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[Myra MacDonald, Defeat is an Orphan. How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asia War. Penguin. London, 2016. 313 p.]
review / Ramón Barba
One might think that Myra McDonald's book rather confuses the reader, as degree scroll talks about a Great War in the Indian subcontinent of which there is no record. In reality, the book financial aid helps the reader - especially the Western reader, who is more distant from the cultural and historical framework of that part of the world - to understand the complexity of the relations between India and Pakistan. A Reuters correspondent for more than thirty years, with long experience in the region, McDonald knows how to add up data concrete facts, without getting bogged down in anecdote, and quickly get to the underlying force behind them.
Her thesis is that since the birth of the two states with the partition of the Jewel in the Crown at the break-up of the British Empire, Pakistanis and Indians have been engaged in a long confrontation, which has even had its moments of live fire. It has been a prolonged and bitter enmity between the two countries, with its sporadic battles: a Great War, according to the author, which Pakistan ultimately lost.
Generally, while India has sought its national affirmation in the exercise of democracy, Pakistan has based its national idiosyncrasies on Islam and conflict with India, with the dispute over control of Kashmir its bloodiest manifestation. This fixation with India, from agreement with McDonald, has led Islamabad to use support for jihadist groups to create instability on the other side of the partition line, plunging Pakistan itself into an abyss from which it has so far been unable to extricate itself. McDonald follows a generally objective argument, but the book seems to be written from India, with little sympathy for the Pakistanis.
The story begins with the episode of the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve 1999 by five Kashmiri guerrillas, with 155 people on board, which led to a serious conflict between Islamabad and New Delhi, as the Indian government interpreted that the operation had received some backing from the neighbouring country. The episode serves to describe the dramatic standards of the strategic struggle between the two countries, which the previous year culminated their development of the atomic bomb.
The book pays particular attention to this degree program to achieve the nuclear weapon - the Indians because the Chinese had it, the Pakistanis because they saw the Indians catching up - and which raised a question core topic of nuclear proliferation: can weapons be used on a smaller scale between two deadly enemies when both have the atomic bomb? It has been shown to be so, and not only that, McDonald argues: Pakistan's lack of fear of an Indian nuclear attack, given that it is deterred by Pakistan's own arsenal, would have made Islamabad more confident in encouraging terrorist attacks against India.
In the early 1960s the status in India was somewhat delicate: in 1964 China had detonated the atomic bomb, which, coupled with Pakistani pressure in Kashmir, put the world's largest democracy at a difficult juncture. This led to India's launch of the Smiling Buddha in 1974 (as an unloaded bomb) and the beginning of close competition with Pakistan to join the small nuclear club, as a consequence of the dialectical logic that then governed their relationship. Although it was believed that the bomb might be in one side's possession, it was not until the late 1998 detonations that this became clear.
The author considers that the two countries arrived that year on a very even footing: India, which was larger, had to resolve small internal crises in order to move forward, while Pakistan enjoyed a certain stability. However, the achievement of the atomic bomb meant that Pakistan, after a misreading of reality, failed to take advantage of its opportunities in the era of globalisation that was then opening up, and remained stuck in a bellicose logic, while India made the leap that has made it gain undoubted weight as a world power. This is the Pakistani "defeat" of which degree scroll speaks.
In addition to this attention to more recent decades, the text also looks back to 1947, when the two independent states were born, to explain many of the dynamics of the subsequent relationship between the two. Relations with China, Pakistan's ally, and with the United States, which had closer interests with Pakistan and is now closer to India, are also discussed.
[Xulio Ríos. Xi Jinping's China. From bitter decadence to the dreamed modernization. publishing house Popular. Madrid, 2018. 300 p.]
review / María Martín Andrade
Given the globally known growth of China in recent years and the uncertainty caused internationally by its giant steps in a rather short period of time, it is worth examining what sustains the Chinese modernization process in order to determine its solidity. Xulio Ríos, expert in sinology and director of the Observatory of Chinese Politics (jointly dependent on Igadi and Casa Asia), carries out this analysis in Xi Jinping's Chinawith approach covering political, economic and social issues. Rios addresses China's role in globalization and how Xi Jinping's 2012 takeover of power has further accelerated the country's rapid modernization.
Ríos begins by identifying the three keys to China's success in the modernization process: the employment of a sound economic policy, the implementation of its own strategy and a strong identity capable of adapting the major currents of international thought to the country's unique characteristics. This adaptation has been at the heart of China's modernization process, whose challenges in the coming years are to move from a Economics of imitation to a Economics of innovation, to invest in fair policies aimed at correcting the inequalities the country faces, and to carve out a niche for itself in the international system without having to abandon its identity.
The Chinese dream is the main element that characterizes this new path that Xi Jinping intends to follow since he became University Secretary of the CCP; a dream that makes reference letter to the illusion and aspirations of a people that has seen its path towards modernization hindered. Unlike Maoism, where traditional culture was seen as an expression of the old society, Xi stresses the importance of highlighting some of the values of popular culture that can help consolidate the nation's consciousness in this century.
The author does not fail to note that the main obstacles to this rapid Chinese evolution are the high social costs of the latest transformations and the environmental bankruptcy that is causing so much serious damage. For this reason, without ever taking his eyes off the Chinese dream, University Secretary of the CCP and president of the country assures us that he wants a beautiful, environmental, rich and powerful China, with global influence, but without ever abandoning his own profile .
As part of the party's governance reform, Xi Jinping persists, like no other previous president, in the importance of the rule of law as an expression of modernization in the form of government. In tune with this, judicial reform has become one of the main thrusts of his mandate to combat the imbalance in the administration of justice throughout the country. On the economic front, the role attributed to the private Economics in terms of modernization is making China the world's leading Economics . The diversification of its investment in foreign reserves and developments in sectors such as automobiles are proving to be an alternative to the Western model aimed at taking the lead in globalization.
Thus, the four modernizations of Xi's governance focus on industry, agriculture, science and technology, and defense. These advances are intended to be complemented by a remarkable drive to strengthen multipolarity, increasing its presence in foreign markets and seeking global recognition of its update through new objectives, such as the revitalization of the Silk Roads, the creation of economic corridors or the Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank.
Having broken down the different elements that make up the change in China's image, the author concludes by pointing out that, despite the economic development and the increase in political confidence, the country can become more involved and take on more responsibilities. However, due to its structural circumstances and domestic conflicts, China is not yet sufficiently prepared to replace the US or the West in global leadership. Nevertheless, there is nothing to stop Xi Jinping's distinguished move, compared to other Chinese leaders, to assert interests more conspicuously and visibly, with the Silk Road being a clear example of the ambition of the Chinese process.
[Jim Sciutto, The Shadow War: Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America. Hasper-Collins. New York, 2019. 308 p.]
review / Álvaro de Lecea
With the end of the Cold War, which pitted the former Soviet Union against the victorious United States of America, the international system shifted from bipolar to a hegemony led by the latter. With the United States in the lead, the West focused on the spread of democracy and commercial globalisation, and if anything the geo-strategic preoccupation of the West was focused on the Al-Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11, so the focus of attention shifted and today's Russia was pushed into the background. However, Russia continued to slowly reconstitute itself in the shadow of its old enemy, which no longer showed much interest. Russia was joined by China, which began to grow by leaps and bounds. At this point, the United States began to realise that it had two major powers on its heels and that it was engaged in a war it did not even know existed: the Shadow War.
This is the term used by Jim Sciutto, CNN's chief national security correspondent, to describe what he describes in detail throughout his book and what has largely come to be known as hybrid or grey zone warfare. Sciutto prefers to speak of Shadow War, which could be translated as war in the shadows, because this better denotes its character of invisibility under the radar of open or conventional warfare.
This new war was started by Russia and China, not as allies, but as powers with a common enemy: the United States. It is a hybrid war subject and therefore contains both military and non-military methods. On the other hand, it does not envisage a direct military confrontation between the two blocs. In The Shadow War: Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America, Sciutto explains seven situations in which the strategies being pursued by China and Russia to defeat the United States in order to become the world's major powers and impose their own international norms can be clearly observed.
First, it is important to note that Russia and China, while pursuing similar strategies, are different types of adversaries: on the one hand, China is a rising power, while Russia is more of a declining power that is trying to return to its former self. Nevertheless, both share a number of similarities. First, both seek to expand their influence in their own regions. Second, both are suffering from a crisis of legitimacy within their borders. Third, both seek to right the wrongs of history and restore what they perceive as their countries' legitimate positions as world leaders. And finally, they possess great national unity, so that the majority of their populations would do whatever is necessary for their nation.
In the shadow war, thanks to the rules established by Russia and China, any major actor can win, regardless of its power or influence over other international actors. Following the theories of International Office, these rules could be considered to follow a very realistic patron saint , since, in a way, anything goes to win. The power of lies and deception is the order of the day, and lines that were thought unthinkable are crossed. Examples of this, as the book explains and elaborates, are the militarisation of the artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea when Xi Jinping himself had promised not to do so, or the hacking of the Democratic Party's computer system in the 2016 US election campaign by Russian hackers, which may have helped Donald Trump emerge victorious.
To all this must be added an essential part of what is happening in this context of non-traditional warfare: the particularly mistaken idea that the United States has about everything that is happening. To begin with, the first mistake the US made, as Sciutto explains, was to neglect Russia as a relevant focus in the international arena. It believed that, having defeated it in the Cold War, the country would no longer re-emerge as a power, and so failed to see the clear clues that it was slowly growing, led by President Vladimir Putin. Similarly, it failed to understand the Chinese government's true intentions in situations such as the South China Sea or the degree program submarines. All of this can be summed up as the US believing that all international actors would play by the rules established by Washington after the Cold War, without imagining that they would create a new scenario. In conclusion, the US did not understand its opponents.
In his latest chapter, Sciutto makes it clear that the US is currently losing the war. Its biggest mistake was not realising status until it was in front of it and it now finds itself playing on a disadvantaged stage. It is true that the US remains the world leader in many respects, but Russia and China are overtaking it in others, following the new rules they themselves have set. However, a change of attitude in US policies could turn the tide. The author proposes a number of solutions that could help the US get back in the lead.
The solutions he proposes focus, in the first place, on the total knowledge of the enemy and its strategy. This has always been his great disadvantage and would be the first step to begin to control status. Similarly, it recommends greater unity within the Allied bloc, as well as an improvement of its own defences. He also recommends a better understanding of the new scenario in which the whole conflict is taking place, and therefore a series of international treaties regulating these new spaces, such as cyberspace, would be of great help financial aid. Further on, he proposes setting clear limits on enemy actions, raising the costs and consequences of such actions. Finally, it encourages the US to exercise clear leadership.
In conclusion, Sciutto's thesis is that the United States finds itself fighting a war whose existence it has only just discovered. It is a subject war that it is not used to and with a set of rules that are alien to what it preaches. While it is still the leader of the current international system, it finds itself losing the game because China and Russia have been able to discover its rival's weaknesses and use them to its advantage. America's biggest mistake was to ignore all the signs of this shadow war and do nothing about it. New scenarios have been introduced and the rules of the game have been changed, so the US, if it wants to turn status around and once again emerge as the victor, the author argues, will have to unite more than ever internally as a nation and strengthen its alliances, and know its enemies and their intentions better than ever before.
In terms of a evaluation of the book, it can be said that it succeeds in concisely and clearly conveying the most relevant points of this new contest. It manages to make clear the strengths and weaknesses of each actor and to take stock of the current status . However, the author does not manage to be too goal judgemental. While admitting the failings of the US, he gives a negative picture of its rivals, taking for granted who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Objectivity is lacking in some cases, as the good guys are not always so good and the bad guys are not always so bad. That said, Sciutto provides a great analysis of the current international status in which the world's major powers find themselves.
[Barbara Demick, Dear Leader. Living in North Korea. Turner. Madrid, 2011. 382 pages]
review / Isabel López
All dictatorships are the same to some extent. Regimes such as Stalin's, Mao's, Ceausescu's or Saddam Hussein's shared the installation of statues of these leaders in the main squares and their portraits in every corner... However, Kim Il-sung took the cult of personality in North Korea further. What set him apart from the rest was his ability to exploit the power of faith. That is, he understood very well the power of religion. He used faith to attribute to himself supernatural powers that served to glorify him staff, as if he were a God.
This is what it looks like in Dear Leader. Living in North Korea, by journalist Barbara Demick, who worked as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Seoul. The book chronicles the lives of six North Koreans from the city of Chongjin, located in the far north of the country. Through these six profiles, from people belonging to the class more leave, called Beuhun, to the class Demick exposes the different stages that have marked the history of North Korea.
Until the conquest and occupation of Japan in the 1905 war, the Korean empire ruled. During the rule of the neighboring country, Koreans were forced to pay high taxes and young men were taken with the Japanese army to fight in the Pacific War. After the withdrawal of Japanese troops in 1945, a new problem arose as the Soviet Union had occupied part of northern Korea. This led to the U.S. getting involved to slow the advance of the Russians. As a consequence, the territory was divided into two zones: the southern part occupied by the United States and the northern part occupied by the Soviet Union. In 1950 both factions were embroiled in the Korean War, which ended in 1953.
After the armistice there was a exchange Communist forces released thousands of people, more than half of whom were South Koreans. However, thousands of others never returned home. The freed prisoners were loaded into wagons departing from the Pyongyang station with the presumed intention of returning them to their place of origin in the south, but in reality they were driven to the coal mines of northern Korea, on the border with China. As a result of the war, the population had mixed and it was not possible to distinguish between North and South Koreans.
At the end of the war, Kim Il-sung, leader of the Workers' Party, began by purging all those who might endanger his leadership, based on a criterion of political reliability. Between 1960 and 1970, a regime was established that the author describes as one of terror and chaos. Each citizen's background was subjected to eight checks and a classification was established based on the past of their relatives, eventually becoming a caste system as rigid as India's. This structure was largely based on the system of Confucius, although the less amiable elements of it were adopted. Finally, the social categories were grouped into three classes: the principal, the vacillating, and the hostile. The latter included soothsayers, artists, and prisoners of war, among others.
Those belonging to the class more leave They had no right to live in the capital or in the most fertile areas and were closely watched by their neighbors. In addition, the so-called inminban were created, a term that reference letter to the cooperatives formed by about twenty families who managed their respective neighborhoods and who were responsible for transmitting any suspicion to the authorities. It was impossible to rise through the ranks, so it was passed down from generation to generation.
Children were taught respect for the party and hatred for Americans. The Education It was compulsory until the age of 15. From then on, only children belonging to the upper classes were admitted to the school. Education high school. The smartest and prettiest girls were taken to work for Kim Il-sung.
Until the end of the 1960s, North Korea seemed much stronger than South Korea. This caused public opinion in Japan to align itself in two camps, those who supported South Korea and those who sympathized with the North, called Chosen Soren. Thousands of people succumbed to the propaganda. The Japanese who emigrated to North Korea lived in a different world from the North Koreans since they received money and gifts from their families, although they had to give part of the money to the regime. However, they were considered part of the class hostile, since the regime did not trust anyone wealthy who was not a member of the party. Their power depended on their ability to totally isolate the citizens.
The book chronicles Japan's relationship with North Korea and its influence on the development economic of this. When Japan decided to build an empire in the early 20th century, it occupied Manchuria and took over the iron and coal deposits near Musan. For the transport of the booty, the city of Chongjin was chosen as a strategic port. Between 1910 and 1950 the Japanese erected huge steel mills and founded the city of Nanam, in which large buildings were built. development of North Korea. Kim Il-sung exhibited industrial power by taking credit for it and did not recognize any of Japan's credits. North Korean authorities took control of the industry and then installed missiles aimed at Japan.
The author also describes the lives of women workers in the factories that supported the development of the country. Factories depended on women because of the lack of male labor. A factory worker's routine, which was considered a privileged position, consisted of eight hours a day, seven days a week, plus the added hours to continue her work. training Ideological. Assemblies such as the socialist women's assembly and self-criticism sessions were also organized.
On the other hand, it emphasizes the extent to which people were molded, that they were regenerated to see Kim Il-sung as a great father and protector. In his purpose Kim Il-sung developed a new philosophical system based on the thesis Marxists and Leninists called Juche, which translates as self-confidence. He made the Korean people see that he was special and that he had been the chosen people. This thought captivated a community that had been trampled by its neighbors for centuries. He taught that the strength of human beings came from the ability to submit their individual will to the collective and that this collectivity should be ruled by an absolute leader, Kim Il-sung.
However, this idea was not enough for the leader, who also wanted to be loved. The author states that he "did not want to be seen as Stalin but as Santa Claus": he should be considered as a father in the Confucian style. Indoctrination began in kindergartens. For the next few years they wouldn't listen to any songs, they wouldn't read any article that he was not deifying the figure of Kim Il-sung. Lapel badges with his face were distributed, which were obligatory to wear on the left side, over the heart, and his portrait had to be in every house. Everything was distributed free of charge by the Workers' Party.
[Eric Rutkow, The Longest Line on the Map: The United States, the Pan-American Highway and the Quest to Link the Americas. Scribner. New York, 2019. 438 p.]
REVIEW / Marcelina Kropiwnicka
Though the title tries to convince the reader that they will merely be exploring the build-up to the largest link between the United States of America and its southern neighbours, The Longest Line on the Map: The United States, the Pan-American Highway and the Quest to Link the Americas covers much more. The book is written in more of a novel-fashion than a textbook-fashion. Author Eric Rutkow, rather than simply discussing the nitty-gritty development of the highway alone, is able to cover historical events from political battles in the homeland of the US to economic hardships encountered among the partner countries. Divided into three main blocks, the book chronologically introduces the events that took place during the Pan-American Highway's construction, beginning with the dream that a railway would connect the two hemispheres.
With the New World just barely beginning to grasp its potential, writer Hinton Rowan Helper's first-hand experience of traveling from the United States to Argentina in the mid-1800s made him come to the realization that there must be an alternative method of traveling between the two countries. After enduring the long voyage, he came to the conclusion, "Why not by rail?" The first quarter of the book hence explains the early attempts made towards linking the wide span between North America and Southern Argentina through the use of a railroad. Thus, when in 1890 the Intercontinental Railway Commission was created, the idea of a Pan-American railway began to flourish and preliminary work began.
The idea was passed on from one indefatigable supporter to another, keeping in mind the cooperative aim of pan-Americanism and the potential for US economic expansion. Yet still by the early 1900s, over half of the projected length of the railway remained unassembled. Despite multiple attempts and investment in building and rebuilding the rail (mainly due to logistical purposes), the project came to a final halt with the realisation that the Pan-American Railway was beginning to look like what it was: an unfeasible dream. President Theodore Roosevelt had concluded similarly in 1905, when he gave preference to developing the Panama Canal, regulating the rules of the railway and building the US Navy. In the subsequent and comparatively short chapter of the book, Rutkow introduces the era when automobiles and bicycles were on the rise, causing a demand for the increased construction of roads and exhaustive efforts to build decent thoroughfare within the US. Also made note of in the book was the diverging attention from the rail as a result of the outbreak of the First World War. These events combined would ultimately cease continuation of the railway's assembly.
The second half of the book is dedicated to the continuation of the dream of connecting the two spheres using a different method: the building of the Pan-American Highway. Although only a sister to the railway project, the two ideas arise from the same ideal. The new project seemed especially tangible due to the growth of the 'motoring generation' and the strengthened advocacy of Pan-Americanism. The belief was that the highway would foster "closer and more harmonious relations" among the nations in the Americas. Nevertheless, the highway remains unfinished due to a mere 50-mile wide gap, known as the Darien Gap, located between Panama and Colombia ("mere" considering the highway today stretches more than 20,000 miles, connecting Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina).
The most engaging part of the book emerges in the last chapter, when Rutkow attempts at connecting the missing link between the two worlds, but isn't able to, which reminds us that the road remains unfinished. The chapter, which is committed to the Darien Gap, is able to give light to the idea that once, the two spheres had a dream of connecting, contrasting to what we see today with the pressure of erecting walls along the southern US border. Though the dream continues to overcome the gap and finish the road, a new challenge had finally emerged: Panama had changed its policy and refused to finish the pavement.
As for such a well-researched book of one of the largest projects on the American continent, there's a peculiar laxity: the coverage on South America is far less complete in comparison to all the focus that the United States' government efforts to organizing and funding the link received. In terms of critiquing the book as a literary piece, not every quotation within the book would be considered absolutely necessary to telling the story. Ironically there's a certain scarcity when it comes to describing the road itself or its surrounding environment. Perhaps the author makes up for this blunder with his meticulous choosing of maps and images to provide the reader with a context of the environment and era in which the dream was being pursued.
[Michael E. O'Hanlon, The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War over Small Stakes. Brookings Institution Press. Washington, 2019. 272 p.]
review / Jimena Puga
After the end of the Cold War, in which it confronted the Soviet Union bloc by defending the values of the Western order, the United States remained in the world as the hegemonic country. At present, however, it is rivaled by Russia, which despite its weakness Economics it struggles not to lose any more influence on the international stage, and for China, which, although still a regional power, aspires to replace the United States at the pinnacle of the world. The challenge it is not only for Washington, but for the entire West, as its very values are called into question by the advance of the diary of Moscow and Beijing.
The West needs to respond firmly, but how far does it need to go? When should you say enough is enough? Are you willing to go to war even if the cumulative steps taken by Russia or China are in themselves relatively minor or occur on the periphery? That's what Michael E. is asking. O'Hanlon, researcher Brookings Institution, in The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War over Small Stakes. The book addresses a number of possible scenarios in the context of global hegemonic change and competition between the world's major powers for power.
The scenarios put forward by O'Hanlon consist, on the one hand, of a possible annexation of Estonia or Latvia by Russia, without prior consent and through a military attack. And, on the other, China's military conquest of one of the largest islands that make up the Senkaku, the name given by Japan to an archipelago it administers near Taiwan and which Beijing calls Diaoyu. In both cases, it is difficult to assess which side would have a better military strategy or to predict which side would win a hypothetical war. In addition, there are many unknown variables about cyber vulnerabilities, submarine operations, or the accuracy of missile strikes on each country's strategic infrastructure.
Thus, the author wonders whether both the United States and its allies should respond directly with a military offensive, in response to an initial attack, or if they should limit themselves to an asymmetrical response, focused on preventing future attacks, combining such responses with economic retaliation and certain military actions in different scenarios. What is clear is that while remaining vigilant in the face of the possible need to strengthen their positions on the international chessboard, Western countries must remain prudent and provide proportionate responses to possible crises, aware that their values – the defence of freedom, justice and the common good – are the greatest advantages of their democratic systems.
At present, Western democratic systems are under strong populist pressure, although there is nothing to suggest that countries with well-established democracies such as France, Germany or Spain will generate conflicts between them, much less in the European Union, which has been a guarantee of peace and stability since the 1950s. For its part, it would be advisable for the Trump administration to react with greater prudence in certain situations, to avoid an escalation of diplomatic tension that would unnecessarily increase the risks of conflict, at least regionally or economically.
Neither Moscow nor Beijing today poses an immediate threat to U.S. global hegemony, but China is the fastest-growing power in fifty years. Such rapid growth could lead China to dispense with multilateralism and regional cooperation and to carry out regional influence through economic or military imposition. That would make the People's Republic a threat.
Although it is true that the United States has the best military force, it is expected that around the year 2040 there will be both military and economic parity between the Central Empire and the American country. Thus, Europe and the United States, in the face of possible aggression from China – or Russia, despite their state of gradual decline – should respond appropriately and, as the White House says, be "strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable". And all this is done by seeking allies at the international level and by putting military pressure on the aggressor in regions that are compromised by him.
As the author argues, the White House needs better and more credible options to design an asymmetric defense based on deterrence and containment plans, which have the use of force as an option. For example, the article Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is not the best deterrent weapon for the US and its allies, as it poses a danger to stability and leaves no room for action in the event of deterrence. However, with the new subject NATO member countries would not be obliged to "fire the first bullet", so there would be room for other collateral actions, without the need to resort to direct confrontation to stop a possible escalation of more serious hostilities.
What is clear, O'Hanlon argues, is that both China and Russia seek to challenge the international order by any means necessary. subject and the West must adopt strategies aimed at anticipating possible future scenarios, so that they can be prepared to deal with them with guarantees of success. These measures don't have to be just military. For example, they will have to prepare for a long and painful economic war through defensive and offensive measures, while the US stops imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel on its allies. In addition, the US has to be careful about overusing the economic sanctions applied to financial transactions, especially the prohibition of access to the SWIFT code of the banking communication system, because if not, the countries allied with Washington will end up creating alternatives to SWIFT, which would be a disadvantage and a sample of weakness vis-à-vis Moscow and Beijing.
[Sheila A. Smith, Japan Rearmed. The Politics of Military Power. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, 2019. 239 p.]
review / Ignacio Yárnoz
Japan is currently facing a status of sensitive national security. On the north, the country is constantly subjected to harassment by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the form of ballistic missile tests that often land in Japanese territorial waters. To the east and southeast, Japan's sovereignty over its territorial waters, including the disputed Senkaku Islands, is threatened by a China increasingly keen to flex its economic and military muscles.
And as if this were not enough, Japan is already questioning the security that the United States can or wants to provide in the event of a regional conflict. If in the past Japan feared being dragged into a war because of the American predisposition to use fire to solve certain situations, now what Tokyo fears is that the United States will not accompany it when it comes to defending its sovereignty.
That national security dilemma is what Japan Rearmed tackles. The Politics of Military Power, by Sheila A. Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States. The book brings together the different views on this issue. The Japanese government's position is that Japan should be more confident in itself in order to maintain its own security. But this is where the biggest hurdle arises. Since its defeat in World War II and subsequent U.S. domination of the country until 1952, the national Armed Forces have been downgraded to "Self-Defense Forces." The reality is that the 1947 Constitution, specifically its article issue 9, continues to limit the functions of Japanese troops.
Introduced directly by the U.S. command, the article 9, never amended, reads: "Sincerely aspiring to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people Withdrawal war as the sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. (2) In order to carry out the wish expressed in the preceding paragraph, land, sea or air forces and any other military potential shall not be maintained in the future. The right of belligerency of the state shall not be recognized."
This article, a novelty at the time, was intended to open an era safe from warmongering tendencies, in which the project of the United Nations would be the basis for collective security and the peaceful settlement of disputes. However, history itself showed how in a matter of a few years the very architects of that Constitution called for the rearmament of Japan in the context of the Korean War; it was now too late for a rethinking of the foundational limitations of the new Japan.
Following changes in Asia's geopolitics over the past 30 years after the end of the Cold War, Japan has taken steps to regain its international presence, but even today it continues to stumble under the constraint of its constitution. As Smith rightly describes, there are many legal hurdles that the Japan Self-Defense Forces have had to overcome since 1945. Issues such as Japan's performance abroad under the flag of the United Nations, its absence from the 1st Gulf War, the discussion The debate on resilience after an attack by North Korea or Japan's performance in the 2nd Gulf War are all discussed and analyzed in this book. In addition to this, the author tries to explain the reasons and arguments in each of the debates concerning the article 9, such as self-defense, the role of the Self-Defense Forces and the relationship with the United States, issues that confront the Japanese political elite. Several generations of political leaders have tried to resolve the dilemma of guaranteeing Japan's security and interests without limiting the capabilities of its armed forces, although so far there has been no consensus to change certain constitutional budgets, in the direction in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing.
Japan rearmed is a 360 review Degrees where the reader finds a complete analysis of the main obstacles faced by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and what their role may be. development future. In a framework More broadly, the book also addresses the role of the Armed Forces in a democracy, which must reconcile its rejection of violence with the obligation to guarantee collective defense.
[Glen E. Howard and Matthew Czekaj (Editors), Russia's military strategy and doctrine. The Jamestown Foundation. Washington DC, 2019. 444 pages]
REVIEW / Angel Martos Sáez
This exemplar acts as an answer and a guide for Western policymakers to the quandary that 21st century Russia is posing in the international arena. Western leaders, after the annexation of Crimea in February-March 2014 and the subsequent invasion of Eastern Ukraine, are struggling to come up with a definition of the aggressive strategy that Vladimir Putin's Russia is carrying out. Non-linear warfare, limited war, or "hybrid warfare" are some of the terms coined to give a name to Russia's operations below the threshold of war.
The work is divided in three sections. The first one focuses on the "geographic vectors of Russia's strategy". The authors here study the six main geographical areas in which a clear pattern has been recognized along Russia's operations: The Middle East, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic, the Far East and the Baltic Sea.
The chapter studying Russia's strategy towards the Middle East is heavily focused on the Syrian Civil War. Russian post-USSR foreign-policymakers have realized how precious political stability in the Levant is for safeguarding their geostrategic interests. Access to warm waters of the Mediterranean or Black Sea through the Turkish straits are of key relevance, as well as securing the Tartus naval base, although to a lesser extent. A brilliant Russian military analyst, Pavel Felgenhauer, famous for his predictions about how Russia would go to war against Georgia for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, takes us deep into the gist of Putin's will to keep good relations with Bashar al-Assad's regime. Fighting at the same time Islamic terrorism and other Western-supported insurgent militias.
The Black and Mediterranean Seas areas are covered by a retired admiral of the Ukrainian Navy, Ihor Kabanenko. These two regions are merged together in one chapter because gaining access to the Ocean through warm waters is the priority for Russian leaders, be it through their "internal lake" as they like to call the Black Sea, or the Mediterranean alone. The author focuses heavily on the planning that the Federation has followed, starting with the occupation of Crimea to the utilization of area denial weaponry (A2/AD) to restrict access to the areas.
The third chapter concerning the Russia's guideline followed in the Arctic and the Far East is far more pessimistic than the formers. Pavel K. Baev stresses the crucial mistakes that the country has done in militarizing the Northern Sea Route region to monopolize the natural resource exploitation. This tool, however, has worked as a boomerang making it harder for Russia nowadays to make profit around this area. Regarding the Far East and its main threats (North Korea and China), Russia was expected a more mature stance towards these nuclear powers, other than trying to align its interests to theirs and loosing several opportunities of taking economic advantage of their projects.
Swedish defense ministry advisor Jörgen Elfving points out that the BSR (acronym for Baltic Sea Region) is of crucial relevance for Russia. The Federation's strategy is mainly based on the prevention, through all the means possible, of Sweden and Finland joining the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO). Putin has stressed out several times his mistrust on this organization, stating that Western policymakers haven't kept the promise of not extending the Alliance further Eastwards than the former German Democratic Republic's Western border. Although Russia has the military capabilities, another de facto invasion is not likely to be seen in the BSR, not even in the Baltic republics. Instead, public diplomacy campaigns towards shifting foreign public perception of Russia, the funding of Eurosceptic political parties, and most importantly taking advantage of the commercial ties (oil and natural gas) between Scandinavian countries, the Baltic republics and Russia is far more likely (and already happening).
The second section of this book continues with the task of defining precisely and enumerating the non-conventional elements that are used to carry out the strategy and doctrine followed by Russia. Jānis Bērziņš gives body to the "New Generation Warfare" doctrine, according to him a more exact term than "hybrid" warfare. The author stresses out the conscience that Russian leaders have of being the "weak party" in their war with NATO, and how they therefore work on aligning "the minds of the peoples" (the public opinion) to their goals in order to overcome the handicap they have. An "asymmetric warfare" under the threshold of total war is always preferred by them.
Chapters six and seven go deep into the nuclear weaponry that Russia might possess, its history, and how it shapes the country's policy, strategy, and doctrine. There is a reference to the turbulent years in which Gorbachev and Reagan signed several Non-Proliferation Treaties to avoid total destruction, influenced by the MAD doctrine of the time. It also studies the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (IMF) Treaty and how current leaders of both countries (Presidents Trump and Putin) are withdrawing from the treaty amid non-compliance of one another. Event that has sparked past strategic tensions between the two powers.
Russian researcher Sergey Sukhankin gives us an insight on the Federation's use of information security, tracing the current customs and methods back to the Soviet times, since according to him not much has changed in Russian practices. Using data in an unscrupulously malevolent way doesn't suppose a problem for Russian current policymakers, he says. So much so that it is usually hard for "the West" to predict what Russia is going to do next, or what cyberattack it is going to perpetrate.
To conclude, the third section covers the lessons learned and the domestic implications that have followed Russia's adventures in foreign conflicts, such as the one in Ukraine (mainly in Donbas) and in Syria. The involvement in each one is different since the parties which the Kremlin supported are opposed in essence: Moscow fought for subversion in Eastern Ukraine but for governmental stability in Syria. Russian military expert Roger N. McDermott and analyst Dima Adamsky give us a brief synthesis of what experiences Russian policymakers have gained after these events in Chapters nine and eleven.
The last chapter wraps up all the research talking about the concept of mass mobilization and how it has returned to the Federation's politics, both domestically and in the foreign arena. Although we don't exactly know if the majority of the national people supports this stance, it is clear that this country is showing the world that it is ready for war in this 21st century. And this guide is here to be a reference for US and NATO defense strategists, to help overcome the military and security challenges that the Russian Federation is posing to the international community.
[Richard Nephew, The Art of Sanctions. A View from the Field. Columbia University Press. Chichester. New York, 2018. 216 p.]
review / Emili J. Blasco
International sanctions often arouse a lively discussion between those who defend them as a legitimate instrument of interaction between States and those who consider that their application has hardly been more effective than that of increasing the suffering of entire populations through no fault of their own.
To the question of whether these sanctions, which can be of various kinds but are mainly of an economic nature, are of any use, Richard Nephew replies that it depends. And it is not an evasion, but in the end the defense of his own tools by a mechanic of American diplomacy (Nephew was director for Iran in the committee National Security Agency and Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions of the department "Sanctions do not fail or succeed. Rather, sanctions help or do not help to achieve the desired result the end of a sanctioning state (...) Tools can only perform well when they are used with the right strategy; The saw cannot be blamed if it fails to perform the work of a screwdriver."
Nephew is not a sanctions theorist, but a "practitioner"; the content of his book comes from experience ("A View from the Field" is the subtitle of the work). That experience makes him convinced of the usefulness of such measures provided that they are properly implemented. Basically, he gives the example of two cases: that of Iraq, where sanctions did not achieve the goal sought due to a misguided approach to international pressure, which finally led to war in 2003, and that of Iran, where the regime of punitive measures on the Islamic Republic had its effect and in 2015 a treaty was signed. agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.
An active participant in the Iran sanctions architecture, Nephew expands especially on the case of the negotiations with Tehran, after first briefly addressing the Iraq chapter. From all this, it draws conclusions and presents its own decalogues on how sanctions must be addressed in order to be effective. In the last pages, he tries to advise on how to conduct a new package of sanctions on Iran, to control its missile program and contain its activity abroad through proxies, but without breaking the agreement achieved (JCPOA) as the Trump Administration has done; how to manage the pressure on Russia in relation to Ukraine, and how to confront North Korea's attitude. It does not address situations other than the discussion on sanctions, such as Trump's harshness towards Cuba, in the framework of a decades-long embargo that has produced no changes on the island, or the siege on Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.
Rules for Successful Sanctioning
Nephew's main conclusion is that "the knowledge of one's opponent, their tolerances and vulnerabilities, is the most important predictor about the chances of success of a strategy that focuses on sanctions. In fact, for sanctions to work, one really has to know the enemy better than the enemy knows himself."
That's what, in his opinion, went wrong in Iraq. Sanctions were certainly effective, in that they prevented Saddam Hussein from returning to a weapons of mass destruction program, but they did not prevent war. And this is because the psychology of the president, who was ready for anything, was not taken into account subject of suffering – which he passed on to the population, without fear that they could take power away from him – rather than admit that he did not have the powerful arsenal that supposedly elevated him among the regional leaders. The international community did not understand how important it was for him to maintain this pretense, in his pretense of credibility and prestige, above the pressure of any package of sanctions.
In addition, there were other shortcomings in the Iraqi process, according to Nephew: maximum sanctions were applied from the beginning, with no room for an incremental policy, and over time there was a variation in the goal, going from wanting to prevent the rearmament of the regime to proposing a change of the regime itself (even if Saddam Hussein had accepted the conditions put before him, Washington would not have admitted his continuation in power).
Those errors led to a greater understanding of the mechanisms at play, which were refined in the attention with Iran. Mr. Nephew said that in order to get to know the country subject to potential sanctions, one should take into account its political institutions, its macroeconomic and financial system, its trade relations, its cultural values, its recent history, its demographics and the population's access to external sources of information. This will make it possible to identify the vulnerabilities and the pain threshold that the government of the day is willing to absorb. Therefore, both the sanctions and the assumptions themselves must be continuously recalibrated, following a well-defined strategy. It is also important that the State targeted by the sanctions be clearly presented with the conditions necessary for the pressure to be lifted, in the context of the framework of a negotiation of clear terms. Finally, we must be willing to help the state that is pressuring itself to get out of a labyrinth whose way out it may not perceive, or even to accept lower goals if these are a problem. result also reasonable.
The author states that the three most common causes of the failure of a sanctions regime are: falling short, overdoing it, and confusing objectives. These labels can easily be applied to past processes, but it is not so simple to fix the steps of a coercive diplomacy of this one. subject in ongoing conflicts or that may occur in the future.
Thus, Nephew himself would not have full guarantees of success with the sanctions he suggests for a new negotiation with Iran in order to limit its missile program and its action through groups such as Hezbollah. At odds with the Trump Administration, he would have preferred to keep the agreement on the 2015 nuclear program (known by its acronym JCPOA) and the consequent lifting of the previously applied sanctions regime, to move on to other sanctions that seek that other goal. It is true that the usefulness of Trump's move remains to be seen, but it is hard to believe that Tehran will renounce these other actions because of pressure that would in no case be so international (China and Russia only lent themselves to a front against Iran because it was at stake that this country would become a nuclear power).
[Hebert Lin & Amy Zegart, eds. Bytes, Bombs, and Spies. The strategic dimensions of offensive cyber operations. The Brookings Institution. Washington, 2019. 438 p. ] REVIEW / Albert Vidal
review / Pablo Arbuniés