“The Incalculable Element”: Ancient Innovations for Modern Security Problems

May 2022

The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation

Many unanticipated dangers—military, political, technological, foreign, and domestic—shadow the U.S. national security landscape, creating a need for adaptive and inventive leadership. But what exactly does this leadership look like? This paper explores insights from what might seem an unusual source: Thucydides’ discussion of how the Sicilians, inspired by the unconventional guidance of the general Hermocrates, facilitate Sparta’s defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War. As Thucydides shows, Hermocrates spurs his listeners to reflect on their limitations and biases at a time when imminent peril would seem to call for nothing but confidence. Yet this reflection, by allowing the Sicilians to reconsider their moral and cultural norms, reform their military structures, and join with unlikely allies to resist Athens’s imperialist threat, fosters an innovative outlook that makes that resistance succeed. This ancient case study remains salient for modern audiences because it exemplifies a nontraditional leadership suited to today’s unforeseen security problems.

Examining History to Explore the Future

March 2023

Antoine Bondaz, Paul Charon, Jacqueline Deal, Pierre Grosser, Eleanor Harvey, Stéphane Malsagne, Nadège Rolland

Understanding a nation’s history allows us to identify factors and trends that may shape future relations. As Asia becomes the economic center of gravity of the world and China becomes a more powerful actor in the global order, it is important to understand the roles nations will play or wish to play over the next twenty to thirty years so we can shape the future now rather than react later.

In its 2021-2023 experiment, Examining History to Explore the Future, the Andrew W. Marshall Foundation supported work on France and the United States, and their respective relations with China. Neither France nor the United States can afford to be shortsighted in its thinking about the strategic competition with China and the role of the transatlantic alliance. The papers presented in this set are products of a French team’s exploration of the history of and actors upon Franco-Chinese relations, a U.S. team’s deep dive into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s political warfare against the United States and lessons both learned and disregarded, and a capstone paper that provides insights into and a comparison between the two perspectives.

Unconventional but critical components of the French and U.S. teams’ papers are the authors’ speculations around a China dream and a China nightmare. What might Beijing’s success in executing its strategy over the coming decades look like? How might the CCP fail to achieve the China Dream? These forays into the plausible – not the guaranteed – are intended to spark debate, new thinking, and, above all, more questions.

This project was made possible by a generous grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation would also like to thank Project Co-Chair Jacques Battistella, Capstone Facilitator Gabe Scheinmann, and the following contributors: Jason Aquino, Jack Clark, Jeremy Furchtgott, Lewis Libby, Peter Mattis, Andrew May, David Pappalardo, Fiona Quimbre, Iskander Rehman, and Eleanor Runde.

Se pencher sur l’histoire pour envisager les décisions de demain

Mars 2023

Antoine Bondaz, Paul Charon, Jacqueline Deal, Pierre Grosser, Eleanor Harvey, Stéphane Malsagne, Nadège Rolland

Comprendre l’histoire d’une nation nous permet d’identifier les facteurs et tendances pouvant façonner les relations futures. Alors que l’Asie devient le centre de gravité économique du monde et que la Chine se mue en acteur gagnant en puissance dans l’ordre mondial, il est important de comprendre les rôles que les nations vont ou souhaiteront jouer au cours des vingt à trente prochaines années, afin de pouvoir façonner l’avenir maintenant plutôt que de réagir plus tard.

Dans le cadre de son expérience entre 2021 et 2023, Se Pencher sur l’Histoire pour Envisager les Décisions de Demain, la fondation Andrew W. Marshall a soutenu des travaux sur la France et les États-Unis, et leurs relations respectives avec la Chine. Ni la France ni les États-Unis ne peuvent se permettre d’être court-termistes dans leur réflexion sur la compétition stratégique avec la Chine et le rôle de l’alliance transatlantique. Les rapports présentés dans cette série sont le fruit de l’exploration par une équipe française de l’histoire et des acteurs des relations franco-chinoises, de recherches approfondies d’une équipe américaine sur la guerre politique du Parti communiste chinois (PCC) contre les États-Unis et les leçons à la fois apprises et ignorées, ainsi que d’un rapport de synthèse fournissant des éclairages et une comparaison des deux perspectives.

Des éléments non conventionnels mais essentiels des rapports des équipes française et américaine sont les spéculations des auteurs concernant le rêve chinois et le cauchemar chinois. À quoi ressemblerait le succès de Pékin dans la mise en place de sa stratégie dans les prochaines décennies ? Comment le PCC pourrait-il échouer à accomplir son rêve chinois ? Ces incursions dans ce qui est plausible, et non ce qui est garanti, sont destinées à susciter le débat, de nouvelles idées, et par-dessus tout, davantage de questionnements.

Ce projet a été réalisé grâce à une bourse importante de la fondation Richard Lounsbery. La Fondation Andrew W. Marshall souligne les contributions significatives de Jacques Battistella, Gabe Scheinmann, Jason Aquino, Jack Clark, Jeremy Furchtgott, Lewis Libby, Peter Mattis, Andrew May, David Pappalardo, Fiona Quimbre, Iskander Rehman, et Eleanor Runde.

CCP Weapons of Mass Persuasion

December 2022

The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) approach to the United States today reflects the party’s formative competitive experiences a century ago. Starting in the 1920s, the CCP vied with the Nationalist Party (KMT) for control over China, but the CCP was also nominally allied with the KMT in the First United Front, 1924–27. In that context, the Communists waged political warfare against the KMT at the elite and the grassroots level. Initially, the CCP’s aim was to coopt the KMT. When cooption failed, the Communists turned to subversion before attacking the Nationalists kinetically. In recent decades, the CCP has used this united-front template against the United States, thanks partly to a foundation of U.S.-CCP cooperation laid during the Sino-Japanese War and reinforced in the late Cold War. This report accordingly traces the CCP’s repertoire for strategic competition to the Chinese Civil War (Part 1). It then analyzes the application of this toolkit to the United States across a series of interactions beginning in the late 1930s and continuing through the present (Part 2). The report concludes with two alternative visions of how the coming decades could unfold, hinging upon Washington’s ability to counter Beijing’s ongoing subversion campaign (Part 3).

This is an advance copy of a paper from the Andrew W. Marshall Foundation’s forthcoming set of publications
on Examining History to Explore the Future: France, the United States, and China. This project was made
possible by a generous grant from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

“A State in Disguise of a Merchant”: Multinational Tech Corporations and the Reconfiguration of the Balance of Power in Asia

October 2022

The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation

When corporations were created four centuries ago, they fundamentally altered the relationship between the market and the state while also shifting geopolitical power. Technology corporations are creating a similar revolution in the contemporary age. As the world moves from industrial and postindustrial economies to digital ones, technology companies now touch practically every area of modern life. Politically and geopolitically, they are also changing how states interact with each other and achieve their strategic objectives. Technology corporations now play a central role in states’ relative power, and over the next two decades they will impact the balance of power in Asia. A country’s relative power may be intimately connected to native technology companies as they become essential to economic growth, defend infrastructure and businesses, participate in investigations and attributions of cyber events, and even engage in offensive cyber operations. This paper looks at those different areas, examines trends, and then posits a plausible future in which technology corporations may contribute to a reconfiguration of the balance of power in Asia by 2045.

“The AI RMA”: The Revolution Has Not Arrived (Yet)

October 2022

The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation

This paper examines the prospects for artificial intelligence (AI) applications initiating a new revolution in military affairs (RMA). It analyzes this issue by applying the lens of four RMA elements—technological change, military systems evolution, operational innovation, and organizational adaptation—to U.S. and Chinese military AI development. It finds that, in the near term, AI applications may be more likely to help fully realize the reconnaissance-strike RMA than to produce a new AI RMA altogether. However, understanding why AI has not yet sparked a new RMA can shape analysis of the potential trajectory of technological-military competition between the United States and China. The paper uses historical lessons from U.S.–Japanese interwar competition, which produced the carrier aviation RMA, to draw relevant insights for present day U.S.-China AI competition. It concludes by discussing potential frameworks for understanding a future AI RMA and areas for further study.

Biological Information for the New Blue Economy and the Emerging Role of eDNA


The Rockefeller University

“From microbes to mammals, near shore to mid-ocean, and seafloor to seabirds, humans want and need to know about ocean life. Obvious benefits have derived from more accurate means of locating high-value wild fish for food or for protection in the interests of recreation and conservation. Fishers and dive shop operators may use the same information for opposite purposes. Surveyors have traditionally monitored sea life by observing seafood markets and trawl nets, by diving with goggles and clipboards, and more recently by deploying sonars and cameras, and sieving bits of extracellular DNA shed in seawater.”

A New Institutional Approach to Research Security in the United States

January 2021

Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Georgetown University

“U.S. research security requires trust and collaboration between those conducting R&D and the federal government. Most R&D takes place in the private sector, outside of government authority and control, and researchers are wary of federal government or law enforcement involvement in their work. Despite these challenges, as adversaries work to extract science, technology, data and know-how from the United States, the U.S. government is pursuing an ambitious research security initiative. In order to secure the 78 percent of U.S. R&D funded outside the government, authors Melissa Flagg and Zachary Arnold propose a new, public-private research security clearinghouse, with leadership from academia, business, philanthropy, and government and a presence in the most active R&D hubs across the United States.”

System Re-engineering

September 2020

Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Georgetown University


“The United States must adopt a new approach to R&D policy to optimize the diversity of the current system, manage the risks of system dispersion and deliver the benefits of R&D to society. This policy brief provides a new framework for understanding the U.S. R&D ecosystem and recommendations for repositioning the role of the federal government in R&D.”

Quantitative Dynamics of Human Empires


Rockefeller University

“Quantitative modeling of social systems shows a large component of automatic drives in the behavior of individual humans and human society. Studies of the formation and breakdown of 20 diverse empires operating over almost 3,000 years describe these processes with utmost clarity and paradigmatic simplicity. Taking territorial expansion as the basic parameter, we show that it can be represented in time by a single logistic equation in spite of the complicated sequences of events usually reported by historians. The driving forces of empire, leading to expansion and saturation at 14 days of travel from the capital, can be reduced to testosterone and progesterone.”

The Military Use of Space: A Diagnostic Net Assessment

February 1, 2001

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

“The principal aim of this report is to assess the evolving capabilities of nations and other actors to exploit near-earth space for military purposes over the next 20-25 years.”