Analysis / Acquisition, Budget, Forces, Strategy

What to Look for in the FY 2020 Defense Budget Request

Expectations have been building for the FY 2020 defense budget request, a budget that acting secretary of defense Shanahan has called the “masterpiece.” As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works on finalizing the request, experts from the CSIS International Security Program outline what to look for in the FY 2020 defense budget.

Opinion / Acquisition, Budget, Forces, Reform, Strategy

No Good, Very Bad Ideas in National Security

Bad ideas. How much trouble do they cause in national security? How do they disrupt or hinder the protection and advancement of American interests? Listen to the War on the Rocks podcast featuring authors from the Defense360 “Bad Ideas in National Security” series.  

Opinion / Strategy

Bad Idea: Permanent Alliances

In Washington, military alliances have become an end in themselves rather than a means to security; an icon for worship, instead of a policy with costs and benefits worth weighing. Permanent defense guarantees inflate U.S. military costs, makes rich states into enfeebled dependents, and heightens the danger of getting pulled into needless wars. It should be obvious that U.S. alliances should serve U.S. security interests. But if alliances are permanent, U.S. security interests serve them.

Opinion / Forces, Strategy

Bad Idea: Creating a U.S. Department of Cybersecurity

We recognize that the magnitude of the threats posed by malicious cyber activity leads people to look for a big, bold, visible sign of change. Creating a U.S. Department of Cybersecurity is not the answer. We cannot stovepipe thinking about cybersecurity into one centralized place or approach. The threat is so pervasive and so severe that it requires a recognition that a change in thinking is necessary for everyone operating an enterprise.

Opinion / Forces, Strategy

Bad Idea: Ignoring the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), colloquially known as the “Ban Treaty,” is hailed by supporters as the beginning of the end for nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons states, including the United States, have criticized the treaty on its shortcomings as a legal instrument for disarmament. Beyond this criticism, the United States has done little to engage with the Ban Treaty or its supporters. But ignoring the Ban Treaty is a bad idea that will exacerbate the divide between nuclear and non-nuclear states and could lead to a dangerously uneven pace of international disarmament.

Opinion / Strategy

Bad Idea: Banning Chinese Students from Studying in the United States

In October 2018, leaks revealed that the White House was considering banning Chinese students from entering the United States. Then in late November, Reuters reported that the Trump administration may step up vetting measures of Chinese students. Yet, for an administration promising to compete more effectively with China, this is a particularly counterproductive proposal, not only on legal and ethical grounds, but also from a purely competitive standpoint.

Opinion / Acquisition, Strategy

Bad Idea: Expecting the Private Sector to Drive Innovation in National Security

It’s bipartisan Washington gospel that America’s private sector will deliver the innovation the country needs. However, at the front-end of an era of rapid, disruptive technological change in which global competition is heating up, such expectation is increasingly a bad idea without a far more strategic, centralized, and White House-driven approach to the challenges ahead.

Opinion / Strategy

From the Ashes of the Nuclear Deal: The Trump Administration’s Iran Strategy

As U.S. sanctions on Iran are re-imposed, questions loom within and outside the United States. Past unilateral sanctions against Iran have been perceived as unsuccessful, and the Trump administration’s resumed reliance on this controversial economic tool as the main driver of its strategy raises several questions. Are these sanctions doomed to fail? Is hinging U.S. strategy almost entirely on economic sanctions the most effective way to counter the Islamic Republic? Will Iran find ways to subvert not just economic sanctions but other U.S. countermeasures as well?

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