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Read 10ideas for Defense & Diplomacy

Monday, July 26, 2010

 10 ideas for Defense & Diplomacy

The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network is pleased to present the second volume of the 10ideas series. We are proud to nominate "American Cotton Subsidies and Pakistan: An Economic Approach to Counterinsurgency," for Policy Idea of the Year.

Table of Contents

Policy of the Year Nominee


Two seemingly unrelated issues facing the United States today are actually deeply intertwined. First, the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan threatens American interests in the region and security at home.  The results of military operations against the militants have been muddled at best. Second, much of the international community has condemned American subsidies to its domestic cotton producers that undermine free and fair trade while also costing the American taxpayer billions. This year’s nominee for best policy idea in the Defense and Diplomacy policy center for Best Policy idea contends that liberalization of the declining American cotton industry would effectively mitigate the threat of the Pakistani Taliban.
Lowered U.S. price supports for American cotton, the idea goes, would free up the world market for developing exporters such as Pakistan. A more profitable cotton industry in Pakistan would strengthen the government, raise standards of living, and improve Pakistan-U.S. relations, all of which would facilitate more effective counterinsurgency in Pakistan. Given the recent international mobilization against American protectionism, the domestic economic climate, and the impending crisis in Pakistan, the time to reform U.S. cotton policy has come. Rachel Tecott and Justin Metz from Wesleyan University deserve much credit for bringing attention to this issue.
The diffuse, layered security challenges of the 21st century will require even more integrated and nuanced approaches than those in the preceding hundred years. Moreover, the global economy can only reach its full potential to benefit all if it is made free and fair. Steps like eliminating American cotton subsidies are crucial to both goals—not to mention that they will save the taxpayer a large chunk of cash.