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This Week at ISN
06 – 10 January 2014

Our Weekly Editorial Roundup
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//    Beyond the State
For centuries, we've taken it for granted that the state has the ability to organize societies and, indeed, the world as we know it. However, globalization's ability to chip away at the power and influence of the state has led to new doubts and questions. For example, are the world's mega-cities becoming more able to meet our security needs than the old Westphalian system? And further, is the emergence of increasingly powerful non-state actors necessarily a welcome relief from state interference? Well, if the growing strength and capabilities of organized crime groups are anything to go by, the jury should remain out on the wisdom of dismissing a tried and true way of organizing ourselves.

The State Is Here to Stay
06 January 2014

According to Alejandro Quiroz Flores, the modern state holds two comparative advantages over other forms of political organization – it is far better at directing large and complex societies, and it is better at structuring their international relations and security. » More

Insecurity and the Retrograde State
07 January 2014

What do global warming, prolonged periods of economic instability and faltering non-proliferation regimes have in common? According to Anthony Burke, they demonstrate the increasing inability of states to cope with major security threats. It's the way they're structured that's the problem. » More

The 'Responsibility to Respect': Time to Look Beyond the Nation-State?
08 January 2014

Are states the ideal agents to implement security-driven initiatives such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)? Ellise Rietveld thinks that non-state actors could also perform this role, but let's be honest – are they as durable as states and
do they have a comparable track record for 'getting their hands in dirty'? » More

Nations Are No Longer Driving Globalization—Cities Are
09 January 2014

The world is now dotted with cities that have more economic weight and diplomatic influence than dozens of nation-states. As Michele Acuto and Parag Khanna see it, that has led to more innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to international cooperation than in the past. » More

Organized Crime - Above, Beyond and With the State
10 January 2014

Is there a dark side to the growing power and influence of the world's mega-cities? According to the CSS' Prem Mahadevan, they've provided organized crime groups with the opportunity to become more powerful than the state, either by providing 'government' services or increasing their 'military' might. » More

//    Security Watch
Beijing Calculates Cross-Strait Relations: Waiting for the Melon to Drop
06 January 2014

As Wen-Ti Sung sees it, Taiwan's strategic autonomy from China may be gradually eroding. With Beijing now pursuing a more patient 'hearts and minds' strategy and Washington becoming more 'in touch' with the situation, peaceful unification might be only a matter of time. » More

Year Four of the Arab Awakening
07 January 2014

Trying to convert the Arab Awakening into genuine democratic transitions remains complicated, but Marwan Muasher isn't discouraged. Despite four years of mixed results, he argues that the Arab peoples' faith in practical solutions and effective government has not been shaken. » More

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: Cold Leaders, Warm Ties
08 January 2014

Central Asia's rising prosperity is not only reshaping global power dynamics, it's also bringing regional actors closer together. A case in point, argues Murat Sadykov, is the expanding cooperation between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, particularly in the areas of energy development and transportation. » More

The Promise and Perils of Fracking
09 January 2014

Despite significant media attention and market interest, hydraulic fracturing could fail to live up to its hype. As Giacomo Luciani argues, the geology and engineering of fracking tightly link its production rates and profitability to the vicissitudes of energy markets. » More

Pakistan's Judges and Military Clash Over Rule of Law
10 January 2014

The Pakistani military's blatant hostility towards judicial oversight makes it a lawbreaker, argues IRIN. Not only do its indiscriminate detentions, kidnappings, etc., weaken legal efforts to protect the rights of ordinary citizens, such behavior also fuels widespread anti-government sentiments. » More

//    Blog
From Russia without Love: Russia Resumes Weapons Sales to China
06 January 2014

While Russia's recent weapons sales to China will narrow the military technology gap between them, Beijing may be setting its sights even higher. If it continues to invest in its own R&D, such sales may soon be flowing in the other direction, or so argues Loro Horta. » More

Health or Defense
07 January 2014

Is Obamacare the American military's ticket home? With the US hiking up its social spending at home and its allies continuing to spend far less on their own defense, Harvey Sapolsky believes that the days of America subsidizing Europe's security may soon be over. » More

The ICC in the Central African Republic: The Death of Deterrence?
08 January 2014

The International Criminal Court recently warned that it will prosecute those who commit war crimes in the Central African Republic. According to Mark Kersten, the warning won't stick. That's because the Court has little or no ability to deter crimes in 'complex and fragile' environments. » More

Banks, Authorities, and CTF: A Missed Opportunity and Security Weakness
09 January 2014

In the post-9/11 'Financial War on Terror', the actual implementation of counter-terrorist policies has been delegated to the financial services industry. That's bad news, argues Tom Keatinge – the resulting misalignment of incentives and perspectives has created serious security risks for us all. » More

Mediation Perspectives: The Local Elections in Kosovo
10 January 2014

Kosovo's recent local elections were heralded as a major turning point in the country's fortunes. Mathias Zeller is far more skeptical. He thinks that Belgrade and Pristina continue to overlook the needs of those who live in Kosovo's restive northern region. » More

//    Video
Law, Strategy and the Transformation of the State with Philip Bobbitt
In this Conversations with History video, Philip Bobbitt discusses his book, "The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History." In doing so, Bobbitt explores the historical interrelationship between political constitutions, strategy and 'Epochal Wars'. He then explores the impact that this troika has had on the transformation of states, especially in their form and structure. » More

Human Suffering and Humanitarian Emergencies
In this video, the LSE's Craig Calhoun argues that human suffering and humanitarian emergencies are both 'social imaginaries'. In other words, our views of these phenomena are shaped by a history of changing ideas about 'The Human',   the moral responsibilities we have towards strangers, how we view chance and causality, and what we believe constitutes 'effective' action. » More

The Individual vs. The State: Who Will Have the Upper Hand in 2030?
In this video, four practitioners explore how modern technologies are forever changing the relationship between the individual and the state. » More

Coming Up
Next week's theme: Fragile States and Informal Institutions

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