Transversal axes of research

Although divided into six areas, the research team also works on cross-cutting themes with a focus on interdiscpinarity. It is made up of some thirty permanent researchers and is strenghthened each yearby post-doctoral students, doctoral students, trainees and research assistants.

The four transversal axes studies at IRSEM are:

1) The World and Chinese Power

2) Climate

3) Propaganda and conspiracy

4) Role of the armed forces in the management of Covid-19


Wheras it first appeared only as a major economic player, China has also become a central player in international relations. Its status as the world's largest economy also makes it a major power in the military and technological fields. Thus, the Sino-American rivalry plays an increasingly prominent role in world affairs. The attrubutes of Chinese power, but also the way Beijing deploys and uses this power, are changing international relations and often push other actors to adapt. This cross-cutting program aims to provide insights into regional transformations and the internal adjustments of actors in response to China's rise.

China's rise to power is profoundly changing the dynamics of conflict and cooperation within the world's regional subgroups. First of all, relations between actors in regions neighbouring China are being transformed in order to integrate the new Chinese situation, as in the South China Sea and Central Asia. But the balance of power in more distant regions such as the Gulf, the Arctic or the African continent is also being modified by the growing role played by China or by the relations that China and the other major powers maintain within these areas.

Moreover, many international actors (governements, organizations, bureacracies, private actors, ect.) are modifying their practices or instruments to adjust to China's groing power in the military, economic, technological, or intelligence fields. Some seek to better respond to Chinese strategies, or to emulate them; others see Chinese power as a potential recource or a model to be imitated. The aim here is to identify the main implications of these transformations, both in terms of public policy and the reconfiguration of internal political and bureaucratic games.

The ambition of this program is thus to shed light on the regional transformations induced by chinese power in the world as well as on the adjustments of actors in response to it.

Head of projet : Camille Brugier & Pierre Haroche 

Participants : Baranets Elie, Charon Paul, Dazi-Heni Fatiha, De Champschenel Tiphaine, De Tréglodé Brenoît, Samaran Stéphan, Wang Earl, Zubeldia Océane

Publications :

  • “NATO facing China: responses and adaptations”, Survival, 64 (3), 2022, pp. 73–86
    Authors: Pierre Haroche & Martin Quencez
    This article explores and assesses NATO’s various options for dealing with Chinese power. Firstly, in terms of military approaches, we argue that NATO is unlikely to play a substantial role in US-led efforts to balance China in the Indo-Pacific region, or to designate China as a ‘threat’ in the North Atlantic area. Given that a clear-cut geographic division of labour between the United States and European partners would weaken the Alliance’s cohesion, NATO should instead focus on better integrating the ‘China factor’ into its military planning, in anticipation of the knock-on effects that a crisis in Asia could have on the European theatre. Secondly, in terms of the political approaches, although a formal expansion of NATO’s competencies is unlikely, stronger coordination with Indo-Pacific actors and with the European Commission could help overcome many of the Alliance’s geographic and functional limitations in dealing with China.

  • EU’S paradigm shift towards the rise of China - 2022
    Authors: Earl Wang
    This research paper explores how the European Union (EU) has been reacting to the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The paper presents the finding that since 2016 there have been discernible changes in the EU’s perception of China and its approach to the country, which is with growing assertiveness and even aggressiveness at times. The EU has been building up more tangible means to withstand the challenges posed by China. The EU-China – A Strategic Outlook document published in March 2019 is identified as the moment of the EU’s concrete paradigm shift towards Beijing.
  • Joint Research Note - 2022
    "L'OTAN face à la Chine : Réponses et adaptations"
    Authors: Pierre HAROCHE et Martin QUENCEZ
    This note explores NATO's various options for dealing with Chinese power;, First, in terms of military approaches, NATO is unlikely to play a substantial role in efforts to balance Chinese capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region, or to designate China as a "threat" in the North Atlantic area. While a logic of geographic division of labor between the United States  and European partners would weaken Alliance cohesion, NATO should instead focus on better integrating the "China factor" into its military planning, in anticipation of the ripple effects that a crisis in Asia could have in the European theater. Second, in terms of policy approaches, although a formal expansion of NATO's competencies is unlikely, stronger coordination with Indo-Pacific actors and with the European Commission could help overcome many of the Alliance's geographic and functional limitations in dealing with China.




The effective integration of the climate dimension into operational defense issues in France, has accelerated recently (through the publication of the New Defense Energy Strategy in 2020, among other initiatives), IRSEM has been actively involved in this process for several years, in particular throughthe Geopolitical Observatory of Climate Change Issues (DGRIS, IRIS) and the "Energy WG".

The objective of this cross-cutting program is to pursue and tie together the reflections and work already undertaken, by relying in IRSEM researchers working in this theme. At this stage, three main areas will be explored in depths within the framework of this transverse program:

  • the implementation of policies to combat climate change within the defence policy and the normative issues
  • the development of international cooperation and, in particular, the integration of the environmental and climate dimension in regional cooperation forums in the field of defense and security
  • the adaptation of armed forces and, more broadly, of emergency  forces (civil security in this case) to the consequences of climate change
  • the associated technological challenges (adaptation of military equipment and energy)

Head of projet : Benoît RADEMACHER (AED) 

Participants : Adrien ESTEVE (AED), Florian OPILLARD (D&S), Angélique PALLE (AED), Benoît RADEMACHER (AED), Nicolas REGAUD (DDI), Océane ZUBELDIA (AED)

Publications (in French):

  • Regaud Nicolas, Alex Bastien et Gemenne François, La guerre chaude, Enjeux stratégiques du changement climatique, Presses de SciencesPo.
  • A paraître, printemps 2022, « Défense et environnement », Champs de mars, n°35.
  • Estève Adrien, A paraître, Guerre et écologie. L’environnement et le climat dans les politiques de défense, Paris : PUF.

Download the complete program « adaptation et sécurité climatique ».



The objective of this transversal and transdisciplinary research program is to analyze the use of the military in the management of the coronavirus health crisis in a comparative dimension between several European countries (France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy) and the United States. The conditions of the mobilization of the armies of these countries will be the object of a systematic and thorough comparison of the military doctrines, of the various legal statuses of the crisis and of the forms of civil-military cooperation. The program also plans to integrate elements of knowledge concerning other countries.

The main lines of work are the following:

  • The political decision to resort to the army and the discourses framning and justifying it
  • The legal basis for the use of the army by the civil power and the military prerogatives in the management of the crisis
  • The size of military operations
  • Formes of civil-military cooperation (coordination, distribution of prerogatives in health management)
  • The spatial dimension of military operations
  • The "militarization" of crisis management on national territory (health, security and environmental) in the face of the vulnerabilities of the civilan sector
  • The perception of military action in crisis management by the popuation


Head of projet : Anne Muxel (IRSEM Domaine Défense et Société/CEVIPOF-Sciences Po)

Members of the research team : Florian Opillard (co-coordinateur, IRSEM, Domaine Défense et société), Angélique Palle (co-coordinatrice, IRSEM Domaine Armement et économie de défense), Edouard Jolly (IRSEM, Domaine Stratégie, normes et doctrines), François Delerue (Senior Researcher in Cyber Security Governance, Leiden University), Léa Michelis (IRSEM, Domaine Défense et société)

Program duration : project start April 2020, project end September 2022.

Scientific events:

  • Colloque international, le 20 juin 2022, « La mobilisation des armées dans la crise sanitaire liée à la pandémie de Covid-19 », École Militaire, Paris.

Publications :



The digitalization of information systems contributes to the proliferation of information warfare operations conducted by states against other states. Other actors from civil society, constituting real conspiracy ecosystems, have been able to exploit this new environment in order to exacerbate tensions within democratic societies. These non-state actors intefere in the political and social life of states to confuse messages, stir up online polemics and spread false information. Since 2016, experts who identify and map information manipulation have observed the development of conspiracy networks from related internet communities in digital networks and their investment in many societal issues when spreading false information. Adept at propagandistic narratives, conspiracy groups aim to exert a unilateral influence on a target group through selective arguments, in order to make an economic model bear fruit, sow doubt and confusion, discredit a political opponent, promote militant messaged or legitimize ideological positions.

This multidisciplinary program is interested in the phenomena of circulation in contemporary informational struggle (concepts, means, methods, purposes). It proposes an approach by social and political groups and intends to analyze the construction, production, tools and targets of these non-state propaganda ecosystems contributing to the destabilization of Western liberal democracies.

Team composition (IRSEM et Partenaires) : Paul Charon, Maud Quessard, Maxime Audinet, Anne Muxel, Tristan Mattelart (Paris 2), Dusan Bozalka (Paris 2), Jean-Chistophe Boucher (Université de Calgary).

Livrables :

  • Un colloque RAMH-EER-RAS sur la circulation des pratiques informationnelles des acteurs étatiques et non étatiques le 28 juin 2022 amphithéâtre Moore.
  • Une étude ou une série de notes communes RAMH-EER-RAS fin 2022 sur « les nouveaux écosystèmes de propagande et les phénomènes de circulation dans les luttes informationnelles ». 
  • Un cycle de séminaires jeunes chercheurs sur ces enjeux.