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  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Recent legislative changes call for enhanced scrutiny on potential transfers of “emerging and foundational technologies.” These are broadly defined as technologies essential to U.S. national security. The Congressional intent is for agencies to develop a more specific list, with robotics and artificial intelligence as primary concerns. Developing this list raises several issues. These include how to determine the military utility of an emerging technology, how to control the diffusion of the technology, and how to manage the risks of increased control for American innovation. Enhancing controls on the transfer of emerging technologies is necessary for several reasons. First, the U.S. finds itself in a contest with China. China intends to eventually displace the U.S as a global leader in technology, part of its larger effort to expands its influence and power. China is a technological rival of a kind the U.S. has never had before, given the deep interconnections between the two economies. China is still dependent on the West for advanced technology and uses a combination of techniques to acquire it. The 2015 Obama-Xi agreement on commercial cyber espionage attempted to address the problem, but China now ignores that agreement. In this environment, strengthening oversight of technology transfers from the U.S. and its allies to China is essential. In particular, new rules are needed to review technology transfers through co-production, joint ventures, or intangible exports, as these have been a major source of China’s access to technology. Second, current controls on technology transfers do not adequately protect emerging and foundational technologies. The current technology transfer control system is too close to its Cold War roots. Thresholds were set by asking what was the state of the art, how close our Soviet competitor was to this, and whether a technology was “controllable” or if it had become a commodity or was widely available from foreign sources. These are no longer the right questions to ask. The approach needed now is whether we want to transfer a technology to China and whether an effort to prevent this would do more harm than good to America’s own technological capabilities. This calls the whole complex structure of precise control thresholds into question. Modernizing export controls will be difficult, but the proposed rulemaking offers an opportunity to begin the process of revision. Export controls have their background in the 20th Century, when two bifurcated economic blocs were in competition and where thresholds for controls could be set with a degree of precision. This is no longer the case. Attempting to layer a 20th century export control regime over the new dynamics of global trade and innovation will not adequately protect emerging technologies. Reform will necessarily be an iterative process, part of a larger restructuring of export controls for a new international environment. A key point to bear in mind is that since China is still dependent on advanced Western technology (and this is an unlikely change in the near future), access to western technology should be used to gain leverage in talks to change China’s aggressively mercantilist policies. This will be difficult, and it will take time, but a failure to confront China and bring about change will lead to the outcomes that technology controls seek to avoid. The goal is not to defeat or contain China, but to bring its practices in line with international expectations in ways that allow commercial relationships to continue without risk to national security.
  • Topic: Security, Industry, Emerging Technology
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Melissa Dalton
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Like it or not, countries beset by instability from terrorist organizations or contested by state-based adversaries will continue to pose national security challenges to the United States. In the face of these challenges and given political and budgetary constraints at home, the United States must be more selective in how it scopes and executes efforts to consolidate gains after military operations and build institutional resiliency against adversaries. The Trump administration released its Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) framework on June 19, 2018, which is a strategic document to guide U.S. government efforts to maximize the effectiveness of stabilizing conflict-affected areas. Following the large-scale reconstruction efforts of the early 2000s in Iraq and Afghanistan, the SAR recognizes changing geopolitical realities and U.S. domestic political and budgetary constraints that will shape future stabilization efforts. This interagency framework, co-produced by the Department of State (DoS), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DoD) provided the first-ever U.S. government unified definition of stabilization, recognized as an “inherently political endeavor involving an integrated civilian-military process to create conditions where locally legitimate authorities and systems can peaceably manage conflict and prevent a resurgence of violence.”2 The SAR defined roles for the key agencies involved in providing stabilization assistance to foreign countries. DoS is designated as the overall lead for stabilization efforts, formulating the political strategy. USAID is intended to be the lead implementor for non-security stabilization assistance, bringing considerable technical expertise. The SAR specifies that DoD is a supporting element in providing security-related stabilization assistance in support of civilian-led efforts. Other U.S. government departments and agencies may also play roles in stabilization under this organizational rubric. The SAR also highlighted the intended short-term nature of stabilization efforts, typically lasting between one to five years, agile, and adaptive to host country needs. Furthermore, the SAR underscored the need to coordinate and burden-share with allies and multilateral institutions in bolstering support for locally legitimate actors on the ground. The SAR rightly responds to U.S. taxpayer fatigue regarding previous U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing on cost-effectiveness and allied support for future U.S. foreign assistance programs. However, stabilization efforts should also be placed in a broader context. Conflict in the twenty-first century has become increasingly localized in nature and often results in longer, more violent clashes between state and non-state actors. It is also characterized by state-based competitors, which can exploit localized conflict and undermine the institutions of allies and partners. Indeed, given the emphasis the Trump administration has placed on prioritizing great power competition in both the U.S. National Security and Defense Strategies, future stabilization policies also need to account for competition with U.S. adversaries such as Russia and China.3 Traditional conflict phases are also melding together, such that stabilization operations may well take place during active conflict than following a ceasefire or temporary cessation of hostilities and share strong characteristics with preventive activities. Planning for stabilization should be required at the outset of any military operation, reevaluated as the environment shifts during operations, and deployed in parallel as conditions permit.
  • Topic: Political stability, Conflict, Peace, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has now been continuously at war for more than seventeen years. It is still fighting an active war in Afghanistan, has yet to fully defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq – much less establish a state of lasting security in either country – and is playing a role in low level conflicts against extremist and terrorists in many other parts of the world. The U.S. government, however, has never developed a convincing method of reporting on the cost of the wars, and its estimates are a confusing morass of different and conflicting Departmental, Agency, and other government reporting that leave major gaps in key areas during FY2001-FY2019. It has never provided useful forecasts of future cost, instead providing empty "placeholder" numbers or none. It has failed to find any useful way to tie the cost estimates it does release to its level of military and civil activity in each conflict or found any way to measure the effectiveness of its expenditures or tie them to a credible strategy to achieve some form of victory. The result is a national embarrassment and a fundamental failure by the Executive Branch and Congress to produce the transparency and public debate and review that are key elements of a responsible government and democracy.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Budget, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Will Todman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States government can neither engender new states nor prevent them from coming into being, but it does possess a range of policy tools to influence the trajectory of new or aspiring states. While U.S. history creates a certain amount of empathy for self-determination groups, as a general rule the U.S. government views most independence movements skeptically. This is appropriate, in part because few such movements are viable. Economies are small or fragile (or both), the cause enjoys limited internal support, or the forces arrayed against it are too massive. In addition, the United States is tied diplomatically to some 190 countries around the world, and it usually privileges intergovernmental ties over those with non-governmental groups. Supporting secession not only would threaten U.S. relations with countries fighting U.S.-backed movements, but also other countries that feared that the United States might come to support secessionists elsewhere. For the United States, some sort of decentralization or autonomy arrangement is often a less costly option. It is also more agreeable to partner governments and reduces the risk of regional instability. However, exceptions can occur when secessionist movements take root in countries where the United States has more difficult relations, or where repression of minority groups or some other humanitarian factor weighs heavily on the scale.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Non State Actors, Governance, Self Determination, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Will Todman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: When President Trump declared on December 19 that U.S. troops in Syria were “all coming back and coming back now,” it plunged the future of the East of the country into uncertainty.1 Dynamics in Syria were already shifting against the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration (AA) in Northeast Syria, as threats from Turkey and the regime increased. The impending withdrawal of U.S. forces eliminates the AA’s main source of leverage over the Assad regime and increases its vulnerability to the Turkish invasion President Erdogan has threatened. Scrambling to avoid conflict, AA officials have turned to Russia to mediate a political deal with President Assad, hoping to restore regime control to Syria’s eastern borders in exchange for self-administration.2 However, the lack of clarity over the timeline of the withdrawal means the United States maintains important influence in eastern Syria.3 Shaping the outcome of the Kurdish question at this critical juncture and preventing a new conflict in Northeast Syria are among the few remaining positive steps it can take in Syria. Although the Kurdish issue seems tangential to U.S. interests, the United States should invest in its diplomatic and military tools to facilitate a limited autonomy settlement in Northeast Syria when the area is formally reintegrated into Assad’s territory. To do so, the United States should work to discourage potential spoilers to such a deal and then forge an international coalition to act as guarantors to the agreement. Failing to secure an autonomy settlement could sow the seeds of long-lasting instability in Northeast Syria. The experience of autonomy has fanned the flames of Kurdish self-determination, and although the position of Syrian Kurds is now precarious, they are nonetheless stronger and more united than they ever have been. Throughout the conflict, they have won freedoms which Damascus long denied them and built a formidable army: the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly numbers over 60,000 troops.4 Such self-determination movements do not flare out so easily. A new CSIS edited volume, Independence Movements and Their Aftermath: Self-Determination and the Struggle for Success,” shows that from Bangladesh to East Timor, governments’ attempts to curb a minority’s rights have often accelerated their push for independence.5 A U.S. abandonment of Syrian Kurds without facilitating a negotiated settlement could therefore ignite another bloody, long-term struggle for self-determination in the Middle East, with wide-reaching regional implications.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Governance, Self Determination, Settlements, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, Kurdistan, United States of America
  • Author: Kathleen H. Hicks, Andrew Philip Hunter, Mark F. Cancian, Todd Harrison, Seamus P. Daniels
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Expectations have been building for the FY 2020 defense budget request, a budget that acting secretary of defense Shanahan has called the “masterpiece.” While the administration’s FY 2019 defense budget of $716 billion is fully funded through the remainder of the current fiscal year, a surprising number of statements on defense spending from the White House over the past several months have generated significant discussion and uncertainty around the FY 2020 request, calling into question whether or not it will be a masterpiece after all. In addition to waiting for the final topline figure, questions remain over how the budget will be composed, whether its priorities align with those of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), and how much detail it provides on the administration’s plans for national security space reorganization. The request also comes in the leadup to the debate over raising the Budget Control Act (BCA) budget caps for FY 2020 and FY 2021. As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works on finalizing the request, experts from the CSIS International Security Program outline what to look for in the FY 2020 defense budget below.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Budget
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gabriel Coll, Andrew Philip Hunter, Robert Karlen
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. military’s vertical lift fleet of helicopters and tiltrotors is aging. With the exception of V-22 Osprey, no completely new aircraft designs have been introduced since the 1980s. Even the V-22 made its first test flight back in the 1980s. And the U.S. Army, which has the largest helicopter fleet and traditionally takes the lead on vertical lift innovation, has not made substantial investments in Research & Development since the cancellation of RAH-66 Comanche. Today, there are ambitious plans to modernize the entire vertical lift fleet. However, much of the investment path ahead remains unclear. To make informed plans about the future, it is important first to understand how the United States arrived at its current state through past investments.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Air Force
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Philip Hunter
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Economics scholars and policymakers have rung alarm bells about the increasing threat of consolidation within industrial sectors. This paper examines the importance of industrial concentration in U.S. defense acquisition in two ways: first, a direct relationship between concentration and performance outcomes; and second, a mediating relationship, where concentration influences performance through reduced competition for defense acquisition. The study created a large contract dataset incorporating economic statistics on industrial sectors and analyzed it using multilevel logit models. The study finds that subsector concentration correlates with greater rates of termination. Contrary to the hypothesis, competition is associated with higher rates of termination, and only single-offer competition is significantly associated with lower rates of cost ceiling breaches. Taken together, the results are consistent with the literature on the risk of concentration’s connection with market power but also suggest that the mechanisms of competition are worthy of future study.
  • Topic: Monopoly, Private Sector, Industry, Defense Industry
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Judd Devermont
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is election season again in sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly every five years, the region faces a tidal wave of elections. In previous cycles, starting in the mid-1990s, the outcome was generally predictable. The ruling party leveraged its considerable advantages—including access to state resources—to secure another term. If the incumbent party rigged the poll, international monitors easily spotted the fraud and strenuously objected, even if to little effect. For the past two decades, five out of every six elections have produced the same result. This next batch of some two dozen elections will be different. A combination of demographic, technological, and geostrategic developments is disrupting the region’s electoral landscape. African leaders, opposition, and publics are adapting and writing a new playbook in the process. From street protests and parallel vote counts to election hacking and internet shutdowns, sub-Saharan African politics are becoming more competitive and more unpredictable. The case for democracy and improving the quality of elections is not simply a moral or altruistic one. U.S. national security objectives, including promoting prosperity and stability, are more achievable in democratic systems. Autocratic regimes, in contrast, worsen corruption, undercut sound economic management, and fail to produce long- term growth. Indeed, recent research indicates that Africa’s democracies grow at a faster rate than its autocracies, and this is more pronounced among countries that have been democracies for longer.1 Moreover, historically, democracies rarely have gone to war with one another. If the United States wants to advance its broad objectives in the region, it will need to reconceptualize its investments, partnerships, and interventions regarding elections.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Elections, Democracy, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, United States of America, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Author: J. Stephen Morrison
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As President Trump and Kim Jong-un meet for their second summit in Hanoi, will there be serious consideration given to what concrete actions can be taken to protect and advance a health and humanitarian agenda that can directly benefit North Korea’s impoverished majority and reduce the threat of a runaway tuberculosis (TB) outbreak? Perhaps. Certainly, let’s hope so. There is much that can be done.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Poverty, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America