Writing Armageddon

Writing Armageddon
Furious writing or writing furiously?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Foreign Policy Implications of Kazakh Protests - Part I

Kazakhstan has just experienced a wave of protests relating to deeply unpopular land reforms. Whether correctly or not, many Kazakhs assume that these reforms will lead to an influx of Chinese farmers into their sparsely populated country. Promises to the contrary and a delay in the implementation of the land reform has not convinced the nationalist public. The authoritarianism and corruption of the Kazakh regime also made it more difficult for the Kazakh government to sell its official story to the public.

The main impact of the protests is likely to be in the domestic sphere, particularly in government-civil society relations. That is not, however, the topic that will be addressed here. Instead, I will focus on the effect these protests are likely to have on the foreign policy of Kazakhstan. In short, these protests will dampen ties between Astana and Beijing, raise Washington's costs of engagement with Astana, and push the latter even more firmly into Moscow's orbit. These outcomes are not foreordained, but it would take unprecedented skill in Kazakh diplomacy and moderate attempts at democratization for other options to become available.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Why no War? The Armenian-Azerbaijan Conflict as an example of the rarity of war



The recent April increase in military violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nargono-Karabakh is an excellent opportunity to show how hard it actually is for an interstate war to happen. While the debate onthe decrease on violence rages on, we must not forget that at its baseline interstate war is a rare phenomenon.

In many ways the Armenian-Azerbaijan case is the perfect example of Stuart Bremer’s dangerous dyads, those pairs of states most likely to fight a war. In a previous post I used the Steps to War schema to gauge the low likelihood of the Russo-TurkishMID in November 2015. We can use the same schema as a way to show how much more likely Armenia and Azerbaijan are to fight a war.

Armenian armed militia's from 1920s Nargono-Karabakh. This conflict goes way back.

First a reminder of the factors that foster or inhibit the likelihood of a MID  escalating to war according to the research in Steps to War.

Effect of Factors on Likelihood of MID escalation to War
Factor
1816-1945
1945-1989
1990-2000
Territorial Dispute
Increase
Increase
Increase
Contiguity
Not Increase
Not Increase
Not Increase
Enduring Rivalry
Increase
Increase
Unclear
Mutual Military Buildups(Arms Races)
Increase
Increase (especially for Territorial Disputes)
Unclear
Common Alliance
No effect
No effect
Slight Increase
Different Alliance
Increase
Decrease
Increase
Prior MIDs
Increase
Increase
Increase