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International Relations

In Measuring Peace, Professor Richard Caplan of the University of Oxford has written an insightful guide for students and practitioners of peace. The book will help those who want to understand the fundamental principles and existing practices of how to assess peace while at the same time outlining some critical political constraints. Caplan provides a succinct and clear analysis of key approaches to peace measurements, their weaknesses and ways to move forward. Due to its accessibility and policy relevance, the book also stands out among other publications that have sought to evaluate and grapple with the question of how to judge the quality of existing peace.  The key aim of the book is to give peacebuilders a ‘compass’ to navigate the post-war peace …

In the prelude to the NATO summit in London commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the alliance, discussions were overshadowed by a now-infamous Economist interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. In the interview, the French President claimed that NATO is experiencing a “brain death” – a ‘mort cérébrale’ resulting from a lack of institutional capacity to prevent, mitigate, or effectively respond to unilateral action from individual allies which could be disruptive to the alliance’s agenda. President Macron’s remarks precipitated a debate concerning NATO’s relevance (or irrelevance) in the post-Cold War international system, its (potentially failing) adaptation to new security and strategic circumstances, and the constraints imposed by NATO’s seeming lack of institutionalisation and ability to prevent unilateral action …

In a farewell speech to Colombia’s armed forces last year just prior to leaving office, ex-president Juan Manuel Santos boasted: “Today we have the best armed forces in our history.” Proudly, he added: “We’re a global reference!” And indeed, it seems as though Colombia had opened a new chapter. Since the 2016 peace accords with the country’s largest guerrilla organisation, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the nation appears to be on an uphill climb.  With the FARC at the negotiation table, the story goes, the country was finally able to look ahead and dedicate its resources to transition and reconstruction: the reintegration of former combatants, the redistribution of formerly occupied territories, and the recovery of an economy weakened by decades …

The India-Pakistan conflict is one of the most enduring rivalries of the post-World War era. The two nuclear states have fought four wars, and smaller-scale skirmishes are common occurrences. Since the nuclearization of the two countries in 1998, the nuclear stalemate has been one of the most important facet of this ongoing rivalry. Apart from Kashmir, over which three wars have been fought, constant cross-border terrorist attacks in India have severely limited and disrupted initiatives to defuse the situation. Recently, tensions have flared up because of the decision by the Indian government to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special status within the Indian republic. This move has infuriated Pakistan, vowing to …

In early September, President Donald Trump lost his third National Security Adviser, John Bolton. Since then it emerged that the two clashed over a number of issues, with the former advocating for US intervention in a number of countries and the latter favoring a less confrontational approach. Reportedly, Trump quipped that “if it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now.” In fact, the president has repeatedly stated his aversion to foreign (mis-)adventures. Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy has been at odds with Bolton’s “America Everywhere” approach from the outset. Why, then, did a president with such dovish tendencies chose a hawk’s hawk as National Security Adviser? What does the ouster of John Bolton tell us …

In terms of material military power, India does not lag far behind the traditional materially powerful states. The country ranks among the top in terms of the size of and investments in its army, air force, and navy. Furthermore, in 1998, India revealed to the world that it possessed nuclear weapons. Yet, while India has sufficient material power to be categorized as a powerful state, the country does not always think and act like a materially powerful state. For India, more material power has not been necessarily enough to ensure greater international influence. Thus far, India can be accused of ‘arming without aiming’ in its quest for greater international influence. India’s Material Powers India’s raw military power is impressive. The …

As the world’s economic and geopolitical centre of gravity shifts eastwards, a scramble for Southeast Asia is underway as the great powers seek to expand and defend their influence in this dynamic region. This renewed great power competition demands that members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) revise their approaches and rethink their relations to one another and others. Southeast Asia is a crucial node in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while the ‘Quad’ of Japan, India, Australia and the US have announced the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” initiative to balance Beijing’s growing influence. New powers have also begun to make their presence felt in Southeast Asia: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proclaimed a “New Southern …

Three years ago, US-Iranian relations could not have been better. Once declared part of the ‘Axis of Evil’ by then-president George W. Bush, the Iran Nuclear Deal signed by his successor Barack Obama heralded a new age of more constructive ties with Tehran and the promise of greater nuclear security. While critics raised concerns that Iran would renege on the deal, these fears had proven unfounded so far – the IAEA confirmed that Iran has complied with its obligations under the agreement. Nonetheless, the Trump administration withdrew the US from the nuclear deal. Additionally, Trump has re-imposed all sanctions removed in 2015. With trust between Washington and Tehran in tatters and US carrier groups deployed to the Persian Gulf, the …