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America and Energy Security

On July 10, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a summit on energy security.  Experts from a variety of government agencies and organizations discussed the different ways that America can attain a cleaner, more diverse, and more sustainable energy economy.  Although the speakers tended to disagree on how the United States can achieve energy security, all agreed that the future must involve a dramatic expansion of renewable energy production.  The devil, of course, is in the details.

The first speaker, from the World Resource Institute, spoke of the need for significant improvements in research and development and investment in renewable energy technology.  The next presenter claimed that existing technology could start us on the path.  He stated that what is most important is strong policy leadership among decision makers that will guide us towards energy security.  There was discussion of the new cap-and-trade bill and Congress' failure to go as far with the legislation as many environmentalists wanted.  Emerging technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which seeks to trap greenhouse gases in storage containers before they can damage the environment, were debated; as was the viability of continuing to use more traditional energy sources such as nuclear energy and coal.  What was most reassuring was that despite the differences of opinion among the event speakers, what they had in common was the conviction that in order for both America to remain economically competitive, and for the sake of the world environment, the current situation must be changed.

For CSIS's page on the Energy Security conference, audio and video of the event, and links to the World Resource Institute's report, visit:

http://csis.org/event/evaluating-energy-security-implications-carbon-constrained-us-economy

Momentum Backs the Climate Bill

After passing through the House, The American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, has continued to attract much attention and controversy as it awaits Senate vote. Opponents have tried to brand it as a tax-raising, economy-shattering piece of legislation. But this is not so.

Hearings have begun to discuss the climate legislation under the leadership of Senator Boxer and partnering chairs of other Senate committees.  Many different views have been expressed, and some have stood out. One such view promotes establishing a cap-and-trade system and imposing a price on polluting.  The support ACESclimate bill puts in place powerful incentive possibilities to spur investment and research in energy technology. Senator Kerry noted that the energy market is a 6 trillion dollar market with about 4.5 billion eligible users. This represents enormous opportunities, and explains why China is currently investing aggressively in alternative energy development. Whoever pushes through this industry and establishes themselves first will be the winner, and this climate bill creates the incentives to make that happen in the U.S.

Obama Holds G-8 Closing News Conference and Discusses Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, UN Reform, and R2P

President Obama held a news conference on the morning of July 10, 2009, to wrap the three-day G-8 summit, held in the Italian city of L'Aquila.

The Reckoning: A New Documentary About the ICC

A new film, called The Reckoning, is coming out on PBS on July 14th which will look at the workings and struggles of the International Criminal Court. The film follows Luis Moreno Ocampo, the prosecutor for the ICC, for three years as he battles genocidal criminals across four continents. These include the Lord's Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, Congolese war lords, the Columbia justice system, and the president of Sudan. The Reckoning touches on the two problems that the ICC faces. Not only do they deal with human rights violators but they must also fight to remain efficient and stir up enough political will from the countries involved. The atrocities shown in this movie are only touched on in the trailer but hopefully this movie will alert the American people and Congressional officials alike to the absolute necessity of an International Criminal Court.

Obama Delivers Speech on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Russian-U.S. Relations

On July 7, 2009, President Obama spoke to the graduating class of the New Economic School in Moscow. He discussed the importance of Russian involvement in global politics and a new way of thinking about the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. He noted that the dynamics of international politics have changed greatly and that "the pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game - progress must be shared." He added that the U.S. and Russia must make "a sustained effort...to identify mutual interests, and expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress."

In his speech, he specifically addressed the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. "The notion that prestige comes from holding [nuclear] weapons, or that we can protect ourselves by picking and choosing which nations can have these weapons, is an illusion," Obama said. "In the short period since the end of the Cold War, we've already seen India, Pakistan, and North Korea conduct nuclear tests. Without a fundamental change, do any of us truly believe that the next two decades will not bring about the further spread of these nuclear weapons?" Obama stressed the importance of upholding commitments to the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], to which both Russia and the U.S. are party, and of both countries working together to create defense missile architecture against nuclear weapons in Central Asia and the Middle East.

"These challenges demand global partnership," Obama stated, "and that partnership will be stronger if Russia occupies its rightful place as a great power."

Robert McNamara's Legacy of Peace

Robert McNamara has passed away today at the age of 93. He was most well known for being the eighth secretary of defense. He served under both President Kennedy and President Johnson from 1961-1968. He then went on to become the President of the World Bank. Even after retiring McNamara was very active in politics and organizations which promote peace.

His disagreements with President Johnson regarding the Vietnam War lead to his eventual resignation. In 1967 McNamara advised the President to stop sending in troops and bombing North Vietnam. After the war McNamara became an advocate for organizations like the International Criminal Court. He wanted to prevent another war like the Vietnam War and believed that the US needed to submit to the ICC. He also believed in the need for restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons. McNamara's experiences during the Vietnam War influenced his contributions to organizations like the ICC. His legacy is long and important and he will be remembered.

World Opinion of the U.S. in the Obama Era

A lecture on world opinion towards the United States in its transition to the Obama era was led by Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org and Randa Slim of the United States Institute for Peace on July 7.  Mr. Kull opened the meeting with a series of graphs which depicted the attitudes of numerous key nations regarding the U.S.  The graphs showed that throughout most of the world, there has been an overall improvement in opinion towards the United States since President Obama took office.  However, Mr.

World Peace Through Law - a guest post from Jim Ranney

World Peace Through Law: Rethinking an Old Theory and a Call for a UN Peace Force

by: James T. Ranney1 of the Philadelphia CGS Chapter

U.S. and Russia Work Toward More Extensive Weapons Cuts

The United States and Russia have announced that they will hold talks aimed at reducing the amount of weapons, particularly nuclear weapons, on both sides.

T. Friedman on Waxman-Markey Climate Bill: "let's get it passed in the Senate and make it law."

Thomas Friedman said of the Waxman-Markey Bill: "It stinks. It's a mess... Now let's get it passed in the Senate and make it law."

So why does he want this stinky, messy bill to become law?T. Friedman