Publications

June 28, 2021

Toward Nuclear and WMD Fluency in Professional Military Education

While there has been a stream of commentary on how best to adapt PME writ large, far less attention has been given to what the Chairman’s guidance says about high-level policy priorities that must now be integrated across the military education system. The inclusion of these priorities does not reflect any broader debate about the fundamental purpose of military education or how best to provide it. Instead, they are included because civilian and military authorities believe that functional fluency in these topics is essential to strategic leadership of the joint force. In this article, we discuss one of these policy priorities – nuclear capabilities and concepts – and describe why and how highest-level policy deliberations have been translated into the Chairman’s guidance on officer professional military education. We then suggest why and how this process can be replicated for other emerging challenges facing the joint force. As an example, we focus on the wider set of issues that fall under Countering Weapons of Mass

June 24, 2021

Arms Control in Today's (Dis)Information Environment Part III

Information manipulation and covert influence campaigns have long been tools of sub-threshold strategic competition used to try to influence arms race dynamics, arms control decisions, and the enforceability of compliance and verification regimes. During the Cold War, such massive covert operations were only feasible by great powers. Today, not only are there more actors with potential stakes in arms control decisions, but global connectivity and digitization combined with a panoply of new Digital Age tools make it easier to obfuscate, deny, and manipulate the information environment around arms control.

June 23, 2021

Cyber Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

For two decades, U.S. policymakers, military leaders, and analysts have drawn connections between cyber threats and WMD that demand attention from experts who work in both fields. While recognizing there are a variety of definitions for WMD in use today, the WMD Center does not believe classifying cyber threats as WMD is warranted or advantageous for the United States at this time.

June 23, 2021

Don't Base U.S. Forces in Central Asia

In headlines reminiscent of a bygone era, journalists this week reported rapid gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province. This follows grim news that at least 24 Afghan commandos were killed in a battle with Taliban fighters in Faryarb Province. Amid the upsurge in violence and concern that the withdrawal of U.S. forces (scheduled for completion by September 11) will precipitate a Taliban takeover, Washington continues searching for a way to maintain its ability to collect information and project power into Afghanistan—perhaps by establishing a residual presence in neighboring Central Asia.

June 22, 2021

How to Engage with China

Although consensus appears to have been reached in the United States on the adversarial nature of our relationship with China, opinions on how to engage—or disengage—with China are diverse. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. – China relationship will be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be and adversarial when it must be.” Is that a viable approach, or is it naïve?

June 14, 2021

Russia and Saudi Arabia: Old Disenchantments, New Challenges

The Joseph Biden administration can manage its recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia without unwarranted fear that Riyadh will view Russia as a safe-harbor alternative to the United States on a myriad of state-to-state interactions that are most important to the Kingdom. While Russia’s transactional approach to foreign partners has at times given it advantages in some areas over the more value-based framework of U.S. foreign relations, there clearly have been limits to the Russian style of dealing with Saudi Arabia in this century.

June 14, 2021

Three Priorities for NATO Partnerships in a Contested World

Over the next twelve months, the allies will negotiate a new Strategic Concept that adapts NATO’s core tasks—collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security—to this contested environment. It will be informed by the NATO 2030 Report, which characterized China as a full-spectrum rival and offered recommendations to strengthen NATO’s political dimensions and extend its global reach. The next Strategic Concept presents an opportunity to breathe new life into cooperative security by steering cooperation with non-member states toward these challenges. NATO should double down on what works—capacity-building—while expanding political consultations with partners and forging new frontiers in science and technology cooperation.

June 8, 2021

The PLA Beyond Borders: Chinese Military Operations in Regional and Global Context

No longer confined to China’s land territory or its near abroad, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting increasingly complex operations farther and farther from China’s continental borders. Within Asia, the PLA now regularly operates into the far reaches of the South China Sea and deep into the Western Pacific, enforcing China’s territorial claims and preparing to counter U.S. intervention in a regional conflict. Beyond Asia, the PLA is present on the ground, at sea, or in military exercises with foreign partners across the Indian Ocean and into the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Foreign militaries now regularly encounter the PLA, whether in tense incidents or friendly contacts, on their home turf and in the global commons.

June 7, 2021

Back from the Brink? Prospects for U.S.-Russia Relations

As the current American and Russian leaders, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, prepare for their first summit on June 16 in Geneva, prospects are slim for the kind of breakthrough achieved by Reagan and Gorbachev. Tensions remain high due to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and subsequent invasion of Ukraine; its interference in U.S. elections; its aggressive behavior in cyberspace—including the recent SolarWinds hack, which compromised a range of public and private sector entities across the West—and the sanctions that Washington imposed in response to all those activities. ...

June 2, 2021

Iran in Latin America: Malign Alliances, “Super Spreaders,” and Alternative Narratives

Iran's ongoing and multifaceted campaigns of disinformation and carefully curated messages—coordinated with Russian and Venezuelan state media companies and thousands of allied Internet and social media accounts—pose a strategic challenge to U.S. interests and regional efforts to promote stability, democratic values, and the rule of law.