FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS--Command and General Staff College’s Cultural and Area Studies Office hosted a panel discussion on the recently published “Great Power Competition: The Changing Landscape of Global Geopolitics.” The discussion was hosted at the Arnold Conference Room, Lewis and Clark Center, Fort Leavenworth on April 27. In addition to the small live audience, the event was broadcast through Facebook Live and VTC to outlying stations and individuals.
Dr. James B. Martin, Dean of Academics, Command and General Staff College, and Chief Academic Officer, Army University, provided opening remarks. Dr. Mahir J. Ibrahimov, Director, CASO, general editor of the book and chapter author served as the panel moderator.
Panel Members included Dr. Robert F. Baumann, Ministry of Defense Education Advisor to Uzbekistan Armed Forces Academy, Adjunct Professor, CGSC; Dr. Mark R. Wilcox, associate professor, William E. Odom Chair of Joint, Multinational, and Interagency Studies, CGSC; Lt. Col. Rafael Linera-Rivera, Mission Command Center of Excellence, CAC Commander's Assessment Program Directorate; and Maj. Nicole L. Hash, Battalion Operations Officer, 303d Military Intelligence Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Baumann and Hash joined the discussion remotely.
Dr. Katherine S. Dahlstrand, Team Chief, Books and Research Team, Army University Press provided critique and analysis following the author’s presentations.
After Martin’s introduction, Ibrahimov explained that the book under discussion was the second anthology in a series coordinated by his office to explore great power competition. Each panel member then gave a short talk on their chapters.
Baumann led off, speaking from Uzbekistan (after midnight). He said in his chapter he talks quite a bit about Russia reconstructing its identity since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Many of the defining elements of Russia’s identity were no longer valid once the Soviet Union no longer existed. The idea that was formed was called Eurasianism. Part of the idea is that Russia is a distinctive civilization not confined by international borders.
Wilcox continued talking about Russia by reporting about the Moscow Conference on International Security. This conference, hosted by Russia’s Ministry of Defense, provides a good picture of how Russia perceives challenges and threats in the security arena. Its eighth iteration, in 2019, was very much anti-west and anti-United States.
Sergey Shoygu, Russian Defense Minister, has used the conference as a tool of Russia’s soft power in relations with “the rest” versus the West. Over time the conference has included more Asian and African speakers and more bilateral meeting on the margins of the conference, said Wilcox.
Linera followed with a talk about his chapter on 21st Century short-lived revolutions. He talked about the power of social media in the 2011 Egyptian Arab Spring. “How does such a simplistic platform provoke so much engagement and complexity?” he asked. He used big data analysis to provide a better understanding of the situation. He contrasted tweets from participants against New York Times articles covering the events.
Hash rounded out the presentations by chapter authors. She talked about contemporary Russian power projections in Nicaragua. She explained that her chapter is about how Russia uses soft power or attractiveness to achieve foreign policy goals. “It is sharp power, not soft power that Russia uses,” said Hash. She defined sharp power as power that compels or dissuades vice attracts. It includes misinformation and disinformation.
“When Russia’s narrative of preventing color revolution and generating alternatives to the West became attractive to Nicaragua, Nicaragua adopted this discourse,” said Hash. “Strategists should consider Russian information activities, even when they seem ineffective on the surface, as potential power,” she concluded.
Dahlstrand, summing up the presentations and the book, said the two volumes produced by the Cultural and Area Studies Office are a sterling example of what’s possible in Army facilitated scholarship. She noted that the first volume “Cultural perspectives, geopolitics, and energy security in Eurasia: is the next global conflict imminent?” was published a few years ago, with follow on panel discussion and included much information on North Korea while this volume had little information on that country as other threats and concerns have come to the forefront.
“This volume stresses the importance for military leaders to learn and foster both situational and cultural awareness. It highlights the critical need to be able to recognize great power competition as it plays out in real time,” she said.
Following Dahlstrand’s comments, Ibrahimov summarized the main points of the entire project and moderated a 1-hour question and answer session getting questions from the 20 attendees (constrained by COVID protocols) at the live event site and many questions from Facebook Live audience members.
The full book can be found at: https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/combat-studies-institute/csi-books/great-power-competition-the-changing-landscape-of-global-geopolitics.pdf.
Related video-interviews with some of the authors can be accessed through Army U Press Facebook at: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4127532807266682&id=280545948632073&__tn__=%2As%2As-R and LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/armyuniversitypress/.
This panel is part of series of seminars and panel discussions on issues of operational and strategic importance to the United States that CASO in coordination with CGSC, universities, think tanks, interagency and other partners conducts every two to three months broadcasting them through Video Teleconference and live on CGSC's Facebook page. Videos of the sessions are available on the CGSC Facebook and YouTube sites.
For questions on CASO events please contact: Dr. Mahir J. Ibrahimov, Director, Cultural and Area Studies Office (CASO), U.S. Army CGSC at (913)684-3345 or firstname.lastname@example.org