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  • Author: Moises Rendon
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Nicolas Maduro’s misguided attempt to create a government-controlled and natural resource-backed cryptocurrency (“Petro”) is nothing more than a desperate effort to try to facilitate international finance while avoiding U.S. sanctions on new debt issuance. However, there remains the potential for blockchain platforms to empower Venezuelans through legitimate means during the country’s future recovery. These benefits can extend to future government institutions, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations. Blockchain technology can radically shape the rebuilding of Venezuela during a “Day After” scenario for the better.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Sanctions, Cryptocurrencies, Recovery
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Venezuela, 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: David Kelly
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The debate about China’s changing role in global affairs is often framed as a dichotomous choice between a peacefully rising China that seeks to be a constructive stakeholder and an increasingly dangerous China that is challenging the status quo, both in terms of its norms and the place of the United States. The reality is more complicated. There are not only signs of both elements, but the foundations shaping Chinese behavior is multifold. Most international relations scholars examine China through one or another version of realism or liberalism. David Kelly, head of research at China Policy, offers an alternative approach that examines the nature of Chinese identity, or rather, Chinese identities, plural, and how they exhibit themselves in Chinese foreign policy. Using his renowned skills in reading Chinese-language official documents and the broader commentary, Kelly teases out seven narratives that Chinese tell themselves and the world, and he provides a codebook for explicating shifting Chinese behavior in different arenas. Kelly concludes that some of these narratives facilitate cooperation, but most point toward deep-seated tensions between China and the West in the years ahead.

  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Globalization, Imperialism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Reid Hamel
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Social protection programming, such as cash transfers and vouchers provided at the individual or household level, has become increasingly prominent as a tool to combat food insecurity worldwide. Advantages of a social protection approach include the ability to target and reach the most vulnerable segments of society and to provide direct support for basic needs without reliance on complex causal pathways.The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) invests relatively little in social protection despite its flagship initiative, Feed the Future, which seeks to mitigate food insecurity and to reduce the prevalence of stunting in 12 countries (formerly in 19). Ghana’s LEAP (Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty) program represents an exception to the U.S. investment pattern. In partnership with UNICEF, USAID/Ghana has made noteworthy investments in the expansion of the LEAP cash transfer program to add a new eligible group of beneficiaries: pregnant women and children under one year old. The intention to intervene during pregnancy and the first year of life is motivated by a growing understanding that good nutrition during this window is critical to physical and cognitive health and human development outcomes that last a lifetime. This report explores the development of Ghana’s LEAP program since 2008; its current coverage, successes, and challenges; and opportunities for both the government of Ghana and donor partners to spearhead continuous improvements for program outcomes and resource efficiency.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Social Policy, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, North America, Ghana
  • Author: Melissa Dalton, Hijab Shah
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: With the range of security challenges confronting the United States in the 21st century, characterized by competition by both state and nonstate actors, the importance of working with allies and partners to address common challenges is paramount. Deeper examination of the relative effectiveness of U.S. security sector assistance and how it must nest in a broader foreign policy strategy, including good governance, human rights, and rule of law principles, is required. Improving oversight and accountability in U.S. security sector assistance with partners are at the core of ongoing security assistance reform efforts to ensure that U.S. foreign policy objectives are met and in accordance with U.S. interests and values. This report examines key areas in security sector programming and oversight where the U.S. Departments of Defense and State employ accountability mechanisms, with the goal of identifying ways to sharpen and knit together mechanisms for improving accountability and professionalism into a coherent approach for partner countries.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Suzanne Spaulding
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This report, informed by a CSIS-convened Experts Group, calls for a whole-of-nation approach to address the threat to, and improve the resilience of, the country's democratic institutions. The report proceeds in four sections. First, it outlines the nature of the threat posed by the Russian government, building upon what Russia has done in other countries, as well as in the United States. The second section describes how technology has magnified this threat. The third section examines essential elements of a "National Strategy to Counter Russian and Other Foreign Adversary Threats to Democratic Institutions." The final section is a call for action.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Democracy, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. has learned many lessons in its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—most of them the hard way. It has had to adapt the strategies, tactics, and force structures designed to fight regular wars to conflicts dominated by non-state actors. It has had to deal with threats shaped by ideological extremism far more radical than the communist movements it struggled against in countries like Vietnam. It has found that the kind of “Revolution in Military Affairs,” or RMA, that helped the U.S. deter and encourage the collapses of the former Soviet Union does not win such conflicts against non-state actors, and that it faces a different mix of threats in each such war—such as in cases like Libya, Yemen, Somalia and a number of states in West Africa. The U.S. does have other strategic priorities: competition with China and Russia, and direct military threats from states like Iran and North Korea. At the same time, the U.S. is still seeking to find some form of stable civil solution to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—as well as the conflicts Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and West Africa. Reporting by the UN, IMF, and World Bank also shows that the mix of demographic, political governance, and economic forces that created the extremist threats the U.S. and its strategic partners are now fighting have increased in much of the entire developing world since the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, and the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. The Burke Chair at CSIS has prepared a working paper that suggests the U.S. needs to build on the military lessons it has learned from its "long wars" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in order to carry out a new and different kind of “Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs,” or RCMA. This revolution involves very different kinds of warfighting and military efforts from the RMA. The U.S. must take full advantage of what it is learning about the need for different kinds of train and assist missions, the use of airpower, strategic communications, and ideological warfare. At the same time, the U.S. must integrate these military efforts with new civilian efforts that address the rise of extremist ideologies and internal civil conflicts. It must accept the reality that it is fighting "failed state" wars, where population pressures and unemployment, ethnic and sectarian differences, critical problems in politics and governance, and failures to meet basic economic needs are a key element of the conflict. In these elements of conflict, progress must be made in wartime to achieve any kind of victory, and that progress must continue if any stable form of resolution is to be successful.
  • Topic: Civil Society, United Nations, Military Strategy, Governance, Military Affairs, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, West Africa, Somalia, Sundan
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Surprise has always been an element of warfare, but the return of great power competition—and the high-level threat that it poses—gives urgency to thinking about surprise now. Because the future is highly uncertain, and great powers have not fought each other for over 70 years, surprise is highly likely in a future great power conflict. This study, therefore, examines potential surprises in a great power conflict, particularly in a conflict’s initial stages when the interaction of adversaries’ technologies, prewar plans, and military doctrines first becomes manifest. It is not an attempt to project the future. Rather, it seeks to do the opposite: explore the range of possible future conflicts to see where surprises might lurk.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The role that nuclear weapons play in international security has changed since the end of the Cold War, but the need to maintain and replenish the human infrastructure for supporting nuclear capabilities and dealing with the multitude of nuclear challenges remains essential. Recognizing this challenge, CSIS launched the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) in 2003 to develop the next generation of policy, technical, and operational nuclear professionals through outreach, mentorship, research, and debate. PONI runs two signature programs—the Nuclear Scholars Initiative and the Annual Conference Series—to engage emerging nuclear experts in debate and research over how to best address the nuclear community’s most pressing problems. The papers in this volume include research from participants in the 2017 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and PONI Conference Series. PONI sponsors this research to provide a forum for facilitating new and innovative thinking and a platform for emerging thought leaders across the nuclear enterprise. Spanning a wide range of technical and policy issues, these selected papers further discussion in their respective areas.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus