In November 2019, the Aspen Ministers Forum (AMF) convened for its 25th session in Vienna, Austria. Chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, the AMF assembled former foreign ministers, top diplomats, journalists, experts and thought leaders from around the world to build on the themes discussed at the group’s 24th session at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. Having reflected on President Truman’s legacy of leadership in world affairs and the state of global institutions in May, the group now turned its focus towards “the 21st century battlefield.” Examining the old and new landscape of international security challenges, the members of the Aspen Ministers Forum particularly addressed two troubling themes that present profound dangers: the breakdown of nuclear arms control efforts and the emergence of destabilizing new technologies and evolving instruments of warfare.
Setting the scene, Secretary Albright observed that amidst the increase in the number of nuclear-armed states and a growing reliance on nuclear weapons for security, the world has seen the re-emergence of nuclear power rivalries and a breakdown of common concepts of strategic stability. As many effective tools from the past, such as engagement, dialogue, and arms control agreements have fallen out of favor, the assembled participants set out to analyze why this breakdown occurred and how nations and international institutions should best proceed looking forward.
The group also turned its attention to emerging technologies that pose serious threats to international stability and present unique challenges to policy makers and technologists alike. Cyber attacks and artificial intelligence, for example, have already begun to reshape the 21st century battlefield and policy discourse, while other tools – such as autonomous systems and biotechnologies – are not far behind. As frontiers for engagement and disruption continue to expand, the members of the AMF discussed how the international community can come together to set new rules of the road to manage risk and ensure stability during this critical era of rapid change.
For an official meeting summary, please click here.