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  • Author: Philip Remler
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The central task for Russian foreign policy in the era of President Vladimir Putin has been to regain the undisputed recognition that Russia is a world power like the Soviet Union before it, a status to which Russia feels entitled.1 The United Nations (UN) is Russia’s most important venue for putting its global aspirations and achievements on display. Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council boosts its claim to be part of a global oligarchy and grants it the power to veto or undermine initiatives that it deems contrary to its interests. The concepts underlying Russia’s use of the UN to promote its aspirations form the subject of this paper. Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, devotes great resources to its missions at the UN, especially New York and Geneva. It traditionally cultivates extensive expertise among its mission members, appointing them to UN postings several times over their careers and leaving them in place for long periods. Russian diplomats are noted for their abilities in drafting highly technical UN documents in English—none more so than Sergey Lavrov, currently Russia’s foreign minister and formerly its permanent representative to the UN from 1994 to 2004.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Power Politics, Law, Geopolitics, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United Nations
  • Author: Robert Springborg, F.C. "Pink" Williams, John Zavage
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The United States, Russia, and Iran have chosen markedly different approaches to security assistance in the Middle East, with dramatic implications for statebuilding and stability. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world’s testing ground for the effectiveness of security assistance provided by global and regional powers. That security assistance has contributed to the intensity and frequency of proxy wars—such as those under way or recently wound down in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—and to the militarization of state and substate actors in the MENA region. Security assistance is at the core of struggles for military, strategic, ideological, and even economic preeminence in the Middle East. Yet despite the broad and growing importance of security assistance for the region and for competition within it between global and regional actors, security assistance has been the subject of relatively little comparative analysis. Efforts to assess relationships between the strategic objectives and operational methods of security assistance providers and their relative impacts on recipients are similarly rare.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Political stability, State Building
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Christian Ruhl, Duncan Hollis, Wyatt Hoffman, Tim Maurer
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As cyber insecurity has become a growing problem worldwide, states and other stakeholders have sought to increase stability for cyberspace. As a result, a new ecosystem of “cyber norm” processes has emerged in diverse fora and formats. Today, United Nations (UN) groups (for example, the Group of Governmental Experts [GGE] and the Open-Ended Working Group [OEWG]), expert commissions (for example, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace), industry coalitions (for example, the Tech Accord, the Charter of Trust), and multistakeholder collectives (for example, the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace) all purport to identify or operationalize various normative standards of behavior for states and/or other stakeholders in cyberspace. As some of these processes wind down (for example, the Global Commission) and others wind up (for example, the OEWG), cyber norms are at a crossroads where each process’s potential (and problems) looms large.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Geopolitics, Norms
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Harith Hasan, Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past nearly two decades, the presence of a variety of state and nonstate military and security forces has transformed the Syrian border district of Bukamal and the neighboring Iraqi district of Qa’im. Following the end of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s caliphate, Iranian-backed militias began to play a major role in the area, turning it into a flashpoint between Iran and its allies on the one side and the United States and Israel on the other. The strain of tensions and the threat of instability are liable to ensure that this heavily securitized part of the border will remain a magnet for conflict for years to come.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Islamic State, Conflict, Borders
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Irina Tsukerman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The recent news about the involvement of Iranian diplomats in the murder of an Iranian dissident in Turkey sparked a flare of international interest from within the all-encompassing coronavirus pandemic coverage, largely thanks to unflattering comparisons with coverage of the Jamal Khashoggi murder in 2018 (which the Iranian press promoted with gusto). The relative lack of interest in the crime from within Turkey itself reflects Ankara’s willingness to consort with Shiite Islamists to its own advantage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Geopolitics, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Gorana Grgic
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: As the world rung in 2020, political analysts across the globe were busy making assessments of the past decade and offering predictions as to the dominant geopolitical, economic and social trends over the next ten years. Subjecting Australia to the same scrutiny leaves an impression the 2010s are going resilience is its greatest success as the country has continued to enjoy uninterrupted economic growth amidst the global financial crisis and in the aftermath of the direst recession to hit the world since the Great Depression. This makes it an absolute record-setter across the Western world. Yet, the optimism that such to be remembered as a decade of missed opportunities as ‘kicking the can down the road’ approach to economy, polity and security start to imperil Australia’s reputation as a lucky country. In brief, Australia’s economic positive trends will endure is fading. While Australia has been spared of the surge of populism that has plagued a significant portion of mature democracies across the West, it has suffered from an unprecedented leadership turnover that has impeded action on the most (figuratively and literally) burning issue it faces – that of climate change. On the foreign and security policy front, successive Australian governments have been walking the diplomatic tightrope as the United States remains to be an indispensable ally, while China takes the prime spot as the country’s largest trading partner. Given the intensification of the US-China rivalry, Australia finds itself needing to find a way out of this Gordian knot. Facing the grim prospects of the precipitously warming planet, the return of great power rivalry, the decline of liberal democracies, and the uncertainties of technological change, 2020s are inevitably going to force Australian decisionmakers to make hard choices.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Political stability, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Australia
  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Both India’s and South Korea’s strategic choices are deeply influenced by the rapidly evolving Indo-Pacific construct, particularly amid a mounting U.S.-China rivalry. With India’s “Look/Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” offering a perfect stage for deepened mutual cooperation, both nations need to further their relations to build Asia’s future while advancing their respective national interests. With both countries following stringent foreign policies as a result of the actions of their immediate neighbors, they present a geopolitically strategic complementarity for their relationship to prosper and emerge as one of the most important relationships in the region. Seoul’s hesitation to overtly embrace the “Indo-Pacific” concept is not really a barrier; rather a geo-political overture to discard the balance of power politics and pursue an autonomous foreign policy. India’s preference for the “Indo-Pacific” is equally based on strategic autonomy, imbibing universal values and an inclusive regional order. Both countries emphasize a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific and have immense potential to establish security and connectivity partnerships as the keystone of their bilateral ties. With India and South Korea understanding the economic importance versus security ramifications of China, and with Japan’s reemergence as a key regional, if not global actor, both countries need to bring serious strategic intent to their relationship. Making use of the ASEAN platform and bilateral dialogues, South Korea and India have the potential to become one of the strongest Indo-Pacific partners of the 21st century
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Ken Godfrey, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Ten years ago, the European Union’s (EU’s) member governments agreed on important council conclusions designed to raise the profile of the union’s support for democracy across the world. In late 2019, EU member states are likely to agree on new democracy conclusions and then, in 2020, on an updated and more operational action plan. They recognize that the strategic context has changed dramatically in the last decade, and the union needs to take on board many lessons about what has worked and not worked in its policies since 2009. Many policymakers hope that the change in leadership of the EU institutions in late 2019 might rejuvenate the bloc’s commitment to international democratic norms, after a period in which the priority has shifted to security issues. This working paper assesses the evolution of EU democracy support policies in recent years and proposes a number of improvements that a new policy framework might offer. The union has focused on improving microlevel tactics, but it most urgently needs a rethink at the macrolevel of its democracy strategies. Ironically, in the last ten years EU approaches to democracy have slowly become more sophisticated and sensitive at the implementation level yet have lost traction because they have failed to keep up with larger political and strategic changes within and beyond Europe. The paper proposes ten action points built around the need for the EU to be more proactive and flexible in supporting democracy and to link democracy support to the union’s changing approach to geopolitical challenges.
  • Topic: Governance, Democracy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After a decades-long absence, Russia is once again appearing on the African continent. The Kremlin’s return to Africa, which has generated considerable media, governmental, and civil society attention, draws on a variety of tools and capabilities. Worrying patterns of stepped-up Russian activity are stirring concerns that a new wave of great-power competition in Africa is now upon us. U.S. policymakers frequently stress the need to counter Russian malign influence on the continent. On a visit to Angola in early 2019, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said that “Russia often utilizes coercive, corrupt, and covert means to attempt to influence sovereign states, including their security and economic partnerships.”1 Advocates for a more forceful Western policy response point to high-visibility Russian military and security cooperation in the Central African Republic and the wide-ranging travels of Russian political consultants and disinformation specialists as confirmation that Russia, like China, represents a major challenge in Africa. Yet is that really the case? Are Russian inroads and capabilities meaningful or somewhat negligible? Hard information is difficult to come by, but any honest accounting of Russian successes will invariably point to a mere handful of client states with limited strategic significance that are isolated from the West and garner little attention from the international community. It remains unclear whether Russia’s investments in Africa over the past decade are paying off in terms of creating a real power base in Africa, let alone putting it on a footing that will expand its influence in the years to come. Nevertheless, Russia increasingly looks to Africa as a region where it can project power and influence. President Vladimir Putin will welcome leaders from across the continent to Sochi in late October for the first Africa-Russia summit, a clear indication of the symbolic importance that Africa holds for the Kremlin right now.2 It is clear that Russian inroads there would be far more limited but for the power vacuums created by a lack of Western policy focus on Africa in recent years. That state of affairs gives Russia (and other outside powers) an opportunity to curry favor with the continent’s elites and populations. More than anything else, it is opportunism that propels Russia’s relatively low-cost and low-risk strategies to try to enhance its clout and unnerve the West in Africa, just as in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Power Politics, Democracy, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2015 Russian military intervention in Syria was a pivotal moment for Moscow’s Middle East policy. Largely absent from the Middle East for the better part of the previous two decades, Russia intervened to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime and reasserted itself as a major player in the region’s power politics. Moscow’s bold use of military power positioned it as an important actor in the Middle East. The intervention took place against the backdrop of a United States pulling back from the Middle East and growing uncertainty about its future role there. The geopolitical realignment and instability caused by the civil wars in Libya and Syria and the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia have opened opportunities for Russia to rebuild some of the old relationships and to build new ones. The most dramatic turnaround in relations in recent years has occurred between Russia and Israel. The new quality of the relationship owes a great deal to the personal diplomacy between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Russia’s emergence as a major presence in Syria has meant that the Israelis now have no choice but to maintain good relations with their new “neighbor.” Some Israeli officials hope that Moscow will help them deal with the biggest threat they face from Syria—Iran and its client Hezbollah. So far, Russia has delivered some, but far from all that Israel wants from it, and there are precious few signs that Russia intends to break with Iran, its partner and key ally in Syria. Russian-Iranian relations have undergone an unusual transformation as a result of the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war. Their joint victory is likely to lead to a divergence of their interests. Russia is interested in returning Syria to the status quo ante and reaping the benefits of peace and reconstruction. Iran is interested in exploiting Syria as a platform in its campaign against Israel. Russia lacks the military muscle and the diplomatic leverage to influence Iran. That poses a big obstacle to Moscow’s ambitions in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Weiss, Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Amid the widespread attention the Kremlin’s recent inroads in Africa have attracted, there has been surprisingly little discussion of South Africa, a country which, for nearly a decade, unquestionably represented Russia’s biggest foreign policy success story on the continent. As relations soared during the ill-starred presidency of Jacob Zuma (2009–2018), the Kremlin sought to wrest a geopolitically significant state out of the West’s orbit and to create a partnership that could serve as a springboard for expanded influence elsewhere in Africa. Moscow’s strategy was multifaceted, capitalizing on well-established close ties with Zuma, a former African National Congress senior intelligence official with extensive Soviet bloc connections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials pursued a series of initiatives, such as the inclusion of South Africa in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) grouping and the launch of ambitious forms of cooperation between state-backed energy interests primarily in the nuclear sector. Yet relations were undermined by the Kremlin’s propensity to overreach, to lean too heavily on the legacy of Cold War–era relationships forged with leaders of national liberation movements, and to take advantage of cultures of corruption. The controversy arising from a massive $76 billion nuclear power plant construction deal triggered strong pushback and legal challenges from South Africa’s institutional checks and balances, civil society groups, and independent media. Key parts of the Russian national security establishment view civil nuclear power exports as an important tool for projecting influence overseas while creating revenue streams for sustaining intellectual and technical capabilities and vital programs inside Russia itself. Yet such cooperation is often a two-edged sword. On the one hand, costly projects such as the one pushed by Zuma typically make little economic sense for the purchasing country, spurring uncomfortable questions about who stands to benefit. On the other hand, heavily subsidized projects pursued mainly for geopolitical reasons risk saddling Russia’s nuclear power monopoly Rosatom with burdens it can ill afford. Ongoing investigations of high-level corruption during the period of so-called state capture under Zuma shed remarkable light on how the Kremlin operates in Africa and other parts of the world. In retrospect, the sustainability of Moscow’s embrace of South Africa was highly questionable due to its paltry tool kit. Russian involvement in the South African economy is miniscule compared to that of other trading partners such as the EU, China, the United States, India, and the UK, accounting for a mere 0.4 percent of South Africa’s foreign trade. While the Soviet Union was an important patron during the anti-apartheid struggle, modern-day Russia offers little in the way of practical assistance for helping South Africa deal with its deep-set economic and societal challenges.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, National Security, Geopolitics, Nuclear Waste
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, South Africa
  • Author: Stéphane Valter
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: This paper presents a study of Egyptian Shiʿism by providing historical context as well as a focus on actual or current issues. The study includes a historical overview of local Shiʿism (Fatimid period, late nineteenth century, 1940s–1960s, and contemporary period); Shiʿi institutions and personalities; the situation following Egypt’s 2011 revolution; the hectic one-year government of the Muslim Brotherhood (2012–2013); President al-Sisi’s authoritarian takeover; and, finally, an exploration of the current geopolitical stakes, focusing mainly on the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran over religious hegemony.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Shia
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This timely session was dedicated to a debate with the President of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to discuss central geo-political and domestic developments, including the protests and the crisis of governance in Baghdad; the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria (particularly Rojava); and finally, the effects of internal political fissures within the KRI.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Baghdad, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: In her introduction, panel chairman Tanya Gilly highlighted that Middle East history has long been marked by turmoil and transition. While the region is no stranger to overlapping and intractable conflicts, she emphasized that recent dynamics have introduced new complexities. Buffeted by competing regional and global entities, and littered with fragile and failing states, the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East has become fraught with militarization, mass population displacement, and communal fragmentation. Gilly explained that this panel would focus on recent geopolitical developments in Northern Syria, and that panelists would be pressed to consider how they might influence the next evolution of the Middle East to create an environment conducive to lasting peace.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Russia’s geopolitical projection has shifted over the past two decades. The country has tried to reverse its losses in Ukraine and the South Caucasus, but it is in Belarus that Moscow will most likely try to further extend its leverage to keep the EU and NATO at bay.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Marko Attila Hoare
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The popular vote of the UK on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU has been politically an earthquake for the first and a shock to the second. Retrospectively, the outcome was likely, given the structural factors both within Britain and between Britain and the EU. Yet these same factors have obstructed a clear British post- referendum strategy for secession: Britain Britain’s relationship to Europe is traditionally ambiguous. Britain’s identity - of a Protestant island-state formed in 1707 from the Anglo- Scottish union - was cemented during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in wars against the Catholic powers of continental Europe. It was successively reinforced by Napoleon’s anti-British Continental System; does not know what kind of Brexit it wants, or whether it wants one at all. This briefing will examine the causes of the Brexit revolution and the reasons for its uncertain execution, before considering the likely outcome.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Europe Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: For more than half a decade Ukraine has been one of epicenters on the map of geopolitical crises in the world and consequently drawn a lot of international attention worldwide. Ever since it gained its independence form the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine was a of the country also changed. Ukraine has been dominated by Russia as the Russian Empire penetrated deep toward the Black Sea in the 17th century, and the position of inferiority towards Moscow was also the case in the USSR. The first upheaval dubbed the Orange Revolution sort of buffer zone between the West and East, between the United States and European allies on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other. With the change of political elites and their political preferences, the orientation in 2004, brought to power Viktor Yushchenko, who tried to conduct reforms and bring Ukraine closer to the West, but the effect of his Presidency were ephemeral. President Viktor Yanukovych turned Ukraine’s sight towards Russia again, but also kept the process of EU association alive before suddenly deciding not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU just days before the planned signing ceremony on 29th November 2013. This Yanukovych’s abrupt turn from EU in favor of stronger ties with Russia triggered the wave of massive public demonstrations which later become known as the Euromaidan and subsequently the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014. The Euromaidan Revolution toppled Yanukovych and the new pro-Western government was formed. Russia soon reacted to the change of tide in Ukraine by annexing the Crimean peninsula in March and soon the armed conflict between the pro- Western government in Kiev and Russia backed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts broke out. Ever since the spring of 2014, Ukraine has been engulfed in a brutal conflict in the east of the country that is hampering its efforts to reform and get closer to the EU. Nonetheless, Ukrainian leadership is under the new President Volodymir Zelensky is striving to forge stronger links with the West and the EU.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Crimea
  • Author: Ric Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Ric Smith has masterfully woven archival material, memories of his own time as a foreign service officer, and conversations with other officers of the then Department of Foreign Affairs to recount the crisis in East Pakistan in 1971 and the difficult birth of Bangladesh. Smith highlights the Cold War incongruities of the crisis, including the Soviet Union’s support for democratic India’s position during the crisis, while the United States supported the military regime in Pakistan. The episode also stands as an example of Canberra diverging from Washington on an issue that was garnering political and media attention in Australia. Australia was able to pursue a policy toward the region that was independent from the United States, accepting early that East Pakistan was “finished” and that there was a need to address an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Smith’s book imparts important lessons about diplomacy for Australia: It is not only possible for Australia’s politicians and diplomats to take independent positions on major international problems, but they are sometimes respected by their allies when they do so.
  • Topic: Cold War, Human Rights, Democracy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Europe, India, Asia, Soviet Union, Australia
  • Author: Jeppe Strandsbjerg
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Our current system of international politics is built on a cartographic real- ity of space. Te legal attachment of sovereignty to territory requires a particular cartographic representation of space. By this I mean that our system of states— being territorially defned—implicitly requires a geography that is mapped in a way that is compatible with our notion of sovereignty. Te cartographic image of state territory enables us to maintain the idea of territorial integrity even when the reality on the ground corresponds very little with the fundamental principles of the UN Charter: Sovereignty (Article 2:1) and Territorial Integrity (Article 2:4).1 When UN operations map the Democratic Republic of Congo it is represented as an integrated territory, and Iraq and Syria maintain their coherent cartographic-territorial representation even when both countries have been divided in all but formal name. Although these are obvious examples of the territorial ideal disagreeing with the power relations on the ground, they actually capture a general logic where the territorial order represented by the map precedes the order on the ground.
  • Topic: International Relations, Geopolitics, International Relations Theory, Cartography
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alessandro Colombo, Paola Magri
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Under the pressure of the new US administration’s aggressive rhetoric, 2017 has revealed that traditional dynamics among great powers are back in the international context of the XXI century. Contrary to the most optimistic predictions and discourses of the early post-Cold War period, the “game of big powers” is regaining centre stage. This is mainly due to three intertwined processes: the growth and renewed assertiveness of potential United States’ global competitors such as Russia and China; the enduring crisis of multilateralism and global co-existence; and even more, the breakdown of the regional order into increasingly autonomous arenas, where regional powers are on the rise. The ISPI 2018 Report reflects upon this change, only partly offset by positive news coming from the global economy over the past year. The first part of the volume focuses on the global context; the second investigates the role Europe can play in a “world of big powers”; the last part addresses Italian foreign policy.
  • Topic: Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sandro Knezović
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The political transformation in the post-communist Croatia was driven by the aspiration to become a constituent of 'the Western club', besides the idea of regaining the sovereignty and statehood. The EU was perceived as an attractive model of political stability and economic wellbeing, where membership is not easy to achieve but worth struggling for. On the other hand, NATO was regarded as an optimal framework for the functional conceptualisation of the national security in the long run. Basically, it was quite clear that the country with rather limited capacities would be incapable to individually guarantee its national security in a highly volatile and complex international environment. These two fundamental foreign-policy orientations became 'two sides of the same coin' in Croatia's endeavour to become a full-fledged member of the transatlantic community and institutions.
  • Topic: NATO, National Security, Geopolitics, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Croatia, Southern Europe
  • Author: Isam al Khafaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The 12 May Iraqi elections – the fourth since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein – provided several surprises and contradictions for Iraq’s political landscape. Primary among them was the unprecedented objections to and questioning of the results as announced by the Independent High Electoral Commission – a central focus of this paper. Previous election cycles witnessed objections and complaints, yet none reached an extent that would damaging the clean bill issued by national and international organizations or the Federal Court’s validation of the results. Criticism of electoral transparency reached a point where the Council of Ministers was obliged to create a “higher security committee” to investigate accusations sent to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), and the United Nations representative in Iraq to send a letter calling on the IHEC to do a manual ballot counting of an arbitrary number of ballot boxes to ensure conformity with electronic ballot counting adopted for the first time this year. This multi-stage drama has reached the point where the Parliament decided, in an extraordinary session, to freeze the IHEC and assign a committee of nine judges to replace it, as well as to cancel the votes of internally displaced persons (approximately 3 million) and of Iraqis abroad (around 1.5 million). Therefore, any interpretation of the current election results must be cautioned with the knowledge that they are subject to change. The results most in question are from several predominantly Sunni governorates (such as Anbar and Salaheddin), Kurdish governorates (such as Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, and Dohuk), or ethnically mixed regions (such as Kirkuk) – where Arabs, Turks, and Kurds are in multiple ongoing disputes. However, the final decisions taken with regards to these appeals will not change the overall results as there is no serious questioning of the accuracy of the results in predominantly Shia governorates, which constitute the majority of Iraq’s population. That most of Iraq’s post-2003 prominent political movements resorted to unprecedented election rigging in 2018 is a tacit acknowledgement of the loss of trust they incurred before massive sectors of their electorates, a trend that has been observed by many for quite some time. Similarly, the public’s loss of confidence in the political class is also manifest in the alarming decline in voting rates, despite the high stakes of this year’s elections. Out of 24.5 million Iraqis eligible to vote, less than 11 million (44.5%) voted. Participation rates in all previous elections – except for governorate council elections – exceeded 60%. This low turnout translates the frustration of many voters at the possibility of changing the political establishment, despite changes in the political parties’ formation and election lists. Contrary to previous elections, where forces of Shia political Islam led by the Islamic Dawa Party were guaranteed to win, the 2018 elections involved bitter conflict among different political visions, each with serious consequences regarding Iraq’s future, and the form of the state to be rebuilt after the destruction wrought by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and the policies of previous governments. However, most voters saw the fierce electoral competition as merely a repetition of the same faces, stances, and policies.
  • Topic: Islam, Elections, Geopolitics, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Asma Nouira
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The voting system adopted in municipal elections has produced mosaic municipal councils where no one has an absolute majority, reflecting the situation in parliament. This will require forming coalitions and negotiating to create new agreements. But unlike the parliament, coalitions on the local level will not necessarily follow the logic of party alliances. Negotiations among the winning 8 Tunisia’s Local Elections: Entrenching Democratic Practices formations have already started in preparation for the election of presidents of municipal councils. In this context, the controversy over the presidency of the Tunis municipality has arisen between Ennahdha’s candidate Souad Abderrahim and Kamal Eidir from Nidaa Tounes. These elections are important to the winning major parties as they bring them closer to the average citizen on the local level, helping them improve their image and win the confidence of citizens in preparation for the upcoming legislative elections. They are equally important for the average citizen considering that they focus on the foundations of local democracy. What happens in these councils will reflect either positively or negatively on the project to enhance local authority, as well as the services this new system is supposed to provide to citizens.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Elections, Geopolitics, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Tunis
  • Author: Firas Haj Yehia
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Arab Republic of Egypt has attracted displaced Syrians despite difficulties in accessing the country. Syrian investment activity began to expand and spread over the past two years in a variety of different fields: companies, restaurants, factories, and other professions in the areas in which Syrians reside. Syrians mostly live in the cities of Obour, 6th of October, Alexandria, and 10th of Ramadan, and the Egyptian government therefore allocated Syrians a piece of land to build a Syrian industrial zone. Sisi’s rise to power in Egypt has played a role in changing the official discourse towards Syrians, and in framing their political and cultural activities. The evolution of the situation in Syria also played a role in reshaping the mechanisms of interaction between the owners of capital, which will shape the forms and mechanisms of investment in Syria after the end of the conflict.
  • Topic: Diaspora, Geopolitics, Refugees, Immigrants
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Brendan Taylor, Greg Fealy, David envall, Bates Gill, Feng Zhang, Benjamin Zala, Michael Wesley, Shiro Armstrong, Anthony Bergin, David Brewster, Robin Davies, Jane Golley, Stephen Howes, Llewelyn Hughes, Frank Jotzo, Warwick McKibbin, Rory Medcalf, Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Steven Rood, Matthew Sussex
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian National University Department of International Relations
  • Abstract: Once again, Trump has broken the mould. The 100-day mark is traditionally used to assess a new administration’s progress in advancing its policy agenda. With Trump, that’s impossible. In foreign policy at least, it’s more appropriate to ask whether at the 100-day mark the Trump administration is any closer to actually having a policy agenda. In no region is this question more pressing than in the Asia Pacific. The Asia Pacific is home to two-thirds of the world’s population, two-thirds of the global economy, and provides two-thirds of all global economic growth. It is the arena for the most serious challenge to America’s international role since it emerged as a global power a century ago. It is also the region that hosts six of the world’s nine nuclear states, and four of those have the fastest growing stockpiles and the most unpredictable nuclear doctrines. Few would dispute that for over 70 years, the United States has both stabilised the Asia Pacific’s fractious strategic affairs and underpinned its rapid economic development. And so the possibility of a radically different American role in the region instituted by the least conventional President in living memory is of vital interest not only to the residents of the region, but to the world as a whole. We asked experts from across the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific to watch and assess the impact of Trump on the Asia Pacific during the first hundred days of his Presidency – and how the region, and Australia should respond. It’s the sort of exercise that the largest and most comprehensive collection of expertise on the Asia Pacific on the planet can do with relish – and with a customary policy eye. The result is a fascinating and varied portrait of how the new administration has affected the world’s most dynamic region, and how the region is likely to react. When viewed together, these essays allow us to reflect on three questions that will be crucial for this region and the world over the next four years and perhaps beyond. What have we learned about Trump and his administration? What do the region’s reactions to Trump tell us about the regional role of the United States in the future? And what do these responses tell us about the Asia Pacific, and its likely trajectory in the near- and mid-term future?
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Indonesia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Australia
  • Author: Dzianis Melyantsou
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." The new geopolitical environment formed after the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas, together with emerging threats and challenges, are pressing both Belarus and the West to revise their policies in the region as well as their relations with each other. In this new context, Belarus is seeking a more balanced foreign policy and, at least towards the Ukrainian crisis, a more neutral stance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, War, Territorial Disputes, Foreign Aid, Sanctions, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Belarus, Crimea, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Hans Martin Sieg
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." Since Moldova's November 2014 election, the country's image has changed drastically from the “success story” of the EU´s Eastern Partnership to that of a “captured state.” Moldova's politics continue to be defined by corruption and vested interests, which take advantage of weak state institutions and public administration, an ineffective judiciary and law enforcement agencies. This environment has enabled hostile takeovers of financial companies, often through concealed offshore operations, for criminal purposes, money-laundering schemes and a spectacular banking fraud, which was uncovered in autumn 2014. Low incomes have prompted hundreds of thousands of Moldovans to leave the country in search of a better life. Rivalries for political power, control over institutions, and economic assets have generated growing crises within different ruling coalitions, resulting in rapid changeover in governments, the break-up of major political parties and the formation of new parliamentary majorities with precarious democratic legitimacy. All of these factors have subjected Moldova to an unrelenting series of governmental, economic, financial and social crises since early 2015. The deeper causes of these crises can be traced to much earlier developments, however, and are deeply rooted in local structures.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, Development, Economics, Reform, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Moldova, European Union
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: The Red Star and the Crescent (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2018) provides an in-depth and multi-disciplinary analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the Middle East. Despite its increasing importance, very few studies have examined this dynamic, deepening, and multi-faceted nexus. James Reardon-Anderson has sought to fill this critical gap. The volume examines the ‘big picture’ of international relations, then zooms in on case studies and probes the underlying domestic factors on each side. Reardon-Anderson tackles topics as diverse as China’s security strategy in the Middle East, its military relations with the states of the region, its role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, the Uyghur question, and the significance and consequences of the Silk Road strategy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: There is no doubt that the Turkish referendum of 16 April 2017 marks a sea change for Turkey’s political system. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have narrowly won the referendum that turns his de facto hegemonic presidency into de jure. 51.28% of Turkish citizens approved the 18 proposed constitutional amendments, while 48.72% opposed them. However, the provisions of the constitutional amendments and the statements made by the main political protagonists and antagonists give little hope that the referendum result will bring political stability or economic prosperity; or allow Turkey’s leadership to play a constructive role in Syria and Iraq - at least in the short-term. Furthermore, it is unlikely to enhance the level of cooperation with the EU and the US over the war against the Islamic State (IS) and the refugee crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, European Union, Democracy, Geopolitics, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Ahmed Alili
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD)
  • Abstract: On 20th January, Donald John Trump, an American businessman and TV entertainer is going to be 45th President of the United States of America (US). This is a hard-to-be comprehended statement by the academic and research communities, who did not expect the result of the US presidential elections to turn out this way. The possibility of Trump’s victory was repeatedly denied by the major research centres, and each scandal encouraged researchers to re-state their predictions on the soon-to-be collapse of the Trump election campaign. Needless to say, these predictions were proven false by the final election results. Nevertheless, in the end, the academic and policy research communities have not produced research on what Trump’s presidency would look like. The same stands true for the foreign governments of the EU, Russia, China, and the rest of the world. In order to figure out who is the new US President and what he can do, the world has entered into a phase of intensive research on Trump. This paper is an attempt to puzzle out Trump’s foreign policy for the Caucasus and Azerbaijan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Theory, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Giorgio Gomel
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: There is some degree of ambivalence, mistrust, and even hostility between Europe and Israel. Europeans see Israel on a path of permanent occupation of Palestinian territories. Israel sees the European posture as unbalanced and biased against Israel. Economic and institutional linkages are strong. A further strengthening of relations is however difficult unless a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reached. For the EU resolving the conflict is a matter of both interests and values. The engagement of the EU can take different forms, in the realm of sticks one may point to legislation concerning the labelling of products from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and carrots such as the EU offer of a special privileged partnership with Israel. For the Israeli public a clearer perception of the costs of non-peace and the benefits from a resolution of the conflict could help unblock the stalemate and remove the deceptive illusion that the status quo is sustainable.
  • Topic: Politics, Geopolitics, Israel, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Israel
  • Author: Soren Scholvin
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Geopolitical research is frequently portrayed as a dead end. To some scholars it appears that in the 21st century geography is largely scenery, all but irrelevant to the most important issues of grand strategy. This working paper aims to revitalise geopolitics, reflecting both on the critique of the subject and the strengths that have characterised it for more than a century. It is argued that geographical conditions constitute a set of opportunities and constraints, a structure that is independent of agency. General patterns and long-term processes can be aptly explained by this structure but geopolitics is not a theory of state behaviour or foreign policy. Understanding specific phenomena that occur in international relations therefore requires taking into consideration non-geographical factors. Such a combination of geographical and non-geographical factors provides sound explanations, as several examples demonstrate: China’s projection of power into the Indian Ocean, South Africa’s approach to the political crisis in Zimbabwe in 2008, Iran’s maritime strategy and the poor integration of Colombia and South America. Given that geopolitics is about analysing international relations (or politics) for its geographical content, all those committed to geopolitics should concentrate on the three guiding questions: Do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome? If yes, do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome significantly? If yes, how, meaning in combination with which other factors do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome?
  • Topic: Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, South Africa, Colombia, South America, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Sören Scholvin
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Geopolitical research is frequently portrayed as a dead end. To some scholars it appears that in the 21st century geography is largely scenery, all but irrelevant to the most important issues of grand strategy. This working paper aims to revitalise geopolitics, reflecting both on the critique of the subject and the strengths that have characterised it for more than a century. It is argued that geographical conditions constitute a set of opportunities and constraints, a structure that is independent of agency. General patterns and long-term processes can be aptly explained by this structure but geopolitics is not a theory of state behaviour or foreign policy. Understanding specific phenomena that occur in international relations therefore requires taking into consideration non-geographical factors. Such a combination of geographical and non-geographical factors provides sound explanations, as several examples demonstrate: China’s projection of power into the Indian Ocean, South Africa’s approach to the political crisis in Zimbabwe in 2008, Iran’s maritime strategy and the poor integration of Colombia and South America. Given that geopolitics is about analysing international relations (or politics) for its geographical content, all those committed to geopolitics should concentrate on the three guiding questions: Do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome? If yes, do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome significantly? If yes, how, meaning in combination with which other factors do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome?
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Theory, Geopolitics, Political structure
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Guillaume Van der Loo
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: In an advisory referendum held in the Netherlands on April 6th, over 61% of the voters rejected the ratification of the Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Ukraine. If the Dutch government were to act on the outcome of the referendum, which had a low turnout of 32%, an unprecedented situation would emerge in which an EU international agreement cannot enter into force because a member state is not in a position to ratify it. Although the political character of this referendum and the Dutch Advisory Referendum Act (DRA) and the geopolitical implications of the AA itself have already been the subject of heated discussions in the Netherlands and beyond, the legal implications of this referendum remain unclear.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Ukraine, Netherlands, European Union
  • Author: Yitzhak Shichor
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Since the early 1960s when Taiwanese officials met Professor Ernst David Bergmann, the first chairman of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, he played a significant role in Taiwan’s nuclear (and missile) programs. In Taiwan, which he visited occasionally and maintained close relations with President Chiang Kai-shek and its military-technological-scientific complex, Bergmann also facilitated some of Israel’s conventional military transfers to Taiwan. While some of his activities in Taiwan may have been approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (which followed its own foreign policy), the Foreign Ministry took exception, well before Jerusalem’s rapprochement with Beijing. Israel’s military relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) had been aborted by the mid-1990s, even though attempts have been made to resume defense links. Since his death in 1975—one day after Chiang Kai-shek’s—and definitely before, Ernst Bergmann has been considered, implicitly but lately explicitly, a prominent player in Taiwan’s defense modernization and one of the forefathers of its nuclear program.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Israel, Taiwan
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Clay Ramsay, Ebrahim Mohseni
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Summary of Findings 1. Views of the Rouhani Administration President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif enjoy high levels of popular support in Iran. Nearly 8 in 10 Iranians say they have a favorable opinion of Rouhani and Zarif. Yet the intensity of their popularity has substantially eroded since August 2015. With Iran’s parliamentary elections only about a month away, 6 in 10 Iranians continue to want Rouhani supporters to win, while a growing minority favors his critics. Though Rouhani receives high marks for improving Iran’s security and deepening Iran’s relations with European countries, views of the economy are mixed. An increasing majority of Iranians think that Rouhani has not been successful in reducing unemployment. Iranians are also substantially less optimistic about Iran’s economy, with less than half now thinking that the economy is getting better. 2. Iran’s February 2016 Parliamentary Elections Four in ten Iranians voice confidence that the upcoming Majlis (Iran’s Parliament) elections will be very fair, and another four in ten assume it will be somewhat free and fair. Two thirds are highly confident they will vote in the upcoming elections for the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts. The most important issues Iranians want the new Majlis to tackle are unemployment and Iran’s low performing economy. 3. Civil Liberties in Iran Two in three Iranians believe that it is important for President Rouhani to seek to increase civil liberties in Iran. However, only a small minority complains that Iranians have too little freedom. While only about a third thinks that civil liberties in Iran have increased during Rouhani’s presidency, a plurality expects that civil liberties will increase at least somewhat over the next two years. 4. Approval for Nuclear Deal Seven in ten Iranians approve of the nuclear deal, though enthusiasm has waned somewhat. The deal garners support from majorities of those who favor Rouhani’s critics in the Majlis election, as well as those who favor his supporters. Two thirds still think the Iranian leadership negotiated a good deal for Iran, though the number of those disagreeing has risen to one in five. The number who believes it was a win for Iran has also declined, while the number who believes it was a victory for both sides has risen and is now a majority. 5. Perceptions of the Nuclear Deal Substantial numbers of Iranians now have a more accurate picture of the deal than they did in August 2015. About half (up from a third) now realizes that Iran has accepted limits on its nuclear research. Almost half (up from a quarter) now knows that many US sanctions are not covered by the agreement and will continue. However, growing majorities continue to believe incorrectly that Iranian military sites cannot be inspected under any conditions. A majority also believes that the US has agreed to not impose new sanctions to replace the ones that were removed as part of the nuclear deal. 6. Expectations of Economic Benefits Three in five Iranians expect that the nuclear deal will eventually result in improvements in their own economic well-being. This sentiment is shared by a majority of those who support Rouhani’s critics in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Majorities expect to see, within a year, better access to medical products from abroad, more foreign investment, and significant improvements in unemployment and the overall economy, though these majorities have declined from August 2015. 7. The Nuclear Deal’s Effect on Iran’s Foreign Relations A large majority of Iranians thinks that Iran’s relations with European countries have already improved as a result of the nuclear deal, but only one in three thinks Iran’s relations with the United States have improved. 8. Views of US Cooperation in the Nuclear Deal Six in ten Iranians are not confident that the US will live up to its obligations under the nuclear agreement and do not think the US will accept other countries cooperating with Iran’s civilian nuclear sector, as provided for under the deal. Half assume the US will use pressure and sanctions to extract more concessions from Iran—up from only a quarter in August 2015. 9. Views of the Nuclear Program Just as in past years, four in five Iranians see the development of an Iranian nuclear program as very important, and three in four see this program as being for purely peaceful purposes. Four in five continue to favor the idea of a Middle East nuclear-free zone that would require all countries in the Middle East, including Israel, not to have nuclear weapons. 10. Iran’s Involvement in Syria and Fighting ISIS Large majorities of Iranians approve of Iran being involved in Syria and strongly support countering ISIS, preserving Iran’s influence in the region, and countering Saudi, American, and Israeli influence. Overwhelming majorities approve of Iran fighting ISIS directly. Large majorities also approve of Iran supporting Shiite and Kurdish groups fighting ISIS and providing support to Iranian allies in the region. Strengthening the Assad government gets more modest support and is seen as a secondary goal for Iran. Two in three Iranians approve of sending Iranian military personnel to help Assad fight against armed Syrian rebels, including ISIS. 11. Views of US Involvement in Syria A large majority of Iranians disapproves of US involvement in Syria. US involvement in Syria is widely perceived as being primarily motivated by a desire to topple the Assad government, to increase US influence and power in the region, to protect Israeli and Saudi interests, and to decrease Iran’s influence and power in the region. Views are divided about whether the United States is seeking to protect Syrian civilians, to end the conflict, to prevent the conflict from spreading, or to fight ISIS. A modest majority says US efforts against ISIS are not at all sincere. A bare majority supports direct cooperation with the United States to counter ISIS in Iraq. 12. Views of Other Nations Involved in Syria Large majorities of Iranians approve of the involvement in Syria of Russia and Hezbollah, and seven in ten express confidence that Russia’s efforts against ISIS are sincerely motivated. However, large majorities disapprove of the involvement in Syria of Turkey, France, and, especially, Saudi Arabia. Large majorities say that the Saudis’ efforts against ISIS are insincere; views of the sincerity of the efforts by Turkey and France are less negative. A large majority has a negative view of Saudi efforts to create a coalition against terrorism, primarily because Saudi Arabia is seen as a supporter of ISIS. 13. International Collaboration on Syria and ISIS Despite their suspicions of other countries operating in the region, eight in ten Iranians approve of Iran participating in the international talks on the conflict in Syria. Of those who know about the Vienna agreement, seven in ten approve of it. 14. Views of Other Countries Iranians view their country’s allies, notably Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Hezbollah, favorably, and view Saudi Arabia and Turkey increasingly unfavorably. Views of Russia and China are generally favorable and have improved considerably over time. Western countries, with the exception of Germany, are viewed unfavorably, with Britain and the US viewed negatively by large majorities in Iran. In contrast, a majority has a favorable opinion of the American people.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Geopolitics, ISIS, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Britain, Russia, United States, China, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Alexander Cooley
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Alexander Cooley places the current conflict in Ukraine within a wider context, comparing it to other “frozen” conflicts in the states that emerged from the detritus of the Soviet Union. Is the Ukraine crisis yet another manifestation of a familiar pattern in the post-Soviet states, or is it fundamentally different?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Sovereignty, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Volodymyr Dubovyk
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of Euromaidan (Maidan II), Ukraine finds itself entangled in a deep crisis, which, while not necessarily existential, dramatically alters the country’s internal dynamics and international positioning vis-à-vis its neighbors and other significant regional and global players. To handle this crisis, Ukraine must find the right method of dealing with international players, especially the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United States of America. Ukraine should take certain actions against the new super-assertive and aggressive Russia. The European Union unquestionably has provided significant aid to Ukraine during these turbulent times. However, there remains great potential for cooperation, and questions linger regarding whether the EU is prepared to foot the bill for pulling Ukraine’s economy away from the brink indefinitely. Finally, the United States should by all means continue doing its good work in bringing attention to the situation in and around Ukraine in a variety of ways, including multilateral venues, unilateral initiatives, and bilateral frameworks. The fact that Ukraine is located in Europe does not make this crisis a mere European problem but a conflict with global repercussions.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, European Union
  • Author: Oleksandr Fisun
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: The Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula represents a radical transformation of the system of international security on the European continent and in the wider context of the postwar “Yalta system” of interstate boundaries and their guarantees by major international players. The most important takeaway is that for the first time since World War II, one of the founders of the Yalta system of international boundaries has considered it within the realm of possibility to revisit its provisions by directly augmenting its own territory. This paper aims to analyze the outcomes of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the features of the newly formed regional political regime in Crimea, the role of Crimea in contemporary Ukrainian politics, as well as to present scenarios for the development of the geopolitical situation surrounding the “Crimean issue” in the context of the possible actions that primary geopolitical players may take.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Crimea
  • Author: Thomas Graham, Rajan Menon, Jack Snyder
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Amidst calls for containing an assertive Russia, politicians and pundits have been debating whether Ukraine should serve as a “buffer zone” between the Russian and Western spheres of influence. Based on a survey of the history of buffer zones in Ukraine and elsewhere, we argue that buffer strategies are most likely to succeed in promoting international stability when three mutually reinforcing conditions obtain. First, the buffer state has the material strength, defensible geography, and social cohesiveness necessary to resist penetration, annexation, or partition. Second, states that may contemplate using war as a means to annex or dominate the buffer zone anticipate high risks and costs. Buffers survive when flanking powers are relatively weak, satisfied, skeptical that “offense is the best defense,” and chary of commitments to reckless allies and clients. Third, whether the major powers have agreed, implicitly or explicitly, on rules to regulate their rivalry in the buffer region may also affect the likelihood of a collision. Based on these findings, we are doubtful that Ukraine can serve as a reliable buffer.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Kimberly Marten
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Kimberly Marten considers the role that freewheeling private militias have played, both in the war in eastern Ukraine and in Ukraine’s politics more generally. While militias supplemented the Ukrainian army’s firepower, especially in the early phase of the war, we know from the experience of other countries that autonomous armed groups can also challenge the authority of the state and undermine its efficacy. How might militias shape Ukraine political trajectory and shape its security?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Non State Actors, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Klaus Segbers
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Many attempts have been made to interpret and explain the Russian annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine. These signal events can be approached from different theoretical angles. The purpose of this short piece is to critically question the usefulness and appropriateness of state‐centered approaches that have been, and are yet, dominant and popular – most likely because they are so easy to apply intuitively.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Theory, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Crimea
  • Author: Dr. Hal Brands
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Is offshore balancing the right grand strategy for America? Is it time for Washington to roll back the vast system of overseas security commitments and forward military deployments that have anchored its international posture since World War II? This monograph argues that the answer to these questions is no. Offshore balancing represents the preferred grand strategy among many leading international-relations “realists,” who argue that significant geopolitical retrenchment can actually improve America’s strategic position while slashing the costs of its foreign policy. The reality, however, is rather different. The probable benefits of offshore balancing—both financial and geopolitical—are frequently exaggerated, while the likely disadvantages and dangers are more severe than its proponents acknowledge. In all likelihood, adopting this strategy would not allow America to achieve more security and influence at a lower price. The more plausible results would be to dissipate U.S. influence, to court heightened insecurity and instability, and to expose the nation to greater long-range risks and costs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Professor John F. Troxell
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The recently published National Military Strategy emphasizes the unpredictability of the global security environment. According to General Dempsey, “global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode. We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges…” General Odierno echoes this concern by pointing to the “increased velocity of instability,” and emboldened potential adversaries that have “magnified the risk to U.S. interests around the world.” Responding to this period of geopolitical uncertainty demands thoughtful and careful analysis of a wide array of strategic issues. The Strategic Studies Institutes’ (SSI) annual Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL) addresses this need by providing a list of high-priority topics organized to support the Army's most important strategic objectives, issues that must be addressed to ensure the Army of 2025 and beyond will continue to meet the needs of the nation. Part I of the KSIL lists the Chief of Staff of the Army’s top five topics, all five of which will be addressed as integrative research projects by the US Army War College. Part II, “Priority Research Areas,” is a compilation of critical topics developed by the Army War College and Commands and organizations throughout the Army. Part III consists of the Army Warfighting Challenges. Students and researchers are encouraged to get in touch with the topic sponsors listed in the document, tackle one of these issues, and contribute to the knowledge base needed to support the future direction of the Army
  • Topic: Security, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The implosion of the Soviet Union on the eve of December 25, 1991, has been heralded by pundits and Sovietologists as an unprecedented event in world history. No one expected the powerful Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) to come to an end as uneventfully as it did. The implosion of the Soviet Union sent shockwaves throughout the world. Not only did the Soviet Union cease to exist on that Christmas night, but it also lost half of its territory and half of its population. Furthermore, the Soviets came to find out the morning after that most of its weapons of mass destruction were now in the hands of the newly independent states—former members of the USSR. But, perhaps most importantly, the United States would soon realize that it had lost a common enemy. Russia, since its inception, has been trying to find its place among the civilized nations of the world. Is Russia a superpower? Or, is Russia an emerging power?
  • Topic: Weapons of Mass Destruction, History, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Keir Giles
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This monograph, completed ahead of the November 2014 deadline, examines some of the underlying factors which will be constant in dealing with a nuclear capable Iran under President Hassan Rouhani, and which will help determine the success or failure of talks in 2015. It analyzes Rouhani's eventful first year in office in order to provide pointers to what may be possible—and to some key limiting factors—for Iran under his leadership. During that time, Rouhani has been forced to balance his own progressive instincts with the instinctual caution of more conservative elements of the Iranian ruling elite. As a result, foreign hopes for his influence on Iran’s place in the world have moved from initial optimism to a more sober assessment of the options available to him. This monograph provides an essential backdrop to the forthcoming renewed negotiations with Iran by providing an introduction to the complex interplay of issues and interests which constrain the Iranian leadership
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Jacqueline Lopour
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This paper introduces Central Asia’s geopolitical significance and explores several inter-related security challenges. For each security issue, this paper provides a brief overview of the issue, explains why or how it developed and looks at the issue’s significance within the broader security environment. The paper then turns to Canada’s role in Central Asia and addresses opportunities to expand engagement in the security realm.
  • Topic: Security, International Security, Bilateral Relations, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Canada
  • Author: Ed Stoddard
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG)
  • Abstract: Regional cooperation, once largely the preserve of democracies, is now seen in many regions characterized by autocracy. Indeed, authoritarian leaders increasingly cooperate regionally, above all to augment the resilience of their regimes. While the output from this cooperation differs considerably from liberal-democratic regionalism, the experience of European integration nevertheless sheds light on an important underlying dynamic within this growing autocratic cooperation. Indeed, as with early and mid-stage European regional integration, authoritarian regionalism is driven by functional demands arising from the limited access nature of their regimes. However, countervailing ideational dynamics (such as the increasing salience of identity and legitimacy issues), which affect regional cooperation, are present in many cases. These counter-functional dynamics largely pre-date regionalist efforts but appear to be exacerbated by regional cooperation. This paper examines the interplay between functional demands and counter-functional dynamics in the context of ‘protective regionalisms’ in Eurasia, the Gulf, and West Africa. As global politics becomes more polarized, with regionalism seen as a source of strength for authoritarian states, the dynamics and underlying logics of such projects become increasingly important.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Authoritarianism, Geopolitics, regionalism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Asia, West Africa, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Mario Esteban
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: Relations between China and Latin America are complex, strengthening, notably asymmetrical and fundamentally economic. Ties have intensified rapidly in recent years, to the extent of shaping the evolution of countries in the region and their processes of regional integration. Spain cannot afford to remain indifferent to this phenomenon, given its close links to this part of the world. The strengthening of ties between China and Latin America has a double-edged impact on Spanish interests. On the one hand, the headway that China is making in the region translates into a loss of Spanish influence and attraction in one of the traditional spheres for Spain’s foreign policy. On the other hand, the greater presence of China can contribute to the development of the region and is generating opportunities for cooperation and synergies with Spanish players, both public and private, on multiple stages.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Latin America, Spain
  • Author: Sam Handlin
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: What are the causes and implications of polarization in new democracies? During Latin America's “Left Turn” period, highly polarized party systems emerged in some countries–Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and El Salvador–but not the rest of the region. This paper proposes a theory to explain variation, centered on the presence of electorally relevant parties of the left in the pre-Left Turn period and, most critically, the quality of governance in that period. Poor governance created opportunities for partisan actors on the left to politicize a second dimension of political contestation, anti - systemic versus systemic positions on the design and operation of the state, and thus chart alternative paths to electoral viability that required little left - right programmatic moderation. This dynamic empowered radical party factions and drove polarizing dynamics in party systems. High quality governance, in contrast, gave left parties little choice but to moderate their programs in search of electoral viability. This dynamic empowered moderate party factions and drove centripetal dynamics in party systems. Empirically, the paper tests these arguments through a broad overview of the case universe and in - depth case studies of Venezuela and Brazil.
  • Topic: Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America, Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador
  • Author: A. Orlov
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: Today, we are watching how the present stage of world history is coming to an end amid great or even fundamental changes of the geopolitical picture of the world. The twenty-five-year-long partnership between Russia and the West (never easy and never straightforward), which began back in the last years of Soviet perestroika, has ended. It will be probably replaced with a new structure of international cooperation much more pragmatic and devoid of illusions and exaggerated expectations nurtured by Russia rather than the West. It is wrong to expect that when the situation in Ukraine has been stabilized (it will be stabilized sooner or later) the world (or at least the part which stretches from Vladivostok in the east to Vancouver in the west) will go back to its pre-crisis state. There is no way back. The old bridges were burned while new bridges have not yet been built. The paradigm of world development geared at the prospects of long-term partnership (which, for a long time, had looked the only option) was destroyed.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Politics, History, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto
  • Abstract: Increasingly, issues of Arctic security are the focus of public attention and debate. Whether it is media attention to Russian bombers, the recent announcement of moving forward on the Mackenzie Pipeline, or the increasing body of scholarly work suggesting that we are in the midst of a new cold war, the Arctic is receiving unprecedented attention from political leaders, policy makers, media and academics. Amidst this new prominence, there is a growing need to understand the preferences and priorities of the citizens whose countries include Arctic regions and from Arctic inhabitants themselves.
  • Topic: Cold War, Oil, Military Strategy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Canada, North America
  • Author: Andreas Antoniades, Alister Miskimmon, Ben O'Loughlin
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Great powers use strategic narratives to establish and maintain influence in the international system and to shape the system itself. This is particularly the case in periods of transition in the international system when challengers to hegemonic powers emerge. Strategic narratives are an important tool which must be considered alongside material resources as a determinant of whether emerging great powers are able to shape a new systemic alignment. Strategic narratives are a tool through which great powers can articulate their interests, values and aspirations for the international system in ways that offer the opportunity for power transitions that avoid violent struggle between status quo and challenger states. Complicating this picture, however, is a complex media ecology which makes the process of projecting strategic narratives an increasingly difficult one. Analysis of international political communication within this media ecology is central to evaluating how strategic narratives are projected and the interactions that follow. We argue that empirical analysis of the formation, projection and reception of strategic narratives in that media ecology offers a framework through which to generate important findings concerning power transition, domestic and international legitimacy, and recognition and identity - important because many international relations scholars thus far failed to take into account the difference such narratives make, and can make.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, State Actors
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East