1098 Past Events

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney wave from the Situation Room of the White House, March 19, 2007, as they're joined in a video teleconference by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq.

White House/Eric Draper

Seminar - Open to the Public

Too Much of a Good Thing? Civil-Military Relations in the Wake of Technological Disruption

Thu., Apr. 18, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speakers: Mathias Ormestad Frendem, Henry Chauncey Jr. '57 Postdoctoral Fellow, International Security Studies and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, Yale University; A. Bradley Potter, Research Fellow, International Security Program

What effect do emerging communications technologies have on U.S. civil-military relations? How might the history of such technological disruption help us prepare for future disruptions? Most scholarship suggests that such developments should empower civilian leaders to better monitor and oversee military leaders, bringing in line military efforts with civilian preferences. However, the speakers argue that these technologies also bring with them challenging consequences for civil-military relations. Namely, they may encourage tendencies in both parties that undermine decision-making and long-term healthy interaction. The speakers illustrate this with a case study of relations between President George W. Bush and George W. Casey prior to launching the "surge" in Iraq.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Seminar - Open to the Public

India and Nuclear Asia: Forces, Doctrine and Dangers

Thu., Apr. 11, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Frank O'Donnell, Postdoctoral Fellow, U.S. Naval War College

The speaker will detail the arguments of his recent book, India and Nuclear Asia: Forces, Doctrine and Dangers. The book explores the post-1998 evolution of Indian nuclear thought, its arsenal, the triangular rivalry with Pakistan and China, and New Delhi's nonproliferation policy approaches. The speaker argues that emerging trends in all three states are elevating risks of regional inadvertent and accidental escalation. These include the forthcoming launch of naval nuclear forces within an environment of contested maritime boundaries; the growing employment of dual-use delivery vehicles; and the emerging preferences of all three states to employ missiles early in a conflict. These dangers are amplified by the near-absence of substantive nuclear dialogue between these states, and the growing ambiguity of regional strategic intentions. To mitigate these trends, the speaker recommends that the three states initiate a trilateral strategic dialogue, and that India institute a strategic defense review to resolve the growing ambiguities around its conventional and nuclear deterrence and improve public confidence in them.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Co-Sponsored by Project on Managing the Atom

South Facade of the White House, the executive mansion of the President of the United States, 26 May 2006.

Wikimedia CC/Matt H. Wade

Seminar - Open to the Public

Administrative Foreign and Security Policy

Thu., Apr. 4, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Elena Chachko, Research Fellow, International Security Program

A growing number of U.S. foreign and security measures in the past two decades has directly targeted individuals—natural or legal persons. These individualized measures have largely been designed and implemented by administrative agencies. Widespread application of individual economic sanctions, ranging from terrorism sanctions to sanctions against Russian individuals for election meddling; security watchlists; detentions; targeted killings; and individualized cyber countermeasures have all become significant currencies of modern foreign and security policies since the early 2000s. The constant development of technology for precision targeting and algorithmic decision-making will likely continue driving this trend. While the application of many of these measures in discrete contexts has been studied, they have yet to attract a holistic analysis.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

 Mother Of All Battles Mosque secured by 1-15th Infantry Regiment of 3rd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division on 13 April 2003 in North Western Baghdad.

DoD/SGT Igor Paustovski

Seminar - Open to the Public

Desert Shield of the Republic? Realism and the Middle East

Mon., Apr. 1, 2019 | 4:15pm - 6:00pm

Littauer Building - Malkin Penthouse, 4th Floor

Speaker: Patrick Porter, Professor of International Security and Strategy, University of Birmingham

How should political realists view the United States' role in the Middle East? Political realists disagree on what America should "do" and "be" in the Middle East. They are united in their scepticism towards extravagant geopolitical projects such as the "Global War on Terror" and attempts to transform the region along democratic, capitalist lines. Yet they divide over other fundamental questions: how important is the Middle East to U.S. national interests? Is America's patronage of Israel and the Saudi bloc prudent? What military posture is needed, if any, and for what purpose? This seminar offers a genealogy of these intramural arguments within realism, in order to surface the disagreements and evaluate the choices they offer. The speaker identifies two strands: "primacy" realism, that advocates continued pursuit of hegemony with the United States as an effective stabilizer, and "shield of the republic" realism, which views the region as an unruly place that both entangles and corrupts the republic, involving interests that are either manageable from a remove or only generated by being there in the first place. The speaker makes the case for the second tradition, arguing that the time for abandonment has come.

Please join us! Coffee, tea, and refreshments provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

This seminar is being held under the auspices of the joint HKS/MIT Program on Strategy, Security, and Statecraft.

As part of MOD’s full-spectrum military capability, the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has announced that the department is set to recruit hundreds of computer experts as cyber reservists to help defend the UK’s national security, working at the cutting-edge of the nation’s cyber defences.  Mr Hammond confirmed the creation of a new Joint Cyber Reserve which will see reservists working alongside regular forces to protect critical computer networks and safeguard vital data, 4 October 2013.

MoD/Chris Roberts

Seminar - Open to the Public

Cyber Securitization: Can States Deter Cyber Escalation?

Thu., Mar. 21, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Nadiya Kostyuk, Predoctoral Fellow, Cyber Security Project

This seminar examines conditions under which publicly observable "institutional change," which broadcast a state's rising or extensive cyber capabilities, can deter a country's adversaries from attacking it. The "use-and-lose" nature of cyber operations and difficulty of cyber attribution make such operations more effective in achieving tactical surprise than in deterring opponents. However, merely establishing a cyber unit and disclosing its estimated budget and personnel may increase the credibility of a state's threat and signal to multiple audiences, including its adversaries, that a country has, or is in the process of developing, its "power to hurt." 

The speaker's research demonstrates that even though the cases in which institutional change will influence a strong adversary's choice to attack are limited, states tend to sub-optimally overinvest resources in publicly observable institutional changes. Weak states overinvest to make adversaries believe they are strong whereas strong states overinvest because they do not want adversaries to believe that they are weak states, pretending to be strong. The speaker's focus on the strategic logic of institutional change as a deterrent represents a departure from existing literature, which largely examines deterrence using cyber operations and other statecraft tools.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

The newly developed DF-26 medium-range ballistic missile as seen after the military parade held in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, 3 September 2015.

Wikimedia CC/IceUnshattered

Seminar - Open to the Public

Sino-U.S. Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

Thu., Mar. 14, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: WU Riqiang, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom

It is generally believed that in peacetime current Sino-U.S. nuclear relations are stable and deliberate nuclear exchanges between these two countries are unimaginable. However, conventional conflict might escalate to nuclear level, even if both sides wish to avoid it at the beginning of the war. This seminar will provide a causal mechanism of Sino-U.S. inadvertent escalation. Three driving factors are identified: the vulnerability of Chinese nuclear forces, the not-by-design co-mingling of China's conventional and nuclear weapons, and the fog of war. The security dilemma will worsen the situation and increase the escalatory risk. The mechanism is then tested via two hypothetical scenarios: a missile campaign and submarine warfare. In order to reduce the risk of inadvertent escalation, the United States should build confidence with China by declaring mutual vulnerability vis-à-vis China and constraining its strategic capabilities. China could also demarcate its nuclear and conventional missiles and clarify its no-first-use policy that conventional attacks on nuclear weapons would be regarded as nuclear attacks.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Map of Europe in 1914. During WWI,  The United Kingdom and Germany continued to trade certain items, such as hosiery needles used in textile manufacturing.

Wikimedia CC/Varmin

Seminar - Open to the Public

Planning for the Short Haul: Trade with the Enemy During War

Thu., Mar. 7, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Mariya Grinberg, Research Fellow, International Security Program

In times of war, why do belligerents continue to trade with each other? The speaker shows that states set product level commercial policies to balance two potentially conflicting goals — maximizing state revenue from continued trade during the war and minimizing the ability of the opponent to benefit from security externalities of the trade. States are more likely to trade with the enemy in (1) products that their opponents take a long time to convert into military capability and (2) products that are essential to the domestic economy. The amount of time it takes the opponent to convert gains from trade into military capabilities determines which products are too dangerous to be traded during a war. The mitigating factor is the amount of revenue the state can extract from trade. The more essential the product is to the domestic economy, the less a state can afford to lose trade in it.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.