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Iran Strategy Brief No. 8: Iranian Ideology after the Nuclear Deal
By James S. Robbins , January 11, 2017
 
The Obama administration’s Iran policy has been driven by the conviction that reaching a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program would constitute a historic diplomatic breakthrough, lead to a fundamental transformation in U.S.-Iranian relations, and prompt significant changes in the Islamic Republic’s international behavior. This view was apparently based on a belief that American opposition to Iran’s policies played a critical role in perpetuating Tehran’s destabilizing activities, and that pursuing a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic could consequently lead to more moderate policies.
 
High Energy Lasers: Applications for Ballistic Missile Defense
By Dr. William Schneider, Jr. , December 20, 2016
 

For decades, ballistic missile defense (BMD) has been among the most controversial dimensions of national defense. Since the termination of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, the extensive proliferation of ballistic missiles on the world stage has prompted the gradual emergence of an international consensus supporting the acquisition of ballistic missile defense capabilities. The proliferation of ballistic missiles is abetted by the present, low cost of creating a formidable offensive ballistic missile capability—a feature which has provided aspiring weapons states with new opportunities to acquire strategic capabilities...

 
Strategic Primer - Drones
By Richard M. Harrison , June 20, 2016
 

Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAs, or drones) are playing an increasingly important role in modern warfare, and performing a growing nunmber of surveillance and reconnaissance missions at home and abroad. This Primer describe how the United States, as well as our allies and our enemies, are using drones, discusses challenges posed by RPAs, and offers recommendations for future defense planning. 

 
 
Strategic Primer - Cybersecurity
By Richard M. Harrison , April 1, 2016
 

The goal of the new Strategic Primer initiative is to provide a concise, comprehensive overview of specific defense technology issues presented in a clear, direct, and graphical manner that serves as an accessible reference to policymakers. Volume 2 of the series focuses on Cybersecurity.

 
 
Cyber Threats in the Space Domain
By Eric Sterner and Jennifer McArdle , March 31, 2016
 

The ability to access and exploit space has long been woven into the fabric of American national power. It is a critical component of global political leadership, the economy, and military power. Unfortunately, those pillars are increasingly at risk. The spread of space technology to new international actors and the increasing sophistication of those capabilities have made it possible to threaten American space systems directly. The national security community is accustomed to analyzing these threats and vulnerabilities and is pursuing a reasonable mix of policies and programs to address them. (Whether those actions are sufficient is subject to debate). However, over the last decade space and cyberspace have grown increasingly integrated. This opens up new vulnerabilities in American space systems, and gives a greater number of actors the potential to exploit those vulnerabilities...

 
Shale 3.0 The Revolution Reshaping America and the World
By Jeff M. Smith , March 9, 2016
 

The world has long known of the existence of a virtual ocean of underground oil and gas deposits imprisoned in “tight,” low-permeable shale rock formations. Until recently, however, it was convinced there was no profitable extract them. Through the stubborn, decades-long persistence of a Texas oilman, and a committed effort by the U.S. government to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into “unconventional” oil and gas research, in 1998 Mitchell Energy CEO George Mitchell discovered the right combination of water, sand, and chemicals to extract natural gas from a shale formation using a hydraulically-fractured horizontal well...

 
Understanding Cybersecurity - Part 5 | Military Cyber Operations
By Trey Herr, Drew Herrick, and Peter W. Singer , November 10, 2015
 

 What is the role of cybersecurity in the conduct of war and ongoing security operations? Policymakers, academics, and journalists often think of cybersecurity as a single domain problem. That is to say, they view cyber operations as taking place solely within its own domain—one that is separate from land, sea, air or space. This perspective, however, overlooks the fact that computer systems and networks pervade society and the physical environment, and are present to some degree in all physical environs and across the three levels of war (strategic, operational, and tactical). Modern militaries employ forces in a “joint” manner, combining the specific platforms and technologies of different services to achieve a more effective force. National security policymakers should similarly see both kinetic and cyber capabilities as part of a broad set of tools available to achieve their objectives. Thinking of cybersecurity as a limited or separate space, wholly distinct from the other domains of conflict, limits the potential for understanding its strategic utility...

 
A Nuclear Deal with Iran: Managing the Consequences
By AFPC Iran Task Force , October 7, 2015
 

The announcement of a nuclear deal in July 2015 brought to a close nearly two years of intensive negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Germany). It also ushered in a new — and arguably more challenging — phase of American policy in the Middle East...


 
Understanding Cybersecurity - Part 4 | Internet Security Governance
By Trey Herr and Heather West , October 2, 2015
 

Internet Security Governance covers the policy challenges that arise from building and governing security in the Internet’s architecture and key protocols. It is not a description of security for computers and networks (Information Assurance),  how to manage the negotiated structure and key functions of the Internet (Internet Governance), or the pursuit of criminal groups and other threat actors (Cyber Crime). Internet Security Governance is the discussion of defensively oriented technical and legal topics that cross national boundaries and/or involve security of the underlying protocols and hardware which make up the Internet...

 
Strategic Primer - Missile Defense
By Richard M. Harrison , October 1, 2015
 

The goal of the new Strategic Primer initiative is to provide a concise, comprehensive overview of specific defense technology issues presented in a clear, direct, and graphical manner that serves as an accessible reference to policymakers. Volume 1 of the series focuses on Missile Defense.

 
The War Against ISIS Through Social Media
By Dr. Abraham Wagner, Dr. Rand Waltzman, and Amb. Alberto Fernandez , July 7, 2015
 

On July 7, the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) held the fourth installment of its Defense Technology Program’s Understanding Cybersecurity lunch briefing series for Congressional Staffers. This event, entitled, “How the Caliphate is Communicating:” Understanding and Countering the Islamic State’s Messaging outlined how and why the Islamic State has been winning the “war of ideas” through the use of social media, and how the group is using social media to further its operations...

 
 
Understanding Cybersecurity - Part 3 | Cyber Crime
By Trey Herr and Sasha Romanosky , June 30, 2015
 

Cyber crime covers a wide range of activities that includes theft, fraud and harassment; stealing valuable intellectual property as part of industrial espionage; committing financial fraud and credit card theft; and disrupting internet services for ideological goals (“hacktivism”). The crimes target both firms and consumers, and while they rarely result in physical harm or property damage, there can still be severe consequences...

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 7: Iran's Various Voices
By Ilan Berman , June 17, 2015
 

Is the Islamic Republic of Iran a country or a cause? For decades, the question is one that has bedeviled Western observers. Foreign politicians and diplomats long have struggled to reconcile the Iranian regime’s radical rhetoric and destructive international behavior with its pragmatic participation in numerous treaty arrangements, and its prominent role in various multilateral forums.

 
Understanding Cybersecurity - Part 2 | Information Assurance
By Trey Herr and Eric Ormes , April 15, 2015
 

Information Assurance is the art and science of securing computer systems and networks against efforts by third parties to disable, intrude, or otherwise impede operations. It is the focus of most “cybersecurity” professionals in the technical community. The principal goals are to maintain an information system’s Confidentiality (the secrecy of information as it is used and stored), Integrity, reliability of data and equipment, and Availability, that a computer system is ready and able to function as needed. Information Assurance includes writing secure software, deploying it safely, and managing it to minimize the risk of compromise.

 
Asia for the Asians
By Scott Harold, Ph.D , January 29, 2015
 

In recent months, Xi Jinping’s China has rolled out a large number of new foreign policy initiatives. Some of these have been economic proposals such as the BRICS Bank; the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; the China-Korea and China-Australia free trade agreements; the land and maritime silk road proposals; a massive, albeit not entirely transparent, energy deal with Russia; an increasingly effective effort to promote international trade denominated in the yuan or Renminbi; and an attempt to push ahead with either the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or the Free Trade Agreement of the Asia-Pacific.

 
Understanding Cybersecurity - Part 1 | Redefining Cybersecurity
By Trey Herr and Allan Friedman , January 22, 2015
 

Cybersecurity is an often abused and much misused term that was once intended to describe and now serves better to confuse. While originally intended to cover security related issues associated with “cyberspace,” a phrase coined by author William Gibson in the short story “Burning Chrome,” it has become the byword for a staggeringly diverse array of topics. While this is frustrating, the term is popular as shorthand, so we offer this paper to identify and explain four clusters of related topics under the larger umbrella of “cybersecurity.”  Each is a distinct issue area with unique technical and policy challenges, while retaining some association to the others...

 
American Deterrence and Future Conflicts
By Dr. Jacquelyn K. Davis , December 22, 2014
 

On the centennial of the start of World War I—a war that began largely as a result of crisis miscalculations

and escalations—we are entering a new era with important implications for deterrence, escalation control, and coalition management. Today, like at the time of World War I, we confront a large number of actors who have the potential to misread cues and red lines while relying on treaty relationships if they miscalculate. Then, as now, military technologies were widely diffused. Prevailing assumptions about how an adversary (or potential adversary) would react in a crisis or confrontation were based on imperfect intelligence and inadequate understanding of red lines...
 
U. S. & European Perspectives of Current and Evolving Security Challenges
By John P. Rose, Ph.D , October 31, 2014
 

As we think through the role that the United States might play in addressing future security challenges in the European and Eurasian arenas in coming years, it would seem appropriate to have some indication of the thinking, thoughts, and ideas of our partners and allies—especially those in NATO. Americans may feel strongly about issues such as missile defense, countering terrorism and stopping Iran from developing a nuclear capability, but do European and Eurasian allies feel the same?...

 
Protecting the Warfighter in an Austere Budget Environment
By David J. Trachtenberg , September 24, 2014
 

Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money. Now we have to think.” A similar statement is attributed to Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealand physicist often cited as the “father” of nuclear physics. Regardless of who uttered this quote, many believe it appropriately summarizes the state of America’s defense establishment today. “Fiscal austerity” is the environment in which national security decisions are made...

 
Security and Defense Dimensions of the Asia Pivot
By Dr. Peter Brookes , May 14, 2014
 

There is no question that the United States faces significant and increasing security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, including the growing threat posed by ballistic missiles and their payloads. It is fair to argue that China is increasingly confident and assertive in addressing its perceived national interests, supported by its expanding military might and power projection capabilities. From appearances, it is also reasonable to assert that North Korea is not on a path to openness, reform, and reconciliation with its neighbors. As such, it is critical that the United States provide for its national defense in the Pacific...

 
Space in the National Interest: Security in a Global Domain
By Eric R. Sterner , April 16, 2014
 

Space as a domain and the systems that use it are integrated with American power, whether the soft power of culture, reputation, diplomacy and economics or the hard power of armed force. For that reason, it is no longer possible to stovepipe strategic thinking about space and national security. Developments in one area directly affect others. From civil space programs that help shape foreign spending on space and trade arrangements that impact access to space and have diplomatic consequence to military systems that civilian users have come to rely upon, policymakers must approach developments in space as an integrated whole, a single phenomenon that requires expertise across the range of space activities. 

 
Defense of the U.S. Homeland Against Ballistic Missile Attack
By Baker Spring , November 15, 2013
 

Today, the Obama administration and Congress have a variety of options before them for strengthening the defense of the U.S. homeland against ballistic missile attack. The word “options,” however, should not be interpreted as an either/or choice. Official Washington should not—indeed, cannot choose between defending the homeland against ballistic missile attack and erecting regional capabilities against the threat. Rather, it is necessary to treat the variety of programs available for this purpose not as options, but as components of a global plan for development and fielding: essentially, an “all of the above” approach. Only in this way can America achieve the proper balance between missile defense capabilities for the protection of the United States and the protection of our friends and allies and forces in various regions around the world...

 
Cybersecurity: New Threats and Challenges
By Abraham R. Wagner , September 27, 2013
 

In recent years the vast expansion of cyberspace, not only in terms of user but content and applications, has brought about a set of new threats and challenges never anticipated by the net’s designers. At the outset of this technological revolution access to the net was only through a few connected mainframe computers; there was literally nothing to steal or attack; and no infrastructure was connected to the net. Cybersecurity was simply not an issue...

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 6: The Sunni-Shi'a Divide and Today's Iran
By David Wurmser , June 1, 2013
 

 Islam has two main sects, Sunni and Shi’a. The process by which the original schism materialized and played out—though well over 1,400 years old—remains the foundation of the ideas and tensions which continue to drive the split. As such, understanding what happened nearly a millennia-and-a-half ago is essential to understanding the contemporary divisions that exist within the Muslim world.

 
South Asia and the Obama Doctrine
By Dr. Lamont Colucci , May 1, 2013
 

There has been much talk about the “pivot to Asia” as if it is something novel or new. In truth, however, U.S. foreign policy has been engaged in a pivot to Asia ever since Commodore Perry sailed under orders given to him by President Millard Fillmore in 1853 to open up Japan. Missing in the current approach, however, has been discussion about South Asia, except when South Asian states (namely Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh) intersect with issues related to Central Asia and the war in Afghanistan.

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 5: Iran's Venezuelan Gateway
By Norman A. Bailey , February 1, 2012
 

 For years, the media and the U.S. government have repeated a familiar refrain: that the regime of now-ailing Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, however annoying, poses no serious threat to the national security of the United States. Compelling evidence, however, suggests otherwise. Under Chavez, Venezuela has systematically opposed U.S. values and initiatives throughout the Western Hemisphere and the world in general. It has tried to influence political events in other Latin American countries, sometimes successfully. It has supported guerrilla movements and terrorist organizations in other countries (most notably Colombia). And it has facilitated the activities of drug traffickers active in the region, even as it has destabilized the regional status quo through massive military purchases.

The most dangerous threat to the U.S. from Venezuela, however, results from its facilitation and encouragement of the penetration of the Western Hemisphere by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since 2005, with Venezuela’s assistance, Iran has created an extensive regional network of economic, diplomatic, industrial and commercial activities, with significant effect. The sum total of Iran’s declared investments in the region now stands at some $20 billion, at a time when the Iranian economy itself is in exceedingly poor condition. The depths of Iran’s involvement in the Western Hemisphere are all the more surprising—and significant—given that there is no historical or cultural affinity whatsoever between Iran and the countries on this side of the Atlantic. Nevertheless, the Iranian regime in recent years has exhibited an unprecedented level of interest and involvement in the region, facilitated by its burgeoning strategic partnership with Caracas.

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 4: Hezbollah's Inroads Into The Western Hemisphere
By Ilan Berman , August 24, 2011
 

 A year after the attacks of September 11th, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in contextualizing the terrorist threat facing the country, made a telling assessment. “Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists,” Mr. Armitage told an audience at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, “and maybe al-Qaida is actually the B-team.” The description was apt, and remains so. With a presence in an estimated forty countries on five different continents, the Lebanese Shi’ite militia represents one of the very few terrorist groups active today that possess a truly global presence and reach.

This footprint extends not only to the greater Middle East and Europe, but to the Western Hemisphere as well. Over the past quarter-century, Hezbollah has devoted considerable energy and resources to establishing an extensive network of operations throughout the Americas. Today, its web of activity in our hemisphere stretches from Canada to Argentina, and encompasses a wide range of illicit activities and criminal enterprises, from drug trafficking to recruitment to fundraising and training.

 
Toward An Economic Warfare Stategy Against Iran
By Report of the American Foreign Policy Council task force , June 1, 2010
 

America's strategy toward Iran is faltering. Nearly seven years after the disclosure of the Iranian regime’s nuclear program, and a year-and-a-half after the start of “engagement” on the part of the Obama administration, Washington has yet to see a substantive diplomatic breakthrough in the deepening international impasse over the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions. To the contrary, mounting evidence suggests that Iran’s rulers have used the strategic pause aff orded by American outreach to forge ahead with their nuclear endeavor, adding permanence to Iran’s increasingly mature and menacing atomic effort.

Multilateral eff orts at sanctions, meanwhile, have failed to keep pace with these advances. Between 2006 and 2008, three rounds of international sanctions were authorized and enacted by the United Nations Security Council, with little perceivable impact on Iran’s nuclear decisionmaking. A fourth round of sanctions has just been finalized by the United States and other Permanent Security Council members. Yet already, there are clear signs that this effort, like its predecessors, will fall far short of applying the broad, comprehensive economic pressure necessary for Iran to begin to rethink its nuclear drive.

As a result, the United States and its allies in the international community will soon be confronted by the stark binary choice best outlined by French President Nicolas Sarkozy several years ago: an Iran with the bomb, or the bombing of Iran. If it hopes to avoid such a state of affairs, the United States will need to marshal a comprehensive economic warfare strategy toward the Islamic Republic — one that leverages the latent vulnerabilities inherent in the Iranian economy to ratchet up the cost of the regime’s nuclear endeavor. Such an approach starts by focusing on six discrete areas of economic activity that could be used to alter the Iranian regime’s behavior.

 
Iran's Nuclear Threat: The Day After
By Ilan Berman, Peter Brookes, Patrick Clawson, Mackenzie Eaglen, James Phillips, Baker Spring, Owen Graham and Eric Sayers , June 5, 2009
 

Iran is on the brink of attaining a nuclear weapons capability. The U.S. should immediately put in place the foundations of a strategy to dissuade Tehran from attaining a nuclear weapon through diplomacy, disarm it through military force, or establish a robust framework of augmented deterrence to mitigate the threat posed by a nuclear Iran and prevent a future disaster from unfolding.

 
Responding to China in Africa
By David Shinn and Joshua Eisenman , June 30, 2008
 

American and Chinese interests in Africa are different, but not substantially so. There are more areas where the two countries can cooperate for the benefit of Africans than there are issues of disagreement and potential competition. During his visit to Africa early in 2008, President George Bush acknowledged that the United States and China could pursue opportunities in Africa without increasing rivalry. He commented that he does “not view Africa as zero-sum for China and the United States” and believes both countries “can pursue agendas without creating a great sense of competition.” A few months later during a conference at Howard University in Washington on China-Africa relations, Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong said that China appreciated President Bush’s statement, adding that China and the United States need not pursue in Africa a “confrontational, or harmful rivalry, or a zero-sum game.”

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 3: The Case For Economic Warfare
By Ilan Berman , January 30, 2008
 

What can the United States do about Iran? Today that question, fueled by growing international concern over the Islamic Republic’s persistent nuclear ambitions, has emerged at the forefront of the American strategic debate.

In this calculus, economic measures have received comparatively short shrift. This is because conventional wisdom has it that the United States possesses little leverage that it can bring to bear in order to deter and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In this case, however, the conventional wisdom is wrong; the United States has a considerable number of economic tools at its disposal, despite its lack of trade relations with the Islamic Republic.

 
Confronting Iran: U.S. Options
By American Foreign Policy Council and McCormick Tribune Foundation , November 15, 2007
 

Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran looms large on the agenda of policymakers in Washington. Over the past several years, it has become clear that the Islamic Republic is pursuing a massive, multifaceted endeavor to acquire a nuclear capability—and that it is making rapid progress toward this goal, despite pressure from the world community. Yet Iran’s nuclear program is just part of a larger picture. The Islamic Republic’s enduring support for terrorism, its growing and pernicious regional role, and its radical, uncompromising ideology currently also pose serious challenges to the United States, its allies and American interests in the greater Middle East.

So far, policymakers in Washington have failed to muster an adequate response on any of these fronts. As a result, the Islamic Republic has gained precious time to entrench itself in Iraq, expand its support for terrorists and bring added permanence to its nuclear effort. The logical conclusion of the current status quo is a mature Iranian nuclear capability, continued Coalition casualties in Iraq, and emboldened terrorist groups across the region. If it hopes to avoid such an outcome, the United States must harness all the elements of national power into a strategy that focuses on three concrete goals vis-à-vis Iran: counterproliferation, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency.
 

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 2: The Dangers of Deterrence
By James S. Robbins , March 1, 2007
 

While there is still hope that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, it is becoming more likely that a nucleararmed Iran will become a reality in the near future. It therefore is useful to begin looking at strategic models for managing the threat of nuclear weapons if Iran actually develops them, and to consider exactly what risks the civilized world would be facing.

 
Iran Strategy Brief No. 1: Understanding Ahmadinejad
By Ilan Berman , June 1, 2006
 

Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Before his meteoric rise to power in the summer of 2005, Iran’s ultra-conservative president was a relative political unknown. Since taking office in August 2005, however, the 50-year-old Ahmadinejad has done much to demonstrate his radical credentials. He has ratcheted up the Islamic Republic’s hostile rhetoric toward Israel and the United States. His government has systematically rolled back domestic freedoms and deepened its control over Iranian society. And, under his direction, the Islamic Republic has accelerated its very public march toward an atomic capability.

 
Afghanistan: The Opportunity Within Adversity
By Elie Krakowski , September 15, 2000
 

AFPC Senior Fellow Dr. Elie Krakowski is now completing a year-long project on American policy options in Afghanistan.  Dr. Krakowski’s analysis explores problems facing the U.S. in the course of our war on terrorism.  These include the prospect of mounting regional instability and the possible breakup of Pakistan as a nation.