November 2015

Britain and the Spectre of Geopolitical Irrelevance

By Dhruva Jaishankar

It is difficult to underestimate the impact of a new James Bond movie on the British psyche. The films, released now at three- or four-year intervals, give the fleeting sense that Britain still matters on the world stage. Yet Bond has long reflected something of a geopolitical fantasy; his enduring appeal based in part on his inverse relationship with British power. In 1962 — the year that saw the release of Dr. No, the first movie in the Bond franchise — former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared that Great Britain had lost an empire and not yet found a role. Double O Seven’s derring-do in the 1960s and 1970s deflected from Britain’s intelligence embarrassments, including revelations about the Cambridge Five spy ring, which passed Western intelligence onto the Soviet Union. But the fiction became more untenable with time. The idea that a post-Cold War Britain, with its dwindling diplomatic, military, and broadcast budgets, could avert war on the Korean peninsula (as in Die Another Day) or prevent a water crisis in Bolivia (as in Quantum of Solace) was patently absurd.

The great gain not the great game: How Kazakhstan is charting its own course in the world

By Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan

It is a sign of Central Asia's and Kazakhstan's increasing role and importance in the world that more and more is written about our region. But what is striking - and at times frustrating - is how reporting and analysis can be distorted to fit narratives which have little relationship to what's actually happening.

The Return of Geopolitics to Europe

By Joschka Fischer

With Russia’s military invasion and annexation of Crimea, and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of respecting the inviolability of borders and the primacy of international legal norms. It is time for Europeans to end their wishful thinking of a continental order determined by the rule of law. The world, unfortunately, isn’t like that. It is much harder, and power rules.

Opinion: From the Baltic to the Caspian Seas, land unites again

 For centuries, the rule of thumb in trade was that land divides, water unites. It took years and gradually months to follow an overland trading route from Europe to China, as opposed to months and eventually weeks by boat. But speed-trains are changing the global logistics map. These speed train connections are the “hardware” of the overland Silk Path road project that connects Europe to China.