New Editor’s Choice for the ISA Conference

HDijkstra_websiteDr Hylke Dijkstra has recently been appointed as the new Editor-in-Chief of Contemporary Security Policy. For the occasion of the conference of the International Studies Association (ISA) in Atalanta in March 2016, he has selected his favorite articles, which will be available through Free Access until the end of March.

“One of the oldest peer reviewed journals in international conflict and security, Contemporary Security Policy promotes theoretically-based research on policy problems of armed violence, intervention and conflict resolution. It is about to publish its 37th volume, which makes it a slightly daunting exercise to select the top-10 out of the hundreds of published articles.

We live in an age where our academic work gets ranked all the time. Contemporary Security Policy, for example, awards the annual The Bernard Brodie Prize for the best article of the previous year. There are also statistics on the most-read and most-cited articles of the journal. In many ways such rankings are much more authoritative than my own personal selection could ever be. These rankings are, however, also about past successes.

Rather than looking for the best possible articles in the archive, I have selected 10 articles on the basis one sole criterium. I have selected the type of articles that I would love to see back in future issues of Contemporary Security Policy. These articles address key contemporary challenges. Not only in the US or Europe, but worldwide. They are relevant and accessible for a large audience. They make academic and policy contributions. And they challenge conventional wisdom.”

Hylke Dijkstra is the new Editor-in-Chief of Contemporary Security Policy. Please access his favorite articles here.

Review of Chemical Control by Michael Crowley (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

CSP-16-2-EdwardsIn Chemical Control: Regulation of Incapacitating Chemical Agent Weapons, Riot Control Agents and their Means of Delivery, Dr Michael Crowley makes a compelling argument that ambiguities surrounding riot-control and incapacitating chemical agents as well as their means of delivery present a threat to both human and international security. Within this book, published under the Palgrave Macmillan Global Issues Series, he lays out practical steps which could be taken by governments and civil society in this area.

What is most striking about this book is the way in which intellectual rigour and tenacity is combined with the practical insights of someone with significant experience of human rights advocacy. This is reflected in the holistic and problem driven approach adopted within the book. Crowley lays out a very accessible formulation of the scope and challenge of the less-lethal chemical weapon issue. He points to the need for a web of preventative measures, embedded in a wide range of existing governance systems.

Following his introduction, Crowley devotes a chapter to characterising riot-control agents, incapacitating agents and delivery systems. In relation to riot-control agents he documents a range of human rights abuses committed through the inappropriate use of these agents by states, non-state actors and private security companies. Likewise, he also outlines a range of concerns raised by continued state investment into the development, stockpiling and use of incapacitant chemical weapons.

Using publicly available information, Crowley identifies several states which appear to have acquired, developed or used incapacitant weapons since the Chemical Weapon Convention came into force in 1993. He notes that serious ambiguities exist within this treaty, in relation to how such weapons can be employed by states. He argues state inaction on this issue could contribute to the emergence of an increasingly permissive environment. This would result in further human rights abuses, and undermine the global chemical weapon prohibition norm.

Crowley also examines state and private investment into riot control agent delivery systems. In particular, he outlines how ‘wide-area’ delivery systems currently on the market, such as large-calibre artillery munitions, cluster munitions and rocket propelled grenades appear to be intrinsically inappropriate for use as part of law enforcement.

In each of the substantive chapters he meticulously examines the relevance of specific areas of international law. This includes arms control agreements, human rights law, international criminal law as well as narcotic drug control conventions. In the final analytical chapter Crowley also focuses on the role of civil society in developing and maintaining ethical standards in this issue area.

The pragmatic and authoritative approach adopted within this work means that this book will undoubtedly become a reference work for policy shapers and academics for years to come. And, yet, it also struck me that the work held a much broader appeal. Although tailored specifically to the issue of less-lethal chemical agents Crowley’s holistic critical approach is potentially transposable to a range of issue areas; not least autonomous weaponry.

Moreover, his humble reporting of the impacts of his own work, along with colleagues at the University of Bradford, should serve to encourage others seeking to change as well as map the regimes they study.

Reviewed by Dr Brett Edwards, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies, University of Bath. The book can be purchased via the website of the publisher.

Review of Bhumitra Chakma, South Asia’s Nuclear Security (Routledge, 2015)

CSP-16-1-KarpIf nuclear weapons revolutionized international politics, as Bernard Brodie was first to argue, will they always have the same transformative effect everywhere? Or are their effects mediated or even overturned by specific regional conditions? The debate over the impact of South Asian nuclearization goes back to the mid-1960s, but grows ever less conclusive. Bhumitra Chakma, senior lecturer at the University of Hull, wades into this debate in search of commonalities, looking to reconcile rivalries in search of a consensus. The result is remarkably successful; mercifully succinct, but perhaps unsurprisingly discouraging.

Chakma structures the book around the optimist/pessimist debate over deterrence. In Chakma’s treatment, optimists look much like Tolstoy’s happy families; they agree on the big forces and on the one big thing they’re sure will turn out right. Nuclear pessimists are more diverse, unhappy for different reasons, seeing so many things that could go wrong.

This approach gives the book is greater universality. It is not just another book about South Asian nuclearization. It will also be very useful to anyone who thinks about nuclear stability. As Chakma shows, South Asia no longer can be understood as a derivative region, where tendencies developed elsewhere are played out. It has developed it own independent dynamic, originating problems and responses with implications everywhere else. This makes it a crucial element in the second nuclear age, the thesis about discontinuity from the Cold War era that he accepts. Chakma goes further, describing South Asia as a laboratory for the future of nuclear deterrence and security. He makes a persuasive case.

The book rests on the presumption that ‘India and Pakistan are typical cases of horizontal nuclear weapons proliferation’ (p. 15). Certainly there is more about South Asian that is normal than there is for the Middle East or Northeast Asia, where nuclear programs seem far more idiosyncratic. One area where South Asia stands out is the burgeoning literature on its nuclear weapons and deterrence, a more and more a field plowed exclusively by regional specialists.

One of the accomplishments of the book is to digest this increasingly unmanageable field and situate it within the broader research on nuclear deterrence and arms racing. Chakma’s meticulous reading and systematic review is a valuable contribution in itself, an excellent introduction to South Asian nuclearization studies.

A committed Aristotelian, Chakma is unhappy with the excesses of optimists and pessimists alike. The former underestimate the risks inherent in the India-Pakistan nuclear confrontation; they confuse the past with the future. The latter are too obsessive about risks and miss the restraint both countries have shown. Nuclear weapons, he argues, are here to stay.

‘The challenge,’ he writes, ‘is to reconcile the positions of the two schools and devise a middle ground in order to enhance the nuclear security of the region’ (p. 8). Rather than pursue a hopeless quest for regional disarmament, it is ambitious enough to aim for stable minimum deterrence. But the events and revelations of the past year- including new missile tests, assessment of the scale of Pakistani fissile materials production and the launching of India’s first SLBM – show that even this will not happen by accident.

The book shows that nuclear deterrence has had an effect in South Asia since 1982, when Indian leaders considered an attack on Pakistan’s Kahuta enrichment plant, but Indira Gandhi decided it was just too dangerous. Consistent with the optimist argument, during the era of nuclear opacity, until the tests of 1998, South Asia experienced a series of deterrence successes. Even the very frightening Kargil crisis of 1999 remained limited. The most dangerous period, Chakma shows, was the 2001/02 Twin Peaks stand-off, when American mediation probably saved the day. Since then both sides have placed more emphasis on war avoidance, regardless of provocations.

Chakma shows that much of the policy advice for South Asia is based on aging assumptions. Programs based on disarmament are simply out of touch. Minimum deterrence, still the most intriguing alternative, was most popular immediately after the 1998 nuclear tests, when Indian and Pakistani leaders were unsure of what they had done and sought to reassure everyone, including themselves.

Bigger ambitions, however, quickly won out. Especially with Pakistan’s reliance on first use options, and the stalking horse role of China, minimum deterrence never had natural momentum. After developing slowly after 1998, the pace of force development accelerated in both Indian and Pakistan. Chakma described their current acquisition strategies as ‘maximalist’ (p. 32). The situation is an arms race, a mutually conscious competition, even if less intense than classic examples. It also is less dangerous, he concludes, since ‘the arms race helps maintain crisis stability’ (p. 97).

Where Chakma struggles most is fully understanding the role of forces outside the Indian and Pakistani states. Terrorist threats and systemic forces, especially the role of China, are major elements of the regional problematique. But how do they affect the stability of regional deterrence, crisis stability and the outlook for minimal deterrence? Those connections remain more elusive.

The one externality Chakma can evaluate more clearly is the role of the United States. American diplomacy, he notes, has been instrumental signaling regional transformation and containing regional nuclear crises, especially Kargil in 1999 and the Twin Peaks Crisis of 2001/02, when America ‘played a key role in controlling the process of escalation’ (p. 116). One implication is American regional disengagement, a new unwillingness to intervene diplomatically in South Asian disputes, would be very destabilizing.

Regarding his compromise solution to regional tensions, minimum deterrence, Chakma is less convincing. As a recommendation it looks sound enough, but it also may be too remote to be reassuring. He undoubtedly is right about its advantages, but when even the smallest bilateral contacts are frozen and multilateral institutions are used exclusively to play gotch-ya, it is hard to imagine how even informal arms control ceilings could be arranged. All these are problems he readily acknowledges. Little wonder that Chakma concludes on a pessimistic note, supporting the logic of minimum deterrence, but lacking a ready solution to the ‘potentially ruinous competitive arms build-up… There is little reason to optimistic’ (pp. 148, 153).

Reviewed by Aaron Karp, Old Dominion University. The book can be purchased via the website of the publisher.

Changes to the Editorial Board

CSP_capitals_whiteFollowing my appointment as the Editor-in-Chief of Contemporary Security Policy, I have made a number of changes to the Editorial Board.

First of all, Stuart Croft will step down from the Board. He was the co-editor of Contemporary Security Policy from 1991-2004 and has served on the Editorial Board ever since. He is now taking up the position of Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick. While this is naturally a great loss for the journal, I would like to thank him for his tremendous contribution to the journal and to wish him all the best in his new position.

It is also time to welcome new colleagues. To guarantee the continuity of the journal, I have asked the outgoing editors Aaron and Regina Karp to continue to serve on the Editorial Board. They have kindly agreed. This will not only prove helpful during the transition. I am glad that their insight will remain available for the journal. Furthermore, to reflect the development of the journal in terms of its aims and scope, I have invited eight new colleagues to join the Editorial Board. These are highly qualified scholars, from a variety of countries, who bring along exciting new expertise. Many of them are from the new generation; all of them share a commitment to high quality publishing in peer-reviewed journals. They are also dedicated in terms of policy impact and outreach.

The new colleagues on the Editorial Board are:

  • Malte Brosig (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)
  • Toni Haastrup (University of Kent, UK)
  • John Karlsrud (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Norway)
  • Aaron Karp (Old Dominion University, US)
  • Regina Karp (Old Dominion University, US)
  • Sarah Kreps (Cornell University, US)
  • Nicola Leveringhaus (University of Sheffield, UK)
  • Maria Mälksoo (University of Tartu, Estonia)
  • Annemarie Peen Rodt (Royal Danish Defence College, Denmark)
  • Michael E. Smith (University of Aberdeen, UK)

The Editorial Board will continue to be updated in the future to reflect the aims and scope of the journal as well as developments in the academic discipline.

Hylke Dijkstra

Defense Industries in Asia and the Technonationalist Impulse

CSP_Blog_15_03_BitzingerNation-states around the world have many reasons to produce armaments. Traditionally, the strongest motivation has been classically realist and security-oriented: the need to provide for a secure source of military materiel necessary to deter threats and to defend one’s national territory. Possessing or attempting to possess strong domestic arms industries, capable of designing, developing, and manufacturing advanced weapons systems, is viewed by many countries as an essential element of this strategy.

Consequently, autarky, or self-sufficiency in arms acquisition, can be a critical national security objective. At the same time, however, such autarky traditionally had quite limited military motivations, i.e., national defense. Increasingly, however, many nations – and particularly those in Asia – have come to view indigenous arms production from a much broader perspective. The idea that autarky in armaments serves larger, more ambitious national interest: it is about securing and advancing a nation’s geopolitical status in a regional or global system.

This so-called technonationalist approach to armaments production has become endemic to Asia. It is critical to understand why and how this trait has so strongly influenced regional defense industrialization and arms manufacturing. It is also important to always keep the “technonationalist impulse” in mind when addressing how Asian nations deal with problems and failures when it comes to indigenous armaments production. And why, despite whatever setbacks they may encounter, maintaining and expanding their national defense industrial bases remains a high priority.

Technonationalism (a word first coined by Robert Reich in the 1980s) is more than just a “security of supply” issue or a fancier word to describe protectionist economic and developmental policies. Technonationalism in armaments production is particularly apropos for states aspiring to great power status. As Richard Samuels has noted, a nation-state cannot expect to be taken seriously unless it possesses a modern military, i.e. “rich nation/strong army.”

At the same time, an aspiring great power’s armed forces may not be credible if it relies on other nations for the bulk of its weaponry. To extend Samuels’ “rich nation/strong army” analogy further, therefore, great nations have great arms industries. This line of reasoning has been particularly ubiquitous when it comes to Asian armaments production. Most large countries in the region – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia – have all attempted to create indigenous defense industries and to engage in ambitious arms-manufacturing programs in order to buttress their regional great-power ambitions.

Military technonationalism may have its roots in national security and economics, but it goes beyond that. It is about status. About a nation’s place in the international hierarchy of great powers. This is the appeal and power of military technonationalism, at least as it applies to indigenous armaments production. When the national security and economic arguments buttressing domestic weapons manufacturing fail, many nations still persist in pursuing autarky (and sometimes even “double down” in their commitments).

But technonationalism is more than an objective or a set of goals. It is also a plan of action. The technonationalist model contains its own strategy for achieving autarky in armaments production, one that, paradoxically, involves the exploitation of imported technologies in order to eventually realize self-sufficiency. This process usually entails the course of moving from learning to innovating, of going from imitating technology to owning and advancing technology.

At the same time, technonationalism in armaments production is not easy, and for most countries it has been a hard row to hoe. The challenge to Asian arms industries is meeting the growing demand for self-sufficiency in arms acquisition, i.e., autarky in production, as well as the rapidly increasing technological requirements of next-generation weapons systems. In other words, can Asian defense factories develop and produce the types of advanced weaponry that their militaries increasingly clamor for? And do so under domestic political and economic conditions that demand increasing self-reliance in production, from initial design all the way to final manufacturing?

It is important to understand, therefore, how this “technonationalist impulse” has not only driven defense industrialization in Asia, but also how technonationalism has also provided a model for development (i.e., with the ultimate objective of autarky).

My journal article explores at greater length the paradoxically symbiotic relationship between technonationalism and “technoglobalism,” and the critical role that foreign technologies have played in process of defense-industrial indigenization. It discusses whether the technonationalist model is a viable or sustainable approach, in terms of economics and (especially) military innovation. It concludes that, despite the disincentives surrounding indigenous armaments production – in terms of the high cost of autarky and the dubious military gains that tend to accrue – most Asian states will not abandon their defense industries or the goal of achieving autarky. That is due mainly (and increasingly) to the driving force of military technonationalism.

Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. He is the author of “Defense Industries in Asia and the Technonationalist Impulse”, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol.36, No.3, 2015, pp.453–472. Access here.

Selling Schelling Short: Reputations and American Coercive Diplomacy after Syria

CSP_Blog_15_02_JohnMittonphoto2Do reputations matter in international politics? This fundamental question figured prominently in debates regarding the appropriate American response to Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria in August 2013, in which 1,400 civilians were killed.

Having previously issued a ‘red-line’ against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, many prominent journalists and policy-makers argued that the Obama administration had to respond to the attacks with military strikes or suffer consequences with respect to American credibility. This position was informed, largely, by a research tradition made famous by Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling: maintaining credibility requires following through on threats and commitments so as to establish a reputation for resolve.

Contrary to such ‘conventional wisdom’, however, many academics actually argued against the threat of airstrikes noting that traditional concerns about reputation are overblown. Citing new research, they claimed that credibility is a function of the current balance of capabilities and interests and not of past behavior. As such, backing down in Syria was the right policy option. There would be no consequences for American credibility in future crises.

In the end, the Obama administration continued to make the case for air strikes against Syrian government targets. As a result of this threat, the Assad regime backed down and the US was able to secure a disarmament deal. The Syrian government agreed to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention and dismantle and destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles. The debate between Schelling’s concern for reputation and the ‘new consensus’ pushed by his critics remains central, however, to discussions regarding American credibility and coercive diplomacy.

What are the parameters of this debate? Prominent anti-reputation theorists, such as Daryl Press, Jonathan Mercer and Ted Hopf, all discuss (and dismiss) the theory offered by Schelling. According to these authors, Schelling argued that behavior anywhere mattered everywhere – that credibility was exclusively a function of one’s reputation for action/resolve in previous crises, even if said crises occurred against different opponents in different places all over the globe. This position is logically flawed and empirically inaccurate, they argue, and has led to disastrous foreign policy outcomes in which leaders fight wars or conduct military strikes solely to maintain their reputation.

What these authors miss, however, is that Schelling’s arguments were considerably more nuanced. First, Schelling also recognized that fighting solely to maintain one’s reputation was foolish. As he writes: “That preserving face – maintaining others’ expectations about one’s own behavior – can be worth some cost and risk does not mean that in every instance it is worth the cost or risk of that occasion.” In other words, the decision to follow through with threats or commitments must also consider the circumstances of the coercive encounter in question.

Second, many of Schelling’s arguments on the importance of past behavior are primarily concerned with the Soviet-American Cold War rivalry. They are not definitive statements regarding his theory of reputation in all circumstances. In the context of ‘pure bargaining’, reputation constitutes one of the manipulable aspects of the encounter, and is therefore related to the tactics by which an outcome (concession) can be ‘won’ by one or the other party. Maintaining a reputation is important so that the commitment of one’s reputation in a particular encounter is effective.

So do reputations matter? A detailed re-engagement with Schelling’s seminal work suggests that the answer is a qualified yes. First, reputations are likely to matter the greater the link and connection between one round of bargaining and the next (a situation Schelling describes as ‘continuous negotiations’). This includes situations of ‘enduring rivalry’ (long-standing enmity between two states and the expectation of future conflict) as well as ‘protracted crisis’ (in which a strategic sequence of interaction/negotiation plays out between two parties over time).

Second, and more generally, the extent to which crises approximate one another along a variety of dimensions (opponents, power balances, issue areas, geographical region etc.) can serve to either augment or diminish the relative importance of reputation in any particular case. Again, not as definitive or determinative but rather complementary and/or additive components of credibility.

Ultimately, a reputation for resolve is not a magic bullet. Balanced debate as to when and where it should be protected must focus on the merits and dynamics of the particular situation, not on recourse to either/or positions related to a ‘conventional wisdom’ or a ‘new consensus’. This conclusion has broad implications for US foreign policy, including relations with Iran (in particular the continuing implementation of the nuclear deal), Russia (with respect to both Eastern Europe and the Middle East), China (in a variety of contexts and potential flash points) and North Korea (in dealing with Pyongyang’s nuclear program).

Maintaining a reputation for resolve will be important but should not be chased at all costs. Parsing the fine-grained dynamics with respect to each crisis or confrontation in a chain of negotiations is admittedly complex, leaving room for reasonable disagreements as to when, in a particular instance, specific reputational considerations are in play. Yet entirely dismissing reputation in the context of international crises is dangerous. Committing one’s reputation, as Schelling argued, remains an important component of a nation’s bargaining strategy. We must remember, in other words, that reputation can be an ingredient for peace, and not merely a pretense for war.

John Mitton is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He is the author of “Selling Schelling Short: Reputations and American Coercive Diplomacy after Syria”, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol.36, No.3, 2015, pp.408–431. Access here.

The Awakening Samurai: Interpreting Japan’s Security Policy Emancipation


Some revolutions are neither observable at first sight nor are they of the same type. It is very easy to realize the importance of certain historical events such as the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 or the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Some historical events, or trends to be more precise, on the other hand, are subtle, but they can be just as dramatic in the long-run.

One such case revolves around the decision of the Japanese government to move from national self-defense to collective self-defense. On the face of it, the shift approved by the Japanese government in July 2014 is of little importance and merely suggests a symbolic turn of events. In reality, however, Shinzo Abe’s quest for greater Japanese defense emancipation is anything but trivial or symbolic.

This pivotal decision by the Japanese government to follow a new interpretation of Article 9 of the constitution, which prohibits the formation of an army and outlaws the use of force as a measure to resolve international conflicts, enabled Japan to extend the notion of self-defense to allies under attack and broaden its regional military outreach. With this highly controversial decision, later approved by the upper House of the Diet in September 2015, the Japanese government changed Japan’s security posture in a way that has the potential to impact regional peace and stability.

Why should we pay any attention to this development? First, Japan is currently embroiled in a rather bitter territorial conflict with China over a group of islands in the South China Sea. While China has already taken a number of highly contentious actions – including the creation or expansion of islands in order to gain control over strategic naval routes and extend China’s territorial sea – a bolder Japanese military posture may generate additional friction. Second, the US-Japan security agreements suggest that in case the situation in the region escalates there is a possibility for American involvement.

The Japanese motivation to revamp their established security posture emanates from worsening external circumstances. The rise of China, both militarily and economically, threatens to marginalize Japanese regional interest and erode Tokyo’s ability to influence the dynamics in East Asia. The fact that North Korea has defiantly pursued a military nuclear program and an advanced missile program generates considerable peril in Tokyo. And the fact that Pyongyang has also experimented with these capabilities vividly exemplifies the prospects of war and conflict across the Korean peninsula.

Lastly, since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 senior Japanese policymakers and strategic planners have openly begun referring to American decline as a major motivator in their pursuit of defense reforms. According to this line of reasoning, the US is neither capable nor willing to uphold its responsibilities in East Asia. Several leaders have also referred to the American reluctance to intervene on behalf of the Ukrainians after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 as an indication for the prospects of American support of Japan in case of a Sino-Japanese military conflict.

But if the Japanese had such compelling reasons to shift their security posture, why did they merely decided to reinterpret Article 9 of the constitution rather than discard it altogether and embark on an unrestricted arms race? The answer is that despite the eagerness of Abe’s government to address these negative external conditions, there are major domestic constraints that make such efforts extremely problematic to accomplish.

To begin with, the Japanese economy is currently unable to sustain a major effort in military procurement that can really compete with the Chinese economic and military resources. While Abe’s economic reforms, dubbed as Abenomics, were initially successful in generating growth and fiscal stability, they yielded mixed and disappointing results later on. Consequently, it became impossible to convince the Japanese public that the Japanese economy is capable of supporting Abe’s vision of Japan’s security posture.

Additionally, and very much related to the economic features of the country, Japan has lost its technological edge in favor of the Chinese. While Japanese companies were traditionally situated in the frontline of innovation, decades of economic and technological stagnation enabled China to pursue massive investments, acquisition of foreign companies and also cyber espionage to gain access to the most advanced military technology today.

Other domestic hurdles that prevented Abe from fully pursuing his defense reforms included the general public’s notion of pacifism or antimilitarism. This war or military-averse mindset resulted from the traumatic experiences of the Second World War and especially the physical destruction and the emotional duress that followed the bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American occupation, furthermore, successfully uprooted the fascist and militaristic ideologies and institutions through peaceful education and the introduction of democracy.

During his first term as Prime Minister, between 2006 and 2007, Abe attempted to reprogram the Japanese psyche and inject more patriotic or nationalistic content into the educational system to counter the more pacific sentiments. As for the institutional settings, Abe established a National Security Council and formed an advisory committee asked to review the legal basis for revising Article 9 of the constitution given the changes in Japan’s strategic environment. While education was a long-term investment, the advisory panel provided Abe with the legal justification to reinterpret Article 9 and move towards collective self-defense. Unfortunately for him, he was forced to resign due to his failure to address Japan’s poor economic conditions.

As Abe returned to power in 2012, he essentially continued to pursue his efforts to reboot the domestic discourse and institutional setting with regards to Japan’s security posture. Convinced that external circumstances had only worsened, he resumed the work of the advisory committee and pushed implemented reforms in the education system. Yet unsupportive public opinion continued to limit his ability to fully abrogate the constraints on Japan’s use of military force. His major coalition partner, the Buddhist-based Komeito, supported his legislation during the Diet votes, yet they curbed the scope of the reforms and imposed a more incremental approach to reforming Japan’s security policy.

External developments such as North Korea’s most recent nuclear test will undoubtedly force Japan to change its approach to national defense and revamp its security posture. Yet the domestic opposition to such sweeping reforms will clearly make the process laborious. It is unclear how much longer Abe can survive in office given Japan’s economic slowdown, and how much political capital can he muster in order to complete his plans. Continued reforms in Japan’s security policy will, however, change East Asia as we know it. We need to pay closer attention to Tokyo’s policies alongside the monitoring of China’s or North Korea’s behavior in the region.

Ilai Z. Saltzman is a Schusterman visiting assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, California. He is the author of “Growing Pains: Neoclassical Realism and Japan’s Security Policy Emancipation”, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol.36, No.3, 2015, pp.498–527. Access here.

Hylke Dijkstra appointed editor of Contemporary Security Policy

Hylke DijkstraDr. Hylke Dijkstra has been appointed as the new editor-in-chief of Contemporary Security Policy published by Taylor and Francis. This academic journal promotes theoretically-based research on policy problems of armed violence, peace building and conflict resolution. The aim is to bring academics and policy-makers closer together by addressing the key security challenges of the day.

One of the oldest peer-reviewed journals in international conflict and security, Contemporary Security Policy is positioned at the nexus of proof and policy. Since it first appeared in 1980, the journal has established a unique place in the international relations discipline by bridging the gap between academic and policy approaches. It offers policy analysts an outlet to pursue fundamental issues and academic writers a venue for addressing policy.

Hylke Dijkstra states that “Contemporary Security Policy is a renowned journal in international security. It is about to publish its 37th volume. Among its authors have been world-leading scholars such as Kenneth Waltz, Barry Buzan and Ernst B. Haas. Having been entrusted with the leadership of this journal is a major honour as well as responsibility. The two outgoing editors, Aaron and Regina Karp, have made a significant effort in improving the quality of the journal. I would like to thank them and I hope to continue their good work in the direction they have set out.”

Contemporary Security Policy has included articles on topics of arms control, strategic culture, NATO and EU security. Hylke Dijkstra notes that “this focus is certainly something that will be continued. However, the scope of the journal will be expanded to include contemporary security challenges worldwide. I expect the journal to also publish quality articles on, for example, the ongoing threat of ISIL, peacekeeping in Africa and the territorial disputes in the South and East China seas.”

Hylke Dijkstra is an Assistant Professor (with tenure) at the Department of Political Science of Maastricht University, The Netherlands. He has widely published on how international organisations address contemporary security challenges. He is the author of “International Organizations and Military Affairs” (Routledge, 2016) and “Policy-Making in EU Security and Defense” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).