Articles

43 Items

Magazine Article - Harvard Gazette

Britain muses: play bridge or solitaire?

    Author:
  • Christina Pazzanese
| June 17, 2016

On Thursday, voters in the U.K. will decide by a simple majority whether to remain in the E.U. during a national referendum known as “Brexit” (a portmanteau of the words British and exit). Over the last month, public opinion polling showed voters evenly split, with the “leave” campaign edging upslightly in recent days. Douglas Alexander is a senior fellow in The Future of Diplomacy Project.The Gazette spoke with Alexander about the upcoming referendum and the potential fallout for the U.K. and Europe.

Sub-Saharan migrants climb over a metallic fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Santi Palacios/ AP

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Barriers to Entry: Who Builds Fortified Boundaries and Why

    Authors:
  • Ron E. Hassner
  • Jason Wittenberg
| Summer 2015

Contrary to conventional wisdom, states do not typically construct fortified boundaries in response to border disputes or to prevent terrorism. Instead, most build such boundaries for economic reasons, to keep out unwanted migrants from poorer states. Further, Muslim states are more likely to both build and be the targets of fortified boundaries.

US and Ukrainian soldiers stand guard during opening ceremony of the 'Fiarles Guardian - 2015', Ukrainian-US Peacekeeping and Security command and staff training, in western Ukraine, in Lviv region, Monday, April 20, 2015.

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Magazine Article - The National Interest

Russia and America: Stumbling to War

| May-June 2015

In the United States and Europe, many believe that the best way to prevent Russia’s resumption of its historic imperial mission is to assure the independence of Ukraine. They insist that the West must do whatever is required to stop the Kremlin from establishing direct or indirect control over that country. Otherwise, they foresee Russia reassembling the former Soviet empire and threatening all of Europe. Conversely, in Russia, many claim that while Russia is willing to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (with the exception of Crimea), Moscow will demand no less than any other great power would on its border. Security on its western frontier requires a special relationship with Ukraine and a degree of deference expected in major powers’ spheres of influence. More specifically, Russia’s establishment sentiment holds that the country can never be secure if Ukraine joins NATO or becomes a part of a hostile Euro-Atlantic community. From their perspective, this makes Ukraine’s nonadversarial status a nonnegotiable demand for any Russia powerful enough to defend its national-security interests.

June 5, 2008: Gotthard Lerch, right, watches the judges entering the courtroom in Stuttgart, Germany. He admitted to helping procure centrifuge parts for Libya, was convicted in 2008 on minor charges, and sentenced to time served in pretrial detention.

AP Photo

Magazine Article - TIME / time.com

Nuclear Proliferation: The Crime with No Punishment?

| September 16, 2011

"Nuclear proliferation is a crime that pays well. Those involved in the Khan network were made very wealthy for their efforts, and the inability of the international community to effectively punish them has resulted in a missed opportunity to provide a deterrent against future black-market salesmen."

(R-L) Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov, General Secretary of the Communist Party Josef Stalin, & German Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop signing the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in Moscow, Aug 23, 1939.

AP Photo

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Preventing Enemy Coalitions: How Wedge Strategies Shape Power Politics

| Spring 2011

States use wedge strategies to prevent hostile alliances from forming or to dis­perse those that have formed. These strategies can cause power alignments that are otherwise unlikely to occur, and thus have significant consequences for international politics. How do such strategies work and what conditions promote their success? The wedge strategies that are likely to have significant effects use selective accommodation—concessions, compensations, and other inducements—to detach and neutralize potential adversaries. These kinds of strategies play important roles in the statecraft of both defensive and offensive powers. Defenders use selective accommodation to balance against a primary threat by neutralizing lesser ones that might ally with it. Expansionists use se­lective accommodation to prevent or break up blocking coalitions, isolating opposing states by inducing potential balancers to buck-pass, bandwagon, or hide. Two cases—Great Britain’s defensive attempts to accommodate Italy in the late 1930s and Germany’s offensive efforts to accommodate the Soviet Union in 1939—help to demonstrate these arguments. By paying attention to these dynamics, international relations scholars can better understand how balancing works in specific cases, how it manifests more broadly in interna­tional politics, and why it sometimes fails in situations where it ought to work well.

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.

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Graceful Decline? The Surprising Success of Great Power Retrenchment

| Spring 2011

There is broad scholarly consensus that the relative power of the United States is declining and that this decline will have negative consequences for interna­tional politics. This pessimism is justified by the belief that great powers have few options to deal with acute relative decline. Retrenchment is seen as a haz­ardous policy that demoralizes allies and encourages external predation. Faced with shrinking means, great powers are thought to have few options to stave off decline short of preventive war. Contrary to the conventional wis­dom, however, retrenchment is not a relatively rare and ineffective policy in­strument. A comparison of eighteen cases of acute relative decline since 1870 demonstrates that great powers frequently engage in retrenchment and that re­trenchment is often effective. In addition, we find that prevailing explanations overstate the importance of democracies, bureaucracies, and interest groups in inhibiting retrenchment. In fact, the rate of decline can account for both the ex­tent and form of retrenchment, even over short periods. These arguments have important implications for power transition theories and the rise of China.

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Journal Article - International Security

Wishful Thinking or Buying Time? The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s

| Fall 2008

British appeasement was primarily a strategy of buying time for rearmament against Germany. British leaders understood the Nazi menace and did not expect that appeasement would avoid an eventual war with Germany. They believed that by the time of the Rhineland crisis of 1936 the balance of power had already shifted in Germany’sfavor, but that British rearmament would work to reverse the balance by the end of the decade. Appeasement was a strategy to delay an expected confrontation with Germany until the military balance was more favorable.

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

How American Treaty Behavior Threatens National Security

Summer 2008

In recent years, American treaty behavior has produced growing concern among both allies and less friendly nations. On such fundamental issues as nuclear proliferation, terrorism, human rights, civil liberties, environmental disasters, and commerce, the United States has generated confusion and anger abroad. Such a climate is not conducive to needed cooperation in the conduct of foreign and security policy. Among U.S. actions that have caused concern are the failure to ratify several treaties; the attachment of reservations, understandings, and declarations before ratification; the failure to support a treaty regime once ratified; and treaty withdrawal. The structural and historical reasons for American treaty behavior are deeply rooted in the United States' system of government and do not merely reflect superpower arrogance.