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Insider threats to American national security pose a potent and growing danger. In the past five years, trusted US military and intelligence insiders have been responsible for the Wikileaks publication of thousands of classified reports, the worst intelligence breach in National Security Agency history, the deaths of a dozen Navy civilians and contractors at the Washington Navy Yard, and two attacks at Fort Hood that together killed sixteen people and injured more than fifty.

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The US Army War College Quarterly Parameters
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Amy Zegart
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Despite their many differences, Taiwan and Ukraine have been portrayed as two fronts in a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. The interrelations between the two geopolitical flashpoints took center stage at the recent Yomiuri International Conference, Taiwan and Ukraine: Challenging Authoritarianism. Cohosted by APARC’s Japan Program, the Yomiuri Shimbun, and the Asia Pacific Initiative, the conference was held on January 16, 2023 at the International House of Japan (IHJ) in Tokyo. It examined paths to addressing autocratic challenges to democracy and offered recommendations for coordinated deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region by the United States and its allies.

The forum included two sessions with Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI) experts. The first session, moderated by Ken Jimbo, IHJ managing director and API president, featured panelists Oriana Skylar Mastro, FSI center fellow at APARC, and Michael McFaul, the director of FSI. They examined the fallout of the war in Ukraine, the risks of a Taiwan crisis, and their implications for security in East Asia, including Japan. The second session, moderated by Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the deputy director of APARC and director of the Japan Program, featured panelists Larry Diamond, Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI, and Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at FSI. They considered the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan against the struggle to bolster the liberal international order.

Military Miscalculations, Economic Dislocations

McFaul opened the first session by reviewing some of the lessons from the war in Ukraine. The international community underestimated the Ukrainian military, he said. Putin, however, miscalculated the response of the United States and NATO, on the military side, and the scope of the sanctions the global community of democratic states, including Japan, would be willing to impose on Russia, on the economic side. 

It turned out, noted McFaul, that it was possible to reduce drastically Russian oil and gas coming into Europe, and Russia today has significantly fewer resources to fight Ukraine than it had anticipated. “I think it is very important to look at just how much economic dislocation happened with Russia, a country that was not integrated into the global economic world in the same way that China is,” McFaul said. He pointed out that the international community might also be underestimating the political pressure and dislocation that will erupt if, unprovoked, China invades Taiwan. “It will have very deep economic consequences for the Chinese economy,” said McFaul.

It is important to remember that the international community did not make credible commitments to deterring Russia before 2022, McFaul noted. In the case of China, he emphasized the imperative of considering concrete ways to enhance deterrence against Chinese invasion of Taiwan before military action begins. 

Rethinking Defense and Deterrence

China, however, is not easily deterrable, as Mastro explained in her following remarks. President Xi has been clear from early on that enhancing China’s role on the international stage would be a key part of the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda. Taiwan is a top priority issue in the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term thinking, said Mastro. She reminded the audience that at the recent CCP Congress, President Xi reaffirmed that China will not rule out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. He also elevated Party members with extensive expertise in the joint operational domain and with Taiwan contingencies to the Central Military Commission, the Chinese top decision-making body for military affairs.

I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.
Oriana Skylar Mastro

How, then should the United States and its allies approach the question of deterring China? Mastro emphasized three conditions that U.S and Japanese defense policy must meet.

First, whatever the United States and Japan do in the defense realm must have an operational impact. For example, U.S. carriers will do nothing to prevent China from taking Taiwan in a wartime scenario, Mastro argued. “And along those lines, from the Japanese point of view, enhancing defense of the Senkaku Islands does nothing to deter China from taking Taiwan unless Japanese operations are going to be involved directly in stopping a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.”

The second point is that China has to know about any defense changes the U.S. and its allies are making. For instance, if, in peacetime, there is no indication that the Japanese military is engaging in Taiwan Strait transits with the United States and the Chinese do not know about such activities, then they do not enhance deterrence.

Third, deterrence must happen before a war starts. It may seem an obvious point, but if the prevalent view is that, for example, the Japanese public will support the United States once a conflict over Taiwan erupts, then this approach does not deter China. “We have to let the Chinese know now that there is such support,” Mastro stated.

One issue China is concerned about, Mastro noted, is widening a Taiwan contingency. “China only wins Taiwan if the war is short, geographically limited to Taiwan, and only involves the United States, potentially in Taiwan,” she explained. “So I am convinced that if Japan were to commit to fighting with the United States in this contingency, that would be enough to deter China.”

Ultimately, the question before the United States and its allies is: “Do we want a happy China that is undeterred or an unhappy China that's deterred,” Mastro concluded. “Those are our only two options.” Deterrence is expensive and requires tradeoffs, but one thing that is costlier than deterrence is a major war, she pointed out.

“Let’s start thinking about how to actually change the environment with the sense of urgency that we need, because my biggest fear is that we're going to find ourselves in a major war with massive cost,” she urged the audience. There will be sacrifices to make, but the alternative, in Mastro's view, is worse.

Opportunities and Perils for Democracy

In the second session of the conference, panelists Larry Diamond and Francis Fukuyama examined the war in Ukraine and the tensions over Taiwan from the lens of democratic decline and its implications for the liberal international order.

Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last two decades, yet the picture is not as bleak for democracies as it was just two or three years ago, said Diamond. In the United States, reforms at the state level have occurred, election deniers took control of Congress seats by a much smaller margin than predicted before the 2022 midterms, and extreme election deniers in crucial swing states were virtually defeated. Meanwhile, on the international stage, 2022 spotlighted autocrats’ inevitable shortcomings. In Russia, Putin has catastrophically miscalculated the war in Ukraine. In China, Xi has massively mismanaged the COVID pandemic, and the country’s economic growth is severely impaired.

It's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.
Larry Diamond

Fukuyama expressed his encouragement by the democratic solidarity shown in response to the war in Ukraine, especially in Europe, within NATO, and in Japan. Germany’s and Japan’s decisions to increase their defense budgets have been remarkable reassuring signals of strength among democracies, he said.

But we sometimes forget that many countries in the Global South and elsewhere do not buy into this narrative, cautioned Fukuyama. Among the big disappointments in this regard is India, he noted, which raises the question of whether the issue at stake is indeed a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

Indeed, democracies still face intractable challenges, Diamond explained. These include the corrupting influence of dirty money around the world, the trends of de-industrialization and hollowing out of the working class in advanced democracies, and social media, which Diamond sees as the single biggest driver of democratic decline. “I cannot tell you how much damage social media has done to destroy the social fabric of Truth and credibility and polarized society into tribal camps who don't have the same facts,” he said. “We have not found a way to temper that impact and win the battle For Truth.”

Taiwan and Deterrence

When it comes to the question of Taiwan, Diamond says he is worried. “There is going to be a PRC military invasion of Taiwan, probably in this decade, unless it is deterred,” he said. The three most crucial actors in deterring China are Taiwan, the United States, and Japan, he explained. Successful deterrence must involve coordination among all three in multiple arenas — from military cooperation to increased defense capacity and preparedness to impose such heavy costs in response to a Chinese invading force that will change Xi’s calculus.

Diamond pointed out that democracy is about uncertainty, of which there is now plenty in Taiwan as it looks ahead to a January 2024 contentious presidential election. Diamond’s prediction is that "China will intervene however it thinks it can” in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election, as Xi would certainly prefer to pick up the island peacefully than by force, he said. “I think it's going to be very important that the people of Taiwan see that they're not alone, that the democracies of the world — not just the United States and Japan but Australia and Europe — are with them; it will increase their will to fight.”

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Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama at Encina Hall, Stanford, in conversation.
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A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order
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Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj Appointed the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow
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Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj Appointed the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow

While at Stanford, Elbegdorj, formerly the president of Mongolia, will focus on examining strategies to support Mongolian democracy in an increasingly polarized geopolitical landscape.
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj Appointed the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow
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At the Yomiuri International Conference, Freeman Spogli Institute scholars Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, Oriana Skylar Mastro, Michael McFaul, and Kiyoteru Tsutsui examined lessons from the war in Ukraine, the risks of a crisis over Taiwan, and the impacts of both geopolitical flashpoints for defending democracy and for a coordinated approach to deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.

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This essay originally appeared in Korean on January 3 in Sindonga (New East Asia), Korea’s oldest monthly magazine (established 1931), as part of a monthly column, "Shin’s Reflections on Korea." Translated by Raymond Ha. A PDF version of this essay is also available to download


 

Kanwal Rekhi is regarded as a pioneer of the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley. After studying at IIT Bombay, Rekhi completed his graduate studies at Michigan Tech and moved to San Jose in 1982, where he co-founded Excelan. The company went public on Nasdaq in 1987. It was the first time that immigrants from India had created a company and succeeded in listing it on a U.S. stock exchange.[1]

Since having found success as an entrepreneur, Rekhi has sought to give back to the diaspora community and his home country. In 1992, he co-founded The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), a non-profit that supports Indian entrepreneurs seeking to create startups. Rekhi explained to me that “there were many young Indians who wanted to start businesses, but they lacked the know-how and the networks.” TiE was intended to fill that gap. Rekhi also made a sizable donation to his alma mater, and he has advised the Indian government on policy issues. Moreover, he has supported the work of various universities in the United States, including Stanford.

The Story of India’s Diaspora

Rekhi belonged to the first generation of Indian immigrants to establish a foothold in Silicon Valley. Countless others, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, have since followed in his footsteps. Upon graduating from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), these individuals pursued further studies in the United States, where they successfully created startups or climbed the ladder to become C-level executives at major companies. They also maintain and cultivate close ties with their home country. Indian immigrants have been integral to Silicon Valley’s explosive growth, and they are now also contributing to India’s rise as a major economic power. India has now overtaken the United Kingdom, its former colonial ruler, with the fifth-largest GDP in the world.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Indian diaspora now has greater influence and impact in Silicon Valley than the Chinese diaspora.
Gi-Wook Shin

The Indian diaspora has made its presence felt beyond the economic sector. Numerous graduates of the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) practice medicine in the United States, and renowned scholars of Indian heritage serve on the faculty of elite American universities. For instance, Stanford selected Dr. Arun Majumdar to serve as the inaugural dean of the Doerr School of Sustainability, which opened its doors in the fall of 2022. Majumdar completed his undergraduate studies at IIT Bombay and obtained his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1989. His career has spanned the public and private sectors, and he now spearheads Stanford’s first new school in 70 years—an ambitious effort to “tackle urgent climate and sustainability challenges facing people and ecosystems worldwide.”[2] It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Indian diaspora now has greater influence and impact in Silicon Valley than the Chinese diaspora.

Moreover, India plays a central role in Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which has become the focal point of American foreign policy. New Delhi was the leader of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War, but it is now building closer ties with liberal democracies around the world. Unlike China, India is not locked in a strategic competition with the West. High English proficiency among Indians also facilitates relations and exchanges at all levels. It is also worth noting that there are now influential politicians of Indian heritage in major countries, including Kamala Harris in the United States and Rishi Sunak in the United Kingdom. India prides itself on being the most populous democracy in the world, and its stature in the international community is only likely to grow in the coming decades.

Despite these developments, Korean public sentiment toward India is largely negative. There is broad awareness of the legacy of historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi and cultural achievements such as the Taj Mahal. However, many Koreans still perceive India as a poor and chaotic country with rigid and obsolete customs, including the caste system. There are substantial cultural, social, and historical differences between Korea and India, but it is time for Korea to cast aside any prejudices and take a clear-eyed view of India. It is encouraging to see the Yoon Suk-Yeol administration stress in its recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy that Korea “will advance [its] special strategic partnership with India, a leading regional partner with shared values.” The document also rightly notes the importance of “enhanced economic cooperation” between the two countries.[3]

[India’s] overseas diaspora also plays a unique role in catalyzing economic growth. Korea should learn from the successes of India’s diaspora and build closer ties with such networks.
Gi-Wook Shin

In this context, it is especially vital for Korea to pay attention to the rise of the Indian diaspora in the United States and beyond. They are a force to be reckoned with in the global market. Unlike the state-driven development models of East Asia, India has pursued a market-driven policy since liberalizing its economy in 1991. The country’s overseas diaspora also plays a unique role in catalyzing economic growth. Korea should learn from the successes of India’s diaspora and build closer ties with such networks.

The Rise of Japan, China, and India

Japan was the undisputed leader of the Asia-Pacific in the 1980s, and China has taken on this mantle since the dawn of the 21st century. As China closes its doors amidst its intensifying strategic competition with the United States, India is emerging as the new regional leader. A close examination of the rise of these three countries reveals crucial differences. The contributions of the overseas diaspora to economic development, as noted above, are a distinguishing factor.

Let us begin with Japan. Relying on a well-educated workforce and meticulous training within companies, Japan built upon proprietary technology from the West to achieve incremental innovation. Sony’s worldwide success in consumer electronics, for example, can be attributed to sophisticated engineering and attention to detail in product design, not to significant advancements in the underlying technologies. Furthermore, Japan took great advantage of short-term overseas training programs to learn and utilize advanced technologies to further its own economy. This strategy enabled Japan to increase its economic heft without suffering a “brain drain,” to the point of challenging U.S. dominance over the global economy in the 1980s. There were, however, disputes with the United States over intellectual property rights (IPR).

Throughout this process, Japan’s diaspora did not play a visible role. Many Japanese abroad had already assimilated into their countries of residence, and the few that contributed only provided low-skilled labor. Japanese Americans, for example, have largely assimilated into American society despite the traumatic experience of forced internment during World War II. Contact with their home country was fairly limited. Some Japanese immigrants who settled in South America later returned to Japan, but most of these returnees were low-skilled laborers. After experiencing hardships and discrimination, however, they went back to South America once again after the 2008 global financial crisis.

China took a different path. The Chinese diaspora has a long history centered on Southeast Asia, and its role in enabling China’s reform and opening by providing much-needed capital is well known. In the 1980s, China adopted an “open door” policy and enabled large numbers of students to study abroad. It also proactively pursued a policy of “brain circulation” by inviting these students to return to China and contribute their talents to the country’s development. No country has sent more students abroad than China. With rapid economic growth in the 2000s, over 80% of these students returned. These individuals are called haigui (sea turtles) in China.[4] In Beijing’s Zhongguancun, China’s Silicon Valley, there are a plethora of programs and facilities tailored to haigui. They have not only spearheaded China’s technological innovation, but also made important contributions to the economy, scientific research, and higher education.

China’s pursuit of “brain circulation” has seen some success, but it also created friction with the United States. After studying and gaining work experience in the United States, Chinese talent returned home and directed their know-how toward accelerating China’s rise. However, U.S. authorities began to suspect that China’s talent policy was being misused for industrial espionage, especially in advanced technologies. For example, the Pentagon stated in 2018 that China’s Thousand Talents Program was a “toolkit for foreign technology acquisition.” U.S. intelligence officials added that the program was “a key part of multi-pronged efforts to transfer, replicate and eventually overtake U.S. military and commercial technology.”[5]

India has taken yet another path, although it resembles China’s experience in some respects. Like China, India experienced an enormous brain drain. It is second only to China in the number of overseas students. In terms of highly skilled emigration, it has seen the largest outflow of any country. Unlike Chinese talent, Indian immigrants tended to settle down in host countries, where they have built successful careers. During the 1980s, over a third (37.5%) of IIT Bombay graduates went abroad, and 82% of these individuals stayed abroad.[6] Between 2004 and 2016, 30% of grantees in Optional Practical Training (OPT), a temporary employment visa for F-1 students in the United States, were students from India.[7] Many of these students arrived in America after receiving a rigorous education in STEM or medicine in India. Their native fluency in English is also an important asset. Since India itself is extremely diverse in terms of religion, ethnicity, and culture, prior experience with diverse settings also gives Indian students an advantage for studying and living in America.

Indian talent… abroad… create “brain linkages” through extensive interaction with their home country. They bring young talent from India to overseas universities and companies, support start-up entrepreneurs in India, and connect global companies to India's…high-quality workforce
Gi-Wook Shin

Even if Indian talent mostly stays abroad, they create “brain linkages” through extensive interaction with their home country. They bring young talent from India to overseas universities and companies, support start-up entrepreneurs in India, and connect global companies to India’s low-cost, high-quality workforce.

Immigrants from India make up the bulk of H-1B visa recipients in the United States. In fiscal year 2021, 74% consisted of Indian nationals.[8] Unicorn companies formed with diaspora support are appearing left and right in Bangalore, the hub for India’s high-tech industry. The total investment in Bangalore’s tech sector has jumped from $550 million in 2010 to $2 billion in 2017, spread across 6,000 start-ups.[9] This amount is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025.[10] Furthermore, unlike China, India is not currently engaged in disputes with the United States or other major economies over talent policy or IPR in advanced technologies.

Modi’s Visit to Silicon Valley

In 2015, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to a crowd of 20,000 at the Shark Tank in San Jose. Many in the diaspora community gathered for the occasion. Modi asserted that “what looks like brain drain is actually a brain deposit.”[11] He also met with leaders of the Indian diaspora during his visit, including Sundar Pichai (Google) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft), and secured support for the government’s “Digital India” initiative.[12] Naren Gupta, a member of India’s diaspora and the co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners, played an instrumental role in planning the visit. Modi’s tour of Silicon Valley encapsulated the power and influence of the Indian diaspora in America. It also revealed the strength of the brain linkages that the community had built with its home country.

The Indian diaspora is a force to be reckoned with in Silicon Valley. Of all engineering and tech start-ups formed in America by immigrants between 2006 and 2012, 33.2% were created by individuals of Indian origin.[13]This exceeds the total number of companies created by entrepreneurs from China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Israel, Russia, and Korea combined. Indian immigrants are also filling executive-level positions in major American IT companies. Those of Indian origin make up “just about 1% of the U.S. population and 6% of Silicon Valley’s workforce.”[14] However, they have an outsized impact. Immigrants from India to the United States tend to be highly educated, with over 70% possessing at least a bachelor’s degree.[15] This is markedly higher than the corresponding proportion for the U.S. population, which reached 37.9% in 2021.[16] Various factors help explain the Indian diaspora’s success in the United States: high levels of technical competence, a robust professional network, and strong communication skills based on native English fluency and familiarity with Western culture.

Moreover, Indian immigrants are very much willing to acquire citizenship in their host countries. In recent years, the number of Indian nationals who acquired U.S. citizenship through naturalization has been almost twice the number of Chinese nationals who were naturalized.[17] Indians reportedly do not have qualms about renouncing their Indian citizenship. Modi’s 2015 speech in San Jose, referenced above, clearly reflects how those in India view the overseas diaspora. Regardless of one’s citizenship or place of residence, there is a prevailing mentality of “once an Indian, always an Indian.” Leaders in India’s modern history, including Nehru and Gandhi, were also members of the diaspora. The tightly knit diaspora community gives rise to robust and mutually supportive professional networks, which helps elevate the presence of Indian immigrants in host countries. This is certainly the case in the United States.

Unlike China, India does not have a government-led policy to attract talent. Nevertheless, members of the overseas diaspora can temporarily return to India and engage in various activities with relative ease. There are also institutions that facilitate such endeavors. One is the legal status of “non-resident Indians” that is given to Indians who reside overseas for over 183 days in a given year. This status accords short-term diaspora visitors with legal and economic rights similar to that of resident citizens.

Since 2003, the Indian government has also officially recognized Non-Resident Indian Day (Pravasi Bharatiya Divas) on January 9, which commemorates the day of Gandhi’s return from South Africa to Mumbai in 1915. To mark the occasion, the Indian government presents an award to individuals in the diaspora community who have made significant achievements in their respective fields. Past recipients include Satya Nadella and Kalpana Chawla, an Indian American astronaut who posthumously received the award as the first person of Indian origin to go to space. By taking such steps, the Indian government promotes and strengthens solidarity between India and its diaspora, no matter where its members reside.

The New Argonauts

Members of the Indian diaspora are actively building ties to their home country. In 2021, they sent $87 billion in remittances to India. China’s diaspora came second with $53 billion.[18] This includes money earned by Indian immigrants in the United States, China, and other countries. Overseas Indians in the business sector not only invest in start-ups and real estate in India, but also give policy recommendations to their home government and provide support for higher education. They also organized charity fundraisers to assist COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, responding to the devastation that the pandemic wreaked across the country. According to my own analysis, 42% of 97 major Indian diaspora organizations in the United States maintain close ties with India. As a whole, they are even more active than Chinese diaspora organizations.

The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), founded in Silicon Valley, is one of the best examples. It was established in 1992 with the goal of facilitating networking between entrepreneurs from South Asia, providing mentoring for the next generation, and incubating and investing in start-ups. As of 2020, TiE had 61 branches across 14 countries, with 20 offices in the United States and 23 in India, and boasted a membership of 15,000. To date, it has supported around 10,000 start-ups founded by entrepreneurs of Indian origin. The total valuation of these start-ups is approximately $200 billion. With offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai, TiE has acted as a conduit for successful Indian businesspeople in Silicon Valley to interact with their home country. These individuals emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship to youth in India. They acted as role models, mentors, and investors at a time when there was little support to be found elsewhere. TiE continues to serve as a vital link between Silicon Valley and India.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), founded in 1982, plays an essential role in creating brain linkages in the field of medicine. AAPI has 80,000 doctors and 40,000 students, residents, and fellows as members. It fosters closer ties between its members and pursues opportunities for cooperation with Indian medical schools. Since 2007, it has hosted an annual global healthcare summit in India. AAPI also operates 19 clinics across India and established a charitable foundation to provide medical relief. During the height of COVID-19, AAPI sent medical supplies and held various activities to help India overcome the pandemic. It is said that those in the diaspora community view such actions as a responsibility, not just as a charitable activity.

Furthermore, the Indian diaspora is heavily engaged in supporting higher education back home. Consider IIT Kharagpur, which opened its doors in 1951. Vinod Gupta graduated from this school, found success in the United States, and helped launch the Vinod Gupta School of Management at his alma mater in 1993. Arjun Malhotra, another IIT Kharagpur graduate, was involved in the creation of the G. S. Sanyal School of Telecommunications and the M. N. Faruqui Innovation Centre. In another example, leaders from the diaspora community joined forces in 2014 to establish Ashoka University, a private school modeled after American liberal arts colleges, a rarity in a higher education landscape dominated by public universities. Ashok Trivedi, one of the school’s founders, earned his bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Delhi before pursuing an MBA at Ohio University and subsequently co-founding IGATE, an IT services company. As these cases illustrate, leaders in the Indian diaspora community donate to their alma maters and even create new schools altogether. They also facilitate academic exchanges between prominent U.S. and Indian universities, including student exchange programs.

AnnaLee Saxenian, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, has referred to these immigrant entrepreneurs who maintain ties with their home country after building successful careers overseas as the “new argonauts.” Just like the Argonauts of Greek mythology who set sail across the Mediterranean in search of the Golden Fleece, these individuals have crossed oceans aboard their own Argo to seek success in the 21st century. Kanwal Rekhi emphasized to me that “the diaspora led India’s independence movement in the past, but now it is playing an important role for India’s economy.”

India lags far behind China in… national power, [but] has a much younger population and its rate of economic growth will likely exceed China’s for the foreseeable future. India is the only country [whose] supply of highly skilled labor in the tech sector exceeds domestic demand.
Gi-Wook Shin

Will India Surpass China?

In a previous essay in this series, I argued that “China will not surpass the United States in our time.”[19] We could ask, in a similar fashion, whether India could overtake China in the future. While there are significant challenges on the road ahead, India could become a formidable competitor for China if current trends continue. At present, India lags far behind China in terms of overall national power. India has a much younger population, however, and its rate of economic growth will likely exceed China’s for the foreseeable future. India is the only country where the supply of highly skilled labor in the technology sector exceeds domestic demand. In addition to IITs and AIIMS, there are excellent engineering and medical schools across all regions of India. These institutions are an important source of talent for the global economy.

China is gradually closing its doors as the Sino-U.S. competition intensifies. In terms of its economy and trade relations, it is at risk of falling into a quagmire similar to Japan’s “Two Lost Decades.” Beijing must also contend with strong anti-China sentiment, especially among developed countries, and it must overcome the challenges that come with diplomatic isolation. India does not face the same geopolitical risks. As one of the four corners of the Quad, New Delhi is pursuing a foreign policy that includes various forms of cooperation with countries across the Indo-Pacific region in both economic and security issues. At the same time, the power and influence of the Indian diaspora only continues to grow. In an October 2022 op-ed on the subject, Tyler Cowen notes that Rishi Sunak is only one example of a much wider phenomenon. “It is now impossible to deny what has been evident for some while,” he says. “Indian talent is revolutionizing the Western world far more than had been expected 10 or 15 years ago.”[20]

To be sure, India faces a complex set of challenges at home. Poverty remains widespread, along with ethnic and religious conflicts. The Modi government has taken an authoritarian turn in its pursuit of Hindu nationalism, and there are serious governance challenges associated with corruption in both government and the private sector. Ajantha Subramanian, a professor of anthropology at Harvard, has pointed out that successful members of the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley largely come from the upper castes. Some criticize these individuals for amplifying caste-based inequality overseas through their exclusive professional networks in ways that are no longer as prevalent in India. While accounting for such criticism and taking an honest look at India’s domestic issues, it would also be unwise for Korea to discount the importance of India and its diaspora in the coming decades.

To Become Asia’s Small Giant

A few years ago, I gave a lecture on Korea’s development at a leading university in New Delhi. I was deeply impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of the students who came to listen. There is growing interest in India about the story of Korea’s remarkable economic development, as well as K-pop and Korean dramas. Unfortunately, this has not always been reciprocated. In 2017, a bar in Itaewon, an area of Seoul famous for its multicultural atmosphere, drew controversy when it denied entry to a student from India.[21] In 2009, in another incident, an Indian research professor and a female Korean companion were harassed by a fellow bus passenger.[22] Such inexcusable acts of discrimination are ultimately rooted in prejudices and negative stereotypes about India in Korea.

Building closer ties with India is a foreign policy imperative under the Yoon administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, but high-level policies alone will not be enough. It is vital for civil society to enhance mutual understanding by strengthening… people-to-people ties.
Gi-Wook Shin

I once had the opportunity to speak to Indian engineers who work in Korea. They told me that while they enjoyed working for Korean companies such as Samsung or SK, prejudice among Koreans toward India often made life difficult.[23] Building closer ties with India is a foreign policy imperative under the Yoon administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, but high-level policies alone will not be enough. It is vital for civil society to enhance mutual understanding between Korea and India by expanding cultural exchanges and strengthening people-to-people ties. The private sector also has an important role to play, as they can augment efforts by government-run Korean cultural centers and public entities such as the Korea Foundation.[24]

Indian talent could play an important role in Korea’s economic future. Korea will soon face significant labor shortages due to “a crisis on three fronts: a plummeting birth rate, an aging population, and a serious brain drain.”[25]On the other hand, India has a relatively young population and a large, highly skilled workforce. According to one estimate, “India is projected to have a skilled-labour surplus of around 245.3 million workers by 2030.”[26] There is also a natural synergy between the two economies. India excels in software, whereas Korea’s strength lies in hardware. If China provided opportunities for Korean manufacturers to export intermediate goods, India could provide the talent that Korea’s economy will increasingly rely on in the coming years.

Cowen argues that “India is by far the world’s most significant source of undiscovered and undervalued talent.” Anyone who is concerned about “the future of their own nation” in today’s world, he adds, “really should be focusing on India.”[27] Korea would do well to heed his advice.

While seeking ways to strengthen cooperation with India, Korea should also strive to build closer ties with the Indian diaspora and its networks. East Asian countries, including Korea, adopted a state-centered model of economic development. India took a different path, and its overseas diaspora has played a unique role in driving India’s economic growth. The ever-increasing influence of India’s new argonauts extends beyond Silicon Valley. Australia and Germany have sought to attract Indian talents and draw on their professional networks. The same goes for countries in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates. Korea could form closer partnerships with the extensive global networks of India’s diaspora community as it seeks to attract Indian talent and pursue new economic opportunities.

During the Cold War, Korea looked east toward the United States and Japan. As the Iron Curtain fell in the 1980s, Korea pursued Nordpolitik by normalizing ties with Moscow and Beijing. It is now time for Korea to look south. Even as Southeast Asia grows in importance, Korea must keep its eyes fixed on India. If Korea aims to become Asia’s small giant in this turbulent era, it would be wise for Seoul to use prevailing geopolitical currents to its favor.


[1]This essay draws on ongoing research by the author, which will be published in an upcoming book tentatively titled Talent Giants in the Asia-Pacific Century: A Comparative Analysis of Japan, Australia, China, and India.

[2] Amy Adams and Anneke Cole, “Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, University’s First New School in 70 Years, Will Accelerate Solutions to Global Climate Crisis,” Stanford University, May 4, 2022, https://news.stanford.edu/2022/05/04/stanford-doerr-school-sustainability-universitys-first-new-school-70-years-will-accelerate-solutions-global-climate-crisis/.

[3] Republic of Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Strategy for a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region, December 28, 2022, 17, https://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5676/view.do?seq=322133.

[4] The terms “sea turtle” () and “return from overseas” () are homophones for each other.

[5] Anthony Capaccio, “U.S. Faces ‘Unprecedented Threat’ from China on Tech Takeover,” Bloomberg, June 22, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-22/china-s-thousand-talents-called-key-in-seizing-u-s-expertise.

[6] S. P. Sukhatme and I. Mahadevan, Pilot Study on Magnitude and Nature of the Brain-Drain of Graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Bombay: Indian Institute of Technology, 1987).

[7] Neil G. Ruiz and Abby Budiman, “Number of Foreign College Students Staying and Working in U.S. After Graduation Surges,” Pew Research Center, May 10, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2018/05/10/number-of-foreign-college-students-staying-and-working-in-u-s-after-graduation-surges/.

[8] Lubna Kably, “Indians Bagged 3.01 Lakh H-1B Visas During Fiscal 2021–74% of the Total,” Times of India, April 14, 2022, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/indians-bagged-3-01-lakh-h-1b-visas-during-fiscal-2021-74-of-the-total/articleshow/90845244.cms.

[9] Indian Tech Start-Up Ecosystem: Approaching Escape Velocity (Noida: NASSCOM-Zinnov, 2018), 6; Manish Singh, “Indian Tech Startups Raised a Record$14.5B in 2019,” TechCrunch, December 30, 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/29/indian-tech-startups-funding-amount-2019/.

[10] “HNIs to Invest $30 Billion in Indian Tech Startups By 2025: Report,” Economic Times, June 17, 2021, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/startups/hnis-to-invest-30-billion-in-indian-tech-startups-by-2025-report/articleshow/83607846.cms.

[11] “Narendra Modi’s Speech at the Shark Tank, Silicon Valley As It Happened,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-IRTB-30506.

[12] Chidanand Rajghatta, “Silicon Valley Stars Sign on to PM Modi’s ‘Digital India’ Vision,” Times of India, September 27, 2015, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech-news/silicon-valley-stars-sign-on-to-pm-modis-digital-india-vision/articleshow/49129060.cms.

[13] Vivek Wadhwa, AnnaLee Saxenian, and F. Daniel Siciliano, Then and Now: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part VII (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2012), 3, https://www.kauffman.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Then_and_now_americas_new_immigrant_entrepreneurs.pdf.

[14] Nikhil Inamdar and Aparna Alluri, “Parag Agrawal: Why Indian-born CEOs dominate Silicon Valley,” BBC News, December 4, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-59457015.

[15] Jens Manuel Krogstad and Jynnah Radford, “Education Levels of U.S. Immigrants Are on the Rise,” Pew Research Center, September 14, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/14/education-levels-of-u-s-immigrants-are-on-the-rise/.

[16] United States Census Bureau, “Census Bureau Releases New Education Attainment Data,” February 24, 2022, https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2022/educational-attainment.html.

[17] U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2020 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2022), 53–54, https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2020.

[18] “With $87 Billion, India Top Remittance Recipient in 2021: UN Report,” Economic Times, July 20, 2022, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/invest/with-87-billion-india-top-remittance-recipient-in-2021-un-report/articleshow/93012012.cms.

[19] Gi-Wook Shin, “Walking a Tightrope,” Shorenstein APARC, November 16, 2022, https://aparc.fsi.stanford.edu/korea/news/walking-tightrope.

[20] Tyler Cowen, “Rishi Sunak Shows the Growing Influence of Indian Talent in the West,” Bloomberg, October 28, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-10-28/rishi-sunak-shows-growing-influence-of-indian-talent-in-west.

[21] Ock Hyun-ju, “Itaewon Bar Accused of Discriminating Against Indian,” Korean Herald, June 7, 2017, https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170607000796.

[22] Park Si-soo, “Indian Accuses Korean of Racial Discrimination,” Korea Times, August 3, 2009, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/08/117_49537.html; Paul Kerry and Matthew Lamers, “Setting a Precedent on Racism,” Korea Herald, March 30, 2010, https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20091106000044.

[23] Gi-Wook Shin and Joon Nak Choi, Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea (Stanford University Press, 2015).

[24] For more information about the Korea Foundation, see the organization’s “About Us” page at https://www.kf.or.kr/kfEng/cm/cntnts/cntntsView2.do?mi=2126.

[25] Gi-Wook Shin, “Demographic Headwinds,” Shorenstein APARC, December 15, 2022, https://aparc.fsi.stanford.edu/news/demographic-headwinds.

[26] “India to Have Talent Surplus of 245 Million Workers by 2030: Study,” Economic Times, May 7, 2018, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/india-to-have-talent-surplus-of-245-million-workers-by-2030-study/articleshow/64064096.cms.

[27] Cowen, “Rishi Sunak Shows the Growing Influence of Indian Talent in the West.”

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This article originally appeared in the Korean daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo on January 2, 2023. It was translated from Korean by Raymond Ha.

In an exclusive interview for the Munhwa Ilbo, Stanford University professors Gi-Wook Shin and Francis Fukuyama had a conversation on a wide range of topics including the war in Ukraine, U.S.-China competition, and North Korea policy.

The world faces a crisis of political leadership as each country pursues its own interests. Fukuyama stressed the importance of robust international institutions, instead of relying solely on great leaders. He pointed to NATO and the U.S.-Korea alliance as examples of institutions that uphold the liberal international order. In terms of the U.S.-China competition, he said without hesitation that “a democracy like Korea…has to make the decision that it is going to be on the side of democracy.” Fukuyama also noted that in the event of an armed confrontation over Taiwan, Korea would almost certainly be pulled in, given the significant U.S. military presence there. He was skeptical about prospects for progress over North Korea, pointing to the long history of failed negotiations and the lack of viable alternatives. “Not every problem has a solution,” he said.

Gi-Wook Shin, who led the interview, observed that the global decline of democracy appears to have hit a turning point, “although it’s too early to say if there will be a rapid recovery…or a more gradual shift.” As for the state of democracy in the United States, he said, “We will have to wait and see what happens in the 2024 presidential election.” Even though Trump’s political influence may be weaker, he observed, “pro-Trump forces are still part of the system.” In terms of Korea’s foreign policy, Shin emphasized that Seoul “should take [the Taiwan] problem much more seriously.” A crisis in the Taiwan Strait “could become the biggest challenge for the Yoon administration’s foreign policy, not North Korea,” and domestic polarization over China policy is one issue that could threaten to “become extremely controversial.”

The interview was held in-person for one hour at Stanford on December 8, 2022, with a follow-up interview held over the phone on December 27.  


[Gi-Wook Shin] Let’s start by looking back on 2022. How would you summarize this year?

[Francis Fukuyama] I think 2022 was a very good year, where we may have bottomed out in this global move away from democracy and toward authoritarian government. The year really started out in February with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which looked very, very threatening. China was on a roll. It looked like they were beating everybody in terms of COVID policy. Then, by the end of the year, the Russians got completely bogged down. China experienced mass protests, and there were protests also in Iran. In America’s elections on November 8, all the pro-Trump forces failed to make gains and, in fact, lost almost everywhere. I think that maybe we will look back on 2022 as the year when this democratic recession that has been going on for over 15 years finally bottomed out.

[GWS] I agree, although it’s too early to say if there will be a rapid recovery toward democracy or a more gradual shift. In the United States, we will have to wait and see what happens in the 2024 presidential election. Former President Trump may be weaker politically, but pro-Trump forces are still part of the system. As for the Ukraine war, many people thought Russia would win quite easily, but now it looks like they are struggling. It’s a big question, of course, but how do you think the war will be remembered in history?

[FF] I think that it is going to be remembered as one of the biggest strategic mistakes made by a great-power leader in a very long time. I think that the mistake is directly due to the nature of the political system. You remember that Vladimir Putin was sitting at the end of this 25-foot table with his defense minister because he was so afraid of COVID. He was extremely isolated during the whole pandemic, and he had already isolated himself in a political system where he doesn’t face checks and balances. That kind of decision-making system makes you prone to make even bigger mistakes, because you don’t have other people to test your ideas against. He was completely uninformed about the degree to which Ukraine had developed a separate national identity and that the Ukrainian people were willing to fight for it. He didn’t have any idea how incompetent his own army was. If he had been in a more democratic country that required him to share power with other people, I don’t think he could have made that kind of mistake.

 

The most important thing is the breakdown of the Chinese economic model. For the past decade, the Chinese model has been to pump a huge amount of money into the real estate sector. That model is collapsing. The other big problem is that they don’t have economic growth anymore.
Francis Fukuyama

[GWS] Putin is struggling, as you said. There are a lot of problems in China, but Xi Jinping secured a third term. Authoritarian leaders elsewhere still hold power. By contrast, I don’t think President Biden has shown powerful leadership at home or globally. I don’t see any strong political leaders in the U.K., France, or Germany either.

[FF] I think that although Xi Jinping may succeed in stabilizing the situation in China with the protests over COVID in the short run, he is in a lot of trouble. He was creating all this social instability with the zero-COVID policy. Now that they’ve started to relax it, I think the number of cases and deaths is going to go up very dramatically, but I don’t think they’ve got much of a choice. I think this has probably damaged the people’s sense of Xi’s authority and legitimacy, and I’m not sure he can recover from that.

The most important thing is the breakdown of the Chinese economic model. For the past decade, the Chinese model has been to pump a huge amount of money into the real estate sector. That model is collapsing. The other big problem is that they don’t have economic growth anymore. Some economists think that they’re actually in a recession, with negative growth. This is like what Japan went through in the 1990s. So much of the Chinese government’s legitimacy has been based on having extremely high growth rates, and that period is over. I don’t see how they get it back, and they certainly won’t by inserting the state into every economic decision and controlling their high-tech sector. Their population is shrinking now. I’m not sure that Xi Jinping, in the longer run, is actually going to look like a very effective leader.

[GWS] But in the short term, say the next three to five years, won’t authoritarian leaders be powerful in comparison? Just as “America First” shows, some say there is a crisis of political leadership among Western democracies, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

[FF] I think that apart from President Zelenskyy in Ukraine, we don’t see any really inspiring leaders in Germany or France or the United States. On the other hand, the nice thing about democracy is that it’s an institutional system for managing change. Biden has turned 80, and Trump himself is in his upper 70s. The leadership in Congress and the Democratic Party are all elderly, but they’re all about to change. In the next election cycle, there is going to be a whole new generation of people that are up-and-coming. I don’t think you need a charismatic leader with great vision, necessarily, to run any of the countries you mentioned.

[GWS] Another question is if the United States can provide global leadership. When Trump was defeated, there was a strong expectation for the Biden administration to restore global order and to do much better than its predecessor. I’m not sure whether that’s happening.

[FF] Again, I think that’s why you want to have international institutions rather than being dependent simply on leaders. This gives an institutional basis for continuity in policy. There are all of these alliance structures, like NATO. People thought that NATO was obsolete and was going to go away. It has actually proved to be very durable. The United States has security ties with Korea and Japan that also are quite old, but they’re still durable. It’s interesting that the authoritarian countries have not been able to create anything comparable to that set of alliances. There is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but all the Central Asian states don’t want to be part of this China-Russia dominated organization. We can’t just depend on great leadership.

Korea should proactively participate in upholding and creating an international order that facilitates a resurgence of democracy. Korea has not really played this role before, but with the 10th largest economy in the world, it is now in a position to play a positive role.
Gi-Wook Shin

[GWS] To add on to that, I think Korea should proactively participate in upholding and creating an international order that facilitates a resurgence of democracy. Korea has not really played this role before, but with the 10th largest economy in the world, it is now in a position to play a positive role.

[FF] There is a set of values that underpin America’s alliances, both in Asia and Europe. Throughout the whole Cold War, the Soviet Union never actually invaded a Western democracy, but that’s what Russia did. NATO has suddenly become very relevant once more. I think that both in Korea and Japan, there is also recognition of a comparable challenge from an authoritarian China. Unless all democracies work together and show solidarity with one another, they could be picked off by these two authoritarian powers.

[GWS] There is a lot of debate about whether China is going to invade Taiwan or not. I have a two-part question. First, could the situation in Ukraine reduce the possibility of China invading Taiwan? Second, if China still invades nevertheless, what should Korea do? This is a difficult question for Korea. It cannot say no to the United States as a military ally, but at the same time, it cannot antagonize China. I think this is the most difficult question for Korea at the moment.

[FF] This is a difficult question for the United States because it’s not clear that Congress or the American people actually want to go to war with China in order to save Taiwan. I think if you ask them a polling question stated like that, probably a majority would say, “No, we’re not going to send our troops to die.” But I think it’s likely that the United States will get dragged into such a conflict one way or the other. Among other things, the Chinese would probably have to preempt some of the American forces that are in the theater. American military personnel will get killed as the Chinese attack unfolds, and I think there will be a lot of political pressure to help Taiwan.

[GWS] How much can the United States be involved? Some in Korea are skeptical that Washington will step in.

[FF] This is really the problem. During the Cold War, we had a good idea of what a war would like look like if it actually happened. The military planning was very concretely designed against certain types of escalation. With China, we don’t have a clear set of expectations for what escalation would look like. It could just start with a Chinese invasion. It could start with a blockade. It could start with something in the South China Sea. It could actually start on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea doing something. If it happens, it’s going to be much more devastating than the war in Ukraine. So much of global production comes out of Asia, and there’s a strong incentive not to let things get out of hand. Whether we have the wisdom to do that is not clear. I also think that people’s expectations and opinions will change once the conflict begins. The moment people see cities being bombed, they will change their minds.

Francis Fukuyama conversing in Gi-Wook Shin's office at Stanford University.
Francis Fukuyama. Kim Namseok/Munhwa Ilbo

[GWS] I also think that a conflict over Taiwan would affect the American people more directly than what is happening in Ukraine. What’s your view on how seriously Korea should be taking this possibility?

[FF] It is likely enough that it is absolutely important for everyone to take it seriously and plan against it. What you want to do is deter China from taking any military action against Taiwan. They’re not going to be deterred unless they see that there’s a response on the other side that is going to raise the cost for them. That’s not going to happen unless people take the scenarios seriously and start thinking about concrete ways that they could help Taiwan or stymie any kind of Chinese attack. I think it is very important for Korea to think this through and think about ways they could support Taiwan and be part of a larger alliance that can push back against China.

[GWS] I keep telling my friends and colleagues in Korea that they should take this problem much more seriously. Taiwan could become the biggest challenge for the Yoon administration’s foreign policy, not North Korea. China policy has become an extremely divisive partisan issue in South Korea, and it could tear the country apart. What advice would you have for President Yoon?

[FF] There’s two things. First is the rhetorical position. Korea should make its position clear in advance that it would oppose Chinese military action and would support the United States, for example. Korea is going to get dragged into this because so much U.S. military equipment is in Korea, and that is going to be moved in closer to the theater. I think making that position clear in advance is important.

The other thing that’s been very clear from the Ukraine war is that democracies are not prepared for an extended conflict. Everybody is running out of ammunition in Europe and the United States is running low on certain types of ammunition. The Ukrainians have used so much of it just in the 10 months they have been fighting. I think that any high-intensity conflict in East Asia is also going to be very costly in terms of supplies. South Korea is in a better position than other countries because it has been preparing for a North Korean attack for decades. Everybody needs to be prepared for an extended conflict. It may not be over in 48 hours.

[GWS] Koreans are quite nervously watching the ongoing escalation of tensions between the United States and China. In the past, the paradigm was “United States for security, China for the economy” (an-mi-gyeong-joong). Now, security and the economy are linked together. The Yoon government is promoting the strengthening of the alliance with the United States, but South Korea faces the fundamental problem of how to position itself as U.S.-China tensions escalate. Do you have any wisdom for Korea?

[FF] I don’t know if it’s wisdom, but I think Korea needs to take a clearer position. Under the previous government, there was a belief that Korea could somehow be halfway between China and the United States. That’s just not a tenable position. The tension between the United States and China has really been driven by China ever since 2013, when Xi Jinping took power. China has become a much more severe dictatorship internally, and it has become much more aggressive externally. You see the influence of the Belt and Road Initiative and the militarization of the South China Sea. In the last 10 or 15 years, China has been picking fights with India, Japan, Korea, and all of Southeast Asia over territorial issues. They built the size of their military much more rapidly than any other great power in that period of time. As a result, the United States and other countries have simply reacted to this. I think that a democracy like Korea cannot pretend that it is somehow in between the United States and China. It has to make the decision that it is going to be on the side of democracy.

[GWS] I agree that an-mi-gyeong-joong is now obsolete, but I think that South Korea must be more sophisticated in its response. As they say, the devil is in the details. On the economy, Seoul can actively work with Washington on areas closely related to security, but it can still partner with Beijing on sectors that are not. There can be a fine-tuned policy.

I now want to ask about North Korea and U.S. policy. I have been saying that the Biden administration policy is one of “strategic neglect,” not the “strategic patience” of the Obama administration. Kim Jong-un keeps testing missiles and provoking, and South Koreans are puzzled by the lack of response from Washington. Why is that? Is it because all the attention is on Ukraine and China?

[FF] Not every problem has a solution, and I don’t think this problem has a solution. You could use diplomacy. You could use military force. You could use deterrence. There are a limited number of possible approaches, and I think none of them are going to work. There has been a long history of negotiation. That has not worked. I think confrontation is not going to work. I think preemption is certainly not going to work. I just don’t think there’s a good solution, so we’ve ended up with trying to ignore the problem by default. Part of the reason North Korea is launching all of these missiles is that they want people to pay attention to them. Ignoring the problem is not much of a solution either, but it’s not as if there is a better solution.

[GWS] I agree with you that for many people in government, North Korea has been a hot potato. You don’t want to touch it because there is no clear solution, and it won’t help your career. But if we just ignore the problem, then five years later it’s going to be worse. What kind of North Korea are we going to face in five or ten years?

[FF] Everybody has been hoping that something would happen internally. It’s fine to think that, but it’s also not taking place. That said, Kim Jong-un is obese and unhealthy. Who knows what might happen?

We've had four elections now where [Trump] was playing a major role in the Republican Party. In three of those elections, he really hurt his own party. He can stir up a third of the electorate that loves him, but it’s never enough to win an election, especially in a swing state.
Francis Fukuyama

[GWS] Let’s now turn to domestic politics here in the United States. I think many Americans were relieved by what happened in the midterm elections last month. Trump’s influence was much more limited than what people thought. But he’s still there, and he’s likely to run again. I think he is still a strong candidate for the Republicans.

[FF] He declared his candidacy, but I think that he is declining very rapidly in influence. We have had four elections now where he was playing a major role in the Republican Party. In three of those elections, he really hurt his own party. He can stir up a third of the electorate that loves him, but it’s never enough to win an election, especially in a swing state. I think he’s gotten crazier in recent months. He is doing so many self-destructive things, having dinner with neo-Nazis and repeating all these conspiracy theories. These are things that no rational candidate would do. The Republicans are going to want somebody that can actually beat the Democrats, and I don’t think it’s going to be him.

[GWS] You don’t expect a rematch between Biden and Trump in 2024?

[FF] This gets into a technical issue, but the Republican primaries are mostly winner-take-all primaries. Any candidate that can get 30% of the vote is likely to be nominated. If you have a Republican field that has several people competing, they may split the alternative vote and Trump may end up winning. I think he still has a good chance of being the Republican nominee. If you’re a Democrat, that’s not the worst thing in the world. It is probably easier to run against Trump than a more normal Republican candidate.

[GWS] Two years is still a long time in politics. You said that Trump is likely to be nominated. Would Biden also run again?

[FF] I think that Biden is going to run again. Part of the problem is in the Democratic Party. It’s not clear who the successor would be. There are a lot of potential new-generation politicians, but I don’t think any of them has enough presence and attention that they can clearly take over the mantle to run as the Democratic candidate. If there is a rematch, I think Biden will win.

[GWS] Now to South Korea. Last June, I did some interviews advocating a parliamentary system, and they received good attention. There is still a lot of hesitancy among Koreans, though. I think there are a few reasons. The first is that we need a strong presidential system to deal with North Korea. There’s no stability if the prime minister keeps changing. Second is that it may drive politicians closer to big business (chaebol) because there’s less direct accountability. What would you suggest for South Korea in terms of institutional reform?

[FF] There are several possibilities even short of a parliamentary system. You can coordinate the presidential and parliamentary terms. It’s still the case that the president has a five-year term, but the legislature is on an even-year term. If you want to have strong government, you need a president that has majority support in the legislature. If they get elected simultaneously on a regular basis, you’re more likely to see strong leadership emerge. In a presidential system, the legislature itself is a check against the president. If you don’t have a strong majority in the legislature, you can’t do anything.

[GWS] That is what is happening right now in Korea.

[FF] In a parliamentary system like the British one, if you have a majority in parliament, you can do what you want. I think the presumption that somehow a presidential system is inevitably stronger than a parliamentary system is not historically correct.

[GWS] Is a parliamentary system maybe one solution to political polarization?

[FF] Sometimes a parliamentary system will have that effect, but the kind of plurality voting system that we have in the United States and in Britain tends to promote polarization. To the extent that you make it possible for third parties to run, that’s probably a better system. If you have more parties and it becomes harder to get a majority in the legislature, that forces coalitions and some degree of power sharing.

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Francis Fukuyama

Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Director of the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy, and Professor by Courtesy, Department of Political Science
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Gi-Wook Shin

Gi-Wook Shin

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Professor of Sociology, William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea, Director of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, and Director of the Korea Program
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Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a press conference
Commentary

In Troubled Waters: South Korea’s Democracy in Crisis

Just as the United States experienced a crisis of democracy under the Trump administration, South Korea underwent a democratic recession during President Moon Jae-in’s time in office. The consequences of this decline have been evident throughout the election and the subsequent presidential transition.
In Troubled Waters: South Korea’s Democracy in Crisis
South Korean soldiers participate in a river crossing exercise with U.S. soldiers.
News

Striking the Right Balance: What South Korea Can Do to Enhance Deterrence in the Taiwan Strait

Despite obstacles and risks, there are good reasons why South Korea should want to increase deterrence against China. In a new article, Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro and co-author Sungmin Cho chart an optimal strategy for Seoul to navigate the U.S.-China rivalry and support efforts to defend Taiwan.
Striking the Right Balance: What South Korea Can Do to Enhance Deterrence in the Taiwan Strait
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the South Korean parliament via video link.
Commentary

In the Wake of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Korea Should Join Its Peers in Defending the Liberal International Order

It is difficult to anticipate how the geopolitical storm set off by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may develop. What is certain is that the international order will not be the same, and this change will have significant repercussions for South Korea.
In the Wake of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Korea Should Join Its Peers in Defending the Liberal International Order
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A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama on the Challenges of a Changing Global Order

Room N346, Neukom Building
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Associate Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
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Diego A. Zambrano’s primary research and teaching interests lie in the areas of civil procedure, transnational litigation, and judicial federalism. His work explores the civil litigation landscape: the institutions, norms, and incentives that influence litigant and judicial behavior. Professor Zambrano also has an interest in comparative constitutional law and legal developments related to Venezuela. He currently leads an innovative Stanford Policy Lab tracking “Global Judicial Reforms” and has served as an advisor to pro-democracy political parties in Venezuela. In 2021, Professor Zambrano received the Barbara Allen Babcock Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Zambrano’s scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming at the Columbia Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Virginia Law Review, among other journals, and has been honored by the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) and the National Civil Justice Institute. Professor Zambrano will be a co-author of the leading casebook Civil Procedure: A Modern Approach (8th ed. 2024) (with Marcus, Pfander, and Redish). In addition, Professor Zambrano serves as the current chair of the Federal Courts Section of the AALS. He also writes about legal issues for broader public audiences, with his contributions appearing in the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, and Lawfare.

After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School in 2013, Professor Zambrano spent three years as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb in New York, focusing on transnational litigation and arbitration. Before joining Stanford Law School in 2018, Professor Zambrano was a Bigelow Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.

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Book Launch: Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World

To mark the eleven-year anniversary of the Arab Uprisings, The George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies (IMES) and Stanford University’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD) invite you to a series of panels examining major findings from the edited volume Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World: Regimes, Oppositions, and External Actors after the Spring, edited by Lisa Blaydes, Amr Hamzawy, and Hesham Sallam and published by the University of Michigan Press (2022).
 

About the Volume:


The advent of the Arab Spring in late 2010 was a hopeful moment for partisans of progressive change throughout the Arab world. Authoritarian leaders who had long stood in the way of meaningful political reform in the countries of the region were either ousted or faced the possibility of political if not physical demise. The downfall of long-standing dictators as they faced off with strong-willed protesters was a clear sign that democratic change was within reach. Throughout the last ten years, however, the Arab world has witnessed authoritarian regimes regaining resilience, pro-democracy movements losing momentum, and struggles between the first and the latter involving regional and international powers.

This volume explains how relevant political players in Arab countries among regimes, opposition movements, and external actors have adapted ten years after the onset of the Arab Spring. It includes contributions on Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, and Tunisia. It also features studies on the respective roles of the United States, China, Iran, and Turkey vis-à-vis questions of political change and stability in the Arab region, and includes a study analyzing the role of Saudi Arabia and its allies in subverting revolutionary movements in other countries.
 

Schedule

 

8:00-8:30 am: Coffee and light breakfast

8:30-9:00 am: Opening Remarks

Mona Atia, IMES, The George Washington University
Larry Diamond, CDDRL, Stanford University
Hicham Alaoui, Hicham Alaoui Foundation

9:00-10:45 am Panel I: Authoritarian Survival Strategies after the Arab Uprisings

Michael Herb, “The Decay of Family Rule in Saudi Arabia”
Farah Al-Nakib, “Kuwait’s Changing Landscape: Palace Projects and the Decline of Rule by Consensus”
Samia Errazzouki, “The People vs. the Palace: Power and Politics in Morocco since 2011”
Moderator: Hesham Sallam, CDDRL, Stanford University

10:45-11:00 am: Coffee break

11:00 am -1:00 pm Panel II: Opposition Mobilization and Challenges to Democratization

Khalid Medani, “The Prospects and Challenges of Democratization in Sudan”
Sean Yom, “Mobilization without Movement: Opposition and Youth Activism in Jordan”
Lina Khatib, “Cycles of Contention in Lebanon”
David Patel, “The Nexus of Patronage, Petrol, and Population in Iraq”
Moderator: Ayca Alemdaroglu, CDDRL, Stanford University

1:00-2:00 pm: Lunch

2:00-3:45 pm Panel III: External Actors and Responses to Popular Mobilization

Sarah Yerkes, U.S. Influence on Arab Regimes: From Reluctant Democracy Supporter to Authoritarian Enabler”
Ayca Alemdaroglu, “Myths of Expansion: Turkey’s Changing Policy in the Arab World”
Moderator: Nathan Brown, The George Washington University


 

SPEAKER BIOS

Hicham Alaoui is the founder and director of the Hicham Alaoui Foundation and a scholar on the comparative politics of democratization and religion, with a focus on the MENA region.

Ayça Alemdaroğlu is a Research Scholar and Associate Director of the Program on Turkey at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University.

Mona Atia is Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Nathan Brown is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Larry Diamond is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he serves as director of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy.

Samia Errazzouki is a PhD candidate in history at the University of California Davis and a former Morocco-based journalist.

Michael Herb is Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University.

Farah Al-Nakib is Associate Professor of History at the California Polytechnic State University.

Lina Khatib is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House.

Khalid Mustafa Medani is Associate Professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies at McGill University.

David Siddhartha Patel is a Senior Fellow and Associate Director for Research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.

Hesham Sallam is a Research Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Sarah Yerkes is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sean Yom is Associate Professor of Political Science at Temple University, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Board Member of the Hicham Alaoui Foundation.

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For many people, nuclear weapons feel like something out of a history book rather than a news headline, a remnant left over from the era of go-go boots and rotary phones rather than the age of social media and quantum computing.

But Vladimir Putin’s veiled threats of a possible tactical strike against Ukraine are a stark reminder that nuclear weapons are still a major factor in strategic defense and deterrence policies.

In a geopolitical landscape like this, the perspective of scholars like Rose Gottemoeller, formerly the Deputy Secretary General of NATO and currently the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, is more important than ever.

Currently, she is acting as an advisor to the Strategic Posture Commission of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee and to the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Strategy Administration (NNSA), but this is far from the first time she has been called on from Capitol Hill or the executive branch.

From her start as a Russian language major at Georgetown University, Gottemoeller’s expertise in arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and political-military affairs has made her an invaluable resource to fellow academics and policymakers alike as they work to tackle the nuanced diplomatic challenges of our times.

A Missed Phone Call and a New Career

Gottemoeller’s most recent government service came with a few hiccups. In December of 2008, she was living in a small, bare-bones rental unit in Moscow while she finished the last few weeks of her tenure as the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Just a few weeks earlier, Barack Obama had been elected to the presidency of the United States, and the interim period of administration-building between Election Day and Inauguration Day was fully under way.

5,000 miles away from Washington D.C., Gottemoeller’s American cell phone rang. Racing across the apartment to try and answer it, the call ended before she could answer. Due to technological constraints at the time, there was no way to listen back to the voicemail on the Russian network.

Recounting the experience on “The Negotiators” podcast, Gottemoeller explained, “All I was thinking was, ‘Oh man, what is that, was the White House calling, or the Obama campaign? What if I’ve just lost my chance?’”

As soon as she landed back at the Washington Dulles airport, she got her answer. A return call to the number put her in touch with Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton’s office, where an offer to discuss the position of assistant secretary responsible for arms control issues was still on the table.

Rose Gottemoeller [left] stands with Hillary Clinton [right] in the Treaty Room at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with Rose Gottemoeller (left) delivers remarks on the ratification of the new START treaty in the Treaty Room at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on August 11, 2010. U.S. Department of State (Flickr)

“Before I had even collected my luggage, I was on the phone letting them know I would be very glad to come interview with her,” said Gottemoeller.

That initial interview was nerve-wracking, to say the least. Walking into a borrowed New York apartment above Central Park where Clinton had set up her temporary office, Gottemoeller was grilled on nuclear deterrence, U.S. strategic policies, and strategic arms reductions by the future secretary and her two deputies for several hours.

“I thought it was going terribly. It was an exhausting hour and a half,” admits Gottemoeller. “I was convinced I hadn’t done very well.”

But a call the next day proved otherwise. Not only did Secretary Clinton offer her the job of assistant secretary responsible for arms control matters, but also put Gottemoeller’s name forward to the incoming White House to be the chief negotiator for the next strategic arms reduction treaty, what would eventually become the New START Treaty.

The New START Treaty, Then and Now

Formalized in 2010, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, builds on prior agreements put in place between the United State and Russia through the 1970s and 80s to actively reduce and limit the number of strategic nuclear weapons.

As the lead (and first female) negotiator of the treaty for the U.S. side, Gottemoeller knows its strengths and holes better than almost anyone. Building on the progress made by the START I Treaty in 1994, the New START Treaty has successfully reduced the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons Russia to 1,550, a 30 percent reduction from the approximately 6,000 deployed warheads that existed in 2000, and an astonishing 87 percent reduction from the estimated 12,000 deployed nuclear warheads available to the USSR and United States at the end of the Cold War.

Rose Gottemoeller listens during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the New START Treaty.
Rose Gottemoeller led the U.S. side of negotiations with the Russian Federation for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Getty

New START continues to limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads that Russia and the United States are permitted to deploy, and it sets extensive protocols for monitoring and controlling such warheads in both countries. However, it has proven much more difficult to count and verify Russian warheads once they have been removed from their delivery vehicles and sent into storage.

“One of the major developments moving forward needs to be this more direct kind of constraint and oversight of warheads,” says Gottemoeller. “We’ve made some baby steps in that direction, but there’s certainly more we could and should be pushing for.”

Similarly, while New START has clear protocols for managing strategic nuclear warheads, there are gaps in constraining Russia’s stockpile of non-strategic nuclear warheads. Strategic nuclear weapons, as defined by NATO, constitute “weapons to whose use or threat of use only the highest authority of the State can resort, conceptually and structurally.” In the popular imagination, these are the weapons of M.A.D, or “mutually assured destruction,” which rests on the idea that the United States and Russian hold each other at constant risk of nuclear annihilation. A legitimate strategic calculation, this also serves as the basis for the "nuclear Armageddon" trope of Hollywood.

By contrast, non-strategic nuclear weapons, also referred to as “tactical nuclear weapons,” often carry smaller explosive yields, are carried on shorter-range delivery vehicles, and are designed to be used on the battlefield in combination with conventional forces. It is this type of weapon — not strategic missiles — which has caused concerns in the course of Putin’s invasion and ongoing bombardment of Ukraine.

The Invasion of Ukraine and Nuclear Sabre-rattling

Gottemoeller is clear on the repercussions that Vladimir Putin’s veiled threats of a possible tactical nuclear strike against Ukraine are having.

“Putin and his coterie have been extremely irresponsible in their rattling of the nuclear sabre,” she says. “There's absolutely no reason to be threatening nuclear use in Ukraine. This is a war of choice and invasion that Putin decided to undertake, not something he was provoked into by Ukraine, or NATO, or anyone else for that matter.”

Having watched and worked in Putin’s orbit on-and-off for decades, Gottemoeller believes that Putin and those in his inner circle understand that a strategic nuclear exchange of any kind would be “suicide.” But the escalatory risks inherent in a single tactical nuclear strike are still high.

“Threatening nuclear use, even if it’s a single, non-strategic use, is playing with fire,” warns Gottemoeller. “It’s dangerous. There is still far too much potential for escalation in that scenario.”

Intended or not, Putin’s nuclear posturing has also brought the discussion of nuclear weapons and the policies governing their use back to the forefront for people both in and out of government.

“In some ways, that’s not a bad thing,” Gottemoeller acknowledges. “Younger people in particular don’t pay as much attention to nuclear weapons. They’re much more gripped by environmental threats and the threat of climate change.”

The two existential threats are not unrelated, however. Citing an MIT study, Gottemoeller points out that a nuclear exchange would have a profound effect on the climate, potentially even leading to an extinction event for large portions of the global population.

“The notion that we could see nuclear escalation in this war in Ukraine is very, very serious,” says Gottemoeller. “It’s brought these issues into much sharper focus than it has been since the Cold War.”

Threatening nuclear use, even if it’s a single, non-strategic use, is playing with fire.
Rose Gottemoeller
Steven C. Házy Lecturer at CISAC

Developing Nuclear Policies for the Future

Meaningful nuclear policy has often been born out of such moments of sharp focus. The first major treaty, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), first came into force in 1970 following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The treaty created the first binding commitments toward the goal of disarmament for the nuclear powers at the time — the United States, USSR, and United Kingdom — as well as setting policies of nonproliferation for an additional 46 party states. To date, a total of 191 states have joined and upheld the treaty, including the five current nuclear-weapon states of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.

The work that Rose Gottemoeller is currently undertaking as an advisor to the Strategic Posture Commission and National Nuclear Strategy Administration aims to provide the necessary legwork and critical expertise needed to prepare policymakers for high-level negotiations on future nuclear treaties. New START, currently the last remaining nuclear arms agreement between the United States and Russia, will expire in 2026, and cannot be renewed again without re-ratification by the U.S. Senate. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Kremlin’s actions regarding tactical nuclear weapon use, the importance of providing this type of in-depth policy expertise cannot be understated.

At the Strategic Posture Commision, Gottemoeller is working alongside other experts on a committee chaired by Madelyn Creedon, an expert in national security and defense and former assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs at the Pentagon. Working under bi-partisan leadership from both the House and Senate, this commission is in the process of evaluating the long-term strategic posture of the United States. This includes nuclear weapons, but also conventional weapons, trade agreements, economic progress, arms control diplomacy, and other capabilities of United States national power.

In this realm, Gottemoeller stresses that while nuclear weapons will never cease to be important, new defense strategies need to be focused on emerging technologies rather than the nuclear standoffs of the past. Writing in the August 2022 edition of Foreign Affairs, she stresses that:

“New defense innovations promise not just to transform warfare but also to undermine the logic and utility of nuclear weapons. With advances in sensing technology, states may soon be able to track and target their adversaries’ nuclear missiles, making the weapons easier to eliminate. And with nuclear weapons more vulnerable, innovations such as drone swarms — large numbers of small automated weapons that collectively execute a coordinated attack—will increasingly define war. A fixation on building more nuclear weapons will only distract from this technological revolution, making it harder for the United States to master the advances that will shape the battlefield of the future.”

At the National Nuclear Security Administration, Gottemoeller is similarly applying her expertise to develop better policies to monitor the nuclear warheads already in existence. Launched by Jill Hruby and Frank Rose, the leaders of NNSA, the purpose of this review is to determine how to improve the nonproliferation tools and instruments, one of the Biden administration’s key missions. Working alongside partners at the National Nuclear Laboratories, the NNSA is developing innovative ways to monitor and verify constraints on warheads and their delivery vehicles, including exotic delivery vehicles such as the Russian hypersonic Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile.

“I do really see that there has been a lot of progress in this area and I feel like we are well prepared for a new negotiation,” says Gottemoeller.

The Power of Academia for the Good of Government

Thinking about her own dual career in government and academia, Gottemoeller is quick to point out the immense value that collaboration between the two brings to the policymaking process.

“Over the years, Stanford has been very active in these kinds of discussions and it's been extremely valuable, I think. The academic community plays a super important role for the policy community in Washington,” she says.

In her own recent experience, that has included a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, alongside fellow nuclear expert Scott Sagan, also of FSI’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).

Gottemoeller points out that sometimes academics and their institutions can go where governments can’t. These so-called “track-two” settings create opportunities for experts, academics, and professionals from various states to come together for discussion and discourse even if formal “track-one” government negotiations are stalled or stagnant. Even as the war in Ukraine has intensified the divide between the governments in Washington and Moscow, non-governmental experts from the U.S. and Russia continue to meet to ensure lines of communication and understanding regarding key issues remain open.

The academic community can help in dialogues like this. Places like FSI attract very senior figures with immense amounts of policy experience, and we can be a resource for the government back in Washington.
Rose Gottemoeller
Steven C. Házy Lecturer

Gottemoeller believes institutes like FSI and other academic organizations can play a similarly important role in advancing discussion with China, particularly in the realm of nuclear security and weapons modernization. Some of these discussions, such as collaborations between the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Scientists Group on Arms control (of which Gottemoeller is a participating member), are already underway.

“I think dialogues like this are a way in which the academic community can help develop an environment in which the Chinese will then eventually be willing to come to the table in an official government-to-government way,” she explains.

As for her own academic home at the Freeman Spogli Institute, Gottemoeller is grateful for the work the institute and her fellow scholars allow her to do.

“Organizations like FSI and CISAC are a great home for practitioners as well as academic experts. The Freeman Spogli Institute attracts very senior figures with immense amounts of policy experience to come and work here. It’s clearly a resource for the government back in Washington, and I think these groups will continue to play that role very well for a long time.”

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Rose Gottemoeller listens during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the New START Treaty.
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Negotiating with Russia and the Art of the Nuclear Arms Deal

Rose Gottemoeller discusses “Negotiating the New START Treaty,” her new book detailing how she negotiated a 30 percent reduction in U.S.-Russia strategic nuclear warheads.
Negotiating with Russia and the Art of the Nuclear Arms Deal
A delegation from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly visits the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
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NATO Parliamentary Delegation Joins FSI Scholars for Discussion on Ukraine and Russia

FSI Director Michael McFaul, Kathryn Stoner, Francis Fukuyama, Scott Sagan, Anna Grzymala-Busse, and Marshall Burke answered questions from the parliamentarians on the conflict and its implications for the future of Ukraine, Russia, and the global community.
NATO Parliamentary Delegation Joins FSI Scholars for Discussion on Ukraine and Russia
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New START: Why An Extension Is In America's National Interest

Failing to renew the New START arms control treaty with Russia “is not a wise direction of travel,” said Rose Gottemoeller, a former Deputy Secretary General of NATO who ranked as one of President Barack Obama’s top nuclear security experts.
New START: Why An Extension Is In America's National Interest
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From a missed phone call in Moscow to becoming the lead U.S. negotiator of the New START Treaty, scholars like Rose Gottemoeller demonstrate the importance of collaboration between scholars in academic institutions and policymakers in government.

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Visiting Scholar at FSI and APARC, 2022-23
Payne Distinguished Fellow, 2023 Winter Quarter
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Ambassador Jung-Seung Shin joins the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) as Visiting Scholar and Payne Distinguished Fellow for the 2023 winter quarter. He previously served as Ambassador for the Republic of Korea to the People's Republic of China from 2008 to 2010, and currently serves as Chair Professor at the East Asia Institute at Dongseo University. While at Stanford, he will be conducting research on the strategic relationships between Korea, China, and the United States.

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The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) provides a civil cause of action for computer hacking victims that have suffered certain types of harm. Of these harms, the one most commonly invoked by plaintiffs is having suffered $5,000 or more of cognizable “loss” as defined by the statute. In its first-ever CFAA case, 2021’s Van Buren v. United States, the Supreme Court included intriguing language that “loss” in civil cases should be limited to “technological harms” constituting “the typical consequences of hacking.” To date, lower courts have only followed the Court’s interpretation if their circuit already interpreted “loss” narrowly pre-Van Buren and have continued to approach “loss” broadly otherwise.

Van Buren did not fully dissipate the legal risks the CFAA has long posed to a particular community: people who engage in good-faith cybersecurity research. Discovering and reporting security vulnerabilities in software and hardware risks legal action from vendors displeased with unflattering revelations about their products’ flaws. Research activities have even led to criminal investigations at times. Although Van Buren narrowed the CFAA’s scope and prompted reforms in federal criminal charging policy, researchers continue to face some legal exposure. The CFAA still lets litigious vendors “shoot the messenger” by suing over security research that did them no harm. Spending just $5,000 addressing a vulnerability is sufficient to allow the vendor to sue the researcher who reported it, because such remediation costs qualify as “loss” even in courts that read that term narrowly.

To mitigate the CFAA’s legal risk to researchers, a common proposal is a statutory safe harbor for security research. Such proposals walk a fine line between being unduly byzantine for good-faith actors to follow and lax enough to invite abuse by malicious actors. Instead of the safe harbor approach, this article recommends a simpler way to reduce litigation over harmless research: follow the money.

The Article proposes (1) amending the CFAA’s “loss” definition to prevent vulnerability remediation costs alone from satisfying the $5,000 standing threshold absent any other alleged loss, and (2) adding a fee-shifting provision that can be invoked where plaintiffs’ losses do not meet that threshold. Tightening up the “loss” calculus would disqualify retaliatory litigation against beneficial (or at least benign) security research while preserving victims’ ability to seek redress where well-intended research activities do cause harm. Fee-shifting would deter weak CFAA claims and give the recipients of legal threats some leverage to fight back. Coupled with the Van Buren decision, these changes would reach beyond the context of vendor versus researcher: they would help rein in the CFAA’s rampant misuse over behavior far afield from the law’s core anti-hacking purpose.

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Richmond Journal of Law & Technology
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Riana Pfefferkorn
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