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  • Author: Scott A. Snyder, Geun Lee, You Young Kim, Jiyoon Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Despite becoming influential on the world scene, South Korea remains a relatively weak country surrounded by larger, more powerful neigh- bors. This contrast between its global rank as a top-twenty economy and its regional status as the weakest country in Northeast Asia (with the exception of North Korea) poses a paradox for South Korean for- eign policy strategists. Despite successes addressing nontraditional security challenges in areas such as international development, global health, and UN peacekeeping, South Korea is limited in its capacity to act on regional security threats. South Korea has historically been a victim of geopolitical rivalries among contenders for regional hegemony in East Asia. But the coun- try’s rise in influence provides a glimmer of hope that it can break from its historical role by using its expanded capabilities as leverage to shape its strategic environment. The pressing dilemma for South Korean strategic thinkers is how to do so. As the regional security environment becomes more tense, South Korea’s strategic options are characterized by constraint, given potentially conflicting great-power rivalries and Pyongyang’s efforts to pursue asymmetric nuclear or cyber capabilities at Seoul’s expense. South Korea’s relative weakness puts a premium on its ability to achieve the internal political unity necessary to maximize its influence in foreign policy. Students of Korean history will recall that domestic factionalism among political elites was a chronic factor that hamstrung Korea’s dynastic leadership and contributed to its weakness in dealing with outside forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Elena Chernenko, Oleg Demidov, Fyodor Lukyanov
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: nformation and communications technology (ICT) presents one of the most critical modern challenges to global security. Threat assessments predict that the next major international crisis could be due to a state or terrorist group weaponizing ICTs to devastate critical infrastructure or military logistics networks. The proliferation of asymmetric warfare (i.e., conflicts between nations or groups that have disparate military capabilities) has increased states’ use of ICTs, which necessitates the development of an international code of cyber conduct. There is an urgent need for cooperation among states to mitigate threats such as cybercrime, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, electronic espionage, bulk data interception, and offensive operations intended to project power by the application of force in and through cyberspace. Emerging cyber threats could precipitate massive economic and societal damage, and international efforts need to be recalibrated to account for this new reality. A common misperception is that the principal cybersecurity threats demanding urgent international collaboration are massive, state sponsored attacks that target critical infrastructure such as power plants or electrical grids, causing massive devastation and human casualties. In fact, cyber threats are more diverse and complex, often targeting private enterprises and endangering the technical integrity of the digital world. The near-total digitalization of business models makes the global economy more vulnerable to cyberattacks, not only from states but also from criminal organizations and other nonstate actors.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Emerging challenges to international order require cooperation between the United States and China, two countries that share a common interest in preventing the world from becoming more dangerous and disorderly. U.S.-China relations are becoming more strained and antagonistic, however, and the prospects for cooperation appear to be receding. To explore whether there are still grounds for cooperation on issues of common concern between the two countries, in March 2018 the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of fifteen experts from the United States and China for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-China Cooperation.” CPA partnered with Peking University’s School of International Studies in Beijing for the workshop and also met with experts at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies in Shanghai. During the workshop, President Donald J. Trump announced plans to impose about $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports. While trade was a major topic of discussion, it was by no means the only area discussed. Workshop participants assessed conflicting views of the sources of global disorder and examined areas of global governance such as international trade, development, the environment, and the future of various multilateral institutions. They also discussed the most pressing security challenges in East and Southwest Asia. Participants highlighted the need for a greater understanding between the United States and China on the evolving international order. No major transnational problems will be solved without some cooperation between the two powers. It is therefore imperative that the two countries avoid a further deterioration of the relationship and instead identify areas of potential cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Social Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Although the Barack Obama administration rhetorically made Southeast Asia a centerpiece of its “rebalance to Asia” strategy, the administration still largely focused on the Middle East and Europe, and Southeast Asia remained a low U.S. policy priority. The Obama administration did try to boost U.S. economic ties with Southeast Asia in 2016 by forging the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but that trade deal was broadly unpopular in the United States. The following year, the Donald J. Trump administration ended U.S. participation in the TPP, and it also suggested launching punitive economic measures against Southeast Asian states currently running trade surpluses with the United States. Many Southeast Asian leaders now worry that Washington has no clear security or economic strategy for the region, other than applying pressure on Beijing to respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. In this perceived void of U.S. leadership and strategy, workshop participants assessed how Southeast Asia might change as China becomes an increasingly dominant regional security and economic actor. They also discussed the future of U.S. strategic and economic relationships with important partners in the region, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Participants further considered how China might use its growing leverage in Southeast Asia, and whether Beijing’s tactics could backfire. Finally, several workshop participants posited that the United States, China, and Southeast Asian states could cooperate on at least some nontraditional security issues, such as combating piracy and terrorism.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Despite recent turbulence in the transatlantic relationship, the United States and the European Union share a common interest in managing emerging sources of global disorder. To explore prospects for and challenges to transatlantic cooperation, the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations convened an international group of twenty-three experts at the Tufts University Center in Talloires, France, on July 12–13, 2018, for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for Transatlantic Cooperation.” The workshop is the third in a series of meetings supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It is premised on the belief that the United States, China, the European Union, and Russia not only share a common interest in preventing the world from becoming more dangerous and disorderly, but also that the nature and scope of this task necessitates cooperation among them. Workshop participants discussed their perceptions of the growing sources of disorder in the world, examined areas of strategic cooperation, and explored where the United States and the European Union might work together to address a variety of regional concerns emanating from Africa, China, the Middle East, and Russia. While highlighting how the two can work together to address increasing political instability and violent conflict, participants also cited the importance of the transatlantic relationship in preventing or mitigating the demise of the liberal international order.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, European Union, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America, Atlantic Ocean
  • Author: Zhao Long
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Over the past few decades, climate change and globalization have dramatically transformed the Arctic. As a result of global warming, the Arctic sea ice has been melting rapidly, potentially easing access to natural resources and opening up new maritime routes in the region. These changes have increased global attention on potential commercial opportunities, research, and peace and stability in the region. As national governments, international institutions, and nonstate actors explore different approaches to Arctic governance, a cohesive regime complex—a set of functionally specific regimes that together serve as a foundation for efficient governance—that integrates existing frameworks could help address the environmental, economic, sociocultural, and geopolitical challenges this region faces. The recent transformation of the Arctic is driven largely by sea ice melting at an accelerated rate. Between 1979 and 2015, the Arctic sea ice extent—the surface area of the ocean covered by sea ice—decreased by 4.7 percent per decade and the thickness of sea ice dwindled by 10 to 15 percent. Even if global temperature rises by less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the Arctic could see a sea ice–free summer at least once a decade. Decreased sea ice allows for additional human activity in the Arctic; this in turn exacerbates the damage to the Arctic ecosystem. Decreasing sea ice and permafrost—as a result of which more fresh water enters the Arctic Ocean—can change weather and climate conditions in other parts of the globe.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Governance
  • Political Geography: Arctic
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On May 7–9, 2017, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted the sixth annual conference of the Council of Councils. The conference was made possible by the generous support of the Robina Foundation for CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program. The views described here are those of workshop participants only and are not CFR or Robina Foundation positions. The Council on Foreign Relations takes no institutional positions on policy issues and has no affiliation with the U.S. government. In addition, the suggested policy prescriptions are the views of individual participants and do not necessarily represent a consensus of the attending members.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: While relations between the United States and Russia have deteriorated in recent years, making it exceedingly difficult for both countries to collaborate in managing a variety of common concerns, emerging challenges to global order make such cooperation increasingly imperative. To explore where U.S.-Russia cooperation is desirable and, in some places, even necessary, the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations convened an international group of twenty-three experts at the Tufts University European Center in Talloires, France, on June 9 and 10, 2017, for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-Russian Cooperation.”
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Anupam Chander
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Digital commerce and trade are increasingly important to the global economy. Seven of the ten most valuable firms today are technology companies (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, and Tencent). Data, according to some analysts, is the new oil. A major study concluded that the internet has powered some one-fifth of recent economic growth within the leading economies. Jobs are increasingly dependent on digitization; digital skills are needed for all but two job categories [PDF] in the United States: dishwashing and food cooking. Just as national economies are becoming more digitized, barriers to digital trade are being erected. These barriers limit opportunities for consumers to access global providers and for small- and medium-sized enterprises to reach new customers. It is not only technology firms that suffer; all enterprises with international operations need cross-border data flows to process, analyze, and transfer data about employees, customers, and operations. Global supply chains depend on the flow of goods, data, and services across borders. Moreover, commitment to the free flow of information across borders is essential to freedom of expression. Digital trade is about more than access to markets; it is about access to information. The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an excellent opportunity to set the gold standard for digital free trade. Despite public pronouncements about the harm free trade causes to the steel and automobile industries, the Donald J. Trump administration, to its credit, recognizes the importance of removing digital trade barriers in its stated objectives for the NAFTA renegotiation [PDF]. In its negotiations with Canada and Mexico, the Trump administration should seek rules limiting data localization, promote a balanced approach to intellectual property protections, support cross-border privacy rules, and remove barriers that hinder the trade of services.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Digital Economy, NAFTA
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Heung-kyu Kim
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As the Republic of Korea faces an increasing threat from North Korea, evolving U.S.-China relations are becoming important to Seoul’s strategy for dealing with Pyongyang. The United States and China are competitors, but they also seek cooperation on a range of global issues. And although South Korea seeks to have good relations with both great powers, it is increasingly being pushed to take sides in the ongoing U.S.-China competition. As the U.S.-China relationship becomes more complex, South Korea needs to carefully evaluate its policy toward China in order to find the best ways to ensure Chinese cooperation on the North Korean issue, particularly taking into account China’s evolving view of North Korea. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China is profoundly changing its foreign policy, including its relations with the United States and the two Koreas. With more confidence in its own diplomatic, military, and economic capacity to protect its national interests, China under Xi’s leadership has begun to regard the entire Korean Peninsula as part of its sphere of influence.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea