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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: Matti Pesu, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The transatlantic relationship is undergoing a period of turmoil. President Trump’s unorthodox policies have exacerbated historical sources of mistrust between the U.S. and its European allies. This working paper approaches the transatlantic bond from the perspective of asymmetric trust, a perennial factor in transatlantic security and defence affairs. For Europe, the U.S. remains the ultimate guarantor of security, rendering allies dependent upon Washington’s decisions and goodwill. From the American perspective, the European allies are not crucial in ensuring U.S. national security, but remain a pool of reliable partners, whom Washington can periodically draw upon to pursue its global ambitions. This paper evaluates how mistrust has featured within the asymmetric alliance setting, and places the current friction between the U.S. and Europe within this broader context. Acknowledging the sources of mistrust and managing mutual suspicions are crucial for the sustainability of the alliance in an increasingly competitive international arena.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America, Atlantic Ocean
  • Author: Katja Creutz, Tuomas Iso-Markku, Teija Tilikainen, Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The forms of global political transition contradict each other. The Western leadership of the world seems to be in decline, with the US political and military hegemony being challenged by the rise of China and other emerging powers and with global power structures evolving towards multipolarity. At the same time, however, there are increasing signs of a diffusion of state power. It involves a growing group of non-state actors challenging state power in very different forms and different capacities. This report focuses on the axis of state power considered the most important in terms of its global implications: the relationship between the US and China. This relationship is studied with the aim of assessing how the mutual interdependencies are evolving, and what the goals of the two actors look like in respect of their own global role. The im¬plications of this power transition in the key fields of global governance – also covering the simultaneous diffusion of power to non-state actors – forms another relevant topic under review in the global context. Lastly, the report analyses how the EU contends with these forms of power transition and safeguards its own influence in this changing environment. The project also addresses the international role and influence of one of the northernmost EU members, Finland. It investigates how the changes in the global and regional setting should be understood from the Finnish point of view and how Finland should act in order to consolidate its international role in economic as well as political terms.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Non State Actors, Hegemony, Leadership, Liberal Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The end of the Cold War meant that the Arctic region lost most of its geostrategic relevance. However, due to growing great power competition, the Arctic is back on the geopolitical map. Hard security dynamics in the region are defined by two key elements: the importance of conventional long-range missiles and nuclear weapons for Russia, and the importance of the North Atlantic sea line of communication for European defence. Russia has revitalized its Cold War-era bastion strategy, which aims to ensure the survival of its strategic ballistic missile submarines. In a crisis scenario, this strategy could pose serious challenges to the Nordic countries as well. Five Arctic states are members of NATO and the Alliance’s collective defence is operational in the Arctic. Even if the Arctic is still not a focus area for NATO, the North Atlantic maritime domain is increasingly back on the agenda. Given the divergent strategic interests and lack of common ground between Russia and other Arctic states on grand strategic issues, the Arctic will not be losing its geostrategic importance anytime soon.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Arctic
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The heightened tensions between the United States and Iran should be understood in the context of the Trump administration’s broader foreign policy approach. Even if neither side wants a military confrontation, the “maximum pressure” campaign by the US has raised the risk of a potential miscalculation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Christopher Kojm
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Headlines are rife with stories about political turmoil in transatlantic relations, and bitter disputes over trade and defence spending. Yet for the US Intelligence Community, ties with transatlantic partners have remained insulated against political differences. History shows that intelligence relationships follow their own logic.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Regional Cooperation, Alliance, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A newfound focus on great-power competition has brought geoeconomics to the forefront of strategic thinking in Washington D.C. The United States is well positioned to use coercive economic tools, particularly unilateral sanctions, in this game because of its structural advantages in the global economy and financial system. President Donald Trump and his administration have also signalled a preference for the unilateral use of sanctions to excel in the competitive international geostrategic environment and confront “rogue regimes”. Meanwhile, wrangling between Congress and the White House over sanctions policy has intensified since the 2016 presidential election. These systemic, policymaker-bounded and domestic-political factors have created a perfect storm in US sanctions policy. While the US may be able to pursue sanctions unilaterally in the short term, in the long run this may dissuade allies from cooperating and erode America’s structural advantages as other states resort to hedging.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Christopher Kojm
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump’s words and actions are disrupting US-European relations. Yet the structural basis for strong transatlantic ties endures. Key institutions and forces involved in the making of US foreign policy exhibit more continuity than change with respect to transatlantic relations. Congress strongly supports NATO. It agrees with the President on the need for greater burden-sharing, yet opposes the President’s harsh and gratuitous attacks on the Alliance. Executive Branch Departments, especially the Department of Defence, have longstanding institutional ties with European counterparts. High-level meetings, defence cooperation agreements, military exercises, and relationship-building continue without interruption. The US business community strongly opposes tariffs, and has been able to blunt the Administration’s further imposition of tariffs on European partners. Public opinion still strongly supports transatlantic defence and trade relations, even as partisan differences grow.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Tariffs, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Deborah A. McCarthy
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia, China, Iran and ISIS use information operations to undermine the national security objectives of the United States and its allies. However, the US’s international response has been weak. Internal constraints have limited more effective counter-measures. In particular, the lack of a coordinated White House-level strategy, dispersed authorities and little cooperation with private social media companies can be identified as causal factors. Additional steps by the Trump Administration to counter foreign disinformation will aim to protect the 2020 presidential elections rather than to push back on efforts to undermine US leadership abroad.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, ISIS, Social Media, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Deborah A. McCarthy
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US Department of Defense is playing a predominant role in US foreign policy due to expanded mandates, large budgets and the disparagement of diplomacy by the Trump Administration. Defense relations may be the steadier foundation for transatlantic cooperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Budget, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America