Current focus: Academic Perspectives

Mexican Cartels as Vicious Firms

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán arrested by members of the Mexican Navy. Image: Galaxy fm/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Small Wars Journal on 15 March, 2015.

At the height of his power, Sinaloa cartel kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was on Forbes’ most powerful list just below Robin Li, the CEO of China’s number one search company, Baidu.  Unlike Apple and Baidu, which have to report their annual earnings, acknowledge the members of their companies, and open their finances to government scrutiny, Mexican drug cartels have no such requirements. » More

Prior focus: Partner Insights

High Stakes: Understanding Risk and Why This Year’s Climate Negotiations Are So Important

Arctic ice sea. Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr

This article was originally published on 6 April 2015 by New Security Beat, the blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center.

Expectations for the upcoming UN climate change summit in Paris are higher than they’ve been in years. Experts expect it will be the best chance to achieve a binding, universal agreement to limit carbon emissions. But the conference is still not getting the attention it deserves from policymakers and the public, given the stakes – and not just for the environment but for the international system writ large, said Nick Mabey, founding director and chief executive of the UK-based environmental NGO E3G at the Wilson Center on February 12. » More

Prior focus: Global Views

Cuba: The Embargo Continues

A ship leaving the port of Havana, Cuba. Image: Travel Aficionado/Flickr

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 3 April, 2015.

Since the Obama administration announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, it’s common to hear people talk about what will happen “now that the embargo has ended.”  The new measures are significant for the tone that they set, and there are some concrete changes that will result.  It will be easier for certain limited categories of US citizens to travel to Cuba, and the tension between the two governments is somewhat reduced.  But the embargo is still very much in place. » More

Prior focus: Our Perspectives

The Roles of Navies in the Yemeni Conflict

The Saudi Naval Jack. Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 31 March 2015.

Although the Saudi-led Operation RESOLUTE STORM (alternately translated as DECISIVE STORM) began with air strikes into Yemen on March 26 and continue as of this writing, the heightened level of regional activity also includes maritime operations. These national and multi-national operations highlight the importance of naval platforms and presence. Yemen is strategically located with the heavily-trafficked Red Sea to its west and the Gulf of Aden along its southern coast. Some twenty thousand ships transit the Gulf of Aden annually. Yemen’s ports have been largely closed to commercial traffic. » More

Prior focus: Academic Perspectives

Russia’s Info-War: the Home Front

Grafitti of Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Image: Esther Dyson/Flickr

This article was originally published as Issue Alert No. 18 by the European Union Institute for Security Studies

The use and misuse of information is as important to today’s Kremlin as it was to the Soviet Politburo. But if the ultimate goal is the same – to control the people from above – the techniques used to achieve it are strikingly different. Whereas
Soviet leaders imposed strict censorship in an attempt to isolate the people from the ‘heresies’ of the West, Putin’s government bombards them with fantastical stories designed to paralyse their critical faculties. And if Soviet propaganda was
meant to contribute to the construction of a new society, modern Russian propaganda is wholly destructive. Rather than try, in vain, to persuade the people of the virtues of its rule, today’s Kremlin disseminates lies and half-truths designed less to convince than to disorientate. In so doing, the regime cuts away the ground from beneath the people’s feet, propelling them into a world where, in Peter Pomerantsev’s words, ‘nothing is true and everything is possible’.

On the home front of the information war, President Putin has scored a decisive victory. He has succeeded in persuading his people that the Kiev authorities are fascists and the Americans aggressors, while he himself is all that stands between
Russia and total chaos. » More

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