Offset 3.0, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Commercial Technology

F-35B Lightning II aircraft lands aboard the USS Wasp. Image: United States Navy/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 17 November, 2014. It is part of the Beyond Offset series, a collaborative project between War on the Rocks and the Center for a New American Security that aims to build a community-of-interest that will address the challenges of maintaining America’s competitive edge in military technology and advance solutions.

America loves technology. As a nation, our cultural predilection for technical ingenuity has created the conditions for economic prosperity, scientific discovery, and military superiority. However, the worldwide proliferation of American free market ideas and liberalism (not to mention technology) has led to the emergence of an increasingly competitive global innovation landscape. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the U.S. represented just 26% of world total patents in 2012, down from 40% in 1999. During the same period, the number of patents filed in China increased by some 3,200 percent, growing to roughly 10% of world total patents today. » More

Choosing the Next UN Leader Should Not Be Left to Three People

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Image: Minister-president Rutte/Flickr

This article was originally published by openDemocracy on 11 November, 2014.

Climate change, Ebola, IS, Ukraine … The world is not short of crises which cry out for a collective response. That is why, for 69 years, we have had the United Nations. People still expect it to provide that response, yet they are often disappointed.

Blame falls on the secretary-general (SG)—often unfairly, since he is really only the top civil servant. Political decisions are taken by the member states, in the General Assembly or the Security Council.

Still, among those decisions, choosing the right SG is one of the most important. He leads more than 40,000 staff, and oversees the work of 30 UN funds, programmes and agencies, dealing with a wide range of global issues.

The UN Charter allows him to alert the Security Council to “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”. Behind the scenes, his “good offices” can be crucial in preventing or resolving conflict.

In recent decades he has played an important public role, reminding the world of the UN’s basic principles, suggesting ways to apply them to new problems and mobilising world public opinion to confront major challenges. He’s the nearest thing we have to a world leader. » More

Back to the Future in Turkish Politics?

President Erdogan of Turkey. Image: Michał Józefaciuk/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 30 October 2014.

As Turkey celebrates its 91st anniversary as an independent state since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk forged a modern republic from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, much of today’s tumult in its region is eerily reminiscent. Having once ruled from Istanbul through Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem to Tripoli, no country has more at stake than Turkey; and no leader has more to prove than its first popularly elected president: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has always sought to overturn the effects of early Republican Kemalism. Claiming that his domestic win was a victory for all these regional capitals he even stated that, “The only loser is the status quo.” Having set 2023, Turkey’s centennial, as the deadline for his ambitious slate of reforms, Erdoğan will be celebrating this Republic Day as the first president outside of Ataturk’s shadow as he plans for the next decade ahead. » More

The Sovereign Nation-State as a Contributor to Terrorism

Terrorist attack in Baghdad. Image: Jim Gordon/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 25 October 2014.

The current crises associated with terrorism notwithstanding, in particular the shocking acts by individuals in the beheading of civilians as acts of revenge, there are issues with regard to the nation-state and its role in the ‘shaping’ of terrorism that have remained undisclosed. The active participation of individuals and/or groups and their forming of a reaction to the nation-state is what has remained at the forefront of the commentary. By its very nature, the focus on the reaction implies a dyad: the perpetual reinforcement of the nation-state as being just and reasonable, and that those who react against the nation-state and its laws/wisdoms are criminals. Hence, there has been no comment with regard to the ‘process’ – such as the systemic brutalisation of a populace as encountered by the ‘Marsh Peoples’ of southern Iraq under the Saddam Hussein regime, which caused them to rise up after the First Gulf War. To wit, governments need not acknowledge their role in creating terrorists, and terrorism. However, placing terrorism in perspective with regard to the nation-state provides a useful template and guide to what it consists ‘of.’ » More

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

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