By Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Isabella Bennett and Ali Wyne, Former Research Assistant, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
This policy brief examines political forgiveness, when countries or groups are able to reconcile or set aside historic enmities.
Ambassador Wendy Sherman makes the case that insights from frameworks of personal forgiveness can help nations seize the moment when their interests align and, accordingly, move to achieve political forgiveness. First, the process of forgiveness requires a sense of justice—victims must feel that perpetrators have been held accountable and will no longer be able to hurt them. It must also be a deep, extended undertaking: when perpetrators offer only superficial acknowledgments of the victims’ pain and attempt to move on quickly, victims perceive those efforts as perfunctory, even disingenuous.
Additionally, countries must reestablish genuine, ongoing contact to overcome narratives of “the other” that inhibit forgiveness. They should not assume, however, that political forgiveness will proceed as a linear, three-part process in which the perpetrator issues an apology, the victim accepts the apology, and the two subsequently cultivate their ties on the basis of aligned national interests.
May 24, 2016
Op-Ed, Project Syndicate
By Jeffrey Frankel, James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth
As G7 leaders convene in Ise-Shima, Japan, the global economy’s fragility is a top concern. But instead of focusing on currency wars, the leaders of the major developed economies should be discussing fiscal policy, which under current conditions would be a more powerful tool than monetary policy for boosting economic activity. After all, today, unlike in normal times, the effects of fiscal policy would not be limited by too-high interest rates, inadequate private demand, strict capacity constraints, or excessive inflation.
May 23, 2016
Op-Ed, Project Syndicate
By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University
On May 26-27, the heads of the Group of Seven leading industrial countries will gather in Japan to discuss common security and economic problems. A major common problem that deserves their attention is the unsustainable increase in the major developed countries’ national debt. Failure to address the explosion of government borrowing will have adverse effects on the global economy and on debt-burdened countries themselves.
The problem is bad and getting worse almost everywhere. In the United States, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government debt doubled over the past decade, from 36% of GDP to 74% of GDP. It also predicts that, under favorable economic assumptions and with no new programs to increase spending or reduce revenue, the debt ratio ten years from now will be 86% of GDP. Even more worrying, the annual deficit ratio will double in the next decade to 4.9% of GDP, putting the debt on track to exceed 100% of GDP.
May 11, 2016
Op-Ed, Agence Global
By Rami Khouri, Senior Fellow, Middle East Initiative
We are into the season when you will be flooded with articles and analyses on the 100-year anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement that was signed on May 18, 1916. That agreement between Great Britain and France, with Russian acquiescence, defined how they would divide the spoils of the crumbling Ottoman Empire in the East Mediterranean region.
May 9, 2016
In an off-the-record discussion titled "The Iran Nuclear Deal and Beyond: The Evolution of European Foreign Policy," Helga Maria Schmid, Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service, spoke openly to an audience of HKS faculty, fellow, and students about the EU's important role as "honest broker" throughout the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations on preventing Iran's nuclear program.
May 8, 2016
By Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor
Most of the time, I use this column to recommend policy changes that I believe would make the world a better place. This time I am using it to salute a policy change that I believe will have important benefits and that carries with it important lessons. The decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) last week to end the production of 500-euro notes is a triumph of reasonable judgment over shameless fear-mongering. As an importantpaper published a few months ago by former Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands and his Harvard colleagues demonstrates, this change will make the world a safer, fairer place and carries important lessons for the future.
May 4, 2016
Op-Ed, Foreign Policy
By Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program
"...[C]ivilizations are not actors and they do not make decisions for war or peace. Even now, the main actors in world politics are states and the most powerful political ideology in the world is nationalism. Nationalism explains why the number of countries continues to rise, why supranational institutions like the European Union are in trouble, and why China and its neighbors are increasingly at odds over seemingly minor chunks of territory in the open seas."
May 3, 2016
Op-Ed, The New York Times
By Joseph E. Aldy, Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
"Given the existing low-cost competition in a no-growth market, renewable developers face tough investment challenges absent new policies. A carbon tax could substantially increase market demand for renewable power and encourage the retirement of pollution-intensive coal-fired power plants."
April 25, 2016
Op-Ed, The Boston Globe
By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
“You like tomayto, and I like tomahto,” crooned Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers in the 1937 caper “Shall We Dance.’’
The routine begins with an argument about the pronunciation not of “tomato” but of “either.” Also at issue are the words “neither,” “pyjamas,” “laughter,” “after,” “Havana,” “banana,” and “oysters.” As a middle-class Scotsman who has spent roughly half his adult life in the United States, I no longer have any idea what the “right” way to pronounce these words is.
But imagine all those words being uttered by Her Majesty the Queen. And then imagine them coming from the mouth of President Barack Obama. Never mind hearing them — merely to see the two heads of state together is to be reminded how very different the United Kingdom and the United States are.
April 18, 2016
By Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program
Created as a state only in 1830, largely at the instigation of the British, who wanted it as a buffer against possible further French imperialism, it could be argued that the country could have been divided along linguistic lines, between France and the Netherlands.