Research projects

A Neoclassical realist understanding of inertia and rupture in security policy: the cases of Germany and Japan

Days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Olaf Scholz spoke of a Zeitenwende requiring a reinvention of Germany’s security policy. A few months later, Japan released a groundbreaking security strategy based on the recognition of a “historical inflection point.” Similarities in the German and Japanese reactions to the Russo-Ukrainian War are striking, and reflect a rupture with past practices in both cases. Also, the two countries were losers of WWII and still benefit from the American military umbrella. Both had displayed a remarkable inertia in security policy, characterized by restraint on the use of military power and an emphasis on “civilian power.” How to explain the inertia and the sudden changes in their security policies? The project argues for a neoclassical realist understanding.

Japan as a Regional Security Actor: Departing from Isolationism

This research project aims to show: (1) why the 2022 National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy are transforming Japan into a regional security actor eager to impact regional security dynamics; (2) what are the causes of this reorientation away from relative isolationism; (3) what will be the likely impacts on the Japan-US alliance and regional dynamics.

Why is China’s Foreign Policy Self-Defeating? When Ontological Security imperils National Security

This research project looks at Beijing’s growingly assertive behavior and explores its causes. New is the increasing simultaneity of Chinese provocative actions. If China had previously worked to lower resulting tensions in order to avoid struggles on different fronts, it has recently put less emphasis on mitigation measures. Worse, Beijing is often doubling down on initial provocations, resulting in protracted rivalries. The ongoing institutionalization of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), made of Australia, India, Japan and the United States, the conclusion of the technology-sharing agreement Aukus between the latter, Australia and the United Kingdom, the rising number of European countries devising Indo-Pacific strategies and regional players’ unilateral military buildups are all instances of counteractions to recent trends in Chinese foreign policy. This begs the questions: Why is China seemingly acting as if self-encirclement was the ultimate objective? Why does Beijing persist in what appears a self-defeating foreign policy, unable to adapt to a changing international environment?