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  • Author: Phil Thornton
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The world is facing unprecedented health and economic crises that require a global solution. Governments have locked down their economies to contain the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. With this response well underway, now is the time to move into a recovery effort. This will require a coordinated response to the health emergency and a global growth plan that is based on synchronized monetary, fiscal, and debt relief policies. Failure to act will risk a substantial shock to the postwar order established by the United States and its allies more than seventy years ago. The most effective global forum for coordinating this recovery effort is the Group of 20 (G20), which led the way out of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2009, the closest parallel we have to the current catastrophe. Eleven years ago, world leaders used the G20 meeting in London as the forum to deliver a unified response and a massive fiscal stimulus that helped stem economic free fall and prevented the recession from becoming a second Great Depression. A decade on, it is clear that the G20 is the only body with the clout to save the global economy. This does not mean that the G20 should be the only forum for actions for its member states. The United States, for example, should also work closely with like-minded states that support a rules-based world order, and there are many other fora where it can and must be active with partners and allies. But no others share the G20’s depth and breadth in the key focus areas for recovery. The other multilateral organizations that could take up the challenge lack either the substance or membership. The United Nations may count all countries as members but is too unwieldly to coordinate a response. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has the resources but requires direction from its 189 members. The Group of Seven (G7), which once oversaw financial and economic management, does not include the fast-growing emerging economies. The G20 represents both the world’s richest and fastest-growing countries, making it the forum for international collaboration. It combines that representation with agility.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, G20, Global Markets, Geopolitics, Economy, Business , Trade, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Canada, Asia, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: JD Work, Richard Harknett
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Reported Iranian intrusions against Israeli critical infrastructure networks and alleged Israeli actions against Iranian proliferation-associated targets pose substantial new challenges to understanding ongoing competition and conflict in the Middle East. These cyber exchanges may be interpreted through two distinct lenses: as the struggle to achieve deterrence using the instrument of cyber operations, or as the contest for initiative in order to establish conditions for relative security advantage in a cyber-persistent environment. Either way, these ongoing incidents are best understood not as “bolt out of the blue” attacks, but rather fleeting glimpses of continuing cyber campaigns leveraging previously disclosed and newly developed capabilities as each side grapples to anticipate cyber vulnerability and shape the conditions of exploitation. The opaque nature of these interactions is further complicated by potential bureaucratic politics and interservice rivalries, as well as unknown dynamics of a counter-proliferation campaign to slow, disrupt and potentially destroy Iranian nuclear capacity. In the end, observed cyber actions may not represent reflections of accurate strategic calculation, and even if aligned to the operational environment they may not lead to intended outcomes. Continuous failure to deter, or inability to manage persistent interactions, may lead to greater dangers.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Cybersecurity, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jeffrey Cimmino, Matthew Kroenig, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a strategic shock, and its almost immediate, damaging effects on the global economy constitute a secondary disruption to global order. Additional secondary strategic shocks (e.g., in the developing world) are looming. Together, these developments pose arguably the greatest threat to the global order since World War II. In the aftermath of that conflict, the United States and its allies established a rules-based international system that has guaranteed freedom, peace, and prosperity for decades. If the United States and its allies do not act effectively, the pandemic could upend this order. This issue brief considers the current state of the pandemic and how it has strained the global rules-based order over the past few months. First, it considers the origins of the novel coronavirus and how it spread around the world. Next, it examines how COVID-19 has exacerbated or created pressure points in the global order, highlights uncertainties ahead, and provides recommendations to the United States and its partners for shaping the post-COVID-19 world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, European Union, Economy, Business , Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Asia, Eurasia, India, Taiwan, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: David Mortlock
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Two years ago, US President Donald J. Trump walked into the White House Diplomatic Reception Room and announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran and has adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” to compel Iran to change its behavior and to deny the Iranian regime the resources to engage in its destabilizing activities. However, he also promised he was ready, willing, and able to make a new and lasting deal with Iran. In “Trump’s JCPOA Withdrawal Two Years On – Maximum Pressure, Minimum Outcomes” author David Mortlock, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluates the policy outcomes of President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. The author walks readers through the timeline of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, the subsequent implementation of the maximum pressure campaign on Iran, and the policy outcomes relative to stated objectives. In sum, Mortlock concludes that although the maximum pressure campaign has been effective in inflicting economic harm on Iran, it has had minimum effect in other areas. Therefore, Mortlock believes the Trump administration should seize the opportunity to pivot from maximum pressure to an approach focused more on policy outcomes.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Economy, Donald Trump, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Crino, Conrad "Andy" Dreby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The use of drones as weapons in the Middle East and North Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, especially as non-state actors from the Houthis in Yemen to militants in Syria seek to level the playing field. Often powered by widely available commercial technology, these systems present a real and present security challenge. What should policymakers do to adapt to this new threat? How can they best structure defenses and leverage available technology to protect key assets? “Drone Attacks Against Critical Infrastructure,” by Dr. Scott Crino and Conrad “Andy” Dreby, addresses these questions and more. Crino is founder and CEO and Dreby is director of red-teaming at Red Six Solutions, LLC. The authors analyze developments in the use of weaponized drones in the Middle East and beyond, exploring how regional policymakers can adapt to mitigate this threat.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Weapons , Drones
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Audrey Hruby
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Global powers are jockeying for access to opportunities in African markets. In recent years, through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Tokyo International Conference of African Development, the Russia-Africa Summit, and many others, the world’s largest economies have sought to make headway in what are seen as fast-growing and lucrative new markets. In this environment, effective United States (US)-Africa policy requires greater focus on areas of American competitiveness and concerted efforts to educate, mobilize, and support US commercial success in African markets. In this update of her 2017 issue brief “Escaping China’s shadow: Finding America’s competitive edge in Africa,” Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby outlines recommendations for how to best utilize Prosper Africa and leverage American private sector competitiveness by focusing efforts on sectors in which the United States already leads.
  • Topic: Global Markets, Economy, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Fried, Brian O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: US President Donald J. Trump’s administration has found it challenging to maintain a consistent position with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repression at home and aggression abroad. It may again fall to Congress to attempt to counter Russia’s election interference, already ongoing in the form of disinformation; back Ukraine as its government seeks to deal with a Russian invasion; and contend with other forms of Kremlin aggression. In “Pushing Back against Russian Aggression – Legislative Options” authors Daniel Fried, the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluate two Russia sanctions bills, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) and the Defending American Security Against Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA), as tools to forestall new Russian interference in US elections. The authors walk readers through a set of sanctions escalatory measures—covering finance, energy, and the cyber sector – that both sanctions bills draw from. In sum, Fried and O’Toole conclude that DASKA’s sanctions are more measured and thus more implementable. By contrast, the authors deem DETER’s sanctions on financial institutions as simply too harsh with excessive spillover risk to US and Western financial markets to be implementable.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Economy, Business , Legislation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, Christian Trotti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced five new nuclear-capable, strategic weapons systems. These systems include a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile and a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine drone. What does Russia have to gain from developing these novel and exotic nuclear weapons? And what should the United States and NATO do about it? This new Atlantic Council issue brief, Russia’s Exotic Nuclear Weapons and Implications for the United States and NATO, answers these questions. Informed by a workshop convened by the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and Los Alamos National Laboratory, authors Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Christian Trotti evaluate the potential utility, motivations, and consequences of these new systems. Among other conclusions, the most significant may be that great-power competition has returned, and with it, the importance of nuclear weapons in international politics.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Power, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Frances Burwell, Jörn Fleck
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) possess fundamental strengths that uniquely position the region to capitalize on the next wave of digitalization – solid education systems, a large talent pool of “STEM” graduates, widely adopted digitally enabled services, and fewer technology legacies. But, these advantages alone do not mean that Central and Eastern Europe will automatically succeed in this digital transition. One key factor of success will be the ability of these countries— all of them in the European Union—to cooperate in this effort across the region, for both their future economic development and their political influence within Europe and in the transatlantic relationship. In this think piece, Atlantic Council Distinguished Fellow Frances Burwell and Future Europe Initiative Associate Director Jörn Fleck explore how to take forward digitalization in Central and Eastern Europe, especially within the framework of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, European Union, Economy, Business , Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Europe
  • Author: Jennifer T. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: It is critically important for global safety standards, nonproliferation agreements, and geopolitics that the United States play a leading role in the export of nuclear energy technologies. However, the domestic reactor fleet has struggled due to the deregulated US electricity market, inexpensive gas, and subsidies for renewables, which—in turn—has hampered US nuclear exports, since it is challenging to export a product that lacks a domestic market. However, building new reactors and bringing first-of-a-kind reactors to demonstration involve high capital costs and financial risk, for the purchasing party as well as the vendor. If the United States is to play a role at all in building new nuclear plants, it must address the challenges inherent in financing new nuclear builds; one mechanism to do this is through partnering with close US allies to co-finance new nuclear projects. If the United States and its allies fail to make their nuclear exports competitive, they will likely cede the mantle of global leadership in that area to Russia and China, where nuclear companies are state owned, easily able to finance nuclear exports, and already exploring emerging markets for nuclear exports.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert F. Ichford
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Governments across South Asia face many challenges as they seek to improve the lives of the more than 1.8 billion people that live in the region. Increasing geopolitical competition—especially between and among China, Russia, and the United States—is one factor that is affecting progress. This “great power competition,” including over the South China Sea, is intertwined with regional rivalries (e.g., India and Pakistan, India and China, and the United States and Iran) and has important economic, military, technological, and environmental consequences. Energy is a key strategic sector in this competition as China pursues its expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure and trade vision, Russia uses arms sales and nuclear energy to expand its regional presence, and the United States confronts Iran and gears up its free and open Indo-Pacific Strategy and Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) initiative. This issue brief considers the transformation of the electricity sector in Bangladesh. It is the fourth country analysis in the Atlantic Council’s “Transforming the Power Sector in Developing Countries” series. This issue brief applies to Bangladesh the analytical framework developed in the first report in the series, which presents general challenges and strategic priorities for developing countries in the context of their implementation of electric power policies and reforms following the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Markets, Oil, Governance, Geopolitics, Gas, Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels, Transition
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Kharis Templeman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the past three decades, democracy has put down roots in many seemingly unlikely places across Asia, from Mongolia to Indonesia. At a time when democracy is in global retreat, the majority of these Asian regimes have demonstrated surprising resiliency, though many continue to suffer from glaring flaws: weak state capacity and accountability institutions, the absence of impartial rule of law, and uneven protection of political rights and civil liberties. This issue brief, “Democracy under Siege: Advancing Cooperation and Common Values in the Indo-Pacific,” by Dr. Kharis Templeman, examines challenges and opportunities for advancing cooperation and common values in the Indo-Pacific as the region faces an increasing challenge from China.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Diplomacy, International Organization, Politics, Reform, Elections, Democracy, Rule of Law, Norms, Transition
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Taiwan, East Asia, Asia, Australia, Korea, Indo-Pacific
  • 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: 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: Tatiana Mitrova
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fate of the “Russian Energy Strategy Up to 2035” paper—a key document defining the country`s strategic priorities in this critically important industry and submitted by Russia’s Energy Ministry every five years—illustrates well the contradictory predicament of Russia’s energy sector. In 2015, after two years of preparations, the latest version was submitted to the government, but national authorities have not approved it until now. Behind the scenes, many conflicting interests prevent the setting of a clear and coherent long-term vision.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • 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: Gaiane Safarova
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Like every country, Russia has a very specific demographic footprint; its fertility, mortality, and migration rates, as well as its age composition, all affect its performance domestically and on the world stage. Russia’s current demographics were shaped by its history, particularly crises like World War II, and its future will be deeply affected by conditions like its dropping fertility rate and aging population
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • 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
  • Author: Mark Katz
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: uring the Cold War, the Soviet Union posed a challenge to the United States throughout the entire world, including in the Middle East. Soviet activity in the Middle East, though, was also a challenge for many US allies in the region, and beyond. Soviet influence in the Middle East expanded during the 1950s and 1960s, in particular, as many in the Arab world became angry about US support for Israel, and as several pro-Western Arab governments were overthrown and replaced by anti-Western ones that actively sought Soviet support. Due to several factors, however, many of the gains made by the Soviets in the Middle East ended up being lost. These included: the defection of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s successor in Egypt, Anwar Sadat, from the Soviet to the US camp; Washington’s successful 1970s-era diplomacy in bringing about an Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement; genuine fear of the Soviet threat on the part of Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies; the 1979 Iranian Revolution, in which the downfall of a pro-Western regime did not lead to the rise of a pro-Soviet one, but to the rise of one that was both anti-American and anti-Soviet; and, finally, the collapse of both communism and the Soviet Union itself from 1989 to 1991
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus