International Relations (IR) and political theory scholarship today is mainly constructed by the narratives of western civilization. From the Greeks to the biopolitics of Foucault, the theories we reverently study are confined to the discourse coming from one civilizational root, which curtails the ability of scholars to appreciate the founding principles of statecraft and diplomacy practised in non-western civilizations. It is in this context that Deepshikha Shahi's Kautilya and non-western IR theory is a welcome addition to the literature. This selective academic amnesia becomes rather poignant when considering that, while the Peloponnesian war and its chronicler, Thucydides, are placed at the birth of realist IR literature, Kautilya's Arthashastra is bracketed somewhere along with the medieval genius Machiavelli, though they are set apart from each other by a millennium and a half. Shahi's book unfolds, with great elan, the deep legacy of political–legal philosophy which existed in Mauryan India more than two thousand years ago.
This article investigates whether and how regional international organizations created by authoritarian countries can aid the regime survival of their member states. Numerous regions of the world have witnessed a proliferation of regional organizations established by powerful authoritarian states. We argue that the external influence of these organizations can affect regime survival and reinforce non-democratic regime trajectories, but in a nuanced manner. The article argues that, in addition to examining the impact of the regional organization itself, one must examine how the existence of these regional organizations changes the strategy of autocratic leading states, which—in bilateral relations with other countries—could become more eager to support authoritarian regimes of geopolitical importance. We use the case of the Eurasian Economic Union to explore various strategies of Russia, the leading state, vis-à-vis post-Soviet Eurasian countries. These strategies, however, appear only to matter for authoritarian consolidation when countries, from the Russian point of view, are on the ‘front line’ of geopolitical competition with the EU, and which are, therefore, important in stabilizing Russian influence. The article identifies five strategic foreign policy models of leading states which are determined by the existence of regional organizations and evaluates the benefits of these strategies for both leading and targeted states.
The inevitability of tragedy: Henry Kissinger and his world. By Barry Gewen. New York: Norton. 2020. 480 pp. £19.27. ISBN978 1 32400 405 9. Available as e-book.
The social contract in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia has concerned not classical political rights but socio-economic issues. Loyalty is accorded to the powers-that-be partly from fear of repression, but also in return for new opportunities of advancement-whether resulting from social upheaval or from educational expansion-and for modest improvements in living standards. The Soviet era ended when such benefits could no longer be delivered, on account of lower oil prices, arms-race burdens and lagging productivity and innovation. After the turmoil of the 1990s, the contract was re-established under Putin in the early 2000s. Public opinion accepts relatively authoritarian rule if economic stability appears guaranteed in return. Moreover, world events from 2008 onwards have dampened economic expectations. Nonetheless, the sustainability of the present contract is doubtful, with economic modernization likely to prove elusive in the absence of effective democratic institutions. © 2011 The Author(s). International Affairs © 2011 The Royal Institute of International Affairs.