COUNTERING COMPREHENSIVE COERCION offers policymakers a better understanding of the threat they face. It argues that Russian and Chinese malign activities should be viewed part of a unique form of authoritarian political warfare: comprehensive coercion. Unlike most Western nations, Russia and China have long histories of engaging in political warfare, deep insecurities that have driven them to embrace a particularly aggressive brand of political warfare, and highly centralized governments that enable them to integrate and coordinate the diverse elements of political warfare campaigns.
Meanwhile, democratic nations are particularly vulnerable to comprehensive coercion because the open nature of their societies provides many pathways for rivals to shape and influence, while gaps and seams across government agencies can make an effective response difficult to mount. Nevertheless, COUNTERING COMPREHENSIVE COERCION also highlights how the targets of authoritarian political warfare campaigns can better position themselves to compete, not only by reducing their vulnerability but also by adopting more forward-leaning measures of their own.