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Article

Africa is a place of enormous variation and its countries have had very different postcolonial experiences. However, it is clear that since the 1940s peace has been elusive for many across the continent. A series of wars driven by poverty, identity, political economy, and failing states led to a widespread crisis of governance and extensive international intervention. Reductions in the security capabilities of states have also led to the growth of violent transnational groups, particularly those related to Islamic extremism in the Maghreb, Nigeria, and Somalia but also criminal networks involved with drug and people smuggling. This wide variety of conflicts also generated an equally wide range of responses as the international community began to develop ways of combating conflicts through reform of its own peacekeeping capacity. The optimism of the 1992 Agenda for Peace, which called for the UN to become the central instrument in the prevention and ending of conflicts, has given way to a more sanguine approach, as mixed results have led to diverse outcomes for African countries and Africa’s own peace and security architecture. In the end, despite the rapid development of important local and localized bottom-up peacebuilding initiatives, the state remains central to the overarching aims of peace and stability across the continent. It is here where the variations in performance can be found in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and post-conflict reconstruction.

Article

Wilfred Wan and Etel Solingen

Since the advent of the nuclear age, scholars have sought to provide rationales behind decisions to pursue, forgo, or relinquish nuclear weapons programs. Security, status, cost, technical capabilities, and domestic considerations have played central roles in explaining those choices. Classical neorealism was once the conventional wisdom, advancing that relative power and the logic of self-help in an anarchic world drove states to nuclear weapons. Yet, the analysis of nuclear proliferation has evolved in accordance with broader debates in international relations theory in recent decades, including the incorporation of neoliberal institutionalist, constructivist, and domestic political perspectives. The end of the Cold War and the upheaval of international order in particular marked a watershed for the literature, with scholars challenging the dominant paradigm by examining the effects of institutions, norms, and identities. Those approaches, however, under-theorized—if not omitted altogether—the role of domestic political drivers in choices to acquire or abstain from acquiring from nuclear weapons. Such drivers provide filters that can be invaluable in explaining whether, when, and how state actors are susceptible to considerations of relative power, international institutions, and norms. More recently, scholars have deployed more sophisticated theoretical frameworks and diverse methodologies. The road ahead requires greater analytical flexibility, harnessing the utility of classical perspectives while adding enough nuance to increase explanatory power, greater attentiveness to the complex interaction among variables, and improved specification and operationalization amenable to rigorous testing, all with an eye toward enhancing both historical accuracy and predictive capabilities.

Article

Sebastian Bitar and Tom Long

Latin America exhibits some of the world’s most worrisome patterns of insecurity. Homicide rates have reached alarming levels in dozens of cities in Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. Drug and other illicit trafficking generate massive income for criminal organizations. Fighting among these organizations, and between criminal groups and the state, threatens human security in zones of production and along transit routes. Refugee crises—especially an exodus of 4 million Venezuelans by 2019—could increase substantially. Receiving countries struggle to respond. Insecurity in Latin America cannot be fully understood through comparison of the domestic challenges of each country in the region. The sources of contemporary insecurity are not contained within countries, but extend to transnational criminal networks, flows of illicit goods, and human trafficking and displacement. Likewise, isolated state responses are insufficient to respond to transnational dynamics; although some coordination has been achieved, intergovernmental responses have produced limited gains and substantial unintended consequences. Thus, we consider security challenges in the region as a “security complex” that includes Latin American and Caribbean countries, but in which the United States remains significant. On the other hand, international conflict and civil war, as traditionally defined, have almost vanished from Latin America. Threats of military coups and politically motivated violence have declined after being a key security issue for decades. However, some troubling cases and trends complicate this positive trend. Venezuela’s governing civilian–military alliance eroded basic democratic institutions and produced an economic, political, and humanitarian crisis. In response, the United States has raised the specter of military intervention or coup sponsorship. Honduras and especially Nicaragua have turned to authoritarianism, accompanied by alarming levels of repression of protesters and civil society activists. U.S. policies under the Trump administration toward migrants from Central America and Mexico are creating great tension in the region and fear of reprisals. Although most border disputes have been settled a few still are unresolved or contested and could generate tensions between countries in the region. The academic literature about international security in Latin America reflects the complex dynamics described above, covers historical and contemporary security challenges in the region, and presents debates and developments on Latin American security at the international and national levels. Despite its wide scope, the existing literature presents areas where more work is needed to account for emerging trends of (in)security.

Article

Tarik Dahou and Brenda Chalfin

As blue growth (widely accepted as the sustainable development in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole) is gaining increasing traction, oceans and seas are seen as new frontiers for global capitalism. In African countries this trend has spurred a new wave of appropriation and control of maritime spaces for the blue economy. At a time of unprecedented expansion of global production and trade, the African continent is facing new challenges in maritime governance. The governance of the seas has profoundly changed in the 21st century with the explosion of maritime transport, the globalization of the exploitation of marine resources, and the growing concern for environmental issues. The idea of an integrated policy of seas and oceans management became a cornerstone of international and national instruments aiming to regulate maritime circulation and exploitation of marine resources. Integrated maritime management policies put emphasis on liberalization of the marine sectors and resources and the security agenda, taken in its broad sense to guarantee freedom of trade and environmental sustainability. These efforts, whose putative purpose is to combine economic, social, and environmental goals, has resulted in an unsteady balance between different sectors, scales, and actors and opened the door to controversies, dissent, and politics. Although the priorities of this global policy agenda continue to transform the maritime governance in Africa, the African states and societies are also actively reshaping it. While African states alter international maritime policies according to their own ends, these are also constantly molded through struggles over norms, resources, and spaces and conflicts arising from the dialectics of possession and dispossession. The text focuses on the four key areas of maritime governance: ports, offshore exploitation, security, and environment. Even though from the perspective of integrated maritime governance these fields are interwoven, they are subject to particular policies. Hence, while focusing on policies in each area separately, it also analyzes their relationships with each other in order to illuminate the complexity of power configurations.

Article

Maxime H. A. Larivé

This empirical and historical analysis of the Western European Union (WEU), an intergovernmental defense organization, contributes to the broader understanding of the construction and integration of European security and defense policy. The WEU was established in 1954 by the Modified Brussels Treaty after the failure of the European Defense Community and at the time of the construction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Over its lifetime, the WEU was confronted by two major trends: the centrality of collective defense agreement providing security on the European continent enforced by NATO and the construction of a European security and defense policy within the broad integration process of the European Union (EU). The WEU provided a platform for Western European powers, particularly France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, to engage in the construction of a European defense. Historically, these countries had diverging visions ranging from an autonomous force to one that should remain under the NATO auspice. The end of the Cold War accelerated the transfer of the WEU mission to the EU, but the crises in the Gulf region and in the Balkans in 1990s led to a period of activity for the WEU. The institutionalization of the EU, beginning with the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, accelerated the construction of a European defense and security policy within EU structures. The transfer from the WEU to the EU began in the late 1990s and the WEU was dissolved in 2011.

Article

A significant, if minority, current in contemporary international relations scholarship places regions at the center of analysis. In practice, the shift to the regional level of analysis serves several purposes within international relations scholarship. Within the sociology of the discipline, regionalism provides a theoretical justification for work that in earlier periods would have been associated with traditional area studies. Within the broader international relations literature, a regional focus allows for a more nuanced analysis of war and peace outside of the core great power conflicts at the center of traditional analysis. In particular, regional approaches remind us that conflict at the regional level is driven more frequently by local than by global concerns while providing a framework for studying important conflicts that are not simply a manifestation of great power rivalries. Finally, this approach is essential for answering questions that can be couched only at the regional level of analysis. At a narrow level, regional approaches are particularly useful for specifying the dangers of conflict spillover and the actors who are most vulnerable to such spillover. At the broadest level, regional conflict systems become the unit of analysis for work examining why some regions are more peaceful than others and how violent regions may transition to peace. A good understanding of these questions has implications both for policymakers seeking to advance national interests and for peacemakers seeking a solution to violence.

Article

Since it was launched in the mid-1990s, the concept of securitization has consistently been in vogue, at least among European scholars of world politics and security studies. The idea of viewing security as intersubjective, where anyone or anything can be a threat if constructed as such, is both an appealing and useful conceptualization when analyzing security issues beyond the traditional, realist, state-centric view of security being equal to military issues. However, the precise aspects that make securitization appealing have also limited its broader impact on security studies or foreign policy analysis (FPA), as these fields often adhere to the assumption of threats being actor-based and external. Nevertheless, several studies demonstrate that both the theoretical assumptions of securitization theory and prior empirical applications of these assumptions are useful when analyzing different policy and security issues, and the concept can be applied to a broad range of issue areas, contexts, and actors. In order to capture the applicability of securitization theory to the study of foreign policy, this article will set out to describe and review the central assumptions of securitization theory and the different conceptual developments that have taken place since its inception. I thereafter proceed to outline different issue areas to which securitization has been employed, focusing on both domestic and external military and nonmilitary threats. This review of prior works demonstrates that although many studies are not self-proclaimed analyses of foreign policy, they capture important dynamics of the internal-external security nexus that epitomizes politics in the globalized era. The article concludes with a discussion of the added value that a securitization framework can bring to FPA.

Article

Jennifer Mitzen and Kyle Larson

In the early 21st century, a stream of international relations (IR) scholarship has emerged that interprets states’ foreign policy processes, decisions, and international outcomes through the lens of a distinctive type of security, ontological as opposed to “physical” or “material” security. It is a concept that helps us think about how the ability to make choices and take action depends critically on our sense of self, which is itself produced in our actions, albeit often at the level of routines and background narratives. Bringing ontological security into the study of foreign policy in some cases points to different explanations for choices, while in others it adds causal depth and generates new implications. This article reviews the literature that treats foreign policy as an outgrowth of the pursuit of a multifaceted understanding of security, ontological and physical, and raises questions for further research.

Article

Before Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975, its military consisted of a Pacific Island Regiment under the Australian Army’s Northern Command. In preparation for independence, there was considerable debate over whether the independent country should have a military force. Provision was made for the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) in the constitution, with a strong emphasis on the supremacy of the civilian authority. In the first decade of independence, the PNGDF was called out to assist police in internal security operations, but the priority of its role in internal security was not officially recognized until 1991. The deployment of the PNGDF to Bougainville to assist police in operations against what became the separatist Bougainville Revolutionary Army involved a heavy commitment of troops to a long-running conflict and was marked by a number of confrontations between the military and political leaders. This culminated in the Sandline affair, in which the PNGDF commander stepped in to terminate a contract between the government and the military consultants Sandline International and called on the prime minister to resign (but did not attempt to take over the government). After the Sandline affair and with the Bougainville Peace Agreement, relations between government and military improved, but several incidents involving PNGDF personnel led Prime Minister Morauta to speak of a “culture of instability” within the PNGDF and to invite a review by a Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. Confrontations between the military and government, however, have consistently stopped short of attempted coup. The most plausible explanation for this may lie in the localized, competitive, and fractious nature of political power in Papua New Guinea, the absence of a dominant ethnic group, and the difficulties that even a legitimate, elected government has in maintaining law and order and service delivery across the country.

Article

Since Lebanon’s independence in the mid-1940s, its military—the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)—has played a pivotal role in the country’s politics. The political role of the LAF in Lebanon might seem surprising since the Lebanese state did not militarize, and its political leaders have continuously managed to keep their military relatively weak and small. Indeed, in this respect Lebanon has been markedly different from its close neighbors (Syria and Israel), but also from several other Middle Eastern states (especially Egypt and Iraq), where the military, which was large and powerful, was continuously involved in politics. Additionally, both Lebanon and the LAF have persistently striven to distance themselves from regional conflicts since 1949, particularly in relation to the Palestinian issue, albeit not always successfully. Still, and despite these ostensibly unfavorable factors for the military’s involvement in politics in Lebanon, the LAF has played an important political role in the state since its independence. This role, which has been marked by elements of continuity and change over the years, included mediation and arbitration between rival political factions (in 1945–1958, 2008, 2011, and 2019); attempts to dominate the political system (in 1958–1970 and 1988–1990); intervention in the Lebanese civil war (in 1975–1976 and 1982–1984); attempts to regain its balancing role in politics (in 1979–1982 and 1984–1988); and facilitating the state’s postwar reconstruction (since 1991). The political role of the military in Lebanon can be explained by several factors. First, the weakness of Lebanon’s political system and its inability to resolve crises between its members. Second, Lebanon’s divided society and its members’ general distrust towards its civilian politicians. Third, the basic characteristics of Lebanon’s military, which, in most periods, enjoyed broad public support that cuts across the lines of community, region, and family, and found appeal among domestic and external audiences, which, in their turn, acquiesced to its political role in the state.

Article

The European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is scarcely two decades old, yet a considerable and diverse body of literature has emerged during this time. CSDP can best be thought of as the functional crisis management end of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), of which it is an integral part. It covers both the military and civilian aspects of crisis management, with the majority of overseas missions being civilian in nature. Yet, it is the growth of the military dimension that has spurred extensive debate about the nature of the EU’s actorness and whether it can still be thought of as a civilian power par excellence. Much of the research has been driven by the application of the main theoretical approaches in international relations to CSDP. The result is an extensive, but occasionally cacophonous, body of literature. Given the relative youth of CSDP there are inevitably gaps in the literature, especially the question of how CSDP relates to other policy fields in the external relations of the EU and whether the “D” in CSDP will remain indefinitely silent.

Article

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are expressions of a rules-based global order. The EU has enshrined support to the UN in its security strategies, and its priorities indicate an engagement in a wide range of UN programs and activities to maintain the rules-based order and adapt it to face internal and external challenges. The EU and its member states are the largest contributors to the UN budget. Following the adoption of the Lisbon treaty, the EU has increased its representation at the UN, gaining enhanced observer status in the General Assembly. However, because of the intergovernmental nature of the forum, only its member states have the right to vote. This has led scholars to investigate the actorness of the EU at the UN through the analysis of the voting cohesion of EU member states in the General Assembly. Less attention has been paid to the behavior of EU member states in the Security Council. Existing scholarship has tended to analyze how the EU acts within the UN more than inter-organizational cooperation. However, the contribution of the EU and its member states to UN activities in the area of peace and security maintenance is particularly relevant and is a reminder that inter-organizational cooperation deserve greater attention than the one it has received so far.

Article

Elfriede Regelsberger

European Political Cooperation (EPC) is the forerunner of today’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU. It covers the period 1970 to 1993, during which the member states of the (then called) European Communities (EC) developed a genuine system of cooperation in the field of foreign policy. Its main purpose was to secure and even increase the influence of European countries on the international scene in times of growing global political and economic interdependencies. At the same time, EPC was generally perceived as an area and approach to foster the political dimension of the European integration process. EPC was widely intergovernmental in nature. Its guiding principles and institutions were based on political commitments (the Luxembourg (1970), Copenhagen (1973), and London (1981) Reports). EPC received a first legal framework only in1986 with the Single European Act (SEA). EPC was the domain of the foreign ministers assisted by their national diplomatic staffs. Mainly for reasons of consistency, the European Commission was gradually admitted to the club and the European Parliament struggled hard to get access and be heard to a certain degree at least. EPC was consensus-based and widely declaratory in nature. Issues of security and even more of defense were highly controversial among the participants and therefore widely excluded from the agenda. In order to strengthen the European voice, that is, to become more active and more operational, EPC diplomacy had to take recourse to EC instruments like trade, sanctions, and development policy, and fine-tune its presence in the world. To sell its own model of integration to other parts of the world became a popular approach, most obvious in the numerous group-to-group dialogues established during the 1980s, while European responses to conflict situations remained below the level of EPC ambitions. The end of the East–West divide, the war in Iraq and in the former Yugoslavia, German unification, and EU internal dynamics, such as the successful completion of the internal market program, revealed the shortcomings of the EPC in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and paved the way for a qualitatively new system: the CFSP. Academic research on EPC was far less numerous and less diversified than it is today on CFSP. Its origins date back to a small group of scholars primarily working on the EC and/or interested in the foreign and EC policy of their respective countries. Their approach was less theoretical and more empirical and aimed to grasp the concept as such, which was not so easy during non-digital times and when EPC took place behind closed doors. EPC was seen as a relevant topic because of its new institutions and procedures and of the relevant forces driving the system further. Its evolution over more than two decades was described as constant movement though gradual process along various stages. Research was very much inward-looking, that is, the interplay of EPC at both the national and the EC level—today known as the governance question—was of great interest. Enlargement from the original six participating governments to 12 from 1986 onwards also became a case in point (raising the issue of adaptation processes (the Europeanization) of national bureaucracies and EPC decision-making (socialization, esprit de corps) and policy substance). To the extent EPC gained some international presence (e.g., in the United Nations) and profile (the acquis politique) on key international issues (such as the Middle East conflict, East–West relations), the question of EPC actorness attracted attention from wider academic circles. But how to measure the successes and failures of EPC and which yardsticks to apply here remained a challenge.

Article

Ori Swed and Daniel Burland

The phrase outsourcing war has been used since the late 1990s to describe the trend toward the hiring of private military and security companies (PMSCs) by national governments to perform functions that previously had been assigned only to members of national military forces. These private companies, in turn, hire employees, usually on limited-term contracts, to carry out the missions that the companies have agreed to accomplish. PMSCs may undertake combat missions independently or in direct cooperation with deployed national military forces. They may be assigned to security missions in secret or to meet a highly visible demand, as in the case where the United States contributed private military contractors to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Kosovo in 1998. This was an early case in which privately contracted military employees were hired by one nation to function cooperatively with uniformed members of other national military forces. During the 20th century, private military forces had been considered a form of organized crime populated by mercenaries, a delinquent group at the fringes of the social order who traded in violence to advance the interests of anyone willing to pay them. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, the outsourcing of war and security functions to private companies had become commonplace, transforming the previously prevailing belief that only states had the right to wage war. States often deployed their militaries alongside PMSCs who were contracted to provide support to forces on the ground. In other cases, private companies would pay representatives of other private companies to defend their assets, such as oil fields or diamond mines. During this period at the turn of the 21st century, PMSCs came to be perceived as representatives of a legitimate industry. With this transformation, the nature of security and modern conflict changed as well. Private military and security companies became an important instrument in war-making and the projection of power.

Article

Game theory is a set of mathematical tools used to analyze the strategic interaction between decision makers. Proponents of game theory have offered different perspectives about its potential benefits in the study of politics: It is a rigorous apparatus that can offer a solid foundation for the scientific enterprise; it offers predictions that could be tested with statistical analysis; it can account for the essence of unique cases and could be tested with qualitative evidence. Critics of game theory, in political science and international security specifically, argued in the 1990s that it had generated few empirical insights. Two decades later, game-theoretic approaches to international security remain a robust research program, but their prevalence remains limited. It is important to evaluate the potential benefits of game theory and the contributions that it has made to international security, so as to devise appropriate strategies to maximize its empirical purchase. The controlled comparison approach, using qualitative evidence on a medium number of cases, appears especially promising.

Article

An “arms race” is a competition over the quality or quantity of military capabilities between states in the international system. The arms race phenomenon has received considerable attention from scholars over many decades because of the ubiquity, throughout history, of states building arms as a means of deterring enemies, but disagreement persists over whether that policy is effective at avoiding war. The Latin phrase si vis pacem, para bellum, meaning “if you want peace, prepare for war,” dates back to the Roman Empire but the sentiment is likely much older. That states should rapidly build up their militaries in the face of potential threats is a common thread that runs through much of the modern international relations scholarship influenced by realism and deterrence theory. Meeting force with force, the logic went, was the only way to ensure the security or survival of the sovereign state. These states faced a paradox, however, best articulated by the “security dilemma.” Anything a state does in the name of defense, like a rapid military buildup, decreases the security of other states and will be viewed with hostile intent. This set up a debate over competing expectations regarding the relationship between arms races and war (peace). On one hand, deterrence theory posits that rapid arming is necessary to raise the cost of an adversary attacking and, consequently, preserves peace. On the other hand, the spiral model argues that the reality of the security dilemma means that arming produces mistrust, hostility and, thus, increases the likelihood of war. Scholars set out to test these competing hypotheses using large data sets and statistical techniques, but there was widespread disagreement on how to measure arms races, appropriate research design, and the statistical findings were somewhat mixed. Critics of this approach to studying arms races note a number of important weaknesses. First, scholars primarily focus on the consequences of arms races—whether they lead to war or peace—at the expense of understanding the causes. Those who advance this position believe that a theory of arms race onset might well inform our understanding of their consequences. Second, security dilemma, taken as the primary motivation for arms races, suffers from significant logical flaws. Third, assessment of the arms race-war relationship consists of comparative theory tests of deterrence theory and spiral model, yet these ideas are underdeveloped and expectations oversimplified. More recently, scholarship has shifted the focus from the consequences of arms races to developing theories and empirical tests of their causes. These efforts have been informed by insights from bargaining models of war, and their application to this context holds promise for better future understanding of both the causes and consequences of arms races.

Article

Technology has been given relatively scant attention in empirical international relations scholarship, despite its obvious importance to issues of military power and global security. Much progress is yet to be made into developing a fuller and more precise understanding of the interaction between technology and international relations. Synthesizing existing research will provide a clearer picture of the state of the field with regards to conceptualizing technology, the proliferation of technology, the technological component of national power, the impact of technology on international relations, the information and communication technology revolution and cyber security, and technology in international digital politics. This synthesis highlights key questions regarding what empirical research has to engage with and provides the first step toward addressing these issues.

Article

Jessica L. P. Weeks and Cody Crunkilton

The question of how domestic institutions influence foreign policy decisions has a long history in the study of international relations. However, until recently most of this research has compared the foreign policies of democracies and autocracies, with little attention to the differences within autocracies. In recent years, a small but growing body of literature has examined constraints within autocracies, taking issue with the widespread image of authoritarian leaders as unconstrained and unaccountable. Although existing research on this topic is limited, it focuses on two general sources of constraint on authoritarian leaders: constraints imposed by regime insiders and constraints at the hands of the public. In regimes with a powerful domestic audience, insiders often have both the will and the means to punish their leader for foreign policy failures. Consequently, such regimes sometimes behave quite similarly to democracies. In general, regimes with powerful selectorates or domestic audiences appear more likely to pursue peaceful security policies, to win the military conflicts they do enter, to lose office in the aftermath of defeat in war, to sign trade agreements, to adopt floating exchange rates, and to cooperate internationally, compared to regimes lacking such elite constraints. Scholars remain divided, however, about the extent to which the backgrounds of members of the domestic audience (e.g., whether they stem from a military or civilian ranks) matter. Less research studies whether the public can constrain authoritarian leaders. However, research indicates that the public can sometimes exert constraints through elections or the threat of revolt, if to a lesser extent than regime insiders. For example, the threat of revolution can make leaders who fear violent removal less likely to make concessions to end a conflict. Furthermore, antiforeign protest can tie a regime’s hands, with both peaceful and violent consequences. In the economic realm, some research suggests that the threat of inequality-driven revolutions spurs autocrats to pursue free-trade agreements. Overall, the study of domestic constraints on foreign policy in authoritarian regimes is an emerging area of research, with numerous areas for future study.

Article

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia have gone through a dramatic journey from close partnership to confrontation. The narratives of the crisis that erupted over Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 are diametrically opposed. The root causes of the crisis are primarily related to colliding visions of the European order that have existed ever since the end of the Cold War. Yet, to understand why the escalation happened at that time, one also needs to understand the dynamics of a process of increasing tensions and dwindling trust. The Ukraine crisis was thus both the outcome of an escalation of tensions and a radical rupture. In the run-up to the Ukraine crisis (2003–2013), EU–Russia relations were characterized by a Strategic Partnership. The latter was launched in 2003, closing a decade of asymmetrical EU-centric cooperation and redressing the balance in a formally equal partnership, based on pragmatic cooperation and a recognition of mutual interests. Despite high aspirations, the Strategic Partnership gradually derailed into a logic of competition. Tensions eventually crystallized around colliding integration projects: the Eastern Partnership (aiming at Association Agreements) on the EU’s side and the Eurasian Economic Union on Russia’s side. The crisis erupted specifically as the result of the choice Ukraine had to make between the two options. This choice radicalized the negative geopolitical reading that Moscow and Brussels had gradually developed of each other’s behavior. Since the start of the Ukraine crisis (2014), EU–Russia relations have been characterized by a harsh confrontation in the field of high politics. The Strategic Partnership was suspended and the EU imposed sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine. Moscow retaliated and relations became highly acrimonious. Security-related issues dominate the agenda: Russia accuses the West of neo-containment, while Moscow is blamed for undermining the pan-European border regime and security order. The stalemate between Russia and the EU (and by extension the Euro-Atlantic Community) is ambivalent. On the one hand, it has taken the form of a systemic crisis, where both parties risk running from incident to incident in the absence of effective pan-European instruments that may constrain or reverse the conflict. On the other hand, in the field of low politics, in particular trade and energy, business often seems to continue as usual.

Article

The concept of strategic culture has become widely used in the field of international relations, primarily in the context of efforts to explain the distinctive strategic behaviors of states through reference to their unique strategic properties. Despite this, a great deal of confusion remains regarding what strategic culture is, and how it may be used in the context of academic research. Two problems produce this confusion: much strategic culture literature continues to conflate culture-as-ideas with the behavior and artifacts through which those ideas become manifest, and strategic culture scholars have incorporated within their definitions of this concept overly narrow assumptions about where strategic culture may be said to exist. To address these weaknesses in the literature, strategic culture is redefined as consisting of common ideas regarding strategy that exist across populations. This definition is narrower than many because it defines culture as common ideas rather than as ideas plus behavior (or as ideas plus artifacts). This matters not because it solves the methodological challenges faced by those who seek to study ideas, but because it forces us to confront these challenges directly in the context of efforts to understand the different ways that patterns of ideas may produce patterned behavior. This definition is also broader than many because it refuses to dismiss the possibility that common ideas related to strategic matters may exist across populations that are not bounded by the borders of existing countries. The rationale for such an approach is simply that one ought to look and see how common ideas are in fact distributed across populations, rather than assume that patterns will conform to taken-for-granted political units.