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With the potential strategic retreat of US leadership in some regions, the form and effectiveness of regional leadership projects will likely be tested more than ever in contemporary times. Available frameworks of regional leadership still insufficiently account for this scenario. Most importantly, the concept of regional leadership is fragmented in the field of International Relations IR theory. Third, linking both positive and negative connotations to regional leadership has charged the concept with different and partly diverging normative values.

Foreign & Domestic Policy Program

This special issue of Rising Powers Quarterly seeks to mitigate some of these conceptual shortcomings and contribute to our understanding of the evolving conditions under which regional leadership operates by providing empirical perspectives on power politics in Europe, the Middle East, post-Soviet Eurasia, South America and South Asia.

To begin with, analyses of regional leadership in multipolar systems need to account for the complexity in which interactions between structures and actors are embedded. The most promising IR scholarship has developed multidimensional concepts of regional leadership that reflect the possibility that power could increase in one dimension and, at the same time, shrink in another.

Table of Contents

Baldwin , pp. States that play a regional leading role in the sense of rule making are also given special importance when the treatment of global problems is concerned. This applies to questions of global norm-building, world trade, and transnational security risks. Attempts to solving problems in these areas can be organised at the regional and global levels.

In both cases some state actors play a more important role than others in the course of cooperation and negotiation processes and therefore have more influence on the results.

The reason for this could be the greater military or economic potential of these actors. Similarly, their legitimacy, diplomatic effectiveness, moral authority and representative function for a region or group of states might generate advantages in international bargaining. Depending on their relative power resources the regional leaders choose different strategies in regional and international bargaining processes. The most promising leadership strategy that defines the foreign policy instruments applied by the regional powers can differ according to the systemic level regional, global.

A key objective of this special issue is to identify the foreign policy resources and instruments that regional powers apply under consideration on different systemic levels. With regard to the global level of analysis, the status of a regional leader implies that dominant actors of the international system accept this status. What is even more important is the degree to which regional powers manage to influence the global economic and security order.


The degree of assertion of interests in global governance institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization is supposed to serve as an indicator for power over outcomes. A crucial reason for the declining but enduring US hegemony in international relations is its military supremacy.

Washington still accounts for more than half of for global defense expenditures. In conventional military terms the US will remain the dominant global power for a long time. In addition to forming balancing coalitions, these regional powers will likely seek to advance the transformation toward multipolarity by increasing their influence in international institutions.

In particular, the governments of Southern states that have the capacity to build regional unipolarities,must be interested in finding an effective way to challenge the current international hierarchy and to transform themselves into power poles of a future multipolar system. One way to project significant global influence decision-maker status is by consolidation regional powerhood as a base for pursuing national interests in the multipolar order.

In other words, rising powers need to determine which role they seek to play in their respective regions and whether they are willing to bear the cost of regional leadership before defining their global policy and status goals. With the exception of Russia, which is the only case under consideration that is permanant UN Securiy Council member, all articles in this special issue deal with global-level middle powers instead of great powers on the global stage.

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As Cox , p. With regard to the intra regional level of analysis, the degree of coordination, formalisation and institutionalisation of trade and security policies is an indicator of the quality of the intraregional cooperation. In addition to free trade agreements, bilateral and multilateral measures in the sectors infrastructure, technology and energy are included in the investigation.

The mutual transparency between the states in key areas such as defence planning, arms trade and military budget indicates the degree of confidence building between the neighbouring countries, and transnational threats can encourage the creation of cooperative security policies in the investigated regions. In particular, non-military security challenges imply direct threats to the states: drug trafficking and arms trade as well as money laundering as forms of organised crime, activities by guerrilla organisations across the national borders, transnational terrorism and the proliferation of means of mass destruction.

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On the contrary, it is possible that the regional power itself poses a regional threat or is perceived as such. Considering these observations, the case selection of this special issue is based on the following definition of regional powerhood. As suggested by Flemes and Nolte , p. Conceivable further criteria for distinguishing and classifying different types of regional powers are. We argue that Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia fulfil at least the four basic criteria of regional powerhood.

This special issue aims to develop novel approaches to analysing and modelling the foreign policies of regional powers in the multipolar system. More specifically, the authors present innovative concepts from different theoretical perspectives to explain and manage the complex challenges related to regional leadership. Each article outlines a particular theoretical lens and applies it to a world region that is distinct from the others by a particular power structure and politics, culture of interaction and domestic system.

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We invited analyses from two main theoretical camps that have generated the most inspiring contributions to the debates on regional leadership and multipolarity over the past decade: Neo Realism and Constructivism. Both grand theories have constantly been complemented and developed further.

Each of the six articles of this special issue outlines a particular theoretical lens and applies it to a world region that is distinguished from others by a particular power structure and politics, culture of interaction or domestic system. However, both concepts are strongly contested in the literature. For those traditional Realists, international institutions are always a function of state power and interests.

Neorealism assumes that states ally to balance against the superior power capabilities of other states. It would be rational for a hegemon to use its preponderant power in the interest of the system as a whole, because his power only exists relative to the systemic context in which it is embedded. Gradually, Brasilia raised its regional and global diplomatic profile, increasingly vocally claiming a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, pushing for reforms in the international financial institutions and taking a proactive stance in new institutions such as the G20, the BRICS and the IBSA forum.

Steele and Posen understand restraint as a merger of selective engagement and isolationism. India is a particularly instructive case for studying the ambivalences in the linkages between regional leadership and global aspirations. Against this background, Blarel and Ebert observe that Realist and Liberalist expectations on the effects of a unipolar regional distribution of power capabilities in South Asia have not materialised. Attempts by the Indian state to establish a stable order through coercive or deterrent force or generate followership through institutions and public goods provision failed, and high levels of interstate violence and low levels of regional integration persist in the region.

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Blarel and Ebert suggest that leadership in the region is profoundly conditioned by the social interactions between leader and potential followers of the South Asian post-Cold War order. However, this transformation is ongoing and is far from terminated. It shows a personified Kladderadatsch addressing the German pastors on the deck of the ship en route to Palestine. One can see a cross floating up in the smoke over the battlefield.

Implicit is, of course, the question of how the pastors, the Emperor, and Germany could continue to stand by their Ottoman friends while the murder of Christians continued. It began with his article series on the trip for his paper Die Hilfe. If this was an attempt to justify Ottoman violence against the Armenians, it partially backfired.

Rethinking Regional Leadership in the Global Disorder

There is no other way for the Turk to protect himself from the Armenian. He sells his wife, his still under-aged daughter, he steals from his brother. The whole of Constantinople is being morally poisoned by the Armenians. It is not the Turks who have attacked, but the Armenians. The Turk is acting in self-defense. Almost all of the German press printed his assessment of the Armenians, and many French papers took note of it. All but the Turks Naumann viewed in the most negative terms. And here, his vision of Turkish history was central. For Naumann, the Turks were in a situation and a point of history comparable to that of the Germans centuries earlier. He tries to diminish the role of the quote by saying that perhaps the potter was right about the Armenians of Constantinople, but what about the masses of Armenians in the provinces?

How could they be of such quality when such honourable people like Lepsius were speaking for them? One needed to adopt a historical prism to understand these events, he argued.