Putting a price on war with Iran
This satellite image made available to AFP/Getty Images on September 26, 2009 by Digitalglobe shows the suspected Iranian nuclear facility of Fordo near the holy Shiite city of Qom, where Iran is has begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent, according to the UN atomic watchdog agency IAEA.
November 15th, 2012
03:52 PM ET

Putting a price on war with Iran

By Jennifer Rizzo

An all-out U.S. war with Iran, including an invasion by American troops, would cost the global economy close to $2 trillion in the first three months and could go as high as $3 trillion, according to a Washington think tank.

A full-scale ground operation to dismantle Iran's nuclear program is unlikely but the scenario is just one of a handful that a group of nine experts, assembled by the Federation of American Scientists, examined to explore how the global economy would be impacted by U.S. action against Iran.

"There had been talks about oil spikes, about what would happen with the Iranian nuclear program, damage to Iran itself but there had been no, at least in the open sources, large-scale looks at what was going to happen globally," said Charles Blair who co-authored the report.
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Filed under: Iran • Military • Sanctions • Think tank • Treasury
DEBATE PREP:  Back to the strategic future
November 21st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Back to the strategic future

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Thomas Donnelly and Heritage Foundation's Baker Spring, Special to CNN

It is only a small exaggeration to say that the United States hasn’t had a coherent national security strategy since the end of the Cold War. To be sure, we have produced a back-breaking number of strategy documents and discussions, both in government and in think-tanks and academia.  And, at least until the Obama Administration moved into re-elect mode, there’s been a pretty consistent pattern to American strategic behavior.  But if we wish to maintain a “balance of power that favors freedom” and the American geopolitical leadership without which that balance goes tipsy, we need to start taking strategy-making seriously.

In a search for strategic clarity, we can do no better than to re-read the NSC 68 report done by the Truman Administration at the start of the Cold War.  While that document framed the policy of containment and the subsequent practical strategies that ushered the Soviet Union out of business, its enduring insight – one we appear to have lost touch with – is about the role of America in the world.  That role, the report declared, was anchored in the domestic character of the republic, and had consequences. FULL POST


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DEBATE PREP: Should Pakistan be engaged or contained?
November 7th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Should Pakistan be engaged or contained?

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Sadanand Dhume, Special to CNN

The raid in May on Osama bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad has brought intense focus on Washington's policy toward Islamabad.  Since then, the weight of informed opinion - in influential op-eds, think tank reports, and magazine articles - has coalesced around a consensus: the current policy has failed.

Ostensibly, since 2004 Pakistan has been a major non-NATO ally of the United States, a status it shares with such stalwart friends as Israel, Japan and Australia.

In 2009, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, boosted aid to Pakistan by $1.5 billion a year through 2013.  These blandishments were meant to encourage Islamabad to co-operate with Washington in fighting terrorism.

Though Pakistani authorities have at times helped round up wanted al Qaeda leaders from their soil, their overall record has been disappointing.  Of particular concern to the US:  continued Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militants who regularly use safe havens in Pakistan to attack US troops in Afghanistan. FULL POST

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Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...
November 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...

Without question, the public's attention in the race for the White House has centered on the economy and domestic issues.  It’s a sign of how things have changed since the start of these post-September 11th times.  In 2004 and 2008, a good portion of the discussion focused on keeping American safe and foreign policy. But things began to shift as the 2008 election was wrapping up and the economy was hurting.

Now there is no question the campaign talk has moved from 9/11 to 9-9-9 (and other economic plans). A fact not lost on the Republican candidates who spend little time talking about national security issues.  Debate after debate, interview after interview, domestic issues have dominated the campaign so far.  Until now.

On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics.

In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address. From Afghanistan toIraq,ChinatoSyria, cybersecurity to defense spending, the folks at Heritage Foundation and AEI will make sure you are fully prepped for the big debate.

The first in the series will publish today on Security Clearance.  For more coverage of the campaign, don't forget to read CNN's Political Ticker and our political section on CNN.com.

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Seven billion? No need to panic
November 4th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Seven billion? No need to panic

By Martin Libicki, Special to CNN

Editor's note: This opinion article was written by Martin Libicki, author of "Global Demographic Change and Its Implications for Military Power." He is a senior management scientist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. 

If the newest members of Planet Earth’s Club of Seven Billion are inclined to worry, should they be concerned that mankind’s burgeoning population may bring on a world of war and ceaseless strife?

In a word, no.

A notable feature about crossing the seven-billion mark is that, for the first time in history, it took as long to add this billion as it did the last billion (12 years in both cases).  Human fertility has dropped rapidly almost everywhere.  Most people now live in countries where the birthrate is too low to maintain constant population levels.  In the southern third of India, birthrates are below what it takes to replenish the population.
High birthrates, and hence potentially rapid population growth, are largely confined to two broad regions: sub-Saharan Africa and, for the time being, the Indus-Gangetic plains of South Asia.

This is not to say that the human pressure on the environment is decreasing. Indeed, the opposite is true. However, demographic growth is not the main reason. FULL POST


Filed under: Africa • Analysis • Author • China • Foreign Policy • India • Pakistan • Think tank
October 17th, 2011
10:29 PM ET

Sanctions and Stuxnet hurting Iran's nuclear ambitions

By Adam Levine and Pam Benson

Iran's Natanz facility

Iran's efforts to develop its nuclear program have been stymied by a slew of challenges from international sanctions and set back by the 2010 Stuxnet cyber attack, two new reports from a Washington nuclear think tank conclude.

The report by former weapons inspector David Albright's Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)  says Iran has been forced to use inferior parts and weaker metals, according to officials the group has spoken to at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) because sanctions have limited access to needed materials.

"Ten years after the start of construction at the Natanz enrichment site, the probability that Iran will build tens of thousands of centrifuges seems remote based on their faulty performance," one of the reports notes. "Even with advanced centrifuges, Iran may be blocked by sanctions from building advanced centrifuges in large enough numbers."

The Natanz enrichment site was crippled when a computer virus attacked a portion of the centrifuges. But the ISIS report notes enrichment numbers have rebounded to a higher level than before Stuxnet, after a brief dip. But the IAEA noted in recent reports that not all the centrifuges are necessarily enriching. Albright's report says that the Stuxnet worm may have decreased the lifespan of aging centrifuges, even if they were not broken right away, by forcing them to spin at altered speeds. FULL POST

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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • Sanctions • Stuxnet • Think tank