Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

30 April 2017

*** What Trump’s Next 100 Days Will Look Like

By Reva Goujon

As U.S. President Donald Trump approaches his 100-day benchmark on Saturday, a media deluge has already begun bemoaning the demise of the liberal order, celebrating waves of deregulation or simply blaming the president's rocky start on the "disaster" he inherited on taking office. Rather than wade into that predictable morass, we prefer to focus instead on what the next 100 days hold in store.

A Slippery Slope in Trade

Trump is often described as a "transactional" president who sees the world as one big negotiating table where he can leverage his business experience to exact better terms and conditions for American workers and corporations. Trump will therefore try to keep his core agenda focused on what he regards as his sweet spot: U.S. economy and trade. But even though the domestic economy may be the thing closest to the president's comfort zone, it's also where he comes up against a wall of institutional barriers. As a result, his much-touted tax overhaul attempting a steep reduction in the corporate tax rate will remain gridlocked in congressional battles over health care and the budget.

The End of the Trump Administration


Author: William S. Lind 

After just three months, the Trump administration appears to be over. The agenda which got President Trump elected is being tossed over the side, replaced with the usual Republican establishment policies that don’t work. It looks as if we are in for more immigration, more free trade that wipes out middle class jobs, more political correctness, and more avoidable foreign wars where we have no real interests at stake. As for Donald Trump himself, he is rapidly being relegated to the role of the crazy uncle who lives in the attic.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to know less about grand strategy than he does about Maya glyphs. He has set us back on an anti-Russian foreign policy course where the U.S. is to promote Jacobin concepts of “human rights” while bombing anyone and everyone around the world. Both actions work to the advantage of our Fourth Generation, non-state enemies. Coupled with a failure to reform our Second Generation armed forces, we are on the same road to over-extension and collapse that every other Power seeking world dominion has followed. Donald Trump ran against all of this, and won. But what the public wants counts for nothing to the Republican establishment.

The drumbeat of bad news for those who voted for Trump because they wanted reform grows louder daily. The New York Times can hardly contain its glee. On April 13 it reported that Steve Bannon, the highest-placed anti-establishment figure in the Trump administration, may be on his way out. Coming in, according to the Times, is Kevin Hassett, who will serve as head of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors and who is rabidly pro-immigration. He has denounced the Republican Party for becoming the “Party of White.” Wall Street, which wants cheap labor, will be delighted.

29 April 2017

*** An American Recession and the World

By George Friedman

A recession in the United States is likely to come in the next two years. It is difficult to determine when a recession will occur based solely on economic activity. Economists argue about the precursors to a recession as a matter of course. I am not making the case that one will happen because I believe I am competent to enter that debate. Rather, I am making the case that one is increasingly likely simply by looking at the frequency with which they occur.

The last recession started in 2007 and ended in 2009. The one before that started and ended in 2001. The two previous recessions ran from 1990 to 1991 and from 1981 to 1982. In these cases, the time between the end of one recession and the start of another was about eight years on average. Between 1945 and 1981, recessions were much more frequent, but obviously something has happened to extend the time between them.

Newspapers are seen for sale at a newsstand Sept. 16, 2008 in New York City. The previous day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 4.4 percent or 504 points, the worst single-day loss since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Mario Tama/Getty Images

America's Innovation Edge Is at Risk

Peter Engelke

It seems a growing number of people refuse to accept living in a post-fact world. Saturday’s March for Science was billed by its organizers as necessary “to defend the vital role science plays" in our health, safety, economies, and governments.”

It is no coincidence that the march was held during the opening weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, and on Earth Day to boot. Many of the nation’s scientists fear a serious threat to both science itself and federal policies rooted in science. Look no further than the hatchet the Trump administration hopes to take to the federal government’s research and development budgets, or to its goal of eviscerating or weakening evidence-based regulations across a number of areas, most prominently in environmental policy.

How has it come to this? The fact that scientists feel a need to organize mass marches is a sign of something gone very wrong. As in so many areas of contemporary American life, science has become a political football. For whatever reason, a sizable portion of our body politic no longer equates science with progress and prosperity. That sentiment has been years in the making.

28 April 2017

U.S. Air Force invests millions this month on cyberweapons projects

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Three of the United States’ largest military contractors each won multimillion-dollar projects in the last month to boost American offensive power in the cyber domain.

Raytheon, Northrop Grunman and Booz Allen Hamilton have all seen their stock prices rise 10 to 20 percent since the November 2016 U.S. election. Investors sprinted to military contractors based on Trump’s promises for higher spending on — among other warfighting capabilities — the cyber domain. Many of the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers are expanding aggressively into offensive and defensive cybersecurity in search of the same level of profitability found in building conventional weapons systems.

Raytheon will build the Air Force’s newest Cyber Command and Control Mission System (C3MS) operating location — at San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base — after winning an $8.5 million contract this week. Lackland is home to the 24th Air Force, the organization tasked with operating and defending the Air Force’s networks. It’s currently commanded by Maj. Gen. Christopher Weggeman.

The C3MS system is designed, by the military’s description, to extend the U.S. Air Force’s “global reach, power and vigilance” into the cyber domain by providing permanent operational support to combatant commanders around the world. In addition to securing Air Force networks and information processing systems, C3MS includes offensive cyberspace operations, expansive real-world and cyber domain surveillance capabilities and close coordination with other key cyber domain commands including the United States Cyber Command.

Time for America to Follow China’s Lead

By Kishore Mahbubani

Kishore Mahbubani is a former Singaporean diplomat who served twice as ambassador to the United Nations. Currently, he is the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of “The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World.” This piece is part of a special RCW series on the U.S.-China geopolitical relationship. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

In a 2005 speech before the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, former World Bank President Robert Zoellick famously called upon the Chinese government to become a responsible stakeholder in the global system, and to work with other international powers to maintain stability and security around the world. One can assume that when Zoellick delivered his speech on that fall day in New York, there was no doubt in his mind -- nor in the minds of most American leaders and policymakers -- that the United States was in fact the responsible stakeholder in the international system, and that China was not. 

However, last year’s election of Donald Trump has spurred a remarkable reversal in global perceptions of the United States and China. President Trump has loudly proclaimed that he will pursue unilateralist “America First” policies, and he has also threatened to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization. In a 2016 interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump said, "[W]e’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out. These trade deals are a disaster. The World Trade Organization is a disaster." By contrast, after the two brilliant speeches delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Davos and in Geneva in January 2017, China has projected itself as a defender of the prevailing multilateral order. Zoellick would not be able to deliver his 2005 speech in 2017. The roles have reversed.

Clinton's Subtle Warning

This need not and should not have happened. As a power that is, by the president’s own admission, in relative decline, it is increasingly in the national interest of the United States to strengthen multilateral rules and processes. Articulating this truth in a visionary 2003 speech at Yale University, Former President Bill Clinton said:

26 April 2017

Unmasking the Unmaskers


When then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked for the names of Donald Trump aides who were communicating with foreign officials and being monitored by the National Security Agency, she probably didn’t anticipate igniting a firestorm.

The saga kicked off in February, when the Washington Post reported that key Trump advisor Michael Flynn had been chatting with the Russian ambassador, an article that led to his early resignation from the president’s team.

By March, Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, declared that the Trump team had been seriously wronged. After Nunes’ alleged mysterious midnight run on the White House grounds came to light, his committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was thrown into political turmoil, prompting his departure from the investigation.

The next month, Rice was identified as at least one official who asked that the names of Americans who spoke with Russian officials be “unmasked,” though it’s unclear whether she uncovered Flynn’s name. Critics quickly accused her of being a source of the leaks, an allegation she’s vehemently denied.

Is the United States Really Blowing Up North Korea’s Missiles?

BY JEFFREY LEWIS

The Trump administration has completed a policy review of how to manage the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. The new policy — massive pressure and engagement — is a tepid serving of leftovers from the Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations. I actually created a quiz of similar statements from all four administrations — and then when I looked at it a day later, I failed it.

As so often happens when reality disappoints, people turn to rumor and fantasy. And so, disappointed with the reality that Donald Trump faces the same lousy options on North Korea that hamstrung all his predecessors, the new Washington bedtime story is that the United States is secretly hacking North Korean missile launches.

The root of this particular bedtime story was a bit of reporting by David Sanger and William Broad, asserting that the Obama administration had begun, about three years ago, to launch cyberattacks against North Korea analogous to those against Iran.

While the United States is undoubtedly interested in penetrating Iranian and North Korean computer networks, and is doing a bit of mischief, that’s a long way from the reality of some keyboard jockey in Utah taking command of a North Korean missile and piloting it into the drink.

Is the United States Really Blowing Up North Korea’s Missiles?


The Trump administration has completed a policy review of how to manage the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. The new policy — massive pressure and engagement — is a tepid serving of leftovers from the Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations. I actually created a quiz of similar statements from all four administrations — and then when I looked at it a day later, I failed it.

As so often happens when reality disappoints, people turn to rumor and fantasy. And so, disappointed with the reality that Donald Trump faces the same lousy options on North Korea that hamstrung all his predecessors, the new Washington bedtime story is that the United States is secretly hacking North Korean missile launches.

Unmasking the Unmaskers

What Susan Rice did used to be unusual, but it was encouraged by years of expanding access to signals intelligence.

The root of this particular bedtime story was a bit of reporting by David Sanger and William Broad, asserting that the Obama administration had begun, about three years ago, to launch cyberattacks against North Korea analogous to those against Iran.

While the United States is undoubtedly interested in penetrating Iranian and North Korean computer networks, and is doing a bit of mischief, that’s a long way from the reality of some keyboard jockey in Utah taking command of a North Korean missile and piloting it into the drink.

How Desert Storm Destroyed the US Military


BY RAY STARMANN

The US military that won Desert Storm or Gulf War I in 1991 was a spectacular military, a gargantuan industrial age military with high tech weaponry and well trained personnel, that when called upon, achieved victory with the speed of Patton and the elan of Teddy Roosevelt.

Overlooking the vast eight mile carnage on the Highway of Death in Kuwait, destruction that was caused by a US Air Force and Navy that bore almost no resemblance to the two services now, a sergeant in the 7th US Cavalry remarked, “America sure got its money’s worth from those Joes.”

In 44 days, the largest military force assembled by the US and its allies since Normandy destroyed the world’s fourth largest army in a brilliantly led, fabulously executed air and ground war in the sands of the Middle East.

The ghosts of Vietnam were vanquished by men who had experienced the horrors and strategic errors of that war and who inculcated those lessons to the personnel they led.

25 April 2017

U.S. Eavesdropping Program Goes Silent

By The Daily Beast,
 

It’s long been considered one of the most important ways American spies gather information overseas. But in 2016, it apparently went dark.

Something a little funny might be going on in America’s most secretive court. According to the annual report for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), released April 20, the court didn’t authorize any surveillance last year under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—a controversial provision of the 1978 spy law.

24 April 2017

Checking the Pulse of American Tech

By Rebecca Keller and Matthew Bey

Uncertainty is building in the hallowed halls of America's finest research institutions -- about funding, about immigration, and about the next four years of policy under the new U.S. administration. (DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images)

For most of its history, the United States' seat at the forefront of innovation has gone unrivaled. Thanks to its natural geographic strength, ample access to capital, top-tier education and expansive government-funded research, the nation has pushed the boundaries of science like no other. But as any bodybuilder will tell you, true strength requires upkeep. And the proposed budget cuts of the newest U.S. administration have many American scientists — and Washington's foreign rivals — questioning whether the United States is about to lose its competitive edge.

Of course, America's executive branch doesn't have the authority to dictate government spending; Congress does. So as was true of most of his predecessors, President Donald Trump presented what was more of a policy wish list than a detailed accounting document to U.S. lawmakers in his March budget outline. Even so, his proposed cuts to the nearly $70 billion in research funding that the government provides each year have sent ripples of concern throughout the scientific and technical communities.

U.S. Oil in the Global Economy: Markets, Policy, and Politics


This note provides highlights from a one-day CSIS workshop held March 22, 2017, with government, industry, financial, and policy experts exploring the role of U.S. tight oil production in the global energy landscape. The workshop addressed a limited set of key issues concerning the role of U.S. oil in the global markets and is being followed by two related CSIS workshops dealing with societal and environmental risks in U.S. onshore development and the global natural gas markets.

Background: The rapid rise in unconventional oil output in the early part of this decade returned the United States to a prominent position as a major oil supplier. Over the course of the past 10 years, U.S. liquid production has risen by over 150 percent as net import dependence has fallen by over 60 percent. The United States is now the world’s largest exporter of refined petroleum products and in 2016/2017 became a net exporter of natural gas. The resource endowment coupled with the success of quick cycle development of light tight oil (LTO) continues to affect global oil markets.
Current Trends and Issues in the Global Oil Markets

To help set the scene for U.S. onshore production, three questions were addressed: 

What is the state of play in global oil markets? 

What is the status of U.S. onshore production? 

What role does U.S. onshore production play in the market? 

After two years of a low-price environment, a potentially bumpy market rebalance is underway.

Palantir's Relationship With America's Spies Has Been Worse Than You'd Think

By BuzzFeed

Palantir Technologies, the Silicon Valley data company co-founded by billionaire investor Peter Thiel, has developed an almost mythical reputation for its work building tools for the U.S. intelligence community. But Palantir has had a far rockier relationship with the nation’s top spy agencies than its image would let on, BuzzFeed News has learned.

As of summer 2015, the Central Intelligence Agency, a signature client, was “recalcitrant” and didn’t “like us,” while Palantir’s relationship with the National Security Agency had ended, Palantir CEO Alex Karp told staff in an internal video that was obtained by BuzzFeed News. The private remarks, made during a staff meeting, are at odds with a carefully crafted public image that has helped Palantir secure a $20 billion valuation and win business from a long list of corporations, nonprofits, and governments around the world.

“As many of you know, the SSDA’s recalcitrant,” Karp, using a Palantir codename for the CIA, said in the August 2015 meeting. “And we’ve walked away, or they walked away from us, at the NSA. Either way, I’m happy about that.”

23 April 2017

*** What a War with North Korea Looks Like

By George Friedman

In the last week, the possibility of war between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States has increased. It is necessary therefore to consider what such a war might look like. I am using the term war rather than merely American attacks on North Korean nuclear and missile program facilities because we have to consider the possibility of North Korea’s response and a more extended conflict.

Such a war would be based on North Korea’s decision to move its nuclear program to a stage where the U.S. and other countries conclude it is possible that North Korea is close to having a deliverable nuclear weapon. Given that the North Koreans could not survive a nuclear exchange, it is hard to understand why they would have moved their program to this point. The obvious reason for having a nuclear program is to use it as a bargaining tool. The reason for having a nuclear weapon would be as a deterrent to a foreign power seeking regime change in North Korea. The most dangerous period for North Korea is when it is close to having a weapon but does not yet have it. That is the period when an attack by an external force is more likely. It is the period before North Korea could counterattack. Pyongyang’s decision to deliberately send signals that it has a nuclear weapon increases the urgency of an attack. Its decision is odd, even if it already has one or two nuclear weapons.

How the Pentagon Plans to Beat Russia and China's Air Defenses in a War

Sebastien Roblin

U.S. warplanes flying over Syria today find themselves operating within the range of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles. While the U.S. military is unlikely to intentionally attack Russian forces in Syria, the situation highlights the importance of suppressing enemy air defenses—one major tactic U.S. flyers have long relied upon is radar jamming, or saturating enemy radars with “noise” and false signals so that they can’t track and fire upon friendly airplanes. The U.S. Navy has relied on the ALQ-99 jamming system for nearly half a century, even as opposing radars grew in ability. However, by the beginning of the next decade it will begin fielding the superior Next Generation Jammer, boasting significant electronic-attack and signal-intelligence capabilities.

The powerful ALQ-99 tactical jamming pod first entered U.S. Navy service in 1971, carried by the EA-6 Prowler, an electronic-warfare variant of the A-6 Intruder carrier-based attack plane with a four-man crew. The U.S. Air Force eventually supplemented the Prowler with faster and larger EF-111 Ravens, informally known as Spark Varks because of the intense static buildup their jammers generated. Both planes proved effective in suppressing air defenses in Iraq and Libya. However, the Raven was withdrawn from service early in 1998, as the imminent retirement of the F-111 fleet made it prohibitively expensive to operate. Seventeen years later, the Navy retired its aging EA-6s in favor of new EA-18G Growlers—special electronic-warfare variants of the F-18 Super Hornet. The two-seat Growlers are much faster and better armed, but must rely on automation to make up for the reduction in crew size.

** Checking The Pulse Of American Tech

By Rebecca Keller and Matthew Bey

For most of its history, the United States' seat at the forefront of innovation has gone unrivaled. Thanks to its natural geographic strength, ample access to capital, top-tier education and expansive government-funded research, the nation has pushed the boundaries of science like no other. But as any bodybuilder will tell you, true strength requires upkeep. And the proposed budget cuts of the newest U.S. administration have many American scientists - and Washington's foreign rivals - questioning whether the United States is about to lose its competitive edge.

Above image: Uncertainty is building in the hallowed halls of America's finest research institutions -- about funding, about immigration, and about the next four years of policy under the new U.S. administration. (DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images)

Of course, America's executive branch doesn't have the authority to dictate government spending; Congress does. So as was true of most of his predecessors, President Donald Trump presented what was more of a policy wish list than a detailed accounting document to U.S. lawmakers in his March budget outline. Even so, his proposed cuts to the nearly $70 billion in research funding that the government provides each year have sent ripples of concern throughout the scientific and technical communities.

Investment in science and technology, along with supportive policies and a smart regulatory environment, is crucial to staying competitive in today's globalized world. Some factors determining a country's success, such as geography and infrastructure, are less malleable to the changes wrought by individual leaders. But others, such as the availability of funding, ebb and flow based on the party in power. And if Trump's suggested cuts are approved, they could disproportionately impact some sectors - climate science, alternative energy and biomedical research, to name a few - more than others.

The Losers

Though Trump's budget proposal isn't passable in its current form, it still provides a glimpse of the sectors most at risk under his tenure. The National Institutes of Health - the cornerstone of the United States' biomedical research endeavors - would see its funding cut by $1.2 billion this year, and again by nearly $6 billion in 2018 (a 20 percent reduction of its current budget). These cuts, along with others like them, would be particularly devastating to university researchers who rely on government financing to support their world-class programs. After all, basic research (which often doesn't have immediate applications but is vital to technological development nonetheless) routinely struggles to attract the interest of the private sector because it offers no obvious, rapid return on investment.

Despite having proposed cuts to other agencies that support U.S. research, including the National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Trump's suggested trims to the Department of Energy stand to have the greatest geopolitical impact. The budget on the table eliminates the loan guarantees for the innovative technology and vehicle manufacturing programs of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. These projects support the development of several different technologies, including automated vehicles, green energy, batteries, cold fusion and upgrades to the electrical grid, that stand to change the face of geopolitics as we know it. Scaling back the government's support for these initiatives will not immediately set the United States back among its peers, but it will make maintaining its lead all the more difficult. That said, the budget is also based on the intention of reducing regulation and eliminating excess spending - inefficiencies and waste that certainly exist in the organizations in question.

The Winners

Not everyone would lose out under Trump's belt-tightening measures. In fact, some, such as the Defense Department, even stand to gain. Military research and fields with direct military applications such as materials science will no doubt continue to receive generous funding during the new president's tenure. Though the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - the departmental branch responsible for conducting cutting-edge research - wasn't specifically mentioned in the White House's proposal, its prospects are much rosier than those of other government organizations. The same may be true of the country's space programs; a number of NASA's planetary science and climate programs are on the list of cutbacks, but those focused on space exploration have gone untouched, and Trump has publicly declared his support for certain space programs before.

The Realities

When all is said and done, many of the White House's deepest cuts are unlikely to come to pass - at least to their fullest extent - because they have already generated substantial pushback from the very lawmakers whose buy-in is needed for their approval. But in this case, outcome may be less important than intent. The motives of Trump's budget are clear: to trim government excess and address long-standing inefficiencies. These goals were key talking points on the president's campaign trail last year, and the "skinny" budget they have yielded signals the new administration's plan to drastically shrink the U.S. bureaucracy.

The executive branch has more power to do that in some areas than in others. Departmental restructuring and staffing, for instance, are under the president's purview, even if funding appropriations are not. These avenues could certainly enable the White House to curb or even remove specific government-funded initiatives that don't align with its policy goals. (Climate science has been pinpointed as a particularly vulnerable field under the current administration.) The same could be said of executive orders, which Trump has already proved willing to wield in order to reshape regulation and immigration policy, albeit with varying degrees of success.

The Workers

Funding can't guarantee innovation, nor does its absence ensure failure. Countries also have to factor human capital into the equation, including their ability to bring the best and brightest to their shores. But Trump ran for the presidency on the promise of creating jobs for American workers, a priority that could blunt the United States' competitive edge in certain sectors such as technology.

For instance, early on in his term, Trump issued an executive order that eliminated the option of expediting H-1B visas, the bulk of which go to foreign computer programmers and software developers. The United States' software and hardware sectors rely most heavily on this specialized class of documentation to attract exceptional and highly educated employees. Yet with little fanfare, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent a memo reiterating that entry-level computer programmers were ineligible for H-1B visas during its most recent round of applications. Trump then signed an executive order requiring the delivery of reports on changes meant to improve the H-1B visa program.

Ironically, though these measures were meant to protect the domestic workforce, they may end up doing more harm than good by pushing the affected jobs offshore. India's citizens and companies receive the most H-1B visas in the world; firms may relocate more of their programming and software jobs there as they adjust to stricter policies in Washington. Mexico and Canada have similarly positioned themselves to serve as alternative employment locations within the NAFTA market. It may not be long before the United Kingdom and Ireland follow suit, leaning more heavily on their status as English-speaking labor locales. (After all, most of the basic coding languages in computer science are in English.)

The Response

Uncertainty is building in the hallowed halls of the United States' finest research institutions - about funding, about immigration and about the next four years in general. At an individual level, researchers' jobs and programs are in jeopardy, as are the careers of many young graduate students as funding and teaching positions risk getting cut.

But this trepidation reaches well beyond the ivory towers and into national tech hubs such as Silicon Valley. Despite PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel's initial role in the Trump administration, there is a notable lack of tech representatives on the president's team of advisers. And at this crucial stage in the U.S. tech sector's development, delays and setbacks could leave the United States at a disadvantage down the line. The high barriers to entry that ensured exclusivity in the world of software 15 years ago no longer exist, and as costs of innovation have plummeted, the field of competitors has become much more crowded.

Easier access to the market, coupled with tighter U.S. restrictions on attracting talent from abroad, has increased the risk that innovation in tech will begin to center on other countries. As the political tides shift in the United States, other nations may take the opportunity to bolster research efforts of their own - though most will remain confined to certain sectors. As it stands, no other country has been able to replicate the massive, broad-based university system that draws students from around the globe to America. (According to The Best Schools' ranking, 85 of the world's top 100 universities are in the United States.) So while figures such as French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron have pointed to their countries as alternative research hubs, they cannot even begin to compete with the vast educational and scientific foundation the United States has already built.

In fact, the only country that could feasibly hope to someday match the United States' pervasive success in technological development is China. In some areas, it has already begun to mount that challenge. But China's universities, state funding programs and labor pool still have a long way to go before they can be considered to be on par with the United States' - a process that will easily take more than four to eight years to complete.

And so, the United States will keep its wide lead over its rivals abroad, even if the lead narrows somewhat in specific fields. Because in the years ahead, changes to funding will mean changes to the priorities of the U.S. tech sector. Faced with less government financing, private U.S. companies will have to shoulder more of the costs of progress on their own. This will not bring innovation to a standstill, but it will bring the ability to turn a profit and recoup costs front and center in developmental decision-making. As a result, the United States may have little choice but to join its peers in focusing its attention on fewer scientific sectors - opening the door to other nations eager to close the gap.

"Checking the Pulse of American Tech" is republished with permission of Stratfor.

What Really Is The ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Order And Will It Impact Indian Professionals?

Srikanth Ramakrishnan

The ‘Buy American, Hire American’ order would not have any direct effect on H-1B visas in the short term, but is rather being enforced to encourage government agencies to give priority to American companies when awarding contracts.

A lot has been said about United States President Donald Trump’s new executive order titled ‘Buy American and Hire American’ (BAHA) order. There is a lot of apprehension about its impact on H-1B visas and employment of foreign nationals in the United States (US). So what exactly is happening?

Here is a short guide to the entire issue.

What is an H-1B visa and how is it issued?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows an employer in the US to employ foreigners in speciality professions for a period of up to three years. In case the employee is no longer employed with the employer who sponsored the visa, he/she must either change the visa type or find another employer or leave the country.

PLOWED UNDER U.S. Farmers, Who Once Fed the World, Are Overtaken by New Powers

By Jesse Newman and Jacob Bunge

GREENVILLE, Ill.—On a pancake-flat stretch of land not far from the Mississippi River, Illinois farmer Jerry Gaffner thumbs through weather forecasts and crop reports on his tablet computer, searching for clues about when to market his soybean crop.

The data streaming in isn’t from Illinois or even the American Midwest. It is from half a world away in Brazil, where farmers are harvesting what’s expected to be a record soybean crop. With 43% of the export market—up from just 12% 30 years ago—Brazil can sway global prices with a weather hiccup or transportation snarl, spurring U.S. farmers to sell crops and capture profits, or to bunker grain and hold off until prices improve.

Mr. Gaffner pays close attention to South American conditions because of the new reality facing U.S. farmers: America’s agricultural dominance has eroded.

Brazil overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest soybean exporter in 2012-13, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s projected to be the second-largest corn exporter, on the heels of the U.S., this season. As of the last crop year, Russia now beats America in shipments of wheat.

It’s a reversal for a country that has long identified as the world’s bread basket. America’s share of global corn, soybean and wheat exports has shrunk by more than half since the mid-1970s, the USDA says. In soybeans, the most exported U.S. crop, U.S. supplies make up about 40% of world exports, down from more than 70% three decades ago.

21 April 2017

U.S. Strategy in an Age of Nationalism: Fortress America and its Alternatives

By Hal Brands

American grand strategy will clearly have a more nationalistic flavor in years to come, but what might that entail? One model is "Fortress America," which represents a path to superpower suicide and a disordered world, but there is a more benign and constructive version, asserting U.S. interests without dismantling the post-war order. It looks like this...