You can’t read or listen to the news without stumbling upon the story that the United States and a coalition of powers have just signed a comprehensive nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Pundits on all sides of the ideological spectrum are lining up to give their two cents’ worth on what the deal means for U.S. national security interests, the Middle East, U.S.-Iran relations, U.S.-Israeli interests and U.S. foreign policy in general. The discussions of the merits of the deal bring up historic analogies to make sense of this agreement: Is it historic in its transformation of the international system and twenty first century international relations? Or is it historic in that it represents a disastrous moment in which the United States has just taken a few steps toward armageddon? [Read more…]
Archives for July 2015
Confrontations over disputed islands in the South China Sea have been going on for so many years it’s hard to keep track of the succession of standoffs, skirmishes and withdrawals — not to mention the wars of words.
But two researchers, who developed a database to track tactics used over 18 years by the six countries claiming sovereignty over the islands, have found that China has far exceeded its rivals in the use of military and paramilitary actions, economic clout and diplomatic “sabotage” as a means of asserting and defending those claims. ……
The researchers’ findings were particularly important in responding to China’s claims that is has stepped up activity in the South China Sea because of the U.S. rebalance to the Pacific announced in 2011, said Christopher Yung, one of the researchers who is now an independent political-military analyst. …..
When Yung traveled to China and presented the study to analysts at a think tank that focuses on South China Sea issues, their reaction amounted to, “Wait a minute; there are only 500 actions? There should be many, many more,” he said.
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In the Spring of 1998 I sat nervously in a conference room at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. This was the day that I would defend my dissertation and enter the ranks of the scholarly.
Professor Charles Doran, my thesis advisor entered into the room, pointed to the food at the table and said “Better eat up! In about an hour you will have no appetite!” The topic of my dissertation was “Peaceful Transfers of Foreign Policy Roles in International Systems“, a mouthful then as it is now. But in short it was about how major powers could work with rising challengers to jointly manage the international system.
History does not provide many positive examples of such successful international cooperation. In fact, the record is downright abysmal. In most instances hegemonic powers, those powers who dominated the international system, set the rules, and punished countries who violated them, and rising challengers, those countries who seek to revise the status quo and seek to enhance their stature and position in the system, tend to enter into major conflicts with each other leading to systemic wars. [Read more…]