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  • Author: Teresa Val
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: Terrorism in Afghanistan: A Joint Threat Assessment is intended to serve as an analytical tool for policymakers and an impetus for joint U.S.-Russia action. The report provides an overview of the security situation and peace process in Afghanistan, taking into account U.S. and Russian policies, priorities and interests; surveys the militant terrorist groups in and connected to Afghanistan and explores the security interests of various regional stakeholders vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Challenges relating to border management, arms trafficking and terrorist financing in Afghanistan are also briefly addressed.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Counter-terrorism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, 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: Mieke Eoyang
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: In 2020, candidates and elected officials will face questions on national security and foreign policy issues. In this memo, we provide short talking points on these issues that acknowledge the concerns of Americans, critique current approaches and policies, and present a vision for the future: 1. Global Health Security, 2. China & COVID-19, 3. China Trade War, 4. Russia, 5. Terrorism, 6. Domestic Extremism, 7. Iran, 8. Election Security, 9. Saudi Arabia & Yemen, 10. Syria, 11. Alliances, 12. North Korea, 13. Cyberthreats, 14. Venezuela, 15. Afghanistan, 16. Forever War, 17. Border Security, 18. Defense Spending, 19. Impeachment, 20. Climate Change, 21. Corruption
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Global Focus
  • 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: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As climatic changes continue to make themselves painfully obvious across many geographies, U.S. energy infrastructure is increasingly at risk. The United States is ill prepared for this national security challenge. Climatic disruptions to domestic energy supply could be large, entailing huge economic losses and potentially requiring sizable domestic military mobilizations. Yet, public debate about emergency preparedness is virtually nonexistent. To explore the challenges of climate risk to the U.S. energy system, the Energy Security and Climate Change program at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of forty-four experts at the Council’s New York office on March 18–19, 2019, for the workshop “Climate Risk Impacts on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technological Dimensions.” During their deliberations, workshop participants discussed the presenters’ papers and explored how climate-related risks to U.S. energy infrastructure, financial markets, and national security could be measured, managed, and mitigated. Discussions began with assessments of the current state of climate research and the pressing need to improve data on localized effects, which could differ widely from global and regional averages. The workshop also investigated new energy technologies, financial tools, and changes to disclosure regulations that could enable the United States to reduce risks and mitigate consequences of climatic shifts.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • 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: 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: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population. In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development. Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
  • Topic: Security, War, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sundan
  • Author: Tom Karako, Wes Rumbaugh
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the rising salience of missile threats, current air and missile defense forces are far too susceptible to suppression. Today’s U.S. air and missile defense (AMD) force lacks the depth, capacity, and operational flexibility to simultaneously perform both missions. Discussions about improving AMD usually revolve around improvements to the capability and capacity of interceptors or sensors. Rather than simply doing more of the same, the joint integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) efforts might be well served by new or reinvigorated operational concepts, here discussed collectively as “Distributed Defense.” By leveraging networked integration, Distributed Defense envisions a more flexible and more dispersible air and missile defense force capable of imposing costs and dilemmas on an adversary, complicating the suppression of U.S. air and missile defenses. Although capability and capacity improvements remain essential to the high-end threats, the Distributed Defense concept focuses on creating a new architecture for today’s fielded or soon-to-be fielded IAMD force to boost flexibility and resilience.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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