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  • Author: Henry Farrell, Abraham L. Newman
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Liberals claim that globalization has led to fragmentation and decentralized networks of power relations. This does not explain how states increasingly “weaponize interdependence” by leveraging global networks of informational and financial exchange for strategic advantage. The theoretical literature on network topography shows how standard models predict that many networks grow asymmetrically so that some nodes are far more connected than others. This model nicely describes several key global economic networks, centering on the United States and a few other states. Highly asymmetric networks allow states with (1) effective jurisdiction over the central economic nodes and (2) appropriate domestic institutions and norms to weaponize these structural advantages for coercive ends. In particular, two mechanisms can be identified. First, states can employ the “panopticon effect” to gather strategically valuable information. Second, they can employ the “chokepoint effect” to deny network access to adversaries. Tests of the plausibility of these arguments across two extended case studies that provide variation both in the extent of U.S. jurisdiction and in the presence of domestic institutions—the SWIFT financial messaging system and the internet—confirm the framework's expectations. A better understanding of the policy implications of the use and potential overuse of these tools, as well as the response strategies of targeted states, will recast scholarly debates on the relationship between economic globalization and state coercion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Globalization, Information Age, Global Security, Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: John J. Mearsheimer
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The liberal international order, erected after the Cold War, was crumbling by 2019. It was flawed from the start and thus destined to fail. The spread of liberal democracy around the globe—essential for building that order—faced strong resistance because of nationalism, which emphasizes self-determination. Some targeted states also resisted U.S. efforts to promote liberal democracy for security-related reasons. Additionally, problems arose because a liberal order calls for states to delegate substantial decisionmaking authority to international institutions and to allow refugees and immigrants to move easily across borders. Modern nation-states privilege sovereignty and national identity, however, which guarantees trouble when institutions become powerful and borders porous. Furthermore, the hyperglobalization that is integral to the liberal order creates economic problems among the lower and middle classes within the liberal democracies, fueling a backlash against that order. Finally, the liberal order accelerated China's rise, which helped transform the system from unipolar to multipolar. A liberal international order is possible only in unipolarity. The new multipolar world will feature three realist orders: a thin international order that facilitates cooperation, and two bounded orders—one dominated by China, the other by the United States—poised for waging security competition between them.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Relations Theory, Liberal Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Charles L. Glaser
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Well before President Donald Trump began rhetorically attacking U.S. allies and the open international trading system, policy analysts worried about challenges to the liberal international order (LIO). A more fundamental issue, however, has received little attention: the analytic value of framing U.S. security in terms of the LIO. Systematic examination shows that this framing creates far more confusion than insight. Even worse, the LIO framing could lead the United States to adopt overly competitive policies and unnecessarily resist change in the face of China's growing power. The “LIO concept”—the logics that proponents identify as underpinning the LIO—is focused inward, leaving it ill equipped to address interactions between members of the LIO and states that lie outside the LIO. In addition, the LIO concept suffers theoretical flaws that further undermine its explanatory value. The behavior that the LIO concept claims to explain—including cooperation under anarchy, effective Western balancing against the Soviet Union, the Cold War peace, and the lack of balancing against the United States following the Cold War—is better explained by other theories, most importantly, defensive realism. Analysis of U.S. international policy would be improved by dropping the LIO terminology entirely and reframing analysis in terms of grand strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Grand Strategy, International Relations Theory, Liberal Order, Trump
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Eliza Gheorghe
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The evolution of the nuclear market explains why there are only nine members of the nuclear club, not twenty-five or more, as some analysts predicted. In the absence of a supplier cartel that can regulate nuclear transfers, the more suppliers there are, the more intense their competition will be, as they vie for market share. This commercial rivalry makes it easier for nuclear technology to spread, because buyers can play suppliers off against each other. The ensuing transfers help countries either acquire nuclear weapons or become hedgers. The great powers (China, Russia, and the United States) seek to thwart proliferation by limiting transfers and putting safeguards on potentially dangerous nuclear technologies. Their success depends on two structural factors: the global distribution of power and the intensity of the security rivalry among them. Thwarters are most likely to stem proliferation when the system is unipolar and least likely when it is multipolar. In bipolarity, their prospects fall somewhere in between. In addition, the more intense the rivalry among the great powers in bipolarity and multipolarity, the less effective they will be at curbing proliferation. Given the potential for intense security rivalry among today's great powers, the shift from unipolarity to multipolarity does not portend well for checking proliferation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China
  • Author: G. John Ikenberry, Adam P. Liff
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the post–Cold War period, scholars have considered the Asia Pacific to be ripe for military competition and conflict. Developments over the past decade have deepened these expectations. Across the region, rising military spending and efforts of various states to bolster their military capabilities appear to have created an increasingly volatile climate, along with potentially vicious cycles of mutual arming and rearming. In this context, claims that China's rapid economic growth and surging military spending are fomenting destabilizing arms races and security dilemmas are widespread. Such claims make for catchy headlines, yet they are rarely subject to rigorous empirical tests. Whether patterns of military competition in the Asia Pacific are in fact attributable to a security dilemma–based logic has important implications for international relations theory and foreign policy. The answer has direct consequences for how leaders can maximize the likelihood that peace and stability will prevail in this economically and strategically vital region. A systematic empirical test derived from influential theoretical scholarship on the security dilemma concept assesses the drivers of bilateral and multilateral frictions and military competition under way in the Asia Pacific. Security dilemma–driven competition appears to be an important contributor, yet the outcome is not structurally determined. Although this military competition could grow significantly in the near future, there are a number of available measures that could help to ameliorate or manage some of its worst aspects.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Cold War
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Joseph M. Parent, Sebastian Rosato
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Does neorealism offer a convincing account of great power balancing behavior? Many scholars argue that it does not. This conclusion rests on a misunderstanding of neorealist theory and an erroneous reading of the evidence. Properly specified, neorealism holds that great powers place an overriding emphasis on the need for self-help. This means that they rely relentlessly both on arming and on imitating the successful military practices of their peers to ensure their security. At the same time, they rarely resort to alliances and treat them with skepticism. There is abundant historical evidence to support these claims. Since 1816, great powers have routinely achieved an effective balance in military capabilities with their relevant competitors and promptly copied the major military innovations of the period. Case studies show that these outcomes are the product of states' efforts to ensure security against increasingly capable rivals. Meanwhile, the diplomatic record yields almost no examples of firm peacetime balancing coalitions over the past 200 years. When alliances have formed, great powers have generally doubted the reliability of their allies and of their opponents' allies. Thus neorealism provides a solid foundation for explaining great power balancing behavior.
  • Topic: International Relations, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Prussia, Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Bessner, Nicolas Guilhot
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Neorealism is one of the most influential theories of international relations, and its first theorist, Kenneth Waltz, a giant of the discipline. But why did Waltz move from a rather traditional form of classical realist political theory in the 1950s to neorealism in the 1970s? A possible answer is that Waltz's Theory of International Politics was his attempt to reconceive classical realism in a liberal form. Classical realism paid a great deal of attention to decisionmaking and statesmanship, and concomitantly asserted a nostalgic, anti-liberal political ideology. Neorealism, by contrast, dismissed the issue of foreign policymaking and decisionmaking. This shift reflected Waltz's desire to reconcile his acceptance of classical realism's tenets with his political commitment to liberalism. To do so, Waltz incorporated cybernetics and systems theory into Theory of International Politics, which allowed him to develop a theory of international relations no longer burdened with the problem of decisionmaking.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, War, Grand Strategy, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Todd H. Hall, Jia Ian Chong
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A century has passed since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo set in motion a chain of events that would eventually convulse Europe in war. Possibly no conflict has been the focus of more scholarly attention. The questions of how and why European states came to abandon peaceful coexistence for four years of armed hostilities—ending tens of millions of lives and several imperial dynasties—have captivated historians and international relations scholars alike.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, East Asia
  • Author: Etel Solingen
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The sources of World War I are numerous and widely studied. Some scholars have argued that they are underdetermining individually but overdetermining collectively. The purpose of this article is not to fuel the battle among theories claiming complete explanatory power, but rather to examine some lessons for contemporary international relations. Much of the recent commentary on the war's centenary evokes similarities between Germany in 1914 and China in 2014, and between globalization then and now. There are crucial differences on both accounts, however.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, War
  • Political Geography: China, Germany
  • Author: Jack Snyder
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: One reason why Europe went to war in 1914 is that all of the continental great powers judged it a favorable moment for a fight, and all were pessimistic about postponing the fight until later. On its face, this explanation constitutes a paradox. Still, each power had a superficially plausible reason for thinking this was true.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, War
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Tanisha M. Fazel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Several recent books argue that war is on the decline. In Winning the War on War, for example, Joshua Goldstein lauds the recent successes of the peacemaking community in countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast. In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker writes that not only war but violence in general has become much less common, as the civilizing forces of literacy and modern government have tempered our baser instincts and allowed our "better angels" to prevail.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, East Asia
  • Author: Jerry Mark Long, Alex S. WIlner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Al-Qaida has established a metanarrative that enables it to recruit militants and supporters. The United States and its allies can challenge its ability to do so by delegitimizing the ideological motivations that inform that metanarrative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, East Asia
  • Author: Liam Anderson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Critics of ethnofederalism— a political system in which federal subunits reflect ethnic groups' territorial distribution—argue that it facilitates secession and state collapse. An examination of post-1945 ethnofederal states, however, shows that ethnofederalism has succeeded more often than not.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, East Asia
  • Author: David Ekbladh
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Security studies is commonly thought to have emerged as a response to the Cold War, but its roots reach much further back. Historian Edward Mead Earle and his colleagues first addressed the problem of security to cope with the unraveling of the international order in the 1930s. Earle was instrumental in paving the way for security studies as it exists today, laying the foundations for an important discipline that seeks to combine history, economics, and political science to build bridges between the government and academia and use scientific inquiry to inform policy and guide grand strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Cold War
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Dominic Tierney, Dominic D.P. Johnson
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In 49 B.C., Julius Caesar halted his army on the banks of the Rubicon River in northern Italy. According to Suetonius, he paused in momentary hesitation, before sweeping across the waters toward Rome with the immortal phrase Alae iacta est (The die has been cast). By violating an ancient Roman law forbidding any general to cross the Rubicon with an army, Caesar's decision made war inevitable. Ever since, “crossing the Rubicon” has come to symbolize a point of no return, when the time for deliberation is over and action is at hand.
  • Topic: International Relations, Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Germany, Romania
  • Author: Rose McDermott, Anthony C. Lopez, Michael Bang Peterson
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The use of evolutionary models to examine political behavior in international relations has been the subject of much debate, but serious scholarly work has generally been lacking, in part because the causal mechanisms have not always been clearly explicated. An evolutionary psychological framework can correct this deficit and benefit research in at least three major areas of international relations: (1) how political groups such as states are perceived and represented by individuals and groups; (2) how coalitional action is facilitated among states; and (3) sex differences in coalitional behavior. Hypotheses are offered in each of these areas to more clearly demonstrate the psychological mechanisms that are the bridge between evolutionary theory and political behavior in the international system. The social and political landscape of the ancestral environments in which humans evolved strongly suggests that the psychological architecture of humans possesses specialized design for coalitional living that continues to guide behavior in the modern political world. These evolved mechanisms structure human motivation and engagement in areas including leadership and war.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, War