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  • Author: Igor Delanoe
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Since the late 2000s, the Russian Federation has expanded its naval footprint in the Eastern Mediterranean, and even resurrected its Mediterranean Squadron in 2013. The backbone of this operational squadron is provided by units coming from the Black Sea Fleet, complemented by vessels from other Russian naval formations (namely, the Northern, Baltic, and Pacific Fleets, as well as the Caspian Sea Flotilla) on a rotational basis. As the Russian State Armament Program for the period 2011-2020 was implemented, the Black Sea Fleet received new warships and new diesel-powered submarines. Consequently, by the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Moscow’s naval footprint in the Mediterranean had already been reconstituted. Yet, since the mid-2010s, a structural change occurred in the Mediterranean Squadron’s order of battle. The Squadron has morphed qualitatively and quantitatively, and has become more capable. Featuring fewer ex-Soviet large platforms and more modern green water units, this naval task force has been assigned mainly a defensive objective: locally counterbalance navies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and protect Russia’s southern flank from perceived instability emanating from the Mediterranean’s southern shore, in the context of the Arab Spring. Moreover, Moscow’s direct military involvement in the war in Syria has provided the Mediterranean Squadron with a new purpose while highlighting a conventional deterrence mission.
  • Topic: NATO, Armed Forces, Navy, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anton Lavrov
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Before the start of the military intervention in Syria in 2015, even top Russian generals were uncertain what the result would be. Shortly before the start of the intervention, the Russian Aerospace Forces (RuAF) received hundreds of new airplanes and helicopters and new “smart” precision weapons. Almost all of them had never been tested in real combat. The pilots and commanders also did not have combat experience and were trained by textbooks filled with outdated concepts and tactics. The five years of war in Syria have been the most intense period of transformation for the RuAF since the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Russian military not only gained an unprecedented amount of experience, but also made substantial improvements in tactics and strategy.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Charles Bartles, Lester Grau
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Syrian Civil War produces a new set of problems involving extended urban combat, intense fights for key resources (oil fields, water, and lines of communication and supply), conventional combat among irregular units, ethnic and religious cleansing, a large number of foreign combatants with varying motivations, and contending outside powers fighting a proxy engagement. The Russian Federation is not an expeditionary power, and its entry into Syria on the side of the regime has strained its logistical resources. From the beginning of the Syrian campaign, it was clear that Russian involvement was initially envisaged to be through the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS). Although the Syrian government was on the verge of collapse, and the Syrian military was on its hind legs and a shell of its former self, there was a sufficient number of Syrian ground units that were mission capable. With this understanding, the VKS was to be the principal supplier of Russian combat power aimed at disruption of the command and control and leadership of the groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime through the provision of reconnaissance and target destruction. In particular, Russia’s priority was the destruction of the Western-backed, moderate opposition groups, since it saw these as the greatest immediate threat to Assad. The Islamic State (ISIS) and other Sunni extremist groups were targeted, but sat lower on Russia’s priority list. As with other such operations, «mission creep” soon resulted in Russia’s involvement quickly expanding past the provision of aerospace support to planning, and, in some cases, conducting ground operations. General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, confirmed this expansion of Russian involvement in a December 2017 interview. Russia’s ground-based contingent in the Syrian campaign involves a diverse set of forces and capabilities. Some of the key features of this expanded ground force mission included a Russian model of military advisors, integrated and modernized fires, mobility and countermobility operations, a featured role for military police, use of coastal defense, spetznaz, and private military company (PMC) forces. Russian ground forces have benefitted from the opportunity to provide combat experience to a large number of professional soldiers, conduct battlefield testing of new systems and observe the impact of different terrain on tactics. The forces opposing the Syrian government provide a different opponent than the “enemy” encountered in normal Russian peacetime training and much of the “Syrian experience” is discussed and dissected in Russian professional military journals.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Aaron Stein
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The United States dramatically increased the commitment of troops and military equipment to a string of permanent bases in the Middle East after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeat of the Iraqi army after its 1991 invasion of Kuwait. In the nearly two decades since the Al Qaeda-linked attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States has deepened its military and political commitment to the region, following the decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and then to intervene militarily in Syria. The Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations have sought to focus more on Asia, but have failed to disentangle the United States from conflicts in the Middle East. This report assumes that the United States will retain an overwhelming interest in ensuring close alliances and partnerships with America’s transatlantic allies (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and close partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific even if President Trump is re-elected in 2020. It also assumes that the United States will begin to focus primarily on Asia, with the Russian Federation being considered of secondary importance to the rise of the People’s Republic of China. Given these twin assumptions, the role of American forces and Washington’s policy priorities in the Middle East require new thinking about how to wind down wars that are draining American resources and to re-allocate finite, high-demand assets that could be leveraged for operations in Europe or the Indo-Pacific. This report proposes an interlinked political and military policy that would allow for the United States to retain a robust presence in the Middle East, but in a way that would de-escalate tensions with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and alter how U.S. forces are deployed around the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Benedict Robin-D'Cruz, Renad Mansour
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Iraq’s Sadrist movement, led by populist Shi’i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been at the heart of Iraqi politics since 2003. The movement’s political strategies have shifted dramatically during this time, encompassing militant insurgency, sectarian violence, electoral politics, and reform-oriented street protests. Consequently, despite their prominence, the Sadrists’ shifting positions mean they remain one of the most complex and frequently misunderstood movements in Iraq. This is further compounded by the near-total absence of engagement between the Sadrists and Western, particularly American, governments. As Sadr has changed his movement’s politics again, this time toward a counter-protest stance, U.S. policymakers are once more grappling with the dilemmas posed by a movement that is both powerful and obscure.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Non State Actors, Muqtada al-Sadr
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Pishko Shamsi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 2017, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq held an independence referendum, which triggered severe backlash, including the loss of control over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The backlash from the independence referendum prompted the regional government (Kurdistan Regional Government) to urgently shift policy and re-engage with Baghdad. Since then, the region has recovered politically and has implemented a pragmatic strategy to revitalize the economy and internal affairs. The KRG also launched diplomatic initiatives to restore relations with Iran and Turkey, and has pursued a policy of neutrality to manage the Region’s myriad of crises. Moreover, the KRG has pursued tactical alliances with Iraqi political parties to secure short-term gains, including the resumption of budget transfers from Baghdad. The KRG’s deal-making with Baghdad, however, has fallen short of translating into a sustainable policy, and many of the gains are fragile and dependent on Baghdad’s changing political scene. Without a long-term strategy, the KRG’s new leadership is unlikely to be able to deliver much needed institutional reforms to help curb corruption, improve governance, and enhance transparency in public affairs. And while the KRG has committed to reform politically, it remains unclear if it will bring about meaningful change and address structural challenges, such as entrenched crony networks, rentier economics, and partisan control over the public sector and security forces.The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.
  • Topic: Islamic State, Autonomy, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Samuel Ramani
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: After spending nearly three decades as a marginal player in the Horn of Africa, the Russian Federation has made significant progress towards recapturing its great power status in the region. Russia has engaged with all countries in the Horn of Africa and refused to take sides in the region’s most polarizing conflicts, so Moscow can be best described as an “engaged opportunist” on the Horn of Africa. Russia is principally focused on establishing itself as the region’s leading arms vendor, but prospectively, has one eye on constructing a Red Sea base. Russia’s resurgence in the Horn of Africa has generally dovetailed with the People’s Republic of China’s regional aspirations, but has placed it increasingly at odds with France and the United States. Looking ahead, Russia’s ability to link its Horn of Africa strategy to its aspirations in the Middle East will shape the future trajectory of its involvement in the region. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Bennett Murray
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: As the United States and People’s Republic of China jostle for influence among member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Russian Federation has also declared the bloc a priority. Southeast Asian nations, in turn, would like third powers to counterbalance Beijing and Washington in the region. However, Russia has not made a huge impression in the bloc since its first summit with ASEAN in 2005. Economic success has been mostly limited to bilateral trade centered around arms sales, while security partnerships have not been forthcoming. Part of the problem is that Russia lacks historic ties in its former Cold War rivals, which are also ASEAN’s largest economic powerhouses, to lean on. More crucially, Southeast Asian nations perceive Moscow as deferential to Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions in the region.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Geopolitics, Soft Power, Economic Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Paul Bracken
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This report examines the increasing ability of major powers to destroy moving targets, in particular, land-based mobile missiles. Yet, at the same time, it analyzes something much broader and more fundamental. Technology has changed the use of force in peace and war. These changes stem from the growing importance of advanced technologies like AI, cyber, drones, cloud computing, data analytics, and hypersonic missiles.[1] These are increasingly becoming foundational technologies for new mission areas and strategies. One of these in particular is the focus of this report: locating and destroying mobile targets. The hunt for mobile missiles, seen in this broader way, is an exemplar of advanced technologies used in national security.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Weapons , Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Maximilian Hess, Maia Otarashvili
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Georgia has long sought to take advantage of its strategically important location and establish itself as a significant transit hub connecting Europe and Asia. This endeavor has been slowly advanced by an array of innovative economic reforms, as well as some successful, smaller infrastructure and development projects. However, it has also been marked by repeated failures in making larger-scale initiatives happen. Despite its 190-mile-long Black Sea coastline, Georgia still does not have a deep-sea port, and enjoys very limited overall maritime capacity. This shortcoming poses a major impediment on the country’s aspirations of becoming a significant hub for the Eurasian transit system.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Maritime, Port
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Georgia
  • Author: Aaron Stein
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The United States has an interest in allowing the Russian Federation to “win” an outright victory in Syria, so long as it secures from Moscow an agreement that is favorable to the Syrian Kurds, builds in negative consequences for an external actor targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces, and establishes a “deconflict plus”-type mechanism to continue to target Islamic State- and Al Qaeda-linked individuals in Syria. A forward-looking policy that the incoming Biden administration could consider is to deprioritize the nascent threat of the Islamic State as a key factor in driving U.S. national security strategy, and instead focus more intently on long-term competition with great powers. This approach would seek to shape how Moscow spends finite defense dollars—at a time of expected global defense cuts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic—in ways that are advantageous to the United States. It also would seek to limit the cost of the U.S. presence in Syria—to include secondary and opportunity costs not accounted for in a basic cost breakdown of the U.S. war against the Islamic State. This approach is not without risk, particularly from a nascent Islamic State insurgency in Russian-controlled territory, but seeks to match U.S. strategic priorities with action and to impose upon a long-term competitor the costs of victory for its intervention in Syria.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, War, Syrian War, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Alessia Melcangi
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In the last days of September 2020, Libya’s oil industry seemed to be on the verge of restarting its production after Gen. Khalifa Haftar announced the reopening of the oil fields and terminals that he had occupied and closed in the course of his offensive against Tripoli. The main damage caused by Haftar’s blockade is the dramatic plummet of oil production to less than 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the previous 1.2 million. The importance of the oil and gas industry in Libya cannot be underestimated since it is the main driver of the Libyan economy and accounts for about 60% of the country’s GDP. Oil production revenues and the dividends from oil sales are one of the main causes of the conflict that has been continuously ravaging the country since the fall of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011. The announced reopening represents good news that bodes well not only for a real resumption of political talks between the warring parties, but also for a more general improvement of the economic and social condition in the country, which is now on the verge of collapse. After the January 2020 blockade, the quick shutdown of oil sales led to a budget collapse: In April 2020, oil production data showed a drop of more than 80% with a loss of more than $10 billion in oil revenues. The economic impact of this stoppage directly hit the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), preventing the company from fulfilling contracts with international oil companies. After so many years of civil war, it has become evident that competition among various actors is principally over the country’s resources and control of its financial institutions. According to the 2015 UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement, the Tripoli government headed by Fayez Sarraj retains control of the Tripoli-based NOC and oversees the allocation of state funds deposited in the Tripoli-based Central Bank — these are the two channels through which oil revenues can flow legally and the only two institutions recognized by the UN Security Council. Haftar and the Eastern government accuse Tripoli of mismanaging hydrocarbon revenues and state funds, using them to fund militias backing the Government of National Accord (GNA), and failing to carry out reforms to stabilize the economy. For this reason, the Eastern authorities demand a change of leadership in both institutions: The Central Bank and the NOC. Indeed, the problem for Haftar has always been that he controlled oil production, but not oil revenues. After almost a year locked in a stalemate, the situation on the battlefield was reversed in April 2020. Thanks to Turkey’s military support, the GNA was able to counterattack and defeat the Haftar-controlled Libyan National Army (LNA) and push them back to the gates of the city of Sirte near the “oil crescent,” a coastal area home to most of Libya’s oil export terminals. The ceasefire proposed by the GNA at the end of August 2020 and accepted by the Tobruk parliament and its spokesman, Aguila Saleh, has restarted the political dialogue between the conflicting parties. Meanwhile, the malcontent of the population in both Tripoli and Benghazi, due to the deterioration of living conditions and lack of economic reforms, led to protests and demonstrations in both cities.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economy, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Thomas J. Shattuck
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Once again, the future of Kuomintang (KMT), the political party headed by Chiang Kai-shek for decades and that favors a closer relationship with Mainland China, is in doubt due to the results of the recent presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was reelected in a landslide against her opponent Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang. Tsai received a record 8+ million votes, and the DPP retained its majority in the country’s national legislature by winning 61 seats—though it did lose seven compared to the 2016 election when the party won its first-ever majority. The blowout victory puts the KMT’s future into question—though more senior analysts note that this conversation occurs after every election, particularly the 2016 election, and nothing really changes. Maybe, just maybe, this time will be different.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Reform, History , Kuomintang
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Louisa Keeler
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The small Gulf state of Oman’s identity is closely—if not inextricably—linked with the person of Sultan Qaboos, who passed away on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power. He singlehandedly transformed the country from a sleepy, closed-off country comprising disparate groups to an interconnected, modern, and unified state that has proven itself an invaluable player on the international scene. Within Oman, his portrait is ubiquitous, and his name is on countless mosques, hospitals, and institutions throughout the Sultanate, a sign of both his revered status and proof of his impact on society. Now that he is gone, he leaves behind an untested successor who is not particularly well known to the international community. Qaboos’ presence will be missed during one of the tensest moments since 1979 between the United States, Iran, and the Arab Gulf states, countries which have relied on Oman as a badly needed messenger and facilitator for negotiations. If there was ever a good time for Sultan Qaboos to die, this was not it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Domestic politics, Monarchy, Sultan Qaboos
  • Political Geography: Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The North Korean government response to the coronavirus has been extreme, but prudent and reasonable in context. It has closed the border to China almost entirely to both goods and people though surely some transports are still getting through. No travel is allowed to or from China although there must be exceptions to this rule as well. The state (under the banner of the Red Cross, whose branch in North Korea operates as a government entity) has dispatched people around the country to inform people about the virus. No reports have been confirmed at this time of writing, but exile journalists based in South Korea have reported several deaths from the virus from North Korea. Its actions have been blunt and all-encompassing, mainly because the state lacks the necessary capacity to act differently. North Korea doesn’t have the sort of equipment required to monitor people coming from China or to test people at the pace required.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Authoritarianism, Border Control, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Sadness and tragedy come in many forms. One form consists in knowing how to solve a problem in theory, but realizing at the same time that what that would take in practice is not available. That is the case now with the tragedy unfolding in Idlib. There is a way to turn the crisis into an opportunity, but it would take wise and bold leaderships simultaneously in Washington, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Ankara, and the capitals of Europe. And that is precisely what we lack. What should be done? The U.S. government should privately propose, organize as necessary, and backstop as required a joint Israeli-Saudi intervention, coordinated with an on-going Turkish intervention, to save the million-plus refugees now facing imminent annihilation in Idlib Province, in Syria.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Felix Chang
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which arose in China and swept around the globe, has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands. But however large the health impact of COVID-19 ultimately is, hundreds of millions more have already felt its economic impact. With people worldwide ordered to social distance and stay at home, entire industries have been shuttered. And though national economies will recover in time, fully restoring them may prove to be a slow process. No doubt, the longer the disease lingers, the longer an economic recovery will take. That could create one more economic casualty: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Joseph de Weck
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Do you want to know how Beijing would like Europe to act? Take a look at Switzerland. Switzerland and China have been close for decades. It was the first Western nation to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in January 1950. Bern wanted to protect investments in the new People’s Republic from nationalization and hoped Swiss industry could lend a hand in rebuilding China’s infrastructure after the civil war. Being friendly to China paid off, but only 30 years later, once reformer Deng Xiaoping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In 1980, Swiss elevator producer Schindler was the first foreign company to do a joint venture in China. Today, Switzerland is the only continental European country to have a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Switzerland, Sweden
  • Author: Felix Chang
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Affronts to Australia by China’s top diplomat in Canberra and the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reached new heights in April 2020. What prompted their verbal barbs was the Australian government’s backing for an independent review into the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have regarded such a review as a way to avert future pandemics, Beijing saw it as support for finger-pointing at China. Whichever is the case, the affronts shone a light on how Beijing has come to view Australia and what it and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region might expect from China in the future. Still, China’s diplomatic and editorial barbs were surprising. China has long worked to move Australia closer into its orbit and away from that of the United States. And, by and large, those efforts had been paying off. Over the last decade, several Australian foreign policy analysts had come to believe that greater accommodation of China would be needed to ensure Australia’s future prosperity. Indeed, Canberra has already shown more sensitivity on issues, like Taiwan, which Beijing deemed strategic. But rather than being content with Australia’s gradual shift, China has undertaken actions that could undermine it, from cyber-espionage to political influence-buying in Australia. China’s most recent affronts are likely to deepen Australian concerns over what Chinese power means for the region.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Geoffrey Sloan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This essay draws on the author’s previous work, specifically: The Geopolitics of Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century. The greatest failure of the European referendum campaign in 2016, which can be attributed to both sides, was the inability to articulate an understanding of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics, I do not mean its current usage: interpreted merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. I refer, instead, to classical geopolitics, which is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history, and strategy. It draws attention to certain geographical patterns of political history. It fuses spatial relationships and historical causation. It can produce explanations that suggest the contemporary and future political relevance of various geographical configurations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Alexander Luck
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On June 6, the Wall Street Journal set off an avalanche of commentary by reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a drastic reduction in U.S. troops deployed in Germany within a space of only six months. The move was met with significant pushback in Washington and Brussels, causing Congressional Republicans to raise their concerns in letters and public statements. Trump’s announcement, however, was in fact an extension of earlier plans mooted in June 2019, when the administration first suggested moving at least 1,000 troops from Germany to Poland. At the time, Trump suggested that the proposed move was to “affirm the significant defense cooperation between our nations.” Washington picked up this potential troop move again in a rather unrelated context following a spat over the German refusal to participate in a naval mission in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran, reinforcing the notion Trump keeps using American deployments in Germany as a bargaining chip for any interaction on foreign policy with the Merkel government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Felix Chang
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Resting at the eastern end of Bhutan is the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. Spanning some 750 square kilometers, it is spread out across a densely forested area of the Himalayan Mountains. The sanctuary is far better known for its unique flora and fauna (including the red panda and, reputedly, the fabled yeti) than its geographic boundaries. But the latter is precisely what brought it to international attention in June 2020. Early that month, Bhutan sought a grant for the sanctuary from a global environmental organization that funds sustainable development projects. Unexpectedly, China’s representatives to that organization opposed the grant. Their reason: China considers the sanctuary to be “disputed territory.”
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Territorial Disputes, History
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Bhutan
  • Author: Yaroslav Shevchenko
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are certainly the two most prominent authoritarian regimes in the world today, with their quasi-alliance characterized as an “axis of authoritarians” and portrayed as a major threat to the West and global liberal democracy. However, despite unmistakable similarities that exist between Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, the reality is far more complex. Their respective responses to the COVID-19 crisis shed some light on differences between the political-governance models of these two countries.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Economy, Crisis Management, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: It is no secret that Moscow is increasingly utilizing so-called “private military contractors” (PMCs) to pursue foreign policy objectives across the globe, especially in the Middle East and Africa. What has received less attention is that Moscow’s deployment of PMCs follows a pattern: The Kremlin is exploiting a loophole in international law by securing agreements that allow contractors to provide local assistance. The problem is, however, Russian PMCs are not simply contractors. This pattern of Russian behavior presents a new challenge that Western policymakers should address, as it speaks to broader Russian influence in Africa in the context of great power competition. This challenge is about Moscow’s erosion of broader behavioral norms.
  • Topic: International Law, Military Affairs, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Robert E. Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On August 26, Politico reported that U.S. service members were injured after an altercation with Russian forces in northeast Syria. This pattern of Russian challenges to U.S. forces was enabled by the Trump administration’s decision to retreat from parts of northern Syria in 2019, allowing Russia to fill the void. Until this decision was made, the two countries had agreed to make the Euphrates River the deconfliction line to keep U.S. and Russian forces separated. Russia stayed on the west side of the river, and the United on the east side, where this incident took place. Robert Hamilton, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the story and warned that it will not be a one-off incident: “We need to respond to this immediately and forcefully. Russian forces deliberately escalated against U.S. partners when I was running the ground deconfliction cell for Syria in 2017, but tended to be careful when U.S. forces were present. Unless we make it clear that we’ll defend ourselves, these escalations will continue with dangerous and unpredictable results.” Below, we offer readers an excerpt from a chapter written by Robert Hamilton from a forthcoming edited volume on Russia’s Way of War in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Troop Deployment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Leslie Rogne Schumacher
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In July 2013, the Sunday Telegraph issued a report on the escalating refugee crisis in Malta. In the previous decade, Malta had seen thousands of Africans make their way to the tiny island nation, which lies just over a hundred miles from the Tunisian coast. The newspaper wanted to get some reactions from Maltese citizens on the way they were coping with this influx of desperate, often sick and traumatized, and almost uniformly poor North and Sub-Saharan Africans. Some Maltese told the Sunday Telegraph’s reporters that they had experienced no problems with their new neighbors, but others accused the Africans of being dirty, unruly, and possibly dangerous. “Every night you see them around here, drinking and making a mess,” claimed Raymond Zammit, while Gerard Camelleri said “the kids feel afraid to play in the parks” and warned that “in another few years, Malta is going to be African.” In September 2014, an anti-immigration rally in Malta saw its participants claim that the “real Maltese” were at risk of extermination due to the refugee crisis, with one saying that Malta must be “cleared of African invaders, who want to destroy Maltese culture and civilisation.”
  • Topic: Migration, Refugees, History , Borders
  • Political Geography: Italy, Mediterranean, Malta
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: According to geologists, rare earths are not rare, but they are precious. The answer to what appears to be a riddle lies in accessibility. Comprising 17 elements that are used extensively in both consumer electronics and national defense equipment, rare earth elements (REEs) were first discovered and put into use in the United States. However, production gradually shifted to China, where lower labor costs, less concern for environmental impacts, and generous state subsidies enabled the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to account for 97 percent of global production. In 1997, Magniquench, then-America’s leading rare earths company, was sold to an investment consortium headed by Archibald Cox, Jr., son of the same-named Watergate prosecutor, with two Chinese state-owned metals firms, San Huan New Materials and China National Nonferrous Metals Import and Export Company. The chairman of San Huan, son-in-law of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, became chairman of the company. Magniquench was shut down in the United States, moved to China, and reopened in 2003, where it fit in well with Deng’s Super 863 Program to acquire cutting-edge technologies for military applications, including “exotic materials.” This left Molycorp as the last remaining major rare earths producer in the United States until its collapse in 2015.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Exports, Supply Chains
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Maximilian Hess
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Armenia’s accession to a Russian-mediated settlement with Azerbaijan over their long-running conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh to Armenians, on November 10 marks a major, perhaps irreversible, loss for Yerevan. But it is not just Armenian forces who stand defeated. It also marks the trouncing of a liberal approach to the region and the supremacy of realist power politics.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Max Hess
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This report illustrates how the Russian Federation’s sovereign debt, particularly foreign currency bonds, have become an arena for interstate competition in the aftermath of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Sanctions, both real and threatened, on Russia’s government, state-owned enterprises
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William Spiegelberger
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Are U.S. sanctions on Russia working? Does Russia use its energy resources as a tool to coerce European countries? Any assessment of Russian foreign policy and the Kremlin’s relations with the United States depends on a clear-eyed understanding of Russian political economy. FPRI’s Eurasia Program features credible, expert analysis on key themes in Russian political economy. The Russia Political Economy Project will publish papers and host events in Washington, New York, and other cities on the subject. The Project also includes FPRI’S BMB Russia which provides a daily round-up of the major news items related to Russian politics and economics
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Maria Shagina
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This report will examine Russian-Japanese and Russian-South Korean energy cooperation. Neither Japan nor the Republic of Korea imposed energy sanctions on the Russian Federation, and both U.S. allies continue to expand their energy deals despite Western sanctions
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Max Hess
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In December 2018, the Russian Federation sent two Tupolov-160 supersonic bombers around the world to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. On January 23, 2019, the U.S. and a series of Latin American countries recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Yevgen Sautin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The People’s Republic of China is actively engaging Black Sea littoral states through various initiatives to open new markets for Chinese goods, facilitate the acquisition of valuable or strategic local industries, and offer loans for large development projects
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William Spiegelberger
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Russian Federation’s recently provocative foreign policy results in part from structural weakness in the Russian domestic regime, a quasi-feudal system that requires certain actions abroad to maintain itself in power at home.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dimitar Bechev
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In the summer of 2018, Greece and Russian Federation went through one of the worst crises in their traditionally friendly relations. The falling out was triggered by allegations of Russian meddling in Greek domestic politics
  • Topic: International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Edward Hunt
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: As Turkey continues its devastating military assault on Rojava, the Kurdish-led region of northeastern Syria, officials in Washington are facing a critical decision: allow Turkey to prevail in its campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds or take action to protect them. The Turkish invasion, which began on October 9, has been devastating for Rojava. According to the United Nations, nearly 180,000 people, including 80,000 children, have been displaced. At the start of the attack, Turkish officials announced that Turkish-led forces had killed more than 200 Kurdish militants. About a week later, Kurdish officials said that more than 200 civilians had been killed.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Brian Wakamo
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Companies willingly censor or condemn free speech to retain market share in authoritarian countries. Just ask Daryl Morey
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ivan Ulises Klyszcz
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Central America has received little attention in the Russia Federation’s ‘return’ to Latin America. The region’s small population and underdeveloped markets make it relatively uninteresting for a far-off country like Russia. Yet, in recent years, Russia has intensified and diversified its engagement with Central America, expanding beyond Moscow’s traditional partner, the Republic of Nicaragua. Central American leaders want more trade and investment with Russia as Moscow seeks to bolster its presence in the Caribbean. However, tense relations between Managua and its neighbors could make Moscow’s defense cooperation with Nicaragua counterproductive. Seeking to become a significant player in the region, Moscow is set to expand its presence in Central America through bilateral and multilateral channels, a move that will likely affect the region’s conflicts.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Investment, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Russia, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Robert E. Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The war in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas has killed over 13,000 people, displaced millions, and led to the worst rupture in relations between the Russian Federation and the West since the end of the Cold War. The war was caused by inherent cleavages in Ukrainian society, combined with clumsy and self-interested intervention by outside powers. The war’s effects on Ukraine have been profound: the collapse of the post-Soviet Ukrainian political elite; billions of dollars in direct and indirect losses to the Ukrainian economy; a wholesale restructuring of the Ukrainian armed forces; social dislocation and psychological trauma; and unprecedented environmental damage. Despite these sad legacies, there are reasons to be optimistic that a settlement to the conflict is in view. The exhaustion and frustration of people in the separatist-controlled regions, Russia’s changing policy on the war—at least in part a result of rising frustration among the Russian public—and the election of a new Ukrainian government without regional ties or ties to networks of oligarchs all contribute to the possibility of peace. But in order for peace to endure after the war, the Ukrainian state must construct a broad-based, civic national identity, and it must tackle the country’s endemic corruption. The international community must be engaged in both crafting a settlement to the war and helping Ukraine deal with its consequences. External observers may be inclined to point to social division and corruption as the internal causes of the war, and argue that Ukraine has to fix itself before the outside world can intervene to help. And this is true as far as it goes. But it is also true that the outside world contributed to the start of war in Ukraine by making the country the object in a geopolitical tussle between Russia and the West. Any honest accounting of the war’s history must acknowledge this fact. And any fair treatment of Ukraine after the war should seek to compensate it through significant, long-term assistance.
  • Topic: War, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Separatism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Thomas J. Shattuck
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: From 1949 to the end of the Cold War era, the Kuomintang (KMT)—under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo—ruled the Republic of China (Taiwan) under martial law. The martial law decree gave the government immense power to quash any perceived forms of dissent in society. As a result, the KMT imprisoned, tortured, and executed thousands of people over the course of several decades. Now, President Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party are investigating the atrocities committed during this era. With the establishment of the Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee and the Transitional Justice Commission, the Tsai government hopes to bring historical truth and justice to Taiwan’s society and hold the KMT accountable for its actions during the authoritarian period. Despite good intentions, the progress has been slow due to legal delays, a controversy regarding malintent, and the population’s ambivalence. Nevertheless, Taiwan must deal with its history in order to move forward as a democracy.
  • Topic: History, Authoritarianism, Transitional Justice, Repression
  • Political Geography: Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Russian private military companies or contractors (PMCs) have received much attention in recent years, but the Russian state has a long history in utilizing such groups. Under Vladimir Putin, however, this model is growing, evolving, and expanding. This study reviews the history of semi-state military forces in Russia and explains the unique way the Russian state utilizes PMCs, which is different from how Western governments utilize private contractors. An important aspect of PMCs is that they are officially illegal under Russian law. The study then traces the rise of the PMC model under Putin. It notes that while plausible deniability is a major reason for Moscow to utilize PMCs, it is also linked to other considerations, such as internal rivalries within the Russian government and other domestic reasons. Competition with the West drives the Kremlin’s use of PMCs. Paradoxically, the Russian PMC model demonstrates both state strength and weakness. The study reviews PMCs activities in Ukraine, Syria, and Africa, examines who joins these groups and under what circumstances, and concludes with policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Military Affairs, Private Sector, Mercenaries
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Frank R. Gunter
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This report studies the challenges of rebuilding Iraq’s public works infrastructure following the “perfect storm” of the ISIS insurgency and low oil prices. The major challenge is that the Government of Iraq’s estimate of $88 billion severely understates total
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Selim Koru
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation are at odds over multiple issues, not least the Syrian Civil War, where they back warring proxies. Yet the two countries have bounced back from crises and are quickly deepening
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Christopher Jarmas
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: For the vast majority of Russians, the vlast’—regime—they encounter is neither the Kremlin nor the Duma. It is considerably more local: regional governors, mayors, municipal bureaucrats, local ministry representatives, and their proxies
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John R. Haines
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Several weeks after winning a plurality in Bulgaria’s late March parliamentary election, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov did something unprecedented: he brought the nationalist United Patriots (Obedineni Patrioti) into his coalition government. The United Patriots is an electoral alliance of three parties, the IMRO[2]-Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO-Bulgarsko Natsionalno Dvizhenie), the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (Natzionalen Front za Spasenie na Bulgaria), and Attack (Attaka). Their inclusion in the coalition government has given rise to concern among Bulgaria’s NATO allies (and many Bulgarian themselves) about what the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Korneliya Ninova called Mr. Borissov’s “floating majority, his unprincipled alliance”[3] (plavashti mnozinstva, bezprintsipni sŭyuzi). That concern is well placed for several reasons. Only a few years ago, even the nationalist IMRO-BND and NFSB excluded the radical Ataka[4] from their electoral alliance dubbed the “Patriotic Front” (Patriotichen front) because of Ataka’s positions on Russia and NATO. Even then, however, the Patriotic Front’s “nationalist profile” (natsionalisticheskiyat profil) was so far to Bulgaria’s political right to cause Mr. Borissov to exclude the Patriotic Front from his coalition government. He did so with the active encouragement of his center-right European People’s Party allies across the European Union. “Nothing against the PF, but unfortunately the things Valeri Simeonov [a PF leader, more about whom anon] proposes do not correspond to our Euro-Atlantic orientation,” said Mr. Borissov at the time.[5]
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Bulgaria
  • Author: Hajnalka Vincze
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: “One only comes out of ambiguity to their own detriment,” this maxim often repeated by former President François Mitterrand sounds like a premonitory warning in the aftermath of Emmanuel Macron’s election in France. Indeed, for the new president whose figure of speech, “but at the same time,” has practically become his trademark during the campaign, the inevitable clarifications are likely to entail hurdles. In the economic and social policy field, Macron’s “right and left” positioning enabled him to capture a wide audience, but at the cost of sometimes contradictory statements that might prove to be difficult to reconcile between two very different camps. In foreign policy, who Macron appoints to key position should lift part of the mystery as to the actual preferences of the new president. While claiming to want to perpetuate the voluntarist Gaullo-Mitterrandian tradition, Emmanuel Macron has so far given no indication that he would break with the policy carried out over the past ten years, a policy that resulted precisely in the noticeable vanishing of what used to
  • Topic: International Affairs, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: France
  • Author: David Danelo
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On January 29, 2016, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a law changing the official name of Mexico’s capital region from Distrito Federal, or D.F., to Ciudad de Mexico. Beyond altering nearly two centuries of dialectical urban description—the region had been called D.F. since 1824 when Mexico’s first constitution was written—the adjustment grants Ciudad de Mexico a level of autonomous governance similar to the country’s other 31 states. The name change devolved power from Mexico’s federal government “to the citizens of Mexico City” and was presented with great public fanfare. Much of Ciudad de Mexico’s new constitution, which was signed in February 2017 and will become law in September 2018, was crowd-sourced from online petitions and community advocates. With articles enshrining green space and LGBT protections, the document has been hailed by liberal advocates as the most progressive in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The first 100 days of a president’s term—the “honeymoon period,” during which his power and influence are believed to be their greatest—are, whether rightly or wrongly, regarded as a predictor of a president’s success during the remainder of his term. Given the often bombastic tone of Candidate Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it was to be expected that the foreign powers against whom much of his vitriol was directed would seek to challenge the determination of President Trump to live up to his promises. And so it has been.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lawrence Husick
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a many-headed serpent (accounts range from six to more than 50 heads) which grew back at least two heads for each one lopped off. The Hydra had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly. It took Heracles to vanquish the beast in his second labor. It’s a pity then that the less-than-heroic Jared Kushner now has the task of modernizing and reforming the federal government’s information technology (IT) and cybersecurity infrastructure—a hydra-like beast if ever there was one.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John R. Haines
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Hungarian proverb Madarat tolláról, embert barátjáról translates roughly as “You can tell a bird by its feathers, and a person by his friends.” If so, it says much about Hungarian President Viktor Orbán. Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked during a 12 April interview with Russia’s MIR television and radio network whether “relations deteriorated with Trump in office from what they were under his predecessor?” He answered, “We could say that at the working level, the degree of trust has dropped, especially in the military area. It has not improved and has probably worsened.”[1] Mr. Putin premised this appraisal with an extended dissemble about “several versions” about “the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, which led to the US air strike on a Syrian air base:”
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Hungary
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Palm Beach heaved a collective sigh of relief as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plane lifted off from the county airport. Gone were the noisy cheers of his supporters and the anti-Xi banners and jeers of Falongong practitioners, human rights advocates, and admirers of Tibet and Taiwan. The Palm Beach Post reverted from moment-to-moment briefings from the chief of police on street blockages and security precautions to issues of more immediate concern like rip tides and coverage of the Master’s golf tournament competition. Members of Trump’s exclusive Mar-a-Lago private club, whose initiation fee had doubled to $200,000 after his election, could now return to accessing the privileges for which they had paid so handsomely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: By now the world knows that U.S. military forces for the first time since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 have attacked regime targets. Plenty of the basic facts are known about what transpired about 18 hours ago, but a few important ones are not—at least not in the public domain. For example, we have only a very general Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) report. This matters because Tomahawk cruise missiles are very accurate if “lite” weapons. Knowing what the four dozen or so missiles hit and missed, deliberately and otherwise, could tell us a lot about why the President, presumably with Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ guidance and concurrence, chose the lesser of three options presented at what has been described as a meeting of considerable length. That, in turn, could tell us if the intention ultimately is to coerce the Russians into coercing the Syrians to stop doing monstrous things to their own people, and possibly coercing them to support a compromise political settlement to the war; or if it’s just an Eff-You gesture designed only to relieve the sudden pressure of moral unction that unexpectedly came upon our new Commander-in Chief—who seemed to lurch from coldblooded Randian to “Godtalk” invoker of the American Civil Religion in the wink of an eye. In other words, knowing more about the target set would tell us whether there is any political strategy attached to the use of force, or not. Probably not.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: David Danelo
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: “You should have said something,” a perturbed Chilean university professor tells me in Spanish, soon after we disembarked from a bus in Córdoba, Mexico. Wearing combat boots, fatigues, and a shaved head with scrubby facial hair, the short, slender, middle-aged man had watched me get inspected three times by Mexican migration and military personnel while traveling north from the Mexico-Guatemala border. At each checkpoint, I was the only passenger who drew attention; my passport and documents permitting me to travel through Mexico were scrutinized, and each compartment in my backpack was unzipped. The Chilean, who looked like he could have been in the military himself, claimed he was an advisor to Mexican border forces. “They were profiling you. They are not supposed to do that.” I laughed. Of course, they were profiling me. I look exactly like what I am: a gringo; a güero; an American. Given the attitude the United States government has directed recently towards Mexico, why wouldn’t I be a primary target for extra security screenings? I considered myself fortunate that Mexican authorities were content with seeing my passport and searching my backpack. All things considered, it was a courteous reprieve
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Artyom Lukin
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Russia is now the only major country that is on more or less friendly terms with Pyongyang. Its current economic leverage with the North comes mostly from the importation of North Korean labor, which provides Pyongyang with a vital source of cash. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) trusts no person or country, but it probably distrusts Russia much less than China and the United States. This dynamic gives Russia a potential diplomatic role in the North Korean problem. The Kremlin does not support using high pressure tactics against Pyongyang, especially military options, as it might have unpredictable and disastrous consequences for the entire Northeast Asian region. Moscow is committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, but sees it as a long-term goal, while the most realistic objective at present should be a North Korean nuclear and missile moratorium, or “freeze.”
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Ann M. Lesch
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt’s ruler since July 2013, brooks no dissent. Having “saved” Egypt from the Muslim Brothers, he has ruled by decree in the absence of a parliament, supported by a handpicked technocratic cabinet. His security apparatus muzzles the press, keeps dissident voices off-air, arrests secular as well as Islamist critics, and clamps down on civil society. He has built ten new prisons to accommodate the overflow, as political prisoners may now total 60,000.[1] As typical of military rulers, he announces grandiose projects – the new channel in the Suez Canal, the Dabaa nuclear power plant, million-unit agricultural and housing schemes, and a multi-billion dollar new capital city – without taking into consideration their cost, integrating them into long term plans, conducting comprehensive feasibility studies, or examining their social and environmental impact.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Islam, Politics, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Author: Justin Finkelstein
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: As improbable as it may sound, over the past decade or so about half of Israelis and Palestinians have been willing to accept something akin to the two-state solution (as described in the box below) to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even amidst the mayhem and turmoil in the Israeli-Palestinian arena over the past several months, polls have continued to show that there is no other solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on which Israeli and Palestinian public opinion converge to such a large degree.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Shibley Telhami
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Arab-Israeli peace process is a broad subject; therefore, this paper will briefly touch on some of the major peace agreements and negotiations that have taken place. It should be noted that as of today—and based on public opinion polls that I have conducted—most Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs outside of the Palestinian territories believe that peace will never happen. This has resulted in a real problem, where people in the region no longer take the term “peace process” seriously. In order to understand how we got to this point, we need to look back at the history of the peace process on both the Israeli-Palestinian front and also on the Arab-Israeli front.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Liora Halperin
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: One of the key forces in shaping the history of Palestine was the Zionist movement. This movement emerged from and is rooted in political developments in Europe, but it changed and developed as it evolved from a political movement in Europe to a settlement and nation-building project in Palestine. Thus, we need to step outside the physical context of the Middle East to understand a force that ultimately changed the Middle East.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Tami Davis Biddle, Robert M. Citino
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The resort to war signals the failure of far more satisfactory means of settling human conflicts. It forces us to face and wrestle with the darkest corners of the human psyche. It signals the coming of trauma and suffering—often intense and prolonged—for individuals, families and societies. War-fighting concentrates power in non-democratic ways, infringes upon civil liberties, and convulses political, economic, and social systems. From the wreckage—the broken bodies, the re-drawn boundaries, the imperfect treaties, the fresh resentments and the intensified old ones—altered political and social patterns and institutions emerge that may help to prevent future conflicts, or sow the seeds of new ones. All of this creates a difficult, complicated, and fraught historical landscape to traverse.
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: <p>On February 3, 2015, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and The Franklin Institute presented a symposium, entitled, rather hyperbolically, 21st Century Technology: New Beginning, or Terrible End. The sessions addressed issues of particular interest to millennials, as well as the future of the Internet, genetics in medicine, energy and climate change, space exploration (with special guest speaker, Col. Buzz Aldrin), and transformations of healthcare by big data. Council President Craig Snyder challenged both panelists and the audience to think broadly about both the promises of technology, which, he explained, are exemplified by his childhood experiences of the Apollo Moon landings and Star Trek, but also about the dystopian visions of the Terminator movies and other works of science fiction that explore the Faustian vision of the defeat of humankind at the hands (or robotic claws) of its own inventions. The following essay is my response to this challenge, as well as responses to the questions posed by Mr. Snyder about Internet technology and its future./p
  • Author: Aaron Rock-Singer
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Religion was a pillar of pre-modern political identity in the Middle East, arising out of Muslims’ understanding of Islam’s foundational moment and state institutions that developed with the spread of Islamic Empire. Beginning at the turn of the 19th century, European colonial powers and indigenous reformers questioned the centrality of religious identity; instead, it was to be the nation that defined the political community. Since then, the nationalist project has permeated 20th century ideological conflicts in the region, equally shaping the claims of secularists and Islamists. Today, advocates of religious change refer back to early Islamic history as they seek to place religious over national identity, yet they, like their competitors, are unmistakably shaped by the secular nationalist project.
  • Topic: Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lev Weitz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The majority of the Middle East’s population today is Muslim, as it has been for centuries. However, as the place of origin of a range of world religions – including Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and many lesser-known faiths – it remains a region of remarkable religious diversity. This article considers the place of religious minorities in the modern Middle East from three angles: their distinctive religious and communal identities, their place in the major transformations of the region’s political landscape from the nineteenth century to the post-World War I era, and the challenges of contemporary political conditions.
  • Topic: Demographics, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: We live in an age of identity politics. We define ourselves by one or more objective measures: measures of race, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, sexual orientation, to name just a few. Those measures then define who we are to others. They determine our place in society, the communities with which we identify, our attitudes towards others and other communities. The politics of identity are fraught, and they interact in ways that both liberate and confine. On the one hand we prize diversity. On the whole, this is a good thing, since it reflects a larger transformation in American life. Like it or not, the fact is that we are becoming, have become, a “multi-cultural society.” No matter what terms we use to define diversity—racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, gender, whatever—we are more diverse now than we have ever been, and we are destined to grow more so. Multi-culturalism is not an option; it is the future. The only question is how, and how well, we are going to deal with it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The term “post-colonial” has presented a seminal problem for historians of the 20th century Middle East. As this essay will detail, debates over the term have provided an important axis around which discussions of political identity revolve. Following World War Two European power in the Middle East crumbled and a number of post-colonial states emerged. These states often justified their existence in terms of ideologies that were tied to specific post-colonial, political identities. Endless debates have occurred over how much emphasis to put on the post-colonial nature of these states and their political identities. In this essay, I will discuss whether a state’s status as post-colonial matters. If so, how? And what are the consequences? Following a general discussion of debates over post-colonialism, will look more closely at three case studies: Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Defining – and distinguishing between – the terms Islam and Islamism has broad consequences for America, both domestically and internationally. However, teaching about the relationship between these two concepts involves negotiating numerous sensitivities and it can cause considerable consternation for educators. At the most basic level, Islam is a major world religion practiced by well over a billion people, and Islamism is a political ideology to which a subset of the broader Islamic community adheres. The importance of this distinction seems fairly clear. The United States, and the American body politic more generally, views itself as committed to secular governance and religious freedom. While Islam is not completely immune from criticism, Americans have traditionally objected to state interference in religious matters and, theoretically, they should expect the same standards to apply to Islam. Therefore, Islam as a religion would seem to have a clear place in the diverse fabric of American society. Islamism, as a political ideology, opens itself to harsher critiques and even questions about its appropriateness in, or compatibility with, the American political system. Unsurprisingly, American public discourse suggests that Americans generally feel much more comfortable with Islam than they do with Islamism.
  • Topic: Islam, Political Economy, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Louis Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: How do we reconcile self-government with national security and analyze claims of national security? There should be little doubt that many assertions of "national security" have left the nation less secure. Consider the case of Ellen Knauff, a German woman who married a U.S. soldier and came to New York City to meet his parents in 1948. Instead of being allowed to disembark with other passengers, she was held at Ellis Island for three years and threatened with deportation as a security risk. At no time was Knauff or her attorney told why she was a risk. Her case reached the Supreme Court in Knauff v. Shaughnessy (1950). The Court, divided 6 to 3, found no objections to the procedures used by the executive branch. In a dissent, however, Justice Robert Jackson said: “Security is like liberty in that many are the crimes committed in its name.” No one has better underscored the danger of automatically bowing down to claims of security.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John F. Lehman (ed), Harvey Sicherman (ed)
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: A decade has passed since the end of the Cold War. The demise of the Soviet Union concluded the most vulnerable period in American history, a time when the possibility of nuclear attack threatened the very existence of the United States. No wonder then that Americans heaved a mighty sigh of relief, having survived to watch the fall of their country's most powerful enemy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Paul Dickler
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This article will take a snapshot of Korea today and look back to the past to see the origins. It will offer many comparisons between North and South Korea. Why have North Korea (The Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea--DPRK) and South Korea (Republic of Korea—ROK) become what they are in the present, and what are the most likely scenarios for their future? Is reunification likely, or even desired by Koreans today? Are the troop commitments from the United States going to last another 60 years, or will events change that dynamic?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Leonard Wong
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 1970, the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force delivered its report to the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. In the report, better known as the Gates Commission due to the leadership of former Secretary of Defense Thomas Gates, the members of the Commission stated, "We unanimously believe that the nation's interests will be better served by an all-volunteer force, supported by an effective stand-by draft." They added, "We have satisfied ourselves that a volunteer force will not jeopardize national security, and we believe it will have a beneficial effect on the military as well as the rest of our society." In June of 1973, after years of debate, the statutory authority for the draft expired and the all-volunteer force became a reality.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Like everything else historical, the Palestine Mandate has a history with a chronological beginning, a middle, and, in this case, an end. From a strictly legal point of view, that beginning was September 29, 1923, and the end was midnight, May 14, 1948, putting the middle expanse at just short of 25 years.
  • Author: Bernard Wasserstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: One Palestine, Complete was the title of a book about the early history of the British mandate in Palestine by the Israeli historian, Tom Segev. It arises from a true anecdote about the first High Commissioner (governor) under the mandate, Sir Herbert Samuel. On 30 June 1920 he arrived at Government House in Jerusalem to replace the head of the British military occupation administration, General Sir Louis Bols. He was taken aback when Bols demanded that, upon taking formal possession of the country, Samuel should sign a “receipt.” Bols presented him with a piece of paper bearing the words “Received, one Palestine, complete.” Samuel duly added his signature but, a prudent man, he added the letters “E” That is an abbreviation standing for “Errors and omissions excepted” that used to be appended to commercial documents as a safety reservation. The document was later sold at auction in New York for five thousand dollars. Given the unsettled history of Palestine under British rule over the ensuing three decades, Samuel's caution was probably justified.
  • Political Geography: New York, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Mackubin Thomas Owens, Stephen F. Knott
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: As Americans, we take for granted the idea of a government that is both free and yet strong enough to preserve the security of its citizens. But the fact is that such a government is a recent invention, first emerging as a result of political thought and practice in eighteenth century England and only coming to full flower in Philadelphia with the drafting of the American Constitution of 1787. As Harvey Mansfield wrote in his book Taming the Prince, “the combination of freedom and strength does not arise easily or naturally,” a fact confirmed “both by the grand outline of modern history and the experience of the ancients.” Throughout history, strong governments have generally been monarchies, but at the expense of freedom. It was in republics that freedom was supposed to reside but, before the creation of the American Republic, the republican form of government had a mixed record at best. Ancient republics were characterized by constant struggle between the few (oligarchs) and the many (the demos) that led to instability and weakness. Modern republics also either came to grief (the German cities) or faded into irrelevance and obscurity (Venice and the Dutch Republic). But in Philadelphia, the Founders created a government that combined the freedom of republics with the strength of monarchies. The Founders’ innovation that permitted this pairing of freedom and security to work was the “executive.” In Mansfield’s words, “the executive provided the strength of monarchy without tolerating its status above the law, so that monarchy would not only be compatible with the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution, but would also be expected to serve both. Furthermore, the recasting of monarchy as executive power made it dependably democratic as well as legal and constitutional.”
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Governance, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Brahim Saidy
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which brings together the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, took an unprecedented step during its 34th Summit (held in Kuwait City on December 10-11 2013) by setting up a unified military command structure for its member states. This move reflects the commitment of the GCC to establish a credible joint defense force able to advance the goal of collective security in the region. This military command will have a force of around 100,000, half of which would be contributed by Saudi Arabia, the main advocate of this initiative. GCC members will coordinate air, land, and marine forces under one common structure. In this regard, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, has stated: “We want to create a central command that coordinates between all sub-commands and makes them work under one umbrella. But, the new structure [the Unified Military Command] won’t replace the Peninsula Shield forces.”[1] In terms of collective defense, the core purposes of this command structure are to provide strategic and operational command for all GCC missions and prepare members for operational employment as interoperable multinational forces. This command is expected to have a minimum number of operational commands (land, air and maritime command) as well as joint intelligence system and integrated missile defense in order to execute essential operational and peacetime missions. The challenge for this plan is to be able to undertake command and control of the full range of the military missions, including command and control multinational and multiservice forces, but more importantly to be able to support operations under the political and strategic direction of the GCC. This means that the main goal is not limited to improving coordination between different parts of existing national defense systems, but rather to establishing a real joint operational command structure. The progress towards a fully integrated defense system would allow the GCC to become a real military alliance along the lines of NATO.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 2006, during the heart of the Global War on Terrorism, a New York Times reporter went to Washington in an attempt to ascertain the extent that American officials understood the ideologies underpinning Islamist terrorism. The reporter began with a simple question: could senior counterterrorism officials identify which groups were Sunnis and which were Shi'is? Remarkably senior officials and lawmakers – including the Chief of the F.B.I.‟s national security branch, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives‟ committees on intelligence and counter terrorism – had “no clue” whether actors such as Iran, Hezbollah, or al-Qaida were Sunnis or Shi„is. A number of questions emerged from this encounter. First, who are the Sunnis and Shi„is? Second, where are they located? And, finally, does it matter?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Few observers foresaw the Arab Spring, but it should not have surprised anyone that the Islamist movements - the most organized movements in the Arab world - became the main beneficiaries of the turmoil that ensued. Islamism, in its gradualist and pragmatic approach embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots worldwide, seems ready to reap the rewards of its three decades-old decision to abandon violence and focus on grassroots activities. This monumental change has created many concerns among liberals, religious minorities and, more generally, all non-Islamists in the countries where Islamists have won. In addition, Arab states ruled by non-Islamist regimes have expressed concern. The former worry that Islamist ideology - even in its more contemporary, pragmatic form - remains deeply divisive and anti-democratic, often at odds with their values and interests. The latter believe that on foreign policy issues, most of the positions of various Brotherhood-inspired parties are on a collision course with the policies of established regimes in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Islam, Self Determination, Political Activism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The attacks of September 11, 2001 spawned a decade of al Qaeda inspired radicalization of disaffected Middle Eastern and North African youth and a handful of young Western men. Ten years later, foreign fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq and other jihadi battlefields appear to be declining while in contrast analysts have pointed to an uptick in United States (U.S.) based “homegrown extremism” - terrorism advocated or committed by U.S. residents or citizens.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Al Qaeda today only slightly resembles the al Qaeda of yesteryear. Al Qaeda operatives or "al Qaeda-like" organizations stretch throughout North Africa, across the Middle East and into South Asia. This disparate string of organizations hosts a handful of al Qaeda's original Afghanistan and Pakistan veterans but mostly consist of newcomers inspired by al Qaeda's message -- disenfranchised young men seeking an adventurous fight in the wake of a tumultuous Arab Spring. Al Qaeda, or more appropriately jihadism pursued under al Qaeda's banner, has morphed in several waves over the course of more than two decades.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Canada, Arabia
  • Author: Felix Chang
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This paper argues that to adequately defend its maritime claims, the Philippines should consider an external defense architecture designed around mobile coastal defense batteries equipped with long-range anti-ship missiles and protected by an integrated air defense umbrella. Such an architecture would provide the Philippines with an effective means to not only counter surface combatants and improve the survivability of its own forces against naval aviation or ballistic missiles, but also do so with lower procurement, maintenance, and operational readiness costs than a traditional force would require. The Philippine government’s new capabilities-based defense budgeting process offers the country an opportunity to study and adopt this sort of defense architecture, which has become increasingly necessary as rising powers, such as China, have begun to test Philippine maritime sovereignty at places like Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Emerging Markets, Political Economy, Maritime Commerce, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: China, Philippines
  • Author: Michael Noonan
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have confronted third-party national combatants. Known as “foreign fighters,” these individuals have gained deadly skills and connections that can be exported or exploited to devastating effect in other locations. Over the past two decades, the foreign fighters phenomenon has grown after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979—to the ethnically cleansed fields of the Balkans to Chechnya and beyond. But this is not a new problem. This report is the second volume of findings from an important series of FPRI conferences on the so-called foreign fighter problem. These conferences have brought together leading experts in the field to examine and discuss this phenomenon from different ideational and disciplinary perspectives. While the first volume dealt primarily with functional areas of the phenomenon, this edition focuses primarily on the case studies of al Qaeda franchises or allied affiliates in Somalia, the Maghreb, Yemen, and Afghanistan/Pakistan. Today, the outcomes of the geopolitical revolution unfolding across North Africa and the Middle East are far from clear, the problems associated with al Qaeda and its affiliated movement are likely to breed havoc for the foreseeable future across the region. Furthermore, the veterans spawned by such conflicts undoubtedly will present problems for international security writ large, too. The cases and phenomenon analyzed here may well provide important lessons for both those interested in the regions under examination here, but also for others who examine international challenges far removed from the study of radical extremism of the al Qaeda variety.
  • Topic: War, International Security, Insurgency, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: David J. Danelo
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006, Mexico’s drug war has taken over 30,000 lives, destabilized the U.S.-Mexico border, and become a security crisis for the North American continent. Two years ago, a December 2008 Pentagon report warned about the strategic consequences for the United States of a rapid collapse of two nations: Pakistan and Mexico. “The Mexican possibility might seem less likely,” said the report, “but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault by drug cartels.” Any sudden collapse would require a U.S. response “based on the serious implications for homeland security alone.” This scenario has not come to pass, and a full scale collapse of Mexico remains unlikely. That said, Mexico’s security situation has direct consequences in the United States. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, coalitions of sheriffs, agents, activists and concerned citizens have rallied to increase public awareness. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Mexican drug cartels maintain distribution networks in 295 U.S. cities through brutal gang activity. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has joined a chorus of policy analysts and terrorism experts by referring to Mexico’s drug war as a “criminal insurgency.” In recent visits to Mexico, both President Barack Obama and the Secretary of State have acknowledged U.S. responsibility to reduce drug demand and invest in “partnership.” As the joint response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus by U.S. and Mexican health officials illustrated, United States and Mexico policy responses are inextricably linked.
  • Topic: Crime, National Security, War on Drugs, Immigration, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Walter A. McDougall
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 1973, Congress passed the infamous War Powers Resolution (WPR), over Richard Nixon’s veto. It was perhaps the most ambitious Congressional effort to bridle the President since the battle with Andrew Johnson over Reconstruction. The WPR is worth reading—once—then forgetting, because its convoluted, contradictory, and doubtless unconstitutional mix of instructions, restrictions, and ticking clocks has never been honored by any administration or upheld by any court. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush all dispatched U.S. forces into combat situations without paying more than lip service to the WPR. In 1990, following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, President Bush stationed 100,000 personnel in Saudi Arabia. He sought no authorization and, in fact, informed just one member of Congress: Senator Sam Nunn (D., Ga.). When he then prepared Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait, 54 Congressmen led by the chairman of House Armed Services Committee, Berkeley radical Ron Dellums (D., Calif.), filed for an injunction to stop the war. U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene ran for cover. Noting that 54 fell far short of a majority, he judged the case “not ripe for judicial determination.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Governance, Law, Constitution
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James Kurth
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Fifteen years ago, Samuel P. Huntington published, first as an article (“The Real Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993) and then as a book (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon and Schuster, 1996), his famous argument about the clash of civilizations. The clash that he was referring to was the clash between the West—Western civilization—and the rest. Of the rest, he considered the greatest challenges to the West would come from the Islamic civilization and the Sinic, or Confucian, civilization. These challenges would be very different because these civilizations were very different. But together they could become a dynamic duo that might raise very serious challenges to the West.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mackubin Thomas Owens
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: No president in American history has faced a greater crisis than Abraham Lincoln confronted in 1861. Although sections of the country had threatened disunion many times in the past, the emergency had always passed as some compromise was found. But in 1861, Lincoln, who had won the election of 1860 because of a split in the Democratic Party, faced a rebellion “too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.” By the time of his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had declared their separation from the Union and had set up a separate provisional government called the Confederate States of America. A little over five weeks later, at 4:30 am on April 12, 1861, rebel gunners opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. In response, Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers to serve ninety days. Denouncing the president’s policy of “coercion,” four more states left the Union. The ensuing war, the most costly in American history, would last for four agonizing years. When it was over, some 600,000 Americans had died and the states of the South had suffered economic losses in the billions of dollars when measured in terms of today’s currency
  • Topic: Civil War, Politics, History, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States