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  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Voters’ trust in the American elections has eroded. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States, an alarming number of voters lacked confidence in the fairness of the upcoming elections. Ensuring that Americans can vote safely despite the pandemic requires major changes to how the elections are conducted. This increases the risk of mistakes and failures, partisan feuds over the rules, and accusations of foul play. If disputes over the practicalities of voting are prolonged, it could cause large-scale voter confusion and lead to a low turnout and high ballot rejection rates. Many voters are likely to vote by mail to protect themselves from the virus. However, few states are adequately prepared to receive a large percentage of their ballots by mail. To make matters worse, the United States Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. The result of the elections may be unclear for days or even weeks, firstly due to delays in counting the absentee ballots and thereafter because of litigation. This may result in both presidential candidates declaring themselves the winner and bring about an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Jyri Lavikainen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Non-compliance and disputes between Russia and the US resulted in the US exiting the Open Skies Treaty. If Russia withdraws in response, European countries will lose an important source of intelligence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Intelligence, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Bart Gaens, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The United States and China are posited to be at the epicenter of an emerging and – by most accounts – intensifying rivalry. This report delves into the theoretical underpinnings as well as the geostrategic and geo-economic dynamics driving this great-power competition. It explores future prospects for contestation and engagement in key issue areas, such as arms control, trade and sanctions. The chapters in this volume also examine the Indo-Pacific as the immediate regional frontline of the unfolding great-power contest and explore the role that Europe has to play in this game. As the world is crossing the threshold into a new age of great-power competition, the debate on the US-China rivalry reveals the complex and contested nature of the meanings, causes, policy implications and future prospects of what is set to become the “new normal” in global politics.
  • Topic: Hegemony, Geopolitics, Conflict, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US president has considerable power over the country’s foreign policy. The different worldviews espoused by President Trump and presidential candidate Biden are likely to have an impact on how the most significant foreign policy challenges of the coming years are addressed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections, Party System
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Speculation is rife that China could take advantage of the potential confusion during the US presidential election and invade Taiwan. Although China has never relinquished the military option for resolving the Taiwan issue, there are sound reasons to downplay the risk of a military confrontation at the present time.
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Elections, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, North America
  • Author: Teresa Val
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: Terrorism in Afghanistan: A Joint Threat Assessment is intended to serve as an analytical tool for policymakers and an impetus for joint U.S.-Russia action. The report provides an overview of the security situation and peace process in Afghanistan, taking into account U.S. and Russian policies, priorities and interests; surveys the militant terrorist groups in and connected to Afghanistan and explores the security interests of various regional stakeholders vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Challenges relating to border management, arms trafficking and terrorist financing in Afghanistan are also briefly addressed.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Counter-terrorism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Joshua Cavanaugh
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: A select delegation of leaders from the U.S. Democratic and Republican Parties and the global business community traveled to Beijing, China to meet with senior officials from the Communist Party of China (CPC) on November 18-21, 2019. The discussions were part of the 11th U.S.-China High-Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue organized by the EastWest Institute (EWI) in partnership with the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC). Launched in 2010, the U.S.-China High-Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue seeks to build understanding and trust between political elites from the U.S. and China through candid exchanges of views on topics ranging from local governance to foreign policy concerns. The dialogue process consistently involves sitting officers from the CPC and the U.S. Democratic and Republican National Committees. In the 11th iteration of the dialogue, the CPC delegation was led by Song Tao, minister of IDCPC. Gary Locke, former secretary of the United States Department of Commerce, former governor for the state of Washington and former United States Ambassador of China; and Alphonso Jackson, former secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; lead the U.S. Democratic and Republican delegations, respectively. Throughout the dialogue, members of both delegations spoke freely on relevant topics including foriegn policy trends, trade disputes and emerging areas of economic cooperation. EWI facilitated a series of meetings for the U.S. delegation, which included a productive meeting with Wang Qishan, vice president of the People’s Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People. The delegates also met with Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs; Dai Bingguo, former state councilor of the People’s Republic of China; and Lu Kang, director of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The U.S. delegates visited the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and met with their president, Jin Liqun, as well as the Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University to engage prominent scholars on the future of the U.S.-China relationship.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Sidney Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The growth models perspective analyzes the role of social blocs in crafting countries’ eco- nomic policies, but its treatment of business power as purely structural prevents it from ad- dressing an important question in the politics of digital transformation: How have new sec- tors with miniscule economic footprints been able to influence economic policy? This paper explores how tech and venture capital successfully lobbied for financial deregulation at the beginning of digital transformation in the United States. The paper argues that explaining the role of social blocs in digital transformation requires incorporating discourse analysis and develops a conceptual framework around three discursive components in the dynamics of social blocs: coordination, persuasion, and performativity. This framework contributes to theory development in the growth models perspective and illustrates how the concept of social blocs can help make sense of the politics of digital transformation.
  • Topic: Regulation, Digital Economy, Financial Institutions , Discourse
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Vibeke Schou Tjalve, Minda Holm
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In this policy note, we explore the nature, strength and tensions of the contemporary US-Central Eastern Europe relationship. We describe the expanding US-CEE ‘brotherhood in arms’: growing trade relations, intensified military cooperation, and rekindled diplomatic ties. Further, we unpack the striking and largely ignored dimensions of the US-CEE ‘brotherhood in faith’: the many ways in which the United States and Central and Eastern Europe are tied together by overlapping ideologies of national conservatism and a particular version of Christian ‘family values’. This involves addressing the complexities of an increasingly influential and ambitious Visegrád Group, whose key players – Poland and Hungary – may be brothers, but are by no means twins. It also means raising some broader, burning discussions about the future of NATO and the meaning of ‘Europe’. Universalist, multicultural and postnational? Or conservative, Christian and sovereigntist?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conservatism, Alliance, Ideology, Christianity, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Eastern Europe, Central Europe
  • Author: George Fust
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Department of Social Sciences at West Point, United States Military Academy
  • Abstract: The author analyzes the levels of education achieved by Army senior officers to better understand the results of the Army’s current graduate school policy and to identify how to better leverage graduate school to develop leaders who can then be more effective in strategic-level positions.
  • Topic: Education, Leadership, Military Academy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Jeremy de Beer
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is the new high-water mark in international intellectual property (IP) law. CUSMA includes most of the Trans-Pacific Partnership provisions that were suspended in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, except for a few pharmaceutical-related provisions amended after signing. Canada will be required to make meaningful changes to domestic IP laws, including copyright term extension, criminal penalties for tampering with digital rights management information, restoration of patent terms to compensate for administrative and regulatory delays, broader and longer protection for undisclosed testing data and other data, new civil and criminal remedies for the misappropriation of trade secrets, and additional powers for customs officials to seize and destroy IP-infringing goods.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Intellectual Property/Copyright, NAFTA, USMCA
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This special report assesses the challenges that China is facing in developing its artificial intelligence (AI) industry due to unprecedented US technology export restrictions. A central proposition is that China’s achievements in AI lack a robust foundation in leading-edge AI chips, and thus the country is vulnerable to externally imposed supply disruptions. The COVID-19 pandemic has further decoupled China from international trade and technology flows. Success in AI requires mastery of data, algorithms and computing power, which, in turn, is determined by the performance of AI chips. Increasing computing power that is cost-effective and energy-saving is the indispensable third component of this magic AI triangle. Research on China’s AI strategy has emphasized China’s huge data sets as a primary advantage. It was assumed that China could always purchase the necessary AI chips from global semiconductor industry leaders. Until recently, AI applications run by leading-edge major Chinese technology firms were powered by foreign chips, mostly designed by a small group of top US semiconductor firms. The outbreak of the technology war, however, is disrupting China’s access to advanced AI chips from the United States. Drawing on field research conducted in 2019, this report contributes to the literature by addressing China’s arguably most immediate and difficult AI challenges. The report highlights China’s challenge of competing in AI, and contrasts America’s and China’s different AI development trajectories. Capabilities and challenges are assessed, both for the large players (Huawei, Alibaba and Baidu) and for a small group of AI chip “unicorns.” The report concludes with implications for China’s future AI chip development.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Science and Technology, Sanctions, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Dan Ciuriak, Maria Piashkina
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The rapid digital transformation occurring worldwide poses significant challenges for policy makers working within a governance framework that evolved over centuries. Domestic policy space needs to be redefined for the digital age, and the interface with international trade governance recalibrated. In this paper, Dan Ciuriak and Maria Ptashkina organize the issues facing policy makers under the broad pillars of “economic value capture,” “sovereignty” in public choice and “national security,” and outline a conceptual framework with which policy makers can start to think about a coherent integration of the many reform efforts now under way, considering how policies adopted in these areas can be reconciled with commitments under a multilateral framework adapted for the digital age.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Reform, Digital Economy, Multilateralism, Digitization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Susan Ariel Aaronson
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: From posting photos and videos to tracking physical activity, apps can do almost anything, but while they may seem like harmless fun, they may also pose a threat to personal data and national security. This paper compares the different responses of the United States, Canada and Germany to data risks posed by popular apps such as FaceApp, Facebook, Strava, TikTok and ToTok. These apps and many others store troves of personal data that can be hacked and misused, putting users (and the countries in which they live) at risk.
  • Topic: Security, Digital Economy, Social Media, Data
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Canada, Germany, North America
  • Author: Elizabeth Smith
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Climate change can increase the risks of violent conflict, create risks to human security, and challenge conflict recovery and peacebuilding in different contexts. In many parts of the world, women and girls are significantly affected by the respective and compounding effects of climate change and conflict. They can also be agents of change in addressing climate change, and peace and security issues. This SIPRI Insights paper explores how the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) national action plans (NAPs) of 80 states frame and respond to climate change and security. It finds that they do so in different ways. Seventeen states include direct mention of climate change in at least one of their plans. Of these, three states include comparatively higher numbers of specific goals and activities referencing climate change in different plans. The paper highlights a need for increased action in the area of climate change in WPS NAPs. It argues for a greater focus on supporting women and girls’ participation in action addressing climate-related security risks, as well as a need to evaluate how climate change is framed as a security risk in the plans.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Women, Peace
  • Political Geography: United States, Finland, Ireland, Global Focus
  • Author: Wada Haruko
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: The United States, Australia, Japan, India, France, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and ASEAN have adopted the term “Indo-Pacific” as a policy symbol of regional engagement. However, less attention has been given to the change in the geographical definition of the “Indo-Pacific”. This study examines how these countries have adjusted the geographical scope of “Indo-Pacific” to understand how they conceptualise the region. It finds that the inherent core area of the “Indo-Pacific” is from India to the Southeast Asian countries and the seas from the eastern Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, and that the “Indo-Pacific” has converged eastwards and diverged westwards through the geographical adjustment process. It also found that some of the geographical definitions have an additional function of conveying diplomatic messages. These findings will help us understand how the concept of “Indo- Pacific” as conceptualised by various countries develops.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Asia, France, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Malcolm Davis
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: This paper examines the key drivers shaping Australia’s role as a middle power in an era of intensifying US-China strategic competition. These drivers include the influence of strategic geography; its historical legacy in international affairs; the impact of its economic relationships with states in the Indo-Pacific region; the changing demands of defence policy, including the potential offered by rapid technological change; and, the impact of climate change, resource constraints and demographic factors. The paper considers three possible scenarios that will shape Australia’s middle power policy choices – a US-China strategic equilibrium; a “China crash” scenario that promotes a more nationalist and assertive Chinese foreign policy; and a third “major power conflict” scenario where competition extends into military conflict. The paper concludes that Australia cannot maintain a delicate balance between its strategic alliance with the US and trading relationship with China. It argues there is a need for Australia to adopt a deeper strategic alliance with the US while promoting closer ties with its partners in the Indo-Pacific and supporting the growth of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region to counterbalance growing Chinese power. Australia needs to embrace an Indo-Pacific step up, and as a middle power, reduce the prospect of a Sino-centric regional order emerging.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nationalism, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: When Beijing threatened to restrict China’s export of rare earths (widely used in numerous important civilian and military technologies) to the United States at the end of May 2019, the world was reminded of China’s rare earths export disruption in the autumn of 2010 amid a maritime territorial conflict between China and Japan. In the past few years, the worldwide attention cast on the future supply security of rare earths and other critical raw materials has increased in the United States, the European Union, Japan and other countries owing to the global expansion of “green technologies” (including renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and batteries, and smart grids) and digitalisation as well as equipment and devices embedded with artificial intelligence. In this paper, the term “critical raw materials” (CRMs) refers to raw materials critical to industries that are also import-dependent on them, and to new technologies which often have no viable substitutes and whose supply, besides being constrained by limited recycling rates and options, is also dominated by one or a few suppliers. CRMs include rare earth elements (REEs), which comprise 17 different elements (see Figure 4). The global race for the most advanced technologies dependent on CRMs has intensified the competition for access to as well as strategic control of REEs, lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and other CRMs. This working paper analyses the global supply and demand balance of three CRMs (REEs, lithium and cobalt, the latter two being major raw materials for batteries) in the foreseeable future and whether ASEAN countries can play a role as producers and suppliers of CRMs. It also examines potential counterstrategies for mitigating and reducing the global demand for CRMs, such as substitution, reduced use of CRMs, and recycling and re-use.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Digital Economy, Green Technology, Metals
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: When Trump says that he wants NATO to take more responsibility in the Middle East, what he means is that he wants the European allies to do more. He is campaigning for re- election and has promised to bring the boys (and girls) home for Christmas. And of course, in Iraq American troops are less than welcome these days, after the targeted assassination of Iranian General Soleimani near Baghdad airport (3 January 2020). In late 2019, Trump had already withdrawn most troops from Syria, and now the peace agreement with the Taliban (29 February 2020) will allow him to draw down the US military presence in Afghanistan too. And the US is considering pulling its troops out of the Sahel as well. What does this mean for Europe?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Strategy, Assassination
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria, North America