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  • Author: Oleksandr Fisun
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: The Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula represents a radical transformation of the system of international security on the European continent and in the wider context of the postwar “Yalta system” of interstate boundaries and their guarantees by major international players. The most important takeaway is that for the first time since World War II, one of the founders of the Yalta system of international boundaries has considered it within the realm of possibility to revisit its provisions by directly augmenting its own territory. This paper aims to analyze the outcomes of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the features of the newly formed regional political regime in Crimea, the role of Crimea in contemporary Ukrainian politics, as well as to present scenarios for the development of the geopolitical situation surrounding the “Crimean issue” in the context of the possible actions that primary geopolitical players may take.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Crimea
  • Author: Thomas Graham, Rajan Menon, Jack Snyder
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Amidst calls for containing an assertive Russia, politicians and pundits have been debating whether Ukraine should serve as a “buffer zone” between the Russian and Western spheres of influence. Based on a survey of the history of buffer zones in Ukraine and elsewhere, we argue that buffer strategies are most likely to succeed in promoting international stability when three mutually reinforcing conditions obtain. First, the buffer state has the material strength, defensible geography, and social cohesiveness necessary to resist penetration, annexation, or partition. Second, states that may contemplate using war as a means to annex or dominate the buffer zone anticipate high risks and costs. Buffers survive when flanking powers are relatively weak, satisfied, skeptical that “offense is the best defense,” and chary of commitments to reckless allies and clients. Third, whether the major powers have agreed, implicitly or explicitly, on rules to regulate their rivalry in the buffer region may also affect the likelihood of a collision. Based on these findings, we are doubtful that Ukraine can serve as a reliable buffer.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Author: Kimberly Marten
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Kimberly Marten considers the role that freewheeling private militias have played, both in the war in eastern Ukraine and in Ukraine’s politics more generally. While militias supplemented the Ukrainian army’s firepower, especially in the early phase of the war, we know from the experience of other countries that autonomous armed groups can also challenge the authority of the state and undermine its efficacy. How might militias shape Ukraine political trajectory and shape its security?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Non State Actors, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Klaus Segbers
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: Many attempts have been made to interpret and explain the Russian annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine. These signal events can be approached from different theoretical angles. The purpose of this short piece is to critically question the usefulness and appropriateness of state‐centered approaches that have been, and are yet, dominant and popular – most likely because they are so easy to apply intuitively.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Theory, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Crimea
  • Author: Dr. Hal Brands
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Is offshore balancing the right grand strategy for America? Is it time for Washington to roll back the vast system of overseas security commitments and forward military deployments that have anchored its international posture since World War II? This monograph argues that the answer to these questions is no. Offshore balancing represents the preferred grand strategy among many leading international-relations “realists,” who argue that significant geopolitical retrenchment can actually improve America’s strategic position while slashing the costs of its foreign policy. The reality, however, is rather different. The probable benefits of offshore balancing—both financial and geopolitical—are frequently exaggerated, while the likely disadvantages and dangers are more severe than its proponents acknowledge. In all likelihood, adopting this strategy would not allow America to achieve more security and influence at a lower price. The more plausible results would be to dissipate U.S. influence, to court heightened insecurity and instability, and to expose the nation to greater long-range risks and costs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Professor John F. Troxell
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The recently published National Military Strategy emphasizes the unpredictability of the global security environment. According to General Dempsey, “global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode. We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges…” General Odierno echoes this concern by pointing to the “increased velocity of instability,” and emboldened potential adversaries that have “magnified the risk to U.S. interests around the world.” Responding to this period of geopolitical uncertainty demands thoughtful and careful analysis of a wide array of strategic issues. The Strategic Studies Institutes’ (SSI) annual Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL) addresses this need by providing a list of high-priority topics organized to support the Army's most important strategic objectives, issues that must be addressed to ensure the Army of 2025 and beyond will continue to meet the needs of the nation. Part I of the KSIL lists the Chief of Staff of the Army’s top five topics, all five of which will be addressed as integrative research projects by the US Army War College. Part II, “Priority Research Areas,” is a compilation of critical topics developed by the Army War College and Commands and organizations throughout the Army. Part III consists of the Army Warfighting Challenges. Students and researchers are encouraged to get in touch with the topic sponsors listed in the document, tackle one of these issues, and contribute to the knowledge base needed to support the future direction of the Army
  • Topic: Security, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The implosion of the Soviet Union on the eve of December 25, 1991, has been heralded by pundits and Sovietologists as an unprecedented event in world history. No one expected the powerful Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) to come to an end as uneventfully as it did. The implosion of the Soviet Union sent shockwaves throughout the world. Not only did the Soviet Union cease to exist on that Christmas night, but it also lost half of its territory and half of its population. Furthermore, the Soviets came to find out the morning after that most of its weapons of mass destruction were now in the hands of the newly independent states—former members of the USSR. But, perhaps most importantly, the United States would soon realize that it had lost a common enemy. Russia, since its inception, has been trying to find its place among the civilized nations of the world. Is Russia a superpower? Or, is Russia an emerging power?
  • Topic: Weapons of Mass Destruction, History, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Keir Giles
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This monograph, completed ahead of the November 2014 deadline, examines some of the underlying factors which will be constant in dealing with a nuclear capable Iran under President Hassan Rouhani, and which will help determine the success or failure of talks in 2015. It analyzes Rouhani's eventful first year in office in order to provide pointers to what may be possible—and to some key limiting factors—for Iran under his leadership. During that time, Rouhani has been forced to balance his own progressive instincts with the instinctual caution of more conservative elements of the Iranian ruling elite. As a result, foreign hopes for his influence on Iran’s place in the world have moved from initial optimism to a more sober assessment of the options available to him. This monograph provides an essential backdrop to the forthcoming renewed negotiations with Iran by providing an introduction to the complex interplay of issues and interests which constrain the Iranian leadership
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: D. Malysheva
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: ON JULY 26, 2015, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on board the frigate Admiral of the Soviet Navy Gorshkov endorsed a new version of the Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation, the basic document that specifies Russia’s naval and maritime policy. This version added the Mediterranean to the areas of the national maritime policy (the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific zones) and specified that Russia’s naval pres- ence there is aimed at “turning it into the zone of military-political sta- bility and good-neighborly relations.”1 This is not fortuitous: The region is one of the main zones of Russia’s politics and international coopera- tion. Time has come to sort out regional developments, varied interests of the states involved and the problems they have to cope with. In other words, we should arrive at a clear idea about the region’s importance for the Russian Federation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Jacqueline Lopour
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This paper introduces Central Asia’s geopolitical significance and explores several inter-related security challenges. For each security issue, this paper provides a brief overview of the issue, explains why or how it developed and looks at the issue’s significance within the broader security environment. The paper then turns to Canada’s role in Central Asia and addresses opportunities to expand engagement in the security realm.
  • Topic: Security, International Security, Bilateral Relations, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Canada