• IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Contest and conquest: Russia and global internet governance

    For more than a decade, Russia’s foreign policy has sought to challenge the international consensus on a number of issues. Today, as the international internet ecosystem is becoming more volatile, Moscow is eager to shift the western narrative over the current global internet governance regime, in which the United States retains considerable leverage. In a context wherein states increasingly forge links between cyberspace and foreign policy, this article explores Russia’s deepening involvement in internet governance. The disclosure by Edward Snowden of the US government’s wide net of online surveillance contributed to legitimize the Russian approach to controlling online activity. While the struggle around the narrative of internet governance has been heating up since then, Russia actively seeks to coordinate internet governance and cyber security policies with likeminded states in both regional forums and the United Nations. By introducing security concerns and advocating more hierarchy and a greater role for governments, Moscow is contributing to the politicization of global cyber issues and seeking to reshape the network in accordance with its own domestic political interests. Indeed, the Russian leadership has come to consider the foreign policy of the internet as the establishment of a new US-led hegemonic framework that Washington would use to subvert other sovereign states with its own world views and values.
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    Julien Nocetti

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa

    Debate on the ‘securitization’ of aid and international development since 9/11 has been anchored in two key claims: that the phenomenon has been driven and imposed by western governments and that this is wholly unwelcome and deleterious for those in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. This article challenges both of these assumptions by demonstrating how a range of African regimes have not only benefited from this dispensation but have also actively encouraged and shaped it, even incorporating it into their own militarized statebuilding projects. Drawing on the cases of Chad, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda— four semi-authoritarian polities which have been sustained by the securitization trend—we argue that these developments have not been an accidental by-product of the global ‘war on terror’. Instead, we contend, they have been the result of a deliberate set of choices and policy decisions by these African governments as part of a broader ‘illiberal state-building’ agenda. In delineating this argument we outline four major strategies employed by these regimes in this regard: ‘playing the proxy’; simultaneous ‘socialization’ of development policy and ‘privatization’ of security affairs; making donors complicit in de facto regional security arrangements; and constructing regime ‘enemies’ as broader, international threats.
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    Jonathan Fisher and David M. Anderson

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Goodbye to all that (again)? The Fischer thesis, the new revisionism and the meaning of the First World War

    What is the truth about the nature of the First World War and why have historians been unable to agree on its origins? The interpretation that no one country was to blame prevailed until the 1960s when a bitter international controversy, sparked by the work of the Hamburg historian Fritz Fischer, arrived at the consensus that the Great War had been a ‘bid for world power’ by imperial Germany and therefore a conflict in which Britain had necessarily and justly engaged. But in this centennial year Fischer’s conclusions have in turn been challenged by historians claiming that Europe’s leaders all ‘sleepwalked’ into the catastrophe. This article, the text of the Martin Wight Memorial Lecture held at the University of Sussex in November 2014, explores the archival discoveries which underpinned the Fischer thesis of the 1960s and subsequent research, and asks with what justification such evidence is now being set aside by the new revisionism.
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    John C. G. Röhl

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Review article: Talking to Hezbollah

    The two studies under review, by Matthew Levitt and Lina Khatib et al., present very different pictures of Hezbollah, pictures which are not necessarily conflicting and are indeed, in many ways, complementary. Levitt focuses on the group’s long record of terrorism dating back more than 30 years to the early 1980s and its violent attacks on US marines and French forces then based in Lebanon. Over that period, of course, as Lina Khatib and her co-authors demonstrate, Hezbollah has grown in stature as a political party. Khatib and her colleagues portray a party that has deliberately sought to keep Lebanon a weak and divided country, despite the efforts of the West and Gulf Arab states to strengthen the Lebanese state. These two studies add immensely to our knowledge of Hezbollah and its extraordinary rise over the past three decades to become one of the major political and military actors in the Middle East.
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    Michael C. Williams

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Book reviews

    The January book reviews section begins with two important additions to International Relations literature: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Political order and political decay’ and Henry Kissinger’s ‘World order’. Adam Roberts, reviewing the former, finds Fukuyama’s new book to be a remarkable work while Michael Boyle describes ‘World order’ as a ‘compelling statement of the problem facing the United States in building a world order with rising powers’. Readers will also find several reviews of recent books on energy, international history, international organizations and law in the January issue, including Friedrich Kratochwil’s ‘The status of law in world society’, reviewed by Cornelia Navari. This month's international security section focuses on the ethics of war, including drone warfare, while the regional sections cast a wider net, covering topics from the state of the French polity, politics in the Black Sea region, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Indian foreign policy and China’s borders to piracy in the Horn of Africa.
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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Contributors

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Abstracts

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Index of books reviewed

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  • International affairs

    Iran’s ISIS policy

    This article assesses Iran’s strategy in dealing with the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It examines the implications of the rise of ISIS in Iran’s immediate neighbourhood for Tehran’s policies in Syria and Iraq and investigates how each of these countries affects Iranian national interests. It provides an overview of the major events marking Iran and Iraq’s relations in the past few decades and discusses the strategic importance of Iraq for Iran, by looking at the two countries’ energy, economic and religious ties. It also considers Iran’s involvement in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. The article sheds light on the unilateral action taken by Tehran to counter ISIS, the adjustments it may have to make to its involvement in Syria, and the potential areas for tactical cooperation between Iran and the United States, as well as other key regional states such as Saudi Arabia. The article investigates three likely scenarios affecting the developments in Iraq and Iran’s possible response to them as the events in the Middle East unfold.
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    Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    British Islamic extremist terrorism: the declining significance of Al-Qaeda and Pakistan

    This article considers the importance of Al-Qaeda and Pakistan in driving British Islamic extremist terrorism during the past decade. Between 2003 and 2013, almost 50 British-born Muslims engaged in multiple high-profile terrorism conspiracies. All were designed to kill or seriously injure British citizens. Drawing on recently obtained court transcripts which offer remarkable detail, these plots are analysed from the point of view of radicalization, finance, training and operational direction. The emergence of extremist terrorism in the UK has its genesis within the Islamic fundamentalist movement, a socio-political ideology that arrived in London in the early 1990s. Contrary to the prevailing discourse, members of the movement constitute a far from homogenous set of individuals. Based on age, overseas connections, experience of conflict and religiosity, they each fulfill diverse tasks that range from preaching and fundraising to facilitating combative jihad. A minority adopted an extremist position that led them to carry out acts of terrorism. Since 2006, the role of Al-Qaeda and Pakistan in relation to this process has steadily declined. For the past seven years British Islamic extremistshave pursued terrorism in whatever way they can on their own, with little or any direct support or influence from overseas. The security agencies are now asking how far current events in Syria will overturn this state of affairs.
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    Lewis Herrington

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