Drone Strikes in Pakistan: Laser or Blunderbuss?

American soldier operates an Umanned Aerial Vehicle. Image: U.S Army/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by OpenDemocracy on 16 October, 2014.

As the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan hits 400, following an 11 October attack in the Khyber region, research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism finds that only a minuscule proportion of those killed have been identified by available records as members of al-Qaeda. This calls into question the claim last year by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that only “confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level” were fired at.

The bureau’s Naming the Dead project has gathered the names and, where possible, details of people killed by CIA drones in Pakistan since June 2004, drawing on a year of research within and outside Pakistan and a multitude of sources. The latter include Pakistani government records leaked to the bureau and hundreds of open-source reports in English, Pashtun and Urdu, as well as field investigations by bureau researchers and other organisations, including Amnesty International, Reprieve and the Centre for Civilians in Conflict. » More

Myanmar on a Nonproliferation Roll

Thein Sein, President of Myanmar. Image: Chatham House/Wikipedia

This article was originally published by Pacific Forum CSIS on 16 October 2014.

On September 30, Myanmar’s parliament approved the government’s proposal to accede to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The proposal to accede to this convention, which bans the development, production, and stockpiling of biological weapons and which Myanmar had signed the year of its inception, was submitted to parliament by Thant Kyaw, deputy minister for foreign affairs, who stated that “Over 170 countries have already ratified the BWC. All ASEAN countries have except us.” Later, he added that Myanmar’s accession would demonstrate its commitment to abide by nonproliferation rules. » More

New Book Suggests Rigid Norms Delay Crisis Response Times

Peacekeepers in action. Image: Wikimedia

This book review was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 6 October 2014.

When it comes to responding to conflict, the phrase “they didn’t act fast enough” is one of the most common criticisms of international organizations. From the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s to the recent conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, swift and timely intervention by peacekeepers and other international actors can mean the difference between life and death. » More

Germany’s Islamic State Problem

Fighter in Syria. Image: Freedomhouse/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Long War Journal on 13 October 2014.

Berlin: There is a growing sense among leading German politicians that the Federal Republic’s preoccupation with the NSA surveillance scandal should not overshadow the pressing need to confront the Islamic State.

“German worry over Islamist attack eclipses spy scandal,” Bloomberg News headlined its Oct. 8 report on the issue. A new reality appears to be sinking in. Roderich Kiesewetter, a Bundestag deputy from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and a former army colonel, was quoted as saying, “In the German public, there is more of an awareness that our intelligence services need information to confront these terror threats.” » More

Emerging Technologies: Security and Regulatory Concerns

Image: jurvetson/Wikimedia

Scientific research is no stranger to the battlefield. Technological breakthroughs have often started off in military research labs or prompted by military funding. The trend caught momentum during the Cold War when the superpowers on both sides of the Iron Curtain delegated researchers and huge budgets to the development of technologies of war, space and ocean exploration. » More

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