The Cold War: A World History
Westad offers an expansive view of the effects of the Cold War not only on the superpowers most identified with it, the United States and the Soviet Union, but on the world over, taking the reader from China to the Middle East, Latin America to India to demonstrate that “the conflict between socialism and capitalism profoundly influenced how people lived their lives and how they thought about politics, both at a local and global scale.”
Westad traces the roots of the conflict back to the 1890s, when a global economic crisis sparked a radicalization among socialists and rise in U.S. anti-Communism that would define the ideological divides of the Cold War. He also points to the rise at the turn of the century of the United States and Russia into empires with growing international missions.
The Cold War shaped many of the major historical events of the 20th century, as the author details. The Korean War, he writes, was among the biggest calamities resulting from it. The war not only devastated the country but brought fear around the world that a similar disaster could happen to them, according to Westad, who also examines the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and Arab-Israeli conflicts through the prism of the Cold War.
Although Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to disband the Soviet Union and thus end the Cold War, its legacy continues to hold sway in foreign affairs, Westad contends, including in U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the biggest threat of the Cold War, that of weapons of mass destruction, still looms today.
Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power
Until recent years, most experts in the field agreed that the supply of energy would continue to dwindle, causing economic upheaval and even possible military conflict that could destabilize relations between world powers. That didn’t happen, as O’Sullivan writes: not only did energy prices plunge but technological changes in oil and gas extraction led to an abundance of supply that has caused unanticipated repercussions.
O’Sullivan, who runs the Geopolitics of Energy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, details the geopolitical implications of this new energy environment, particularly for America’s use of both hard and soft power. For example, she argues that energy abundance enhanced the ability of the United States to impose sanctions against Iran—a precursor to the deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program—since increased U.S. oil production mitigated the economic risk of Iranian oil being removed from the market. In addition, an increase in gas production also helped facilitate renewed U.S. leadership in climate change measures under the Obama administration, according to O’Sullivan.
The author, who served as the deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan during the George W. Bush administration, also outlines how this change affects other countries, including increased foreign adventurism from Russia spurred by economic woes tied to sanctions and energy abundance. And the Middle East, long the world’s center for oil, will have to adapt to a new environment, with the possibility of economic and political reform that bolsters the region.
She concludes by proposing ways for the United States to use energy as a means to achieve foreign policy goals. “Understanding the new global dynamics created by energy markets awash in oil and gas—and eventually renewable sources—could be as important as discerning the role of radical extremism, infectious disease, nuclear proliferation, or climate change on global affairs,” she writes.
A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative, and Distributed Governance
Today’s technological breakthroughs, offer the best opportunity in a century to improve the quality of, and trust in, local governance. Yet these advances are thwarted by an outdated government operating system (O/S) that prizes rules and uniform practices more than results. More than 100 years ago, municipal governments adopted an operating model that professionalized the workforce and adopted strict regulations and uniform practices. A New City O/S proposes an entirely new governance model that will unleash innovation by restructuring government practices. Calling their approach “distributed governance,” Goldsmith and Kleiman offer a model that allows public officials to collaborate in new, more comprehensive ways that will arm employees with the information they need to become preemptive problem solvers.
As the authors argue in their book, the once-radical and necessary bureaucratic approach that defines accountability as following the rules, not as producing results, can no longer adequately serve constituents. Instead, they lay out a new model of distributed governance, for which “[g]overnment organization and approaches need to fully recognize the change from closed, professionally directed systems to open, participatory ones.”
Goldsmith, director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Innovations in Government Program, has firsthand experience with municipal governance as a former deputy mayor of New York and mayor of Indianapolis, while Kleiman is a clinical assistant professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. They propose a new O/S of governance fortified by three building blocks facilitated by new technology: government designed around the user experience of the citizen, decisions that value acting in time, and a socio-technical ecosystem that encompasses data-empowered public employees and third-party collaborations that rely on distributed learning and value. These building blocks depend on the use of data analytics and digital services and on the creation of a new system that includes procedures and changes in organizational culture to improve operations.
The book examines close to 100 innovations and innovation models in U.S. cities in order to discern lessons that might be woven into a new O/S to identify the one-off improvements that a new operating system could dramatically extend. It also highlights the role of citizens and nonprofits in effecting improvement and innovation in government. The authors provide specific implementation recommendations, but also acknowledge that such a system would be challenging to implement on a widespread basis. Its adoption would, they say, help facilitate more citizen participation and trust in government.
Strengthening Electoral Integrity
Pippa Norris has published a trilogy of books for Cambridge University Press examining why electoral integrity matters, why elections fail, and what can be done to improve the quality of contests worldwide. This final book in the series evaluates the effectiveness of the international community’s efforts to work with local stakeholders when seeking to remedy flawed and failed elections. Attempts at democracy promotion encounter a prevailing mood of skepticism following efforts in countries such as Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and backsliding in hybrid regimes, such as Turkey, the Philippines, and Venezuela. Despite the pessimism, the book documents how in fact international assistance has often achieved its goals, such as by boosting numbers of women in office and making campaign financing more transparent. Norris, who directs the Electoral Integrity Project at the Kennedy School, argues that when international electoral assistance is implemented by local partners this can help to advance human rights and electoral integrity; such efforts differ from the coercive use of military force.
For evidence, the book draws upon the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity expert survey, both to monitor and rank the quality of national elections worldwide and to determine the threats and opportunities facing electoral assistance. Chapters analyze efforts to reform electoral laws, including a wave of gender quota laws, to strengthen the role of independent media, to regulate political finance, and to improve voter registration. The evidence indicates that electoral integrity has often been bolstered by these types of programs, justifying continued international efforts.
Public Health Preparedness: Case Studies in Policy and Management
Edited by Arnold M. Howitt, Lecturer in Public Policy, Herman B. “Dutch” Leonard, Professor of Public Sector Management, and David W. Giles, Associate Director of the Program on Crisis Leadership at HKS
In this volume, Howitt, Leonard, and Giles present 15 case studies on how the public health system has handled recent crises, with potential lessons for the issues that will inevitably arise in the future. The case studies are focused on outbreaks of infectious disease, bioterrorism, and events, including natural disasters, which demanded changes in how the public health system responded. They include the outbreak of the West Nile virus in New York and SARS in Toronto, the response of New York City hospitals to Superstorm Sandy and evacuations from Gulf Coast hurricanes, and anthrax threats before and after 9/11.
In an introduction, the editors provide a conceptual framework for understanding the spectrum of emergency situations that may arise. They categorize some emergencies as routine—not necessarily less hazardous, but anticipatable. For these situations, responders can plan, prepare personnel, and learn from past experience, for example by advising relief workers on how to protect water supplies in the event of a natural disaster or conducting public health campaigns on acute health issues. In contrast, a crisis entails novelty, an unprecedented event or problem, such as how the U.S. Postal Service faced anthrax-laden letters. Further, they explain, crises may be sudden, occurring with dramatic visibility, or emergent, a routine emergency that over time transforms into a novel occurrence. “Because the differences between routine emergencies and crises are profound,” the editors write, “the question for leaders in emergencies, not least in public health, is whether they and their organizations can be truly ambidextrous,” ready for both types of emergencies.