“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.

SMA Speaker Series: CCP Weapons of Mass Persuasion

May 2, 2023

Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) General Speaker Session

“The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) origin is chronically understudied despite its strategic importance. The competitive strategy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) today relies on information operations and techniques of cooption and subversion that the CCP learned during its first decade, the 1920s, coupled with approaches to conventional warfare honed soon thereafter. Dr. Deal and Ms. Harvey identified three recurring models or phases of CCP strategy: 1) internal takeover – coopting an adversary by appearing to cooperate or form a partnership with it, finding sympathizers in the nominal partner’s camp, and shaping joint activities in directions favorable to the CCP; 2) preparing for a break – exacerbating divisions within the partner’s camp and inflating the CCP’s capabilities to demoralize the partner in advance of a split; and 3) scripted military confrontation – launching a surprise attack designed to enable the CCP to exploit its superior preparation and positioning relative to the partner.”

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


Narrated by Patrick Kirchner

Winner of the Inaugural Andrew W. Marshall Paper Prize on New Revolutions in Military Affairs

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.

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.

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


Narrated by Patrick Kirchner

Winner of the Inaugural Andrew W. Marshall Paper Prize on Future Reconfigurations in Asia

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.

Listen On:

The AI “Revolution in Military Affairs”: What Would it Really Look Like?

December 21, 2022


“To some defense professionals and officials, the phrase “revolutions in military affairs” may seemingly belong in the 1990s, along with talk about how reconnaissance-strike and other high-tech capabilities would “lift the fog of war.” This understanding, however, reflects a misinterpretation of a concept that still holds significant analytical power for assessing defense applications of emerging technologies. The revolutions in military affairs (RMA) framework—a mental model evaluating technology’s effect on warfare—can be extremely helpful in addressing this distorted understanding, particularly for thinking through the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on national security. For example, and as I have described in a longer paper, the RMA framework can help policymakers consider AI’s influence on defense amid the U.S.-China technological and strategic competition by illustrating the current limitations of AI’s military impact and highlighting areas where technological and intellectual progress could one day spark revolutionary changes. It also highlights that AI’s military impact could be limited in the near term without critical and careful thinking about how the technology is applied.”

Cyber Power is a Key Element of Sea Power

December 2022

Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, Vol. 148/12/1,438

“China has embarked on a program to replace the liberal world order with a techno-authoritarian model dominated from Beijing. Central to this program is a desire to control the maritime commons. China is now a (in some measures perhaps the) leading sea power. It boasts the world’s largest navy, coast guard, and maritime paramilitary forces; a top-five merchant fleet; significant shipbuilding capacity; and growing control over a global network of maritime ports.”


Cyber Power is Essential to Sea Power

December 21, 2022

Proceedings Podcast, U.S. Naval Institute

Commander Robert “Jake” Bebber, U.S. Navy, and Andrew W. Marshall Scholar at the Hudson Institute, and Lieutenant Commander Tyson B. Meadors, U.S. Navy, discuss cyber defense as an essential part of competition.

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.

Jesse Ausubel on “Peak Human”

December 7, 2022

“Jesse Ausubel is the director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University and the recent winner of the prestigious Nierenberg Prize. In his second appearance on the [Power Hungry] podcast (the first was on October 12, 2021), Ausubel talks about his new work on “peak human” and “peak humans,” why we appear to be reaching the limits of human potential, immunity to disease, “nature deficit disorder,” and why — after a lifetime of being a fan of the New York Yankees — he has quit watching sports.”