The first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration have featured a range of key foreign policy and national security decisions, from Afghanistan and China to America's COVID-19 response and the threat of climate change. As the administration marks its 100th day in office, what lies ahead? CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation about the national security challenges facing the Biden administration. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.
The Department of Homeland Security: Priorities for Reform
With a new administration in place and the 117th Congress underway, there is a unique and pressing opportunity to reform the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the midst of a rapidly evolving security environment, the department should be reoriented in a way that best protects the United States from homeland security threats consistent with law, security and public safety needs, and the nation’s fundamental values. In the first of a series of mission briefs on reforming DHS, CNAS Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow Carrie Cordero and Executive Research Assistant Katie Galgano offer recommendations for areas of reform.
Trust the Process
Technology and innovation are critical enablers of American military, political, and economic power. But the bureaucratic connective tissue necessary to bring new ideas to life—the people, processes, talent, and relationships within and beyond government—remains uncoordinated, under resourced, and undervalued. In a new CNAS report, authors Loren DeJonge Schulman and Ainikki Riikonen develop a framework for the bureaucratic elements necessary to effectively execute a national technology strategy.
Positive Visions, Powerful Partnerships
At a time when China’s growing global influence has begun to shift the regional balance of power, the pandemic has accelerated and exacerbated many trends in the Indo-Pacific, creating new challenges and opportunities for the United States. Without decisive, coordinated action, regional trends could continue on a trajectory that further favors Beijing. In a new CNAS report, experts Stephen Tankel, Lisa Curtis, Joshua Fitt, and Coby Goldberg argue that the United States must take action in close cooperation—bilaterally, trilaterally, and through the Quad—with Japan, Australia, and India to compete effectively with China in the diplomatic, economic, and defense domains.
The Future of the U.S. Afghanistan Strategy
Ahead of the newly announced troop withdrawal deadline of September 11, 2021, serious doubts remain about the Taliban's commitment to the agreement and the future of U.S. strategy in the region. CNAS hosted a conversation in March about the ongoing challenges with General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Ambassador James B. Cunningham, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; Richard Fontaine, CNAS CEO; and Lisa Curtis, Director of the CNAS Indo-Pacific Security Program. Yalda Hakim, anchor and correspondent for BBC World News, moderated the conversation.
Confronting the Domestic Terrorism Threat
Recently, extremist groups have become more visible and emboldened, culminating in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. These events have led to questions surrounding the adequacy of intelligence gathering, information sharing, and the commitment of the federal government to prioritize countering domestic terrorism. CNAS hosted a virtual event on confronting the threat with Christian Beckner, former associate staff director for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Josh Campbell, CNN correspondent and former FBI supervisory special agent; Alexis Collins, former counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security at the DOJ; and Alex Joel, former chief at the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency. Carrie Cordero, the CNAS Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow, moderated the event.
America’s Military Risks Losing Its Edge
"The Biden administration has inherited a U.S. military at an inflection point," Michèle Flournoy writes in Foreign Affairs. "The Defense Department’s leadership, accordingly, must take much bigger and bolder steps to maintain the United States’ military and technological edge over great-power competitors. Otherwise, the U.S. military risks losing that edge within a decade, with profound and unsettling implications for the United States, for its allies and partners, and for the world. At stake is the United States’ ability to deter coercion, aggression, and even war in the coming decades."
The Case Against Foreign Policy Solutionism
"Devising solutions to national security problems might seem all to the good," argues Richard Fontaine in Foreign Affairs. "The problem is that not all problems can actually be solved—and many of today’s foremost foreign policy challenges fall squarely into that category. Policymakers often consider it better to 'get caught trying' (as the previous Democratic secretary of state put it) than risk the costs of inaction. But trying to fix the insoluble can often make things worse."
Biden’s Intelligence Community Must Focus On Climate Crisis
"Not only does climate change create significant security threats to America through multiplying global instability," writes Anthony Vinci in Breaking Defense, "it is also a major component of the great power competition with China and Russia. The incoming Biden administration can do much to address climate change as a national security issue. An important first step would be to make changes in the IC so it has the capabilities and focus to help policy makers preserve American interests."
Three Lessons From the Past 365 Days of Online Misinformation
"The failed insurrection on Jan. 6 exemplified the real-world consequences of online misinformation converging with heightened polarization," explain Christopher Estep and Megan Lamberth in Inkstick. "After the digital disorder of this past year, what can US policymakers and tech companies learn about the current realities and uncertain future of the online misinformation problem?"
The Trans Ban Is Gone but More Needs To Be Done
"Simply lifting the ban put in place in 2018 isn’t enough to counteract the discrimination transgender service members and veterans continue to face," writes Nathalie Grogan in Inkstick. "The next steps for the Department of Defense should be to expand the data available on currently serving transgender personnel, develop a targeted recruitment strategy to reach a more diverse population, and protect LGBT service members from all types of harassment and abuse."
In the News
Featuring commentary and analysis by Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Lisa Curtis, Martijn Rasser, and Elsa B. Kania.
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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