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  • Author: T. X. Hammes
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: For the last two decades, China has studied the US military, identified its key weaknesses, and developed the tactics and forces best suited to exploit those vulnerabilities. These challenges are compounded by significant deficiencies in today’s US joint force across all domains of conflict—sea, air, land, space, electronic warfare, and cyber. Proposed budgets cannot overcome those deficiencies using legacy systems. Therefore, the current US military strategy for the defense of Asia—a conventional defense of the first island chain from Japan to the Philippines, built on current air and sea platforms supported by major air and sea bases—needs to be adapted. The United States and its allies have two major advantages they can exploit—geography and emerging technologies. In Forward Defense’s inaugural report, An Affordable Defense of Asia, T.X. Hammes crafts a strategy for leveraging these advantages. Hammes makes the case that by developing novel operational concepts that take advantage of emerging technologies, while integrating these concepts into a broader Offshore Control Strategy which seeks to hold geostrategic chokepoints, the United States can improve its warfighting posture and bolster conventional deterrence. This paper advances the following arguments and recommendations. 1. The geography of the Pacific provides significant strategic, operational, and tactical advantages to a defender. 2. New operational concepts that employ emerging, relatively inexpensive technologies—including multimodal missiles, long-range air drones, smart sea mines, and unmanned naval vessels—can support an affordable defense of Asia. 3. These new technologies can and should be manufactured and fielded by US allies in the region in order to strengthen alliance relationships and improve their ability to defend themselves. 4. Autonomous weapons will be essential to an affordable defense of Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Linscott
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced nearly all public policy questions to be seen through the lens of how to detect and respond to the disease as it spreads rapidly across the globe. These include obvious questions of national health care policy and whether there is a place for international efforts to coordinate their national responses. Trade policy has come to the fore as a growing number of countries restrict exports of critical medical supplies to ensure sufficient availability for patients in-country. In this crisis, international collaboration to keep trade flowing has been limited and has not prevented many countries from imposing new trade restrictions. The importance of digital policies has grown as countries seek to harness the tools of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and vital infrastructure to trace outbreaks of the virus and assist efforts to find cures and vaccines. While digital tools are proving vital in efforts to track outbreaks and trace contacts, legitimate concerns are growing about potentially invasive government surveillance even after the virus retreats. These policy areas—health, trade, and digital—overlap in the international, national, and local efforts to reduce the duration of the pandemic and mitigate its effects with respect to human lives and economic well-being. The analysis in this paper, while initially conducted before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, has been impacted by its sudden emergence and will likely require updating to assess the experiences of this ongoing crisis. The paper, which focuses on the U.S.-India bilateral relationship, concludes with a series of questions, as opposed to policy recommendations. This is due partly to the very complexity that all governments confront in mapping out digital policies given the ubiquitous role digital networks and devices play in our daily lives. But these questions may have even more tangible relevance now that COVID-19 is forcing a reckoning with a severe interruption in global economic growth, which could be on the scale of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Ultimately, the governments of India, the United States, and other nations will determine for themselves what answers are relevant to their individual circumstances.
  • Topic: Economy, Business , Trade, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Canada, India, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard L. Morningstar, András Simonyi, Olga Khakova, Jennifer T. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Transatlantic cooperation is essential to European energy security, which is and should remain a key national security priority for the United States. European energy security is crucial for the maintenance of a strong European economy and for European political stability, both of which are in the best interests of the United States. The new report from the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, European Energy Security and the Critical Role of Transatlantic Energy Cooperation: Final Report and Recommendations, by Richard L. Morningstar, András Simonyi, Olga Khakova, and Jennifer T. Gordon, provides insights into how the United States and European Union (EU) can work together to strengthen European energy security. The Global Energy Center’s new report recommends that the United States and the EU focus their energy cooperation in several areas that will benefit the EU’s efforts to meet climate targets and that, at the same time, will also bolster energy security. These areas include: the development of competitive and transparent energy markets; the identification of alternative energy sources and routes; collaboration on new energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and coordination of a transatlantic financing strategy. Additionally, new energy infrastructure, interconnected grids, the European Green Deal, and broader geopolitical challenges also represent areas of opportunity for cooperation between the United States and the EU.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, International Cooperation, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Abrão Neto, Ken Hyatt, Daniel Godinho, Lisa Schineller, Roberta Braga
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The year 2020 marks the turning of a page for the Western Hemisphere, a region that in 2019 saw uncertainty dominate headlines as new governments came in and out of office, trade tensions grew, and citizens took to the streets to voice their concerns with the status quo. For years, the opportunities that could come with a stronger bilateral relationship between the United States and Brazil have been underestimated. Significant potential exists to produce sizeable benefits for both societies. That potential must be maximized. While US and Brazilian governments and businesses have begun to seize the benefits of the synergies the two countries share, hurdles remain that prevent a full and successful commercial reality. The United States and Brazil would benefit from a closer and stronger trade and foreign-direct-investment-relationship that would amplify growth and prosperity, in both the short and long terms. Deepening the economic relationship would pay dividends in other areas as well, translating into greater opportunities for strategic bilateral cooperation. This paper recognizes that the moment is now and that 2020 is a pivotal year to substantively advance bilateral economic ties. Building upon the successes and progress made over the years, this paper incorporates the input and expertise of the US and Brazilian private sectors and policymakers to offer a renewed vision and new momentum for strengthening US-Brazil trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), supporting concrete steps toward deepening the commercial relationship, and laying the foundation for a potential free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Brazil. As the global balance of power shifts, as the world faces new hurdles that could slow growth, and as Latin America must contend with more uncertainty amid new external shocks, the two countries strategically and economically have countless reasons to deepen commercial relations. Stronger ties will ultimately provide additional certainty at this critical time.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Global Markets, Economy, Business
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tate Nurkin, Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Geopolitical and security dynamics are shifting in the Indo-Pacific as states across the region adjust to China’s growing influence and the era of great-power competition between the United States and China. These geopolitical shifts are also intersecting with the accelerating rate of innovation in technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to reshape the future of military-technological competition and emerging military operations. This report, Emerging Technologies and the Future of US-Japan Defense Collaboration, by Tate Nurkin and Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi, explores the drivers, tensions, and constraints shaping US-Japan collaboration on emerging defense technologies while providing concrete recommendations for the US-Japan alliance to accelerate and intensify long-standing military and defense-focused coordination and collaboration.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Fred Ghatala
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The aviation sector has been working to decarbonize, but it faces unique challenges since decarbonization options that may work for ground or maritime transport are generally not feasible for air travel. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) present an opportunity to decarbonize the aviation sector, but federal policies that address SAF have largely included SAF as an add-on to existing policies that are meant primarily to address ground transportation. However, due to the unique challenges presented to decarbonization by the aviation sector, the use of SAF should be incentivized through pragmatic, sector-specific federal policies. The new Atlantic Council report by Fred Ghatala, Sustainable Aviation Fuel Policy in the United States: A Pragmatic Way Forward, provides a set of near and long-term federal policy options that could be implemented in order to encourage the use of SAF. The report contextualizes each policy choice and explains the implications of each option, differentiating between policies that can be implemented in the near-term and policies that require long-term implementation.
  • Topic: Environment, Governance, Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: David L. Goldwyn
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2019, the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center began an effort in partnership with the United States Department of Energy to consider a fresh approach to energy in the Americas that is comprehensive in nature and targeted in its approach. Following a year-long period of engagements alongside six representative stakeholder countries participating, the resulting report: “A New US Energy Strategy for the Western Hemisphere,” was launched in March 2020 and will serve as the launch point for additional work by the Atlantic Council on energy and sustainability issues across the hemisphere.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics, Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, North America
  • Author: Emerson T. Brooking, Suzanne Kianpour
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iran has invested significant resources and accumulated vast experience in the conduct of digital influence efforts. These clandestine propaganda efforts have been used to complement Iranian foreign policy operations for the better part of a decade. Nonetheless, Iranian influence capabilities have gone largely unstudied by the United States, and only came to widespread attention in August 2018 with the first public identification of an Iranian propaganda network. Following the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani and a sharp escalation in US-Iranian tensions, it is important to understand the perspective, methods, and intent of Iranian influence efforts. For Iran, information dominance represents a central focus of both foreign and domestic policy. Iran sees itself as engaged in a perennial information war: against Sunni Arab powers, against the forces of perceived Western neocolonialism, and particularly against the United States. Should the information conflict be lost, many Iranian officials believe the collapse of the state will soon follow. Accordingly, Iran has prioritized the development of digital broadcast capabilities that cannot be easily targeted by the United States or its allies. Iran has also prioritized information control. Although Iran boasts roughly fifty-six million Internet users, these users must navigate a culture of censorship and frequent state intimidation. Following the 2009 Green Movement, the Iranian government came to see social media activism as enabling an existential threat. Authorities created special cyber-police units, built a new legal framework for Internet regulation, and outlawed most Western digital platforms. They also began to develop systems to remove Iranian users from the global Internet entirely. In pursuit of foreign and domestic information dominance, Iran began operating Facebook and Twitter sockpuppets as early as 2010. As the United States and Iran entered into a period of rapprochement and negotiation, the number of accounts grew exponentially. These accounts have been used to launder Iranian state propaganda to unsuspecting audiences, often under the guise of local media reports. To date, Facebook has identified approximately 2,200 assets directly affecting six million users. Twitter has identified eight thousand accounts responsible for roughly 8.5 million messages. Much of this Iranian content cannot be characterized as “disinformation.” In sharp contrast to the information operations of Russia, which routinely disseminate false stories with the aim of polluting the information environment, Iran makes less use of obvious falsehood. Instead, Iran advances a distorted truth: one that exaggerates Iran’s moral authority while minimizing Iran’s repression of its citizens and the steep human cost of its own imperial adventures in the wider Middle East. As a whole, Iran’s digital influence operations represent a continuation of public diplomacy, albeit conducted through misleading websites and social media sockpuppets. Iran broadcasts a fairly consistent message to many different audiences: in Africa, in Southeast Asia, in Europe, in North America, and, most notably, in Latin America and the Middle East. The aim of these efforts is to “tell Iran’s story,” the same as any Western government broadcaster might strive to do. The difference is that, as an international pariah, Iran must pursue this work through more clandestine means. Global observers have long learned to doubt the truthfulness and sincerity of Iranian-branded media. As the United States considers policies to safeguard its elections and confront Iranian influence activities, three conclusions can be drawn about the nature of Iran’s modern propaganda apparatus. Iran’s digital influence efforts involve centralized goals and disparate agents. Different elements of Iran’s digital propaganda apparatus evidence the involvement of different government agencies. It is not clear how, or if, these agencies coordinate their operations. These goals are closely tied to Iran’s geopolitical interests. Nearly all content spread by Iran’s digital influence efforts relates directly to its worldview or specific foreign policy objectives. Consequently, it is easier to identify the operations of Iran than those of other actors like Russia, whose content is more likely to be politically agnostic. Iran may attempt direct electoral interference in 2020 and beyond. To date, there is little evidence that Iran has sought to affect the outcome of a US election. This does not, however, preclude future such campaigns based on Iranian interest in achieving rapprochement with the United States.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Media, Conflict, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karl Frederick Rauscher
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Internet of Things describes a future world with pervasive connectivity. While IoT offers a range of humanitarian, commercial, and national security benefits, its pervasive nature has many concerned over its impacts on safety and security in society. A great disservice is done when national security, commercial, and humanitarian interests are conflated. In a new report by the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Karl Rauscher notes that the world’s two largest powers are at a crossroads with regard to their level and scope of cooperation in continued IoT advances. United States–China Collaboration on the Internet of Things Safety: What’s Next? analyzes possibilities for the United States and China to work together to establish consensus policies and standards to make their societies safer and provide a model for the world.
  • Topic: National Security, Power Politics, Cybersecurity, Internet of Things
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul D. Miller
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: What is “world order” and why should Americans care? Less than half of all Americans have a passport, and less than five percent travel internationally. Only 26 percent of US gross domestic product (GDP) comes from international trade. Since the end of the Cold War most Americans probably feel safe from foreign threats most of the time: they feel little sense of danger or threat from the world. Even the terrorist attacks of 2001 have receded into memory and increasingly feel like an aberration rather than a precedent. Americans may feel a sense of unease about the world, but we are confident that even the nation’s wars safely take place “over there,” not here at home. If the United States can afford to tune out much of the world because of its geography, wealth, and power, why should we care? Americans have been the unconscious beneficiaries of a world order that would not exist without them. Just as we take for granted electricity and indoor plumbing without thought to the wiring and piping that make them possible, so too we take for granted the peace, prosperity, and stability of our world without thought to the infrastructure of the free world. The free world exists because the most powerful states in the world are open societies: liberal capitalist democracies who largely see the world the same way and have worked together to keep the peace and build wealth. That order is now imperiled. The United States no longer enjoys an unquestioned advantage over its rivals, Russia and China, as it once did. North Korea and Iran threaten the United States with nuclear weapons and support for terrorism. Perhaps most threatening of all: rising nationalist and populist movements around the world, including in the United States, are undermining popular support for international cooperation, free trade, and collective security. This report is about the free world: what it is, why it is imperiled, why Americans should care, and what we can do about it. Some skeptics have criticized the international order. President Donald Trump regularly criticizes “globalism,” and many Americans seem inclined to believe that the United States is losing its sovereignty and that the world is taking advantage of America’s generosity. We respectfully disagree. The free world, and American leadership of it, is good for America and good for the world. It helps keep us safe and give us opportunity. Far from eroding America’s sovereignty, it is a tool of American influence. Most importantly, the aspirations of the free world are just. It is a system of ordered liberty among nations, a tool or mechanism for allowing nations and individuals to flourish in freedom and safety. Investing in the free world is an investment in our values and our common values.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nationalism, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, North America, Global Focus, United States of America