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  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. To regain leverage, the Europeans should engage all eight Gulf states in talks about regional security and nonproliferation. The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. Two years of U.S. maximum pressure on Tehran have not yielded the results Washington had hoped for, while the Europeans have failed to put up enough resistance for their transatlantic partner to change course. Worse, the U.S. policy threatens to destabilize the broader Persian Gulf, with direct consequences for Europe. To get ahead of the curve and regain leverage, the European Union (EU), its member states, and the United Kingdom have to look beyond their relations with the Islamic Republic and address wider regional security challenges. The United States’ incipient retreat as a security guarantor and Russia’s increased interest in the region make it necessary for Europe to engage beyond its borders. Despite being barely alive, the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran offers a good starting point. The Europeans should regionalize some of the agreement’s basic provisions to include the nuclear newcomers on the Arab side of the Gulf. Doing so would advance a nonproliferation agenda that is aimed not at a single country but at the region’s broader interests. Similarly, the Europeans should engage Iran, Iraq, and the six Arab nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council in talks about regional security. Rather than suggesting an all-encompassing security framework, for which the time is not yet ripe, they should pursue a step-by-step approach aimed at codifying internationally recognized principles at the regional level.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Ruhle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Environmental change1 is increasingly recognised as one of the major factors that will shape the global se- curity environment. According to most experts, rising global temperatures will lead to rising sea levels and cause more extreme weather events, such as storms, flooding, droughts and wildfires.2 The firestorms that engulfed parts of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020, burning an area the size of Belgium and Denmark com- bined, and severely decimating that continent’s wildlife, were a stark reminder of the force of these changes. While the causal relationship between environmental change and conflict is difficult to establish, there have been arguably several conflicts where environmen- tal change has acted as a trigger, notably Darfur and Somalia. Even the beginning of the Arab Spring has been related to environmental change: unrest erupted because of increasing food prices, which in turn were the result of several bad harvests attributed to climate change.3 In general, there is a widely held assumption that environmental change could lead to food and wa- ter shortages, pandemic diseases, mass migration, and humanitarian disasters.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Environment, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Susan Ariel Aaronson
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: From posting photos and videos to tracking physical activity, apps can do almost anything, but while they may seem like harmless fun, they may also pose a threat to personal data and national security. This paper compares the different responses of the United States, Canada and Germany to data risks posed by popular apps such as FaceApp, Facebook, Strava, TikTok and ToTok. These apps and many others store troves of personal data that can be hacked and misused, putting users (and the countries in which they live) at risk.
  • Topic: Security, Digital Economy, Social Media, Data
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Canada, Germany, North America
  • Author: Eoin Micheál McNamara
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Eoin Micheál McNamara in his Policy Paper called The Visegrád Four and the Security of NATO’s “Eastern Flank” expresses the argument that there is considerable scope for the V4 states to improve their contribution to NATO’s collective defence posture. Based on this fact, he argues the different strategic positions of each V4 member within the NATO membership related to Russian influence.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • 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, Tomáš Valášek
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: European defense cooperation has made unprecedented strides since 2014 and further progress is expected under the new European Commission. Driving these developments are a combination of internal and external factors. Among them is a more challenging security environment in Europe, the disruptive impact of the Brexit negotiations and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, demands for deeper European Union (EU) integration in the wake of the 2009 eurozone debt crisis, and defense industrial rationales. As the 2016 European Global Strategy makes clear, the EU’s ambition is to become a more strategically autonomous security player capable of taking more independent action, especially in its own neighborhood. But this will require the decisionmaking structures that can act swiftly and autonomously in crises, the necessary civilian and operational capabilities to carry out these decisions, and the means to produce the necessary capabilities through a competitive high-tech European defense industrial base. The evolving EU defense cooperation goes far beyond crisis management operations. At its core, it has the goal of leveraging EU tools to strengthen European security. In particular, new EU defense initiatives such as Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defense Fund (EDF), though still nascent, are potential game changers in this regard. PESCO operates as a platform for groups of member states to cooperate on defense capability projects. The EDF, as an internal market instrument backed up by European Commission co-funding, has the potential to spur and incentivize collaboration on the development and acquisition of new capabilities between member states. These initiatives lay a framework upon which stronger cooperation can gradually be structured. Nevertheless, these new European defense schemes will have to have the right level of ambition, be successfully implemented, and contribute to strengthening both European and transatlantic security.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • 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: Marc Ozawa
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO addresses energy security concerns in three ways, through strategic awareness, infrastructure protection and energy efficiency measures. However, what may be a concern for NATO is potentially a problem for member states with conflicting views on the issue, the politics of which impact their interactions within the Alliance. Nord Stream 2, the trans-Baltic pipeline connecting Ust-Luga (Russia) to Greifswald (Germany), is one such example because it is so divisive. This Policy Brief advocates a role for NATO as a constructive partner with the European Union (EU), the governing body for energy security issues in tandem with national governments, while avoiding the divisive politics of direct involvement. NATO and the EU have complementary perspectives on energy security. The Alliance’s view is directed at broad security implications and the EU’s Director- General for Energy (DG Energy) is more focused on market matters. In this complementarity of perspectives NATO could indirectly assist DG Energy in making better energy policies and help to avoid the politicization of projects that create friction within the EU, the type that can spill over into NATO. The strife around Nord Stream 2, for example, works against both EU unity and cohesion within NATO such that, what may not have originally been perceived as a problem for NATO, becomes one.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Karl-Heinz Kamp
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Seven decades after it was established, the North Atlantic Alliance is doing fairly well and fully de- serves being described as the most successful secu- rity organization in modern history. By constantly evolving and adapting, NATO managed to main- tain its relevance on both sides of the Atlantic in fundamentally different security environments. It preserved the territorial integrity of its members during the Cold War and was crucial for bringing down the Iron Curtain. It helped to bring peace to the Balkans and prevented Afghanistan from once again becoming a breeding ground for jihadist ter- rorism. Since Russia’s return to revanchist policies in 2014, NATO again guarantees the freedom and security of its members in the East. In the long term though, NATO faces an almost existential problem, as it will be difficult to main- tain its relevance for the United States as the dom- inant power within the Alliance. This will be less a result of the current president’s erratic policy than of the geostrategic reorientation of the US away from Russia and towards China. NATO will also have to fundamentally alter its geographic orienta- tion to avoid falling into oblivion.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: On 3rd April, 2019 in Washington, DC, US Vice Pres- ident Mike Pence addressed an audience of Western current and former statesmen gathered to celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO. After taking stock of the Alliance’s accomplishments over the previous decades, Pence ventured on the emerging challenges and touched on an unexpected subject, the Indo-Pa- cific region: “By working together, we can maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific where independent na- tions boldly pursue their own interests”.1 Although the Indo-Pacific has by now become a central feature of policy discussions in the US, it has been relatively absent from talks within NATO circles, as the issue is perceived as a matter lying outside the organization’s mandate. But security de- velopments in this region do matter for its member countries. Moreover, there are ways the organization could play a significant role in the Indo-Pacific with- out compromising its pre-existing priorities. Against that backdrop, this Policy Brief aims to contribute to the emerging discussion on NATO’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific by first providing an appraisal of the policy implications of the US strategy towards the region, and then identifying realistic expectations for a NATO engagement in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document outlines major trends in Israel’s regional foreign policies over the past six months. It is based on the Mitvim Institute’s monthly reports that cover ongoing developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process/conflict, Israel’s relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the conduct of Israel’s Foreign Service.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Peace, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean, West Bank
  • Author: Muriel Asseburg, Nimrod Goren, Nicolai von Ondarza, Eyal Ronen, Muriel Asseburg
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Over the last 40 years, since the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty (that alluded to but did not solve the Palestinian question) and the European Community’s 1980 Venice Declaration, Europe has been seeking ways to help advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. The task was not an easy one, mostly due to United States of America (US) dominance of peace negotiations and negative Israeli attitudes towards Europe as a mediator. Thus, while Europeans were key in shaping international language on the conflict, they have remained in the back seat when it comes to shaping dynamics on the ground. Since the collapse in 2014 of the John Kerry initiative to advance the peace process, the task has become even more difficult for the Europeans. Realities on the ground, such as a right-wing government in Israel lacking interest in advancing a peace process, expanded settlement construction, as well as the internal Palestinian split and governance deficiencies in the Palestinian Authority, make the two-state solution ever more difficult to achieve. In addition, Israel’s leadership has worked to weaken and divide the EU in order to limit its role on the issue. In this endeavor, it has profited from different interests and priorities among EU Member States as reflected in discussions and decision-making processes regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These trends have increasingly intensified in recent years, and it is the goal of this publication to analyze them, assess their impact on European capacities and policies, and devise recommendations to tackle and perhaps even reverse them. The publication includes three analytical chapters focusing on internal European dynamics, on Israel’s foreign policy towards the EU, and on EU policy-making regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict/peace process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Turkey is in every way ideally placed to bridge the EU with its southern neighbours and together tackle their common challenges and myriad business opportunities. The question is, can they align priorities and policies to make the most of the opportunities? The answer is: not easily. Given the complexity of and uncertainty in Turkey and Iraq, as well as Syria’s security dynamics, sustained EU-Turkey convergence in all areas of common interest is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Although both Turkey and the EU have adopted multifaceted foreign policies vis-a-vis the Middle Eastern countries, yet they have converged only on specific issues, such as dealing with the Iran nuclear deal. Both sides consider the US withdrawal from the deal as a “matter of concern”, believing that maintaining the deal and keeping Iran engaged through diplomatic and economic means instead of sanctions or military threats is crucial even after the US withdrawal. Otherwise, Turkey and the EU diverge on the overall approach to the most troubled neighbours, namely Iraq and Syria, which have been sources of grave concern to all. Iraq continues to be a fragile country, struggling to keep its integrity. The country was at the brink of failure between 2014-2017 after the emergence of the so called Islamic State (IS), and further threatened by the Kurdish referendum for independence in 2017. Iraq was pulled back to survival, mainly by international assistance. Interestingly, in 2018 Iraq saw two transformative general elections, one for the Federal and the other for the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament. The outcome of these elections brought about a degree of change in the political landscape, a sense of optimism for future recovery and a clear promise for creating new business opportunities for international partners. However, in keeping with the past, the formation of government in both Baghdad and Erbil became protracted and problematic. These features indicate that the Iraqi leaders remain ill focused on the country’s priorities in terms of state-building and provision of services or addressing the root causes of its fragility. Turkey and the EU share the objectives of accessing Iraq’s market and energy supply, and prevent onward migration of the displaced populations. Of course, the EU is to a large extent dependent on Turkey to achieve its goals. Therefore, it would make sense for the two sides to converge and cooperate on these issues. However, Turkey’s foreign policies in the southern neighbourhood are driven primarily by its own domestic and border security considerations and – importantly – Turkey sees the economic, political and security issues as inextricable. While Iraq has lost its state monopoly over legitimate violence and is incapable of securing its borders, Turkey often takes matters into its own hands by invading or intervening in Iraq, both directly and indirectly (through proxies). Of course, the Iraqi government considers Turkey’s interventions as acts of aggression and violations of its borders, but is unwilling to take measures against them. For Iraq, Turkey is a regional power and an indispensable neighbour. It has control over part of Iraq’s oil exports, water supply and trade routes. The EU, on the other hand, considers Turkey’s interventions as acts of self-defence but frowns upon them as destabilising factors, adding to the fragility of Iraq. In Syria, the political landscape and security dynamics are very different from Iraq, but the EU-Turkish policies follow similar patterns. Syria remains a failed state with its regime struggling to secure survival and regain control over its territories. Meanwhile, Turkey has become increasingly interventionist in Syria via direct military invasion and through proxies, culminating in the occupation of a significant area west of Euphrates, and threatening to occupy the Eastern side too. Turkey has put extreme pressure on the USA for permission to remove the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) and its lead organisation (Democratic Union Party, PYD) from governing North East Syria (also referred to as Rojava). However, the EU and USA consider the SDF and PYD indispensable in the fight against IS and fear the Turkish interventions may have grave consequences. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission recently emphasised that “Turkey is a key partner of the EU”, and that the EU expect the “Turkish authorities to refrain from any unilateral action likely to undermine the efforts of the Counter-IS Coalition”. Therefore, EU-Turkey divergence or even conflict with some EU Member States is possible over Syria.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, European Union, Islamic State, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • 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
  • Author: Heather A Conley
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Twenty-five years of relative calm and predictability in relations between Russia and the West enabled European governments largely to neglect their military capabilities for territorial defense and dramatically redraw Northern Europe’s multilateral, regional, and bilateral boundaries, stimulating new institutional and cooperative developments and arrangements. These cooperative patterns of behavior occurred amid a benign security environment, a situation that no longer obtains. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its military incursion into eastern Ukraine, its substantial military modernization efforts, heightened undersea activity in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea, and its repeated air violations, the region’s security environment has dramatically worsened. The Baltic Sea and North Atlantic region have returned as a geostrategic focal point. It is vital, therefore, that the United States rethink its security approach to the region—what the authors describe as Enhanced Deterrence in the North.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North Atlantic, Northern Europe, Crimea, Baltic Sea
  • Author: Tom Karako, Wes Rumbaugh
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Trump’s 2019 budget request includes $12.9 billion for missile defense programs, including $9.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency and about $3 billion in modernization in the military services, building upon the acceleration initiated in the $323 million FY 2017 Above Threshold Reprogramming and the FY 2018 Budget Amendment of $2.0 billion. The proposed budget continues the recent trend of procurement consuming a greater portion of overall missile defense spending, reflecting a choice for prioritizing near-term capacity over longer-term capability. With the exception of two new Pacific radars and a modest effort for tracking hypersonic threats, the request includes strikingly few changes to the program of record. The submission fails to address past shortfalls for more research and development of new missile defense technologies and capabilities, most significantly with its lack of real movement toward a space-based sensor layer for tracking and discrimination, as opposed to merely missile warning. Pursuit of more advanced capabilities will require substantial programmatic changes in the 2020 budget, or with a budget amendment later this year, if such capabilities are recommended by the forthcoming Missile Defense Review. On February 12, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its budget request for FY 2019, which included a total of $12.9 billion for missile defense-related activities. The proposed topline for the Missile Defense Agency comes in at $9.9 billion, comprising $2.4 billion for procurement, $6.8 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E), $500 million for operations and maintenance (O&M), and $206 million for military construction (MILCON). The $9.9 billion request is a 26 percent increase from the FY 2018 budget request of $7.9 billion. Funding for ballistic missile defense within the services includes about $3 billion, largely for the procurement of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) and Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) interceptors. Overall, the budget reflects a near-term focus on capacity of existing programs, even at the expense of capability improvements. In its current form, the request boosts funding for all four families of interceptors. For homeland missile defense, this includes the continued improvements to the capacity and reliability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by continuing to deploy an additional 20 interceptors, several testing spares, and a new missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska. The request also deepens the magazines for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis, and Patriot interceptors, continuing a procurement-heavy trend from last year.1 The focus on capacity does not answer the question, however, how missile defense efforts will be adapted to the new reality of great power competition described by the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy.2 One of the few new muscle movements in the entire budget is the addition of two radars in the Pacific for discriminating long-range missile threats to the homeland. The idea of a discrimination radar for Hawaii had been publicly floated over the past two years, and had previously been part of the yet-unpassed appropriations marks from the House and Senate appropriations committees. The Hawaii radar is scheduled for a 2023 deployment, with an additional radar deployed by 2024 at a yet-undisclosed location. The two radars will cost approximately $2.5 billion over the course of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The inadequacy of the request lies not with the top line, but rather with the capabilities and strategy that the top line fails to prioritize. Although these radars would be useful to close the near-term Pacific midcourse gap against limited ballistic missile threats to the homeland, such funds must be weighed against the opportunity cost for larger improvements in capability provided by a space-based sensor layer that could provide substantially more capable birth-to-death tracking and discrimination on a more global scale and against a wider diversity of threats. The choice for capacity over capability reflects a near-term time horizon, but further delay in more advanced technologies will carry costs at a later time. In sum, the administration’s budget request for FY 2019 prioritizes near-term readiness against limited but growing ballistic missile threats from sources such as North Korea. This choice, however, falls short of connecting missile defense efforts to the reality of renewed great power competition as articulated in the National Defense Strategy. The inadequacy of the request lies not with the top line, but rather with the capabilities and strategy that the top line fails to prioritize. The 2019 request’s modesty of ambition is manifested by low funding for more advanced programs, such as boost-phase intercept, space-based sensors, and volume kill. Should the forthcoming Missile Defense Review address some of these issues and recommend programmatic changes, their implementation may have to wait until the 2020 budget, unless a budget amendment of some kind prioritizes them for the coming fiscal year.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Budget, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Vira Ratsiborynksa
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO continues evolving and adapting to new security challenges and threats coming from the East and the South. At the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016 the member states of the Alliance reaffi rmed their commitments on the core purposes of the Alliance: collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. Th e Warsaw Summit marked a shift from reassurance to deterrence posture sending a signal that the Alliance is ready and is able to meet the challenge of hybrid threats. Th e changing security landscape in the Eastern fl ank reinforces NATO’s need to strengthen its core ‘hard power’ principles as well as update its ‘soft power’ infl uence on issues such as energy security.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Francesca Capano
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Concerns over migration, economic growth and the rise of populism seemed to overshadow the threat of terrorism in many European countries during 2018. While the number of attacks and alleged plots in Europe have declined considerably compared to previous years, experts have long warned that measuring the terrorism threat on the basis of successful attacks was a “mistake”.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Prisons/Penal Systems, Radicalization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy