News

Rondeli summer reads 2022

2022 / 08 / 13

Since the start of the year global political events have taken unexpected turns and challenged the rules-based international order. Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine threatens not only the region, but the global security architecture at large. As the summer heat is at its peak, and so is the information flow, let’s stay in the loop of the current events by following the reading recommendations shared by the Rondeli Foundation fellows and friends.

Here’s a collection of thought-provoking publications, podcasts and books that we have gathered for Foreign Policy and Security professionals, and anyone who is interested in global developments and trends. 

Books:

 Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War

 

Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War, is a 2019 book by Tim Bouverie about the British policy of appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s. Bouverie explains the policy as a product of the British response to the First World War.

Given that an enormous percentage of Britain's fighting-age men had died in a war the purpose of which no one could perceive, Bouverie describes British pacifism as the explanation of Chamberlain's appeasement policy, since "The desire to avoid a Second World War was perhaps the most understandable and universal wish in history." Bouverie describes the antisemitism of the British ruling class as the secondary cause of Britain's reluctance to stand up to Hitler.

The book is a strong response to a number of recent works of historical revisionism that have painted Chamberlain as a "super-pragmatist", much maligned in view of the fact that his options were limited by widespread popular pacifism and also painting him as a man who cleverly used appeasement to gain time that would enable Britain to rearm. Read more: 

 

Diplomacy

  

Henry Kissinger is one of the most influential figures in international politics of the twentieth century. Since President Eisenhower, he has been an adviser to almost all US presidents for decades. Kissinger has plenty of admirers and critics, one might even say - haters. On the one hand, the personal impact he has had on US foreign policy and international relations in general is rare. On the other hand, many of his steps remain the subject of criticism or controversy. Yet hardly anyone would question the magnitude of Kissinger's figure and the importance of his intellectual legacy.

Diplomacy is Kissinger's most monumental work, in which he deeply analyzes the history of international relations and explains the reasons and principles of states' behavior. Regardless of the reader's beliefs and attitude toward the figure of Kissinger, Diplomacy is practically required reading for anyone interested in international relations and history.

This book is also remarkable in that Diplomacy directly contradicts his own recent statements in regards to ceding Ukrainian territories (Chapter 31). Read more: 

 

The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping's China

A war between China and the US would be catastrophic, deadly, and destructive. Unfortunately, it is no longer unthinkable. 

The relationship between the US and China, the world’s two superpowers, is peculiarly volatile. It rests on a seismic fault—of cultural misunderstanding, historical grievance, and ideological incompatibility. No other nations are so quick to offend and be offended. Their militaries play a dangerous game of chicken, corporations steal intellectual property, intelligence satellites peer, and AI technicians plot. The capacity for either country to cross a fatal line grows daily. 

Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister who has studied, lived in, and worked with China for more than forty years, is one of the very few people who can offer real insight into the mindsets of the leadership whose judgment will determine if a war will be fought. The Avoidable War demystifies the actions of both sides, explaining and translating them for the benefit of the other. Geopolitical disaster is still avoidable, but only if these two giants can find a way to coexist without betraying their core interests through what Rudd calls “managed strategic competition.” Should they fail, down that path lies the possibility of a war that could rewrite the future of both countries, and the world. Read more:

 

 

 THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY    Strengthening Liberal Values, Institutions and Procedures   at Global, European, Regional and National Levels

The world we live in is permanently changing with an accelerated speed. Technological revolutions, social turbulences, political tensions, transformation of the media systems, great power conflicts, increasing threat of climate emergency are significant phenomena of the current transformation period. Furthermore, 2020 has created unprecedented challenges for the world and the global institutional order in consequence of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. And just at the time of editing this publication, we are witnessing Russia's unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine which also means the end of the world order as we know it so far. Read more:
 

Podcast: 

GPS with Farid Zakaria (Show and Podcast)​

The GPS in the show's title stands for Global Public Square, a reference to the show's focus on international issues and foreign affairs, airing Sunday at 10:00 am ET to 11:00 am ET, with a replay at 1:00 pm ET to 2:00 pm ET. Farid Zakaria

Farid Zakaria GPS takes a comprehensive look at foreign affairs and global policies through in-depth, one-on-one interviews and fascinating roundtable discussions. Check out: GPS with Farid Zakaria (Show)  and GPS with Farid Zakaria (Podcast).

 


Middle East

 

  Putin’s visit to the Islamic Republic: bringing Iran closer to Russia while bringing long-term leverage over Tehran

On July 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Tehran, where he met with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts as well as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Although the official reason for Putin’s visit was to revive the “Astana peace process” in Syria, the trip will have important repercussions for the region’s evolving security environment as well as the trajectory of Iranian-Russian relations more specifically. In other words, the significance of the trip has less to do with the trilateral meeting between Iran, Russia, and Turkey and more with the deepening of ties between Moscow and Tehran. Read more…

 

   The India-Middle East Food Corridor: How the UAE, Israel, and India are forging a new inter-regional supply chain

As countries around the world cope with supply shortages of staple foods, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, and India are creating an India-Middle East Food Corridor — a new West Asia value chain that harnesses the three states’ commercial and technological synergies to form what promises to be a new food exporting powerhouse. A resilient 21st century food supply chain forged from innovative and climate-smart technologies, the India-Middle East Food Corridor is also reconfiguring commercial relations across the southern rim of Eurasia. Read more…

 

   Erdoğan in Tehran, but Turkey and Iran have plenty of mistrust to overcome

During his most recent visit to Tehran, on July 19, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, vowed closer economic cooperation. Both sides again repeated their pledge to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion per year. This figure was first mentioned back in 2018, during Erdoğan’s last trip to the Iranian capital, along with plans to unveil an economic road map for cooperation. Read more…

 

   Israel’s new Iran strategy complicates regional security

The decades-long confrontation between Israel and Iran is now arguably becoming more dangerous. Economic, political, and military pressures have failed to stop Iran from becoming an almost nuclear threshold country. The Islamic Republic does not recognize the Jewish state and the latter considers the former an existential threat. Now, amid a lack of consensus among Israeli leaders on how to address this perceived existential threat, calls for applying greater pressure are gaining momentum. The two countries have been engaged in a shadow war for years that includes assassinations, sabotage, kidnappings, and cyber operations, but a new phase of tensions may only bring them closer to a full-scale conflict. Read more…

 

   How the Ukraine war exposed Europe’s derailed energy transition and its hypocrisy toward the Middle East

The impact of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has reverberated around the world, and the Middle East is no exception. Regional leaders, who heretofore generally managed to maintain good relations with both Washington and Moscow, are now being pressured to pick a side. Most Gulf countries publicly condemned the Russian full-scale attack on Ukraine, but they have specifically refrained from taking any punitive measures against Moscow. Read more…

 

  Factors shaping Iran’s current JCPOA calculations

For the past year, negotiations over the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have not been conclusive. It appears that Iran’s current JCPOA calculations are shaped by three key factors: the future transition of power, lessons learned from the Ukraine war, and changes in the emerging international order. Read more…

 

  The view from Tehran on Biden’s trip to the Middle East

The Iranian authorities anticipate that President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East is aimed at one top priority: to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to its partners in the region. To achieve this goal, the expectation in Tehran is that Biden will make some concessions to America’s regional partners, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Iranians are very hopeful that such concessions will be limited and not capsize the already tenuous U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. Read more…

 

   China Prioritizes Short-Term Energy Security: Implications for Sino-Middle East Relations

Volatile energy markets have pushed fossil fuel prices to multi-year highs. In China, concerns around energy security, namely supply security and affordability, have risen to the top of the policy agenda. Heightened awareness among Chinese decision makers of the risks from a chaotic energy transition has bolstered their determination to manage its pace, that is, to find a balance between ensuring energy security and limiting carbon emissions. Read more…

 

   The Grain War and Global Food Crisis: From the Black Sea to the Middle East

Russia’s war against Ukraine is the largest military conflict Europe has seen since World War II, with 15 million people displaced and thousands of civilian casualties. Russia has waged a war of destruction not just against Ukraine, but also against the world. For months Moscow has prevented the export of Ukrainian grain that countries in the Middle East and Africa depend on. Half of the World Food Programme’s grain comes from Ukraine, meaning the Russian blockade has affected international humanitarian relief efforts. The devastating consequences of food shortages and increased prices are being felt around the world, leading to a heightened risk of famine in the coming months. Read more…

 

   Staying the course ... for now: Germany’s MENA policy under the Scholz government

The German government continues to support negotiations aimed at shoring up Iran's compliance with the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and bringing the U.S. back into the deal. German companies, some of the biggest beneficiaries of the 2015 compromise, suffered when President Donald Trump reinstated sanctions against Iran in 2018. Germany's current support for this process, however, is conditional. Read more…

 

Central Asia

 

   Soviet Central Asian Leaders Are Far From Gone

On the same day last week, authorities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan both announced the renaming of towns after Soviet-era local leaders. This is not an isolated event. Three decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the local Soviet leadership has not only not been forgotten but, in many cases, it continues to play a role in the countries’ historical narrative. Read more…

 

   Let It Rain: Anger, Frustration Increase As Central Asia's Drought Continues

Most of Central Asia is experiencing an extreme drought this year, and the people there know that all too well. They swelter in scorching heat and record temperatures amid a severe lack of rain. But that does not stop them from looking for someone to blame -- and often there are people who should accept some responsibility for mismanagement. Read more…

 

   Labor migration from Central Asia: constantly relying on Russia is a wrong strategy

Labor migrants from Central Asia, primarily Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, make an important contribution to the economies of their countries. Migrant remittances constitute about 30% of the financial resources of the GDP of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These funds are a source of livelihood for many households, they help with stabilizing the exchange rate of local currencies, and in fact are a steady investment source in the economies of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and, to some extent, Uzbekistan. Read more…

 

   Understanding Organized Crime and Violence in Central Asia

The influence of organized crime on governance and the rule of law in Central Asia has long been recognized, but its role in violence is less broadly understood. Looking at conflicts in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan, this report examines the ways that organized criminal actors exploit popular mobilization (such as protests) and weaken state controls in episodes of violence. Recommendations for governments, international agencies, and civil society groups draw from expert interviews and research to address the range of organized criminal motives and circumstances. Read more…

 

   How China Built An 'Inadvertent Empire' In Central Asia

The release of Sinostan, a new book about China's growing influence in Central Asia, will mark the end of a sprawling journey that has taken its authors more than a decade to complete. When Raffaello Pantucci and Alexandros Petersen first set out in 2008 to research Beijing's rising and outsized impact on the region it was only slightly visible, but it has since become one of the most noteworthy examples of China's global sway. Read more…

 

 

  NATO and the Nordic Region

 

   Finland and Sweden in NATO: Completing the Mare Nostrum

 In the next few months Finland and Sweden will likely become the 31st and 32nd members

of NATO. What kind of Allies will they be, and what will this mean for the security of the Nordic-Baltic region? Read more…

 

    A policy agenda for Finland’s entry into NATO: From ‘one for one’ to ‘one for all’

At the NATO Madrid Summit in June 2022, Allies invited Finland and Sweden to join the NATO Alliance. In preparing for its membership, Finland will need to go through a reflection process on how it intends to contribute to NATO’s core tasks and make the most of its membership.Finland should consider making substantial contributions to the deterrence and defense posture in the Baltic Sea region, including in the Baltic states, and elsewhere on the Eastern Flank. In parallel, Finland should also ensure it contributes to the Southern Flank. Read more…

 

 

 Ukraine

 

   Ukraine’s critical minerals and Europe’s energy transition: A motivation for Russian aggression?

For decades, a country’s relative energy security was defined almost exclusively by its stock of hydrocarbon reserves, its wind-, solar-, and hydropower generation potential, as well as the physical or commercial ties it maintained with foreign partners to ensure security of supply and to meet domestic energy demand. As environmental concerns have increased, national governments began more methodically steering toward low-emission technologies that could efficiently make use of their countries’ natural resource potential. Critical minerals, such as cobalt, titanium, palladium, and various rare earth metals — essential components for manufacturing these “green” technologies — have, thus, become seminal for advanced economies pursuing an energy transition away from fossil fuels. Read more…

 

   Russia Created a Refugee Crisis, and Now Putin Is Weaponizing It 

Vladimir Putin’s hybrid war in Ukraine has created a multifaceted humanitarian crisis that the Kremlin plans to weaponize against the West to further provoke instability and chaos. Refugees have poured out of Ukraine since his February 24 invasion, and Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s agricultural sector—from grain-export blockades to theft to strikes on agricultural facilities—are creating disruptions to the global food supply that are likely to create even more refugees worldwide. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is touring Africa this week, blaming the West for the food crisis. Western leaders must realize the full destabilizing potential of Russia’s weaponization of the refugee crisis. In response, the United States should combine conventional military support with multilateral information operations to counter Russia’s plans. Read more…

 

 
 
 

 
 

 

 


 

 

 
 

 

 

© 2023 Georgian Foundation For Strategic and International Studies. All Rights Reserved.