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  • Author: Michael D. Swaine, Jessica J. Lee, Rachel Esplin Odell
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: The world faces twin crises — a global pandemic and rising climate chaos — even as an epochal change in the balance of power unfolds in East Asia. In response to these trends, the United States has doubled down on efforts to contain a rising China and maintain its eroding military dominance in the region. Simultaneously, it has neglected economic engagement and diplomatic cooperation with East Asian nations, thereby undermining its ability to manage the Covid–19 pandemic and the climate change challenge. This failed approach is directly harming the interests of the American people.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, International Order
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia
  • Author: Trita Parsi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: • Abandon dominance. For many of the United States’ security partners, even a dysfunctional Pax Americana is preferable to the compromises that a security architecture would inevitably entail. The preconditions for creating a successful security architecture can emerge only if the United States begins a military withdrawal from the Persian Gulf and credibly signals it no longer seeks to sustain hegemony. • Encourage regional dialogue, but let the region lead. The incoming Biden administration’s hint that it will seek an inclusive security dialogue in the Persian Gulf is a welcome first step toward shifting the burden of security to the regional states themselves. For such an effort to be successful, the United States should play a supporting role while urging regional states to take the lead. • Include other major powers. The regional dialogue should include the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and major Asian powers with a strong interest in stability in the Persian Gulf. Including them can help dilute Washington’s and Beijing’s roles while protecting the region from inter–Asian rivalries in the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, United Nations, Military Strategy, Hegemony, Military Affairs, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: Despite the Biden administration’s push to revitalize U.S. alliances, U.S. relations with NATO are due for a reset. The United States should incentivize European members of NATO to take on additional responsibilities for their defense. Encouraging the European allies to take initiative will help the United States focus on its other domestic and international priorities and may facilitate improving relations with Russia. This approach will also prove attractive to European states concerned about the future direction of U.S. foreign policy. Recalibrating the U.S. role in Europe would conform with the United States’ post–World War II efforts to stabilize European security — and stand as the fruit of Washington’s success in this regard.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, International Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Alliance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Sarang Shidore
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: In the wake of a sharp deterioration in U.S.–China and India–China relations, there is an increasing emphasis in U.S. relations with India on military-to-military ties and bloc formation over other forms of relationship-building. Washington is steadily militarizing the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” a four-member security group that is intended to counter Beijing, of which New Delhi is a member. This, combined with India’s stalled economy and the outlook for longer-term post-pandemic weakness, is accentuating a risk-prone asymmetry in U.S.–India relations. There also remain key divergences in the specifics of U.S. and Indian interests, even on the question of countering China. Over-militarized U.S.–India relations could help push Asia closer to a paradigm of military blocs, frontline states, and zero-sum games, while also planting seeds for a nationalist backlash against the United States in South Asia as a whole. The United States should therefore reorient its vital partnership with India according to these four recommendations: Limit the relationship’s increasing militarization and instead emphasize nontraditional areas of security cooperation such as climate change and peacekeeping, which lend themselves to inclusion rather than exclusion. The Quad should be returned to its original political-normative focus; Create conditions favorable to India’s comprehensive development, particularly in the energy, environmental, and supply-chain spaces, as a lower-risk path toward catalyzing a multipolar Asia; Drop demands on India to scale back ties with U.S. adversaries such as Russia and Iran; Resist the temptation to use India as a force-multiplier to pressure smaller South Asian states as to their global alignments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Alliance
  • Political Geography: United States, India
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US president has considerable power over the country’s foreign policy. The different worldviews espoused by President Trump and presidential candidate Biden are likely to have an impact on how the most significant foreign policy challenges of the coming years are addressed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections, Party System
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Speculation is rife that China could take advantage of the potential confusion during the US presidential election and invade Taiwan. Although China has never relinquished the military option for resolving the Taiwan issue, there are sound reasons to downplay the risk of a military confrontation at the present time.
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Elections, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, North America
  • Author: Teresa Val
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: Terrorism in Afghanistan: A Joint Threat Assessment is intended to serve as an analytical tool for policymakers and an impetus for joint U.S.-Russia action. The report provides an overview of the security situation and peace process in Afghanistan, taking into account U.S. and Russian policies, priorities and interests; surveys the militant terrorist groups in and connected to Afghanistan and explores the security interests of various regional stakeholders vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Challenges relating to border management, arms trafficking and terrorist financing in Afghanistan are also briefly addressed.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Counter-terrorism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Malcolm Davis
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the key drivers shaping Australia’s role as a middle power in an era of intensifying US-China strategic competition. These drivers include the influence of strategic geography; its historical legacy in international affairs; the impact of its economic relationships with states in the Indo-Pacific region; the changing demands of defence policy, including the potential offered by rapid technological change; and, the impact of climate change, resource constraints and demographic factors. The paper considers three possible scenarios that will shape Australia’s middle power policy choices – a US-China strategic equilibrium; a “China crash” scenario that promotes a more nationalist and assertive Chinese foreign policy; and a third “major power conflict” scenario where competition extends into military conflict. The paper concludes that Australia cannot maintain a delicate balance between its strategic alliance with the US and trading relationship with China. It argues there is a need for Australia to adopt a deeper strategic alliance with the US while promoting closer ties with its partners in the Indo-Pacific and supporting the growth of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region to counterbalance growing Chinese power. Australia needs to embrace an Indo-Pacific step up, and as a middle power, reduce the prospect of a Sino-centric regional order emerging.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nationalism, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: When Trump says that he wants NATO to take more responsibility in the Middle East, what he means is that he wants the European allies to do more. He is campaigning for re- election and has promised to bring the boys (and girls) home for Christmas. And of course, in Iraq American troops are less than welcome these days, after the targeted assassination of Iranian General Soleimani near Baghdad airport (3 January 2020). In late 2019, Trump had already withdrawn most troops from Syria, and now the peace agreement with the Taliban (29 February 2020) will allow him to draw down the US military presence in Afghanistan too. And the US is considering pulling its troops out of the Sahel as well. What does this mean for Europe?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Strategy, Assassination
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria, North America