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EU must develop ‘best supporting actor’ role in war zones

EU must develop ‘best supporting actor’ role in war zones

The new European Commission needs to shift its focus from humanitarian aid in conflict zones to conflict prevention and intervene more as a ‘best supporting actor to the UN’, says a paper by the European Think Tanks Group published today. Its theme is that “the new EU leadership must step up and realise that to ensure stability and economic growth at home, global issues must be tackled head on. Europe will prosper if the world is prospering,” according to Kevin Watkins, ODI’s executive director.

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Iraq Crisis: German Aid Minister Claims Qatar Financing Islamic State Jihadists

Iraq Crisis: German Aid Minister Claims Qatar Financing Islamic State Jihadists

Germany’s development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, has accused Qatar of financing the Islamic State terror group. There are also links between Qatar’s winning the 2022 World Cup bid and the Islamic State group. The country’s rich Aspire sports academy collaborated on a series of religious lectures in Doha during Ramadan this year which included the Saudi cleric Mohammad al-Arefe. Arefe has been banned from the United Kingdom by the Home Office for appearing at a Cardiff mosque where three teens were allegedly radicalised.

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Smart Geostrategy for the Eastern Partnership

Smart Geostrategy for the Eastern Partnership

The European Union’s (EU’s) relationship with Eastern Europe and the Caucasus is at a turning point. Russia’s increasingly assertive tactics have chipped away at the ties that bind the six Eastern Partnership countries to the EU, and the entire Eastern Partnership is on the verge of unraveling. To rescue its association with its Eastern partners, the EU must deliver more tangible results. Europe can be both geopolitical and committed to reform—but to strike the right balance, the EU must be more strategic.

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Irish Reunification on the agenda in Brussels

GUE/NGL MEPs have reiterated their support for a United Ireland today at a special ‘Reuniting Ireland’ conference in the European Parliament that brings together academics, economists, trade unionists and political activists, as well as speakers from other countries which experienced partition. GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “The GUE/NGL has always supported the peace process in Ireland. From the German experience unification did not benefit everybody. To be successful the Irish process of unification must be better – it must benefit all people.”

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Asia now more prone to conflict than ever: report

Asia is now more prone to conflict than at any time in recent memory, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) academic Michael Auslin wrote in an article published in the Wall Street Journal. “The East China Sea may see the world’s first war started by aerial drones,” Auslin wrote in the article, which also appeared on the institute’s Web site. The British version of the Journal also published an editorial this week titled “Alarm over the Taiwan Strait, which said it is time for Taipei and Washington to shore up Taiwan’s deteriorating defenses.

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Pentagon Determing Fate of Revered Net Assessment Office

The Pentagon is considering reorganizing its internal think tank, an organization credited with helping the US win the Cold War, according to defense sources. The office has been around since 1973, and is the ultimate rarity in Washington, where senior officials come and go like the seasons. Andrew Marshall, who is over 90 years old, was its boss on Day 1 and continues to be its boss. But now as the Pentagon looks to build itself for the decade ahead, a period with fewer spending cash, the revered office could be reorganized or, as some have suggested, eliminated.

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Pentagon’s futurist office now studying Africa’s future

The military’s attention on Africa continues, as its secretive Office of Net Assessment has hired contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to study the continent’s future, military documents show. The Office of Net Assessment is an internal Pentagon think tank that tries to anticipate future needs through a series of studies and war games. Created in 1973, it has been run by the same person, 92-year-old Andrew Marshall, since its beginning. Marshall, in turn, is a disciple of longtime military strategist Fritz Kraemer, a key influence on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former vice president Dick Cheney.

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‘Brexit’: Prize For Britain’s EU Exit Strategy

A 100,000-euro (£86,000) cash-prize is being awarded for the best plan on how Britain could leave the European Union. The ‘Brexit Prize’ has been created by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free-market think tank, in the run up to a proposed referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Entrants are asked to explore the constitutional process of a withdrawal and how the UK can best position itself in the world outside the single market. The prize will be judged by a panel including former chancellor Nigel Lawson and historian David Starkey.

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Persian Gulf states ‘unable to protect themselves’ despite military buildups

Despite massive spending on Western weapons, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf are “unable to secure themselves from any external threat” — meaning Iran — and are running up huge public and foreign debt, a Gulf think tank says.

The GCC states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman — have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons and military equipment from the United States and Europe over the last three decades.

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Chinese think-tank warns of military clashes with Japan

A Chinese think-tank has warned that China may get involved in a military conflict with Japan over the disputed Diaoyu Islands, as “big powers” have intensified their efforts for geopolitical and military dominance in the strategic Asia-Pacific region.

An annual report released Tuesday by the Centre for National Defence Policy (CNDP), a part of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has stated that big powers have intensified their efforts for regional dominance and United States has accelerated its eastward shift of its strategic focus.

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US eyes India’s Port Blair as new drone base in event of war against China

Port Blair might not be anything more than a vacation spot for most Indians, but a new Pentagon- commissioned report seeks to turn it into something radically different: a base for American drones.

In possibly the first reference to the use of Indian territory for the US military in recent times, the paper, put together by the RAND Corporation, suggests that the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be ideally suited as a base for American drones in the event of an offensive against China.

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EIS: The case for a European intelligence service with full British participation

The question is not what can membership in the European Union do for us in the UK, but what can we do for the EU? There is one way in which we British can strengthen the benefits of union. We can demand and nourish a European Intelligence Service (EIS). Forget the parochial moaning, the time is ripe for such an initiative.

In the last century it came to be accepted that effective intelligence can not only win wars and minimize civilian casualties, it can also help to prevent war — precisely the main aim of the EU, as its recent Nobel Prize confirmed.

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Russia’s POV: Chinese Dragon and Russian Bear clipped the claws of American Eagle

The U.S. administration is printing dollars without security in order to finance civil wars or American military invasions. Thanks to the theft of resources of entire countries, the White House covered the deficit of the uncontrolled printing of currency, and distributed the rest in the pockets of the accomplices from the administration. This rule, in force since the end of the Second World War, changed with the coming to power of George W. Bush in 2000. His greed resulted in the fact that the covering of deficit now led to the enrichment of his family and the IMF political commissars.

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China emerges as smuggling platform for Iranian N-programme


Iran is using China as a platform to smuggle thousands of specialized magnets for its centrifuges, in an effort to speed its path to reaching nuclear weapons capability, according to a US think-tank.

The report, by a renowned American nuclear scientist, said the operation highlighted the importance of China as a transit point for Iran’s nuclear program, and called for sanctions against any Chinese firms involved. As enforcement efforts have tightened globally,a report, titled ‘Ring Magnet for IR-1 Centrifuges’ by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), said that China needs to do more to show that it is a responsible member of the global economy.

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CFR: Challenges for Global Governance in 2013 (Round Table)


From the Iran nuclear crisis to global economic woes, the upcoming year will pose steady challenges to international bodies seized with maintaining peace and prosperity. Experts from four leading think tanks weigh the issues.

Michael Fullilove, of Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy, says China must assume “the responsibilities incumbent on a global power” but China’s vision of “stepping up” will not be the same as that of the United States.

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The Sri Lankan Silk Road


Sri Lanka, the “pearl” of the Indian Ocean, is strategically located within the east-west international shipping passageway. Like the old Silk Road that stretched from the ancient Chinese capital of Xian all the way to ancient Rome, modern China’s strategic and commercial supply line extends over the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea to include the focal transit port of Sri Lanka at the southern tip of India. Today, over 85 percent of China’s energy imports from the Middle East and mineral resources from Africa transit through Sri Lanka and other so-called “string of pearls” ports.

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US is trying to make Armenia its ally in the region: Truman National Security Project


Few countries are in better position to shape US foreign policy than Armenia.Armenia borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. As a part of the former Soviet Union, it relies on nearby Russia extensively for trade and military backing. The US has a significant stake in all five countries, and Armenia is now coming into view as a potentially potent lever to advance American aims.That is, if the Armenians can be won over.As the US tries to woo Armenia to become a stronger ally in the region, the term “geostrategic” has never been more apt.

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Report on Putin’s ‘Politburo 2.0′ A Return To Soviet Style Government


The 11-page report, prepared by the Minchenko Consulting Group, headed by political pundit Yevgeny Minchenko, roiled the political establishment Tuesday by identifying the precise makeup of the government’s ruling clan.

The report calls Putin a powerful arbiter who manages relationships between members of ruling factions.

“Russian power is a conglomerate of clans and groups that compete with one another over resources,” the report says.

Putin’s clan is described as Politburo 2.0, referring to the name of the Communist Party’s ruling body that authored all key decisions in the Soviet government.

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Israeli study points to Yemen as site of proxy confrontation between Iran, Gulf and the west

The study concluded that the upcoming months will be pivotal for Yemen. “We will know whether the Islamists will be able to take control of Change Square in Sana’a, and how the national dialogue is going to take place which aims to shape a new constitution.”

Sokolsky went on to state that the effective powers in the Yemen each have particular agendas, driving them to seek external powers in order to improve the situation within the country. Thus, Yemen is an arena of confrontation due to its geopolitical position between Iran and Al-Qaeda on one side and the west and the Gulf Initiative on the other.

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West’s intervention in Libya tipped Mali into chaos

When Western forces helped topple Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi they forced hundreds of well-armed Tuareg fighters to flee home to Mali, tipping another fragile African state into chaos, experts say.

And for some observers, the Western powers’ role in helping trigger the crisis now gives them a responsibility to help try to end it.

“It must be said and said again that the factor that unleashed all of this is the Western intervention in Libya,” said Eric Denece, director of the French Centre for Intelligence Research (CF2R), a think tank.

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Think tank: US intervention in Syria could require 300K troops, cost $300 billion

A think tank report says that U.S. intervention in Syria involving on-the-ground forces could require between 200,000 and 300,000 troops and cost up to $300 billion per year to be executed properly.

While no one is advocating a strategy involving an invasion, the report from the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy highlights the difficulties of accomplishing the Obama administration’s goal of removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

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2 Billion Jobs to Disappear by 2030

When I brought up the idea of 2 billion jobs disappearing (roughly 50% of all the jobs on the planet) it wasn’t intended as a doom and gloom outlook. Rather, it was intended as a wakeup call, letting the world know how quickly things are about to change, and letting academia know that much of the battle ahead will be taking place at their doorstep.

Here is a brief overview of five industries – where the jobs will be going away and the jobs that will likely replace at least some of them – over the coming decades.

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AEI Resident Scholar: US considering ‘air strikes’, not invasion of Iran

How serious is the current crisis over Iran? Can it be solved by sanctions?

The crisis with Iran is very serious. There is no trust between Washington and Tehran. There is a sense in the United States and Europe that time is running out and that, absent stronger measures, Iran will achieve the capability to make nuclear weapons.

Iran will only reverse course if the costs of its defiance become greater than it can bear. None of the sanctions in place right now will compel Iran to change its policy. Only overwhelming sanctions leading to Iran’s economic collapse can work, but with Russia and China shielding Iran, such crippling sanctions appear unlikely.

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Former Mossad Head Yatom: Israel Can’t Afford Not to Strike Iran

The Begin Sadat Center, a respected think tank based at Bar Ilan University, held a conference on November 23, 2011 on the subject of “Israeli Security in a New Regional Envornment”, which focused on the so-called “Arab Spring” and its implicatons. Its experts concluded that the Arab Spring is not going to result in democracy, despite original hopes in the West, and may make things even worse for Israel.

“As steep as the price for hitting Iran may be, a military strike on Iran will be less painful than the cost of living with an Iranian nuclear weapons threat,” argues former Mossad head Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom. “The backlash from a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites will not be as bad for Israel as will an Iran armed with nuclear weapons,” he says. “I don’t think that those predicting apocalyptic repercussions of a strike on Tehran are correct, and even if they are, Israel can’t afford to wonder if Tehran will go crazy and bomb us.”

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Army to test ‘global strike’ technology this week

The U.S. Army on Wednesday will test missile technology that could eventually be incorporated into the development a conventional “prompt global strike” weapon, according to Defense Department officials .

Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command will conduct a flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which is to use an advanced-technology glide body built to endure high-speed flight in the upper atmosphere en route to a target.

“This test is designed to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test-range performance for long-range atmospheric flight,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan told Global Security Newswire last week by e-mail.

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Obama to Aid Uzbek Dictatorship

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, in a move initiated by the Obama administration, has voted to waive Bush-era human rights restrictions on military aid to the Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan, one of the most brutal and repressive regimes on the planet.

Torture is endemic in Karimov’s Uzbekistan, where his regime has banned all opposition political parties, severely restricted freedom of expression, forced international human rights and NGOs out of the country, suppressed religious freedom, and annually taken as many as two million children out of school to engage in forced labor for the cotton harvest. Thousands of dissidents have been jailed and many hundreds have been killed, some of them literally boiled alive.

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Rand studies potential U.S.-China clashes

“China could become a more capable opponent than either the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany at their peak,” lead author James Dobbins said in a written statement. “However, China is not seeking to expand its territory or hold ideological sway over its neighbors. Nor is it seeking to match U.S. defense spending.”

Rand said its study examined potential conflict scenarios ranging from North Korea and India to cyberspace and stressed that the current extensive economic ties between the United States and China were a significant deterrence to war.

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Watch out for Putin, and Russia

The news itself was hardly startling. It has been increasingly clear during the last year that the Regent (Vladimir Putin) would recover the throne from the Dauphin (Dmitry Medvedev). But now that it seems a certainty that Russia is headed for (at least) 12 more years of Putinism, alarm bells ought to be sounding. Why? Because by every indicator — macroeconomic, political, social — the system that Putin forged in the early 2000s is all but exhausted and is driving the country toward a dead end. It must be radically reformed, or better yet, discarded. But how can it be gotten rid of with its creator back in control?

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EU CFR’s Prognosis: Marching towards disintegration

The politician in search of reading material on European integration has shelves of books from which to choose. On European disintegration, by contrast, the literature is scant. Yet with Europe’s leaders embarked on a “march of folly,” to borrow Barbara Tuchman’s phrase, this could well be the future we now face. Tuchman described how leaders throughout human history have acted “contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests”[1– a description that all too neatly fits the recent behaviour of the EU’s senior politicians. The ultimate destination of their particular march of folly could well be disintegration. It is important, therefore, that we examine what that might look like.

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Baby Steps Towards an Asian NATO

In our recent report on an Asian alliance structure for the 21st century—principally authored by my colleague Dan Blumenthal—we argued that in order to balance against China’s rising power, the United States should work towards a more tightly knit grouping of allies in Asia. We attempted to preempt the conventional counter-argument—that “the allies would never choose sides between the United States and China”—by pointing to the military modernization that is happening across the board in Asia: countries in East, Southeast, and South Asia are all fielding new, more modern capabilities in response to China’s own build-up. As we wrote, it looks to us as if “the allies have made a choice without being asked: they are balancing against China’s power.”

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R2P is the New COIN: Slaughter on Authority and International Law

This is the second part of a series analyzing Anne-Marie Slaughter’s ideas about ”Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, based on her Stanford Journal of International Law article, “Sovereignty and Power in a Networked World Order“, to better understand and critique the assumptions on which R2P rests. The topic will be Dr. Slaughter’s uses and conceptualization of “Authority” as it relates to international law and state sovereignty.

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Why China wants a G3 world

Of all the formulations deployed in recent years to describe the emerging world order, G2 is probably the worst and most dangerous.

Americans don’t like the idea of another rival so quickly achieving strategic parity and influence, and the Chinese are uncomfortable with such a high-level responsibility commensurate with their weight.

The US-China relationship can hardly be described as agreeable, progressive, or even productive. And yet people keep coming back to the idea of a G2 because the alternatives can seem so inefficient.

The G20 — with its unwieldy membership of irrelevant countries like Argentina and Italy — can barely tackle financial regulation, let alone climate change, failed states and nuclear proliferation. This explains the latest vogue phrasing from the commentator Ian Bremmer: the “G-Zero” world, in which there is no clear leader and no functioning system of global governance.

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Analysis: NATO needs to remove Assad rather than Gaddafi

“The West insists on the “brutal suppression of mass protests in Syria.” Why, then, it does not notice the harsh repression of Arab revolutions in Bahrain and Yemen? Isn’t this a case of double standards?”

“Neither the U.S. nor the EU want to strengthen Iran. After all, the fall of the existing regimes in these countries will be beneficial only for Tehran. All this, of course, raises certain questions. However, in contrast to Tunisia and Egypt, the regimes in Bahrain and Yemen in particular are surprisingly strong.”

“Does the West understand what kind of the opposition it is supporting and who is to replace Bashar Assad? Why do they not notice what the leaders of the Syrian “opposition” are like, for example, Sheikh Arura, whose motto is “Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut?”

“The problem is that not everyone in the West really understands the threat posed by these movements, and the degree of their extremism. Of course, the Islamists have not gone away, and they are preparing to use the fruits of the overthrow of the dictatorial regimes in their own way.

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Could Turkey and Israel Go to War?

The Arab Spring and recent dramatic deterioration of Turkish-Israeli ties present Israel with a uniquely threatening security environment. Since 1949, Israel has always had the comfort of having Turkey, one of the two major Levantine powers, as its friend. This is no longer the case. In fact, conflict seems to be looming between Turkey and Israel.

In the aftermath of the 2010 Flotilla Incident, Ankara attempted to intimidate Israel by saying its warships would escort missions to Gaza. Now Turkey and Israel are at dangerously opposing ends of Levantine politics. Not only is Ankara no longer a trusted friend of Israel, but it has also begun to emerge as the key regional actor opposing Israel.

When Turkey became the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel in 1949, Israel took comfort in the fact that it had the backing of one of the Middle East’s most influential players. The strength of the Turkish military allowed it to become and remain a friend of Israel despite Islamist opposition to it.

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Think Tank Diplomacy

A few weeks ago, I filed a story announcing the launch of the Pacific Partners Initiative (PPI) by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). PPI is the first Washington based policy and think thank forum dedicated to providing a sustained high-level policy focus on Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island Countries. It also incorporates trilateral ‘Track II’ dialogue as a mechanism for addressing regional security issues.

While meeting with US Ambassador (Ret.) John W. McDonald, chairman and CEO of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, to talk about his organization’s peace-building efforts in India-Pakistan, I also had an opportunity to briefly discuss PPI.

An expert on multi-track diplomacy, McDonald is one of the few diplomats in D.C. who can claim decades of expertise in Track II diplomacy and is therefore a key resource on such topics. According to him, Track II diplomacy initiatives such as PPI will be increasingly important to the maintenance of peace and stability in Asia-Pacific – despite the fact that ‘governments rarely recognize the value of non-governmental actors in diplomacy.’

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Why the EU and Turkey Need to Coordinate Their Foreign Policies

The idea of an EU-Turkey foreign policy dialogue has been catching on in European and Turkish policy circles over the last couple of years. The reason is two-fold: the growing risk that Turkey’s EU accession process will break down, and Turkey’s rising status as a regional power and independent international player. The events of the Arab Spring have only magnified these rationales, illustrating both the potential rewards of cooperation as well as the consequences of failing to achieve it.

As a country negotiating for accession to the EU, Turkey is expected to align its laws and policies with the group. On foreign policy, this means signing on to the decisions the European Union makes under its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

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Using Open Data To Understand War And Peace

Academic studies of wars and conflicts have been around for centuries, but a new one funded by the U.S. Defense Department could change our fundamental understanding of war and peace. The massive, publicly accessible conflict data archive called “The Empirical Studies of Conflict (ESOC)” project, headed up by Stanford and Princeton University academics, will also publish working papers and other research showing their findings.

To start, the ESOC project is analyzing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines (against the amazingly named MILF separatist group), Colombia, Northern Ireland, and Pakistan. According to project co-director Col. Joseph Felter of Stanford University, the choice of conflicts to be studied primarily reflects the availability of pre-existing data to collect and analyze–with priority given to “the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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Thinktanks are in crisis. To survive, they must become ‘do tanks’

Thinktanks have been part of the British political landscape for some time. Mostly, they do good work, making a considerable impact nationally and in more localised ways. For example, work on supporting the working poor by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), for example, led directly to the development of child tax credits by the last Labour government, while the findings of the Hansard Society’s Puttnam commission have led to significant increases in funding and support for outreach and educational services, making parliament more accessible, particularly to young people.

Recently, though, all has not been well in the world of thinktanks. Funding at the moment is fickle; thinktanks are reliant on benefactors, small donations, membership and paid-for work, usually from the public sector or trusts. Unlike the wealthy American policy institutes, British thinktanks rarely have wealthy endowments. And where they do, must be careful not to confuse fancy offices in SW1 with quality of research.

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World Bank Calls On Ghana To Check Population Growth

Mr Javed Talat, Executive Director of the World Bank on Monday called on the Ghana Government to fashion out mechanisms that would help check the ever-growing population to solve development challenges.

He said Technology was fast moving towards reductions in job creation such that unchecked population growth could become disastrous to developing countries in terms of high rates of unemployment.

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Turkey arrests more of its generals for campaigning against the government

A Turkish court Monday handed down arrest warrants for seven generals and seven lower-ranking officers on charges of campaigning against the government via the Internet.

The most prominent figure was General Nusret Tasdeler, the commander of Turkey’s Aegean Army who was appointed head of Education and Doctrine Command in last week’s annual promotions.

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UN Needs To Establish World Environment Organisation

There is a need to establish a World Environment Organisation (WEO) under the United Nations as the current governance arrangements for the sector have failed to meet the expectations.

Developed over the course of 40 years, since the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972, the challenges have outgrown the system, Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid said.

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Navigating the New World Order: The UK and the Emerging Powers

Source: Chatham House Transcript – Jeremny Browne MP Chatham House, July 2011 Download Paper here This is a transcript of an event held on 20 July at Chatham House with Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Minister discussed how Britain should respond to the rise of countries countries such as […]

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