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This Week at ISN 2013-11-15

This Week at ISN 2013-11-15

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Published by ISN Zurich
While we may be living through the first general decline in income inequality since the Industrial Revolution, in certain countries the problem is getting worse and wealth inequality still remains dangerously high. So, does that mean that more violent conflicts are on the horizon? Perhaps, but past experience suggests that ‘horizontal’ inequalities (i.e., socio-political ones) are more likely to result in conflict rather than ‘vertical’ (or economic) ones, as South Africa’s post-Apartheid history suggests. But then again, is trying to determine which type of inequality leads to violence really the important question here? Might not a more dangerous one be as follows – do the inequalities that exist between nations-states actually benefit international security?
While we may be living through the first general decline in income inequality since the Industrial Revolution, in certain countries the problem is getting worse and wealth inequality still remains dangerously high. So, does that mean that more violent conflicts are on the horizon? Perhaps, but past experience suggests that ‘horizontal’ inequalities (i.e., socio-political ones) are more likely to result in conflict rather than ‘vertical’ (or economic) ones, as South Africa’s post-Apartheid history suggests. But then again, is trying to determine which type of inequality leads to violence really the important question here? Might not a more dangerous one be as follows – do the inequalities that exist between nations-states actually benefit international security?

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Published by: ISN Zurich on Nov 15, 2013
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ISN ETH Zurich
International Relations and Security Network    www.isn.ethz.ch  ///   

This Week at ISN
11 – 15 November 2013

Our Weekly Editorial Roundup
JUMP TO » Editorial Plan | Security Watch | Blog | Video

//    Inequality and Security
While we may be living through the first general decline in income inequality since the Industrial Revolution, in certain countries the problem is getting worse and wealth inequality still remains dangerously high. So, does that mean that more violent conflicts are on the horizon? Perhaps, but past experience suggests that ‘horizontal’ inequalities (i.e., socio-political ones) are more likely to result in conflict rather than ‘vertical’ (or economic) ones, as South Africa’s postApartheid history suggests. But then again, is trying to determine which type of inequality leads to violence really the important question here? Might not a more dangerous one be as follows – do the inequalities that exist between nationsstates actually benefit international security?

Global Inequality by the Numbers
11 November 2013

While the period between 1988 and 2008 witnessed the first global-level decline in income inequality since the Industrial Revolution, inequalities in actual wealth remain dangerously high. Today, Branko Milanovic and the 2013 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report profile the many ins and outs of these phenomena. » More

When Do Inequalities Cause Conflict?
12 November 2013

Inequalities between rich and poor increase the likelihood of conflict, right? Not necessarily, says Rens Williams. 'Horizontal' inequalities – i.e., the socio-political ones that exist between ethnic, social and regional groups – are far more likely to result in violence than economic or 'vertical' factors. » More

South Africa's Eroding 'Grand Bargain'
13 November 2013

The Marikana mine strike signaled the end of South Africa's post-Apartheid 'grand bargain,' writes John Campbell. While the bargain helped transfer political power in the country, it also preserved the previous era's system of blatant economic inequality, which is only slowly eroding. » More

Inequality - "The Defining Issue of Our Time"
14 November 2013

World leaders are beginning to understand and accept that current levels of economic inequality are unsustainable, argues Stewart Lansley. Without a shift in course, economic turbulence will follow, as will global-level political discontent and social unrest. » More

The United States, Inequality and International Security
15 November 2013

Can inequality have positive effects on international security, asks Justin Logan. Well, if the US is any example, inequality within states is unlikely to cause genuine security problems whereas inequality between them discourages international competition and, therefore, conflict. » More

//    Security Watch
Colombia or Bust: Narcotics Trafficking in Peru and the Road Ahead
11 November 2013

Is it wise to compare Peru's ongoing struggle with cocaine production and trafficking with Colombia's experiences? Patrick Hernandez doesn't think so. Beyond the differences between the two countries' domestic politics, he also believes that the US's falling demand for cocaine makes a 'Plan Peru' unlikely. » More

Holes in the Skies over NATO's Central European Member States
12 November 2013

NATO's Central European members continue to rely on borrowed, secondhand or Soviet-era fighter aircraft. The result? Alack of interoperability with better equipped member-states and an increasingly porous sky above the Alliance's eastern flank, warns Andrzej Wilk. » More

India's Foreign Policy Crisis
13 November 2013

India's foreign policy is coherent and reinforces the country's emerging role as a global power, right? Wrong, says Harsh Pant. The relatively benign international environment of the past two decades has prompted New Delhi to focus on economic growth instead of developing cogent foreign policies. » More

Iran's Energy Security Dilemma
14 November 2013

Despite the well-documented concerns of multiple states, there is another side to Iran's nuclear program. According to Samir Tata, Tehran hopes that nuclear power will offset the rising domestic consumption of oil and gas and safeguard much-needed export revenues. » More

Lithuania's Presidency Gamble
15 November 2013

Lithuania is using its EU Presidency to encourage Ukraine to 'look west', safeguard its energy security, and keep Russian influence in check. Kristi Raik warns, however, that not every member-state is on board with Vilnius' attempts to focus on Europe's eastern neighborhood. » More

//    Blog
China as a Major Arms Exporter: Implications for Southeast Asia
11 November 2013

By offering increasingly sophisticated weapons at knock-down prices, China is making significant inroads into the West's dominance of the global arms market. Today, Richard Bitzinger considers how Beijing's arms exports may soon impact the security dynamics of Southeast Asia. » More

After "Worthy Solitude": Turkey is Backpedaling on its Foreign Policy
12 November 2013

Why has Turkey pursued an increasingly ineffective and domestically unpopular foreign policy? Günter Seufert believes it's because Ankara has consistently misinterpreted recent shifts in global power and also inflated its own status as a regional power. But all that is gradually starting to change. » More

Latin America's Wired Activists Take on Crime
13 November 2013

Many Latin American communities suffer from soaring crime rates and ineffective policing. As IRIN reports, this state of affairs has prompted the communities to self-organize on the Internet. They are now reporting crimes, sharing information and pressuring their governments to do more against crime. » More

Science Diplomacy with North Korea
14 November 2013

How should states engage with North Korea? Try 'science diplomacy', says Stephanie Kang. By creating a neutral political space for Pyongyang to collaborate on environmental, health, energy and security-related problems, this form of diplomacy might help bring the country back into the international fold. » More

Egypt: Current Crisis and Possible Ways Forward
15 November 2013

What does Egypt need to do in order to overcome the political turmoil that has accompanied its democratic transition? That was the main discussion point of the most recent ISN-CSS roundtable discussion. » More

//    Video
Francois Bourguignon - Globalisation and Inequality
In this video, the Paris School of Economics' Francois Bourguignon analyses a dual phenomenon – i.e., the decreasing inequality between nations and yet the rising inequality within them. He also questions whether globalization is the maincause of this dual trend and what should be done to prevent further increases in intra-state inequality. » More

Arendt & Violence
In this video, the LSE's Kimberley Hutchings talks about the life and work of the political theorist Hannah Arendt. After exploring Arendt's "The Origins of Totalitarianism" and "The Human Condition" in order to define her thinking on politics and its relationship to human experience, Hutchings then goes on to examine Arendt's views on violence. » More

Cultural Diplomacy and the Inequality Challenge
In this video, Robert Picciotto, who is a visiting professor in the Department of Political Economy at Kings College London, focuses on the growing importance of cultural diplomacy in international relations and how it might shape future policies toward inequality, social resilience and diversity, and human development. » More

Coming Up
Next week, our editorial focus examines the potental impact of emerging technologies on society and security.

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