The CSS Blog Network

Behind North Korea´s Olive Branch: An Alternative View

Image courtesy of (stephan)/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on 5 January 2017.

Synopsis

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s conciliatory gestures towards South Korea are a welcome move. But they should not belie the high possibility that it will continue ballistic missile and warhead testing in 2018.

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Russia and China’s Alliance of Convenience

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This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures on 26 December 2017.

China and Russia conducted a six-day military exercise last week. The exercise simulated attacks on both countries from ballistic and cruise missiles. The Chinese Ministry of Defense declined to identify which country was the simulated aggressor in the exercise, but it’s not hard to figure out that it was the United States.

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Middle Powers in International Relations

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This article was originally published by E-International Relations (E-IR) on 8 May 2017.

Realism’s theoretical dominance in International Relations (IR) – especially its focus on the power of superpowers and its state-centric view of international society – has been challenged by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the global transformations characterising the post-Cold War era. One of those transformations is the way in which “states neither great nor small” are gaining increased recognition amid the disruptive multi-polarity of the current global disorder. Scholars such as Martin Wight and Carsten Holbraad, whose earlier writings about middle powers were overlooked in mainstream IR, are now acknowledged for their scholarly prescience. Bringing middle powers back into mainstream IR theorising is obviously overdue. There are two problems in the theorising of middle powers in contemporary IR scholarship that obscure their positioning and potential in post-Cold War international politics: (1) its intellectual history has been neglected; (2) “middle power” itself is a vague concept.

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Bridgebuilding without Foundations: Reflections on the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship in 2017

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Austria’s 2017 OSCE Chairmanship concentrated on improving the situation of civilians in conflicts, countering the danger of radicalization and rebuilding trust within the OSCE. Yet, deteriorating US-Russian relations prevented substantial successes of an engaged Chairmanship.

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The Four Faces of China in Central and Eastern Europe

Image courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 30 November 2017.

An American, a German, and a Chinese gentleman walk into a bar in Prague. The first two order a beer, and the bartender then turns to the Chinese man to ask, “What can I get you?” He simply replies, “The accounts please, I own the place.”

The joke is not entirely removed from reality. The Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI – an economic agenda billed as the Silk Road reincarnated – is putting meat on the bones of Chinese interaction with Central and Eastern Europe. BRI investments play a role in the increased priority attached to the “16+1” – a political format that brings China and the region together. The sixth meeting of heads of states of the Central and Eastern Europe countries and China in Hungary has revealed four faces of Chinese activity in the region: connector, shaper, investor and challenger.

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