Tue May 26 2015 1:13:06 +0200 CEST

Article Alert of March 1, 2012

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Article Alert is a bi-weekly service that helps you select and read the best of America's journal literature on a variety of international relations topics, as well as U.S. domestics issues. It is published every 2 weeks except for August. When no full text is available online Article Alert subscribers can request a copy via email. Copyright legislation prevents us from making articles available to users outside of our area of jurisdiction: Belgium. Also, because of the Smith-Mundt Act, we cannot send articles to users in the United States. The materials on this site, especially those from sources outside the U.S. Government, should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein or as official U.S. policy. If this is the first time you've seen the Article Alert, please let us know if you would like to continue to receive it. Also, feel free to pass it on to any of your colleagues who might be interested in getting it.

Russian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin, left, flanked by President Dmitry Medvedev, gestures while addressing a massive rally of his supporters at Manezh square outside Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)


The Russian Evolution. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Nation, Jan. 9, 2012, pp. 3-6. “The article discusses protests that broke out in Moscow, Russia in protest to alleged fraud in Russia's parliamentary elections of December 4, 2011. It comments on claims of voting abuses against Russia's United Russia Party. The author reflects on the growth of civic activism in Russia, noting the role of the Internet and television in politics. Other topics include the Russian nationalist movement, the opposition of the Russian Communist Party, and the popularity of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.” READ MORE

Russian Foreign Policy: Continuity in Change. Andrew C. Kuchins, Igor A. Zevelev, Washington Quarterly; Winter 2012, pp. 147-161. “The article offers information about Russian foreign policy after the return of Russian politician Vladimir Putin to the presidency in 2012. It examines the major political groups in the country including the pro-Western liberals, the great power balancers, and the nationalists. The article also discusses foreign relations between Russia and the United States, the views of Russian politicians about its dominance in global politics, and the Georgia War. It is suggested that Putin's return to lead Russia will not significantly change foreign policy in the country.”

The vertikal: power and authority in Russia, Andrew Monaghan, January 2012, pp. 1–16. “Power and authority in Russia are traditionally seen to reside with the president. Such an understanding was emphasized during the eight years of Vladimir Putin's presidency, from 2000 to 2008, as he sought to centralize power, strengthen the state and establish a strong vertical of power to implement policy. This article examines the nature of this power and authority in the light of the tandem, the ruling arrangement between current President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. While acknowledging the central importance of Vladimir Putin in Russian political life, the article argues that emphasis on his role draws too much attention away from the leadership team that he has shaped with Medvedev. This team takes shape in formal institutional structures such as the Security Council, which has become an increasingly important group as a reservoir of experience and authority. It also takes shape in an informal network that stretches across state and business boundaries. Although there are some tensions in the network, this team ensures broad policy continuity. Furthermore, the article questions Putin's success in establishing a vertical of power, and the authority of both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.” READ MORE

The European Union, Russia, and the Future of the Transnistrian Frozen Conflict. Theodor Tudoroiu, East European Politics & Societies, February 2012, pp. 135-161. “In recent years, increased European Union interest in its eastern "neighborhood" has been hailed as a possible solution of the Transnistrian frozen conflict. The fall of the communist authoritarian regime of Chisinau and the internal crisis of the Smirnov regime in Tiraspol also modified the conditions of the nineteen-year conflict. However, the European involvement in Moldova is perceived by the Kremlin as an intrusion in its own domaine reserve. Moreover, the 2008 war in South Ossetia illustrates Russia's return to the early 1990s policy of overt instrumentalization of the post-Soviet frozen conflicts. This volatile situation is analyzed in order to predict the future evolution of the Transnistrian conflict in the larger context of the developing regional rivalry between Brussels and Moscow.” READ MORE

Russia's economic agenda to 2020. Sergey Aleksashenko, International Affairs, Jan. 2012, pp. 31-48. “Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union the role of Russia in international relations has been in flux--a reflection of its changing capacities, positions and interests. To a certain extent, this variability has been defined by the Russian economy, which in the 1990s passed through a stage of deep structural transformation and severe financial crisis, but which then benefited from a period of fast and mainly stable economic growth in the first years of the twenty-first century. Now, the serious economic decline as a result of the global crisis of 2008-2009 has been replaced by an unstable and uncertain recovery.” READ MORE

EU, Russia, CIS: The Demographic Dimension. Ye Kozhokin, International Affairs, November 2011, pp. 6-22. “The relationship between the Commonwealth of Independent States, Russia and the European Union are examined. The issues surrounding immigration and demographics are a specific focus.” READ MORE


Between Iran and a Hard Place. Gal Luft, Foreign Policy, March 1, 2012, var. pages. “Forced to choose between high gas prices and a nuclear Iran, Barack Obama could very well remake himself into a war president.”

Obama to Iran and Israel: 'I Don't Bluff'. Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, March 2, 2012, var. pages. “In an exclusive interview with The Atlantic, the president says it's ‘unacceptable’ for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” READ MORE

The Iraq We Left Behind. Ned Parker, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2012, var. pages. “Weeks after the last U.S. soldier finally left the country, Iraq is on the road to becoming a failed state, with a deadlocked political system, an authoritarian leader, and a looming threat of disintegration. Baghdad can still pull itself together, but only if Washington starts applying the right kind of democratic pressure -- and fast.” READ MORE


The Arab Spring at One. Fouad Ajami, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2012, var. pages. “Terrible rulers, sullen populations, a terrorist fringe -- the Arabs' exceptionalism was becoming not just a human disaster but a moral one. Then, a frustrated Tunisian fruit vendor summoned his fellows to a new history, and millions heeded his call. The third Arab awakening came in the nick of time, and it may still usher in freedom.” READ MORE

Pakistan’s Most Dangerous Place. Zahid Hussain, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2012, var. pages. "As the United States struggles to broker an endgame to the decade-old war in Afghanistan, an arid mountain region in northwestern Pakistan not much larger than Vermont has emerged as the key to the beleaguered Afghan state’s future—and perhaps Pakistan’s as well. Often described as the most dangerous place on earth, Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region serves as a haven for Al Qaeda operatives, Pakistani militants, and jihadists from across the Islamic world, as well as Muslim radicals from the United States and Europe who come for ideological instruction and to plot terrorist attacks in their home countries." READ MORE

Morocco: Outfoxing the Opposition. Ahmed Benchemsi, Journal of Democracy, January 2012, var. pages. “Morocco was not immune to the 2011 upheavals in the Arab world, but the country’s monarchy deftly managed the crisis through cosmetic constitutional reform.” READ MORE


Europe’s Threatened Solidarity. Erik Jones, Current History, March 2012, pp. 88-93. “The European Union is not doing well. A sovereign debt crisis that started in Greece in October 2009 has grown to encompass much of the Old Continent—creating tensions between France and Germany, and threatening to bankrupt the Italian state. By March 2012, Italy will need to have rolled over more than €100 billion in public debt since January, and that is not all. France and Germany must work together on a new framework for enforcing macroeconomic policy coordination across 26 of the 27 EU member states. The British government needs to reconsider its role in Europe and its commitment to the International Monetary Fund. The Belgian, Portuguese, and Spanish governments have to fill widening fiscal deficits. The Greek government has to live up to the terms of its second bailout while persuading private sector bondholders to accept substantial losses. The Hungarian government has to navigate a full-blown balance of payments crisis. The list of challenges goes on and on.” READ MORE

The Misdiagnosed Debt Crisis. Daniel Gros, Current History, March 2012, p. 83-87. “To understand why the euro crisis has gone from bad to worse, one needs to understand the inconsistencies in the setup of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) that caused the problem in the first place. The official reading is that this is not a crisis of the euro, but of the public debt of a few profligate euro zone member countries. Dealing with this crisis, and preventing future ones, thus requires only a tighter framework for fiscal policy—which will be delivered by the new “fiscal compact” to be implemented soon. Financial markets, however, are not much impressed by all this, as Italy and other countries still have to pay very high risk premiums on their debt, while Greece teeters on the brink of a total collapse. It is clear, therefore, that the official explanation and response capture only part of the problem. In fact, it is financial market fragility that turned the public debt problems of a small, peripheral country like Greece into a crisis of the entire euro area banking system. And this fragility is the result of a fundamental inconsistency in financial market regulation that has yet to be addressed.” READ MORE

Can Italy’s Monti Save the Euro? Jonathan Hopkin, Current History, March 2012, p. 94-100. Italy has long been seen as a weak link in the euro zone. Back in the 1980s, when plans for a monetary union first began to take shape, fears that Italy’s political instability and fiscal indiscipline might derail the project posed a serious obstacle to progress. Stringent criteria laid down by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty for participation in the euro were designed with Italy and its large public debt in mind. The Stability and Growth Pact, which (unsuccessfully) governed the euro zone’s public finances through the 2000s, was principally aimed at curbing deficit spending south of the Alps. The current scenario, in which financial markets are doubting Italy’s creditworthiness and the country’s debt problems are beginning to seem unsustainable, is the nightmare that European policy makers have long dreaded. With Italy in trouble, the once apocalyptic danger of a Greek default is now seen as no more than a local difficulty. READ MORE


A North Korean Spring? Victor D. Cha and Nicholas D. Anderson, The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2012, pp. 7-24. “Is revolution similar to the Arab Spring possible in North Korea? While many believe that Pyongyang survived its greatest challenge in the 1990s, that crisis set off divisive processes and underlying tensions between state and society which have been developing for more than 20 years.” READ MORE 


The Future of U.S.-Chinese Relations. Henry Kissinger, Foreign Affairs, March-April 2012, var. pages. “Significant groups in both China and the United States claim that a contest for supremacy between the two countries is inevitable and perhaps already under way. They are wrong. Bejing and Washington may not, in the end, be able to transcend the forces pushing them toward conflict. But they owe it to themselves, and the world, to try.” READ MORE


The Obama Presidency and US Foreign Policy: Where's the Multilateralism? David Skidmore, International Studies Perspectives, February 2012, pp. 43-64. “Expectations that the presidential transition from George W. Bush to Barack Obama would produce a multilateralist turn in American foreign policy have thus far proven misplaced. This is largely because the strategic environment of the post-Cold War era places structural constraints on the ability of any US president, of whatever ideological leanings, to pursue a consistently multilateralist foreign policy. Internationally, the absence of a shared great power threat has undermined the institutional bargain between the United States and allied states, thus rendering the terms of multilateral cooperation more difficult to agree upon. At home, the end of the Cold War has undermined presidential authority and empowered veto players whose interests are threatened by multilateral commitments. Nevertheless, structure is not destiny. Understanding the sources of political constraint can suggest strategies for overcoming or bypassing such obstacles to multilateral engagement in US foreign policy. A president who wishes to exercise multilateral leadership abroad must seek to renegotiate the terms of US engagement with international institutions while fashioning a compelling rationale that mobilizes public support at home.” READ MORE

Clear and Present Safety. Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2012, var. pages. “U.S. officials and national security experts chronically exaggerate foreign threats, suggesting that the world is scarier and more dangerous than ever. But that is just not true. From the U.S. perspective, at least, the world today is remarkably secure, and Washington needs a foreign policy that reflects that reality.” READ MORE

The Obama Doctrine: How the president's secret wars are backfiring. David Rohde, Foreign Policy, March/April 2012, var. pages. “Oddly, technology has enabled Obama to become something few expected: a president who has dramatically expanded the executive branch's ability to wage high-tech clandestine war. With a determination that has surprised many, Obama has embraced the CIA, expanded its powers, and approved more targeted killings than any modern president. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has carried out at least 239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush. And after promising to make counterterrorism operations more transparent and rein in executive power, Obama has arguably done the opposite, maintaining secrecy and expanding presidential authority. Just as importantly, the administration's excessive use of drone attacks undercuts one of its most laudable policies: a promising new post-9/11 approach to the use of lethal American force, one of multilateralism, transparency, and narrow focus.” READ MORE


God and Caesar in America. David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2012, var. pages. “Religion has always played a role in U.S. politics. But these days, as religious influence hits a high-water mark, something strange is happening: Americans are abandoning the pews in record numbers. With God and Caesar increasingly entangled, more and more Americans, especially young ones, are opting out altogether.” READ MORE

America's Grace: How a Tolerant Nation Bridges Its Religious Divides. David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam, Political Science Quarterly, Winter 2011–12, pp. 611-640. “David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam ask how America can simultaneously be religiously devout, religiously diverse, and religiously tolerant. They argue that America's relative religious harmony lies in the frequency of ‘religious bridging.’ Almost all Americans have a friend or close family member of another religion, and these personal relationships keep America's religious melting pot from boiling over.” READ MORE

Breakthroughs in Faith. Olivier Roy, World Policy Journal Winter 2011/2012, var. pages. “Across the globe, a new form of religiosity is transforming the spiritual and secular landscape. Evangelical Christianity, Islamic fundamentalism, and many other modern religions, Olivier Roy argues, are no longer tied to a particular culture or location. This insight from one of Europe’s leading thinkers dismantles the clash of civilizations theory that has dominated political theory debate for almost two decades. Fundamentalism, he argues, is actually a product of secularization, not civilizations.” READ MORE

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