Spring 2007

Biodefense: U.S. Vision of Broader Cooperation

Marc L. OstfieldOur food supply and distribution system is global in nature and poses a relatively soft target offering many points at which it could be deliberately contaminated. Fortunately, there are many steps nations can and have taken individually and collectively to harden these targets and better enhance national and international food defense.

But first some definitions. The term Food Defense encompasses the steps taken to minimize or mitigate the threat of deliberate contamination of the food supply, and includes identifying points of vulnerability and working to strengthen infrastructure, thereby, making the food supply a less attractive and, more importantly, less vulnerable target. Controls in support of Food Defense include physical security—monitoring the premises for suspicious activity, or locking chemical storage facilities; personnel security— screening employees, use of name badges; and operational security—monitoring production to prevent sabotage, use of tamper-evident packaging.

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Congressional Testimony by Dr. Henry Kissinger

Committee Chairman Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat from Delaware): A proposal [from me and Les Gelb, former head of the Council on Foreign Relations] is premised on our conviction that the heart of the administration’s strategy, building a strong central government, cannot succeed. There is not enough trust within the government, no trust of the government by the people, and no capacity of the present government to deliver services and security.

Instead, we must bring Iraqis’ problems and the responsibilities for managing them—in my view and our view—down to local and regional level, where we can help the Iraqis build trust and capacity more quickly and more efficiently.

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Israel's Most Devoted Ally: U.S. Evangelical Christians

Zev ChafetsIn Europe, Christian fundamentalists are so few and far between that they are dismissed as small, secretive cultist sects— a minor curiosity in a secularizing age. So Europeans rarely understand that in America, the profile and weight of evangelicals are radically different. In the United States, evangelicals are the nation’s largest, fastest-growing religious grouping. In rivalry for influence and in active opposition in many views to the liberal Protestant establishment (of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists and other churches), evangelicals are the core of the Christian conservative movement and thus play a considerable role in U.S. electoral politics and foreign policy. Because of their political activism and disciplined values, the evangelicals have gained since the 1990s what amounts to a veto on the nomination in the Republican party for any presidential candidate and for many other key political posts. The evangelicals’ most influential role lies in the Middle East, where their unwavering—indeed, unquestioning— loyalty to Israel is a major fact of life in U.S. policy and therefore in the geopolitics of this region that is the source of so much Transatlantic concern and so much divisiveness between Europe and the United States. In that sense, the role of evangelicals in U.S. policy in the Middle East is part of a much broader Transatlantic communications gap about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the place of Israel in the broader Middle East.

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E—Stonia: Pioneer of Internet Innovation and e-Goverment

Kertu RuusEstonia became the first country to introduce nationwide voting via internet when this technology was used in legislative elections in February 2007. About three percent of the electorate availed themselves of this option. The experiment was deemed a success; no problems were reported; and it may have helped increase voter participation. In other countries, including European nations and the U.S., the idea of online elections has earned mixed reviews, partly because of fears that larger countries allow more scope for hacking and tampering.

But Estonians were hardly surprised to find themselves setting the pace. Estonia, the northernmost of the three Baltic countries, has made extraordinary strides in information technology, both in nationwide penetration and in innovative global applications. Similarly, the emergence of Skype, the global internet phone company with technology invented in Estonia, prompted the New York Times to dub Estonia “the Silicon Valley of the Baltic.’’

 

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The Black Sea Zone: Connective Tissue or Confrontational Fracture?

Ronald D. AsmusA neglected zone of geo-political flux is “the wider Black Sea,” a region joining Europe to the Middle East. The area covered by this term comprises the sea’s littoral states—Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia and Russia —together with neighboring nations, notably Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece and Moldova. Located between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that entered NATO and the European Union after 1991, this extended Black Sea region is an epicenter of some core challenges for the Euro-Atlantic community in the broader Middle East. Its future hangs in the strategic balance. It could become “connective tissue” extending democratic transformation and offering opportunities for cooperation to key partners, including Russia. Or it might turn into a dysfunctional zone of confrontation and conflicts.

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