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Article

Conflict and Nationalist Frames  

Marie-Eve Desrosiers

In the context of nationalist and ethnic struggles, framing refers to strategic communication aimed at changing perceptions and behavior, such as persuading members of a group to unite and fight or their opponents to demobilize. The concept and theory behind framing stem from sociology, and in particular American social movements theory, where they have helped reconcile an interest in the construction of identities and “meaning work” with the study of structures that favor participation in collective endeavors. Framing not only unpacks the processes behind this form of strategic communication through notions such as alignment and resonance, but it has also produced extensive scholarship on types of frames that foster mobilization and the socio-psychological keys they play upon in so doing. Framing theory has also focused on some of the elements contributing to the success—or lack thereof—of communication aimed at persuasion. Considering that participation in crises and conflicts is an extreme form of mobilization, framing has, since the mid-2000s, made headway in conflict studies, where scholars have turned to framing processes to shed light on how people can be convinced to rally around the nationalist or ethnic flag and even take up arms in their group’s name. More recently, framing-centric approaches have been used to shed light on frames deployed in conflicts of a religious nature, as well as in the study of radicalization and the ideological or ideational framing behind it. The future of framing theory with regards to identity-based conflicts depends, however, on scholars’ ability to produce framing concepts and theoretical insights specific to conflict studies able to federate the community or researchers adopting the approach to study armed violence. As growing research on armed conflict turns to understanding the links between national and local realities, framing theorists may in addition benefit from greater attention to local frames and framing dynamics, and how they relate to the broader, elite-driven frames more commonly focused on in the study of armed violence. Finally, though so far little explored, framing proponents may stand to gain from engaging with literature using survey experiments or other promising quantitative approaches that have also sought to generate insights into ethnic relations or government representation and policy regarding crises and war.

Article

Definitions of Geopolitics  

Igor Kovac

International relations literature and the foreign policy community offer and use multiple definitions of geopolitics. More often than not, both camps use the term even without providing or hinting at its conceptualization. This causes muddy thinking and misunderstandings among scholars, as well as misunderstandings between scholars and policymakers. It is unrealistic to expect that at some point, the scholarship will agree on a single common definition, nor is this something worth aiming for. Instead, raising awareness about ontological differences when defining geopolitics, as each definition leads to different (foreign) policy implications, makes more sense for academia and policymakers. Being cognizant of ontological diversity propels clarity of academic writing and informs policymaking. Thus, a conceptual analysis of the term geopolitics is needed to facilitate greater transparency when using the term. Probably the best place to start such an analysis is with the etymology of geopolitics, since no one objects to that: two ancient Greek words: gê (earth) and politikós (statesman). Gê personifies objectivity and determinism, while politikós represents subjectivity and interpretivism. Some definitions of geopolitics stress the first set of characteristics, while others emphasize the second. Moreover, two ontological continua—material–ideational and praxis–science—can be formed from this etymology that form an ontological matrix of geopolitics. Using this matrix, nine different types of definitions of geopolitics can be identified: classical geopolitics; geopolitics as strategic geography; cognitive geopolitics; global geopolitics; critical geopolitics; geopolitics as philosophy of statesmen; anti-geopolitics; geopolitics as logos, pathos, and ethos; and geopolitics as nexus. Each of them carries its unique ontological take on geopolitics, as well as lays particular foundations for policymakers. Such a typology excels other endeavors of classifying geopolitics, since they suffer from one or more vices: they are not systemic, they lack clear classification criteria, they cannot encapsulate all definitions of geopolitics, and their classroom and policy utility are mediocre. Finally, the functionality of the ontological matrix of geopolitics for didactical purposes and for bridging the gap between academia and policymaking is apparent. Namely, making students understand that meta-theoretical issues matter is much easier if visualization is possible. Depicting and explaining ontological positions on the geopolitical matrix is instrumental as similarities and differences become illustrative. Being exposed to the geopolitical matrix equips the people committed to the process of bridging the gap between academia and practice with a new and helpful tool.

Article

Energy, Security, and Foreign Policy  

Özgür Özdamar

Next to national defense, energy security has become a primary issue for the survival and wellbeing of both developed and developing nations. A review of the literature shows how concerns for energy security acquired a new dimension after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when the Western powers and a weakened Russia competed for the control of the Eurasia region and its energy resources. Research has also focused on how different countries have developed a variety of strategies for securing their energy supply. Energy security literature can be split into three general sections: neoclassical economics and public choice, bureaucratic politics and public administration, and political economy. Scholars have also explored regime theory, resource conflict, and the relationship between national energy security and foreign policy. In the case of the United States, four major challenges in foreign policy issues related to energy security can be identified: “building alliances, strengthening collective energy security, asserting its interests with energy suppliers, and addressing the rise of state control in energy.” These challenges require eight specific foreign policy responses from the U.S. government, two of which constitute the core relationship between energy security and foreign policy making: “candor and respect” for the producer countries, and foreign policies that promote the stability and security of suppliers.

Article

Friendship in International Politics  

Kristin Haugevik

In the international political discourse of the early 21st century, claims of friendship and “special ties” between states and their leaders are commonplace. Frequently reported by international media, such claims are often used as entry points for scholars and pundits seeking to evaluate the contents, relative strength, and present-day conditions of a given state-to-state relationship. Advancing the claim that friendships not only exist but also matter in and to the international political domain, international relations scholars began in the mid-2000s to trace and explore friendship—as a concept and practice—across time, societies, cultural contexts, and scientific disciplines. As part of the research agenda on friendship in international politics, scholars have explored why, how, and under what conditions friendships between states emerge, evolve, subsist, and dissolve; how amicable structures are typically organized; how they manifest themselves on a day-to-day basis; and what short- and long-term implications they may have for international political processes, dynamics, outcomes, and orders.

Article

International Competition and Cooperation in the New Eastern Mediterranean  

Zenonas Tziarras

In the 21st century and particularly during the 2010s, the Eastern Mediterranean acquired unprecedented attention and significance as a distinct geopolitical space with new international and security dynamics. This “new” Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical order was largely “constructed” by global and regional power shifts as well as local developments, such as the trajectory of Turkish foreign policy and the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon reserves. The result was a change in the region’s patterns of interstate conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, countries such as Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel became part of an emerging network of cooperation and security architecture. On the other hand, owing to its problematic relations with these states, Turkey remained an outsider wanting to “deconstruct” this new state of affairs and change it to its own benefit. As such, the new Eastern Mediterranean was ushered in during a period of geopolitical polarization that is more conducive to crisis rather than peace and stability and often transcends its boundaries.

Article

International Cyberpolitics  

Benjamin R. Banta

The earliest scholarly writing on “cyberpolitics” focused mainly on the domestic sphere, but it became clear by the mid-2000s that the Internet-generated “cyberspace” was also having massive effects on the broader dynamics and patterns of international politics. A great deal of the early research on this phenomenon focused on the way cyberspace might empower nonstate actors of all varieties. In many respects that has been the case, but states have increasingly asserted their “cyberpower” in a variety of ways. Some scholars even predict a coming territorialization of what was initially viewed as a technology that fundamentally resisted the dictates of sovereign borders. Such disparate possibilities speak to the ambiguity surrounding the intersection of the international system and the political affordances generated by the Internet and related technologies. Does cyberpolitics challenge the international system as we know it—perhaps altering the very nature of war, sovereignty, and the state itself—or will it merely be subsumed within some structurally mandated logic of state-centric self-help? As might be expected, research that speaks to such foundational questions is quite sprawling. It is also still somewhat inchoate because the object of study is complex and highly malleable. The cyber-“domain” involves a physical substrate ostensibly subject to a territorially demarcated international system, but Internet-enabled activities have expanded rapidly and unpredictably over the past few decades because it also involves a virtual superstructure designed to be a network of networks, and so fundamentally at odds with centralized control. As such, some argue that because cyberspace has so enmeshed itself into all aspects of society, international politics and cyberspace should be seen as coevolving systems, and concomitantly that fields such as International Relations (IR) must update their theoretical and methodological tools. Such contentions indicate that an understanding of extra-domestic cyberpolitics has not so much involved progressively developing insights as differing perspectives compete to explain reality, but rather the growing recognition that we are only now catching up to a rapidly changing reality. As part of that recognition, much of the cutting-edge International Studies (IS) work on cyberpolitics is aimed at researching how the central actor in global politics, the state, is increasingly a cyberpolitical actor. This has meant the abandonment of strong assertions about the way cyberspace would exist separate from the “real world” of state interaction, or that it would force the alteration of especially hierarchical forms of state power. Instead, burgeoning literatures examine the myriad ways states seek to resist and control cyberpolitical activity by others, deploy their own cyberpolitical power, and even shape the very cyberspace in which all of this can occur. This focus on “international cyberpolitics” thus involves tracking a complex and growing milieu of practices, all while reflecting on the possibly fundamental changes being forced upon the international system. All of this points to the likelihood that the study of international politics will increasingly also be the study of international cyberpolitics.

Article

The International Politics of Memory  

Lina Klymenko

Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .

Article

International Relations and Outer Space  

Dimitrios Stroikos

Although the study of the international politics of space remains rather descriptive and undertheorized, important progress has been made to the extent that there is already a growing literature examining certain aspects of space activities from an International Relations (IR) theory perspective, reflecting the broader surge of interest in the utilization of space for civilian, military, and commercial purposes. In this regard, this is the first systematic attempt to outline this emerging and vibrant multidisciplinary subfield of IR. In doing so, it covers a substantial body of research on the politics of space that builds on realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, critical theory, poststructuralism, feminism and gender studies, postcolonialism, and eclecticism. The study also discusses a distinctive approach concerned with examining the process of space policy decision-making at different levels of analysis, what can be called “Space Policy Analysis (SPA).” The study concludes by briefly considering possible avenues for future research.

Article

International Relations, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence  

Ehud Udi Eiran

Scholars and practitioners of international relations (IR) are paying special attention to three significant ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) and big data (BD) are transforming IR, against a background of earlier debates among IR scholars about the effect of technology on the field. First, AI and BD have emerged as arenas of interstate, mostly great power competition. In this context, scholars suggest, AI and BD are important because an effective use of AI and BD adds significantly to military and economic power. The current competition in these fields, between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, brought scholars to highlight at least four ways in which AI and BD are important: (a) Automating decisions about the use of nuclear force could affect nuclear stability, but scholars still cannot agree in what direction; (b) The central role played by the private sector. This, as opposed to the Cold War era, when the state played the leading role in the development of technology ; (c) the gap between the current two great powers in these technologies is narrow, in contrast to the significant gap in favor of the United States during the Cold War; and (d) the wave of new technologies, including AI, makes weapons systems cheaper and more available for smaller powers and political entities, thus offering a possible curb on the dominance of great powers. Second, AI and BD are expected to affect national decision-making in the areas of foreign and security policies. Here, scholars highlight three possible transformations: (a) AI will allow states a path for better decision-making on security and foreign policy matters, through the optimization and speeding of existing policy processes; (b) the technology will omit some of the human shortcomings in decision-making, further optimizing the policy process; and (c) AI will be able to offer predictions about policies of other actors in the international system and create effective simulations to help manage crises. Finally, the inclusion of AI and BD in weapons systems, most notably the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, brings the promise (or horror) of greater efficiency and lethality but also raises significant ethical questions. AI and BD are also affecting other arenas of interstate conflict including the cyber domain and information warfare.

Article

International Relations of the Pacific Islands  

William Waqavakatoga and Joanne Wallis

The Pacific Islands region occupies 15% of the world’s surface, yet there have been relatively few analyses of the international relations of the Pacific Island countries (PICs). Existing analyses tend to view the region through the lens of the interests of major and metropolitan powers. They consequently focus on how geopolitical competition between those powers is likely to develop in the region but afford little consideration to the agency of PICs to shape how that will occur. This article reimagines the international relations of the Pacific Islands to capture how Pacific Island countries are exercising their agency in pursuit of their interests and to manage the behaviour of great and metropolitan powers. This reimagining involves three analytical moves. First, it subverts stereotypes of “smallness”, “weakness”, and “fragility” which tend to dominate the policy and academic literature of metropolitan powers about the region. Second, it better recognises the agency and activism of Pacific Island countries captured by the concept of the “Blue Pacific”. Third, it accounts for the dynamism and diversity of the nature and interests of the entities and actors that make up, and are involved in the Pacific region.

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

Migration Cooperation Between Africa and Europe: Understanding the Role of Incentives  

Abu Bakarr Bah and Nikolas Emmanuel

The issue of mass migration and north–south relations are increasingly becoming complicated in international relations. In the case of the interactions between Africa and Europe, irregular migration has become a major problem that is also breeding new forms of relations between the two continents. Migration into Europe through the western Mediterranean corridor from Morocco into Spain is a central part in the development of this new relationship. In these changing relations, it is important to ask how the security concerns of mass irregular migration, the emergence of diverse efforts to manage mass migration, and the forms of collaborations that have emerged between the European Union and Spain on the one hand and Morocco on the other hand have had an impact on overall south–north human flows. In particular, this line of inquiry focuses on the way incentives (aid-based, diplomatic, legitimation, etc.) are deployed by Spain and the European Union to ensure that Morocco prevents irregular migrants from crossing into Europe. Overall, it is important to address two kinds of questions relating to the security issues in mass migration and the forms and nature of international collaborations to manage mass migration from Africa to Europe. The intersection of security issues with pragmatic collaboration in international relations is critical to examine. In terms of security, mass irregular migration is tied to human, cultural, and state security concerns. In terms of the management of migration, the various forms of incentives, mainly development assistance and diplomatic support, are used to get Morocco to enforce stringent anti-immigration practices. However, the system of incentives created by actors in the north also creates a form of mutual dependency between Morocco and Europe in a way that enhances the agency of Morocco in its relationship with Spain and the European Union as a whole.

Article

Modern Grand Strategic Studies: Research Advances and Controversies  

Thierry Balzacq and Mark Corcoral

Grand strategy offers an effective framework to understand and explain how and why a state interacts with other actors in a given way and how it combines various military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural instruments to achieve its ends in a largely coherent fashion. Yet, the term “grand strategy” conjures different meanings and attitudes, with some treating it as synonymous with strategy and foreign policy, thus raising questions about its relations with policy and politics. History teaches us that grand strategy remains a demanding enterprise, partly because of actors’ differential status and partly because its time horizon (mid to long term) subjects it to unforeseen conditions that threaten to derail it. However, does this make grand strategy impossible? Modern grand strategic scholarship is studded with tensions, but this must not eclipse research advances. In fact, the more disconnected controversies are from empirical contexts, the more they tend to become ends unto themselves. The first controversy relates to the definition of grand strategy and the best way to chart its landscape; the second deals with the sources of grand strategy (internal vs. external, material vs. ideational); and the third revolves around the feasibility of grand strategy in a capricious and fast-paced environment. These tensions are both defining, in the sense that they outline the state of the field, and productive, as they point toward future research avenues.

Article

Neutrality Studies  

Pascal Lottaz

The study of neutrality, as an academic subject in the fields of history and the social sciences, is concerned with the politics, laws, ethics, economics, norms, and other social aspects of states and international actors that attempt to maintain friendly or impartial relations with other states who are—or might become—parties to international conflict. In this regard, neutrality studies is a subject of international politics in its broadest sense, encompassing international law and international relations. It is an open space that has been explored through various academic lenses, including (but not limited to) realism, liberalism, constructivism, and poststructuralism. Most neutrality research in the early 21st century is focused on particular periods or forms of neutrality. To discuss this topic, it is helpful to distinguish two levels of analysis. First, there is historical research that describes the observable phenomenon of neutral behavior and its related effects, in other words, specific instances when countries (or actors) remained neutral. This is mostly the domain of historians. The second level is the moral, legal, political, and ideational assessment of neutral situations, which are theoretical discussions that treat issues (including but not limited to) the underlying reasons and the larger impact of neutrality on specific conflict dynamics, security systems, identities, and norms. Ideological debates often occur on this level since theoretical assessments of neutrality depend heavily on the subjective framing of the conflicts they accompany.

Article

The Politics of Regional Integration in Africa  

Paul-Henri Bischoff

On the African continent, a commitment to Pan-African unity and multilateral organization exists next to a postcolonial society whose 54 Westphalian states interpret the commitment to unity and integration to different degrees. The tension between a long-term Pan-African vision for a unified continent that prospers and is economically self-empowered, and the national concerns of governing state-centered elites with immediate domestic security and political and economic interests, lies at the heart of the politics surrounding African integration and affects both the continent and its regions. The politics of integration demand that a patchwork of regionalisms be consolidated; states give up on multiple memberships; and designated regional economic communities (RECs) take the lead on integration or subordinate themselves to the strategy and complement the institutions of the African Union (AU). In the interest of widening the social base of regional organization, politics needs to recognize and give status to informal regional actors engaged in bottom-up regionalism. Of issue in the politics of integration and regionalism are themes of norm adaptation, norm implementation, intergovernmentalism and supra-nationality, democracy, and authoritarianism.

Article

Private Military and Security Companies  

Berenike Prem and Elke Krahmann

While early private military and security companies (PMSCs) were likened to mercenaries, today most scholars agree that PMSCs constitute a new phenomenon. They are organized as legitimate corporate entities, have a distinct legal status, and provide a wide range of military and security services. This definition reflects the evolution of the PMSC industry, which has moved beyond combat services to supply everything from transport, logistics, and maintenance to military and police training, demining, intelligence, risk analysis, armed and unarmed protective services, anti-piracy measures, border protection, and drone operations. Not only have PMSC services diversified, but so has their client base. In addition to industrialized and failed states, transnational corporations, international organizations, and even NGOs increasingly make use of PMSCs. There are several explanations for the growing recourse to these companies. Functional explanations see the employment of PMSCs as a rational response to the glaring gap between demand and supply in the market for force. Ideational and constructivist approaches, by contrast, impute national differences in the outsourcing of military and security services to dominant beliefs and norms about the appropriate relationship between the state and the market. The consequences of using PMSCs, including the accountability, effectiveness, and state control of PMSCs, issues of gender and racial equality, and theoretical implications for the location of political authority and the public good character of security are key issues. So is the question of suitable forms of regulation for the industry, including national and international laws, informal industry self-regulations, and hybrid regulatory approaches such as multi-stakeholder initiatives and standard setting schemes.

Article

Researching Modern Economic Sanctions  

Menevis Cilizoglu and Bryan R. Early

Economic sanctions are an integral part of states’ foreign policy repertoire. Increasingly, major powers and international organizations rely on sanctions to address an incredibly diverse array of issues—from fighting corruption to the prevention of nuclear weapons. How policy makers employ economic sanctions evolved over time, especially over the past two decades. The recognition of the adverse humanitarian impact of economic sanctions in the late 1990s and the “War on Terrorism” following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have led to major changes in the design and enforcement patterns of economic sanctions. Academics’ understanding of how these coercive tools work, when they are utilized, what consequences they create, and when they succeed are still heavily shaped by research findings based on observations from the latter half of the 20th century. Insights based on past sanctions episodes may not fully apply to how sanctions policies are being currently used. In the latter half of the 20th century, the majority of sanctions cases were initiated by the United States, targeted governments, and involved restrictions on international trade. In the last two decades, however, additional actors, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and China, have emerged as major senders. Modern sanctions now most commonly involve targeted and financial sanctions and are imposed against individuals, organizations, and firms. The changing nature of the senders, targets, stakeholders, and economic tools associated with sanctions policies have important implications for their enforcement, effectiveness, and consequences. The legal-regulatory and bureaucratic infrastructure needed to implement and enforce modern economic sanctions has also become far more robust. This evolution of modern sanctions has provided the scholarly community with plenty of opportunities to explore new questions about economic coercion and revisit old ones. The research agenda on economic sanctions must evolve to remain relevant in understanding why and how modern sanctions are used and what their consequences are.

Article

Revisionism in International Relations  

Jonathan M. DiCicco and Victor M. Sanchez

International relations analysts often differentiate between status-quo and revisionist states. Revisionist states favor modifications to the prevailing order: its rules and norms, its distribution of goods or benefits, its implicit structure or hierarchy, its social rankings that afford status or recognition, its division of territory among sovereign entities, and more. Analyses of revisionist states’ foreign policies and behaviors have explored sources and types of revisionism, choices of revisionist strategies, the interplay of revisionist and status-quo states, and the prospects for peaceful or violent change in the system. Intuitive but imprecise, the concepts of revisionism and revisionist states often are used without explicit definition, reflective discussion, or rigorous operationalization. For these reasons, efforts to conceptualize and measure revisionism merit special attention. Highlighted works promise to improve understanding of revisionism as a phenomenon, as well as its use in theoretical and empirical analyses of international conflict, war, and the peaceful accommodation of rising powers. Three questions guide the survey. First, who is seeking to revise what? This question opens a foray into the realm of the status quo and its distinct components, particularly in the context of rising and resurgent powers. Second, what is revisionism, and how is it detected or recognized? This question prompts an exploration of the concept and how it is brought to life in scholarly analyses. The third guiding question invites theoretical perspective: How does revisionism help one understand international relations? Provisional answers to that question open avenues for future inquiry.

Article

Rogue State Behavior  

Nikolaos Lampas

“Outcasts,” “pariah states,” “outlaw states,” “rogue states,” “terrorist sponsor states,” “states of concern,” “axis of evil”. … Throughout the history of the discipline of international relations, these terms have been used to describe a small group of states that have been marginalized by the international community due to their aggressive behavior. The concept of rogue states is by no means new. Historically, rogue entities included countries like Russia, during the Bolshevik era, and South Africa during the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has become much more concerned about the threat of rogue states. The reason for that relates to the combined effect of transnational terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In their simplest form, “rogue states” can be defined as aggressive states that seek to upset the balance of power of the international system either by acquiring weapons of mass destruction or by sponsoring international terrorism. However, this definition is problematic because the international community has consistently misapplied the criteria designating a rogue state and, in many cases, has effectively elevated the threat originating from these countries. Therefore, the existing literature has devoted significant attention to answering the following questions: How is a “rogue state” defined? How did the concept of “rogue states” evolve over time? How can the threat of “rogue states” be dealt with? The related literature focuses on a broad range of issues, from the objectivity of the designation to the efficacy of countermeasures against these states. It includes authors who write from realist, liberalist, critical, rationalist, culturalist, structuralist, and postcolonial perspectives, among others. Perhaps the most important aspect of the concept of “rogue states” relates to the fact that the United States labeled them as one of the most important threats to the stability of the international system. For the United States, “rogue states” replaced the threat of the Soviet Union, as evidenced by the transformation of U.S. national security policy following the demise of its former rival. However, unlike the Soviet Union, in the perception of the United States, “rogue states” were undeterrable and difficult to bargain with. Moreover, the United States argued that “rogue states” held a fundamentally different vision of the international community. Countries like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Libya became the epicenter of the U.S. national security strategy. However, the United States continues to define “rogue states” based on their external characteristics, and this has contributed to the adoption of largely inconsistent policies that exacerbated their threat. Therefore, the contemporary use of the “rogue state” label is essentially an American creation, a way for the United States to reassess the post–Cold War security environment and structure its foreign and national security policies. Most of the international community has avoided adopting this narrative and the policies that it justified.

Article

Small States  

Yee-Kuang Heng

Scholarship in international studies has usually tended to focus on the great powers. Yet, studying small state behavior can in fact reveal deep-seated structural changes in the international system and provide significant insights into the management of power asymmetries. Overcoming the methodological limitations of gigantism in scholarship and case study selection is another epistemological benefit. Rather than conventional assumptions of weaknesses and vulnerabilities, research on small states has moved in fascinating directions toward exploring the various strategies and power capabilities that small states must use to manage their relationships with great powers. This means, even in some cases, attempts to forcibly shape their external environments through military instruments not usually associated with the category of small states. Clearly, small states are not necessarily hapless or passive. Even in terms of power capabilities that often define their weaknesses, some small states have in fact adroitly deployed niche hard power military capabilities and soft power assets as part of their playbook. These small states have projected influence in ways that belie their size constraints. Shared philosophies and mutual learning processes tend to underpin small state strategies seeking to maximize whatever influence and power they have. These include forming coalitions, principled support for international institutions, and harnessing globalization to promote their development and security interests. As globalization has supercharged the rapid economic development of some small states, the vicissitudes that come with interdependence have also injected a new understanding of vulnerability beyond that of simply military conflict. To further complicate the security environment, strategic competition between the major powers inevitably impacts on small states. How small states boost their “relevance” vis-à-vis the great powers has broader implications for questions that have animated the academy, such as power transitions and the Thucydides Trap in the international system. While exogenous systemic variables no doubt remain the focus of analysis, emerging research shows how endogenous variables such as elite perceptions, geostrategic locations and availability of military and economic resources can play a key role determining the choices small states make.