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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The US and Nuclear Weapons: A Turning of the Tide?

Peacekeeper missile after silo launch, Vandenberg AFB, CA.

USAF/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Strategist (ASPI) on 27 August, 2014.

Given the intensity of media focus on a series of crises this year—Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Ebola, and the South China Sea to name just a few—readers may be forgiven for having failed to notice that another important, though more incremental, development has also occurred. With each passing month it becomes clearer that a mood of nuclear realism is unfolding in US strategic policy. While President Obama is still remembered most clearly in the public mind for the anti-nuclear language in his Prague speech of 2009, a string of events in 2013–14 suggest that a shift of emphasis is occurring in relation to nuclear weapons. » More

Firing Blanks: The Growing Irrelevance of the UN Small Arms Process

Weapons confiscated from the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). They were being stored at MEU Service Support Group (MSSG)-26 Compound at Camp Montieth. The Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are helping to enforce the implementation of the military technical agreement and to provide peace and stability to Kosovo during Operation JOINT GUARDIAN.

SGT Craig J. Shell, U.S. Marine Corps/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 21 August, 2014.

While ferocious armed conflicts in Gaza, Ukraine, Libya, and Syria dominate news headlines, the foremost United Nations (UN) process to combat the illicit trade in small arms appears to have lost its way. In 2001, UN member states hammered out a compromise program of action to be the foremost global map to tackle illicit small arms, which are widely used to injure and kill people both in times of war and peace. » More

Economic and Security Reform in Japan: Harder Than It Looks

Image: Héctor Romero/Flickr

This article was originally published by the East-West Center in the 277th edition of the Asia Pacific Bulletin on 19 August, 2014.

The major ally of the United States in the Asia Pacific, Japan, has undertaken repeated reforms since the end of the Cold War and especially since the collapse of its economic “bubble’ in the early 1990s. These have spanned the country’s electoral, administrative, educational, and security sectors. Although some of these changes have been potentially transformational, many have been largely transitional. Cautious incrementalism has largely won out over bold renewal. » More

The Missing Link in Understanding Global Trends? Demography

Population density. Data from the G-Econ project gecon.yale.edu/

Image: Anders Sandberg/Flickr

This article was originally published on 11 August 2014 by New Security Beat, the blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center.

Since the end of World War II, a number of the world’s most dramatic political events have resulted from demographic shifts and government reaction to them. Despite this, political demography remains a neglected topic of scholarly investigation. » More

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