Which challenges and discourses will dominate NATO’s future strategic concept? New FES/PRIF Study maps three alternatives visions for the evolution of the Atlantic alliance. | Photo: flickr, © NATO | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Three futures for NATO: New FES/PRIF backgrounder for the 2021 NATO summit

Today, NATO‘s Heads of State and Government are meeting in Brussels for a summit that is expected to set the course for the rejuvenation of the Atlantic alliance. Leaders will discuss the report of the NATO Expert Group, kick off the process for developing a New Strategic Concept, and signal a closing of transatlantic ranks. Against this background, the new FES/PRIF Report “Three visions for NATO” offers a glimpse behind the headlines. It maps expert debates about the future of the alliance across and within NATO member states and identifies three alternative “futures” for the evolution of the alliance.


Photo: © picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS | STR)

China in transitionary Myanmar. Challenging paths to democratization and peace

The recent military coup in Myanmar reversed a decade-long experiment towards incremental political liberalization. At the same time, it also brought China’s engagement there back into the spotlight, and initial Chinese reactions led to suspicions that Beijing had welcomed or even aided the return to military rule. However, the reality of China’s role in Myanmar’s democratic transition and simultaneous peace process is far more complicated, and instructive for its overall engagement in conflict societies.


Der New START Vertrag begrenzt die Zahl der Trägersysteme für strategische Nuklearwaffen. | Photo: flickr, Eric Constantineau | CC BY-NC 2.0

Bloß Neustart oder Renaissance nuklearer Abrüstung? New START um fünf Jahre verlängert

Die Verlängerung von New START ist gesichert. Damit ist die seit zwei Jahrzehnten fortschreitende Auflösung zahlreicher Rüstungskontrollabkommen vorerst gestoppt. Es ist noch lange keine Renaissance der nuklearen Abrüstung. Hierzu müssen die Risiken nuklearer Eskalation minimiert und sub-strategische Nuklearwaffen in den Blick genommen werden. Es braucht außerdem die Einbindung Chinas und ein Upgrade der bilateralen Rüstungskontrolle auf die multilaterale Ebene. Wie kann das gelingen?


The New START Treaty limits the number of delivery systems for strategic nuclear weapons. | Photo: flickr, Eric Constantineau | CC BY-NC 2.0

A renaissance of nuclear disarmament, or merely a new start? New START extended for five years

New START will be extended for five more years. This means that the unraveling of numerous arms control agreements, which has been progressing for two decades, has been halted for the time being. We are still far from a renaissance of nuclear disarmament. For this to happen, the risks of nuclear escalation must be minimized and sub-strategic nuclear weapons must be addressed. It also requires engaging China and upgrading bilateral arms control to the multilateral level. How can this succeed?


Growing closeness in times of social distancing? European leaders and Xi Jinping during the videoconference that sealed the EU-China investment agreement. | Photo: © European Union, 2020 / EC - Audiovisual Service / Photographer: Lukasz Kobus | Free use.

The EU-China Investment Agreement: a sign of political naïveté or strategic autonomy?

The recently-concluded EU-China Investment Agreement has attracted severe criticism, with many commenters focusing specifically on the supposed naïveté of concluding a separate agreement with China instead of pursuing a joint approach together with the incoming Biden administration. However, this approach is in line with the EU’s stated desire to achieve a greater strategic autonomy, and in fact a sensible reaction to the uncertainty that has marked international politics since the Trump era.


Outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo has emerged as one of China’s harshest critics and may seek to build a future presidential campaign around this profile. | Photo: flickr, Gage Skidmore | CC BY-SA 2.0

From China Threat to Red Scare: a Post-Trump Republican Perspective on US-China Relations

In its last months in office, the Trump administration published a new, comprehensive framework on China policy. Despite the upcoming change in government, this report is notable for introducing a very ideology-centered perspective and rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War. It could therefore provide a glimpse on how Republicans will approach China policy in opposition and exert pressure on the new government to stick with the confrontative course taken by Trump.


Toast to better times? How could the US-China relations change under a possible US President Biden? | Photo: US State Department.

China Policy in the 2020 Election: Same Same, but Different?

With US-China relations caught in a seemingly inescapable downward spiral and mounting speculation about a new „Cold War“, could a Biden victory in the upcoming US election lead to a reduction in tensions? Based on what is known about Biden’s approach to China, we should not expect a fundamental shift, and the US-China confrontation is likely to shape the international system for years to come. However, a Biden strategy would seek to re-engage allies in Europe, and may offer them a bigger chance to influence this process.


Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at the 2018 G20 in Buenos Aires
Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at the 2018 G20 in Buenos Aires | Photo: Dan Scavino | (Wikimedia Commons)

Fraying Ties: The Securitization of the US-China Relationship

The security dimension has long been the most contentious aspect of US-China relations, marked by strategic mistrust, great-power competition and several flashpoints in East Asia. Until recently, these tensions were moderated by much warmer and closer economic ties, civil society exchanges in business, education, academia, culture and tourism, as well as shared interests in globalization and trade. However, recent moves by the US and Chinese governments to “securitize” the previously cooperative aspects of their relationship have fundamentally altered this dynamic and greatly increased the likelihood of a permanent confrontation between the two great powers.


Nils Schmid and Vera Rogova at the Schlangenbad Talks 2018 | Photo: Olga Gladushevskaya
Nils Schmid and Vera Rogova at the Schlangenbad Talks 2019 | Photo: Olga Gladushevskaya

“It is not enough to diagnose a crisis – we also have to actively deal with it.” An interview with Nils Schmid

A crisis or even the end of the liberal, multilateral world order is a frequently-heard diagnosis these days. In her interview with Nils Schmid, Member of Parliament for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Vera Rogova asks about possible coping strategies, Chinese and Russian influence and Germany’s current and future role in international politics.