The International Spectator, Vol. 52, No. 4, December 2017

Free A New Regional Cold War in the Middle East and North Africa: Regional Security Complex Theory Revisited View this article online

Open access States versus Corporations: Rethinking the Power of Business in International Politics View this article online

Issue: 
52/4
Publication date: 
14/12/2017

Trends in the global economy

Global Macroeconomic Imbalances after the Crisis: From the Great Moderation to Secular Stagnation
Mattias Vermeiren
After the global financial crisis, economists have been downbeat about the growth prospects of the capitalist world economy, leading many to argue that we have re-entered a period of “secular stagnation”. The phenomenon of secular stagnation is intrinsically connected to the evolution of global macroeconomic imbalances. During the pre-crisis era of the “Great Moderation”, the widening of global and European trade imbalances temporarily alleviated the problem of secular stagnation by forging a symbiotic yet unsustainable relationship between debt-financed consumption-led growth models in deficit countries and export-led growth models in surplus countries. The re-surfacing of secular stagnation and the asymmetric adjustment of these imbalances after the crisis can both be traced back to the domestic political constraints experienced by many advanced market economies in trying to revive their pre-crisis growth models.
Keywords: Global financial crisis, euro crisis, imbalances, secular stagnation, great moderation, varieties of capitalism
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States versus Corporations: Rethinking the Power of Business in International Politics
Milan Babic, Jan Fichtner and Eelke M. Heemskerk
Over 25 years ago, Susan Strange urged IR scholars to include multinational corporations in their analysis. Within IR and IPE discussions, this was either mostly ignored or reflected in an empirically and methodologically unsatisfactory way. We reiterate Strange’s call by sketching a fine-grained theoretical and empirical approach that includes both states and corporations as juxtaposed actors that interact in transnational networks inherent to the contemporary international political economy. This realistic, juxtaposed, actor- and relations-centred perspective on state and corporate power in the global system is empirically illustrated by the example of the transnationalisation of state ownership.
Keywords: International relations, international political economy, multinational corporations, states, power
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European migration policies

The EU-Turkey Deal One Year On: A Delicate Balancing Act
Laura Batalla Adam
Now in its sixth year, the war in Syria has triggered the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time. For most refugees and migrants, Turkey is the main transit country to reach Europe, where Syrian refugees hope for a better future. However, this journey has been hampered as several European countries closed their borders following the arrival of an unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers in 2015. In response, a deal was struck with Turkey to stem the migrant flow to Europe in exchange for some concessions. By outsourcing the management of migration flows to Turkey, the EU is failing to take its fair share of responsibility for refugee protection. Furthermore, as a result of the political situation in Turkey and the unmet promises under the deal, relations between Turkey and the EU have touched their lowest point since the start of accession negotiations in 2005. While survival of the deal is of critical importance as the EU needs Turkey’s assistance in curbing migration flows and Turkey is keen on revitalising its accession negotiations, the deal has exposed serious flaws that need to be addressed and must not be replicated with other countries.
Keywords: Migration, Syrian refugees, EU, Turkey, EU-Turkey deal
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Containing the Refugee Crisis: How the EU Turned the Balkans and Turkey into an EU Borderland
Jonathan Zaragoza-Cristiani
The events that took place during the 2015-16 refugee crisis in the southeastern EU region boosted unprecedented bordering processes. Borders were reinforced and extended and a costly and difficult deal with Turkey was undertaken; the western Balkans were turned into a vast buffer zone made up of multiple buffer states with fences of all types and sizes; while Greece was ring-fenced and to this day struggles to manage thousands of refugees stranded in camps all over its territory. By seeking to contain the refugee flows, the EU turned its southeastern region into a fortified EU borderland.
Keywords: Borderlands, buffer zone, Balkans, refugee crisis, migration, Fortress Europe
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Italy’s Migration Policies Combating Irregular Immigration: From the Early Days to Present Times
Gabriele Abbondanza
Italian migration policies combating irregular immigration from the early 20th century to the present times have been increasingly debated and controversial. Four phases are detectable: the absence of a legal framework while Italy was still an emigration country, the first regulations of the 1980s, policies influenced by both the European integration process and the increase in immigration until 2002 and, lastly, the country’s controversial approaches since 2004. What is noticeable is a dichotomy in Italy’s migration policies, with generally consistent internal measures and often contrasting external ones.
Keywords: Italy, migration policy, immigration, irregular immigration, asylum seekers, history of immigration, Arab Spring
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Security dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa

A New Regional Cold War in the Middle East and North Africa: Regional Security Complex Theory Revisited
Ruth Hanau Santini
Since the 2003 Iraq war, the Middle East and North Africa has entered into a New Regional Cold War, characterised by two competing logics: on the one hand, the politicisation of sectarianism opposing a Saudi-led Sunni bloc against an Iran-led Shia bloc and, on the other, an intra-Sunni cleavage around the mobilisation of political Islam, embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters vs its opponents. Blending Buzan and Weaver’s regional security complex theory with Donnelly’s notion of ‘heterarchy’ and applying it to the cold wars the region has experienced, the similarities and differences between the Arab Cold War of the 1950s/60s and the New Regional Cold War reveal the increasing number of heterarchic features within the regional security complex: multiple and heterogeneous power centres, different power rankings, a more visible and relevant role of non-state and transnational actors, and the fragmentation of regional norms.
Keywords: Middle East and North Africa, regional security complex theory, heterarchy, New Regional Cold War
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Sudan and the Unbearable Lightness of Islamism: From Revolution to Rentier Authoritarianism
Giorgio Musso
The regime ruling Sudan since 1989 represents a pioneering experiment in the field of Islamist politics, being the first case in which a movement affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood managed to conquer power and hold on to it for a considerable time. During the late 1990s, internal and external pressures threatened the survival of the regime, leading the ruling class to abandon its ambition to represent a model of revolutionary Islamic governance. Oil exports provided a catalyst for this pragmatic shift, intensifying patronage-based relations at the expense of ideological affiliation. Seen from a political economy perspective, the Sudanese experience proves the flexibility of Islamism as an ideology, but also its failure as a political practice to constitute a real alternative to the authoritarian dynamics that are widespread in the MENA region.
Keywords: Islamism, Sudan, Islamic economy, rentier state, oil
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Egypt versus Ethiopia: The Conflict over the Nile Metastasizes
Fred H. Lawson
Egypt and Ethiopia continue to oppose one another over the allocation of the waters of the Nile River basin, despite a succession of provisional multilateral agreements. Officials in Cairo insist that Egypt be guaranteed its “historic rights” to two-thirds of the river’s flow, while their counterparts in Addis Ababa demand an “equitable” distribution of water among all of the riparian countries. More important, Sudan’s shift in alignment from Egypt to Ethiopia has injected new tension into the dispute, and the sustained involvement of South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Eritrea heightens the likelihood that periodic crises will escalate into armed confrontations. Consequently, existing studies that offer sanguine assessments of the potential for a compromise settlement fail to address the key dynamics that drive the conflict.
Keywords: Egypt, Ethiopia, Nile River, water, crisis, alliances
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Sino-European Cooperation on Renewable Energy Development
Yunheng Zhou and Weiqing Song
Despite considerable differences in their level of social and economic development, China and Europe both face the challenges of energy insecurity and environmental degradation. Given their shared sustainable development objectives and the complementarity of their comparative advantages, the two have great potential for cooperation, which should provide both the motivation and capabilities to cooperate in relevant areas. However, there are a number of barriers and impediments at both the macro- and micro-levels. China and Europe should focus their joint efforts on several key areas of feasible renewable energy sector cooperation, including strengthening institutional links, facilitating bilateral investment and coordinating positions and actions in multilateral settings. Concrete cooperation in the renewable energy sector can cement the China-EU strategic partnership, thereby bringing benefits to both sides and beyond.
Keywords: China, European Union, renewable energy, energy security, Sino-European relations
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Book Reviews

The Thucydides Trap and the Future of US-China Relations
Lorenzo Bardia
Review of: Destined for war : can America and China escape Thucydides’s trap?, by Graham Allison, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
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The Military and Their Decisive Role during the Arab Spring
Ludovico De Angelis
Review of: Armies and insurgencies in the Arab Spring, edited by Holger Albrecht, Aurel Croissant and Fred H. Lawson, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016
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A Philosophical Eye on World Politics
Sonia Lucarelli
Review of: Conceptualizing politics : an introduction to political philosophy, by Furio Cerutti, Routledge, 2017
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Recent Publications
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