New Perspectives issue 2/2015 out now!
Interdisciplinary Journal of Central & East European Politics and International Relations
We are delighted to present this second issue of New Perspectives – our subscribers have access to the full contents of the journal, which are listed and linked to below. However, we are also very happy to be able to offer free access to the Editorial and to one of our original articles.
The Editorial reflects on Bowie’s work to take us from Constellation to Constellation and explores the encounters that are provoked in this issue. Tomáš Dopita’s article provides insightful and iconoclastic analysis of Poststructuralist encounters with the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina – (Inter)national Reconstruction. Standing on the shoulders of giants, this piece pushes us beyond even the classic works of David Campbell and Lene Hansen.
We look forward to your engagement with this issue of our journal and to your submissions for future issues.
Benjamin Tallis, Editor-in-Chief and the New Perspectives Editorial Team
1. Editorial: Constellation to Constellation: Situation, Encounter & Doubt
Benjamin Tallis, Editor-in-Chief
‘Low’ was a reaction to having gone through that peculiar… that dull greenie-grey limelight of America and its repercussions; pulling myself out of it and getting to Europe and saying, For God’s sake re-evaluate why you wanted to get into this in the first place? Did you really do it just to clown around in LA? Retire. What you need is to look at yourself a bit more accurately. Find some people you don’t understand and a place you don’t want to be and just put yourself into it.David Bowie, to Charles Shaar Murray, NME, 12 November 1977
The recent death of David Bowie has given cause for reflection upon the life and work of a remarkably eclectic, influential and inventive artist. Among his most fondly remembered works are the ‘Berlin trilogy’ of albums released between 1977 and 1979 – Low, “Heroes” and Lodger. Among their many qualities, they mix the hopeful (e.g. ‘Be My Wife’) with the tragic (‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’), and immersed observation (“Heroes”) with fleeting, distant, speculation (‘Warszawa’). The three albums reach far beyond pop culture and leave much of interest for those interested in the politics of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their connections to wider issues of international relations – now as well as then.
2. (Inter)National Reconstruction: Revising Poststructuralist Encounters with the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The most serious problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina today are linked to the political practices of conflicting visions of nationhood and statehood. The international intervention in the country was expected to create self-sustaining political institutions and then withdraw. However, the fact that the intervention is ongoing shows its failure to do so. Many scholars have engaged this issue, but this article shows that some of the analyses that have been most critical of the international intervention also bring problems of their own. The article focuses on the encounters between collective Subjects and the ways they have been constituted in relation to one another. It warns that without carefully identifying these Subjects we risk serious misinterpretations, such as equating Bosnian Muslims, Bosniaks, and Bosnians. This misinterpretation occurs in two major critical works in IR’s ‘poststructuralist canon’ that purport to critically engage the situation and, particularly, the international intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina – David Campbell’s National Deconstruction and Lene Hansen’s Security as Practice. Campbell and Hansen rightly criticize the International Community’s ethno-cultural essentialism, but in their critique they apply Campbell’s radical-idealist version of multiculturalism. Based upon the ideal of a community without essence and the principle of affirming cultural diversity without situating it, this approach is not able to identify the Subjects involved or the unwelcome radicalization of the excluded Subjects, which leads to flawed conclusions as to how to sustainably resolve their conflict. In providing an academic corrective to such a hyper-liberal bias, this article seeks to increase the room-for-manoeuvre of those who seek to create self-sustaining political institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3. The foreign policy of the Baltic states and the Ukrainian crisis: A case of Europeanization?
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have established themselves as ardent supporters of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, and have also combined this with robust national policies. The crisis in Ukraine, with the annexation of Crimea and Russian military aggression precipitating confrontation in EU-Russia relations, presented the Baltic countries with the most formidable political challenge since restoring independence. Combining Europeanization literature with Larsen’s (2005) approach to the foreign policy of small states, the article focuses on the relationship between national foreign policies of EU member states and the European Union as a foreign policy platform. The analysis synthesizes the results of a content analysis of official press releases with interviews with the Baltic states’ diplomats. The empirical results show that in responding to the Ukraine crisis, the Baltic states have regularly pursued their policy aims through the EU, contesting the conventional notion that Europeanization rarely extends to foreign and security affairs. More specifically, the Baltic states’ handling of the Ukraine crisis suggests that Europeanization can affect even dossiers with heavy bearing on member states’ security and national sovereignty where – according to the extant consensus in the literature – it should be least likely.
4. On New Travels in Space-Time: Theoretical Rediscoveries after the Crisis in (Comparative) Capitalism(s)
This review essay on the books New Directions in Comparative Capitalisms Research and The Future of Capitalism After the Financial Crisis uses the prism of ‘travelling theory’ to appraise whether both edited volumes meet their proclaimed aim to challenge the alleged reductionisms inherent in the Comparative Capitalisms (CC) research and reinvigorate the CC agenda’s radical potential to analyse contemporary capitalism in critical and global perspectives. The verdict is affirmative as both volumes (i) introduce new as well as forgotten approaches to combined inter-spatial and inter-temporal comparisons into the CC literature, which then (ii) allows for the rediscovery of a multitude of roads to (knowledge about) really existing capitalisms. However, the essay urges some of the authors to avoid tracing capitalism only at its worst, which leads to an exaggerated intellectual pessimism and fatalism. Finally, putting both volumes into the context of post-socialist Central and Eastern European (CEE) capitalism, the review documents the continuing relevance of empirical discoveries in CEE for developing an expanded critical-global CC scholarship.
5. Russia and the World: 2016. IMEMO Forecast
A. Dynkin, V. Baranovsky, I. Kobrinskaya, G. Machavariany, S. Afontsev, A. Kuznetsov, F. Voytolovsky, V. Shvydko, S. Utkin, V. Mikheev, S. Lukonin, A. Federovsky, B. Frumkin, V. Zhuravleva, I. Zvyagelskaya, N. Toganova, Y. Kvashnin, A. Gushchin
This forecast examines the major trends in Russia’s relations with the world and in the Russian view of the world in 2016. The forecast looks firstly at Russia’s role in the world in the context of the extant and emergent state of geopolitics. In a confused international environment, caught between the multiple, discordant and disorderly games of checkers of the present and the emerging design of a new grand chessboard for international relations, Russia and the West have been forced into cooperation. While far from easy and far from guaranteed to work – or last – this situation does offer the possibility of overcoming divides to pursue mutual interests. These interests become particularly apparent in the context of increased shared threats and the need to act jointly against them, the uncertainties created by rising powers, and the difficulties that Russia finds itself in. The key role of new mega-regional trade agreements in this emerging great game is also emphasised in the subsequent sections of the forecast, which deal, respectively, with foreign policy and political economy. The foreign policy analysis sees the US in flux in a presidential election year, and the EU caught at the crossroads of its own failure to capitalise on integration and a migration crisis of unprecedented proportions. Meanwhile, foreign policy in the post-Soviet space is characterised more by stasis than by substantial change, with frozen conflicts and stagnant reforms in Ukraine and limited room for manoeuvre for other players the order of the day. The Russian involvement in the Middle East, however, is anything but stagnant, with the military operations in Syria having dramatic effects in both the situation in Syria and global and regional geopolitics. The sustainability of this quest for influence, however, is questioned by the attitude of other players, but also by Russia’s own internal weaknesses, notably its serious and deepening economic crisis.
Responses to Ulrich Kuhn’s ‘Deter and Engage: Making the Case for Harmel 2.0 as NATO’s New Strategy’ (published in New Perspectives 1/2015)
- 6. The Harm in Harmel: What the Transatlantic Alliance Needs is a New Containment, Ondřej Ditrych
- 7. Engage with Russia? Sure, Just Don’t Throw the European Security Order under the Bus! Łukasz Kulesa
- 8. “Deter and Engage”: A New NATO Strategy for Taming Russia, Irina Kobrinskaya
- 9. More Realism, Please! A Reply to Ditrych, Kulesa and Kobrinskaya, Ulrich Kühn