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Strategic Updates

Our Strategic Updates are short, forward looking publications from LSE IDEAS that identify topics of emerging strategic importance in international affairs. 

In IDEAS we certainly hope we have something worthwhile to offer a global public hungry for analysis rather than soundbites, open debate rather than cheap posturing.

IDEAS Director Professor Michael Cox

Latest updates:

China in the 2020s: a more difficult decade?

The conventional narrative is that China is, or will, by 2030, be the largest economy in the world. Based on commonly held expectations historically about prewar Germany, the USSR and Japan, greater humility would not go amiss. It is not preordained that past economic trends will continue, especially in view of a much compromised outlook for both China and the rest of the world in the 2020s. Read online / Download PDF

 

The Weaponisation of the Dollar

The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Iran deal and to amplify its sanctions regime against Iran has demonstrated how a relatively unused and untested tool available uniquely to the US: the dollar as a currency, together with the infrastructure of the global payments system, is being weaponised. Read online / Download PDF

Refining Britain's Economic Diplomacy

The UK government’s professed intent to leave the European Union and negotiate its own free trade agreements means that Britain would be setting its own trade policies for the first time since 1973, and would need to explicitly set out the aims of British trade and associated foreign investment policies for the first time in four decades. While current global and domestic conditions are politically challenging, this offers an opportunity for the UK to take the lead in ensuring that trade and investment policies benefit all in society. Read online / Download PDF

All updates by date:

China in the 2020s: a more difficult decade?
September 2019

The conventional narrative is that China is, or will, by 2030, be the largest economy in the world. Based on commonly held expectations historically about prewar Germany, the USSR and Japan, greater humility would not go amiss. It is not preordained that past economic trends will continue, especially in view of a much compromised outlook for both China and the rest of the world in the 2020s. Read online / Download PDF

The Weaponisation of the Dollar
August 2019

The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Iran deal and to amplify its sanctions regime against Iran has demonstrated how a relatively unused and untested tool available uniquely to the US: the dollar as a currency, together with the infrastructure of the global payments system, is being weaponised. Read online / Download PDF

Refining Britain's Economic Diplomacy
July 2019

The UK government’s professed intent to leave the European Union and negotiate its own free trade agreements means that Britain would be setting its own trade policies for the first time since 1973, and would need to explicitly set out the aims of British trade and associated foreign investment policies for the first time in four decades. While current global and domestic conditions are politically challenging, this offers an opportunity for the UK to take the lead in ensuring that trade and investment policies benefit all in society. Read online / Download PDF

Turkey: An Emerging Middle Power in a Changing World?
May 2019

Turkey has increased its international presence in recent years and attracted wide academic attention. In this Strategic Update, Dr Buğra Süsler discusses Turkey’s engagement with global politics, questioning whether and how Turkey fits into the international system as an “emerging middle power”. Read online / Download pdf

Regionalism Revisited in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East
April 2019

The Arab Middle East may be coming together as never before, but so far that's inviting more confrontation than cooperation. In this Strategic Update, Professor Ayşegül Sever explores the new forces of regionalization and crises of regionalism in the world's most contentious corner. Read online / Download pdf

Britain’s Pivot to Asia: The Perils & Possibilities of Post-Brexit Politics
March 2019

As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, will the Brexiteers' vision of a "Global Britain" finally emerge? Will a pivot to Asia unlock the possibilities they claim? In this Strategic Update, Stephen Paduano explores the future of British engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the opportunities that exist, and the dangers that lie ahead. Read online / Download pdf

Power Dynamics in an Era of Big Data
March 2019

In this Strategic Update, Stacy Langworthy investigates a force under-explored and under-theorised in the world of International Relations and policy making: big data. Who can hold it? Who can harness it? What can it do? Read online / Download pdf

Why Do Foreign Fighters Join Islamic State?
November 2018

In this Strategic Update Asya Metodieva explores the reasons why Kosovans are travelling to Syria. She uses an in-depth analysis of both quantitative and oral sources, shedding light on the interaction of what are termed ‘identity producers’ and ‘identity seekers’. Read online / Download pdf

A Global Trade Hub for Services: the UK after Brexit
July 2018

Can Britain become a hub for global trade in services, with overlapping free trade agreements? In this Strategic Update, Linda Yueh outlines the approach to the Brexit negotiations needed to achieve this outcome. Read online / Download pdf

A Digital Geneva Convention? The Role of the Private Sector in Cybersecurity
May 2018

Cybersecurity has risen to the top of the international agenda.  This Strategic Update explores what role the private sector should play in the global policy response, with companies on the 'frontline' of the cyber threat often being more proactive than states. Read online / Download pdf

Victors and Victims: Creating a Military for the Digital Age
February 2018

In this Strategic Update, General Sir Richard Barrons warns that our military capabilities must be comprehensively rethought, or we will all be at risk. He sets out 8 principles for how to create an effective military for the digital age. Read online / Download pdf

Understanding the Global Rise of Populism
February 2018

In this Strategic Update, Michael Cox explores the causes of populists' recent electoral successes around the world. He argues it is important to try and understand populist anger and the wider causes of populism, including the end of Communism. Read online / Download pdf

What are think tanks for? Policy research in the age of anti-expertise
December 2017

What role can and should think tanks play in a 'post-truth' world? In this Strategic Update, Rosa Balfour argues that to meet complex policy challenges think tanks need to improve their diversity, innovate, and re-focus on their core mission. Read online / Download pdf

Merkel's Fourth Term
October 2017

Following the 2017 German election, Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to continue in power for a fourth term. But this historic achievement feels like a heavily qualified victory. This Strategic Update looks at what the start of Merkel’s fourth term will mean for German politics, Eurozone reform, and Brexit. Read online / Download pdf

The Chinese Communist Party Congress: An Essential Guide
September 2017

This Strategic Update is the essential guide to the Chinese Communist Party Congress, one of the world's most secretive and exclusive political meetings. Read online / Download pdf

Realising the aims of 'Global Britain'
September 2017

How can 'Global Britain' create an effective post Brexit trade strategy? In this Strategic Update, Linda Yueh sets out how Britain can work towards a role as a global trading 'hub'. Read online

China's One Belt, One Road: A Reality Check
July 2017

The world is excited, yet confused about the potential of China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. What exactly is it? This Strategic Update explains the origins of the idea, who in Beijing really runs OBOR, and the existential challenges to the project. Read online / Download pdf

The 14 Brexit Negotiations
March 2017

The process of Brexit goes far beyond invoking Article 50. In this Strategic Update, Andrew Hammond and Tim Oliver identify some 14 Brexit negotiations underway - both formal diplomatic discussions and wider debates between and within the UK and EU. Read online / Download pdf

Making the 'Special Relationship' Great Again?
January 2017

Donald Trump’s election poses uncomfortable questions for Britain about the future of the UK-US ‘Special Relationship’. This Strategic Update looks at the core elements of the ‘Special Relationship’ that could be under strain and how Britain could be left between a Trump Rock and a Brexit Hard Place. Read online / Download pdf

The Greek Euro Tragedy
November 2016

This Strategic Update discusses the most recent problems for the Eurozone, namely the Greek crisis and how the European Central Bank’s (ECB) lack of democratic accountability has contributed to the instability of the Eurozone. Read online / Download pdf

ASEAN: In or Out? No Way…Not yet?
October 2016

The UK voted to leave the EU on a wave of populist anger. Does the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) face a similar threat to regional integration? In this Strategic Update, Tan Sri Munir Majid assesses the prospect of a member state leaving ASEAN and the future of UK-ASEAN relations after Brexit. Read online / Download pdf

Brexit: What Happens Next?
June 2016

Brexit is a process not an event. This Strategic Update sets out the positions the 27 remaining EU countries and the EU’s institutions will take in negotiations, gathered from a network of researchers across the continent.  Read online / Download pdf

A EU without the UK: The Geopolitics of a British Exit from the EU
February 2016

This Strategic Update examines what Brexit means for the EU, European integration, and Europe’s economics and security. Read online / Download pdf

The Long Road to Tehran: The Iran Nuclear Deal in Perspective

In 2015 Iran and the P5+1 reached a deal designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. How was this momentous agreement reached? This Strategic Update traces the story of this major diplomatic breakthrough, through the historical context of long term US-Iran relations.

Paving the Road to Paris? How the EU Can Facilitate a Climate Deal

On the road to the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, this Strategic Update asks what the EU can do to influence a higher level of ambition and continue to have a leadership role in the global climate community.

China-EU Relations and the Future of European Soft Power

Despite the obvious differences in political structures, the EU’s most comprehensive partnership with newly emerging powers over the past few years has been with China. This Strategic Update argues that in part this is due to a shared cultural heritage and China's identification with Europe's ancient culture.

Banking on Beijing

The crisis in Ukraine has led to new bilateral economic, financial and energy projects between China and Russia. But in the face of Western sanctions is Moscow taking a strategic risk by Banking on Beijing? This Strategic Update analyses the conflict's impact on Russia-China relations.

Common EU Policies on Authorised Immigration

The idea of 'Fortress Europe' has dominated debates on EU immigration policies. However, this focus on security and illegal migration has obscured important developments in EU policy on authorised migration. This Strategic Update analyses the construction of common EU policies that recognise the need for particular categories of international migrants.

Perspectives on Open Government in Latin America

Open Government, the idea of transparent, accountable and participatory governments, is blossoming in Latin America. This Strategic Update summarises a workshop at LSE ahead of the Open Government Partnership Summit in London.

The Laws of War and Cyberspace

This Strategic Update examines the militarisation of cyberspace and considers ways to prevent the Internet from turning into a battlefield.

Putinism: The Ideology

For too long, Vladimir Putin was dismissed as a thuggish or thoughtless authoritarian leader. But the institutional and ideological underpinnings of Putinism are quite sophisticated. This Strategic Update from Philippe Roman Chair Anne Applebaum analyses them. 

Japan and the US Pivot to the Asia Pacific

This Strategic Update analyses the consequences of the US pivot to Asia on the US-Japan alliance and on Japanese foreign and security policies.

The Anglo-French Defence Treaty

The signing of the Anglo-French Defence Treaty was one of the UK coalition's most significant policies. In the context of defence cuts on both sides of the Atlantic and the Channel, this Strategic Update assesses the consequences of the Treaty for Anglo- French defence cooperation.

Why Gandhi Matters

In India, Gandhi is known as the Father of the Nation. But Gandhi was, and remains, a genuinely trans-national figure. Ramachandra Guha explores four of Gandhi's ideas that remain important inspirations today.

The Euro Crisis: A Historical Perspective

This Strategic Update sheds light on the current euro crisis by looking at the debates preceding the conception of the euro. How can the early days of EU monetary cooperation help us understand today’s predicament? And what lessons can we draw from them for the euro?

Zimbabwe and Political Transition

This Strategic Update looks at the factors which helped ZANU-PF as a former liberation movement retain power and lead to a one-party dominant state in Zimbabwe. It also explores the extent to which ZANU-PF is adapting to democratic politics and multiparty elections.

Strategic Updates: Editor's highlights

Putinism: The Ideology

For too long, Vladimir Putin was dismissed as a thuggish or thoughtless authoritarian leader. But the institutional and ideological underpinnings of Putinism are quite sophisticated. This Strategic Update from Philippe Roman Chair Anne Applebaum analyses them.

What are think tanks for? Policy research in the age of anti-expertise

What role can and should think tanks play in a 'post-truth' world? In this Strategic Update, Rosa Balfour argues that to meet complex policy challenges think tanks need to improve their diversity, innovate, and re-focus on their core mission. Read online / Download pdf

The Chinese Communist Party Congress: An Essential Guide

This Strategic Update is the essential guide to the Chinese Communist Party Congress, one of the world's most secretive and exclusive political meetings. Read online / Download pdf

Why Gandhi Matters

In India, Gandhi is known as the Father of the Nation. But Gandhi was, and remains, a genuinely trans-national figure. Ramachandra Guha explores four of Gandhi's ideas that remain important inspirations today.

The Euro Crisis: A Historical Perspective

This Strategic Update sheds light on the current euro crisis by looking at the debates preceding the conception of the euro. How can the early days of EU monetary cooperation help us understand today’s predicament? And what lessons can we draw from them for the euro?

Strategic Update topics: Brexit

A Global Trade Hub for Services: the UK after Brexit

Can Britain become a hub for global trade in services, with overlapping free trade agreements? In this Strategic Update, Linda Yueh outlines the approach to the Brexit negotiations needed to achieve this outcome. Read online / Download pdf

Merkel's Fourth Term

Following the 2017 German election, Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to continue in power for a fourth term. But this historic achievement feels like a heavily qualified victory. This Strategic Update looks at what the start of Merkel’s fourth term will mean for German politics, Eurozone reform, and Brexit. Read online / Download pdf

Realising the aims of 'Global Britain'

How can 'Global Britain' create an effective post Brexit trade strategy? In this Strategic Update, Linda Yueh sets out how Britain can work towards a role as a global trading 'hub'. Read online / Download pdf

The 14 Brexit Negotiations

The process of Brexit goes far beyond invoking Article 50. In this Strategic Update, Andrew Hammond and Tim Oliver identify some 14 Brexit negotiations underway - both formal diplomatic discussions and wider debates between and within the UK and EU. Read online / Download pdf

Brexit: What Happens Next?

Brexit is a process not an event. This Strategic Update sets out the positions the 27 remaining EU countries and the EU’s institutions will take in negotiations, gathered from a network of researchers across the continent.  Read online / Download pdf

A EU without the UK: The Geopolitics of a British Exit from the EU

This Strategic Update examines what Brexit means for the EU, European integration, and Europe’s economics and security. Read online / Download pdf

Strategic Update topics: US Foreign Policy

Making the 'Special Relationship' Great Again?

Donald Trump’s election poses uncomfortable questions for Britain about the future of the UK-US ‘Special Relationship’. This Strategic Update looks at the core elements of the ‘Special Relationship’ that could be under strain and how Britain could be left between a Trump Rock and a Brexit Hard Place. Read online / Download pdf

The Long Road to Tehran : The Iran Nuclear Deal in Perspective

In 2015 Iran and the P5+1 reached a deal designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. How was this momentous agreement reached? This Strategic Update traces the story of this major diplomatic breakthrough, through the historical context of long term US-Iran relations.

Japan and the US Pivot to the Asia Pacific

This Strategic Update analyses the consequences of the US pivot to Asia on the US-Japan alliance and on Japanese foreign and security policies.

Strategic Update topics: China

The Chinese Communist Party Congress: An Essential Guide

This Strategic Update is the essential guide to the Chinese Communist Party Congress, one of the world's most secretive and exclusive political meetings. It explains who takes part in the Congress, how leadership transitions work, the other important functions of the Congress, and why the world should be watching. Read online / Download pdf

China's One Belt, One Road: A Reality Check

The world is excited, yet confused about the potential of China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. What exactly is it? This Strategic Update explains the origins of the idea, who in Beijing really runs OBOR, and the existential challenges to the project. Read online / Download pdf

Banking on Beijing

The crisis in Ukraine has led to new bilateral economic, financial and energy projects between China and Russia. But in the face of Western sanctions is Moscow taking a strategic risk by Banking on Beijing? This Strategic Update analyses the conflict's impact on Russia-China relations.

China-EU Relations and the Future of European Soft Power

Despite the obvious differences in political structures, the EU’s most comprehensive partnership with newly emerging powers over the past few years has been with China. This Strategic Update argues that in part this is due to a shared cultural heritage and China's identification with Europe's ancient culture.

Strategic Update topics: European Union

Merkel's Fourth Term

Following the 2017 German election, Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to continue in power for a fourth term. But this historic achievement feels like a heavily qualified victory. This Strategic Update looks at what the start of Merkel’s fourth term will mean for German politics, Eurozone reform, and Brexit. Read online / Download pdf

The Greek Euro Tragedy

This Strategic Update discusses the most recent problems for the Eurozone, namely the Greek crisis and how the European Central Bank’s (ECB) lack of democratic accountability has contributed to the instability of the Eurozone. Read online / Download pdf

The Euro Crisis: A Historical Perspective

This Strategic Update sheds light on the current euro crisis by looking at the debates preceding the conception of the euro. How can the early days of EU monetary cooperation help us understand today’s predicament? And what lessons can we draw from them for the euro?

Common EU Policies on Authorised Immigration

The idea of 'Fortress Europe' has dominated debates on EU immigration policies. However, this focus on security and illegal migration has obscured important developments in EU policy on authorised migration. This Strategic Update analyses the construction of common EU policies that recognise the need for particular categories of international migrants.

Paving the Road to Paris? How the EU Can Facilitate a Climate Deal

On the road to the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, what are the prospects for a deal among the key international players - the United States, China, and India? This Strategic Update asks what the EU can do to influence a higher level of ambition and continue to have a leadership role in the global climate community.

Strategic Update topics: Cybersecurity

A Digital Geneva Convention? The Role of the Private Sector in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has risen to the top of the international agenda.  This Strategic Update explores what role the private sector should play in the global policy response, with companies on the 'frontline' of the cyber threat often being more proactive than states. Read online / Download pdf

Victors and Victims: Creating a Military for the Digital Age

In this Strategic Update, General Sir Richard Barrons warns that our military capabilities must be comprehensively rethought, or we will all be at risk. He sets out 8 principles for how to create an effective military for the digital age. Read online / Download pdf

The Laws of War and Cyberspace

This Strategic Update examines the militarisation of cyberspace and considers ways to prevent the Internet from turning into a battlefield.

 

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