FOREIGN POLICY IN TIMES OF CRISES
In a world where crises seem more systemic than ever, foreign policy elites appear to be at a loss, either for preventing them or crafting sustainable solutions. In spite of the many strategic analyses and centers, ad hoc approaches seem the rule, while, in the digital age, “crises” pop on and off of our cell phones and screens, with reality outpacing tweets and news headlines. Moreover, polarized political dynamics are here to stay and the lines between the international level and domestic politics are thin. In this context, our approaches to foreign policy oscillate between static approaches, often built on established notions about history, power relations, geopolitics and normative aspects, and grandiose prisms about “the end of the West”, etc., with the oft-cited references to the interwar period and Stefan Zweig. Pundits and scholars wrap their views into different schools of international relations, from Realpolitik to geopolitics or normative interventionism, or different blends of them all. For liberals, nowadays questioned, crises had until now been “exceptions” in an ascending road to progress, whereas for Realpolitik priests, it is all about power and competition, conflict being inevitable. To add to complexity, in times of post-truth, a parallel world of conspiracy theories thrives, often stoked by social media. What can some practical cases teach us about established scholarship foundations - and about how do we approach reality in general? On the other hand, what are the drivers of domestic politics impinging on foreign policy (e.g. elites, cleavages, strategic and cultural traditions, etc.), and vice-versa? What are the factors that enable or constrain foreign policy preferences and choices? How do long term objectives cope with short term dynamics, in the age of social media and 24/7 news’ flows? Is it possible still to conceive of Grand Strategy? And how can Europe fare in an age of geopolitics and apparent anarchy? This advanced seminar aims to provide an unorthodox, dynamic perspective on international relations and foreign policy in times of crises, at times debunking established understandings. It combines a specific focus on Europe and its challenges, with a number of case studies of the last decades, drawing some lessons. It builds on a mix of practice and work in the actual contexts where foreign policy is applied, and at the domestic front, with some scholarly notions too.
Borja Las Heras
Borja Lasheras served at the Spanish Mission to the OSCE and then in the OSCE’s field missions of Bosnia and Albania (2009-2013). He has worked with think tanks, including Fundación Alternativas (2007-09), and, between 2014-2017, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), where he was Director of the Madrid Office. He now serves as advisor at the Cabinet of the Presidency of the Spanish Government. He learned a Master’s Degree at Harvard (LL.M. 07). His field of expertise covers foreign and security policy (Spain, EU), Eastern Europe (Ukraine), Balkans, Russia and international institution-building.
The student will obtain different insights of modern foreign policy in practice, as well as the narratives around them.
10-oct. 17-oct. 24-oct. 7-nov. 14-nov. 21-nov.