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  • Author: Jamille Bigio, Rachel Vogelstein
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Extremist groups rely upon women to gain strategic advantage, recruiting them as facilitators and martyrs while also benefiting from their subjugation. Yet U.S. policymakers overlook the roles that women play in violent extremism—including as perpetrators, mitigators, and victims—and rarely enlist their participation in efforts to combat radicalization. This omission puts the United States at a disadvantage in its efforts to prevent terrorism globally and within its borders. Women fuel extremists’ continued influence by advancing their ideology online and by indoctrinating their families. New technology allows for more sophisticated outreach, directly targeting messages to radicalize and recruit women. It also provides a platform on which female extremists thrive by expanding their recruitment reach and taking on greater operational roles in the virtual sphere. The failure of counterterrorist efforts to understand the ways in which women radicalize, support, and perpetrate violence cedes the benefit of their involvement to extremist groups.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Women
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: Scott A. Snyder, Geun Lee, You Young Kim, Jiyoon Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Despite becoming influential on the world scene, South Korea remains a relatively weak country surrounded by larger, more powerful neigh- bors. This contrast between its global rank as a top-twenty economy and its regional status as the weakest country in Northeast Asia (with the exception of North Korea) poses a paradox for South Korean for- eign policy strategists. Despite successes addressing nontraditional security challenges in areas such as international development, global health, and UN peacekeeping, South Korea is limited in its capacity to act on regional security threats. South Korea has historically been a victim of geopolitical rivalries among contenders for regional hegemony in East Asia. But the coun- try’s rise in influence provides a glimmer of hope that it can break from its historical role by using its expanded capabilities as leverage to shape its strategic environment. The pressing dilemma for South Korean strategic thinkers is how to do so. As the regional security environment becomes more tense, South Korea’s strategic options are characterized by constraint, given potentially conflicting great-power rivalries and Pyongyang’s efforts to pursue asymmetric nuclear or cyber capabilities at Seoul’s expense. South Korea’s relative weakness puts a premium on its ability to achieve the internal political unity necessary to maximize its influence in foreign policy. Students of Korean history will recall that domestic factionalism among political elites was a chronic factor that hamstrung Korea’s dynastic leadership and contributed to its weakness in dealing with outside forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Nuala O'Conner
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Half of all Americans believe their personal information is less secure now than it was five years ago, and a sobering study from the Pew Research Center reveals how little faith the public has in organizations, whether governmental or private-sector, to protect their data—and with good reason. In 2017, there was a disastrous breach at Equifax, Yahoo’s admission that billions of its email accounts were compromised, Deep Root Analytics’ accidental leak of personal details of nearly two hundred million U.S. voters, and Uber’s attempt to conceal a breach that affected fifty-seven million accounts. Individuals are left stymied about what action they can take, if any, to protect their digital assets and identity. Nuala O’Connor Yet record-shattering data breaches and inadequate data-protection practices have produced only piecemeal legislative responses at the federal level, competing state laws, and a myriad of enforcement regimes. Most Western countries have already adopted comprehensive legal protections for personal data, but the United States—home to some of the most advanced, and largest, technology and data companies in the world—continues to lumber forward with a patchwork of sector-specific laws and regulations that fail to adequately protect data. U.S. citizens and companies suffer from this uneven approach—citizens because their data is not adequately protected, and companies because they are saddled with contradictory and sometimes competing requirements. It is past time for Congress to create a single legislative data-protection mandate to protect individuals’ privacy and reconcile the differences between state and federal requirements.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Privacy, Data, Digitization
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Felix Pena
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The institutional order governing world trade is going through a critical period. Debate over its future form and design will be a dominant theme on the global agenda for the coming years. The Donald J. Trump administration has questioned the benefits of the multilateral trading order and is pulling the United States back from its traditional leadership role. In December 2017, the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ended in disappointment with no substantive multilateral achievements. The shift in economic power from the West to the East and the growth of nonstate actors further complicate the search for consensus on international trade rules, leading to a so-called multiplex world. In a multiplex world, actors with different cultural values and relative power inequalities—such as nation-states, international and regional institutions, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations—compete against each other. To ensure a resilient trading system, multilateral trading rules and institutions need to be adapted to these new realities of trade, investment, and the distribution of global power. Unlike the international system as it functioned after World War II, today’s trading system does not reflect the interests of a single power or an alliance of powers with sufficient clout to impose their will on others in a sustained way. This is not a Group of Twenty (G20) or Group of Seven–led world: it is a G-Zero world, with no established lineup of who should be invited to the table where decisions are made. In this vacuum of global leadership it is increasingly difficult to identify who will create the new rules of international competition. Actors pursue their own self-interest, which results in less certainty for the international trade system.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Multilateralism, Trade Wars, WTO
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elena Chernenko, Oleg Demidov, Fyodor Lukyanov
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: nformation and communications technology (ICT) presents one of the most critical modern challenges to global security. Threat assessments predict that the next major international crisis could be due to a state or terrorist group weaponizing ICTs to devastate critical infrastructure or military logistics networks. The proliferation of asymmetric warfare (i.e., conflicts between nations or groups that have disparate military capabilities) has increased states’ use of ICTs, which necessitates the development of an international code of cyber conduct. There is an urgent need for cooperation among states to mitigate threats such as cybercrime, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, electronic espionage, bulk data interception, and offensive operations intended to project power by the application of force in and through cyberspace. Emerging cyber threats could precipitate massive economic and societal damage, and international efforts need to be recalibrated to account for this new reality. A common misperception is that the principal cybersecurity threats demanding urgent international collaboration are massive, state sponsored attacks that target critical infrastructure such as power plants or electrical grids, causing massive devastation and human casualties. In fact, cyber threats are more diverse and complex, often targeting private enterprises and endangering the technical integrity of the digital world. The near-total digitalization of business models makes the global economy more vulnerable to cyberattacks, not only from states but also from criminal organizations and other nonstate actors.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David P. Fidler
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The tasks of securing outer space and cyberspace are converging. The internet increasingly depends on space-enabled communication and information services. Likewise, the operation of satellites and other space assets relies on internet-based networks, which makes these assets, like cars and medical equipment, devices on the internet of things. New government actors, companies, goals, and technologies are expanding and transforming space activities. However, neither space policy nor cybersecurity policy is prepared for the challenges created by the meshing of space and cyberspace, which could increase national security risks. To meet these challenges, government, industry, and international action is needed. The Donald J. Trump administration’s National Space Council should develop cybersecurity recommendations for space activities, and federal agencies should prioritize these within the government and in cooperation with the private sector. In crafting needed legislation for commercial space activities, Congress should bolster industry efforts to strengthen cybersecurity. Private-sector actors should strengthen their adoption of cybersecurity best practices and collaborate with one another on improving implementation of cybersecurity strategies. Internationally, the United States should pursue collaboration on space cybersecurity through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), plurilateral space cooperation mechanisms, and bilateral forums.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Space
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Emerging challenges to international order require cooperation between the United States and China, two countries that share a common interest in preventing the world from becoming more dangerous and disorderly. U.S.-China relations are becoming more strained and antagonistic, however, and the prospects for cooperation appear to be receding. To explore whether there are still grounds for cooperation on issues of common concern between the two countries, in March 2018 the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of fifteen experts from the United States and China for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-China Cooperation.” CPA partnered with Peking University’s School of International Studies in Beijing for the workshop and also met with experts at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies in Shanghai. During the workshop, President Donald J. Trump announced plans to impose about $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports. While trade was a major topic of discussion, it was by no means the only area discussed. Workshop participants assessed conflicting views of the sources of global disorder and examined areas of global governance such as international trade, development, the environment, and the future of various multilateral institutions. They also discussed the most pressing security challenges in East and Southwest Asia. Participants highlighted the need for a greater understanding between the United States and China on the evolving international order. No major transnational problems will be solved without some cooperation between the two powers. It is therefore imperative that the two countries avoid a further deterioration of the relationship and instead identify areas of potential cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Social Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Robert K. Knake
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The U.S. government and private industry have been stuck at an impasse concerning cybersecurity information sharing for over a decade. While the Barack Obama administration rolled out executive and legislative efforts to increase information sharing, many U.S. companies still argue that the federal government should do more to provide them with useful intelligence on cyber threats. But the U.S. intelligence community argues that greater declassification and sharing of information with private companies could put technical sources and methods at risk. Fixes to this problem exist. The Department of Defense already provides a classified network for cleared defense contractors to receive intelligence on threats to their companies. Replicating this network for cyber threats has long been discussed as a way to share more information with the financial sector, electricity suppliers, and other private-sector entities critical to the U.S. economy. Expanding this network requires increasing the number of cleared personnel and of facilities that can hold classified information, as well as changing intelligence collection priorities. These hurdles can be addressed by cooperative efforts between the public and private sectors. As a crucial first step, the U.S. government should begin the targeted collection of intelligence on cyber threats to critical infrastructure. To disseminate this information, the government should establish security standards different from those applicable to defense contractors to determine who may hold clearances.
  • Topic: Security, Cybersecurity, Information Age, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Although the Barack Obama administration rhetorically made Southeast Asia a centerpiece of its “rebalance to Asia” strategy, the administration still largely focused on the Middle East and Europe, and Southeast Asia remained a low U.S. policy priority. The Obama administration did try to boost U.S. economic ties with Southeast Asia in 2016 by forging the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but that trade deal was broadly unpopular in the United States. The following year, the Donald J. Trump administration ended U.S. participation in the TPP, and it also suggested launching punitive economic measures against Southeast Asian states currently running trade surpluses with the United States. Many Southeast Asian leaders now worry that Washington has no clear security or economic strategy for the region, other than applying pressure on Beijing to respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. In this perceived void of U.S. leadership and strategy, workshop participants assessed how Southeast Asia might change as China becomes an increasingly dominant regional security and economic actor. They also discussed the future of U.S. strategic and economic relationships with important partners in the region, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Participants further considered how China might use its growing leverage in Southeast Asia, and whether Beijing’s tactics could backfire. Finally, several workshop participants posited that the United States, China, and Southeast Asian states could cooperate on at least some nontraditional security issues, such as combating piracy and terrorism.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Southeast Asia