• Photo: Stock photo © KlubovyResearch paper

    A 'New Cold War'? Abusing History, Misunderstanding Russia

    An increasingly prevalent ‘new Cold War’ narrative is impairing Western understanding of today’s Russia and its role in European security. 

    Dr Andrew Monaghan
  • The signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty at Lancaster House in London, 5 March 1970. Photo by Central Press/Getty Images.Research paper

    Disarmament as Politics: Lessons From the Negotiation of NPT Article VI

    The NPT review process was partly designed to encourage states to debate progress on nuclear disarmament, but review conferences, such as the one currently taking place in New York, have so far shown an inability to resolve those debates.

    Matthew Harries, Managing Editor, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy; Research Fellow, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin with other world leadersInternational affairs

    The false promise of continental concert: Russia, the West and the necessary balance of power

    Europe’s order is premised first and foremost on a distinctively western concert of nations— whereby Euro-Atlantic states coordinate policy according to a common purpose layered into both NATO and the EU—that forms part of a wider balance of power between Russia and the West. Western policy should aim to strengthen the concert and clarify the balance. However, the prevalent desire to include Russia in the concert confuses matters in a major way, eroding both the underlying sense of priorities and the foundation for order. This article examines this threatening erosion and traces it to three underlying trends: political contestation with regard to the meaning of ‘restoration’ post-1989; military instability following from the unpredictability of ‘hybrid war’; and moral equivocation on the part of the West when it comes to defending the Euro-Atlantic security order. The article concludes that given the depth of contestation, western allies should learn to distinguish concert from balance and act on the condition that the former, a vibrant western concert, is a precondition for the latter, a manageable continental balance.
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    Sten Rynning

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    The death of Europe? Continental fates after Ukraine

    The unravelling of the post-Cold War security order in Europe was both cause and consequence of the crisis in Ukraine. The crisis was a symptom of the three-fold failure to achieve the aspirations to create a ‘Europe whole and free’ enunciated by the Charter of Paris in 1990, the drift in the European Union’s behaviour from normative to geopolitical concerns, and the failure to institutionalize some form of pan-continental unity. The structural failure to create a framework for normative and geopolitical pluralism on the continent meant that Russia was excluded from the new European order. No mode of reconciliation was found between the Brussels-centred wider Europe and various ideas for greater European continental unification. Russia’s relations with the EU became increasingly tense in the context of the Eastern Partnership and the Association Agreement with Ukraine. The EU and the Atlantic alliance moved towards a more hermetic and universal form of Atlanticism. Although there remain profound differences between the EU and its trans-Atlantic partner and tensions between member states, the new Atlanticism threatens to subvert the EU’s own normative principles. At the same time, Russia moved from a relatively complaisant approach to Atlanticism towards a more critical neo-revisionism, although it does not challenge the legal or normative intellectual foundations of international order. This raises the question of whether we can speak of the ‘death of Europe’ as a project intended to transcend the logic of conflict on the continent.
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    Richard Sakwa

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Turkey’s isolated stance: an ally no more, or just the usual turbulence?

    This article explores the policy choices and political stances that lie behind Turkey’s growing isolation both from its western allies and its regional neighbours. It details Ankara’s approach to a range of current issues in its region—particularly relating to Syria but also Iraq, Libya, Iran, Russia and Israel—and seeks to trace these approaches back to the world-view of the country’s ruling party and its leading figures, most notably President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu. It also assesses Turkey’s reactions to the complex regional circumstances that have confronted Turkey in recent years. It considers the content and impact of some of the rhetoric emanating from Ankara, especially where it is directed towards the West. The article asks whether and why Turkish foreign policy has acquired an anti-western tone, and also looks at the extent to which its dealings with its neighbours can be explained by sectarian considerations or by pro-Muslim Brotherhood leanings. It then goes on to speculate about Turkey’s future relationship with NATO and to a lesser degree the EU. It considers the prospects for an improvement in Ankara’s relationship with its western allies, or whether Turkey– US relations in particular are now likely to be characterized by ‘strategic drift’ and a more transactional and contingent approach to alliance relationships.
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    Bill Park

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Heading west? Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path

    Events in Ukraine in 2014 are likely to transform the presence and role of western institutions such as NATO in the post-Soviet area. The crisis has starkly revealed the limits of their influence within Russia’s ‘zone of privileged interest’, as well as the lack of internal unity within these organizations vis-à-vis relations with Moscow and future engagement with the area. This will have long-term implications for the South Caucasus state of Georgia, whose desire for integration into the Euro-Atlantic community remains a key priority for its foreign and security policy-makers. This article examines the main motivators behind Georgia’s Euro- Atlantic path and its foreign policy stance, which has remained unchanged for over a decade despite intense pressure from Russia. It focuses on two aspects of Georgia’s desire for integration with European and Euro-Atlantic structures: its desire for security and the belief that only a western alignment can guarantee its future development, and the notion of Georgia’s ‘European’ identity. The notion of ‘returning’ to Europe and the West has become a common theme in Georgian political and popular discourse, reflecting the belief of many in the country that they are ‘European’. This article explores this national strategic narrative and argues that the prevailing belief in a European identity facilitates, rather than supersedes, the central role of national interests in Georgian foreign policy.
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    Tracey German

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Review article: 'The tyranny of experts' and the denial of inconvenient truths

    Diamond as a ‘democracy recession’, is it helpful to argue by taking no prisoners and not letting inconvenient truths get in the way? In The tyranny of experts, Bill Easterly uses his trademark blend of insight and relentlessness to detail two big and important ideas: that underlying the prescriptions of all too many development practitioners is the hidden presumption of governance by well-intentioned autocrats; and that, by contrast, free societies offer the opportunity for people, societies and economies to thrive. But the book’s mode of argumentation and its substance are at odds with much recent scholarship on how institutions evolve in the course of development. As this literature underscores, countries diverge from one another in the patterns of leads and lags through which public sector capability and the rule of law strengthen. In some settings statebuilding leads; in others, a strengthened rule of law comes first. Both sequences are fraught with risk and the potential for unintended consequences. Rather than engage with the challenges posed by this scholarship, The tyranny of experts dismissively brushes aside any and all complications, counterexamples and other inconvenient truths. In this era of evident challenge and complexity, overheated, argumentative enthusiasm can no longer substitute for the hard practical work that needs to be done. We need to move on.
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    Brian Levy

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