Reports

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Throughout 2018, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center convened a “Task Force on US Nuclear Energy Leadership,” which comprised civilian and military experts in foreign policy, defense, and nuclear energy. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) served as honorary co-chairs of the Task Force. This report, entitled “US Nuclear Energy Leadership: Innovation and the Strategic Global Challenge,” is the result of these efforts.
The Task Force found that a flourishing domestic nuclear energy sector is critical to US national security, both in the interconnections between military and civilian uses of nuclear energy, as well as in foreign policy. This report recommends maintaining and expanding the current nuclear fleet; creating a conducive regulatory environment for innovation and new technologies; and encouraging and facilitating nuclear energy exports.



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Ukraine conducted its presidential election in accordance with democratic standards, reflected in the assessments of credible international observers. It did so despite clear Russian interference in Ukraine’s election, though the interference was not extensive enough to affect the election’s outcome or the actual voting process.

Heightened vigilance by Ukrainian authorities and civil society helped to reduce its potential impact.   In contrast to 2014, when Russian cyberattacks compromised the Central Election Commission network, Ukrainian authorities were more prepared for possible attacks in 2019. As a result, during the first and second rounds of the presidential election—despite numerous minor cyber incidents—Ukraine did not suffer a major cyberattack.

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The current model of cybersecurity is outdated. Adversaries continue to grow more sophisticated and outpace advancements in defense technologies, processes, and education. As nation states enter into a new period of great power competition, the deficiencies in current cybersecurity practice, evidenced by the growing number of successful cyber-attacks from Russia, China, North Korea, and others, pose a greater threat.
The need to update the cybersecurity model is clear. An enhanced public-private model – based on coordinated, advanced protection and resilience – is necessary to protect key critical infrastructure sectors. In addition, enhanced action from the federal government, coupled with increased formal cooperation with international allies, are necessary to ensure comprehensive cybersecurity resilience.


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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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Russian information operations are carefully curated for each country that Moscow targets. For their own citizens, Russian media describe their country as all-powerful, yet the victim of constant plots and slander. Moldovans are told a predatory European Union (EU) is impoverishing the country and tearing it from Moscow’s benevolent orbit. The message to Ukrainians is that their country is a corrupt and incompetent state ripe for an extremist coup. In Georgia, Moscow aligns itself with those who claim the EU and NATO are bent on destroying the nation’s social and religious values.

Perhaps the most important US tool for contesting these narratives, directly to the populations Moscow targets, is US international broadcasting. A far cry from the precarious shortwave operations that did battle with Soviet jammers in the Cold War, US government-funded networks now pump out content on television, radio, the web, and social networks, operating in sixty languages. Audiences in the formerly Soviet countries of Eurasia are a particular target of these services. 



This paper will look first at fundamental issues of principle and mission that continue to fuel the debate over US international media. It will then assess the broadcasters’ challenges and performance in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. The paper concludes with recommendations on USAGM operations in those four nations and on the agency’s work as a whole. The recommendations address the perpetual question of whether the networks should be a public diplomacy tool or independent news sources; the value of the networks’ individual brands; the need to make audience research a far more central element of network operations; and the importance of better preparation for worst-case scenarios.


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As NATO reaches its seventieth anniversary in 2019, the Alliance is facing new challenges both externally and internally. The reemergence of Russia as a strategic threat has led to the reexamination of NATO’s warfighting capabilities and the gaps that exist to adequately defend and deter. At the same time, both renewed US focus and the emergence of new security threats have placed increased pressure on member states to reach established spending targets.

The need to outfit and equip NATO for great power competition, as well as increased pressure to invest more in defense, provides an opportunity to strengthen NATO for the future. Yet the path forward is still unclear. What investments should be prioritized in the land, air, maritime, space and cyber domains? And how should the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent be modernized?

In NATO at Seventy: Filling NATO’s Critical Defense-Capability Gaps Atlantic Council nonresident senior fellow Dr. Wayne A. Schroeder offers a comprehensive menu of options for the Alliance to shape its investments in these critical areas and ensure that NATO retains its fighting mindset well past its seventieth anniversary in 2019.

The report features a foreword by Air Marshall Sir Chris Harper KBE, former director general of the International Military staff at NATO (2013-16).


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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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Given that offshore tax havens are largely located in small, independent states or self-governing territories, it could be assumed that they have little connection to OECD states and major financial centers such as London and New York. This is not the case. The so-called tax havens are in fact part of a much larger network of financial and corporate services that depends on lawyers, accountants, and bankers located in major Western cities. Only one part of the havens’ business actually involves providing lower tax rates to individual foreign account holders.

These techniques originally developed to assist American executives and Belgian dentists, and later multinational corporations, to limit their exposure— sometimes lawfully, sometimes unlawfully—to their respective tax authorities. Today, they’re increasingly deployed to flows of tainted capital from developing countries, helping those funds transit from their home jurisdictions and ultimately to the West.



There are more capital flows into the offshore world from OECD states than from developing countries. The argument of this paper, however, is that while OECD origin capital flows erode the tax base and some of the flows amount to illegal tax evasion, the overall effect of the money coming from developing countries, especially the tainted flows, is more damaging from both an economic and a security perspective.

In other words, the West, with its rule of law and creation of the Western-governed offshore economy, has given corrupt elites in developing countries the tools and capacity to avoid ever establishing the rule of law in their own countries. They are the beneficiaries of the West’s firmly-established rule of law and can leverage that advantage against their own people to ensure that they never benefit from the rule of law themselves. This is the rule of law paradox.


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2018 saw political tides turn in three of Latin America’s largest democracies. These elections also saw deep polarization and distrust in institutions among Brazilians, Mexicans, and Colombians in an information environment ripe with disinformation. And while disinformation and misinformation are nothing new, the spread of false information at alarming rates – facilitated by politicians, non-state actors, or even our own families and friends – are more effective and worrisome than ever. With this trend unlikely to change, how can we detect and combat this borderless phenomenon? What's next in the fight against disinformation?

Disinformation in Democracies: Strengthening Digital Resilience in Latin America, authored by Roberta Braga, Luiza Bandeira, Donara Barojan, Maria Fernanda Pérez Argüello, and Jose Luis Peñarredonda, provides an overview of polarization, automation and disinformation in Latin America, and outlines lessons learned from the region’s 2018 elections. Following a year-long effort in which the Digital Forensic Research Lab and the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center exposed and explained disinformation around elections in Latin America, the report also lays out multi-stakeholder vision for fostering digital resilience as the world prepares for major elections in 2019 and 2020 in Argentina, the European Union, India, Indonesia the United States and beyond.

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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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