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Complex Adaptive Systems

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This graphic depicts 1) the adaptive cycles that take place within complex systems, such as national and international security systems; and 2) how national security systems interact with international security systems. For more on this subject as well as the concept of resilience, see Tim Prior’s chapter for Strategic Trends 2018 here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics click here.

In Search of the Real Indo-Pacific

Image courtesy of US Department of Defense/Vernon Young Jr.

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 14 June 2018.

Global powers show renewed interest in the Indo-Pacific region, but should resist piling on with geopolitical intentions

The 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore might as well have been renamed the “Indo-Pacific Dialogue.” In the plenaries and the panels, in the Q&As, corridors, and coffee breaks, not even the imminent Trump-Kim summit hosted by Singapore could compete with the “Indo-Pacific” among the attendees. Although the toponym itself is old, its sudden popularity is new, reflecting new geopolitical aspirations for the region.

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Is the UN Security Council Losing Legitimacy?

Image courtesy of JD Lasica/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 7 June 2018.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) is at a precipice. The Trump administration’s recent announcement that the US would no longer abide by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the multilateral agreement to restrict Iran’s ability to acquire and develop nuclear weapons – breaks both a UNSC agreement and UNSC procedure. Breaking the JCPOA has the potential to undermine the UNSC’s legitimacy and the important functions it serves; the value the permanent five members of the UNSC (P5) place on the UNSC as a deliberative, policy-producing body in international politics is unlikely to persist amidst repeated, major violations of UNSC agreements and procedures by the P5, with downstream consequences for a broad swathe of international peace and security outcomes.

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Merkel and Macron: Edging towards Change?

Image courtesy of the European External Action Service/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 7 June 2018.

Angela Merkel finally responds to Emmanuel Macron’s Europe reform plans – but through the pages of a newspaper, and in only the most guarded of terms.
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Iran, Russia: What’s at Stake in the Syrian Civil War

Image courtesy of Kremlin.ru. CC BY 4.0.

This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures (GPF) on 23 May 2018.

The era of foreign intervention in Syria is coming to an end – at least that’s what Russian President Vladimir Putin said when Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, visited Sochi last week. Granted, Putin’s statement was ambiguous – “in connection with the significant victories … of the Syrian army … foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic” – but Russia’s Syria envoy clarified the next day that Putin was, in fact, calling on all militaries to vacate the country.

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