CISAC Honors Program Presentations

April 23, 2020 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Seminar Recording: https://youtu.be/vrUV4VtYZsE

 

About this Event:

Ben Boston

1:30 PM - 2:15 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: America in East Africa: Security Partnerships, Aid Dependence, and Diplomatic Leverage

Abstract: Why is the United States able to shape the actions of friendly nations? In this thesis, I offer an answer by examining cases of military invasions by and domestic political liberalization effort of the Kenyan and Ugandan governments since the end of the Cold War. Drawing on academic, journalistic, and participant reporting of each case, including interviews with key American policymakers, I test three theoretical frameworks: balance of interests, dependence, and coercive diplomacy. Through these I attempt to explain American influence over the 1998 Ugandan and Rwandan invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 2011 Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia, the 1991 Kenyan reinstitution of multiparty politics, and the 2005 Ugandan abolition of presidential term limits and reinstitution of multiparty politics. The existing literature on these cases focuses on outcomes broadly, and on African states’ comparative ability to secure agency relative to the wishes of their donors. Taking the United States as my focus, in this comparative case study, I find consistent limits to America’s ability to shape the actions of Kenya and Uganda regarding their core interests; however, clear, sustained application of coercive diplomacy still altered outcomes — especially when it used the leverage offered by dependence. This thesis creates a model of American agency in maximizing leverage over aid-dependent states.

 

 

Eva Frankel

2:15 PM - 2:50 PM

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Assessing the Threat of Bioterror from Lone Insiders in Biological Laboratories

Abstract: As the cost of DNA synthesis and sequencing drops and the life sciences advance, the literature suggests that synthesizing and weaponizing pathogens may have become within reach for non-state actors, creating a fundamental shift from a Cold War framework focused on the capabilities of state bioweapons programs to one focused on the threat posed by mass-casualty attacks perpetrated by terrorists. Lone insiders in biological laboratories, who have technical training and access to laboratory equipment, are considered a particular threat. Given the scholarship that suggests lone insiders in biological laboratories pose a significant security threat, why have there been no mass-casualty attacks perpetrated by lone insiders using pathogens? This thesis considers the capabilities of potential malicious actors in biological laboratories to weaponize pathogens, and their motivations to perpetrate mass-casualty attacks. Drawing on bibliometric data from synthetic virology papers, I argue that the historical threshold for capability required to weaponize pathogens is prohibitory to those who are not early adopters or innovators in the field of synthetic virology. Furthermore, I show that the malicious acts historically perpetrated by lone insiders are best characterized as biocrimes rather than bioterrorist acts, and transnational groups have not sought to recruit insiders in biological laboratories. By more fully understanding the threat of bioterrorism posed by lone insiders, policymakers and research institutions can work to ensure laboratory safety and security while promoting open science.

April 30, 2020 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Seminar Recording: https://youtu.be/yh5HVfzLgy0

 

About this Event:

Antigone Xenopoulos

1:30 PM - 2:15 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Alliance or Vulnerable Reliance: U.S. Dependence on China for Critical Dual-Use Products

Abstract: Why has the United States become economically dependent on China for the supply of critical dual-use products—those which have both military and commercial applications? Examples of such dependence include pharmaceutical drugs, rare earth metals, printed circuit boards, and more. I propose three theoretical models as likely explaining this phenomenon: the formerly low prioritization of China as a security threat, uncoordinated economic and security policies, and interest group influence. Next, by systemizing evidence from plethora of sources such as trade data, industry assessments, and government speeches and reports, I show that the U.S.’ dual-use dependence on China is measurable, has increased with time, and manifests across industries and defense applications. I find that entities within the U.S. government long recognized the threat of dual-use dependence on China. Nevertheless, because China was not prioritized as a security threat or portrayed as a competitor, this dependence was not responded to; instead, it persisted. Finally, and surprisingly, I find that U.S. industry associations did not uniformly support offshoring to China; even industries which would be expected to take such a position acknowledged the national security imperative of maintaining robust domestic supply chains. Combined, these findings demonstrate that US government’s internal dynamics rather than private-sector factors better explain the U.S.’ dual-use dependence on China.

 

 

Kelly Devens

2:15 PM - 2:50 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Assessing Russian Noncompliance in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Abstract: The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was a landmark bilateral arms control agreement created by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987. However, the United States formally withdrew from the treaty on August 2, 2019, citing years of Russian violation of the Treaty with the development of its 9M729 missile system. This thesis explains the major underlying motivations behind Russian development of this ground-launched, intermediate-range missile, which was a violation of the INF. It utilizes a single case process tracing approach and presents two datasets: (1) a robust timeline of events detailing the development of the missile system, the mechanics of the violation, Russian public commentary on the Treaty, and the American response, and (2) a collection of interviews of high-level American officials heavily involved in the investigation of the violation and American and European academic subject experts. The thesis finds that 9M729 missile system was likely not developed for any one mission in particular. The Ministry of Defense and Russian military industry wanted the missile system to provide flexibility in response to an increasing number of military threats in several theaters, believed they could develop the missile with plausible deniability, and used factors such as U.S. missile defense systems, the expanding size of NATO, rising influence of China, weapons proliferation to unstable neighboring regions, and the opportunity to divide NATO as justification to receive program approval. Determining the rationale for developing a treaty-noncompliant weapons system presents opportunity to consider how existing and future arms control agreements are developed and considered.

 

 

Jonah Martin Glick-Unterman

2:50 PM - 3:20 PM

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: “All Options Are On The Table”: The Correlates of Compellence and Coalition Effects

Abstract: Why do some militarized threats compel an opponent state to change its policy or behavior while others do not? This thesis is the first study to comprehensively evaluate the major theories of compellence by considering individual signals. An original data set compiled by surveying 124,000 archival documents catalogues every major military mobilization and verbal threat by the U.S. President with compellent intent since strategic parity. The results contest theories regarding “cost-sinking” and “hand-tying” signals, reputation, and assurances. Moreover, they challenge the conventional “costly” signaling framework. Instead of a simple positive relationship between a signal’s cost and coercive utility, this thesis proposes a different dynamic: at some point, cost can diminish coercive value by conveying that concessions may not prevent later demands or the use of force. The effect of international support for intervention is instructive: although associated with a higher rate of some concessions, international backing has no bearing on whether a target fully capitulates. Case studies of compellence prior to the First Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War suggest that this phenomenon may be explained by the sequencing and expense of coalition building. Ultimately, policymakers should consider that effective signaling is rare and that demonstrating an unflinching commitment to the use of force can backfire.

May 7, 2020 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Seminar Recording: https://youtu.be/sQynE60SFTc​

 

About this Event:

Sophia Boyer

1:30 PM - 2:15 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: AK-47s, Tanks, and F-16s: Understanding Shifts in Pakistan's Conventional Military Strategy in the post-Cold war era

Abstract: The United States has navigated a complex relationship with Pakistan since the country’s inception in 1947. The behavior of the Pakistan Army has been a central factor in that relationship. This thesis analyzes when, how and why the Pakistan Army has shifted its conventional military strategy in the post-Cold war era. An investigation of the Pakistan Army’s capabilities, doctrines, rhetoric and force distribution suggests that Pakistan shifted its conventional military strategy four times since 1989: a ‘Post-Cold war Strategy’ from 1989-1994, a ‘Defense Minimal strategy’ from 1994-2001, a ‘Two-Front Commitment Strategy’ from 2001-2010, and a ‘Three-Front Commitment Strategy’ from 2010-2019. Based on existing literature and interviews, this thesis argues that external threats, specifically those emanating from India and the U.S., and bureaucratic politics driven by leadership changes have impacted shifts in Pakistan’s conventional military strategy substantially. These findings can inform a calibrated US South Asia policy comprising the management of conventional military balance in nuclear South Asia.

 

 

Samantha Feuer

2:15 PM - 2:50 PM

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: From the Shadows to the Front Page: State Use of Proxies for Cyber Operations.

Abstract: Why do some states delegate cyber operations to proxies while others rely on central commands? This thesis explores state use of cyber proxies in light of principal-agent problems. In particular, this work examines cyber proxies allegedly acting at the behest of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea by considering three variables: cost, skills and specialization, and plausible deniability. The use of case studies and process tracing analyses evaluate their explanatory power in the cyber realm. The data suggest that states may use cyber proxies to differing degrees and with differing motivations depending upon the type of mission or strategic aim, as well as their ability to pose credible threats to misbehaving proxies. Although cyber operations are comparatively “cheap” relative to physical missions - hence their appeal - some evidence suggests that using cyber proxies may provide additional cost savings compared to the use of their central commands for certain missions. States’ need for skills and specializations, not immediately attainable through central commands, may also lead them to use cyber proxies. Based on available evidence, it remains inconclusive whether states’ potential desire for plausible deniability influences their use of cyber proxies. During a period of global uncertainty in which our everyday lives have been forced online, critical infrastructure, the public sector and private industry are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks from adverse actors. As data in this field improves, this thesis hopes to serve as a framework for future researchers to test, with more certainty, the causal links between these explanations and the use of cyber proxies within these four states.

 

 

Elena Crespo

2:50 PM - 3:20 PM

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Blood and Treasure, but Mostly Blood: U.S. Electoral Accountability and the All-Volunteer Force

Abstract: In the wake of the American military’s transition to an all-volunteer force (AVF), scholars and military leaders alike cautioned that the Armed Forces defending the nation would come to disproportionately draw from the least advantaged and least politically powerful populations. Should that be the case, certain communities would pay higher costs of war while others would be relatively untouched, leaving the Executive free to command with little public accountability. This thesis adopts an experimental statistical counterfactual approach to examine the geographic casualty distribution across states during the Iraq War had there been a conscripted force. The data presented suggest that the conventional logic is partially correct: an all-volunteer force is not egalitarian. It disproportionately burdened certain states—predominantly in the South and Midwest—with higher casualty rates than would have a conscripted force. However, many of the states that shouldered the costs of war under an AVF also carry disproportionate political gravity as electoral swing states. These findings suggest that a President who chooses to use force is more likely to face electoral backlash for his or her decisions under an all-volunteer force than under a conscripted force. Ultimately, the thesis proposes that President George W. Bush may have increased the margin of his victory in the 2004 Presidential election and contributed to greater Republican victories in the 2006 Senate election had the Iraq War been fought with a conscripted force that more equally distributed casualties. This finding runs contrary to the popular contention that a conscripted force is inherently more democratic and will lead to better electoral accountability for use of force.

May 14, 2020 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Seminar Recording: https://youtu.be/j9S_CKmku00

 

About this Event:

Bryan Metzger

1:30 PM - 2:15 PM 

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Lobbyists, Public Relations and “Malign Activities”: The JCPOA as a Case Study of Foreign Influence

Abstract: In July 2015, the P5+1 announced the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known colloquially as the “Iran nuclear deal,” an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 to place limits on the Iranian nuclear program. The agreement was controversial not only within American domestic politics, but also in the eyes of American allies in the Middle East that are commonly thought to exercise significant influence over American foreign policy. Using the JCPOA as a case study on foreign influence in American political decision-making, this thesis analyzes the influence strategies of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran from 2013 to 2018 while assessing the efficacy of these strategies. Based on the theoretical literature, I propose four different influence strategies: direct and indirect lobbying, and direct and indirect shaping of the information space. As a result of nearly forty interviews with former government officials, ambassadors, policy advocates, and regional experts, this thesis finds that while foreign influence does not drive US foreign policy, it can act as an important intervening factor, raising or lowering the costs of political decision-making and amplifying existing preferences within the American political system. Thus, this thesis provides a nuanced perspective on foreign influence in American decision-making, showing the real impact that such campaigns can have while eschewing the idea that American policymakers lack agency in important foreign policy matters.

 

 

Andrew Lokay

2:15 PM - 2:50 PM

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: The Repatriation Dilemma: European Countries and Islamic State Foreign Terrorist Fighters

Abstract: This thesis explains differences in European countries’ approaches to the repatriation of Islamic State foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). Following the territorial defeat of the Islamic State, the United States urged European countries to take back their citizens who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the caliphate. Some have done so, while others have not. This thesis is the first study to analyze the variation in responses to this request and uses an original dataset of FTF repatriation across 16 European countries. I apply a nested analysis research design to evaluate four explanatory variables: a country’s history of jihadist attacks, justice system capability, desire for a better relationship with the United States, and domestic political pressure. I arbitrate among these potential explanations though a medium-N analysis and case studies of the United Kingdom and the Republic of North Macedonia. I suggest that NATO aspirants are more likely to repatriate FTFs. The empirical evidence I collect does not support the other three hypotheses. I also propose that high evidentiary requirements in legal systems present a challenge to FTF repatriation. This thesis advances the literature’s understanding of the responsiveness of U.S. allies and partners to Washington’s demands, and it expands the counterterrorism scholarship to address a novel question regarding a salient and divisive policy debate.

 

 

Adam Elliott

2:50 PM - 3:20 PM

Introductions will start at 1:30pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.

Title: Keeping Pace: Addressing Life Sciences Dual Use Risk Across U.S. Government Agencies

Abstract: Why do different institutions address the same security challenge in different ways? Global biosecurity governance is ill-equipped to stay apace with advances in biotechnology. While almost all necessary life sciences research incurs the risk for misuse, certain experiments with higher risk to human health if misused are labelled dual use research of concern (DURC). U.S. government policies to guide public funding for DURC experiments attempt to outline lists of experiment types or select agents that constitute DURC. However, experts argue some experiments are definitionally DURC, but they do not fall within the scope of the U.S. policy. This thesis analyzes how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) approach funding two of these experiment types: gene drives and virus engineering for pandemic preparedness. Tracing each agency’s approach to funding these experiments, as well as their institutional history and culture, leads to several findings. First, when experiment types test the limits of what biosecurity policies are scoped to address, agencies tend to respond in accordance with their mission. However, decisions by agency directors may influence the response as well. Coherent leadership and strategies are critical for preserving the integrity of the scientific enterprise and for protecting humanity from biological threats – including natural, accidental, and deliberate release of biological products that could cause human suffering. By studying the ways different agencies respond when they have to address new biosecurity challenges, governments can better assess the effectiveness of existing biosecurity policies and design future policies in a way that allows society to enjoy the benefits of life sciences advances without undue exposure to risk.