19 April 2021

Rethinking Chinese School of IR from the Perspective of Strategic Essentialism

Yih-Jye Hwang, Apr 13 2021 

This article is based on insights from ‘Reappraising the Chinese School of International Relations: A Postcolonial Perspective’. Review of International Studies (2021).

As early as 1977 Stanley Hoffmann claimed that International Relations (IR) is an American social science (Hoffmann 1977), and according to Ann Tickner (2013), little has changed since then. Mainstream IR scholars perceive different regions of the world as test cases for their theories rather than as sources of theory in themselves. Thereby, the “non-West” became a domain that IR theorists perceived as backward; a domain which requires instruction in order to reach the “end of history” that Western modernity encapsulates (Fukuyama 1992). The phenomenon of American-centrism is closely related to the experience of the United States as a world hegemonic power after World War II. Although US hegemony has often been challenged by other countries in the world, its hegemonic status has never been replaced. Even if other countries looked like they would surpass the US at certain times (the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and Japan in the 1980s), they actually did not have the global, sustainable and all-round appeal of the American model. Therefore, American hegemony in the contemporary world not only enjoys technological, economic, and political superiority, but is also cultural, ideational and ideological.

However, any great power in history has its rise and fall, and the United States is no exception. The financial crisis in 2008, Brexit, the emergence of populism in Western countries, as well as the rise of non-Western countries, have challenged the current liberal order led by the United States. First of all, the stability of American society itself has been declining in recent years, especially under Trump’s administration. Racial divisions, coupled with other accumulated social and economic problems, have plunged the United States into serious trouble. The COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 has weakened the West as a role model for governance and accelerated the transfer of power and influence from the West to the “rest.” In addition, the voice of developing countries and non-Western regions has become stronger in the past few decades as their wealth and power has increased. The combined nominal GDP of the BRICS countries, for instance, accounts for approximately one-quarter of the world’s total GDP. Some scholars have pointed out that the norms, institutions, and value systems promoted internationally by the West are disintegrating. The world is entering a “post-Western era” (Munich Security Report 2017).

The Impact of the UNSC on the EU’s Combatting Terrorist Financing Sanctions Regime

Sophie Domres, Apr 12 2021

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

Over the last decades, the European Union (EU) and other international institutions (IIs) have continuously become important research objects in the field of international relations (IR) (Jørgensen, 2009, S. 188). A closer look at this trend reveals that the EU has increasingly been recognized and studied as an actor of the international system itself (Biscop & Whitman, 2013, pp. 1-2; Cremona, 2008, pp. 333-350; Cameron, 2012, pp. 1-8; Hill, Smith & Vanhoonaker, 2017, pp. 3-20; Scheffler, 2011, pp. 1- 51). However, scholars have predominantly been focusing either on the role or performance of the EU as an actor of the international system in general or its influence on other international institutions in particular (Blavoukos & Bourantonis, 2011; Drieskens & Van Schaik, 2014; Hoffmeister, 2007, pp. 41-68; Jørgensen & Laatikainen, 2013; Odermatt, Ramopoulos & Wouters, 2014, pp. 211-223). While centering most research around “[…] the bottom-up component of the interaction between international institutions and the EU […]” (Costa & Jørgensen, 2012, p.1), literature has largely overlooked the influence that international institutions might have on the EU (Kelley, 2004, pp. 425-457).

A decisive factor for the selection of the UN system as unit of analysis is the fact that the United Nations is the only International Organization (IO) with almost universal membership. As of today, the UN is composed of 193 member states (UN, n.d.). Equally significant is the increasing importance of the European Union as an actor in the UN system. The steadily growing commitment of the EU in almost all fields of activity and the associated bodies of the United Nations system is undisputed (Odermatt, Ramopoulos & Wouters, 2014; Scheffler, 2011, pp. 1-51). By strengthening its responsibilities in external relations, the EU has been advocating for deeper integration into the UN system (Odermatt, Ramopoulos & Wouters, 2014; Scheffler, 2011, pp. 1-51). As enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, the work of the EU in the UN system should be based on close cooperation (EU, 2007, Art. 10 A, Art. 188 P, Art. 2 §5). However, there is no uniform representation of the EU in the UN system. While there is no unitary representation in the Security Council (UNSC), the EU has got full representation, including the right to vote, in three UN bodies (European Council & Council of the EU, 2019; Odermatt, Ramopoulos & Wouters, 2014). In May 2011, the EU even received “enhanced observer status” in the United Nations General Assembly (UN, 2011, A/RES/65/276). The resolution marks a major step towards a more coherent representation of the interests of the EU in the UN system (Brewer, 2012, p. 182). Accumulated, the EU Member States own more than one eighth of all votes in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) (European Council & Council of the EU, 2019). Additionally, when accumulating the contribution payments of the EU member states, the European Union proves to be the largest contributor to the UN system (Cameron, 2012, p. 1; UNGA, 2019).

The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal: Protection For Whom?

Alexandra Pinto Damas, Apr 12 2021 

In March 2016, the European Union (EU) and Turkey announced they would cooperate in managing the ‘migration crisis’ that resulted from the Syrian Civil War. According to the EU-Turkey Statement – also called EU-Turkey Refugee Deal -, every new ‘irregular’ migrant that cannot apply for asylum in Greece is sent back to Turkey. Moreover, the great novelty of the Refugee Deal is the establishment of the so-called ‘one-to-one mechanism,’ in which the EU would accept a Syrian refugee for every other returned from the Greek islands to Turkey, taking into account the refugee’s particular vulnerability.[1] The Refugee Deal has been strongly criticised by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. NGOs argue that refugees still live in dreadful circumstances on the Greek Islands, especially women and girls.[2][3] Moreover, it is argued that Turkey cannot be considered a safe country for asylum seekers and refugees since they do not have adequate access to integration or resettlement; neither can live in dignity.[4] One might wonder, thus, if the agreement, in fact, protects refugees or if it increases even more their insecurities. Furthermore, the fact that the EU concluded that the Refugee Deal was a proper tool to address the ‘migration crisis’ shows that the EU frames this crisis in a specific sense, with particular interests at stake.

It is important to point out that, at the time of the EU-Turkey Deal, discourses around Europe emphasised the need to assure the protection of European women from potentially aggressive male migrants, especially after 2015-16 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Germany.[5] Nevertheless, some refugees – women and children – were still considered as worthy of compassion, as an invocation of the ‘the white man’s burden’ to protect the colonised.[6] It is argued that these discourses and ideas played a role in defining who would be entitled to humanitarian protection under the EU framework and the underlying assumptions within the idea of protection. Thus, this paper asks to what extent the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal is based on a gendered and racialised logic of protection.[7]

In order to answer such a question, the paper is structured as follows: First, I explain the method of discourse analysis based on socially constructed meanings. Second, I address the conceptual framework applied in the paper, that is, the concepts of ‘intersectionality’, ‘human security’, ‘crisis,’ ‘continuum of violence’ and ‘logic of protection’. ­­­­­Third, I discuss the EU framing of the ‘migration crisis’ and its consequent policy effects within the Refugee Deal. Fourth, I address the continuum of violence experienced by the refugees under the EU-Turkey Deal. Fifth, I discuss the ­­­­­­­­­­­logic of protection within the public discourses at the time of the EU-Turkey Statement. Finally, the paper concludes that the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal is based on a gendered and racialised logic of protection that subordinates non-Western refugees to the EU masculinity, without effectively protecting them.

New Sanctions Reveal the Dangerous Low of U.S.-Russian Relations

Washington and Moscow continue to engage in a risky tit-for-tat with no offramp from potential escalation in sight.
The Kremlin is threatening the Biden administration with severe repercussions over a new U.S. sanctions package, bringing the troubled U.S.-Russian relationship to an unprecedented low.

The Biden administration imposed a robust sanctions package this week targeting the Russian economy. The measures included sanctions on all debt Russia issues after June 14, preventing U.S. financial institutions from buying government bonds from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. The directive “provides authority for the U.S. government to expand sovereign debt sanctions on Russia as appropriate,” laying the groundwork for further sovereign debt sanctions against Russia in the future. The package also contained sanctions against six Russian companies thought to be associated with Russian cyberhacking operations. Finally, ten officials at the Russian embassy in the United States, all identified as intelligence officers, will be expelled.

President Biden, who held a phone call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, offered brief clarifying remarks on Thursday. “We can not allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity,” he said. “And I told them [the Kremlin] if it turned out as I thought that there was engagement in our elections that I’d respond. Later during the transition as we learn more about the SolarWinds cyber intrusion, I made clear that I respond once we determined who had in fact conducted a hack on the scope and scale that occurred.”

“When we spoke again this week, I told them that we would shortly be responding in a measured and a proportionate way because we concluded that they had interfered in the election and SolarWinds…,” Biden said. “Today I’ve approved several steps, including expulsion of several Russian officials as a consequence of their actions. I’ve also signed an executive order authorizing new measures, including sanctions to address specific harmful actions that Russia has taken against U.S. interest.”

Nevertheless, Biden reaffirmed that he hopes “Russia and the United States work together” to address “critical global challenges” including Iran, North Korea, the coronavirus pandemic, and climate change.

Iran names suspect in Natanz nuclear plant attack

Iran has named a suspect in the attack on its Natanz nuclear facility that damaged centrifuges there, saying he had fled the country “hours before” the sabotage happened.

While the extent of the damage from the 11 April sabotage remains unclear, it comes as Iran tries to negotiate with world powers over allowing the US to re-enter its tattered nuclear deal and lift the economic sanctions it faces.

Already, Iran has begun enriching uranium up to 60% purity in response – three times higher than ever before, though in small quantities. The sabotage and Iran’s response to it also have further inflamed tensions across the Middle East, where a shadow war between Tehran and Israel, the prime suspect in the sabotage, still rages.

State television named the suspect as 43-year-old Reza Karimi. It showed a passport-style photograph of a man identified as Karimi, saying he was born in the nearby city of Kashan.
The report also aired what appeared to be an Interpol “red notice” seeking his arrest. The arrest notice was not immediately accessible on Interpol’s public-facing database. Interpol, based in Lyon, France, declined to comment.

The TV report said “necessary actions” are under way to bring Karimi back to Iran through legal channels, without elaborating. The supposed Interpol “red notice” listed his foreign travel history as including Ethiopia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Qatar, Romania, Turkey, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

A Different Kind of Army: The Militarization of China’s Internet Trolls

By: Ryan Fedasiuk


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) believes it is engaged in a global struggle for China’s “image sovereignty” (形象主权 xingxiang zhuquan).[1] Party leaders recognize that “the main battlefield for public opinion” is on the internet, and are adamant that “the main battlefield must have a main force” (Central CAC, April 4, 2017). For China, that force is embodied in an array of “internet commentators”—trolls tasked with artificially amplifying content favorable to the CCP. Their mission is to “Implement the online ideological struggle” (落实网络意识形态斗争; luoshi wangluo yishi xingtai douzheng).[2] Their tactics are well-known to anyone who has spent time on the internet: “Quickly and accurately forward, like, and comment on relevant information on Weibo, blogs, websites, forums, and post bars, to effectively guide online dynamics” (Huailai County CAC, 2020). Still, English-language information about China’s internet trolls remains discordant and contradictory.[3]

This article illuminates the shifting size and mission set of the forces behind China’s struggle to control online public opinion. It finds that, in addition to 2 million paid internet commentators, the CCP today draws on a network of more than 20 million part-time volunteers to engage in internet trolling, many of whom are university students and members of the Communist Youth League (CYL; 共产主义青年团, gongchan zhuyi qingnian tuan). It concludes that although internet commentators are primarily concerned with shaping China’s domestic information environment, they are growing in number, and the scope of the Party’s public opinion war (舆论战; yulun zhan) is broadening to include foreigners.

Raising China’s Internet Troll Army

From United Kingdom to Untied Kingdom

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Apr 15th 2021

The bonds that hold England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland together are weaker than at any time in living memory

The united kingdom was not born in glory. The English conquest of Ireland in the 17th century was brutal, motivated by fear of invasion and facilitated by the superiority of Cromwell's army. The English takeover of Scotland in the 18th century was more pragmatic, born out of Scottish bankruptcy after an ill-fated American investment and English worries about France. But the resulting union was more than the sum of its parts: it gave birth to an intellectual and scientific revolution, centred on Edinburgh as well as London; an industrial revolution which grew out of that, enriching Glasgow as well as Manchester and Liverpool; an empire built as much by Scots as Englishmen; and a military power which helped save the world from fascism.

That union is now weaker than at any point in living memory. The causes are many, but Brexit is the most important. Political leaders in London, Edinburgh and Belfast have put their country at risk by the way they have managed Britain’s departure from the European Union.

U.S. CAATSA Sanctions and India: Waivers and Geopolitical Considerations

Jeff Smith

The Biden Administration will soon have to decide whether to impose sanctions on India under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for India’s purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system. CAATSA, passed in the wake of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, was designed to punish Russia by discouraging trade with its defense and intelligence sectors. In India’s case, however, sanctions are unlikely to alter its longstanding defense relationship with Russia. They could, however, undermine the U.S.–Indian strategic partnership, handing Moscow a victory in the process. The Biden Administration has a clear path for issuing India a CAATSA waiver, and should exercise it.Download Report

The Taliban Are Ready to Exploit America’s Exit

By Carter Malkasian

In September of last year, peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government finally opened in Doha, only to immediately stall. Negotiators have been unable to address even the most basic issues, such as an agenda for a political process, let alone the tougher ones, such as what type of government the country should have. But as representatives of both parties have talked in circles in the Qatari capital, events in Afghanistan have taken a dramatic turn.

The United States has withdrawn thousands of troops from the country in accordance with a deal it struck with the Taliban in February 2020, leaving a security vacuum that the militants have readily exploited. Over the last six months, the Taliban have won major battles and recaptured large swaths of territory, likely incentivizing them to fight on and to shun compromise at the negotiating table. Why agree to share power when you can

Green Batteries: a Competitive Advantage for Europe’s Electric Vehicle Value Chain?

Études de l'Ifri

Aligning its climate and industrial policies, the European Union (UE) is introducing sustainability requirements for the whole life-cycle of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. This initiative would not only ensure that EVs fit with Europe’s climate-neutrality and resource-efficiency pledges, but also give European new entrants a better chance to compete.

Since 2017, the EU’s nascent green industrial policy has made the EV battery value chain its favored experimental field. The wave of investments in battery cell manufacturing projects suggests that the worst-case scenario of Europe subsidizing massive battery cell imports will not materialize. Cell manufacturers have a direct commercial interest in setting up operations closer to the European automakers’ EV assembly factories, and Member States can provide an additional argument for local cell production with their large financial support for EU-based industrial projects. However, strategic autonomy remains a distant dream, as most confirmed projects are being developed by non-EU stakeholders. In addition, Europe has not yet managed to attract corresponding investments in the manufacturing of battery cell components, while its very limited control on raw material supply chains does not match its political aspirations.

Despite pressure from civil society, the lack of consensual calculation methodologies makes it almost impossible for manufacturers to substantiate their green claims, especially with regards to carbon footprints. Yet, the life-cycle assessment (LCA) literature points to cell and active material manufacturing as key climate hotspots. Thus, efforts should concentrate on reducing energy consumption for these critical production steps and covering incompressible needs with grid-based or contract-based low-carbon electricity, provided the latter option guarantees the additionality of renewable electricity supplies. In addition, the extraction and refining of raw materials offer the second largest and mostly untapped potential for green differentiation, especially when combining climate and local environmental impact considerations. Ultimately, manufacturing green batteries does not necessarily require locating all production steps in Europe, but European players may have a competitive edge thanks to their expertise in measuring and improving the sustainability of their operations. In addition, reducing the environmental footprint of products requires a holistic view of supply chain management, which pleads for building closer ties between industrial stakeholders.

Cyber Retaliation Needs to Be Decisive, Swift, and Meaningful

Emilio Iasiello, 17Apr2021

Editor’s note: On 15 April the Biden Administration formally attributed the Solar Winds attacks to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR. Soon thereafter they issued several directives implementing sanctions against Russia and some Russian related business leaders. The fall out from these actions is still underway and we will continue to track and assess how these matters could impact business and government strategies and decision-making. This post provides context important in assessing why any cyber retaliation needs to be both quick and meaningful.-bg

The United States finds itself in a precarious position having been victimized by two major breaches that have far-reaching impacts. The 2020 SolarWinds breach by suspected Russian state actors remains extraordinary in the number of global government and Fortune 500 companies and organizations affected. The breach caught several important U.S. government and military entities exposed, among them the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Treasury, among others. While SolarWinds stood at the apex of data breaches when it was eventually identified, another breach by another state actor quickly revealed the extent of which sophisticated cyber espionage campaigns plagued the United States, threatening its national security. In March 2021, Microsoft disclosed that China state-sponsored actors had leveraged zero-day vulnerabilities to gain entry into Microsoft Exchange Servers, deploying additional malware to sustain long-term access. Data collected in mid-March indicated that Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom were the most targeted countries, with government, military, manufacturing, financials, and software vendors accounting for a quarter of all exploit attempts.

The SolarWinds and MS Exchange Server breaches are very similar in that two cyber powers successfully executed sophisticated supply chain attacks to support cyber spying activities. Both China and Russia have been cited in numerous U.S. Intelligence Community worldwide threat assessments as being stalwart cyber threat actors with the capabilities to conduct a variety of cyber operations. But the expanse, demonstrated effort, and sophistication of these breaches draws comparisons to the U.S.’s own capabilities, famously revealed in the Snowden disclosures that unmasked the U.S.’ global surveillance and cyber espionage apparatus. These adversaries not only had the skillsets and patience to pull off such ambitious activities, but Beijing and Moscow proved themselves worthy competitors to U.S. cyber dominance.

However, the gravity of these attacks cannot be overlooked, immediately issuing alarms throughout the U.S. national security establishment. The fact that the U.S. government failed to detect the SolarWinds breach and had to be notified by a private sector company was a complete embarrassment, raising questions about its cyber security programs, resources, and defensive capabilities. An Intelligence Community review of the SolarWinds hack revealed Russian culpability, demanding some level of response from a Biden Administration that asserted retaliation at a time and place of its choosing. The public statement of making a retaliatory strike against Russia has put Moscow on the immediate defensive, giving it advanced warning, and enabling it to prepare for and mitigate an attack even if it goes undetected. But the more important question remains: as its first cyber test and against a near-peer cyber power to the U.S., what is the Biden Administration prepared to do?

The Iran Threat Network (ITN)

by Ariane M. Tabatabai, Jeffrey Martini, Becca Wasser

What are Iran's political and military objectives?

How does the ITN factor into Iran's strategy?

What objectives does Tehran pursue via the ITN?

How does the regime think about and categorize different ITN members?

The Iran Threat Network (ITN) is a formidable force made up of tens of thousands of fighters. It spreads across the Middle East and South Asia and has ties to and influence in Africa and Latin America. The ITN affords Iran the ability to have a presence and project power throughout the region, and to deter and harass its adversaries. The network consists of diverse and disparate groups, which is reflected in the nature and amount of support provided and the level of command and control exerted by Tehran over each group. These differences allow Iran to employ the ITN to achieve four buckets of political and military objectives.

The authors focus on the ITN, which sits at the intersection of two threats—Iran and nonstate actors—highlighted in the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy and the 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy as a priority for the U.S. government to counter. In this report, the authors assess several indicators of Iran-ITN relations to offer an overview of the nature, depth, and breadth of Iran's relationship with these key nonstate partners classified by Iranian objectives.

Batteries require battery minerals, should Europe ramp up its efforts to secure them?

In order to meet the targets it has committed itself to under the Paris Climate Agreement, the EU aims to produce 10 million electric vehicles for the EU market by 2030. This push for vehicle electrification does not only serve Europe’s climate goals, but also the drive toward technological innovation and strategic autonomy by reducing the EU’s dependence on technology and products imported from China. In order to achieve this goal however, it must drastically ramp up its efforts to secure the rare earth minerals required for batteries.

This brings with it a host of geo-economic and geopolitical challenges. At present, large parts of the Lithium-ion battery (LiB) supply chain are dominated by China and battery mineral prices are experiencing a great deal of volatility, with ripple effects throughout the supply chain. This signals the need for Europe to diversify not only its supply chains, but also its materials and marketing activities.

In light of these challenges, this paper describes the impact that battery minerals have on the production costs of LiBs, how this echoes through the entire LiB supply chain and eventually the EU’s chances to create a mass market for electric vehicles on European soil.

Download the paper by Guest Author Jeff Amrish Ritoe in PDF form here.

Europe in the Geopolitics of Technology: Connecting the Internal and External Dimensions

To respond to growing global competition, the EU has made notable progress on the internal dimension of technology policy over the past 3 years. It is now also seeking to adapt its foreign policy – from the transatlantic relationship to global partnerships – to technological challenges.

Europe is seeking to enter the global technology competition as a fully-fledged player to reap the economic, social and security benefits of the ongoing transformations, and to respond to the challenges posed by digital authoritarianism and by unrestricted big tech companies.

This calls for a dual set of policies, some internally focused, and others underpinning Europe’s external action.

The transatlantic relationship is key to Europe’s external tech policy. A challenge is to settle disagreements on data protection, big tech regulation and AI ethics, while at the same time trying to push a common agenda globally.

Europe must also find its place among many other more or less inclusive cooperation and governance frameworks – such as the "Summit of democracies" – that are being put forward to define international norms and standards for critical and emerging technologies.

IN RUSSIA'S HAND Nagorno-Karabakh after the ceasefire agreement

András Rácz

Nearly five months have passed since the 9 November 2020 ceasefire that ended the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. The conflict broke out as a culmination of tensions that had been mounting for years, and had already resulted in two smaller flare-ups (one in April 2016 and another in July 2020). The war took a heavy toll on the lives of Azerbaijani and Armenian civilians, as well as claiming the lives of altogether more than 5,000 fighting personnel, and resulted in the displacement of approximately 70,000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.

This Brief(1) analyses to what extent the ceasefire agreement has provided the ground for a lasting, stable and sustainable settlement. While the overall stability of a post-conflict situation may depend on a range of factors, this analysis focuses on three main variables that could affect the resilience of the post-war status quo in the medium and long run. The first and second of these – the stability of the present post-war territorial configuration and the uncertain future legal status of the parts of Nagorno-Karabakh that continue to be administered by the separatist de facto authorities – constitute underlying, inherent weaknesses of the ceasefire agreement. The third and probably most important factor is the Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed to Azerbaijan in order to maintain the ceasefire, because it brings in Russia’s political will as an independent variable that could fundamentally shape the overall settlement process.

Cooperation, Competition, and Compartmentalization: Russian-Turkish Relations and Their Implications for the West

The relationship between the Russian Federation and Republic of Turkey is one of the most important bilateral relationships in Eurasia today. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) original adversary and one of its earliest members have in recent times veered sharply between cooperation—often against NATO’s interests—and competition so intense that it seemed war between them was possible. Politically, their leaders and their systems of government share a basic compatibility predicated on authoritarianism and resistance to what they claim is Western meddling in internal affairs. Militarily, Moscow and Ankara have at times cooperated closely. For instance, the two have worked to marginalize the U.S. military’s influence in Syria, and Turkey has purchased and deployed Russian S-400 air defense systems, putting its defense relationship with the United States in jeopardy. At other times, such as in the military escalation in Idlib (Syria), the Libyan Civil War, and the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, the two have found themselves backing different sides and had to work assiduously to prevent a direct military clash. 

Economically, the relationship has been historically unbalanced in Russia’s favor, but Turkey’s increasing trade in services and emergence as an important energy storage and transport hub may change this. The two economies share a basic complementarity, with few areas where they compete in the production of goods and services. This dynamic may increase the ability of their economic relationship to act as a “shock absorber” and minimize the impact of disruptions in other facets of their ties. Overall, Moscow and Ankara have worked to emphasize areas of cooperation and “compartmentalize” areas of difference. Policymakers in Western capitals will need to develop an understanding of the drivers of the Russian-Turkish relationship and their effects on Western interests.

The future of security in space: A thirty-year US strategy

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series by Clementine G. Starling, Mark J. Massa, Lt Col Christopher P. Mulder, and Julia T. Siegel

Space development has reached an inflection point, transitioning from a phase of discovery to phases of security and commerce.

Spacefaring countries and companies are harnessing new technologies to push new boundaries, uncovering value while simultaneously opening the door to chaos and competition.

The United States and its allies and partners must take action over the next three decades to secure a future of security and prosperity.

The digital Yuan, digital Euro, and the Diem: Key issues for public debate

by Hung Tran

As momentum grows globally for the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), it will be important to watch what the two of the most prominent players in the field, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the European Central Bank (ECB), are doing. The digital yuan and digital euro have similarities but also diverge in certain respects. The PBOC has stated that if successful, the digital yuan could fully replace physical cash, while the ECB maintains that the digital euro would only complement physical cash. Both banks are looking to adopt a two-tiered system that will not be reliant on distributed ledger technology but will allow their digital currencies to be interoperable with existing digital payment services, such as AliPay or WePay in China. Both the digital euro and yuan would be stored in digital wallets which would be accessed through apps that users can download. Once implemented, the technological properties of CBDCs and digital wallets allow CBs to have a remunerative policy on CBDC holdings, something not possible with bank notes and coins. In addition, digital currencies would increase access to payments in their respective populations, especially in unbanked segments.DOWNLOAD PDF

However, questions still remain surrounding the legal, political, and regulatory properties of CBDCs. These include: 1) the challenges CBDCs pose to bank intermediation and financial stability; 2) questions of anonymity regarding holding and transacting in a digital currency; 3) the continued presence or eventual absence of physical currencies and its impact on if central banks can impose negative nominal interest rates on CBDC holdings; and 4) the the forms and extent to which capital controls should be implemented to prevent capital flight.

The Intelligence Community’s Deadly Bias Toward Classified Sources


For years, government officials, commissions, and think tanks have warned that the U.S. intelligence community has blinded itself to enormous sources of intelligence, simply because the information is publicly available. In other words, the intelligence community would prefer to rely on billion-dollar classified satellites and intelligence-collection programs rather than to gather unclassified information on the internet for free.

Examples are rife. Russia conducted a strategic misinformation campaign to influence the results of elections in multiple countries, including the U.K., Ukraine, France, and, eventually, the United States, and they did it on social media in view of everyone, except the intelligence officers who only look at classified sources. Despite the signals that were available, U.S. elected officials described not being adequately warned.

Or take China, often described as America’s most pressing foreign challenge. Senior advisors to the U.S. government say our country does not understand enough about Beijing’s strategic goals and intentions, and that Congress should create an open source center that translates important Chinese documents for consumption by English-language readers. The tragic irony of this recommendation is that the government already has an open source center, which disbanded its own website.

Data Is Power Washington Needs to Craft New Rules for the Digital Age

By Matthew Slaughter and David McCormick

Data is now at the center of global trade. For decades, international trade in goods and services set the pace of globalization. After the global financial crisis, however, growth in trade plateaued, and in its place came an explosion of cross-border data flows. Measured by bandwidth, cross-border data flows grew roughly 112 times over from 2008 to 2020.

The global economy has become a perpetual motion machine of data: it consumes it, processes it, and produces ever more quantities of it. Digital technologies trafficking in data now enable, and in some cases have replaced, traditional trade in goods and services. Movies, once sold primarily as DVDs, now stream on digital platforms, and news, books, and research papers are consumed online. Even physical goods come laden with digital components. Cars are no longer merely chassis built around internal combustion engines; they also house complex electronics and software capturing massive amounts of data. Trade in physical goods also comes with digital enablers, such as devices and programs that track shipping containers, and these likewise generate data and improve efficiency. And now, COVID-19 has sped up the digital transformation of businesses, pushing even more commerce into the cloud.

Digital trade and the cross-border flow of data show no signs of slowing. In 2018, 330 million people made online purchases from other countries, each involving the cross-border transmission of data, helping e-commerce hit $25.6 trillion in sales, even though only about 60 percent of the world is online. Imagine how much data will grow as broadband access spreads to the developing world’s rapidly expanding populations, 5G wireless technology allows even more extraordinary amounts of data to transfer at lightning speed, and the so-called Internet of Things dramatically increases machine-to-machine communication.

Japan Is the New Leader of Asia’s Liberal Order

By Chang Che

Over the last decade, and especially over the last four years, Japan has emerged as a quiet leader in the Indo-Pacific. While the United States abandoned its allies and succumbed to illiberal populism under President Donald Trump, Japan remained a stalwart of the liberal, rules-based international order. It deepened ties with its neighbors, expanded multilateral initiatives, and set the regional agenda on trade and digital governance, among other issues. Through a combination of good timing, clear-eyed leadership, and innovative domestic reform, the island nation has proved not only a reliable partner to the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific but an architect of the region’s emerging liberal order.

In an era of Chinese bellicosity, North Korean provocations, and a raging pandemic, Japan’s inconspicuous ascent to regional leadership has gone mostly unnoticed. But as the administration of President Joe Biden seeks to repair frayed alliances, Japan has