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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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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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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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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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