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13 January 2020

Two War Studies students win joint War Studies Online Lawrence Freedman Award

Robert Beer and Vasileios Theodosopoulos were awarded the Annual Lawrence Freedman Award for the best War Studies Online dissertation in 2018–19 at the November 2019 Assessment Board.

World vector

Robert Beer, MA War in the Modern World graduate, July 2019

Dissertation title: Development of Anglo-American Naval Collaboration 1939-1940

Abstract: Prior to the Second World War, the United States relied on a system of overseas military attachés assigned to its diplomatic legation to gather information on foreign militaries. Their primary mission was to develop a comprehensive accounting of potential military power based largely on their own observations and their success hinged on the amount of access provided by the host nation. In the 1930s, the attaché offices in Berlin and London assumed central roles in the evolving political situation in Europe. The study attempts to use those original reports and other archival material housed in the National Archives, as well as secondary sources, to determine the utility of those reports in the pre-war assessment of Nazi Germany and to trace the evolution of the Anglo-American collaboration that developed in 1939-1940. The primary archival sources are the attaché reports filed from Berlin and London, both the original reports and others contained in the Selected Naval Attaché Reports relating to the World Crisis, 1937-1940. As well, the papers of the London naval attaché, Alan Kirk, are used extensively. Other archival sources are drawn from the records of Commander, Naval Forces Europe, to include the cables and reports forwarded from the London legation. An attempt was made to discern the influence, if any, of the attaché reports on national policy making. Moreover, the attachés facilitated the exchange of technical information between the British and American navies and the essay aims to determine the practical impact of those exchanges.

Robert Beer, MA War in the Modern World graduate, July 2019
Robert Beer, MA War in the Modern World graduate, July 2019

Vasileios Theodosopoulos, MA International Relations and Contemporary War graduate, July 2019

Dissertation title: Contested Eurasia – Drivers, challenges, and implications of Russia’s hegemonic region-building

Abstract: Since the late 2000s, Russia has invested considerable effort into constructing a ‘Eurasian’ region and pushing for its integration under its banner, primarily through establishing and promoting a new regional organisation, the Eurasian (Economic) Union. Yet, both Russia’s interpretation of ‘Eurasia’ and its project’s goals are ambiguous, while Moscow’s region-building agenda has been fiercely contested. The European Union and China have been promoting their own regional initiatives, which overlap and compete with Russia’s, while neighboring countries have often rejected the Kremlin’s regional vision and leadership.

This dissertation seeks to identify the main challenges facing Russia’s contested region-building endeavour and their consequences for its development and success. It tackles these questions by examining relevant Russian, EU, Chinese, and regional states’ policies and analysing their implications for Russia’s project, while drawing theoretical insights from literature on region formation, regional primacy, and great powerhood. The dissertation finds that Russia seeks to re-integrate the former Soviet Union (except the Baltics) under its hegemony, in order to bolster its great power status. Its strategy in this pursuit has been to reinforce and exploit – often aggressively – its multidimensional links with and resulting leverage over its neighbors. However, the European and Chinese regional projects create alternative regionalisation/integration vectors, which compete with and undermine Russia-centric, intra-Eurasian linkages. Utilising these vectors, as well as through their individual policies, regional states have been able to reduce their dependence on Russia, thus weakening its influence over them, and resist Moscow’s designs, either rejecting its project or limiting its effectiveness. The result has been a reduced, incohesive Eurasia with centrifugal tendencies, wherein Russia’s hegemony is greatly circumscribed and which, consequently, does not appreciably enhance its material capabilities, self-image, recognition, or global impact as a great power. Therefore, it is argued that Moscow’s project has clearly failed to achieve its key objectives.

Vasileios Theodosopoulos, MA International Relations and Contemporary War graduate, July 2019
Vasileios Theodosopoulos, MA International Relations and Contemporary War graduate, July 2019

Note: Owing to copyright restrictions, the full text of the dissertation is only available to current War Studies Online students.