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HKS in the News March 27, 2012

1. Can Seoul summit tackle biggest threat to US security – nuclear terrorism? (Allison) The Christian Science Monitor

2. Summit aims to guard against nightmare of terrorists getting nukes from unsecured countries (Bunn) Washington Post

3. Laws of economics catching up with China (Frankel) The Age (Australia)

4. Mitt Romney is not as weak as you think (Kamarck) Macleans (Canada)


Can Seoul summit tackle biggest threat to US security – nuclear terrorism?

The Christian Science Monitor

March 26

Commentary by: Graham Allison, Belfer Center

Topic: Nuclear Summit

Graham Allison is also quoted in The Conversation and Korea Joongang Daily

Why did President Obama fly halfway around the world to Seoul, South Korea, for the second Nuclear Security Summit? What can the 50 world leaders who meet today and tomorrow plausibly accomplish?

The answer is less than many observers hope – but more than skeptics appreciate.

Summits are part of the pageantry of international relations – often little more than photo-ops. But strategic leaders can make use of summits to advance serious agendas. Well-managed summits can serve three important functions: focus a spotlight (and rare attention) on specific issues; build international consensus; and provide a process to force governments to take action...

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Summit aims to guard against nightmare of terrorists getting nukes from unsecured countries

Washington Post

March 27

Quoted: Matthew Bunn, Belfer Center

Topic: Nuclear Summit

Matthew Bunn is also quoted in The Boston Globe , NPR’s All Things Considered and cited in The Telegraph (India)

Material that can be used to make nuclear bombs is stored in scores of buildings spread across dozens of countries. If even a fraction of it fell into the hands of terrorists, it could be disastrous.

Nearly 60 world leaders who gathered Tuesday in Seoul for a nuclear security summit agreed to work on securing and accounting for all nuclear material by 2014. But widespread fear lingers about the safety of nuclear material in countries including former Soviet states, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and India.

Building a nuclear weapon isn’t easy, but a bomb similar to the one that obliterated Hiroshima is “very plausibly within the capabilities of a sophisticated terrorist group,” according to Matthew Bunn, an associate professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

There’s an “immense difference between the difficulty of making safe, reliable weapons for use in a missile or combat aircraft and making crude, unsafe, unreliable weapons for delivery by truck,” Bunn said…

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Laws of economics catching up with China

The Age (Australia)

March 27

Commentary by: Jeffrey Frankel

Topic: Economics in China

CHINA watchers are waiting to see whether the country has engineered a soft landing, cooling down an overheating economy and achieving a more sustainable rate of growth, or whether Asia's dragon will crash to earth, as others in the neighbourhood have before it.

But some, particularly American politicians in this election year, focus on only one thing: China's trade balance.

Not long ago the yuan was substantially undervalued, and China's trade surpluses were very large. That situation is changing. Forces of adjustment are at work in the economy, so foreign perceptions need to adjust as well. China's trade surplus peaked at $US300 billion in 2008, and has been declining ever since. February data showed a $US31 billion deficit, the largest since 1998. It is clear what has happened. Ever since China rejoined the global economy three decades ago, its trading partners have been snapping up its manufacturing exports because low wages made them super-competitive. But, in recent years, relative prices have adjusted…

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Mitt Romney is not as weak as you think

Macleans (Canada)

March 26

Quoted: Elaine Kamarck

Topic: The GOP Primary

Romney the Weak. The Politically Tone Deaf. The Millionaire Who Can’t Connect. The former Massachusetts governor’s character, campaign strategy, campaign staff, and political message are all being offered as reasons for why he can’t seem to “close the deal” in the drawn-out presidential nominating contest. After all, Sen. John McCain wrapped up the 2008 Republican nomination in early February. What has Romney done wrong? Perhaps nothing. The main reason the primary continues to drag on has more to do with changes to the nomination rules and voting calendar this year than with Romney himself…

What has changed is the primary calendar. Four years ago, fully 80 per cent of the Republican delegates were chosen before March—as compared to only 13 per cent this year, notes Elaine Kamarck, a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and author of Primary Politics: How Presidential Candidates Have Shaped the Modern Nominating System. In 2008, the so-called “Super Tuesday,” the biggest voting night of the primary season, took place an entire month earlier—on Feb. 5, compared to March 6 this year. In addition, there were 21 contests that night in 2008, including big, delegate-rich states such as New York, New Jersey, and California—while this year’s Super Tuesday included only 10.

And back then, many of the contests were “winner-take-all” states. That meant that the second-place finisher did not receive delegates and could be more quickly eliminated. “What you had in 2008 was McCain, who was not popular among the Republican base, but because of winner-take-all rules, front-loading, and his victory in South Carolina, there was not much time for people to say, ‘My goodness, he’s not winning!’ ” Kamarck told Maclean’s

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In the HKS TV Studio

John Park, Belfer Center

CTV 3/26

Topic: Nuclear Summit

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