In America’s Mission, Tony Smith contends that the “central ambition of American foreign policy” since the Spanish-American war has been centered on promoting democracy, or in President Woodrow Wilson’s formulation, “making the world safe for democracy.”[1] Challenging this narrative, Arman Grigoryan argues in “Selective Wilsonianism,” that this ‘Kantian narrative’ that originates in liberal theory does little to explain glaring differences in Western support for various democratic movements in the post-Soviet space. Further, he argues that the overall history of U.S. democracy promotion shows American interest in it to be largely instrumental instead of based on ideological commitments.  Grigoryan argues that this Kantian narrative of the West relentlessly supporting democracy across the world is more a story that believers in liberal theory tell themselves rather than one which is based in reality.[2] Instead, he convincingly argues that the U.S. has shown significant variation when and how it promotes democracy across time, using democracy promotion instrumentally to achieve its national goals.

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Contested freedom of navigation, welcome back.  Absent from mainstream debates about the relevance of military power in international politics since the end of the Cold War, until recently naval power had come to embody the linear progression underwriting Francis Fukuyama’s ‘end of history.’[1] Since the United States had no major enemy left to fight as the Soviet navy faded into the twilight of history, freedom of navigation stood without threats.  The ocean had become the staging platform for the uncontested projection of power of the U.S. and its allies.  Exploiting command of the sea in support of expeditionary campaigns from the Balkans to the Middle East replaced Cold War concerns over securing sea control in the North Atlantic or the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.  Reflecting upon this doctrinal transformation in the mid-1990s, Geoffrey Till remarked that the emergence of requirements for ‘“good order at sea” to manage resource depletion and environmental challenges further added a new dimension to an overall ‘post-modern’ shift in naval affairs.[2]

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It is a very common belief to perceive women as more peaceful than men.  Female stereotypes are connected to care, communication, tolerance and compassion.  The first wave of feminists promoted this ideal of not only peace loving but peace bringing women.[1]  These very traditional attributes of the female role model became even more politically relevant during the current COVID-19 crisis.  Female heads of state were commended for their female crisis management, for showing compassion and extraordinary sympathy with their people while managing the pandemic.  The media described German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other female leaders as caring and motherly, wondering whether women are the better leaders and crisis managers.[2]  The connection of women to everything peaceful and pacifying has long prevailed.

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Unfamiliar with sanctions issues, and accustomed to their capitals’ discreet use of this foreign policy tool, the European public follows sanctions-related headlines with some puzzlement.  If the United Nations (UN) lifted sanctions on Tehran following the conclusion of the nuclear deal, why was it necessary to create a special vehicle for trade with Iran, the Instrument for Trade Exchanges (INSTEX)?  If sanctions regimes are invariably endowed with provisions for humanitarian exemptions, why do humanitarian agencies struggle to get aid to places like Iran and Syria?  Why are European banks like BNP Paribas fined with exorbitant penalties?[1]  As it turns out, these are manifestations of the same phenomenon, and Bryan Early and Keith Preble have the answer to these questions in the article under discussion here.

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The next election looms over nearly all decisions democratic leaders make.  Choices about military strategy are no exception.  Whatever the merits of a particular policy, it could well be overturned, along with the rest of a leader’s agenda, if it prompts voters to remove him or her from office.  Some observers have long worried that electoral pressures give rise to short-term thinking and other pathologies in foreign policy decisionmaking.[1]  Others have argued, on the contrary, that electoral accountability leads to greater caution and prudence about war and peace.[2]  Andrew Payne’s article addresses the important question of how electoral pressures actually worked in an important recent conflict. Its case studies of decisionmaking under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the latter stages of the Iraq War are detailed and compelling.  The evidence reviewed in the article could also speak to alternative theoretical mechanisms that the article does not consider in detail.

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Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long dispute what they regard as conventional wisdom about the benefits and drawbacks of disclosing clandestine weapons, sensors, or associated hardware or software.  Past international relations scholarship, contend Green and Long, dwelt to excess on the tradeoffs between concealing and revealing elements of military power during times of crisis or war, when political and military leaders issue threats to use force or actually order the sword drawn for battle.  In such cases secrecy is at a premium lest the armed forces forfeit some combat advantage to a watchful, adaptive foe.  The balance between political and military interests tilts toward concealment.  Hence the conventional wisdom among scholars who study intelligence and national security[1]

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This article uses the testimony to the Rattenbach Commission,[1] the official Argentine inquiry into the Falklands/Malvinas War, to refute fallacious explanations for the Argentine decision to invade the islands at the start of April 1982 and to offer an alternative explanation of its own.  Those to be refuted are described as the “diversionary thesis,” which suggests that the war was launched to distract from the domestic woes of the ruling Junta, and the “miscalculation thesis” (34), which suggests that the Junta’s move was premeditated but failed to anticipate the British response. Instead of these theories the authors use prospect theory to argue that the Junta embarked on a military adventure with a high chance of failure in an effort to address a long-term sense of national decline and anxiety.

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Our planet is approaching an environmental cliff edge.  Deforestation, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change put our future at risk.  Nuclear power, once envisaged as a source of energy that would become ‘too cheap to meter,’ is now regarded by some as a ‘green’ alternative to fossil fuels.[1] For advocates of nuclear power, developments in recent years have brought reasons for optimism. Approximately 30 countries are contemplating, negotiating, or already setting up nuclear power programs.  Eighty percent of them are developing economies, which, given the financial repercussions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, need access to affordable and clean energy in order to reduce the devastating effects of this economic tsunami. Among the countries aspiring to introduce nuclear power into their energy mix is Israel, whose government hopes that building nuclear power plants (NPPs) would help it reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.[2]

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The repressive policies deployed by the Chinese party-state towards its Muslim population in the western region of Xinjiang has been at the forefront of international media attention.  Beyond the sharp increase in the security presence in the region and the widespread use of technology-intensive policing, the extra-legal internment of 1 to 3 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups has been the most notable of these repressive policies.  The so-called “Xinjiang papers,” a leak of internal Chinese documents revealed by the New York Times in 2019, have contributed to unveil the policy shift that has occurred in this region since early 2017.[1]  This tightly-written article by Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Myunghee Lee, and Emir Yazici endeavors to explain this evolution.  It also stresses the transnational security dimension of these policies and aims at situating the Chinese case in the broader literature on political violence and domestic repression.

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In this article Marina Henke takes an interest in force generation processes in European Union (EU) peacekeeping operations.  Even though the EU is the subject of the research, force generation in multilateral peacekeeping operations is indeed an overlooked phenomenon in general.  As such, and beyond the carefully studied and researched case that Henke examines here, her findings and the network theory of force generation that she offers have great potential for further empirical testing and validation in the framework of the operations of other organizations such as the United Nations or NATO.

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