Why do religious sects play a role in Mexico’s drug war?

Written by Victoria Dittmar

Religion has again gained plitical attention since the end of last nentury and the beginning of the present one (Petito and Hatzopoulos, 2003). A so-called ‘resurgence’ of religion is being discussed in the recent academic literature based on the appearance that a growing number of global issues are somehow influenced by religious elements, such as religiously inspired terrorism, inter-religious conflicts or the role of religious leaders in international affairs. This has called for an inclusion of religion in the study of international relations (Cochran Bech and Snyder, 2011). It is debatable whether religion has actually ‘resurged’ or not, but many scholars who assume it did, argue that a possible reason is the failure of secularism and the search for cultural authenticity (Thomas, 2003). Policy makers around the world are now increasingly taking the role of religion into account while dealing with issues like conflict, international development, peacebuilding and foreign policy (see Appleby et al., 2010; DFID, 2012).

Continue reading →

Are China or Russia the biggest threat to a Western-dominated world order?

Written by Toshiki Tabata

This essay is going to discuss whether Russia or China could be a threat to the current world order that Western countries dominate. To answer this question, some further questions have to be clarified: how could those countries even be a threat to the current liberal world order? If they can be  a threat, how will they have an impact on the world order?

Continue reading →

The Battle of Hegemonic Influence in Thailand Between China and the US

Written by Worawut Tubtim


 

In an attempt to define hegemony (Yilmaz, 2010, p.195) stated “hegemony is the position of having the capability and power to change the rules and norms of international systems based on one’s own motivation and desire”. Furthermore, he goes on to explain, “a hegemon creates or maintains critical regimes to cooperate in the future”. In order to explain how China became a hegemon it Is important to understand how hegemons come to be. In their book Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, Laclau and Mouffe (1985) suggested that a hegemonic relationship is a result of political discourse.

Continue reading →

If the conflict between insurgents and counterinsurgents is ‘a competition in government’ then what is the nature of the government offered through counterinsurgency rule?

Written by Victoria Dittmar


Counterinsurgency has been the most common form of warfare for the West since the end of the Second World War (Sitaraman, 2012; Kilcullen, 2013). From the anti-colonial uprisings against European Empires to the latest US-led campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, what has been at stake in these conflicts are arguably no longer material gains disputed between different states, but the control and governance over a civilian population contested between a constituted government and an organised movement within the same state. In other words, this form of asymmetric warfare is a competition in government, in which each side seeks to dominate the civilian population (Isaac, 2008).

Continue reading →

The Security Dilemma

Written by Jae Hyun Jung

Security issues are among the most contested and profound in the study of political science. At the centre of this problem lies on how to save people from a possible danger and threat in the international system and increase the well-being of citizens. Although the solution of the question can be pursued from different political theories, the realistic point of view, in which a state has to protect its citizens from external threats, is the most reliable and also reasonable approach to security dilemma (Nilsson, 2012: 470). This essay, therefore, will mainly deal with the realistic ideas on security dilemma coping with those of liberalistic views. Firstly, it will briefly explain about realist perspective on security dilemma, and the example of Cuban Missile Crisis to support the needlessness of treaties of different nations followed by the inappropriateness of liberal views on collective security (Morgenthau, 2006: 435).

Continue reading →

Are the Recent Developments of China’s Diplomatic Activities Fulfilling Its Contender State Status?

Written by Guan Huang


This essay seeks to understand the correlations between some of the new developments in China’s recent diplomatic activities and the fact of it being a contender state, and tries to argue that these developments conducted under the foreign policies of the said country are in fact a direct reflection of it’s contender status because first of all, in order to contend and compete with its well-established Western rivals, China turned to market economy and took on some capitalist principles and ever since then, started the interplay between state and economy in a capitalist manner, and such a transition manifests not only on a domestic state level, but also shown the country’s recent foreign outreach, that is to expand it’s economic territory in the world market; second, being a contender state, translating its political power into economic power and further the power in the International System secures China’s contender status and furthers its interests, and lastly, politically speaking, China tries to maintain its contender status rather than eventually falls down to the “slippery slope” like all other previous contender states did in history by introducing new rules in global political economy.

Continue reading →

Bringing Structural Realism Back: A Critique to Wendt’s (1992) ‘Anarchy is What State Make of It’

Written by Victoria Dittmar. Bisconia published a video conversation on this topic, you can watch it here.


Alexander Wendt wrote in 1992 his well-known essay ‘Anarchy is what states make of it’, where he criticised rationalist theories, especially structural realism, and their assumption of anarchy. This paper will criticise Wendt’s arguments back from a structural realist perspective, concentrating on the work of Kenneth Waltz in Theory of International Politics (1979). It is going to be argued that structural realists disagree with Wendt’s constructivist position because anarchy is inevitably a self-help arena and not what states make of it.

Continue reading →

Is Realism Morally Defensible?

Written by Guan Huang


This essay will look into the moral defensibility of political realism as an International Relations theory and seek to argue that classical realism is morally defensible in that although most classical realists repel the idea of moral universalism (Diez et al, 2011 and Dunne and Schmidt, 2014), the notion of morality is genuinely included in the classical realist thinking and the literatures, which makes the classical realist thinking morally accountable, and the ultimate duties of a state, according to realism, is to defend the survival and perform raison d’état, while the relatively new genre of realism, neorealism or structural realism, is less morally defensible because “morality” is excluded in the thinking and such exclusion has alienated the thinking in the discussion of morality and has made defending structural realism irrelevant, therefore impossible.

Continue reading →