International Affairs
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Quarterly updates to Congress on RAND's work in international affairs

Risks and Opportunities for Israel in Shifting to a Greater Reliance on Natural Gas

natural gas pipeline

While Israel now relies on imported coal as the primary fuel for base-load electric-power generation, it recently discovered large, domestic offshore natural-gas deposits. How far should Israel shift toward natural gas (both imported and domestic) and renewables? To answer this question, Israel must consider likely future levels of demand; the costs, source availability, and security of fuel supply; future development of alternative technologies; system reliability; environmental effects; and land use—all of which are fraught with deep uncertainty.

Relying on an innovative, quantitative robust decisionmaking approach designed to support planning amid such uncertainty, a RAND Corporation analysis showed that Israel can shift toward natural gas to meet future electricity demand but risks rise without greater control over demand growth. Beyond that, the report outlines precautions that would support an energy infrastructure in which natural gas provides up to 40 percent of electricity without jeopardizing energy security. The study illustrates how to shift from project-based planning to a process that would allow planners to exploit more and better information adaptively. The study recommends that Israel invest in renewables; increase foreign gas pipeline delivery only up to the existing capacity; and draw first on domestic natural-gas sources, while at the same time planning for but delaying a decision to build a liquefied-natural-gas terminal, until future demand and costs become clearer.

READ THE RESEARCH BRIEF: Natural Gas and Israel's Energy Future: Planning Amid Deep Uncertainty

Preparing for the Full Spectrum of Military Challenges: What Can the United States Learn from the Experiences of Other Countries?

flags of China, France, UK, India, Israel

The U.S. military training system is the envy of many countries, so what can the United States learn from other militaries about how better to prepare for full-spectrum operations and deployments? A RAND Corporation study examined the militaries of China, France, the UK, India, and Israel to identify different approaches to readiness, adaptability, and operational issues.

The study identified some potential best practices. From British experiences, the study identified the importance of preparing units for a specific operational environment prior to deployment. From Indian cases, it identified the importance of using subject-matter experts to improve training for specific deployments, and from French ones, it showed that staff training can serve as a vehicle to prepare forces for multiple contingencies. The Israeli experience showed the importance of preparing for hybrid opponents. The experiences of many of the countries showed that combat training centers can be used differently, focusing on foundational skills and preparing units for a specific operational environment prior to deployment. Finally, the study found that the United States, France, and the UK prepare for and conduct train, advise, and assist (TAA) missions using significantly different approaches to staff selection, TAA deployments, staff training, and career progression.

READ THE REPORT: Preparing for the Full Spectrum of Military Challenges: Insights from the Experiences of China, France, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel

Better Understanding U.S. Policy and Strategic Choices in Afghanistan

Daily Life in Afghanistan, Photo courtesy of Boston.com

On October 29, 2009, the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy convened a half-day symposium of experts—including Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Ambassador James Dobbins, Senator Carl Levin, and others—and journalists to address assumptions and alternatives for U.S. policy in Afghanistan. The first session, focused on counterinsurgency strategy, including military troop levels needed to support a counterinsurgency strategy, the role of Afghan security forces, and potential costs of increased military operations. The second session covered counterterrorism, including how much the U.S. should consider Afghanistan a national security interest, the nature of military operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida, regional political stability, and military troop levels in the region. The final session was on containment, with a focus on strategic options and U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Among the issues addressed were military disengagement, regional security, political stability, and the pitfalls and challenges in any sustained regional military presence.

VIEW THE VIDEO: U.S. Policy in Afghanistan: Basic Question—Strategic Choices

How Can Policymakers Better Address Challenges of Arab-Israeli Conflict?

boy holding Palestinian flag, photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rustystewart/300021362/

In September and October 2008, the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy conducted exercises designed to help the new administration more effectively address the challenges of the Arab-Israeli conflict; in May 2009, a subset of the initial participants reconvened to reassess the then-current circumstances in the region. Two dominant sentiments emerged from both of the deliberations of this highly diverse group of exercise participants: (1) the extraordinary importance of settling the Arab-Israeli conflict and (2) the conclusion that the new administration cannot put Arab-Israeli peacemaking on the back burner, that it should be a top national security priority, and that substantial progress remains possible.

READ THE CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS: The Day After. . . in Jerusalem: A Strategic Planning Exercise on the Path to Achieving Peace in the Middle East

RESEARCHER PROFILE

Steven W. Popper

Steven Popper

Steven W. Popper (Ph.D., economics, University of California, Berkeley) is the lead author of the recent report, Natural Gas and Israel's Energy Future: Near-Term Decisions from a Strategic Perspective. As a senior economist, Popper's research focuses largely on science and technology policy, decisionmaking under uncertainty, regional economic development, and international economics. He has provided research and analytic support to the White House, served as a consultant to the World Bank, serves on the Policy Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a professor of science and technology at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research includes Brain Korea 21 Phase II: A New Evaluation Model, Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis, and Strategic Choices in Science and Technology: Korea in the Era of a Rising China.

To learn more about Steven Popper, visit his full profile.


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