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Terrorism and Foreign Policy  

Amanda Skuldt

Before the late 1960s, terrorism was commonly viewed as an internal problem that belonged to the realm of policing rather than foreign policy. The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s airplane hijackings in Europe, combined with the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein eleven Israeli athletes were captured and held hostage by Black September, gave rise to some foundational counterterrorism policy features; for example, no negotiations with terrorists. But it was not until the 1983–1984 attacks on its embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut that the United States began to see terrorism as a policy concern. The terrorist attacks of September 11 also led scholars to become increasingly interested in integrating work on international terrorism into international relations (IR) and foreign policy theories. The theories of IR, foreign policy concerns of policy makers, and terrorism studies intersect in areas such as the development of international law governing terrorism, poverty, economic development, globalization, military actions, and questions of whether deterrence is still possible in the age of decentralized terrorist groups and suicidal terrorism. Despite decades of research on terrorism and counterterrorism, some very basic and important gaps remain. Issues that the academic literature on foreign policy or terrorism must address include the effects of the evolving organizational structure of terrorist groups, illegal immigration, the radicalization of European Muslims, and the phenomenon recently identified as “swarming.”

Article

The Arctic in International Relations  

Andreas Østhagen

The Arctic has risen on the international agenda, both for the eight Arctic states and for other actors external to the region. Security and geopolitical dynamics have developed and changed in the north. Nevertheless, one-liner predictions of a resource race or an imminent conflict do not capture the nuances of Arctic politics. When it comes to territorial or border disputes, none remains in the Arctic. The last territorial dispute—over Hans Island—was settled in 2022. When it comes to maritime boundary disputes, only one remains—namely, between Canada and the United States. Along these parameters, the Arctic is in fact remarkably defined and stable, in contrast to other maritime domains surrounded by states. There are still disputes in which states disagree over the interpretation of international law or how to manage the change in resource activity brought forth by climate change. Looking at the international relations of the Arctic, it also makes sense to separate three sets of political dynamics: regional (intra-Arctic) relations, global relations with an Arctic impact or relevance or both, and subregional security relations. Examining security relations as a subset of Arctic International Relations makes it particularly apparent that these primarily revolve around the Barents Sea or North Atlantic maritime domain and the Bering Sea or North Pacific maritime domain, linking to, but not encompassing all of, the Arctic.

Article

The Coloniality of the Scientific Anthropocene  

Vishwas Satgar

The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.

Article

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Its Aftermath  

Oscar Palma

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—FARC) was an insurgent group that emerged in the 1960s as a consequence of struggles between the Conservatives and the Liberals, as well as the consolidation of a Communist party that promoted an armed insurrection. A relative absence of state institutions in farther regions, the uneven distribution of land, and an impoverished peasant class were elements fueling rebellious movements. By the 1980s, however, FARC had become something more complex than an insurgent organization. After initially opposing the idea, the group accepted the generation of income through the taxation of activities in the cocaine-illicit economy. An unprecedented process of growth experienced by the insurgency, with this income, allowed a remarkable offensive against the security forces, in specific regions, by the end of the 1990s. Since then, an explanation of the organization as a “pure” political insurgency would be inaccurate; the motivation and purpose of some fighters within the group was profit. Although an explanation radically separating political and criminal (economic) agendas may be flawed, at least a concept which portrays the organization as something more than just an insurgency seems helpful. The concept of hybrid group, in which armed, political, and criminal dimensions coexist, invites exploring different types of motivations, purposes, and tasks that fighters might have. The observation of these dimensions also contributes to an understanding of the evolution of FARC after the Havana Agreement. A strong military offensive during the 2000s was one of the factors motivating the group to engage in peace negotiations with the Colombian government. With the Agreement, FARC as an armed insurgency ceased to exist, but the continuation of factors which motivated the existence of a hybrid group have triggered the emergence of a myriad of smaller groups, several of which claim to be the real successors of FARC, mixing in diverse ways the political and criminal agendas.

Article

Think Tanks and Foreign Policy  

Stuti Bhatnagar

The role of think tanks as policy actors has developed over time and created significant global scholarship. Widely understood as non-state policy actors, think tanks established either with or without the support of government have evolved in various political contexts with varied characteristics. They are avenues for the discussion of new policy ideas as well as used for the consolidation of existing understandings of global and national political issues. As ideational actors think tanks interact with policy frameworks at different levels, either in the framing stage or at the stage of consensus building towards certain policies. Intellectual elites at think tanks allow for the introduction of think tank ideas into the policy frames as well as the creation of public opinion towards foreign policy decisions. Think tank deliberations involve an interaction with policymakers, academic experts, business and social actors, as well as the media to disseminate ideas. Institutionally, think tanks in a wide variety of political contexts play a critical role in the making of foreign policy and bring closer attention to processes of state–society interactions in different political environments.

Article

Utilitarianism and International Ethics  

Gerard Elfstrom

Utilitarianism is inextricably linked to international ethics. The roots of the principle of utility can be traced to the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was employed by thinkers such as David Hume. However, Jeremy Bentham first formulated utilitarianism in detail and carefully studied its implications. According to Bentham, happiness is a condition in which an individual enjoys more pleasure than pain. Because utilitarianism is focused on the welfare of the individual, state boundaries are of little consequence. Its reach is inherently global. There are different varieties of utilitarianism. What sets them apart from other ethical theories is their stipulation that whatever is of value should be maximized for all and whatever of disvalue should be minimized for all. For Bentham, pleasure is the ultimate value. Later, John Stuart Mill distinguished between higher and lower pleasures and argued that higher pleasures should be given greater weight. In the 20th century, authors such as R. M. Hare determined that maximal satisfaction of preferences is the value to be sought. The utilitarian emphasis on maximization of value and its choice of values have generated much criticism from those who espoused human rights theories, such as John Rawls and those influenced by his work. At present, the scholarly literature dealing with issues related to international ethics mostly comes from those who are committed to human rights theory or who are committed to equality of outcomes for human beings.

Article

200 Years of International Relations in Brazil: Issues, Theories, and Methods  

Dawisson Belém Lopes, João Paulo Nicolini, and Thales Carvalho

The Brazilian field of international relations (IRs) has evolved over the course of two centuries. Since Brazil’s independence in 1822, international topics have deserved attention from local practitioners and scholars. The emergence of Brazilian standpoints about international affairs and of a Brazilian IR scholarship developed after the consolidation of similar fields in other Western countries. Multiple schools of thought held sway over local understandings, thereby leading to the formation of a different field as compared to characteristics of the Anglo-American mainstream. The institutionalization of the area has come about through the creation of scholarly departments and national government agencies. It all led to a unique combination of methods, theories, and issues being currently explored in the Brazilian branch of IR scholarship.