Globes. Photo: caffeinatedjedi/flickr.
Future States: From International to Global Political Order
By: Stephen Paul Haigh
In Future States Stephen Paul Haigh addresses the phenomena of globalization. The central argument made is for the resilience, adaptability and centrality of states in the global system, a system which is rendered neo-medieval in form by globalization. For Haigh, states transformed into embedded cosmopolitanism states are an institutional necessity in a global system that has returned to “medieval-style configurations of segmented or cross-cutting authority” (p.3). Clearly, the book deals with some extremely big questions and the author’s arguments are supported by a clear, subtle and reflexive analysis of globalization and states throughout.
Future States provides a comprehensive investigation of the development of modern states as we now know them. Haigh recognises that there is nothing natural about the concepts of sovereignty and the Westphalian state system (p.48), and he explores how they came to be. Haigh argues that with the formation of the Westphalian system “Pope above and Lord below lost influence; in their stead the King” (p.57). Driven by material causes (p.48) as well as and ideational ones (p.50), this political order signalled a shift of identity, power and allegiance from institutions at either extreme of near and far and concentrated them in the middle (p.57). » More
Nigerian DSS operatives. Photo: Beeg Eagle/Wikimedia Commons.
During the 43rd ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on 18 July 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria, the Chairman, President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, announced that the Nigerian government had requested the withdrawal of its troop battalion deployed in Mali as part of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operation. According to Ouattara, the decision was based on the unstable security situation in Nigeria’s north.
However, the Nigerian government’s sudden decision to pull out of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) came shortly after the Rwandan Major General Jean Bosco Kazura was appointed by the UN Secretary General as commander of the mission. Kazura’s appointment sparked controversy, leading to speculation that Nigeria withdrew its troops in protest at the UN appointment. » More
Free Syrian Army soldier in Aleppo. Photo: Voice of America News: Scott Bobb/Wikimedia Commons.
[A version of this article was first published by Noria Research] [en français]
Despite limited human capacity and financial means, civilian institutions have nevertheless emerged this year in the zones conquered by the insurrection movement in northern Syria. Reconstructing an administrative system from the bottom-up has enabled the public service system to restart, and it constitutes the basis for an alternative to the Damascus regime. The management of eastern Aleppo by the armed opposition thus constitutes both a strategic and a political challenge.
The areas controlled by the insurgency in the country’s second most significant city are home to over a million inhabitants (though the exact figure is uncertain), and their management represents a test for the sustainability of the opposition in the long run. Despite daily bombings and limited external aid ($400 000 since its creation in March, to which can be added one-off aid donations which generally add up to a few tens of thousands of dollars), Aleppo’s new municipality has managed to re-establish vital public services. City agents pick up the trash; electricity and water are available several hours a day. Shops, schools, and hospitals have reopened. The police force is progressively re-forming throughout the city, though it still numbers only a few hundreds men. In the short term, the city’s access to food seems more or less secure, and a limited return of refugees from Turkey could even be observed this summer. » More
Barack Obama. Photo: Steve Jurvetson/flickr.
In international relations, there exists diplomatic theater and diplomatic facts. A recent example of theater is the agreement between China and the United States to expand their military exchanges and bilateral scientific contacts. The reality, however, is something quite different. The US Department of Defense, for example, continues to comply with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000, which forbids any contact with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) staff members that might result in the “inappropriate exposure” of key US operational plans, dispositions or activities. China’s astronauts, in turn, remain banned from the International Space Station and, more recently, its scientists were prohibited from attending an academic conference at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
At the heart of these prohibitions is the US Congress. Over the past few years it has thwarted the funding for joint Sino-American projects; it has voiced concerns about the potential theft of US space technology; and it played a key role in terminating an exchange program that helped facilitate Sino-America dialogue on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Unsurprisingly, leading American scientists are upset about the missed opportunities that these restrictions represent. Yes, they include missed chances for collaborative research, but they also represent a lost opportunity for each country to gain deeper insights into the long-term strategic interests of each other. » More
Sargsyan, Medvedev and Aliev. Photo: kremlin.ru/Wikimedia Commons.
Policymakers and analysts have spent the past two decades applying the same insights and settlement approaches to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the same limited impact. There is an underpinning perception that everything that could have been said has already been said. This, combined with a set of overused words such as ‘stalemate’, ‘deadlock’, ‘frozen’ and, more recently, ‘simmering conflict’ brings with it a certain level of fatigue and apathy on the part of the conflict parties and external observers.
However, tangible contextual changes within protracted conflicts often open up windows of opportunity for new dynamics in peace processes. In this respect, does Armenia’s stated intention to join the Russian-led Customs Union provide a window of opportunity for renewed mediation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? » More