Thursday, June 11, 2009

CNAS Conference Round-Up

I spent all day at the Center for a New American Security's annual conference. The think tank has become the de-facto bench for a lot of top Obama Pentagon officials (Flournoy, Miller, etc, etc), so the room was packed with people waiting to see what future policies might look like (although quite a few people left after keynote speaker General David Petraeus was done).
The event featured four panels, each on a recent report the organization has produced, on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, natural security, and North Korea.
Overall I thought the event was very well run. I got to meet two of my favorite bloggers, Andrew Exum and Tom Ricks. Both panelists and the audience raised some very interesting points. The fact that I didn't get satisfactory answers to my questions is beside the point. I thought topics missing from the reports/panels included:
  1. How much can we trust Pakistan's government? What leverage do we have for increasing accountability and governance in Pakistan? What metrics should we use for how responsive and cooperative Pakistan's government is, and can we tie aid to those metrics?
  2. Lots of organizations are writing reports about how climate change and natural security are related to national security. Of course they are. These groups are great at saying "you think that's bad, let me paint an even worse scenario for you." I get that it's bad. How about some solutions or policy prescriptions. I already drive a hybrid car, but I want something on a bigger scale. CNAS' project is just getting started, so hopefully they can come up with some answers.
  3. One reason China may be reluctant to get tough with North Korea, or allow us to really tighten the screws, is that they fear a humanitarian crisis and refugees flooding across their border if North Korea really goes downhill. What can we (the United States or the international community) do to lessen that possibility, in order to enable China to take action? The panel said that South Korea is even more worried about refugees than China. Fine, I get that, but what can we do?
If any of my readers has answers or opinions, I'd love to hear them.

No comments:

Post a Comment