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The views and opinions expressed on this page do not reflect those of the Center for Security Studies or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH). In addition, neither organization is responsible for the content of external links.

Turkmenistan Reaches its Limits with Economic and Security Challenges

Image courtesy of US Department of State/Flickr.

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 31 July 2018.

With Iran and Afghanistan as neighbors, Turkmenistan is often overlooked due to its proximity to geopolitical hotspots. Recent measures by its government to restrict emigration may seem peculiar without greater context on the challenges facing the country. Economic mismanagement and issues in securing the country’s border against the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS) and affiliated groups are just some of the signs that without a change in approach, there is a risk of a destabilization in the country. With endemic corruption, systemic flaws, and a totalitarian leader, the impact of larger failings in Turkmenistan could have potentially significant geopolitical repercussions.

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Prior focus: CSS Graphics

The 47 HRC Members Categorized According to Freedom House

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This graphic groups the members of the UN Human Rights Council according to the state of freedom in these countries. For an account of the state of the protection of human rights around the globe and the UN’s role in protecting such rights, see Céline Barmet’s recent addition to the CSS’ Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics, click here.

Context is for Kings: Why the Iran Nuclear Agreement Represents the Art of the Possible, and Why it is Worth Saving

Illustration: Berkay Bugdan, ‘Iran Nuclear Program’. Charcoal and digital 2006. berkaybugdan.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are exclusively the author’s and do not necessarily represent the position of the Center for Security Studies or of any other institution.

In the conflict over its nuclear program, Iran was subjected to one of the toughest and most sophisticated sanctions regimes ever seen. Yet sanctions alone did not give rise to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The nuclear agreement resulted from an intricate interplay between sanctions and conflict context. This successful resolution of the nuclear issue can be attributed to two factors. First, masterful diplomacy on both sides isolated the issue of the nuclear program from the wider conflict between the Islamic Republic and the West and circumnavigated some of its intractable trials and tribulations. Second, the agreement was reached in the face of the constant machinations of hardliners on both sides, whose precise objective it was to link the nuclear issue to the wider struggle between the Islamic Republic and the West.

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Crisis and Conviction: US Grand Strategy in Trump’s Second Term

Image courtesy of US Department of Defense/James K McCann.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 6 August 2018.

In the spring of 2014, before Donald Trump’s presidency was even a rumor, I began an article about the sources of U.S. grand strategy. By “grand strategy,” I mean a state’s way of orchestrating means and ends to achieve security over the long haul. I argued that the habitual ideas and pervasive influence of the U.S. foreign policy establishment make the fundamentals of American statecraft hard to change. What former advisor Ben Rhodes called the “Blob” and what former National Security Council official Michael Anton called the “priesthood” defines and dominates the ecosystem in which foreign policy is made. It exerts its influence through its expertise and its advantageous structural position as a “revolving door” between government, academia, think tanks, foundations, and corporations, reinforced by the feedback loop of allies’ demands for American patronage. In turn, the establishment successfully advances the view that the only prudent and legitimate grand strategy for the United States is “primacy,” the pursuit and sustainment of unrivalled dominance.

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Mediation Perspectives: Including Religious Women in Mediation Processes

Image courtesy of Vidar Nordli-Mathisen/Unsplash.

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

Religious women often face a double discrimination as regards inclusion into political mediation processes: They are not only discriminated against as women but also as religious actors. While there is an increasing consensus that effective, legitimate and sustainable agreements require the inclusion of both women and religious actors in the contexts where they play a role, the nexus between the two – i.e. religious women – is often neglected. Existing mediation guidelines rarely offer insights on how to better include this actor group in mediation processes. This blog argues that the role of religious women needs to be carefully considered and offers four key reflections for including religious women in mediation processes.

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