Publications

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“Revelations around Russian efforts to shape the 2016 US presidential election through the use of disinformation, bots, and hacking have thrust the problems of “fake news” and social media manipulation into the public spotlight,” writes Tim Hwang, director of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, in "Digital Disinformation: A Primer," a new publication from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 
The aim of the piece is to provide a concise handbook of key terms, major actors, and policy recommendations to address current and emerging threats, including trolling campaigns, cyber-attacks, and artificial intelligence (AI). Disinformation threats are only likely to grow as both nation-state and non-state actors exploit technological advancements in hacking, AI and machine learning, and metadata. “Funding should be put toward the creation of collaborative online platforms for fact-checking digital media, enabling journalists and citizens to more quickly work together to reject or authenticate disinformation circulating through the web,” advises Mr. Hwang who calls for a number of proactive steps to be taken by US congressional members.

 
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As a global challenge with profound implications at the local level, climate change provides new opportunities for individual engagement. Communities around the world have their own unique experiences with the effects of climate change, as well as drastically different climate adaptation needs. This gives individuals an unprecedented role to play in sharing information and guiding policymaking through citizen-based observation. In “Using Citizen-Based Observations to Plan for Climate Change,” Sarah Abdelrahim looks at the work of a variety of citizen-based observation networks, also known as citizens’ observatories. She recommends greater cooperation and support from government agencies and decision-makers for these networks as a key aspect of any and all climate change adaptation strategies.

 
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In The Euro’s Difficult Future – Competitiveness Imbalances and the Eurozone’s North-South Divide author Luigi Bonatti, a professor of economics at the University of Trento in Italy, stresses that the existing North-South competitiveness divide creates growing tensions between member countries and fuels hostility towards European Union institutions. The paper illustrates why this competitiveness divide is structural, cannot be tackled by macroeconomic policies, and could threaten the euro’s survival.

 

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Revolution Unveiled: A Closer Look at Iran’s Presence and Influence in the Middle East, by Phillip Smyth, Tim Michetti, and Owen Daniels, pieces together snapshots of Iran’s influence in the region using photographic analysis, geolocation, social media monitoring, and other methods. Through four case studies, this report systematically examines new or lesser-known methods Iran employs to project its influence beyond its borders. By using proxy Shia groups, ideology, arms provision, and transnational networks, Tehran destabilizes and strikes at regional adversaries to achieve its strategic and policy objectives.

 
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Although often overshadowed by significantly larger energy systems in India and China, Indonesia is assuming an increasingly important role in international energy markets and global efforts to address climate change. In Transforming the Power Sector in Developing Countries: Indonesia’s Diversification Challenge,” Global Energy Center nonresident Senior Fellow Dr. Robert F. Ichord, Jr. identifies the challenges Indonesia faces in the energy sector and provides recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders on strategic priorities. As Ichord points out, Indonesia is a critical country for international power sector transformation—the question is how to meet Indonesia’s growing electricity needs in a clean, efficient, and affordable manner. 

 

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NAFTA renegotiations have the potential to further transform North America’s energy sector into a global competitor. From the US shale revolution, to Mexico’s revitalized energy sector and Canada’s vast reserves, how can a modernized NAFTA expand US energy markets and revitalize North American energy?

In our latest Spotlight publication, David Goldwyn, chairman of the Atlantic Council Energy Advisory Group and nonresident senior energy fellow at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, outlines four ways NAFTA can improve energy market integration and competitiveness.

Click here to view the interactive report.
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China’s major financial commitments to Africa, coupled with its double digit returns, have discouraged American companies from breaking into African markets. Amid growing concerns regarding China’s expanding economic influence on the continent, a reassessment of America’s business edge and overall competitiveness is past due. 

 

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For America’s consumer goods companies, the latest shifts in African consumer trends hold much promise. Africa’s population is growing at an outstanding rate and spending by consumers and businesses on the continent is forecast to grow significantly over the next decade. However, US investors often oversimplify and misunderstand African markets, which remain highly segmented, fluid, and absent of a discernible “middle.”

 

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The Atlantic Council's State Department Reform Report—written by a group of ten foreign policy experts—explores the critical subject areas of structure and process, personnel, budget, congressional relations, and USAID. The report serves as a foundation for reform efforts that will lead to the empowerment of the State Department at a time when a rapidly evolving global environment consistently poses new challenges and threats. The department's role is indeed unique and vital in the US national security apparatus; diplomacy based in continued and robust support for US interests and values is critical to favorable long-term outcomes, including a more secure and stable global environment.

 
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The US Congress enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) to ensure that the American people were aware when foreign governments funded media sources; at the time, their concerns focused on the Nazi regime in Germany. Today, this issue has resurfaced with concerns about the Russian propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today). RT broadcasts are reliably consistent with official statements of the Russian government, which is unsurprising, as it is 99 percent funded by the Kremlin. In Agent of Influence, author Elena Postnikova not only argues that RT should register with FARA but makes a legal case for it while laying out recommendations for policy makers. At a minimum, RT’s activities warrant a thorough investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Strong evidence supports the conclusion that Russia’s RT is owned, controlled, and financed by the Russian state. RT advances Russia’s interests abroad and uses communication channels to influence US domestic and foreign policy. RT has not presented evidence to support that it is a bona fide media organization, which would be excluded from registration. If RT fails to respond to a DOJ inquiry or to present ample evidence that it should be exempt, an enforcement action should follow.