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  • 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: Hui Zhang, Tuosheng Zhang
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the threat of nuclear terrorism has become one of the most significant challenges to international security. China has worked to meet this challenge, but a continuing effort is needed. The 2010 and 2012 Nuclear Security Summits raised the issues of nuclear security to a higher political level and enhanced international consensus on the danger of nuclear terrorism. China actively participated in the first two summits, and President Xi Jinping will participate in the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands in March 2014. China's commitment to nuclear security is now well established. Former president Hu Jintao emphasized in 2012 that, "the threat of nuclear terrorism cannot be overlooked." Meeting that threat, as President Hu recognized, "is a long and arduous task."
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Border Control
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Scott Moore
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Few places in the world are facing such acute scarcity of water as is northern China, the region surrounding the nation's capital in Beijing. Over the past three decades, rapid economic development and population growth have caused a dramatic water shortage in the region. Groundwater tables have dropped so precipitously that in some places wells cannot be dug deep enough to reach water. Climate change is making rainfall more unpredictable, further darkening the picture for a region that is vital to both the Chinese and world economies. This brief looks at the so-far inadequate responses of the Chinese government and makes the case that new institutions are needed to allow China to meet this growing challenge.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Science and Technology, Water
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Amy Myers Jaffe, Meghan L. O'Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Some of the most dramatic energy developments of recent years have been in the realm of natural gas. Huge quantities of unconventional US shale gas are now commercially viable, changing the strategic picture for the United States by making it self-sufficient in natural gas for the foreseeable future. This development alone has reverberated around the globe, causing shifts in patterns of trade and leading other countries in Europe and Asia to explore their own shale gas potential. Such developments are putting pressure on longstanding arrangements, such as oil-linked gas contracts and the separate nature of North American, European, and Asian gas markets, and may lead to strategic shifts, such as the weakening of Russia's dominance in the European gas market.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • 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: Michael Beckley
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Despite the hype about the rise of China, current power trends favor continued U.S. dominance. National power has three main material components: wealth, innovation, and military power. Over the last twenty years, China has fallen further behind the United States in all of these areas.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Young people in Iran have emerged as important players on the country's political scene but remain marginal on its economic scene. They were a vital part of President Khatami's political base and contributed to his landslide victories at the polls, in 1997 and 2001. In June 2009 they again played a key role, this time in challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial reelection, which led to massive anti-government protests in the nation's largest cities. A year later the political crisis appears to have subsided, but the economic crisis that has engulfed the country since early 2008 has deepened, and with it the crisis facing Iran's youth. Youth unemployment is at record high levels and, for the majority of youth, marriage and family formation are increasingly becoming challenges to overcome rather than celebrations of reaching adulthood.
  • Topic: Islam, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • 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: Vipin Narang
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba—a group historically supported by Pakistan—laid siege to Mumbai in November 2008, crippling the city for three days and taking at least 163 lives. But India's response was restrained; it did not mobilize its military forces to retaliate against either Pakistan or Lashkar camps operating there. A former Indian chief of Army Staff, Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury, bluntly stated that Pakistan's threat of nuclear use deterred India from seriously considering conventional military strikes.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India, 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