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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