the violence had simply run its course after a wave of sectarian cleansing. Evidence drawn from recently declassified data on violence at local levels and a series of seventy structured interviews with coalition participants finds little support for the cleansing or Awakening theses. This analysis constitutes the first attempt to gather systematic evidence across space and time to help resolve this debate, and it shows that a synergistic interaction between the surge and the Awakening was required for violence to drop as quickly and widely as it did.
By Joseph E. Aldy, Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action represents an important milestone in the history of climate negotiations. The challenge is to find a way to include all key countries in a structure that brings about meaningful emission reduction on an appropriate timetable at acceptable cost, while recognizing the different circumstances of countries in a way that is more subtle, more sophisticated, and more effective than the dichotomous distinction of years past. This policy brief expands upon the authors' Science article, "Climate Negotiators Create an Opportunity for Scholars."
In December 2011, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which launched a new round of negotiations aimed at developing "a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force" for the post-2020 period. The Durban Platform negotiations got underway this year and are scheduled to conclude in 2015. This Viewpoint analyzes the elements of the Durban Platform and the possible role that a new instrument might play.
By Leonardo Maugeri, Associate, Environment and Natural Resources Program/Geopolitics of Energy Project
A new study by Belfer Center Geopolitics of Energy researcher Leonardo Maugeri finds that oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020. This could prompt a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices. The findings by Maugeri, a former oil industry executive who is now a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, are based on an original field-by-field analysis of the world’s major oil formations and exploration projects.
By Trevor Findlay, Senior Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program
Published along with the report Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA — the result of more than two years of research and examining all aspects of the Agency's mandate and operations — this policy brief summarizes the report's key findings and policy recommendations for strengthening and reforming the IAEA.
Leadership decapitation has largely failed to produce desired policy results against organizations other than terrorist groups, such as state regimes and drug cartels. For example, killing or capturing kingpins has had little effect on the flow of drugs into the United States, and worse, it has often led to more drugs, more cartels, and more violence. Terrorist groups are different. Because they are violent, clandestine, and values-based organizations, terrorist groups are especially susceptible to leadership decapitation.
By Patrick B. Johnston, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2010–2011: International Security Program/Intrastate Conflict Program, 2009–2010
"The findings indicate that militant leaders do matter and that removing them enhances the effectiveness of counterinsurgency strategies. In brief, decapitations were associated with curtailed insurgent activity, decreased insurgent violence, and an increased likelihood of government victory. These patterns were not limited to certain types of groups; there was no statistical evidence that the impact of decapitation differed across groups with different aims and ideologies."
March 5, 2012
By Yun Zhou, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom (MTA), 2013–2014; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program (ISP)/MTA, 2011–2013; Former Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, ISP/MTA, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, ISP/MTA, 2009–2010
It has been one year since the disastrous nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. Experts now view Fukushima as the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
In the aftermath, the Chinese government promptly reaffirmed that nation’s nuclear energy policy. Yet China also became the only nation among all major nuclear energy states that suspended its new nuclear plant project approvals. Before it would restart approvals, China said it would:
1) Conduct safety inspections at all nuclear facilities
2) Strengthen the approval process of new nuclear plant projects
3) Enact a new national nuclear safety plan
4) Adjust the medium and long-term development plan for nuclear power
Where is China on this path, and what is the future of its nuclear power industry?
By Annie Tracy Samuel, Former Associate, International Security Program, July–August 2014; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2011–2014; Former Research Fellow, Dubai Initiative, Fall 2011
This policy brief seeks to contribute to and inform the debate concerning a possible attack by the United States and/or Israel on Iranian nuclear and military facilities. The presumed aim of such an attack would be to weaken the Islamic Republic, particularly by hindering its ability to build a nuclear weapon. However, the history of the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September 1980 calls into question the contention that an attack will weaken the regime in Tehran. This policy brief examines Iran's reactions to the Iraqi invasion in order to shed light on Iran's possible reactions to a U.S. or Israeli attack.
By Michael Beckley, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2011–2012
"China narrowed the gap in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and will likely overtake the United States as the world's largest economy sometime between 2015 and 2040. What matters for national power, however, is not gross wealth, but net wealth—the wealth left over after people are clothed and fed. China's 1.3 billion people produce a large volume of output, but they also consume most of it immediately, leaving little left over for national purposes."