The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020

Free: The Race for Critical Minerals in an Era of Geopolitical Realignments Read
Free: How Many Europes? Fragmentation in the European Space since the Great Recession Read

Issue: 
55/3
Publication date: 
26/08/2020

China’s Economic (and Political) Outreach

The Race for Critical Minerals in an Era of Geopolitical Realignments
Sophia Kalantzakos
The decarbonisation of the global economy in response to the climate crisis and the fourth industrial revolution, featuring artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G networks (massively accelerated in response to the coronavirus pandemic), has triggered a race to secure uninterrupted access to critical raw minerals (CRMs) that are indispensable inputs for high-technology applications. Moreover, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which unites Eurasia and Africa and loops in South America into a seamless space of trade, infrastructure and digital connectivity, challenges the dominance of traditional industrial powers (the United States, the European Union and Japan) and requires critical minerals. Rare earths, lithium and cobalt – among the most critical of the CRMs – are found in high geographic concentration, creating hotspots of contention, especially in unstable parts of the world. As economic transformations accelerate, securing access to these materials will both impact and help shape geopolitics in the years to come.
Keywords: critical minerals, 5G, China, geopolitics, rare earths, Belt and Road Initiative
View this article online

China’s Structural Power and the Fate of the BCIM Economic Corridor
Giuseppe Gabusi
In 2013, China and India officially established an economic corridor (the Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor, BCIM-EC) that would cut across Myanmar and Bangladesh. But while the formal process of cooperation among the four countries is in place, many obstacles to its implementation remain at the international, national and local levels. Is meaningful collaboration possible within the BCIM-EC framework? In terms of two dimensions of structural power as conceptualised by Susan Strange, security and trade, China’s structural power in Myanmar is much stronger than India’s. It is therefore likely that this imbalance will prevent the BCIM-EC project, which currently appears to be overshadowed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, from having a fruitful outcome.
Keywords: International Political Economy, structural power, China, Myanmar, India, Belt and Road Initiative
Buy this article online

The European Union at a Crossroads

How Many Europes? Fragmentation in the European Space since the Great Recession
Marco Zoppi
Since the Great Recession started in the late 2000s, the European Union (EU) has experienced an acute crisis that has triggered internal divisions among EU members. Three factors can help shed light on this tendency towards political fragmentation: economics and finance, culture, and territory. Each of these reveals a specific ‘geography’, in terms of policies and narratives, of the current malaise regarding the EU project and the limits of the Union in addressing issues important for the domestic debates of its members. Such discontent, as well as anti-EU sentiment, fuels strong political reactions including populism and anti-elitism that could further fragment the EU in the future.
Keywords: European Union, fragmentation, Great Recession, democracy
View this article online

Eastern Enlargements and EU Defence Ambitions
Marcin Zaborowski
Despite their common history, Central Europeans have never had a coordinated or consistent position on the issue of European defence and are now, in fact, drifting further apart. Today, some states consider themselves exposed to a threat from Russia while others do not have the same perception and are even moving towards closer cooperation with Moscow. However, the most important factor shaping the positions of Central Europeans is the current, still very loose state of the European Union’s defence policy. As long as the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) remains focused on providing security and stability to other parts of the world and weak on defending the EU area, Central Europeans will refrain from truly committing to it.
Keywords: Central Europe, insecurity, borders, NATO, European Union
Buy this article online

New Directions in US Foreign Policy

From Reset to Restart: The US-Russia Cyclical Relationship in the Post-Cold War Era
Gabriele Natalizia and Marco Valigi
After a quarter of a century of oscillating relations between Washington and Moscow, Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy named Russia as one of the main challengers to the US-led order. Power transition theory is used to explain the alternating cooperative and competitive phases during each of the first three post-Cold War US presidencies: first, initial attempts at cooperation are driven by US willingness to integrate its former rival into the liberal order; then, regression into competition follows as Washington’s influence rises in territories that Moscow considers sensitive for its national security.
Keywords: United States, Russia, reset/restart cycle, cooperation, competition
Buy this article online

Trump and the End of an Era? The Liberal International Order in Perspective
Shalendra D. Sharma
The liberal international economic and political order which the United States created from the ashes of World War II and has since led is in trouble. To United States President Donald Trump, the order which provided the framework under which sovereign states agreed to follow a rules-based system of economic and political cooperation and shared multilateral governance, has not only allowed other nations (in particular, China) to take advantage of US ‘magnanimity’, but also weakened the United States economically, while asymmetric alliances compromised its military advantages. Given the sustained assault this cosmopolitan order is facing, many fear that it may not survive if Trump is re-elected in November 2020. Indeed, if the United States response to the COVID-19 pandemic is any guide, an ‘America First’ agenda, especially a hard-line approach to China, will shape US policy if Trump wins a second term.
Keywords: Donald Trump, US foreign policy, liberal international order, China, WTO
Buy this article online

Mixing Grand Strategies: Trump and International Security
Murat Ülgül
When a new President is elected in the United States, the first thing analysts do is define that President’s grand strategy; yet, naming Donald Trump’s grand strategy was a difficult task as his pre-election speeches often contradicted traditional US foreign policy norms. Trump’s ambiguous grand strategy combines two US foreign policy strategies: nationalism in the sense that his preference is for unilateral policies prioritising American interests, and a traditional foreign policy approach, as seen in the moves taken against China and Iran. Surprisingly, this grand strategy unintentionally contributes to cooperation in Eurasia, as actors like Russia, China, Turkey, India and the European Union continue to try to balance the threat from the United States instead of competing with each other, while smaller countries are reluctant to challenge the regional powers due to mistrust towards Trump.
Keywords: Donald Trump, US foreign policy, grand strategy, Eurasian security, nationalist traditionalism
Buy this article online

External Actors in the Middle East

The Renewed ‘Struggle for Syria’: From the War ‘in’ Syria to the War ‘over’ Syria
Philippe Droz-Vincent
Syria is generally considered a case of non-intervention. One of the dominant (since the 1990s) kinds of intervention, namely multilateral humanitarian intervention, failed, as did other attempts by a select group of countries to implement a ‘red line’ concerning the use of chemical weapons. However, in this case, there is no sharp dichotomy between intervention and non-intervention. In lieu of an intervention that would tilt the balance and coordinate help to halt massacres, various rival and uncoordinated international and regional interventions overlapped over time, fuelling a market for violence. ‘Weakened interventionism’, as opposed to principled and hierarchical intervention, has manifested itself in Syria in a model recalling “the struggle for Syria” of the 1960s in a new, contemporary setting.
Keywords: Syria, humanitarian intervention, non-intervention, multilateralism, proxy war, weakened interventionism
Buy this article online

Russia’s Policy towards the Middle East: The Case of Yemen
Leonid Issaev and Andrey Korotayev
Yemen occupies a peripheral place in Russian foreign policy for three reasons: lack of serious economic interest, the illusory potential of strengthening the military presence there and recognition of Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemeni conflict. However, a deepening of the split within the Arab coalition in Yemen, primarily between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has not only forced the Russian authorities to seek a balance between Yemeni actors, but also made Russia part of the so-called ‘Yemeni triangle’ alongside the two GCC countries. Russian involvement in the Yemeni crisis is constrained by its economic weakness and prioritisation of Russia-Gulf relations more broadly.
Keywords: Yemeni crisis, Russia, foreign policy, Gulf, Middle East
Buy this article online

Book Reviews

EU-China Relations: State of the Art and New Perspectives
Xuechen Chen
Review of: The European Union and China, by Thomas Christiansen, Emil Kirchner and Uwe Wissenbach, Red Globe Press, 2019
Buy this article online

Britain, Zionism and the Nimby Syndrome
Roberto Mazza
Review of: Legacy of empire : Britain, Zionism and the creation of Israel, by Gardner Thompson, Saqi Books, 2019
Buy this article online

Recent Publications
View this article online       go to Routledge

Contents

25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 1-16
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 17-34
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 35-49
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 50-64
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 65-81
24/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 82-97
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 98-114
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 115-131
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 132-147
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 148-150
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 151-153
25/08/2020
The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 3, September 2020, p. 154-163