• 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

  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs

    The unintended consequences of emergency food aid: neutrality, sovereignty and politics in the Syrian civil war, 2012–15

    This article dissects the role of emergency food aid during the current Syrian conflict. Drawing on Séverine Autesserre’s concept of frames and Giorgio Agamben’s theory of sovereignty, we argue that the neutrality frame, which undergirds the majority of humanitarian relief efforts in Syria, obfuscates the impact of emergency food aid, both on sovereign power relations and local political dynamics. While neutrality appears benign, it has had a tangible impact on the Syrian civil war. Through close scrutiny of various case-studies, the article traces how humanitarian efforts reinforce the bases of sovereign politics while contributing to a host of what Mariella Pandolfi (1998) terms ‘mobile sovereignties’. In the process, humanitarian organizations reaffirm sovereign power while also engaging in similar activities. We then analyse how and why ostensibly neutral emergency food aid has unintentionally assisted the Assad regime by facilitating its control over food, which it uses to buttress support and foster compliance. By bringing external resources into life-or-death situations characterized by scarcity, aid agencies have become implicated in the conflict’s inner workings. The article concludes by examining the political and military impact of emergency food assistance during the Syrian conflict, before discussing possible implications for the humanitarian enterprise more broadly.

    José Ciro Martínez and Brent Eng

  • International affairs

    International Affairs newsletter

    A cluster of articles look at various aspects of US foreign policy. Asaf Siniver and Scott Lucas argue that the Obama administration’s deliberate labelling of the extremist Sunni group as ISIL, rather than e.g. ISIS—which rhetorically detaches it from Syria—is an evasion of the necessary response, reflecting a lack of coherence in strategy and operations. Andreas Krieg’s article examines Obama’s foreign policy towards the Middle East, arguing that by externalizing the burden of warfare, i.e. relying on both human and technological surrogates, the US may have jeopardized its standing as the traditional guarantor of security in the region. Another noteworthy article relating to the Middle East, by José Ciro Martínez and Brent Eng, looks at the unintended consequences of emergency food aid, particularly in the context of the Syrian civil war. The rise of Islamic finance, a topic which thus far hasn’t received much attention in IR journals, is discussed in an article by Davinia Hoggarth. Explaining that it signifies more than a projection of religious affiliation, the author highlights the importance of Islamic finance in central Asia, both as a source of capital and as a form of post-colonial market-building. In addition to those mentioned above, the January issue contains articles on missile defence and US alliances; the EU and the 2015 NPT review conference; and Russian hybrid warfare and extended deterrence in eastern Europe. The full issue, including the book reviews section, is now available on the Chatham House and Wiley websites.

    Andrew Dorman, Commissioning Editor, International Affairs

  • International affairs

    Russian hybrid warfare and extended deterrence in eastern Europe

    Russia’s use of force against Ukraine since early 2014 has prompted some observers to remark that it is engaging in ‘hybrid warfare’. This form of military statecraft has made other former Soviet republics, such as the Baltic countries, fear that Russia would use subversion rather than pursue a conventional military engagement against them. Despite this concern about Russian hybrid war, existing descriptions of this form of war suffer from conceptual weaknesses. In this article hybrid warfare is conceived as a strategy that marries conventional deterrence and insurgency tactics. That is, the belligerent uses insurgent tactics against its target while using its conventional military power to deter a strong military response. The article then outlines why some former Soviet republics are susceptible to Russian hybrid warfare, allowing it to postulate inductively the conditions under which hybrid warfare might be used in general. The analysis yields two policy implications. First, military solutions are not wholly appropriate against hybrid warfare since it exploits latent ethnic grievances and weak civil societies. Second, only under narrow circumstances would belligerents resort to hybrid warfare. Belligerents need to be revisionist and militarily stronger than their targets, but they also need to have ethnic or linguistic ties with the target society to leverage in waging hybrid warfare.

    Alexander Lanoszka

  • International affairs

    January Book Reviews



  • IA thumbnailInternational affairs


  • International affairs

    Nuclear doctrines and stable strategic relationships: the case of south Asia

    We argue that both the Indian and Pakistani doctrines and postures are problematic from a regional security perspective because they are either ambiguous about how to address crucial deterrence related issues, and/or demonstrate a severe mismatch between the security problems and goals they are designed to deal with, and the doctrines that conceptualize and operationalize the role of nuclear weapons in grand strategy. Consequently, as both India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear doctrines and postures evolve, the risks of a spiralling nuclear arms race in the subcontinent are likely to increase without a reassessment of doctrinal issues in New Delhi and Islamabad. A case is made for more clarity and less ambition from both sides in reconceptualizing their nuclear doctrines. We conclude, however, that owing to the contrasting barriers to doctrinal reorientation in each country, the likelihood of such changes being made—and the ease with which they can be made—is greater in India than in Pakistan.

    Mahesh Shankar and T. V. Paul