Report Launch | A Full-Spectrum Response to Sharp Power: The Vulnerabilities and Strengths of Open Societies

June 18, 2021
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


about the event

Globalization has deepened integration between democracies and autocracies, tethering them to one another in complicated ways that have exposed democracies’ vulnerabilities that authoritarian powers are exploiting. The compromising effects of sharp power—which impairs free expression, neutralizes independent institutions, and distorts the political environment—have grown apparent across crucial sectors of open societies, including the media and information space, the knowledge sector, norms and standards surrounding emerging technologies, and commerce. A response from the full spectrum of institutions within open societies is essential, and civil society—broadly understood—in this regard is a crucial part of democracies’ competitive advantage over authoritarian states. Democracies must shift from an awareness-raising phase to more concerted action. The International Forum for Democratic Studies held a discussion to launch its final report, A Full-Spectrum Response to Sharp Power: The Vulnerabilities and Strengths of Open Societies, and reflect on lessons learned from its series examining Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience.


Read the Report: A Full Spectrum Response to Sharp Power: The Vulnerabilities and Strengths of Open Societies



Nadège Rolland, Senior Fellow, National Bureau of Asian Research

Edward Lucas, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis

Nicholas D. Wright, Neuroscientist and Technology Researcher, Intelligent Biology


moderated by

Jessica Ludwig, Senior Program Officer, International Forum for Democratic Studies


with introductory remarks by

Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy


and comments from

Marc F. Plattner, Founding Coeditor Emeritus, Journal of Democracy


About the participants

Carl Gershman is president of the National Endowment for Democracy. Gershman has led NED since its operations began in 1984 and has overseen the development and growth of NED’s global grantmaking program as well as NED’s other related endeavors, including the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the Journal of Democracy, the Center for International Media Assistance, and the World Movement for Democracy.

Edward Lucas is a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He was formerly a senior editor at The Economist. Lucas has covered Central and Eastern European affairs since 1986, writing, broadcasting, and speaking on the politics, economics, and security of the region. A graduate of the London School of Economics and long-serving foreign correspondent in Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and the Baltic states, he is an internationally recognized expert on espionage, subversion, the use and abuse of history, energy security and information warfare. He is the author of four books: The New Cold War (2008, newly revised and republished); Deception (2011); The Snowden Operation (2014), and Cyberphobia (2015).

Jessica Ludwig is a senior program officer at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the research and analytical section of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In this capacity, she serves as editor of the Power 3.0 blog and producer of the Power 3.0 podcast. Her research focuses on authoritarian influence in emerging democracies, with a particular interest in China and Russia’s engagement with Latin America. She is coauthor (with Christopher Walker) of the report, A Full-Spectrum Response to Sharp Power: The Vulnerabilities and Strengths of Open Societies, and coeditor (with Christopher Walker) of the report, Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, 2017). Her writing has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Global Americans, and the Journal of Democracy.

Marc F. Plattner is the founding coeditor emeritus of the Journal of Democracy and serves on the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy. Until 2016, he also served as NED’s vice president for research and studies. From 1984 to 1989, he was NED’s director of program. Over the past two decades, he has coedited with Larry Diamond more than two dozen books on contemporary issues relating to democracy in the Journal of Democracy book series, including Democracy in Decline? (2015) and Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World (2014). He is the author of Democracy without Borders: Challenges to Liberal Democracy (2008) and Rousseau’s State of Nature (1979).

Nadège Rolland is senior fellow for political and security affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Her research focuses mainly on China’s foreign and defense policy, and the changes in regional dynamics across Eurasia resulting from the rise of China. Drawing on her twenty years of experience as a French government official, she also examines the prospects for transatlantic cooperation in research and policy related to Asia. Prior to joining NBR, Rolland was an analyst and senior adviser on Asian and Chinese strategic issues to the French Ministry of Defense (1994–2014) and a research analyst for the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) (2007–8). She is the author of the book China’s Eurasian Century? Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative (2017).

Nicholas D. Wright is a neuroscientist and technology researcher at Intelligent Biology, an affiliated scholar at Georgetown University, an honorary research associate at University College London (UCL), and fellow at New America. His work combines neuroscientific, behavioral, and technological insights to understand decision making in politics and international confrontations in ways practically applicable to policy. Dr. Wright is editor of the book, Artificial Intelligence, China, Russia, and the Global Order (Air University Press, 2019) and has published articles in numerous academic, government, and general publications including The Atlantic and Foreign Affairs, in addition to appearing on CNN and the BBC. Dr. Wright received a medical degree from UCL, a BSc in Health Policy from Imperial College London, is a member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK), and holds an MSc in Neuroscience and a PhD in Neuroscience from UCL.


Twitter: Follow @ThinkDemocracy and use #NEDEvents to join the conversation.

Please email to register as a member of the press.