Despite all the attention, cyberspace is far from secure. Why this is so reflects conceptual weaknesses as much as imperfect technologies. Two questions highlight shortcomings in the discussion of cybersecurity. The first is why, after more than two decades, we have not seen anything like a cyber Pearl Harbor, cyber 9/11, or cyber catastrophe, despite constant warnings. The second is why, despite the increasing quantity of recommendations, there has been so little improvement, even when these recommendations are implemented. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Western Balkans were supposed to be a solved problem. The United States has mostly watched from afar in recent years, thinking that the Europeans had these matters mostly in hand. US diplomats have played crucial roles in key moments; yet, the region continued to slide down the US political agenda. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The risk of renewed violence and political instability is growing in the Balkans. The decade of progress in postconflict reconciliation and economic recovery after the U.S.-led interventions of the 1990s has stalled and has now, in some areas, even gone into reverse. The international agreements that brought peace to the region, based on the principle that preexisting borders should not be moved to accommodate ethnic differences, are fraying and could unravel with unwelcome consequences for the United States. These could include radicalization of Balkan Muslims, increased Russian troublemaking on the borders of or even inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—for example, in Albania, Croatia, or Montenegro—and a new refugee crisis for European allies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Russian aggression in Ukraine and military exercises at the borders of the Baltic states, as well as a string of information and cyber operations, have raised fears among Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania about their security. Due to their shared borders with Russia, the Baltic states are the NATO members most exposed to Russia’s threats. As small countries with little strategic depth and limited human and economic resources, they are increasingly adopting a “total defense” approach to national security, which includes enabling civilians to be able to protect themselves and to also support their nation’s professional armed forces in case of a conflict. U.S. and NATO forces therefore also need to plan for effective engagement with local civilians as they prepare their forces for deployment to the Baltic states in times of crisis. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The parallel changes in U.S.-Russian political relations and the military-technological landscape are fundamentally reshaping the ways in which a U.S.-Russian crisis and conflict likely would unfold. Neither side has yet internalized these overlapping geopolitical and technological changes. When they do, it is likely that each will take different and potentially conflicting lessons from them. As a result, risks could significantly increase the potential of a dispute leading to crisis, of a crisis leading to war, and of a war escalating rapidly.
This report addresses each of the various types of pathways, laying out the key aspects of each. Within each section, the authors first offer an assessment of the current situation, then consider relevant geopolitical and technological trends, and finally outline alternative scenarios along each pathway that can help guide the development and evaluation of policy options. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
This report assesses trends in armed conflict, the incidence of which has declined in recent decades. Key political, economic, and strategic factors, including the deterrent effect of the U.S. military, suggest this decline is likely to continue. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
As part of a larger study on the future of the post-World War II liberal international order, RAND researchers analyze the health of the existing order and offer implications for future U.S. policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].