• IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Russia, humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect: the case of Syria

    Western analysis perceives Russian approaches to issues of humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as running counter to westerninspired international norms. This debate has surfaced with some vigour over Russia’s policy in the Syria conflict where, in order to protect its strategic interests in Syria, an obstructionist Moscow has been accused of ignoring humanitarian considerations and allowing time for the Assad regime to crush the opposition by vetoing a resolution threatening to impose sanctions. While Russian approaches are undoubtedly explained by a desire to maximize its growing political influence and trade advantages to serve its legitimate foreign policy interests, and while Moscow’s attitudes to intervention and R2P exhibit important differences from those of the major western liberal democracies, its arguments are in fact framed within a largely rational argument rooted in ‘traditional’ state-centred international law. This article first highlights key arguments in the scholarly literature on intervention and R2P before going on to examine the evolution of Russian views on these issues. The analysis then focuses on the extent to which Moscow’s arguments impact on international legal debates on the Libya and Syria conflicts. The article then seeks to explore how Russian approaches to intervention/R2P reflect fundamental trends in its foreign policy thinking and its quest for legitimacy in a negotiated international order. Finally, it attempts to raise some important questions regarding Russia’s role in the future direction of the intervention/ R2P debates.
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    Derek Averre and Lance Davies

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    German-Israeli ties in 2015 and 1965: the difficult special relationship

    This article marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel. It is divided into two parts, assessing the status of this unique relationship in 2015 and in 1965, respectively. Angela Merkel’s recent criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on the peace process with the Palestinians and the heavy protests that took place in Germany in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in summer 2014 have cast doubt on the strength of the bilateral partnership fifty years after the first exchange of ambassadors between the two countries. However, by examining the state of German–Israeli cooperation in a number of areas (security, commerce and knowledge exchange, among others), the first part of the article challenges popular interpretations of contemporary German–Israeli relations as being ‘at a nadir’. Fifty years ago, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard proposed to his Israeli counterpart Levi Eshkol the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries amid a severe political crisis in Bonn, following a visit of the East German leader Walter Ulbricht to Gamal Abdel Nasser. While much has changed since then, the second part of the article argues that looking at the momentous events of 1965 can provide useful reference points for understanding the current state of relations between Germany and Israel.
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    Lorena De Vita

  • 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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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Index of books reviewed

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    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

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