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  • Author: Ketian Zhang
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: China’s coercive behavior in the post–Cold War period suggests three patterns. First, China uses coercion when it wants to establish a reputation for resolve. Second, China has been a cautious bully, resorting to coercion only infrequently. Third, when China perceives the “geopolitical backlash cost” of military coercion to be high, it chooses instead to use sanctions and grayzone coercion. (“Geopolitical backlash cost” refers here to the possibility that the target state will seek to balance against China, with the potential for U.S. military involvement.) When China perceives the geopolitical backlash cost to be low, it is more likely to use military coercion.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, Power Politics, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South China Sea
  • Author: Antonio Missiroli, Michael Ruhle
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan and quickly spread across the globe, will have a lasting impact on worldwide economic, political and strategic developments. Some observers question whether the different approaches by nations to the pandemic may benefit or hinder global economic competition. Others worry that some states may exploit the pandemic as a pretext to curtail individual freedoms. Still others note the emergence of an outright "battle of narratives" on the origins of the virus and the correct approach to bringing it under control, adding fuel to an already lingering "systemic" contest.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Affairs, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Bates Gill
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: It is frequently noted that the Chinese word for "crisis" combines characters connoting "threat" on the one hand and "opportunity" on the other. This bit of linguistic trivia can be overdrawn. For China and the COVID-19 crisis, however, it rings true: the pandemic and its aftermath have generated dangerous problems for the Chinese leadership while also opening enticing opportunities.
  • Topic: International Relations, Power Politics, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Dumitru Minzarari
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic has not only triggered a crisis in public health and safety that engendered a significant economic fallout. The pandemic has also triggered an infodemic, one that sets the context for a significant spike in anti-NATO and anti-Western propaganda. Unless countermeasures are taken, the already deteriorating public opinion vis-a-vis the Alliance can be expected to worsen. Viewed individually, these two pandemic's outcomes have not critically threatened the Alliance; however, their combined effect could become a formidable challenge for NATO. Despite the measures taken, the pandemic is likely to continue exacerbating the frustrations among member states, further fraying the Alliance's unity. This, arguably, is the most immediate and concerning challenge facing NATO today.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, NATO, Public Health, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Alice Billon-Galland
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaks havoc around the world. Its scale and duration, as well as the full social and economic impact of lockdowns and social distancing measures, are yet to be seen. Exactly how the pandemic and its aftermath will impact the defence policies of European states in the long-term remains uncertain for a while yet. However, some Europe-wide trends--economic strategic, and geopolitical--are already visible. These will impact how Europeans (re)think their security after the pandemic, and therefore have implications for defence planners, decision-makers and armed forces throughout the continent.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Geopolitics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Claudia Major
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 crisis is teaching European countries that a pandemic can destabilize societies, the economy and political institutions to the same extent that military or hybrid threats do. However, while the pandemic's impact on European security seems massive, it is difficult to isolate the COVID-19 factor: what is uniquely pandemic-driven, and what is the result of other elements, such as the lack of US leadership, is not always easy to determine.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Institutions, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sten Rynning
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a tectonic shift in world politics: China's rise and an erosion, if not a decline, of Western power. Where Western Allies squabble, China acts with confidence. NATO's timorous decision of December 2019 to discuss China's "growing influence" now seems quaint one year on, or at best a preamble to the preeminent question of our era: is NATO sufficiently cohesive to confront change?
  • Topic: NATO, Power Politics, Alliance
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, North America
  • Author: Olivier Rittimann
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, a number of voices criticized NATO's absence in the fight against the pandemic. As expected, many of these critics came from Russia and China, exploiting a highly effective STRATCOM to allege an apparent lack of NATO involvement. However, criticism also emerged from within the Alliance, urging that NATO should wake up to the situation. Russian propaganda, backed by the actual deployment of planes and trucks to Italy, and domestic condemnation fueled a sense of discontent in people as regards the usefulness and effectiveness of international organizations at large, and more specifically NATO and the European Union (EU). This impression of inaction persisted for a couple of weeks after the outbreak of the COVID crisis in most Allied nations, until eventually an aggressive counter messaging strategy was put forward by NATO HQ, SHAPE and individual nations themselves.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, European Union, Alliance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Paul Beckley
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War and after the 9/11 attacks, globalization has not replaced Great Powers' competition as some predicted but, progressively, it has accelerated it. Such competition has been driven by advanced technology, which potentially preludes the next revolution in military affairs. Competition among nations is nothing new, but in contrast to the industrial era, in the digital age it is not just about the number of tanks, ships, aircraft and brigades. It is also about the control of networks, platforms and software. This represents an important transformation: norm-setting in these technical domains will yield significant geopolitical returns. In the realm of technology, standards are tantamount to the rules of the game.
  • Topic: NATO, Geopolitics, Standardization
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Andrea Gilli
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Thanks to their higher speed, larger data volume, lower latency, and capacity to sustain very high density connections (including machine-to-machine communications), 5G networks are set to unleash a major economic revolution, potentially adding trillions of dollars to the global economy (at least according to recent forecasts). From smart cities to Artificial Intelligence (AI); telemedicine to driverless cars; virtual reality to the Internet of Things (IoT); Industry 4.0 to all manner of applications that will comprise this new ecosystem, 5G ushers in enormous opportunities. 5G communications still require significant investments, both for research and development of key technologies, and for building the supporting infrastructure. Moreover, the next generation of telecommunications raises several important questions about the political economy of spectrum allocation and standard definition, their military applications, the role of Chinese companies and the attendant cybersecurity risks. These are all relevant topics for NATO from which the Alliance can draw some strategic lessons.
  • Topic: NATO, Military Strategy, Data, 5G, Internet of Things
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Stephen J. Mariano
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO created the Strategic Direction South--the "Hub"--in 2017, in response to illegal migration into Europe from war-torn Libya, Syria, and Iraq, highlighting humanitarian and internal security concerns. As evidence began to emerge that criminal organizations and terrorist groups were leveraging migration flows, these fears coalesced with other security concerns, not only disrupting the stability of European societies but also threatening the security of European societies but also threatening the security of the Alliance. Eventually, NATO recognized that the situation was connected to deeper sources of instability and that solutions would require a comprehensive approach to the southernmost parts of "the South".
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Ion A. Iftimie
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: At the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, cyberspace was recognized as an operational domain in which NATO military forces must be able to maneuver as effectively as they do on land, at sea and in the air. Since then, Allies have conducted several successful offensive cyber operations against non-state adversaries, such as Daesh. Due to technological transformations in recent years, cyber is no longer viewed by NATO and its member states only as a hybrid threat, but also as a weapon in its own right and as a force multiplier in current military operations. Over the next two decades, NATO will look for new ways to integrate cyber weapons (or offensive cyber capabilities) into its operations and missions.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Non State Actors, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Chloe Berger
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In the spring of 2020, the Atlantic Alliance's "large periphery" to the South, which extends from the Sahel to the Asian borders of the Arabian Gulf, remains in a state of dangerous instability. The health and containment measures taken by the authorities against the COVID-19 crisis have put popular claims to rest. The case of Lebanon shows, however, that the urgency of the pandemic has not made the demands of the population disappear. Beyond managing the health crisis, there is no doubt that the future of the region's leaderships will largely depend on their ability to mitigate both the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the political ones.
  • Topic: NATO, Political stability, Alliance, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Dominik P. Jankowski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, energy security has become a permanent element of NATO's strategic thinking, integrated into numerous NATO policies and activities. In fact, restoring the prominence of energy security within the Alliance was not easy, especially as this policy was considered primarily a question of national security in the post-Cold War era. It was only at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that NATO was given a dedicated, yet limited, mandate to work in this field. The mandate--based on a set of principles and guidelines--included information and intelligence sharing, cooperation on consequence management, and support for the protection of critical energy infrastructure.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Energy Policy, European Union, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Tina J. Park
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg puts it, North Korea remains a "global threat that requires a global rsponse". The threats posed by North Korea are arguably imminent, with the potential to cause serious harm to the security of NATO member states. Since 2006, North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests, in clear defiance of the Treaty on Non -Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that the regime withdrew from in 2003. To date, the international community has failed to tame North Korea's nuclear ambitions, despite various diplomatic and political efforts. In addition to its nuclear capabilities, Pyongyang has made significant advances with conventional weapons, both chemical and biological, as well as with its cyber capabilities. North Korea's substantive linkages to China and Russia, and non-state terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas in the Middle East, amplify their threats beyond the borders of the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Diplomacy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Michael Ruhle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Environmental change is increasingly recognized as one of the major factors that will shape the global security environment. According to most experts, rising global temperatures will lead to rising sea levels and cause more extreme weather events, such as storms, flooding, droughts and wildfires. The firestorms that engulfed parts of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020, burning an area the size of Belgium and Denmark combined, and severely decimating that continent's wildlife, were a stark reminder of the force of these changes.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Climate Change, Environment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeffrey H. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In the Declaration that emerged from teh December 2019 London Leaders Meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was tasked to present Foreign Ministers with "a forward-looking reflection process under his auspices, drawing on relevant expertise, to further strengthen NATO's political dimension including consultation.". This new tasking has been largely attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron's remark the previous month that the Alliance was suffering from "brain death". Speaking at a press conference alongside Stoltenberg, Macron elaborated on his comment, complaining the Alliance was overly focused on "cost-sharing or burden-sharing" whereas too little attention was being placed on major policy issues such as "peace in Europe, the post-INF, the relationship with Russia, the issue of Turkey, who is the enemy?"
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Brendan Taylor
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australian diplomacy could ease rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, if Australian policymakers rediscovered an appetite for involvement in the flashpoint. Tensions between Taiwan and China are rising, driven in part by an increasingly assertive government in Beijing, growing Taiwanese estrangement from the Chinese mainland, and deteriorating US–China relations. If key regional governments fail to help de-escalate tensions, the consequences are likely to be serious. Rather than continue the debate about Australia’s position on its ANZUS obligations should the United States invoke the treaty in a Taiwan conflict, Australia should work with other regional powers to advocate for more robust risk avoidance and crisis management mechanisms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Multilateralism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Helle Malmvig, Jakob Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: • Denmark should focus its attention on the border region between Iraq and Syria, which presents a high risk of insurgency, and is where the main Danish military contingency has been deployed since 2015. • Given the likely partial US withdrawal from Iraq, NATO and European governments should prepare for taking on new tasks and responsibilities. • The US-led coalition should allow and prepare SDF to negotiate alternative political/security arrangements, as SDF may have difficulty sustaining its presence in Syria.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Fragile States, Islamic State, Syrian War, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde, Peer Schouten
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Pastoralism is the key to climate change adaptation in African drylands, but it is threatened by conflicts with farmers, regional insecurity and violent extremism. Stabilisation and development efforts should place pastoralism at the centre by strengthening pastoral livelihoods and should include herders as peacebuilding and development partners. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ Strengthen pastoralist capacities to cope with risk and variability by boosting inclusive and equitable resource governance in new development programmes. ■ Include pastoralists as potential peace-builders in conflict resolution efforts. ■ Support dialogue between pastoralists and local and national governments in order to prevent the further marginalisation of vulnerable pastoralist groups.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Democratization, Development, Environment, Migration, Non State Actors, Fragile States, Economy, Conflict, Investment, Peace, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa