PIPS Fellows 2009-2010


Alexander Bellah
Alexander Bellah
Shifting Paradigms: Taiwan's New Asymmetric Strategy to Deter Blockade

White Paper (pdf)

Growing economic interdependence and China's development of effective anti-access technology raise the cost for the United States of intervening on Taiwan's behalf in a Cross-Straight conflict. Additionally, China's growing military power challenges Taiwan's ability to unilaterally break or deter a PRC naval blockade. These trends call into question the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and increase the risk of Chinese adventurism, which would force the United States to choose between two poor options – direct and costly military intervention against a needed international partner, China, or abandonment of Taiwan.

Given these considerations, the United States must help Taiwan develop a self-sufficient means of deterring or defeating a Chinese blockade without seriously harming U.S.-PRC relations. To this end, this brief proposes that the United States encourage and help Taiwan to adopt a "Focused Lifeline" strategy, in which Taiwan has the capability to maintain at least one sea line of communication open out to twelve nautical miles. This strategy requires that the United States provide Taiwan with capable – but degraded – destroyers, contingent on Taiwan's building stockpiles of critical supplies and improving the capacity of its East Coast harbor at Hualien.

Raymond Ciabattoni

Raymond Ciabattoni
Modifying the Madrassa: Promoting Moderate Islamic Education

White Paper (pdf)

Radical Islamists exploit weak education systems in the Middle East and around the world to promote fundamentalist forms of Islam through economically self-sustaining private religious schools. These schools are created with a one-time capital outlay and are sustained by a constant flow of revenue from community businesses built around the madrassa. Graduates of radical madrassas frequently fail to learn useful vocational skills, remain poor, and practice intolerant ideologies, making them ready recruits for radical organizations. Current top-down approaches to reforming education systems in the Middle East have been unable to combat this grassroots problem. This brief – using Pakistan as a case study – proposes the creation of a micro-financing institution to fund economically self-sustaining, moderate schools based on the same economic approach currently used by radical Islamist groups.

Levent Kiran

Levent Kiran
A Different Fight: Narco-Commercialist Insurgencies in Mexico

White Paper (pdf)

The United States and its allies increasingly confront commercialist insurgencies that seek to control territory for economic rather than traditional political reasons. These groups render the established "clear-hold-build" approach to counterinsurgency ineffective. To respond effectively to this evolving threat, U.S. officials must take into account lessons learned from previous experiences with commercialist insurgencies. This brief applies the lessons learned from the Colombian insurgency to the contemporary case of northern Mexico and argues that a fragmentation approach is required to disrupt the planning, preparation, and conduct of such groups.

Megan Liaboe
Megan Liaboe
Afghanistan and the Search for a Sustainable Economy

White Paper (pdf)

For almost a decade, the United States and much of the industrialized world has committed its wealth and power to establish a secure Afghanistan; yet, in spite of these efforts, the Afghan government remains heavily dependent on the international community and foreign aid. In order to secure a strong central government independent of international assistance, Afghanistan must develop a stable source of domestic revenue to cover its expenditures. Absent such a domestic source, the government will remain dependent on the international community and, should foreign assistance decline, risk devolving into a failed state. This paper argues that the most effective means for the Afghan government to generate the needed domestic revenue is to tax countries and corporations seeking access to Afghanistan's vast mineral deposits, including copper, iron ore, gold, and uranium.

Kristopher McClellan

Kristopher McClellan
America and the Arctic Superhighway: Developing Economic Opportunities in a Warming Arctic

White Paper (pdf)

Climate change and shrinking sea ice in the Arctic create new opportunities for cheaper commercial shipping and increased access to new oil reserves. Russia and Canada are already exploiting new oil and shipping prospects in the High North. The United States can also benefit from these emerging opportunities by creating an "Arctic Superhighway" for safe and predictable commercial shipping and energy transportation. The "Superhighway" would overcome current obstacles like long range communications, limited disaster response capability, unresolved territorial disputes, and unregulated resource extraction practices and would serve as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy in an ice-free Arctic.

Hannah Thornton
Hannah Thornton
Countering Radicalism with a "Virtual Library of Freedom"

White Paper (pdf)

Terrorist organizations use the internet as a tool for spreading their ideology. The absence of an equivalent moderate presence online gives radical groups a significant advantage in the virtual war of ideas. To respond to this radical threat, this brief proposes the creation of a "Virtual Library of Freedom" to empower moderate voices. The library would contain historical and contemporary documents in a variety of languages addressing topics such as good governance and human rights. It would be targeted toward young, well- educated people – also the object of terrorist propaganda online – who have not yet chosen to turn to terrorism. The site would allow people to form networks and initiate discussion, giving them the tools to contest terrorist ideologies.