Publications

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Trade at a Crossroads: A Vision for the US-India Trade Relationship, a joint report with the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center and the U.S. India Strategic Partnership Forum, provides an expert analysis of the current state of the relationship, including recent negotiations, and recommendations for the path forward in the short-, medium-, and long-term. This report urges both countries to prioritize efforts to manage current tensions, reach an early agreement and build on successes to initiate a series of cooperative projects in areas such as intellectual property rights, digital trade and regulatory coherence, mirroring previous successes on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Finally, the report provides a sober assessment of future prospects for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA). While highlighting many compelling reasons to avoid rushing into exploration of an FTA in the near future, it concludes with a vision of this ultimate form of economic integration through trade negotiations.
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The H-1B visa program is one of more than twenty US guest worker programs, but it has arguably been in the spotlight more than any other. While the H1-B was originally intended to attract foreign workers to satisfy unmet demand for skilled labor, the current system undercuts opportunities for US workers and enables the exploitation of H-1B workers, many of whom who are underpaid, vulnerable to abuse, and frequently placed in poor working conditions. Adopting safeguards to ensure H-1B workers are provided fair working conditions and given greater employment rights would both improve the lives of visa holders and better protect US workers. In the Atlantic Council South Asia Center’s new report, Reforming US’ High-Skilled Guestworker Program, Dr. Ron Hira, Associate Professor at Howard University, and Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, explore the current flaws of the H-1B visa system and discuss potential policy measures for reform.
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Over one year after the announcement of the Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, significant opportunity remains to improve efforts to achieve peace. In the Atlantic Council South Asia Center’s new report, Review of President Trump’s South Asia Strategy: The Way Ahead, One Year In, authors Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council; Ambassador James Cunningham, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; General David Petraeus, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Director for South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute; Mr. Manish Tewari, Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council; and Ms. Anita McBride, Executive in Residence, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University offer a list of recommendations to bolster the administration’s strategy and move toward a successful peace process in Afghanistan.
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As a second and more punishing wave of US sanctions hits Iran, the Islamic Republic is dusting off an old playbook for circumventing such penalties and maintaining a crucial level of oil exports and other trade. A new issue brief by Holly Dagres and Barbara Slavin -- How Iran Will Cope with US Sanctions – discusses the myriad techniques Iran developed before negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, when sanctions had wider international support. The Islamic Republic is already redeploying many of these techniques, from turning off tracking devices on tankers to co-mingling oil with that of other exporters to the use of barter with key trading partners.
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Recent Sino-Indian and Indo-Russian informal agreements to undertake joint projects in Afghanistan mark a geographical paradigm shift in the strategic ambitions of the region’s largest stakeholders. Partnerships in economic and regional connectivity offer the potential to reinvigorate interest in the Afghan peace process and to initiate shifts in regional alignments. But challenges to cooperation remain, including uncertainties regarding US policy in South Asia and Iranian sanctions, the threat of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran spilling over into the region, the role of Pakistan, and questions regarding the ultimate agenda of the Taliban. Despite these challenges, the opportunity for cooperation between India, China and Russia in the region signals new thinking regarding the Afghan War, and the potential beginning of enhanced cooperation between key stakeholders of an increasingly volatile and unpredictable international system.
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Environmental degradation has become a major issue in Iran. It is a source of economic hardship, ill health, social disruption and recent political protests. Climate change has been a factor in this deterioration but so has mismanagement of the country's once ample natural resources. Our latest issue brief, Environmental and Wildlife Degradation in Iran, authored by ecologist David Laylin, reveals the monumental challenges faced by the Islamic Republic as it contends with water shortages, disappearing lakes and wetlands, polluted air, sandstorms, desertification, biodiversity loss and shrinking forests. This comprehensive analysis also outlines practical steps that the government of Iran and international partners can take to begin to overcome these challenges.
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In recent years, China’s regional ambitions in the Indo-Pacific have become a serious security concern for both India and the United States. Chinese infrastructure projects in the region’s smaller and poorer countries—under China’s Belt and Road Initiative—have raised concerns about the susceptibility of these economies to the predatory economics that have recently characterized the Chinese regional approach. China’s economic ascension has been accompanied by the tendency of Chinese leaders to pay little heed to established international protocols—evident in Japan, the Philippines, and, most recently, in India. The country’s bellicose incursions in the Indo-Pacific are challenging US geostrategic supremacy in the region. Working in tandem with India to improve its capacity to play a stronger role in the region and uphold the existing liberal order, would be a critical stride for US grand strategy. 
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A predominantly Shia nation, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a substantial Sunni population that receives little attention compared to the country's other minorities. Last year's attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the capital Tehran have raised fears that disgruntled Iranian Sunnis, who have until now largely escaped extremist influences, could become targets of radicalization by regional jihadist groups.
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The Trump administration's vision of an Indo-Pacific where democracy and open seas can flourish, needs sharpening. India can aid in the optimization of this objective by using bilateral and sectoral lenses to find where the they can best cooperate in order to offset bellicose incursions in the region from aggressive foreign powers. An agreement that focuses just on the technical sector minimizes the risks of a broader bilateral accord and opens the door for the geostrategic cooperation that India seeks. Given the centrality and significance of IT and e-commerce to both India and the United States, the links between the two nations in these spheres would facilitate a grander coalescence with ramifications not only in trade but for security capacity, defense interoperability, and regional peace and stability. The Honorable Paula Stern analyzes these groundbreaking themes in "Unlocking US-India Trade: Why a Bilateral Technology Agreement Works for India and the United States," which illuminates the major trends that will shape the region and the US-India bilateral partnership in coming years.

 

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It is now a truism among foreign and defense policy practitioners that the post Cold War nuclear buildup in the India Pacific region constitutes the drawn of the "second nuclear age." From the 1990s onward, China's decision to stir out of its strategic languor and modernize its nuclear arsenal, along with the resolve of India and Pakistan to deploy operational nuclear forces, and, more recently, North Korea's sprint to develop reliable long range nuclear capabilities that can credibly threaten the continental United States, has led many to aver that the "second nuclear age" will rival the worst aspects of the first.

 


    

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