Iran in Latin America: Threat or Axis of Annoyance?

Senior Fellow Douglas Farah's analysis of the debate over the level of threat posed by Iran's expanding diplomatic, trade and military presence in Latin America, and its stated ambition to continue to broaden these ties.read more

Chinese Naval Modernization: Altering the Balance of Power

Richard Fisher details China's naval modernization program and the potential impacts on U.S. interests in the Western Pacific.read more

Papers & Studies

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General Secretary Xi Jinping on Nuclear Weapons, Missiles and Space Warfare
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on November 3rd, 2014
Twenty days after he assumed leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), on 5 December 2012, General Secretary Xi Jinping gave a speech to assembled officers of the Second Artillery Corp (SAC) nuclear and conventional missile force.   This was very likely Xi Jinping’s first announced speech as General Secretary before a service of the PLA. While Xi’s speech was reported by China’s state media,  at that time very little was revealed about its contents. Sensitive policy speeches by top Chinese Party leaders to the PLA are sometimes announced but their contents rarely revealed, save for rare occasions when they are used to highlight policy directions long after the speech.This appears to have been the case for an article published some time in 2013, written by a long-serving veteran of the SAC. This article apparently reveals much more of the content of Xi’s late 2012 speech. As such, this article offers perhaps the first public insights into the views of China’s paramount leader on the role of nuclear weapons, the future of the Second Artillery force, to include its role in future space warfare. It is likely that predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin also gave detailed policy speeches to the Second Artillery, but their contents have not been revealed. read more
Pacific Pivot, Taiwan Fulcrum: Maritime Taiwan and Power Transition in Asia
Chapter from "The US Strategic Pivot to Asia and Cross-Strait Relations"
by John Tkacik

Published on September 1st, 2014
The banner headline of the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper was printed in large bold characters: “Promoting the establishment of a powerful maritime nation” (海洋强国) is “a major component of the mission of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Thus spake Party General Secretary Xi Jinping on August 1, 2013, a date celebrated in China as “Army Day.” General Secretary Xi’s choice of Army Day for his declaration signaled that this was not a mere civilian goal, but an Army one. While the General Secretary acknowledged that China had thus far been more of a “major continental nation,” Twenty-First Century China now has “broad strategic maritime interests.” China “absolutely will not abandon its legitimate rights, still less will it sacrifice its core national interests.read more
China’s Gathering Amphibious and Airborne Expeditionary Capabilities
Briefing for IDGA’s Amphibious Operations Summit
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on May 21st, 2012
China’s Communist Party leadership views the acquisition of greater global power as necessary to sustain its political dictatorship. As China deploys increasingly modern and long-range naval and air assets, there will be an increase in China-US military posturing combined with both coercive and cooperative diplomacy. By the 2020s ,China could have a force of 4 to 5 aircraft carriers and up to 12 large amphibious assault ships. PLA development of modern carrier fighters and possible STOVL fighters will put it on a near  par with the U.S. Navy and Marine air forces.  Both PLA Marine, and much larger PLA Army Amphibious, forces have stressed increasing mechanization and firepower. Current limited formal PLA airlift assets could be expanded considerably with civilian “militia” cargo lift. Expected development of the “Y-20” could give the PLA an airlifter similar in capability to the C-17. Formal PLA Airborne forces have been mechanized over the last decade, and new medium-weight armor and the Y-20 will give the PLA a formidable future air expeditionary capability.  China’s space program is a PLA-Space program to the Moon and beyond, and the PLA will derive “dual use” benefits all along the way toward controlling the “Earth-Moon System.”  By the 2020s , US Marines will not be alone in the Expeditionary business, and may have a tough competitor.read more
Fixers, Super Fixers and Shadow Facilitators: How Networks Connect
Chapter in the Forthcoming book: "Convergence: Illicit Networks in the Age of Globalization" (National Defense University)
by Douglas Farah

Published on April 20th, 2012
The multi-billon dollar illicit trade of commodities (from cocaine to blood diamonds, weapons and human beings) has many complexities, from creating or extracting the product to moving the product to international markets to delivering payments. The return cycle is equally complex, including the types of payments used to acquire the commodities, from cash to weapons and other goods the seller may need. This cycle relies on a specific group of individuals who act as facilitators in connecting different facets of the criminal and/or terrorist networks of state and non-state actors.  This chapter addresses this crucial role of a cohort of actors -- “fixers,” “super fixers” and “shadow facilitators”  -- in empowering social networks that operate within illicit commodity chains.read more
Air Sea Battle (China + Allies) Threat Projections: Thinking In and Outside the Box
For the National Defense University Program: Strategies for Defeating Anti-Access/Area Denial Capabilities,
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on November 15th, 2011
IASC Fellow Richard Fisher provides a briefing that examines key “hardware” trends for air-sea battles in East Asia. Importantly, the review of China’s threat potential considers the capabilities China could bring to bear over the next two to three decades, both inside the East Asian “box” and well outside that box.read more
Islamist Cyber Networks in Spanish-Speaking Latin America
Published by the Western Hemisphere Security Analysis Center of Florida International University, Miami, Florida
by Douglas Farah

Published on September 1st, 2011
Despite significant concern among policy, law enforcement and intelligence communities in the United States (U.S.) over the possible spread of radical Islamist thought throughout the world as part of a global jihad movement, there has been little investigation into the growing cyber networks in Latin America that promote strong anti-Semitic and anti-U.S. messages. This paper offers an overview of that network, focusing on the structure of Shi’ite websites that promote not only religious conversion but are also supportive of Iran—a designated State-sponsor of terrorism--,its nuclear program, Hezbollah and the ―Bolivarian revolution‖ led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his allies in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. There is also a smaller group of Sunni Muslim websites, mostly tied to the legacy organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood.read more
China’s Space Plane Program
Briefing: USAF-HQ Strategic Studies Group
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on August 24th, 2011
China is aggressively persuing a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) program of research that could lead to one or two early RLV concepts under consideration. The first could be similar in size in the U.S. Space Shuttle, but with less than a third of its cargo capacity. The other RLV proposal would not leave the atmosphere but would carry a second rocket stage that would put a small payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). China’s RLV program, however, is not nearly as transparent as the U.S. Space Shuttle program and the current status of China’s RLV program is not known. Data suggests that RLV research is well under way and that a smaller space plane called the Shenlong has been used to validate many space plane technologies. Scant data also suggests that pending a decision to proceed, China’s goal is to launch its RLV by about 2020, around the same time it plans to loft its 60 ton Space Station. It is not known whether China is meeting success in developing the requisite space plane technology, but in China’s official media the space plane gets little attention compared to the Space Station. China’s space plane program is also at the cutting edge of what appears to be a more ambitions military hypersonic vehicle program. read more
Money Laundering and Bulk Cash Smuggling: Challenges for the Mérida Initiative
Working Paper Series on U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation
by Douglas Farah

Published on November 30th, 2010
It is widely accepted that cutting off the flow of money from the sale of cocaine in the United States to the Mexican drug trafficking organizations is one of the most efficient ways to decrease the power of the cartels. Without the cash influx there would be less money for corruption and the purchase of weapons, and cash seizures directly take away what the drug traffickers want most -- profits from their illicit activities. On both sides of the border the smuggling of bulk cash and money laundering tied to the billions of dollars in profits is not just viewed as a problem for Mexico, but as a significant security threat to the United States.read more
Winds From the East: How the People’s Republic of China Seeks to Influence the Media in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia
A Report to the Center for International Media Assistance
by Douglas Farah, Andy Mosher

Published on September 8th, 2010
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is using various components of public diplomacy to influence the media in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. China’s primary purposes appear to be to present China as a reliable friend and partner, as well as to make sure that China’s image in the developing world is positive. As part of its efforts to do this, the Chinese government seeks to fundamentally reshape much of the world’s media in its own image, away from a watchdog stance toward the government to one where the government’s interests are the paramount concern in deciding what to disseminate.read more
Update: China’s Aircraft Carriers
by Richard Fisher, Jr.

Published on March 10th, 2009
China’s decision in mid-December 2008 to dispatch a small People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) task force of two destroyers to police against Somalia’s pirates has been greeted as a hopeful sign that China may use its growing naval capabilities positively; one Chinese commentator said it “shows the world that China is a large responsible nation.”  Nevertheless, China struck a nationalist tone to its participation, refusing to join the American-led multinational naval Task Force 151, though engaging in an uneven information exchange with the U.S. side.  A less benign demonstration was a far less noted December 9, 2008 incident in the East China Sea, in which two Chinese Marine Surveillance Agency ships apparently made use of the PLA’s increasingly capable space and electronic information capabilities, to calculate the precise moment when Japanese Coast Guard ships would not be present to thwart China’s latest effort to assert its sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku Islands.  read more
Total Records: 14
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