Recent Events

In November 2017, when President Trump visited Japan, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump agreed to work together to promote peace and prosperity in the region by developing the Indo-Pacific as free and open. In addition, particularly after President Trump gave a speech at the APEC CEO Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, on November 10th, the concept of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" moved squarely into the spotlight and became a priority for policy makers of the United States and Japan. The two countries are about to initiate the process of elaborating this concept, and much work lies ahead, including how to coordinate their focus and approach, how to divide their roles, and how to conduct outreach to allies and partners.
Last Tuesday, January 31, the Atlantic Council joined the US chapter of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA-US) and George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs' Graduate Student Forum (GSF), and young professionals in DC’s transatlantic community to watch President Trump’s first State of the Union address to Congress.

On December 6, 2017 the Atlantic Council hosted a day of expert panels that explored different approaches to envisioning and understanding the future and their application to preparing the US Army for tomorrow’s challenges. 
On December 11 the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security launched the thirteenth volume in the Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series.

On January 25, 2018, Dr. Mathew Burrows, director of the Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, welcomed the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) for the launch of their latest monograph “People Power Movements and International Human Rights: Creating a Legal Framework.” Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, a senior director of education and research at ICNC moderated the event. Dr. Bartkowski spoke of the evolution of this monograph series since its initial launch in 2015. The monograph’s author, Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, a visiting scholar from Rutgers Law School, presented the core arguments to the audience.

Reimagining the US-Republic of Korea Partnership in the Trans-Pacific Century
As the Trump administration nears the end of its first year in office, it is a propitious moment to take stock of the emerging US policy for an uncertain and very dynamic security and economic environment in the Trans-Pacific region. In order to most effectively address the region’s unfolding economic and security challenges and opportunities, the United States should work more closely than ever before with its like-minded allies and partners from both the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic communities to develop common approaches. 
On October 10th, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative and DEF CON hosted a public event on the vulnerabilities in US voting infrastructure and recommendations for a path forward in securing our democracy. Panelists included Ambassador Douglas Lute, former US permanent representative to NATO; Jeff Moss, founder of DEF CON and senior fellow for the Cyber Statecraft Initiative; John Gilligan, chairman of the board for the Center for Internet Security; Sherri Ramsay, former director of the NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center; and Harri Hursti, founding partner of Nordic Innovation Labs and organizer of the DEF CON Voting Village. The panel was moderated by Jake Braun, a lecturer at the University of Chicago and opening remarks were given by Fred Kempe.
On November 7, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative launched its first-ever report on Aviation Cybersecurity—Finding Lift, Minimizing Drag, underwritten by Thales. The event featured a keynote by Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at the US Department of Homeland Security. Opening remarks were provided by The Hon. Jane Holl Lute, CEO of SICPA North America, former deputy secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security and Atlantic Council Board Director, as well as Alan Pellegrini, CEO of Thales North America and Atlantic Council Board Director.
In an increasingly connected aviation ecosystem, the ever-expanding and complex cybersecurity issues that affect aviation stakeholders are immense. The launch convened a group of leading aviation industry and cybersecurity experts that discussed the report's key findings and examined the threats, vulnerabilities and potential solutions. Panelists included Pete Cooper, author of the report and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Cyber Statecraft Initiative; Christian Espinosa, white hat hacker and CEO of Alpine Security; Steve Luczynski, former deputy director of cyber plans and operations at the Office of the Secretary of Defense; David Silver, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association and Elizabeth Wharton, senior assistant city attorney for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The culmination of a full year of analysis by the Atlantic Council’s Asia-Pacific Strategy Task Force, A Strategy for the Trans-Pacific Century argues for deeper engagement between the United States’ Atlantic and Pacific partners to uphold the liberal rules-based order in Asia and beyond. As the rise of China creates reverberations felt not only within the Pacific region, but through the Atlantic as well, cooperation between these partners is needed now more than ever. Across Asia, Europe, and America, many nations share a common interest in protecting a rules-based order that has guaranteed more than half a century of freedom, prosperity, and growth. In their review of the task force’s findings, Dr. Matt Kroenig and Dr. Miyeon Oh, the paper’s co-authors, find that this cooperation cannot afford to take the form of either staunch resistance to change or acceptance of a bare-bones order. Instead, these partners must seek to reinvigorate the order by adapting it to a new global power dynamic, as articulated through a five-pillar strategy: strengthening security cooperation between regional allies; practicing hard-headed engagement with China; adapting the regional economic architecture for an open order; partnering to address the emerging issue areas of the 2020s; and promoting good governance, the rule of law, democracy, and universally recognized human rights.

To mark the paper’s launch, the Atlantic Council hosted a panel with co-authors Dr. Kroenig and Dr. Oh, who were joined by Ambassador Paula Dobriansky and Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri to discuss their thoughts on the future of the strategic order, grounding their comments in their individual regional perspectives from America and from Asia. In their opening remarks, all four panelists concurred on the overriding importance of US-China relations in the coming decades. Ambassador Mirpuri emphasized how China has gained power through its economic ascendancy, becoming the dominant trading partner of all Southeast Asian countries, while Ambassador Dobriansky agreed with Dr. Kroenig and Dr. Oh in asserting the need to strike a balance between cooperation and confrontation when dealing with China. The panelists also affirmed the need for strong partnerships in this new era, with Dr. Oh stressing the role of regional buy-in within Asia even as Ambassador Mirpuri highlighted the role of the US as a resident power of the Pacific, and the potential for tighter ties with Europe. As summed up by Ambassador Dobriansky, thinking around connectedness and alliances—whether informal or formal—must be central to forthcoming attempts to strengthen the foundation of the international rules-based order.

The panelists continued to build on these messages in the audience Q&A session, during which they covered a wide range of issues that spanned media coverage of the Asia-Pacific, the KORUS FTA, and the South China Sea. Two parallel themes emerged in this discussion, with one set of questions focusing on security and military strategy, and another set revolving around the economy and strategic trade. On security, Dr. Oh restated the need for the US and Trump to provide strong reassurances in the face of current challenges, with the hope that his coming trip to the region would encourage him to do so. On trade, the panelists echoed the paper on one of its main points, with Dr. Kroenig stating that they did not want to see the region divided into two Cold War blocs, but hoped to see Asia go beyond a zero-sum game. Ambassador Mirpuri likewise noted Singapore’s desire to see a balance in trade between the US and China, even as he underscored the role of US investment—not merely in terms of formal structures, but also in terms of US business presence. These questions were not strictly independent of each other: Ambassador Mirpuri noted that when discussing trade agreements, the Trump administration has focused on matters of economic benefit (or lack thereof), whereas their Asian counterparts have seen them as strategic agreements intended to anchor the US in the region. Both he and Ambassador Dobriansky agreed that a significant question facing policymakers was how to bring these economic and strategic imperatives together, stressing the paper’s premise that any future international order in the Asia-Pacific must be grounded in the preferences of countries in the region.

A Strategy for the Trans-Pacific Century is the twelfth volume in the Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series. The series is designed to enrich the public debate and build consensus on the great strategic challenges of our time, as well as to help shape strategic thinking in US and allied governments, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the global media. Check out all the volumes here.
Written by Dr. Gal Luft, Silk Road 2.0: US Strategy toward China's Belt and Road Initiative explores how the United States should engage with China's tremendous infrastructure-building project, and recommends the United States pursue a strategy of constructive participation. This strategy is built on five pillars: acknowledge, engage, adjust; articulate red lines; carve a role for the United States; integrate the BRI into the framework of overall US-China Relations; and present America's own vision for infrastructure development.

The discussion focused on two main themes: the geopolitical and strategic reasons why the United States should engage in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how the United States can do so while maintaining and protecting its interests. Overall, the panelists felt the BRI provides avenues for a constructive and cooperative relationship with China, the United States should want a role in development of underdeveloped regions which also provide US companies the opportunity to compete, and, lastly, China’s accrued influence in the countries where their projects are a success will test other hegemonic powers including Russia and India. One particular area to watch is China’s large investments in long-time ally Pakistan’s development. Ambassador Gray, Dr. Oh, and Dr. Luft all described how engagement with the BRI is in the United States’ interest as it helps create the standards for infrastructure development. The BRI provides private sector businesses with transparency to the contract competition process, providing fair access to capital for proposed BRI projects. The US government should help ensure fair access and transparency to business who wish to enter BRI projects. The overall conclusion is this: the BRI is moving forward with or without the US – the strategy that is proposed in this Atlantic Council Strategy Paper provides a roadmap to supporting China’s interest and investments in international development while maintaining US interests and security by selectively choosing when to endorse and when to rebuff aspects of the BRI.