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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