Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

20 October 2021

Less ‘prestigious’ journals can contain more diverse research, by citing them we can shape a more just politics of citation.

Shannon Mason, Margaret Merga
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Drawing on their recent analysis of journals in the field of Higher Education Studies, which shows that journals with lower impact rankings are more likely to feature research from diverse geographic and linguistic contexts, Shannon Mason and Margaret K. Merga argue that researchers should adopt more careful citation practices, as a means to broaden and contextualise what counts as ‘prestigious’ research and create a more equitable publishing environment for research outside of core anglophone countries.

The ‘top’ journals in any discipline are those that command the most prestige, and that position is largely determined by the number of citations their published articles garner. Despite being highly problematic, citation-based metrics remain ubiquitous, influencing researchers’ review, promotion and tenure outcomes. Bibliometric studies in various fields have shown that the ‘top’ journals are heavily dominated by research produced in and about a small number of ‘core’ countries, mostly the USA and the UK, and thus reproduce existing global power imbalances within and beyond academia.


Sam Biddle

TO WARD OFF accusations that it helps terrorists spread propaganda, Facebook has for many years barred users from speaking freely about people and groups it says promote violence.

The restrictions appear to trace back to 2012, when in the face of growing alarm in Congress and the United Nations about online terrorist recruiting, Facebook added to its Community Standards a ban on “organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity.” This modest rule has since ballooned into what’s known as the Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, a sweeping set of restrictions on what Facebook’s nearly 3 billion users can say about an enormous and ever-growing roster of entities deemed beyond the pale.

In recent years, the policy has been used at a more rapid clip, including against the president of the United States, and taken on almost totemic power at the social network, trotted out to reassure the public whenever paroxysms of violence, from genocide in Myanmar to riots on Capitol Hill, are linked to Facebook. Most recently, following a damning series of Wall Street Journal articles showing the company knew it facilitated myriad offline harms, a Facebook vice president cited the policy as evidence of the company’s diligence in an internal memo obtained by the New York Times.

19 October 2021

G20 Will Aid Afghanistan—But Won’t Recognize the Taliban

Trevor Filseth

Following an emergency summit, the Group of 20 (G20) nations have committed to aiding Afghanistan in order to stave off the nation’s impending humanitarian crisis—acknowledging reluctantly that doing so would require cooperation with, though not necessarily recognition of, the Taliban.

The EU, which opened the discussions, promised $1.2 billion in aid for the country, as well as for its neighboring states to address the cost of harboring Afghan refugees. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled the country since the Taliban takeover on August 15; while many refugees were evacuated in the U.S. military’s airlift, a substantial number also crossed into Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan, straining the neighboring countries’ social service programs.

The virtual summit was attended by President Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian prime minister Mario Draghi, as well as a handful of other European leaders. President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China opted not to attend, sending high-level officials in their place.

Predicting global conflicts

Christopher Joye

There’s a wealth of data on the history of military conflicts, which have caused many millions of deaths in the past century, but there’s comparatively little quantitative research forecasting the frequency and severity of wars.

As an investor in global financial markets, our firm is constantly grappling with the prediction business. Last year we created worldwide Covid-19 forecasting models that enabled us to anticipate a much earlier than expected peak in the first wave of infections in April 2020.

We have now developed research that can be used to assess the empirical likelihood of different types of conflicts occurring.

For the past decade, the biggest risk we have sought to understand is the spectre of war between the United States and China. The probability of such a conflict appears to have accelerated under the hardline presidency of Xi Jinping. Many experts, including John Lee, Oriana Skylar Mastro, Rory Medcalf and Ross Babbage, who consult to us, have put the risk of a lower-intensity conflict at around 50%.

18 October 2021

European Gas Crisis: Russia to the Rescue?

Sergei Kapitonov

With gas prices in Europe exceeding $1,000 per 1,000 cubic meters, and European fertilizer and steel manufacturers stopping production and reducing exports because of the soaring costs, what has led to the crisis, and how can it be resolved?

The current turbulence on the gas market is largely down to Europe itself. Over the last fifteen years, it was the EU countries that built the model of pricing that ensures low prices when demand is low (like last year, due to the pandemic), but means that when demand is high, prices soar.

Historically, Europe had both its own gas industry and imported gas from the Soviet Union, Norway, and North Africa. Since gas producers need some kind of payback guarantee after investing millions in developing deposits and building pipelines, a system was established of long-term, twenty-to-thirty-year contracts that would guarantee sales of gas for decades ahead.

17 October 2021

The Global War on Chechnya: What Does 9/11 Teach Us About Counterterrorism Cooperation With Russia?

Paul Kolbe

A colleague of mine who worked closely with Russian security services on sharing intelligence in the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks was fond of pointing out a fundamental disconnect. He noted that while the United States wanted Russia to join the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the Russians just wanted the United States to join in the GWOC, the Global War on Chechnya.

His wry joke perfectly encapsulated the counterterrorism relationship between the United States and Russia as it evolved after 9/11. In the weeks that followed, Russia, shocked by the attacks and worried about its own security, provided the United States with three main lines of support of varying degrees of importance—intelligence, ground and airspace transit permission, and non-opposition to the establishment of critical U.S. bases in Central Asia. In return, Russia hoped for recognition of its status, greater deference to Russian interests and reciprocal intelligence to aid its own bitter counterterror and counter-separatist fight.

Who Will Win the Global War for Talent?

Parag Khanna

Three crises are slamming the world at the same time: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and a population plateau. But once COVID-19 passes, immigration will surge again as countries seek workers to fill labor shortages and people flee climate-stressed regions in search of stable habitats. Although this may seem improbable amid COVID-19 border restrictions and today’s toxic political discourse, xenophobic populism will soon be jettisoned in favor of an all-out war for young talent.

The only question is which countries realize it first.

The winners in this new round of the global war for talent won’t just be the usual suspects (the United States and Britain)—although, fortunately, despite their harsh responses to crises like the surge in Haitian and African asylum-seekers, these traditional immigration magnets are returning to the expansionist migration policies that pre-date former U.S. President Donald Trump and Brexit.

14 October 2021

In Global Energy Crisis, Anti-Nuclear Chickens Come Home to Roost

Ted Nordhaus

For years, the proponents of wind and solar energy have promised us a green future with electricity too cheap to meter, new energy infrastructure with little environmental impact on the land, and deep cuts in carbon emissions. But despite the rapid growth of renewable energy, that future has yet to materialize. Instead, many of the places that are furthest along in transitioning to renewable energy are today facing a crisis of power shortages, sky-high electricity prices, and flat or rising carbon emissions.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered companies owning backup diesel generators to operate them nonstop when electricity demand is high in order to avoid rolling blackouts. In Britain, exploding natural gas prices have shuttered factories, bankrupted power companies, and threaten to cause food shortages. Germany, meanwhile, is set for the biggest jump in greenhouse emissions in 30 years due to surging use of coal for power generation, which the country depends on to back up weather-dependent wind and solar energy and fill the hole left by its shuttered nuclear plants.

11 October 2021

Applying arms-control frameworks to autonomous weapons

Zachary Kallenborn

Mankind’s earliest weapons date back 400,000 years—simple wooden spears discovered in Schöningen, Germany. By 48,000 years ago, humans were making bows and arrows, then graduating to swords of bronze and iron. The age of gunpowder brought flintlock muskets, cannons, and Gatling guns. In modern times, humans built Panzer tanks, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and nuclear weapons capable of vaporizing cities.

Today, humanity is entering a new era of weaponry, one of autonomous weapons and robotics.

The development of such technology is rapidly advancing and poses hard questions about how their use and proliferation should be governed. In early 2020, a drone may have been used to attack humans autonomously for the first time, a milestone underscoring that robots capable of killing may be widely fielded sooner rather than later. Existing arms-control regimes may offer a model for how to govern autonomous weapons, and it is essential that the international community promptly addresses a critical question: Should we be more afraid of killer robots run amok or the insecurity of giving them up?

10 October 2021

The art of communicating nuclear risk

Sara Z. Kutchesfahani, Tom Weis

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes constructed a three-story inflatable mushroom cloud, Amnesia Atomica, to “put pressure on political leaders, policymakers, and global citizens by reminding them of the consequences of inaction.” Similarly, American artist Barbara Donachy installed 35,000 small clay missile replicas in her exhibit, Amber Waves of Grain, to depict the volume of the US nuclear arsenal. And Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser created The Bomb—a multimedia experience that immerses “the viewer within the story of nuclear weapons.” Even this publication relies on design when it presents the Doomsday Clock as a visual representation of “how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.”

Members of the public, policymakers, and scientists would be wise to look to artists, designers, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that have successfully experimented with creative approaches to raising public awareness about nuclear risk.

One of us—Tom—teaches industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he helps students leverage design techniques on the topic of nuclear threats. One of Tom’s students, for example, designed a game that allows players to advance through virtual worlds while learning nuclear facts. Another student wrote a hip-hop song, “Forget what you know,” that considers what a nuclear winter might look like:

Do you see our future?

And if so, is there a chance of rain?

Do the clouds promise pain? Is the landscape unchanged?

Or should we keep our heads low, eyes closed, and pray in vain?

Over the past five years, Rhode Island School of Design students have been increasingly interested in design courses focused on security. And many students continue security-focused design work after graduation. For example, two recent graduates were selected as Global Security Design Fellows, a program that is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

West Point cadets and Rhode Island School of Design industrial design students discussing the future of conflict in urban environments. Credit: Tom Weis. Used with permission.

Tom has also worked on a nuclear-themed design project at Sandia National Laboratories. In a 90-minute exercise, he invited senior lab leaders to select one card from each of three trend categories: science and technology, the world order, and human geography. They were then asked to imagine a scenario in which the trends collided, after which they discussed how they might have anticipated and adapted to the scenario as individuals, a lab, and a nation. For example, in one imagined scenario from an outside expert, a lack of fresh water accelerated the construction of small nuclear reactors in the region, which in turn outpaced agencies’ abilities to monitor the reactors. Participants were encouraged to reframe questions and expand upon the narrative as they sought creative solutions. The Carnegie Corporation of New York saw value in this work and subsequently provided funding for a digital version of this activity to reach a wider audience.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has also demonstrated a willingness to try design methods as it works to address challenges in the nuclear field. In its 2020 Emerging Technologies Workshop, they enlisted designer Marco Steinberg to give the keynote. Steinberg shared insight from his design practice, including his view that innovation often relies less on new technology than on organizational change. The workshop sessions encouraged generative discussions that are deeply rooted in design practices. In one workshop, participants reconfigured their seating arrangement from one in which participants were all looking toward the front of the room to one in which they gathered in small groups—an arrangement that facilitated collective brainstorming. It was exciting to transform a space designed for lectures into one that fostered active work among participants.

In another design-meets-nuclear example, the N Square Fellows’ Voices in Action campaign offers policy analysts models for improved work cultures, professional development opportunities, and leadership and mentorship opportunities. The models offer a mix of formal and informal, structured and unstructured, and internal- and external-facing ways to acknowledge, amplify, celebrate, and challenge nuclear policy experts. The celebration model, for example, champions large successes such as individuals’ publications and media appearances as well as small successes such as an unusually quiet colleague who speaks up and ensures that they are heard. The models were designed to be flexible and adaptive, as a diversity of perspectives are needed to address problems.

When people pursue art and design projects, they are asked to observe, practice, listen, and ask questions without fear. This requires a mix of humility and bravery. But when the best practices of art and design are in place, participants can expect direct, specific, constructive, and collaborative feedback that encourages them to act—and get results. Members of the public, policymakers, and scientists concerned about nuclear threats might take note. To address the existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity, the world may need a creative solution.

9 October 2021

Who Will Intervene in the World’s Hot Spots?

The international order is fraying, generating uncertainty about who will intervene to resolve persistent conflicts, and who will fund humanitarian responses to human-made and natural disasters. Meanwhile, emerging crises, proxy wars and multiple hot spots pose new risks, even as the nature of transnational terrorism is evolving. Learn more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR).

As conflicts and crises persist around the world, there is growing uncertainty about how—or if—they will be resolved. The international order is fraying, generating uncertainty about who will intervene and how these interventions might be funded.

There are interminable conflicts, like the situations in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, which have produced years of violence, countless thousands of deaths and even more refugees. Then there are the emerging hot spots, including northern Mozambique and the China-India frontier, and any number of potential flashpoints, like the Eastern Mediterranean. Even in situations where there is some tenuous hope of reconciliation, there is also uncertainty—such as South Sudan, where a 2018 peace deal that put an end to years of civil war is for now holding, even as widespread violence continues to plague the country.

This time it’s the economy: Mapping the issues that produced the German federal election result

The 2021 German federal election was a showcase for electoral volatility – not just in terms of the result, but also in relation to changes in the polling during the campaign. But while the strengths and weaknesses of the leading candidates were clearly of great importance, what were the key issues that actually drove the result? Given the importance of the election, we would expect new issues to play a role and also potential changes in the salience of issues for voters and parties alike.

While this question is of paramount importance, in previous elections it has often been left without a clear and rigorous answer. We attempt to address this gap by leveraging an innovative research design based on two methodological innovations. First, rather than focusing on vote choice, we focus instead on vote change, that is, the shift from a party in the previous election to another in the current election. By focusing on vote change we can directly analyse the individual-level mechanism producing aggregate gains or losses for a party. Second, we employ an original, issue-rich survey dataset covering a large number of issues (31 in this case) with country-specific framing and wording.

Using this approach, we have estimated party-specific logistic regression models of vote inflows for each party based on the credibility respondents assigned to each party on a given issue. This effectively allows us to identify which issues attracted respondents to switch to a particular party. Hence, we can draw a comprehensive map of the issues that drove volatility in the election and help inform future research on parties’ electorates as a whole, as well as studies focusing on the effects of party campaign strategies.

7 October 2021

How to Make Sure Peace Endures Once the Fighting Ends

The need for peacebuilding in post-conflict societies grew out of the realization that signing agreements to bring fighting to an end is a necessary but insufficient step toward true and enduring peace. Peacebuilding is now conceived of as a multistage process to strengthen the peace accord and begin unifying communities through approaches ranging from governmental capacity-building and economic development to reforms of the legal and security sectors. Each initiative is intended to be a step toward improving human security, and the process often includes a transitional justice mechanism to foster societal healing and reconciliation.

Peacebuilding is often a laborious and expensive process—and one that can easily be undone. Witness Brexit’s triggering of the long-dormant fault lines between unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland. Moreover, as peacebuilding has evolved, there is still no consensus on who should lead these efforts. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United Nations introduced a Peacebuilding Commission, intended to push for the adoption of post-conflict interventions and then aid and track their implementation. But it lacks enforcement capacity, and key member states can block its activities. Regional bodies, including the European Union and especially the African Union, have shown an interest in prioritizing post-conflict peacebuilding, but their track records are mixed.

6 October 2021

Understanding Hypersonic Weapons: Managing the Allure and the Risks

The debate concerning hypersonic weapons has gained increased attention in recent years as the United States has poured billions of dollars—and plans to pour billions more—into accelerating the development of hypersonic weapons and as China and Russia make headway in developing and deploying their own such weapons. The Pentagon is funding no less than eight prototype hypersonic weapons programs with the aim of fielding an initial capability of at least some of those by 2022.

The U.S. rush to field hypersonic weapons merits a more critical examination by the Biden administration and Congress given the many unanswered questions about their rationale, technical viability, cost-effectiveness, and escalatory risks. It is past time for Congress to demand these answers before the military begins fielding the weapons in great numbers.

This new report outlines the scope of the unanswered questions about the case for hypersonic weapons, details the underappreciated risks to stability posed by the weapons, assesses the viability of arms control as a tool to reduce these risks, and suggests recommended action items for Congress to better its understanding about the Pentagon’s plans for the weapons, eliminate potential redundancies in weapons capabilities, and mitigate stability risks.

5 October 2021

The Quad Commits to Regulating Space

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

The first in-person summit of the leaders of the Quad group of countries, comprising of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, met in Washington last week. Outer space governance found significant attention, with the joint statement stating that the grouping will explore ways to collaborate as well as share data for a range of peaceful purposes, including tracking changing climate patterns, natural disaster response and preparedness, and sustainable uses of oceans and marine resources. The group also agreed they would work on developing norms, guidelines, rules, and principles that would ensure the sustainable use of outer space.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden put an emphasis on emerging and critical technologies including space, cyber, AI, 5G, and 6G in their bilateral meeting. Significantly, they agreed to finalize by the end of the year a “Space Situational Awareness Memorandum of Understanding,” which will facilitate data sharing as well as sharing of services in order to ensure long-term sustainability of outer space.

4 October 2021

The Soviet Water Legacy in Central Asia

Asel Murzakulova

The Soviet water and energy legacy has been a painful issue for the countries of Central Asia for a long time. But the dynamics of relations between the countries of the region in the last five years demonstrate a shift in which that legacy is an important element both in conflict and cooperation, and the struggle to mitigate the stresses of climate change. Also adding new complexity to an old issue was the introduction of land ownership in disputed territories following the region’s independence.

Water Infrastructure and Conflicts Over Borders

Following World War II, Soviet authorities intensively built water and energy infrastructure based on the topographic features of territory, crossing administrative boundaries between the constituent Soviet republics. This wasn’t a problem until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which left separate independent states sharing a complex network of critical infrastructure. After gaining independence, the countries of the Central Asian region began to dispute the ownership of a significant number of water and energy facilities, particularly in the Fergana Valley, located across the border territories of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Between 2000 and 2016, a back-and-forth game played out in the Fergana Valley, with the neighboring states contesting control of irrigation infrastructure shared across the border regions. In 2002, around 100 Tajik military personnel took control of the reservoir dam at the Farhad hydroelectric power station, which after 1991 had been occupied by the Uzbek military. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were at an impasse regarding the ownership of the dam. A Tajik participant in the events of 2002, Rustam Saidov, the head of the district police department, told Tajik news outlet Asia-Plus in 2011: “We detained 82 soldiers and officers, including one with the rank of major general of the border troops of Uzbekistan. The people [from the surrounding villages] were surprised, in the morning they were on the territory of Uzbekistan, and by noon in Tajikistan […] At night, at the ‘Dam’ post, an artist painted our tricolor instead of the Uzbek flag.”

The situation between the countries changed dynamically in 2016 after the death of long-time Uzbek President Islam Karimov and the rise to power of Shavkat Mirziyoyev. In 2018, the dispute over the Farhad dam was resolved, and the countries agreed on its joint use. Uzbekistan lowered the tone of its commentary about the controversial construction of the Rogun hydropower plant in Tajikistan and in 2021 countries signed an agreement on the construction of two new hydro-power stations on the Zarafshan River.

Between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the situation regarding the use of three reservoirs has remained controversial. Two – Kerkidan and Kempir-Abad – are located in the border areas. The third reservoir, Orto-Tokoy (also called Kasan-Sai), is located in the interior of Kyrgyzstan around three miles from the border and does not have the status of a border object. However, dispute over access to the reservoir has repeatedly provoked tensions on contested sections of the border between the two countries.

Global Digital Governance: Here’s What You Need to Know

Daniel F. Runde & Sundar R. Ramanujam

Q1: What is “global digital governance”?

A1: Digital and internet technologies are pervasive in modern life and enable the near-limitless generation, storage, and exchange of private data and information. Global digital governance encompasses the norms, institutions, and standards that shape the regulation around the development and use of these technologies. Digital governance has long-term commercial and political implications. Naturally, there is an ongoing contest between democratic and illiberal actors, with each side seeking to impart its vision on the digital economy.

Q2: Is there a historical parallel to governing key economic sectors globally?

A2: Sectors critical to the global economy are subject to international cooperation frameworks and pacts. Therefore, the idea of setting up a single multilateral organization with a mandate to govern the digital economy is not unprecedented. Global aviation has been regulated since 1903 when the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) first met, subsequently replaced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 1947. Similarly, the modern international banking system is governed by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), an institution initially set up in the interwar period in 1930 to oversee Germany’s reparations to the Allies under the Treaty of Versailles. The BIS acquired a more global mandate beginning in the 1950s and is now partially responsible for global financial stability.

2 October 2021

The Battle of the World’s Most Advanced Microchips

Anthony Ippoliti


Geopolitics determines the type of cell phone you carry, the car you drive, and the computer you use. The all-consuming power of nation-state actor rivalries in the international arena shapes the structural paradigm that drives trade and politics. This is the invisible hand of the global economy. And so it goes with China, microprocessors, and American national security.

The island nation of Taiwan has a historically fraught relationship with China, and a geopolitical miscalculation here could spell trouble. Much of China’s foreign policy is based on economic and resource security, and China is particularly weak in one area: advanced microprocessors. These are the chips that power smart phones, desktops, laptops, and other devices. Microprocessors are a key component in the world’s infrastructure, and China has been working to develop a domestic capability to produce the most advanced types of these chips. Those efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

Production of these advanced chips is a highly technical endeavor, and none of the companies in the world that can do it are located in mainland China. A subsidiary of China’s Huawei developed a design for an advanced chip called the HiSilicon Kirin 9000, then outsourced the production of the chip to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which counts itself among a very small number of companies able to actually build a chip based on the Kirin 9000 design. However, TSMC is located in Taiwan, and recent U.S. sanctions effectively ended Huawei’s ability to actually produce the chip that it designed. This is a double-edged sword with China’s national security on one side, and American national security on the other.

The Kremlin’s Strange Victory

Fiona Hill

Donald Trump wanted his July 2018 meeting in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to evoke memories of the momentous encounters that took place in the 1980s between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Those arms control summits had yielded the kind of iconic imagery that Trump loved: strong, serious men meeting in distant places to hash out the great issues of the day. What better way, in Trump’s view, to showcase his prowess at the art of the deal?

That was the kind of show Trump wanted to put on in Helsinki. What emerged instead was an altogether different sort of spectacle.

By the time of the meeting, I had spent just over a year serving in the Trump administration as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. Like everyone else who worked in the White House, I had, by then, learned a great deal about Trump’s idiosyncrasies. We all knew, for instance, that Trump rarely read the detailed briefing materials his staff prepared for him and that in meetings or calls with other leaders, he could never stick to an agreed-on script or his cabinet members’ recommendations. This had proved to be a major liability during those conversations, since it often seemed to his foreign counterparts as though Trump was hearing about the issues on the agenda for the first time.

The Myth of ‘Spheres of Influence’ in the Pacific Region

Sasha Davis

In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan it is not surprising that the United States and allied governments are recentering their foreign policy and military strategies on the Pacific region and the rivalry with China. What is surprising, however, is how many of the current plans and discussions about the Pacific region are based on outdated conceptualizations of how political, economic, and military influence actually work in this oceanic realm. Based on a number of commentaries, articles, and reports, one would think that there is actually a definitive line across the Pacific Ocean that serves as a hard border between Chinese influence on one side, and the U.S. and its allies on the other.

Lyle Goldstein, director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, was particularly explicit about this mindset when he said of the Micronesian islands of the Western Pacific, “It is around these islands that the line of spheres of influence between the [U.S. and China] are being drawn… The question is where does the line switch?”