The CSS Blog Network

Clausewitz in Orbit: Spacepower Theory and Strategic Education

Artistic depiction of an anti-satellite weapon of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Defence-In-Depth on June 10, 2015.

The politics of war and peace in space is an overlooked field. Space is a quiet and lonely place in war studies – despite space systems performing critical infrastructure roles in war, peace, politics, economics, and nuclear stability. In the mid-1990s John Sheldon and Colin Gray bemoaned the fact that there is no ‘Mahan for space.’ Neither writer apparently considered the possibility that they had answered their own plea, or in other words, that there is a Mahan for space: it’s Alfred Thayer Mahan. The 19th century navalist is one of a constellation of strategic theorists (such as Clausewitz, Castex, Corbett, to name the most prominent) whose work I am applying to create a spacepower theory intended to inform the diverse strategic problems conflict in this new medium might pose. » More

Peace in an Age of Terrorism: Can the AU Achieve Vision 2020?

The flag of the African Union. Image: wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 12 June 2015.

A Solemn Declaration at the 50th anniversary of the African Union (AU) in 2013 outlined the vision to ‘end all wars in Africa by 2020’. However, prospects for ‘silencing the guns’ are fast eroding. With only five years remaining, no significant progress has been made.

The success of Vision 2020 is also crucial for achieving Agenda 2063 – the AU’s ambitious development plan that seeks to transform Africa into a prosperous, integrated, well-governed and peaceful continent by 2063.

Achieving Vision 2020 depends on Africa’s ability to successfully tackle the root causes of conflicts, putting an end to impunity and eradicating piracy, and also whether it manages to combat extremism, armed rebellions, terrorism, transnational organised crime and cybercrime. The AU is yet to roll out a comprehensive plan with targeted deadlines on how to eliminate these issues at various levels. This raises concerns about how serious the organisation is about accomplishing what many would see as an impossible task. » More

The International Dimension of Tunisia’s Success Story

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter with Tunisian President Caid Essebsi at the Pentagon, 21 May 2015.

Tunisia’s transition process remains one of the few bright spots of the Arab Spring. While the transitions initiated in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have experienced numerous setbacks and repeated outbursts of violence, if not outright civil war, Tunisia appears to be well on its way to securing a genuine democratic space for itself. This view is shared, for example, by the latest Freedom in the World Report, which ranks Tunisia as the first ‘free’ country in North Africa since Freedom House began its worldwide assessments of political rights and civil liberties in 1972.

Although there is a fast-growing body of research that attempts to explain Tunisia’s comparatively smooth democratic transition, the Western media has not been as upbeat. Most analysts have focused on the challenges Tunisia faces, including the instability being generated by neighboring Libya and the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As a result, other important aspects of Tunisia’s external relations, particularly those that have had positive implications for its transition, have gone unnoticed.

Most importantly, Tunisia’s new political order appears to have benefitted substantially from the staunch support of those external actors who have the most leverage over the country. In contrast, those with a more critical attitude towards the transition have largely lacked the ability to influence the trajectory of the transition in less positive ways. These circumstances are far from accidental, by the way. They’re the consequence of the country’s history. » More

Is France Taking a Strategic Holiday?

A French army soldier plots a course on a map during the command post exercise portion of Exercise Steadfast Jazz. Image: US Army Europe/Flickr

This article was originally published by European Geostrategy on 31 May, 2015. Republished with permission.

The title of this article may seem like a staggeringly misplaced and ill-timed question. After all, is France not militarily engaged in Mali, the Central Africa Republic and Syria? Is Paris not involved in the type of crises that have a direct impact on European security, when so many of its fellow European states shy away from military action? Has France not jostled its way alongside London as the United States’ partner of choice on military affairs? Did France not recently agree to spend an extra €3.8 billion on defence over the next four years? » More

International Law and the Changing Face of Conflict

Global Justice and International Law. Image: geralt/Pixabay

On 20 May 2015, the ISN hosted an Evening Talk on “International Law and the Changing Face of Conflict,” which featured the University of Notre Dame’s Dr. Tanisha Fazal, who is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies there. Today, we feature 1) her presentation on the proliferation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and its unintended consequences, and 2) highlights from the subsequent questions and answers session, which was moderated by the ISN’s Peter Faber. » More

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