The ‘Kosovo Precedent’: Russia’s justification of military interventions and territorial revisions in Georgia and Ukraine
In this latest Strategic Update, Valur Ingimundarson explores Russia’s use of the ‘Kosovo precedent’, in order to instrumentalise its violation of international norms for geopolitical gain in the post-Soviet space. Ever since Kosovo’s 2008 unique and contested independence process, Russia has increasingly relied paradoxically on the Kosovo case to legally justify support for secession within, and now overt military expansionism into, post-Soviet territory: from its invasion of Georgia and support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to the incorporation of Crimea into the Federation, its invasion of Ukraine, and current effort to absorb the Donbass region. Click here to read the Strategic Update
What Putin’s War in Ukraine Means for the Future of China-Russia Relations
Björn Alexander Düben analyses China’s reaction to, and motivation in implicitly supporting, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even as Putin’s strategic blunder becomes increasingly difficult to deal with. The author finds that, as long as Putin remains in power, long-term alignment since 2014 and a shared authoritarian world-view will cement closer ties between the PRC and Russian Federation; this at the cost of the latter devolving to a client-state dependent on China to keep its economy afloat, whilst the PRC’s cautious state banks further diminish Russian hopes of financial cooperation in order to avoid secondary sanctions from the West. Click here to read the Strategic Update
ASEAN: Seeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine through a glass darkly
Ahead of the ASEAN special summit on 12-13 May in Washington D.C., Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid confronts the dichotomy between ASEAN’s chartered principles on territorial integrity and the disunity of individual member states’ responses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The shadow of China looms large over the diminishment of ASEAN’s centrality, and the long-term dangers to the southeast Asia region from the conflict have been little considered. The Biden administration should emphasise the war’s impact on business and economics during the summit, as well as Russian irredentist support, to help ASEAN’s leaders see through the glass more clearly Click here to read the Strategic Update
NATO’s Resilience: The first and last line of defence
Ahead of NATO’s Madrid Summit in June 2022, Hugh Sandeman and Jonny Hall confront the political challenges posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the alliance’s 2021 Strengthened Resilience Commitment, especially in creating collective standards when resilience remains the responsibility of individual member states. The authors find that resilience is a psychological mindset as well as a material factor, and NATO’s ‘whole-of-society’ approach should be framed within the concept of ‘deterrence by denial’ to potential threats. Click here to read the Strategic Update
Decoding China’s “Common Prosperity” Drive
The term “common prosperity” has quickly risen to prominence in Chinese domestic politics amid an intense regulatory crackdown on China’s leading tech companies. However, this new policy agenda offers no clear road map or explicit policy instructions, giving way to various interpretations which while insightful do not depict the complete picture. In this strategic update, Xin Sun argues that the fundamental purpose of common prosperity is to support a new political order that keeps significant power in the hands of Xi and his closest allies and bolsters the supreme leader’s political survival in the coming decades. Click here to read the Strategic Update
Strategies for Order in a Disorderly World
In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Aaron McKeil aims to clarify debates between realism and liberalism, as applied theories. While he finds that each position is not without merits, under scrutiny neither is found to offer a sufficient strategy for order in a disorderly world. Click here to read the Strategic Update.
ASEAN's Cambodian Stress Test
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has faced an unprecedented challenge since the military junta seized power in a coup in Myanmar in 2020. Departing from its initial premise of ‘non-interference’ in the domestic policies of its member states, the regional group decided to ban Myanmar’s military representatives from meetings and summits. The five-point plan for consensus was supported by most members, however, Cambodia’s tenure as Chair of this organisation has brought the plan’s efficacy and longevity into question. At a time when Europe stands united against Russian actions in Ukraine, with a coherent and consistent response from states across the continent, can ASEAN do the same as it seeks to find a peaceful solution in the case of Myanmar? Click here to read the Strategic Update.
Regime Change No More: Coming to Terms with the Greater Middle East
Reflecting on the ‘farcical retreat from Afghanistan’ back in August 2021, Henrik Larsen discusses the need for a reckoning within US foreign policy and that of its NATO Allies. To focus on the other challenges to transatlantic security with a sense of integrity, these states must come to grips with their failed regime change agenda over the past 20 years. Afghanistan was the first of their interventions in the Greater Middle East since 2001, alongside Iraq, Libya, and Syria, that obscured the pursuit of realistic objectives and prioritised (liberal) ideals that proved to be detached from the local realities. In the wake of NATO’s new Strategic Concept for 2030 and beyond, this Strategic Update seeks to analyse the options for policy in the Middle East going forward. Click here to read the Strategic Update.
As tensions between Russia and Ukraine reach an almost-tipping point, Björn Alexander Düben analyses the historical and geopolitical rhetoric Putin and his government have deployed against the post-Maidan Ukraine since 2014. Asking, can this be seen as another Russian assertion of dominance in the post-Soviet region, could there be reasons closer to home, or why tensions across the border seem to once again be at a breaking point. From global oil prices to regime consolidation, an analysis into the words of Russia’s elites could unveil what future Europe is steering towards. Click here to read the Strategic Update.
Can Chancellor Scholz Save the West? The New German Government and Global Geopolitics
In the wake of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s departure from the German Chancellorship, her successor, Olaf Scholz, inherits a Germany which has been lacking in strategic vision and an acute foreign policy for a considerable amount of time. Maximilian Terhalle asks, can Chancellor Scholz provide this vision for his country, and imbue NATO and the EU with a coherent and unified foreign policy in the face of threats from China, Russia, and a divided ‘West’? Click here to read the Strategic Update.
The Russian Diaspora in the Baltic States: The Trojan Horse that never was
Thirty years ago this month, the world shook as one of the only two Superpowers unexpectedly collapsed, creating enormous ramifications for the 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves as non-titular citizens outside the borders of the newly formed Russian Federation. This ‘beached diaspora’ has been left marginalised and treated with fear, by the Baltic States in their nation-building policies and has left many to think of this community as ‘ripe’ for Russian influence. This Strategic Update will analyse Russian soft power polices and the development of ‘Russkii Mir’ as a tool for utilising this diaspora to further its foreign policy. Tools, which have been seemingly unaffected to a community of autonomy seeking citizens. Click here to read the Strategic Update.
Shaping the Indo-Pacific? Japan and Europeanisation
In this Strategic Update, Professor Yee-Kuang Heng investigates European power projection and presence in the Indo-Pacific, and its converging nature with Japan’s attempt to shape the regional environment in its favour. While UK threat perceptions have converged significantly with Japan’s since former Prime Minister David Cameron’s promulgation of a “golden era” in relations with China, managing expectations of Japan’s attempt to ‘shape’ and encourage Europeanisation remains crucial. But is it fair to conclude that Japan has been successful in encouraging a stronger European presence to help it shape the Indo-Pacific order? Download PDF
NATO and the Future Character of Warfare
Hugh Sandeman and Jonny Hall write an LSE IDEAS Strategic Update exploring NATO and the future character of warfare, based on a private discussion held in June. Read online / Download PDF
How Can America Challenge China's Political Ambitions in an Age of Deglobalisation?
COVID-19 has accelerated the trend of deglobalisation and further entrenched China into the growing political and economic fort of Asia. This has made the US less effective at implementing policies aimed at curbing Beijing’s political ambitions and strength in the region. Washington must therefore make itself indispensable in Asia and employ strategies for bringing China into a global network that can collectively reign in the Asian giant’s growing influence. Read online / Download PDF
The Dragon Lands in Belgrade: The Drivers of the Sino-Serbian Partnership
From ‘vaccine diplomacy’ to ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, this Strategic Update examines the Sino-Serbian partnership we are witnessing and what the future has in store for Serbian policymakers. Read online / Download PDF
Facing A Strategic Endgame? The US and the Ambiguities of Strategic Thinking
The disastrous strategic failures by the US in the past 30 years can be explained by its failure to understand what strategy actually is and how ambiguity lies at its heart. As a result, it has stumbled from crisis to crisis. There is no reason to think that it is any better placed under Biden to address the challenges of a ‘post-hegemonic’ world, argues Christopher Coker. Read online / Download PDF
Twitter and Digital Diplomacy: China and COVID-19
This Strategic Update explores how official Chinese foreign policy entities have used Twitter as a public diplomacy platform during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of their Twitter activity, and what this means for Chinese Twitter Diplomacy in the future. Read online / Download PDF
President Biden's Africa Policy
Joe Biden’s administration has committed to transforming America’s relationships across the globe. This period of reform presents the opportunity for a long-overdue reimagination of America’s policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this Strategic Update, Rebecca Rattner and Bjorn Whitmore argue a successful new relationship between America and Sub-Saharan Africa must rely on genuine partnership, support to local actors, and strong regional institutions. Their piece considers how to apply these principles in practice by examining the nuanced socio-political realities in East, West, Central, and Southern Africa. Read online / Download PDF
Coordination Failure: Risks of US-China competition in space
Gidon Gautel seeks to outline and call attention to two high-risk flash points arising from the development of the US & China’s national space programmes and industries. Read online / Download PDF
How International Aid Can Do More Harm Than Good: the case of Lebanon
As Lebanon reckons with another round of crisis, what should the international community do? In this Strategic Update, Valentina Finckenstein traces three decades of wasted aid and elite entrenchment, as well as the evolution of development theory, to advance a new course of action that will not make the mistakes of the past. Read online / Download PDF
Germany and the World of Yesterday
In the past six decades, the four pillars of Germany’s post-World War II security model were built and expanded: NATO, the European Union, trans-Atlanticism and free trade. This gave Germans their longest period of peace, making them fantastically rich as the world’s fourth biggest economy. Can Germany’s view of itself as a ‘big Switzerland’ be sustained? Leon Mangasarian argues not. Read his Strategic Update. Read online / Download PDF
The War is Dead, Long Live the War? Counterterrorism after the Trump Presidency
In his re-election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly claimed to be ending America's 'endless wars'. In this Strategic Update, Jonny Hall examines this claim by reviewing the Trump administration's counterterrorism policies over the last four years, showing that although there has been recent concrete progress towards withdrawal, this does not constitute an ending the so-called 'forever wars'. Read online / Download PDF
Myanmar's Search for Normalcy in an Abnormal World
In this Strategic Update, Matthew B. Arnold explores how international actors should embrace the complexity of Myanmar to support its pursuit of normalization. Read online / Download PDF
Britain's No-Deal Debacle? The Costs at Home and Likely Setbacks Abroad
For much of the past four years, and increasingly in the past few months, the United Kingdom has drifted in the direction of a No-Deal Brexit. In this Strategic Update, John Ryan explores the economic and political consequences for the United Kingdom of such a situation, as well as the domestic factors in Ireland and the United States that may provide unanticipated problems for the Johnson government. Read online / Download PDF
All Hands on Deck: The Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Need for US Leadership
Crisis has returned to the Eastern Mediterranean where Greek and Turkish economic interests, legal claims, and armed forces are squaring off. In this Strategic Update, Alexandros Zachariades explores how the two NATO powers arrived at the current confrontation, how the contest intersects with issues ranging from China to Libya, and how the international community can resolve the tension. Read online / Download PDF
Economic Diplomacy in the 21st Century: Principles and Challenges
The conduct of economic diplomacy must adapt. Linda Yueh writes about the framework for economic diplomacy in the 21st century in this Strategic Update. Read online / Download PDF
Technology in Conflict: how COVID-19 contact tracing apps can exacerbate violent conflicts
Jennifer Easterday explores how a human security approach to COVID-19 tech tools would prompt tech companies, governments, and other actors to work with communities in ways that enhance their agency in the face of the pandemic to both reduce the risk of exacerbating conflict while maximizing the benefits of technology. Read online / Download PDF
China in One Country: interdependence or globalisation 'with Chinese characteristics'?
In this Strategic Update, George Magnus investigates what is meant when China’s leadership speaks of globalisation, and what the implications of the answer are for the rest of the world. Read online / Download PDF
From Russia With Love? Serbia’s Lukewarm Reception of Russian Aid and Its Geopolitical Implications
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reached the Balkans, Serbia has energetically taken its partnership with China to the next level. However, while Russia has supplied aid to Serbia to combat the pandemic, it has not received the same attention from the Serbian leadership and public the way China did. Vuk Vuksanovic examines Serbo-Russian relations during the coronavirus pandemic and its geopolitical implications. Read online / Download PDF
Europe in a Multipolar World
Benjamin Martill and Lisa ten Brinke examine in more detail the position of Europe — and the EU — in a multipolar world. Read online / Download PDF
Biowar next? Security implications of the coronavirus
In this Strategic Update, Karsten Friis investigates the pandemic's potential consequences for the world, its armed forces, the integration of Europe, US-China relations, as well as the concept and practice of 'war' more broadly. Read online / Download PDF
Wings Along the BRI: Exporting Chinese UCAVs and Security?
China’s pursuit of military innovation has met a more active diplomacy along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Filling the void left by traditional suppliers, Chinese Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) have proliferated along the BRI and are starting to affect Middle Eastern and African security landscapes. This Strategic Update explains the drivers and implications of these developments in the context of China’s modernising defence industrial base and more active role in security cooperation in the Global South. Read online / Download PDF
Making Sense of Technological Spheres of Influence
The deterioration of Sino-American relations and the rise of novel forms of statecraft have given way to a worrying new feature of the international system: technological spheres of influence. In this Strategic Update, Valentin Weber explains how we have arrived at this novel geopolitical arrangement, where in the world the greatest contestation lies, and what the future of technospheres may hold. Read online / Download PDF
Battleground Southeast Asia: China's Rise and America's Options
Southeast Asia, while still a reservoir of goodwill for the US, has in recent years come increasingly under China's umbrella. Charles Dunst analyzes China's expansion there, discusses Southeast Asians' American predeliction, and offers steps the US can take to "win back" the region. Read online
China and COVID-19: a shock to its economy, a metaphor for its development
George Magnus examines what the Chinese response to the coronavirus, COVID-19, means for the economy, development, and Xi Jinping himself. Read online / Download PDF
Axis of Convenience? Israel and China in a multipolar world
Despite being one of the most important allies of the United States in the Middle East, Israel has been building a new partnership with China since 2013. Vuk Vusanovic explores the new partnership between Israel and China in this Strategic Update, and what this means alongside Israel's alliance with the United States. Read online / Download PDF
Old Issues, New Threats: Mine Action and IEDs in Urban Environments
Dave Luke explores how Mine Action’s policy and practices are coming under strain from the contemporary conflict trends of urbanisation and non-state armed groups (NSAG) using improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This Strategic Update considers if there is a paradigm shift underway or if the current frictions are growth pains for this generation of humanitarian responders. Read online / Download PDF
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
Turkey: An Emerging Middle Power in a Changing World?
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
Understanding the Global Rise of Populism
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
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
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
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'
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
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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
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.