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Systemic Conflict? No Thanks! Why Many States Are Not Taking Sides and What That Means for Us

The notion of a “systemic conflict” has increasingly found its way into our discussions on foreign policy in recent years. Russia’s war against Ukraine, mounting tensions between the US and China: all these phenomena are interpreted within the framework of a clash between liberal-democratic systems and authoritarian ones. And although this interpretation might not be entirely misled, we have to face this fact: the overwhelming majority of states worldwide does not show even the slightest inclination to fit into a bloc logic of any kind or to make abstract normative issues the guiding principle of their foreign policy. To know why pragmatism should be our answer to this finding, read the new issue of International Reports!
U.S. Air Force, ZUMA Press, picture alliance.


The Arctic – Between Conflict and Cooperation

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising fast, which has moved the prospect of an ice-free North Pole from the realm of fantasy to the realm of possibility. This has far-reaching implications for the entire region, which has now become part of the debate on security policy as a potential source of conflict. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the facts and causal connections and at the interests of the stakeholders involved.


Conflict-ready? Western Foreign Policy in Times of Systemic Rivalry

It has now been more than nine months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine radically changed the perceived threat in many countries throughout Europe. In Germany, people have had to face up to questions of war and peace that seemed to be consigned to the past – many for the first time in their lives. How would we respond to an attack? Can we deal militarily with a now openly imperialist Russia? What if someone else were in the White House in this situation? And are we at risk of further adversity from China, too? Until recently, such problems were almost exclusively the domain of politicians and academics. Today, they are no longer abstract.
© Kacper Pempel, Reuters.


Was kostet die Freiheit? Zur Zukunft der westlichen Sicherheitspolitik

Unsere liberalen Gesellschaften stehen unter Druck, nicht zuletzt von außen. Revisionistische Autokratien versuchen immer offensiver, der Welt ihren Stempel aufzudrücken - sei es durch Waffen, wie im Falle Russlands, sei es durch wirtschaftliche Abhängigkeiten, wie bislang im Falle Chinas. Was sind wir bereit, in unsere militärische Verteidigungsfähigkeit zu investieren? Welche wirtschaftlichen Kosten wollen wir tragen, um uns unabhängiger von autoritären Staaten zu machen? Was also ist uns die Freiheit wert? Das fragt diese Sonderausgabe der Auslandsinformationen, die in Zusammenarbeit mit der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung entstanden ist.


Statehood – Between Fragility and Consolidation

A state has to ensure the security of its citizens, provide public utilities, and prevent arbitrary actions and corruption. If it does not, it is considered as fragile. In such cases, it is the local people who suffer most. However, violence spurs migration, and regions beyond state control offer a perfect breeding ground for terrorists. That is how state fragility can end up affecting even geographically distant societies. Therefore, standing on the sidelines is not an option for Germany and Europe – not only from a humanitarian perspective, but also for reasons of self-interest.
© Lee Smith, Reuters (photomontage)


Power and Resources – Energy, Climate, Raw Materials, and the War in Ukraine

The Russian attack on Ukraine has changed many things – not least our view of how we use resources. Previously, this view was characterised by our attempts to reconcile economic efficiency and ecological sustainability, but now this has been supplemented by something that, objectively speaking, has always been important but largely absent from public debate in Germany: power.
US Army, via Reuters.


In Retreat? Western Security Policy after Afghanistan

The withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021 was far more than the disastrous end of a mission. Rather, the events raise fundamental questions about how the West perceives its foreign policy and the future strategic direction of security and defence policy. That also applies to the debate about pros and cons of deploying troops abroad and of international interventions.
Clovis Guy Siboniyo, Reuters


No Longer on the Sidelines? Youth and Politics

If you have been following public debate on youth and politics in Germany over the last few years, you may have gained the impression of a generation of young people who are increasingly committed to standing up for their interests while, at the same time, feeling that their concerns are not being adequately heard. Number one among these concerns: climate change. But can this impression be generalized and applied to youth worldwide? The articles in this issue of International Reports highlight the regional differences between young people’s social circumstances, problems, and opportunities for political participation. And yet we can still observe one commonality across boarders: youth from all over the world want to create positive change for their societies instead of remaining on the sidelines.
Marcelo del Pozo, Reuters


Media and Freedom of Expression

“Watchdogs,” “gatekeepers,” or the “Fourth Estate”, whatever we choose to call it, a free media is the indispensable guardian of liberal democracy. But how does this freedom fare in today’s world? What we see is a picture with some light, but many shadows, because authoritarian rulers around the globe have come to understand the formula “no democracy without a free press” and are suppressing critical voices. Find more on this, but also on some encouraging examples of innovative news outlets from Zimbabwe to the Middle East, in this issue of International Reports.
© Dimitris Papamitsos, Büro des griechischen Ministerpräsidenten, via Reuters.


Spielball oder Spielmacher?

Die Verbindung von Freiheit und sozialer Gerechtigkeit, von Fortschritt, Wohlstand und Nachhaltigkeit, von Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und universellen Menschenrechten: Sie macht das europäische Modell aus. Doch wie kann sich dieses Modell in einer Welt behaupten, die verstärkt durch die Großmachtkonkurrenz zwischen den USA und China sowie das Erstarken autoritärer Kräfte geprägt wird? Dieser Frage gehen wir in dieser Sonderausgabe der Auslandsinformationen nach, die in Kooperation mit der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung entstanden ist.

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About this series

International Reports (IR) is the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung's periodical on international politics. It offers political analyses by our experts in Berlin and from more than 100 offices across all regions of the world. Contributions by named authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial team.

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Dr. Gerhard Wahlers



Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

Head of the Department International Reports and Communication +49 30 26996 3584

Dr. Sören Soika


Editor-in-Chief International Reports (Ai) +49 30 26996 3388

Kim Karcher

Portrait von Kim Karcher

Referentin Kommunikation und Vermarktung +49 30 / 2 69 96 - 2387