Publications

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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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The transatlantic community has made significant progress leveraging global energy resources to increase energy security, thanks to improvements in renewable energy, energy efficiency, shale oil extraction, alternative source and route development, and infrastructure. However, European energy security remains a challenge, as malign actors use energy for geopolitical coercion, communities around the globe grapple with the realities of climate change, and geopolitical conflicts threaten the security of supply and access to sustainable resource development.

In their new issue brief, Atlantic Council Global Energy Center Founding Chairman Richard L. Morningstar, Senior Fellow András Simonyi, Associate Director for European Energy Security Olga Khakova, and Senior Fellow Irina Markina examine the current energy security landscape in Europe and assess the state of transatlantic cooperation. They argue that transatlantic cooperation with a focus on energy security will be essential to addressing global challenges and should be prioritized by US and EU leadership, since energy security translates into national, political, and economic security on both sides of the Atlantic.


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In the long list of electoral interference attempts in recent years, one case stands out: the 2017 French presidential election--because it failed. Its failure lies in the fact that the result of the election did not coincide with the aim of the attackers. This new report, “The #Macron Leaks Operation,” by Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer analyzes the coordinated attempt to undermine Emmanuel Macron’s candidacy, with a disinformation campaign consisting of rumors, fake news, and even forged documents; a hack targeting the computers of his campaign staff; and, finally, a leak—15 gigabytes (GB) of stolen data, including 21,075 emails, released on Friday, May 5, 2017—just two days before the second and final round of the presidential election.
This leak was promoted on Twitter by an army of trolls and fake accounts (bots), with the hashtag #MacronLeaks appearing in almost half a million tweets in twenty-four hours, and so the attack is now remembered as “the Macron Leaks.” However, the leak itself was only the pinnacle of a coordinated operation that started months before, with a disinformation campaign and a hack. Therefore, we should rather speak of a “Macron Leaks” operation, which did not sway French voters and change the result. Winning 66.1 percent of the vote, Macron defeated Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate. The aim of this report is to provide the most detailed single account to date of the “Macron Leaks” operation. With the benefit of hindsight, it explores what happened, who (likely) orchestrated the affair, how it was successfully countered, and what lessons can be learned. In conclusion, it will also explain what France has accomplished since then in order to fight information manipulation and what is yet to be done.

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América Latina tiene un problema de corrupción, especialmente en lo que se refiere a licitaciones públicas. Un nuevo informe del Atlantic Council y el Diálogo Interamericano presenta una hoja de ruta para abordar el problema de la corrupción en América Latina con la ayuda de la tecnología. Ahora es el momento de seguir construyendo sobre el sentimiento anticorrupción de América Latina. Los importantes avances tecnológicos están empoderando a los ciudadanos de la región con la oportunidad de ver gobiernos más transparentes.

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Latin America has a corruption problem, especially as it relates to public contracting. A new brief by the Atlantic Council and the Inter-American Dialogue lays out a roadmap for addressing Latin America’s graft problem with the help of technology. Now is the time to keep building on Latin American’s strong anti-corruption sentiment. Important technological advances are empowering the region’s citizens with the opportunity to see more transparent governments.


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Russia and Iran are allies in Syria not out of mutual sympathy, but for pragmatic reasons. Iranian leaders were instrumental in convincing Vladimir Putin to send his air force to Syria to support Bashar al-Assad in September 2015, and the two countries cooperate within Syria to this day. However, their various differences highlight the limits of what looks like an alliance of convenience. A new report by Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow, Ambassador Michel Duclos, "Russia and Iran in Syria—a Random Partnership or an Enduring Alliance?," analyzes these points of contention and the potential for Western diplomacy with Russia to deter Iran and bring about a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

In the short term, Russia and Iran appear to disagree on how to handle the current challenges the regime faces in Idlib and the Kurdish-dominated northeast. There is a degree of competition between the Iranians and the Russians in trying to get access to Syria’s rare economic resources, such as port access and hydrocarbons. Both countries are also jockeying for influence with the Assad regime, trying to put people close to them in key positions in the Syrian military and security forces.


In the longer term, it seems Russia and Iran do not share the same vision for Syria’s future. Russia sees a secular Syria that is somewhat decentralized, while Iran sees something closer to the Lebanese model. There is no doubt that Russia and Iran have different ideas about the regional balance of which Syria should be a part, and particularly diverge on their stance towards Israel. Ambassador Duclos' new report investigates these tensions and the ways they might be exploited, with policy implications for Western countries.
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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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Foreign interference in democratic elections has put disinformation at the forefront of policy in Europe and the United States. The second edition of Democratic Defense Against Disinformation takes stock of how governments, multinational institutions, civil-society groups, and the private sector have responded to the disinformation challenge. As democracies have responded, our adversaries have adapted and evolved. As the speed and efficiency of influence operations increase, democratic societies need to further invest in resilience and resistance to win the new information war. Democratic Defense Against Disinformation 2.0 is a report card on efforts and a roadmap for policymakers and social media companies.


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On June 10, without a deal, the United States will place a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican products, with the potential to escalate by 5 percent each month until October, reaching a potential maximum of 25 percent. The US tariffs, levied in response to President Trump’s demand that Mexico stop all migration, would have immediate effects on US consumers and businesses. What are the potential effects of US tariffs at the state and national levels?

This new Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center infographic distills some of the economic ramifications that would accompany tariffs.

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The year 2019 marks one hundred and one years of relations between the United States and the countries of Central Europe that emerged from the wreckage of the First World War. After a century of work together, of tragedy and achievement, Central Europe and the United States have much to celebrate and defend, but also much to do. After accessions to NATO and the European Union, Central Europeans may have thought that their long road to the institutions of the West, and to the security and prosperity associated with them, was finished. The United States began to think so as well, concluding that its work and special role in Central Europe were complete. Now, Central Europe, the United States, and the entire transatlantic community face new internal and external challenges. As a result, the transatlantic world has seen a rise of extremist politics and forms of nationalism that many thought had been banished forever after 1989. The great achievement of a Europe whole, free, and at peace, with Central Europe an integral part of it, is again in play. The Atlantic Council and GLOBSEC’s new report “The United States and Central Europe: Tasks for a Second Century Together” examines a century of relations between the United States and Central Europe: what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to be done about it.


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A quiet shift in geopolitics has been taking place, with East Asia and the Middle East drawing closer together. Energy trade explains part of this, as Japan, South Korea, and China are consistently among the largest export markets for Middle East oil and gas. In the case of China, the relationships have moved beyond economic interests to incorporate strategic concerns as well. The Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East report has released a new report by Dr. Jonathan Fulton on this subject: "China's Changing Role in the Middle East." The report analyzes China’s presence in the Middle East, examines the response of Middle Eastern states, and explores how US-China competition plays out in the region: are their interests compatible, creating opportunities for cooperation, or do they diverge to the point that competition is the most likely outcome?



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