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The New Geopolitical Vocabulary

by kimadmin
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Gaslighting was recently announced as Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. The Oxford English Dictionary, meanwhile, went with goblin mode—a phrase that means “unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” 

In the world of foreign policy, the new words and phrases that became popular are decidedly more wonky. We don’t recommend using them at your holiday parties—unless you’re surrounded by Foreign Policy subscribers. But either way, these new terms, found with increasing frequency in the speeches and articles of policymakers, look here to stay. 

Zeitenwende. A translation from German would be something like “epochal shift” or, more literally, “a turning of the times.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz used the term during a speech in late February to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the consequences that would follow. Scholz was foreshadowing what could be a transformation in German policy: Berlin would increase military spending and suspend certification of Nord Stream II, a pipeline from Russia long opposed by Ukraine. In the months that followed, observers have asked whether German policy really has changed all that much. As an essay in this publication put it, Scholz announced a new direction for Germany and then proceeded to drag his feet.

Friendshoring. The New York Times defines it as “the practice of relocating supply chains to countries where the risk of disruption from political chaos is low,” whereas Bloomberg calls it “encouraging companies to shift manufacturing away from authoritarian states and toward allies.” The word has gained currency since the pandemic, but as the United States and China continue to decouple—especially on technology—you can expect it to become more common in the private sector as well.

Integrated deterrence. Apparently at the heart of the Biden administration’s long-delayed National Defense Strategy, integrated deterrence is a framework for working across different warfighting domains and conflicts with various instruments of power as well as alongside allies and partners, according to Sasha Baker, U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. Although this was knocked by some experts—isn’t deterrence already meant to be integrated?—others considered it to be a useful reminder that the United States should take a more holistic view of conflicts as well as the approaches for how to solve them.

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