DGSi Working Papers
Prestige Aid:The case of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia
No. 3, 2017
Lena Moral Waldmeier
Abstract: The growing trend of developing countries such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia in adopting alternative mechanisms for the provision of foreign aid challenges traditional institutions and the landscape of development assistance. Furthermore, Malaysia as a geographically distant state, presents a challenge to the conventional notion of Saudi Arabia concentrating its support in the MENA region. Therefore, a classical and neoclassical realist explanation for the role of prestige and status in competing for hierarchical positions in the global structure elucidates a state’s interest in engaging with the practice of foreign aid far removed from its geostrategic interests. Accumulating prestige and recognition for its actions benefit a state’s position in the anarchical world structure and provide it with further influence to exert its own interests. This paper argues that Saudi Arabia engages in prestige and status-seeking behaviour, by providing foreign assistance to states, such as Malaysia, in the form of development grants, donations to universities, Islamic institutions and infrastructure projects. This paper contributes to the literature on foreign aid by providing novel insights on the symbolic motives of these policies.
The Local Turn and the Post-Conflict Everyday: Moving towards a phenomenological approach
Abstract: The continued importance of peacebuilding and the necessity to find a “best practice” becomes most apparent when one considers current developments in Syria or Sudan. A recent advancement in the field of conflict studies’ – especially peacebuilding’s – “best practices” has been the “local turn” which developed over the past 25 years, out of an increasing discontentment with liberal approaches to peacebuilding. This paper explores this turn’s metaphysical journey, uncovering its ontological and epistemological assumptions which foster its “bottom-up” approach. Whilst great progress is shown to have been made by acknowledging the complexity and plurality of post-conflict environments and phenomena, results remain limited. Indeed, linear, normative, and static models still distort the peacebuilding practice’s orientation to post-conflict phenomena. This paper argues that this is due, not so much to the understanding of phenomena, but rather the understanding of what it is to understand phenomena. Using the case of post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina as a substantiation of the arguments put forth, an explanation of the ways in which both the Civil Society Development and the Local Agency approach have been unable to fulfil their aims of local legitimacy, efficiency, and agency, is provided. Using phenomenological intakes from philosophy, this paper suggests that placing human consciousness and experiences at the core of knowledge processes, fosters a better understanding of what it means to live in, navigate around, and manage a post-conflict environment. Which methods – personal or at the level of practice – will best implement such a change of thought is left at the discretion of the peacebuilder/researcher. Whilst this sounds like a “non-practical” solution, a “turn towards phenomenology” might lead towards acknowledging that there currently is no unique grand narrative which could inspire straightforward peacebuilding methods. Rather, peacebuilding pursuits should embrace their much more intuitive, scattered, non-linear, informal, and trial-and-error nature and origin.
Armed Drone Proliferation and Strange’s International Political Economy: Understanding the spread of UCAVs through global power relations
Jenna R. Mazzella
Abstract:Since the early 2000s the number of countries with access to armed drones, also known as unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), has grown precipitously. This growth has been driven both by the domestic development of UCAVs (independent acquisition) as well as by the international trading of UCAVs between supplier and recipient nations (dependent acquisition). Despite this growth, there has been a notable research gap in the exploration of factors motivating UCAV proliferation. In place of earlier theories of proliferation that were developed to explain the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, this research presents Susan Strange’s theory of international political economy (IPE) as a uniquely applicable theory for understanding the phenomenon of UCAV proliferation. The second chapter of this research details Strange’s IPE and the ways in which it illuminates proliferation trends. To demonstrate its explanatory strength, the following chapters apply this theory to three instances of recent UCAV proliferation between supplier and recipient nations: US-UK, China-Pakistan, and Israel-India. In doing so, this research suggests pathways regarding the future of both the independent and dependent acquisition of UCAVs. The final chapter utilizes this analysis to make recommendations for the responsible future spread and use of UCAVs. Ultimately, it is argued that UCAV proliferation should be understood as influenced by a wide variety of concerns beyond purely the needs of security and as such, effectively addressing the spread of UCAVs demands that this multitude of influencing factors is taken into account.
Narrating Ukraine: A Crisis of Russian Identity?
No: 3, 2016
Abstract: The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has precipitated the most serious deterioration in West-Russia relations since the Cold War. This paper analyses the extent to which notions of Russian identity affect Russia’s perception of and response to the conflict in Ukraine. In Part II, I draw upon the concept of ontological security to develop a theoretical approach to analysis of the relationship between identity, security and the state. In Part III, I analyse public statements by Russian political actors to determine how they construct a ‘meaning’ of the conflict in terms of Russian identity. I analyse the period from September 2013 to September 2014. This follows events leading up the removal of Ukrainian President Yanukovych, until the apparent increase in Russian support for the rebel movement in the Donbass. I find that Russian political actors represented the Ukraine crisis in terms of its implications for Russian identity and that this had profound implications for the dynamics of the present conflict.
Afghanistan: An Analytical Framing - Past, Present and into the Future
No: 2, 2016
James Michael Page
Abstract: This paper comes out of a paper presented by the author at a NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre conference in early December 2015, at which the question of analytically framing Afghanistan was addressed. In order to do so, consideration was given to the intervention in Afghanistan since 2001 and the present situation as a basis from which analytical framing can be explored, developed, refined and further tailored. Analytical frames assessed as pertinent into the future are elucidated upon with reference to a range of classical texts, newly published research and analysis, as well as recent first-hand experience. Serving as a key conceptual starting point is Clausewitz’s ‘trinity’ and its clarification in the context of the Global War on Terror and the ongoing intervention in Afghanistan. This thread is subsequently traced through matters of policy, strategy and operations, and their corollaries. Appropriate reflection is also entered into in relation to a range of relevant selected paradigms, assumptions, historical developments and thematic issues. This finds that although Afghanistan presents an extraordinary complexity -- that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future -- ways do exist in which analytical framing can be usefully undertaken. This necessarily utilizes: insights arising from frank analyses of events, paradigms and constructs; assessing and where apt adapting pre-existing analytical frames; carefully examining assumptions; locating congruence between analytical frames and making use of what this may offer; tailoring to and enabling appreciation of context as part of analytical exploration; developing constructive awareness of limiting factors; and being creative about challenges such as data availability and volatility.
Afghanistan in Regional Context: Insights from Regional States