The Military is Not the Answer to South Africa’s Xenophobic Violence

A South African soldier with an ammo belt. Image: Cpl. Jad Sleiman, U.S. Marine Corps/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Fund For Peace (FFP) on 22 April 2015.

A rapid rise in anti-immigrant violence has emerged in South Africa, with at least seven people killed and many more local immigrants’ properties and businesses destroyed. In response to this wave of xenophobic crime, the South African government announced the deployment of troops to areas that have been most affected by the violence, including parts of Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the impoverished district of Alexandra in Johannesburg. » More

‘Hybrid War’ and ‘Little Green Men’: How It Works, and How It Doesn’t

Masked soldiers in Crimea. Image: E. Arrott/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 16 April 2015. It is an excerpt from E-IR’s Edited Collection “Ukraine and Russia: People, Politics, Propaganda and Perspectives”.

When Russian special forces seized Crimea at the end of February 2014, without their insignia, but with the latest military kit, it seemed as the start of a new era of warfare. Certainly, the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that Moscow, in a bid to square its regional ambitions with its sharply limited resources, has assiduously and effectively developed a new style of ‘guerrilla geopolitics’ which leverages its capacity for misdirection, bluff, intelligence operations, and targeted violence to maximise its opportunities. However, it is too soon to declare that this represents some transformative novelty, because Moscow’s Ukrainian adventures have not only demonstrated the power of such ‘hybrid’ or ‘non-linear’ ways of warfare, but also their distinct limitations. » More

Al-Shabaab’s Kenyan Ambitions

The flag of the terrorist group ‘Al-Shabaab’. Image: Ingoman/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the International Crisis Group on its ‘In Pursuit of Peace’- Blog on 15 April 2015.

Why is Al-Shabaab increasingly targeting Kenya?

In its statement following the attack, Al-Shabaab claimed it acted to avenge atrocities it alleges have been committed by the Kenyan military deployed in Somalia (now part of the African Union peace-support operation AMISOM). This puts pressure on the Kenyan commitment to that mission. Al-Shabaab also claimed that its fight is to liberate “all Muslim lands under Kenyan occupation”, including “north-astern province and the coast”. Despite being anachronistic given Kenya’s recent divisions into county based government, this language chimes with pan-Somali nationalist and irredentist slogans of the 1960s and 70s. » More

Focusing Like a Laser Beam on Directed Energy

Soviet Ground-based Laser. Image: Edward L. Cooper/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 14 April, 2015.

Advocates have long argued that directed energy weapons — including high energy lasers, high power microwaves, and other radiofrequency technologies — may carry substantial operational advantages for U.S. forces. None other than Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work has called high energy lasers an example of the “fantastic, potentially game changing new technologies that we can more quickly get into the force,” and one candidate for the new “offset” strategy pursued by the Department of Defense. In principle, directed energy weapons can provide offensive and defensive non-kinetic attack options, serve as cost-effective force multipliers, and provide operational flexibility to the warfighter.

In parallel, skeptics point to a lengthy track record of overhyped promises and system underperformance. They note that the large-scale, high-profile developments of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s — programs such as the airborne, ground-based, or space-based lasers — were not only costly but ultimately failed to transition into the U.S. arsenal. They often argue that technically credible, operationally usable, and policy friendly directed energy weapons have been more the province of science fiction than reality. » More

Blue Helmets: Why Europe Should Contribute More Troops to the UN

Italian UN soldier with the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon. Image: www.esercito.difesa.it/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Europe’s World on 9 April, 2015.

As tens of thousands of Western troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan in recent months, there remains a pressing need for peacekeeping troops in many other unstable parts of the world.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, recently asked Europe to contribute more UN peacekeeping troops. This may sound ironic as the United States stopped providing Blue Helmets after the 1993 debacle in Somalia, which cost the lives of 43 U.S. soldiers. Europe, however, should answer the American call. Studies show the deployment of peacekeeping troops can diminish the chance of renewed conflict by 80%. In recent examples, UN Blue Helmets have calmed the situation in northern Mali and prevented atrocities in the Central African Republic. » More

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