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  • Author: Kenneth Geers
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: There is only one internet and only one cyberspace connecting individuals, enterprises, and nations all over the world. Ever more frequently, this shared space is coming under attack from malicious actors, both state and non-state, who are seeking to exploit cyberspace’s shared infrastructure for their own ends. Addressing cybersecurity threats is therefore an international problem that requires an international solution. But given the myriad of threats faced in the cyber domain and the ambiguous borders that exist there, how can states best address these challenges and ensure the safety of their own networks and people? In this new report from the Scowcroft Center’s Transatlantic Security Initiative, Cyber Statecraft Initiative senior fellow Kenneth Geers argues that the best way for democratic states to defend their own cyber networks is to leverage the multinational strength of political and military alliances like NATO and the European Union. Alliances like NATO give democracies an advantage over their authoritarian rivals by providing already established mechanisms for multinational cooperation. Alliances are therefore better equipped to tackle the inherently international challenges of cybersecurity. To illustrate the impact of alliances on cybersecurity, Geers uses events in Ukraine as a case study, comparing the Ukrainian government’s efforts to defend against Russian cyberattacks shortly after the 2014 revolution with measures taken in cooperation with partners to defend the 2019 presidential election. Geers illustrates how collective action in 2019 produced improved security outcomes compared to efforts taken by Ukraine alone. Building on these lessons, Geers argues that the only structures likely to produce tangible results in cybersecurity are those within political and military alliances. Indeed, the only credible cyber superpower is a robust alliance. The report then offers a series of recommendations on how NATO and the EU can promote trust and collaboration among Allies and partners to build a more effective cyber alliance.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Cybersecurity, Internet, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Europe, Northern Europe
  • Author: Bastien Revel
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since 2014, Turkey has not only hosted the world’s largest refugee population but has also modeled a best practice for the global refugee policy discussion. Turkey’s experience on the key issues such as jobs and employment should be examined as lessons for both refugee hosting countries and donor countries alike. The country has provided Syrians under Temporary Protection the right to access work permits and formal employment. Facilitating self-reliance for such a large number of refugees’ households remains a challenging task, even in the medium to long-term. This is especially the case in a context where increasing levels of unemployment in Turkey compounded by the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have posed a serious challenge to job creation and increased competition for available opportunities. Many Syrians living in Turkey experiencing partial or complete loss of income while incurring higher expenses, which is compounded for most households by a lack of savings. Addressing these challenges requires to draw lessons learnt at both policy and operational level to effectively support access to livelihoods opportunities. This notably involves fostering greater engagement and partnership with the private sector, on the one hand, and exploring innovative solutions such as e-work and online livelihoods opportunities on the other. The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be an important test on the government’s and their international partners’ relevance and flexibility and their ability to quickly step up efforts in that direction. In this context, UNDP Turkey—a longstanding development partner and the co-lead of the Refugee and Resilience Response Plan (3RP)—joined hands with the Atlantic Council’s program on Turkey—”Atlantic Council IN TURKEY”—to explore policy options to foster socioeconomic inclusion among Syrians under Temporary Protection. Building on the experience and expertise of both organizations, our joint policy report : “Turkey’s Refugee Resilience: Expanding and Improving Solutions for the Economic Inclusion of Syrians in Turkey” aims at outlining pragmatic and innovative options to facilitate refugees’ access to decent employment so as to contribute to our common objective to #leavenoonebehind.
  • Topic: Migration, Science and Technology, United Nations, Women, Refugees, Economic Growth, Youth, Conflict, Syrian War, Crisis Management, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Harris Samad, Fatima Salman
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This report explores illicit networks in Afghanistan in the context of peacebuilding, democratic consolidation, and enhancing state capacity. Existing literature on the topic is sparse. While the 1990s saw study of the subject matter as tangential to international arms and drug trafficking policies, this period laid the foundation for renewed interest on the issue partially catalyzed by the 2001 US-led invasion. The 2008 global financial crisis shifted this lens toward one of countering the financing of terrorism strategies, corruption, and money laundering. The current day reflects a broadening of how illicit networks are analyzed beyond sector-specific policies; that is, the subject matter today encompasses more of the sectors that make it profitable, rather than focusing only on the most relevant component at a given time. Indeed, it is an internationalized issue, encompassing the smuggling of different goods and involving individuals of varying motivations and capacities within and without Afghanistan. Illicit networks can be broadly understood at three main levels: hyper-local, national, and international. At a hyper-local level, illicit networks represent a series of interpersonal relationships that facilitate the exchange of goods and compensation (taking many forms) beyond the reach of central law enforcement or political authority. Nationally, illicit networks comprise regional and countrywide patronage, criminal, and insurgent networks that organize and profiteer from the hyper-local relationships on a macro level. Internationally, actors with reach outside of the country move illicitly gained goods such as poppy, talc, methamphetamine, minerals, and others, as well as people via human trafficking, into trading hubs in Iran, Pakistan, and the Gulf for export into international markets. They then use poorly regulated financial institutions throughout the world (notably, Western and Gulf banking systems) to store funds, some of which make their way back to Afghanistan (though this phenomenon is particularly difficult to track). This report outlines several specific policy recommendations that will be necessary to combat the illicit networks in a manner that supports the durability of the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan and the continued consolidation of its fragile democratic institutions. These recommendations include the following: For Afghanistan: Provide a path for illicit actors into the formal economy; Generate political will and support; Establish high-level Afghan support for countering illicit trafficking; and upholding the rule of law; Implement enhanced border management; Expand the negotiating table to include more localized narratives; Strengthen and internationalize counter-threat finance strategies For the United States: Support a comprehensive economic settlement; Ensure future interoperability between Afghan and US security forces For regional stakeholders: Provide access to global markets to enhance regional trade integration; Cut off regional and international components of networks to reduce viability and profitability via neighborhood watchdogs, in conjunction with the United States
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Arms Trade, Trafficking , Financial Institutions , Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Lauren Speranza
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tackling hybrid threats, particularly from state actors such as Russia and China, remains one of the greatest challenges for the transatlantic community. Hybrid threats have gained more traction among policymakers and publics across Europe and the United States, especially in a world with COVID-19. Over the last five years, Euro-Atlantic nations and institutions, such as NATO and the European Union (EU), have taken important steps to respond to hybrid issues. But, as hybrid threats become more prominent in the future, policymakers must move toward a more coherent, effective, and proactive strategy for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats. To develop such a transatlantic counter-hybrid strategy for Russia and China, this paper argues that two major things need to happen. First, transatlantic policymakers have to build a common strategic concept to guide collective thinking on hybrid threats. Second, transatlantic policymakers need to take a range of practical actions in service of that strategic concept. In a strategic concept for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats, Lauren Speranza offers five strategic priorities that could form the basis of this strategic concept and presents a series of constructive steps that NATO, the EU, and nations can take, in cooperation with the private sector and civil society, to enhance their counter-hybrid capabilities against Russia and China.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, Science and Technology, European Union, Innovation, Resilience, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Hans Binnendijk, Conor Rodihan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The conventional military threat from Russia towards Europe most acutely affects a number of frontline Nordic and Baltic states from the Barents Sea in the Arctic through the Baltic Sea region: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, these countries, in concert with other Euro-Atlantic allies and partners, have concentrated on strengthening their own defenses and on developing and enhancing eight sets of different defense cooperation arrangements. As the only two non-NATO and militarily nonaligned nations in the region, Finland and Sweden’s role in regional security and their level of cooperation with these and other partners poses challenges as well as opportunities for deterrence and defense in Europe’s northeast. These two countries have particularly emphasized cooperation with partners as they seek to build an interlocking web of security relationships to improve defense in the region. The core arrangements within this network include: The Finnish-Swedish bilateral defense relationship; Nordic Defense Cooperation; Nordic-Baltic Eight; The Northern Group; NATO Partnerships; The European Union; Ad hoc arrangements such as the Joint Expeditionary Force; Framework Nations Concept, and European Intervention Initiative; Finnish-Swedish-US trilateral and bilateral defense cooperation. These “geometries of deterrence” vary in scope, scale, and membership, but taken together, they enhance a range of important components of deterrence. In Geometries of Deterrence, Hans Binnendijk and Conor Rodihan assess the contributions of each of these arrangements against an ideal or “gold standard” for conventional military deterrence, before evaluating the arrangements collectively and offering recommendations to further strengthen deterrence for Finland, Sweden, and indeed for all of Northeastern Europe.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Northern Europe
  • Author: Nathaniel Kim, Trey Herr, Bruce Schneier
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: David Soud, Ian M. Ralby, Rohini Ralby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Downstream oil theft has become a global problem. Since most of the world’s energy systems still rely on oil, fuel smugglers are nearly always able to find markets for their goods. Moreover, since oil is not inherently illegal, it is generally an easy product to move, buy, and sell. Profits from oil theft are frequently used to fund terrorism and other illegal activities. The new Atlantic Council Global Energy Report by Dr. David Soud, Downstream Oil Theft: Countermeasures and Good Practices, provides an in-depth look at how governments—from militaries to law enforcement officials—along with other stakeholders can anticipate and intercept instances of downstream oil theft. The report offers a range of methods to counter oil theft, which range from fuel marking and other technologies to transnational
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Law Enforcement, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicholas Blanford, Assaf Orion
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Almost fourteen years since the 2006 war, Hezbollah and Israel seem to be drifting closer to war than at any time in the last decade. Even as Lebanon and Israel grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, neither the Israeli military nor Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah are allowing the disease to distract from their long-running enmity. With the military buildup on both sides, the mutual destruction would be far reaching. Given the risks at hand, the Atlantic Council has released a new report, “Counting the Cost: Avoiding Another War between Israel and Hezbollah,” authored by Nicholas Blanford, a Beirut-based nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Middle East programs, and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Assaf Orion, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. The authors examine the current force posture of the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah, identify potential triggers that could lead to a war, analyze how the next war would be fought by both sides, and offer recommendations to at least maintain the current relative calm and avoid a conflict that could cost thousands of lives and bring unprecedented ruin to both Lebanon and Israel.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Conflict, Crisis Management, Hezbollah, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • 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: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With US-Iraq ties strained and a Strategic Dialogue between the two countries set to begin in June 2020, this Atlantic Council Iraq Initiative report by Nonresident Senior Fellow and former White House National Security Council Iraq Director Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff analyzes the current challenges in the relationship and presents policy recommendations. Dr. Pfaff argues in the report that the United States should: Avoid dragging Iraq into its broader campaign against Iran; Play to its comparative advantage: The United States can be a better security partner for Iraq than other countries and can also assist with integrating it into the international community and developing the economic and financial capabilities necessary to participate in the global economy; Continue to insist on the integration of Iran-backed militias into Iraq’s security forces; Highlight US aid to Iraq and while acknowledging US mistakes, push back against politicized narratives that explain Iraq’s lack of recovery; Emphasize military interoperability, so that in the event of an ISIS resurgence – or the emergence of a like-minded group – US forces can quickly fill in the Iraqi armed forces’ capability gaps; Promote reconciliation and provide an alternative to Iranian mediation while at the same time avoiding advocacy for a particular outcome; Provide economic assistance to set conditions for foreign investment by US companies and like-minded partners; Focus additional COVID-19 related assistance on economic recovery;.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations, Military Affairs, Economic Development , COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, 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: John T. Watts
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Recent events have seen an acceleration in the rise of reemerging great powers. This has had a profound impact on global economic, technological, and political assumptions and has created new technological realities. The potential impact and implications of artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology innovation, and the dark sides of social media have raised new concerns for social norms. No issue is more emblematic of the competition between liberal, free-market nations and authoritarian command-economy principles than the evolution of fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications. Generational shifts between cellular telecommunications networks have profound implications for national and global economies. As data become increasingly central to every aspect of a modern economy, the shift to the next generation of cellular networks will be of even greater significance. The Chinese government identified the importance of this transition and has, for years, been aggressively investing around the world to be the purveyor of 5G infrastructure that will carry that data in the coming decades. Chinese-backed firms are currently better positioned to exploit the vast opportunity that 5G represents more effectively than corporations within free markets, for several reasons. The most significant is the high infrastructure cost of legacy cellular models and uncertain consumer demand in the short term. Capital costs are driven predominately by the technical requirements of 5G, which—in return for far higher speeds and ultra-low latency—require new hardware to be installed in many more locations than previous networks. Moreover, the legacy infrastructure model relied on proprietary and incompatible hardware components that are best suited to large, single-manufacture companies that can provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions. While consumer demand is predicted to be high, businesses are cautious in deploying such large amounts of money for unproven speculative demand. The lack of a concrete user base creates an opening that vertically integrated Chinese companies, heavily backed by the state, are exploiting by deploying the 5G technology and services at a discount of about 25 percent, along with loss-leading financing terms. Given that end-to-end network solutions can cost $10–100 billion, or more, 25-percent discounts have a major impact. While the 25-percent discount is financially enticing, the longer-term consequences are often hidden, and can include vulnerability to foreign espionage, economic leverage, and forced compliance to conditions underpinned by authoritarian principles. For the Chinese government, the financial cost is a small investment in return for potential control of the world’s data backbone for the next several decades. The reality is that questions revolving around security, as defined from the perspective of traditional “cyber” or “network security,” are ancillary to the critical challenge. If a nation builds a telecommunications network with equipment supplied from Chinese tech giants such as Huawei or ZTE, those networks will inherently be subject to Chinese laws that require compliance with many principles’ anathema to free-market, liberal views. Moreover, these networks, by design, must be managed and maintained by large services organizations, likely staffed by a vast workforce of Chinese citizens, who also must comply with Chinese law and can provide local human intelligence back to the Chinese state. These are terms that countries should not have to accept, and to which their citizens should not be involuntarily subjected. An open, innovative, safe, and reliable alternative is needed, so that people have a realistic option that allows them to freely communicate and consume information. 5G is emblematic of the competition between the new authoritarianism and free-market, liberal principles. China has executed its plan well over the last five years by driving the standards discussion, developing the leading vertically integrated solution, deploying national export finance to subsidize their offerings, and building the largest and most effective services organization in the market. Free-market economies have spent far less on research and development (R&D), have only limited export finance options, rely on semiconductor dominance, deploy severely limited services organizations, and have no integrated national or international strategy. Few governments or companies were prepared for the level of sophistication of the product and export finance offering of the authoritarian-backed commercial players.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Innovation, 5G
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: Paul D. Miller
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: At the outset of some of the most impactful wars in history, policymakers have assumed that the duration of conflict would be brief. Unfortunately, their assumptions were often wrong, as may wars like those in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan only grew more complicated with the passage of time. However, at least in these three cases, the reality of prolonged stalemate did not stop policymakers from setting withdrawal deadlines to assuage public anxieties and improve military performance. The pressures contributing to these consistent decisions across time are still relevant now. Therefore, as the United States currently seeks to deter great-power rivals and rogue regimes while combating terrorism, it is as important as ever to understand the roles and potential outcomes of withdrawal deadlines in war. In this new Atlantic Council report, Withdrawal Deadlines In War: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Dr. Paul D. Miller examines the effect of withdrawal timetables on public opinion, military success, and policymakers’ goals across the three titular case studies. He finds that “Withdrawal timelines do not achieve the political benefits that policymakers desire, but they do incur the risks policymakers rightly fear.” In the face of prolonged and difficult military challenges, withdrawal deadlines can exacerbate outcomes at crucial moments, and thus policymakers must tread carefully.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, History, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, South Asia, Middle East, East Asia, United States of 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: Bina Hussein
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are expected to witness a substantial growth in population over the next three decades. Many of the hydrocarbon-rich nations in this region will need to meet a commensurate increase in job demand. This report focuses on four nations that are predominantly reliant on the oil and gas sector: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Algeria. In all four nations, the majority of the local population is employed in the public sector, which, in the long term, will become economically unsustainable. In order to meet the growing job demand, these nations must both diversify their economies beyond the energy sector and expand their energy sectors beyond hydrocarbons. Doing so will create important employment opportunities in new industries. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait all have strategies in place that, if followed, could pave the way towards a diversified knowledge-based economy. Algeria, on the other hand, is at a crossroads. Even as it is undergoing a political transition, the transition can create opportunities for the new government to change the country’s course and push economic reforms that are not only aimed at lowering the current unemployment rate but also at making the private sector more enticing. Additionally, all four nations will need to take steps to increase female participation in the workforce by easing current restrictions and making labor laws more favorable towards women. The energy sector plays a large role in the economies of all four nations. This sector has a critical role to play in efforts to diversify the economy and teach skills that will be beneficial in the future or can be applied in other sectors as well. Moreover, all four nations also have sovereign wealth funds that either play, or can play, a key role in diversifying the economy, strengthening existing industries, and helping to create new industries altogether. This report offers the following recommendations on how these four nations can work towards meeting demographic challenges in relation to the economy, specifically the role of the energy sector: Governments can strengthen the private sector through increased foreign investment and by incentivizing entrepreneurship through reforms that open up the economy and make it more lucrative for investors. Governments can create laws and support structures that encourage women to work and increase female participation in the workforce. Opportunities should be provided to teach skills and impart knowledge relevant to the job market that will also be relevant in the future. Lessons should be learned from the experience of the energy sector and leveraged to achieve successes in other areas. For example, the state-owned oil and gas companies have successfully set up a structure that allows them to not only invest in their employees but also take care of the community by offering health care services, education, and more.
  • Topic: Demographics, Energy Policy, Markets, Oil, Governance, Geopolitics, Gas, Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels, Transition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf Nations