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  • Author: Kara Frederick
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Aglobal contest between democracies and autocracies is raging on the digital front. Technology stands to alter the balance between free, open societies and closed, repressive regimes. Nation states in direct competition with the United States seek to project global influence by shaping an existing digital order to their will. Impulses toward illiberal use of technology at home threaten to curtail individual liberties, constrict opportunity, and erode a truly open society. Democracies do not yet have a model for how to confront this. In the United States, a roadmap for a solution must start with the fundamental question: How should U.S. technology companies, with the help of the U.S. government, respond to the illiberal use of technology by authoritarian actors abroad? This report contends with this question by identifying concrete actions and threat-mitigating strategies that contain the input of government, the tech sector, civil society, and academia. It provides starting points to address the systemic risk inherent in dealing with authoritarian regimes and also examines cost imposition on those complicit in tech-enabled human rights abuses. Yet a strategy aimed only at staunching the illiberal use of technology will fail in the long term. Instead, the U.S. government and tech companies alike must recruit democratic allies to purvey an affirmative agenda that promotes digital freedom across the globe. This report proposes an agenda that stresses privacy leadership by the United States and its technology companies. It identifies areas of collaboration for U.S. allies and democratic partners, like digital trade, foreign law enforcement requests for data, and technical standards. This report’s affirmative agenda also contains an imperative for U.S. tech companies to build commercial norms toward digital freedom and incentivize transparency within their own ranks. For digital freedom to prevail over authoritarian uses of technology, democracies must present something better. Together, they must establish an alternative model for the use of technology globally. These recommendations build that democratic case, starting with the United States.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Science and Technology, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Michael Koplow, Tamara Coffman Wittes
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Today’s realities demand that the United States change its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its current focus is on high-profile diplomatic initiatives that aim for a permanent agreement in which the United States is the central mediator. Instead, the United States must focus on taking tangible steps, both on the ground and diplomatically, that will improve the freedom, prosperity, and security of all people living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, while also cultivating the conditions for a future two-state agreement negotiated between the parties.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Jason Bartlett
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: North Korea conducts intricate and sweeping cyberattacks against the United States and its allies to acquire funds to support its illicit nuclear proliferation efforts. Unlike more economically advanced nuclear states possessing domestic research, development, and deployment capacities to establish weapon of mass destruction (WMD) programs, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) must seek financial resources, assistance, and institutional knowledge, at least initially, from overseas. It has developed its cyber capabilities in order to circumvent financial sanctions and global safeguards, conducting elaborate online bank heists and hacking attacks; stealing funds through fraudulent bank transfers, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) transactions, and ATM cash-outs; launching ransomware attacks demanding payment in cryptocurrency; and hacking cryptocurrency exchanges. The scale and sophistication of these innovative sanctions evasion tactics create a challenge that calls for stronger measures to confront them. In addition to providing policy recommendations for U.S. leadership and financial institutions, this report will outline the ways North Korea supports, expands, and utilizes cyber operations to acquire funds for its nuclear weapons program.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Peter Harrell, Paula J. Dobriansky, Adam Szubin
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: U.S. policymakers will continue to intensively use a growing array of coercive economic tools, including tariffs, sanctions, trade controls, and investment restrictions. The growing use reflects a desire by policymakers to use coercive economic tools in support of a growing range of policy objectives. Diplomacy around these tools has long been challenging and can require hard choices. To use these tools effectively, policymakers should focus on articulating clear objectives and measuring effectiveness and costs. U.S.-China competition raises the stakes for getting the use of coercive economic statecraft right. Policymakers in the next presidential administration and Congress would be well-served to spend at least as much effort focusing on the positive tools of statecraft. These include domestic economic renewal, international finance and development incentives, and positive trade measures, among others.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kristine Lee, Joshua Fitt, Coby Goldberg
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The U.S.–South Korea alliance is a primary deterrent to the threat North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal poses. But the alliance’s nearly singular functional focus on managing the North Korea threat, despite South Korea’s broadly integral role in advancing a rules-based order in the region, has introduced volatility in the bilateral relationship. Washington’s halting and inconsistent approach to Pyongyang and its failure to reach a timely agreement on its military cost-sharing framework with Seoul have nudged the alliance toward a new inflection point. Beyond the North Korea challenge, South Korea has the potential to play a consequential role in advancing the United States’ broader vision for a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. As Seoul adopts globally oriented policies, buoyed by its position at the leading edge of certain technology areas and its successful COVID-19 pandemic response, the United States should parlay these efforts into a more concrete role for South Korea as a partner on the world stage. Collaborating on global public health issues, combating climate change, and jointly developing norms around critical emerging technologies would position the alliance to meet the challenges of the 21st century. By widening the aperture of the alliance and positioning Seoul to play an integral role in the United States’ vision for the future of the Indo-Pacific, the two allies will be better equipped to address enduring geopolitical risks in Northeast Asia, including those associated with a nuclear-armed North Korea.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Alliance, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul Scharre, Ainikki Riikonen
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The Department of Defense’s (DoD) ever-shifting technology priorities jeopardize its ability to win a long-term technology competition. The DoD needs a systematic approach—a technology strategy—for how to prioritize technology investments. The dominant global tech trend today is the information revolution, which is leading to exponential growth in digital capabilities. The top priority of the DoD’s technology strategy should be rapidly spinning in and militarizing digital technologies generated in the private sector. The DoD should invest in key military-specific technologies, such as hypersonics or directed energy weapons, when there is clear operational value but should expect advancements to be incremental.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Investment
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Loren DeJonge Schulman
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The tragic 2017 killing of four U.S. Army personnel caught in a surprise ambush in Niger offers very few positive lessons for congressional oversight. Indeed, when speaking with experts, there is little agreement on whether Congress was kept appropriately informed or was even in a position to understand the mission of U.S. forces in Niger. Superficially, there are blunt facts—years of War Powers notifications detailing increasing numbers of combat-equipped personnel and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) posture statements highlighting the counterterrorism mission in the Sahel—stood against blunt statements from senior members—“I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Senator Lindsey Graham said shortly after the incident.1 Explored in more detail, inconsistent mission and authority reporting from the Department of Defense (DoD) confronts, and combines with, variable expectations from Congress. At the heart of this friction is the by-with-and-through counterterrorism strategy, how it is implemented in practice, and whether key stakeholders have a common understanding of its rule sets and risks. Some of the gaps the Tongo Tongo ambush highlighted—between the Pentagon and operational units; between AFRICOM and Special Operations Command Africa (SOC-AF); and between Congress and the DoD—have been addressed, but others remain. This incident offers multiple lessons to both sides of the Potomac River in improving oversight relationships, both in informal interactions and in formal understanding of authorities and oversight responsibilities.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, Niger, United States of America
  • Author: Julianne Smith, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche, Ellison Laskowski
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Mounting competition between China and liberal democracies will shape the course of the 21st century. The gravity and scope of the challenges that China poses have permeated the transatlantic policy agenda and become a focal point in U.S.-Europe relations. Whereas China has long been a source of disagreement and even tension between the transatlantic partners, in the past two years views have converged. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) assertive actions—its “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy, aggressive influence operations, human rights violations at home, and elimination of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong—have increased concerns in both the United States and Europe. There is now fertile ground for transatlantic cooperation on everything from reducing dependency on Chinese trade and investment to setting global norms and standards for the future. Yet, despite this convergence of views and interests, there is still no roadmap for how such cooperation should progress. This report outlines such an approach. It is based on the premise that the time is ripe for greater transatlantic cooperation on China. It also recognizes the comprehensive nature of the task at hand. Today’s controversies with China over trade, investment, technology, and global governance are all part of a larger competition between political systems and worldviews. The breadth of the challenge means that the United States and Europe must compete with China across multiple domains. This report lays out a roadmap for doing so, outlining concrete recommendations across the four sectors of technology, investment, trade, and global governance. By working together, the United States and Europe can pool the resources and leverage needed to push back against the CCP in these areas and develop preferred alternatives that advance strategic priorities for both sides of the Atlantic. Moreover, the strategies outlined in this report will also serve a second purpose: re-energizing the ailing relationship between Europe and the United States.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Transatlantic Relations, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kristine Lee, Martijn Rasser, Joshua Fitt, Coby Goldberg
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The South Korean experience is an illustrative case study of digital entanglement with China. This paper focuses on South Korea’s 5G networks for the purposes of scoping, but the spotlight on telecommunications networks offers just one window into a broader trend of technology and economic interdependencies between Seoul and Beijing. In particular, the paper’s focus on 5G illuminates four central observations that could also apply to other technology areas: (1) the U.S.-China strategic competition has wedged South Korea between its most important ally and its largest trading partner; (2) geopolitical risk assessments are not top of mind in South Korea’s technology policymaking calculations; (3) the country’s political leadership largely defers to private industry on the use of Chinese equipment; and (4) South Korean privacy regulations remain relatively fluid and are evolving both to meet domestic pressures and to generate new market opportunities. These trends are evident in the history of South Korea’s economic entanglement with China and the risk of coercion carried with it. Ongoing entanglement with digital infrastructure—and 5G networks in particular—increases the potential for and reach of adverse economic statecraft by Beijing and will make it more difficult and costly to unravel.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19, 5G
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Eric M. Brewer, Ilan Goldenberg, Joseph Rodgers, Maxwell Simon, Kaleigh Thomas
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States and the international community have been relatively successful at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, but there are new reasons to question whether this track record will last into the future. Working with partners, the United States has steadily built a framework of disincentives and barriers to prevent proliferation. These include: 1) international treaties and agreements that have erected legal, political, and normative barriers to the bomb; 2) U.S. security commitments to allies that dampen their own perceived need for nuclear weapons; and, 3) a set of tough penalties (e.g., sanctions) for those who get caught trying to build the bomb. In other words, the barriers to entry to the nuclear club are high, and those countries that want the ultimate weapon need to be willing to accept significant risks. This helps explain why, although many countries have explored or pursued nuclear weapons, only nine states have them today. But several trends are eroding the foundation on which this formidable set of barriers rests. These trends are rooted in, and being shaped by, changes to the nature and structure of the international system: namely, the decline of U.S. influence and its gradual withdrawal from the international order that it helped create and lead for more than 70 years, and the concurrent rise of a more competitive security environment, particularly among great powers. These trends (detailed below) will have three broad implications for proliferation and U.S. policy. First, they stand to increase pressures on countries to seek nuclear weapons or related capabilities as a hedge. Second, they will almost certainly challenge the U.S. ability to effectively wield the traditional “carrots and sticks” of nonproliferation and counterproliferation policy and dilute the effectiveness of those tools. Finally, they could increasingly pit U.S. nonproliferation goals against other policy objectives, forcing harder tradeoffs.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Geopolitics, Nonproliferation, Post Cold War
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America