Security

FSI scholars produce research aimed at creating a safer world and examing the consequences of security policies on institutions and society. They look at longstanding issues including nuclear nonproliferation and the conflicts between countries like North and South Korea. But their research also examines new and emerging areas that transcend traditional borders – the drug war in Mexico and expanding terrorism networks. FSI researchers look at the changing methods of warfare with a focus on biosecurity and nuclear risk. They tackle cybersecurity with an eye toward privacy concerns and explore the implications of new actors like hackers.

Along with the changing face of conflict, terrorism and crime, FSI researchers study food security. They tackle the global problems of hunger, poverty and environmental degradation by generating knowledge and policy-relevant solutions. 

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* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

 

Register in advance for this webinar: https://stanford.zoom.us/webinar/register/8416226562432/WN_WLYcdRa6T5Cs1MMdmM0Mug

 

About the Event: Is there a place for illegal or nonconsensual evidence in security studies research, such as leaked classified documents? What is at stake, and who bears the responsibility, for determining source legitimacy? Although massive unauthorized disclosures by WikiLeaks and its kindred may excite qualitative scholars with policy revelations, and quantitative researchers with big-data suitability, they are fraught with methodological and ethical dilemmas that the discipline has yet to resolve. I argue that the hazards from this research—from national security harms, to eroding human-subjects protections, to scholarly complicity with rogue actors—generally outweigh the benefits, and that exceptions and justifications need to be articulated much more explicitly and forcefully than is customary in existing work. This paper demonstrates that the use of apparently leaked documents has proliferated over the past decade, and appeared in every leading journal, without being explicitly disclosed and defended in research design and citation practices. The paper critiques incomplete and inconsistent guidance from leading political science and international relations journals and associations; considers how other disciplines from journalism to statistics to paleontology address the origins of their sources; and elaborates a set of normative and evidentiary criteria for researchers and readers to assess documentary source legitimacy and utility. Fundamentally, it contends that the scholarly community (researchers, peer reviewers, editors, thesis advisors, professional associations, and institutions) needs to practice deeper reflection on sources’ provenance, greater humility about whether to access leaked materials and what inferences to draw from them, and more transparency in citation and research strategies.

View Written Draft Paper

 

About the Speaker: Christopher Darnton is a CISAC affiliate and an associate professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He previously taught at Reed College and the Catholic University of America, and holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University. He is the author of Rivalry and Alliance Politics in Cold War Latin America (Johns Hopkins, 2014) and of journal articles on US foreign policy, Latin American security, and qualitative research methods. His International Security article, “Archives and Inference: Documentary Evidence in Case Study Research and the Debate over U.S. Entry into World War II,” won the 2019 APSA International History and Politics Section Outstanding Article Award. He is writing a book on the history of US security cooperation in Latin America, based on declassified military documents.

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Christopher Darnton Associate Professor of National Security Affairs Naval Postgraduate School
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Steve Fyffe
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Three CISAC scientists have joined 26 of the nation’s top nuclear experts to send an open letter to President Obama in support of the Iran deal struck in July.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the United States and its partners negotiated with Iran will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future non-proliferation agreements,” the group of renowned scientists, academics and former government officials wrote in the letter dated August 8, 2015.

“This is an innovative agreement, with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework.”

CISAC senior fellow and former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Sig Hecker is a signatory to the letter, along with CISAC co-founder Sid Drell, and cybersecurity expert and CISAC affiliate Martin Hellman.

Six Nobel laureates also signed, including FSI senior fellow by courtesy and former Stanford Linear Accelerator director Burton Richter.

The letter arrives at a crucial time for the Obama administration as it rallies public opinion and lobbies Congress to support the Iran agreement.

You can read the full letter along with analysis from the New York Times at this link.

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A special guest awaited students in the final class of the fall quarter for INTLPOL 340 / MS&E 296 “Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition - Keeping America’s Edge in an Era of Great Power Rivalry.'' Eric Schmidt joined the group as a guest speaker and was eager to engage each student team during their group project presentations.

Schmidt knows a thing or two about how new technologies intersect with the geopolitics of today. He was Google chairman and CEO, served as the chairman of the Department of Defense’s Innovation Board from 2016-2020, and is the co-founder of Schmidt Futures.

The students, who came from a diverse set of backgrounds and interests – from undergraduate sophomores to 5th year PhD’s – were eager to share their ideas with Schmidt.

Over the duration of fall quarter 2022, they examined the new operational concepts and strategies that are emerging from acquiring, funding, and fielding a range of emerging technologies critical to US national security and global competitiveness.

“This is a unique course,” explained Joe Felter, a course instructor and director of the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, through which the course is available. “We offer the combination of reading, lectures and guest speakers seen in traditional policy courses. But this is an experiential policy class.”

In small teams, students embark on identifying an urgent national security challenge, validate the problem, and propose a detailed solution. These solutions are then tested against actual stakeholders in the technology and national security sectors.

Over 20 “problem statements,” addressing issues from energy scarcity to AI research collaboration and manufacturing scalability, served as jumping off points for the nine student teams.

Schmidt attested that this approach has a tangible impact.

“The world gets better because you decide on your own to work on a hard problem, and you solve it or with your friends,” Schmidt told students at the final meeting of the class. “Your generation is in such a stronger position to do this than we were ever, and I'm really really jealous that you have that opportunity ahead of you."

Besides Schmidt, past guest speakers have included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Michael McFaul as well as a range of senior policy makers and leaders from across the U.S. government.

The course builds on concepts presented in MS&E 193/293 “Technology and National Security” and provides a strong foundation for students interested in enrolling in MS&E 297 “Hacking for Defense.”

“This class changed the trajectory of many of our students,” wrote course instructor Steve Blank in a blog post. “A number expressed newfound interest in exploring career options in the field of national security. Several will be taking advantage of opportunities provided by the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation to further pursue their contribution to national security.”

Course instructor Steve Blank addresses students
Course instructor Steve Blank speaks to students at the final fall quarter class of "Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition - Keeping America’s Edge in an Era of Great Power Rivalry."

Here’s what the students have to say about the course in their own words:

"The TIGPC class was a highlight of my academic experience at Stanford. Over the ten week quarter, I learned a tremendous amount about the importance of technology in global politics from the three professors and from the experts in government, business, and academia who came to speak. The class epitomizes some of the best parts of my time here: the opportunity to learn from incredible, caring faculty and to work with inspiring classmates. Joe, Steve, and Raj instilled in my classmates and me a fresh sense of excitement to work in public service." -Matt Kaplan

"This course doesn’t just discuss U.S. national security issues. It teaches students how to apply an influential and proven methodology to rapidly develop solutions to our most challenging problems." -Jason Kim

"Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition gave me an opportunity to dive into a real world national security threat to the United States and understand the implications of it within the great power competition. Unlike any other class I have taken at Stanford, this class allowed me to take action on our problem about networks, censorship and the lack of free flow of information in authoritarian regimes, and gave me the chance to meet and learn from a multitude of experts on the topic. I finished this class with a deep understanding of our problem, a proposed actionable solution and a newfound interest in the intersection of technology and innovation as it applies to national defense. I am very grateful to have been part of this course, and it has inspired me to go a step further and pursue a career related to national security." -Etienne Reche-Ley

"Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition (TIGPC) is that rare combination of the theoretical, tactical, and practical. Over 10 weeks, Blank, Felter, and Shah manage to outline the complexities of modern geopolitical tensions and bring students up the steep learning curves of critical areas of technological competition, from semiconductors to artificial intelligence. Each week of the seminar is a crash course in a new domain, brought to life by rich discussion and an incredible slate of practitioners who live and breathe the content of TIGPC on a daily basis. Beyond the classroom, the course plunges students into the midst of solving the most pressing problems of nation and mission, getting teams "out of the building" to iterate quickly while translating learnings to the real world. Along the way, the course illuminates compelling career paths and acts as a strong call to public service." -Jonah Cader

"TIGPC is an interdisciplinary class like no other. It is a fabulous introduction to some of the most significant tech and geopolitical challenges and questions of the 21st century. The class, like the topics it covers, is incredible and ambitious - it’s a great way to level up your understanding of not just international policy, political theory and technology policy but also deep tech and the role of startups in projecting national power. If you’re curious about the future of the world and the role of the U.S. in it, you won’t find a more unique course, a more dedicated teaching team or better speakers to hear from than this!" -Shreyas Lakhtakia

Students interested in “Hacking for Defense,” which will be offered in Spring 2023, should join the course mailing list. “Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition - Keeping America’s Edge in an Era of Great Power Rivalry” will be offered again in Fall 2023.

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Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and her team meet at the Hoover Institution with students and faculty from the Gordian Knot Center.
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Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Discusses Importance of Strategic Partnerships with Stanford Faculty and Students

A visit from the Department of Defense’s deputy secretary gave the Gordian Knot Center a prime opportunity to showcase how its faculty and students are working to build an innovative workforce that can help solve the nation’s most pressing national security challenges.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks Discusses Importance of Strategic Partnerships with Stanford Faculty and Students
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In the class “Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition,” students across disciplines work in teams and propose their detailed solutions to active stakeholders in the technology and national security sectors.

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Naomi Egel
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As Russia’s war against Ukraine illustrates, civilians often bear the brunt of suffering in conflict — sometimes directly killed or saddled with lifelong injuries, and sometimes from the destruction of critical infrastructure like hospitals, power plants and sanitation systems needed to survive. International laws of war prohibit targeting civilians — but often fail to protect them in practice.

How can this be stopped? Ireland recently organized the development of a multilateral declaration aimed at better protecting civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas. While it’s not a legally binding treaty, this declaration includes new guidelines developed to improve how international humanitarian law gets put into practice. Eighty countries, including the United States, signed this declaration in Dublin on Nov. 18.

Continue reading at washingtonpost.com.

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If it’s not a binding treaty, how can it influence military action? Here’s what research tells us.

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As Russia’s military faltered and lost ground in its conventional war against Ukraine, concern grew in the West that Vladimir Putin might resort to nuclear weapons.  The Kremlin, however, has real reasons not to cross the nuclear threshold, and its hints of nuclear use have not brought Kyiv’s capitulation or an end to Western support for Ukraine any closer.  In recent weeks, Moscow has seemed to deescalate the nuclear rhetoric.

Russia’s military campaign in Donbas stalled over the summer, and Ukrainian counteroffensives in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions subsequently have liberated substantial tracts of territory.  As the Ukrainian army pressed forward, the Kremlin began to grow desperate, with Putin ordering mobilization of 300,000 men.  Many in the West began to fear that the Russian leader, facing an increasingly difficult situation, might play the nuclear card against Ukraine.

Putin set the stage for this early on. In February, just three days after the Russian army invaded Ukraine from the north, south and east, he ordered a “special combat readiness” for Russian nuclear forces.  In September, the situation deteriorated for Russia, and Putin set in motion his desired annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts (regions), none of which his military fully controlled.  His language, and that of other Russian officials, hinted at nuclear use.

Announcing the mobilization on September 21, Putin stated “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity to our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us.  This is not a bluff.”  Many observers read “all weapons systems” as including nuclear arms.  Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on September 27 said that it certainly “was not a bluff” and went on to “imagine” a Russian nuclear strike on Ukraine.

In a September 30 speech, Putin proclaimed Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts to be part of Russia and asserted “We will defend our land with all the forces and resources we have.”  In case anyone missed the point, he cited the U.S. nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 as having set a “precedent.”

Those remarks got attention.  On October 7, President Joe Biden commented in a private setting that he saw a direct threat of nuclear use for the first time since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  Shortly thereafter, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had conversations with their Russian counterparts.

The Kremlin may want Ukraine and the West to believe that Russia is prepared to escalate to the nuclear level, but it does not want a nuclear war.  Moscow has real reasons not to cross the nuclear threshold.

First, Ukraine does not mass its forces in a way that would create a tempting target for nuclear attack.  More importantly, a nuclear strike is unlikely to achieve the political objective of intimidating Kyiv into capitulation.  The Ukrainians understand all too well what Russian occupation means.  For them, this is an existential fight, and nothing suggests that the Russian threats have undercut their resolve.

Second, the same is true for the resolve of Ukraine’s Western supporters.  The flow of arms and other support for Ukraine continues, and Western officials have pushed back on the nuclear question.  Meeting on November 4, G7 foreign ministers stated “Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable.  Any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by Russia would be met with severe consequences.”  That echoed the message following Biden’s October 7 phone conversation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that consequences would be “extremely serious” and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s October 13 warning that Moscow not cross the “very important [nuclear] line.”  Russian officials—the senior military leadership, in particular—likely understand that, if they open the nuclear Pandora’s Box, no one can tell what would happen.

Third, Russian officials have to consider the reaction of other countries.  Putin’s close friend President Xi Jinping of China has been very clear in recent meetings.  Xi and Scholz on November 4 “rejected” the threat of nuclear weapons, and Xi and Biden on November 14 condemned Moscow’s nuclear threats.  The G20 leaders’ declaration issued on November 16 said “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”  Given his isolation from the West, Putin can hardly afford to alienate Xi or other countries in the Global South.  Few would like the precedent of Russia, a nuclear state, using nuclear arms against a smaller, non-nuclear neighbor after its conventional aggression had failed.

There are indications the Kremlin understands that it has overplayed its hand and in recent weeks has sought to tone down the nuclear rhetoric.

Speaking to the Valdai Discussion Club on October 27, Putin raised the question “that Russia might theoretically use nuclear weapons,” called “the current fuss” a “very primitive” attempt to turn countries against Moscow, and commented that “we have never said anything proactively about Russia potentially using nuclear weapons.”  While not exactly true, it was very different from the Russian leader’s September pronouncements.  A November 2 Russian Foreign Ministry statement said Russia is guided by the principle that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” reiterated commitment to the January 3, 2022 statement by the U.S., Russian, Chinese, British and French leaders on preventing a nuclear war, and noted that provocations with nuclear weapons could entail “catastrophic consequences.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reported that, in their November 16 meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had stated that nuclear use was “impossible and inadmissible.”  Representing Russia at the G20 summit, Lavrov agreed to the leaders’ declaration that included the language about the inadmissibility of the use or threat of use of nuclear arms.

Russian officials have backed away from the nuclear hints and threats of September and sought to tone down the rhetoric.  This does not mean they might not reemerge, but it does suggest that the Kremlin understands that the use of nuclear weapons would have significant consequences for Russia, and that its nuclear threats failed to achieve their desired political objectives while proving counterproductive for Russia’s image abroad.

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As Russia’s military faltered and lost ground in its conventional war against Ukraine, concern grew in the West that Vladimir Putin might resort to nuclear weapons.

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Co-sponsored with Stanford University Libraries

About the Event: Join us for an engaging conversation with the Ambassador of Estonia to the U.S. Kristjan Prikk, Rose Gottemoeller, and Steven Pifer, who will discuss Russia's war in Ukraine - what's at stake and what we should do about it.
Russia's unprovoked war against Ukraine has brought about the most serious reassessment of the European security realities since the end of the Cold War. The epic clash of political wills, the magnitude of military operations, and the scale of atrocities against the Ukrainian people are beyond anything Europe has seen since World War II. The past nine months have forced many to reassess what is possible and impossible in international security A.D. 2022. What is this war about, after all? What's at stake in this – to paraphrase former British PM Chamberlain – "quarrel in a faraway country, between people of whom most Americans know nothing?" What should be the lessons for U.S. strategists and policymakers? What are the wider implications for U.S. national security interests, particularly those related to the Indo-Pacific? How has the Alliance supported Ukraine since the war started? What should the end of this war look like and how to get there?

All these questions are relevant and should be carefully weighed with current information from the war as well as historic perspective and regional knowledge in mind.

About the Speakers: 

Estonia's Ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Kristjan Prikk started his mission in Washington, D.C. in May 2021. He is a graduate of the USA Army War College and has served as the National Security Coordinator to the Prime Minister. Prior to arriving in D.C., he was the Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defense. Among his previous assignments are two other tours in Washington as an Estonian diplomat and work on NATO-Russia and NATO-Ukraine topics at a time when these relationships were considerably less charged than today.

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford, Gottemoeller was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2016 to 2019, where she helped to drive forward NATO's adaptation to new security challenges in Europe and in the fight against terrorism.  Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State, advising the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation and political-military affairs. 

Steven Pifer is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation as well as a non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. He was a William J. Perry Fellow at the center from 2018-2022 and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin from January-May 2021. Pifer's research focuses on nuclear arms control, Ukraine, Russia, and European security. A retired Foreign Service officer, Pifer's more than 25 years with the State Department focused on U.S. relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe, as well as arms control and security issues, and included service as the third US ambassador to Ukraine.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

Green Library, East Wing 

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In October 2022, the Chinese Communist Party elected Xi Jinping for a third term as general secretary, setting Xi on a path to be the longest-serving leader since Mao Zedong’s rule ended in 1976.

The extension of Xi’s rule carries significant implications not only for China, but for the broader Indo-Pacific region and global geopolitical order. No country is more aware of this than Taiwan, which has carefully walked the line between its own autonomy and Beijing’s desire for reunification since the 1940s.

After a summer of rising tensions, many experts believe that Beijing’s timeline for an attempt at reunification is much shorter than conventional thinking has assumed. On the World Class podcast, Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, discusses the prognosis for Taiwan with Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert on the Chinese military and security, and Larry Diamond, a scholar of China’s sharp power and the role of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region.

Listen to the full episode and read highlights from their conversation below.

Click the link for a full transcript of “What We Need To Talk About When We Talk About Taiwan.“

The Likelihood of Invasion


In stark terms, Oriana Skylar Mastro, a center fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, believes there’s a 100% chance China will use some sort of force against Taiwan in the next five years. For the last twenty years, China has been making concerted efforts to modernize its military and increase its capabilities not only to assert force against Taiwan, but to deter intervention from the United States.

In the majority of scenarios, the United States wins in a conflict with China over Taiwan. But the United States also carries a distinct geographic disadvantage. The distance across the Taiwan Strait between the island and mainland China is approximately 100 miles, which is roughly the distance between Richmond, Virginia and Washington D.C. If China moves quickly, PRC forces could take Taiwan before U.S. forces have time to move into position.

When considering possible outcomes in Taiwan, it is equally important to consider the motivations driving Beijing’s ambitions. The leadership on the mainland has been planning and thinking about how to retake Taiwan since 1949. With the modernized capabilities coming online, the balance of power has shifted in China’s military favor, and the cost-benefit calculus favors Beijing’s ambitions. The long-term planning stage is now reaching its end, and the prospects of direct action are increasing.

The clock is ticking. The problem is we don’t know how fast it’s ticking. But we need to move faster than we're moving.
Larry Diamond
Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI

The View from Taipei


Political leaders in Taiwan recognize the growing danger they face across the Strait. In Larry Diamond’s assessment, the end of Hong Kong's autonomy and the suppression of the “one country, two systems” model, the rising military incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone and coastal waters, and the whole rising pace of Chinese military intimidation has sobered Taiwan and visibly impacted Taiwanese public opinion.

Concerningly though, while the political elite recognize the real and present danger of the situation, polling of the general Taiwan public suggests that the vast majority of citizens still feel like an attack or an invasion by China is unlikely. Similar majorities suggest that they would be willing to fight in Taiwan’s defense, but volunteering for military service remains at a minimum.

To maximize safety, Taiwan needs to find ways to strengthen itself in its ability to defend, resist, and deter China, while still avoiding any appearance of moving toward permanent independence or any other action that could be deemed by Beijing as a provocation, says Diamond.

There are things that can completely change Beijing's calculus, but it takes a lot of work, and I just don't see us doing the work yet.
Oriana Skylar Mastro
FSI Center Fellow

What the United States Can Do


When it comes to the defense of Taiwan, the strategic crutch hobbling the United States is geography. Most of the U.S. Pacific forces are not in Asia. The majority are in Hawaii and California, as well as a few bases and airfields in Japan. To be able to effectively deter China, the U.S. needs far greater forward deployed military capability in order to be able to either stop or stall the movement of Chinese troops into Taiwan, says Mastro.

Taiwan needs greater onshore military deterrence capabilities as well. One such strategy is the “porcupine approach,” which increases the number of smaller mobile lethal weapons. By Larry Diamond’s assessment, increased citizen participation in military training is also crucial, with an emphasis on weapons training and urban defense tactics. The U.S. could support these aims by overhauling the current system for weapons procurement to speed up the production and delivery of weapons systems not just for Taiwan, but to the benefit of U.S. defense and other contingencies as well. Working with leadership to create strategic stockpiles of food, and energy should also be a priority, says Diamond.

The U.S. also needs to put much more effort into its diplomatic efforts on behalf of Taiwan. Many U.S. allies and partners are reluctant to ostracize China because of economic ties and concerns over sparking their own conflict with China in the future. A key ally in all of this is Japan. If Japan fights with the United States on behalf of Taiwan, it is a guaranteed win and enough to effectively deter China. But much more needs to be done much more quickly in order to secure those guarantees and present them in a convincing way to Beijing.

“The clock is ticking,” Larry Diamond says. “And the problem is we don’t know how fast it’s ticking. “Taiwan is moving in the right direction. But we need to move faster than we're moving.”

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Larry Diamond and Oriana Skylar Mastro join Michael McFaul on the World Class podcast to discuss China’s ambitions against Taiwan, and how the U.S. and its allies can deter Beijing.

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Steven Pifer
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On 24 October, 30 members of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus released a letter to President Biden calling for a “proactive diplomatic push” on Kyiv to work toward a ceasefire and “direct [US] engagement” with Moscow to end the Russia-Ukraine war. One week earlier, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy’s no “blank check” for Ukraine comment raised questions about future congressional support for US assistance to that embattled country.

The letter, even though it has now been withdrawn, and McCarthy’s comment are unfortunate. Vladimir Putin will take encouragement from both as Russia wages its war. The suggestion of cracks in US backing for Ukraine will increase his incentives to continue fighting.

Continue reading at theguardian.com

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Kevin McCarthy’s warning of no ‘blank check’ and progressive Democrats’ premature call for negotiations were unfortunate

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About the Event: A panel discussion convened in partnership with the Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, University of San Francisco, the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, and the World House Project, Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, Stanford University.

About the Speakers:

Scott D. Sagan is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, the Mimi and Peter Haas University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. He also serves as Chairman of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Committee on International Security Studies. Before joining the Stanford faculty, Sagan was a lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University and served as special assistant to the director of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.

Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History, emeritus, at Stanford University, has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the human rights movements inspired by King, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and other visionaries. His award-winning first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, was published in 1981 and remains the definitive study of the courageous activists and organizers who challenged the strongholds of segregation. In 1985, Mrs. Coretta Scott King chose Dr. Carson to edit and publish a definitive, multi-volume edition of her late husband’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. In addition to publishing numerous other books and scholarly articles, Carson has also reached broader audiences as a senior advisor to the Eyes on the Prize series and his contributions to more than two dozen subsequent documentaries. After launching the online Liberation Curriculum for K-12 students, Carson founded Stanford's Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute in 2005 to disseminate King-related educational resources to a global audience. After retiring as the King Institute’s Director, Carson has continued his online educational efforts by establishing The World House Project to collaborate with other human rights advocates to realize King's vision of a global community in which all people can "learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford Gottemoeller was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2016 to 2019, where she helped to drive forward NATO’s adaptation to new security challenges in Europe and in the fight against terrorism.  Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State, advising the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation and political-military affairs. While Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in 2009 and 2010, she was the chief U.S. negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation.

David Holloway is the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History, a professor of political science, and an FSI senior fellow. He was co-director of CISAC from 1991 to 1997, and director of FSI from 1998 to 2003. His research focuses on the international history of nuclear weapons, on science and technology in the Soviet Union, and on the relationship between international history and international relations theory. His book Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956 (Yale University Press, 1994) was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of the 11 best books of 1994, and it won the Vucinich and Shulman prizes of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. It has been translated into seven languages, most recently into Chinese. The Chinese translation is due to be published later in 2018. Holloway also wrote The Soviet Union and the Arms Race (1983) and co-authored The Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative: Technical, Political and Arms Control Assessment (1984). He has contributed to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Foreign Affairs, and other scholarly journals.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.

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Scott Sagan Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation
Clayborne Carson Stanford Department of History
Rose Gottemoeller Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation
David Holloway Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation
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Steven Pifer
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Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bogus September 30 annexation of four partially-occupied Ukrainian regions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially applied for fast-track NATO membership. The Ukrainian leader’s desire is understandable, but his timing is questionable. Zelenskyy should instead continue to press NATO members to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defeat Russia’s invasion, while also seeking firm commitments to help Ukraine build a modern military capable of deterring a future Russian attack.

On September 23-27, Russia conducted sham referendums on joining Russia in the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts of Ukraine. These fake votes were illegal according to international law. No credible observers viewed the voting or counting process, while anecdotal reports indicated numerous instances of people forced to vote at gunpoint.

At a September 30 Kremlin ceremony, Putin signed agreements incorporating the four regions into Russia. He asserted that Russia would “defend our land with all the forces and resources we have.” However, Russia does not even control all of the territory it claims to be annexing. Meanwhile, the Russian leader’s declaration has not stopped the Ukrainian military from pressing forward with counteroffensives in the Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

While Ukrainian forces have surprised the world, and especially the Russian General Staff, with their capabilities and tenacity, Ukraine has paid a heavy price in terms of military and civilian losses.

Immediately following Putin’s signature of the incorporation agreements, Zelenskyy responded by stating that his country was seeking “accelerated accession” into NATO. This riposte again made clear that an earlier Ukrainian offer to accept neutrality was no longer on the table.

Zelenskyy’s rare misstep in appealing for fast-track NATO membership is understandable. His country has doggedly fought the Russians for nearly eight months. While Ukrainian forces have surprised the world, and especially the Russian General Staff, with their capabilities and tenacity, Ukraine has paid a heavy price in terms of military and civilian losses.

Ukrainians believe their fight has earned them the right to membership in the alliance. They see their forces defending not just Ukraine but also NATO members from a revanchist Kremlin that aims to overturn the post-Cold War order in Europe and whose ambitions extend beyond Ukraine.

However, it is often prudent in diplomacy to know the answer before asking the question, particularly before making a public ask. Kyiv cannot be happy with the responses to Zelenskyy’s September 30 appeal, but these responses should not have come as a surprise.

To be sure, on October 2, the leaders of nine Central and East European NATO members (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) issued a joint statement endorsing a membership path for Ukraine. Canada separately expressed support for Ukraine’s membership in the alliance.

That makes for only ten of NATO’s 30 members. The Bulgarian president declined to join the statement of his nine fellow regional leaders because he disagreed with the language on Ukraine’s membership in NATO. Others took a cautious approach. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg side-stepped the membership question, while US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the membership process “should be taken up at a different time.” Many other NATO allies responded with silence.

Under NATO rules, approval for Ukrainian membership would require a consensus of all 30 members (32 once all current allies ratify the accessions of Finland and Sweden). The reality is that Ukraine does not currently have the votes it needs to get on a membership track.

The reason is clear. Article 5 of the NATO Treaty commits allies to treat an attack against one as an attack against all. If Ukraine, now under attack by Russia, became a member, other allies would be obligated to come to its defense, the assumption being with their own armed forces.

Many NATO countries are providing arms and other military assistance to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But they have drawn a red line against offering their forces for Ukraine’s defense and have made clear that they wish to avoid a direct NATO-Russia clash.

There is a logic to that. A Russian defeat against Ukraine would not be existential for Russia, although it certainly might not benefit Putin’s longevity in the Kremlin. However, were US and NATO military forces to enter the war on Ukraine’s behalf, that could well change how the conflict is viewed in Moscow, where many would regard US and NATO entry as aimed not just at defending Ukraine but at destroying Russia. They could then see the war as existential. Things could soon become unpredictable and very dicey.

Rather than seeking a NATO membership track that Kyiv cannot currently get, Zelenskyy should continue to focus on securing immediate help in the form of more arms and military assistance. This will be far easier for NATO allies to agree to provide. It took just a few months for military assistance for Ukraine to move from Javelin man-portable anti-armor weapons and Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems with a range of 50 miles and NASAMS short- and medium-range air defense systems.

NATO allies can and should provide more arms. ATACMS missiles with a range of some 200 miles come to mind. This should currently be Ukraine’s top priority. Moreover, this war will end at some point. Kyiv should consider what it will need to build a military capable of deterring a future Russian attack. Indeed, a modernized Ukrainian military would provide the country’s best security guarantee.

The Ukrainian shopping list could include weapons such as US M-1 and German Leopard main battle tanks, Western air defense missiles and aircraft, and perhaps US A-10 ground attack planes. While NATO membership for Ukraine would require a consensus decision by all alliance members, countries make decisions on providing arms and other military assistance to Ukraine on an individual basis. Many allies likely would prefer to commit to arming Ukraine than to taking on a commitment to defend the country.

After the war, Kyiv could still pursue the question of ultimate membership. NATO leaders at their July 2022 summit reiterated that the alliance’s open door policy remains in effect, including for Ukraine. In a post-war world, Kyiv might find that circumstances change sufficiently to make possible what is now not doable. For the present, however, Ukraine should concentrate on what it can get.

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Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bogus September 30 annexation of four partially-occupied Ukrainian regions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially applied for fast-track NATO membership.

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