CANCELED: Rethinking Statecraft and Managing Great (and not-so-great) Power Relations
The world seems to be descending back into some of the negative-sum game dynamics that characterized most of the pre-post-Cold War period. Against the background of a weakening rule-based international order, still dominant but domestically and internationally weakened liberal democracies are struggling to manage the multi-domain challenges hurled at them by increasingly assertive contenders.
The introspective debate that is shaping up on both sides of the Atlantic about the strategic implications of all of this focuses mostly on political, ideological, technological and defense-industrial issues. Stephan will tackle them from an epistemic angle: "What do we actually 'know' about all of this?". Is the extant knowledge base on geo-political dynamics sufficiently robust to help inform sensible strategic guidance? Can we afford to continue ignoring the rich veins of non-Western knowledge building in other parts of the world in other languages? Are there lessons to be learned from the way in which other scientific disciplines (with the life sciences lightyears ahead) are now leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning and especially natural language processing to make progress? How do we overcome the current disincentives in both the academic and policy-analytical (e.g. think tanks, etc.) world for collaborative knowledge-building in the Foreign, Security and Defense Policy (FSDP) field?
Stephan will address these question by focusing on two key concepts that are playing a central role in these current debates: 'deterrence', on which there is a well-established body of literature in the international relations (IR) field that is currently being revisited; and 'influencing' - a nascent topic that is receiving unprecedented attention in policy and (military-)theoretical circles, but on which the IR literature is surprisingly silent and tentative. He will share some evidence that GT and HCSS (a small Dutch think tank) have unearthed over the past 2 years in our collaborative 'RuBase' research program, funded by the US and Dutch governments and by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He will also present a range of innovative examples of how IR/'international relations' scholars can learn from IR/'information retrieval' scholars to extract more 'evidence' and 'knowledge' from texts.