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Spykman Conference:“The Scramble for Indo Pacific” at Maison de I’Italie, Cité Universitaire Internationale in Paris, on 23rd October 2023.
Manlio Graziano explained the critical dynamics of the Indo-Pacific defined by increased militarisation, quest for regional allies, and confrontation around Taiwan as part of the U.S.-China rivalry. Regional powers hedge between the two powers to secure their own security and economic interests and although often closer to the U.S., they are apprehensive of any direct confrontation with Beijing. As the U.S. looks to strengthen its position in the region via minilateral agreements such as AUKUS or QUAD, China tries to counter this network of antagonistic alliances by becoming the leader of the 'Global South'.
Kathryn Yeazel discussed how Japan is morphing into a regional military power, a role it long shunned, and how this renewed foreign policy activism in East and Southeast Asia exudes the legacy of the Greater Asian Co-prosperity Sphere of WWII. The relationship between Japan and South Korea, difficult and bogged down by historical enmity, is now stimulated toward alliance because of China’s rise in the region and the great power rivalry between U.S. and China, where both states, though allies of U.S. do not want an open conflict with Beijing because of their economic interests.
Giordani Dimitrov explained how India aims to be the preeminent regional power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. This ambition clashes with the reality of almost all of its neighbours, particularly Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, having closer ties with China. China, India's main regional rival, sees a dominant position in South Asia and the Indian Ocean as essential to escape the island "chain" around its coast by the U.S., Japan and Taiwan. The CPEC land corridor through Pakistan’s Gwadar port offers such possibility and promises to deepen Sino-Pak alliance, which is unacceptable for India. China has created a 'string of pearls' around Indian shores by acquiring several ports and strategic positions from the Bay of Bengal to Gwadar and Arabian Sea. As both regional powers compete for influence, other South Asian states navigate between them, except for Pakistan which balances U.S. and China to extract economic benefits from both.
Spykman Conference:"Geopolitics of Shifting Power: How the Russian War in Ukraine is Shifting International Relations" at Maison de l’Italie, Cité Universitaire Internationale in Paris, on 4th May, 2023.
The discussion focused on the significance of geopolitical changes associated with the Ukraine War, such as China's increased grip on Russia, Russia's losing political influence over its former territories in Eastern Europe. The speakers panel included Spykman Center's distinguished members: Filippo Pallaroni, Professor Manlio Graziano and Kathryn Yeazel.
Mr. Igor Lys, founder of the governmental counsel agency Gambit and co-founder of the Spykman Center, opened the conference with an inspiring and engaging speech on the relevance of geopolitics and the importance of discussing power shifts under a geopolitical lens.
Mr. Filippo Pallaroni then explained the implications of the war in Ukraine for the United States, arguing that it has been an opportunity for Washington to strengthen its role in the dynamics of the Old Continent, and is seen as a guarantor of security for the European States and to weaken Russia. He further elaborated that the war also serves as a temporary distraction from the main threat for American power in the near future: China. Ms. Kathryn Yeazel discussed the geopolitics of Europe, explaining that even though the war has demonstrated the common resolution of Europeans to condemn and punish Russia’s aggression, it has also highlighted the divisions of the Old Continent. More specifically, the war has shown the opposing perspectives of “Old Europe” (Western Europe, led by France and Germany) and “New Europe” (Central and Eastern Europe, led by a U.S.-backed Poland) notably when it comes to the relationship with Russia. Finally, Professor Manlio Graziano drew some broader geopolitical conclusions involving all major powers, with a particular focus on the case of Russia itself. He specially argued that the war had led Russia to forever lose its grip over what it calls its “near-abroad” in Eastern Europe, but also that it had initiated (and as events unfolded, accelerated) the process of vassalization towards China. Professor Graziano also shared his view on the future prospects for Russia after the war if it were to lose it, with three main scenarios: first, Russia becoming a de-facto vassal of China; second, Russia collapsing internally due to political tensions and being dismembered; third, a change of leadership leading Russia to join the American side in order to oppose China’s influence to its East, particularly regarding the question of Siberia. He indicated the latter to be what he regards as the “best option” for Russia in light of its national interests.
This was followed by a rich engagement with the audience consisting of questions for the speakers and general discussions ranging from the revival of the Transatlantic relationship to the role of China in the War and the triggering of the great power rivalry.The Spykman Center is grateful to the speakers and the audience for making the conference a success, and would like to specially thank the Maison de l’Italie for their precious help in organising this event.
Spykman at Events:The Spykman Center meets “Domani” in Pesaro on 24th-26th February, 2023.
The Spykman Center was invited to participate and contribute to the first edition of the festival “Scenari – ideas to understand where the world is headed” organized by the Italian newspaper Domani from 24th-26th February 2023.In front of the Balkan coasts, many renewed scholars and analysts met up to discuss the implications of the Russo-Ukrainian war for the members of the international community. The festival was not limited to Italian academics but included renowned personalities actively working in international contexts. This included the European Commission’s Vice-President Věra Jourová, Hungarian and French Members of the European Parliament such as Manon Aubry and Katalin Cseh and the French professor Olivier Roy, who contributed richly to the discussion by analyzing the rule of law and left-wing parties in Europe. The Spykman Center was represented by its Founder and President, Manlio Graziano, and Operations Manager, Filippo Pallaroni, who actively contributed to the discussion.
Graziano argued that Russia would not be able to sustain the burden of war in the long run due to structural crisis; he said that historically, Russia had tried on different occasions to exceed its economic limits to sustain its military actions. An often-overlooked aspect is that Russia was able to win major wars only when it was allied with the most powerful nations. The UK and the US during the two world wars proved to be formidable allies that sustained Russia while it was defending its territory. When it was not the case, as illustrated by the war with Japan in 1904-1905 or the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the economic deficiencies of the country condemned Russia to ruinous defeats and pivotal adjustments of its internal structure.He said that Russia's self perception of a superpower is driven from historical and geographical features, considering being landlocked as a weakness, Russia has attempted to compensate it through waves of expansions. This has also determined why the Russian version of the “guns vs butter model” was inclined towards armaments. The strategic challenges of defending the largest territory in the world obliged Russian leaders to invest in weapons rather than economic development, risking a lack of cohesion on the internal front. A choice that is reflected in the Russian political psychology that still suffers from national traumas that affected the country throughout its formation. The most famous example provided by the golden invasions of the 13thcentury capable of instilling a sense of insecurity that has always been counterbalanced by the choice of a charismatic leader who pledges to protect the nation at all costs.When asked about the (in)famous Russian alliance with China, Graziano argued that Russia has always been used by other powers to serve their interests. However, what distinguishes this alliance is that Russian expansion came at the detriment of China that lost its northeastern territories once conquered by the Qing dynasty. According to Professor Graziano, among the three possibilities that Russia faces (disappear, an alliance with China or leaning towards the US), opting for an even closer relation with China is the option less likely to happen. On the contrary, what can nowadays appear as the most improbable scenario (a future rapprochement with the US) is probably the preferred outcome since the US – China strategic competition will include Russia as a relevant actor and possible ally. However, when this change of approach will happen, is yet to be seen.
Spykman at Events: The Spykman Center at the GTF's Seminar in Paris on 2nd December 2022.
On December 2nd, 2022, Prof. Manlio Graziano represented the Spykman Center at the Government Tomorrow Forum's (GTF) Seminar in Paris. Prof. Graziano's presentation titled "A Geopolitical Approach to International Relations" explored world events from perspectives of very long-term (longue durée de Braudel), long-term, mid-term, and immediate trends and tendencies. It concluded that we are living in a long transition from the old global order (the 'Yalta' order) to the next one, characterised by increasing global disorder. The so-called deglobalization will likely exacerbate this disorder by aggravating global economic crises, and multiplying social discontent, troubles, and nationalisms.
Key findings of the presentation:• a power shift from the West, particularly the U.S., to other centers of influence.• China troubles confronting the failure of Deng's gamble' - a bet on the well-provenidentitv between enrichment and consensus - implying that authorities mustensure enrichment to maintain consensus.• Europe's status as a 'ghost actor' of international relations, with fault lines',specifically its foreign policy (and policies towards China in particular), themigration issue, and internal division within the member states (e.g., sovereignistsvs. confederalists).• Japan ranking as the third global power in terms of GDP, but never truly recoveringfrom the Plaza agreements along with its struggles with an old and agingpopulation.• India and Turkey's aspirations to enter the club of great powers without beingsupported by dynamic economic growth and with rising authoritarianism. Furtheranalysing how their use of diplomatic (India's 'multi- alignment' policy) anddiplomatic-military (Turkey's ubiquity in the Middle East, Caucasus, NorthernAfrica and Somalia, besides in its Black Sea backyard) means looks more likeRussia-style cunning-tricks than solid geopolitical prospects.