Meridian Reads: drones, trade wars and parental leave

Photo Credit: International Policy Digest


Happy Sunday, Meridian Readers! It’s about that time, so let’s jump into this week’s #MeridianReads…

A retreat from diplomacy: drones and the militarization of foreign policy

Publication: International Policy Digest | By Diana Roy Image result for drones military

  • Technology is advancing, duh. But what does that mean for the dynamics of war?
  • It’s not just men on horses with rifles anymore. Armed forces now have drones, nuclear weapons and more at their disposal.
  • This piece mainly dives into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which allows the U.S. to pursue terrorists remotely with greater precision, increase the number of potential targets and damage, and limit the number of boots on the ground.
    • Time for a quick history lesson: drones aren’t a new thing. They made their first, albeit small, appearance in World War I in the form of pilotless vehicles that were launched using radio control. They’ve clearly advanced since then.
  • Allegedly, President Trump has made changes to the National Defense Authorization Act, of which one change is the relaxation of the “imminent threat requirement” that governs how the U.S. selects targets outside of armed conflict.
  • Further changes include relaxing the necessary standard of “near certainty” that the target is present.
    • So, the Trump administration has a relaxed attitude when it comes to drone use, and the admin trends towards secrecy regarding drone warfare policy.
  • Ultimately, President Trump’s increased use of drones may result in the future longevity of the War on Terror. Stay tuned.

PS: We spoke with the service secretaries about the modernization of the armed forces, check it out here.

Trump’s fight with China overshadows other consequential trade developments

Publication: The Washington Diplomat | By Aileen Torres-Bennett a1.powi.froman.usmca.trump.story

  • If you didn’t already know, the US and China are in a bit of a tiff.*
    • *trade war
  • Potential fallout from the tension between the two nations? Nothing major, just the entire global economy.
  • There is a potential trade deal between several other countries and Asia in the works. It’s called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is made up of the 11 remaining countries from the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
    • Basically, the CPTPP is the Trans-Pacific Partnership re-branded, a deal which Trump withdrew from a while back.
    • Many economists say that by withdrawing from TPP, Trump lost a key source of leverage in his fight to curb unfair Chinese trading practices. More importantly, it would’ve served as a model to establish rules of the road for Asian businesses that meet American, not Chinese, standards. Tough break.
  • Former U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, one of the architects of TPP and currently a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Asia-Pacific region is one of the most important region in the world as it’s home to the bulk of the world’s population and most of the fastest-growing economies.
    • “We are a Pacific power and have a strong interest in how that region evolves. TPP was a key component of an overall strategy that recognized the importance of the region. With our withdrawal, the need remains for a converted and comprehensive regional strategy to further our economic, political and security interests,” Froman added.
  • Biggest takeaway? Trade agreements are always difficult to get through Congress, even under the best of circumstances. With the start of the 2020 presidential campaign, this is even more complicated.

How global parental leave laws perpetuate inequality 


Publication: The Diplomatic Courier | By Allyson Berri

  • If it seems like everyone on your Facebook feed is having babies, you’re not alone. But what happens to your career after the crying nightmare adorable bundle of joy shows up?
    • The natural answer is that your company provides paid family leave and you get to stay home for a bit, but that isn’t always the case.
  • A 2012 study of the FMLA, the U.S. legislation that allows for 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave, found that 46% of American parents who needed to take family or medical leave didn’t because they couldn’t afford to do so.
  • A 2013 study in Luxembourg found that the larger the wage gap between a father and a mother’s income, the less likely he was to take leave.
  • For parents of infants, 43 of the 44 OECD countries (only excluding the United States) offer maternal leave, and 32 countries offer paid leave to fathers.
  • The worst part? Lower income parents that need paid leave the most can’t afford to take it when leave is either unpaid or low paid.
  • Earlier this month, Connecticut became the U.S. state with the most generous paid leave policy when it introduced a new policy that offers 12 weeks of paid leave at 95% wage replacement. The U.S. has a long way to go in enacting adequate parental leave policies, but state law is a start towards establishing paid leave policies that can tackle global issues through high earning replacement rates.