1. @ANewman_forward and I have seen our term #WeaponizedInterdependence become a broadly used shorthand for describing the emerging world (article: direct.mit.edu/isec/article/4… , coedited book with @dandrezner amzn.to/2OnGNLO. Two new examples suggest it's going international:
2. One is @StevenErlanger new NYT piece nytimes.com/2021/03/12/wor… , talking about how the US has "weaponized" the dollar, and Europe wants to respond. In @GuntramWolff words, "To be credible you need reciprocity, and retaliation is the only way to do it." But as Guntram elaborates,
3. the problem is that ""the politics are more difficult,’’ ... given the asymmetrical power of the U.S. Treasury and the global role of the dollar. “The reality is that there is no united European power able to project power on that scale.’’"
4. The core problem here is that what power Europe has (not enough to match the U.S., but not insignificant either), is fragmented, because sanctions policy and related areas are jealously guarded by the member states, making unified action extremely difficult.
5. The second example is this document chinai.substack.com/p/chinai-134-w…, translated by @jding99 written by a scholar at CASS, a Chinese government think tank. In Ding's translation, the scholar, Xu Xiujun suggests that China needs to start pushing back against the U.S. In his description:
6. "Only by occupying an advantageous position of interdependence in the network domain can we effectively prevent China from becoming a target of weaponized interdependence." So what does this mean in practical terms? He argues that it provides a case for large scale tech policy
7. "China should rely on major breakthroughs ... in network information such as high-performance computing, mobile communications, quantum communications, ...navigation, core chips, operating systems, etc., to continuously improve network control and form a powerful deterrent"
8. Seeing our ideas grow and spread in the wild is both exciting and terrifying (though most of this would obviously have emerged without us, articulated and explained in different ways). What it means is that the U.S. isn't going to have it all its own way, as it has in the past
9. Other powers are waking up to the vulnerabilities, and opportunities, of a world in which interdependent systems such as financial and global technology networks can be turned into instruments of coercion. Now the interesting question is what they can do with this knowledge.
10. The limits the EU faces are the limits that it has always faced - that on important dimensions, it is still a congeries of independent states. Clearly, the European Commission would like to use the mantra of "strategic autonomy" as a justification for centralizing authority.
11. But it faces some big challenges, not the least of which is that it doesn't have the internal bureaucratic resources it would need to exercise that authority successfully. Its efforts to create a coordinated coronavirus vaccine policy have ... not been universally successful.
12. One of the reasons that the US has been relatively successful in secondary sanctions is the power and expertise of Treasury's OFAC (and even it has sometimes flubbed things). The Commission is surprisingly small given its importance, and will have a hard time building up.
13. China's problem is different. Xu Xiujun's suggestion that China build technological advances - and then turn them into network power - sounds attractive. But as we describe in our piece for the Brookings volume that Dan and we co-edited amzn.to/2OnGNLO
14. China is starting from a disadvantage. It was not a central player at the time that the globalized economy was being built, so it has little purchase on already existing networks. And it will have a hard time being trusted by other countries when it invites them into new ones
15. China has developed a reputation for ruthlessness in exploiting what economic advantages it has, denying countries access to its market if they transgress politically (though it has not tried to punish the U.S. for a variety of reasons). So it may be hard to entice other
16. countries in. Not impossible - governments may be tempted by subsidized technologies, and businesses by the opportunity for profits - but hard. Paradoxically, the best thing that the U.S. has going for it may be that there are limits on its power, and legal means
17. that outside businesses can use to press for redress. The willingness of courts to hear cases brought by companies such as ByteDance against the U.S. government may turn out to be a good thing in the longer term for the U.S. ability to hold onto the networks it has.
18. Kings don't like it when their hands are tied, but it can still be a good thing for them over the longer term. So the key question for Europe is whether it can consolidate its politics, providing enough resources to the center to actually have clout.
19. The key question for China is whether it can credibly restrain its ruthlessness enough to persuade others to become dependent on the networks it wants to build, or find alternative ways to attract them.
20. And the key question for the U.S. is whether it can channel its powers so that others decide they don't really need to go through the painful transformations they would have to undergo to be able to challenge it at its own game. Finis.

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More from @henryfarrell

2 Mar
1. amzn.to/2MILMpM Today's the launch date for The Uses And Abuses of Weaponized Interdependence, which @dandrezner @ANewman_forward and I have co-edited. This is, for better or worse, a timely book - the issues that we all talk about are core problems in global politics
2. bloomberg.com/news/articles/… Take this @business piece by @NickWadhams that came out yesterday - it describes how the US-China rivalry is focused on fights over technology more than traditional military confrontation.
3. Wadham's piece is based on conversations with U.S. sources, who emphasize China's threat. The people he talked to describe "a sense that China has essentially forced the U.S. to start breaking off elements of business and technology relations in a pattern known as decoupling."
Read 18 tweets
10 Jan
1. Short thread - on the various claims we're seeing from Republican politicians over the last few days that the Democratic push for accountability is "divisive." Damn right it's divisive - that is what it has to be.
2. It is intended to enforce a clear division between those who accept and are committed to democracy and those who are willing to turn to violence when the vote doesn't turn out the way that they want it to.
3. One of the basic implications of Adam Przeworski's theoretic work is that democracy is made out of mutually reinforcing expectations, and those expectations are fragile. If some actors think they would be better off defecting from the democratic bargain, they will.
Read 11 tweets
23 Nov 20
1. Today, @schneierblog and I have a piece in the New York Times, on how Trump's enablers are damaging democracy - nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opi… (read it together with nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opi… by @rickhasen - both published on the same day and cover different aspects of same problem).
2. What our piece does is the following. First, to argue that democracy is an information system, where the most crucial information that needs to be protected is the scaffolding of beliefs that democracy needs to work.
3. Second, that like other more traditional information systems (think computer servers) the key vulnerabilities are much more easily exploited by insiders (U.S. politicians) than outsiders (Russian trolling efforts). And that explains why U.S. democracy is in trouble.
Read 12 tweets
7 Nov 20
1. washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/… My @monkeycageblog take on the plausible story behind the decision of the NYT/networks all to jump at once after days of waiting. Brief summary below.
2. The role of major newspapers and networks in the U.S. "saying" that the presidential election has been won is weird, and as far as I know highly unusual internationally. It obviously isn't a law - but it has become a collective norm/expectation.
3. While I don't know of any research on this (but IANA Americanist), my presumption is that this is a contingent byproduct of a decentralized vote counting system, where there isn't any immediate official decision as to what has happened overall.
Read 14 tweets
31 Jul 20
1. (thread) reuters.com/article/us-chi… This story talks about a report suggesting that China should move away from the SWIFT financial network to reduce its vulnerabilities to US penalties and surveillance. It's _just_ a report. Still, as @RichardMNephew says, "Watch this space."
2. The background to this is the way in which the US has weaponized global economic networks such as SWIFT (which is lynchpin of world financial system) against adversaries, as @ANewman_forward and I describe in our work on #WeaponizedInterdependence mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.116….
3. Systems such as SWIFT used to be disregarded in the same ways as the plumbing of a building is disregarded - so long as it works, who cares? Now, however, the plumbing is becoming political as networks are weaponized. China's problem is that it can't readily retaliate in kind.
Read 20 tweets
28 Jul 20
1. Thread on my and @ANewman_forward piece at Lawfare lawfareblog.com/schrems-ii-off…, which in turn builds on our recent book amzn.to/2UVnyI6 . Short version - the Schrems II decision taking down Privacy Shield transfers etc. doesn't mean what US commentators think it means.
2. US security people have reacted to the decision with disappointment, derision or anger (a strong sense of 'there go those crazy ECJ judges again' pervading the debate). They find the notion that international surveillance should be subjected to judicial scrutiny weird.
3. But this, we say, fundamentally misunderstands how surveillance has changed in a world of fast communications networks and interdependence. It's not just targeted and expensive pursuit of high value targets - instead it involves bulk collection of data on entire populations.
Read 13 tweets

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