Tensions Rise Between India And Pakistan


This article was originally published by openDemocracy on 10 January 2015.

International constraint and mutual nuclear deterrence may have prevented all-out war with Pakistan in the past over contested Kashmir. With thousands fleeing their homes amid escalating violence, that may not remain a secure wager.

Rising tension at the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan is putting in question the widely-held assumption that their conflict will not escalate to an all-out conventional or even nuclear war. International concern has extended to the US, previously resistant to mediating in the Kashmir dispute.

This is at the heart of the existential rivalry between the two states. Kashmir has become so symbolically significant to both India and Pakistan that they are beset by zero-sum thinking, though a resolution would potentially put an end to their hostilities. In the current context that seems unlikely. » More

Civilian Drones: Fixing an Image Problem?

Image:flickr/XRay40000

Drones were among the most popular Christmas gifts in 2014 — so popular, in fact, that British authorities warned recreational drone users to make sure to use their toys lawfully, or to expect hefty fines. Similarly, the US FAA released a video just before the holidays, teaching aspiring drone users how to “stay off the naughty list”.  More and more people are becoming familiar with drones as the number of ‘hobby droners’ (yes, this is a term) grows.  Businesses are discovering drones as well: drones carry mistletoe in restaurants (with questionable results), or are used to give real-estate buyers a better view of their property. Beyond this, hundreds if not thousands of commercial drone users are waiting in the wings for a few last technical details to be figured out (especially sense-and-avoid technology) and for the implementation of legal regulations allowing drones to share airspace with manned aircraft. » More

Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read “The Art of War”

Sun Tzu. Frank Williams /Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published by LSE Review of Books on 10 January 2015.

“As yin and yang are at once interconnected, interpenetrating, and interdependent in an uninterrupted manner, the polarity of the situation essentially rests in them (or the yin-yang continuum).” (p. 16)

Whenever an individual undergoes a new experience there is a point that is known as the light bulb moment. This occurs when the individual moves from participating in an experience to understanding the experience. In other words, a richer and deeper involvement is gained post-light bulb moment. It is likely that reading Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read the Art of War by Derek Yuen is very much a light bulb moment for commentators on Western strategic thought, as the quote at the start of this review highlights the secret of the Chinese dialectical system and why it is predisposed to strategic thinking. » More

Mediation Perspectives: What is Mediation?

Pictured here are US Secretary of State John Kerry and Swiss Federation Council President Didier Burkhalter at the Geneva II conference on Syria. Image: Wikimedia

On 25 November 2014, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with various German mediation support NGOs, organized a conference on peace mediation. The aims of the conference were to explore the role that Germany can play in this field and to raise the country’s profile as a conflict mediator. As part of the discussion, one of the working groups focused on the types of human resources and institutional structures needed for effective mediation and mediation support. In this context, the first question to arise was “what is mediation?” Indeed, only once this question is answered can the relevant resources and institutions be assembled to effectively provide the desired forms of ‘mediation.’ This implies that the first step for organizations seeking to expand their role as mediators is to be clear about what exactly they have in mind. » More

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Mediation Perspectives: Time to Build Bridges between Tribes in South Sudan

Image: European Commission/flickr

When, a decade ago, the independence of South Sudan became a serious option, it was politically correct to foster great illusions about its future. However, as Sudan itself was considered to be a failed state, there was a risk that simply dividing the country might create two failed states. In addition, a glance at the modern history of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda reveals a pattern from which South Sudan could hardly expect to escape.  In each of these countries, when victorious rebel armies took full political control, they established authoritarian regimes that remain in power decades later. » More

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