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  • Author: Matt Preston
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The Korean Peninsula has dominated the news out of Asia as of late. From assassinations reminiscent of James Bond villains and ballistic missiles aimed at U.S. bases in Japan, to Chinese anger over advanced missile defence systems, and harsher than ever sanctions by China on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRIK), there is no shortage of headlines. But below the radar, some more important events have been taking place across the Tsushima Strait. On March 4, Japan’s Liberal Democrat Party approved a rule change that would allow the party’s president to continue for a third term. This means that should the LDP win another election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could serve until 2021, making him the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in the postwar era.1 Upon the rule’s approval, Abe announced: “It’s the historic mission of the LDP, which has held up the backbone of Japan throughout the postwar period, to lead a specific debate toward a proposal to amend the constitution.” To Abe and the conservative faction he heads within the LDP, that largely means repealing Article 9 — the ‘no war’ clause. Simultaneously, controversy has arisen over a potential conflict of interest story regarding the sale of land far below market value to a nationalistic primary school that originally named Abe’s wife, Akie, as honourary principal.2
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Alan Stephenson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: It is time for the Canadian government to conduct a holistic review of Canada’s national security complex. The Defence Policy Review is floundering as a consequence of an uncooperative world, Canada’s domestic security institutions require legislative empowerment, and the election of Donald Trump has placed increased pressure on Canadian security and defence. Securing the U.S.’s northern border is a no-fail mission for Canada as peace and prosperity depend upon it. However, this must be done within Canadian security norms and values. Only a ground-up examination of the Canadian national security system will elicit a comprehensive understanding of the current deficiencies that will allow focused alignment of government objectives, policies and public funds. Crisis management requires a strategic plan with clear objectives from which to conduct concurrent and coordinated activities. The Trudeau government has the team in place; now, it needs a new National Security Policy statement to assist in “lead turning” an unconventional U.S. administration steadfast in its stance over national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Immigration
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Flemming Splidsboel Hansen
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The basic tenet of the Russian disinformation strategy is the claim that all news is constructed and therefore contested. In the best postmodern tradition they claim there is no ‘objective news’ – only different, rivalling interpretations which purport to show different aspects of what may be called ‘reality’. And what the Russian media outlets present are merely possible explanations which serve as alternatives to the stories offered by Western media. It is a strategy which is both cunning and elegant as it preys on the enlightenment tradition and on the vulnerabilities of liberal democratic media. The Russian authorities seem to believe that (dis-) information campaigns hold great prospects. In a 2017 article, the Russian Chief of Staff informed the public about the Russian military thinking on the topic of ‘war’ and on the role of the non-military or "non-kinetic" in this. It seems premature to conclude that this thinking sees the possibility of war as an exclusively non-kinetic activity – this at least was not announced in the article – but the development points strongly in this direction and we should therefore expect to see an increased Russian focus on (dis-) information campaigns designed to bring well-defined outcomes. There will not be any easy or fix-it-all solutions to this development. Rather, liberal democracies, especially vulnerable as a result of their free media culture, should prepare themselves for a long-term commitment to countering disinformation and to building up cognitive resilience to ensure that the former has minimal effect.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Mikhaïl Souslov
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: This paper traces the evolution of the diaspora policies and visions from the early 1990s to the present, and argues that the understanding of Russian “compatriots abroad” has never been the same; rather, it travelled a long road from revanchist irredentism of the red-brown opposition in the 1990s, to the moderately liberal pragmatism of the early 2000s, to the confrontational instrumentalization of Russian “compatriots” as a lever of Russia’s soft power in the late 2000s, and, finally, back to the even more confrontational, irredentist and isolationist visions after the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, International Affairs, Diaspora
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Zahid Hussain
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The CPEC is a nodal part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that envisages connecting China to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As part of the project, Pakistan welcomes investments worth tens of billions of dollars for infrastructure and power sector development at a time when it desperately needs foreign investment to boost its fledgling economy. The addition of an expected 10,000 MW of electricity to the national grid by end 2018 will help overcome energy shortages and give a major boost to the economy. Similarly, the development of roads and other transport infrastructure will also improve connectivity inside the country as well with other neighboring countries in the future. The connectivity part of the project could actually become a game changer for Pakistan
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China
  • Author: Anaïs Marin
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Since they signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership” agreement in 2013, military-industrial cooperation has intensified, thereby substantiating Belarusian hopes for closer ties with China, which are meant to counterbalance Minsk’s complex relations with Moscow and Brussels. In the eyes of its Chinese partners, however, Belarus seems to enjoy only limited appeal compared with other central and eastern European (CEE) countries, which are more advanced on the road to economic transformation and better integrated into the global system
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Isabelle Facon
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Three years after the Euromaidan protests and as the war in the east continues, the government has pursued significant military reforms. Kiev has published new strategic documents which reflect the complexity of the challenges facing Ukrainian national security. Pressure from NATO comes in addition to pressure from civil society, which manifests itself in numerous ways. Nonetheless, military reform in Ukraine is still suffering from a number of constraints related to the amount of resources available, resistance on the part of various national players and conflicts between different institutions.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Celine Pajon
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: In recent years, Japan's security contribution in Africa rose with the unprecedented participation of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in an international counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, the subsequent build-up of its first overseas military base in Djibouti, and the SDF's longest participation in United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations (UNPKO), in South Sudan (2012-May 2017). This increased security contribution has been driven by a need to react to various events, such as the rising Chinese presence in Africa and the increase in terrorist attacks and piracy. It is also a means of reassuring a risk-averse business sector and encouraging it to step up its investment in Africa. Finally, it is about demonstrating Japan's identity as a "proactive contributor to peace", and responsible shareholder in international security. While media attention is drawn to the Japanese SDF presence on the ground and at sea, the bulk of Japan's security contribution to Africa remains low-key, mostly in the form of financial contributions and capacity-building assistance, and is very often channeled through or in partnership with multilateral institutions or a third country, such as France. This said, Africa is now being associated more tightly with Japan's strategic core interests. Terrorist attacks on the continent are posing a direct risk to Japanese nationals. Threats to the security of vital maritime shipping routes transiting from the Middle East to the Indian Ocean are also directly undermining Tokyo's interests. The inclusion of Africa in the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy" demonstrates Japan's willingness to adopt a more strategic approach to Africa.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Japan
  • Author: Bobo Lo
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The influence these great powers exert, on themselves and others, is uneven and difficult to predict. Alongside a public consensus on a “democratic world order”, there are significant differences of perspective and sometimes conflicting interests. It is far from clear whether the Russia-China-India matrix can form the basis of an emerging network of cooperation, or whether its contradictions foreshadow an increasingly problematic engagement.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: EU policy towards its Southern Neighbour- hood aims to ensure the security of Member States and is underpinned by an assumption of a shared interest in democracy, security, and prosperity through economic liberalisation. It sees the main way of achieving these aims as promoting Western-style liberal democracy as a political system capable of providing peace and stability. Evidence from public opinion survey research shows this ambition is supported by citizens of Arab countries, where public opinion polls for over a decade report strong support for democracy. However, these citizens do not share the EU’s procedural conception of democracy, a conception in which civil and political rights are decoupled from – and prioritised over – social and economic rights. The Arab Transformations survey carried out in 2014 in six Arab states (Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq) suggests few people demanded this brand of democracy. Furthermore, most people thought the EU has not done a good job of supporting transitions to democracy, nor did they have much appetite for EU involvement in the domestic politics of their countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East