Categories
Weekly Summaries

24th of May – 30th of May

A possible case of plane hijacking by Belarus

Last weekend, a Ryanair plane on the way from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk (Belarus’ capital) by a fighter jet, according to the New York Times. On board was Roman Protasevich, a leading opposition journalist who currently lives in exile in Lithuania. Upon landing, he was immediately arrested on what the New York Times calls “charges of inciting hatred and mass disorder.” He will face imprisonment of more than 12 years if he is found guilty. The international response has been critical of Belarus, with Greece and Lithuania both describing the scenario “hijacking by the Belarusian government” and the E.U. “urging” airlines to avoid flying over Belarus’ airspace. Russia, meanwhile, has stood by Lukashenko’s side.

Other News

  • The former leader of Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been seen in public at the court for the first time since the military coup that detained her, ending her term as leader of Myanmar. If she is found guilty of the many charges she faces, she may be imprisoned for life.
  • The one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s killing was last Wednesday.
  • A cable car crash in Italy killed 14 people. Police have now arrested three people, who may be related to the crash.
  • Just as the last of the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan are withdrawing, 25 rural Afghan government outposts as well as bases in four provinces have surrendered to the Taliban, according to the New York Times.
  • Just days after Mount Nyiragongo erupted deadly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, another potential eruption forced the evacuation of Goma.
Categories
Analysis

What is soft power?

Hard power vs. soft power

In international relations, there are two main types of power: hard power and soft power. Hard power is related to the traditional image people have when they hear the word “power.” The definition of hard power is “power deployed in the form of coercion;” this can be using force, threatening the use of force, and putting in place economic sanctions or inducements of payment. Soft power, meanwhile, refers to the “use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives.” This means that the main aim of a “soft power” foreign policy is to become influential rather than using any form of “real” (or hard) power.

The origin of soft power

The concept of soft power was first proposed by Joseph Nye in the late 1980s. Joseph Nye originally described three sources of soft power, namely political values, culture, and foreign policy. After World War II ended, the basis of U.S. soft power was the spread of ideas and values like democracy, a free-market economy, and human rights. People and countries looked up to the United States of America as a role model and wanted to be like them. Therefore, these people and countries were more willing to put these ideas like a democratic government and a free-market economy into place in their own countries as they had seen how well these worked for the USA. In the period immediately after the end of the Cold War, the concept of “soft power” caught fire among politicians, with some even claiming that soft power “defined” the period immediately after the Cold War.

Soft power today

Although hard power has been used more frequently again by countries again nowadays — an example is North Korea building nuclear weapons — China has increasingly been using soft power. In Joseph Nye’s original article on soft power, China was hardly mentioned. Nowadays, China is the world’ biggest trading country. Examples such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative — through which the Chinese government aims to encourage economic growth in other countries by providing the necessary infrastructure — serve as evidence of China’s new approach to international relations.

Sources

  1. https://softpower30.com/what-is-soft-power/
  2. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/20/the-rise-and-fall-of-soft-power/
Categories
Weekly Summaries

26th of April – 2nd of May

The U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

This past week, the U.S. military has begun its complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. The New York Times wrote this past week that the Afghan security forces are “unprepared to face the Taliban, or any other threat, on their own. Over the past few years, the U.S. and NATO have spent tens of billions of dollars to build up the the Afghan security forces, but serious shortages of ammunition, the low pay, and abundant corruption are still causing problems.

Other News

  • A fire in an Iraqi hospital caused by an exploding oxygen cylinder killed at least 82 people
  • In the Somali capital of Mogadishu, gunfire erupted when forces loyal to the president confronted groups that sided with his rivals
  • A spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company arrived at the International Space Station last weekend
  • This past month, Iranian military vessels are supposed to have “harassed American ships in the Persian Gulf” twice, according to the New York Times
Categories
Weekly Summaries

19th of April – 25th of April

President Déby of Chad killed

President Idriss Déby was considered crucial “to battling Islamist extremism in the central Sahel region,” according to the New York Times. Thus, he was backed by both France and the United States. This past week, however “he was killed in clashes between insurgents and government soldiers” (the New York Times). He had just secured his sixth term in office.

Other News

  • Aleksei Navalny is on his third week of hunger strike to protest against his lack of access to medical treatment and has now been moved to a hospital
  • Last weekend, a passenger train north of Cairo derailed, killing at least 11 people
  • The U.S. and China made an agreement to work together to fight climate change
  • Argentina’s inflation rate is now above 40 percent
Categories
Weekly Summaries

12th of April – 18th of April

Explosion at an Iranian nuclear enrichment site

Last weekend, there was an explosion at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, which caused a power shortage. Since then, Iran’s foreign minister has threatened to take revenge against Israel, whom he blamed for the explosion. The explosion comes just at a point when relations regarding the 2015 nuclear deal were resumed again a few weeks ago.

Other News

  • Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of the Queen of England died. His funeral took place this past Saturday,
  • President Biden has announced that the remaining U.S. troops that are currently still located in Afghanistan will withdraw by the 11th of September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
  • The U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Russia.