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Politics in Motion

ISN Booth

ISN Booth

Greetings from the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Toronto.

In the first time in its 104 years, the meeting takes place outside the US. According to the organizers, this traveling across a border is symbolic for the conference theme “Politics in Motion: Change and Complexity in the Contemporary Era”. The event, consisting of hundreds of panels and an exhibition, looks at what is new, different and unusual in politics today and aims to think about what knowledge is needed to deal with change and complexity and address today’s crucial challenges.

Emotions and Politics

Looking for the unusual in the thick conference program, I attended a panel on neuropsychology and international politics. The panel converged two fields that have been unconnected previously: brain science and international politics.
The presenters advocated the consideration of emotions when studying political decision making. Evidence shows that cognition (thinking) is actually preceded by emotions (feelings). Hence, “rational” decisions are taken on the basis of emotional beliefs. According to the panelists, it is, however, still unknown how cognition and emotions work together in different situations.

What do these findings in brain science mean for political science and international affairs?

» More

Iran: Options for the West

Iran: Domestic Crisis and Options for the West

Iran: Domestic Crisis and Options for the West

What are the effects of Iran’s domestic crisis on the nuclear issue?

A new analysis by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) looks at policy options available for western governments.

Roland Popp, senior researcher at the CSS, argues that the weakening of the Iranian regime is unlikely to ease negotiations with Tehran over the nuclear issue.

You can download the paper here.

This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha

This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan

This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan

ISN Security Watch correspondent Samuel Logan has just released his first book, “This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” (Hyperion Books), a non-fiction narrative about Brenda Paz and her last three years of life.

Paz was a young member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, who became a federal informant before she was killed after running away from witness protection.

“This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” uncovers little-known truths about the MS-13, one of America’s most violent street gangs, and reveals how the street life can be alluring. It also takes a close look at the the realities of living inside the US as part of a Latino immigrant community, underscoring the challenges with policing these communities and the fluidity of illegal movement across the US-Mexico border.

The book has been optioned by Paramount Vantage Films.

More of Sam’s extensive work about the MS-13 in ISN Security Watch:

Tri-state trouble with Mara Salvatrucha

Mexico’s Parallel Power

Prison Gangs and Organized Crime

ISN Weekly Theme: Japan Changes

Street scene in Tokyo/Photo: James D Law

Street scene in Tokyo/Photo: James D Law, flickr

As Europeans celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Japan, the Cold War political system has just been overthrown. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which together with the bureaucracy and big business formed the clichéd ‘iron triangle,’ has been defeated. The victorious Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which will take over the government, has promised to loosen the grip of the bureaucracy. However, in taking power from the bureaucrats, DPJ politicians face a dilemma, according to Dan Harada in our latest edition of ISN Podcasts.

At this historic moment in the country’s political history, we present to you some of our resources on Japan:

  • In the Policy Briefs section, Alexandru Luta explains what ‘Climate Sudoku’ means, as Japanese interest groups, ministries and NGOs argue over greenhouse gas reduction targets
  • We present to you Japan’s post-war constitution, with the legendary Article 9, “Reunciation of War,” as well as the DPJ’s platform for government in the Primary Resources section
  • In the Publications section, Axel Berkofsky examines the past, present and future of bilateral relations between North Korea and Japan
  • We introduce you to the Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR), as well as the the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) in the IR Directory

At 40, Gaddafi’s Libya Has Much to Celebrate

He has called himself ‘an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims.’ And today, the self-proclaimed ‘king of kings of Africa‘ has a lot to celebrate.

I am talking of course of Muammar Al-Gaddafi, the ‘Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution,’ who today celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Libyan Revolution, which brought him to power.

Photo: antheap, flickr

Photo: antheap, flickr

‘Celebrate Libya’, as today’s event is called, will be one of the biggest events the African continent has seen in modern times. Tonight’s ceremony is said to be comparable in magnitude to an Olympic opening ceremony. Hundreds of thousands of spectators, 800 performers, sound and light shows, 1000 camels, military bands, acrobatic planes, flame ballet and spectacular fireworks will mark the occasion.

The celebrations can be monitored on the official Celebrate Libya website.   » More

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