Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

23
Aug

The month of August always brings its share of seasonal distractions: last-minute vacations, the Olympic games in Rio, warm days that distract us from less calm parts of the world.

But those summer indulgences can sometimes divert our attention from serious problems. In this case, that means rising tensions in a part of the world that not only drives the global economy but is bringing some of the world’s most powerful nations closer towards outright conflict—a conflict that would make the Islamic State, Ukraine, and even the unending civil war in Syria seem small by comparison.

What am I talking about? The seemingly endless dance of danger between China and the United States over the South China Sea, a body of water that carries over $5.3 trillion in seaborne trade ($1.2 trillion of American goods, by the way).

And for those who have been watching this slowly brewing crisis, it appears the stage is being set for a crisis, one that could come later in the summer and early fall thanks to a combination of factors. Read more…

Harry J. Kazianis is a senior fellow for defense policy at the Center for the National Interest and senior editor at the National Interest Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter: @grecianformula.

Aug. 17th, www.foreignpolicy.org

21
Aug

Germany and the UK: Hints of a Role Reversal

Written on August 21, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy

This piece was created in collaboration with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Almut Moeller is the co-head of ECFR’s Berlin office. The views expressed are the author’s own.

“Summer is off” was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s message at the end of July when she decided to interrupt her holidays for her annual summer press briefing. In the aftermath of the attacks in Wuerzburg, Munich, and Ansbach, as well as the attempted military coup in Turkey, Merkel felt compelled to address the German public on some fundamental questions of government policy.

The chancellor is traditionally expected to cover a lot of ground in this press briefing. And indeed, Merkel admitted in her typically sober and understated style that she did not feel “unterausgelasted” (“underworked”) by the number and scope of challenges to German and European societies. She even admitted to sometimes feeling like she needed a good dose of sleep — and suggested that all the events that have left the European Union and its members increasingly frail and disunited required deep reflection.

For policy analysts as well, this summer has hardly seemed like “time off,” but has nonetheless been a time for the brain to take a break from the news-driven routine and to engage in some bigger and longer-term thinking. Summer seminars — usually convened in pleasant settings — often provide just the right change of scenery to help structure one’s thinking process. And this year, British-German seminars have been particularly thought-provoking. Read more…

By Almut Moeller
August 18, 2016

18
Aug

What Exactly Is Going On In Ukraine?

Written on August 18, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Security

Among Russia watchers, the month of August has become somewhat notorious. Rare is the year that goes by without an eventful August. Sometimes the chaos is internal (the wildfires of 2010 and 2012), while other years the events are external (2008’s Russia-Georgia War comes to mind).

This year, another August surprise seems increasingly possible. The Ukrainian territories that have been occupied by Russia since 2014 are taking their turn in the spotlight. While violence in the east of the country—the so-called Lugansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics—has begun to ramp up considerably, the past days have seen worrisome developments in Russian-annexed Crimea.

The circumstances are still somewhat murky, but it seems clear that some kind of incident occurred on the Russian-occupied side of the Crimean border that resulted in the death of two Russian service members. While the events occurred over the weekend, they did not fully escalate until a few days later. The Russians have accused Ukraine of crossing that border—into what is de jure Ukrainian land—and committing “terrorist acts” that “we will not let pass idly by.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation’s monitoring mission could not “confirm media reports of security incidents involving shooting or military activities” in northern Crimea, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has written that the United States “government has seen nothing so far that corroborates Russian allegations.” Read more…

Hannah Thoburn, Aug. 11th, hudson.org.org

13
Aug

Nation-States in the Digital World

Written on August 13, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Political Economy

To understand geopolitics is to understand power. The Oxford English Dictionary defines power as “the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way, to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.” Science offers a more precise definition. In physics, power is the rate at which work is done — the work/time ratio, showing the amount of energy consumed per unit of time. The two definitions complement each other — power has to do with efficiency and influence, building on energy. The digital environment stands astride the logical patterns the human mind develops — it depends only on innovation and need, with limited to no state intervention. But the nation-state is not completely absent in the digital world and all that regards it, cyberspace included.

Digital Power

Digital power embraces and enhances the three dimensions that traditionally define national power — political, economic, and military. In order to establish how nation-states build digital power, it is essential to understand the developing factors for the digital environment and the way states facilitate, use, or impede evolution in the sector.

While the internet remains an important component of cyberspace, networked technologies that allow industrial machines to communicate with each other and with their operators are the defining features of the fourth industrial revolution that cyberspace now encompasses. It is these technologies that bring competitive advantages to nation states. Their goal is to increase efficiency, reduce downtime, and monitor quality. The way countries support innovation and promote technological advances, forging dependencies among themselves, will help shape geopolitical trends. Digitalization starts by affecting the economics of a country, forcing it to adapt its policies. Read more…

By Antonia Colibasanu
August 13, 2016, realclearworld.com

28
Jul

Has the world gone mad? This question is occupying the minds of many people these days. It feels like the world is out of step, that multiple crises are encroaching upon us and that the distant world of international politics is about to get dangerously personal. How are we supposed to deal with the feeling of living in an era that we no longer seem to understand?

“I’m tired of living in interesting times,” a Twitter user wrote several days ago. His words were retweeted more than 1,000 times. Everyday, people on social media ask: What is wrong with 2016? When will it be over? What more does it have in store for us?

This year, international political events have overlapped in an unsettling way. Something seems to be coalescing and brewing, though it’s not yet clear what. Each new development seems to come a bit faster than the last. It may have begun with the Arab Spring in 2011, but it also continued with the wars in Libya and Syria and was further exacerbated by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the latest terrorist attacks. We are witnessing the destabilization of the world as we’ve known it since 1989.

When our phones began vibrating a week ago Friday with breaking news alerts about the military coup in Turkey, we were still processing our shock over the terrorist attack in Nice, France. Each shock fades quickly in light of the next one. On Sunday, a Syrian refugee detonated a bomb outside an outdoor concert in Ansbach, Germany. Last Friday, an 18-year-old student shot and killed nine people in Munich, most of them teenagers. And only days before that, a 17-year-old asylum-seeker in Würzburg attacked a group of Chinese tourists with an ax. Read more…

The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 30/2016 (July 23rd, 2016) of DER SPIEGEL.

Mathieu von Rohr is DER SPIEGEL’s deputy foreign editor.

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