Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies, International Studies

First Advisor

David Goldfischer

Second Advisor

Paul Viotti


China, Cyber policy, Escalation management, Hybrid warfare, Russia, South China Sea


The U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) and the unclassified version of the U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) both focus on China and Russia as preeminent challenges for the United States. The NDS states specifically, “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department [of Defense].”1 This paper focuses on the strategic challenges that these two nations pose and provides recommendations for U.S. strategy and policy. Globalization and the rapid advancement of technology has changed the utility of force in the 21st century. The utility of force has evolved, resulting in a shift in the character of war. This shift entails an increased focus on methods of force mainly below the threshold of traditional armed great power conflict. In order to preserve a stable international order, the U.S. needs strategies and polices that adapt to the new threat environment. In particular the United States should: (1) Concurrently build defensive capabilities and adopt a strong and public policy of deterrence to counter current and emerging hybrid, gray-zone, and advanced technological threats. (2) Renew dedication to longer-term interests and favor negotiated solutions—including pursuing norms and agreements on emerging conflict-relevant technologies—to counter the growing risk of miscalculation and escalation from grayzone provocations (most notably in the cyber domain). (3) Increase domestic resilience by strengthening the electoral system, building stronger public-private partnerships, and working with the international community to increase attribution in the cyber domain. (4) Ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and provide additional funding for initiatives in the Indo-Pacific. (5) Strongly defend the status quo with Taiwan and in the South China Sea but, after increasing U.S. strategic involvement in the region, lead and pursue negotiations on more permanent solutions.

1 Mattis, J. (2018, January 19). Summary of the National Defense Strategy of the United States of America.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Raymond L. Reilly III


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

83 p.


International relations, Political science, Military studies