August 1, 2010


Cyber Power
JOSEPH NYE of the Harvard University avers that the low price of entry, anonymity and asymmetries in vulnerability meant that smaller actors had greater capacity to exercise hard and soft power in a highly volatile environment such as cyberspace than in more traditional domains of world politics and could create power shifts among states such that small states could leverage asymmetrical warfare to leapfrog larger adversaries. In an essay for the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Cyber Power, he concludes that cyber-power was unlikely to be a game-changer and that while governments would continue to be the strongest actors, the cyber-domain would increase the diffusion of power to non-state actors illustrating the importance of networks as a key dimension of power in the 21st century.

Backing Soft power with hard power
JOHN LEE of Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies analyzes India’s soft power and argues that India’s soft power potential was based not just on its culture and values but also on the alignment of those values to regional and global standards. In a Foreign Policy Analysis article, Unrealised potential: India’s ‘soft power’ ambition in Asia, he cautions that India’s potential suffered from lingering uncertainty since its soft power was not perceived as being adequately backed by ‘hard power’ and that could improve only if it undertook reforms.

Chinese soft power
JOSEPH NYE of the Harvard University and WANG JISI of the Peking University School of International Studies state that increasing references to soft power by Chinese leaders and academics reflected a sophisticated realist strategy to complement its rising hard power. In an article for the Harvard International Review,Hard Decisions on Soft Power:Opportunities and Difficulties for Chinese Soft Power, they conclude that soft power was not a zero-sum game in the context of Sino-US relations and that if both became more attractive in each others’ eyes, the prospects of damaging conflicts would reduce significantly.

National Security – The link to natural resources
CHRISTINE PARTHEMORE and WILL ROGERS at the Center for a New American Security call for increased focus within the national security community on the role and strategic consequences of the availability and depletion of resources such as water, forests, cropland, fish stocks and biodiversity. In a CNAS report, Sustaining Security: How Natural Resources Influence National Security, they propose two approaches: a targeted approach based on resource conservation in a few regions such as Afghanistan and Pakistan and a more long-term multidisciplinary approach based on incorporation of resources into national security strategy.

Future role of the WTO
URI DADUSH of the Carnegie Endowment states that the efficacy of the WTO has been reduced due to increasing difficulty in enacting comprehensive multilateral agreements driven by deepening international integration, increasing influence of new players, and growing trade complexity. In an article for the International Economic Bulletin, The Future of the World Trading System, he states that despite the recent stalling of the WTO, world trade had advanced at unprecedented rates and that the WTO could reaffirm its leadership role by promoting regional and plurilateral liberalization processes to existing agreements.

Joining the game in the Indian Ocean
HARSH PANT of King’s College reviews the growing Sino-Lankan relationship stating that China was rapidly expanding its profile in Sri Lanka with multiple infrastructure investments with ominous portents for New Delhi. In a commentary for ISN Security Watch, The New Battle for Sri Lanka, he states that New Delhi had to be more proactive to keep ahead in the great game unfolding in the Indian Ocean.

Look East Policy analyzed
SANDY GORDON of the Center of Excellence in Policing and Security at the Australian National University analyzes the evolution of Indo-ASEAN relationship from its tentative beginnings under India’s ‘Look East’ policy to that of its current strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean, stating that this would be one of many partnerships that India would develop with other powers. In a workshop paper presented for the Australia India Institute, India ‘Looks East’ as history, he states that India would do well to put in place labour and infrastructure policies to leverage its demographic dividend and as India developed, a strategic triangle between China, US and India was a distinct possibility

The Shale Hype
CLAUDIO GULER of ISN Security Watch states that recent advances in technology and elevated secular price for natural gas had made drilling of shale gas economical and this had in turn raised expectations of energy independence, improved security and reduced emissions among consumer countries while traditional gas producers such as Russia were impacted by reduced global gas demand as well as greater availability of unconventional gas such as LNG and shale gas. In a commentary for ISN Security Watch, Shale Gas: Eureka or False Dawn?, he cautions that optimistic estimates of shale gas reserves were tentative outside the US and that shale gas was far from being a panacea for energy, environment and security.

Beijing – Central Asia Express …delayed
RICHARD WEITZ of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute analyzes the attractiveness of the Central Asian countries as sources of raw material, export markets, investment opportunities and conduits for trade for China stating that China could reap significant benefits although this would require significant investments to upgrade the region’s railroad transportation infrastructure. In a China Brief article for Jamestown Foundation, Afghanistan in China’s Emerging Eurasian Transport Corridor, he concludes that various barriers such as suboptimal legal, policy and communications framework, and transnational threats such as narco-terrorism combined with obstacles around ownership, and financing in Central Asia to limit the effectiveness of a potential Eurasian rail network as an alternative for China to containerized cargo shipping by sea through the Indian Ocean.

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