Military and Economic Implications of Science and Technology Developments
This chapter analyzes the science and technology (S&T) strategies of Japan, Brazil, India, China, and Singapore (JBRICS) to assess their potential impact on each country’s mid- to long-term economic competitiveness and military capability. Each country’s assessment depends on its (1) S&T planning for national security, (2) likely S&T progress over the next 3-5 years and 10 years and beyond, (3) most likely time required to achieve its goals, (4) priorities for S&T research with high potential impact on economic competitiveness and military capability, and (5) country-specific indicators of progress toward national goals.
All six countries, reflecting the powerful macroeconomic pressures of globalization and the attraction of the U.S. national innovation system, grasp the importance of S&T investments to bolster economic competitiveness—which is viewed by all of them as a national security issue—and to increase military capabilities. Together, these six countries represent a cross-section of a world where countries increasingly view technology development as a high priority and where technical know-how flows freely across borders.
Among the JBRICS countries, S&T investment programs target a range of high-impact technologies including information technology (IT) and telecommunications (from microchips to supercomputers), nuclear energy, alternative energy, water purification, ocean exploration, space, biotechnology, agricultural science, and green technologies. Yet the countries are markedly different in their approaches to S&T investment, taking their own distinct paths toward development of a national innovation system—the network of institutions, public and private, that foster the development and diffusion of new technologies. This variable picture is representative of today’s global S&T environment, which is likely to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.
GRASPING THE TASK
This chapter draws on the insights of the full study to analyze the relationship between each country’s S&T strategy and its military capability. The committee could estimate the likelihood of the countries achieving their 3-to 5-year national goals but had little confidence in its ability to forecast their successes beyond 10 years, because this requires consideration not only of internal resource-driven factors but also of geopolitical factors involving countries not studied in this report.
China and Singapore, appearing at opposite ends of the gross domestic product (GDP), population, and national-resource scales, quickly emerge as the countries for which S&T investments are most closely aligned
with economic growth and military modernization. They are the most effective at managing the dynamic tension between their strong top-down investment strategy and their still-developing bottom-up S&T innovation environments. Their autocratic political systems demonstrate the overriding importance of leadership in developing a sustainable commitment to innovation. Among the six countries, only China and Singapore will essentially meet their five-year goals.
Brazil, Japan, and Russia will be slower to achieve both their economic-growth targets and their innovation goals for a variety of country-specific reasons. These include ineffective governance, misaligned economic and security priorities, infrastructure deficits, weak government-to-industry links, educational shortcomings, natural-resource scarcities, and political and cultural resistance to needed reforms. India must overcome substantial financial shortcomings to meet its three- to five-year investment goals for education and research, which seems unlikely to happen. However, its 10th Five-Year Plan that culminated in 2007 was considered a success, so significant achievements are expected.
For the next decade, the United States will remain the global leader for government investment in S&T and for cultivation of a powerful, national innovation environment. However, the dominance of the United States in S&T will likely decline as rates of S&T investment rise in China and other countries. There is considerable concern, for example, about the future of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce in the United States. A 2006 survey of member states in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that 15-year-olds in the United States performed “significantly below” the OECD average in both science and math, ranking 18th and 24th in each, respectively (OECD, 2007). Moreover, there has been serious slippage by the United States in some competitive categories—including the quality of elementary and secondary education, the provision of academic and societal incentives to study science, and a post-9/11 decline in attracting foreign S&T talent (NAS, NAE, IOM, 2007). Such deterioration might represent a distant concern for a country with such a commanding lead in innovation, but the concern is actually more urgent in the context of today’s rapid advancement of emerging and disruptive technologies.
This six-country survey points out growing security concerns that arise from the dynamic, increasingly globally dispersed nature of R&D itself. This unprecedented phenomenon increases the opportunities for technological surprises as many countries, working alone or in concert, can discover, uncover, or create breakthroughs in high-impact technologies in areas such as microprocessing, genomic profiling, biomedical engineering, and drug therapy, or can develop disruptive technologies from new knowledge or from the innovative application of existing technologies.
In addition, multinational corporations with operations in multiple countries are often more powerful than governments in influencing market trends. The United States, which for most of the Cold War era aggressively protected its position as the global center of R&D, now confronts a serious international security challenge that will require increased attention to U.S. capabilities in strategic areas and greater collaboration globally.
The linkage between science and security must have a rigorous, interdisciplinary focus that integrates geopolitical and socio-cultural analyses of government capabilities, strategies, motivations, and intentions with emerging and globally dispersed disruptive technologies. It must be recognized that security-related forecasts are becoming more uncertain and that unexpected events are certain to occur with greater frequency than in the past.
The stakes are high. The United States today is threatened by technological surprises more than it has been at any time in its history. Research and analysis can help tie the uncertainty to geopolitical changes, global financial upheavals, and the S&T revolution—assuming we have the necessary tools to detect and monitor these trends. But the United States cannot eliminate uncertainty or even reduce it to Cold War levels. The recently published Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) summarizes the impact of this reality on the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) S&T program (DoD, 2010):
As global research and development (R&D) investment increases, it is proving increasingly difficult for the United States to maintain a competitive advantage across the entire spectrum of defense technologies … the DoD S&T program is struggling to keep pace with the expanding challenges of the evolving security environment and the increasing speed and cost of global technology development.
Today’s world of politics, economics, and science is dramatically different from the world of 25 years ago when the United States was the global economic power and the center of worldwide R&D. The geopolitical revolution that swept away the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact at the end of the 20th century has led to the emergence of a multi-polar world in which China, India, and Brazil are able to assert themselves effectively and Russia is adjusting to a significantly reduced role on the world stage. Globalization has led nations, multinational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals—scientists prominently among them—to exploit international networks for unprecedented levels of collaboration for noble purposes.
Globalization has also provided to state and non-state actors increased access to exploitable information, technical know-how, international finance, and potentially catastrophic destructive capabilities. Multinational corporations, for their part, now operate with a “quasi sovereignty” beyond the reach of many host governments, which enables them to exploit their superior access to global information flows and to the best technical and professional expertise. This changing geopolitical landscape with its discernable shift of power and influence from West to East has clearly energized and emboldened the six governments in this review. They see opportunity in this multi-polar world, especially when they perceive themselves to be one of those poles (NIC, 2008; DoD, 2010).
Globalization, arguably the defining phenomenon of our time, has accelerated this geopolitical transformation. The unprecedented IT-driven, real-time flow of information, finance, people, goods, services, and cultural perspectives across borders has promoted global integration. It also has contributed immeasurably to the rapid economic growth of China, Singapore, India, and Brazil, and it has presented only partially realized growth opportunities for Japan and Russia. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) has produced four global trends studies over the past decade, the last three of which point to the growing role of China, India, and Brazil in a world in which the United States will wield dominant but diminishing power (NIC, 1997, 2000, 2004). The most recent NIC estimates can be found in Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World (NIC, 2008). Significantly, the recently published QDR concurs with the NIC assessment of economic and geopolitical trends, including with regard to the diminished role of the United States in a multi-polar world (DoD, 2010).
Globalization also has accelerated the trend that scientific investigation and R&D are less in the domain of a few major developed countries and more in the domain of multiple countries and global networks. This results in increased challenges for the United States. It is more difficult not only to monitor fast-track, emerging technologies but also to stay ahead of globally dispersed breakthroughs in disruptive technologies. These are often low-visibility, high-impact breakthroughs and can occur in a variety of fields, including information technology (IT), genetics, materials technologies, neuroscience, agricultural science, or robotics. One frequently cited example of a disruptive technology is the improvised explosive device (IED), which repurposes existing technologies to create improved, disruptive capabilities in warfare (NRC, 2010).
The National Research Council (NRC) report Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies states:
A scientific breakthrough can lead to not just a single disruption but to a series of them. The discovery of the electron in 1879 led to new technologies that were progressively more disruptive and caused long-lasting changes in the availability of products and services: transistors …, integrated circuits, and microprocessors … are the direct result of scientific and technical breakthroughs. Other advances are the result of an innovative application of existing technologies to new markets and problem sets: for example, Internet social networking Web sites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn), improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and portable digital music players such as the iPod … Some new technologies will cause shifts that change the world; others will remain laboratory curiosities that are never seen outside basic research centers. Still others will be something in between. (NRC, 2010, p. 11)
Globalization exposes the vulnerability of countries and peoples within countries that are less able to compete globally. This adds to the uncertainty in predicting national outcomes and global trends in a new world characterized by chronic financial volatility and widening income gaps between developed and underdeveloped economies. South Asian scholar Amit Pandya describes current economic trends in stark terms in his article, “The Shape of Change: Nature, Economics, Politics, and Ideology”:
The dominant picture is of two-tiered societies, divided between the few who through ownership of capital assets or through education, are able to aspire to global standards of living, and the vast numbers mired in underdevelopment. This is seen most sharply in India, owing to the rapid rise of its internationally competitive economic sectors and its multinational corporations…. (Pandya, 2008, p. 276)
Leading economic analysts worldwide, both in the government and the private sector, did not foresee either the 1997-1998 global financial crisis that originated in Thailand or the 2007-2008 global meltdown that began in the United States.1
The Expanding Global Threat Assessment
For the second half of the 20th century, the United States defined global security largely in terms of the single strategic threat from the Soviet Union. Today, global threats are more complicated and more distributed, with growing numbers of real and potential adversaries with destructive capabilities. No longer do we and our allies enjoy the advantage of being in the S&T center of gravity, which is shifting eastward. Intelligence analysts now benefit from the Internet and from advanced technical collection systems that provide real-time data on unfolding crises. However, the difficulty of predicting the crises is more difficult—as is the ability to foresee scientific and technological breakthroughs.
National security analysis today is multidisciplinary in scope and international in perspective. Analysts assess wide-ranging sources of threats involving sociocultural, demographic, environmental, and health issues that in an earlier era received much less attention from the intelligence community. Regarding the environment, for example, the U.S. intelligence community deemed global warming to be a serious national security issue in the 2008 national intelligence estimate (NIE) and issued related conference reports on several countries including China, Russia, and India (Fingar, 2008; NIC, 2009a,b,c).2
Global security today encompasses broad and diverse issues that “drive” leadership decision making on economic development, military modernization, and S&T investment. These policy-shaping issues have different country-specific significance and include, for example, human capital, education, health, age distribution, migration, competition for natural resources (e.g., food, water, energy), health and infectious diseases, migration, humanitarian crises, globalization, emerging and disruptive technologies, national and international governances, corruption, threat perceptions including views of the United States, the rule of law, and international competition in ocean exploration and space.
Focusing on these drivers helps to assess the relative capacities of the JBRICS countries to achieve their goals for S&T investment, economic growth, and military modernization. The same issues that drive policy serve as socio-economic-political and cultural indicators of progress. Brazil is both challenged and assisted by its young population, while Russia and Japan are weakened by aging societies. Japan and Russia have declining populations. In contrast to Japan, which resists immigration to its disadvantage, Singapore welcomes immigration to its economic advantage. China and India have chronic energy shortages, while Brazil is energy independent. China, India, and Brazil lack clean water resources. Russia’s health care is deteriorating. Systematic corruption stymies economic growth in Russia and has negative impacts in China, India, and Brazil. India, Russia, and Japan have significant governance problems that impede growth of national S&T innovation environments. All of these socioeconomic, political-cultural trends can be tracked over time and should be factored into S&T forecasts.
Some general security trends can be monitored using open sources. China’s suspicion of the United States complicates the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Moscow’s antagonism toward Washington adds to Russia’s priority for security over economic development. India worries about competition from China, but it
The continuing challenge of anticipating global financial crises is analyzed in National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2015, p. 38, and Global Trends 2025, pp. 10-12.
The NIE and the conference reports can be found at http://www.dni,gov/nic/special_climate2030.html.
is the persistent hostility with Pakistan that diverts large amount of its resources—including R&D—to military programs. All the countries studied, however, share a common motivation to understand, monitor, and exploit fast-moving global technology trends and to engage international networks that can help to advance this goal.
There is no set of indicators that provide a reliable assessment of progress toward breakthroughs in high-impact technologies for any country. Tracking trends in the awarding of advanced scientific degrees, publications in scientific journals, or issuance of patents can be marginally useful in identifying issues for further research but can be quickly discounted because of quality-control and reliability problems. The goal in the open-source world is to target those publications, conferences, or networks where research has undergone a most rigorous peer review and is selected by top scientists for presentation and serious dialogue.
Dealing with uncertainty and preparing for the unexpected are core national security missions, which have become more challenging to accomplish than ever before. We are confronted by the increasing globalization of R&D, the real-time diffusion of technical know-how through international networks, and the coalescence of advancing technologies. We also are faced with the inextricable linkages between dual-use capabilities and the motivations and intentions of national leadership, and between the increasing potential of path-breaking technologies, or disruptive technologies, and heightened military capabilities.
The continuing global S&T revolution has brought impressive economic prosperity and notable social progress to many countries in the world. However, it also has elevated the possibility of catastrophic damage from dual-use technologies. The potential impact, for good or bad, of rapidly advancing innovations in such diverse areas as IT, biological sciences, neuroscience, material sciences, nanotechnology, and robotics becomes even more gripping when they are viewed as an interconnected and fused whole. U.S. adversaries, big and small, are gaining increasingly easy access to a wide range of technologies that can be used to improve their military capabilities.3
Assessing Military Impact
Military modernization is a commanding priority in China, Russia, India, and Singapore, and less so in Brazil and Japan, but the resulting implications for U.S. national security vary widely. China credibly integrates its S&T-focused military modernization objectives into its broader, overriding goals for economic development. Singapore’s S&T-supported military goals are consistent with transparent national plans that are aligned with U.S. national interests and are generally not a threat to those interests. Much the same can be said for Brazil. India’s investment in security is disproportionate because of its concerns about China and, even more, because of its chronic, hostile relationship with neighboring Pakistan. Russia uses increased military strength to counter its declining economic, political, and diplomatic stature in the world, which is potentially more troubling.
In spite of this assessment, it is difficult to be definitive about the implications of each country’s efforts at military modernization because of the globalization of R&D and the declining ability of the United States to control the export of its dual-use and military-sensitive technologies. Military R&D programs usually lack transparency in open-source research, including those in many democratic countries. In unstable regions, however, governments often put greater emphasis on protecting themselves against perceived security threats than on increasing economic opportunity.
For some countries in our study, history illustrates this point. Past military regimes in Brazil, according to the successor democratic governments there, secretly pursued a nuclear weapons capability into the mid 1980s as a hedge against Argentina’s political dominance of South America4 (Spector, 1988). Democratic India, motivated by its hostile relations with both Pakistan and China, twice surprised the United States with unannounced nuclear
For more information and a relevant global survey of S&T trends, see RAND Corporation, National Security Division, 2006, The Global Technology Revolution 2020, Bio/Nano/Materials/Information Trends, Drivers, Barriers, and Social Implications, Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
For a brief history of Brazil’s nuclear program, see Sharon Squassoni and David Hale, 2005 (October), Brazil’s nuclear history, Arms Control Today, available at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_10/Oct-Brazil-History.
tests in 1974 and 1998. Both China and Russia developed secret nuclear programs, and Moscow continued its vast biological weapons program long after it committed to dismantling it during the Nixon administration.5
These historic realities, which confirm the lack of transparency of research on military programs, have modern equivalents. The United States has limited information on the military R&D of both China and Russia, and it appears that both countries have developed considerable offensive cyber capabilities. At the lower end of the technical-capability spectrum, insurgent groups and international terrorists, working alone or in secret collaborations with nation states, have focused their attention on enhancing lateral technologies to challenge adversaries. For example, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, aided by Iran, have used increasingly lethal improvised explosive devices (IEDs) over the past several years to inflict the majority of U.S. casualties (CRS, 2007). During the Arab-Israeli conflict in Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah, assisted by Syria and Iran, used technically enhanced IEDs and missiles to hold off the Israeli military long enough to transform a military defeat into a political victory in the eyes of many observers (CRS, 2006).
Examples of military programs past and present demonstrate little correlation between the strength of a country’s economy and its investment in technologies for military purposes. For most of its existence, the Soviet Union invested disproportionately in S&T for military purposes as its economy foundered. Russia continues to favor military options, such as space and rocket systems, over investments that would expand the Russian S&T capacity, promote economic growth, and improve the declining quality of life for the majority of Russians.
NET ASSESSMENT BY COUNTRY
A driver-based analysis is useful in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of countries’ S&T programs, as well as in gauging their potential to meet their strategic objectives over the near-, mid-, and long terms. In a field with uneven and incomplete data, however, deeper insight can be gained by integrating the drivers into a net assessment for each country. Without this integrated approach, the analysis of sensitive issues such as dual-use technologies will struggle for relevance.
Distilling the findings in Chapter 4, China emerges as the greatest economic and military competitor of the United States. Its growth rate may slow, its regional social and economic disparities may increase, its corruption problems and environmental degradation may persist, its excessive control of information flows may impede growth, and its business policies may continue to be inefficient. Nonetheless, as the National Intelligence Council (NIC) concludes in Global Trends 2025 (2008, p. vi):
China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country. If current trends persist, by 2025 China will have the world’s second largest economy and will be a leading military power.
China’s focused, top-down S&T investment will be the principal driver of this impressive growth. Its S&T investment strategy is narrow but coherent, with strong but centralized support from a highly technical politburo led by engineers and adequate funding dedicated to explicit strategic goals. The government is incentivizing the study of science in an improving educational system, and it is encouraging controlled international partnerships and professional networks to foster domestic S&T development. It is also seeking to develop its bottom-up innovation environment of individuals and organizations. This remains an open issue, because it is not clear that the freedoms and independence required to do so will be allowed.
China’s government apparently believes that high economic growth rates can be sustained while maintaining social stability across the vast country—an uncertain proposition. But there is little doubt that Chinese leaders view continued high economic growth as imperative to maintaining political and social stability. Consequently,
For a historical perspective on the USSR’s biological weapons program, including on its post-Nixon-era treaty violations, see Ken Alibek, 1998, Behind the mask: Biological warfare, Perspective IX(9, Sept.-Oct.), available at http://www.bu.edu/iscip/vol9/alibek.html. Dr. Alibek is the former first deputy chief of Preparat, the Soviet Union’s biological weapons program, and Perspectives is a periodical of the Institute of the Study of Conflict, Ideology, and Policy (ISCIP).
it considers an external military confrontation to be a serious threat to and an unwanted distraction from that goal. The success of China’s integrated economic, S&T, and military modernization plans depends heavily on the continuation of these trends.
China is investing in a comprehensive military modernization program that will provide the presence and capability to extend its power in Asia and beyond. China is instituting a development strategy with the intention to expand its capacity to exploit many of the technologies that the U.S. government considers to be “dual-use” sensitive—its investment in nuclear and space-system technologies is of particular concern. Although working toward closer relations with the United States on many levels, China still views the U.S. government as obstructing its emergence as a dominant regional and major global power. The recent $6.4 billion arms sales to Taiwan and the Dalai Lama’s visit to the White House, both sensitive issues in China, are the latest example of the residual—but not fracturing—tensions in the relationship.
These challenges, in perspective, are not insurmountable. The U.S.-China relationship today can be characterized as part mutually dependent partnership, part economic competitor, and part global rival. No bilateral relationship is more important to global peace and security. The relationship’s future trajectory is not pre-ordained but will depend on the behavior of both countries, including in S&T cooperation, over the next several years to decades. It is sufficient to say that, while still clouded with suspicions and disrupted by setbacks, the broader trends in the U.S.-China relationship today are fundamentally positive.
Singapore has a land area of 272 square miles, a population under 5 million, and a GDP of about $234 billion. It is a tiny island nation that could hardly be expected to challenge the United States economically or militarily for the foreseeable future. Yet Singapore has developed an impressive S&T-driven, state-capitalist model of economic growth. It is investing in a range of dual-use technologies, including biotechnology, but its goals are transparent and generally directed toward making the country a first-world Asian center of scientific education and training and of high-technology services.
To sustain its current levels of economic growth, Singapore must find ways to expand its workforce. Unlike Japan, Singapore is substantially increasing non-Chinese immigration to unprecedented levels to meet its labor and leadership requirements. This helps the economy but also causes social tensions that the government is working to manage. Additionally, Singapore’s welcoming policies increase concerns about the potential exploitation of this policy and growing S&T know-how by some of its less transparent Asian neighbors, international criminals, and global terrorist networks.
Singapore’s relationship with the United States, at every level including security, is excellent. Singapore invests in its defense forces but not in a way that makes it a threat to any other country. If Singapore were a larger country, it would be an enviable model for the smart, competitive use of S&T strategic investment to drive economic growth. There are striking similarities between the innovation environments of China and Singapore.
India, the world’s most populous democracy with more than 1 billion citizens, has wide internal cultural, social, and economic disparities. It is challenged by uneven domestic infrastructure, a relative scarcity of skilled labor, critical natural-resource shortages, major deficiencies in its agricultural sector, insufficient energy production, and growing concerns about terrorism and insurgency.
Despite these problems, India appears to be heading for strong S&T-driven economic growth and increasing status as a powerful regional leader over the next decade. The country has a functioning civil society, a growing middle class, and an educational system that, despite limited access to its 15 autonomous, elite Indian Institutes of Technology, produces a large body of university-educated engineers and scientists. India’s government and private-sector S&T investment, along with the well-practiced partnerships and social networks that nurture S&T development, can propel strong economic growth. India is currently investing in nuclear energy, advanced IT systems, space and ocean exploration systems, and most particularly biotechnology.
India’s S&T investment tracks sector-specific economic goals, but it does not constitute a comprehensive national strategy that targets the many problems facing this vast country, including wide disparities of income, uneven regional development, and natural-resource shortages (including water). S&T programs within selective economic sectors have strong leadership support and specific infrastructural capacity to advance their goals. But the country, as a whole, appears to lack a tradition of effective nation-wide and region-deep governance to develop a coherent, national S&T strategy.
Indian scholar Amit Pandya (2008, p. 276) writes:
The political system in India is seriously fractured and its administrative system seriously compromised. Unlike Britain during its industrial revolution or China today, the Indian state is not capable of resolute response to the instabilities and resistance spawned by these rapid economic and social changes. Indian law enforcement and intelligence professionals note the seriously compromised capacity of the state to maintain law and order; they anticipate deterioration in the current chronic state of public disorder … Opportunistic and short-term political calculations render coherent long-term policy almost impossible.
India, like China, is a nuclear state. Its nuclear doctrine is oriented toward the threat from China, but, in reality, Pakistan represents the most urgent threat—as evidenced by India’s continued conflicts with Pakistan in the Kashmir region. This troubled bilateral relationship seems unlikely to improve in the near- to mid-term and is a serious regional concern, because both states have nuclear weapons. U.S.-Indian relations have been improving since the later years of the George W. Bush administration. India’s democratic political culture has been molded by its long and sometimes violent struggle for independence from Britain, its early post-independence decades of commitment to the non-aligned movement, and its need for self-reliance. The framework of relations between the United States and India will be positive on balance, but actual cooperation will most likely be achieved on an issue-by-issue basis.
Brazil is a burgeoning democracy and an emerging economy with a growing but still modest S&T capability. It has progressed a long way since the era of military dictatorships, and its investment in military capability today is clearly a secondary priority. It has won its historic competition with Argentina and is recognized today as the leading democracy and economy of Latin America.
Brazil is advancing on international scales of S&T-proficiency that measure economic competitiveness. It has a growing middle class, strong manufacturing base, diversified business sector, energy independence, and an S&T strategy geared toward commercialization and economic expansion in areas of competitive advantage. It is devoting significant resources to nuclear technologies and cybernetics.
Within South America, Brazil is the leader in S&T and has one of the most advanced industrial sectors. With both the national will and substantial natural and financial resources, Brazil is creating an S&T innovation environment that promotes economic competitiveness. The country is a global leader in agricultural research, deep-sea oil production, and remote sensing. It has an abundance of natural resources, an extensive and growing domestic commercial market, a well-developed financial market, and a diversified and sophisticated business sector. Brazil’s youthful population increasingly views higher education as essential to its professional success in the growing national and global economies—although Brazil still has a major shortfall in university students preparing for S&T careers.
Brazil faces some formidable obstacles in its efforts to develop a national innovation system. Its macroeconomic stability, efficiency of goods and labor markets, and institutional environment continue to be ranked poorly on international scales. It has major regional inequalities, a shortage of trained scientists and engineers in the workforce and in S&T, great disparity in income distribution across the country, persistent corruption, and a chronic private-sector reluctance to fund and engage in R&D. These problems have hampered Brazil’s efforts to achieve its bold economic goals, and will continue to do so over the next several years.
Japan is an advanced S&T state and is investing in numerous high-end technologies such as space transponders, new-generation supercomputers, fast breeder reactors, and EARTH observation and ocean explorations systems. It has an impressive national innovation system, including privately funded state-of-the-art laboratories.
Japan has made some progress in turning around its economy after a decline in the 1990s, despite a fractured and seemingly disintegrating political party system. But the country still faces formidable political, economic, and cultural obstacles in achieving its bold targets for economic growth over the next 5 to 10 years. Japan has an aging industrial base, a declining population, and a cultural resistance to the levels of immigration it needs to boost economic growth. Japan, as a matter of priority, needs to restructure its export industries to place greater emphasis on technology products and services. To effectively deal with these chronic problems, Japanese leadership must address the deep-seated deficiencies of its national party system.
Japan has growing regional security concerns, especially with regard to North Korea. It will invest in modernization of its defense forces, but will continue to rely for the most part on its longstanding security pact with the United States.
This comparative study puts in relief Russia’s slow integration into the global economy. A major nuclear power, it has the clear potential for strong economic growth over the next decade, but several constraints are likely to prevent this from happening. Russia urgently needs to invest in its people by reviving the education and healthcare systems. Russia’s population is aging, declining, and becoming less healthy. To spur significant economic growth, Moscow must invest in an energy sector on which it already depends too heavily, diversify the economy, build up its primitive banking sector, welcome the international community, and move aggressively to contain pervasive corruption and criminal activity.
Russia continues to be advanced in narrow S&T capabilities, but it does not have a coherent S&T investment strategy. Leadership commitment is half-hearted, and capacity is limited. The focus of the current top-down decision-making environment is on such issues as nuclear power and space systems, not on a comprehensive S&T-based plan to promote broad-based economic growth. Funding is inadequate. Russia is a long way from establishing a credible national innovation ecosystem.
Russia devotes disproportionate resources to its global intelligence activities and to restoring some of its reduced military capabilities. The combination of its authoritarian leadership, its limited practice with democracy, and its guarded economic prospects raise concern about its capacity to boost investment in dual-use technologies for military purposes as a hedge against its declining global stature. This is not an evidence-based prediction but merely a notional depiction of a possible alarming turn if Russia’s economic climate does not adopt a more transparent economic model with stronger links to the global economy.
Russia has considerable S&T proficiency and ambitious goals, but it has diminished capacity and limited leadership support—governance problems, again—in a top-down political decision-making process. Its nuclear arsenal, of course, and its preoccupation with investment in enhanced military capability will remain matters of considerable concern for the United States.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Finding 9-1. The global S&T revolution represents a major, 21st-century challenge to the United States. This challenge should be elevated to the first tier of U.S. national security priorities, even though this is a tall order for a decentralized democratic government that has never had a comprehensive national S&T strategy. The U.S. innovation system, as good as it is, will require substantial new investment over the next decade to meet the unprecedented economic and security challenges of the global S&T revolution.
Recommendation 9-1. The U.S. government should assess, as a matter of urgency, the national security implications of the continuing global S&T revolution and the global dispersion of R&D. It should evaluate the impact
of the decline in U.S. academic competitiveness at the primary and secondary levels, as pointed out in the 2007 report Rising Above the Gathering Storm, especially with regard to the sciences. Equally important, the assessment should seek mechanisms for sustainable U.S. government collaboration with the international community to uncover and exploit potential scientific and technological breakthroughs, wherever they occur, and to contain whatever threats they may portend.
Recommendation 9-2. The U.S. intelligence community should provide continuous strategic analysis of global S&T developments to the U.S. government, and it should significantly boost its efforts to do this at both the departmental level and for the national intelligence estimate process led by the Director of National Intelligence. To achieve this, the intelligence community should employ the most advanced and imaginative models for interdisciplinary analyses that utilize broad and deep collaborations with other U.S. government agencies, academia, the private sector, and foreign sources of information and expertise.
Finding 9-2. The rapid advancement of technology and global dispersion of R&D are enabling economic competitors of the United States, as well as its real or potential military adversaries including non-state actors, to boost their capabilities and to exploit emerging and disruptive technologies for asymmetric operations. The less transparent world of military and intelligence S&T programs, as well as the insidious proliferation of dual-use technologies, will increasingly require the close engagement of U.S. intelligence agencies in collaborative operations and information-sharing agreements with foreign governments and external sources of critical expertise wherever such expertise may reside.
Recommendation 9-3. The top leadership of the U.S. intelligence community should renew its commitment to build a global S&T intelligence (S&TI) warning capability to prevent or contain technological surprises. It should include state-of-the-art collection and the analytic capabilities and global collaborations needed to monitor fast-moving foreign technology developments. This initiative will require sustained leadership, the allocation of scientific and multidisciplinary resources across intelligence agencies, and working relationships with U.S. government agencies, the scientific community, foreign governments, and other sources of outside expertise.
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