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International Relations and Security Network    www.isn.ethz.ch  ///   

This Week at ISN
26 – 30 August 2013

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

//   Is West Africa's Geopolitical Star Still Rising?
Despite being West Africa's largest and most populous state, Nigeria often plays an ambiguous role in combating the region's security challenges, particularly in the case of arms trafficking. Nevertheless, through ECOWAS and the African Union – in which Nigeria is playing increasingly prominent roles – the region has developed the basis for a credible security architecture. When you add this development to two decades of robust economic growth and a growing reliance on technology to solve old problems, the future of the region now looks brighter than it once did.

The Role of Nigeria in Regional Security Policy
26 August 2013

Despite being West Africa's 'statistical hegemon', Nigeria plays an ambiguous role in regional security. According to W.O. Alli, Abuja's poorly defined national security policy – which includes vague notions of 'manifest destiny' – makes the country a source of geopolitical instability rather than stability. » More

Insecurity and the Arms Trade in West Africa
27 August 2013

Although the recently signed Arms Trade Treaty has raised hopes that arms trafficking will wane in West Africa, the CFR's John Campbell is more cautious. He thinks everything rests upon how the treaty is implemented in a region still characterized by weak administrative and institutional capacities. » More

The PSC and ECOWAS
28 August 2013

Weak institutions are often blamed for Africa's underdevelopment and insecurity. But this isn't the case in West Africa, argues Jimam Lar. As recent interventions by the AU and ECOWAS in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry demonstrate, an effective framework for maintaining peace and security in the region now exists. » More

Economic Transformation in West Africa
29 August 2013

West Africa has experienced almost two decades of economic diversification and growth. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the region's challenges now are to accelerate this momentum and ensure its food security. » More

Using Technology to Promote Good Governance and Economic Transparency in West Africa
30 August 2013

Can new digital technologies promote democratic governance and economic transparency in West Africa? Kwami Ahiabenu provides an overview of such initiatives in the region and offers his recommendations on how they can be deployed more effectively. » More

//   Security Watch
Nicolás Maduro's First 100 Days
26 August 2013

Has Nicolas Maduro been able to sustain Venezuela's enthusiasm for chavismo in the wake of Hugo Chavez's death? Robert Valencia, writing for World Policy Blog, thinks not. The new Venezuelan president's first 100 days were colored by economic woes and low approval ratings. » More

Singapore and the US: Security Partners, Not Allies
27 August 2013

While Singapore and the United States have traditionally enjoyed close defense and security ties, it would be misleading to classify them as clear-cut allies, writes the IISS. This is because Singapore needs to keep its options open in a region where balance of power politics remain central. » More

India's Assam Shows Second-Order, Dangerous Effects of Climate Change in South Asia
28 August 2013

Climate change is often regarded as a 'threat multiplier' that exacerbates other sources of tension and vulnerability. Today, Ashley Ziegler outlines how this specific type of change complicates the political and security challenges facing the Indian state of Assam. » More

A Hollow Victory for the Putin Administration?
29 August 2013

Vladimir Putin hopes that upcoming regional elections will restore some of the legitimacy he lost after the 2011 Duma elections. According to Sean Roberts, however, his theatrical decision to encourage additional opposition candidates will just highlight the cracks in Russia's dysfunctional electoral system. » More

Western Sahara: The Lingering Conflict
30 August 2013

Is an independent Western Sahara a viable proposition? Anouar Boukhars has his doubts. Given that the region remains economically dependent upon Morocco, the best that the ethnic Sahrawis may be able to hope for is greater political autonomy rather than outright independence. » More

//   Blog
Leveling the Afghan Playing Field
26 August 2013

Will the Afghan government's latest attempt to attract additional foreign investment ease the country's economic woes? Graciana del Castillo doesn't think so. She believes this latest initiative will fail to deliver stable economic growth or improve Afghanistan's already fragile security situation. » More

Surveillance and American Liberty
27 August 2013

When it comes to the Edward Snowden affair, are the likes of Russia and China right to accuse the liberties-promoting US of hypocrisy? On the contrary, argues Joseph Nye. He thinks American liberty and democracy continue to be upheld in traditionally untidy ways. » More

The Battle for Water
28 August 2013

When it comes to the geopolitical competition for natural resources, why are struggles over water so different? Brahma Chellany believes it's because water supplies are essentially irreplaceable, an argument he supports by pointing to the strains that demographic changes are putting on this unique resource. » More

When Inflation Doves Cry
29 August 2013

The belief by monetary-policy 'doves' that the Federal Reserve's policy of quantitative easing would not unleash inflation in the US appears to have been vindicated – at least for the time being. But does it really make sense to throw out centuries of monetary experience, asks Allan Meltzer. » More

Long Live China's Boom
30 August 2013

After decades of unprecedented growth, China is now experiencing economic deceleration. According to Justin Yifu Lin, that's not necessarily a problem. Beijing is well-placed to benefit from a 'latecomer's advantage' in industrial and technological innovation, and thereby preserve stable economic growth. » More

//   Video
Mali: French War, African Peace?
In this video Gregory Mann and Roland Marchal discuss the French intervention in Mali and ask whether it opens a new chapter in France's relations with Africa. » More

Professor David Harvey - The Contradictions of Capital
The hoary Marxist argument is that capitalism will break up under the force of its own contractions, but just what are the 21st century versions of those contradictions? In this video, controversial cultural geographer and political anthropologist David Harvey identifies 17 of them and clarifies what their relationship is to post-2007 global instability. » More

Promoting Regional Integration, Food Security in Africa
In this video produced by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a group of experts focus on the relationship between food security and regional integration in Africa. » More

Coming Up
Next week our editorial focus examines security issues affecting West Africa.

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