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  • Author: Henry Farrell, Abraham L. Newman
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Liberals claim that globalization has led to fragmentation and decentralized networks of power relations. This does not explain how states increasingly “weaponize interdependence” by leveraging global networks of informational and financial exchange for strategic advantage. The theoretical literature on network topography shows how standard models predict that many networks grow asymmetrically so that some nodes are far more connected than others. This model nicely describes several key global economic networks, centering on the United States and a few other states. Highly asymmetric networks allow states with (1) effective jurisdiction over the central economic nodes and (2) appropriate domestic institutions and norms to weaponize these structural advantages for coercive ends. In particular, two mechanisms can be identified. First, states can employ the “panopticon effect” to gather strategically valuable information. Second, they can employ the “chokepoint effect” to deny network access to adversaries. Tests of the plausibility of these arguments across two extended case studies that provide variation both in the extent of U.S. jurisdiction and in the presence of domestic institutions—the SWIFT financial messaging system and the internet—confirm the framework's expectations. A better understanding of the policy implications of the use and potential overuse of these tools, as well as the response strategies of targeted states, will recast scholarly debates on the relationship between economic globalization and state coercion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Globalization, Information Age, Global Security, Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Kristi Govella
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: For most of history, the domains of the global commons were unclaimed, largely because the technology to access and utilize them did not exist.[1] In areas such as the high seas and outer space, it was impossible for states to establish and maintain sovereign control. Even as the relevant technologies developed, costliness and controls kept them initially concentrated largely in the hands of just a few major powers such as the Unit- ed States and the Soviet Union. For the United States, “command of the commons” became the military foundation of its hegemony, granting it the ability to access much of the planet and to credibly threaten to deny the use of such spaces to others.[2] Bipolar competition between the United States and the Soviet Union strongly influenced developments in the maritime and outer space domains. In the case of cyberspace, a more recent addition to the traditional global commons, the United States was also initially dominant due to its role in pioneering associated technologies. However, over time and particularly since the end of the Cold War, continuing technological innovation and diffusion have made these domains accessible to a growing number of countries. ​ This technological progress was born of both cooperation and competition between states. While some states chose to develop certain technologies indigenously, many acquired knowledge and equipment from abroad. Globalization of industry has made it easier for states to obtain a variety of foreign technologies, even lowering the threshold for them to procure disruptive military capabilities. In addition, over the last two decades, American primacy has been increasingly challenged by the rise of China, which has impacted the dynamics of technological development and diffusion across multiple domains. As China has acquired the technology to become more active in the commons, it has prompted major regional powers, such as Japan and India, to accelerate their own technological advancement, and other mid-sized and smaller countries have also become increasingly engaged.[3] ​ The consequence of this multiplication of technologically sophisticated actors has been the erosion of American primacy in the global commons. Although the United States still remains the most dominant player, it is faced with a more densely populated field, and management of these spaces has become more difficult. This article examines this trend in the high seas, outer space, and cyberspace since the end of the Cold War, with attention to the ways in which the rise of China and the relative decline of the United States have catalyzed greater engagement with the commons, particularly among the countries in Asia that find themselves most affected by this power transition. I argue that advances in and diffusion of technology have transformed the global commons into increasingly crowded domains characterized by interstate competition and heightened tensions. Whether these tensions prevail depends on the creation and strengthening of regimes to manage interactions and promote shared rules and norms...
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Globalization, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Natália Maria Félix de Souza
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: The publication of the last of three parts of Contexto Internacional’s special issue ‘Gender in the Global South’ is the opportunity to both celebrate and lament the accomplishments of feminist scholarship in the so-called global South. Reflecting from the Brazilian experience and scenario, it is remarkable how much the women, gender and sexuality agenda has grown in the field of international relations: from a marginal perspective at the turn of the century (Nogueira and Messari 2005), it has now become a major locus of resistance and contestation, which can be attested to by looking at the power plays at the Brazilian international relations association’s annual meetings, the multiplication of feminist collectives inside public and private universities, not to mention the growing number of gender-sensitive research articles published by the main national journals – including this triple special issue. From where I look, there is no doubt that feminism has come to shake the conventions of the area and produce a much more plural and interesting picture of international relations – one which encompasses more voices, stories, subjectivities and narratives. From this standpoint, there is much to celebrate and hope for.
  • Topic: International Relations, Gender Issues, Socialism/Marxism, Realism, International Relations Theory, Feminism, Liberalism
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Global Focus
  • Author: Amanda Álvares Ferreira
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: Marysia Zalewski is a Professor at Cardiff University, in Wales, and a renowned International Relations (IR) scholar. She has become a reference for her work with feminism and gender since the 1990s. She has published several books including The ‘Man’ Question in International Relations (edited with Jane Parpart, re-released in 2019 by Routledge), Feminist International Relations: Exquisite Corpse (2013) and Sexual Violence against Men in Global Politics edited with Paula Drumond, Elisabeth Prügl and Maria Stern (2018), among many other books and articles. Her work has brought important contributions in thinking feminist critical methodologies, as well as looking at everyday life as a productive site for empirical and theoretical analysis of how gender is implicated in international politics. She was in Rio de Janeiro for an event at the International Relations Institute of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-Rio), where she was part of two panels called ‘Rethinking the Borders between Gender and Sexuality’ and ‘The Rise of Conservatisms and the Challenges to the Women, Gender and Sexuality Agendas.
  • Topic: International Relations, Gender Issues, Political Theory, International Relations Theory, Feminism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Donna V. Jones, Kevin Bruyneel, William Garcia Medina
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: Stuart Hall, a founding scholar in the Birmingham School of cultural studies and eminent theorist of ethnicity, identity and difference in the African diaspora, as well as a leading analyst of the cultural politics of the Thatcher and post-Thatcher years, delivered the W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University in 1994. In the lectures, published after a nearly quarter-century delay as The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation (2017), Hall advances the argument that race, at least in North Atlantic contexts, operates as a ‘sliding signifier,’ such that, even after the notion of a biological essence to race has been widely discredited, race-thinking nonetheless renews itself by essentializing other characteristics such as cultural difference. Substituting Michel Foucault’s famous power-knowledge dyad with power-knowledge-difference, Hall argues that thinking through the fateful triangle of race, ethnicity and nation shows us how discursive systems attempt to deal with human difference. Part I of the forum critically examines the promise and potential problems of Hall’s work from the context of North America and western Europe in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter and Brexit. Donna Jones suggests that, although the Birmingham School’s core contributions shattered all certainties about class identity, Hall’s Du Bois Lectures may be inadequate to a moment when white racist and ethno-nationalist appeals are ascendant in the USA and Europe and that, therefore, his and Paul Gilroy’s earlier work on race and class deserve our renewed attention. Kevin Bruyneel examines Hall’s work on race in relation to three analytics that foreground racism’s material practices: intersectionality, racial capitalism and settler colonialism. William Garcia in the final contribution asks us to think about the anti-immigrant black nativisms condoned and even encouraged by discourses of African-American identity and by unmarked references to blackness in the US context. In ‘Fateful Triangles in Brazil,’ Part II of Contexto Internacional’s forum on The Fateful Triangle, three scholars work with and against Hall’s arguments from the standpoint of racial politics in Brazil.
  • Topic: International Relations, Race, Capitalism, Ethnicity, Nation-State
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Global Focus
  • Author: Milan Babic, Jan Fichtner, Eelke M. Heemskerk
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over 25 years ago, Susan Strange urged IR scholars to include multinational corporations in their analysis. Within IR and IPE discussions, this was either mostly ignored or reflected in an empirically and methodologically unsatisfactory way. We reiterate Strange’s call by sketching a fine-grained theoretical and empirical approach that includes both states and corporations as juxtaposed actors that interact in transnational networks inherent to the contemporary international political economy. This realistic, juxtaposed, actor- and relations-centred perspective on state and corporate power in the global system is empirically illustrated by the example of the transnationalisation of state ownership.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy, State, Multinational Corporations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Timothy Meyer
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: This article argues that the form of international agreements – binding hard law agreements versus non-binding soft law agreements – can be partially explained by states’ interests in promoting renegotiation in the presence of uncertainty and shifting power. I make this argument in three steps. First, I explain that states regularly use unilateral non-compliance as a renegotiation strategy. Second, I argue that making an agreement soft facilitates this use of unilateral non-compliance. Third, I analyse the conditions – uncertainty characterized by common interests (but not uncertainty characterized by distributive concerns) and shifting power – under which facilitating renegotiation through soft law will appeal to states. In particular, I argue that in the presence of these conditions preventing renegotiation creates long-term costs for states that can inhibit short-term cooperation. In effect, under these conditions the shadow of the future can inhibit cooperation rather than support it, as is conventionally thought. These conditions are common to many major contemporary subjects of international cooperation in a way they were not during the latter half of the 20th century, partially explaining the increased importance of soft law to contemporary international governance.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Law, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, United Nations, Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph M. Parent, Sebastian Rosato
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Does neorealism offer a convincing account of great power balancing behavior? Many scholars argue that it does not. This conclusion rests on a misunderstanding of neorealist theory and an erroneous reading of the evidence. Properly specified, neorealism holds that great powers place an overriding emphasis on the need for self-help. This means that they rely relentlessly both on arming and on imitating the successful military practices of their peers to ensure their security. At the same time, they rarely resort to alliances and treat them with skepticism. There is abundant historical evidence to support these claims. Since 1816, great powers have routinely achieved an effective balance in military capabilities with their relevant competitors and promptly copied the major military innovations of the period. Case studies show that these outcomes are the product of states' efforts to ensure security against increasingly capable rivals. Meanwhile, the diplomatic record yields almost no examples of firm peacetime balancing coalitions over the past 200 years. When alliances have formed, great powers have generally doubted the reliability of their allies and of their opponents' allies. Thus neorealism provides a solid foundation for explaining great power balancing behavior.
  • Topic: International Relations, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Prussia, Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Bessner, Nicolas Guilhot
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Neorealism is one of the most influential theories of international relations, and its first theorist, Kenneth Waltz, a giant of the discipline. But why did Waltz move from a rather traditional form of classical realist political theory in the 1950s to neorealism in the 1970s? A possible answer is that Waltz's Theory of International Politics was his attempt to reconceive classical realism in a liberal form. Classical realism paid a great deal of attention to decisionmaking and statesmanship, and concomitantly asserted a nostalgic, anti-liberal political ideology. Neorealism, by contrast, dismissed the issue of foreign policymaking and decisionmaking. This shift reflected Waltz's desire to reconcile his acceptance of classical realism's tenets with his political commitment to liberalism. To do so, Waltz incorporated cybernetics and systems theory into Theory of International Politics, which allowed him to develop a theory of international relations no longer burdened with the problem of decisionmaking.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, War, Grand Strategy, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Guy Fiti Sinclair
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: This Comment interrogates the central and determining role accorded to functionalism in Jan Klabbers’ account of international organizations (IOs) law in his recent article, ‘The EJIL Foreword: The Transformation of International Organizations Law’. Specifically, it expresses doubts regarding Klabbers’ designation of functionalism as the dominant, paradigmatic theory of IOs law; questions whether the article’s account of functionalism’s historical origins is persuasive; and argues that the ‘rise and fall’ narrative set forth in the article presents an overly sanitized picture of IOs law, largely free from political struggle. The development of IOs law has been more contested than Klabbers’ narrative suggests; minimizing that contestation carries the danger of closing off possibilities for reimagining IOs law today.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Law, International Organization, Critique
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus