The International Spectator, Vol. 52, No. 1, March 2017

Fifty Shades of Brexit: Britain’s EU Referendum and its Implications for Europe and Britain
Tim Oliver
Britain’s vote to leave the EU has raised more questions than answers, which is ironic given that David Cameron’s aim for the referendum was to settle the European question in British politics. The outcome, which reflected a range of causes, leaves significant uncertainties overhanging UK politics, UK-EU relations and wider European politics. It is likely that the confused outcome of the referendum and the technicalities of Brexit mean that for both the UK and the EU future relations will resemble fifty shades of grey rather than some black and white division of in or out.
Keywords: Brexit, Britain, referendum, EU, Euroscepticism
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The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in Jeopardy? Internal Divisions and the Impact of World Politics
Harald Müller
The frustration of non-nuclear weapon states about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament has reached boiling point: a vast majority of them have supported a resolution in the UN General Assembly that establishes a negotiation forum for concluding a prohibition of nuclear weapons in 2017. Rising tension among the nuclear powers and populist movements feeding nationalist emotions make it unlikely that the situation will change for the better in the near future. It is thus possible that the NPT might be eroded or, in the worst case scenario, simply collapse because of diminishing support.
Keywords: Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, humanitarian initiative, nuclear weapons ban treaty, great power conflict, NPT and justice
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Research articles
The European ‘Other’ in Poland’s Conservative Identity Project
Molly O’Neal
Since taking office in November 2015, Poland’s conservative government has pressed for a sweeping reinterpretation of the past, and a re-envisioning of the future, of the political community. This conservative identity project idealises the allegedly fully sovereign Poland of the interwar period and repudiates the normative commitments underpinning Poland’s accession to the European Union. The worldview of the conservative government’s liberal critics, by contrast, represents a fusion of the inclusive nationalism asserted in opposition to communist rule with the affirmation of a European identity. The reawakening of historically resonant debates about the nature of Poland’s European-ness, emphasizing the centrality of the (Western) European ‘other’ in Poland’s national idea, carries significant implications for its relations within the international environment.
Keywords: Poland, European Union, East-Central Europe, nationalism, populism, identity, other
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How China’s New Silk Road Threatens European Trade
Jonathan Holslag
For all the promises of mutually beneficial cooperation, Chinese policy documents about the New Silk Road, also called ‘One Belt, One Road’, mostly testify to a strong ambition to unlock foreign markets and support domestic firms in taking on foreign competitors. This confirms China’s shift from defensive mercantilism, which aims to protect the home market, towards offensive mercantilism, which seeks to gain market shares abroad. In a context of global economic stagnation, this comes as a major challenge to Europe. As China’s market share grows spectacularly in countries along the New Silk Road, key European member states have both lost market shares and even seen their exports shrink in absolute terms.
Keywords: China; New Silk Road; One Belt, One Road; Europe; trade, offensive mercantilism
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A Neoliberal Rentier System: New Challenges and Past Economic Trajectories in Iraq
Irene Costantini
The Islamic State’s conquest of swathes of Iraqi territory, combined with falling oil prices, revealed the fault lines of a model of economic development that made the country extremely vulnerable to the events of 2014. Over the last 13 years, the consolidation of the rentier economy in parallel to the promotion of a neoliberal model – a neoliberal rentier system – has not initiated a process of sustainable economic development. The main factors explaining this missed opportunity can be found in the tensions that exist between the two models and, in particular, between the relative roles of the state and the private sector as drivers of economic development.
Keywords: Iraq, oil economy, conflict, rentier state, private sector, neoliberalism
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Repression and Monarchical Resilience in the Arab Gulf States
Fred H. Lawson and Matteo Legrenzi
Why the uprisings that broke out across the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-11 ousted the leaders of republics but left monarchies largely intact remains puzzling. One promising explanation for the resilience of monarchical regimes argues that monarchs exercise repression in a comparatively restrained and largely effective fashion. Proponents of this theory tend to conflate two crucial causal factors: the level of state coercion exercised against opposition activists and the degree of indiscriminateness with which coercion is deployed. By treating these variables as analytically distinct, a more compelling explanation for monarchical resilience can be advanced. The advantages of the revised argument are illustrated by revisiting the divergent trajectories of the uprisings in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Keywords: Protest, repression, monarchy, Middle East, Gulf
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Think tanks and foreign policymaking
Navigating the Unknown: Barriers to Evidence-Based Defence and Security Policy in the European Union
Benedict Wilkinson, Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré and Erin Montague
At a time when Europe faces numerous crises, there is a real need for rigorous evidence to underpin effective policymaking. However, a gap between academia and policy creates clear obstacles in the use of evidence in policymaking. Many of these enduring obstacles are manifest in the inherent differences between separate communities: academics have difficulty communicating research in an applicable manner, and policymakers, in turn, tend to focus on operational motivations. The gap widens considerably when foreign, security and defence policy within the complex institutional structures of the European Union is considered. In addition to these well known barriers to evidence-based policy, there are two more obstacles in the defence and security space: sovereignty and dispersed decision-making. A dialogue of best practices must be opened up to broker knowledge in the EU context.
Keywords: Evidence-based policy, defence, security, EU, foreign affairs
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The Impact of Institutions on Foreign Policy Think Tanks in France and Denmark
Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen and Olivier Schmitt
Even though France is an active player on the world stage, its foreign and security think tank milieu is smaller than that of similar powers, most notably the United Kingdom. Comparing French think tanks with those in Denmark illustrates how French institutional structures constrain think tank activities. France’s political tradition of centralisation, its non-academic civil service education, and separation of academia and administration create an environment in which think tanks are underfunded and walk a fine line between an over-controlling administration and a suspicious academia. Some French think tanks perform well in spite of these structures, which indicates that they could flourish and compete at the highest international level if given better structural conditions.
Keywords: Think tanks; France; Denmark; foreign policy; institutions
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Think Tank Involvement in Foreign Policymaking in the Czech Republic and Poland
David Cadier and Monika Sus
Studies on foreign policy think tanks have too often remained disconnected from the analysis of foreign policy outcomes. Yet, investigating the development, functions and influence of think tanks can provide valuable insights into the context in which foreign policy is formulated. The Czech Republic and Poland represent interesting comparative cases in this regard: while Polish think tanks are more numerous and tend to be better placed in international rankings, they are less involved in the policymaking process than their Czech counterparts. This contrast has mainly to do with the sociology of foreign policy elites and the role of political parties in both countries.
Keywords: Think tanks; foreign policy; Czech Republic; Poland; Eastern Partnership
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Book Reviews
The Crisis of the European Union: How the Institutional Framework Changed during Crisis Management
Davide Vittori
Review of: Democratic politics in a European Union under stress, edited by Olaf Cramme and Sara B. Hobolt, Oxford University Press, 2015
Which European Union? Europe after the euro crisis, Sergio Fabbrini, Cambridge University Press, 2015
The political and economic dynamics of the eurozone crisis, edited by James A. Caporaso and Martin Rhodes, Oxford University Press, 2016
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Losing Values along the Path of ENP Implementation
Anja Palm
Review of: The European Neighbourhood Policy: values and principles, edited by Sara Poli, Routledge, 2016
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Recent Publications
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