Looking for direction / Photo: World Economic Forum, flickr
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s ascension to power. The collapse of the Soviet block in the late 1980s and the Soviet Union itself in the early 1990s can be seen as an inflection point, a moment at which the arc of Russian history changed; it opened up an old wound in the Russian psyche, namely, that of identity. With the loss of its satellites and formerly appropriated republics, a political, institutional, economic and moral decay took hold. Russia’s need for reinvention became an existential threat and opportunity at the same time.
With Russian foreign policy practically non-existent in the early 1990s, the climactic evidence of which was NATO’s utter disregard for Russia’s position on the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, the soil was moist for a mushrooming ‘man of action,’ who would later use precisely this justification to advance his ambitions of restoring great power status to Russia.
A deserted road, an unprotected pipeline / Photo: toniluca, flickr
This week we take a look at some of the myriad meanings of energy security in an age of dwindling resources, increasing demand, exposed infrastructure and the resulting opportunities for exploitation:
- The Center for Security Studies’ Jennifer Giroux and Anna Michalkova discuss how violent non-state actors target vulnerable oil and gas supplies to leverage their political and criminal agenda; Chatham House’s Alex Vines examines the militancy threat against energy infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa; and ETH Zurich graduate student and former ISN intern Carolin Hilpert offers some solutions to this security dilemma in Energy Infrastructure Exposed the latest ISN Special Report.
- ISN Publications features a CEPS working paper, Long Term Energy Security Risks for Europe, which uses a sector-specific approach to examine existing and potential EU energy supply risks.
- ISN Primary Resources highlights a July 2008 G8 declaration on energy security and climate change.
When it comes to ETA, the notorious Basque nationalist and separatist organization, which violently “celebrated” its 50th anniversary some days ago, George Orwell’s words are compelling. Indeed, at fifty, ETA has the face it deserves, a despicable and malicious face. If mind is over matter, then I wonder what rotten mind lies behind the scars of matter. But let’s not get lost in physiognomy here, and let us rather recall ETA’s inglorious history with a death toll of some 800 victims and not one single political goal (if you can reasonably call Marxism-Leninism politics at all) achieved.
The Guardian‘s timeline gives us a concise graphic overview.
Screenshot of The Guardian's timeline of ETA's history
Photo: Amanda Graham / flickr
It is said that – besides polar bears – the negative effects of global warming will hit the poor the most. But two recent articles I read suggest that climate change is of little concern to the poor; rather, it is a concern of the well-off who can afford to worry about melting ice caps (and their furry white residents).
From ComputerWeekly via Open Society Fellow Rebecca McKinnon’s Twitter feed :
“The US Department of Defense (DoD) is preparing strategy and policy documents on federated identity management systems that may lead to a national identity system for the United States.”
According to the article, the DoD wants to lay out guidelines for businesses and the government to “set up a system that would allow individuals and organisations to assert their identity and associated privileges, and have them accepted at all levels.”
During the Black Hat Briefings conference last week, the DoD’s Chief Information Assurance Officer Robert Lentz said that with the exchange of information and activity online, the “amount of anonymity” had to be reduced.
ComputerWeek says that Lentz did reiterate that the DoD did not want to control the internet. The DoD will release the strategy and related documents 1 October.
The “amount of anonymity” comment made me shudder a bit, but here’s a quick question: Could the strategy possibly lay the groundwork for internet voting?