• IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Review article: The Cambridge History of the First World War

    This massive study has been produced under the editorship of Professor Jay Winter of Yale University and the Editorial Committee of the International Research Centre of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne, Somme. It attempts a new interpretation of the First World War, based on its transnational and global impact. Some 43 contributions by a ‘transnational’ group of scholars provide a detailed and convincing account of the war, going well beyond more orthodox treatments which emphasize the strategy and tactics involved. In the first volume, Global war, Winter and his colleagues examine, for example, the spread of the conflict to distant continents, together with a discussion of the law of war, atrocities and genocide. Volume II covers the changing nature of the state as the war progressed, the role of armed forces, the sinews of war and the search for peace. Volume III analyses the war’s impact on civil society in all its various guises during the conflict; hence we are offered scholarly treatment of, for example, private life, gender and cultural life. This bald summary does scant justice to a magisterial work, an essential resource for those —at schools and universities—who teach the history of the First World War and its impact on domestic and global developments. Of particular interest is the fine reproduction of photos and paintings and the annotated and detailed bibliographies attached to each volume. Winter and his colleagues deserve to be congratulated for providing both the scholar and the interested layperson with an exemplary treatment of an event, the significance of which still echoes down the years.
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    J. E. Spence

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Review article: Inventing truth and building power in Russia

    Next year marks a quarter century since the end of the Soviet Union. How has power evolved in the region? What might the future hold? What are the implications for the West? Three important works illuminate these questions from different angles. Henry Hale argues that (except for the Baltic states) post-Soviet regimes are fundamentally similar to one another in being constituted by informal networks that dominate resources and institutions. They converge around, and compete for, influence with a powerful presidency that imposes selective rewards and punishments. Succession is the key weakness, and an unpopular lame duck leader invariably leads to upheaval. Karen Dawisha charts the rise of Vladimir Putin’s network of friends and colleagues, and documents allegations of corruption and illegality. She shows how quickly this network, on gaining presidential power, revived state strength and undermined other networks. Peter Pomerantsev vividly portrays a society of simulations ruled by a deft and disorienting ‘postmodern authoritarianism’. But as systemic popularity has declined this has given way to a harder, shriller anti-western course, and ultimately to the annexation of Crimea. The future may see the international context play a greater role in regime evolution than before. The compelling anatomy of power laid bare in these three works points to growing tensions and flaws in patronal rule across the post-Soviet space.
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    Nigel Gould-Davies

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Book reviews

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    Index of books reviewed

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    Abstracts

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Contributors

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  • Iranian flag next to rocketInternational affairs

    Living with nuclear hedging: the implications of Iran's nuclear strategy

    This does not change the need to contain Tehran’s proliferation potential, yet it does add another layer of complexity to the challenge. Iran will retain a low level of latency whatever the final outcome of longstanding diplomatic efforts to constrain the scope and pace of its nuclear efforts. This article will explore the implications of Iranian nuclear hedging and consider how regional rivals might interpret and respond to Tehran’s nuclear strategy. On a larger scale, the article will explore the potential impact of the international community’s approach to the Iranian case—implicitly recognizing, even giving legitimacy to, hedging—both in terms of the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the ability of the international community to limit the negative effects of this form of proliferation behaviour.
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    Wyn Bowen and Matthew Moran

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    A special responsibility to protect: the UK, Australia and the rise of Islamic State

    In the summer of 2014 Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) emerged as a threat to the Iraqi people. This article asks whether the UK and Australia had a ‘special’ responsibility to protect (R2P) those being threatened. It focuses on two middleranking powers (as opposed to the US) in order to highlight the significance of special responsibilities that flow only from the principle of reparation rather than capability. The article contends that despite casting their response in terms of a general responsibility, the UK and Australia did indeed bear a special responsibility based on this principle. Rather than making the argument that the 2003 coalition that invaded Iraq created ISIS, it is argued that it is the vulnerable position in which Iraqis were placed as a consequence of the invasion that grounds the UK and Australia’s special responsibility to protect. The article addresses the claim that the UK and Australia were not culpable because they did not act negligently or recklessly in 2003 by drawing on Tony Honoré’s concept of ‘outcome responsibility’. The finding of a special responsibility is significant because it is often thought of as being more demanding than a general responsibility. In this context, the article further argues that the response of these two states falls short of reasonable moral expectations. This does not mean the UK and Australia should be doing more militarily. R2P does not begin and end with military action. Rather the article argues that the special responsibility to protect can be discharged through humanitarian aid and a more generous asylum policy.
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    Jason Ralph and James Souter

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    'Beyond anything we have ever seen': beheading videos and the visibility of violence in the war against ISIS

    This article examines the role of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS’s) beheading videos in the United Kingdom and the United States. These videos are highly illustrative demonstrations of the importance of visual imagery and visual media in contemporary warfare. By functioning as evidence in a political discourse constituting ISIS as an imminent, exceptional threat to the West, the videos have played an important role in the re-framing of the conflict in Iraq and Syria from a humanitarian crisis requiring a humanitarian response to a national security issue requiring a military response and intensified counterterrorism efforts. However, this article seeks to problematize the role and status of ISIS’s beheadings in American and British security discourses by highlighting the depoliticizing aspects of reducing a complicated conflict to a fragmented visual icon. The article concludes by emphasizing the need for further attention to how the visibility of war, and the constitution of boundaries between which acts of violence are rendered visible and which are not, shape the political terrain in which decisions about war and peace are produced and legitimized.
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    Simone Molin Friis

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    India's non-alignment conundrum: a twentieth-century policy in a changing world

    The idea of non-alignment has remained a central component of Indian identity in global politics that is manifest in continuities: since independence in 1947 India has been in pursuit of strategic autonomy, a quest that in practice has led to semialliances fashioned under the cover of non-alignment and shaped by regional dynamics. In this setting, the rise of China now raises an interesting conundrum for Indian policy-makers as New Delhi seeks to balance the benefits and risks of an increasingly assertive neighbour and a network of alliances with like-minded countries. This article approaches this enigma by delineating continuities of non-alignment from the early roots of the policy, through the Cold War-era and into the modern-day international system. Though domestic factors have had a significant influence on the trajectory of Indian foreign policy, the continuities of non-alignment have prevailed through changes in leadership and domestic vicissitudes. By exploring the foundation of non-alignment and how India has operationalized the policy, this article maintains that to some extent continuity will persist: India will likely continue its rhetoric in favour of strategic autonomy while moving closer to the West and its allies in practice. Yet in order to effectively balance China’s growing influence, India will need to be more assertive in building these alliances, as the success of its modern-day pursuit of strategic autonomy may well rest on a strong foundation of strategic partnerships. The coming to office in May 2014 of the National Democratic Alliance government led by Narendra Modi has signalled a move away from even the rhetoric of non-alignment, with significant implications for the future of Indian foreign policy.
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    Harsh V. Pant and Julie M. Super

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