• A Japanese activist on board boat is silhouetted at sunrise as it approaches the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, 19 August 2012. Photo: Antoine Bouthier/AFP/Getty Images.Research paper

    Transatlantic Rifts: Asia-Pacific Scenario Case Study

    Drawing on the findings of a recent workshop exploring a potential conflict between China and Japan over disputed islands, this paper suggests there are significant differences between how the United States and Europe prioritize their interests in the Asia-Pacific.

    Xenia WickettDr Jacob Parakilas
  • Morning commuters walk past buildings in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images.Other

    The Future of Capitalist Democracy: UK-Japan Perspectives

    A new paper brings together a summary of the discussions at the third seminar in the UK–Japan Global Seminar Series and an essay by two of the participants on the role of the UK and Japan in the changing international order.

    Bill Emmott, Independent Writer and Consultant on International Affairs
    Masayuki Tadokoro, Professor of International Relations, Keio University

  • Qingdao, China. Photo by TPG/Getty Images.Other

    Navigating the New Normal: China and Global Resource Governance

    How China responds to the challenges of resource security and sustainability, working with others, will help define its reputation as a responsible actor on the world stage in the next decade, according to a new paper.

    Felix PrestonRob BaileySiân Bradley

    Dr Wei Jigang, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Industrial Economy, Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC)
    Dr Zhao Changwen, Director, Department of Industrial Economy, Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC)

  • An employee arranges packages of instant ramen noodles a store in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images.Research paper

    Agricultural Commodity Supply Chains: Trade, Consumption and Deforestation

    Private-sector commitments and government policies, a loss of support for biofuels, and health concerns over the consumption of palm oil and beef, are factors that may help to restrict the further expansion of agricultural land into forest areas.

    Duncan BrackLaura Wellesley

    Adelaide Glover, Project Coordinator, Forest Governance and Natural Resources

  • International affairs

    From Ostpolitik to ‘frostpolitik’? Merkel, Putin and German foreign policy towards Russia

    Germany’s relationship with Russia has historically been one of the most crucial in shaping Europe’s fate. Despite radical transformation in the nature of European Great Power politics, it continues to be pertinent from the perspective of today’s world. Germany’s willingness to establish good relations with the Soviet Union in the late 1960s—its emphasis on economic relations and cooperation instead of political disagreements—prepared the ground for the end of the Cold War and German unification twenty years later. Germany’s basic policy towards Russia remained broadly unchanged despite German unification and changes in the domestic political coalitions and leadership, sometimes against political expectations. In the European context, Germany’s attitude towards Russia created the backbone of EU–Russia relations. During 2012–13, however, the continuity in Germany’s policy towards Russia was seen as having come to an end. Political twists came to the fore and the atmosphere was loaded with tensions, made worse by the Ukrainian crisis. This article reviews the recent, alleged changes in Germany’s policy towards Russia during the Merkel era. It asks two basic questions: first, whether Germany’s policy really has changed and if it has, what are the theoretical tools that give us the best potential understanding of these changes? The article argues that the policy has changed, but not as dramatically as made out by some headlines. Moreover, the article suggests that a key element in analysing the degree of change in Germany’s policy towards Russia is neither the external power relations nor domestic politics and related changes in the prevailing interpretation of national interest, though these are important too, but the interaction between the leaders and foreign policy elites.

    Tuomas Forsberg

  • International affairs

    Public–private partnerships in national cyber-security strategies

    Despite its centrality in the national cyber security strategies of the US and the UK, the public–private partnership is a nebulous arrangement, which is especially problematic in the context of critical infrastructure protection. Privately owned and operated critical infrastructure that is regarded as a potential national security vulnerability raises questions about the allocation of responsibility and accountability in terms of cyber security. As with many aspects of cyber security, this issue is often discussed with little reference to previous scholarship that could provide conceptual scaffolding. This article draws on the extensive literature on public–private partnerships in order to assess the tensions and challenges of this arrangement in national cyber-security strategies. It finds that there is a serious disjuncture in expectations from both ‘partners’. The government regards privately owned and operated critical infrastructure as a key element of national security but is reluctant to claim a mandate to oversee network security. At the same time, the private sector is not inclined to accept responsibility or liability for national cyber security. This challenge for governments to manage national cyber security raises questions about how well equipped these states are to promote their own security in the information age. Acknowledging the flaws in the ‘partnership’ is an essential step towards addressing them.

    Madeline Carr

  • International affairs

    The Islamic State lexical battleground: US foreign policy and the abstraction of threat

    This article suggests that President Obama’s consistent references to the extremist Sunni group as ‘ISIL’ (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is not a trivial matter of nomenclature. Instead, the Obama administration’s deliberate usage of the ISIL acronym (as opposed to other commonly-used terms such as ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ or ‘ISIS’, ‘Islamic State’, ‘IS’, ‘so-called Islamic State’ and ‘Daesh’) frames the public perception of the threat to avoid engagement with the requirements of strategy and operations. Both the labelling and the approach could be defended as a response to the unique challenge of a transnational group claiming religious and political legitimacy. However, we suggest that the labelling is an evasion of the necessary response, reflecting instead a lack of coherence in strategy and operations— in particular after the Islamic State’s lightning offensive in Iraq and expansion in Syria in mid-2014. This tension between rhetoric, strategy and operations means that ‘ISIL’ does not provide a stable depiction of the Islamic State. While it may draw upon the post-9/11 depiction of ‘terrorism’, the tag leads to dissonance between official and media representations. The administration’s depiction of a considered approach leading to victory has been undermined by the abstraction of ‘ISIL’, which in turn produced strategic ambiguity about the prospect of any political, economic or military challenge to the Islamic State.

    Asaf Siniver and Scott Lucas

  • A rebel fighter searches Syrian Arab Red Crescent members before they are sent to deliver food aid to Aleppo Central Prison, 11 May 2014. Photo: Ammar Abdullah/Reuters/Corbis.Chatham House Briefing

    Towards a Principled Approach to Engagement with Non-state Armed Groups for Humanitarian Purposes

    The challenge of meeting the humanitarian needs of people affected by conflict in areas controlled by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) is growing in complexity, not least as it may be difficult to reconcile with counterterrorism objectives.

    Dr Patricia Lewis

    Michael Keating, Former Associate Director, Research Partnerships, Chatham House

  • International affairs

    Managing escalation: missile defence, strategy and US alliances

    Missile defence plays an increasing role in NATO and in most US alliances in Asia, which raises the question of what impact it has on the management of extended deterrence. Extended deterrence relies on the threat of escalation. Since the costs of escalation are different for different allies, the management of extended deterrence is inherently difficult. Missile defence shifts the relative costs of conflict, and therefore also impacts on the alliance bargains that underpin agreement on extended deterrence strategy. Although increased defensive capacity is a clear net benefit, the strategic effects of its deployment and use can still be complex if, for example, missile defence increases the chances of localizing a conflict. The article discusses the role of missile defences for the US homeland, and of the territory and population of US allies, for extended deterrence credibility and the reassurance of US allies in Asia and in NATO. It argues that there is increased scope in strengthening deterrence by enmeshing the defence of the US homeland with that of its allies, and that allies need to pay closer attention to the way the deployment and use of missile defence influence pressures for escalation. In general, missile defence thus reinforces the need for the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia to negotiate an overall alliance strategy.

    Stephan Frühling

  • International affairs

    Externalizing the burden of war: the Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East

    In the aftermath of the Arab Spring the Middle East has plunged into a state of instability. The United States has responded to these rising insecurities in a region of strategic importance with hesitation or half-hearted commitments. The Obama administration, plagued by the increasingly difficult decision of defining America’s role in an apolar world while managing the political and economic legacy of the Bush administration, has relied on a policy of delegation. Obama neither refrained from military options nor showed any willingness to commit American ground troops to one of the strategically and operationally most complex environments of the world. Instead, Obama’s preferred way of war is one relying on surrogates— both human and technological—that allow the United States to externalize, partially or wholly, the strategic, operational and tactical burden of warfare. Unlike any other previous US administration surrogate warfare has become the principal means of protecting US interests in the Middle East that are perceived to be all but vital. The need for deniability and legitimacy, cost–benefit considerations as well as the lack of capability have made warfare by surrogate a preferred option in the Middle East. The consequences for US policy in the region are profound, as the lack of control and oversight have empowered surrogates whose long-term interests are not compatible with those of the United States. More severely, the US might have jeopardized its standing as the traditional guarantor of security in the Middle East— something that partners and adversaries alike have exploited.

    Andreas Krieg