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which the US fought during WW2 – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear – have now been replaced by a new set in the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.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

Can Afghanistan’s Unity Government Be Built to Govern?

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with John Kerry. Image: US Dept. of State/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 2 October, 2014.

The transfer of power on September 29 from President Hamid Karzai to his successor Ashraf Ghani was momentous but oddly anticlimactic. It was only possible after a highly controversial presidential election between Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, which brought the country to the brink of chaos. Abdullah refused to recognize the results, which gave Ghani an overwhelming second-round victory. The United States negotiated a power-sharing deal where Ghani would become president, but a “chief executive officer” position would be created for Abdullah. The deal also prescribed an audit of the election supervised by the United Nations to identify and remove fraudulent votes. » More

Maritime Mercenaries or Innovative Defense? Private Security & the Evolving Piracy Threat

Navy soldiers engaging Pirates. Image: Eric L. Beauregard/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 29 September 2014.

On Sept. 23, the United States joined ReCAAP, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia. The move comes amidst deepening concern about sophisticated piracy attacks in and around the Strait of Malacca, the world’s most trafficked commercial waterway. In addition to growing involvement by governments, private security companies are also joining the effort to suppress Southeast Asian piracy. As John J. Pitney, Jr. and I argue in our new book Private Anti-Piracy Navies: How Warships for Hire are Changing Maritime Security, as pirates’ operations become more refined, so too will the private security schemes to defeat them. » More

Killing of al-Shabaab Leader Throws Future of Militant Group into Question

Al Shabaab War Flag. Image: Ingoman/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 19 September, 2014.

On September 1, the leader of the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in a US-led drone strike in an al-Shabaab stronghold in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region. The drone strike coincided with an ongoing military offensive launched August 25 by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali government forces in southern and central Somalia, dubbed Operation Indian Ocean. » More

The Ongoing Campaign to Restrict Egypt’s Public Space

Image: TTC Press Images/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Atlantic Council on 11 September 2014.

Today, all TV journalists working in Egypt know that tasreeh—a monthly-renewable permit issued by the interior ministry for accredited journalists to film on the streets—is back. In the wake of the January 25 Revolution, it had disappeared from the bureaucracy, but now police are once again preventing journalists from filming without permission. While some, myself included, have managed to talk their way out of the resulting problems as we discovered the reintroduced regulation this summer, others haven’t been so lucky. Footage filmed by a France24 team was erased by police while working on a story on subsidies in July.

The three-year moratorium on the permit, and other restrictions, allowed independent journalism to flourish. Young freelance reporters driven by a revolutionary spirit were able to work and establish themselves on the scene, away from the structure of bureaucratic requirements. Independent initiatives in the field stand as a testament to the positive transformation. » More

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