• IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    To be or not to be in Europe: is that the question? Britain’s European question and an in/out referendum

    The idea of holding an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union has increasingly become a norm of British politics, an act seen as a necessary step for the country to answer what David Cameron described as the ‘European question in British politics’. A referendum, it is hoped, will cleanse British politics of a poisonous debate about Europe and democratically sanction a new stable UK–EU relationship, whether the UK stays in or leaves. Such hopes expect more of a referendum than it can provide. The European question is a multifaceted one and whatever the result of a referendum it is unlikely to address underlying questions that will continue to cause problems for UK–EU relations and Britain’s European debate. A referendum can be a step forward in better managing the relationship and debate, but it is only that: a single step, after which further steps will be needed. Coming to terms with the European question and bringing stability to Britain’s relations with the EU—whether in or outside the EU—will require comprehensive, longer-term changes which a referendum can help trigger but in no way guarantee.
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    Tim Oliver

  • International affairs

    What consensus? Geopolitics and policy paradigms in China and the United States

    The Washington Consensus is not what it was. A model of development associated with the Untied States, it has been diminished both by apparent failures, widespread criticism and by the recent economic crisis that had its origins in the US. Anglo-American capitalism has lost a good deal of its influence and attractiveness. As a consequence, alternative models of development have become more prominent, especially the so-called Beijing Consensus. The authors argue that at one level this evolving policy discourse and debate reflects a long-term structural change in the relative positions of China and the United States. However, it is far from clear that this transformation has gone far enough to underpin a significant ideational or policy challenge on China’s part. On the contrary, the debate in China demonstrates that there is little appetite for, or expectation of, a major paradigm change in the near future.
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    Mark Beeson and Fujian Li

  • 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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Pages