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Article

Contemporary Trends in Militarization and Politics in Africa  

Godfrey Maringira

In the formative years of African independence, the assumption was that the military would desist from politics. Even though the military is expected to subordinate itself to a civilian government, the militaries in postcolonial Africa continue to meddle in politics. Hence, when the military acts in politics, it seeks to achieve its desired interests. Whether military intervention and coups in Africa are an alternative means to achieve and attain democracy remains a question for debate. There is no consensus on this issue, as military intervention in politics and coups leads to different and varied consequences. However, recent trends in military coups have been celebrated by ordinary citizens across African countries where authoritarian political elites have been overthrown from power.

Article

Geography, Territory, and Conflict  

Steven V. Miller, Jaroslav Tir, and John A. Vasquez

Traditional, structural theories of international relations may have eschewed the importance of geography and territory to understanding international conflict, but the past 50 years of quantitative scholarship have returned geography and territory to the fore of the discipline. The importance of geography and territory to the study of international conflict first emerged in the discipline of political geography and the early foundations of peace science. Subsequent empirical analyses demonstrated a robust connection between geography, particularly disputed territory, and all phases of inter-state conflict. Explanations for this robust relationship emerged concurrent to the empirical findings. The theoretical arguments are eclectic and focus on territoriality as human instinct, the tangible and intangible value of territory, and whether conflict over territory conforms well to implications from the bargaining framework. Though traditionally the domain of inter-state conflict scholars, civil conflict scholarship has greatly informed this research program on geography, territory, and conflict by expanding and enriching its theoretical arguments and empirical implications. The future of territorial conflict scholarship should focus on reconciling different theoretical arguments about the emergence of peace after World War II, wrestling with the future of territorial conflict as more territorial disputes are settled, providing richer data on territorial claims, and exploring the implications of global climate change for future conflict over scarce and changing waterways and maritime/river boundaries.

Article

Israeli Foreign Policy  

Aviad Rubin

The main principles of Israeli foreign policy emerged during the pre-state period and were shaped by Zionist ideology and the lessons of the Holocaust. The primary goal of this policy was, and still is, to secure a sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel, and a safe haven for world Jewry. Another dominant factor in the shaping of the foreign policy of Israel was the need to encounter the country’s challenging geostrategic situation—small territory; lack of natural resources, until the discovery of natural gas depots in water in the Israeli exclusive economic zone during the last decade; fragile Jewish communities around the world; and a hostile neighborhood. Combined together, these considerations are the issues that rank high on the agenda of Israeli foreign policy and affect Israel’s relationship with the international community, ranging from the global superpowers to third world countries. After maintaining a relatively steady foreign policy program throughout the 20th century, in the 21st century the state made some significant policy shifts, especially under Benjamin Netanyahu’s consecutive governments. These included a halt in Israeli–Palestinian negotiations for peace; a high-profile campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program; more emphasis on the maritime domain; and strengthening ties with illiberal leaders around the world. In 2021, the seeming epilogue of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister leaves an open question about the relative weight of structural and ideational factors vs. powerful political agents in the design of Israel’s foreign policy.

Article

Settlers and Territorial Control  

Oded Haklai

Population settlements/settlers as a means for obtaining territorial control have been an omnipresent phenomenon throughout recorded history of human society. Whereas scholarly debates about settlers have typically been associated with European imperial settler colonialism, an emerging research agenda has started to develop in the 21st century around the politics of settlers, or population settlements, in contested territories in the post-WWII era, primarily in the postcolonial world. The research around this ubiquitous phenomenon is still in its infancy, however, and is characterized more by studies of specific cases and less by comparative analysis that aims to identify patterns of theoretical relevance. Cases of settlers in contested lands are abundant all over the world: from Xinjiang and Tibet in China, to Israel and the West Bank in the Middle East, the Casamance in Senegal, Abkhazia in the Caucasus, Aceh and Papua in Indonesia, and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia in Colombia. Multiple questions can be drawn from studies of these cases as well as the emerging body of literature around them: How have population settlements been conceptualized? What drives them? How have they been pursued? What array of variables has been identified by scholars to explain their proliferation in different cases? What broad patterns and categories can be identified and used for comparative and theoretically driven research? Finally, how can these general categories be useful for generating more robust theory-building scholarship?