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  • Author: Nathaniel Kim, Trey Herr, Bruce Schneier
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Soud, Ian M. Ralby, Rohini Ralby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Downstream oil theft has become a global problem. Since most of the world’s energy systems still rely on oil, fuel smugglers are nearly always able to find markets for their goods. Moreover, since oil is not inherently illegal, it is generally an easy product to move, buy, and sell. Profits from oil theft are frequently used to fund terrorism and other illegal activities. The new Atlantic Council Global Energy Report by Dr. David Soud, Downstream Oil Theft: Countermeasures and Good Practices, provides an in-depth look at how governments—from militaries to law enforcement officials—along with other stakeholders can anticipate and intercept instances of downstream oil theft. The report offers a range of methods to counter oil theft, which range from fuel marking and other technologies to transnational
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Law Enforcement, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John T. Watts
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Recent events have seen an acceleration in the rise of reemerging great powers. This has had a profound impact on global economic, technological, and political assumptions and has created new technological realities. The potential impact and implications of artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology innovation, and the dark sides of social media have raised new concerns for social norms. No issue is more emblematic of the competition between liberal, free-market nations and authoritarian command-economy principles than the evolution of fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications. Generational shifts between cellular telecommunications networks have profound implications for national and global economies. As data become increasingly central to every aspect of a modern economy, the shift to the next generation of cellular networks will be of even greater significance. The Chinese government identified the importance of this transition and has, for years, been aggressively investing around the world to be the purveyor of 5G infrastructure that will carry that data in the coming decades. Chinese-backed firms are currently better positioned to exploit the vast opportunity that 5G represents more effectively than corporations within free markets, for several reasons. The most significant is the high infrastructure cost of legacy cellular models and uncertain consumer demand in the short term. Capital costs are driven predominately by the technical requirements of 5G, which—in return for far higher speeds and ultra-low latency—require new hardware to be installed in many more locations than previous networks. Moreover, the legacy infrastructure model relied on proprietary and incompatible hardware components that are best suited to large, single-manufacture companies that can provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions. While consumer demand is predicted to be high, businesses are cautious in deploying such large amounts of money for unproven speculative demand. The lack of a concrete user base creates an opening that vertically integrated Chinese companies, heavily backed by the state, are exploiting by deploying the 5G technology and services at a discount of about 25 percent, along with loss-leading financing terms. Given that end-to-end network solutions can cost $10–100 billion, or more, 25-percent discounts have a major impact. While the 25-percent discount is financially enticing, the longer-term consequences are often hidden, and can include vulnerability to foreign espionage, economic leverage, and forced compliance to conditions underpinned by authoritarian principles. For the Chinese government, the financial cost is a small investment in return for potential control of the world’s data backbone for the next several decades. The reality is that questions revolving around security, as defined from the perspective of traditional “cyber” or “network security,” are ancillary to the critical challenge. If a nation builds a telecommunications network with equipment supplied from Chinese tech giants such as Huawei or ZTE, those networks will inherently be subject to Chinese laws that require compliance with many principles’ anathema to free-market, liberal views. Moreover, these networks, by design, must be managed and maintained by large services organizations, likely staffed by a vast workforce of Chinese citizens, who also must comply with Chinese law and can provide local human intelligence back to the Chinese state. These are terms that countries should not have to accept, and to which their citizens should not be involuntarily subjected. An open, innovative, safe, and reliable alternative is needed, so that people have a realistic option that allows them to freely communicate and consume information. 5G is emblematic of the competition between the new authoritarianism and free-market, liberal principles. China has executed its plan well over the last five years by driving the standards discussion, developing the leading vertically integrated solution, deploying national export finance to subsidize their offerings, and building the largest and most effective services organization in the market. Free-market economies have spent far less on research and development (R&D), have only limited export finance options, rely on semiconductor dominance, deploy severely limited services organizations, and have no integrated national or international strategy. Few governments or companies were prepared for the level of sophistication of the product and export finance offering of the authoritarian-backed commercial players.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Innovation, 5G
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfgang Schroeder
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As a young, single-seat fighter pilot based in Germany in the Royal Air Force of the early 1980s, I enjoyed a degree of certainty about my role in life. The world was, to all intents and purposes, a bi-polar place. We knew exactly from where our threat emanated and, indeed, had comprehensive standing plans for dealing with it. In the event of an attack by the Warsaw Pact on NATO’s eastern flank, we had pre-designated areas in which we would interdict any enemy military force heading westwards. We had pre-planned missions for systematically taking down all elements of Soviet air power — be it through suppression of enemy air defense sensors and surfaceto-air systems or denial of his airfields’ operating surfaces. In the event that the conflict escalated too rapidly, or went too far, we even had plans to resort to the ultimate sanction of the pre-planned and graduated employment of tactical nuclear weapons. Our plans, and our skills, were tested on a frequent and regular basis. It was no rare experience to be woken by a siren in the middle of the night to be called to duty. Our response time was measured, as was the ability to demonstrate our preparedness to brief our wartime missions, arm our aircraft, and prove our abilities to be airborne within the allocated time period. The results of these exercises—known as NATO Tactical Evaluations (TacEvals)—were equally rigorous in the Land and Maritime domains. Their results were widely shared within Alliance circles. Achieving a “one” for a TacEval result was every commanding officer’s goal
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Frank Gorenc
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the world enters an era of great-power competition, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) faces a renewed challenge from an old adversary. A Europe whole, free, and at peace is now at risk as Russian aggression challenges the traditional rules-based world order. Russia’s activities in and against Ukraine and Georgia, rampant intrusion on Western democratic processes and political discourse, blatant assassination attempts on NATO soil, support for rogue regimes in Syria and Iran, and military deployments and force accumulation in Kaliningrad and Crimea, as well as in the Sea of Azov, demonstrate that the threat is as real and compelling as it ever was.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alan Riley
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Given that offshore tax havens are largely located in small, independent states or self-governing territories, it could be assumed that they have little connection to OECD states and major financial centers such as London and New York. This is not the case. The so-called tax havens are in fact part of a much larger network of financial and corporate services that depends on lawyers, accountants, and bankers located in major Western cities. Only one part of the havens’ business actually involves providing lower tax rates to individual foreign account holders
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As energy markets and technologies rapidly change, international oil companies (IOCs) are facing a set of interconnected challenges that will fundamentally affect their business models. From changes in the supply and demand picture, to shifts in how energy is produced and consumed, to public pressure to decrease greenhouse gas footprints, companies have a wide range of issues to consider as they decide how to prepare for an unpredictable future. In a new issue brief, “Navigating the Energy Transition: International Oil Company Diversification Strategies,” Global Energy Center Senior Fellow David Koranyi provides a macro picture of select IOC’s strategic (re)thinking and explores some of the strategies IOCs have undertaken to diversify their portfolios and prepare for the unfolding energy transition.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Borzou Daragahi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: For much of its four decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been blessed with a weak political opposition. While Iran has faced competent and powerful foreign enemies—such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States, and Israel—its Iranian political challengers, both domestically and abroad, have been largely fragmented, unrealistic in their aims, and sometimes as authoritarian as the regime. But, though few credible Iran watchers argue that opposition groups and figures arrayed against Tehran’s establishment pose a serious threat, Iran treats them as if they are mortal dangers to the regime. This paper attempts to sketch out the landscape of the various major political opposition groups, and begin to grapple with the question of why Iran perceives them as such a challenge
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: T. X. Hammes
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Perhaps the most famous quote from Thucydides is “the strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must.”1 For thousands of years, it has been accepted that the weak must comply or face the fate of the Melians. Today, the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution may be revising that truth. It is creating a wide range of small, smart, cheap weapons that can provide small states combat power previously reserved to major powers
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Richard L. Morningstar
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This brief emerged from discussions during an Atlantic Council Global Energy Center roundtable on European energy security held in Brussels on March 27, 2019, as well as other events and individual meetings with government officials, private sector executives, and leading academics in the global energy sector. The collective dialogues and key takeaways are reflected in this brief. Because the conversations took place under the Chatham House Rule, the information will not be attributed to any specific individual. The brief will provide a current assessment of EU energy security focusing on the role of gas markets, while future briefs in the European Energy Security series will take a closer look at other critical issues impacting European energy security. Following these briefs, a final report in 2020 will propose specific recommendations for the US and EU governments on how to address transatlantic energy security issues.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus