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  • Author: Gaurav Sharma, Marc Finaud
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Due to the importance India attaches to potential threats to its maritime security, its diplomacy has increasingly focused on the Indian Ocean region (IOR) and it has increased cooperation with Indian Ocean states. In the last five years, India has also established security partnerships with major IOR strategic stakeholders such as France and the United States. India has increasingly invested in providing military training, weapons support and disaster relief assistance to “like-minded” states in the IOR. Due to the potential risks of escalation to nuclear-weapons use should conflict occur with other countries in the region such as China and Pakistan, it would be in India’s interests to promote more confidence and
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Affairs, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India, Indian Ocean
  • Author: Helena Legarda
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: China hits back after NATO calls it a security challenge, dormant Chinese hacking group resumes attacks, and more.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, North Atlantic, Beijing, Asia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Erik Brattberg, Philippe Le Corre
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The evolving strategic dynamics in the Indo-Pacific are of paramount importance for the future of the rules-based international order. While the United States is redirecting strategic focus to the region as part of its Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, Europe is also stepping up its role—leveraging a strong economic profile, long-standing bilateral ties, and active engagement in various regional multilateral forums. The European Union (EU) and its member states can make distinct contributions to an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional order, though not necessarily always in lockstep with Washington. Though few European countries have formally acknowledged the new U.S. strategy, the concept’s emphasis on rules-based order and multilateralism bears many similarities to the EU’s own outlook. The EU and many of its member states are becoming more ambivalent about Chinese power and are seeking to counter certain problematic Chinese economic behaviors, and the Indo-Pacific offers opportunities for transatlantic cooperation, though U.S.-EU diplomatic relations under U.S. President Donald Trump are significantly strained. However, the U.S. administration’s fixation on short-term transactional diplomacy, lack of commitment to multilateralism, and strong emphasis on Chinese containment are putting a damper on such collaboration with EU members. Admittedly, Europe does not aspire to be a traditional hard power in Asia, lacks significant military capabilities in the region, and is reluctant to pick sides in the escalating U.S.-China competition. Only two European middle powers—France and the United Kingdom (UK)—can project serious military force in the region, as Europe has long underinvested in defense spending and needs to prioritize more immediate security threats. But Europe can amplify its political and security role in the Indo-Pacific by leveraging the growing Franco-British presence and better utilizing the EU’s collective role. Key European countries have already expanded their security footprint in the Indo-Pacific through a more regular naval presence, bilateral and multilateral joint exercises, arms sales, and various other forms of defense cooperation. Europe’s economic role is already considerable too, as the EU is a top trade and investment partner of most regional states. Washington should welcome greater European involvement in the Indo-Pacific. A greater European presence in the region advances the U.S. objective of promoting a tighter regional security architecture with vital partners like Japan and India. Similarly, the EU’s support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can help foster a more multilateral, cooperative Asian security architecture. As for economic and trade policy, U.S. and EU interests in the region largely overlap but do diverge in significant ways. While both Europe and the United States are keen on increasing trade flows and addressing unfair Chinese economic practices, the EU’s emphasis on free trade has allowed it to either complete trade agreements or launch new negotiations with regional partners like Australia, Japan, and Singapore. Despite the limitations constraining the transatlantic diplomatic agenda, meaningful joint and/or complementary European and U.S. action in the Indo-Pacific remains achievable, particularly between France, the UK, and the United States, though other European countries and the EU could get involved too. While the EU is not likely to formally endorse the U.S. slogan of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, Europeans can still meaningfully advance its objectives, which are overwhelmingly consistent with the EU’s own interests and values. Washington should encourage this trend and simultaneously seek to do more to incorporate European players as key partners on the implementation of its own Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • Topic: Security, Power Politics, Bilateral Relations, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: International garbage disputes are rare. Lately, however, the world witnesses waves of newsworthy trash saga. From the Philippines shipping containers of rubbish back to Canada, to Malaysia planning to return tons of garbage back to countries of origin, to China’s near-total ban of plastic waste import, it is hard not to wonder whether this is a real sign of rising environmentalism. Have countries begun to think that the environment is worthy of a similar priority as the economy? This Insight argues that behind the seemingly growing pro-environment attitudes, it still remains to be seen whether this trend is sustainable in the long run. Considering that the global waste trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, the balance may tip to favour the economic activities again once the dust has settled back. The paper first looks at a brief description of the global waste trade industry. It then discusses some of the contemporary development in the global waste industry particularly on the issues of waste smuggling and China’s plastic waste import ban. It describes related experiences in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.
  • Topic: Security, Environment, Economy, Trade, Waste
  • Political Geography: China, Malaysia, Canada, Philippines, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Philippines and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development, demonstrating their willingness to explore joint development as a pathway to collaboration, notwithstanding their territorial disputes. Recent commentaries on joint development are mostly framed on legal challenges, South China Sea (SCS) rows, geopolitics, and state-centric security issues. However, there have been no extensive discussions on the potential contributions from non-state stakeholders that can make joint development agreements environmentally sound, sustainable, and less political. These stakeholders are the oil companies, fishermen and coastal communities. In this regard, this NTS Insight explores potential roles of these stakeholders in promoting joint initiatives to share and develop resources in the SCS. It argues that the engagement and participation of non-state stakeholders in resource sharing and joint management must be pursued to address key non-traditional security challenges in the SCS. It also examines mechanisms to integrate marine environmental protection and sustainable fishing management into joint development agreements.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: China, Philippines, Southeast Asia, South China Sea
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is officially neither a Chinese “Marshall Plan” nor a geopolitical master strategy. At present, it involves 84 countries, rising from 65 countries in 2015, and 15 Chinese provinces. Over the last year, the number of countries being concerned or ambivalent about China’s motivations and strategic objectives behind the BRI have increased. Despite officially supporting China’s BRI, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned last April, that China is supporting unneeded and unsustainable projects in many countries, leading to heavy and unpayable debt burdens. In ASEAN, Chinese investments are welcomed but there are also misgivings about the BRI’s strategic objectives which may constrain ASEAN’s policy options. As China is presently and will remain the single most influential country in global energy markets in the next decades, it is not surprising that its infrastructure plans of building railways, highways and ports are often interlinked with China’s energy and raw materials projects abroad and its domestic energy policies. This paper analyses the energy dimensions of the BRI and its strategic implications for its wider economic, foreign and security policies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Military Strategy, ASEAN, IMF
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sara Z. Kutchesfahani
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes China’s words and actions regarding the Nuclear Security Summits to better understand what Chinese leadership on nuclear security could look like in the future. It finds that China accomplished the many things it said it would do during the summit process. The paper also explores how China’s policy and actions in other nuclear arenas could be paired with Chinese nuclear security policy to form a coherent agenda for nuclear risk reduction writ large. Consequently, the paper addresses how China doing as it says and does – per nuclear security – may be used as a way in which to inform its future nuclear security roles and responsibilities. In particular, it assesses China’s opportunities to assume a leadership role within this crucial international security issue area, especially at a time where U.S. leadership has waned.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing, Asia
  • Author: Helena Legarda
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Europe has become a major target of China’s push to acquire advanced key technologies. These technologies support the development of dual-use products with civilian as well as military applications, a development that is in line with China’s efforts towards civil-military integration. The EU has been slow to wake up to this trend. Despite recent efforts, including those to set up a tighter investment screening mechanism, it still lacks strong coordinated regulations to protect its research and technologies. Even more importantly, the author of our newest China Global Security Tracker, MERICS researcher Helena Legarda, warns that Europe lacks a clear policy or strategy to keep up with China’s ambitions in this area. Joint European initiatives providing strategic guidance and adequate funding for innovation in dual-use technologies will be needed to not only preserve but to advance the EU’s scientific and engineering expertise. The China Global Security Tracker is a bi-annual publication as part of the China Security Project in cooperation between Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This issue also features the Trump administration’s tightened export controls in response to China’s civil-military integration efforts, and it tracks other security developments in China in the second half of 2018, from the launch of a number of new defense systems to an increase in China’s military diplomacy activities around the world.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Beijing, Asia
  • Author: Helena Legarda
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Presenting China as a 'responsible power' – Beijing releases first major defense white paper in four years
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Canada, Taiwan, France, North America
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy outline a U.S. shift from counterterrorism to inter-state competition with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. However, U.S. policymakers need to be prepared for much of this competition to occur at the unconventional level, since the costs of conventional and nuclear war would likely be catastrophic. U.S. strategy is evolving from a post-9/11 focus on counterterrorism against groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State to competition between state adversaries. As the National Defense Strategy notes, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”1 This shift has significant implications for the U.S. military, since it indicates a need to improve U.S. capabilities to fight—and win—possible wars against China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea if deterrence fails. Though it is prudent to prepare for conventional—and even nuclear—war, the risks of conflict are likely to be staggering. Numerous war games and analyses of U.S. conflicts with Russia in the Baltics, China in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, and North Korea on the Korean peninsula suggest the possibility of at least tens of thousands of dead and billions of dollars in economic damages. In addition, these conflicts could escalate to nuclear war, which might raise the number of dead to hundreds of thousands or even millions. According to one analysis, for example, a U.S. war with China could reduce China’s gross domestic product (GDP) by between 25 and 35 percent and the United States’ GDP by between 5 and 10 percent. The study also assessed that both countries could suffer substantial military losses to bases, air forces, surface naval forces, and submarines; significant political upheaval at home and abroad; and huge numbers of civilian deaths.2 These costs and risks will likely give Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and even Pyongyang pause, raising several questions. Will these high costs deter the possibility of conventional and nuclear war? If so, what are the implications for the United States as it plans for a rise in inter-state competition? The Cold War offers a useful historical lens. NATO planners prepared for a possible Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. The U.S. military, for example, deployed forces to the Fulda Gap, roughly 60 miles outside of Frankfurt, Germany, as one of several possible invasion routes by Soviet and other Warsaw Pact forces. NATO also planned for nuclear war. The United States built up its nuclear arsenal and adopted strategies like mutually assured destruction (MAD). The concept of MAD assumed that a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the annihilation of both the attacker and the defender. The threat of such heavy costs deterred conflict, despite some close calls. During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the two superpowers nearly went to war after a U.S. U-2 aircraft took pictures of Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) under construction in Cuba. But Washington and Moscow ultimately assessed that direct conflict was too costly. Deterrence held. Instead, the United States and Soviet Union engaged in intense security competition at the unconventional level across Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Both countries backed substate groups and states to expand their power and influence. Under the Reagan Doctrine, for example, the United States provided overt and covert assistance to anticommunist governments and resistance movements to roll back communist supporters. The Soviets did the same and supported states and substate actors across the globe. In addition, the Soviets adopted an aggressive, unconventional approach best captured in the phrase “active measures” or aktivnyye meropriatia. As used by the KGB, active measures included a wide range of activities designed to influence populations across the globe. The KGB established front groups, covertly broadcast radio and other programs, orchestrated disinformation campaigns, and conducted targeted assassinations. The Soviets used active measures as an offensive instrument of Soviet foreign policy to extend Moscow’s influence and power throughout the world, including in Europe. Unlike the Cold War, the United States confronts multiple state adversaries today—not one. As the National Defense Strategy argues, the United States is situated in “a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory” where “the central challenges to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers.” But based on the likely costs and risks of conventional and nuclear war with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, much of the competition will likely be unconventional—and include what former U.S. State Department diplomat George Kennan referred to as “political warfare.” The term political warfare refers to the employment of military, intelligence, diplomatic, financial, and other means—short of conventional war—to achieve national objectives. It can include overt operations like public broadcasting and covert operations like psychological warfare and support to underground resistance groups.3 The United States’ adversaries today are already engaged in political warfare. Russia, for instance, utilizes a range of means to pursue its interests, such as technologically sophisticated offensive cyber programs, covert action, and psychological operations. Moscow has conducted overt operations like the use of RT and Sputnik, as well as semitransparent and covert efforts. It has also become increasingly active in supporting state and substate actors in countries like Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya to expand its influence in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and even North Africa. Finally, Russia is attempting to exploit European and transatlantic fissures and support populist movements to undermine European Union and NATO cohesion, thwart economic sanctions, justify or obscure Russian actions, and weaken the attraction of Western institutions for countries on Russia’s periphery. Iran is using political warfare tools like propaganda, cyber attacks, and aid to substate proxies to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats. Tehran is also assisting state and substate actors in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Afghanistan. Iran supports Shia militia groups in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. In the South China Sea, China is pouring millions of tons of sand and concrete onto reefs, creating artificial islands. It is also conducting a sophisticated propaganda campaign, utilizing economic coercion, and using fleets of fishing vessels to solidify its assertion of territorial and resource rights throughout the Pacific. Finally, Beijing is targeting the U.S. government, its allies, and U.S. companies as part of a cyber-espionage campaign. With political warfare already alive and well with the United States’ state adversaries, there are several implications for U.S. defense strategy. First, U.S. policymakers need to be prepared for significant inter-state competition to occur at the unconventional level, since the costs and risks of conventional and nuclear war may be prohibitively high. This should involve thinking through trade-offs regarding force posture, procurement, acquisition, and modernization. A U.S. military that predominantly focuses on preparing for conventional or nuclear war with state competitors—by modernizing the nuclear triad, building more resilient space capabilities, acquiring more effective counter-space systems, equipping U.S. forces with high-technology weapons, and emphasizing professional military education (PME) to fight conventional wars—may undermine U.S. unconventional readiness and capabilities. Second, even organizations that already engage in some types of political warfare—such as U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. intelligence community—will need to continue shifting some of their focus from counterterrorism to political warfare against state adversaries. This might include, for example, providing more aid to the Baltic States to conduct an effective resistance campaign against unconventional action by Moscow. Or it might involve aiding proxies in countries like Syria and Yemen to counter Iranian-backed organizations. It could also include improving the border security capabilities and effectiveness of Ukrainian military and police units against Russian-backed rebels. Third, the United States should invest in resources and capabilities that allow the military and other U.S. government agencies to more effectively engage in political warfare—and to provide agencies with sufficient authorities to conduct political warfare. One example is improving capabilities to conduct aggressive, offensive cyber operations. Other examples might include advanced electronic attack capabilities, psychological warfare units, security force assistance brigades, and precision munitions. Recognizing that other powers routinely conduct political warfare, George Kennan encouraged U.S. leaders to disabuse themselves of the “handicap” of the “concept of a basic difference between peace and war” and to wake up to “the realities of international relations—the perpetual rhythm of struggle, in and out of war.” Kennan’s advice may be even more relevant today in such a competitive world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Asia, North Korea