Skip to content

Category: International Relations

Canada’s new prime minister: who is Justin Trudeau, and how did he win?

Written by Steve Hewitt.

After a hard-fought election, Canada’s Liberal party has won a decisive parliamentary majority, and Canada will soon have an unfamiliar prime minister with a familiar last name. But 43-year-old Justin Trudeau’s rise to the top of Canadian politics was far from certain, even despite his remarkable political pedigree.

His father, the late Pierre Trudeau, dominated Canadian politics between 1968 and 1984, winning four elections and – uniquely for a Canadian politician – building a substantial reputation outside of his home country. Though lionised at the time of his death in 2000 (two of his honorary pallbearers were Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter) he was a controversial and divisive figure in Canada. Loved by many, he was equally loathed throughout his federal political career by numerous voters, particularly across Western Canada and among Quebecois separatists and nationalists.

While the elder Trudeau’s career was unquestionably a success, he still never managed to get higher than 46% of the popular vote. He left his Liberal Party in disarray when he retired, and although the party has won elections since, it has never truly recovered.

Why defeating ISIS with military might is starry eyed idealism

Written by David Alpher.

This past weekend, US-led coalition aircraft targeted the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. It was one of the “largest deliberate engagements to date,” said a coalition spokesman, and it was executed “to deny [ISIS] the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq.” The scale of these responses gives a hint both to how concerned we are about such groups–and to how badly we misunderstand how to deal with them.

ISIS–the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”–is the monster of our times, our Grendel. Every pundit, commentator, armchair warrior and presidential candidate, declared and otherwise, claims to have a strategy to defeat them. A steady stream of political statements offering answers to “what do we do about them?” have gotten progressively more hawkish.

How Indonesia’s 1965-1966 anti-communist purge remade a nation and the world

Written by Asvi Warman Adam.

Between October 1965 and March 1966, members and supporters of Indonesia’s Communist Party (PKI), the third largest in the world at the time, were hunted down and murdered. Historian Robert Cribb estimates 200,000 to 800,000 people were killed.

The anti-communist violence brought Suharto to power in 1967, replacing the country’s founding president Sukarno. In the midst of the Cold War, the tragedy changed Indonesia from a fiercely independent Asian nation into a pro-Western country.

Historian Asvi Warman Adam explains what happened and the impact it had on Indonesia and global politics.

Disputes over the South China Sea could put East Asia at war again

Written by Timo A. Kivimäki.

Philippine authorities have released satellite pictures of six reefs in the Spratly archipelago that indicate that the Chinese are building artificial structures in the disputed territories of the South China Sea. According to some observers, these features could allow China to extend the range of its navy, air force, coastguard and fishing fleets into the disputed areas.

In response, the US and the Philippines announced they would further strengthen their alliance to increase their military capacity. The Philippines have already given the US military access to bases on Philippine soil, two decades after the closing of the last American bases there.

The news about Chinese building projects and the possible military consequences have not yet been commented on by the Chinese media or by Chinese officials, but it seems clear that the reinforcements are yet another move in a long, steady game of escalation between the US and China.

North Korea unveils its nuclear ‘treasured swords’ to the world again

Written by Robert Winstanley-Chesters.

North Korea’s announcement that “normal operation” was again underway at its Yongbyon reactor complex sent a characteristic wave of anxiety through the world’s Pyongyang watchers. The country’s nuclear ambitions had, after all, been largely forgotten in what seemed like a lull in North Korea’s fractious relations with the wider world.

Even as the Korean peninsula itself endured a summer of high tension, the West’s complicated fear of North Korea has been displaced by a myopic public narrative currently fixated on the European refugee crisis, the murderous idiocy of Islamic State, and the travails of Donald Trump.

Things are clearly rather different on the inside. The regime’s primary tool of geo-political leverage can have slipped nobody’s mind – and North Korea’s recent statements speak volumes about how the Kim regime conceives of its nuclear programme.

How Turkey began the slide towards civil war

Written by Cengiz Gunes.

The speed with which Turkey has became engulfed in violence since the Suruç massacre on July 20 2015 is causing mass anxiety.

While public discussion has largely focused on questions of whose fault it is and why the country has suddenly descended into violence, one thing everyone agrees is that the country is passing through an extraordinary period in its history. While the current crisis has much deeper roots, the developments of the past year provide us sufficient clues about why the spiral of violence is likely to continue.

Why are the Gulf states so reluctant to take in refugees?

Written by Rana Jawad.

Europe’s reaction to the refugee crisis has hardly been a calm and considered one; with fences erected and border controls reinstated, the continent’s governments are struggling to agree on a response.

But at least Europe’s governments are acting. In the Middle East, things are rather different. In particular, the Arab Gulf States are catching serious flack for their response to the crisis – or rather, their failure to respond.

One big question is reverberating in the minds of the general public, expert observers and policy-makers; why have the Gulf states, who are among the richest countries in the world, not taken in any Syrian refugees? There’s no need to rewrite the commentary that’s already out there: many articles have provided useful statistics and background information on the international conventions and treaties the Persian Gulf countries are signed up to, and their failure to honour them.

Fencing off the east: how the refugee crisis is dividing the European Union

Written by Jan Culik.

Having finished construction of a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia, Hungary now plans to extend it to Romania. Tampering with the fence is punishable with prison or deportation.

These are its latest moves in a stand-off between the thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe through Hungarian territory.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has said that this is a “German problem”, not a “European problem”, while leaders in western Europe talk about a shared responsibility.

Two very different responses to the crisis are emerging on each side of Europe. The west might be failing to handle the crisis well but the east is simply rejecting any role in it. Resentment is building on both sides and is threatening European unity.

Of War and Words

By Anna Huber

In the second academic term of 2014/2015 I was asked by the United National Society (UN Soc) of the University of Nottingham to attend the London International Model United Nation (LIMUN) 2015 conference.  LIMUN is a student-organised event, in which students have to represent assigned countries throughout the conference, simulating a United Nations (UN) conference. LIMUN aims to build an understanding of global challenges and encourage participants to find solutions to future global problems that are compatible with the aims and principles of the UN.

Like any other UN conference, LIMUN involves research, debating, writing skills and public speaking. Whereas the former three skills are well thought by our department, I think that the latter is a skill that can only be fully gained by your own individual efforts. Additionally, attending lectures where you are confronted with issues such as the uneven growth and exploitation of developing countries, democracy having the potential to lead to tyranny of the majority and the misuse of nuclear weapons – demonstrate how essential public speaking is in order to make your voice heard! So even though seminars tend to make even the quietest students speak up during heated debates (especially when it comes to private schools), I believe that many students still hesitate to confront people on these challenging issues rather than introducing others to their thoughts. I therefore decided to join the UN Soc and sign up to a conference as soon as the opportunity arose which is how I ended up at the LIMUN in London.

Reflections on the Srebrenica Massacre

By Annabelle de Heus

Twenty years have passed since the events that took place in the small eastern town of Srebrenica; one of the UN’s designated ‘Safe Areas’ where thousands of Muslim refugees had sought solace at the height of the Bosnian War. Despite being under the protection of western peacekeeping forces, the town was overrun in July 1995 and over the days that followed over 8000 men, women and children were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces under General Ratko Mladic. As world leaders have come together in Bosnia to join its commemoration, the search for the remains of victims in the killing fields of the Drina Valley continues. So too does the complicated process of uncovering where responsibility for the mistakes that have been made ultimately lies. Whilst military leaders Mladic and Karadzic are awaiting trial in the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) in the Hague, the focus also shifts once again to the role of the Dutch and the wider  international community. This short article seeks to briefly look back at the events of 1995 in the light of recent new research.