Cooperation and Conflict

Publisher:
Sage Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
2021-08-12
ISBN:
0010-8367

Latest documents

  • Machine guardians: The Terminator, AI narratives and US regulatory discourse on lethal autonomous weapons systems

    References to the Terminator films are central to Western imaginaries of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). The puzzle of whether references to the Terminator franchise have featured in the United States’ international regulatory discourse on these technologies nevertheless remains underexplored. Bringing the growing study of AI narratives into a greater dialogue with the International Relations literature on popular culture and world politics, this article unpacks the repository of different stories told about intelligent machines in the first two Terminator films. Through an interpretivist analysis of this material, we examine whether these AI narratives have featured in the US written contributions to the international regulatory debates on LAWS at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in the period between 2014 and 2022. Our analysis highlights how hopeful stories about what we coin ‘machine guardians’ have been mirrored in these statements: LAWS development has been presented as a means of protecting humans from physical harm, enacting the commands of human decision makers and using force with superhuman levels of accuracy. This suggests that, contrary to existing interpretations, the various stories told about intelligent machines in the Terminator franchise can be mobilised to both support and oppose the possible regulation of these technologies.

  • Can small states wage proxy wars? A closer look at Lithuania’s military aid to Ukraine

    Proxy wars are an increasingly common feature of great power competition in the 21st century. In this context, the role of the small states is less clear and has not been properly addressed in the academic literature. Although states of this type have often been chosen as battlegrounds for such wars and have even acted as proxies for the superpowers, this article argues that they are also capable of conducting proxy warfare themselves. Since the start of the 2014 conflict in Donbas, Eastern Ukraine, this country has experienced proxy interventions from many external actors, both large and small, that provided resources to both conflict parties. One of the smallest states which has been trying to affect the course of this conflict in support of the Ukrainian government is Lithuania. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with the security and defence policy-makers in Vilnius, the article aims to explain why Lithuania is punching above its weight and interfering with this conflict from backstage. The empirical evidence points to an almost perfect alignment of interests between the current governments in Kiev and Vilnius in that they both see Russia as their long-term ‘enemy’ which makes Ukraine a surprisingly suitable proxy for Lithuania to exploit.

  • Bourdieu the ethnographer: Grounding the habitus of the ‘far-right’ voter

    This article pushes the work of Bourdieu to more ethnographic directions within international social sciences, particularly studies of everyday (in)security. Thematically, it looks at how transformations in global politics towards increased xenophobia and the normalisation of ‘far-right’ politics can be examined through mobilising ‘Bourdieu the ethnographer’ (Blommaert, 2005). Using the example of Sweden, and an ethnography of everyday life around a refugee resettlement facility in 2013 and 2014, the article argues that Bourdieu the ethnographer provides important conceptual tools for understanding the way in which logics of (in)security shifted ever further into everyday life. This thus offers an interesting way to think about the normalisation of far-right and xenophobic politics more broadly. Through conducting this specific type of Bourdieu-inspired ethnography, the article empirically grounds the ‘habitus’ of the so-called ‘far-right’ voter. Taking seriously the temporal dimension of habitus, Bourdieu the ethnographer orients analysis towards transformation, evolution and flux, allowing ‘far-right’ to be conceived relationally. In the Swedish case, we are thus able to trace the shift from a ‘welcoming’ to an ‘exclusionary’ type of politics.

  • How do states reminisce? Building relations through bonding narratives

    Reminiscing during foreign state visits serves as a discursive means for building interstate relationships. When political leaders strategically narrate their states’ historical legacies, they construct a collective memory that serves as a resource for creating and sustaining amicable relations between states. Studying evocations of past events in 455 speeches delivered during foreign state visits between 2010 and 2020, we demonstrate the prevalence and significance of the practice of reminiscing in interstate politics. We suggest bonding narratives as a device through which a connection is generated between two collectives to create and sustain positive relations. Despite the unique nature of bonding narratives, the constructed collective memory mostly relies on shared memories of wars, once again underlining the link between nations and violence.

  • When identity meets strategy: The development of British and German anti-torture policies since 9/11

    Since 9/11, considerable research has been done on US interrogation and detention operations, but comparatively little is known about the involvement of other traditionally liberal states’ intelligence agencies and their evolving perspectives on torture-related policies for foreigners abroad. Particularly, the United Kingdom and Germany provide interesting cases; despite similar levels of public and political pressure regarding their indirect involvement in Central Intelligence Agency’s operations, the two states took different strategic decisions in 2010 on whether to implement new extraterritorial human rights safeguards. While the United Kingdom introduced a new intelligence guidance for interrogations overseas, the German government opted for policy-continuance, which raises the question why the two states embarked on different policy trajectories, even if they found themselves in contextually similar situations and were subjected to the comparable accountability measures. By bridging insights from Rationalist and normative literature, the article addresses this conundrum by clearly outlining the states’ differing strategic preferences, and by dissecting the multi-layered composition of these interests. As a result, the article delineates how strategic constraints pertaining to the states’ national, international, or political elite level affect decision-makers’ policy responses.

  • Branding ‘progressive’ security: The case of Sweden

    Contemporary research on so-called Nordic branding has provided crucial insights into the social power of states and how various actors use and circulate ‘progressive’ nation brand tropes for political and commercial goals. Hitherto, the literature on Nordic branding has focused on a wide range of substantive issues, among other things, human rights, gender equality, social welfare and foreign aid, but considerably less attention has been paid to the topic of security. The present article adds to a small but established literature on how the security sphere is increasingly entangled with nation branding. In the Nordic region, we argue, the latter is particularly evident in the case of Sweden – one of the world’s largest per-capita arms exporters in the post-Cold War era but also a country known and often revered for its peaceful and progressive image. Focusing on the case of Sweden, the article contributes to knowledge of how defence industry-related actors (both public and private) draw on and frame nation branding tropes to sell and legitimise their products and services to both insiders (domestic constituents) and outsiders (the global security market).

  • Machine guardians: The Terminator, AI narratives and US regulatory discourse on lethal autonomous weapons systems

    References to the Terminator films are central to Western imaginaries of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). The puzzle of whether references to the Terminator franchise have featured in the United States’ international regulatory discourse on these technologies nevertheless remains underexplored. Bringing the growing study of AI narratives into a greater dialogue with the International Relations literature on popular culture and world politics, this article unpacks the repository of different stories told about intelligent machines in the first two Terminator films. Through an interpretivist analysis of this material, we examine whether these AI narratives have featured in the US written contributions to the international regulatory debates on LAWS at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in the period between 2014 and 2022. Our analysis highlights how hopeful stories about what we coin ‘machine guardians’ have been mirrored in these statements: LAWS development has been presented as a means of protecting humans from physical harm, enacting the commands of human decision makers and using force with superhuman levels of accuracy. This suggests that, contrary to existing interpretations, the various stories told about intelligent machines in the Terminator franchise can be mobilised to both support and oppose the possible regulation of these technologies.

  • How do states reminisce? Building relations through bonding narratives

    Reminiscing during foreign state visits serves as a discursive means for building interstate relationships. When political leaders strategically narrate their states’ historical legacies, they construct a collective memory that serves as a resource for creating and sustaining amicable relations between states. Studying evocations of past events in 455 speeches delivered during foreign state visits between 2010 and 2020, we demonstrate the prevalence and significance of the practice of reminiscing in interstate politics. We suggest bonding narratives as a device through which a connection is generated between two collectives to create and sustain positive relations. Despite the unique nature of bonding narratives, the constructed collective memory mostly relies on shared memories of wars, once again underlining the link between nations and violence.

  • Can small states wage proxy wars? A closer look at Lithuania’s military aid to Ukraine

    Proxy wars are an increasingly common feature of great power competition in the 21st century. In this context, the role of the small states is less clear and has not been properly addressed in the academic literature. Although states of this type have often been chosen as battlegrounds for such wars and have even acted as proxies for the superpowers, this article argues that they are also capable of conducting proxy warfare themselves. Since the start of the 2014 conflict in Donbas, Eastern Ukraine, this country has experienced proxy interventions from many external actors, both large and small, that provided resources to both conflict parties. One of the smallest states which has been trying to affect the course of this conflict in support of the Ukrainian government is Lithuania. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with the security and defence policy-makers in Vilnius, the article aims to explain why Lithuania is punching above its weight and interfering with this conflict from backstage. The empirical evidence points to an almost perfect alignment of interests between the current governments in Kiev and Vilnius in that they both see Russia as their long-term ‘enemy’ which makes Ukraine a surprisingly suitable proxy for Lithuania to exploit.

  • Bourdieu the ethnographer: Grounding the habitus of the ‘far-right’ voter

    This article pushes the work of Bourdieu to more ethnographic directions within international social sciences, particularly studies of everyday (in)security. Thematically, it looks at how transformations in global politics towards increased xenophobia and the normalisation of ‘far-right’ politics can be examined through mobilising ‘Bourdieu the ethnographer’ (Blommaert, 2005). Using the example of Sweden, and an ethnography of everyday life around a refugee resettlement facility in 2013 and 2014, the article argues that Bourdieu the ethnographer provides important conceptual tools for understanding the way in which logics of (in)security shifted ever further into everyday life. This thus offers an interesting way to think about the normalisation of far-right and xenophobic politics more broadly. Through conducting this specific type of Bourdieu-inspired ethnography, the article empirically grounds the ‘habitus’ of the so-called ‘far-right’ voter. Taking seriously the temporal dimension of habitus, Bourdieu the ethnographer orients analysis towards transformation, evolution and flux, allowing ‘far-right’ to be conceived relationally. In the Swedish case, we are thus able to trace the shift from a ‘welcoming’ to an ‘exclusionary’ type of politics.

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