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This Week at ISN
02 – 06 December 2013

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

//    Democracy under Pressure – Authoritarianism to the Rescue?
One of the consequences of the global financial crisis is that in some quarters democracy has been put on trial. But are the scattered calls for an authoritarian revival credible or not, especially in the European Union? Or is the rise in antidemocratic sentiment really an example of political systems such as China and Bahrain being able to offer viable alternatives to democracy? The jury may still be out on these questions and, indeed, on the actual health of democratic forms of representation throughout the world.

The Crisis of Democracy
02 December 2013

Democracy is in a profound state of crisis, writes Joshua Kurlantzick, and is in retreat in many parts of the world. Today, he outlines the security implications of this worrying trend, which could include the proliferation and return of authoritarian governments. » More

Why Democracy Is Still in Danger in Greece
03 December 2013

The rise of Golden Dawn has only complicated Greece's efforts to pull itself back from a social and economic meltdown. Worse still, writes Vassilis Fouskas, Athens' hardheaded response to the far right movement has resulted in the strengthening of the authoritarian arm of the Greek state. » More

Soaring Dragon, Stumbling Bear: China's Rise in a Comparative Context
04 December 2013

As a form of government, is China's authoritarian capitalism more stable and predictable than democracy? That's a dubious question, say Mark Harrison and Debin Ma. Beijing's current political system has thrived in exceptional circumstances and can't be instantly duplicated elsewhere. » More

Bahrain's Fractured Ruling Bargain: Political Mobilization, Regime Responses, and the New Sectarianism
05 December 2013

Bahrain's violent repression of its people confirms that authoritarian regimes are more than capable of dealing with political unrest. But don't be fooled, says Quinn Mecham. The Kingdom's tenuous 'ruling bargain' has been rocked like never before. » More

The Third Wave: Inside the Numbers
06 December 2013

Is democracy losing ground to more authoritarian forms of government? Not according to Jørgen Møller and Svend-Erik Skaaning. Their empirical and statistical analysis suggests that democracy is stagnating rather than deteriorating. You can, by the way, thank the global financial crisis for that. » More

//    Security Watch
How Bangladesh Aid Restrictions Impact Rohingyas
02 December 2013

Thousands of Rohingyas have escaped persecution in Myanmar by crossing the border into Bangladesh. What many find when they get there, however, is harsh government-driven treatment that strictly limits humanitarian assistance to a chosen few, or so writes IRIN. » More

Belarus and Russia's Strategic Projection into Eastern Europe
03 December 2013

Recent military exercises have only served to reinforce the importance that Russia places on its military ties with Belarus. According to Tony Rinna, Moscow's reasons are straightforward enough. It sees the former Soviet republic as the staging point for offensive and counteroffensive measures against Eastern Europe. » More

Future Direction of Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative: Maritime Disputes and South Korea's Trustpolitik
04 December 2013

It's called the 'Asian Paradox' – as economic interdependence rises in the region, the number of conflicts hasn't gone down. So, will Park Geun-hye's Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative help set things right? It's a start, says, Sook-Jong Lee, but it's unclear just how Seoul plans to achieve its objectives. » More

In the Same Boat? Contrasting Piracy in West and East Africa
05 December 2013

Can the counter-piracy strategies employed off the coast of Somalia be applied in the Gulf of Guinea? Not according to Mark Naftalin. Today, he outlines how piracy in West Africa is quantitatively and qualitatively different from what is occurring on the other side of the continent. » More

The German Surplus Is Still a Problem for the Euro Area and the World
06 December 2013

Konrad Poplawski thinks that Berlin will resist international pressures to reduce its current account surplus. That's bad news for the rest of the Eurozone, he continues – without the cuts, its most economically unstable countries will not be able to recover quickly. » More

//    Blog
The Civilian Administration of the Insurgency in Aleppo, Syria
02 December 2013

Syria's opposition groups are working together to develop administrative functions in Aleppo and the other urban areas they control, right? Not so, say A. Backzo, G. Dorronsoro and A. Quesnay. Fierce competition between rival factions is undermining the work of these already-fragile civil administrations. » More

Nigeria Pulls Out of MINUSMA: Protest or Prioritisation of Domestic Security?
03 December 2013

Nigeria claims that it has withdrawn its troops from Mali in order to deal with its security problems at home. According to Mouhamadou Kane, there's another reason behind Abuja's decision – it can't chase after international prestige and cope with local insurgencies at the same time. » More

Review – Future States
04 December 2013

What form of political organization is best suited to deal with globalization's problems? Stephen Paul Haigh's "Future States" argues that in our 'neo-medieval age' a cosmopolitan state will work best. Rhys Crilley is impressed but wonders where the postcolonial perspectives are in Haigh's analysis. » More

Drug Control Policies are Changing: Why? And Why Has it Taken So Long?
05 December 2013

Indeed, why are drug policies changing? According to Mike Trace, because there's a growing recognition that the old ones don't work. And why has this policy shift been so slow? Because there's been an absence of international consensus on how to tackle drug-related problems most effectively. » More

Did NATO Intervene in Libya Just to Get Rid of Gaddafi?
06 December 2013

After it helped depose Colonel Gaddaffi, did NATO depart Libya too quickly? Bitter Libyans may think so, but Liesel LouwVaudran disagrees. In her view, they need to move on – it's the only way the nascent Libyan state will manage to restore much-needed security and stability. » More

//    Video
Latin America's Authoritarian Drift
In this video, Kurt Weyland discusses his article "Latin America's Authoritarian Drift," which focuses on the recent strong arm tendencies of Latin American politics. The latter includes the weakening of governmental checks and balances, the marginalizing of political oppositions, and other disturbing trends. » More

Ten Years of Terror: Michael Dillon
In this video, Michael Dillon, who is an Emeritus Professor of Politics at Lancaster University, examines the difference between 18th century liberalism and liberalism in the late 20th century, especially in relation to war. Note: The 9/11 attacks feature prominently in his analysis. » More

Democracy Ideas: Interview with Francis Fukuyama, "Democracy and the Quality of the State"
In this video, noted political scientist Francis Fukuyama discusses his recent article "Democracy and the Quality of the State," which focuses on 1) the importance of effective governance, 2) the roles state bureaucracies play in democratic countries, and 3) whether 'responsible governance' is possible in the Middle East without functioning democracies. » More

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Next week's theme: Social Media and Security

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