Category: Realism (Page 2 of 4)

The Realist civil war and Donald Trump

I’ve covered elections since 2008, both as a blogger and journalist. As a blogger, writing about two US elections of 2008 and 2012, and the Indian general election and the UK election. As a journalist and correspondent, New Zealand elections and Fiji elections. Never in my life, have I encountered an anomaly like Donald Trump.

Now, as a foreign policy researcher (and as my publications show, I consider myself to be a neorealist) and I have written enough about why neither Trump, nor Obama are realists of any sort. Other realists have written similarly as well. (Walt on Obama, Walt on Trump, Joffe on Obama, Blatt on Trump)

But that debate suddenly just got vicious.

As readers remember, Daniel Drezner first wrote about how Trump is/will be accepted as a foreign policy realist, because of how he sounds realist, has specific policy proposals similar to the stark realist world even some realists shudder to think about. I flinched at the thought then. But it is no shame to write now, perhaps I was wrong, and I underestimated Trump’s legitimisation within the realist foreign policy community.

The recent episode was the firing of a fellow of National Interest, who like a lot of realists, opposed this legitimisation of Trump by hosting him and correctly pointed out in an essay for the War on the Rocks, (where I write occasionally as well, which I must mention here for the sake of balance), that Trump is a charlatan and is too incoherent to be a realist president. Of course National Interest justified the hosting of Trump but it was not convincing, to say the least.

So where does that leave realists now?

I believe, this is what we see,

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Weekly Reading List: So, I got published in War on the Rocks and Nottspolitics

Big week, as I mentioned before, with a couple of major publications coming, other than my regular columns.

To start with, the biggest one till date, my essay on War on the Rocks, where I write a Neo-Realist critique of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s latest revisionist history lesson. And was then called a Neo-Con for some reason, in the comments. But that’s another issue.

The second big one was my guest post at the official blog of the University of Nottingham, Dept of Politics and IR, where I talk about a foreign policy course for Philippines and how it should balance between China and US.

Other than that, here are my weekly columns.

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Rand Paul, Obama, Sanders and Trump cannot possibly all be Realists

ROUND TWO OF “THE DONALD AND REALISM” ACADEMIC DEBATE:

Over the week the academic feud of categorisation of The Donald’s foreign policy entered round two.

Couple of weeks back, readers will remember, there was a twitter debate if Donald Trump’s foreign policy is realist, which bordered around three basic points,

  1. His actual policy, if it is even coherent or not.
  2. His Realist tendencies.
  3. His understanding of Realism.

Stephen Walt and Dan Drezner, both subsequently wrote about it.

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No, Trump’s not a Realist. He’s not anything, because he has no ideas.

After Donald Trump’s foreign policy interview with the New York Times, foreign policy analysts, including coeditor Maitra, Tom Wright, and Stephen Walt, began discussing whether or not Trump was a neo-Realist, as Dan Drezner argued in his February 2 WaPo blog piece, “So when will realists endorse Donald Trump?”

Even if Trump was a dyed-in-the-wool Realist, one could still choose not to endorse him if they wanted a president who was the least bit dignified, or one who knew anything about foreign policy. Moreover, as Maitra argued, Trump is not in the least a Realist.

I second Maitra’s argument for the simple reason that Trump doesn’t know enough about foreign policy to qualify as an adherent to any ideology. Asking whether or not he’s a Realist is not even a valid question in the first place. It’s like debating whether Kim Kardashian is a Keynesian or an Austrian.

This is the candidate who doesn’t know who the leader of ISIS is or what Hamas and Hezbollah are.

The response in particular that got a lot of attention in the Times interview was that he would consider letting Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons. Let’s talk about his views on nuclear: He doesn’t even know what the nuclear triad is, he admitted at a debate, and “I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

Here’s what he said about nuclear in his other disastrous recent interview, the one with the Washington Post editorial board:

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So, is Donald Trump a Neo-Realist?

I guess this was inevitable.

After the debate about Obama being a Realist, (he’s ofcourse not) it was inevitable the Neorealist tag would be on Donald Trump after his interminable dross for New York Times. It is an incoherent mess, with talking points which will make, Hayek to Say to Ricardo to Morgenthau to Waltz, all cringe in shame, but it had some interesting moments.

But not as interesting as this debate which started right after.

If you click on the above images, you will get the crux of the argument. Is Trump a Neorealist or not? The argument for, is that he wants Japan and South Korea to have independent deterrence, and rid United States of carrying the security burden in Asia. The counter argument is, well…he is insane.

Here’re my points.

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Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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New Paper : “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?” March, 2016.

“Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?” : An Expository Study
Of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In
Light of the Theories of Realism

(Journal of International Relations. 2016, Vol XIV, Issue 1, Pgs 58–92.)

Download the whole paper HERE.

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“New Cold War” and policies to confront Russia

Joint editorial by Mitchell Blatt and Sumantra Maitra, editors of Bombs and Dollars


 

For those who make a career out of observing and analyzing international relations, the Munich security conference is a surreal experience. A lot changed since the passive aggressive rupture in 2007 by Vladimir Putin, in front of a stunned and a little dismissive European audience, and the world has come a long way since then. Russia pummeled Georgia, annexed Crimea, divided Ukraine, and intervened in Syria. Europe faces a migration crisis unlike ever before in history, of an exceptional magnitude and character. Migration and jihadism are used as weapons of blackmail not just by an adversarial Russia but a supposed ally in Turkey, and partners in East Europe. The liberal world order has crashed, and history has returned with a vengeance. Not everything has changed, of course… Stop the War, Code Pink and Global Research Canada still blames Western imperialism. Ed Snowden and Glenn Greenwald still think intelligence-gathering and espionage in times of war are totally outdated and provocative policies, a view shared (rhetorically, at least) by Ted Cruz, for some reason. Donald Trump proudly touts his support from Putin and pledges to buddy up to him in return, while Trump’s supporters comment on Facebook that at least they think an autocratic tyrant who is behind the deaths of dissidents is better than President Obama. Trump defended him, on the grounds that, “the U.S. kills people, too,” and “there’s no evidence” he has killed a journalist, but it doesn’t matter, because even if he did start shooting people on Fifth Avenue, they would still support him. Mitt Romney was mocked in 2012 for stating that Russia was America’s“biggest enemy.” Obama painted him as an out-of-touch old hawk who didn’t know the Cold War ended decades ago. Just this February, Russian PM Dimitry Medvedevsaid, “We are in a new Cold War.” 291150701-e1409886026827

So are we or are we not in a new cold war? And if we are, how big is Putin’s Russia a threat to the West, and how to deal with it?

Well…the question itself is complicated, and the key is in the wording. While news outlets that printed Medvedev’s quote used capital letters for “Cold War,” as if it were a proper noun, it is indisputable that we are in a cold war—not like the one between America and Russia, but a geo-political battle of a different scale. No matter how much German foreign minister tries to Germansplain Medvedev’s remarks, there is no questioning that is true. Russia is a shadow of the former Soviet self and simply lacks the capability for global political, military, economic and ideological confrontation. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, because unlike last time, the West is not united. Many in Western Europe and the U.S. and Canada are complacent and accommodating this time around. But for the Baltic countries and Ukraine, they are in big trouble, and they know it.

To deal with this new development, we need to understand and more importantly accept that we’re in a geo-political conflict. Here’s how. 

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Can Japan drag US to a war with China

Japan is now the fourth country after US, Russia and China to unveil a successful prototype of what it claims to be a stealth fighter. It is an iconic moment, as Japan’s X-2 stealth fighter prototype is the country’s competition to the American F-35 Lightning II, Russia’s T-50, and China’s J-20. The X-2 is named “Shinshin” which translates to “Spirit of the Heart,” has been in development for over a decade costing Japan a whopper $294 million (2.3 billion yen). Japan is also planning its first test flight in February.

Now, the plane hasn’t flown yet so there’s no flight data or record, or performance, and analysts are already raising doubts about it. The structural aerodynamics look dodgy, and it was showcased without any weapon system. Anyone familiar with this field will now, that the whole dynamics changes when weapons systems are introduced in a flying platform, and no one is sure how the planes will behave once that happens. Similarly, analysts are not even sure this plane might even be weaponised or used for other purposes like surveillance. Suffice to say there is a long way to go for Japan when it comes to stealth technology.

One thing is however clear though, this showcases a fundamental shift in Japanese policy, which needs to be analysed and studied.

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PODCAST: Realist Corner – Is Japan’s rise good for US alliance posturing?

How important is Japan’s rise for a US alliance posture : Listen here. 

 

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