• IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    From terrorism to ‘radicalization’ to ‘extremism’: counterterrorism imperative or loss of focus?

    This article argues that there has been an increasing convergence of the discourses of terrorism, radicalization and, more lately, extremism in the UK and that this has caused counterterrorism to lose its focus. This is particularly evident in the counterterrorism emphasis on non-violent but extremist ideology that is said to be ‘conducive’ to terrorism. Yet, terrorism is ineluctably about violence or the threat of violence; hence, if a non-violent ideology is in and of itself culpable for terrorism in some way then it ceases to be non-violent. The article argues that there should be a clearer distinction made between (non-violent) extremism of thought and extremism of method because it is surely violence and the threat of violence (integral to terrorism) that should be the focus of counterterrorism. The concern is that counterterrorism has gone beyond its remit of countering terrorism and has ventured into the broader realm of tackling ideological threats to the state.
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    Anthony Richards

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Review article: Troublemakers: Laura Poitras and the problem of dissent

    This review article considers three works by the distinguished documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras: My country, my country (2006); The oath (2010); and the recently released Citizenfour (2014), focusing on the whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Poitras describes these works as a trilogy about American power after 9/11, but they are also about disobedience and resistance, or the problem of dissent. The article argues for the significance (and the virtue) of Poitras’s project, as film maker and troublemaker, and for the necessity of what Solzhenitsyn calls civil valour. You can listen to Alex Danchev discussing his review article in IA's March podcast here http://cht.hm/1N5JeoK
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    Alex Danchev

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Review article: The 100 billion dollar brain: central intelligence machinery in the UK and the US

    The ‘Five Eyes’ alliance, led by the United States, spends close to 100 billion dollars a year on intelligence. This review article argues that western countries are distinguished by their sophisticated approach to the making of intelligence-led national security policy. Political leaders and policy-makers who access this sensitive material are often involved in elaborate systems that constitute part of the core executive and which seek to task and improve the intelligence leviathan. Western intelligence therefore has a ‘central brain’ that devotes considerable energy to both analysis and management. By contrast, in the majority of other states around the world, the orientation of intelligence has often been inward facing, with a high priority given to regime security. Some would suggest that intelligence has been an important component of western power projection, while others would argue that this process has been over-expensive and has under-delivered, not least in the last decade. Either way, the debates about development of the central intelligence machinery that supports western security policies are of the first importance and fortunately this discussion has been advanced by the appearance of several valuable new studies: these are discussed in this review article.
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    Richard J. Aldrich

  • UN general assemblyInternational affairs

    A chronic protection problem: the DPRK and the Responsibility to Protect

    The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) is arguably the world’s most chronic abuser of human rights. In an unprecedented move, a Commission of Inquiry established by the UN’s Human Rights Council accused the DPRK government of systematic violations of human rights amounting to crimes against humanity. In so doing, the Commission succeeded in putting human rights in the DPRK on the global agenda. Within months the UN’s General Assembly and Security Council had joined the human rights body in examining the issue. This article explains the emergence of this new engagement with human rights in the DPRK, showing its relation to the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle. It charts the growing sense of frustration felt at the lack of progress on human rights in DPRK and shows how this was manifested in the General Assembly’s decision to pursue the Commission’s recommendations and call on the Security Council to take concrete steps. Despite this, however, the article shows that there are powerful obstacles in the way of a more robust international approach to human rights in the DPRK and counsels a less confrontational approach focused on engaging China and building trust within the Security Council.

     

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    Alex J. Bellamy

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Book reviews

    The March book reviews section covers a wide-ranging selection of topics and regions. Jack Spence begins by reviewing a fascinating collection of essays, edited by John Ikenberry, on the legacy and influence of Robert Gilpin’s 'War and change in world politics'. Spence notes how remarkably enduring Gilpin’s influence has proven to be. We continue featuring a selection of books on gender and conflict; in this issue Mary Kaldor reviews 'The search for lasting peace', edited by Rosalind Boyd. Also in this section, Catherine Allerton reviews Jacqueline Bhabha’s most recent work on the often ignored topic of children and migration. Under Conflict, security and defence, readers can find a review of Talking to terrorists' by Jonathan Powell. Tim Wilsey concludes that the former Downing Street chief of staff’s newest book is essential reading for anyone interested in the subject. Readers wanting to learn more about improving international development might be interested in Brian Levy’s Working with the grain', reviewed by David Leonard. Later on, in the regional sections, our reviewers look at a wide range of books on topical issues, including German power, strategy and American foreign policy, security and the South China Sea, Zimbabwean politics, the role of the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Russian domestic and foreign affairs.
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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Abstracts

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Contributors

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Index of books reviewed

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  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Editorial

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    Andrew Dorman, Heidi Pettersson and Krisztina Csortea

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    Securing China’s core interests: the state of the debate in China

    As China has grown stronger, some observers have identified an assertive turn in Chinese foreign policy. Evidence to support this argument includes the increasingly frequent evocation of China’s ‘core interests’—a set of interests that represents the non-negotiable bottom lines of Chinese foreign policy. When new concepts, ideas and political agendas are introduced in China, there is seldom a shared understanding of how they should be defined; the process of populating the concept with real meaning often takes place incrementally. This, the article argues, is what has happened with the notion of core interests. While there are some agreed bottom lines, what issues deserve to be defined (and thus protected) as core interests remains somewhat blurred and open to question. By using content analysis to study 108 articles by Chinese scholars, this article analyses Chinese academic discourse of China’s core interests. The authors’ main finding is that ‘core interests’ is a vague concept in the Chinese discourse, despite its increasing use by the government to legitimize its diplomatic actions and claims. The article argues that this vagueness not only makes it difficult to predict Chinese diplomatic behaviour on key issues, but also allows external observers a rich source of opinions to select from to help support pre-existing views on the nature of China as a global power.
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    Jinghan Zeng, Yuefan Xiao and Shaun Breslin

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