Great Power Assertivitis

September 8th 2016 - 10:28

This study continues HCSS’ effort to monitor great power assertiveness (GPA). We qualify a country as becoming more assertive when either its projected (factual) or professed (rhetorical) power increases. To ascertain whether this is the case, we collect different datasets: some more traditional ones (with economic and – especially – military indicators); and a few new ones – especially the large and automatically generated event datasets that have become available over these past few years and that dynamically track international interactions on a daily basis.
The combination of these indicators offers unprecedented insights into the ebb and flow of international cooperation and conflict. In this report, HCSS focuses on some great powers (in this study: China, ‘Europe’, India, Russia and the United States) that wield disproportionate influence on the international system. The historical record shows that great powers tend to participate more in militarized conflict, to impose more economic sanctions, to possess more nuclear weapons, to form more military alliances and to mediate or intervene more in civil and international conflicts. This means that the entire international community has a stake in closely monitoring their behavior and their statements.
That is precisely what this report, which is part of HCSS’ contribution to the Dutch government’s Strategic Monitor effort this year, sets out to do. The different datasets we have collated and analyzed this year paint a differentiated, but overall worrisome picture about the assertiveness of these actors in the international system.

Stephan De Spiegeleire is senior scientist at HCSS. He has Master’s degrees from the Graduate Institute in Geneva and Columbia University in New York, as well as a C.Phil. degree in Political Science from UCLA. He worked for the RAND Corporation for nearly ten years, interrupted by stints at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the WEU’s Institute for Security Studies. Mr. De Spiegeleire started out as a Soviet specialist, but has since branched out into several fields of international security and defense policy.