ISP Brief December 2020

It's our pleasure to send you the December 2020 edition of the ISP Brief, the monthly newsletter of the CSIS International Security Program. The ISP Brief features CSIS reports and analysis written by our scholars and includes externally published articles, media highlights such as video interviews and podcasts, and links to recent and upcoming virtual events.

We hope the newsletter provides you, our readers, a snapshot of the excellent work underway in ISP and the engaging analysis of our experts. As always, your feedback is welcomed by our ISP Outreach Team listed at the bottom.


Global Security Forum 2020
The Global Security Forum 2020 considered alliance dynamics for three scenarios: a climate change catastrophe, a Chinese blockade of Taiwan, and military escalation after Russian interference in a U.S. election.
Watch the Online Event: A New Era for U.S. Alliances here.
Read the Global Security Forum 2020: A New Era for U.S. Alliances report here.

Defense360's Series: Bad Ideas in National Security
D360’s annual Bad Ideas in National Security series features short articles from CSIS and outside scholars on recently considered and not too obvious bad ideas in the defense and foreign policy space.

Bad Idea: All Sensors, All Shooters, All the Time – a Joint All-Domain Command and Control System That Prioritizes Centralization by Mark Seip
Bad Idea: The “Use-It-Or-Lose-It” Law for DoD Spending by The Honorable Robert F. Hale
Bad Idea: Overly Focusing on Speed in Development and Acquisition by Jonathan P. Wong
Bad Idea: Conflating Great Power Competition with High-Intensity Conflict by Todd Harrison and Nicholas Harrington
Bad Idea: Focusing International Space Cooperation on Established Space Powers by Brian Hart
Bad Idea: Halting or Reversing Trump-Era NASA Programs in a New Administration by Makena Young
Bad Idea: Fearing Power Vacuums by Benjamin H. Friedman
Bad Idea: Disestablishing the Space Force by Joe Moye
Bad Idea: The Misguided Quest to Recreate USIA by Kristin Lord
Bad Idea: Prioritizing STEM Education at the Expense of Civic Education by Suzanne Spaulding and Devi Nair
Bad Idea: Ignoring Congressional Oversight on Space Sensor Development by Wes Rumbaugh
Bad Idea: Treating “The Pentagon” and “The White House” as if They Were People by Mark Cancian
Bad Idea: Failing to Think on the Margins of the Defense Budget by Justin Joffrion
Bad Idea: Excluding Qualified Leaders from Pentagon Service Because of Defense Industry Experience by Thomas Spoehr
Bad Idea: Domestic Terrorist Organization Designations by Catrina Doxsee
Bad Idea: “Great Power Competition” Terminology by Zack Cooper
  House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith discussed nuclear modernization and arms control in 2021 with PONI director Rebecca Hersman. This online event was also broadcast live on C-SPAN. Watch the full event here.

U.S. Military Forces in FY 2021: Air Force
The Air Force continues the development and procurement of next-generation aircraft to meet the demands of great power conflict. Fielding of new aircraft has been enough to arrest the increase in fleet age. However, the Air Force is not buying enough new aircraft to sustain its force structure, so it seeks to retire older aircraft. This report is a part of senior adviser Mark Cancian's U.S. Military Forces in FY 2021 series. Read the report here.


Smart Women, Smart Power podcast host Beverly Kirk spoke with CSIS experts Sarah Ladislaw and Stephanie Segal along with Laura Kupe, Counsel on the House Homeland Security Committee. They discussed the security and foreign policy challenges facing the world in 2020 and what to expect in the upcoming year. Listen on iTunes and Spotify

The CSIS International Security Program (ISP) created Represent to address the intersection of national security and diversity. We seek to elevate the voices of national security professionals from underrepresented groups and call attention to the persistent gap in representation in our field. Represent is produced by the ISP staff on an ongoing basis and runs unsolicited and invited pieces on the Defense360 website.

We accept and publish pieces on a rolling basis. To pitch an article, please email Your pitch should include a synopsis around 250 words of your piece in the body of the email along with a short author biography. Please allow one calendar week for us to respond to your submission. Click here to learn more about the submissions process. 


Left of Launch: Artificial Intelligence at the Nuclear Nexus by Lindsey Sheppard

In Syria, Put Humanitarian Aid Ahead of a Political Solution by Daphne McCurdy and Charles Thépaut

U.S. Nuclear Warhead Modernization and “New” Nuclear Weapons by Rebecca Hersman, Joseph Rodgers, and Bryce Farabaugh

Five Types of International Cooperation for Missile Defense by Kevin Fashola

Civilian Protection through Civilian Control: An Overlooked Piece of Security Sector Assistance in the Sahel by Dr. Alice Hunt Friend

Covid-19 Response Update: December 4-December 11 by Mark Cancian and Adam Saxton

Department of Defense Other Transaction Authority Trends: A New R&D Funding Paradigm? by Rhys McCormick

The Air and Missile War in Nagorno-Karabakh: Lessons for the Future of Strike and Defense by Shaan Shaikh and Wes Rumbaugh

Covid-19 Response Update: November 20-December 4 by Mark Cancian and Adam Saxton


Kaitlyn Johnson joined Government Matters to discusses what the Space Force achieved and was not able to finish in its first year. Watch here.

Suzanne Spaulding joined the Cybercast podcast to discuss the nation's biggest cyber risks and how to address them. Listen here.

Dr. Seth G. Jones spoke on a panel on CT Challenges in the Middle East for the next administration at the Jamestown Terrorism Watch Week. Watch here.

Makena Young spoke on VOA Africa about satellite security and what it means for the earth. Listen here.

Dr. Tom Karako joined CNBC to discuss the future of the billion dollar missile economy. Watch here.

Daphne McCurdy
 co-hosted a conversation on the Irregular Warfare Podcast discussing Russia's Wagner Group and the rise of mercenary warfare. Listen here.

Todd Harrison joined Government Matters to discuss how thinking in incremental choices can help the Pentagon save money. Watch here.

Seamus Daniels
 joined Government Matters for a conversation on the implications of the Trump Administration publicly releasing an FY2022 defense budget. Watch here.

Eric Brewer joined BBC Persia to discuss the implications of a proposed bill to end nuclear inspections following the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist. Watch here.

Todd Harrison moderated a panel on the defense budget outlook in the Biden administration at the 6th Annual West Coast Aerospace Forum. Watch here.

ISP Podcast

Smart Women, Smart Power
Hosted by Beverly Kirk

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021: Same Challenges Ahead?
Featuring: Stephanie Segal, Sarah Ladislaw, and Laura Kupe
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Tech Security, Innovation, and Amazon
Featuring: Teresa Carlson
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Exports, Imports, Jobs, and Covid
Featuring: Kimberly Reed
Listen on Apple and Spotify.
The Transition, Part 2: DoD Lame Duck Developments
and Biden Challenges Ahead

Featuring: Dr. Seth G. Jones, Todd Harrison, and Dr. Kori Schake
Hosted by Beverly Kirk

Listen on Apple and Spotify.
Thank You For Your Service
Hosted by Dr. Alice Hunt Friend
and Dr. Jim Golby

Mr. Austin Goes to Washington?
Featuring: Ambassador Eric Edelman, Dr. Kori Schake, and Mr. Bishop Garrison.
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

The Military and the Media
Featuring: Dr. Amanda Cronkhite, Greg Jaffe, and Colonel Myles Caggins
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Online Events: December 2020

Online Event: Civics as a National Security Imperative: A Conversation with Senior Military Officers
Featuring: General (ret.) Carter Ham, General (ret.) Lori Robinson, and Admiral (ret.) William McRaven
Hosted by: Dr. John J. Hamre and Suzanne Spaulding
Monday, December 14, 2020


Jobs That Are Out of This World: Kids Discuss Space with Experts
Featuring: Ms. Mandy Vaughn, Dr. Ellen Stofan, and Dr. Claire Leon
Hosted by: Morgan Dwyer
Monday, December 14, 2020

Online Event: A New Era for U.S. Alliances
Featuring: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Dr. Kori Schake, Dr. Emma Ashford, Heather A. Conley, and Dr. Michael J. Green
Hosted by: Samuel Brannen
Monday, December 14, 2020

Online Event: PONI Virtual Winter Conference 2020
Hosted by: Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI)
Wednesday, December 9 - Thursday, December 10, 2020

This conference was held via Zoom with no recording. Please click here for more information about PONI's conference series. 

Online Event: “The Perfect Weapon”: Cyber Policy and the Incoming Biden Administration
Featuring: David E. Sanger, Suzanne Spaulding, and James Andrew Lewis
Hosted by: H. Andrew Schwartz
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Media Highlights

After a recent cyberattack on the departments of Homeland Security, Commerce and Treasury, Suzanne Spaulding said, “The idea that you don't impose consequences for espionage is odd,” Spaulding said. “Granted, we can't get up on our moral high horse about something we also do, but when actual adversary spies were discovered in the U.S. there were usually consequences. People were kicked out of the country, demarches were issued, and, depending on the nature of the activity, relations were impacted,” in Inside Cybersecurity on December 15, 2020. 

On the upcoming defense budget, Todd Harrison said, "If Republicans keep control of the Senate — and we'll see how the Georgia runoffs go — then fundamentally what that means is that to get any significant piece of legislation through, including a change in the defense budget, you're going to have to have at least some bipartisan support,” in The Hill on December 7, 2020.

On the possibility of elevating the JAIC to a direct report of the deputy secretary, Lindsey Sheppard said, “The JAIC reporting directly to the deputy secretary of defense says that regardless of how that shuffling comes out in the next few months, AI will still be a significant priority and its place on the org chart reflects that,” in C4ISRNet on December 7, 2020.