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

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

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IR and the Future Wars of First-Person Military Shooters

Artwork for Call of Duty: World at War. Image: FireFishMike/Flickr

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 9 October, 2014.

Game theorist McKenzie Wark has provocatively suggested that the four freedoms for which the US fought during WW2 – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear – have now been replaced by a new set in the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. These are “Freedom from religion, Freedom from speeches, Freedom to desire” and “Freedom from security”.[1]His Orwellian observation is that ”What secures the state is the production of insecurity”. In other words, the existence of a perpetual conflict, or the narrative of a perpetual conflict to be precise, creates a permanent sense of insecurity that legitimates any action taken by the security state, including the dismantling of civil rights or the pre-emptive invasion of other states.[2] » More

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