March, 2016 Global


Yossef Bodansky for Institut für Strategie- Politik- Sicherheits- und Wirtschaftsberatung (ISPSW)
This article was originally published by ISPSW in March 2016.

According to Yossef Bodansky, the mega-trends in the Middle East – namely, the rise of a “Fertile Crescent of Minorities,” the collapse of modern Arab states, and the ascent of tribe-and clan-based local entities in their stead – have reached the point of irreversibility. As a result, he believes Russia will be the big geopolitical winner in the region.

Strategic Engineered Migration as Weapon of War

After reading the title, you may think it is describing the phenomenon that Europe has recently been facing: the hundreds of thousands of refugees, both victims of the hardships of civil wars and opportunists, who are invading the Balkans by land and by sea and then making their way further, trying to reach richer countries like Germany, France and Scandinavia by any means possible.

Washington looks for 'existential threats' in all the wrong places.
Robert S. Leiken

America spent the last thirty years attacking illusory foes or defending purported friends in the Middle East, sacrificing blood and treasure, polarizing our polity and forfeiting influence. Our misadventures resemble a game of blindman’s buff, our record that of a perennial cellar-dwelling football team.
Consecutive American administrations turned the ball over several times without moving it downfield. We barge into Middle East conflicts like a drunken bar brawler. What induced this addiction?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump [Reuters]

 Hamid Dabashi
Despite the fact that the majority of US citizens dislike both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump after their respective victories in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois, the Democratic and Republican frontrunners are now poised to combat their way into the White House.


Project Syndicate, Abdul Abiad and Shang-Jin Wei
MANILA – There is no doubt that China’s ongoing growth slowdown has had far-reaching effects on the global economy. But its role in the sharp fall in commodity prices that has occurred since 2014 – an outcome that has been devastating for commodity-exporting countries, including once-dynamic emerging economies – is more limited than the conventional wisdom suggests. In fact, China’s slowdown is only a part of the commodity-price story.

China, Economy, Global, Politics

 

When you think you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s tempting to make up your own grand strategy.

NIALL FERGUSON 
It is a criticism I have heard from more than one person who has worked with President Obama: that he regards himself as the smartest person in the room—any room. Jeffrey Goldberg’s fascinating article reveals that this is a considerable understatement. The president seems to think he is the smartest person in the world, perhaps ever.


By David P. Goldman
During the Cold War, the assumption that nations are rational actors dominated foreign policy research, and with good reason: the United States and the Soviet Union pursued their rivalry by rational means. Mathematical simulation provided baseline scenarios for conflict management. Today, the emergence of militant Islam as a major (and perhaps the most important) strategic threat to the United States challenges the old assumption of rationality. Where this assumption prevails, as in the effort to bring Iran into the strategic architecture of Western Asia, it is deeply controversial.

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Last month, the Obama administration released its 2017 budget proposal, including thousands of pages on the nearly $600 billion request for the Pentagon. That money is earmarked for a wide array of projects—$1.8 billion in procurement of equipment for the Special Operations Command, for instance, and $1.2 billion for the chemical and biological weapons defense program. In each case, the administration carefully explains the rationale and purpose for the budget request.

 

By Robert O. Keohane
This interview was originally published by E-International Relations (E-IR) on 26 February 2016.

Where do you see the most exciting research and debates happening today in the field of international relations?

commodity prices global trade

Project Syndicate, Daniel Gros
BRUSSELS – China has just announced that last year, for the first time since it began opening up its economy to the world at the end of the 1970s, exports declined on an annual basis. And that is not all; in value terms, global trade declined in 2015. The obvious question is why.


Mark Leonard, Project Syndicate
MUNICH – The consequences of Russia’s intervention in Syria stretch far beyond the Middle East. The Kremlin’s military campaign has tilted the stalemate in favor of the government and derailed efforts to craft a political compromise to end the war. It also heralds the beginning of a new era in geopolitics, in which large-scale military interventions are not carried out by Western coalitions, but by countries acting in their own narrow self-interest, often in contravention of international law.

A white gun painted on a wall in Northern Ireland

 Anna Simons for Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI)

Does the kinder, gentler form of warfare that the West has been pursuing over the last twenty-five years actually work? Maybe, says Anna Simons, but those who would reorient their militaries towards a predominantly “soft war” footing are making two big mistakes – they’re misreading 21st century realities and human nature. 

 

Project Syndicate, Kent Harrington
ATLANTA – Even as China’s economy slows and its government backslides on reform, President Xi Jinping is trying hard to portray his country as a global power ready to assume a broader international role. It is proving to be a tough sell.


By Nicholas Pugh
This article was originally published by E-International Relations (E-IR) on 20 February 2016.

According to Max Weber, realism ‘recognizes the subjugation of morality’ to the ‘demands of [a] human nature’ in which the ‘insatiable lust for power’ is paramount (Weber in Smith 1982:1). This claim has led many—especially among liberal theorists—to label it as an amoral and bellicose doctrine (Molloy 2009:107).