foreign policy

In democracies an effective media and opposition are both needed to sanction leaders’ foreign policy missteps

Common wisdom in international affairs is that when democratically elected leaders and governments make threats towards other states, these are credible; voters will punish leaders who do not follow through on their words. New research by Philip B. K. Potter and Matthew A. Baum argues however, that not all democracies are equal in the credibility of their threats of military […]

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Kosovo’s troubled local elections highlight the problems caused by leaving the territory’s legal status unresolved

Kosovo’s local elections on 4 November were overshadowed by violence in several Serbian-dominated areas. Daniel Silander outlines the background to the elections and gives an overview of some of the factors which underpinned the violence. He argues that the on-going indecision over the territory’s legal status has had a damaging effect on Kosovo’s development. This has undermined attempts to strengthen […]

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Ed Miliband and Syria: A glimpse of what a Labour foreign policy could look like

Ed Miliband, the leader of the UK’s Labour Party, decided not to support the British government’s call for military action against Syria. Eunice Goes argues that Miliband’s position on Syria has the merit of offering British voters a clear Labour approach to foreign policy that is distinct from that of David Cameron’s governing coalition, and his predecessors Tony Blair and […]

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German ‘tit for tat’ diplomacy could help alter Russia’s position on Syria

The G20 summit, which began on Thursday in Saint Petersburg, has been dominated by the issue of Syria. One of the key dynamics in the Syrian crisis is the refusal of Russia to endorse any military intervention in the country. Wolfgang Seibel writes on the position of Germany, which has traditionally attempted to bridge the diplomatic gap between Russia and […]

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Most wars are not fought for reasons of security or material interests, but instead reflect a nation’s ‘spirit’

Why do nations decide to go to war? Based on the extensive study of inter-state wars since 1648, Richard Ned Lebow outlines his analysis of the motivations which underpin warfare. He finds that contrary to the expectations of most international relations theories, wars fought primarily for reasons of security, or material interests, have been relatively rare. Rather, motivations related to […]

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Using volunteer forces, rather than conscripts or private contractors, is the most legitimate method for organising a military.

There are generally three different methods for providing a military force in a war situation: using volunteers, private contractors, or conscripts. James Pattison assesses each of these options in terms of their moral legitimacy. Using a ‘moderate instrumentalist approach’ he argues that both private contractors and conscription raise moral issues which could undermine the legitimacy of a military operation. Although […]

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