The CSS Blog Network

Emerging Markets’ Higher-Education Challenge

A word wall in the Western Academy of Beijing. Image by torres21 / Flickr.

LONDON – As many high-income economies continue to flounder, many regard Brazil, China, India, Russia, and smaller emerging-market countries as the best hope for short-term global recovery. Cautious optimism seems justified if emerging markets can weather the impact of shrinking demand for their exports, and sustain their recent records of prudent macro-economic management. But, unless constraints to longer-term growth are addressed soon, the emerging markets’ rise to prosperity and global influence will be short-lived.

The main constraints include environmental degradation, economic deprivation, social inequality, ineffective public-sector management, and weak corporate governance. None of these challenges can be overcome without a massive increase in the number of competent and motivated leaders and professionals. But that requires reforming and expanding access to post-secondary education. » More

Iran’s Last Chance?

Satellite imagery of suspected Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility under construction north of Qom, Iran. Image by wapster / Flickr.

MADRID – The latest round of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and the so-called “5+1” group (the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China – plus Germany) has now begun. Following more than a year of deadlock, after negotiations in January 2011 led nowhere, this dialogue is for many the last chance to find a peaceful solution to a nearly decade-long conflict (in which I participated closely from 2006 to 2009 as the West’s main negotiator with Iran).

The objective of the talks, chaired by the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is still to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment and to comply with Security Council resolutions and its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But several factors heighten the current negotiations’ strategic importance. » More

Christianity’s Via Dolorosa

Protesters on Qasr el-Nil Bridge, chanting for national unity between Muslims and Christians

Protesters in Egypt chanting for national unity between Muslims and Christians (Photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy حسام الحملاوي/flickr)

BRUSSELS – Recently, the human-rights activist, former Dutch politician, and Somali exile Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote about a global war on Christians in Muslim countries. She discussed at length the appalling phenomenon of violent intolerance towards Christian communities, and cast blame on the international community and prominent NGOs for failing to address this problem.

In almost every part of the world, reports emerge on a daily basis of Christian communities falling victim to harassment and persecution. In Nigeria, on February 26, three Christians were killed and dozens wounded after a car bomb exploded close to a church in the northern town of Jos. At least 500 people have died during the last year in attacks attributed to the violent Islamist group Boko Haram, which has called for all Christians to leave northern Nigeria.

In East African states such as Sudan, Christians have been given an April 8 deadline to leave the north. The ultimatum will affect up to 700,000 Christians who were born in South Sudan before it became independent last year. In Eritrea, it is reported that 2,000-3,000 Christians are in detention, and that many have been tortured. » More

Cyber War and Peace

Survival in the digital age

Cyber security is becoming increasingly important for governments (Photo: TTC Press Images/flickr)

CAMBRIDGE – Two years ago, a piece of faulty computer code infected Iran’s nuclear program and destroyed many of the centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Some observers declared this apparent sabotage to be the harbinger of a new form of warfare, and United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned Americans of the danger of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” attack on the US. But what do we really know about cyber conflict?

The cyber domain of computers and related electronic activities is a complex man-made environment, and human adversaries are purposeful and intelligent. Mountains and oceans are hard to move, but portions of cyberspace can be turned on and off by throwing a switch. It is far cheaper and quicker to move electrons across the globe than to move large ships long distances.

The costs of developing those vessels – multiple carrier task forces and submarine fleets – create enormous barriers to entry, enabling US naval dominance. But the barriers to entry in the cyber domain are so low that non-state actors and small states can play a significant role at low cost. » More

Connecting South Asia: The Stilwell Road & Sub-Regional Networks

Entering Burma through the Pangsau Pass on Stilwell Road at Border Post 173. (Photo: kazkapades/Flickr)

The ‘reopening’ of the Stilwell Road, as it were, has come to occupy news space with renewed vigour in the past few of years. The road finds its inception at Ledo Road in Assam, through Nampong and Pangsau Pass in Arunachal Pradesh (the latter is the international border point) through Bhamo and Myitkina in Kachin State of Myanmar, to Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province. The largest section of this currently dysfunctional route lies in Myanmar (1,033 km), a 61 km stretch traverses India and the remaining 632 km passes through China. It must be noted that this road was operational only during the period of World War II, during which time it was used as a military supply line. It lay redundant after this, as it does to this day. » More

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