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The modern nuclear strategies

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The nuclear diplomacy has become one of the most crucial issues of the modern international relations.

Accordingly to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)[1], the total number of the nuclear warheads in the world today is estimated to be over 20 million. More than half of this amount belongs to the Russian Armed Forces, then goes USA, and the remaining percentage is made up by other nuclear states.

The “mutually guaranteed securityof the United States of America

The US nuclear strategy is most precisely formulated by a doctrine of “mutually guaranteed safety” by the Minister of Defense W. Perry during World War Two. Until now it has not lost its significance for the American military ideology. And it means that the United States is still holding firmly the memories about the bipolar epoch even though the nature of the U.S. nuclear threats radically changed. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the annulment of the Warsaw Pact have sharply reduced the chance not only of the global nuclear confrontation, but even of the large-scale regional wars. Nevertheless, the Russian remaining nuclear capabilities continue to evoke fear of the American national security. In reality, the concept of the “mutual assured security” became a national program called “Cooperative Threat Reduction from the former Soviet Union”, which is also known as the Nunn-Lugar plan financed from the budget of the American Ministry of Defense. The program was intended to assist the former USSR republics in the rapid and secure nuclear disarmament. William Perry stated: “there is no better opportunity to spend funds predestined for the national security than to help the destruction of the nuclear weapons and nuclear industry of the former enemy … This is also defense, however, by other means.” By the beginning of 1995 the Nunn-Lugar initiative allocated around 900 million US dollars on the implementation of the disarmament programs.

  The U.S. modern nuclear strategy consists of two chief principles. First of all, it has to “convince” the rest of the world of its power, which is achieved by maintaining a high level of the combat readiness of the strategic offensive forces. Secondly, it must create the state of the greatest uncertainty about the Washington’s possible reaction to a nuclear threat emanating from its opponent. That is why the U.S. authorities refuse to make a commitment not to use nuclear weapons first, in contrast to other nuclear countries. At the same time, the United States is an active party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  The American administration promotes persistently a program on the combat against the weapons of mass destruction fixing it as a priority for their own diplomatic, economic and military purposes. The Ministry of Defense is entitled to develop a complex of purely military measures to prevent the proliferation of WMD on the international level. Some specific tasks are assigned to the intelligence services that can easily obtain the updated information about the possible development and the production of weapons of mass destruction in any part of the world.

Thus, the revision of the nuclear policy of the Pentagon at the end of the “cold war,” in fact, did not bring about any radical changes for the U.S. nuclear strategy[2]. The “nuclear deterrence” still remains the cornerstone of the national security of the United States.

Russian nuclear ambitions non-stop

The modern Russian military doctrine states that “The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are in constant readiness as well as other troops to deter and prevent an armed conflict in accordance with international law and international treaties of the Russian Federation … The prevention of the nuclear armed conflict, as well as any other military conflict is the most important task of the Russian Federation[3]“.

The use of the nuclear weapons is defined in the following terms: “The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack aimed at it, and (or) its allies with the nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the conventional weapons when under threat”.

In the statistical numbers the dimension of the Russian nuclear arsenal is inferior only to the American. During the nuclear talks Russia tends to defend the position of the U.S. missile defense system in the Eastern Europe. When the United States announced the suspension of the deployment of a missile defense system in the Eastern Europe, Russia declared that it “would steadily move towards the verifiable and irreversible reductions in the nuclear weapons.” However, Moscow aims at the preservation of the balance of the strategic offensive arms between Russia and the United States, and thus, exercising a strict control over the export of the nuclear materials and technology, promoting the denuclearization of the post-Soviet space, and improving the existing international nuclear non-proliferation documentary basis.

“The sub-strategic strike” of the United Kingdom

In its nuclear policy the UK adheres to the principle of the minimum nuclear deterrence for selective use of nuclear weapons in the framework of the so-called sub-strategic mission. In the lexicon of the British military and political leadership there even exist the special concept of “sub-strategic impact”, which means that the “sub-strategic strike is limited to the extremely selective use of the nuclear weapons. This gives a strategic blow, and on the level of its capacity it is sufficient to reassure the aggressor to afflict a strike upon UK, which should stop even the thought about the aggression, otherwise the aggressor risks facing a devastating nuclear attack”. That is to say the Russia’s nuclear forces are designed for nuclear retaliation as retaliation for a nuclear attack on Russia and the opponent (or) its allies.

With the reduction in the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, Great Britain pledged to “develop and implement” a future agreement on the reduction of the nuclear weapons and nuclear forces to maintain it at a minimum level. To prevent the terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons and to avoid the risk of contagion Britain called upon the nuclear powers to achieve a “global compromise”. In accordance to this plan, all non-nuclear states are ought to guarantee not to develop nuclear weapons under any circumstances. In return Britain is ready to provide those countries with the access to peaceful nuclear technology.

French balanced containment

Since DeGaulle`s times France has been in favor of maintaining its nuclear forces at a minimum, but duly supervised level of the vigilance. In the field of promotion of the international nuclear non-proliferation, the French government has made significant proposals to the United Nations, calling upon all countries to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to begin the negotiations on an international treaty banning the production of fissile material without extension preconditions as soon as possible.

The Chinese philosophy and nuclear weapons are incompatible

China is the only great power, which has a commitment the official level not to use the nuclear weapons first, without any reservations.

All throughout its history, the military-political leadership of China has been realizing its necessities of a huge country, such as the possession of the highly drilled and fully equipped with modern weapons, including nuclear, armed forces. Therefore, the official Chinese doctrine is interpreted as mainly a political and propagandistic tool and it does not show the real operational planning of the strategic nuclear forces, which are in fact aimed at a pre-emptive strike. The Chinese first nuclear program, adopted in 1951, had purely peaceful purposes. However, afterwards it was supplemented by a secret amendment allowing the creation of its own nuclear weapons. China took the path of the preferential production of the nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and land-based aircraft bombs. Nowadays it is no secret that China has got both strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons.

The Chinese tactical nuclear forces include: strategic missile forces (CDR), the strategic air (SA) and the nuclear missile fleet[4]. On January 1 2007 the total number of the nuclear weapons of strategic purpose counted 244 units.

In comparison with other nuclear states, the Chinese nuclear forces have low combat readiness. The reason for this is the technical imperfection of the Chinese nuclear missile potential. Besides this, the nuclear weapons, as a weapon of war, are considered as the extreme last step by the Chinese defense policy. This willing killing is in direct contradiction with the Chinese philosophy of war and victory. Therefore, the Chinese philosophy of war and the use of nuclear weapons are incompatible. Furthermore, the use of the weapons of mass destruction is completely meaningless for China. As the population of China is one of the biggest in accordance to other world military powers, which already gives it an overwhelming advantage over the other countries in the world. The use of the weapons of mass destruction may be beneficial to any other party to the conflict, much is inferior to the population of China. For Beijing, the initiative in the use of weapons of mass destruction means depriving its population of one of the main advantages that they already own.

Indian “strategy of regional deterrence”

If the India declares that it does not intend to use its nuclear power, why, then, wouldn`t New Delhi abandon it? The truth is that even the fact of the possession of the nuclear-country status can have its strategic benefits. The Indian “peaceful atom” means:

        Control over the U.S. influence in the Indian Ocean. India sees itself as a regional power in the Indian Ocean becoming more and more suspicious towards the naval presence of other powers there. The fact that India’s nuclear weapons intend to deprive the U.S. of any possibility to exercise pressure upon India in the ocean space, even if it will worsen the US-Indian relations.

          Another means to deter Pakistan[5]. Numerous collisions in the diplomatic Indo-Pakistani relations still exist on the general background of the religious intolerance, which in turn adds fuel to the mutual hatred leaving no room for compromise. If Pakistan is decisive to possess nuclear weapons, then India will move in the same direction.

          A strategy to contain China. The test of the China’s atomic bomb in 1964 became another blow to the Indian security. In November of the same year, the Indian Prime said that his country would consider the possibility of testing of nuclear devices for peaceful purposes. Still the Indian military believes that the Indian nuclear weapons are the most effective deterrent against China and Pakistan.

          Great-power prestige, which would help New Delhi to take place in the UN Security Council. It is for this reason that India has been refusing to abandon its “nuclear option” for decades. India is well aware that it gained its own nuclear arsenal with big costs and it will force other powers to listen to its opinion.

The India’s nuclear strategy is evolving at a slow pace in the absence of the clear systems of the political leadership of the country. Currently the Indian nuclear weapons are under the civilian control, and the means of their delivery are under the supervision of the militaries. In the operational terms India is reiterating that its nuclear strategy is based strictly on the peaceful principles.

Pakistani “nuclear bomb at all costs”

In 1965 Pakistan made an unsuccessful attempt to oust India in Kashmir. Pakistan lost that war, and the U.S. imposed the arms embargo on the country. As a result, Pakistan was deprived from the U.S. military support and a sense of security, the army began to show dissatisfaction with the current situation and the country’s political crisis started evolving. In 1972 after the defeat in the war with India and the dismemberment of Pakistan, the new president of the President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, declared: “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own”[6].

So, what are the advantages for Pakistan to keep its nuclear bomb?

First of all, so that to keep distance with India. Now it is already more than half-century that the Indo-Pakistan conflict is ongoing. Pakistan believes that India will continue to be a threat to the Pakistan, and that only the fact that Pakistan acquires the nuclear bomb can make India keep distance with its neighbor.

Secondly, it is an issue of reputation. The military potential of India in the field of conventional weapons is higher than the military capacities of Pakistan. A direct comparison of the nuclear power is not in favor of Pakistan: India has 2 times more soldiers to 1.5 times more tanks, 2.5 times more artillery, a factor of 2 – planes, and 4 times – warships. So, Pakistani nuclear weapons are intended to end this imbalance by making the Indian armed forces helpless in the face of the threat of unacceptable damage to the opponent.

Thirdly, it is a matter of the Pakistani status in the Islamic world. On the international stage, Pakistan and India are in different weight classes. At the same time, the Pakistani government believes that the possession of the nuclear weapons would allow the country to take a more prominent place in the world. Unlike India, Pakistan does not have pretensions to adhere to the club of the great powers and obtain a seat at the Security Council of the UN. The Pakistani ambitions are basically limited to the Islamic world, so the fact of possessing nuclear power rises Islamabad up on the region. The leadership in the Islamic world has always been crucial. In this situation, a Muslim country with nuclear weapons automatically becomes a strategic center of the Muslim world. In 70s ex-President of Pakistan Z.A. Bhutto described the Pakistani nuclear status as an “Islamic bomb”, which proves the modern reality.

Last, but not the least, Pakistan has not yet announced publicly its nuclear strategy. In theory and practice it follows the principles of minimum nuclear deterrence and defense by conventional means. Pakistan was the second country after India to have refused to make a commitment not to use nuclear weapons first. From this it can be concluded that some actions of Pakistan at the international arena, especially those manifested during the previous Indo-Pakistani crises prove that it may use the nuclear weapons in certain situations. Such a situation may occur as a war fought with the conventional weapons, where Pakistan might threaten to use nuclear weapons.

North Korean “nuclear escalation”

The North Korea’s leadership is considering nuclear shield as a guarantor and protection against the regime and the dynasty change. The North Korea has already observed how easily the regimes were eliminated during the Arab Spring. None of them had the nuclear weapons, so they were quickly overthrown by the rebels. So, the North Korea will be avoiding at all cost the repetition of the same scenario on its territory.

The North Korea has not yet entered into the range of the strategic nuclear powers, because, apparently, it has not created yet the compact nuclear warheads for missiles and aircraft carriers. Its potential can largely be described as “provocative” or ” international sabotage”[7].

In this situation Washington is trying by all means to avoid the escalation of the current crisis into war. At the same time, the U.S. is actively building up its military forces in the region. The “hawks” in the Pentagon urged the administration of the President Barack Obama to abstain from any unnecessary contacts with the dictator. However, the fact is that a war with the North Korea can lead to the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of the South Korea and some parts of Japan if the White House abandons the tempting idea of ​​pre-emptive strike. For the North Korea the preventive strikes mean war, and this war can become a local disaster. It is high time for the North Korea to change its nuclear strategy.

Iranian “nuclear intimidation”

Currently Iran has the most developed research and production base in the nuclear field among the Islamic states and in the whole Middle Eastern region.

Firstly, the acquisition of the nuclear energy is national pride for Iran, as there is only limited number of the countries, which are, indeed, able to master the nuclear fuel cycle. The progress in the development of the nuclear energy, as well as advancing technologies in the space program are highly valued by the Iranian administration, and not only because it raises its international weight, but also because it proves the effectiveness of the Islamic regimes in general. The Iranian nuclear program is more than a key part of its ideology, it is the most crucial period of its history. The Islamic Republic for such a long time has been fighting hard for its right to use the nuclear energy, so that now it feels itself as a full-fledged master at its house.

Secondly, the Iranians believe that the world concerns about the possibility of the double-use or the misuse of the Iranian nuclear potential cannot be a sufficient reason for the constant international intervention into their nuclear program.

In a summary, as it has been presented above, each country being a part to the nuclear club, has got its own purposes for maintaining the nuclear program, as well as its own goals and strategies that such global schemas might require. In the military-political plan each nuclear country associates with the nuclear weapons five main advantages: the prestige and status in the world policy; prevention of a nuclear attack; containment (six countries except China and, with reservations, the U.S. and India), security guarantees and impact on its allies (Russia, USA, UK and France), “trump card” to exchange for concessions on other countries negotiations on other topics in the multilateral negotiations (Russia and North Korea). However, each nuclear program has got its own specificities. In what it concerns the use of nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear strike attack of the enemy, it all nuclear states respond positively. The states are prepared to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack, which is afflicted upon them with the nuclear weapons. Moreover, such powers as U.S. and Russia intend to resort to the nuclear weapons even if a nuclear attack affects their allies. Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in case of an attack on its allies by using other weapons of mass destruction. The new U.S. nuclear strategy, edited in 2010, does not foresee the usage of the nuclear weapons in response to the usage of other weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. and its allies (except, apparently, to protect Japan and South Korea, which are worried about the threat of such aggression emanating from the North Korea). Russia and Pakistan are ready to use their nuclear weapons under the threat of a catastrophic defeat in the war with an adversary that uses only conventional arms and armed forces. Whereas, the United Kingdom, France and later the United States in “The strategy of NATO” adopted in 2010 allowed the use of the nuclear weapons so that to prevent the destruction of their conventional forces. The new U.S. nuclear doctrine does not permit the usage of the nuclear weapons in such a case. All powers except China and India, allow the use of nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike “by default” so that to destruct the missiles and other weapons of mass destruction of an enemy. It is worth noting that the USA earlier allowed the selective application of the nuclear weapons against the terrorist targets in other situations in a discrete way.

So, as we can see, the fundamental principles of the nuclear strategies are evolving extremely slowly preserving the basic approaches taken on during the Cold War, which, above all, aim at the mutual nuclear deterrence. And the modern common strategy of the nuclear club is to keep in fear the rest of the world, which has mainly the psychological basis. In the communication with non-nuclear states their behavior fits into the following schema: playing with time   come to negotiations     achieve no substantial results     gaining time. Sometimes the nuclear countries agree to come to some concessions, and then, one of them wouldn`t agree (like Iran) and all the process starts from the beginning. Only bilateral negotiations may bring solution to the current nuclear challenges. The negotiations are vital in this case, even if they lead to no results so far, it is fundamental even the fact that they are going on.

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Diplomacy

The Dilemma of Science Diplomacy: Between Advancement of Humanity and The Source of Rivalry

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In the past decades, science and technology have gained more ground in foreign affairs decision making processes. The emergence of more complex global problems has raised awareness that policymakers need to collaborate with researchers and scientists to create effective solutions. This is where the term science diplomacy has become increasingly noticeable over the years. The complicated challenges are faced by numerous countries simultaneously; therefore, both inter-state collaboration and scientific evidence are considered indispensable to overcome those challenges, thus, bringing science to the foreground of policy-making. Science diplomacy is then expected to close the gap by presenting a contemporary approach to global challenges. The existence of science in diplomacy conveys two important promises: scientific advice and networks that could help build the world better amid the complexity of transnational issues and leverage that international actors can use to strengthen their foreign policy.

However, these two promises contradict each other as bestowing political power in science makes it laden with interests. By using science diplomacy, states will be confronted with the dilemma of either using science to improve the life of people or using science to pursue their national interests. This article will further analyze this dilemma on how science and technology are imperatively needed to resolve global challenges. Yet, at the same time, its existence becomes one of the sources of power that create a rivalry between states.

The Extent of Science Diplomacy in International Affairs

The development of science and technology is pivotal in solving complex human issues at both national and international levels. However, innovative inventions resulting from scientific evolution need to be acknowledged by policymakers and put into policy implementation first before they can be advantageous for overcoming global challenges. In this case, diplomacy could be one field of policy and decision-making where science can appear both as transformative solutions for international issues or as leverage tools for states to achieve domestic gains, which then refers to as science diplomacy. Simply put, science diplomacy is the use of scientific collaborations among nations to address common problems facing 21st-century humanity and to build constructive international partnerships. According to Legrand and Stone, science diplomacy is not limited to exchanges only between states, but the practice has been unfolded to have wider global policy ramifications.

Over the last 15 years, the involvement of researchers as transnational actors in public policy and global governance are increasingly visible and making a distinguishable impact in various dimensions, including social, political, and economical. The increasing entanglement of science in diplomacy is caused by three main factors as follows:

  1. The growth of transnational challenges. Recent international issues tend to spread and transgress national borders. For instance, concerns about cyber security, the transmission of disease, labor migrations and digital communities indicated how states had developed higher levels of interdependency towards each other. These are all matters that demand the implementation of sophisticated scientific knowledge.
  2. The disaggregation of transnational policy-making. Although powerful sovereign actors are still considered the most important actors in the international arena, non-state actors’ emersion started gaining influence as significant players in managing policy challenges. This creates an opening where new subjects can be integrated into transnational relations, necessarily science and technology.
  3. The turn to science diplomacy. The science paradigm is rarely contested when disputes over transnational issues occur. This circumstance started shifting when the rationalist traditions within public policy were ascending. As a result, scientific advice in understanding government challenges becomes matters to create policy responses related to economic inequality, social unrest, or depletion of natural resources.

The extent of science diplomacy’s contribution to international affairs ranges in countless essential issues. Cross-border partnerships and multinational research networks have accomplished consequential scientific discovery: from gene-edited plants that could endure climate change to the identification of SARS Coronavirus and the formulation of its vaccines in less than two years. Recently, the involvement of science in diplomacy has made a significant impact in improving global health. Cooperation between governmental and non-governmental public health experts with diplomats and political leaders successfully assisted the dealing with some health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, the spread of the infectious Ebola Virus and MERS, as well as managing swine flu through coordinated global response.

Further, science diplomacy has also been impacting economic dimensions. Initiatives conducted by governments and foundations along with United Nations have successfully employed technology to reduce extreme poverty. The rapid growth of digital technology also fortuitously generates new opportunities for people in the least developed countries. In environmental dimensions, The Paris Agreement was another accomplishment facilitated by science diplomacy and considered a game changer in dealing with climate change. The successful narratives above show how scientific research could eliminate major global challenges and save human lives. Undeniably, the integration of science in diplomacy become imperatives approach currently in improving humanity.

Science in Diplomacy: Creating Rivalry

Away from its contribution to solving major global challenges, the existence of science could also be the source of power which function to leverage states in international relations. According to Royal Society, science for diplomacy enables actors to conceive science as a means to cultivate or even improve international relations between states. However, the usage of science in diplomacy could not be separated from political objectives. This is in line with Nye’s argumentation which stated that the strategy of using science is pursued with genuine scientific interest, yet strategic political goals clearly champion the approach. Consequently, science in and for diplomacy drew a paradox, for it can be seen only as a way to exploit science in international political affairs to achieve national interests.

Science is inherently neutral and perceived as a force for good. Royal Society also claimed that science offers a non-ideological setting for interaction and free idea exchange, regardless of ethnic, national, or religious roots. The integration of science in policymaking has inflicted a political dimension into it; hence their neutrality is questionable. Nevertheless, by bestowing political objectives upon science, it can become a powerful tool to leverage states’ bargaining power. In this case, science becomes a source of contested power that creates rivalry. This was clearly seen during the Cold War Period when the United States and Uni Soviets attempted to attain nuclear and space capacities to maintain their hegemony.

The current trajectory of science in international relations is internalized much the same way, particularly when science and technology are growing at a breakneck speed. Looks at the Technology War between the United States and China, where both countries compete to increase their science capacity. As China gains more ground in technological developments, Xi Jinping Government is increasingly being reckoned in global political affairs. Its presence is welcomed progressively in Global South as a key player in building a digital backbone. China is even considered a systemic threat by the US following its increasing domination over science and technology. This narrative showed how science became a contested power which could leverage states’ position in the international arena. Thus, science diplomacy should be understood as something other than a contemporary approach to resolving the complex global issue. It also needs to be addressed as the source of rivalry among states.

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Feminist Foreign Policy: A moment of introspection

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Those who are aware of Feminism would understand that it is not just a cozy club of women, where only conversation related to women’s issues talks place. Some would even contest that it is a club, feminism is like a school with a different department, focusing on a different area of research. Liberal, Radical, Ecofeminism, Standpoint, Structural, and Black feminism are a just few schools within feminism that approach issues from different perspectives. On the one hand, the diversity within Feminism is its strength. But this can also become a challenge if not handled properly. However, in today’s geopolitical climate where we see rising insecurities due to global challenges like migration, climate change, populism, inflation, and threat to women’s autonomy, we need an approach that addresses these complex challenges through a contextual, incremental, and culturally based perspective. We need a global approach with local solutions that deal with both domestic and international simultaneously. Hence, Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) is likely to play an important role in the contemporary uncertain political atmosphere, by creating a sense of solidarity, sisterhood, and inclusiveness among global citizens.

Feminist Foreign Policy

FFP is not just a foreign policy that aligns itself with selective feminist values, but a way of conducting foreign policy via diplomatic relations that respects feminist principles such as human rights, diversity, inclusive governance, non-discrimination, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, indigenous rights, climate justice, and anti-militarization. It is not just about representation, but equally about principles of equity and agency, which unfortunately is neglected in the practice of contemporary foreign policy.

But before addressing the dilemma associated with the questions, it’s vital to explain one major issue that will essentially come when we talk about Foreign Policy, that is ‘National Interest’. Many conversations become redundant about foreign policy when National interest comes into the picture, it is the bottom line or the only religion that states are allowed to follow. Heresy is not an option that states are privileged enough to practice in what they see as an anarchic international system. Many scholars have debunked the masculine perspective of international politics. Feminist scholar like J. Ann Tickner have argued in favor of the feminist narrative in International Relations for ‘constructing an ungendered or human science of international politics which is sensitive to but goes beyond both masculine and feminine perspectives.’ FFP shifts the idea of national interests by emphasizing what feminist scholar like Soumita basu states ‘gender as a national interest’. This essentially brings forth the inequalities that different gender experience during conflict and war. FFP had redefined how peace, security, and power are perceived by challenging existing perspectives in foreign policy and diplomacy, such as the domination of patriarchy via skewed gender representation, and values that privileges masculinity over feminine characteristics. Focusing on positive peace, human security, and power as a social good is how feminists have challenged the status quo, at all levels; society, national, and international. This becomes possible by working closely with activists, academia, and INGO networks.

FFP in practice: Focusing on representation, resources and rights

We have seen FFP making some progress in the field of Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferations which are heavily dominated by men propagating statist-discourse of Nuclear Weapon States (NWS). Scholars like Conway and Minami have argued for adopting FFP because it deconstructs the notion of masculinity like strength, violence, and aggression from the field of Nuclear security. Due to this, the process of nuclear disarmament has been seen as feminine, weak, and emasculated for the norms and ideals it upholds. FFP here helps to promote gender perspective in multilateral forums, where negotiations and discussions takes place. It focuses on the issue of nuclear disarmament by emphasizing increasing women’s representation, and norms mainstreaming. Women diplomats try to influence the process, be it in the form of better negotiations, essential deals, more checks, or even creating an environment of trust. This was seen during the JCPOA deal with Iran, where women representatives were involved. One prominent example was the role of women diplomats like Wendy Sherman for the U.S., Helga Schmid, and Federica Mogherini from Europe in finalizing the JCPOA deal with Iran, adding to the work of their successor Catherine Ashton from the EU. This was a case of women trying to get the best deal to ensure sustainable peace. Furthermore, FFP also emphasizes on ‘inclusion’ of small states, particularly Non-Nuclear Weapons states(NNWS) and Civil society organizations(CSO) which stresses on the gendered impact of nuclear weapons, and the humanitarian perspective, influenced by feminist characteristics. A treaty like the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has been used by NNWS to maximize their interests at forums, for them, these forums act as a resource. Butale emphasizes that treaties such as TPNW is more gender-sensitive as compared to Nuclear Ban Treaty, NPT, and other nuclear policies. Since the TPNW entered into force on 22 January 2022, it has been ratified by 91 states, and 68 state parties. It adds to the existential nuclear disarmament regime but without the existing P5 states, and helps to delegitimize nuclear weapons through moral and political means. This is a long struggle of activists and NGOs where feminists worked together, and now through FFP, we have a renewed focus on women’s representation not only in diplomatic negotiations, but even in INGOs and civil society to ensure gender equality, equity, and diversity in social and political movements. Representations among CSO has seen progress, where out of 143 CSOs, we see equal representation in 17 CSO, more female than men in 42 CSOs, and 29 CSOs with all female.   

On the one hand, we have seen encouraging signs with increasing countries following FFP or adopting feminist perspectives, mainly countries from the global north, and some in the global south such as Mexico adopting FFP. However, we have also seen the pioneer of the FFP, Sweden under its right-wing government scraping FFP. There still remains many contradictions while pursuing FFP, the recent abstention of Mexico from the vote on the expulsion of Iran from Commission on the Status of Women points towards a dissonance when it comes to following the policy to the words. Challenges will rise with the current global scenario becoming more polarised, where we would see culture, and politics intermingling together both at the domestic and international level. This trend has already manifested itself on social media leading to exaggerated and accelerated clash between conservatives and feminist values, between political parties and interests groups domestically, and liberal-democratic and conservatives government across the world. Any movement across the globe now is seen threatening the stability of a regime. The revolution led by the brave women of Iran against the Hijab and supported by governments of democratic states is now seen as a symbol of destabilising countries, rather than solidarity.

The way forward

There exist some negatives within FFP that needs to be addressed to make it more acceptable without compromising its basic principles. Taking a skewed approach, essentializing gender as the category of prominence and institutionalizing this category at the center of policy and decision-making has not been marketed well. The current approach projects a reality of binaries between men and women, which essentially creates a backlash. FFP must move beyond this binary, towards greater inclusion.  Unfortunately, it brings the existing problems that feminists have faced in ‘Peacebuilding’ with the domination of western narratives, funding, and implementation of liberal values bereft of indigenous connection. To address this FFP need to engage with local and indigenous culture’s knowledge systems that give agency to local actors and stakeholders, and avoid imposing ‘North’s’ FFP framework as a template for the Global south. FFP can work on sharing best practices, funding, and giving a platform to marginal voices at International Institutions. Mainstreaming voices in diplomacy and foreign policy that are traditionally neglected, focusing on two E’s and one ‘D’ and ‘I’ should be the focus going forward; Equity, Equality, Diversity, and Intersectionality. This will help bridge the existing conversation and create a foreign policy-making process holistic and fair.

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Commercial Brands as a Soft Power Tool

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A state’s international image is its main “soft power” attribute. By developing this well-known concept, countries can create prospects for national investment, and therefore wealth for their country. Nowadays, commercial brands may constitute a powerful tool in the hands of diplomats, who bet on using soft power as a means to exert their nation’s ideological influence onto other states and their people.

The concept of soft power is often used today in the sphere of international relations as a public policy tool. The term was coined by American researcher Joseph Nye in 1990 in his book, “Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power”. Nye claims that culture plays an important role in foreign policy, which is not surprising because while it is possible to change the economy and political course of a country, it is quite difficult to change its culture. The cultural nature of conflict is a source of global contradictions. In “The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of the World Order”, renowned political scientist Samuel Huntington concludes that the clash of civilizations will be the main cause of international confrontations based on differences in culture, religion and traditional values.

Through the concept of soft power, an “attractive” image of a secular and prosperous state is promoted in order to “tactically” influence other countries and their people. As Joseph Nye simply explained, soft power is the ability “to make others want what you want.”

An engaged and educated society, advanced technology, developed infrastructure, protected cultural heritage, high level of social support for the state, and active country involvement in tackling global issues on the sustainable development agenda are the strongest elements of a country’s soft power.

The commercial sector is heavily influenced by this concept, and corporations and states have the potential to control the masses through major brands as leverage.

Not Everyone Benefits from Globalization

The phenomenon that is “globalization” can also be used by some governments as an excuse to violate the sovereignty of other states. They play the “globalization” card and use it as an argument against any country that is not prepared to cooperate on an issue in their unipolar sphere of interest.

Countries interested in spreading their production without considering the national needs and values of other cultures and perceive the world as a “one featureless market”, are the first to benefit from globalization and the blurring of cultural boundaries. Many countries therefore limit the impact this has on their citizens, trying to protect them from an imposed value system that wipes out historical memory and cultural identity, that is so emphatically defended by UNESCO as “living heritage”. China’s internet policy, “The Great Firewall of China”, is a clear example of such protection measures in practice. Considering the uncomfortable technological sophistication that China has achieved for several countries, internet policy has become primarily a matter of security.

Additionally, Chinese national television focuses on broadcasting picturesque landscapes and the beauty of its great culture, encouraging the Chinese population to value nature, as well as domestic tourism, rather than simply showing endless commercials for industrial products. China is the only civilization in the world that has not interrupted its development by succumbing to other, notably Western, soft power influences. Today, China strives to carefully pass down its world-view ideas across generations, one of which being “āntǔ-zhòngqiān (or love of homeland and unwillingness to leave it).

Almost Everyone Today is a customer

Today, the big commercial brands are geared towards a global community in which almost everyone has purchasing power. Year after year, despite a myriad of global challenges, the world population is making tremendous progress in terms of living standards.

In April 2022, the World Bank updated its global poverty estimates for 2018 (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic) on the new Poverty and Inequality Platform (PIP), showing that global poverty rates (those living below a daily income of $1.90) was 8.6%, down from 2017’s 9.1%. In other words, this is equivalent to 28 million people pulled out of poverty in over two years. Comparing earlier periods, the global poverty rate fell by 4.3% between 2012 and 2018.

People today live better than have before, which means they buy more. However, the impact commercial brands play in shopper purchases goes far beyond the numbers.

Brand with a Human Face

Today we are witnessing brand humanization with 24/7 customer feedback. No longer is the aim of big trading companies to enter into a money-for-good relationship with its customers, but rather it is to gain customer loyalty and, if necessary, change political and social attitudes.

According to the American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs, people need to belong to a social group through which they can feel valued. Commercial brands don’t miss a chance to take advantage of that.

Major sportswear companies are offering free membership to a community of brand enthusiasts, encouraging them to become a part of a global community that is recreating the future of sport. But beyond this noble goal, there is a purely commercial one: successful sales are the foundation of any company’s development.

What’s more important is that every major brand has digital platforms. Brand social media pages are turning into full-fledged media outlets, engaging major magazines that produce news and set the agenda for the brand. Commercial brands are trying to focus on sensitive global issues in a bid to appeal to different social groups, from exclusively female audiences to devout environmentalists.

For example, the American brand “Dove” is developing a “Self-Esteem Project” with the slogan “Stop the Beauty Test”, which works with issues of self-perception and anxiety reduction that cannot but find support among today’s women.

Major retail chains are creating clothing lines out of recycled plastic. Certainly, some companies are keen to contribute to the environment, but commercial brands exist on sales and by creating a line based on recycled plastic, brands mentally reinforce customers the belief that they are not just consuming a good, but saving the planet, even if the recycled plastic makes up 5% of the item; that matter takes a back seat.

Commercial Brands Polish the Soft Power of States

It is not so much the products that the big commercial brands are capturing audiences with, but rather the lifestyle; they offer comfortable terms of purchase, instant delivery and generous discounts, which is difficult for local businesses and local manufacturers to compete with, affecting the country’s economy. The authentic “made in” products of a strong brand produce positive perceptions of the country and vice versa. When we buy water, food, a car, or clothes from a country, we create an association with the country where they are produced.

In this way, big brands turn the country itself into a brand, attracting investors, businessmen, and immigrants, among them promising scientists and young minds, whose work shapes the country’s economy and its status as a world active leader, desirable partner, and ally.

Additionally, company websites collect user data in thematic surveys that are used to analyze the lifestyles and purchasing power levels of people in other countries in order to subsequently adapt products. Public demand influences import and export policies of states, and commercial brands play into that.

The international image of any state is the main attribute of its “soft power”. The market research company “FutureBrand”, a brand-transforming business, developed the “FutureBrand Country Index”, which measures the “attractiveness” quotient of a country in terms of public perception, examining consumer or corporate brands through surveys and scientific data analysis techniques. The top three in 2020 are Japan, Switzerland and Norway. According to respondent country brand associations, the top performers in Japan were “Toyota” and “Uniqlo”; “Tissot”, “Rolex”, and “Swatch” in Switzerland; and “Neutrogena” and “Statoil” in Norway.

Country as a Brand

The UN’s 2022 annual World Happiness Report, Denmark earned second place for home to the world’s happiest people, with Finland taking first. Human happiness cannot be measured by quantitative methods, but Mike Wiking from Denmark founded the Happiness Research Institute, which studies people’s quality of life and satisfaction with their daily lives using scientific methods. According to the Institute, governments and civil society organizations are eager to collaborate in order to apply collected data to public policy, and make the lives of their citizens better.

A few years ago, the world seemed obsessed with the Danish concept of “Hygge” (happiness in Danish), which became the basis for many business ideas for Danish decor, furniture, and clothing brands. The country even became an attractive destination for potential immigration. This is just one example of how people do not buy a product, but a lifestyle.

National Branding Can Help Developing Economies

The pandemic has particularly weakened the economies of countries with tourism as their main source of income. Turning a country into a brand can help countries with dwindling economic potential and save jobs at a time of crisis, as digital technology allows countries to create successful PR campaigns.

At the “World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development”, organized by the World Tourism Cities Federation as part of the “China International Fair for Trade in Services” forums in September 2022, representatives from Africa and the Caribbean outlined strategies for recovering tourism after the pandemic. One successful example of country branding were the Seychelles Islands, which during lockdown created a platform with the slogan “Dream Now and Experience Later.” The resource contained high-quality photos and videos introducing the country online and, once the lockdown was over, the creators invited people to visit the islands to experience the real thing.

Power Is Also Like Love

As Joseph Nye puts it, “Power is also like love, easier to experience than to define or measure, but no less real for that.” Nowadays, corporations and brands boost economies and attract investment, cultivating the potential for that very soft power that countries will continue to work hard for, to attract financial flows and initiate various forms of intercultural cooperation.

When you hear about Switzerland, even if you have never been there, you get an image of a safe country with amazing natural beauty and a strong economy; a place where you can confidently keep your savings, which is why it attracted the world’s wealthy elite.

However, in today’s world, sanctions show quite well how fragile and politicized the commercial sector is, and the notion of a “free market” is a highly idealized concept.

From our partner RIAC

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