Without saying so, Andrej Krickovic’s “Catalyzing Conflict” makes a compelling case that state power is a function of legitimacy. And legitimacy, in turn, is driven by a state’s ability to generate some combination of military capability (that, among other things, allows it to monopolize coercion within its borders), economic development, cultural unity, and political stability. Unquestionably, there is an issue of endogeneity at play in analyzing the relationship between legitimacy and power. But through his discussion of the security dilemma Krickovic effectively raises the importance of domestic vulnerabilities for the construction of foreign policy.
Scholars have long studied the causes of World War One. More recently, they have focused on events and processes which occurred after the outbreak of hostilities, including military intervention, war fighting strategies, and especially the war’s duration. In particular, research has explored why the Central Powers and the Entente were unable to reach a peace agreement before autumn 1918 given the obvious stalemate on the Western Front after the failure of the Schlieffen Plan in 1914. Alexander Lanoszka and Michel Hunzeker provide the latest entry into this line of enquiry, arguing that British concerns about national honor made a negotiated peace impossible and extended the war until Germany’s ultimate collapse in November 1918.
Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley’s outstanding Barriers to Bioweapons demonstrates that while it may be relatively easy to pick your poison, there are very significant barriers to manufacturing it. Her main argument, as our reviewers so clearly explain, is that making bioweapons—that is, ‘weaponizing’ biological agents such as anthrax, smallpox, plague, and many others—has been far more difficult to achieve than is generally understood. And this is true whether these are small groups intent on creating terror or nation-states working at far larger scales of destruction.
When British voters chose to leave the European Union in a 23 June 2016 referendum, they unleashed an intense and ongoing national debate over the consequences. Not surprisingly, the debate has largely surrounded the economic, political, and social consequences of “Brexit.” Those in favour of leaving emphasized the benefits of independence from what they saw as a sclerotic and undemocratic EU. Those opposed warned about the economic consequences of withdrawing from a common market, and feared that the vote was evidence of creeping nativism in British society.
It seems obvious that an understanding of the nature and value of diplomacy should be of central importance to the study of international relations. However, as Brian Rathbun argues in his important new book, the sad reality is that international relations theorists have devoted little time or attention to systematically exploring the value of diplomacy. In his view, the main reason for this lack of emphasis on diplomacy can be explained by the discipline’s traditional focus on structural elements of the international system, such as anarchy and the distribution of power. Drawing on psychological theories of motivation and negotiation, Diplomacy’s Value offers important arguments about why leaders adopt various negotiating styles and how these styles facilitate or impair the negotiation of international agreements. These arguments are then applied to two of the more fascinating examples of twentieth-century international diplomacy: the Locarno era negotiations of the 1920’s and the Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy of the 1990’s.
It is a pleasure to read Feng Zhang’s Chinese Hegemony: Grand Strategy and International Institutions in East Asian History. This book is an exemplar in its serious treatment of Chinese history, its holistic approach to East Asian history covering Inner Asia as well as Korea and Japan, its simultaneous analysis of the foreign policy strategies of both imperial China and its neighbors, and its meticulous examination of fluctuating normative and instrumental strategies in particular periods and in particular relations. It will no doubt become required reading in the International Relations literature.
When released in July 2016, The Report of the Iraq Inquiry elicited the familiar reactions to other government post-mortems about a controversial policy. People noted its size and demanded to know what was new. When few ‘sensational’ details emerged, most observers concluded that the report confirmed what they already believed–good and bad.
A Note from the H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Roundtable Editors
Imagine the best panel discussion or listserv conversation, where experienced professionals strip away academic jargon and get to the heart of debates over current security controversies.
H-Diplo wants to capture the essence of these conversations in a new series, the International Security Studies Forum Policy Roundtable. The ISSF policy roundtable is an opportunity for policymakers and scholars to discuss important issues in a format that is somewhat less formal than a journal correspondence. We want experienced professionals to help readers make sense of complex events, identifying the big issues that are sometimes obscured. And as with our other ISSF publications, we encourage writers to use history to illuminate and add context to current controversies. We believe that readers will find these roundtables useful for understanding the fundamental issues at stake.
Joshua Rovner, Frank Gavin, and Diane Labrosse
Where do new theories come from? In his landmark Theory of International Politics, Kenneth Waltz suggested that “the long process of painful trial and error will not lead to the construction of a theory unless at some point a brilliant intuition flashes, a creative idea emerges. One cannot say how the intuition comes and how the idea is born. One can say what they will be about.”
If intelligence has now received sufficient attention so that it is no longer the hidden dimension of international politics, Soviet intelligence still fits this categorization. Our three reviewers welcome Jonathan Haslam’s lively overview of the subject and commend him for drawing on so many of the documents which, although revealing as far as they go, remain tantalizingly limited. As Paul Pillar, a career government official with excellent scholarly qualifications, notes, “Near and Distant Neighbors deserves to be read as a standard work on Soviet intelligence.”