Government Culture

Northern Ireland: No Tresspassing

Celbridge St Patrick's Day Parade 2009
Celbridge St Patrick's Day Parade 2009 / Photo: Yokospungeon, flickr

This week the heads of Northern Ireland’s leading parties sat together with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Irish President Mary McAleese for an emergency meeting to save the country’s executive branch.

Officially, the issue at stake was the planned shift of power over the control of the police and judicial institutions from British to Northern Irish authorities. However, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin (SF) could not come to terms. On the one hand, there is the apparent issue of power sharing (which we’re covering in an upcoming weekly theme by the way). On the other hand, a main reason for dispute is parading.

Government Internet

The Kremlin’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Internet

Vladimir Putin is watching you / Photo: Limbic, flickr

“On the internet 50 percent is porn material. Why should we refer to the internet?” This was Vladimir Putin’s answer to widespread claims on Russian internet websites that the October regional elections were rigged.

But while dismissing the internet as an irrelevant source of information, Putin does take the internet seriously when it comes to quieting his critics. Alexei Dymovsky, the police officer who spoke out publicly about widespread police corruption via YouTube, was duly arrested on Friday (and facing dubious charges).

At least on the surface, Putin’s younger successor Dmitry Medvedev seems to have a more positive approach to the internet as an information platform. Over a year ago, Medvedev proudly discovered the blog as a means of communication with the Russian public. Taking stock of his blogging experience on the occasion of his video blog‘s first anniversary, Medvedev draws the following, rather trite conclusion:


ISN Weekly Theme: Drones in Modern Warfare

US soldiers in Iraq flying a drone
US soldiers in Iraq flying a drone, photo: US Army Korea/ flickr

This week the ISN weighs in on the debate about drones, exploring both the risks and benefits associated with their use in modern warfare. The main challenge is to match the reality of the battlefield with theoretical, strategic and operational clarity and to catch up, both analytically and legally, with technological advances.

In our Special Report this week:

  • An Analysis by Micah Zenko looks at the pros and cons of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including lower morale among drone pilots, eroding pilot skills, as well as network safety issues and argues that caution and a broader strategic context are prerequisites for the successful deployment of these tools.
  • In this week’s Podcast Peter W Singer of the Brookings Institution discusses the importance of matching our analytical, theoretical and legal understanding of 21st century warfare with the science fiction-like capabilities of modern robotic technology.
  • In our News section, Security Watch articles on technological innovations and ethical questions in military robotics, the issue of robot autonomy on the battlefield, and much more.
  • In Publications papers from our Digital Library, including an Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) paper examining US and Pakistani strategy in light of drone attacks in Pakistan.
  • Primary Resources includes a United States Air Force report on the future of unmanned aircraft systems.
  • Links to relevant websites, among them a detailed Defense Science & Technology Agency article on developmental trends in drone technology.
  • The IR Directory lists relevant organizations, including the Space Daily, a news network covering science and technology issues in the field.
Technology Internet

Crises and Maps

Map of Port-au-Prince based on OpenStreetMap data

For all the criticism about open collaborative projects, these have one unquestionable asset: the speed and efficiency of updates.

In crisis situations such as the Haiti earthquake, this makes all the difference. I’ve been following the developments of OpenStreetMap (OSM) after the first earthquake hit and it’s fascinating. Just check this comparision with Google to convince yourself (play with the transparency in the top right corner).


The ISN Quiz: The Mediterranean

As we’re focusing on Euro-Mediterranean relations this week, here’s your chance to test your knowledge about the region in the first edition of The ISN Quiz.