< Distinguished speaker series

Thom Shanker & Andrew Hoehn

Thom Shanker

Former New York Times Pentagon Correspondent

Andrew Hoehn

Senior Vice President Research & Analysis

The RAND Corporation

The Slide into Great Power Competition with China: Can it Be Stopped Short of War?

DATE: June 7, 2023 6:00 pm

LOCATION: World Trade Center Baltimore

Event information

Two of Washington’s best-informed defense analysts have just published Age of Danger:
Keeping America Safe in the Age of New Superpowers, which calls for big changes in defense spending to deal with a far more dangerous world than seemed possible when the Cold War ended
in 1991. The authors are Thom Shanker, a veteran former New York Times Pentagon correspondent,
and Andrew Hoehn, senior vice president for research and analysis at the RAND Corporation think
tank. The authors address many threats in their new book, but we’ve asked them to focus on China.

Not so long ago, China was a key manufacturing, trade and investment partner for the United
States, but today, it looms as America’s main geopolitical competitor.

Tensions are growing, and top-level contacts are few and far between. President Joe Biden has
maintained Donald Trump’s punitive trade tariffs, and “strategic ambiguity” has given way in
President Biden’s offhand remarks to a defense commitment to Taiwan that’s not grounded in a
treaty. Should the U.S. come to the defense of Taiwan, which hasn’t adequately prepared its own
defense?

Meanwhile, Xi Jinping signaled in March that he’s preparing for war.

But no one knows if he really means it.

How did we wind up in a Great Power competition that, like the Chinese-Russian collaboration,
seems to know no bounds? To what extent are American missteps responsible – an intense focus on
terrorism, an ill-managed “pivot” of defense forces to the Far East and the political disarray of the past seven years at home? Is China’s drive to take on the U.S.-dominated free world a historical
redress of grievances to end centuries of humiliation? Or is Xi thrusting for world power?

Join us June 7 for what is sure to be an enlightening discussion with Andrew Hoehn and Thom
Shanker about the slide into confrontation.

Andrew Hoehn is senior vice president for research and analysis at the RAND Corporation. He is
the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, where he was responsible for
developing and implementing U.S. force planning and assessments in addition to long- range
policy planning.

Thom Shanker is director of the Project for Media and National Security at George Washington
University. He is the former national security and foreign policy editor for The New York Times’
Washington Bureau, and a longtime Pentagon correspondent for The Times. He is coauthor of The
New York Times bestseller Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign
Against Al Qaeda.

We look forward to seeing you.
Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs

Background

Hoehn and Shanker’s Publication:

Age of Danger: Keeping America Safe in an Era of New Superpowers, New Weapons, and New
Threats –

“Again and again, American taxpayers are asked to open their wallets and pay for a national security machine that costs $1 trillion operate. Yet time and time again, the US government gets it wrong on critical issues. So, what can be done? Enter bestselling author Thom Shanker and defense expert Andrew Hoehn. With decades of national security expertise between them and access to virtually every expert, they look at what’s going wrong in national security and how to make it go right.

Age of Danger looks at the major challenges facing America—from superpowers like Russia and China to emerging threats like pandemics, cybersecurity, climate change, and drones—and reimagines the national security apparatus into something that can truly keep Americans safe. Weaving together expert analysis with exclusive interviews from a new generation of national security leaders, Shanker and Hoehn argue that the United States must create an industrial-grade, life-saving machine out of a system that, for too long, was focused only on deterring adversaries and carrying out global military operations. It is a timely and crucial call to action—a call that if heeded, could save Americans lives, money, and our very future on the global stage.”

Reviews:

RAND: New Book by Hoehn and Shanker Asserts America’s National Security Machine Has Gone Astray, Fails To Keep U.S. Safe—But Can Be Fixed | RAND

NPR: ‘Age of Danger’ explores the risk of AI that doesn’t understand the rules of war : NPR

The Cipher Brief Podcast: Age of Danger: Keeping America Safe in an Era of New Superpowers, New Weapons, and New Threats – The Cipher Brief

Mr. Andrew Hoehn
Senior Vice President of Research and Analysis
RAND Corporation

Short Bio RAND Corporation: Andrew R. Hoehn – Profile | RAND

Publications:

Discontinuities and Distractions — Rethinking Security for the Year 2040: Findings from a RAND Corporation Workshop | RAND

The Evolving Terrorist Threat: Implications for Global Security | RAND
Exploring America’s Role in a Turbulent World: Strategic Rethink | RAND
America’s Security Deficit: Addressing the Imbalance Between Strategy and Resources in a Turbulent World | RAND
A New Division of Labor: Meeting America’s Security Challenges Beyond Iraq | RAND

Mr. Thom Shanker
Former New York Times Pentagon Correspondent

Short Bio The New York Times: Thom Shanker – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Short Bio George Washington University: Director (gwu.edu)
Short Bio Atlantic Council: Thom Shanker – Atlantic Council

Publications:

Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against
Al Qaeda –

“Inside the Pentagon’s secretive and revolutionary new strategy to fight terrorism–and its game- changing effects in the Middle East and at home.

In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States waged a “war on terror” that sought to defeat Al Qaeda through brute force. But it soon became clear that this strategy was not working, and by 2005 the Pentagon began looking for a new way.

In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the military, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement has fashioned an innovative and effective new strategy to fight terrorism, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that characterized the U.S. government’s public posture. Adapting themes from classic Cold War deterrence theory, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways.

Schmitt and Shanker take readers deep into this theater of war, as ground troops, intelligence operatives, and top executive branch officials have worked together to redefine and restrict the geography available for Al Qaeda to operate in. They also show how these new counterterrorism strategies, adopted under George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, were successfully employed in planning and carrying out the dramatic May 2011 raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with
violent radical extremism.”

NPR review: America’s ‘Secret Campaign’ Against Al-Qaida : NPR