Portrait of Dr Rubrick Biegon

Dr Rubrick Biegon

Lecturer in International Relations

About

Rubrick joined the School as a Lecturer in International Relations in 2018. Formerly an associate lecturer and research administrator within the School, he has convened modules on US foreign policy, international political economy, terrorism and political violence, American studies, and introductory politics. Prior to coming to Kent to complete his PhD, Rubrick worked as a policy analyst with an international consulting firm based in Washington. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and an MA in International Politics from the American University’s School of International Service. He is the author of US Power in Latin America: Renewing Hegemony (2017).

Research interests

Rubrick’s research interests are concentrated in the areas of US foreign policy, inter-American relations, and international political economy. He is interested in debates over power in international politics and the global economy and, more specifically, the status and impact of US power in the international relations of the Western hemisphere. 

Teaching

Postgraduate

Supervision

Rubrick is interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of US foreign policy, US-Latin American relations, international security, and critical theories in IR, among other topics

Professional


Publications

Article

  • Biegon, R. and Watts, T. (2020). When ends Trump means: continuity versus change in US counterterrorism policy. Global Affairs [Online]. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23340460.2020.1734956.
    This article utilizes a historical materialist informed framework to analyse change and continuity in US counterterrorism policy. Although Donald Trump’s “America First” discourse conveyed a “new” approach to counterterrorism, in practice his administration has largely reinforced pre-existing tendencies, expanding the military campaigns against ISIS and al-Qaeda. In accordance with America’s longstanding objectives in the global south, which centre on stabilizing existing patterns of capitalist political-economic relations, the US continues to police transnational security challenges “from below”. The article calls for increased sensitivity to the means-ends calculus in American statecraft. It argues that tactical shifts at the policy level (the means) should be situated in relation to historical considerations and the structural and material factors (the ends) that impact US foreign policymaking across presidential administrations.
  • Biegon, R. (2020). US Hegemony and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Consensus, Crisis, and Common Sense. The Chinese Journal of International Politics [Online] 13:69-101. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cjip%2Fpoaa001.
    This article provides a critical analysis of the agency of the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Building on neo-Gramscian theory, it contextualises the US
    decision to withdraw from the TPP as an expression of hegemonic crisis. Through an examination of the strategic and geoeconomic logics and objectives of the trade agreement in
    US foreign economic policy, it maintains that the TPP was intended primarily to expand the structural and consensual power of the United States in the international political economy. Partly an attempt to kick-start a stalled neoliberal agenda, the TPP was also an effort to respond to China’s growing influence in trade governance. The article argues that, despite the revival of the TPP in the form of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership, the inability of elite networks in the United States to implement the original accord is illustrative of a crisis of hegemony driven largely by the collapse of the ‘common sense’ in favour of economic globalisation
  • Biegon, R. (2020). The Normalization of U.S. Policy Toward Cuba? Rapprochement and Regional Hegemony. Latin American Politics and Society [Online] 62:46-72. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/lap.2019.45.
    This article examines change and continuity in the United States’ recent foreign policy toward Cuba. In the context of the “post-hegemonic” regionalism of the Pink Tide and regional disputes over Cuba’s position in the inter-American system, the Obama administration’s rapprochement was driven to protect the institutional power and consensual features of U.S. hegemony in the Americas. The Trump administration reversed aspects of Obama’s normalization policy, adopting a more coercive approach to Cuba and to Latin America more broadly. Against the emerging scholarly proposition that the international relations of the Americas have crossed a post-hegemonic threshold, the analysis utilizes a neo-Gramscian approach to argue that the oscillations in U.S. Cuba policy represent strategic shifts in a broader process of hegemonic reconstitution. The article thus situates U.S. policy toward Cuba in regional structures, institutions, and dynamics.
  • Biegon, R. (2019). A Populist Grand Strategy? Trump and the Framing of American Decline. International Relations [Online] 33:517-539. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0047117819852399.
    What is the role of ‘populism’ in Donald Trump’s foreign policy? Defining populism as a framing style that constructs antagonisms around ‘the people’ and their adversaries, this article explores Trump’s rhetoric in relation to his efforts to shift US grand strategy away from its traditional investment in the liberal international order. Based on an approach grounded in the ontological commitments of critical discourse analysis, it examines three interlocking frames: (1) the ‘corrupt’ elites of the establishment ‘swamp’; (2) the anti-globalist, ‘America first’ agenda; and (3) poor deal-making responsible for the United States ‘losing’ in international affairs. In responding to declinist themes and anxieties, Trump’s populist rhetoric frames a Jacksonian ideological approach based on nationalism, mercantilism and a reliance on coercive power.
  • Biegon, R. (2017). The United States and Latin America in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Latin American Perspectives [Online] 44. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0094582X17699903.
    The nascent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement puts the United States at the center of an expanding liberalization regime connecting the Americas to the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. power is bound up with the globalization of Latin America’s political economy, and the TPP is indicative of U.S. efforts to renew its hegemony in the region. It reinforces the importance of “free trade” on the post–Washington Consensus agenda, undercutting existing Latin American–led approaches to integration while responding to China’s growing influence in the hemisphere. As the free-trade consensus is reconstructed through the TPP process, U.S. hegemony in the Americas is potentially extended even as it continues to face challenges in the structural, institutional, and ideological dimensions of intrahemispheric affairs.

Book section

  • Biegon, R. (2019). The Americas in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.1514.
    Following the end of the Cold War, the hegemony of the United States in Latin America was intimately related to the globalization of the hemispheric political economy. Free-trade agreements (FTAs) were crucial to this process, helping to extend and entrench the neoliberal model. As a result of the region’s political turn to the left during the 2000s, however, the Washington Consensus became increasingly untenable. As U.S. trade policy subsequently moved in the direction of a “post-Washington Consensus,” the “Pink Tide” fostered the creation of Latin American-led approaches to integration independent of the United States. In this context, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was designed to catalyse a new wave of (neo)liberalization among its 12 participating countries, including the United States, Canada, Chile, Peru, and Mexico.

    The TPP codified an updated and comprehensive set of rules on an array of trade and investment disciplines not covered in existing agreements. Strategically linking the Asia-Pacific to the Americas, but excluding China, the TPP responded to China’s growing economic presence in Asia and Latin America. Largely a creation of U.S. foreign economic policy, the United States withdrew from the TPP prior to its ratification and following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. The remaining 11 countries signed a more limited version of the agreement, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is open to future participation by the United States and other countries in Asia and Latin America. The uncertainties in the TPP process represented the further erosion of Washington’s “free trade” consensus, reflecting, among other things, a crisis of U.S. hegemony in the Americas

Book

  • Biegon, R. (2017). US Power in Latin America: Renewing Hegemony. [Online]. Oxford: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/9781138185418.
    An original account of contemporary US-Latin American relations, this book utilises neo-Gramscian and historical materialist approaches to build a novel conceptual framework for analysing US hegemony, extending critical theory in new and exciting directions. It disaggregates US power into distinct forms (structural, coercive, institutional and ideological) to convincingly argue that the United States is remaking its hegemony in the Western hemisphere.

    The first decade of the new century saw the ascendancy of leftist and centre-left forces in Latin America. The emergence and consolidation of the ‘New Latin Left’ signalled a profound challenge to the long-standing hegemony of the United States in the region. This book details the ways in which US foreign policy responded: defining hegemony as a dialectical relationship patterned by multiple and overlapping forms of power, it situates US policy in the context of the Post-Washington Consensus. Making considerable use of confidential diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks, it examines the interplay of different facets of US hegemony, which are inextricably bound up in the neoliberalisation of the region’s political economy.

    This book brings clarity to what remains an open and contested process of hegemonic reconstitution, and promises to be of interest to scholars working in a number of overlapping subject areas, including International Relations (IR), US foreign policy and Latin American studies.

Research report (external)

  • Biegon, R. and Watts, T. (2017). Defining Remote Warfare: Security Cooperation. [Online]. Remote Control Project, Oxford Research Group. Available at: http://remotecontrolproject.org/publications/defining-remote-warfare-security-cooperation/.

Review

  • Biegon, R. (2014). Book Review: The politics of global supply chains, by Kate Macdonald. Critical Studies on Terrorism [Online] 7:313-315. Available at: http://doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2014.919814.
  • Biegon, R. (2014). Book Review: The Memory of State Terrorism in the Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay - edited by Lessa, Francesca and Druliolle, Vincent. Bulletin of Latin American Research [Online] 33:236-237. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/blar.12159.
  • Biegon, R. (2013). Book Review: Weapon of the strong: conversations on US state terrorism, by Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes. Critical Studies on Terrorism [Online] 6:485-487. Available at: http://doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2013.855385.
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