Business and Finance Economy

Now, Seriously: Financial Transaction Tax

A tax that won't hurt, except for gamblers. Image: artuemuestra/flickr

Liberal-minded economists are usually skeptical of taxation: taxes distort markets and lead to the inefficient allocation of resources. However, some taxes are better than others, and financial transaction taxes, such as the Tobin Tax, are certainly in that category.

Now, the European Commission is getting serious about introducing a financial transaction tax. Their proposal: levy a tax of 0.1% on every financial securities transaction performed by a financial institution based in the EU.

Security Internet Religion

Islamic Fundamentalist Recruitment Online


An internet cafe in Taipei. Photo: Jared Tarbell/flickr

The idea that Islamic extremists use the internet for terrorist purposes is not exactly a revelation – terrorists have been coordinating attacks and spreading propaganda via email since the 1990s. Nevertheless, recent reports from the White House, as well as the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, suggest that the internet is being used more and more as a platform for extremist recruitment. With the rise of ‘Web 2.0’, or user-generated web content, extremists are now able to reach and interact with audiences of all ages, genders, backgrounds across geographic boundaries. Consequently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of ‘non-affiliated cells’ willing to carry out potentially fatal attacks.

  The internet is now the most important method of spreading jihad and Islam.
  -Imam Samudra, orchestrator of the 2003 Bali Bombings

This audio-visual slideshow looks at the methods currently being used by Islamic extremists to radicalize individuals online and equip them for violence._

  For more information, please click here  


The internet can be a powerful weapon for spreading extremist messages. With the exponential growth of global internet connectivity, it is now more important than ever that NGOs, think tanks, and governments work together to generate effective strategies to counter the use of the internet for these purposes. As noted at the conference of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) on the Use of the Internet to Counter the Appeal of Extremist Violence in Riyadh earlier this year, for every harmful message on a particular internet medium, there should also be a counter-narrative on the same medium which provides a sound alternative to radicalized ideologies. Terrorist recruitment on the internet should not be a problem that is dealt with reactively– it needs to be defused before the real damage is felt.

For a much more detailed analysis on these topics, please read:


  • The United Nations CTITF Working Group on Countering the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes – website

New ISN Partner: Climate Change and African Political Stability Program

We are happy to announce that the Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) Program based at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law has joined the International Relations and Security Network. CCAPS is a collaborative research program among the College of William and Mary, Trinity College Dublin, the University of North Texas and the Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

CCAPS examines the impact of climate change on political stability in Africa and develops strategies for how to prevent related conflicts. In the words of CCAPS, the program aims at answering three main questions:

  • Where and how does climate change pose threats to stability in Africa?
  • What is the role of government institutions in mitigating or aggravating the effects of climate change on political stability?
  • How effective is foreign aid in helping African countries adapt to climate change?
International Relations

Black Swans and Security Curves

A black swan, making waves. Photo: Aziem Hassan/flickr

These days it seems like everyone knows about ‘black swans.’  Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis aside, Nassim Nicholas Taleb used it as the title for his 2007 book about “low probability, high impact” events to which, he argued, the human mind is especially vulnerable.  But ‘black swans’ have an older role in debates about the philosophy of science (as Taleb, a self-described epistemologist, certainly knew) and, thus, relevance for International Relations, a discipline that often aspires to (social) scientific status.


This Week at the ISN…

Week 39
It's Week 39 on the ISN's editorial calendar, Photo: f3lx/flickr

We’ll be highlighting the following topics:

  • In ISN Insights on Monday, Gerard de Groot asks: as US space programs are winding down their operational capabilities, what exactly are the Chinese doing with their rockets?
  • Tuesday we explore the implications of David Fiammenghi’s article in the Spring Issue of International Security, “The Security Curve and the Structure of International Politics: A Neorealist Synthesis”
  • On Wednesday, Sam Logan reports from Mexico about how social media is being harnessed to fight back against criminal organizations’ stranglehold on traditional media outlets.
  • On Thursday, we take a closer look at Islamic fundamentalist recruitment online
  • In Friday’s ISN Podcast, Ambassador Winston Tubman discusses democracy and change in Liberia

And in case you missed any of last week’s coverage, you can catch up here on: Australia’s military capabilities; islands and the changing face of sovereignty ; the crisis rape-HIV nexus; the changing nature of borders; and the challenges facing megacities.