Christian Bueger

Global ocean politics and naval cooperation – new video

The recording of my recent talk at the MILAN exercises of the Indian Navy is now available on Youtube. In the presentation I revisit the shifts in global ocean politics that navies will have to address in their strategy, and show how critical maritime infrastructure protection is an important point of strategic convergence and global naval cooperation.

India’s new sea power. Reflections from Milan 2024

India’s role in global politics is evolving, and the country is increasingly emerging as an international leader. This also applies to global ocean politics and naval affairs. India is a major sea power, and its navy increasingly acts as the guardian for the Indian Ocean, protecting trade and supporting its neighbors.   

Experiencing Sea Power in Practice

In February, I had the opportunity to experience India’s new sea power in practice. The Indian navy invited me to give the opening talk at their bi-annual multinational naval exercise, called Milan. Milan is a Hindu word that can be roughly translated into English as referring to ‘meeting’, ‘gathering’ or ‘union’. Over 50 states participated in Milan. Held in the city of Visakhapatnam, the home of the navy’s Eastern Command, the event included a seminar, an exhibition, a city parade, and an exercise at sea.   

Group Picture of participants in the maritime seminar of Milan 2024

Sea Power Today

Sea power is often equated with military capabilities, measured in numbers of ships, staff, or high-end technology, with the aircraft carrier often assuming the role as the main status symbol, given only seven nations possess that asset. Milan put some of the military strength of India’s navy on display, with the country’s two aircraft carriers along with a broad range of other assets — fighter planes, helicopters, special forces — being presented to the public.

Yet, contemporary sea power means more than counting and comparing military capabilities. Milan documented at least three forms of contemporary sea power: convening power, innovation, and responsibility.

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Meetings in Berlin: The Baltic Sea, the age of infrastructure and the future of maritime security

Over the course of a week I participated in a series of meetings in Berlin. The first was an authors meeting of a forthcoming report on the future of maritime security. The report will lay out in detail what challenges the global governance of maritime security faces and which institutions might respond to these.

The second was writing workshop of the Ocean Infrastructure Research Group. We conducted a thorough review of the chapters of our co-authored book titles Global Ocean Politics in the Age of Infrastructure.

Finally, I attended a workshop organized by the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy that focused on the Baltic Sea.

Participants of the Baltic Sea Security event, 14.2.2024, Berlin

Why navies need to coordinate better in the Western Indian Ocean – new commentary

In a new commentary published with RUSI, I argue that the number of multi-national operations in the Western Indian Ocean region requires better coordination. I show which operations are currently active, and that new coordination tools, such as an improved SHADE mechanism are required. Read it here.

Inaugural meeting of new UTOPIC research group

On 25th and 26th of January I had the pleasure to attend the inaugural workshop of the new research group “Understanding the Transformations of world politics: Ordering Principles and Infrastructures of Communication” (UTOPIC).

The group is hosted by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (ZIF) at the University of Bielefeld and is a collaboration between scholars based in sociology, history and international relations. Led by Mathias Albert, Heidi Tworek, and Tobias Werron, the group comprises of eight scholars.

Together we will explore how world politics is shaped by the rise and fall of ordering principles and the evolution of infrastructures of communication. In offering new theorizing of global orders, UTOPIC will challenge received notions of a liberal world order, and reveal the complexity and multiplicity of world politics across time.

I will be feeding core insights of our work on ocean infrastructures into the group’s discussion.

How does NATO contribute to critical maritime infrastructure protection?

Critical maritime infrastructure protection (CMIP) is an increasingly important component of maritime security. Following up our discussion of the principles and challenges of CMIP, published with Marine Policy last year, in a new short article I discuss the role of NATO.

The article published with the Institute for Maritime Strategy’s online journal MOC , reviews the range of activities that NATO has developed, including a new coordination cell, a new center and a digital initiative to improve maritime domain awareness. This provides solid foundations for the work of the organization in CMIP. Yet, it raises the question of how this work relates to other initiatives launched in regional seas, such as the North Sea, given that the role of military is limited.

Are the pirates of Somalia back in business?

In a new commentary published with SafeSeas I reflect on the current wave of piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia. The pirates have shown considerable activity over the past weeks, and use the current Red Sea crisis as a window of opportunity. Contrary to optimistic voices that suggest that the current counter-piracy structures can cope with this, I take a more critical stance, and argue that a strong signal is required to prevent further escalation.

New short article on the spatial dimensions of maritime security

In a new article, I argue that maritime security today concerns a least six spatial dimensions: surface, airspace, low orbit, deep sea, seabed and cyber.

While much of our attention goes to the surface, maritime security strategy needs to broaden the scope. In particular the seabed requires more strategic thinking considering its hosts major infrastructures. The article is published by the Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy and available in Korean and English.

Navies and the blue economy: Strategic thinking at Indian Ocean Naval Symposium

In December 2023 I had the pleasure to participate in the 8th Indian Ocean Naval Symposium organized by the Thai Navy.

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) is one of the most important maritime security arrangement in the region. It is the only format that brings security actors from south east Asia, the bay of Bengal and the western Indian Ocean together to discuss security at sea. It also includes important maritime states, including China, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia as observers.

Delegates at 8th IONS, Bangkok, 12.2023
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