The CSS Blog Network

Justice and Hope for Afghanistan?

Lone girl in Afghanistan, photo: Papyrrari/flickr

Lone girl in Afghanistan, photo: Papyrrari/flickr

As the world anticipates Obama’s long-awaited strategy review for Afghanistan, the debate around the war intensifies with politicians, experts and laymen weighing in on the desired course of Afghan policy.

A war that has lasted eight years, and that costs the US $3.6 billion a month, has become a source of intense historical and strategic debates about the nature of conflict in South Asia, the region’s geopolitical significance, and the role of US power in the modern era. With America’s Vietnam legacy in mind the pressure to deliver something positive is immense.

But in these debates about strategy- how to quell the Taliban insurgency; how to address the region as a whole, particularly with Pakistan’s shortcomings in mind, and how to strengthen the Afghan government without giving Karzai carte blanche, etc – the humanitarian focus is exactly what seems to be missing.

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ISN Weekly Theme: US-China Relations

Obama and Mao T-shirts, photo: Shea Hazarian/flickr

Obama and Mao T-shirts, photo: Shea Hazarian/flickr

Obama’s three day visit to China is expected to breathe new life into the US-China partnership. With deep economic and financial links, as well as responsibility for 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, the US and China are under immense pressure to deliver on the promise of great power cooperation and progress on a daunting set of challenges.

Conference Marathon: Follow Up

Mujahiden/Photo: Erwin Lux/Wikipedia

Mujahiden/Photo: Erwin Lux/Wikipedia

As I told you in my last blog post, last week I went to two conferences in Switzerland: swisspeace and UNO-Academia.

The swisspeace conference focused non-state actors and featured brilliant speakers with first-hand experience with the topic. We listened to a former IRA fighter and various academics that had conducted dialogue between non-state armed groups (NSAG) and governmental forces.
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A World Without Walls

One of 1000 styrofoam blocks that will be knocked down on 9 November on Potsdamer Platz / Photo: Silvia Azzouzi

One of 1000 styrofoam blocks that will be knocked down on 9 November on Potsdamer Platz / Photo: Silvia Azzouzi

The festivities organized in Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Wall these days are plenty in number and can hardly be overlooked. Besides the official ceremony today there are many exhibitions, concerts, discussion circles taking place; there was even a U2 concert at the Brandenburger gate Thursday night.

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy took the occasion to organize a conference with the adequate title “A World Without Walls – An International Congress on “Soft Power,” Cultural Diplomacy and Interdependence.

Renowned figures from international politics and academia reflected on the development of international relations since 1989, the challenges faced by the leaders of the future, and the growing influence of cultural diplomacy and “soft power” in the contemporary political international environment.
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Celebrating 15 Years of Dedicated Service to the IR and Security Community

ISN AnniversaryThe year is 1992. The Cold War has ended and the tensions between East and West are starting to ease. In Zurich, a group of students and scholars, led by Professor Kurt Spillmann, developed a vision of how the internet could be used to support IR and security professionals.

Conscious of how the free flow of information could be used to support the world’s fledgling democracies, they set off to create an online information network that would bring together the best minds and the best ideas.

On both sides of the Iron Curtain, people were eager to learn from each other, whether through dialogue and collaboration, or by accessing each other’s libraries and archives. What better way to foster greater openness, transparency and knowledge sharing than by hosting their research findings and discussions on an open access research network for all to see?

In 1994, this network was officially launched as the “Defence and Security Network” (DefSecNet). A year later it was renamed as the “International Relations and Security Network” (ISN) in lieu of its rapidly growing areas of interest and expertise.

Sponsored and supported by the Swiss government, the ISN soon became the country’s official contribution to the newly established Partnership for Peace (PfP) initiative and a key enabler of dialogue and collaboration between scholars and policy professionals.

Looking back, the ISN’s history has mirrored the evolution of the global agenda. Since our launch, our dedicated staff of editors, researchers, developers and educators have created websites for Russian research institutes, developed search engines for NATO, established an extensive portfolio of news and information services, created e-Learning courses and technologies, and founded one of the largest online networks of IR and security policy professionals, all of whom are committed to our core principle of encouraging greater knowledge sharing and learning in our community. And these are just some of our achievements.

Today, the ISN is the world’s leading open access information service for international relations and security professionals. We are proud to celebrate 15 years of dedicated service to you.

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