Publications

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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 2014to 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 and should be done to enhance the Alliance’s deterrence posture in the region. In this vein, the government of Poland submitted a proposal earlier this year offering $2 billion to support a permanent US base in the country.
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At the July 2018 Brussels Summit, NATO sought to enhance its deterrence capacity, war-fighting posture, and responses to unconventional challenges in today’s complex and evolving security environment. These commitments are comprehensive, and included meeting the allies’ 2-percent spending pledge, but the results of these decisions will depend on their implementation. This paper sets forth a policy and programmatic framework for that implementation, proposing four sets of actions that NATO should undertake related to enhancing conventional readiness, strengthening cyber defense and resilience, countering hybrid challenges, and updating strategic planning.

In this paper, Kramer, Binnendijk, and Speranza argue that, to be most effective, these actions should be adopted as part of a broader, coordinated strategy that includes diplomatic, information, and economic efforts, and could be incorporated into the new 2019 NATO Political Guidance. They also underscore that the enhancement of conventional military and counter-hybrid capabilities, including measures to be taken left of crisis, are pressing elements that should be prioritized accordingly.
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In an era of increasing technological, cultural and geo-political change, the rise of disinformation undermines the institutions that nations rely on to function and creates risks across society. At the heart of the challenge is the battle of truth and trust. In this report, “Whose Truth: Sovereignty, Disinformation and Winning the Battle of Trust, John Watts draws upon a rich discussion on the threat that disinformation poses to state’s sovereignty by a diverse group of experts as part of a US Special Operations Command program. The paper explores the themes and key takeaways of a discourse that explored the causes and impacts of the current complex information environment, its implications for state sovereignty, the range of threats it poses and how a natural maturation of the changed environment can be accelerated by groups at every layer of society.
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With our modern-day reliance on digital technology, software and system vulnerabilities have become increasingly hard to avoid. Thoroughly eliminating all these vulnerabilities can be a challenge, but through a coordinated vulnerability disclosure (CVD) program, governments and private companies can mitigate them with the help of independent security researchers. When instituted and followed, a CVD program allows companies to manage the process of disclosure and handling of vulnerabilities in a controlled fashion by working with security researchers to coordinate a set of common terms and a timeline.
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Of all the political ideas to defend themselves before the court of human history, few have proven as potent and as compelling as that of electoral democracy. Yet in recent years, electoral democracy has once more come under challenge, facing off against popular discontent, revisionist governments, and—most significantly—the rise of new media and digital technologies. These technologies have at times demonstrated exhilarating promise, but they have also created new vulnerabilities that malicious actors have proven able and willing to exploit. This Issue Brief aims to provide a taxonomy of different forms and levels of state involvement in election interference, giving states a common lexicon to respond to cyber threats. It is not enough to simply speak of “hacking the vote”—and hopefully, by providing these initial terms, this report will spur a wider discussion on defining actions and sponsorship in this domain.
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The Global Innovation Sweepstakes: A Quest to Win the Future examines how emerging technologies will remake the global order and explores strategies for how the United States can retain its innovative edge. Tech-based innovation—in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, green energy, and biotechnology—will reshape the future of human civilization. Those nations that can create and adapt to cutting-edge technologies will realize enormous economic and geostrategic benefits in the decades to come. It is with this realization that the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, in partnership with Qualcomm, embarked on a global tour of technology hubs to find out which ones are at the cutting edges of innovation and which are at risk of falling behind.
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As the energy sector has become more globalized and increasingly complex in its reliance on software components, the supply-chain risk has evolved and expanded. One such risk that stands out is unintended taint, namely flaws in software components unintentionally built into products in design or implementation. Unintended taint may lead to unintended supply-chain subversion, and represents a significant and credible threat to the uninterrupted functionality of critical infrastructure within the energy sector. In this issue brief, we outline a taxonomy for understanding certain energy sector risks and provide concrete recommendations for policy makers and the private sector.
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Over the past year, many have questioned the extent to which the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are an arm of the Lebanese state or beholden to Hezbollah. Pointing to the LAF’s complicated relationship with Hezbollah, congressional and other voices in the United States have criticized US security assistance to Lebanon and threatened to withhold assistance. Yet, over the past decade, the military capabilities of the LAF have improved significantly, and the group has effectively defended Lebanon’s borders, including against ISIS. In “The United States–Lebanese Armed Forces Partnership: Challenges, Risks, and Rewards”, Atlantic Council nonresident senior fellow Nicholas Blanford assesses LAF capabilities, the trajectory of the LAF over the past decade, and what leverage the United States has achieved through its investment in the LAF, in particular relative to Hezbollah, Iran, and other actors.

 

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For the first time since the global financial crisis, every major economy in the world is projected to grow, and President Trump says the US is “open for business.” As of early 2018, business leaders have been generally buoyant. The Global CFO Survey conducted for this report found CFOs to be optimistic about the economic outlook for the US; 61% of respondents indicated they are confident or extremely confident about investing in the US, and 71% expect continued improvement in the US business environment in the next one to three years.

Get beyond those exclamation points, though, and you start to see the question marks and concerns — about global shifts in power, a potential wave of protectionism, and warnings that business leaders and policymakers should be “on guard” for the next recession and that global growth may be masking systemic financial, social and geographical risks. Economic volatility and policy uncertainty in the first quarter of 2018 have only increased those concerns.
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In cybersecurity, it is time to go beyond sharing and ad hoc cooperation, to collaboration at scale across borders, stakeholders, and sectors. This effort should begin with a determined study of the responses to past incidents and how to improve them, then proceed to new, action-oriented Cyber Incident Collaboration Organizations (CICO) to streamline response. The goal of a CICO must be to streamline the current response process for an incident type, to provide an umbrella to make such work easier or to upscale it. In this issue brief, Jason Healey presents the next generation of innovations that will simplify agile, scalable response to incidents—across borders, stakeholders, and sectors.


    

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