Geopolitical competition is increasingly playing out in the gray zone—the space beyond diplomacy and short of conventional war. The nature of this competition is forcing the United States to confront the liabilities of its strengths. This report assesses current U.S. government actions to deter, campaign through, and respond to competitors’ gray zone tactics.
Germany’s former Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen has become the new President of the European Commission. Amidst the long list of challenges awaiting her, von der Leyen must find a way to mitigate political disputes within the EU and between the U.S. and NATO to consolidate conflicting visions of European defense.
On July 12, Turkey received the first elements of the S-400, a fourth-generation surface-to-air Russian missile system. Few recent weapon sales have been as geopolitically charged as this one. U.S. officials have threatened both military and economic sanctions should Turkey acquire the Russian system.
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.
If the U.S. is truly planning for a competition with China, it will need to plan for a long-term effort. The planning should be clear about who and what are opposed, what the U.S. expects from China to avoid conflict escalation, the minimal acceptable change it seeks from the Chinese government, and how far the U.S. is willing to go.
It’s time we ditch the two percent (or any percent) of GDP metric for allied defense spending and focus on what really matters—capability, capacity, readiness, and interoperability. In the end, it’s not about how much of our allies’ economic output is directed to defense, and this metric does little to incentivize the results we want to see.