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Tag Archives: International Relations

The prospects for war with China: Why I see a serious chance of World War III in the next decade

When I wrote my book on war, I avoided ongoing conflicts because I didn’t want the book to be dated the moment it came out. The roots of war and the paths to peace are timeless, and I wanted examples that made this permanence clear. Still, it was hard not to read obsessively about the conflicts facing today’s world and develop opinions. Over the next few months I plan to write a series on some of the most troublesome conflicts, and what I think social science has to say about them. I’ll...

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America’s path to war with Russia

That’s the title of my feature with RealClearDefense, published this weekend. Full text follows here. The Biden administration has worked hard to keep Russia from treating America as a co-combatant in Ukraine. But that doesn’t mean NATO isn’t deeply embroiled in the fight. The level of support is extraordinary and increasing, including sanctions, intelligence sharing, weapons transfers, and money. Add to that the ever-heightening political rhetoric: “The United States is in this to win...

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Will China invade Taiwan, and what (if anything) can the United States do about it?

Last week I wrote a long thread about whether and why China would invade Taiwan: Will China invade Taiwan? Did Biden’s remarks today make war more or less likely? I’ve been reading up on this a lot lately. Here’s a summary of the best things I read, and what could lead to a war. Mostly I’m reassured. But not entirely. A 🧵, obviously. pic.twitter.com/ooLwXItxgB — Chris Blattman (@cblatts) May 23, 2022 I’ll write up what the analysts and the theory say as a longer post this summer....

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How much longer can Ukraine and Russia continue to fight, and what are the prospects for escalation versus stalemate?

Dmitri Alperovitch asks how Ukraine will pay for its war if it cannot export in this thread: Let’s talk about the state of the war and one of the most underreported yet crucially important issues: Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and resulting strangulation of the country’s economy 🧵 — Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) April 30, 2022 The full thread is worth reading but here is the key part: Last week I pointed to Yuriy Gorodnichenko‘s estimate that Ukraine needed about 40-50% of...

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What are the prospects for a long war of attrition in Ukraine?

How long will the Russian war in Ukraine continue? The Russian aggression has no end in sight and so Ukraine should prepare for a war of attrition. In other words, it will be not only a fight of armed forces but also an economic competition. Who can procure more weapons? Who can muster more materiel? Who has larger reserves? That is UC Berkeley economist (and Ukrainian) Yuriy Gorodnichenko in Vox Ukraine. He writes about lessons from war mobilization of the US and European economies. But the...

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Every war has both psychological and strategic roots, and we don’t need to choose just one explanation

That is my op-ed in today’s WSJ. You don’t get to pick your headlines, and I am guessing “The Strategic Logic of Russia’s War on Ukraine” will get misinterpreted somewhat.My view: this is a war driven by Mr. Putin’s psychology, but like all psychological roots of war, they are only decisive when the strategic bargaining space is so narrow. Some will see this as a rationalist take on war, but this is only partly true (and it’s a term I loathe). That’s because it’s not an either/or—strategic...

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The German romance with Russia was wider than Gerhard Schröder

This New York Times article on Gerhard Schröder’s entanglements with Russia and Putin is justifiably gaining attention. It’s a good piece. I still remember Tyler Cowen’s post on this from 5 years ago, which shocked me as something deeply important in foreign affairs of which (to that point) I was wholly unaware.Here is Tyler’s original post in full, titled A bit of context on Trump, NATO, and Germany:I strongly favor NATO and I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything,...

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Why are so many African and Asian nations ambivalent about Russia’s invasion? International identity politics

Americans agree on few issues, but one thing they have come together on is condemnation of Russian aggression. Western Europeans too. But not so the rest of the world. To explain India’s muted diplomatic reaction, Western papers emphasize the fact that India gets most of its arms from Russia, but here is an interesting NPR panel broadening the view: FRAYER: And the news commentary here about sanctions and diplomacy is also often sympathetic to Russia. Listen to how one of India’s most...

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The new Kashmir: How I think the Russia-Ukraine conflict could play out

After reading many things, talking to colleagues knowledgable about Russia, thinking about parallels to other conflicts, and idly speculating about a place that five months ago I struggled to find on an unlabelled map, here are some thoughts. One plausible scenario is that we are looking at the next Kashmir—something that will soon evolve into a tense but durable “peace” without any real settlement, but at least one where few people are dying. For the next while there will be more fighting...

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The new Kashmir: How I think the Russia-Ukraine conflict could play out

After reading many things, talking to colleagues knowledgable about Russia, thinking about parallels to other conflicts, and idly speculating about a place that five months ago I struggled to find on an unlabelled map, here are some thoughts. One plausible scenario is that we are looking at the next Kashmir—something that will soon evolve into a tense but durable “peace” without any real settlement, but at least one where few people are dying. For the next while there will be more fighting...

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