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Article

Russian Security and Nuclear Policies: Successor to the Superpower Arsenal?  

Mariya Y. Omelicheva

The Cold War was a period of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union as the two superpowers engaged in a nuclear arms race. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, some scholars perceived that Russia’s military-industrial complex has deteriorated considerably, and that the country has fallen behind the United States and Europe in the area of information technologies and other strategically important sectors of national economy. Others insist that the image of Russia’s political irrelevancy and demotion of the country to a status of a “small” or even “medium” power is mistaken. The new Russia, they argue, has never surrendered its claims as a great power. Discussions about Russia’s global role have been fueled by its continuing nuclear standoff with the United States, along with growing concerns about its plans to develop more robust nuclear deterrents and modernize its nuclear arsenals. There is substantial scholarly literature dealing with Russia’s foreign, security, military, and nuclear policy, as well as the role of nuclear weapons in the Russian security framework. What the studies reveal is that the nuclear option remains an attractive alternative to Russia’s weakened conventional defense. Today, as before, Russia continues to place a high premium on the avoidance of a surprise attack and relies on its nuclear capabilities for strategic deterrence. There are a host of issues that deserve further investigation, such as the safety of Russia’s nuclear sites and the regional dimension of its nuclear policy.

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

Refugee Protection, Securitization, and Liminality  

Yvonne Jazz Rowa

The existing scholarship has widely examined security vulnerabilities and challenges within the forced migrant context. A myriad of factors along the complex trajectory of pre- and post-flight have contributed to a dire state of human security. Notably, the protection system has played a major role in the institutionalization of liminality and securitization, and inadvertently intensified refugees’ preexisting vulnerabilities. The literature on global institutions of protection within an evolving global migration landscape exposes the systemic securitization entrenched in the international instruments of protection; for the most part, the protection mechanisms are intrinsically exclusionary. There are also challenges and dilemmas of disentangling security from migration that render conceptual conflations and resultant mechanisms of institutionalization inevitable. Essentially, the architecture of the instruments of protection informs the mechanisms for response. The systemic contradictions within these regimes are therefore likely to be reflected and replicated in their operationalization. The overall dynamics expose humanitarianism and security first, as oppositional imperatives, and secondly, as enduring dilemmas that institutions of protection continuously reconciliate.

Article

Interventions/Uses of Force Short of War  

Brandon C. Prins

Studying the initial steps of the militarized conflict process may help to better uncover regularized patterns that produce dangerous encounters and decision processes in world politics. An understanding of armed conflict short of war is essential if the international community hopes to prevent conflict escalation and contagion. Interstate war is increasingly viewed as the outcome of a complex decision-making process rather than of a single policy choice that commits a nation from peace to war. In this vein, examining lower-level violent conflict offers three immediate benefits. First, it increases the number of observations for empirical analysis. The second reason for is that wars typically begin as nonviolent disagreements over contentious issues. Third, examining low-level militarized conflict helps avoid, or at least helps to minimize, selection effects. In addition, recent scholarship on foreign policy decision making resulting in violent interstate conflict goes in two very different and possibly incompatible directions. First, theoretical and empirical attention to enduring rivalry suggests that lasting perceptions of threat between states establish an environment of mistrust and fear, which inhibits the resolution of contentious issues. A second research program defines the use of force as part of a larger bargaining process over the allocation of scarce resources.

Article

Diversionary Theories of Conflict: The Promises and Challenges of an Opportunities Approach  

Charity Butcher

Since the early 1990s, a significant amount of research has been dedicated to refining the causal mechanisms that lead to the diversionary use of force and the various conditions under which such diversionary actions are most likely. This article focuses specifically on the latter—highlighting the research on the various conditions that create opportunities for states to utilize diversionary tactics—while also emphasizing how these opportunities are connected to specific causal processes for diversionary conflict. While significant attention has been paid to the domestic factors that provide additional opportunities for or constraints on actors to utilize diversionary force, less research has considered the international and dyadic opportunities for diversionary force and the interaction and interplay of these domestic and international, or dyadic, factors. These international and dyadic factors specifically focus on those related to the potential target of diversionary conflict and are an important part of fully understanding the decision-making process of leaders contemplating diversionary tactics. Both the domestic and international opportunities for diversionary force identified in the literature will be considered, specifically those focusing on advancements made in understanding the international and dyadic dimensions of these opportunities and the characteristics of potential target states. While the movement toward identifying various opportunities for diversionary behavior, both domestic and international, or dyadic, is an important pathway in diversionary research, this approach comes with some significant challenges. First, diversionary motivations are extremely hard to “prove” since leaders have incentives to hide these motives. This problem is compounded as more opportunities for diversionary force are added to the mix—as these opportunities may, in themselves, provide motives for war. For example, rivalry and territorial disputes are shown as international opportunities for diversionary force, yet these factors are also known to be two of the most prominent causes of war between states. Thus, parsing out diversionary motives from other fundamental national security motives becomes increasingly difficult. While quantitative studies can help uncover broad patterns of potential diversionary behavior, they are less equipped to fully explain the ways that various domestic and international opportunities might interact. Nor can these studies demonstrate whether diversion was actual present within specific cases. Case studies can help fill these gaps by allowing more in-depth analysis of these potential diversionary opportunities. Overall, quantitative studies that help uncover patterns and qualitative studies that investigate diversionary tactics in a single case or set of cases are both important parts of the puzzle. To best understand diversionary conflict, researchers need to rely increasingly on both approaches.

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.