By Lee Jones
Critics of the BRI accuse China of pursuing a policy of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’: luring poor, developing countries into agreeing unsustainable loans to pursue infrastructure projects so that, when they experience financial difficulty, Beijing can seize the asset, thereby extending its strategic or military reach. This paper demonstrates that the evidence for such views is limited.
To read the report, please see https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/08/debunking-myth-debt-trap-diplomacy
By Chris Phillips, 15 March 2021
Syria has been excluded from the Arab League for nearly a decade, but that may be about to change. Last week, the United Arab Emirates called for the war-torn country to be restored to the organisation it helped found in 1945, echoing similar calls by Iraq in January.
To read more, please see https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/syria-war-assad-arab-league-welcome-back-will
By Sarah Wolff and Stella Ladi
Exploring the challenges of Covid-19 for the European Union (EU) during March-August 2020, this article argues that contrary to prior crises the EU has demonstrated a certain degree of adaptability to a ‘permanent’ emergency mode. This adaptability varies across policy areas under study. Inter-crisis learning has been higher in state aid and economic governance than in the area of Schengen. Discursive shifts co-exist and have been central to the areas of cybercrime, economic governance and climate change. Additionally, and despite the tensions, there are signs of renewed political commitment to the European project and an acceleration of decisions and initiatives that had been decided or discussed before the pandemic. Although de-politicization and politicization trends continue to co-exist, we observe politicization at the top with European elites perceiving the Covid-19 emergency as an existential threat for the EU. Finally, we argue that the EU’s adaptability and acceleration of prior trends do not necessarily involve a race that favor supranational tendencies.
To read the article, please see https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07036337.2020.1853120
By Lee Jones and Shahar Hameiri
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed massive failures of governance at the global and national levels. Global health governance failed rapidly, with action quickly becoming nationally based, uncoordinated, and often zero-sum. However, domestic health governance also often fared very poorly, even in some of the wealthiest countries, which were ostensibly best-prepared to deal with a pandemic. Why? We argue that this reflects the inherent pathologies of the shift from ‘government to governance’ and of the ‘regulatory state’ it had spawned. This has resulted in the hollowing-out of effective state capacities, the dangerous diffusion of responsibility, and de facto reliance on ad hoc emergency measures to contain crises. We demonstrate this through a detailed case study of Britain, where regulatory governance and corporate outsourcing failed miserably, contrasting this with the experience of South Korea, where the regulatory state form was less well established and even partially reversed.
To read the article, please see https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09692290.2021.1892798
By Sophie Harman
COVID-19 had led to long overdue visibility of the gendered determinants and impacts of health emergencies and global health security. This article explores why gender was neglected in previous health emergencies, what led to change in visibility of gender issues during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implications of such change for understanding the relationship between gender and global health security. The article explores the question of neglect by drawing on original research into the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, its aftermath and implications for future pandemic preparedness. The article then looks in detail at the research efforts, funding, epistemic community activism and impact of COVID-19 to explain why gender received high profile political attention and acknowledgment. The article argues that the change in visibility, research and advocacy around gender equality during the COVID-19 outbreak does not demonstrate an advancement in gender equality in global health. To the contrary, such visibility reinforces the inherent problems of global health security evident in the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak that create and reproduce binaries of neglect and visibility, and hierarchies of the global health issues that matter, the people that matter and the women that matter. What unites neglect and visibility of gender in global health security is that gender is understood as solution rather than threat. Combined these factors make gender equality incompatible with global health security.
To read the article, please see https://academic.oup.com/ia/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ia/iiab012/6180992
Laleh Khalili has written on the causes and effects of Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal for Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage blog
By Laleh KhaliliMarch 26, 2021 at 6:46 p.m. UTC
On the morning of March 23, a gargantuan freighter laden with containers, heading north to the Mediterranean, ran aground in the Suez Canal. The weather was blustery, with sandy gusts blowing across the canal. A strong gust and the hydrodynamics of shallow waters pushed the merchant vessel Ever Given into the east bank of the canal.
It was immediately clear that the bulbous nose at the prow of the ship had lodged in the canal’s bank, and the 1,300-foot body of the ship lay diagonally across the waterway, blocking traffic. Ironically, as my new book explains, the most dramatic leaps in ship sizes were precipitated by Suez Canal politics in the 1950s and 1960s. Decades later, it’s the vast size of the ship that makes refloating it so difficult.
By Friday, more than 160 ships were anchored in the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Egyptian officials appeared confident the canal could reopen within days, while salvage engineers cautioned that freeing the stuck ship might take weeks. Oil prices jumped up by a few dollars on Wednesday; and insurance claims on freight delays have begun to trickle in.
To read more, please go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/26/big-ships-were-created-avoid-relying-suez-canal-ironically-big-ship-is-now-blocking-it/
This post originally appeared as “Big ships were created to avoid relying on the Suez Canal. Ironically, a big ship is now blocking it” in The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post on 26 March 2021.
Rowan Lubbock has written a new essay for Textos & Debates on the geopolitics of COVID-19 in Venezuela.
Abstract: The impact of COVID-19 in Venezuela has merely compounded an already existing health crisis within the country. Like the rest of the Venezuelan economy and society, the breakdown of the healthcare system is largely due to the legacy of class conflict and the contradictions of Bolivarian oil-dependent development policy, which finally came to breaking point with the end of the commodity super-cycle. And yet, despite the domestic sources of the crisis, the current unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela is inherently geopolitical in nature. Central to this story is the manner in which Venezuela’s domestic and electoral dynamics have become inextricably embedded within the ‘imperialist chain’ centred on Washington. The conflict between chavista and opposition forces, the constitutional crisis of 2017, the unilateral declaration of Juan Guaidó as ‘interim president’ in 2019, and an intensified sanctions regime are all differentially conditioned by US imperial strategy. This paper will unpack the interconnections between the domestic and international dynamics of Venezuela’s socio-political crisis, explore the ways in which COVID-19 has been weaponised by the Trump administration, and attempt to understand the prospects for radical political renewal under conditions of increasing geopolitical conflict.
The article can be found at https://revista.ufrr.br/textosedebates/article/view/6665
Laleh Khalili has written an essay for Noema Magazine on Apocalyptic Infrastructure:
“Centrally planned and constructed infrastructures operate on the basis of aggregate statistics, abstract determinations, modular planning often imported from elsewhere, and generalized principles that ignore, if not run roughshod over, local contexts, concerns and contingencies.
Planners must not privatize the profits made from infrastructures while demanding public investments and socializing the risks. For infrastructure to work, for it to serve the public and steward the world’s air, water and soil for future generations, it has to be planned through more open, egalitarian and environmentally militant processes.”
The essay can be found at https://www.noemamag.com/apocalyptic-infrastructures/
Jean-Francoise Drolet and Michael Williams have published a new article, “The radical Right, realism, and the politics of conservatism in postwar international thought” in The Review of International Studies.
The rise of the radical Right over the last decade has created a situation that demands engagement with the intellectual origins, achievements, and changing worldviews of radical conservative forces. Yet, conservative thought seems to have no distinct place in the theoretical field that has structured debates within the discipline of IR since 1945. This article seeks to explain some of the reasons for this absence. In the first part, we argue that there was in fact a clear strand of radical conservative thought in the early years of the field’s development and recover some of these forgotten positions. In the second part, we argue that the near disappearance of those ideas can be traced in part to a process of ‘conceptual innovation’ through which postwar realist thinkers sought to craft a ‘conservative liberalism’ that defined the emerging field’s theoretical alternatives in ways that excluded radical right-wing positions. Recovering this history challenges some of IR’s most enduring narratives about its development, identity, and commitments – particularly the continuing tendency to find its origins in a defining battle between realism and liberalism. It also draws attention to overlooked resources to reflect upon the challenge of the radical Right in contemporary world politics.
The article can be read at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/review-of-international-studies/article/radical-right-realism-and-the-politics-of-conservatism-in-postwar-international-thought/D7F379A82AC34A21EC2DF6AB786A3575#article
Jean-Francoise Drolet’s new book, Beyond Tragedy and Eternal Peace Politics and International Relations in the Thought of Friedrich Nietzsche has been published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.
As a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and scholar of Latin and Greek, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history. Beyond Tragedy and Eternal Peace provides an overview of his legacy, highlighting the synergy between his critique of metaphysics and his reflections on the politics and international relations of the late nineteenth century.
Jean-François Drolet exposes and analyzes Nietzsche’s account of the political processes, institutions, and dominant ideologies shaping public life in Germany and Europe during the 1870s and 1880s. Nietzsche anticipated a new kind of politics, borne out of such events as the Franco-Prussian War, the unification of Germany under Bismarck, the advent of mass democracy, and the rise and transformation of European nationalism. Focusing on conflict and political violence, Drolet expertly reconstructs Nietzsche’s fierce and continued critique of the nationalist, liberal, and socialist ideologies of his age, which the philosopher believed failed to grapple with the death of God and the crisis of European nihilism it engendered.
As this reconstructive interpretation reveals, Nietzsche’s philosophy offers a powerful and still greatly underappreciated reckoning with the changing political practices, norms, and agencies that led to the momentous collapse of the European society of states during the early twentieth century.
The book can be found here: https://www.mqup.ca/beyond-tragedy-and-eternal-peace-products-9780228005605.php?page_id=120548&