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  • Author: Juha Käpylä, Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: With exciting economic opportunities and serious environmental challenges, the Arctic is transforming and re-emerging as a geopolitically important region. Major global players within and without the Arctic are paying greater attention to the region. While Russia is a traditional Arctic state with significant economic and security interests in the region, China, the US and the EU have also expressed their Arctic interests more explicitly. They are keen to tap into the economic potential and have a say in the way the region becomes accessed, exploited and governed. As a result, the Arctic is no longer a spatially or administratively confined region, but is instead taking its new form in the midst of contemporary global politics. The globalization and economization of the Arctic will most likely downplay environmentalism and reduce the relative influence of the indigenous people and small Arctic states in Arctic affairs. Arctic governance is also likely to turn more complex and complicated as the economic and political stakes are raised.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Baldur Thorhallsso, Alyson J. K. Bailes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 at the height of the economic crisis. Four years later, a new government has put the application on hold: the majority of Icelanders are opposed to entry, but want to continue the accession process and put the results to a vote. Iceland's longer-standing problems with European integration stem from the issue of sovereignty in general, and maintaining control over fisheries and agriculture in particular. Since 2009, anti-European feelings have been stoked by the 'Icesave' dispute, while the prospective benefits of entry (including use of the euro) have been tarnished by witnessing the fate of other small states during the euro crisis. The new government proposes remaining a member of the EEA and developing relations with other world powers. But the US commitment to Iceland has weakened over the years, and 'rising' powers like China are unable, as yet, to solve the country's core problems. In terms of both its security and its standing within the global economy, Iceland is becoming more rather than less dependent on Europe over time. The question raised by the latest political turn is whether it will have to maintain that relationship from a distance, with limited control and with no guaranteed goodwill.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Anna Kronlund
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's recent action to address climate change indicates that it will be one of the second term's topical questions. The new climate change action plan introduced by Obama in June 2013 is composed of various executive actions and based on three pillars: reducing carbon pollution; leading international attempts to approach climate change; and preparing the US for the effects of climate change. The measures already adopted on climate change provide an opportunity to examine the possibilities that the president has to implement his climate action plan through executive powers without Congress. The decision to advance the political agenda through executive decisions is at least partly attributable to the partisan gridlock currently gripping US politics. The reach and effect of the executive decisions to address climate change outlined in the climate action plan are yet to be determined. The topical question seems to be whether the actions already taken offer hope that the US will reach its target to reduce carbon pollution and slow the effects of climate change, or whether legislative action from Congress will be called for. Although climate change is now being addressed through executive actions that do not require new legislation from Congress, this does not rule out the possibility that legislation will be passed in the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Industrial Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Finland's decision to acquire advanced semi-stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM) from the United States is much more than an arms deal – it has significant political and regional military implications. Finland is only the second country to be approved for JASSM. No NATO country has ever received such approval. This suggests something about the closeness of the relationship between the United States and Finland, as well as something about how the United States sees European and regional defence arrangements. In the web of multilateral, multinational and bilateral relationships that Finland is weaving to enhance its security, the US relationship is a key cable The JASSM acquisition significantly changes Finland's ability to disrupt enemy activities, both within Finland and beyond its borders. Despite being a conventional weapon, it will serve as a deterrent. Finnish decision-makers have a responsibility to understand both the implications of the new capabilities, and to ensure that the continued development of the Finnish Defence Forces is not inhibited due to misunderstandings of what a modern defence requires and consists of.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Finland
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Jarno limnéll
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Cybersecurity concerns everyone, and is everyone's responsibility. It is a genuine example of a society-wide security issue. The United States is ahead of Europe in discussing and integrating (military) cybersecurity into its foreign and security policies. For the US, the biggest challenges at the moment are: updating legal frameworks, creating cyber rules of engagement for the military, building cyber deterrence and clarifying the cybersecurity roles and responsibilities of government and private sector actors. Cooperation at national and international levels is integral to improving cybersecurity. This includes updating international and domestic legal frameworks to ensure that state actions are accountable, and to protect citizens from wanton strikes at critical infrastructure. Governments must hold private sector partners accountable, and through partnerships ensure that societal cybersecurity is not overshadowed by private interests – public-private partnerships have a crucial role to play in this.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology, Terrorism, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's view and handling of foreign policy challenges can be described as pragmatically progressive. His foreign policy blends a realist mindset and pragmatic approach with liberal and, at times, idealistic and far-reaching goals. Obama's foreign policy decision-making process is deliberate. This is not always compatible with the expectations of the modern political and media environment. Two years into his presidency, Obama has engaged with the five major national security issues he outlined as a candidate, meeting initial success in four of them. When faced with unexpected events largely beyond his control, Obama seems not to make snap decisions based on a particular ideology, preferring to take the time to see how events unfold. When faced with crises that build up slowly or were previously identified in scenarios, Obama's administration has responded robustly and deliberately.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mikael Wigell
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Brazil has risen to international prominence over the last decade. Now the 7th largest economy in the world, the country has started acting with greater confidence and authority on the international stage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Emerging Markets, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil
  • Author: Teemu Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The electoral defeat suffered by the ruling Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE) in the municipal elections and the prolonged financial crisis has forced Prime Minister Zapatero to call an early general election on 20 November. The Conservative People's Party (Partido Popular, PP) is ahead in the polls by a clear margin and is likely to gain an absolute majority in the parliament. The economic outlook for Spain looks bleak, which means that the new government will have to create new jobs quickly and push through harsh and unpopular reforms, particularly regarding the fiscal and administrative structures. The Indignados protest movement is gaining support, and looks set to challenge the legitimacy of the system and force the future government to produce speedy results. Spain is expected to enhance its role in international politics through pragmatic bilateral relations. In particular, relations with the US seem to be warming up, while Spain can turn to the UK and Poland in the EU for companionship
  • Topic: Debt, Democratization, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Spain
  • Author: Kristian Tangen
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: It is far from certain that a strong, legally-binding climate agreement preferred by the EU will produce better environmental results than the broader and weaker scheme proposed by the USA. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, countries that are listed in Annex B of the protocol also committed themselves to inscribe new emission reduction targets for the period after 2012. The push by some countries for a single legal outcome to replace the Kyoto Protocol has antagonized developing countries, who see this as an attempt by the developed countries to back out of their commitments. In terms of environmental results and the negotiation dynamics there are significant merits to a system where one group of countries takes on legally binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol for the post-2012 period, and another group of countries take on less binding commitments under the Climate Change Convention. Such a system could broaden participation by including countries not yet ready to accede to a legally-binding instrument (i.e. the USA and major developing countries), while preserving the operational detail of the Kyoto Protocol to serve as a benchmark for the development of the climate regime going forward.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Environment, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anna Korppoo
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The 10-15% reduction target by 2020 announced by Russia reflects neither the country's efficiency potential, nor modeled emissions trends. With emission reduction measures, Russia could commit to a target of ca. -30% by 2020. Transferring the surplus emission allowances Russia gained under the Kyoto Protocol due to the economic restructuring of the 1990s represents an extreme threat to both the environmental and market integrity of the Copenhagen agreement as it could be used to offset real domestic emission reduction measures in other countries. But it seems politically unlikely that Russia would join without transferring the surplus under the Copenhagen agreement. Countries should recognize the threat posed by the surplus, and offer a cooperative strategy to deal with it. However, pushing through a 'cancel or discount' approach to the surplus problem by three-quarter majority, which could be brought together without the co-operation of the surplus-holding countries, should be kept as a reserve strategy. More ambitious targets - beyond the 25-40% suggested by the IPCC - for the Annex I industrialized country group, especially for the surplus holding countries including Russia, could absorb the transferred surplus. However, given the current low pledges of Annex 1 countries, higher targets are unlikely to absorb the whole surplus, and therefore, a basket of approaches should be applied. To gain credibility on this issue of vis-à-vis Russia and to avoid Russia setting the tone, before Copenhagen the EU must adopt an internal solution to deal with the surplus of its new member states. If expecting to transfer the surpluses, the other surplus holding countries including Russia could announce national surplus use plans prior to the Copenhagen climate talks. In order to minimize a scenario of Russia blocking the Copenhagen process in the final hours, key countries should publically engage Russia on climate and the Copenhagen talks. Important Annex I countries, especially the US, should send very high-level representatives to Moscow like they have sent to China and India.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, India, Asia
  • Author: Linda Jakobson
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China has in a very short time span embraced multilateral mechanisms to address a broad range of issues and avoided confrontation with the United States. Both stances have shaped Asian and European views of a rising China. At present, Asian and European leaders take China's word regarding its peaceful intentions as a rising power. However, Asian and European policy-makers tend to refrain from confronting China too strongly on issues sensitive to Beijing (poor implementation of intellectual property rights, disregard for human rights, etc). The more prosperous China grows, the less influence any other country will have over Beijing's policies. A rising China is a challenge to others because of its sheer size, its great need for imported energy, and the environmental degradation it causes due to its ongoing industrialization. The troubled relationship between China and Japan is one of increasing concern and could lead to aggravated tensions in East Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Tapani Vaahtoranta, Steve Wright
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US and Iran are on a confrontational course. Iran challenges the US hegemony in the region and is striving for regional dominance. The US does not accept the current Iranian regime, foreign policy or drive towards nuclear capability. The strategies of both have led to a classic game of chicken. Neither is ready to give concessions to avoid confrontation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Toby Archer
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: “WMD” is a political term, not an analytical one. It mixes up very different weapons; some that would have little effect if used by terrorists, and some that would have catastrophic effects. The more dangerous the type of weapon, the more difficult it is for terrorist groups to obtain those weapons. It is important to understand the differing reasons why terrorists have not chosen to use “WMD” in the past, in order to make useful threat assessments. With radical jihadi groups, the symbolic value of suicide attacks as a demonstration of faith seems as important as the effects of the attack. If this changes it could increase the interest of jihadis in “WMD”.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States