“What are Putin’s red lines?”
This question, asked with growing urgency as Russia loses its war in Ukraine but does not relent in its aggressions, is intended to offer analytical clarity and to guide policy. In reality, it is the wrong question, because “red line” is a bad metaphor. Red lines are red herrings. There are better ways to think about strategy.
“Red lines” implies there are defined limits to the actions that a state — in this case, Russia — is prepared to accept from others. If the West transgresses these limits, Russia will respond in new and more dangerous ways.… Seguir leyendo »
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine 10 weeks ago, Western governments have tirelessly condemned this egregious act and declared their support for Ukraine. But as united as they have been in their outrage, they have been vague about their goals.
This posture has begun to change. Recently, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that America wanted “to see Russia weakened” so that it could not threaten its neighbors again. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of Britain said that her country would seek “to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine”. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, declared that “we want Ukraine to win this war”.… Seguir leyendo »
Every year, owners of illicit wealth send huge sums of money from the countries where they made it to jurisdictions where they can conceal its origins. They can do so because laws, practices and intermediaries in the receiving countries make money-laundering safe and easy. These arrangements abet criminality, corruption and insecurity on a global scale. There is a clear, compelling and urgent case for closing this major governance gap.
Transnational organized crime has long relied on the ability to launder its earnings. But the issue goes much wider. Those who enrich themselves through corrupt relationships and tax evasion routinely send the proceeds to safer jurisdictions.… Seguir leyendo »
On 10 October Alexei Kudrin, head of the Russian Accounts Chamber, spoke to leading business people about Western sanctions. He said that if sanctions were tightened, Russia would be unable to achieve the economic goals set out by President Vladimir Putin for his new presidential term.
Kudrin added that Russian foreign policy ‘should be subordinated to reducing tensions in our relations with other countries’. This success of this policy, he said, should be measured by whether sanctions were eased or intensified.
Kudrin’s comments are significant for three reasons. First, they sharply contradict the official position that sanctions are futile and ineffective, and that efforts to pressure on Russia are counterproductive.… Seguir leyendo »
The public spat this week, between the White House and Nikki Haley, US permanent representative to the UN, has thrown America’s sanctions policy into confusion. But this should not cloud a more significant moment. Earlier this month America imposed its most far-reaching sanctions yet on Russia. These mark a turning point in US-Russia relations – the moment when America took the offensive in a long struggle for influence waged with economic means.
Since the end of the Cold War, the West has sought to draw Russia into the global economy. Beyond the pursuit of new trade and investment opportunities lay a strategic calculation: globalizing Russia would normalize it.… Seguir leyendo »
Soon after the Salisbury nerve gas attack on Sergei and Yuliya Skripal, James Nixey and I set out principles that should govern the UK’s response, and assessed potential actions against them. We argued that Britain should:
- impose measures that are not merely symbolic, but impose costs to deter future unacceptable actions;
- target key Russian interests, not the wider population; and
- accept that an effective response will impose costs on some UK interests.
The UK response set out by Theresa May on 14 March comprises three sets of measures:
- Diplomatic sanctions: high-level bilateral contacts have been frozen, and no ministers or members of the royal family will attend the World Cup.
… Seguir leyendo »
If confirmed, the attack on double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter would be the second known Russian state-sponsored murder in the UK, following the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Other suspicious cases are now being reopened.
What principles should guide an effective response?
- Effective measures are more than symbolic. They impose costs that punish unacceptable actions and deter future ones. The UK’s response to Litvinenko’s death – expelling four diplomats, imposing visa restrictions for officials, and suspending security service liaison – was clearly not sufficient enough to deter the latest attack. Symbols matter, but only if they credibly convey intentions about the consequences of further action.
… Seguir leyendo »
The royal funeral and cremation ceremony of King Bhumibol this week conclude a year of mourning in Thailand. They also usher in a new era of uncertainty in a country plagued by recurring instability and a polarized political culture.
Thailand’s modern monarchy has been a key source of legitimacy and cohesion. Its revival from an uncertain future after the Second World War was a central achievement of King Bhumibol’s 70-year reign. Through a powerful blend of tradition, divinity and barami (moral charisma), his kingship helped ensure that despite frequent coups, wrenching modernisation and Cold War entanglements, Thailand avoided the sustained mass violence and repression that afflicted most of its neighbours.… Seguir leyendo »
On 13 May, Vladimir Putin approved a new economic security strategy for Russia, the first since 1996. The revival of this Yeltsin-era tradition was conceived in response to the renewal of Western sanctions; Putin noted that ‘even very recently it seemed such documents were not needed, but judging by what has happened we must think about all threats’.
But the strategy has ended up focusing on wider factors, notably Russia’s persistently sluggish growth since the 2008 global financial crisis, and the ‘exhaustion of the resource export model’. In the process, it has become a critique of Russia’s own political economy.
The strategy is clearest and most trenchant in its diagnosis of the economic challenges and threats that face Russia.… Seguir leyendo »
It is not yet clear how Thailand and its politics will restructure itself following the death of King Bhumibol on 13 October. But a number of facts are becoming apparent.
The king was a unique figure whose role is not easily filled. King Bhumibol’s 70-year reign was the one fixed point in an era of economic transformation, political turbulence and regional conflict. He provided a source of national legitimacy and stability during a record number of coups and constitutions. As Father of the Nation, he became an important part of modern Thai identity.
Furthermore, this role was not merely ceremonial and symbolic.… Seguir leyendo »
The constitution’s passage is a victory for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which has ruled Thailand since the May 2014 military coup. The 61% ‘yes’ vote exceeded the 57% approval of the previous constitution in 2007, and came despite the major opposition party, Pheu Thai, and the leader of the major establishment Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, opposing the draft.
In the short term this outcome reduces uncertainty, as defeat would likely have led to imposition of a constitution with no claim to legitimacy. Opposition forces have accepted the referendum result while criticising the repressive conditions in which it was held.… Seguir leyendo »