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  • Author: Abigail Eineman
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The June edition of “Sanctions by the Numbers” illustrated a decade of U.S. sanctions policy by using heat maps to show the countries with the largest number of designations. Across both the Trump and Obama administrations, Iran was always at the top of the list. This edition of Sanctions by the Numbers explores Iran sanctions further, tracking how designations and delistings have evolved over time, the dozens of countries affected by Iran-related sanctions programs, and the top types of U.S. designations. The data add to the existing consensus that sanctions have an inverse relationship with Iran’s economic health, and designations have far outpaced delistings in the last three years as part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Sanctions, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Fontaine, Loren DeJonge Schulman
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: On matters of peace and war, virtually no one seems satisfied with Congress. Constitutionally coequal to the executive, the Congress often appears more an uneasy junior partner. During the past two decades, the executive branch has expanded its authority to launch, conduct, and conceal military activity. In response, Congress—despite its formal powers to declare war, appropriate funds, and organize the armed forces—has largely deferred, putting up more of a rhetorical fight than engaging in a deliberative effort to shape American wars. Congress, even lawmakers complain, postures more than it prescribes, overlooks more than it oversees, and passes time more than it passes laws. Conventional wisdom and political consultants offer congressmen good rationale: foreign policy does not typically drive elections, Americans are increasingly disconnected from both their military and the costs of war, and there are few political incentives to dig deeply into matters of war and peace. Today the “imperial presidency” is accepted as a given division of labor rather than seen as a counter-constitutional anomaly. And yet with the nation involved in military operations across multiple countries, and with debates about possible military interventions in Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela reaching the White House, congressional attention to the use of force should today be at a premium. The Founders were correct to vest national security decisionmaking in not only one branch of government, and history shows numerous examples of Congress positively influencing matters of war and peace. An inactive or indifferent legislature leaves power overconcentrated in the executive, while an engaged Congress may not just check presidential reach but can actively improve the conduct of American conflicts.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, National Security, Armed Forces
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Abigail Eineman
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: In February, CNAS launched Sanctions by the Numbers, a project to track U.S. sanctions designations and delistings. In this second installment, heat maps show the most heavily targeted states in three periods of time: over the course of the Obama administration from 2009–2017, the Trump administration from 2017–June 2020, and a snapshot of the past decade through June 2020. The maps rely on ten years of sanctions data published by the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Kliman, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Kristine Lee, Joshua Fitt, Carisa Nietsche
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2018 and 2020 Taiwanese local and presidential elections crystallized that Russia and China are using digital interference to shape the contest between democracies and autocracies. While foreign information operations are time-tested methods of authoritarian influence, the digital space has increased the scope and speed with which these operations can be waged. Although there is no concrete evidence to suggest that Beijing and Moscow explicitly coordinate their information operations, the two countries are increasingly finding common cause as their interests align on a number of issues and in strategic regions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Authoritarianism, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Asia
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Nicholas Heras, Kaleigh Thomas, Jennie Matuschak
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and especially since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran has become highly proficient in using its surrogates and proxies across the Middle East as a tool to achieve its interests while avoiding direct conflict with the United States. Successive U.S. presidents have sought options for pushing back against this Iranian strategy but have struggled to find approaches that could deter Iran’s actions or degrade its capabilities. In most cases U.S. administrations have been hesitant to respond at all, for fear of starting a larger conflict. The recent killing of Qassim Soleimani represents the opposite problem, in which the United States and Iran came unnecessarily close to a much larger war. In contrast, Israel’s “campaign between the wars” (the Hebrew acronym is mabam) against Iran and Iranian-backed groups in Syria has been one of the most successful military efforts to push back against Iran in the “gray zone.” Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, and especially since early 2017, Israel has conducted more than 200 airstrikes inside Syria against more than 1,000 targets linked to Iran and it’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGCQF), and against IRGC-QF backed groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah. This campaign has slowed Iran’s military buildup in Syria while avoiding a broader regional conflagration that would have been damaging to Israel’s interests.1 This study examines Israel’s mabam campaign and asks what lessons the United States can draw and how they may be applied to future U.S. actions in gray zone conflicts, both against Iran and more broadly.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Ely Ratner, Daniel Kliman, Susanna V. Blume, Rush Doshi, Chris Dougherty, Richard Fontaine, Peter Harrell, Martijn Rasser, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Eric Sayers, Daleep Singh, Paul Scharre, Loren DeJonge Schulman, ​Neil Bhatiya, Ashley Feng, Joshua Fitt, Megan Lamberth, Kristine Lee, Ainikki Riikonen
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States and China are locked in strategic competition over the future of the Indo-Pacific—the most populous, dynamic, and consequential region in the world. At stake are competing visions for the rules, norms, and institutions that will govern international relations in the decades to come.1 The U.S. government aspires toward a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, defined by respect for sovereignty and the independence of nations, peaceful resolution of disputes, free and fair trade, adherence to international law, and greater transparency and good governance.2 For the United States, successful realization of this regional order would include strong U.S. alliances and security partnerships; a military able to operate throughout the region, consistent with international law; U.S. firms with access to leading markets, and benefiting from updated technology standards, investment rules, and trade agreements; U.S. participation in effective regional and international institutions; and the spread of democracy and individual freedoms in the context of an open information environment and vibrant civil society.3 By contrast, China is driving toward a more closed and illiberal future for the Indo-Pacific, core aspects of which would undermine vital U.S. interests.4 Key features of China-led order would include the People’s Liberation Army controlling the South and East China Seas; regional countries sufficiently coerced into acquiescing to China’s preferences on military, economic, and diplomatic matters; an economic order in which Beijing sets trade and investment rules in its favor, with dominance over leading technologies, data, and standards; and Beijing with de facto rule over Taiwan and agenda-setting power over regional institutions. The order would be further characterized by weak civil society, a dearth of independent media, and the gradual spread of authoritarianism, reinforced by the proliferation of China’s high-tech surveillance state. The net result would be a less secure, less prosperous United States that is less able to exert power and influence in the world.5 Ultimately, the competition between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific is a contest over which of these futures will come closer to fruition, even as neither is likely to attain in its entirety. In the two years since the 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy aptly identified this competition over the regional order in Asia, the U.S. government has taken initial steps toward its goal of a free and open region. On balance, however, critical areas of U.S. policy remain inconsistent, uncoordinated, underresourced, and—to be blunt—uncompetitive and counterproductive to advancing U.S. values and interests. This independent assessment—mandated by the U.S. Congress in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act—is intended to help close the considerable gap between the current administration’s stated aspirations for a free and open Indo-Pacific and the actual implementation of policies to advance that vision. Specifically, Congress called for “an assessment of the geopolitical conditions in the Indo-Pacific region that are necessary for the successful implementation of the National Defense Strategy,” with a particular focus on how to “support United States military requirements for forward defense, assured access, extensive forward basing, and alliance and partnership formation and strengthening in such region.”6 This report examines how the U.S. government as a whole, not just the Department of Defense, can realize these outcomes. Although the focus of this assessment is on the Indo-Pacific, it is critical to underscore that the China challenge is a global phenomenon, and many of the actions recommended in this report should be taken to bolster U.S. competitiveness beyond the region. Consistent with the bipartisan mission of the Center for a New American Security, the report’s authors have collectively served on both sides of the aisle in Congress and in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump at the White House, State Department, Defense Department, Treasury Department, Central Intelligence Agency, and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Included herein are nearly a hundred specific and actionable policy recommendations across critical vectors of American competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific. Before turning to these recommendations, the remainder of this section describes six core principles that undergird the assessment and should form the foundations of U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Kristine Lee, Daniel Kliman, Joshua Fitt
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States’ current diplomacy with North Korea has enduring implications for its strategic competition with China. Yet within the American foreign policy establishment, rising to the China challenge and managing the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea are often treated as two distinct rather than connected strands of the United States’ agenda in Northeast Asia. The rationale for maintaining some degree of bureaucratic and substantive segmentation between the two issue sets is well-founded. Addressing the North Korean threat warrants energy, resources, attention, and expertise independent of the “great power competition” framework delineated in the 2017 National Security Strategy and the 2018 National Defense Strategy. But excessive stovepiping may, at best, cause Washington to leave opportunities on the table that could advance its regional priorities, and at worst to risk the creation of mutually incompatible approaches to North Korea and China. U.S. negotiations with North Korea have already created strategic openings for China. The “security guarantees” that Pyongyang has demanded include, for example, the cessation of U.S. joint military exercises with South Korea and the removal from the Korean Peninsula of all American “strategic assets” such as nuclear-capable air and naval assets as well as anti-missile systems that could also be leveraged in a military contingency with China. As U.S. negotiators have locked horns with North Korean interlocutors since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un’s initial diplomatic foray in June 2018, China has touted its role as a champion of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, while using its relative proximity to Pyongyang to systematically undercut America’s approach. During the United States’ “maximum pressure” campaign in 2017, Beijing cast Pyongyang a vital lifeline, facilitating illegal ship-to-ship transfers of North Korean coal and petroleum in 2018, while leading a concerted push with Russia at the U.N. Security Council to try to fragment the North Korean sanctions regime. And China is poised to open the floodgates of investments into North Korea, particularly through strategic infrastructure projects in the event that Pyongyang’s demands for the relief of international sanctions yield results. Despite all of this, U.S. officials at the highest levels have publicly downplayed intimations of China’s counterproductive activities, thereby validating Beijing’s narrative that it has played a constructive role in supporting the United States’ approach to North Korea.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Colin Smith, Jim Townsend
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Russia’s actions in Ukraine in 2014 marked a clear shift in Russian foreign policy, with the Kremlin pursuing a more assertive and aggressive approach to Europe and the West. Russia’s resurgence has meant that the United States again must seriously consider a possible conflict in Europe in its military plans. Central to the defense of NATO allies is a requirement for U.S. reinforcement of Europe, and U.S. reinforcement in turn depends on U.S. maritime shipping, which faces a number of critical challenges. This paper examines the current capability and availability of U.S. shipping to meet U.S. strategic sealift needs. It describes efforts by the United States to modernize and sustain the capacity required for strategic goals, including the reinforcement of Europe, and examines how the United States could leverage allied commercial and sealift capacity to address potential gaps. Finally, the paper identifies recommendations for addressing these challenges. U.S. logistical capabilities that are required to reinforce Europe, including sealift capabilities, have atrophied since 1989. Competing naval requirements make addressing future sealift shortages unlikely to be a top funding priority, while complicated laws hamper quick solutions to filling maritime shortfalls. Until U.S. shipbuilding can fill the gaps, workarounds such as using allied maritime assets to ship U.S. reinforcements must be considered. The requirement to reinforce Europe is too urgent not to consider all alternatives to addressing future shortfalls.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, National Security, Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Darshana M. Baruah
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The Indian Ocean region (IOR) is a critical juncture of the wider Indo-Pacific. It is one of the most crucial trade corridors that links the Middle East, Europe, Africa, South Asia, and Southeast and Northeast Asia. As outlined by the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the Indian Ocean is "[h]ome to nearly 2.7 billion people … carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic, and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments." After the Cold War, the Indian Ocean remained relatively peaceful, with minimal geopolitical competition. India and the United States have been the primary actors in the theater and largely accepted each other’s presence and operations. After the Cold War, Washington welcomed a greater Indian role, with then–U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates encouraging India to be a "net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond." However, as China continues to expand its presence and deepen its engagements across the Indo-Pacific, there is a new geopolitical competition emerging in the Indian Ocean. While India perceives a growing Chinese presence as competition to its strategic and security role in the IOR, Beijing is determined to stake its claim and emerge as a key player in the IOR. This ambition feeds into China’s larger objective of becoming a global maritime power. India has a vital interest in the Indian Ocean, and as one of the IOR’s most prominent resident naval powers, its role in the IOR has been critical to maintaining peace and security. As China continues to expand its engagements and presence across the IOR, Delhi is beginning to review its maritime engagements and policies. Much of Delhi’s advantage is rooted in geography and operational experience, whereas it suffers from serious capacity constraints. Should China manage to find the means and ways to sustain itself in the region and gain experience operating there, it will be able to quickly overcome India’s advantages. Given that neither India nor China is looking to engage in a military conflict to establish dominance, strategic signaling, positioning, power projection, and enhanced operational capabilities will be key to enabling India to maintain a favorable position in the IOR in the next decade or so. As India continues to modernize its military, engaging with key partners will strengthen its ability to address emerging threats and China’s expanding presence in the IOR. This paper first explores India’s current approach to IOR chokepoints and how Delhi can leverage strategic partnerships to shore up its advantages in the IOR. It then identifies presence, maritime domain awareness, strategic collaborations, innovation, and nontraditional threats as the key areas where India can maximize its maritime partnerships to prepare for, deter, and respond to a more assertive China in the IOR.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Partnerships, Strategic Competition, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Indian Ocean
  • Author: Arzan Tarapore
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States has made a “strategic bet” on India. This bet—“that India’s greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security"—was a central pillar of the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia, and it remains a central pillar of the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. For nearly two decades, Washington has embraced the strategic logic that it should facilitate the rise of India as a great power because a stronger India is indispensable in counter-balancing Chinese power and ambitions. In this policy of strategic altruism, Washington should not be overly concerned with specific Indian preferences, strategies, or capabilities—the general growth in Indian power would help to uphold a favorable regional balance of power. Recently, this strategic logic has begun to show signs of strain. In part, this is the result of emerging policy divergences on a range of issues from bilateral trade to Indian arms purchases from Russia.4More fundamentally, aside from differences in policy preferences, analysts question whether India will have the capacity to play a significantly greater role in global and regional security. India’s economy and military capabilities have expanded, but only incrementally and arguably at a pace insufficient to keep up with China’s growing power and assertiveness—or with American expectations. Even the firmest proponents of this strategic bet, like senior analyst Ashley Tellis, have openly pondered, “if India continues along this path, does our bet on it become a failed bet?"6 As Indian capabilities and U.S. expectations evolve, how can the two countries work together to uphold a favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific? It is time for Washington to reframe its strategic bet on India. A close U.S.-India strategic partnership remains critical to meet the challenge a revisionist China poses. But the United States must adjust its policy approach to ensure the partnership is more focused on priority goals, and more resilient to inevitable disruptions. A more focused and resilient partnership would prioritize certain strategic tasks and geographic areas; in particular, the United States and India should cooperate to develop a denial strategy in the Indian Ocean.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, North America, United States of America