Recent Events

The Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity turned its report in to the President on December 1, 2016. Established in February 2016 by executive order, the Commission was charged with making recommendations to “address actions that can be taken over the next decade” to improve national cybersecurity. The Commission’s recommendations are expected to include information for government agencies, private companies, and other stakeholders, covering a wide range of activities in cyberspace, emerging technologies, the Internet of Things, and industry best practices.
On December 20, The Hon. Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the US Air Force returned to the Atlantic Council for a special roundtable discussion with junior staff members on “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in National Security: A conversation with the Hon. Deborah Lee James.” The session featured a keynote address by the Secretary, and a moderated discussion and Q&A led by Lauren Speranza, Assistant Director, Transatlantic Security Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

Secretary James has been a vocal champion for issues relating to diversity and inclusion during her tenure as the Secretary of the Air Force, introducing various initiatives to increase opportunities for women and minorities in service. She joined junior staff members to speak on an array of lessons for female foreign policy professionals, sharing her own career story, answering questions, and discussing approaches and innovative ways to deal with challenges women face in the industry.
On December 16, the Atlantic Council hosted private roundtable discussion with John Manza, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations. Manza provided an update on the planning and execution of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

Manza has served as NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations since July 2016. Recently, he has expanded his duties at NATO having been appointed the Alliance’s Senior Civilian Representative in Baghdad, where he will be standing up the new NATO Mission to Iraq. Previously, Manza served as Director for NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His career includes positions at NATO (Kabul), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense, as well as 20 years in the Marine Corps, with deployments to Central America, Asia and the Middle East.
On December 8, we partnered with the Norwegian Embassy for its annual Henry Bacon Seminar. This year’s seminar, The North Atlantic–Old Security Landscape Reemerging, focused on the growing security challenges in the North Atlantic, in light of Russia’s increasing assertiveness and military build-up in the region. With the new US administration preparing to take office, the event contributed to the conversations on the US’ future role in European and transatlantic security, as well as what steps NATO Allies and partner countries should take to bolster security and stability, particularly in the North Atlantic region. Expert panelists also explored Russia’s capabilities, modernization plans, and grand strategy for the region, as well as some of the broader threats related to maritime security and the GIUK gap.

The Atlantic Council supported the event, as a part of our long-standing partnership with the MOD, by furnishing select speakers, including Christine Wormuth, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council, and Magnus Nordenman, Director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
On December 2, the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a discussion on the incoming administration’s Asia policy and its potential impacts for the region. The session was led by David Wertime, a senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine.

Following a welcome and introductory remarks by the Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Wertime moderated a panel on President-Elect Trump’s Asia policy featuring Russell Hsiao, executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute; Shihoko Goto, senior associate for Northeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program; and Meredith Miller, vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group.
With more cars and medical devices connecting to the internet, what happens if automakers and health care companies don't start prioritizing digital security?

Many cybersecurity experts worry that faulty code in the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) won't just cause systems to malfunction and freeze. Instead, they say, flaws inside connected cars or pacemakers could lead to serious injury or death.
On November 29, the Atlantic Council hosted a unique joint roundtable on the future of US-Nordic Defense Cooperation. Janne Kuusela, Defense Policy Director at the Ministry of Defense of Finland, and Johan Lagerlöf, Defense Policy Director at the Ministry of Defense of Sweden led a private discussion on how both Finland and Sweden are approaching the current security environment in Europe. Participants provided insights on further opportunities for US-Finland-Sweden defense cooperation, especially for tackling emerging challenges in the Baltic Sea region. The discussants also explored the implications of the recent US election for the Nordic-Baltic region.
On November 18, the Atlantic Council hosted a private briefing for a delegation of rising leaders from the Finnish Parliament. The session featured keynote remarks by Ian Brzezinski and Robert Nurick, Senior Fellows at Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, and Fran Burwell, Vice President, European Union and Special Initiatives. Jorge Benitez, Director of NATOSource and Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Center, moderated the discussion, which focused on the current security landscape in Europe and what the US election results mean for NATO and the US role in European security more broadly. The briefers also outlined the major political and economic challenges across the EU, and how European leaders might approach this new strategic environment, as well as the new US administration.
For all the tools available to policymakers concerned with understanding how life is going to change in expected and unexpected ways during the next two decades, the one that has yet to be used may be the most poignant and entertaining: comedy.

In particular, satire, from the work of writer Mark Twain to the “newscasts” of Jon Stewart, has a rich history in popping bubbles of expectation and shaping how American society sees itself and some of its most vexing social, political, and economic contradictions. With the social-media amplified voices of today, comedy’s universal appeal can be even more important and engaging to a far wider audience that will only become more connected to one another during the coming decades.

Tying all of these influences together, the benchmark Global Risks 2035 report lays out the trends, technologies, and forces that are starting to reshape the way we learn, do business, fight, love, and invent. Like other Art of the Future project creative challenges, this contest showcased the value of creative thinking about the future, especially technology, conflict, and demography. It brought in new perspectives, which are increasingly valuable for their unexpected insights. The convening of comedians and the policy community for an evening at DC Improv provided an opportunity to develop the kind of insights about the future that only humor can reveal.

The event headliner was Erin Jackson, and Jason Weems hosted. Additionally, seven comics participated in a contest to determine who can make the best jokes about life in 2035. The winner of the contest was Denise Taylor.

On Monday, November 14 the Strategy Initiative at the Atlantic Council hosted a live gray-zone pathgame exploring US options and responses in the event of a gray-zone attack.

The event began with remarks from Antonia Chayes, Professor of Practice of International Politics and Law at Tuft University’s Fletcher School, regarding her new book, Borderless Wars: Civil-Military Disorder and Legal Uncertainty. In her book, Chayes examines the modern military-legal landscape of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and cyber warfare - so called "gray zone" conflicts. These conflicts have thrown civilians and military into unaccustomed roles with inadequate legal underpinnings. Chayes provides solutions through role definition and transparency to help guide the United States to answer the question: how do we legally employ these new tools in these new circumstances?