In the April–May 2015 issue of Survival, Bruce Gilley and David Kinsella explore the potential for states to coerce others into action on climate change; Charles D. Freilich explains Israel’s inability to win conclusive military victories; David A. Shlapak calls for a more modest US military strategy; Steven Pifer, Egon Bahr, Götz Neuneck, Lukasz Kulesa, Mikhail Troitskiy, Matthew Kroenig, Samuel Charap, Jeremy Shapiro and Maria Rost Rublee discuss the strategic dimensions of the Ukraine crisis; and Donald Holbrook and Vicken Cheterian delve into the relationship between al-Qaeda and ISIS.

 

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  • Coercing Climate Action

    At UN-sponsored climate talks in 2013, the Group of 77 (G77) developing countries, joined by China, walked out briefly in protest against the failure of rich countries to provide a ‘loss-and-damage mechanism’ that would compensate poor countries for the detrimental effects of climate change. At the same conference, Japan’s announcement that it would not meet its emissions goals brought widespread condemnation. These events reflected an intensification of the most persistent...
  • Britain’s Confusing Election

    Were it to be a straightforward ‘economy, stupid’ contest, the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, might be expected to triumph in Britain’s 7 May 2015 general election. The government that took office in 2010, a coalition between the Conservatives and the third-placed Liberal Democrats, inherited a large budget deficit and a steep recession that had begun with the 2008 financial crisis. Following nearly five years of spending...
  • Consequences of a New Cold War

    The Ukraine crisis poses vexing policy challenges for Washington. President Barack Obama has sought to strike a balance between the imperative of responding to Russian actions and the equally important need to avoid an all-out confrontation with Moscow. As he put it in July 2014, ‘it’s not a new Cold War … [It] is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognise that Ukraine can chart its own...
  • The Stress Test of German Leadership

    The euro crisis has underscored an uncomfortable reality: German primacy. Berlin’s critics see Germany as an unstoppable juggernaut using its economic and monetary might to enforce heartless and self-righteous Calvinist austerity. Chancellor Angela Merkel has emerged as a particular lightning rod. She is perceived as the sole decision-maker in Europe, at the expense of Germany’s downgraded European Union (EU) partners. Her determination to enforce the diktat of strict fiscal austerity...
  • Noteworthy

     
  • Towards a More Modest American Strategy

    The debate over national-security strategy in Washington is seemingly bracketed by two similar choices: sustaining American primacy and expanding American primacy. This fixation is remarkably arrogant, unnecessarily ambitious and unsustainably expensive; it has done, and will do, little to improve the lives of the great majority of the country’s citizens. America’s recent track record as the sole superpower is not particularly enviable. Two largely unsuccessful wars have left the greater Middle...
  • Why Can’t Israel Win Wars Any More?

    National security has defined the Israeli experience for nearly seven decades. Yet, in the face of threats ranging from low-level terrorism to existential nuclear dangers, Israel has never adopted a formal national-security strategy. Founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion was the only sitting leader to develop one, and though it was never formally enshrined, the ‘Ben-Gurion doctrine’ remains Israel’s closest equivalent to a national-security strategy to this day. The defence components...
  • Al-Qaeda and the Rise of ISIS

    Ayman al-Zawahiri’s leadership of al-Qaeda has been beset by a series of calamities that threaten the viability of the movement’s core group and its legacy. Zawahiri was always more suited to be second in command, offering dense strategic and ideological deliberations rather than acting as the public face of a global Islamist militant movement. Replacing the charismatic Osama bin Laden was thus always going to be a challenge. The fact...
  • ISIS and the Killing Fields of the Middle East

    There is something nauseating about the violence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Its celebration of brutality – decapitating prisoners and burning them alive, crucifying and exhibiting its victims – sickens even from a distance. In June 2013, ISIS fighters executed 15-year-old street-coffee vendor Mohammad Kattaa in front of his parents in Aleppo, for using an expression they considered blasphemous. On the central square in Raqqa where...
  • Forum: NATO and Russia

    In the most recent issue of this journal, Matthew Kroenig argued that ‘Russia’s annexation of Crimea, invasion of Donbas, and continued threats to Ukraine and other European countries not only menace the stability of the post-Cold War order in Europe, but also pose a fundamental challenge to the assumptions about the strategic environment that have undergirded the NATO alliance for the past quarter of a century’ (‘Facing Reality: Getting NATO...
  • Fantasy Counterfactual: A Nuclear-Armed Ukraine

    ‘If only Ukraine had kept its nuclear weapons, this would never have happened.’ The counterfactual heard around the world after Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 makes intuitive sense. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine became the world’s third-largest nuclear power (behind Russia and the United States), with approximately 1,900 strategic and 2,500 tactical nuclear weapons. Surely Russia would not pick a fight with such a well-armed adversary?...
  • Understanding US Retrenchment in Europe

    American forward presence in Europe has been no easy sell in recent years. With Washington’s intention to ‘rebalance’ towards Asia challenged by a constrained defence-budgetary environment, the idea of scaling back in Europe had begun, until the crisis in Ukraine, to make some headway.1 In 2012, the Pentagon’s strategic guidance warned that US force posture in Europe would have to ‘adapt to the evolving strategic landscape’ and develop ‘innovative, low-cost...
  • Defence and Japan’s Constitutional Debate

    In July 2014, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that his cabinet had approved a reinterpretation of the country’s constitution. Although Article 9 of the document, effected in 1947, stated that Japan had forever renounced war as a sovereign right, the change meant that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) would, for the first time since their founding in 1954, be permitted to participate in acts of collective self-defence (generally understood...
  • The Coup-Proofing of India

    In his 1892 short story ‘Silver Blaze’, Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes famously draw Inspector Gregory’s attention to the ‘curious incident of the dog in the night-time’. ‘The dog did nothing in the night-time’, protests Gregory. ‘That’, replies Holmes, ‘was the curious incident.’ Dogs that do not bark are unfairly neglected in the social sciences. States that flourish rather than those that collapse; crises that retreat from the brink rather...
  • Book Reviews

    War, Conflict and the Military H.R. McMaster Can War Be Eliminated? Christopher Coker. Cambridge: Polity, 2014. £9.99/$12.95. 121 pp. The short answer to the question that Christopher Coker, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, poses in the title of his book is ‘no’. War, he observes, is ‘remarkably resilient’, having ‘even regained a new lease on life in fresh dimensions, including cyberspace’ (p. xi). Coker is...
  • Brief Notices

     
  • Letters to the Editor

    ‘Pan-Islamism’ and ideology Sir, In assembling the following reply to Behlül Ozkan (‘Turkey, Davutoglu, and the Idea of Pan-Islamism’, Survival, vol. 56, no. 4, August–September 2014), I find myself in an awkward position, because I hold his post-structuralist book on Turkish nationality in high regard. It was surprising to see this article drift away from his theoretical background. Ozkan argues that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s ‘support for the overthrow of Middle...
  • China and the World

    There is no such thing as ‘Asia’. The term refers to an arbitrarily drawn space on a map. Asia does not exist as a coherent cultural and historical area in the way that Europe or even Latin America exists. This is one reason why China views its position and strategies in Asia only in a global context. That global context is conditioned, first and foremost, by the United States of America:...
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Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

April-May 2015

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