The CSS Blog Network

Missile Defence and the Arctic

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched. Photo: U.S. Missile Defense Agency/flickr.

The most basic definition of a security community of independent states within a defined region is that there exists a reliable expectation that the states within that region will not resort to war to prosecute their disputes. Put another way, such a “pluralistic security community … [is] a transnational region comprised of sovereign states whose people maintain dependable expectations of peaceful change’.” 1 That is certainly a widely affirmed expectation, even if not yet a guarantee, for the Arctic region.

But there is another characteristic of a security community that is less entrenched in the Arctic, namely, “the absence of a competitive military build-up or arms race involving [its] members.”2 There is no denying that there is currently a build-up of conventional military capacity within the region,3 and it is not yet definitively clear whether it will turn out to be a competitive build-up that undermines the growing expectation that change will be peaceful, or whether it will instead facilitate increased security cooperation and build capacity for more effective domestic and cross border support to civil authorities in search and rescue, and in monitoring regional activity and ensuring compliance with international regulations. » More

Gary LaFree: Public Policy and (Myths About) Terrorism

9/11

9/11. Photo: 9/11 Photos/flickr.

On 22 May 2013, the ISN hosted the latest in a series of roundtable discussions on international relations or security-centered events. After analyzing the present status of Political Islam in last month’s roundtable, the topic of discussion this time around was Public Policy (and Myths) about Terrorism, which featured the University of Maryland’s Dr. Gary LaFree.

In his preliminary remarks, Dr. LaFree first observed that counterterrorism policy agendas are too often set by a small number of high-profile yet ultimately atypical events. In other words, terrorist strikes such as 9/11 and the recent Boston Marathon bombing have had a disproportionate impact on the development of counterterrorism policy in the US and elsewhere. That such “black swan” events have influenced policy as they have then led Dr. LaFree to raise his second point. Actual terrorism is more akin to ordinary criminal activity than not. In fact, terrorist incidents tend to be highly concentrated in time and space. They are rarely isolated in nature and tend to occur in small, self-repeating clusters or “bursts”. They echo, in short, the “near-repeat” phenomena seen in criminal activity.

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The TTIP – an Ambitious Step Forward but Not an “Economic NATO”

Container Ship MSC Texas

Container Ship. Photo: Daniel Ramirez/flickr.

Is an “economic NATO” possible? This striking – and perhaps misleading – expression has been used by some commentators to convey a possible outcome of negotiations between the United States and European Union over the creation of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The origins of this proposed partnership date back to November 2011, when a joint High Level Working Group (HLWG) on Jobs and Growth began discussing shared priorities. The HLWG delivered its final report in February 2013, and highlighted a range of options for expanding transatlantic trade and investment. Brussels and Washington are expected to give the green light for negotiations shortly, with talks possibly starting before the summer recess.

It remains unlikely that negotiations will result in a “fortress scenario” in which the US and EU mutually protect themselves from rising economic powers. What can be anticipated, however, is that the TTIP will have significant consequences for global economic security, irrespective of its final shape and structure. » More

Myths, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations About Iran

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran. Photo: بنیاد حفظ آثار و نشر ارزش های دفاع مقدس/Wikimedia Commons.

Chapter seven of ‘A Dangerous Delusion: why the west is wrong about nuclear Iran’ by Peter Oborne and David Morrison, takes up the basic facts in the public domain regarding Iranian possession and planning for nuclear weapons which – as the authors argue – mainstream media ignore, and asks why they do this. 

At this point it may be helpful to state the basic facts about Iran’s nuclear activities:

  • Iran has no nuclear weapons.
  • Since 2007, US intelligence has held the opinion that Iran hasn’t got a programme to develop nuclear weapons and has regularly stated this opinion in public to the US Congress.
  • The IAEA does not assert that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme.
  • Iran does have uranium-enrichment facilities. But as a party to the NPT, Iran has a right to engage in uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. Other parties to the NPT, for example, Argentina and Brazil, do so. Iran is not in breach of any of its obligations under the NPT.
  • As required by the NPT, Iran’s enrichment facilities are open to inspection by the IAEA, as are its other nuclear facilities. Over many years, the IAEA has verified that no nuclear material has been diverted from these facilities for possible military purposes. Iran is enriching uranium up to 5% U-235, which is appropriate for fuelling nuclear power reactors for generating electricity, and up to 20% U-235, which is required for fuelling the Tehran Research Reactor.
  • While Iran’s nuclear facilities are open to IAEA inspection, those of Israel and India (allies of the United States) are almost entirely closed to the IAEA. Yet Iran, which has no nuclear weapons, is the object of ferocious economic sanctions and threats of military action. By contrast, Israel (with perhaps as many as 400 nuclear bombs, and the capacity to deliver them anywhere in the Middle East) is the object of more than $3 billion a year of US military aid. » More

Mediation Perspectives: Peace Mediation Quo Vadis?

Darfuri Armed Movement Discussions

Photo: Darfuri Armed Movement Discussions/Wikimedia Commons.

Is the way that armed conflicts are being mediated today different as compared to five or ten years ago? If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, what are the challenges facing mediation efforts and how might mediators go about confronting them? These and other questions were explored during a panel discussion at the 2013 International Security Forum (ISF).

Peace Mediation is Changing

In the 1980s, track 1 mediators focused on the security aspects of armed conflicts, leaving the political, economic, social and justice questions to be dealt with later by other mechanisms. From the mid-1990s, however, track 1 mediators have been asked to approach mediation very differently: the root causes of armed conflict were to be addressed, and this was oriented by a total “vision of society” that was developed by the conflict parties. The result was long and highly complex peace processes, such as the Burundi Arusha (1998-2000) or the Sudan North-South processes (2002-2005). In both cases, mediation teams were larger, and consisted of mediation process experts, topical experts on security, justice, economy, and social issues, alongside coordination by a chief mediator (such as Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela (Burundi) or General Lazaro Sumbeiywo (Sudan)). Since the Sudan Process, there has not been an equivalent peace process, which begs the questions: are we in a phase of transition that possibly mixes the 1980s security mediation model with comprehensive mediation approach of the 1990s? If so, at what stage are we at in terms of development? » More

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