Publications

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An alliance under tension, NATO today faces the challenges of burden sharing, a multipolar world full of old adversaries and emerging challengers. In “Collective Defense of Human Dignity: The Vision for NATO’s Future in Cyberspace,” Christopher Porter, a nonresident senior fellow in the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council analyzes member states struggling with diverging stances on cyber defense policy and planning—especially on the issue of Chinese investment and deployment of high-speed 5G cellular networks. In these challenging times, dialogue on these issues often devolves into allies talking past one another, without a shared basis of facts with which to frame the debate.
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Iran is facing a myriad of challenges, domestically, regionally and internationally. Its economy is suffering from sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, its regional adversaries are building a united coalition against it, and diplomatic efforts have not been enough to escape further international isolation. But even while facing sobering external challenges, Iran has not lost sight of its domestic and expatriate political opposition. As Atlantic Council nonresident senior fellow Borzou Daragahi argues in his new issue brief, "Beyond Control: Iran and Its Opponents Locked in a Lopsided Confrontation," the Islamic Republic still perceives these groups and any group not under its direct control as a threat to regime stability.

Throughout the paper, Daragahi shows how Iran’s political opposition groups are largely weak and fragmented. Reformists within the country are beholden to moderates, and they have failed to shift the direction of Iran in any substantive way. Foreign-based opposition groups like the monarchists are removed from the reality on the ground, and they inherently lack the credibility to present a viable alternative to the current system. And although the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) may curry favor with the current US administration, their support is more limited within Iran.
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For more than half a century, the US-Japan and US-ROK alliances have played critical roles for maintenance and enhancement of peace and security in Northeast Asia, the entire Asia-Pacific region, and even the world. The future course of US-North Korea and inter-Korea negotiations over denuclearization and building a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is hard to predict, but whatever the endstate, it will have an impact on the United States’ and its allies’ plans for the appropriate posture of US forces in Northeast Asia.

Efforts to denuclearize North Korea and reduce military threats on the Korean Peninsula could dramatically affect the size and structure of US Forces Korea, as well as political support for US military presence in Northeast Asia. The growth of China’s military capabilities and its behavior will also influence decision-making in Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington. The United States and its allies should seriously examine political and security dynamics in the region and discuss alternative military postures, so that they are prepared to respond positively and cohesively to future developments.


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This working paper, the second in a series on the global illicit economy, focuses on the “dark pharma” trade in Central America, where no country has been spared the problem of counterfeit and contraband pharmaceuticals making their way to consumers. As this paper argues, the illicit sale of pharmaceutical drugs is a growing global concern, most particularly in developing countries such as in Central America, where the lack of adequate healthcare forces people to seek cheaper drugs. In the absence of effective systems of regulation and access to affordable pharmaceuticals, the demand for cheap medicines drives a criminal market.

In “Dark Pharma: Counterfeit and Contraband Pharmaceuticals in Central America,” Peter Tinti notes that the damage caused by such markets relates not only to the quality of the medicines available to consumers but also to the corruption these markets create and reinforce, reducing citizens’ confidence in the public health sector and the government. These substandard and ineffective drugs may worsen the condition of sick individuals, hinder medical professionals’ ability to make accurate diagnoses, accelerate the spread of communicable diseases, increase drug resistance, and ultimately kill people.


The desire to search for broad solutions to a global problem like counterfeit and contraband pharmaceuticals must at the same time be matched with locally calibrated strategies, given that each region, sub-region, and individual country requires solutions tailored to their realties. Tackling the “dark pharma” problem requires concurrent responses and implementing systems that can provide solutions to local problems while scaling upward regionally and globally.
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Russia is once again a major player in the Middle East. Moscow has notably backed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while it has a growing footprint in Iran, Turkey, and the Gulf. Russia's return to the region has posed significant challenges for transatlantic policymaking in this era of renewed great-power competition. This new issue brief by Dr. Mark N. Katz addresses Russia’s growing role in the region and its economic, political, and security implications.


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In US law, the National Technology and Industrial Base (NTIB) comprises the industrial bases of the United States and three of its closest historical allies, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Canada was included when the original NTIB was established in 1994, and its scope was expanded in 2016 to include Australia and the United Kingdom. That recent expansion has corresponded with a changing threat and technology environment, in which the leading sources of industrial innovation reside outside the defense sector and, increasingly, beyond the US and its Western allies. This new threat and technology environment will require a different a type of NTIB to support future defense-industrial planning and execution. The purpose of this new Atlantic Council report is to promote urgent deliberations over what a modern NTIB should look like, and to encourage Congress and the administration to adopt measures that will enable access to defense-industrial resources that are more responsive to the needs of the National Defense Strategy.
In "Leveraging the National Technology Industrial Base to Address Great-Power Competition," a comprehensive report by William Greenwalt, former deputy under secretary of defense for industrial policy.


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Himalayan Asia is a shorthand term referring to the Asian countries that depend on river water from the high mountain ranges of the Tibetan Plateau. As the rivers produced by the Himalayas and other mountain ranges on the Plateau are under increasingly serious pressure, water insecurity threatens much of the continent’s peace and security. Himalayan Asia’s transboundary water dynamics threaten to erode interstate cooperation, including among the continent’s major powers, risk worsening geopolitical competition, and heighten the odds of domestic and interstate conflict. Yet there are viable pathways for avoiding such outcomes, the most important of which treat water as a shared resource to be managed cooperatively.

This report focuses on the intersection between Himalayan Asia’s changing ecology and the dynamic competition for geopolitical leadership among its major powers. It seeks to better inform US strategies and policies to preclude the degradation of societal cohesion across Asia and prevent the outbreak of major-power conflict over shared water resources. The goal is to facilitate cooperative, positive-sum solutions to resource use in this critical region of the world.




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This groundbreaking study of the illicit tobacco trade in southern Africa explores how this trade supports organized crime, helps enable official corruption, and erodes state structures. A major feature of South Africa’s, and to a lesser extent Zimbabwe’s, political economy revolves around conflict—overt and covert, violent and non-violent—over who makes the most money from the illicit tobacco trade, who controls that trade, and how the state responds to it. This conflict now takes places in the midst of huge political transitions within the ruling parties of both countries.

The study maps the key dimensions of the illicit cigarette trade in Zimbabwe and South Africa, including the key actors, the pathways of trade and the accompanying ‘modalities’ of criminality, as well as other important dimensions of the illicit cigarette market in southern Africa. It identifies “good-faith actors,” primarily in South Africa, whose positions could be strengthened by policy and technical interventions, explores opportunities for such intervention, and assesses the practical solutions that can be applied to combat illicit trade and tax evasion in the tobacco industry.



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The US-Danish relationship has proven itself remarkably flexible and effective throughout the post-Cold War era, and it is once again on the cusp of evolution with new challenges and opportunities. In the midst of the ongoing debate among NATO allies about burden-sharing, Denmark has consistently punched above its weight, contributing substantially to collective defense for a small country.

Indeed, at the start of 2019, the Danish government released a supplemental defense agreement committing Denmark to increase defense spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2023. The agreement demonstrates Denmark’s continued aspiration to contribute to the NATO Alliance and provides a needed influx of resources for defense and deterrence. These developments have the potential to profoundly affect a deep but often overlooked security relationship—that between the United States and Denmark.
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North Central Europe has become the central point of confrontation between the West and a revisionist Russia. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement and undermine the rules-based order that has kept Europe secure since the end of World War II. Moscow’s invasion and continued occupation of Georgian and Ukrainian territories, its military build-up in Russia’s Western Military District and Kaliningrad, and its “hybrid” warfare against Western societies have heightened instability in the region have made collective defense and deterrence an urgent mission for the United States and NATO.

The United States and NATO have taken significant steps since 2014 to enhance their force posture and respond to provocative Russian behavior. Despite these efforts, the allies in North Central Europe face a formidable and evolving adversary, and it is unlikely that Russian efforts to threaten and intimidate these nations will end in the near term. Now, ahead of NATO’s seventieth anniversary there is more that can be done to enhance the Alliance’s deterrence posture in the region. Against this backdrop, the government of Poland submitted a proposal earlier this year offering $2 billion to support a permanent US base in the country. While negotiations are ongoing, the issue is fundamentally about what the United States and NATO need to do to defend all of Europe.




    

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