The State of the World, Ep. 2: War
In episode two of The State of the World, Talking Policy host Lindsay Morgan speaks with Neil Narang and Brandon Kinne about the evolving nature of war and peace in an era where great power competition exists alongside terrorism, nonstate armed groups, rebel organizations, and transnational violence. Neil is associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Research Director at IGCC. Brandon is an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Davis.
The State of the World is a special series on IGCC’s Talking Policy podcast that explores the biggest global challenges that will shape our future. The series is part of a suite of activities celebrating IGCC’s 40th anniversary.
This episode was recorded on October 23, 2023. The conversation was edited for length and clarity. Subscribe to Talking Policy on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.
War has been a central part of the history of the United States, from its birth as a nation to its role in the modern world.
Battles have been fought with everything from bayonets to bomb threats.
[clip: “We all know the atomic bomb is very dangerous. Since it may be used against us, we must get ready for it”]
Today, violence is spilling over borders in Europe and the Middle East.
[clip: “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors”]
Turbulence is brewing in northeast Asia.
[clip: “North Korea’s cyber capabilities have– have been manifest in the world and they work with all kinds of cyber criminals”]
And everywhere, it seems, there are looming threats of fracture, isolation, and authoritarianism.
What dangers do global powers pose to one another? What strategies are effective in discouraging conflict? Should technological developments reassure or alarm us?
This is The State of the World, a series of five conversations hosted by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. I’m Lindsay Morgan, associate director of IGCC. In each episode of this series, I’ll talk with some of the best thinkers from across the University of California about the biggest global challenges that will shape our future.
In our last episode, I spoke with Susan Shirk and Tai Ming Cheung about the United States’ evolving relationship with China.
This is episode two: War.
Lindsay: To take on the subject of war in the past, present, and future, I sat down with two people who have spent their careers studying national security. Neil Narang is IGCC’s research director for U.S. and global security initiatives, and an associate professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara. He is a longtime global security expert.
Neil: The U.S. seems to be confronting a very rapidly changing world. There appears to be a revisionist Russia that is redrawing the map of Europe. It’s challenging what we know about deterrence. It’s challenging longstanding arms control agreements. And the specter of nuclear confrontation seems to be looming large.
Lindsay: Brandon Kinne is an associate professor of political science at UC Davis, whose work involves the changing global security environment.
Brandon: Yeah, a lot of my recent work has been trying to kind of pick up on these dynamics where you’ve got not only intensified great power competition, but you also have great powers that are supporting terrorist organizations that are being supported by pro-government militias. And there’s a lot more players than what we saw during, like, the Cold War, for example.
Lindsay: Brandon, you just used the term “great power competition.” And it’s something we’ve heard increasingly over the past several years. It seems to be one of those buzzwords that captures what we’re most concerned about right now. You know, 20 years ago, it was the “War on Terror.” I want to ask both of you to explain what you think is driving this concern about great power competition. What has changed in the world? Neil, why don’t you start?
Neil: If you go back to the decades following World War II, people would characterize that period as a period of maybe some “great power competition” between the United States and the Soviet Union. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union and at the end of the Cold War, people would describe the 30 years following the end of the Cold War as a “unipolar” moment, a moment where the United States basically stood alone in its capacity to project power globally.
This period is often referred to as the “Pax Americana.” It was characterized by a substantial decline in interstate war. And it was by no means peaceful – there were high levels of civil conflict – but the U.S. was basically unrivaled for about 30 years in its power and ability to project power.This unipolar moment seems to be giving way. And that give-way is probably what’s generating a lot of the anxiety.
I think some people would argue that we’re in a tripolar moment instead of a bipolar moment. That is, we have two peer or near-peer competitors. Whereas the Cold War was characterized by a single peer or near-peer competitor. This is particularly true in the realm of nuclear security, where Russia has a force that rivals that of the United States, and China has made every indication that they intend to seek a similar-sized force. So, there’s a lot of talk about how this time is different with respect to tripolarity, and that we don’t know how many of our old constructs and tools are applicable in this world.
As an interesting sort of side note, you know, in my personal experience, I was working in the Pentagon during the Obama administration, just as we were coming out of the global war on terrorism. And this concept of great power competition was coming back into the conversation about strategy. And there were real questions. Did the Pentagon have the right strategies for this new world? Did it have the right force? Have we been buying the wrong things? Were we structured correctly?
So I think if there were two differences that pop out in my mind, the first is tripolarity versus bipolarity. And the second is the real strategy shift, the shift from counterinsurgency counterterrorism to great power competition and what that meant for our readiness.
Lindsay: Brandon, what do you think?
Brandon: I think one of the big challenges that we’ll have to kind of try to wrap our heads around both as academics and policymakers is whether the concepts and terms that we’ve often relied on to describe great power politics, whether they continue to be relevant.
So this, like, tripolar/bipolar construct is really influential. It comes out of a lot of kind of traditional realist ways of viewing the world, where the focus is: the world is a nasty place and we need to make sure as countries, as governments, as leaders, or as even the public influencing our leaders, we need to make sure that we’re secure, right? Relative to all of these threats out there, and countries claiming they could be our friends or allies, we don’t really know if they’re our friends or allies, so, you know, what’s the best thing to do? It’s to increase your own security, right? Whether you do that through just, spending– defense spending domestically or through, you know, forming partnerships with– with other powerful countries.
That’s kind of a very dominant way of viewing the world from this traditional realist perspective, the way that I see the conversations emerging these days, it’s largely along the lines of: what are we in now? Right? So we’ve got this unipolar moment that Neil did a really nice job of summarizing, post-Cold War, but I don’t think we have any, like, historical analogs for what we’re calling tripolarity today, what that has looked like in the past.
We’ve never had situations where you’ve got all of these new technological innovations where governments can extend their power globally. We’ve never had situations where there’s so many non-state actors that are still influential and working oftentimes on behalf of governments who are supporting those non-state actors, terrorist groups- as being the most obvious case. We’ve never had a situation like this, where there’s just so much uncertainty about how we even go about measuring something like- like what counts as, you know, tripolarity versus bipolarity versus multipolarity.
Lindsay: I want to ask you both about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Before February 24th, 2022, which is the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, the idea that a major power like Russia could invade a country like Ukraine seems unthinkable. But it happened. And I want to ask you both: how has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed your thinking about international relations? Or has it?
Neil: I think we’re still digesting what the war in Ukraine means. Pick your Sunday talk show, you’ll get a different answer.
From my perspective, it’s really odd to see the levels of destruction. We used to think – or we had gotten comfortable thinking – of interstate war, big wars between countries, to be kind of anachronistic. It’s old. It’s from my parents’ generation. But here we’re seeing two countries fight a fairly- a real intense war that’s triggering alliance commitments, and the destruction is– is really something to behold.
What I think the war has become, in part, for the U.S., is a test of how resolved the U.S. and U.S. people are to defend an ally in far-flung parts of the world after a commitment to doing so. And I think there’s some uncertainty about whether the U.S. is willing to do that, and I think it’s fighting hard to show that it is, lest its alliance commitments worldwide come into question.
What makes it so intense is maybe like the Yugoslav War before, where Clinton could not put boots on the ground lest war– support for the war would evaporate, Biden, too, is constrained. He cannot put U.S. troops in harm’s way or else support for the war will dissipate. What he’s doing instead is flowing as much military aid in as possible. And the Ukrainians are mounting a very dogged defense, and they’re doing it with the effort and the assistance of basically all of Western Europe and the U. S. flowing military aid in. So the war is far more intense than it ever would have been in the absence of this larger geopolitical strategic struggle over whether alliance commitments by the U.S. and the West are actually credible.
Russia, for its part, I think is trying to signal that it’s capable of carrying out a war like this. In the initial stages, they were embarrassed, I think, by, like, some logistical failures that made it such that they suffered some embarrassing defeats. I think what they’re trying to prove now is that there’s a referendum on their capabilities to fight a conventional war. And they’re willing to fight extensively to resolve uncertainty, to prove that they in fact have the capabilities they say they do. And these two efforts: to resolve uncertainty about the U.S. resolve towards alliances, and Russia to clear up uncertainty about its capabilities, is coming head-on in this one theater.
So the war is long and drawn-out because there is so much more at stake than the immediate issues around Ukraine and the territorial claims in that area. It’s about something much bigger.
Lindsay: Brandon, I want to ask you your take on what the biggest effects of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine are. Neil mentioned shifting alliances, for example. And I also just want to ask you, you know, personally, how has it changed your thinking — has it?
Brandon: We really did not do a good job of predicting the invasion of Ukraine. We, meaning like academics and scholars who study these types of issues. There were, you know, a few people who I think pointed out that there was a very high probability that Russia would invade, but the general consensus was that it was a bluff. That Russia was trying to extract as much as it could out of Ukraine in terms of political concessions without actually crossing the border and invading.
I think there’s two basic stories we can tell there. One take is that this violates international law, violates the UN Charter, and kind of puts the nail in the coffin of that post-World War II liberal international order that the United States benefited from so much and played such a role in establishing. I think that’s one take.
Another take, kind of the opposite take, is we have seen countries invade one another plenty of times, even during this so-called post World War II period of, you know, liberal order. So, Soviet Union in Afghanistan, or Soviet Union in Hungary, or United States in Vietnam, right? And they had pretty dramatic effects in terms of potentially emboldening other countries to do similar things. So there’s arguments that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was potentially enabled by the U.S. invasion of Vietnam. But at the same time, they were relatively contained.
And so I think the big question is: do we have something that looks more like those limited situations that were just kind of great powers seeing what they could get away with, or do we have something that’s more like [the] Spanish Civil War, where it’s a kind of a dress rehearsal for a large-scale conflict down the road? And I don’t think it’s clear to anybody at this point which situation we’re in. The war is dragging on, and I think there’s no sign of it abating soon. But at the same time, it hasn’t expanded to involve other major players aside from providing, you know, military aid and weapons and- you know, other forms of support.
Lindsay: I want to move on to talking about deterrence, which is not a word I thought a lot about before I came to IGCC.
The ability to discourage a country or an adversary of any kind from taking an action that you don’t want it to take is called deterrence, essentially. In thinking about Ukraine, one of the central questions – as we’ve already talked about – after Russia’s invasion was: why couldn’t we prevent this from happening?
So I want to ask you a couple questions embedded in this question. First, help us understand deterrence as an important guiding framework for this country- for the U.S., in terms of peace and security. Like, in tangible form, what does that mean? And then I want to ask you, like, does it work? Or is this a concept that needs to be challenged?
Neil: Let me break it up in a couple ways, maybe- maybe two or three ways, and- and try to give maybe somewhat of a coherent answer here. And let me start with: does deterrence work in principle?
In some everyday way, we all know what deterrence is because we deploy it in our everyday life. We threaten, for example, to punish our children if they follow through on some dangerous or disobedient act. We say, if you do that, we will- I don’t know, take away a toy. And I think there are good reasons to think that deterrence, internationally, that same concept works. If you cross this border, we will launch weapons at you.
One reason to think that it might work is I think it’s safe to assume that most countries have more maximal demands than they actually have satisfied at the moment. Every country wants more of something. More than their current borders, more from a trade agreement, and yet these conflicts of interest, which are ubiquitous, they rarely lead to fighting and war and the costs associated with it. I suspect because deterrence is working. Although countries have more demands and needs, it is not worth pursuing their maximal interests because they’ll suffer the cost. I think that’s deterrence working.
I think it’s an entirely separate question to ask, well, is what the U.S. is doing on a day-to-day basis actually effective at deterrence? And I think that’s a different question because we do a lot, and I don’t know if all of it’s working.
Over the last decade, the U.S. budget for [the] Department of Defense has exceeded 700 billion [dollars]. And mind you, this was a time we typically think of as peacetime. A budget of 700 billion. Which is in excess of the next 10 countries combined. And I think we’d be justified in asking: is everything we’re doing with this budget essential for making deterrence work?
The agencies I interacted with at the Pentagon would commonly and frequently evoke that the reason we’re spending money, the reason we have 40 [aircraft] carriers rather than 35, the reason that we’re forward deployed here rather than here is that it’s essential for making deterrence work. And in the absence of these efforts, deterrence would fail and the world would fall into chaos. Now, this may be true. But it also may not be true. It might be wasted effort. People listening might be wondering, well, who cares if it’s wasted effort? Why not over-determine the outcome? If we’re throwing 800 billion dollars, towards, you know, guns versus butter, like, isn’t it okay if in fact it’s maybe keeping peace, maybe it’s not?
Well, it’s taking away from other real priorities. It could go towards universal pre-K, women’s health, innovations, universities. So we’re throwing a lot of money, and I think one would be reasonable to ask, has everything we’ve done towards deterrence worked? And how do we know? And I don’t know if we have a good way yet as an analytic community to determine whether deterrence has been effective.
Lindsay: Neil, what you described deterrence to be is essentially a form of coercion, even at the parent-child level. If you don’t, you know, get your jacket on so that we can go to school, we’re going to take away that toy.
And it assumes that we can accurately understand how the child – or how the country – is thinking about what they want in terms of gains and loss. It assumes that they assess the costs and the trade-offs the way that we assess the costs and trade-offs. But are there cases where – and I’m thinking here about China’s interest in Taiwan, I’m thinking about Russia’s historic, vast narrative of Ukraine as part of some empire, I’m thinking of the issue of Palestine as a deep, deep issue. Are there cases where the way that we might think about, the risks and the benefits just don’t apply? And you can’t deter people with this kind of a framework?
Brandon: I think that logic is not really applicable to governments because governments are accountable to publics, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for a government to commit itself to an action that could potentially be destructive to the country overall.
I think where we do see the limits of deterrence logics is when we bring in non-state actors like terrorist organizations, right? And this is one of the challenges that the U.S. government, and all governments, has had to deal with, is: we’ve got these logics of deterrence. So we don’t want you to do X. So we’re going to threaten you with Y if you do X.
With governments, the logic kind of makes sense. But non-state actors like terrorist organizations were committed to doing X, no matter what: that’s the types of situations where deterrence might fail. And so we’ve always viewed deterrence as being distinct from more cooperative ways of getting countries to do what we want them to do. So deterrence is the stick and more kind of engagement, cooperative strategies, those are the carrots.
But these really shouldn’t be viewed as like, competing strategies, [they] should be viewed as kind of an overall package of how we get actors, whether it’s governments or terrorist groups or anybody else, to do what we want them to do and to not do what we don’t want them to do, and that can involve using things like carrots in particular situations as a compliment to deterrent strategies.
Neil: Lindsay, I think you also, you raised a really interesting question, by the way, which is: you know, is it possible that this isn’t just sort of homo economicus? We’re dealing with somebody instead who has a very different valuation of the issues at stake. So it’s their homeland, or they attach some sort of sentimental value to the stakes that we haven’t fully appreciated and they’re willing to fight much harder. And maybe this is Palestinian territory or the Ukrainian territory.
And I think this is a phenomenon that, that I think- I mean, social scientists have puzzled over this a little bit. They’re called “scorched earth strategies,” which is- you know, where people would sooner sow salt into the earth and make the land completely useless than have it be taken over. So how do we make sense of these moments where we have different valuations of the issues at stake, and one side clearly has something that transcends material value?
So yeah, deterrence I think gets complicated and there’s all of these other issues too in behavioral economics about how people see gains and losses depending on how they’re framed, that makes deterrence far less simple than just if you do this, we will do this, so stop.
Lindsay: I want to ask you about technology, which is something near and dear to IGCC, which is the sponsor of this podcast. We have done a lot of work over the years on the nexus between security and technology.
We all have thought about, read about, been scared by the idea of drones, of cyberattacks, of artificial intelligence. We certainly have a sense – all of us – that it is changing the world, that it could change war, could change conflict, it could change the way we think about peace. And I guess the big question that we all wonder is: is it going to make us safer? Or is it going to make us more vulnerable?
Neil: Excellent questions. And I think the answer to how technology is changing war, changing global security, it’s not entirely clear. And maybe I could put a little bit of context around that. I study nuclear weapons. And in nuclear weapons, we see how a single scientific or technological breakthrough can fundamentally alter global power relations, right?
It would be difficult to tell the story of international relations over the last 75 years without making reference to the advent of nuclear weapons. How a single technology fundamentally reshaped it.
But it wasn’t just nuclear weapons. Technology has always played a role in international politics. You can go back to ballistic missiles on submarines, aircraft carriers, even the longbow. Different technologies have changed how wars are fought and how states have conducted relations in peacetime. So technology has always affected war. And in some times, in some moments, it’s fundamentally reshaped international relations.
So I think there are significant advancements coming along in terms of autonomous weapons, artificial intelligence, hypersonic vehicles, additive manufacturing, stealth, precision, all of these things are accelerating, all of these trends, and they’re coming on board now. And it’s giving the widespread sense that the world is on the precipice once again of a big shift with all of these technologies. And for good reason. Amazon is using drones to deliver, you know, drugs- prescription drugs now. Additive manufacturing is being used to build homes for refugees across the world. And we all have been hearing about what AI can do to make our lives easier and more productive.
But there are, of course, risks as well. These new technologies have sparked really intense interest, particularly from the Department of Defense. Because each of these technologies have consequences for cyberwarfare, electronic warfare, the ability to manufacture even things like nuclear weapons parts, how autonomous systems will change the pace of decision making. I remember Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the rapid development and proliferation of these capabilities represent a clear and growing risk to the United States.
So, I think the anxiety is that the diffusion of these technologies will allow regional powers and non-peer powers to be able to act as if they are as powerful as states. They don’t need the same size army or personnel if a lot of it is mechanized. So what’s happening now is these technologies, primarily coming from the commercial sector, may be reshaping war in a lot of ways.
I would add, for every technology that fundamentally reshapes world politics, there are others that held the promise to, but didn’t. So for example, chemical warfare, chemical weapons were thought to fundamentally– they had the possibility to change international relations, but we quickly learned that they’re not as useful as battlefield weapons as we thought.
On the other hand, technology we thought were relatively benign, like barbed wire, fundamentally reshaped how wars were fought. So to the question of: how are emerging technologies going to change international politics? I don’t think we know yet. It could be some of these technologies will be like nuclear weapons some of them may be duds.
Brandon: I share Neil’s – or what I sense is a little bit of skepticism on Neil’s part – in terms of the overall impact of at least the technologies that we’re currently seeing emerging.
So there’s clear examples of actors, whether they’re small governments or non-state actors getting more influence because of access to technologies like drones, for example, right? So you’ve got like the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and there’s numerous examples of countries using drones to get a little bit more leverage militarily than you would think they would have. And then in the cyber domain, North Korea is active in using cyberattacks, for example. Israel has plenty of well-developed military capabilities, but it’s been able to up its game even more because of its facility in using cyber technology. Despite all that, we still are primarily in a world where cyberattacks are mainly used as kind of a sophisticated form of espionage, more like intelligence gathering than as a weapon.
In Ukraine, a lot of the fighting is occurring in the form of like, trench warfare, right? Trench warfare and minefields and tanks. And it looks very World War I-esque. And so it’s really unclear– despite the fact that you’ve got a lot of automation now, you still need humans in close geographic or physical proximity to a lot of the new tools that are being deployed on the battlefield. And that means potential losses of human lives.
And so until you get to the point of like fully autonomous weapons – which is definitely a realistic possibility, that’s not science fiction, that could happen – until you get to that world where you actually have autonomous weapons fighting on the battlefield, you’re still going to have humans involved to the extent that there’s a substantial loss of human life. And that old-school mode of fighting that we’ve seen for about 120, 130 years is still likely to be the primary form that wars occur.
Lindsay: How is the role of the United States changing in this tumultuous, evolving environment?
We’re looking at another presidential election year here in the U.S. How might the U.S. role change depending on who’s elected?
Brandon: Well, we know that under the Trump administration, defense cooperation declined in terms of the new partnerships that the United States developed, with, you know, other governments. And I think that’s not the right way to go about doing this in terms of using U.S. national security resources globally.
There needs to be, I think, generally more cooperation, and it could take the form of cooperation where the U.S. is kind of at the forefront, but it doesn’t have to take that form. There’s a lot of evidence that multilateralism is generally successful at solving problems if countries are committed to it. The idea of relying on military alliances as the primary form in which defense cooperation occurs is, I think, especially problematic.
I mean, the classic usage of a military alliance is: you and I form a partnership where if either of us– either of us is attacked, then we will defend the other, right? So that’s a defense pact. And that works well when you are in the world where [the] primary threat is other governments and, you know, interstate competition is what ever– everyone is concerned about.
But when you’re dealing with a more complex environment and you’ve got even middle powers or weaker powers that are able to utilize new technologies to exercise a lot of influence, you have to be more proactive, right? Alliances are very reactive by definition. We react to some threat or to some attack by pooling our forces and- you know, fighting back.
What we need instead is proactive solutions, which primarily take the form of bilateral agreements that governments have prioritized increasingly in the past 10 to 15 years where they’re doing things like agreeing to institutional frameworks that allow them to share intelligence, that allow them to coordinate their defense policies, that allow them to engage in like joint training and officer exchanges, joint military exercises. And all of those more proactive approaches, I think, are generally going to be more successful at dealing with the complex security environment that we see out there today.
But right now, there’s a lot of these types of agreements being signed, but there’s not a whole lot of evidence that countries are following through in terms of, you know, they’re saying things like, ‘Let’s share the intelligence, let’s coordinate our defense policies, let’s have more training and joint military exercises,’ but the follow through isn’t necessarily there. And so I would hope that for a new administration, whether it’s Biden 2.0 or Trump 2.0 – or maybe Somebody Else 1.0, I guess we don’t technically know yet, right – I would hope that there would be a stronger emphasis on actually following through on the partnerships that we’ve already forged and building new partnerships and following through on those as well.
Neil: U.S. foreign policy has never been one thing. It’s never been driven by one perspective. We’ve had periods of– long periods of isolationism, in which the United States chose not to get involved in global affairs. And then we’ve had periods of deep global engagement where U.S. leadership was championed.
And if you just go back to the last three presidents, you have presidents who were willing to engage more in the world. The Trump administration was called anti-globalist, nativist, isolationist. And then you have the Biden administration, which has been a departure from that still. So the U.S. role in the world has changed constantly from administration to administration and it’s administration-sensitive.
I guess my personal take – and part of this is as a citizen and sort of patriot, but part of this is me just being a social scientist – I do think that the U.S. should lead more, particularly with its allies and partners. The social science part of me is drawing from these theories of privileged groups and how to solve collective action problems using privileged groups, but the part of me that just thinks that the U.S. should be engaged because there is a world order that the U.S. benefits from, and it should fight to maintain that a little bit.
Does it want to lead a group of Western allies and partners who are held together by shared common liberal values and open economies, or does it want to pull back and, and sort of be more concerned with its own domestic interests?
In short, I don’t- I don’t know the answer to it. I would like to go with the leadership route. I think its role should be to solve coordination problems and to try to pull allies together towards common purpose. But I don’t know where it’ll end up and- I hope it’s the latter. I don’t know if it’ll be the former.
Lindsay: Neil and Brandon, really good to talk with you guys about all this stuff. We- I feel like we barely hit the tip of the iceberg. But I really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for being with us on Talking Policy.
Neil: Thanks, Lindsay.
Brandon: Thanks, Lindsay.
In the realm of war and peace, what seems to define where we are today is uncertainty. The only thing that is clear is that the world is changing, and that there are no obvious guideposts or historical comparisons to pave the way.
In our next episode we will turn to the topic of climate change, another key challenge defined at least in some respects by uncertainty as well. I’ll speak with two climate change experts from the University of California about where we are, how we got here, and what the solutions are.
Thanks for listening to The State of the World, a special miniseries from Talking Policy. I’m your host, Lindsay Morgan.
This episode was produced by Anna Van Dine , with additional production from Tasha Lemley. Production manager, Gabriela Montequin. Mixing and sound design by Alex Brouwer. Our production partner for this series is CitizenRacecar.
Talking Policy is a production of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Archival audio used in this series is from NPR; the University of California, Irvine, audio recordings collection; Freesound.org; the Internet Archive; the Library of Congress; and the United States Government. Used with permission, where applicable. Any unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
The UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) is a research network comprised of scholars from across the University of California and the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories that conducts policy-relevant research to mitigate conflict and promote a more peaceful world order. Our focus is on challenges that have the potential to lead to wide-scale conflict, and that can benefit from global cooperation to solve. Our portfolio includes both traditional security issues—defense innovation, strategy and deterrence, nuclear weapons policy, and security cooperation—and emerging and non-traditional challenges such as climate change, geoeconomics and great power competition, and threats to democracy. In each of these areas, IGCC builds diverse, multidisciplinary research teams that analyze the causes and consequences of global conflict—and help develop practical solutions.