The International Spectator, Vol. 44, No. 4, December 2009

Sezione speciale su Obama, One Year On e The Sustainability of De Facto States

New Potential for US-India Relations under Obama Free
Recent Publications Free

Numero: 
44/4
Data pubblicazione: 
31/12/2009
Opinions

Obama, One Year On
Obama's Foreign Policy: Bridging the Expectations-Capability Gap
Tom Farer
Barack Obama's first year should appear disappointing only to persons blind to the constraints imposed by the Bush legacy, the still reeling world economy, an intimidating agenda of domestic problems, a polarised domestic politics, and at least temporarily intractable opponents of the President's undoubted ambitions to tame the Middle East and promote cooperation among the leading states without jettisoning a commitment to liberal values. By ordering an end to torture and moving to close Guantanamo, he has signalled the restoration of moral restraint on the exercise of American power and implicitly expressed belief in the efficacy of soft power assets. Additionally, he has attempted to create political space for change by pushing the conventional limits of American presidential discourse. A decent start, but the hard part lies ahead.
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Shucking Cold War Inertia in Russia-US Relations
Fyodor Lukyanov
Obama's declared approach of taking account of the views of other countries, reliance on multilateral institutions and consensus diplomacy will help to reshape Russian-US relations. The recent dialogue on strategic offensive armaments could well be the spark that will ignite the engine of Russian-American interaction on a wide range of issues. It is increasingly clear, however, that ideologies and nuclear arms will not be the driving forces of world politics in the 21st century. Under these circumstances, Russia can be either an opponent or a partner for Washington. Previously, the main problem in their relationship was the US' unwillingness to sacrifice any of its interests, even secondary ones. A new Russian-US partnership could be built on the similarities in their foreign policy priorities - their focus on regional conflicts and the need for stability in Eurasia.
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New Potential for US-India Relations under Obama
Radha Kumar
Many in India feared that the burgeoning US-India relationship would collapse under President Obama, but his policies so far have alleviated these concerns. The US has not tried to mediate in Kashmir, has gone ahead on the civil nuclear energy agreement, and entered into a high-level strategic dialogue with India. The biggest potential thorn in US-India relations could be the US approach to Pakistan: Obama could be tempted to tolerate a military-dominated Pakistan and, in order to enable a speedy exit from Afghanistan, could seek a Chinese guarantee in Afghanistan and (indirectly) Pakistan. This would have serious consequences for India and would bring back bitter memories of US instrumentalism in South Asia.
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Essays

The Sustainability of De Facto States
Forms of Normalisation in the Quest for De Facto Statehood
Eiki Berg and Raul Toomla
De facto states are political entities unable to achieve widespread recognition of their sovereignty that therefore remain largely or totally unrecognised by the international society of sovereign states. Yet, recognition can vary to certain degrees. Instead of taking federal schemes unconditionally for granted, the avenues open for current de facto states to establish themselves in international society have to be analysed first. Kosovo, Taiwan, North Cyprus, Abkhazia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Somaliland have all received some kind of recognition (negation, boycott, toleration or quasi-recognition), securing their standing in the political, economic and public spheres.
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Playing the Recognition Game: External Actors and De Facto States
Nina Caspersen
It is impossible to understand the creation and continued survival of de facto states without reference to external actors. External patrons provide vital support and the international system constrains and shapes these aspiring states. The relationship is, however, not one-sided, and these entities are not merely puppets. In fact external dependence creates significant dilemmas for de facto states: it undercuts their de facto independence and contradicts their strategy for gaining international recognition, thereby undermining their long-term sustainability. The dilemmas facing de facto states have been accentuated by the recent recognition of Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
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On the Political Economy of Unrecognised State-building Projects
Daria Isachenko
As the case of Transnistria illustrates, the politico-economic arrangements of de facto states are marked by a tendency to sacrifice the economy to political objectives. Despite non-recognition and limited local resources, these entities manage to make use of their ambiguous status and external support to sustain their claims to statehood. Yet, the priority of these claims over economic development, as well as strategies of survival in general can have unintended effects on unrecognised state-building projects, such as the emergence of a spin-off opposition or public disillusionment.
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The Role of Media in Conflict and their Influence on Securitisation
Rabea Hass
During conflicts, the media are often the only source of information concerning the 'other' side and hence a weighty instrument of opinion making in society. This leads to the central question to what extent the media can contribute to securitising (or desecuritising) issues in society. In this article, examples from the Israeli media landscape are compared with the theoretical approach of the securitisation theory of the Copenhagen School.
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Italy in World Affairs
Italy and the Euro in the Global Economic Crisis
Erik Jones
As Italian policymakers argue about the best way to respond to the global economic crisis, the importance of the euro to Italian economic stability seems to have dropped out of the debate. This is a problem for three reasons: it dulls the memory of Italian efforts to get into the single currency in the mid-to-late 1990s; it allows critics of the euro to shape perceptions of how eurozone membership affected Italy during the past decade; and it obscures the trade-offs that Italians would face if they were to make different choices in the future – including the choice to leave. As a result, while it has been relatively easy to argue that Italian politicians would have to be crazy to try to take Italy out of the euro, it may become more difficult to make that case with the same level of confidence as time goes on. Italian perceptions of the merits of being in the euro are changing and the real possibilities available to Italian policymakers are changing as a result. Italy will pay a high price for opening up the possibility of leaving the eurozone whether or not Italian policymakers are serious about taking that step.
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Book Reviews
Power, Paradise and Fantasy
Domènec Ruiz Devesa
Review of: Follies of power, David P. Calleo, Cambridge University Press, 2009
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Europe in the Neighbourhood: Still More Noise than Action?
Thorfinn Stainforth
Review of: Neighborhood challenge, edited by Bezen Balamir-Coskun, Birgül Demirtas-Coskun, Universal Publishers, 2008
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The Debate on Democracy Promotion after the Bush Era
Emiliano Alessandri
Review of: The crisis of American foreign policy, G. John Ikenberry ... [et al.], Princeton University Press, 2009 ;
The global commonwealth of citizens, Daniele Archibugi, Princeton University Press, 2009 ;
Global democracy; for and against, Raffaele Marchetti, Routledge, 2009
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