The CSS Blog Network

American Credibility is Dangerously Low: Just Not for the Reasons You May Think

Image courtesy of Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash.

This article was originally published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) on 31 July 2019.

In the field of international relations, a nation’s credibility is often thought to be calculated by evaluating its historical record of following through on threats of punishment issued to adversaries. In contrast, today, the larger challenge to U.S. global credibility arises not from questions about its ability to inflict pain on rivals, but rather from the demonstrated failure of U.S. policymakers to make good on incentives promised to rivals in exchange for constructive changes in their behaviors.

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Sanctions: The New Economic Battlefield

Image courtesy of Vladimir Solomyani/Unsplash

This article was originally published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on 6 August 2019.

Economic warfare is being fought with an intensity not seen since the period leading up to World War II as countries deploy tariffs, embargoes and economic sanctions to force policy changes or punish their adversaries.

Free trade is coming off second best, and global trade has stalled. There’s been no growth in trade volumes since late 2017, contributing to a slowing world economy.

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Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Still Matters for Europe

Image courtesy of Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 16 January 2019.

Today is the JCPOA’s third birthday – will it have another one?

Three years ago, Iran and global powers implemented the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), curtailing the country’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for sanctions relief. The deal continues to hang together – but only just. There are growing indications of signatory states’ fatigue and frustration in attempting to prevent the collapse of the JCPOA, following the US withdrawal from it last May. In this climate, it is important for the deal’s stakeholders to remember why it remains valuable:

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The Yemen War: A Proxy Sectarian War?

Image courtesy of Ibrahem Qasim/wikimedia. (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

This article was originally published by The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) on November 14 2018.

The diffusion of protests against authoritarian regimes across the Arab world in 2011 reinvigorated Yemen’s marginalized social movements and united different geographical and political factions in Yemen, such as the northern Houthi movement and the southern secessionist movement Hiraak.1 The Saudi Kingdom, along with other Gulf monarchies, swiftly designed a transitional plan for the country to ensure that President Ali Abdullah Saleh wass replaced with a friendly government led by President Abd Rabo Hadi. Disillusioned by the transition, the Houthis took military control of the capital Sana’a in September 2014, and Yemen descended into a civil war. On 26 March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on Yemen with the aim to restore the Saudi-backed Hadi government and destroy the Houthi movement. What was initially planned as a limited operation degenerated into a war of attrition without a conclusion insight. Scholars and policy analysts moved quickly to examine the Yemen war as a by-product of Saudi-Iranian rivalry and another manifestation of a region-wide war between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. Yet, the crisis in Yemen is more complex; it is neither an international proxy war nor a sectarian confrontation.

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Middle East

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This map shows the key players in the Middle East. For more on how Trump’s Middle East policy differs from that of Barack Obama, see Jack Thompson’s recent addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on proliferation, click here.

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