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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: After four dark years during which President Donald Trump systematically weakened the United States’ commitment to multilateralism, international law and universal human rights, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their impending inauguration. As an international civil society organization with its headquarters in New York, we join human rights defenders both here and abroad who view this historic moment with relief and hope. President Biden and Vice President Harris will be sworn in at a time of unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous suffering around the world and killed over 380,000 Americans. Globally, more than 80.3 million people are also currently displaced by conflict, persecution and atrocities, the highest number since the Second World War. In all too many countries the laws, institutions and individuals who defend human rights appear to be under threat. This includes the United States, where disturbing political developments over the last four years led to the proliferation of online hate speech, the criminalization of asylum seekers and a prejudicial “Muslim Ban” aimed at refugees.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Elections, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Flavio Fusco
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Located at the heart of the Middle East, connecting the Levant to the Persian Gulf, Iraq has always been at the centre of regional dynamics. Yet, the country is today reduced to a quasi-failed state fundamentally damaged in its political, social and economic fabric, with long-term consequences that trace a fil rouge from the 2003 US-led invasion to the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and the country’s current structural fragility.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite Duterte’s desire to shift Philippine security policy away from its treaty alliance with the US, Manila remains a close American ally. Key domestic, strategic and humanitarian factors actually make the alliance healthier. The Biden administration might just wait for Duterte to finish his term in a year's time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Philippines, North America, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Nobumasa Akiyama
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the United States. This could lead to changes in US-Iran relations. The Trump administration continued to provoke Iran by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tightening sanctions, and killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Meanwhile, the incoming president Joe Biden and key members of his diplomatic team are oriented toward a return to the JCPOA. In the midst of all this, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who is believed to have played a central role in Iran's nuclear development, was murdered. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he would retaliate at an "appropriate" time, and an advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would take "decisive" action. Although the US is not believed to have been directly involved in this incident, there are concerns that it will cast a dark shadow on the diplomacy between the US and Iran over the JCPOA. Shortly thereafter, Iran's parliament passed a law that obliges the government to take steps to expand nuclear activities that significantly exceed the JCPOA's limits and to seek the lifting of sanctions. The new US administration will need to be very careful not to overlook either hard or soft signals, to analyze Iran's future course, and to take diplomatic steps to reduce Iran's nuclear and regional security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, JCPOA, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Lincicome
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Both the American left and right often use “national security” to justify sweeping proposals for new U.S. protectionism and industrial policy. “Free markets” and a lack of government support for the manufacturing sector are alleged to have crippled the U.S. defense industrial base’s ability to supply “essential” goods during war or other emergencies, thus imperiling national security and demanding a fundamental rethink of U.S. trade and manufacturing policy. The COVID-19 crisis and U.S.-China tensions have amplified these claims. This resurgent “security nationalism,” however, extends far beyond the limited theoretical scenarios in which national security might justify government action, and it suffers from several flaws. First, reports of the demise of the U.S. manufacturing sector are exaggerated. Although U.S. manufacturing sector employment and share of national economic output (gross domestic product) have declined, these data are mostly irrelevant to national security and reflect macroeconomic trends affecting many other countries. By contrast, the most relevant data—on the U.S. manufacturing sector’s output, exports, financial performance, and investment—show that the nation’s total productive capacity and most of the industries typically associated with “national security” are still expanding. Second, “security nationalism” assumes a need for broad and novel U.S. government interventions while ignoring the targeted federal policies intended to support the defense industrial base. In fact, many U.S. laws already authorize the federal government to support or protect discrete U.S. industries on national security grounds. Third, several of these laws and policies provide a cautionary tale regarding the inefficacy of certain core “security nationalist” priorities. Case studies of past government support for steel, shipbuilding, semiconductors, and machine tools show that security‐​related protectionism and industrial policy in the United States often undermines national security. Fourth, although the United States is not nearly as open (and thus allegedly “vulnerable”) to external shocks as claimed, global integration and trade openness often bolster U.S. national security by encouraging peace among trading nations or mitigating the impact of domestic shocks. Together, these points rebut the most common claims in support of “security nationalism” and show why skepticism of such initiatives is necessary when national security is involved. They also reveal market‐​oriented trade, immigration, tax, and regulatory policies that would generally benefit the U.S. economy while also supporting the defense industrial base and national security.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, COVID-19, Free Market, Deindustrialization
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alex Nowrasteh
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A cost‐​benefit analysis finds that the hazards posed by foreign‐​born spies are not large enough to warrant broad and costly actions such as a ban on travel and immigration from China, but they do warrant the continued exclusion of potential spies under current laws. Espionage poses a threat to national security and the private property rights of Americans. The government should address the threat of espionage in a manner whereby the benefits of government actions taken to reduce it outweigh the costs of those actions. To aid in that goal, this policy analysis presents the first combined database of all identified spies who targeted both the U.S. government and private organizations on U.S. soil. This analysis identifies 1,485 spies on American soil who, from 1990 through the end of 2019, conducted state or commercial espionage. Of those, 890 were foreign‐​born, 583 were native‐​born Americans, and 12 had unknown origins. The scale and scope of espionage have major implications for immigration policy, as a disproportionate number of the identified spies were foreign‐​born. Native‐​born Americans accounted for 39.3 percent of all spies, foreign‐​born spies accounted for 59.9 percent, and spies of unknown origins accounted for 0.8 percent. Spies who were born in China, Mexico, Iran, Taiwan, and Russia account for 34.7 percent of all spies. The chance that a native‐​born American committed espionage or an espionage‐​related crime and was identified was about 1 in 13.1 million per year from 1990 to 2019. The annual chance that a foreign‐​born person in the United States committed an espionage‐​related crime and was discovered doing so was about 1 in 2.2 million during that time. The government was the victim in 83.3 percent of espionage cases, firms were the victims of commercial espionage in 16.3 percent of the cases, and hospitals and universities were the victims of espionage in 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent of the cases, respectively. The federal government should continue to exclude foreign‐​born individuals from entering the United States if they pose a threat to the national security and private property rights of Americans through espionage. A cost‐​benefit analysis finds that the hazards posed by foreign‐​born spies are not large enough to warrant broad and costly actions such as a ban on travel and immigration from China, but they do warrant the continued exclusion of potential spies under current laws.
  • Topic: Crime, Immigration, Risk, Espionage
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Lincicome, Inu Manak
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: With several Section 232 tariffs still in place, and the status of other investigations unclear, the law presents an early test for the Biden administration and a signal about its future trade policy plans. President Biden took office at the height of modern American protectionism. The trade policy legacy he inherited from the Trump administration puts the United States at a crossroads. Will Biden go down the problematic path of executive overreach like his predecessor, or will he forge a new path? We may not need to wait long to find out. In his first trade action, President Biden reinstated tariffs on aluminum from the United Arab Emirates under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which authorizes the president to impose tariffs when a certain product is “being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair national security.” Though infrequently used in the past, Section 232 was a favored trade tool of the Trump administration, which was responsible for nearly a quarter of all Section 232 investigations initiated since 1962. While Congress has constitutional authority over trade policy, Section 232 gives the president broad discretion to enact protectionist measures in the name of national security. Why is this law a problem? First, the statute’s lack of an objective definition of “national security” permits essentially anything to be considered a threat, regardless of the merits. Second, the law’s lack of detailed procedural requirements encouraged the Trump administration to cut corners in applying the law, thus breeding cronyism and confusion. Third, President Trump took advantage of the law’s ambiguity to shield key Section 232 findings from Congress and the public, undermining both transparency and accountability. The Trump administration’s abuse of the rarely used Section 232 has allowed the statute to become an excuse for blatant commercial protectionism, harming American companies and consumers and our security interests. It’s unclear whether the Biden administration will continue this troubling trend or seek reform. The best course of action would be the latter: Biden should avoid using Section 232 and support congressional efforts to rein in presidential power, thus ensuring an end to the calamitous episodes that were common during the Trump era.
  • Topic: National Security, Trade Policy, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Neal McCluskey
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In one year, COVID-19 contributed to the permanent closure of at least 132 mainly low‐​cost private schools. But that was better than some feared. As COVID-19 struck the United States in March 2020, sending the nation into lockdown, worry about the fate of private schools was high. These schools, which only survive if people can pay for them, seemed to face deep trouble. Many private schools have thin financial margins even in good economic times and rely not only on tuition but also on fundraisers, such as in‐​person auctions, to make ends meet. When the pandemic hit, many such events were canceled, and churches no longer met in person, threatening contributions that help support some private schools. Simultaneously, many private schooling families faced tighter finances, making private schooling less affordable. Finally, families that could still afford private schooling might have concluded that continuing to pay for education that was going to be online‐​only made little sense.
  • Topic: Education, COVID-19, Private Schools
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Mueller
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: China, even if it rises, does not present much of a security threat to the United States. Policymakers increasingly view China’s rapidly growing wealth as a threat. China currently ranks second, or perhaps even first, in the world in gross domestic product (although 78th in per capita GDP), and the fear is that China will acquire military prowess commensurate with its wealth and feel impelled to carry out undesirable military adventures. However, even if it continues to rise, China does not present much of a security threat to the United States. China does not harbor Hitler‐​style ambitions of extensive conquest, and the Chinese government depends on the world economy for development and the consequent acquiescence of the Chinese people. Armed conflict would be extremely—even overwhelmingly—costly to the country and, in particular, to the regime in charge. Indeed, there is a danger of making China into a threat by treating it as such and by engaging in so‐​called balancing efforts against it. Rather than rising to anything that could be conceived to be “dominance,” China could decline into substantial economic stagnation. It faces many problems, including endemic (and perhaps intractable) corruption, environmental devastation, slowing growth, a rapidly aging population, enormous overproduction, increasing debt, and restive minorities in its west and in Hong Kong. At a time when it should be liberalizing its economy, Xi Jinping’s China increasingly restricts speech and privileges control by the antiquated and kleptocratic Communist Party over economic growth. And entrenched elites are well placed to block reform. That said, China’s standard of living is now the highest in its history, and it’s very easy to envision conditions that are a great deal worse than life under a stable, if increasingly authoritarian, kleptocracy. As a result, the Chinese people may be willing to ride with, and ride out, economic stagnation should that come about—although this might be accompanied by increasing dismay and disgruntlement. In either case—rise or demise—there is little the United States or other countries can or should do to affect China’s economically foolish authoritarian drive except to issue declarations of disapproval and to deal more warily. As former ambassador Chas Freeman puts it, “There is no military answer to a grand strategy built on a non‐​violent expansion of commerce and navigation.” And Chinese leaders have plenty of problems to consume their attention. They scarcely need war or foreign military adventurism to enhance the mix. The problem is not so much that China is a threat but that it is deeply insecure. Policies of threat, balance, sanction, boycott, and critique are more likely to reinforce that condition than change it. The alternative is to wait, and to profit from China’s economic size to the degree possible, until someday China feels secure enough to reform itself.
  • Topic: Government, GDP, Geopolitics, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Patrick Porter, Michael Mazarr
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington on a tighter embrace of Taiwan, which may soon become a stronger implied US commitment to go to war in the event of a Chinese invasion. Taiwan matters to US security and the regional order, and the United States should continue to make clear that aggression is unacceptable. But those advocating a stronger US security commitment exaggerate the strategic consequences of a successful Chinese invasion. The stakes are not so high as to warrant an unqualified US pledge to go to war. American decision-makers, like their forebears confronting the seeming threat of communism in Indochina, may be trapping themselves into an unnecessarily stark conception of the consequences of a successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan. It would be irresponsible for the United States to leave itself no option in the event of Chinese aggression other than war. But nor should Washington abandon Taiwan. There is a prudent middle way: the United States should act as armourer, but not guarantor. It should help prepare Taiwan to defend itself, to raise costs against aggression, and develop means of punishing China with non-military tools.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Mariano, Adam Sacks
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: We all remember our first concert or seeing our favorite band live, but rarely do we think of the stagehands, lighting techs, and ushers who worked hard to deliver these memorable experiences or the impact they have on our local, state, and national economies. In order to better understand the economic impact this important industry has across the United States, Oxford Economics developed a customized framework to analyze the impact of the concerts and the live entertainment industry's nationwide economic contributions in 2019 and conducted an in-depth analysis of the economic impacts of live event venues, artists, and visitor spending in terms of economic output, labor income, taxes, and jobs. Due to the pandemic putting a pause on live events in 2020, this report examined 2019 data to ensure a complete analysis could be conducted that is in line with regular performance of the industry. The industry drives significant economic activity that supports businesses, households, and government finances across the United States. In the wake of COVID-19, live events were shut down for over a year. Beyond the cultural loss involved, the US economy has incurred massive losses in GDP, employment, household income, and tax revenue due to the absence of live events. After a year of isolation, many crave getting back to enjoying memorable live experiences safely in 2021 and into the 2022 and 2023 seasons, which position the industry for growth in the coming years. The Concerts and Live Entertainment Industry, as defined by this report, includes all live musical performances, such as festivals and concerts, and comedy shows held in amphitheaters, clubs, theaters, arenas, stadiums, and other venues. Not included in this analysis are theater, Broadway, sporting events, and family shows.
  • Topic: Economics, Culture, Music, popular culture, Entertainment
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was a devastating one, but also a year of great change and transformation as the world adapted with difficulty to meet challenges largely unprecedented in living memory, and the trends of global power appeared to shift dramatically. And it was a revelatory year — one that pulled the lid off the true extent and meaning of our globalized, interconnected world, revealed dysfunction present in our institutions of national and international governance, and unmasked the real level of structural resentment, rivalry, and risk present in the world’s most critical great power relationship — that between the United States and China. 2020 may well go down in history as a great global inflection point. It is thus worth looking back to examine what happened and why and to reflect on where we may be headed in the decade ahead. The Avoidable War: The Decade of Living Dangerously, the third volume of ASPI’s annual Avoidable War series, does precisely that. It contains selected essays, articles, and speeches by Asia Society and ASPI President the Hon. Kevin Rudd that provide a series of snapshots as events unfolded over the course of 2020 — from the COVID-19 pandemic, through an implosion of multilateral governance, to the impact on China’s domestic political economy. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of the growing challenges the world will face as the escalating contest between the United States and China enters a decisive phase in the 2020s. No matter what strategies the two sides pursue or what events unfold, the tension between the United States and China will grow, and competition will intensify; it is inevitable. The Chinese Communist Party is increasingly confident that by the decade’s end, China’s economy will finally and unambiguously surpass that of the United States as the world’s largest, and this will turbocharge Beijing’s self-confidence, assertiveness, and leverage. Increasingly, this will be a “decade of living dangerously” for us all. War, however, is not inevitable. Rudd argues that it remains possible for the two countries to put in place guardrails that can prevent a catastrophe: a joint framework he calls “managed strategic competition” that would reduce the risk of competition escalating into open conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Governance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: After the announcement of the victory of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hard-line judiciary chief, various analysts raised questions about the future of US-Iranian relations, particularly in light of major determinants. The most prominent of which is Ebrahim Raisi himself, who is subject to US sanctions, and his term, which may coincide with reaching a new nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, as well as the current debate in Washington’s political circles regarding the situation in Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 25, 2021, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced a series of decisions, most notably the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and freezing the Parliament for 30 days. Although there is widespread internal support for these decisions, both at the public level and among the political forces, the Ennahda movement has adopted a stand against them, based on a misinterpretation of the views of Western countries, particularly that of the US administration headed by Joe Biden. The Ennahda believes that Washington would reject or at least condemn President Saied's decisions. However, the US administration's official moves and statements reflect its implicit approval of Saied's decisions. This raises several questions about the nature of the Biden administration's stance and why Ennahda and liberal voices in Washington failed to force the US administration to adopt a position against those extraordinary decisions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Parliamentarism, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia, United States of America
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The United States, with its influential institutions, plays a significant role in influencing the course of regional dynamics in the Middle East. That is why, some regional political forces are keen to enter the American political to be able to assert some influence on Washington's position. The Ennahda movement in Tunisia is a clear example, particularly as it recognizes the importance of affecting the position of the US administration and pushing it to pursue its own interests during the current crisis with President Kais Saied. Accordingly and despite the Ennahda movement's denial of its recent contract with a PR company in Washington, the US Department of Justice confirmed the Ennahda's contract with Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) dated July 28, 2021, only 3 days after the announcement of the extraordinary decisions of President Saied. Through this, the movement attempted to promote its alleged story of the ‘coup’, and to justify its position to the Biden administration, the Congress, the media and US think tanks. This raises several questions around the magnitude of the movement of the Ennahda within the US, and what messages it is attempting to deliver to US circles, and whether it will succeed in getting Washington's support on the current crisis.
  • Topic: Public Relations, Crisis Management, Ennahda Party
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Tunisia, United States of America
  • Author: Giorgi Surmava
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: On January 26, 2021, during a phone conversation between the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, a decision was confirmed by the parties to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START, CHB-3) without any preconditions for five more years from February 5, 2021 to February 5, 2026 after which the sides exchanged diplomatic notes. New START was the last treaty still in force with regard to nuclear armaments as the United States left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) under the Trump administration. At the same time, the Trump administration was also against extending New START without changes as it was set to expire in February 2021. Russia, on the other hand, was opposed to any kind of changes to this treaty. In a very short while after Biden’s arrival to power, the treaty was extended by five years without any changes. What was the reason for this decision? Why was the prior presidential administration against this and why did the new one make efforts to achieve an agreement in a short period of time? What can we expect to happen next? These are the questions that we will attempt to answer in this publication.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States of America
  • Author: Giorgio Uzarashvili
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The 2020 attack on SolarWinds is one of the largest cyber-intelligence campaigns in US history which inflicted significant damage on agencies such as the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).1 Incidentally, SolarWinds is a US-registered company that provides a wide range of IT-related services to the private and public sectors, including tools used for the remote management of the network’s infrastructure.2 Later, in April of this year, the attack was officially attributed to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (СВР - Служба Внешней Разведки). Its consequences were severe not only due to the fact that the attacker, with high probability, gained access to at least part of the information held by the above-mentioned US agencies, but also primarily for the demonstrative effect of this operation. In particular, the attacker demonstrated that no one is protected against Russian cyber-intelligence actors, including the agencies directly in charge of ensuring the information security of the national critical infrastructure throughout the country. Consequently, the attack on SolarWinds negatively affected the US not only in terms of security, more specifically cyber security, but it also poses a significant challenge to its reputation. Namely, this incident questions whether or not US security forces have highly qualified personnel and appropriate technical equipment to protect significant information assets and prevent similar attacks. Moreover, there is a threat that this precedent will encourage similar actions by other hostile actors against the US in the future, primarily China and Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Intelligence, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States of America
  • Author: Megi Benia
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: NATO is a major military organization responsible for security in the Euro-Atlantic space. Consequently, the current security environment in the world and, especially, in Europe stimulates debates about NATO’s readiness to resist an armed attack. However, these debates are normally held around the Alliance’s Article 5 as a key component of collective defense and in this process, the principles of Article 3 are ignored, something which is a wrong approach. NATO’s Article 3 states that: “In order to more effectively achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack” (NATO, Resilience and Article 3 2020). Therefore, fulfilling obligations under Article 3 is a crucial part of the organization’s main idea of collective defense as it enables NATO to fulfil the obligations of Article 5. However, one must remember that in today’s unpredictable security situation, “capacity to resist armed attack” (NATO, Resilience and Article 3 2020) means not only military readiness. To be able to deploy rapidly during operations or a potential armed attack, military forces need the support of transport systems, satellite communications and power supplies, etc. However, it is a well-known fact that these systems are highly vulnerable during an attack in both peace and war.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Infrastructure, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Tyson Barker
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The EU and the United States are expected to launch a Trade and Technology Council (TTC) on the sidelines of the US-EU Summit in mid-June, which could present a rare opportunity to jumpstart the EU-US technology relationship. Against the backdrop of rapid technological change, a transatlantic digital technology community could be a 21st-century answer to the Coal and Steal Community – a big democratic project that reaches across borders, knits like-minded communities together in a manner that reinforces shared values, and codifies standards of market access, increased interdependence, and intensified political dialogue.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Governance, European Union, Democracy, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Markus Jaeger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration has just issued its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. The guidance document states the need to “build back better at home” and acknowledges that “international economic policies must serve all Americans” – a theme often referred to as “foreign policy for the middle class”. While the interim guidance does not preclude cooperation with China in selected policy areas, it is unambiguous in considering China a strategic competitor. The prospect of intensifying China-US geopolitical and (geo)economic competition is bad news for Germany, which has high value trading and investment relationships with both countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, National Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Allison Peters, Pierce MacConaghy
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: Malicious cyber activity poses one of the greatest threats to America’s national, economic, and personal security. Yet, the perpetrators of these crimes largely operate with pure impunity and face little consequences for their actions. This is particularly the case for cybercriminals who cost the US economy anywhere from $57 billion to $109 billion in 2016 alone.1 Since 2015, the United States has imposed targeted sanctions (e.g., asset freezes, travel bans) on over 300 individuals and entities in response to malicious cyber activity.2 Many of these sanctions were issued under the cyber-related sanctions program administered by the Department of Treasury and established by a series of Executive Orders under Presidents Obama and Trump and bills passed by Congress.3 Sanctions have largely been imposed on individuals with ties to Iran, Russia, and North Korea, and, in about half of these cases, sanctions have followed indictments. An overwhelming majority of these sanctions have targeted individuals with suspected links to government entities and, only recently, have cyber sanctions targeted cybercriminals.4 As targeted sanctions increasingly become a tool deployed by the US government to punish malicious cyber actors, it remains unclear whether they are having an impact in changing behavior. Research on the impact of sanctions more broadly indicates that sanctions can be an effective tool to impose consequences on bad actors and change their actions when employed multilaterally, as part of a coherent strategy, and effectively messaged.5 However, imposing sanctions on malicious cyber actors without continuously reassessing their impact and the expected reciprocal actions by the target(s), risks a number of potentially negative outcomes. While Congress introduced legislation in the 116th Congress to impose new or codify existing cyber-related sanctions into law,6 it has not exercised the necessary oversight over the Executive Branch’s strategy in issuing cyber-related sanctions and determining their efficacy. With other countries now following America’s lead in issuing these sanctions, the time is ripe for the new Congress to push for an inter-agency, holistic assessment of the impact of US cyber-related sanctions.7 And with cybercrime increasingly threatening all sectors of the US economy, Congress must call for an evaluation as to whether sanctions on non-state cybercriminals should increasingly be used.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Sanctions, Cyberspace, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Garcia, Pat Shilo
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: The 116th Congress experienced events like no other in American history, including unprecedented levels of malicious cyber activity. Global estimates say that ransomware attacks have increased by 148% since February 2020, with many US hospitals and schools falling victim and having their operations suspended.1 Leading up to and during the pandemic, Members of the 116th Congress responded and drafted cybersecurity legislation, introducing 316 bills to tackle the issue—a 40% increase from the previous Congress. This memo presents a comprehensive analysis of the cybersecurity legislation introduced in the 116th Congress and is a successor to our memo assessing the cybersecurity legislation in the previous Congress. Unlike the 115th Congress, the two chambers of the 116th were each under the control of a different party. Still, more than half of the introduced bills were bipartisan, including 85% of the bills signed into law. However, only 11% of the introduced bills focused on imposing consequences for the human actors behind cyberattacks, such as imposing sanctions or strengthening laws to prosecute criminals to hold them accountable for their actions. Following the trend of past congresses, most of the bills focused on protecting data and securing critical infrastructure. But while defending data and infrastructure is important, the lack of legislation to address the challenges of imposing consequences on the human actor suggests that Congress should prioritize introducing and passing bipartisan legislation that reduces the impunity with which malicious cyber actors, particularly cybercriminals, act. Here are the main takeaways from the bills introduced last Congress: Cybersecurity-related legislation increased by 40% since the 115th Congress. Of the 316 bills introduced, 14 became law, with nine related to appropriations or agency authorizations legislation. However, only 36 of the 316 bills introduced in the 116th Congress, and just three of the 14 provisions signed into law, focused on imposing consequences on the human actors behind cyberattacks. Cybersecurity remains a largely bipartisan issue. Over 50% of all legislation and 85% of all bills signed into law had a bipartisan co-sponsor.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Legislation, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Garcia
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: With Congress struggling to pass stand-alone cybersecurity legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is now the primary vehicle to pass all matters of cybersecurity legislation. Because the annual defense bill typically requires provisions to have a tie to national security, other cyber issues, like those pertaining to criminal justice, tend to be excluded. As a result, the authorities and resources awarded to Department of Defense (DoD) cyber mission far outpace those provided to civilian agencies responsible for partnering with state, local, private, and international partners. With ransomware and cyber incidents at an all-time high, Congress should either include a new title in future Defense bills to bolster US cyber enforcement and civilian agencies’ capabilities or pass a cyber-omnibus bill to fix policy gaps and provide commensurate funds to federal and local agencies to combat malicious cyber activity. In this paper, we analyzed the last five NDAAs (2017-2021) to chronicle Washington’s reliance on the NDAA to shepherd through a wide swath of cybersecurity legislation. We found that: Members of Congress included 290 cyber-related provisions in the past five NDAAs, with the past two NDAAs accounting for 60% of those provisions. In fact, the FY 2021 NDAA contained 380% more cyber-related provisions than the FY 2017 NDAA. The 179 cyber-provisions included in the past two NDAAs far outpace the 14 cybersecurity bills that the 116th Congress passed (two of which were those NDAAs). Across 13 categories, three of the top four were aimed at the DOD core cyber missions, such as changing organizational processes and structures, protecting DoD assets, and engaging with foreign partners while deterring nation-state adversaries. In FY 2020, the number of non-DoD-related cyber provisions began increasing, such as supply-chain security and industrial policy, critical infrastructure protection, and election security. The provisions in these NDAAs helped improve US offensive cyber capabilities, implement measures to deter cyber adversaries, and shore up our cybersecurity defenses, all of which are needed. But because cybersecurity is a multifaceted issue that expands beyond national security and touches on criminal justice, workforce development, private-sector collaboration, and privacy issues, Congress must ensure it takes a holistic approach when creating cybersecurity laws.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Legislation, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Josh Kenway, Michael Garcia
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: The process that determines when and how the US government discloses unknown cybersecurity vulnerabilities to relevant companies or withholds them for government purposes lacks sufficient accountability, transparency, and public trust. Malicious actors do not hesitate to exploit “zero-day vulnerabilities,” or vulnerabilities that a company has had zero days to patch, with Chinese-based hackers most recently using a zero-day in Microsoft Exchange Servers to infect hundreds of thousands of systems.1 Yet, the government also uses zero-days to carry out activities that are in the nation’s interest and, as a result, does not tell the impacted software or hardware vendor about the vulnerability. In this case, the government determines that the benefit of not disclosing the vulnerability outweighs the consequence of a bad actor potentially exploiting the vulnerability for nefarious purposes. In 2010, the US government created the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) to convene federal agencies that represent a range of national interests—including security, intelligence, foreign policy, commerce, and civil rights and liberties protection—to weigh distinct perspectives on how vulnerabilities should be patched or briefly kept open for law enforcement, intelligence gathering, or military purposes. However, the VEP is not codified in law and has failed to deliver greater transparency around government retention of vulnerabilities nor ensures accountability for the government’s decisions. Congress and the Biden administration should address deficiencies with the VEP to increase transparency, strengthen accountability, build public and industry trust, and establish a world-leading model for decision-making around what to do about high-value vulnerabilities. This paper details seven steps for the Biden administration to enhance transparency and accountability in the VEP while preserving government priorities, as well as flexibility for the defense of democratic values and institutions.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Governance, Cybersecurity, Transparency
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Aaron Clarke
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: Cyber attacks in the United States continue to devastate and disrupt day-to-day operations in the private and public sectors. Marked by events like the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline that created gas shortages and increased prices, cybercrime impacts everyday citizens, even if they are not directly targeted by an attack. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that in 2020 there were “over $4 billion in cybercrime losses reported to the U.S. government.”1 This growing cybersecurity threat has only been exacerbated by the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and exposed network vulnerabilities from those working from home during the pandemic.2 In response to this influx of cyber attacks, the Biden Administration has taken steps to both bolster the federal government’s ability to detect and respond to cyber attacks as well as protect its own systems.3 The Department of Energy (DOE) and DHS have both made cybersecurity a top priority in their latest initiatives. President Biden called on DOE to launch a 100 day plan aimed at preventing disrupted services for electric utilities, and DHS announced a series of 60-day “sprints” to support private and public partners against ransomware.4 The FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act also created the first U.S. National Cyber Director, tasked to lead the implementation of U.S. cyber policy and strategy, and rapidly improve cybersecurity defense capabilities. Although ransomware attacks have spiked, the federal government has made inroads on combatting cyber criminals. The Cyber Enforcement Budget for FY2022 should continue funding and seek to build on the key improvements and actions taken by the Biden administration. In this guide, we will look at the budget implications for cyber enforcement, recommendations for Congress, and provide a detailed breakdown of the proposed budget’s funding allocations. Specifically, we recommend that Congress should: Restore the $15 million of funding cut from the State Homeland Security Program. The program provides critical grants to states that require recipients spend at least 10% of their grants on cybersecurity needs. Require an alignment of cybercrime goals and outcomes across law enforcement agencies within the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Treasury. Ensure that federal agencies are prepared to implement President Biden’s cybersecurity executive order.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Law Enforcement, Budget, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Daniel Mack, Céline Monnier, Nendirmwa Noel, Paul von Chamier, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The recent wave of violent protests and unrest across the developed world – the storming of the US Capitol during the electoral college process and the riots in the Netherlands, among others – questions the assumption that high-income countries have become immune to large-scale internal political violence. Are we facing a new wave of high-income conflict? At a minimum, increased violent unrest, political assassinations, and domestic terrorism in the next ten years seem possible, unless governments focus on avoiding impunity and establishing shared understanding of facts, reducing inequality and prejudice, and building institutional resilience. This analysis examines whether these recent events augur a wider shift in conflict risk to high-income countries, akin to the shift seen from low to middle-income countries 20 years ago. Given these events, this analysis systematically reviews conflict risks in high-income countries, as well as offers a framework that has been widely applied in the developing world to examine the risk factors for violent conflict in wealthy countries, including second generation impacts of COVID-19.
  • Topic: Conflict, Protests, COVID-19, Civil Unrest
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Paul von Chamier
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: We are still engaged in a race against time of increasing urgency, not only in terms of flattening the pandemic curve in situations such as those India and many Latin American countries face, but also in restoring trust that government and international institutions can act, and act successfully, in face of 21st century crises. We are seeing both deeply negative and truly positive developments. Many parts of the world enter the depths of the third wave of the pandemic, with record highs in new daily infections, and in human suffering behind the numbers. Yet at the same time there is positive news: on medical innovation, on international liquidity, on tax cooperation, and on climate. The question is which will win out: can positive progress move fast enough to counteract the trust crisis? In 2020, CIC published a number of pieces on trust in high-, middle- and low-income countries and in international organizations. Last summer, trust in government had in many parts of the world increased: we made the argument that people were faced with a brutal reminder of what governments are for and hence had turned back to the state, but also warned that trust bubbles in crises often evaporate within a year if people do not see sustained and credible action. This analysis from the CIC team looks at what empirical research says about why trust matters for many different forms of political, social, and economic development—and why we should take declining trust seriously. The team also takes a look at what we know about the determinants of trust, in particular corruption, inequality, and history. Lastly, this analysis discusses the different policy options to restore and nurture trust.
  • Topic: Security, Governance, Reform, Multilateralism, Economic Development , COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: While Americans of all political stripes remain committed to allies and alliances, the public is divided along partisan lines on the value of international organizations. Upon entering office, one of Joe Biden’s first orders of foreign policy business will be to start the long process of repairing America’s standing abroad. Such an effort will begin with mending fences with allies and partners around the world. The good news for the Biden administration is that Americans of all political stripes remain committed to allies and alliances. But beyond the US alliance network, the public is divided along partisan lines on the value of international organizations. While Democrats remain committed to multilateralism and cooperating with the international community, Republicans—as they have since at least the early 2000s—remain skeptical about international organizations and working with the international community more broadly.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Organization, Public Opinion, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Craig Kafura, Dina Smeltz, Joshua W. Busby, Joshua D. Kertzer, Jonathan Monten
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Craig Kafura, Dina Smeltz, Joshua Busby, Joshua D. Kertzer, Jonathan Monten, and Jordan Tama analyze recent surveys of foreign policy professionals and the American public on the degree of threat posed by China and how the United States should respond. As President Joseph Biden returns to the White House, this time to sit behind the Resolute desk, perhaps no foreign policy question looms larger than that of US-China relations. The results of the 2020 Chicago Council Survey and the 2020 Chicago Council on Global Affairs-University of Texas at Austin survey of foreign policy professionals and the American public find there are significant partisan differences among leaders and the public on the degree of threat posed by China and how the United States should respond. When it comes to defending Taiwan, however, the divisions are not between partisans but between the public and opinion leaders, with the public in opposition and leaders in support of an American defense of Taiwan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Klaus-Jurgen Gern, Philipp Hauber, Stefan Kooths, Ulrich Stolzenburg
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: The global economy continued to recover in the winter semester, despite the number of new infections with the coronavirus rising sharply and containment measures tightened again in many countries. Industrial production and world trade have already fully catched up with activity levels before the pandemic and appear to be little affected by the second wave of Covid-19. While the European economy did slip into recession again, the decline in GDP is not expected to be dramatic and should be followed by a strong recovery from spring onward, provided that progress in vaccination allows a substantial and sustained relaxation of measures designed to suppress the virus. In the course of this year, the global upturn will thus increasingly extend to economic sectors that remain severely impeded for the time being, such as tourism and entertainment, and to economies that are particularly geared to these activities. On a purchasing power parity basis, global output is expected to increase by 6.7 percent in 2021 and by 4.7 percent in 2022, thus progressively closing the gap to the pre-crisis path of activity towards the end of the forecast period. We have raised our December forecast by 0.6 percent for both this year and next, with a particularly strong improvement in the outlook for the United States. World trade in goods is expected to grow by 7.5 percent this year. With growth of 4.7 percent this year and next, respectively, Towards the end of the forecast horizon world trade will thus be even higher than expected before the crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Forecast, Economic Growth, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sibel Oktay, Paul Poast, Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: The Council's polling experts examine how American foreign policy experts think of the term "allies," and whether variations in thinking matter for US foreign policy decisions. “America is back,” President Joseph Biden pronounced at the State Department in February 2021. His comment ostensibly meant the United States was returning to the international fold after leaving a global leadership void during the Trump years. The previous administration had downplayed—even discounted—American alliances as key US foreign policy tools. “We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s,” Biden stated. At the NATO summit four months later, Biden reiterated his administration’s key message and commitment to the alliance. Emblematic of this commitment, he and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also signed a “New Atlantic Charter” recommitting both nations to their “alliances and partners.” The United States is unique in the world in terms of security alliances. The country enjoys “the largest and most enduring military footprint” in recent history. From military bases to providing training and material assistance, this footprint is largely enabled through allies. Hence, it is perhaps unsurprising that recent surveys show a perception among Americans that alliances largely benefit the United States. But what is meant by the term “allies”? Given the variety of military partnerships and relationships maintained by the United States, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the term “ally” is used to describe countries across this range of relationships. Some countries have a formal defensive treaty with the United States, while others are merely recipients of US military financial aid. How do American foreign policy experts think of the term “allies,” and does variation in such thinking matter?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, Partnerships, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Emily Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Ahead of Prime Minister Bennett's first visit to Washington, Council data show partisan divides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Palestinian state, and more. In recent years, the US-Israel relationship was stewarded by Israel’s longest-serving leader, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the man whom he referred to as “the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House,” former President Donald Trump. This week, the first meeting between the two countries’ newly elected leaders, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, will set the tone for a new era of US-Israel relations. New data from the 2021 Chicago Council Survey indicate that some differences in ideas about US policy toward Israel on Capitol Hill—heightened by the 11-day clash between Israel and Hamas last May—have corresponding divisions among the American public. The US public is sharply divided along partisan lines on key issues, including whether to take a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Palestinian state, and restrictions on the uses of military aid to Israel. Moreover, it’s not just Americans who are at odds with each other. A comparison of the recent Chicago Council Survey and a Viterbi Family Center poll shows that the American public and Jewish Israelis have opposing views on what might be acceptable solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while Israeli Arabs and Americans are broadly aligned on acceptable political outcomes.
  • Topic: Politics, Foreign Aid, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: 2021 Chicago Council Survey data show a majority of Americans support a range of US policies towards Taiwan: recognition as an independent country, inclusion in international organizations, and a US-Taiwan free trade agreement. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are running high. Chinese intimidation of Taiwan has increased since 2016, demonstrated by naval drills in the Taiwan Strait, incursions into Taiwanese airspace, and economic coercion targeted at Taiwanese industries. In turn, the United States has sold advanced weapons to Taiwan and normalized US warship transits nearby. While past administrations have not made formal commitments to defend Taiwan, the just-completed 2021 Chicago Council Survey finds that for the first time, a slim majority of Americans now favor sending US troops to defend Taiwan if China invades.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Public Opinion, Free Trade, Survey
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: 2021 Chicago Council Survey data show that a majority of Americans hold favorable views of South Korea and would support defending the country from a North Korean attack. Under the Biden administration, US relations with South Korea have returned to more solid ground. The May summit between President Joseph Biden and President Moon Jae-in was seen as a success, and negotiations over costs for stationing US troops in Korea were resolved. However, North Korea’s launch of a long-range cruise missile and subsequent ballistic missile test might signal a new phase of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The 2021 Chicago Council Survey finds the American public continues to hold positive views of South Korea, while majorities of Americans identify North Korea as an adversary. But while Americans support using US troops to defend South Korea, there is little support for taking military action to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Brendan Helm, Dina Smeltz, Amir Farmanesh
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: New indirect talks between the United States and Iran on a return to the Iran deal could help the outlook for a moderate candidate in the next election. Iranian presidential elections are set for June 18. The current president, Hassan Rouhani, who earned initial praise in Iran after successful negotiations for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, is ineligible for reelection and has steadily lost public support after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018. A joint survey of the Iranian public conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and IranPoll provides insights into how Iranians view this pivotal moment for Iran. Iranians view Rouhani’s policies quite negatively, especially his economic policies, and for their next leader they want someone who is critical of Rouhani. However, while Iranians did not feel the economic improvements from the JCPOA they expected, new indirect talks between the United States and Iran on a return to the agreement could help the outlook for a moderate candidate.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Stephen Slick, Joshua W. Busby
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: A final Trump-Era survey confirms broad popular support for the intelligence community and reveals opportunities for greater transparency. The University of Texas-Austin’s 2020 survey reaffirmed Americans’ broad-based belief that our intelligence agencies are vital to protecting the nation and effective in accomplishing their core missions. Our fourth annual poll was the last conducted during Donald Trump’s presidency. The high levels of public support for the intelligence community (IC) recorded over the life of this project have proven stable and remarkably resilient to the persistent public criticism by the former president and his political allies. Close examination of the survey data may help inform a strategy aimed at further enhancing the IC’s democratic legitimacy through increased openness and renewed public engagement. Indeed, a majority of the participants in our 2020 survey agreed that the IC could share more information with the American people without compromising its effectiveness.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Politics, Public Opinion, Survey
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Patrick Quirk, Jan Surotchak
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Supporting democracy and human rights overseas is front and center in the Biden administration’s foreign policy. The White House has committed to hold a “summit for democracy” this year, vocally condemned human rights abuses by China, and called for budget increases in foreign assistance and diplomacy critical to execute its democracy agenda abroad. As the Biden team designs this agenda, it will take stock of existing democracy assistance approaches and toolkits to make sure they address the current landscape of threats (i.e., a rise in Russian and Chinese malign influence) and changing needs of democracy partners on the ground (i.e., training on new technology). One area that is in desperate need of an update is how the U.S. helps strengthen political parties abroad, something it has done since the 1980s. The U.S. approach to supporting parties has not kept pace with the evolution of these organizations over the last ten years. Increasingly, political parties are taking novel forms that arise from so called “people power” movements and often focus more on mobilizing voters than formulating policy. One of the four most common types of parties today are those that emerge from mass protest movements and widespread latent dissatisfaction with traditional parties. Examples include the Five Star Movement in Italy, the Union to Save Romania, the New Conservative Party in Latvia, and Semilla in Guatemala. Getting support to this party type ‘right’ is important because many of the countries where these entities are emerging matter for U.S. interests. In both the Czech Republic and Slovakia – NATO allies on the front line of countering Russian and Chinese influence – new, anti-establishment parties are running the government, as traditional parties have struggled with accusations of corruption and failure to meet citizen needs. In Mexico and Brazil, both major strategic partners of the United States, emergent political organizations have taken power. In Iraq, citizens protesting government corruption and inefficiencies have formed several new parties to contest the October 2021 elections and challenge the political establishment. Yet in these and other contexts, the United States lacks an approach to structure its support of such nascent parties. Here, we outline recommendations for selecting which parties to support and then a framework to maximize effectiveness of U.S. assistance to them.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Cooperation, Democracy, Political Parties, Influence, Partisanship
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Jon Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: When the Wall fell in 1989, I was the U.S. Embassy political counselor in East Berlin. We immediately realized something new would replace the Cold War, but one of my few certainties was that if Moscow released its grip on the Warsaw Pact, Hungary – Eastern Europe’s freest and most economically diverse society — would be quickest to integrate smoothly into Western Europe. President George H.W. Bush’s goal of a “Europe whole and free” has come closer, but we are not there yet, and Hungary, where I held a similar position earlier, has lagged. Respected observers Freedom House and Transparency International chart a course that puts it dangerously close to, even within, the autocratic zone. Worse, it champions a nationalist populism and “illiberal democracy” directly challenging key principles to which the European Union (EU) of which it is a member and the U.S., its ally in NATO, subscribe. What should be done?
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Nationalism, Bilateral Relations, Populism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jon Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Southwest Asia is increasingly dangerous. Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program appear stuck near a breakpoint. With the Kabul government’s precipitous collapse, President Biden’s courageous decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan has gone badly. Each situation threatens grave consequences for the administration. Together they suggest more deadly chaos looms from the Middle East to China’s borders. Iran is an important common factor, central to the first case, important in the second due to geography and potential leverage. The concurrence of threat – but also perhaps opportunity – justifies a new strategy for dealing with it that cuts across both situations. Joe Biden said before taking office that it was a priority to restore the nuclear deal that was working well until Donald Trump took the U.S. out. He pledged to conclude the endless war in Afghanistan. Today neither objective appears promising. Iran has more enriched and closer to weapons level uranium than when the original deal was signed. U.S. officials acknowledge that negotiating time is limited and, by implication, that military action may be required to keep the president’s pledge never to allow an Iranian bomb. As the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, Washington is focused as it should be on safely extracting U.S. citizens and the many thousands of Afghans whose lives are at risk for having helped the Americans over 20 years. Soon, however, there will be new proposals, including preparations for off-shore responses to what many anticipate will be a revival of the kind of civil war that ravaged Afghanistan in the 1990s. Any reasonable proposal should include at the least a significant diplomatic component in which Afghanistan’s neighbors, Iran prominent among them, apply their weight to persuade the Taliban to rule more moderately than it did its first time in power and in particular to keep out international terrorists. Most acknowledge that a key weakness of that approach is U.S. inability to work with Tehran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Owen Kirby
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of remaining U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan is nearly complete. As they go, the country begins a new, uncertain chapter in a long uncertain history. With the U.S. and our allies having made significant investments and great sacrifices in an attempt to develop self-sustaining Afghan institutions – and the Taliban now rampaging through the countryside – this is the moment of truth for the country’s government and post-9/11 political order. Whether Afghanistan’s institutions, security forces, and civil society prove sufficiently resilient to meet current challenges is not solely a matter of local capacity and resolve (or wisdom of previous donor decisions). Nor is it a matter of free choice between competing political views, as Afghans are not going to the voting booth to decide the outcome. It is equally about the commitment of the U.S. and our allies to continue supporting the equality of Afghan women and minorities, rule of law, free speech, and basic human rights. These are not foreign impositions, as some might argue, but rather vital weapons, absent U.S. troops, in the Afghan people’s own struggle against extremism and political regression. For many, there is justifiable fatigue with America’s “forever war” and its costs; but the Taliban’s repressive rule and its consequences are not a specter of another lifetime. It has only been 20 years since Afghan girls were banned from going to school; women barred from the workforce and life outside the home; and summary justice, including stoning and decapitation, for transgressions against the Taliban’s medieval code meted out in the national stadium. It has only been 17 years since Afghans were first given the constitutional right to choose their leadership at the ballot box. Progress is recent, and the Taliban is determined to make it reversible.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Military Strategy, Transition, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States under President Joe Biden is strengthening efforts to constrain China in the Indo-Pacific region. At least for now, a new US focus on the region is aimed primarily at reinforcing “minilateral” alignments, potentially at the expense of the EU and its member states.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Hegemony, Multilateralism, Influence
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Vuk Vuksanovic
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: What challenges the new American administration will face in the Balkans, and how should it approach them? Read in the latest analysis of BCSP researcher Vuk Vuksanović. When Joseph Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential elections, the Balkan countries were not neutral on that race. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić made a failed bet on Trump, hoping that under Trump, he will get a less painful settlement of the Kosovo dispute and an opportunity to finally make Belgrade a partner of Washington, after several decades. Vučić still congratulated Biden for his win alongside several other Balkan leaders who were probably happier about Biden’s win than him. US foreign policy towards the Balkans under Trump has been marked by transactional logic and disdain towards the European Union, best symbolised in the economic normalisation agreement between Belgrade and Priština brokered in September 2020 by Trump. Many policy hands, including Nicholas Burns, former US diplomat and one of Biden’s advisors, now expect that Biden will display US leadership in the region while cooperating closely with the European Union. The US foreign policy will have to deal with three sets of challenges: the unresolved Kosovo dispute, democratic backsliding in the region, and the presence of non-Western powers like Russia and China. While US power is a necessary element in resolving these challenges, the Biden administration will not be able to offer quick fixes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Governance, Elections, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marija Ignjatijevic
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Military cooperation between Serbia and the United States is the topic of the latest analysis by BCBP researcher Maria Ignjatijevic. Serbia and the United States have had intensive cooperation in the field of security and defense for years, members of the armed forces have participated in over 70 military exercises in the last ten years, and the United States is one of the largest donors to the Serbian defense system. However, if we follow only media reports in Serbia, the intensity of this cooperation will not be so obvious. Defense cooperation with Russia gets far more space in the media than activities with the US and NATO members. Thus, for example, the military exercise “Slavic Shield” completely occupied the public’s attention before and after its organisation in October 2019. Although undeniably a significant activity between the two armed forces, to which Russia brought its S-400 and Pantsir systems, it gained a disproportionately large space in the media compared to other exercises that took place that year with other partner countries. Apart from the image being sent to the public through media and various foreign policy moves, a very dynamic and practical defense cooperation with all partners takes place behind the scenes. The United States is one of Serbia’s important partners in the field of defense, and cooperation with the US Department of Defense has been achieved in various fields. Every year, Serbia and the US conduct about 100 different bilateral activities. In the eyes of the Serbian public, perception of relations with the United States, and especially perception of military cooperation, is burdened by the NATO intervention in 1999. In order to avoid losing political points at home and endangering relations with Russia, the political elite in Serbia avoids talking about cooperation with the United States and other NATO members, and the pro-regime media report accordingly. Regardless of the fact that military cooperation is often used as a foreign or domestic policy tool, it is important to discuss the practical aspects of this cooperation, benefits for Serbia and the US, their defense systems, but also the citizens. At the online discussion “Serbia and the USA: Together we are safer”, specific examples of military cooperation between Serbia and the US and practical benefits for our defense system and its members from this cooperation were discussed. Defense cooperation between Serbia and the United States takes place on several levels, through joint exercises, cooperation with the Ohio National Guard, a student exchange program, as well as donations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Fingar
  • Publication Date: 11-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
  • Abstract: Following the 2021 Taihe Civilizations Forum, the Taihe International Communications Center hosted an online discussion on October 8 that captures the candid and profound reflections of senior officials whose actions have shaped the course of ties between China and the United States. Dr. Thomas Fingar, Shorenstein APARC Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and former Assistant Secretary of State, and Senior Colonel Zhou Bo (ret.), Senior Fellow at Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, China Forum Expert, and former Director of Center for Security Cooperation of the Office for International Military Cooperation of Ministry of National Defense, were invited to join this dialogue. During their conversation, Dr. Fingar and Senior Colonel Zhou exchanged ideas on important topics such as the current state of China-U.S. relations, the future development of the two countries' bilateral ties, the rationale behind the US foreign policy and the American alliance system, as well as the "extreme competition" that China and the U.S. are trapped in.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Hegemony, Conflict, Rivalry, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America