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  • International affairs

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    Contributors

    923
  • Featured article image May 2016 - a bust of Churchill with US flags in the backgroundInternational affairs

    Special relationships in flux: Brexit and the future of the US– EU and US–UK relationships

    A British exit from the EU would add to growing strains on the United States’ relations with Britain and the rest of Europe, but by itself would not lead to a breakdown in transatlantic relations due to the scale of shared ideas and interests, institutional links, international pressures and commitments by individual leaders. It would, however, add to pressures on the US that could change the direction of the transatlantic relationship. From the perspective of Washington, Britain risks becoming an awkward inbetweener, beholden more than ever before to a wider transatlantic relationship where the US and EU are navigating the challenges of an emerging multipolar world. The article outlines developments in the UK, EU, Europe and the US in order to explain what Brexit could mean for the United States’ approaches to transatlantic relations. By doing so the article moves beyond a narrow view of Brexit and transatlantic relations that focuses on the future of UK–US relations. In the conclusion we map out several ways in which US views of the transatlantic relationship could be changed.
    923

    Tim Oliver and Michael John Williams

  • International affairs

    Brexit or Bremain: what future for the UK’s European diplomatic strategy?

    A major public debate on the costs and benefits of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union is presently under way. The outcome of the referendum on 23 June 2016 will be a pivotal moment in determining whether the EU has a future as a component of the UK’s European diplomatic strategy or whether there is a major recalibration of how the UK relates to Europe and more widely of its role within international relations. Since accession to the European Economic Community the UK has evolved an uncodified, multipronged European diplomatic strategy. This has involved the UK seeking to reinforce its approach of shaping the security of the continent, preserving a leading diplomatic role for the UK in managing the international relations of Europe, and to maximize British trade and investment opportunities through a broadening and deepening of Europe as an economically liberal part of the global political economy. Since accession the UK’s European diplomatic strategy has also been to use membership of the EU to facilitate the enhancement of its international influence, primarily as a vehicle for leveraging and amplifying broader national foreign and security policy objectives. The strategy has been consistent irrespective of which party has formed the government in the UK. Increasing domestic political difficulties with the process of European integration have now directly impacted on this European strategy with a referendum commitment. Whether a vote for a Brexit or a Bremain, the UK will be confronted with challenges for its future European strategy.
    923

    Richard G. Whitman

  • International affairs

    Differentiation as a double-edged sword: member states’ practices and Brexit

    The reform of the eurozone and the concerns surrounding a potential ‘Brexit’ has given rise to a new debate about differentiation but also disintegration in the European Union. This article provides a theoretical and analytical approach to understanding how differentiation is related to the debate on distribution of competences across various levels government. It finds that differentiation has played an important role in the EU integration process since the 1950s, even though the risk of fragmentation has always existed. Facing the benefits and costs of differentiation, the member states have developed their own practices. Three ideosyncratic groups of member states can be identified in this regard: first, a group of Anglo-Scandinavian member states which refuse centralization of the EU; a Franco-German group which considers the integration through the promotion of a ‘core Europe’; and, third, a group of central and east European member states who fear that differentiation would set their interests aside and relegate them to second-class status within the EU. Finally, Brexit is not only about the status of the UK in the EU, but casts deeper questions on how to clarify the nature of relations between the eurozone and the EU as a whole.
    923

    Thierry Chopin and Christian Lequesne

  • International affairs

    A spin of the wheel? Defence procurement and defence industries in the Brexit debates

    Whether a ‘Brexit’ would threaten the United Kingdom’s national security has become a central theme in the run-up to the in/out referendum on EU membership. Although national security has been a central facet of both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns thus far, there has been little mention of the implications of a Brexit for UK defence industries or defence procurement, let alone formal debate or analysis. The article addresses this gap by analysing the potential implications of a Brexit for defence procurement and industries in the UK and the EU member states. The first section analyses the policy context for a Brexit by exploring existing levels of EU defence procurement integration in the UK’s and Europe’s defence industries. The second section draws on Jozef Bátora’s ‘institutional logics’ framework to identify two pro-Brexit and two pro-Remain narratives, each employing differing assumptions on the relative benefits of national sovereignty and closer EU integration The final section analyses the way in which these ‘logics’ or narratives will be deployed by their advocates in the run-up to the UK’s EU referendum. The article concludes that the national security battleground in the 2016 referendum will be fought over competing narratives and arguments, partly because there is a dearth of data and evidence concerning UK and EU defence procurement and industries, which renders this crucial area of national security vulnerable to the politics of spin.
    923

    Matthew R. H. Uttley and Benedict Wilkinson

  • International affairs

    Radicalization revisited: violence, politics and the skills of the body

    For more than a decade, ‘radicalization’ has been a keyword in our understanding of terrorism. From the outset, radicalization was conceived of as an intellectual process through which an individual would increasingly come under a spell of extremist ideas. This ideological understanding of radicalization still prevails. In a 2015 speech on extremism, British Prime Minister David Cameron, for instance, claimed that the ‘root cause of the threat we face is the extremist ideology itself ’. But the way we understand radicalization has specific consequences for the way we manage and fight the scourge of terrorism. Considering recent events, including the November 2015 Paris attacks, the present article sets out to reassess the above-mentioned intellectualist understanding of radicalization and come up with new suggestions as to how radicalization may be understood today. Initially, the article suggests that ideology is not necessarily a precondition for violence, but that a prior experience with violence is more often a precondition for engaging an extremist ideology. Such experience with violence can be both domestic and international, obtained in Europe or Syria and other conflict zones. In the second part of the article it is argued that although radicalization is often conceived of as an individual process, pathways towards terrorism are inherently social and political. Finally, the article argues that by stressing the importance of ideology and ideological processes, concepts of radicalization have abstracted away from another factor that is pivotal for understanding pathways towards terrorist violence: the skills and capacities of the body.
    923

    Manni Crone

  • International affairs

    Geopolitics versus geoeconomics: the case of Russia’s geostrategy and its effects on the EU

    Geopolitics and geoeconomics are often addressed together, with the latter seen as a sub-variant of the former. This article shows the usefulness of differentiating them at a conceptual level. By juxtaposing traditional geopolitics and geoeconomics, we suggest that they have remarkably different qualities and implications for their targets, on both national and international levels. Importantly, these include the formation of alliances, and whether they are driven by balancing, bandwagoning or underbalancing dynamics. An analysis of Russia’s shifting geostrategy towards Europe shows these differences in practice. Russian geoeconomics has long been successful as a ‘wedge strategy’, dividing the EU. As a result, the EU has underbalanced and its Russia policies have been incoherent. The observable tendencies in 2014–15 towards a more coherent European approach can be explained by the changing emphasis in Russia’s geostrategy. Russia’s turn to geopolitics works as a centripetal force, causing a relative increase in EU unity. Centripetal tendencies due to heightened threat perception can be observed in the economic sanctions, emerging German leadership in EU foreign policy, and discussion on energy union. The analysis calls for more attention to the way strategic choices—geopolitics versus geoeconomics—affect the coherence of threatened states and alliance patterns.
    923

    Mikael Wigell and Antto Vihma

  • International affairs

    When less was more: external assistance and the political settlement in Somaliland

    The internationally unrecognized ‘Republic of Somaliland’ presents a case in which the domestic drivers of peace and development may be examined when aid and other forms of international intervention are not significant variables. The relative autonomy of its peace process offers an alternative perspective on post-conflict transitions to that offered in the majority of the literature, which instead problematizes either the perverse outcomes or unintended consequences of international interventions in conflict-affected areas. The purpose of this article is not to establish the salience of Somaliland’s relative isolation in its ability to achieve peace and relative political order, as this is already documented in the literature. Rather, it explores the ways in which that isolation fostered mutual dependence between powerful political and economic actors for their survival and prosperity. It uses a political settlements framework to probe the implications of this dependence for western statebuilding interventions in post-conflict situations. The findings present a challenge to orthodox assumptions about how states transition out of conflict, particularly that: greater vertical inclusivity necessarily strengthens a political settlement; effective Weberian institutions are a prerequisite of an enduring peace; and that external assistance is usually necessary to end large-scale violence in developing states or to prevent a recurrence of the conflict. This article is Open Access.
    923

    Sarah G. Phillips

  • International affairs

    Iran’s policy towards the Houthis in Yemen: a limited return on a modest investment

    For years, mounting instability had led many to predict the imminent collapse of Yemen. These forecasts became reality in 2014 as the country spiralled into civil war. The conflict pits an alliance of the Houthis, a northern socio-political movement that had been fighting the central government since 2004, alongside troops loyal to a former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, against supporters and allies of the government overthrown by the Houthis in early 2015. The war became regionalized in March 2015 when a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of ten mostly Arab states launched a campaign of air strikes against the Houthis. According to Saudi Arabia, the Houthis are an Iranian proxy; they therefore frame the war as an effort to counter Iranian influence. This article will argue, however, that the Houthis are not Iranian proxies; Tehran’s influence in Yemen is marginal. Iran’s support for the Houthis has increased in recent years, but it remains low and is far from enough to significantly impact the balance of internal forces in Yemen. Looking ahead, it is unlikely that Iran will emerge as an important player in Yemeni affairs. Iran’s interests in Yemen are limited, while the constraints on its ability to project power in the country are unlikely to be lifted. Tehran saw with the rise of the Houthis a low cost opportunity to gain some leverage in Yemen. It is unwilling, however, to invest larger amounts of resources. There is, as a result, only limited potential for Iran to further penetrate Yemen.
    923

    Thomas Juneau

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