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The modern nuclear strategies



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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Relevance of green politics in the contemporary world



Green theory is a critical theory in International relations which is gaining its relevance very much in recent times as the world couldn’t help itself in fostering climate change and in controlling global warming.

Green theory came into existence in the time of the late 20th century world where there was an increased need for addressing environmental issues. During the 1970s, environmentalism became a dominant concern in the society where people started to argue on the solutions to fight pollution. The USA introduced NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) and Clean Air Act which was one of the huge movements that brought awareness to include environmental problems as a major concern in the society. Before that, environmentalism and pollution control was overlooked by the majority of countries. Since then, there has always been a wide scope for green theory in this industrialized modern world; as pollution is increasing, the responsibility for controlling it is also increasing.

When ideologies such as liberalism and realism failed to save the environmental aspect of society, there came a need for a different way of thinking which led to the emergence of Green theory. Green theory discussed the green aspect in political, economic and social life.

Concepts of  Green Theory

Green theory, green politics, green economy and green security are very similar concepts which are also intermingled in general. This Greens ideology doesn’t only focus on saving the environment but also aims in achieving ecological sustainability in three main areas: Environmentalism, social liberalism and democracy. The aspects of the political world are analyzed through a green perspective.

Green theory in international relations is known as green political theory –  an ecological political theory that doesn’t come under environmentalism. The concept of Green political theory is often misunderstood with environmentalism. Green political thinkers are called Greens and environmentalism thinkers are called environmentalists. In a common view, one can find that environmentalism is often science based and green politics is the social perspective.

Green theory in IR focuses on climate justice, global justice, modern development and security. As the world faces many transnational environmental – related problems, there came a compulsive requirement for Green Theory in international relations 

Understanding Green Political theory

The main difference between environmentalism and green political theory is that :-

Environmentalism focuses on issues such as acid rain, global warming, need for growing trees and on saving the environment within the man-made structure which is Anthropocentrism – human-centered perspective of the world. Whereas green political theory focuses on the same but in a social aspect between human and nature, arguing that the man-made structure itself is responsible for the destruction and considers human as a part of nature, which is ecocentrism – nature centered perspective of the world.

Environmentalists believe that humans should bring change in the world by taking certain measures to reduce pollution. Hence they depend on governments, institutions and international organizations, trying to bring stability within the existing structure of the world where they rely on the concept of sustainable development.

On the contrary, Greens believe that the world has already reached the limits of development and sustainable development will only make the condition worse, as there is no more possibility for it. Greens do not depend on humans to bring a change, instead argue that the whole structure which is responsible for this condition should be changed.

Thus Green political theory critically examines and attacks the current world structures that are responsible for the situation and suggests that the idea of sustainable development even makes it worse when there is an immediate need for a complete shift.

Understanding the reality through green theory

The nations are self-centered and while they thrive for meeting their self-interests, balance of power, and security, global change is not a possibility. Combined contributions and effective steps are not possible when countries seek only mutual benefits and struggle with insecurities. No nation can trust and rely on any nation. It can be seen that Industrialization is the core element that connects the structures which are responsible for global warming and pollution.

Considering the factors that environmentalists depend on:

The International organizations are not a sovereign entity. They are heavily funded by super powers and hence considered an agent or actor of those super powers, as they cannot voice against the countries which provide them to operate. So, the reality is that the powerful nations provide and help the developing nations in cutting their green gas emissions, reducing pollution, poverty, etc while the developed nations’ polluting index itself is much worse compared to other countries. In 2019, Agenda 2030 plan set by the UN in 2015 to achieve various sustainable goals by 2030 was declared impossible in a report published in the UNSG.

The United States uses oil and natural gasses more than any other countries which emits over fifteen tons of greenhouse gasses per person every year. The US was the largest polluter of the atmosphere till the emergence of China as a superpower. Now China is the largest greenhouse gas emitter which emits twice as much as the US!. China alone is responsible for around 31% of the world’s emissions. The other top countries which rank next to China and the USA are India, Russia, and Japan , which are responsible for 60% of the total global pollution. Instead of taking immediate steps to stop polluting the environment, these developed nations focus more on other interests and issues.

Thirdly, the Capitalist structure of the world as accused of being heavily selfish by the Marxists is a huge responsible factor standing as a constraint for an effective change. In this capitalist society, bringing a change, for example; cutting out potential harmful substances such as the plastics; stopping production and consuming of unnecessary products, switching to alternatives from fossil fuel based transportations (Transportation sectors are the largest contributors to global warming followed by other manufacturing industries)  would affect the manufacturing company of the product which would also directly affect the economy of the countries. Even if there’s a possibility of banning those polluting products posing no nexus in the economy of the country, those industries or the MNCs will easily influence not only the government but also the people of the country to maintain its richness.


Thus under this system, where development is still considered a possibility without destruction, no organization or individual can bring an actual change by following the goals set in global conferences (such as COP27, UNCC) in achieving net zero emissions or by using alternative energies for fossil fuels, etc. The first question itself is “Without changing the platform which runs on fossil fuel and without constructing a new platform for alternatives, how can any change be brought?”.  The whole structure of the world must be changed to attain the goals of the future.

The feasibility and constraints in rapidly changing the system are the challenges posed on the green political thinkers. Meeting these challenges by innovative solutions and the growing need for a change in the world to safeguard our future is of great interest in today’s world. And as the countries keep on postponing and failing to achieve their sustainable goals set under this current system, green politics becomes very much relevant in the contemporary world.

Green theory in International relations provides unique ideas such as decentralization to bring real change, as state-centered hopes are not promising; consciousness on the limits of modern development; ecological modernization as an alternative to sustainable development; green security, green economy, etc which are evolving but always critical in nature. Green political theory is crucial for questioning the countries and the organizations to bring real solutions and changes. 

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Russia Has Lost Soft Power War with Ukraine – Global Soft Power Index 2023

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Russia is the world’s only nation brand to lose soft power over the past year, while Ukraine has seen the strongest soft power improvement, according to the Global Soft Power Index 2023 released today. The Global Soft Power Index is a research study conducted annually by brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance on a representative sample of 100,000+ respondents in 100+ markets worldwide, measuring perceptions of 121 nation brands.

While Russia‘s Familiarity and Influence have gone up because of the impact that its decision to go to war has had on lives the world over, the nation’s Reputation has been severely damaged. Russia’s Reputation ranking in the study, one of the main determinants of soft power, has fallen from 23rd to an abysmal 105th resulting in a soft power score erosion of -1.3 points and causing it to drop out of the Index’s overall top 10 ranking, down to 13th.

Alongside the three key performance indicators of Familiarity, Reputation, and Influence, the Global Soft Power Index also measures perceptions of nation brands across 35 attributes grouped under 8 Soft Power Pillars. Russia has lost ground relative to others in the Index on all 35 attributes apart from “affairs I follow closely”. It now ranks 119th for the People & Values pillar and for the “good relations with other countries” attribute in International Relations. In addition, global sanctions have caused the nation’s perceptions as “easy to do business in and with” to fall by 61 places and having “future growth potential” by 74 places.

David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance, commented:“While nations have turned to soft power to restore trade and tourism after a devastating health crisis, the world order has been disrupted by the hard power of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. An event that would be hard to believe were it not for the intensity of the images we have been seeing for months and the consequences the conflict is having on politics and the economy alike.”

At the same time, Ukraine gains +10.1 points (more than any other nation) driven by a steep increase in Familiarity and Influence, and jumps 14 ranks up to 37th from 51st the previous year. Ukraine now ranks 3rd in the world for “affairs I follow closely” and sees significant gains across attributes accentuated in official communications and media reports, such as “respects law and human rights” (up 69 to 29th), “tolerant and inclusive” (up 63 to 44th), and “leader in technology and innovation” (up 26 to 50th). The popularity of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, his ministers, and advisors, results in the nation going up 36 ranks to 12th on “internationally admired leaders”.

Nevertheless, many other attributes are affected negatively, from the obvious “safe and secure” (down 60 to 118th) or “great place to visit” (down 38 to 118th), to perceptions of Ukraine’s culture and people as the focus shifts to their suffering.

USA unrivalled as the soft power superpower

Under President Joe Biden, the United States reclaimed its top spot in the ranking in last year’s Index and has further increased the lead over other nation brands this year. The USA’s overall score is up +4.1 points to an all-time high of 74.8. With the strengthening of the dollar and widely publicised large-scale investment projects by the federal government, perceptions of the US economy are on the up, resulting in America claiming the top spot for Business & Trade from China. The US also benefits from the introduction of a new “invests in space exploration” attribute in the Education & Science pillar, where it ranks 1st in the world. In fact, the US ranks 1st in twelve and among the top 3 in four more categories, bagging 16 soft power medals – more than any other nation brand in the Index.

The US records stable scores across most categories. However, mounting problems with shootings, gun crime, and police violence continue to erode perceptions of the country as “safe and secure” (down from 21st in 2020 to 62nd this year) and of its people as “friendly” (down from 5th in 2020 to 103rd this year).

The end of the Second Elizabethan Era

In the United Kingdom, 2022 will be remembered as the end of an era. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96, after 70 years on the throne, shook the nation. At the same time, intense media coverage of the period of mourning and the monarch’s spectacular funeral attended by the world’s leaders reminded the global public of Britain’s greatest soft power assets. The UK has defended its 2nd position in the Index this year, with an increase of +2.4 points to 65.8, recording increases across a number of attributes, from “good relations with other countries” (up 7 ranks) to “appealing lifestyle” (up 5 ranks).

Last year will also go down in British history for its three prime ministers. After the fall of Boris Johnson’s government, Liz Truss shot to power as quickly as she lost it to Rishi Sunak, becoming the country’s shortest-serving prime minister ever. While the nation’s overall Reputation has not been dented, perceptions of the UK as “politically stable and well-governed” declined relative to others (down 10 ranks).

Germany post-Merkel holds its own

Many worried about Germany losing its international standing after the departure of Angela Merkel. A year later, the nation has largely held its own, retaining 3rd position in the Index, with an increase of +1.2 points to 65.8. Olaf Scholz’s government has struggled with criticism of its hesitant response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but this has had little impact on the nation’s perceptions among the global public. Germany’s nation brand strength transcends political crises, proving its resilience regardless of who is in charge.

China retains “future growth potential” despite COVID-19 restrictions

Although China has seen marginal growth of its Global Soft Power Index score (+0.8 to 65.0), it dropped in the ranking from 4th in 2022 to 5th in 2023, overtaken by Japan. While most nations accelerated their global engagement across trade, investment, tourism, and talent, China remained closed last year, maintaining a “zero COVID” policy. Reduced mental and physical availability of China’s nation brand among global audiences undermined its ability to improve perceptions at the same pace as competing economies, resulting in some relative declines, such as in the People & Values (down 57 to 95th) and Media & Communication (down 12 to 24th) pillars.

Nevertheless, on many metrics China has largely defended its position from last year and it remains 2nd in the world for Influence, behind only the US, and 3rd in the Education & Science pillar, with particularly strong performance across “leader in technology and innovation” (2nd), “leader in science” (3rd), and the new attribute: “invests in space exploration” (3rd). The nation also maintains its global #1 positions for “easy to do business in and with” and “future growth potential”, pointing to the resilience of its Business & Trade credentials, despite an overall rank drop for the pillar to 3rd. Revised economic growth forecasts by the International Monetary Fund confirm that China is back in business in 2023, predicting 5.2% GDP growth, above the level of previous expectations as private consumption rebounds following the country’s opening post-COVID at the end of 2022.

UAE enters top 10 for the first time

With otherwise little change in the top 10, the performance of the United Arab Emirates is a standout. For the fourth year running, the Emirates achieved the highest score of any Middle Eastern nation brand, but this year’s increase of +3.2 to 55.2 has meant a jump of five ranks to allow it to claim 10th position in the global ranking for the first time. Both Reputation and Influence of the Gulf nation have seen notable increases this year. 

David Haigh, Chairman & CEO of Brand Finance, commented: “The UAE was one of the first economies to roll out mass vaccination and open during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving it a head start ahead of others and allowing it to maintain positive perceptions across the Business & Trade pillar with a particular improvement on the “future growth potential” attribute, where it ranks 3rd globally. The successful showcase of the Emirates as a global trade hub thanks to EXPO 2020 has also undoubtedly provided a significant boost. At the same time, the UAE is one of the largest donors of foreign aid as a percentage of GDP, which is recognised by the global general public counting it among the world’s most “generous” nations – 3rd.”

Perceptions of the UAE’s Governance and International Relations are on the up too and the nation’s salience is only expected to grow. The Emirates Mars Mission has landed the UAE at 8th for “invests in space exploration”, while hosting the world’s most high-profile climate conference, COP 28, will put the nation firmly in the spotlight in 2023. The historically oil-heavy economy continues to increase its commitment to diversification, innovation, and investment in a more Sustainable Future. The UAE already scores relatively high on the new soft power pillar of that name, placing 19th globally.

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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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