May 30, 2024

Sharper: High Stakes

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

High Stakes: Preparing the Next President is CNAS’s new election-year initiative to explore the most pressing national security issues that will face the next administration. Whether 2025 sees a second Biden or Trump term, High Stakes will identify key topics, explore options, and propose policies. Through reports, events, and digital content, CNAS experts will develop a targeted collection of resources to inform candidates, policymakers, and the public on vital national security issues. Read the latest edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.


CNAS 2024 National Security Conference: High Stakes

The CNAS 2024 National Security Conference: High Stakes will explore current global security challenges with discussions on artificial intelligence, economic statecraft, the defense industrial base, simultaneous deterrence, and more. With a looming presidential election, and conflicts and threats in multiple regions, decisions made by policymakers today will reverberate far into the future. On June 6, 2024, the Center for a New American Security’s annual conference will bring together key leaders, lawmakers, and experts to examine critical national security issues. Please join us.

The Quest for Qubits: Assessing U.S.-China Competition in Quantum Computing

The world is on the brink of a quantum revolution. Quantum computing promises to deliver transformative advancements in critical industries like energy, agriculture, medicine, and finance. At the same time, the technology poses significant risks from its potential to break encryption, enable mass surveillance, and expedite the development of new weapons systems. In light of these opportunities and threats, this new report from Sam Howell takes stock of the global race to build and scale quantum computers, and offers policy recommendations to secure U.S. advantages in quantum.

CNAS 2024 National Security Conference: High Stakes

Jun 6, 2024

Technology & National Security

The Quest for Qubits

Executive Summary The United Nations General Assembly recently declared 2025 the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology.1 Quantum information science, a field on...

Countering Coercion: Managing Chinese Gray Zone Activity in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean Region

Gray zone activities conducted by the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean are raising tensions in the Indo-Pacific write authors Lisa Curtis and Nilanthi Samaranayake in a CNAS report. China’s gray zone activities are maritime actions designed to bully and coerce regional states in a manner that changes the status quo in China’s favor without triggering a major conflict. The report argues that these activities violate international laws and norms and must be confronted more directly by the United States and its regional partners to deter China from future maritime and territorial aggression.

Beyond China's Black Box: Five Trends Shaping Beijing’s Foreign and Security Policy Decision-Making Under Xi Jinping

While China’s foreign and security policymaking has often been described as opaque or like a “black box,” the new report by Senior Fellow Jacob Stokes argues that it is possible to develop a better understanding of the people, institutions, processes, and pressures that go into shaping China’s policies toward the world in its “new era” under Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping. The report concludes with a concrete set of recommendations for the United States and partners to better understand and respond to the complexities of China’s evolving approach to global affairs

Indo-Pacific Security

Countering Coercion

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC or China) has been engaging in gray zone activity—coercive behavior that is aimed at changing the status quo but that is below a threshol...

Indo-Pacific Security

Beyond China's Black Box

China’s foreign and security policymaking apparatus is often described as a metaphorical black box about which analysts know little. That is true to an extent, but at the same...


The Axis of Upheaval

“The support from China, Iran, and North Korea has strengthened Russia’s position on the battlefield, undermined Western attempts to isolate Moscow, and harmed Ukraine,” write Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Richard Fontaine for Foreign Affairs. “This collaboration, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Cooperation among the four countries was expanding before 2022, but the war has accelerated their deepening economic, military, political, and technological ties. The four powers increasingly identify common interests, match up their rhetoric, and coordinate their military and diplomatic activities. Their convergence is creating a new axis of upheaval—a development that is fundamentally altering the geopolitical landscape.”

The Perilous Coming Age of AI Warfare

“Widely deployed autonomous weapons integrated with other aspects of military AI could result in a new era of machine-driven warfare,” observes Paul Scharre for Foreign Affairs. “Military AI applications can accelerate information processing and decision-making. Decision cycles will shorten as countries adopt AI and automation to reduce the time to find, identify, and strike enemy targets. In theory, this could allow for more time for humans to make thoughtful, deliberate decisions. In practice, competitors will feel forced to respond in kind, using automation to speed up their own operations to keep pace. The result will be an escalating spiral of greater automation and less human control.”

Indo-Pacific Security

The Axis of Upheaval

The West has been too quick to dismiss the coordination among China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia....

Technology & National Security

The Perilous Coming Age of AI Warfare

The end state of this competition will likely be war executed at machine speed and beyond human control....

The Pentagon Isn’t Buying Enough Ammo

“Despite the Pentagon’s continued pledges to expand inventories of key conventional weapons, munitions continue to lose in budget battles to larger platforms,” argue Stacie Pettyjohn and Hannah Dennis for Foreign Policy. “But these ships, submarines, aircraft, and guns will be worthless without the missiles, torpedoes, and bullets to arm them. Even in today’s constrained budget environment, the U.S. Defense Department needs to do more to prioritize munitions buys and prove it has learned the lessons of Ukraine. Congress can play a role in holding the Pentagon to its word here, increasing the buys of key conventional weapons as well as authorizing and appropriating money for the multiyear munitions contracts that would give much-needed stability to the munitions industry.”

America’s China Strategy Has a Credibility Problem

“The United States and its partners must urgently devise a clearer sanctions strategy that maximizes the modest economic leverage that they have over Beijing,” writes Emily Kilcrease for Foreign Affairs. “This strategy should center on keeping China in the global financial system, in order to maintain a key U.S. advantage. At the same time, however, the United States must work to build the credibility of its threat to impose swift and severe sanctions on China if Beijing crosses certain redlines. It can do this by transforming its economic statecraft policy—that being its use of economic leverage to pursue geopolitical aims—through a strategic process that is integrated with military planning and carried out in cooperation with key international partners.”


The Pentagon Isn’t Buying Enough Ammo

Even in today’s constrained budget environment, the U.S. Defense Department needs to do more to prioritize munitions buys and prove it has learned the lessons of Ukraine....

Energy, Economics & Security

America’s China Strategy Has a Credibility Problem

An effective U.S. sanctions strategy should play to U.S. strengths in the financial sector while reserving the most severe measures for acute crises or conflicts....

In the News

Commentary and analysis from Becca Wasser, Jonathan Lord, Vivek Chilukuri, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor.


America’s New Island Fighters Are Preparing for Conflict—a Stone’s Throw From Taiwan

If China moved to invade Taiwan, American forces would want to shift some U.S. warplanes to these sites. The idea would be to disperse U.S. aircraft across an array of bases a...

Middle East Security

What to Expect from Israel’s Rafah Offensive

In other cities where the IDF has fought since this war began, such as Khan Younis, troops were able to move neighborhood by neighborhood, sector by sector, clearing out peopl...

Technology & National Security

A new bid to police A.I.

Open-source A.I. models like Meta’s may face extra scrutiny. Chinese companies have already tapped into Meta’s generative A.I. system to create their own tech. If McCaul’s bil...

Transatlantic Security

Why Growing China-Russia Military Ties Worry the West

Beyond technology, Russia's importance as a supplier for Beijing would increase significantly if China fought a war over Taiwan, according to Andrea Kendall-Taylor, director o...

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.


Sign up to receive the latest analysis from the CNAS expert community on the most important issues facing America's national security.