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Category: PRISM Articles

Jan. 9, 2020

Minds at War: China’s Pursuit of Military Advantage through Cognitive Science and Biotechnology

The United States is starting to confront unprecedented challenges to the military and technological superiority that it has enjoyed in recent history. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is emerging as a powerhouse across a range of emerging technologies, and Chinese leaders recognize today’s technological revolution as a critical, even historic, opportunity to achieve strategic advantage. As Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Commander-in-Chief of the CMC Joint Operations Center, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping has highlighted the importance of military innovation to “keep pace with the times” (与时俱进) and adapt to the global revolution in military affairs.

Jan. 9, 2020

Strategic Competition for Emerging Military Technologies: Comparative Paths and Patterns

One of the most pressing issues in contemporary international relations is the expectation of a new era of intensifying strategic competition, characterized by the confluence of political, economic, and military-technological competitions in the context of major shifts in the global security environment.1 At the forefront of this growing strategic rivalry is the contest for future supremacy over global security and economic institutional grids between the world’s major military powers—the United States, China, and to a lesser degree, Russia.

Jan. 9, 2020

Redefining Neuroweapons: Emerging Capabilities in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

While many types of weaponizable neuroscience and technology (neuroS/T) have been addressed in and by extant forums, treaties, conventions, and laws, other newer techniques and technologies have not. Thus, particular advances in neuroS/T have an increased potential for dual use and direct use in warfare, intelligence, and national security (WINS). In this light, this article (1) presents the WINS utility and possible applicability of gene editing methods, nanoparticles, and other tools that can modify the central nervous system; (2) discusses the value and vulnerabilities of big data and bio-cybersecurity in WINS; (3) posits how such developments bring into stark relief existing gaps in international biological and chemical weapons conventions; and (4) proposes steps toward rectification of current and future oversight and governance.

Jan. 9, 2020

Directed Energy Weapons Are Real . . . And Disruptive

What exactly is a directed energy weapon? Are these weapons still science fiction, lab experiments, or are they real? How can they be used and how disruptive can they be? What are the challenges and next steps? This article will examine answers to these questions.

Jan. 9, 2020

The Worst Possible Day: U.S. Telecommunications and Huawei

As a global power, the United States must be able to sustain military forces and project power anywhere in the world, even in the face of resistance from a sophisticated adversary with the ability to infiltrate or disrupt telecommunications and other critical infrastructure within the United States, in space, under the ocean, and in other regions of the world. Policy must consider the worst possible day, not the routine day.

Jan. 9, 2020

Cyber Physical Systems: The Coming Singularity

At this moment, a subtle but fundamental technological shift is occurring that is uniting our digital and physical worlds at the deepest architectural and operational levels. This technological shift will alter the global business, government, military and intelligence ecosystems. It is nothing less than a technological singularity and this technology will forever change our world—it is called Cyber Physical Systems (CPS).

Feb. 26, 2019

The New Opium War: A National Emergency

Sadly, the current opioid crisis is reminiscent of past periods of addiction and overdose deaths in the United States. The crisis today, however, is on a much larger scale owing to how the American appetite for opioids has changed the nature of the drug trade in North America, from the consumption of marijuana and cocaine to that of heroin and fentanyl, and that Mexican transnational criminal organizations have been quick to capitalize on this demand signal at the expense of record levels of drug-related violence and homicides in Mexico. The opioid epidemic is now a health, security, social, economic welfare, and national security crisis. The public, private, and civic sectors must take a more active role in raising awareness of drug abuse and addiction to reduce the demand for opioids, particularly since this opioid epidemic does not discriminate against gender, race, age, economic status, or location. As a transnational crisis, international cooperation to address the supply of illicit opioids is also essential. A whole-of-society approach is required to triumph in the new opium war and overcome this latest opioid epidemic in North America.

Feb. 26, 2019

Only Connect: the Survival and Spread of Organized Crime in Latin America

Deeply entrenched over decades, organized crime has married with systemic corruption and high levels of impunity to generate multiple forms of political and economic capital across the ideological spectrum in Latin America. But recent experience gives some provisional grounds for optimism. The end point of popular disaffection with flawed democracies and illicit links between criminal groups, political elites, and the private sector need not inevitably result in an embrace of authoritarianism and/or charismatic caudillos.

Feb. 26, 2019

Extra-regional Actors in Latin America: The United States is not the Only Game in Town

In a multipolar world, jockeying for a geopolitical edge is not uncommon nor necessarily a threat. However, in the case of Latin America, none of the primary competitors with the United States share any of its fundamental values of fostering democracy and rule of law, nor strategic objectives such as drug interdiction, halting migrant flows, or building a mutually beneficial regional security structure. In fact, China, Russia, and Iran see the United States as an enemy and views diminishing U.S. influence and weakening its standing as strategic imperatives.The current trajectory in the Hemisphere cannot be altered solely with displays of military power or occasional threats and sanctions against bad actors. A genuine-whole-of-government strategic approach, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military components, is the only option to shrink the operational space of adversaries intent on diminishing the influence and effectiveness of the United States in Latin America

Feb. 26, 2019

Great Expectations and Grim Realities in AMLO’s Mexico

There is no single strategy that can quickly overcome the violence consuming many Mexican communities. Andrés Manuel López Obrador—known simply as AMLO—assumed Mexico’s presidency on Dec. 1, 2018, with a robust mandate. AMLO can no more save Mexico through massive social programs than President Enrique Nieto could by enacting sweeping economic reforms or President Felipe Calderón by deploying tens of thousands of federal forces. Mexico’s criminal groups have proven to be as complex as the country itself, with an uncanny ability to mutate and migrate. Change will come community by community, municipality by municipality, and state by state by initiating effective violence prevention programs, ensuring genuine transparency, strengthening civilian law enforcement, and building a justice system that is both efficient and fair. The United States should instead concentrate on the long-term task of helping Mexico strengthen law enforcement by sharing expertise to create a new generation of professional police, prosecutors, and judges.