Current focus: Academic Perspectives

North Korea: Northeast Asia’s New Tourism Hub?

This article was originally published by 38 North on 4 September 2014. Republished with permission.

At first glance, last week’s wrestling exhibition in Pyongyang seems to have been a one-off event similar to others with which North Korea has used in the past to try to shift attention away from its nuclear program. As such, it could be dismissed as little more than a dose of regime propaganda. However, this interpretation seems inaccurate. Instead, Kim Jong Un appears intent on actually developing the tourism sector to attract much needed capital inflows. Seen in this light, a group of international wrestlers fighting inside a North Korean ring and holding arm-wrestling competitions with local children can be interpreted as in line with recent efforts to attract more visitors. » More

Prior focus: Our Perspectives

Benny Wenda: “West Papuans Are Living in a Prison”

This article was originally published by Contributoria.com on 1 September 2014.


Last month, as Indonesians prepared to vote for a new president, dozens of West Papuan activists were reportedly attacked by security forces for urging local people to boycott the elections. Mischa Wilmers speaks to the exiled leader of the Free West Papua movement, Benny Wenda, about his lifelong struggle for justice and asks why nobody is talking about the territory he calls ‘little South Africa.’ » More

Prior focus: Partner Insights

A Succesful NATO Summit? Proof Will Be in the Pudding

Image: Chuck Hagel/flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 10 September 2014.

Was the recent NATO Summit in Wales a success? As with any such question, the answer depends heavily on the expectations of the respondent as well as the political perspective in which the answer is set. If the most important goal of the summit was to maintain solidarity among NATO members, the meeting was a great success. But the long-term judgment will be determined by the outcomes sought or hoped for in the final decisions of the allied leaders.

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Why Are Police Becoming More Like Soldiers?

Image: Sdlewis/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by openSecurity on 1 September 2014.

In the last decades, militarisation of the state and surveillance of the population have grown exponentially in many western countries. Police forces, civilian institutions and even urban spaces have followed this trend of securitisation. Images of heavily armed police forces clashing against protesters in the US, UK, France and many other countries are becoming increasingly common. Leaked official documents have detailed the extensive surveillance programmes several states use to spy on their denizens, under the auspice of “national security”.

While the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror” have often provided the pretext, those affected by militarisation and surveillance are mostly neither criminal kingpins nor “terrorists” but ordinary citizens. It has been political activists and groups, those who express dissent and protesters, as well it is true as small-time criminals, who have been on the receiving end of police SWAT team raids, extensive (often illegal) surveillance and assaults by heavily-armoured riot police.

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Prior focus: Our Perspectives

Crescent over The Thames

Image: Wikimedia


This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 September, 2014.

Trafalgar Square, central London. More than 3,000 people are in attendance at the “Rally for Islam.” A notorious firebrand near Nelson’s Column calls for jihad against Britain. Thunderous cheers roll through the crowd and echo ominously toward Whitehall. Placards demand the assassination of the British prime minster and other Western heads of state. The speaker avows that he will not rest until the black flag of Islam flies over Downing Street. He further declares that British citizens are legitimate targets in the imminent holy war because Britain assisted in the destruction of the Caliphate in 1924. » More

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