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  • Author: Chloe Berger, Cynthia Salloum
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Russia’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a significant component of contemporary Russian foreign and security policy. Moscow’s approach to NATO’s South1 has undoubtedly undergone considerable change since the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, it had built a set of alliances with Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Algeria and Libya, among others, which gave Moscow important leverage throughout the region. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stirred resistance and opposition in the Muslim world, marking a major turning point in its Middle Eastern foreign policy. With the demise of its empire, in addition to its economic and military weaknesses, Russia faced a series of new challenges: a further disintegration of its own south, notably in the South Caucasus, the rise of radical extremism in Chechnya and Dagestan and a NATO programme of partnerships and cooperation that threatened its influence. All of these constrained Moscow’s foreign policy at large, including its Middle Eastern arrangements. In pursuing interests above values, Russia, in the last twenty years, developed channels of dialogue and cooperation with several Sunni Arab states traditionally close to the US, including Saudi Arabia, while deepening diplomatic and military ties with Iran and the Syrian regime. Russia maintained relations with Fatah and recognized Hamas after it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, while successfully engaging pragmatically with Israel.2 Keeping contacts open with all relevant parties marks continuity between Soviet and Russian foreign policies. Moreover, in the last decade, the increasing instability across the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab Spring, from which Moscow kept its distance, offered new opportunities for influence and power projection, most notably in Syria and Libya. Putin is tracking two main objectives there: one is building status as a regional actor; the other is enhancing his prestige domestically.3 From the Libyan power vacuum to the US retreat from Afghanistan, the Kremlin is making the most of strategic opportunities and may continue to do so. However, it remains to be seen whether its regained confidence will lead to a more permanent Russian presence and influence. In the South, Moscow has today a relative free rein. But an increasingly mature European Union and most importantly a powerful and more strategically oriented US under President Biden may seriously constrain Russia’s room for manoeuvre. Several drivers, ranging from domestic and economic politics to regional and global geopolitics, could explain Russian involvement in the MENA. Firstly, Russia is building a defensive strategy aimed at reinforcing its front line against Western encroachment and Islamist terrorist attacks. Secondly, it is displaying an expansionist drive, aimed at controlling at least parts of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean by consolidating old alliances and building new coalitions including with business and arms traders. Thirdly, Russia’s presence in the MENA can be seen as a classic zero-sum game of power politics with the US whereby Moscow is trying to fill the void left by Washington. Last, but certainly not least, it is also driven by domestic considerations that strengthen Putin’s grip on power, and Russia’s regional influence and international prestige. While all these factors play a role, this edited volume shows that opportunism and contingency remain key variables to explain Russian behaviour in the MENA. All of these drivers were somehow on display in Syria, which became an ideal case-study to explain Russian policy in the South. Yet, beyond the specific rationale, some questions still remain about Russia’s future role and influence in the region. Is the MENA region significant enough to help Russia recover a status of global power beyond regional leadership? Do status and prestige suffice, and if so, at what cost? What are Russia’s current and future investments in the region and what are their consequences on trade, energy, and its military posture? What would the real benefits of a Russian return to the MENA region be for its economy and power? Most importantly, what would be the consequences of an assertive Russia for NATO and its partners in the South?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Thierry Tardy
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO’s history is marked by both profound continuity and deliberate adaptation. Over the past seven decades, NATO’s mission, the defense of the Euro-Atlantic area, and its constitutive values – democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law – have not changed. Similarly, the Alliance’s founding principle, namely the commitment Allies have made to defend each other and work together for their common security and defense, is as relevant today as it was when the Alliance was established in 1949. At the same time, NATO has adapted throughout its history to ensure it always remained capable to fulfil its mission and guarantee the defense and security of the almost one billion citizens it was established to protect. In the last decade, this meant that the Alliance had to boost its ability to tackle more sophisticated non-conventional threats. It has done so by investing in resilience as well as by enhancing its tools to fight terrorism, counter cyber threats, and respond to hybrid challenges. Even more fundamentally, since 2014, NATO has responded to the changing security environment by implementing the biggest adaptation of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War. This has led to deploying combat- ready troops in the East of the Alliance, modernizing NATO’s command structure and Headquarters, enhancing the readiness of Allied forces and to an increased and sustained Allied commitment to invest more in defense. In this context, NATO 2030, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s initiative, is driven by the belief that, to remain a strong and agile Alliance, NATO must continue its adaptation and focus on how to respond to a rapidly changing security environment. At the December 2019 NATO Leaders Meeting, Allied Heads of State and Government asked the Secretary General to lead a forward-looking reflection on NATO’s future. They asked him to provide concrete recommendations to NATO leaders in time for the 2021 Summit. In response, the Secretary General launched NATO 2030, focusing on the key question of how to prepare the Alliance for the next decade. To inform his thinking, the Secretary General decided to reach out and gather ideas from a wide number of actors: he appointed an independent group to provide him with their advice, established the NATO 2030 Young Leaders to hear the recommendations of the “next” generation, and launched a number of dialogues with civil society, youth and the private sector. The rationale behind this approach is solid: in an increasingly complex world where security challenges are more diverse and diffuse, it is especially important to engage with a broad set of stakeholders and to take different perspectives into consideration. The NATO Defense College’s work on NATO 2030 fits within this broader set of discussions and contributes to the policy debate on NATO 2030 and on NATO’s future more broadly. The timing is especially ripe for a reflection on NATO’s future adaptation. Looking at 2030, the Alliance needs to prepare for a more uncertain and competitive world. This requires understanding how the shifting global balance of power will affect both the international rules-based order as well as Allied security. It will be essential to consider how to best ready the transatlantic Alliance and how to forge a common approach to tackle these systemic challenges. At the same time, preparing for the future also means accounting for exponential technological changes and their impact on how conflicts are understood and fought; as well as stepping up efforts to combat climate change and prepare to mitigate and counter its security impact. It is also important to stress that while NATO needs to adapt to new challenges, it must also continue to strengthen its ability to tackle existing ones. NATO 2030 thus gives the Alliance an opportunity to both take stock of the impressive adaptation occurred over the past decade and to redouble its efforts to prepare for the upcoming one. To do so, the Secretary General put forward three broad goals: to keep NATO strong militarily, to make the Alliance stronger politically, and to ensure it adopts a more global approach. The papers presented in this volume contribute to the thinking on how to meet each of these goals. First, keeping NATO strong militarily is of course central to ensuring the Alliance’s ability to fulfil its mandate. Collective strength and solidarity are equally crucial to maintain Allied unity and cohesion and to underpin the Alliance’s political role. Ensuring NATO stays strong militarily requires sustained Allied investment in defense, but also a focus on Allied resilience and on technological innovation. Andrea Gilli’s paper on “NATO, Technological Superiority and Emerging and Disruptive Technologies” tackles the crucial question of how to ensure NATO’s technological superiority in the future. The paper rightly recognizes that historically the Alliance’s ability to deter and defend has always been predicated upon maintaining a technological edge over competitors and potential adversaries. Looking at a future of exponential technological change and geopolitical competition, it is evident that preserving Allied technological superiority will become simultaneously more complex and more important. NATO has recognized the growing importance of investing in innovation and in preventing a transatlantic gap when it comes to the adoption of emerging and disruptive technologies in security and defense. This is why, in recent years, the Alliance has redoubled its efforts in this field. Building on this progress, it is important to examine what more NATO could do towards 2030 when it comes to technological innovation in general and emerging and disruptive technologies specifically. Gilli’s paper points to a number of important areas, including by stressing the need to think creatively about what role NATO can play to foster transatlantic innovation and encourage more Allied investments and cooperation on R&D. A similarly interesting and related notion is the need for NATO to reflect on its role when it comes to transatlantic training and education, both crucial to fostering cooperation and boosting interoperability. Second, NATO 2030 focuses on how to strengthen NATO’s political role. On the one hand, this means ensuring NATO remains the platform where North America and Europe consult and coordinate on all issues relevant to their common security and defense. On the other hand, a more political NATO is also an Alliance that is better able to rely on both military and non-military tools to fulfil its mandate. The importance of this issue emerges clearly in Marc Ozawa’s paper “Adapting NATO to grey zone challenges”. The essay examines NATO’s tools and responses to a world in which competitors and potential adversaries increasingly rely on political, diplomatic, economic and military tools to challenge Allied security. The author argues that responding to these hybrid challenges requires the Alliance to update its broad strategy and expand its toolkit. This conclusion aligns with the Secretary General’s call to update the 2010 Strategic Concept to take into account the new strategic environment. In addition, enhancing NATO’s ability to respond to grey zone challenges, from information warfare, to asymmetric approaches and economic coercion, also means continuing and enhancing the Alliance’s work on resilience, as the first line of defense against both conventional and non-conventional challenges. In this respect, Ozawa rightly argues that NATO should both expand the lens through which it looks at resilience and widen the actors it involves in its consultations on this issue. Expanding NATO’s work on resilience could include, among others, using NATO more as a platform to discuss, identify and mitigate economic vulnerabilities that could be exploited to both sow disagreements and undermine Allied security. Similarly, broadening consultations on issues related to resilience and countering hybrid threats could lead to both more regular NATO meetings of Allied national security advisors and more robust engagement with the private sector. Finally, the Secretary General’s vision for NATO 2030 highlights the importance of adopting a more global outlook. Even though NATO is a regional Alliance, the challenges it faces are global, from terrorism to climate change. In this context, the question of how to better leverage NATO’s partnerships becomes especially important. Thierry Tardy’s essay, “From NATO’s partnerships to security networks” affirms the importance of partnerships as one of NATO’s key political tools and looks at how to further enhance them towards 2030. In a world of growing geopolitical competition, one of the key questions for NATO 2030 is how to further strengthen the Alliance’s political dialogue and practical cooperation with like-minded partners to deal with global challenges and defend the rules-based international order. Another important priority should be to examine how to further invest and leverage in partnerships to contribute to peace and stability in NATO’s immediate neighborhood. The three papers developed by the NATO Defense College’s researchers engage with the Secretary General’s 2030 vision by looking at how the Alliance can enhance its ability to innovate, strengthen its toolkit against hybrid threats and further leverage its partnerships as an important political tool. The breadth of topics reflects the fact that NATO finds itself in the most complex and challenging security environment since the end of the Cold War. In turn, this requires in-depth thinking about how to continue to deter and defend and tackle existing challenges as well as how to redouble efforts to adapt and innovate to address emerging ones.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Schuyler Foerster, Jeffrey A. Larsen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: This Research Paper addresses four key issues: 1) a holistic definition of strategic stability, highlighting the principal sources of instability in Europe and identifying requirements for strengthening stability in Europe; 2) an examination of recent NATO efforts to shore up its defense and deterrent capabilities, while underscoring the need to address defense against non-military threats to stability; 3) a discussion of how a comprehensive arms control agenda could contribute to strategic stability, including wide-ranging discussions with Moscow about Russia’s place in an evolving European security framework; and 4) an analysis of three different strategic approaches that NATO might pursue, each of which combines enhancements to military and non-military defense and the possibility of a broader collaborative security agenda. The continuing volatility of NATO’s strategic environment will require that NATO maintain its long-established strategies of deterrence, defense, and reassurance. However, a strategy that depends almost exclusively on the deployment of military forces will be insufficient to sustain strategic stability in the long run. NATO also requires a clear and purposeful strategy that incorporates both defense and dialogue – including arms control policies – as integral and complementary tools for addressing threats. The authors recommend that NATO should proceed to shape a new Strategic Concept by outlining a 21st century Harmel Doctrine, emphasizing both defense and dialogue with Russia as complementary paths to improving strategic stability. Simultaneously, NATO should fulfill its requirements for a 21st century strategy for deterrence and defense in dealing with nuclear, conventional, cyber, hybrid, and other military and non-military threats. For the foreseeable future, NATO will need to craft a strategy for security and stability in Europe based on the assumption that Russia does not share the West’s worldview and will likely continue to seek to undermine the stability and cohesion achieved in Europe following the end of the Cold War. If Russia proves unwilling to engage in a meaningful collaborative security relationship, NATO will be justified in embarking on a 21st century version of a renewed “containment” policy that includes the reintroduction of even greater military capabilities in Europe. In all cases, NATO should ensure that Alliance cohesion – including its transatlantic security link – is preserved even as it deliberates difficult strategic questions.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Bruno Tertrais
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: This Research Paper seeks to describe and explain the principles of nuclear deterrence and nuclear strategy. It does not defend or take sides – in favour of or against – a particular thesis, concept, idea or school of thought. While it mostly applies to Western conceptions and debates (i.e., the United States, the United Kingdom, France, NATO), most of the points made seem widely shared.1 The paper is structured as an investigation of nuclear strategy, moving stage by stage from the conceptual level to the planning level before setting out the issues that revolve around nuclear deterrence. Following an initial conceptualization of deterrence, the paper looks at its implementation in the nuclear domain. It then describes the various notions associated with nuclear deterrence and nuclear strategy, as well as the related interactions with weapons systems. It also explains the main dilemmas and questions associated with nuclear strategy, offering food for thought on the future of nuclear deterrence. One author suggests that there have been four waves of nuclear deterrence analysis.2 The first of these, in response to the invention of the atom bomb, conceptualized the basis of nuclear deterrence. The second focused on formal theorizing (with the occasional help of game theory), in a world of increasingly diversified nuclear arsenals. The third wave, based on trends observed over a period of many years, used case studies to judge how efficient nuclear weapons had been in deterring aggressions. The fourth wave, leveraging advances in cognitive sciences to challenge the initial “rational actor assumption”, grappled with post-Cold War problems such as so-called rogue states and terrorist networks. We may now be entering a fifth wave, as the expansion of cyberspace and the advent of artificial intelligence and quantum computing may have ramifications for nuclear deterrence. This Research Paper seeks to take stock of this corpus of studies, so as to produce a contemporary framework designed for policy-makers, practitioners and scholars.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Nuclear Weapons, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Kyle J Wolfley
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Department of Social Sciences at West Point, United States Military Academy
  • Abstract: The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy appeared to bring deterrence back: departing from its predecessor, the document prioritized the concept by including “preserving peace through strength” as a vital national interest. From nuclear weapons to cyberspace, the strategy emphasized the logics of denial and punishment, which were hallmarks of the classical deterrence theory that emerged after World War II. However, recent thinking on deterrence has evolved beyond these simple logics. Now emerging concepts such as tailored deterrence, cross-domain deterrence, and dissuasion offer new ideas to address criticisms of deterrence in theory and practice. Therefore, the most vital question for the new administration is: how should the U.S. revise its deterrence policy to best prevent aggression in today’s complex environment? A review of the problems and prospects in deterrence thinking reveals that in addition to skillfully tailoring threats and risks across domains, U.S. policymakers should dissuade aggression by offering opportunities for restraint to reduce the risk of escalation.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Cybersecurity, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kyle J Wolfley
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Department of Social Sciences at West Point, United States Military Academy
  • Abstract: As the COIVD-19 pandemic forced the United States to scale down its massive Defender exercise in Europe, the Chinese military continued its multinational exercise programs with Cambodia, Russia, and Pakistan, despite China’s strict domestic lockdowns. These exercises highlight how China is wielding a form of military power commonly overlooked in assessments of its rise. Today, states leverage their armed forces not only for warfighting or coercion, but also to manage international relationships. Military power includes not only the capacity to conquer and compel, but also the ability to create advantage through attraction and persuasion—a concept I call “shaping.” Unlike military strategies of warfighting or coercion, shaping relies less on force and more on the use of persuasion to change the characteristics of other militaries, build closer ties with other states, and influence the behavior of allies. China’s leaders increasingly understand the value of using their military to shape the international system in their favor. American policymakers, if they wish to compete effectively, ought to take shaping more seriously as well.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Hegemony, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eva M. Lisowski
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was formed in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inspect civilian nuclear materials and activities to deter military diversions. To decide the frequency of inspections and inspection criteria, the IAEA set its safeguard standards with the objective of assuring “timely detection of diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons.” The two nuclear weapon designs developed and detonated during World War II were the “gun-type” and “implosion” designs. Because implosion device technology requires much less fissile material than guntype technology, the IAEA significant quantity6 (SQ) values were determined based on the fissile material requirements of nuclear implosion devices like the plutonium-based “Fat Man” detonated over Nagasaki in 1945. Utilizing implosion designs perfected in the late 1940s, however, the explosive yields achieved in 1945 can be produced with much less fissile material. Table 1 lists the fissile material requirements of contemporary nuclear weapon technology. “Low Technical Capability” in Table 1 refers to the Mark III implosion device set off at Nagasaki. “Medium Technical Capability” refers to implosion designs perfected in the late 1940s and “High Technical Capability” in Table 1 refers to the implosion technologies the United States perfected in the 1950s.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Nonproliferation, Nuclear Energy, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Henry D. Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: Although much has been said about the fusion of China’s civilian and military sectors, no detailed, unclassified analysis has been done of how Beijing’s “peaceful” nuclear efforts might be exploited to make more nuclear warheads. Even the U.S. Department of Energy’s own explanations of the export restrictions it imposed on “advanced” nuclear exports to China failed to discuss this. This volume is dedicated to clarifying just what the connection could be. Much of it focuses on China’s advanced fast breeder reactor program and its related plutonium recycling efforts. As explained in this volume’s first chapter, “How Many Nuclear Warheads China Might Acquire by 2030,” the least burdensome way for China to achieve nuclear weapons parity with the United States is simply to use the weaponsgrade plutonium that its planned “peaceful” fast breeder reactor and reprocessing programs will produce to make primaries for the two-stage thermonuclear weapons designs they already have perfected. By exploiting this weapons plutonium and the highly enriched uranium and tritium that China can easily access or make, Beijing by 2030 could conservatively assemble an arsenal of 1,270 warheads (nearly as many as the US currently has deployed on its intercontinental missiles).
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Military Affairs, Nonproliferation, Missile Defense, Denuclearization, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Henry D. Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: With a new Democratic administration, Washington is almost certain to moderate its demands that Japan and South Korea pay more for American forces on their soil. This should ease tensions with Seoul to Tokyo. To strengthen security relations with Japan and South Korea, though, more will be required. Rather than simply increase their conventional military deployments, Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo will need to collaborate in new ways to enhance allied security. This will entail working more closely on new military frontiers, such as enhancing allied command of outer and cyber space as well as in underwater warfare. Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo will also want to carve out new functional areas of cooperation to make existing energy sources more secure, communications more reliable, data sharing easier and safer, and allied economic assistance to developing nations in strategic zones more effective. Enhanced collaboration in each of these areas has begun but is not yet locked in or fully institutionalized. It should be. Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo need one another to deal with China and North Korea. Yet, how each currently strategically views Beijing and Pyongyang differs. Nor is America’s preferred military approach to deterring Chinese and North Korean adventurism — by preventing Beijing and Pyongyang from projecting military strikes against their neighbors — all that easy to achieve. Adding new, more tractable items to America’s Asian security alliance agenda won’t immediately eliminate these misalignments. But it will strengthen the security ties they have as liberal democracies — bonds Beijing and Pyongyang are straining to fray.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, International Security, Military Affairs, Cyberspace, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, South Korea
  • Author: Masaki Matsuo
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: One of the effects that Gulf Arab countries extend to the entire Middle East is that of stabilization through financial assistance. Huge oil export revenues are transformed into financial aid and funneled into neighboring Arab countries. The Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is known throughout the world as a region where no progress has been made in democratization. Thus, if financial assistance from the Gulf Arab countries is stabilizing the systems of neighboring countries, it suggests that the Gulf Arab countries are hindering democratization in MENA. Such concerns can be traced back to Beblawi (1987) but have never been demonstrated. In this paper, official development assistance (ODA) statistics and democratization indicators will be used to conduct a preliminary analysis of the effects of financial assistance provided to MENA by the Gulf Arab countries in curbing democratization.
  • Topic: Democratization, Foreign Aid, Finance, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Gulf Nations