2020-21 CISAC HONORS PROGRAM PRESENTATIONS

21 CISAC Honors Program

2020-21 CISAC Honors Program Presentations

April 22, 2021 2:40 PM - 3:45 PM

Presentation Recording: https://youtu.be/1UB1gCfqFTc

 

About this Event:

Nathalie Kiersznowski

Nathalie Kiersznowski

2:40 PM - 3:10 PM 

Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Fanning the Flames: The Impact of U.S. Targeted Sanctions on Foreign Militant Activity

Abstract: How do U.S. and UN targeted sanctions impact the behavior and strategies of militant groups? Despite several theories on the use of sanctions to punish non-state actors, scholars have largely neglected the impact of targeted sanction application on militant group behavior. This thesis combines an original dataset of 160 U.S. and UN sanction regimes with data on the activity of over 600 militant groups to examine the relationship between sanction imposition and militant activity. The results show mixed impact of sanctions on militant activity. While UN targeted sanctions precipitate falls in militant activity, unilateral U.S. sanctions are associated with a significant increase in violence committed by sanctioned groups. Comparative analysis of two militant groups in India –The National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Hizbul Mujahideen– explores the causality of this finding. U.S. sanctions strip militant groups of international legitimacy but often fail to limit their availability to resources. As a result, U.S. sanctions reduce the incentives of non-state actors to seek international recognition and constrain the forms of violence and insurgency they employ. This thesis illustrates the importance of international cooperation in ensuring targeted sanctions effectively limit the operating capabilities of militant groups.

 

 

Dylan Junkin

Dylan Junkin

3:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Chinese State Media Partnerships in East Asia and the Pacific

Abstract: How do Chinese state media partnerships impact perceptions of China in East Asia and the Pacific? Chinese state media groups form partnerships to publish content in local outlets, reaching foreign audiences through trusted sources. Previous scholars identify media partnerships as the most impactful form of Beijing’s public diplomacy, but do not investigate which factors moderate this influence. This thesis analyzes the relationship between partnerships and approval of China in 12 countries using an original dataset of 98 partnerships from 2006-2020. By recording the size of partner groups, strength of ties, and language of publication, this this investigation differentiates itself from previous studies. Partnerships are collectively associated with increasing approval and decreasing disapproval of China, but surprisingly the most influential partnerships are with small, Chinese language media groups. These results contradict the conventional logic that partnerships with larger, multilingual media would have greater impact. An interview with a Xinhua journalist and case studies of media organizations in Thailand and Australia suggest that small, Chinese language platforms are uniquely vulnerable to influence from PRC state media. Policymakers must support independent publishers to prevent the consolidation of the Chinese language media ecosystem.

April 29, 2020 1:50 PM - 3:00 PM

Presentation Recording: https://youtu.be/C7FfMPRHSng

 

About this Event:

Yasmin S.

Yasmin Samrai

1:50 PM - 2:20 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:50pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: The Geopolitical Blame Game: Russia’s Strategy of Weaponizing Grievances against the West.

Abstract: Russia harbors both real and imagined grievances against the West. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kremlin has accumulated a litany of complaints – spanning NATO enlargement to liberal hegemony, economic sanctions to cultural degeneracy – and amplified them with renewed fervor at home and abroad. Despite the resurgence of resentment politics in Russia, China, and Iran, few studies have examined the phenomenon of national grievance narratives. This thesis fills the gap with a study on the sources and strategic aims of Russia’s grievances against the West. An original dataset of 471 grievances, created by surveying hundreds of Russian presidential speeches, interviews, and strategic documents, charts Russia’s grievance narrative since 1991. Contrary to conventional assumptions, grievance narratives do not reflect the genuine foreign policy interests of the state. A fifth of the grievances in the dataset are neither reliable nor merely rhetorical, but rather instrumental to a revisionist Russian foreign policy. Instrumental grievances, a term this thesis introduces, are tactical complaints that state actors exploit to undermine, challenge, or gain leverage over an adversary. An in-depth case study on Russia’s long-standing grievance against NATO suggests the Russian political elite inflate national security threats to serve their geopolitical ambitions and domestic political interests. Consequently, policymakers should interpret Russia’s grievance narrative with caution and skepticism. When policymakers mistake an instrumental grievance for harmless rhetoric or, worse, genuine offense, they overlook the subversive ways that Russia exploits the grievance to deceive and undermine the West.

 

 

June L

June Lee

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:50pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Strategic Publicity: Understanding U.S. Government Cyber Attribution

Abstract: When and under what circumstances does the US government publicly attribute state-backed cyber intrusions? Over the past decade, the US government has become increasingly willing to publicly attribute the state adversaries behind cyber incidents. Yet the timing of public attribution appears to vary significantly. Much of the existing work on public attribution of cyber incidents is theoretical – examining when states should publicly attribute – without providing a systematic study of the circumstances in which it actually takes place. This thesis seeks to fill this gap by compiling a data set of every public attribution by the U.S. government to another state from 2010-2021, in addition to data on timing. My analysis suggests that the U.S. government is not a unitary actor; instead, public attribution operates through four distinct channels – technical alerts, criminal charges, and official and unofficial policy statements. Bilateral relations between the U.S. and adversary state, U.S. domestic politics, and attribution by private sector entities have no systematic effect on the timing of public attribution. Moreover, case studies of public attribution for Iran’s Operation Ababil and Russia’s Dragonfly 2.0 campaign demonstrate that organizational factors matter more than the public discourse would suggest. As the government pursues whole-of-government strategies of “persistent engagement” and “defend forward,” this thesis suggests that policymakers must think systematically across government about when and under what circumstances to publicly attribute cyber incidents to other states.

May 6, 2020 2:40 PM - 3:45 PM

Presentation Recording: https://youtu.be/7j53CyE1uo8

 

About this Event:

Carter C

Carter Clelland

2:40 PM - 3:10 PM 

Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Chinese Investment Strategy Across Latin America

Abstract: Why do certain Latin American countries receive substantially more Chinese investment than others? Various reports, books, and statements from officials argue that Chinese investments, notably ones from its Belt and Road Initiative, seek to augment Chinese global influence through corruption, political influence, and debt diplomacy. Since 2005, the People’s Republic of China has increased its interest in Latin America, as evidenced by its upward trend of investment with the region now receiving nearly 10% of total Chinese investment, or $200bn. Using the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker, this thesis aims to identify some potential factors for the distribution of Chinese investment across different Latin American nations and test the veracity of such claims, and explain why Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela receive such high levels of investment compared to regional peers like Colombia and Mexico. The data suggests that Latin American corruption is not an influential factor in Chinese investment destinations, but rather the primary motive is more likely the potential for commodity exports like soybeans, petroleum, and copper. As China raises its economic influence in Latin America, Beijing will likely obtain greater political and diplomatic influence. The United States government must understand Beijing’s intentions in the region and compete accordingly rather than maligning the PRC’s actions in Latin America without providing a competitive alternative.

 

 

Kate Y

Kate Yeager

3:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: The Emergence of Cyber Conflicts in the Middle East

Abstract: What motivates Middle Eastern nations to develop the cybersecurity governance agencies that protect from malicious cyber activity? As the world has watched major cyber powers such as China, Russia and the United States emerge, a region often at the forefront of conversations on conventional military conflict, the Middle East, has broadly been left undiscussed in the realm of cyber policy. While this may be indicative of a lack of malicious cyber activity within the region, cyber conflict, however, is on the rise between Middle Eastern States. An original data set of over 50 significant cyber incidents since 2007 shows that the biggest perpetrators of malicious cyber activity against Middle Eastern states are state actors within the region, as opposed to extra-regional states, third-party hacking groups, terrorist organizations or political organizations. Moreover, this malicious cyber activity has had two major waves of increase that align with both the Arab Spring and the Persian Gulf Crisis. The growing threat of regional cyber conflict in tandem with political unrest and conventional military conflict suggest that Middle Eastern nations have been motivated to develop cyber defense structures in response to a growing regional threat of malicious cyber activity.

May 13, 2020 2:40 PM - 3:45 PM

Presentation Recording: https://youtu.be/sJjMI-BAsew

 

About this Event:

Kyle R

Kyle Duchynski

2:40 PM - 3:10 PM 

Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Looking East: Evaluating Russia's Pivot to Asia

Abstract: At the September 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his “Pivot to Asia”, ostensibly launching a reorientation of Russia’s foreign policy. Yet, has Russia truly pivoted to Asia? If so, why? Data on Russia’s economic and security ties with major Asian countries illustrate that Russia’s shift to Asia is real, especially towards China. Such a shift has been motivated by the Kremlin’s desire to reduce Russia’s economic reliance on Europe in light of Western sanctions as well as shared regional security interests and elite diplomacy between Putin and other heads of state. While Putin and the Kremlin have taken deliberate actions to support a pivot east, broader geopolitical and economic trends have been at least as consequential in pushing Russia east, such as Asia’s growing economic power. Far from starting in 2012 with Putin’s pronouncement, Moscow continually looking east is part of a historical pattern dating back several hundred years. As the global balance of power shifts towards Asia, U.S. policymakers must be cognizant of the second and third order effects U.S. foreign policy can have on the Kremlin’s ties with major powers in Asia.

 

 

Corrine

Corinne Zanolli

3:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Better Together? The Effect of U.S. Defense Industry Consolidation on Procurement Outcomes

Abstract: Many policymakers believe that the consolidation of the U.S. defense industry is suboptimal, pointing to cost overruns, program delays, and technological problems with products. Meanwhile, economists believe that there may actually be efficiencies to be gained through consolidation in the defense industry and that therefore, its effects are not always negative. Utilizing a novel approach that combines economic and social science analyses, this thesis asks whether the consolidation of the U.S. defense industry has, in fact, increased costs and schedule delays of major defense acquisition programs and decreased private sector innovation and investment in innovation. Analysis of original datasets of Selected Acquisition Report summary table data from 2000-2020, schedule delay data compiled from GAO Annual Weapon’s Assessment reports since 2003, and company research and development spending of the prime contractors from 2000-2020 suggests that defense industry consolidation leads to negative effects on the cost and schedule of major defense acquisition programs as well as varied effects on private sector innovation/investment in innovation. Case studies of the F-35 and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent illustrate the dangers of the current state of the industry and also raise questions about the efficacy of current economic methodologies for analyzing cost growth of major defense acquisition programs. Policymakers should consider further examination of defense industry competition and M&A activity as well as the benefits of knowledge-based acquisition practices as the Department of Defense moves towards key decision points regarding legacy systems and the future of U.S. defense capabilities.