2013-2014 PIPS Projects
Reclaiming the Urban Jungle: Empowering Local Communities to Foster Security.
By Tyler Bembenek
With few resources to provide services and security, many governments struggle to maintain control over rapidly growing urban districts and subsequently abandon impoverished areas as “no-go zones.” Lacking government presence, these districts are hotbeds of radicalism, terrorism, and narcotics trafficking, threatening U.S. national security. Washington should combat no-go zones by building community resilience, providing the necessary guidance, technical assistance, and financial support to empower grassroots security initiatives. This assistance should be based on a co-design methodology, in which the United States works closely with local governments and communities to design and implement policy solutions. Although programs should be adopted on a case-by-case basis, community policing, community courts, and title reform are widely applicable.
Championing U.S. Conditionality: A Strategy to Counter Chinese Economic Influence in Africa.
By Phoebe Benich
Since 2009, Chinese investment and aid to Africa have exceeded that of the United States. The subsequent increase in Chinese influence undermines U.S. security initiatives on the continent, threatens access to key resources, and increases China’s power in multilateral bodies. However, growing African resentment towards China’s predatory economic practices creates an opportunity for the United States to counter Chinese influence in Africa. The United States should adopt a public diplomacy campaign that funds nongovernmental organizations interested in promoting strong labor practices, governance and capacity, thereby drawing attention to the flaws of Chinese economic activities. Additionally, Washington should publicize the political and economic benefits of U.S. foreign aid conditionality to implicitly highlight China’s predatory behavior. By exposing the contrast between the two nations’ relationship with Africa, the United States can regain grassroots support.
Legitimizing Cryptocurrencies: Making the Virtual Economy Work for the United States
By Samuel Dunham
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are online currencies not sanctioned or produced by any state entity. These currencies provide a level of anonymity and easy transferability that facilitates money laundering, drug trafficking, and financial crime. Left unregulated, cryptocurrencies constitute a new challenge to states’ control over the transfer of illegal funds and foreign exchange markets. The United States must introduce a new federal-level license for businesses that trade cryptocurrencies for real currencies, which would both encourage the creation of these businesses within the United States and allow for greater government oversight of cryptocurrency transactions.
The Curse of Plenty: Countering Saudi Arabia’s Emerging Oil Crisis through Energy Diplomacy
By Andrew Hashim
Saudi Arabia is projected to become a net-oil importer by the 2030s, a shift which threatens economic and social stability in the country, world energy market security, and U.S. interests in the Middle East. Saudi efforts to diversify energy consumption and increase natural gas production are insufficient to address their emerging energy problems. To counter this trend, the United States should broker an energy deal between the Kingdom and Qatar, a neighbor rich in natural gas. Additionally, the United States can allay any Saudi fears of supply disruption by guaranteeing access to U.S. natural gas exports. In the event a regional energy deal is not secured, Saudi Arabia should be provided the option of importing U.S. natural gas.
A Soft Pivot to Asia: Managing the Strategic Dilemma in Sino-American Relations
By Dylan Kolhoff
China’s rise has alarmed U.S. allies in East Asia, which seek security assurances from the United States. By increasing support for its allies, Washington risks provoking China, which is sensitive to U.S. presence in the region. A strategic dilemma therefore emerges in which reassuring one party alarms the other. This white paper proposes that the United States implement a soft pivot that emphasizes small, capacity-building bases over traditional large military bases. This policy will reassure allies, avoid provoking Beijing, and deter Chinese adventurism.
Mapping Foreign Aid and Militancy: The Promise of GIS Technology
By Grace Perkins
Although the United States has spent billions of dollars on foreign assistance in an attempt to develop stable and prosperous allies, militant groups continue to operate in recipient countries. This instability undermines U.S. national security goals and wastes resources. To better understand the relationship between the location of aid projects and incidents of militant violence, the United States should further invest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. With more comprehensive data and the combined expertise of the security and development communities, the United States can better target its foreign aid to promote stability and reduce extremism.