Clausewitz in Orbit: Spacepower Theory and Strategic Education

Artistic depiction of an anti-satellite weapon of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Defence-In-Depth on June 10, 2015.

The politics of war and peace in space is an overlooked field. Space is a quiet and lonely place in war studies – despite space systems performing critical infrastructure roles in war, peace, politics, economics, and nuclear stability. In the mid-1990s John Sheldon and Colin Gray bemoaned the fact that there is no ‘Mahan for space.’ Neither writer apparently considered the possibility that they had answered their own plea, or in other words, that there is a Mahan for space: it’s Alfred Thayer Mahan. The 19th century navalist is one of a constellation of strategic theorists (such as Clausewitz, Castex, Corbett, to name the most prominent) whose work I am applying to create a spacepower theory intended to inform the diverse strategic problems conflict in this new medium might pose. » More

Team UN, World Police: Why We Need an Emergency Peace Service

South African blue helmet during training, 17th of July 2013. Image: MONUSCO Photos/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 29 May, 2015.

It’s been more than 25 years since the Cold War ended, more than a dozen since we created an International Criminal Court, and a decade since the UN World Summit recognised the Responsibility to Protect civilians – and yet there’s been scant progress in preventing armed conflict and responding rapidly enough to protect civilians.

It’s not the fault of UN peacekeepers themselves, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 and have helped to manage and improve conditions in 69 armed conflicts worldwide, with 56 operations since 1988. Indeed, May 29 is recognised as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. » More

Death From Above

“Death from above” . Image: AK Rockefeller/Flickr

This book review was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 28 May, 2015.

Andrew Cockburn. Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. Henry Holt Publishers. 307pp. $28.00.

It’s not often that a book review coincides with current events. Books, particularly nonfiction, are usually written and published months, if not years after an event has occurred. That’s because good nonfiction is written in retrospect: writers have spent some time absorbing their subject, researching and analyzing the facts; authors are hesitant to be rash in judgment or thought.

However, there are exceptions. Some pieces of nonfiction, particularly journalists’ works, are appropriate now — not later. Andrew Cockburn’s new book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, is one of them.  Cockburn’s book is timely.  In just the past few weeks there has been a flood of reporting from media outlets stating that a drone strike killed an American and an Italian hostage when targeting a group of Al-Qaeda members operating near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. » More

Peacekeeping in Haiti: A Laboratory for Pacification in Rio de Janeiro?

A Brazilian soldier stands security during a walking tour of downtown Port Au Prince, Haiti. Image: Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Strife on 28 May 2015.

With contingents of up to 3200 soldiers, over twice the number of the country’s current contribution to the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the Brazilian Armed Forces are at present occupying large parts of the favela agglomeration Complexo da Maré in Rio de Janeiro. After the mission in Alemão and Penha (Operação Arcanjo, November 2010 – June 2012), this is the second occasion on which the Armed Forces have significantly contributed to the Pacification programme. » More

El Salvador’s Gang Truce: A Lost Opportunity?

A graffiti of the street gang “Mara Salvatrucha”, also known as “MS 13″. Image: Walking the Tracks/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by openSecurity on 18 May 2015.

Violence is escalating again in El Salvador. March 2015 was the most violent month in over a decade, and the government is preparing army and police battalions to fight the gangs. These trends mark the definitive end of a process which started in 2012 with a truce between the two main gangs—MS-13 and Barrio 18—and evolved into a more complex and multidimensional approach to reducing violence, with a degree of international support.

The process was complicated, imperfect and subject to public controversy but it stands as one of the most significant examples worldwide of an effort to reduce violence through negotiation with criminal groups. With an annual homicide rate of 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world. It is also a notable example of the trend towards non-conventional, hybrid and criminal violence. » More

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