Category: International Relations

It’s OK to Lose a Little Face Over Syria

K.C. COLE, professor of journalism, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 23.

A mathematical solution in Syria? That’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, the working compromise is a classic case of the power of game theory, a branch of mathematics that analyzes the best possible outcomes in conflicts where neither side knows what the other will do. It’s not about winning as much as it is finding the least worst option, which is precisely what Presidents Obama, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and company have done.

No one gets exactly what he wants. But no one loses everything either.

Iran’s in the Mood to Negotiate on its Nuclear Program

HASHEM PESARAN, professor of economics, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Guardian on Sept. 17.

It is well documented that economic sanctions on their own have not generally been effective in achieving their political aims, particularly when they are imposed against non-democratic regimes. Sanctions have their greatest impact in the short term, as their effects tend to be mitigated in the longer term by structural economic and political adjustments. Overall, effective sanctions have been short-lived, whilst ineffective ones have lasted a long time.

So Much Tension, so Little Defense Spending

DAVID KANG, professor of international relations, Dornsife College.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Policy.

Are tensions high in Asia? It certainly appears so. Over the last few months, North Korea has tested missiles and threatened the United States with nuclear war. China spars regularly with Japan over ownership of a group of disputed islands, and with several Southeast Asian countries over other sparsely inhabited rocks in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the United States is in the midst of a well-publicized “pivot” to East Asia, and continues to beef up its military deployments to the region.

Yet as of 2012, military expenditures in East and Southeast Asia are at the lowest they’ve been in 25 years — and very likely the lowest they’ve been in 50 years (although data before 1988 is questionable). While it’s too early to factor in recent tensions, as China’s rise has reshaped the region over the past two decades, East and Southeast Asian states don’t seem to have reacted by building up their own militaries. If there’s an arms race in the region, it’s a contest with just one participant: China.

Stand Clear and Let Iran Botch Its Nuclear Ambitions

JACQUES E. C. HYMANS, associate professor of international relations, Dornsife College.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Affairs on Feb. 18.

At the end of January, Israeli intelligence officials quietly indicated that they have downgraded their assessments of Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb. This is surprising because less than six months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned from the tribune of the United Nations that the Iranian nuclear D-Day might come as early as 2013. Now, Israel believes that Iran will not have its first nuclear device before 2015 or 2016.

China Needs a Wall Street

HASHEM PESARAN, professor of economics, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in The Sunday Times.

The British economy is experiencing a double-dip recession, the leading eurozone economies and Japan are stagnant and the American economy is slowing down. At the same time, emerging economies such as China and India continue to show impressive growth.

This divide in the fortunes of the industrialised and emerging economies is not new. Over the past two decades China’s importance has increased dramatically. While world trade has grown by about 40% from the mid-1990s, China’s trade has more than doubled during the same period.

Isolated Iran to Welcome 100-plus Countries for Summit

NAJMEDIN MESHKATI, professor of engineering, USC Viterbi, and GUIVE MIRFENDERESK, international lawyer.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

The 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran this week will draw dignitaries and representatives from more than 100 countries — 35 heads of state, including Mohamed Morsi, the current chair of the movement and the first democratically elected president of Egypt, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Romney Courting an Unlikely GOP Constituency

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Have you heard the one about the Westside Jewish Republican Club? Its members take turns hosting the gatherings, and they meet each month in the host’s car.

The Democrats‘ advantage among Jewish voters might not be quite that extreme, but there’s no question that the Jewish community in this country has always leaned strongly toward the Democratic Party and its candidates. Read more →

Don’t Expect Fireworks With New Mexican President

PAMELA K. STARR, associate professor of international relations, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Enrique Peña Nieto, the fresh-faced politician Mexicans elected this week to be their president, represents the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which completely dominated Mexican politics for 71 years until 2000. Many Mexicans are concerned that the PRI’s return will lead to a restoration of autocratic rule, an officially sanctioned detente with organized crime or a marked deterioration in bilateral cooperation. But these things are unlikely.

Will Mexico’s New President Rethink Drug War Cooperation With U.S.?

PAMELA K. STARR, associate professor of international relations, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in Foreign Affairs.

U.S.-Mexico security cooperation has been strikingly close and effective during the tenure of Mexican President Felipe Calderón. A country that had traditionally seen the United States as the principal threat to its national security has come to accept its northern neighbor as a partner in the battle against organized crime. Mexican intelligence agencies and naval units now collaborate closely with U.S. security personnel despite the historic reluctance of Mexico’s highly nationalistic military establishment to do so. At the same time, the United States, a country that had traditionally seen Mexico as a weak and unreliable counterpart, has learned to see its southern neighbor as an increasingly trusted associate. The United States now willingly shares sensitive intelligence with Mexican officials, playing a critical role in improving the effectiveness of Mexican counternarcotics operations. Just a generation ago, this would have been unthinkable.

Silicon Valley Needs a Foreign Policy

ERNEST J. WILSON III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Affairs.

As California’s high-tech firms grew to become economic powerhouses in the American economy, they punched below their weight politically. For the most part, they are not very savvy about the ways of Washington — they came late to the lobbying game — and their political strategies were naïve compared with those of old industrial sectors like oil and automobiles.

That seems to be changing. In January, a group of high-tech heavyweights, including Google and Wikipedia, along with less prominent combatants (155,000 Web sites in all) and nonprofits such as Fight for the Future, joined in a massive online blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Since the bill’s introduction in May 2011, a wide mix of representatives from the film, television, music, and publishing industries had been championing SOPA and its sibling, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two pieces of legislation designed to address international theft of copyrighted U.S. intellectual property.