All FSI Publications Policy Briefs

Policy Roundup: June 2022

Key policy takeaways from Michael McFaul on helping Russians who oppose Putin; Kathryn Stoner on how Putin's War has ruined Russia; Steven Pifer on U.S.-Russia relations; Rose Gottemoeller on U.S. policy towards China in the Pacific region; David Studdert on the risks of guns in the home; Herb Lin on cybersecurity, and Hakeem Jefferson on the Jan. 6 hearings.

June 27, 2022

Ukraine-Russia

Want to Undermine Putin? Help Russians Who Are Opposed to the War
Michael McFaul, FSI Director
Washington Post, 6/01/22

  • One aspect of the sanctions regime urgently needs fixing – the wrongful punishment of Russian opposition leaders, activists, and journalists who fled their homeland rather than support Putin.
  • Thousands of Russians who fled their country face difficulties convincing authorities they need access to credit, banks, visas, travel documents, temporary residency.
  • It’s in the long-term national interests of the U.S., E.U. and Ukraine to help those who have chosen exile over acquiescence with Putin’s policies.
  • Governments sanctioning Russian citizens should establish a “Russia freedom commission” of independent experts who can make decisions about exiled Russian activists who need bank accounts, credit cards, travel documents, visas and work permits.
  • The U.S., E.U., Britain, Canada and other democracies must also create special visa programs to actively encourage Russia’s best and brightest to emigrate.

Kathryn Stoner on How Putin’s War Has Ruined Russia
Kathryn Stoner, Mosbacher Director of CDDRL
Democracy Paradox, 5/24/22

  • Too many Russian oligarchs close to Putin and too many Russian officials working for Putin still have not been sanctioned.
  • In a little more than eight weeks, Putin’s unjust and ill-conceived war has erased Russia’s gains of the last three decades.
  • In an autocracy like Russia’s, no one wants to bring Putin intelligence or something that would be disconfirming to his perspective.
  • Many Russian soldiers do not have a purpose or understand why they’re there or understood why they were being sent there to begin with. 
  • Corruption within the Russian military seriously undermines its global exercise of power.
  • Russia has a problem of top-heavy leadership trying to call the shots on the ground without having appropriate information and then not sufficiently empowering the people that they put in power.  

U.S.-Russia Relations

U.S. Russia relations, one year after Geneva
Steven Pifer, William J. Perry Fellow, CISAC
Brookings, 6/16/2022

  • Ukraine dominates how the West now views Russia. Regardless of how or when the war ends, Washington and Moscow (and the West and Moscow) are headed for a lengthy period of grim and frosty relations.
  • Interestingly, both Biden and the Kremlin have recently expressed a desire to resume the U.S.-Russia dialogue on strategic stability at some point.
  • The mistrust and bad blood will make cooperation challenging, even on issues where both countries’ interests converge, such as arms control, climate change, and dealing with Afghanistan.
  • Restoring anything that looks like normalcy in the bilateral relationship will likely require two things: 1) Putin’s departure from the Kremlin, something that may not happen for years, and 2) significant Russian policy changes to demonstrate it will adhere to the international order, not use military force on neighboring states, and work with the West for a stable, secure Europe.

U.S.-China Policy

A Current Security Imperative: The U.S. Role in the Marshall Islands
Rose Gottemoeller, Steven C. Házy Lecturer at CISAC
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 5/25/22

  • Competition with China has made U.S. agreements with the Marshall Islands more important than ever to U.S. interests.
  • The compacts, however, are about to expire, and there have been no formal talks to extend them since the start of the Biden administration. 
  • A US policy of refusing to discuss the nuclear issues, inherited from the Trump administration, is partly to blame. 
  • The islanders feel the U.S. is not willing to negotiate on their priorities, and they have a point.
  • The U.S. needs these agreements as a matter of national security and can secure them for a fraction of what we are spending to counter China through new weapons and other policies. 
  • The agreements present an opportunity to confront China, strengthen alliances, fight climate change, correct racial injustice, and restore America’s standing in the world. 
  • President Biden should seize the opportunity to finish the compact extension with the Marshalls, and do so quickly.

Gun Control

Owning Guns Puts People in Your Home at Greater Risk of Being Killed
David Studdert, Core Faculty at SHP
Time, 6/03/22

  • Record-breaking spikes in gun sales over the last two years indicate that self-protection continues to be the dominant reason for buying guns.
  • We found the opposite: people living in homes with guns face substantially higher risks of being fatally assaulted.
  • Mass shootings are the most visible form of gun violence in America, but they account for a small fraction of all fatal shootings – most deaths occur more privately in homes and on the streets.
  • People living with handgun owners died by homicide at twice the rate of their neighbors in gun-free homes.
  • That difference was driven largely by homicides at home, which were three times more common among people living with handgun owners.
  • Women bear the brunt of any second-hand risks that flow from firearm ownership.

Cybersecurity

"Bolt-On vs Baked-In Cybersecurity"
Herbert Lin, Senior Research Scholar at CISAC
Lawfare 6/23/22

  • Bolt-on security leaves users vulnerable to security problems that could have been avoided.
  • Fixing a security vulnerability discovered after the product has been finalized often entails revisiting important decisions made at early stages in product development.
  • Baked-in security, or security by design, as it is more formally known, calls for vendors to address security problems early in the product development process.
  • But C-suite leadership rarely considers the cybersecurity implications of product innovation or functional requirements for said products.
  • The C-suite has to have more than a nodding acquaintance with the basics of security – in particular, they need to know how hard security is to get right – so that they can understand how and why security considerations might arise in a proposed product.
  • The security team – particularly the chief information security officer – must understand the rudiments of the business that the C-suite leads so that they can understand the potential business issues at stake.

Domestic Politics

“How Race Played a Role in the Capitol Insurrection”
Hakeem Jefferson, Affiliate at CDDRL
PBS NewsHour, 6/11/22, interview

  • The Jan. 6 capitol assault is much more than a perception that some election had been stolen. It was a kind of racial backlash, a kind of uprising in  the face of perceptions that white people were losing status.
  • Their power was being taken away from them, and Donald Trump's loss of the 2020 election was but the biggest sign of that loss of status.
  • Race is the central organizing feature of American politics, and nothing else comes close. And what we lose in not attending to that reality is that we miss the core of what we see.
  • These culture battles are not merely taking place over what's being taught to children in schools. State legislatures are implementing laws that ban certain kinds of books and that make it illegal to teach certain kinds of lessons about America's racist past.
  • It's a battle over the power of narrative, a retelling of history that is not new in American life. For example, there is a retelling of the period of enslavement still by some. This is at the core of the Jan. 6 capitol assault.

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