Prior focus: Global Views

Elections Not Enough to Bring Stability to Troubled Guinea-Bissau

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published by IPI’s Global Observatory on 25 March 2014.

It is widely accepted that elections do not make a democracy, but they are generally viewed as a key first step in that direction. As the campaign for legislative and presidential elections kicked off in Guinea-Bissau last Saturday, it was clear that hopes for this first step may be overstated.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the world’s poorest nations, and the West African country of 1.7 million people has been plagued with political problems over the last several years. No president has ever fully completed his term. And though the late 2000s were marked by a modest yet cautious increase in international confidence in the country, the most recent period of unrest was triggered by the March 2009 assassination of the head of the armed forces and the apparent revenge killing of the president shortly afterwards. Three years later, the military carried out a coup in April 2012 as a new government was being formed, removing the front-runner for the presidency, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior. » More

The Eclipse of Europe: Italy, Libya, and the Surveillance of Borders

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published by E-IR on 30 March 2014.

Bilateral Agreements between Italy and Libya: Security without Human Rights

Not much has been said about the Ministerial Conference held in Rome on the 6th of March 2014, where foreign ministers, high-level delegations from Libya, and representatives from international organisations gathered to discuss the current situation of Libya. At the forefront of the conference were the economic ties between Libya and its partners, the disarmament of paramilitary groups necessary to defend those ties, the patrolling of borders, and the subsequent issue of illegal migration. These last two points come as no surprise, given that Libya is among the signatories of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) protocol to prevent human trafficking. Yet not even a word was spent on the life-straining conditions of Libyan migrants who ­– despite coming from countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Togo, and Mali – are not regarded as potential asylum-seekers, but rather considered “illegal” and “unwanted” people, as they were under the Gaddafi regime. » More

Is the DoD Innovating? How the New Budget Stacks Up

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Editors note: This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 17 March 2014.

As the Pentagon faces inevitable budget cuts, “innovation” and “adaptation” are the buzzwords of the day, but are they reality? The recent Department of Defense (DoD) Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) identifies innovation as a core theme, and Department leaders have gone to great lengths to stress that they have chosen to protect key investments for the future, even in lean times. The capability areas that DoD says it is protecting—cyber operations, special operations forces, and development of a new long-range bomber—indeed make sense strategically and will be extremely useful in future operating environments. DoD has also stressed that it is maintaining research and development funding in order to retain the U.S. military’s technological edge.

These overarching principles are almost certainly the right ones, but resources need to back them up. As the saying goes: “if it ain’t in the [budget], it ain’t.” In some areas, DoD is putting its money where its mouth is. » More

Review – Visual Politics and North Korea

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This article was originally published by E-IR.info on 1 April 2014.

Visual Politics and North Korea: Seeing is Believing
By: David Shim.  London and New York: Routledge, 2014

More often than not, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, is featured in the media as a secretive, harsh, irrational, and dangerous country, whose leaders are incapable of interacting with the international community, and whose citizens are slowly dying at the ill will of those leaders. Such characterization has been bolstered – and to some extent popularized, especially in North America – by a number of representations of North Korea as the “other,” the “enemy,” and the embodiment of an “axis of evil,” as well as a country that is so alien and strange that its late leader, Kim Jong Il, was featured as a satirical character in the puppet movie Team America a decade ago. » More

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India: Jostling for Geopolitical Control in Afghanistan

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published by openSecurity on 27 March 2014.

There is increasing anxiety among stakeholders as US forces prepare for a drawdown in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The international community, including the United States, is still groping in the dark when it comes to Afghanistan’s future. As such, they have somewhat ignored India, which, in fact, will be pivotal in solving the Afghan dilemma. Instead, the west and regional stakeholders have focussed on Pakistan as the major player in post-2014 Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been accused of supporting the Afghan Taliban and of providing sanctuary to them inside Pakistan in order to maintain strategic depth and influence within Afghanistan. Furthermore, Pakistan has been charged with supporting the Afghan Taliban and their affiliate, the Haqqani network, in order to counter India in Afghanistan, as well as of sending militant groups such as Laskhar-e-Taiba into Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan has denied these accusations. » More

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