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  • Author: Alastair Iain Johnston
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many scholars and policymakers in the United States accept the narrative that China is a revisionist state challenging the U.S.-dominated international liberal order. The narrative assumes that there is a singular liberal order and that it is obvious what constitutes a challenge to it. The concepts of order and challenge are, however, poorly operationalized. There are at least four plausible operationalizations of order, three of which are explicitly or implicitly embodied in the dominant narrative. These tend to assume, ahistorically, that U.S. interests and the content of the liberal order are almost identical. The fourth operationalization views order as an emergent property of the interaction of multiple state, substate, nonstate, and international actors. As a result, there are at least eight “issue-specific orders” (e.g., military, trade, information, and political development). Some of these China accepts; some it rejects; and some it is willing to live with. Given these multiple orders and varying levels of challenge, the narrative of a U.S.-dominated liberal international order being challenged by a revisionist China makes little conceptual or empirical sense. The findings point to the need to develop more generalizable ways of observing orders and compliance.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Hegemony, Military Affairs, Information Age, Liberal Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Fiona S. Cunningham, M. Taylor Fravel
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Chinese views of nuclear escalation are key to assessing the potential for nuclear escalation in a crisis or armed conflict between the United States and China, but they have not been examined systematically. A review of original Chinese-language sources and interviews with members of China's strategic community suggest that China is skeptical that nuclear escalation could be controlled once nuclear weapons are used and, thus, leaders would be restrained from pursuing even limited use. These views are reflected in China's nuclear operational doctrine (which outlines plans for retaliatory strikes only and lacks any clear plans for limited nuclear use) and its force structure (which lacks tactical nuclear weapons). The long-standing decoupling of Chinese nuclear and conventional strategy, organizational biases within China's strategic community, and the availability of space, cyber, and conventional missile weapons as alternative sources of strategic leverage best explain Chinese views toward nuclear escalation. China's confidence that a U.S.-China conflict would not escalate to the use of nuclear weapons may hamper its ability to identify nuclear escalation risks in such a scenario. Meanwhile, U.S. scholars and policymakers emphasize the risk of inadvertent escalation in a conflict with China, but they are more confident than their Chinese counterparts that the use of nuclear weapons could remain limited. When combined, these contrasting views could create pressure for a U.S.-China conflict to escalate rapidly into an unlimited nuclear war.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Christopher Clary, Vipin Narang
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Is India shifting to a nuclear counterforce strategy? Continued aggression by Pakistan against India, enabled by Islamabad's nuclear strategy and India's inability to counter it, has prompted the leadership in Delhi to explore more flexible preemptive counterforce options in an attempt to reestablish deterrence. Increasingly, Indian officials are advancing the logic of counterforce targeting, and they have begun to lay out exceptions to India's long-standing no-first-use policy to potentially allow for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons. Simultaneously, India has been acquiring the components that its military would need to launch counterforce strikes. These include a growing number of accurate and responsive nuclear delivery systems, an array of surveillance platforms, and sophisticated missile defenses. Executing a counterforce strike against Pakistan, however, would be exceptionally difficult. Moreover, Pakistan's response to the mere fear that India might be pursuing a counterforce option could generate a dangerous regional arms race and crisis instability. A cycle of escalation would have significant implications not only for South Asia, but also for the broader nuclear landscape if other regional powers were similarly seduced by the temptations of nuclear counterforce.
  • Topic: National Security, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India, Asia
  • 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: Arman Grigoryan
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Destabilized multiethnic states and empires are environments that are highly susceptible to violent ethnonationalist conflict. Conflicts between states built on the ruins of such empires and their minorities are especially common. James Fearon has famously argued that these conflicts are the result of minorities' rational incentives to rebel, which in turn are the result of newly independent states' inability to guarantee that these minorities will not be discriminated against if they acquiesce to citizenship, as well as expectations that over time the balance of power will shift against minorities as states consolidate their institutions. States can, however, take steps to reassure their minorities. The puzzle is why they often fail to do so. In fact, states often adopt policies that confirm minorities' worst fears, pushing them toward rebellion. Such action may be precipitated by a state's belief that a minority is motivated by a separatist agenda rather than by the desire to have its concerns and grievances satisfactorily addressed. If secession is a minority's primary objective, then concessions intended to demobilize the minority will only make the state more vulnerable to future demands and separatist bids. The existence of third parties with incentives to support minority separatism exacerbates the problem. The violent and nonviolent minority disputes in post-Soviet Georgia illustrate these findings.
  • Topic: Ethnic Government, Governance, Ethnicity, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Georgia, Global Focus
  • Author: Emil Souleimanov, Huseyn Aliyev
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Despite a considerable amount of ethnographic research into the phenomena of blood revenge and blood feud, little is known about the role of blood revenge in political violence, armed conflict, and irregular war. Yet blood revenge—widespread among many conflict-affected societies of the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond—is not confined to the realm of communal infighting, as previous research has presumed. An empirical analysis of Russia's two counterinsurgency campaigns in Chechnya suggests that the practice of blood revenge has functioned as an important mechanism in encouraging violent mobilization in the local population against the Russian troops and their Chechen proxies. The need to exact blood revenge has taken precedence over an individual's political views, or lack thereof. Triggered by the loss of a relative or humiliation, many apolitical Chechens who initially sought to avoid involvement in the hostilities or who had been skeptical of the insurgency mobilized to exact blood revenge to restore their individual and clan honor. Blood revenge functions as an effective, yet heavily underexplored, grievance-based mechanism encouraging violent mobilization in irregular wars.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, War, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia, Chechnya, Yemen, Colombia, Georgia, Albania
  • Author: Paul Staniland
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: How do material resources influence the behavior of insurgent groups? Do diamonds, drugs, state sponsors, and diasporas turn insurgents into fractious, loot-seeking thugs? Or do they help insurgents build disciplined and cohesive organizations? These questions have occupied a central focus in recent research, but no consensus has emerged on the answers to any of them. Some cases suggest that resource wealth encourages the degeneration of armed groups into greed and criminality. For instance, right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia, the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone are clear examples of large-scale resources being associated with indiscipline or civilian victimization. Other evidence, however, shows that external sponsorship and criminal activity can help leaders build organizations in the face of state repression. The Taliban in Afghanistan, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) forged, and indeed improved, their organizational effectiveness while relying heavily on external support and illicit economic gain.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Sudan, Asia, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Angola
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In East Asia the United States cultivated a "hub and spokes" system of discrete, exclusive alliances with the Republic of Korea, the Republic of China, and Japan, a system that was distinct from the multilateral security alliances it preferred in Europe. Bilateralism emerged in East Asia as the dominant security structure because of the "powerplay" rationale behind U.S. postwar planning in the region. "Powerplay" refers to the construction of an asymmetric alliance designed to exert maximum control over the smaller ally's actions. The United States created a series of bilateral alliances in East Asia to contain the Soviet threat, but a congruent rationale was to constrain "rogue allies"- that is, rabidly anticommunist dictators who might start wars for reasons of domestic legitimacy and entrap the United States in an unwanted larger war. Underscoring the U.S. desire to avoid such an outcome was a belief in the domino theory, which held that the fall of one small country in Asia could trigger a chain of countries falling to communism. The administrations of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower calculated that they could best restrain East Asia's pro-West dictators through tight bilateral alliances rather than through a regionwide multilateral mechanism. East Asia's security bilateralism today is therefore a historical artifact of this choice.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Christopher Layne
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Over the next two decades, international politics will be shaped by whether the international system remains unipolar or is transformed into a multipolar system. Can the United States sustain its primacy? Or will the emergence of new great powers reorder the distribution of power in the international system? If U.S. power is waning, will power transition dynamics result in security competitions and an increased possibility of war? In particular, what are the implications of China's rapid ascent to great power status? If the United States is unable to preserve its hegemonic role, what will happen to the security and economic frameworks that it took the lead in creating after the end of World War II and that have provided the foundation for the international order ever since? In a world no longer defined by U.S. hegemony, what would become of globalization and the open international economic system that the United established after World War II and expanded after the Cold War ended? This essay reviews five publications that grapple with these questions: Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth, World Out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy; Parag Khanna, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order; Kishore Mahbubani, The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East; National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World; and Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World.
  • Topic: Economics, War
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In 2001 approximately 100 Central Intelligence Agency officers, 350 U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and 15,000 Afghans overthrew the Taliban regime in less than three months while suffering only a dozen U.S. fatalities. They were supported by as many as 100 U.S. combat sorties per day. Some individuals involved in the operation argued that it revitalized the American way of war. This initial success, however, transitioned into an insurgency, as the Taliban and other insurgent groups began a sustained effort to overthrow the Afghan government. The fighting, which began in 2002, had developed into a full-blown insurgency by 2006. During this period, the number of insurgent-initiated attacks rose by 400 percent, and the number of deaths from these attacks by more than 800 percent. The increase in violence was particularly acute between 2005 and 2006, when the number of suicide attacks quintupled from 27 to 139; remotely detonated bombings more than doubled from 783 to 1,677; and armed attacks nearly tripled from 1,558 to 4,542. Insurgent-initiated attacks rose another 27 percent between 2006 and 2007. The result was a lack of security for Afghans and foreigners.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia, Taliban