November 18, 2020

Sharper: America's Alliances and Partnerships

Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

By Carisa Nietsche, Jeff Cirillo, Chris Estep and Cole Stevens

Cooperation with allies and partners is vital for achieving U.S. foreign policy goals, especially with respect to global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the spread of high-tech illiberalism, and competition with China. While President-elect Joe Biden has committed to revitalizing American alliances, these efforts may still encounter challenging headwinds. CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation about how to renew and improve alliances and partnerships to strengthen U.S. interests. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.

Reports

Rising to the China Challenge

“Building the cooperation and coalitions necessary to renew American competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific,” CNAS experts argue in a major independent assessment for Congress, “will require deft and determined diplomacy.” The report offers a comprehensive approach to competition with China and nearly 100 specific, actionable policy recommendations across seven critical vectors of American competitiveness.

Charting a Transatlantic Course to Address China

The United States is set for a prolonged period of competition with China. To be successful, however, Washington cannot compete alone. The United States must amass influence, resources, and know-how among its allies and partners, including in Europe. In a new report from CNAS and the German Marshall Fund, experts Julianne Smith, Dr. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche and Ellison Laskowski outline a roadmap for how the United States and Europe can deepen coordination and cooperation to navigate the challenges posed by China’s growing influence.

Common Code

The 21st century will be defined by competition—a contest of economic power rooted in technological advances. The ways world leaders decide to compete will shape the lives of billions of people. Experts Martijn Rasser, Rebecca Arcesati, Shin Oya, Ainikki Riikonen, and Monika Bochert argue in a new CNAS report that multilateral cooperation among like-minded countries is needed to maximize effectiveness across a range of technology policy areas. The report lays out a blueprint for this alliance framework, including its structure, top policy priorities, and potential long-term agenda.

Defense

Rising to the China Challenge

The United States and China are locked in strategic competition over the future of the Indo-Pacific—the most populous, dynamic, and consequential region in the world....

Transatlantic Security

Charting a Transatlantic Course to Address China

Working together to collectively strengthen the United States’ and Europe’s ability to compete with China provides an opportunity for a reinvigorated partnership....

Technology & National Security

Common Code

The world’s tech-leading democracies should spearhead the creation of a new multilateral architecture for technology policy—a technology alliance....

Commentary

Uniting the Techno-Democracies

"The liberal democracies are running out of time to get their act together," Jared Cohen and Richard Fontaine argue in Foreign Affairs. "Whoever shapes the use of emerging technologies such as AI, quantum computing, biotechnology, and next-generation telecommunications will have an economic, military, and political advantage for decades to come."

Enhancing Forward Defense: The Role of Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

Charles Edel and Siddharth Mohandas warn in an issue of the Next Defense Strategy series, "Even though U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific are essential to meeting the challenge of a rising, assertive China, U.S. defense policy has not adapted to the reality of a changed strategic environment or the evolving needs and defense priorities of key allies."

Asia-Pacific Security

Uniting the Techno-Democracies

The world’s advanced democracies have something the autocracies don’t: a long history of multilateral cooperation for the benefit of all....

Defense

Enhancing Forward Defense: The Role of Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

An effective next NDS requires a clear plan for marshaling and organizing the efforts of U.S. allies and partners in new ways....

A Conversation with Amb. Nicholas Burns

In the first episode of a new season of the Brussels Sprouts podcast, Amb. Nicholas Burns joined Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss U.S.-Europe relations under the Trump administration and how the election could change their course. Burns is the former U.S. ambassador to NATO and Greece, a former career Foreign Service Officer, and a professor of diplomacy and international relations at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Challenging China’s Bid for App Dominance

"As Beijing executes a more aggressive global social media strategy, the U.S. government should coordinate closely with both like-minded countries and social media companies to backstop the integrity, transparency, and competitiveness of their own platforms," Kristine Lee and Karina Barbesino argue in a CNAS policy brief.

Transatlantic Security

Kicking-off the Next Season of Brussels Sprouts with Amb. Nicholas Burns

In the first episode of the new season of Brussels Sprouts, Amb. Nicholas Burns joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss U.S.-Europe relations under the Trump a...

Asia-Pacific Security

Challenging China’s Bid for App Dominance

Social media platforms are emerging as central to China’s efforts to shape the global information architecture....

Export Controls Will Become More Effective When They Include Plurilateral Controls

In a CNAS commentary, Kevin Wolf observes, "Difficulties in getting quick or robust multilateral agreements do not mean that unilateral controls should be adopted instead, but rather that the government either must provide more resources to the process or add plurilateral efforts involving the countries with indigenous capabilities in the items at issue."

How the U.S. Can Learn From Israel To Counter Iran

"Today," Ilan Goldenberg and Kaleigh Thomas write in Defense News, "the U.S. military can take the lessons learned from Israel’s campaign in Syria and apply them to gray zone conflict with Iran."

Energy, Economics, & Security

Export Controls Will Become More Effective When They Include Plurilateral Controls

Use of export controls to accomplish purely economic or trade policy objectives compromises the effectiveness of both the export control and the international trade systems....

Middle East Security

How the US can learn from Israel to counter Iran

During the COVID-19 crisis, one would have thought the United States and Iran would find ways to reduce tensions. Instead the Trump administration refuses to relax sanctions i...

United Kingdom Veteran Landscape

"A close history of collaboration in national security and diplomacy between the United States and United Kingdom leads to many similarities between military personnel of both countries, both during and following service," Emma Moore, Kayla M. Williams, and Zachary Jaynes find in a CNAS working paper. "These similarities mean both countries have much to learn from one another regarding best practices for supporting the military community broadly, despite differences in political systems, governance, and cultural norms."

Enlisting NATO to Address the China Challenge

Carisa Nietsche, Jim Townsend, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor argue in an installment of the Next Defense Strategy series, "The U.S. Department of Defense should recognize the clear threat that China poses to NATO and work through NATO to address these vulnerabilities. The next National Defense Strategy should pursue a plan of action that enables Europe to bolster its own defense, starting with a few critical European capitals, and that broadens beyond transatlantic allies."

Military, Veterans, & Society

United Kingdom Veteran Landscape

Executive Summary A close history of collaboration in national security and diplomacy between the United States and United Kingdom leads to many similarities between military ...

Defense

Enlisting NATO to Address the China Challenge

Moving forward, the DoD should enlist NATO in efforts to address the China challenge....

In the News

Featuring commentary and analysis by Daniel Kliman, Kristine Lee, Joshua Fitt, Jordan Schneider, Richard Fontaine, and Martijn Rasser.

Asia-Pacific Security

ChinaTalk: Forging an Innovation Alliance Base

America has allies with solid tech. But can the U.S. leverage these relationships to help preserve its technological edge over China? In this conversation, building off a rece...

Asia-Pacific Security

In Wake of Recent India-China Conflict, U.S. Sees Opportunity

Weeks after India and China engaged in their deadliest border clash in decades, the sight of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier entering the Bay of Bengal drew atten...

Technology & National Security

New Pentagon Initiative Aims to Help Allies, Contractors Work Together on AI

To better compete with China and Russia in developing artificial intelligence, the Defense Department will launch a new partnership with defense organizations from more than 1...

Asia-Pacific Security

Instead of learning from South Korea’s coronavirus example, Trump is lying about it

The Trump White House doesn’t think the pandemic can be contained, but South Korea shows it is possible. Rather than learn from its example, President Trump and his officials ...

Across the Center

Technology Alliance Project

The CNAS Technology Alliance Project explores how technology will be at the center of the new era of great power competition. Whoever leads in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and next-generation telecommunications will garner economic, military and political strength for decades. A multilateral group of like-minded nations is needed to safeguard liberal-democratic institutions and to act as a bulwark against authoritarian powers.

About the Sharper Series

The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.

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