February 2022

First Edition Volume Two

This issue explores international relations theory, strategy and terrorism, paying special attention to the ever-changing dynamics of past and current conflicts. Beginning with the theoretical architecture of IR, the issue moves on to detangle narratives of socio-political conflicts and analyse the fate of deliberative consociationalism in Northern Ireland. With a specific focus on the nature of conflicts, our contributors investigate frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet region, with a particular emphasis on South Caucasus and Moldova. In our concluding section, 3SJ returns to its core issues of strategy and security by reviewing US defense policy and ‘old’ and ‘new’ terrorism.

Benedict haldane

Is It Possible to Conduct an Ethical Foreign Policy?

Ethical considerations are frequently used to justify or condemn foreign policy actions. This paper considers if it is possible to conduct an ethical foreign policy, and how ethical foreign policy is perceived across political and ethical frameworks. First, it is argued that across theories of International Relations, there is a recognition that foreign policy actions can be ethical. Second, this paper argues that the meaning of ethical foreign policy depends largely on the framework through which ethical action is understood. Humanitarian intervention is used as a case study to demonstrate how one issue is interpreted through different understandings of ethics. Third, this paper argues that foreign policy actions are inherently contradictory, but that these contradictions should be recognised as part of the decision making process.

Keywords: Foreign Policy, Ethics, Humanitarian Intervention, Nuclear Deterrence

katy gillespie

How does Poststructuralism unsettle traditional IR theoretical frameworks?

As a critical perspective, poststructuralism blurs the boundary between criticising the theory and practice of international relations. Poststructuralism is critical of the field of International Relations (“IR”) in two distinct ways; it is sceptical of IR’s state-centric level of analysis – advanced by liberal and realist IR theories – and is apprehensive of how these conventional conceptual lenses comprehend and explain the reasons behind states’ actions. This paper explains and discusses how poststructuralism has unsettled IR’s epistemological and ontological roots. Firstly, it applies the method of discourse analysis to global elite figures and their foreign policies. Secondly, it assesses Foucault’s views on knowledge and power and shows how this unsettles IR theories’ interpretation of the state and its centralised power. Lastly, it examines the concepts of deconstruction and genealogy to demonstrate how these have destabilised essential traditional representations and interpretations of the world and state within international relations. This paper provides illustrative examples revealing how poststructuralism has challenged IR’s dominant state-centric realist and liberal theoretical frameworks, commonly used to explain the actions taken by sovereign states; additionally, examples of how international relations, the use of foreign policy and global politics are practised in society, are also interwoven as points of analysis, critiqued through a poststructuralist lens. 

Keywords: Poststructuralism; IR theory; Discourse analysis; State-centrism

victor mulsant

Mapping out the Dynamics of Conflicting Socio-political Narratives and their Sources of Legitimacy

In any given societal structure, actors compete over which narrative should be mainstream and dominate the public sphere. This paper seeks to establish a model that explains the power relations and dynamics between the various actors of narrative dominance. Building on this, the paper attempts to evaluate the two main categories of sources of narrative legitimacy: structural and theoretical. Structural sources are authority, and the challenging of authority. Theoretical sources are truth and morality. The paper concludes that while crucial, the asymmetrical conditions of power do not inherently define what narrative will be accepted by the target audience, as theoretical sources of legitimacy must not be underestimated.

Key words: Conflicting narratives, asymmetrical relations of power, narrative legitimacy

 alexander c. olteanu

The Good Friday Agreement, the Civic Forum and the Fate of Deliberative Consociationalism in Northern Ireland

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement gave Northern Ireland the hope of peace and the prospect of democratic government, within a wider European framework of governance. Today, this Agreement is on life-support as Northern Ireland has become a central battlefield of the post-Brexit UK-EU conflict. This paper argues that the origin of the GFA’s legitimacy erosion is rooted much earlier in time than Britain’s exit from the European Union – namely in the failure of leading Northern Irish political parties and their respective state sponsors to fully implement the complex deliberative consociationalism architecture of the Agreement, centered around its innovative Civic Forum. After outlining in its introduction the Civic Forum’s transformative Project, this paper discusses, in its three main sections, the Civic Forum’s immanent Promise as the linchpin of the Agreement’s deliberative consociational architecture, its actual practice during its brief existence as it engaged with its “constitutive outsides” – the Northern Ireland Assembly and the grass-roots civic society, and its preliminary post-mortem commenting on the causes and consequences of its institutional demise. In conclusion, this paper will sound a hopeful note by making an optimistic prediction – forecasting the eventual rebirth of complex deliberative consociationalism in Northern Ireland.

Keywords: Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland, Civic Forum, multi-level governance, European Union, consociationalism, tribune parties, citizens’ assemblies

elene janadaze

Thawing Out A Frozen Conflict: Why did the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh reignite in 2020?

This paper aims to examine the factors behind the escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) territory in late September 2020. In order to address the main research question, the article draws on the scholarly literature that covers the causes of the conflict between the two countries. The paper identifies key gaps and analytical pitfalls in the scholarly debates that, on the one hand, no longer provide a relevant theoretical framework for analysing the reemergence of the fighting in 2020 and, on the other hand, fail to grasp the increasingly transforming nature of the current  Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The paper focuses on domestic political undercurrents in Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as on new power dynamics in the South Caucasus, with a special emphasis on Turkey and Russia, to explain the factors that have paved the way for the emergence of the recent heavy fighting. 

Keywords: Ethnic conflict, Caucasus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, Azerbaijan

Nickolas Brütsch

Status Quo in Transnistria: Approaches to resolving a frozen conflict

There are several frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space, including the often overlooked conflict between Moldova and Transnistria. The Russian Federation holds a key position in this unresolved dispute. This paper will critically evaluate possible resolutions to this conflict and argue that the status quo is likely to persist despite the growing tensions in the region. The question of Transnistria remains important not only for Moldova, but for other similar conflicts between Russia and its neighbours such as Ukraine and Georgia. This paper aims to help fill a gap in contemporary writing on resolutions to the territorial dispute between the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic and the Republic of Moldova. By providing an analysis of three potential resolutions of the conflict from the perspective of the three key players, this work will identify and underline the stumbling blocks that prevent the resolution of what seems to be a deceptively simple problem. These obstacles include the on-going presence of Russian peacekeeping forces, the economic benefits and burdens of the region, historical revisionism, and conflicting territorial claims. With tensions rising between Russia and the rest of Europe, This paper underlines one conflict that is likely to remain frozen unless there is a dramatic shift in direction or goals of the parties involved.

Keywords: Russia, frozen conflict, post-Soviet space, Moldova, Transnistria, conflict resolution, de facto states, unrecognized states

Jelena Jevtić 

‘Old’ vs. ‘New’ Terrorism in France: Action Directe and Islamic State a Comparative Perspective

The unprecedented 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States gave rise to an academic debate on “old” versus “new” terrorism. On one hand, proponents of “new” terrorism argue that the rise of this type of terrorism actively replaced the elements of “old” terrorism. On the other hand, skeptics view “new” terrorism simply as an evolutionary continuation of “old” terrorism. To explore the debate further, this paper conducts a comparative analysis of Action Directe (AD), a French far-left “old” terrorist group from the 1970s and 1980s, and the Islamic State (IS), a “new” Jihadi terrorist organization that has been executing terrorist activity across France since the 2010s. Applying Martha Crenshaw’s (2008) framework, this paper compares the goals, means, and organizational structures of AD and IS taking into account the shared French context. The conclusions from the comparative analysis underline that, while an immense transformation of terrorism is undeniable, the rise of “new” terrorism is a radical extension of “old” terrorism rather than its replacement.

Keywords: terrorism, France, comparative approach, Islamic State, Action Direct

Daniel K. Desmond

Does the Interim National Security Strategy Sufficiently Address U.S. Missile Defense?

This paper provides an analysis of the United States’ 2019 Missile Defense Review and 2020 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Report to validate that the vision established by the 2017 National Security Strategy was appropriately reflected in the reports. The Trump Administration published a clear and comprehensive National Security Strategy in 2017 that drove the research for these subsequent reports. The description of the ballistic and cruise missile threats facing the United States as well as the air and missile defense capabilities developed to combat these threats are clearly articulated for the development of an updated national strategy. The Biden Administration maximizing the data and intelligence in these reports to develop their own official National Security Strategy would increase the efficiency of the United States’ response to the identified threats. 

Keywords: Missile, Threat, Security, Strategy, Defense


Michael Grieve

An EU Unprepared for this Century’s Coming Challenge

The European Union (EU) has progressively sought to enhance its international reach over the past three decades. This paper evaluates the success of these measures using Mark Eyskens’ framework depicting Europe as ‘an economic giant, a political dwarf, and a military worm’ in the early 1990s. Subsequent investigations into the EU’s 21st century foreign, commercial and international development policies highlight that this conceptualisation remains broadly accurate. This paper argues that the EU’s progress, whilst noted, is generally insufficient to measurably alter the considerations made thirty years ago despite capitalisation of its ‘economic giant’ status to address limitations as a ‘political dwarf’ or, given increasing securitisation, a ‘military worm’. This highlights an international organisation unprepared for the changing global reality of the increasing influence of emerging economies and the developing world more broadly. In this regard, it is noted that the EU remains rather important in significant areas of global affairs, like trade, and that its influence equally cannot be considered to have decreased since Eyskens’ comment in 1991. The EU is consequently conceptualised as an intergovernmental institution, which has developed supranational characteristics that have generally weathered the disruptions of the early decades of the 21st century, but that has failed to expand its influence to prepare effectively for the further challenges widely considered to lie in the decades ahead.

Keywords: European Union, International development, Trade, Foreign policy, Institutional capacity, Multipolarity

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