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  • Author: Nuno P. Monteiro, Alexandre Debs
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: What causes nuclear proliferation? What role do security threats play in driving states to acquire nuclear weapons? Intuitively, security is the most important factor driving nuclear acquisition. Yet existing security theories of proliferation, while accounting for why some states with grave security concerns have developed nuclear weapons, are unable to explain why others have not. Today only nine states have the bomb, a number much lower than the pessimistic predictions made by early security-based arguments on the causes of proliferation. Clearly, the view that "security is the only necessary and sufficient cause of nuclear proliferation" is not borne out by the history of the nuclear age. This limitation of existing security theories has exposed them to criticism on several fronts. Initially, a burgeoning scholarship emerged focusing on the nonsecurity "sources of the political demand for nuclear weapons." More recently, "supply-side" arguments on proliferation view states' demand for nuclear weapons (for security or other reasons) as largely irrelevant, claiming instead that the odds of nuclear acquisition depend on the availability of international nuclear assistance.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Lee J. M. Seymour
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Side switching by armed groups is a prominent feature of many civil wars. Shifts in alignment have far-reaching consequences, influencing key outcomes such as civil war duration and termination, military effectiveness, levels of civilian victimization, and state-building prospects. In Sudan's wars, ideological and ethnic cleavages have not influenced factional alignments nearly as much as one might expect given the prominence of clashing political projects and ethnically organized violence in southern Sudan and Darfur. Recent explanations highlighting the role of territorial control, factional infighting, or relative power considerations also have limited value. In many wars fought in weak states characterized by low barriers to side switching, two mechanisms explain patterns of collaboration and defection: first, political rivalries that lead actors to collaborate in exchange for military support in localized struggles; and second, patronage-based incentives that induce collaboration for material gain. A nested analysis drawing on original data from wars in southern Sudan and Darfur supports this argument. The findings have implications for understanding alignments in civil wars, the role of weak states in counterinsurgency, and ethnic politics more generally, as well as policy relevance for factionalized civil wars.
  • Topic: Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Sudan, Darfur
  • Author: Khalid Homayun Nadiri
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Since September 11, 2001, Pakistan has pursued seemingly incongruous courses of action in Afghanistan. It has participated in the U.S. and international intervention in Afghanistan at the same time as it has permitted much of the Afghan Taliban's political leadership and many of its military commanders to visit or reside in Pakistani urban centers. This incongruence is all the more puzzling in light of the expansion of indiscriminate and costly violence directed against Islamabad by Pakistani groups affiliated with the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan's policy is the result not only of its enduring rivalry with India but also of historically rooted domestic imbalances and antagonistic relations with successive governments in Afghanistan. Three critical features of the Pakistani political system—the militarized nature of foreign policy making, ties between military institutions and Islamist networks, and the more recent rise of grassroots violence—have contributed to Pakistan's accommodation of the Afghan Taliban. Additionally, mutual suspicion surrounding the contentious Afghanistan-Pakistan border and Islamabad's long record of interference in Afghan politics have continued to divide Kabul and Islamabad, diminishing the prospect of cooperation between the two capitals. These determinants of Pakistan's foreign policy behavior reveal the prospects of and obstacles to resolving the numerous issues of contention that characterize the Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship today.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: Sumit Ganguly
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, Gary Bass convincingly argues that the Nixon administration did little to rein in its ally Pakistan from perpetuating genocide against its own population largely because of Islamabad's vital role in facilitating U.S. diplomatic contact with the People's Republic of China. He also shows how the low strategic significance of South Asia for much of the global community, combined with an inordinate regard for the norm of sovereignty, led to a lack of support for the principle of humanitarian intervention. The Blood Telegram partially affirms the proposition that acts of genocide can stem from the choices of a handful of individuals who are determined to achieve a political goal using all available means.
  • Topic: Genocide
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia
  • Author: Jon R. Lindsay, Lucas Kello
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Jon R. Lindsay responds to Lucas Kello's fall 2013 International Security article, "The Meaning of the Cyber Revolution: Perils to Theory and Statecraft."
  • Topic: Security
  • Author: Jon R. Lindsay
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The ubiquity and interconnectedness of computers in global commerce, civil society, and military affairs create crosscutting challenges for policy and conceptual confusion for theory. The challenges and confusion in cybersecurity are particularly acute in the case of China, which has one of the world's fastest growing internet economies and one of its most active cyber operations programs. In 2013 U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon singled out Chinese cyber intrusions as “not solely a national security concern or a concern of the U.S. government,” but also a major problem for firms suffering from “sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies . . . emanating from China on an unprecedented scale.” One U.S. congressman alleged that China has “established cyber war military units and laced the U.S. infrastructure with logic bombs.” He suggested that “America is under attack by digital bombs.” The discourse on China and cybersecurity routinely conflates issues as different as political censorship, unfair competition, assaults on infrastructure, and internet governance, even as all loom large for practical cyber policy. Although they involve similar information technologies, there is little reason to expect different political economic problems to obey the same strategic logic, nor should one necessarily expect China to enjoy relative advantage in all spheres.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Sebastian Rosato
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Can great powers reach confident conclusions about the intentions of their peers? The answer to this question has important implications for U.S. national security policy. According to one popular view, the United States and China are destined to compete unless they can figure out each other's designs. A recent Brookings Institution report warns that although “Beijing and Washington seek to build a constructive partnership for the long run,” they may be headed for trouble given their “mutual distrust of [the other's] long-term intentions.” Similarly, foreign policy experts James Steinberg and Michael O'Hanlon argue that “trust in both capitals...remains scarce, and the possibility of an accidental or even intentional conflict between the United States and China seems to be growing.” Reversing this logic, many analysts believe that U.S.-China relations may improve if the two sides clarify their intentions. Thus the Pentagon's latest strategic guidance document declares that if China wants to “avoid causing friction” in East Asia, then its military growth must be “accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions.” Meanwhile China scholars Andrew Nathan and Andrew Scobell recommend that even as the United States builds up its capabilities and alliances, it should “reassure Beijing that these moves are intended to create a balance of common interests rather than to threaten China.”
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing
  • Author: Aisha Ahmad
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many intractable civil wars take place in countries with large Muslim populations. In these protracted conflicts, Islamists are often just one of many actors fighting in a complex landscape of ethnic, tribal, and political violence. Yet, certain Islamist groups compete exceptionally well in these conflicts. Why do Islamists sometimes gain power out of civil war stalemates? Although much of the existing research points to either ethnic or religious motivations, I argue that there are also hard economic reasons behind the rise of Islamist power. In this article, I offer a micro-political economy model of Islamist success in civil war that highlights the role of an important, but often-overlooked, class: the local business community.
  • Topic: Security, Islam
  • Political Geography: Somalia
  • Author: Jaganath Sankaran
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In April 2011, Pakistan announced the latest addition to its expanding nuclear arsenal: a short-range tactical ballistic missile, the Nasr, reportedly designed to deliver low-yield battlefield nuclear weapons. Since then, prominent purveyors of Pakistani nuclear doctrine—including Maleeha Lodhi, Adil Sultan, Zahir Kazmi, and Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai—have, in essence, viewed Nasr as a counter to India's Cold Start war doctrine. Proponents of Nasr imagine the weapon being used against invading Indian armored units inside Pakistani territory. After the latest flight test of the Nasr in February 2013, Pakistan declared it ready for use, though it has not yet been added to the military's inventory.
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Is there an oil weapon? Concern about the use of oil as an instrument of coercion has been central to state intervention in oil markets. Historically, the U.S. government sought to ensure access for domestic firms in the Middle East on national security grounds. Current U.S. national security strategy identifies the importance of Middle Eastern oil production to the global oil market as justification for retaining a military presence in the region. Conversely, rising U.S. oil production in the 2000s leads some analysts to propose that the United States should reduce its military presence in the Persian Gulf.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: To the Editors (Raymond Kuo writes): For decades, evolutionary psychologists have offered explanations for complex human behaviors. These efforts are typically plagued by methodological problems, including unfalsifiability, reasoning by analogy, and endogeneity. Dominic Johnson and Monica Duffy Toft's evolutionary explanation for the unique place of territory in human conflict stumbles on these same grounds. Johnson and Toft argue that humans—perhaps all vertebrates—have evolved a propensity for territoriality, incurring higher costs and fighting harder for land as compared with other sources of conflict. Their claims suffer from four problems, however. First, their understanding of evolution is imprecise and problematic, employing what is known as the “adaptationist fallacy” in lieu of clearly specifying a causal, biological mechanism. Second, they fail to sharply distinguish their account from plausible nonbiological alternatives. Third, they invite significant endogeneity problems by crossing the species barrier and traversing multiple levels of analysis. Fourth, they neglect cutting-edge research pointing to the limits of biological inheritance and evolutionary effects on behavior. Ultimately, their approach adds little to scholars' understanding of territoriality.
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Gaurav Kampani provides a compelling account of the evolution of India's nuclear weapons program from 1989 to 1999 and rightly highlights how the need for secrecy “stymied India's operational advances.” “Secrecy concerns,” he argues, “prevented decisionmakers and policy planners from decomposing problem sets and parceling them out simultaneously for resolution to multiple bureaucratic actors, including the military” (p. 82). In his eagerness to argue this point, however, Kampani is too quick to dismiss other explanations for India's slow pace of operationalization. In this letter, I argue that a more complete account of “New Delhi's long nuclear journey” should incorporate civil-military relations as another influential fact.
  • Political Geography: India, New Delhi
  • Author: Monica Duffy Toft, Dominic D.P. Johnson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Badme region in the Horn of Africa is claimed by both Ethiopia and Eritrea. It contains few natural resources, and neither state considers it to have strategic value. As one local merchant put it, however, "It's territory, you know. We'll die for our country."
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iran, Ethiopia, Eritrea
  • Author: Kathleen M. Vogel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In September 2011, scientists in the Netherlands announced new experimental findings that would not only threaten the conduct and publication of influenza research, but would have significant policy and intelligence implications. Ron Fouchier, an influenza virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, declared at the Fourth European Scientific Working Group on Influenza in Malta that his research group had created a modified variant of the H5N1 avian influenza virus (hereafter the H5N1 virus) that was transmissible via aerosol between ferrets. Until that point, the H5N1 virus, which can be lethal to humans, was known to be transmissible only through direct, physical contact with infected animals.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Netherlands
  • Author: Peter Krause
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When do national movements succeed? Specifically, when and why does the use of violence by armed groups within such movements help to achieve their strategic objectives, such as international recognition, territorial control, and the creation of new states? Two recent struggles shed light on the debate among policymakers and scholars.
  • Author: Burak Kadercan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Why are some states more willing to adopt military innovations than others? Why, for example, were the great powers of Europe able to successfully reform their military practices to better adapt to and participate in the so-called military revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries while their most important extra- European competitor, the Ottoman Empire, failed to do so? The conventional wisdom suggests that cultural factors, including religious beliefs and a misplaced sense of superiority, blinded Ottoman rulers to the utility of innovations stemming from this military revolution, which involved radical changes in military strategy and tactics. The implication is that these rulers were almost suicidal, resisting military reforms until the early nineteenth century despite suffering continuous defeats for more than two hundred years. Such thinking follows not from a close reading of the historical and sociological literature on the Ottoman Empire, but from an Orientalist view of non-Western political organizations that plagues not only international relations theory but also military history.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Yuen Foong Khong
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: One of the early exhibits of the 2010 Shanghai Expo that greeted the visitor was a display of the Chinese living room through time. What made the otherwise prosaic display rise above the ordinary was its point of departure: the year 1978. The 1978 room was dim, dowdy, and equipped with the most basic furniture, reflecting a poor household. The 1988 living room offered visible improvements, while the 1998 living room had many, but not all, of the accoutrements of the middleclass living room. The 2008 living room—whether aspiration or reality—had it all: ambient lighting, leather sofas, and a plasma television screen. The message was clear: China today would prefer not to dwell on the past; the focus needs to be on economic modernization and its payoffs that began with Deng Xiaoping's opening up of China's economy in 1978.
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Alastair Iain Johnston, Xiaoyu Pu, Dingding Chen
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In "How New and Assertive Is China's New Assertiveness?" Iain Johnston argues that China's recent foreign policy is not as assertive as many scholars and pundits contend. Johnston's study is a welcome addition to the literature on Chinese foreign policy in three respects. First, it is the most comprehensive study by a leading China scholar on China's new assertiveness. Second, it challenges the conventional understanding that this assertiveness is both unprecedented and aggressive by design. Third, it addresses potential problems of overestimating the threat from China.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Alexander B. Downes, Jonathan Monten, William G. Nomikos
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Alexander Downes and Jonathan Monten's article "Forced to Be Free? Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Rarely Leads to Democratization" offers important contributions to the study of foreign-imposed regime change (FIRC). The authors should be commended for their use of advanced empirical methods to tackle such an important substantive question. According to Downes and Monten, past research on the democratizing effect of foreign-imposed regime change has overemphasized the characteristics of the intervener and underemphasized the existing preconditions for democracy in the state targeted for intervention. Rather than the FIRC itself, it is these preconditions, Downes and Monten suggest, that explain whether a given state will or will not democratize. That is, their argument posits that targets of FIRC that democratize would have done so independently of the foreign intervention.
  • Topic: Regime Change