Articles

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Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen in Beijing as Chinese battle tanks roll by during a Sept. 3, 2015 parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II.

(AP Photo)

Magazine Article - The Atlantic

The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

| September 24, 2015

The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

The newly renovated United Nations Security Council Chambers, also known as the Norwegian Room, is seen before the reopening ceremony, Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at U.N. headquarters.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

The Permanence of Inconsistency: Libya, the Security Council, and the Responsibility to Protect

    Author:
  • Aidan Hehir
| Summer 2013

Many observers heralded the Security Council–sanctioned intervention in Libya in March 2011 as evidence of the efficacy of the responsibility to protect (R2P). Although there is no doubt that the intervention was significant, the implications of Resolution 1973 are not as profound as some have claimed. The intervention certainly coheres with the spirit of R2P, but it is possible to situate it in the context of a trajectory of Security Council responses to large-scale intrastate crises that predate the emergence of R2P. This trajectory is a function of the decisionmaking of the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5), a group guided by politics and pragmatism rather than principles. As a consequence, the Security Council’s record in dealing with intrastate crises is characterized by a preponderance of inertia punctuated by aberrant flashes of resolve and timely action impelled by the occasional coincidence of interests and humanitarian need, rather than an adherence to either law or norms. The underlying factors that contributed to this record of inconsistency—primarily the P5’s veto power—remain post-Libya, and thus the international response to intrastate crises likely will continue to be inconsistent.

Tuareg militants, seen driving near Timbuktu, Mali, on May 7, 2012, share control of northern Mali with Islamist groups and al-Qaeda fighters. The Tuaregs militants fled to Mali after Qaddafi's defeat and launched a rebellion there.

Magharebia Photo CC

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

A Model Humanitarian Intervention? Reassessing NATO's Libya Campaign

| Summer 2013

NATO's 2011 humanitarian military intervention in Libya has been hailed as a model for implementing the emerging norm of the responsibility to protect (R2P), on grounds that it prevented an impending bloodbath in Benghazi and facilitated the ouster of Libya's oppressive ruler, Muammar al-Qaddafi, who had targeted peaceful civil protesters. Before the international community embraces such conclusions, however, a more rigorous assessment of the net humanitarian impact of NATO intervention in Libya is warranted.

Magazine Article - American Interest

Our Pacific Predicament

| March/April 2013

"American interests rest on stability in the region to allow the continuing growth of trade and investment that benefits all countries. The U.S.-Japan alliance remains crucial to stability in East Asia, but so too are good relations in all three sides of the strategic triangle. One thing is clear: If, despite all we do, Sino-Japanese relations deteriorate toward literal conflict, the United States will be faced with some very tough choices."

In this photo released by Syria's official news agency, aid supplies are seen unloaded  in Damascus airport, Mar. 15, 2012. Arabic words on the boxes say: "Tribute of love and loyalty from the people of Iran to the dear Syrian people."

AP Photo

Journal Article - Tel Aviv Notes

The Syrian Uprising: The View from Tehran

| June 27, 2012

"Though the inconsistency of Iranian support for popular protest everywhere but Syria (and Iran itself) is apparent, it is hardly remarkable. Throughout the last 18 months of tumultuous events in the region, governments have struggled to calibrate their interests and align them with the values and beliefs used to justify their actions."

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

The Security Curve and the Structure of International Politics: A Neorealist Synthesis

    Author:
  • Davide Fiammenghi
| Spring 2011

Realist scholars have long debated the question of how much power states need to feel secure. Offensive realists claim that states should constantly seek to increase their power. Defensive realists argue that accumulating too much power can be self-defeating. Proponents of hegemonic stability theory contend that the accumulation of capabilities in one state can exert a stabilizing effect on the system. The three schools describe different points along the power con­tinuum. When a state is weak, accumulating power increases its security. This is approximately the situation described by offensive realists. A state that con­tinues to accumulate capabilities will eventually triggers a balancing reaction that puts its security at risk. This scenario accords with defensive realist as­sumptions. Finally, when the state becomes too powerful to balance, its oppo­nents bandwagon with it, and the state’s security begins to increase again. This is the situation described by hegemonic stability theory. These three stages delineate a modified parabolic relationship between power and secu­rity. As a state moves along the power continuum, its security increases up to a point, then decreases, and finally increases again. This modified parabolic re­lationship allows scholars to synthesize previous realist theories into a single framework.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, right sitting, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left sitting, sign a nuclear cooperation agreement at a ceremony in Rome's Villa Madama residence, Feb. 24, 2009.

AP Photo

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Spreading Temptation: Proliferation and Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreements

| Summer 2009

Matthew Fuhrmann's article "Spreading Temptation: Proliferation and Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreements," was published by in the Summer 2009 issue of International Security. In his article, Dr. Fuhrmann argues "Peaceful nuclear cooperation—the transfer of nuclear technology, materials, or know-how from one state to another for peaceful purposes—leads to the spread of nuclear weapons. With a renaissance in nuclear power on the horizon, major suppliers, including the United States, should reconsider their willingness to assist other countries in developing peaceful nuclear programs."