THINK TANK CENTRAL

Your single destination for high-quality content from top think tanks around the world. Fresh reports and analysis as they are released to ensure valuable thought leadership work isn’t lost in the daily noise.

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In her new report entitled “2018 Defense Budget Defers Buildup for Austerity,” Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, argues that President Donald Trump’s “overall federal spending blueprint” shortchanges the rebuilding of the US military in order to balance the federal budget. “Overall, Trump’s budget creates the troubling impression that the president is inclined toward a more muscular status quo regarding defense spending and policy,” she writes. “That would not represent enough of a change from his predecessor to build a military that can deter the wars the country does not want to fight and win the ones it must.”

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In “Meeting Security Challenges in a Disordered World,” Rebecca Hersman, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Project on Nuclear Issues, and senior adviser at its International Security Program, uses case studies to familiarize people with and equip them to function in evolving security environments which the US may face in the near future. “The United States must be prepared to operate in a range of complex environments to meet a range of security challenges and threats, such as humanitarian emergencies, terrorism and violent extremism, great power aggression, health security crises, and international criminal violence,” CSIS writes. “This study focuses on these five functional security imperatives and illustrates each imperative through regionally or subnationally defined operating environments.”

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In a new report entitled “A Strategy for Ending the Syrian Civil War,” the Center for a New American Security’s Colin Kahl, Ilan Goldberg and Nicholas Heras present a framework for US intervention in Syria. The proposed plan includes uniting the Turks and Kurds to fight ISIS, counterterrorism coordination with Russia, Iran engagement and the solicitation of support from Israel and the US’ allies in the Persian Gulf region. “With deft diplomacy, the Trump administration may be able to leverage growing U.S. influence in formerly ISIS-controlled territory to broker a broader national cease-fire and eventually a negotiated political solution,” their executive summary reads. “This option would defer the question of Assad’s fate but would avoid the breakup of the Syrian state and de-escalate the conflict through a governing system where most of the power is devolved outside of Damascus.”

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In its new report entitled “Stateless Attribution: Toward International Accountability in Cyberspace,” the RAND Corporation’s John S. Davis II, Benjamin Adam Boudreaux, Jonathan William Welburn, Jair Aguirre, Cordaye Ogletree, Geoffrey McGovern and Michael Chase tackle the topic of attribution for cyberattacks and credibility issues surrounding the identification of possible attackers. “This report reviews the state of cyber attribution and examines alternative options for producing standardized and transparent attribution that may overcome concerns about credibility,” RAND writes of the report. “In particular, this exploratory work considers the value of an independent, global organization whose mission consists of investigating and publicly attributing major cyber attacks.”

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In his new monograph entitled “The Future of Iran’s Security Policy: Inside Tehran’s Strategic Thinking,” J. Matthew McInnis, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, attempts to break down the Islamic Republic of Iran’s views of and approaches to things like military force, strategy, decision-making and more in order to bust the myth that the country’s security policy is beyond the scope of reason. “The Iranian leadership can be considered ‘logical’ if its decision-making patterns and worldview are well understood (as much as we oppose that worldview),” McInnis writes. “Western policymakers’ failure to understand this is the primary source of poor US strategy in the region since 1979. Hopefully, this monograph will lift the shroud on Iranian strategic thinking and guide better paths to a more stable Middle East.”

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“In the past decade, tensions in Asia have risen as Beijing has become more assertive in maritime disputes with its neighbors and the United States,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes of its new report, “Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia: The Theory and Practice of Gray Zone Deterrence,” co-authored by Michael Green, Kathleen Hicks, Zack Cooper, PhD, John Schaus and Jake Douglas. “This study reviews deterrence literature and nine case studies of coercion to develop recommendations for how the United States and its allies and partners could counter gray zone activity.”

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In a new report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, co-authors Hal Brands and Eric Edelman attempt to break down the politics of a new political age, marked by the conclusion of “the post-Cold War era.” “The core characteristics of the emerging era are the gradual but unmistakable erosion of U.S. and Western primacy, the return of sharp great-power competition across all three key regions of Eurasia, the revival of global ideological struggle, and the empowerment of the agents of international strife and disorder,” CSBA writes in a press release about the report. “Moreover, the impact of these forces is magnified by growing uncertainty about whether the traditional defenders of the post-Cold War system will be able and willing to play that role in the future.

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In “The Afghan War: Key Developments and Metrics,” Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, examines the ongoing entanglement through the lens of data. “The report provides a survey of the metrics on several key aspects of the Afghan war,” CSIS writes. “These include the cost of the war, the trends in the fighting, the nature of the U.S. train and assist mission, the progress and problems shaping Afghan security forces, the lack of resources for civil-military operations, and the problems in Afghan governance, corruption, and popular support.” It also looks at the impact of socioeconomic and sociocultural factors on the engagement. Learn more about the report here.

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“In this report, RAND researchers analyze Russian views of the international order,” the RAND Corporation writes of its May 2017 report “Russian Views of the International Order,” co-authored by Andrew Radin and Clinton Bruce Reach. “They identify core Russian foreign policy interests, including defense of the regime, influence in its neighborhood, and status as a great power. The authors trace how these interests have led to growing Russian skepticism of the West and to Russia’s current view that the international order is dominated by the United States and is a threat to Russian interests and security.”

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READ THE REPORT — In a new Atlantic Council report — “NATO and Trump: A Case for a New Transatlantic Bargain” — Amb. Alexander Vershbow, NATO’s former deputy secretary general, and Fabrice Pothier, NATO’s former head of policy planning, argue “that the Trump administration could be the catalyst for long overdue changes for the Alliance.” “The central recommendations are that firstly; European allies and Canada should commit to a concrete plan and a tighter timetable for increasing defense spending by the end of Trump’s term – through a NATO 2020 investment plan and an enforcement mechanism to hold allies accountable for their commitments. Secondly, the US and European allies should agree to a substantially enhanced operational role for the Alliance in the wider Middle East – including playing a greater role in training local forces in the Middle East, and agreeing on a common fund of up to one billion dollars to help support NATO’s contribution to the fight against terrorism,” the Atlantic Council wrote in a May 23, 2017, press release.

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