Recent Events

On August 2, 2017, the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a panel discussion on the week-long round of cybersecurity conferences known as “Hacker Summer Camp” – DEF CON, Black Hat, and BSides Las Vegas. Ariel Robinson, Analyst and Reporter for ITSP Magazine and Host of The Tech Effect podcast, moderated a conversation with Nick Leiserson, Legislative Director for the Office of U.S. Representative Jim Langevin; Cris Thomas (also known as Space Rogue), Global Strategy Lead for IBM X-Force Red; Jessica Wilkerson, Professional Staff Member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Beau Woods, Deputy Director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security on the three cybersecurity conferences that welcomed top hackers, academics, journalists, professionals, and government representatives. 
On Monday July 17th, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft initiative, part of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, held a moderated discussion where panelists Laura Galante, senior fellow with the Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative and former director of Global Intelligence at FireEye; Alexander Klimburg, senior fellow with the Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative and program director at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies; Jane Holl Lute, Atlantic Council board director and CEO of SICPA; and  moderator Tal Kopan, political reporter at CNN, discussed the chilling consequences of cyberspace as a new field of conflict.
We are living in a world awash in data. Accelerated interconnectivity, driven by the proliferation of internet-connected devices, has led to an explosion of data—big data. A race is now underway to develop new technologies and implement innovative methods that can handle the volume, variety, velocity, and veracity of big data and apply it smartly to provide decisive advantage and help solve major challenges facing companies and governments.
In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, Edward Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of Western hegemony and the crisis of liberal democracy—of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a deeply alarming symptom. Luce argues that the erosion of middle-class incomes has eaten away at liberal democratic consensus, resulting in today’s crisis. Unless the West can rekindle an economy that produces gains for the majority of its people, its political liberties may be doomed. 
The Trump administration is said to be drafting a new arms package for Taiwan that could include advanced rocket systems and anti-ship missiles. The package is expected to be significantly larger than one that was shelved at the end of the Obama administration, US officials told Reuters on the eve of a visit to Beijing by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson two months ago. The United States has long committed itself to providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself and have engaged in unofficial diplomatic relations since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. American presidents have engaged in robust arms sales to Taiwan since the Carter administration and have sold Taiwan more than $30 billion in weapons since then. Current cross-strait relations are strained, and Beijing is likely to react to any arms sale to Taiwan. How will this arms sale affect Taiwan’s defense and security, how will Beijing respond, and how will the arms sales package fit into the Trump administration’s broader strategy in the Asia-Pacific?

On June 9, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Asia Security Initiative hosted a Cross-Straits Series event on the next US-Taiwan arms sale. The discussion brings together Mr. Abraham Denmark, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia of the US Department of Defense; Mr. Ian Easton, Research Fellow of Project 2049 Institute; and Ms. Susan Lawrence, Specialist, Asian Affairs of the Congressional Research Service. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Shannon Tiezzi, Editor at The Diplomat.
On May 12, 2017, the world was shaken by a ransomware cyberattack called Wanna Crypt (also known as WannaCry) that spread like a network worm. The attack impacted over 45 National Health System (NHS) organizations across England and Scotland, forcing hospitals to cancel appointments and loose critical patient records, as well as the German S-Bahn.

The impacts did not stop there. In less than ten days, WannaCry affected approximately 200,000 systems in 150 countries, swiftly becoming one of the most impactful malware outbreaks in recent history, and dominating the news cycle for the next several days.
On April 14, 2017 the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a conversation with the honorable Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The discussion focused on his vision for the development of the AIIB, its approach to providing financing for Asian infrastructure, and the AIIB's internal governance process, as well as his thinking on multilateralism in the Asian-Pacific region. The AIIB celebrated its first year of operations in January and to date has invested over $2 billion in twelve projects across Asia.

Following a warm welcome and introductory remarks by Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, President Jin proceeded to outline ongoing improvements and future expansions to the AIIB. He introduced AIIB’s current objective to bridge relations between Asia and the United States and followed with the slogan, “our bank is lean, clean, and green” and emphasized the importance of operating the AIIB according to the highest international standard. President Jin stated that over the span of two years AIIB has dramatically grown, bringing together 52 member states, with another 18 prospective candidates. It is in the forefront of the promotion of infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region and developing countries.
On Wednesday, April 19, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and the Global Energy Center co-hosted a conversation on energy innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East featuring Dr. Julia Nesheiwat, presidential deputy envoy for hostage affairs at the US Department of State; HE Majid Al-Suwaidi, consul general of the United Arab Emirates in New York; and Mr. Salah Tabbara, general manager of ALBina Industrial Construction Company and moderated by Ms. Mirette Mabrouk, deputy director and director of research and programs of the Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Dr. Nesheiwat presented a global perspective, detailing the proliferation of clean energy as well as the decreased cost to deploy these systems. She noted that renewable energy sources accounted for 55% of new energy developed in 2016, and at 23% lower cost than in 2015. In 2016 solar power cost 17% less to produce, onshore wind cost 18% less, and offshore wind cost 28% less – making these industries even more competitive with fossil fuels. She also discussed the importance of economic diversity to protect the state against market shock in the oil and liquid natural gas markets during supply fluctuations and under threats from violent extremism, this holding especially true for the Gulf states.

HE Al-Suwaidi zeroed in on the UAE, discussing innovative programs like Masdar City, partnerships with Pacific Island states, and the mandate for 27% of the Emirates’ energy demand to be supplied by renewable technologies. He explained that the UAE has known from early on that oil and natural gas are finite resources. Diversifying into aviation, finance, and tourism have proven lucrative for the Emirates, and a strong sense of environmental stewardship has steered innovation away from fossil fuels. The country’s current green growth strategy is pushing for meaningful sustainability in both economic and environmental sectors. Al-Suwaidi also explained how the UAE’s Masdar initiative has invigorated innovation research and development, from partnerships with MIT to bring students from around the globe to participate in innovation competitions, to the Masdar City project,  which he described as a “living lab” for new technologies to be field-tested.
At what point does a cyberattack become an act of war? Should the government react to a cyber-attack on the private sector? Is cyber privateering the answer to the government’s woes? These were some of the questions students (including this author) contended with at the Atlantic Council’s 2017 Cyber 9/12 student challenge on March 17 and 18.

Held at American University’s Washington College of Law, this was the fifth and biggest iteration of the annual student competition. Forty-five teams from 32 universities from across the United States took on the roles of cyber policy experts advising the National Security Council on how to react to a fictional cyber catastrophe.
On March 7, the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a discussion on the rise of intra-Asian defense cooperation, its significance to regional dynamics, and potential implications to the US and global power dynamics. Recent partnerships range from Japan’s defense cooperation with the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as India-Vietnam, Australia-India-Japan-US, Malaysia-Indonesia-Philippines maritime cooperation, and others.

Following a warm welcome and introductory remarks by Mr. Barry Pavel, Senior Vice President and Director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Mr. Gordon Lubold, Pentagon reporter at The Wall Street Journal moderated the panel on the increase of Asian defense spending and the evolving network of intra-Asian defense coalitions. The panel featured Ms. Lindsey Ford, director of Asian security at the Asia Society Policy Institute; Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, senior fellow at CNA Strategic Studies; Mr. Randy Schriver, founding partner at Armitage International LLC; and Mr. John Watts, non-resident senior fellow of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.


    

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