Background

2015

International Relations and strategic issues have become much more complex and multidimensional than any time in the history. There has been a power transition process in place at regional and global levels over the past two decades. Bangladesh and its neighboring regions have witnessed fundamental shifts in strategic and foreign policy priorities of regional and extra-regional powers. The Rohingya crisis, Myanmar question, border clashes between India and China, fast deteriorating Indo-Pak relations and the withdrawal of the United States troops from Afghanistan are some of the fallouts arising from the evolving situations. The underlying cause behind the new developments is growing confrontation between the US and China at strategic and diplomatic levels. The fast-changing Chinese economy and its global reach has created fundamental concerns to the US and its Western allies and India for the future of current global economic order. By mid 2010s, China dethroned the US in the league of global economic powers by gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP). China has strongly come forward with its economic, military and cultural influence to deal with the new transition of global powers.

The rival strategies and clashing visions of great powers have pushed every nation to put international relations in the center stage of public policy. While the great powers pursue their hegemonic or dominant ambitions through power politics, the global community faces a truly globalized form of interdependence with complex patterns of interests and policy responses. Amid growing complexity of multipolar world, Bangladesh has earned a respectable position in the world through its remarkably consistent economic growth and social progress. The country has achieved enviable success in all fronts – economic, social, diplomatic and environmental. Particularly, the success in economic development has erased the old image of Bangladesh as a case of the so-called ‘international basket case’ or a ‘least developed country’. The graduation of Bangladesh to a developing country by the criteria of the United Nations and achievement of status of a middle-income country demonstrate a global recognition to continuing journey of the country to prosperity and peace. Bangladesh is placed in the right direction to transform into a developed country by 2041 or even before under the leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The image of Bangladesh as a ‘small power’ or a ‘small nation’ is a matter of the past. The world has witnessed a resurgent Bangladesh in security and strategic arena marked by a new geopolitical matrix in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean region.

However, the changing matrix of interests of great powers and the confrontational postures of strategies has created a new global strategic environment. Bangladesh as a significant power in South Asia and a proactive player in the Bay of Bengal region faces a new set of challenges in its foreign policy and security strategy. These challenges mostly emanate from unilateral pressure of regional and extra-regional powers for their geopolitical gains, miscalculation of policy and behaviour and growing regional instability and mistrust. Scholars and observers of international relations point out the emergence of new Cold War between the US led coalition of powers and China-led coalition of friends and allies.

Against this backdrop, it is critical to provide knowledge support to analyze evolving regional and global environment and to formulate appropriate policies to deal with competing great powers and non-state actors. It has increasingly been felt that South Asia and surrounding regions have entered in a new era of rivalry and conflict involving the regional and extra regional powers with their divergent interests and identities. An erudite and high-quality analysis of bilateral, regional and global issues is an inescapable imperative for Bangladesh. There is a need for continuously generating knowledge products for the capacity building of the state and related stakeholders and deeper understanding external world in the areas of economy, security, defense, foreign policy, diplomacy, culture, global multilateral cooperation, regional and sub-regional cooperation and overall global affairs. The CBGA will endeavor to understand ‘domestic Bangladesh’ and ‘global Bangladesh’ in order to respond to the changing normative and strategic orders.