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Interview – Ties Dams


Ties Dams is a Analysis Fellow on the Clingendael Institute, the Netherlands’ main unbiased assume tank. While specializing in Chinese language geopolitical technique, he holds in-depth experience on each nice energy discursive or narrative technique in addition to geopolitical danger and monetary markets with particular consideration positioned upon China’s significance to European traders. Along with his analysis work at Clingendael, he has printed a bestselling guide on the life and rule of president Xi Jinping titled De Nieuwe Keizer, incessantly seems on radio and tv as a geopolitical skilled, and teaches a masterclass on the College of Amsterdam on geopolitical technique. His experience in China has grown over the course of his research in political idea within the Netherlands, the UK and China.A number of publications embrace China and Liberal Values in International Relations: Opposing the Promotion of Democracy, Human Rights and Liberal Market EconomyChina’s Soft Power in Europe Falling on Hard Times and Will the European hero please stand up? An essay on European global narrative strategy.

The place do you see probably the most thrilling analysis and debates occurring in your discipline?

What’s thrilling to me is that the geopolitical context of European worldwide political thought is shortly altering, turning what appeared to be trusted maxims of IR and associated fields comparable to macroeconomics on their heads. Two geopolitical developments stand out in my very own analysis: first, the ascent of the primary non-Western superpower, China, and second, the re-emergence of a European geopolitical consciousness. What does it imply to be Europe in a world that’s now not dominated by European, and even Anglo-Saxon, concepts of energy?

How has the best way you perceive the world modified over time, and what (or who) prompted probably the most vital shifts in your considering?

I believe being in Asia for longer durations of time guided me by means of a strategy of escaping the provinciality of Dutch intellectual-political life. I believe, for some time, this led me to fall into one other lure: specifically, being barely obsessive about turning the ‘otherness’ of Asian societies into critiques of Western society. The second huge intellectually formative occasion for me was merely returning to Holland, serving within the Dutch authorities, making a house, and beginning a household. It taught me that whereas it’s essential to at all times take a look at one’s personal standpoint on the world as whether it is one in all an ‘outsider’, and vice versa, an individual can not assist being rooted in some level in area and time. There isn’t a escaping a particularist perspective when taking a look at worldwide relations. That doesn’t must be a foul factor, but it surely does indicate letting go of universalist pretensions in addition to purely deconstructive self-criticism.

In your latest work on geopolitical narratives, you write in regards to the power of China’s story and Europe’s lack of efficient response. How can an efficient narrative profit international powers of their political goals?

The primary premise of the argument, not usually taken severely sufficient by IR students I consider, is that human beings, societies and consequently states are narrative beings; we’d like a priori frameworks of which means to get all over the world, and people frameworks usually have a story construction. Merely mentioned, we perceive and cope with issues and one another by means of tales, usually with out figuring out that’s what we do. If one accepts that premise, it follows logically that in making an attempt to affect others, or exercising energy, states try to form the storylines by means of which we perceive the world. Nations like Russia and China and the US accomplish that fairly consciously, strategically and in some instances even successfully. European powers train narrative energy too, however not strategically.

To what extent does disinformation play a component in establishing and sustaining state narratives?

Disinformation is a horrible phrase as a result of it implies the purpose of it’s to disrupt the data area, whereas the champions of disinformation know fairly effectively that info by itself is nugatory; it’s the narrative by which the data is wrapped up, or certainly the narrative the disinformation is aimed toward disrupting, that actually issues. China and Russia know this: the purpose of spreading Covid-quatsch isn’t primarily the chaos and grief it causes, however the lack of belief in Western establishments and the tales it inflames.

How have latest crises affected the European psyche when it comes to the union’s personal self-image and assist from residents? Will this be an impediment to the formation of an efficient “European Manner of Life” narrative?

I believe there are a minimum of two conflicting developments in Europe’s self-image. On the one hand, narratives of decay, division and decadence have gained momentum. Alternatively, particularly amongst younger Europeans, there’s a rising consciousness of the necessity for Europe as a supplier of safety and geopolitical unity. The ‘European Manner of Life’ narrative tries to play into each. It must confront the parable of decay with a story of aspiration, explaining what the European Manner of Life will obtain in years to return; and it might want to explicate what it needs to guard from geopolitical strife and what the prices of safety will probably be. 

How has China’s narrative affected its geopolitical goals, notably within the European neighbourhood, and the way can the EU compete?

I believe China has efficiently carved out a story area for alternate options to Western modernity, generally to the detriment of Europe’s gentle energy, however on the very least to relative features in legitimacy of China’s mannequin of growth. Particularly in numerous elements of Africa, it has succeeded in projecting a powerful, optimistic picture. China trains 1000’s of African journalists yearly, has opened dozens of Confucius Institutes, and invests deeply in diplomatic ties on all ranges – from continent to township. The European neighbourhood is way extra conflicted. Europe might want to relearn the ability of narrative. It might want to clarify in an in depth and interesting method why sharing the European lifestyle tackles the grievances and lifts the aspiration of particular regional audiences. It might want to try this the world over, however the European neighbourhood should have precedence. The EU’s Excessive Consultant for Overseas Affairs and Safety Coverage, Josep Borrell, saying that the European neighbourhood is engulfed in flames doesn’t assist: Europe might want to challenge a sportive story for frequent growth.  

How enmeshed is the European stance on China with the USA’s goals, and can the Biden administration take the lead?

Biden’s stance on China is extra problematic to European pursuits than Trump’s was as a result of European leaders have a far tougher time saying no to Biden than they needed to Trump. By encapsulating the China problem in a Manichaean narrative – a world of excellent and evil, of democracies versus autocracies, just one can survive – Biden is cunningly enjoying into the European self-image. Ask a European, will you combat a struggle to avoid wasting Taipei? The reply might be ‘no’. Ask a European to combat to avoid wasting democracy, effectively, the controversy adjustments.  The large query now’s, in fact, will Biden be capable of give attention to China or will his administration’s overseas coverage, too, get caught within the pandora’s field Bush opened in Afghanistan?

What’s an important recommendation you may give to younger students of Worldwide Relations?

Truthfully, most recommendation is as well-intentioned as it’s ineffective, normally saying extra in regards to the individual giving recommendation than about you. Don’t get misplaced within the tutorial actuality of IR – it’s actually not that attention-grabbing to spend a profession making an attempt so as to add a footnote to debates between, say, constructivists and post-structuralists. IR theorists are typically dangerous at idea, so I’d say, higher go to a considerably ecumenical philosophy or historical past division and also you’ll have a much better time. Additionally, journey tons, learn broadly, at all times elevate your hand to ask a query and by no means hesitate to do the factor that you just secretly actually need to do. It’s a lot simpler to excel on the factor you’re truly obsessive about however looks like a mission unimaginable than pretending to love doing what you assume you’ll get a lot of credit score for. Additionally, don’t be afraid to get your actual life going: I see many individuals ready with getting their grownup life began till they get their PhD, or post-doc, or tenure, or regardless of the subsequent factor is, and it simply doesn’t work. You’ll write much better essays and books when your life is rooted within the splendidly boring routines of a relationship, a household, or a pet.

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