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This Week at ISN
17 – 21 February 2014

Our Weekly Editorial Roundup
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//    Do Nuclear Weapons Still Matter?
Nuclear weapons may have helped to regulate East-West relations during the Cold War, but are they a wise investment in an era of 'post-heroic' conflict? While established nuclear states and emerging powers continue to believe in the utility of these weapons, critics think they are strategically irrelevant, economically wasteful, and eradicable (as illustrated by South Africa). But are the doubters correct? Aren't nuclear weapons actually cheap and don't they keep the ambitions of rival nuclear states in check? The answers to these questions and more are apparently in the eye of the beholder, as we illustrate this week. » More

Nuclear Weapons - Like It or Not, They're here to Stay
17 February 2014

It’s simple, argues the CSS’ Liviu Horovitz – the world’s leading powers continue to believe in the utility of nuclear weapons and they’re not alone. In today’s questions and answers session, he explains why the allure of these weapons has not waned. » More

Waltz-ing with the Bomb: Good Hands, Bad Hands or No Hands?
18 February 2014

Why have nuclear weapons become strategically irrelevant? According to Alyn Ware, it's because 1) they don't really deter opponents anymore, 2) today's security problems require multilateral solutions, and 3) an increasing number of defense strategies have become collective in nature. » More

Nuclear Weapons: The Opportunity Costs
19 February 2014

Nuclear weapons are inherently unusable and hugely expensive, or so argue John Page and Ramesh Thakur. As a result, they sidetrack needed investments in economic development and military systems that might actually be used. » More

How Much for a Nuclear Deterrent?
20 February 2014

Nuclear weapons are too expensive and have lost their political utility, right? Think again, says Peter Huessy. They're nowhere near as costly as conventional forces and rival states wouldn't hesitate to capitalize on your diminished deterrence capabilities. » More

How South Africa Gave up on the Bomb
21 Feburary 2014

Although South Africa's nuclear weapons program started in the early days of the Cold War, Pretoria didn't hesitate to dismantle it after Apartheid ended. According to Vincent Intondi, it's an example that today's nuclear-armed states should follow. » More

//    Security Watch
Severing Al Shabab's Lifeline
17 February 2014

Somalia's al Shabab relies heavily on illegal wildlife poaching and the ivory trade to finance its activities across East Africa. By preventing and disrupting this trade, argues Jeremiah Foxwell, the international community can help dry up the organization's funding, and thereby keep it in check. » More

Cambodian Regime Realigns Its Foreign Relations
18 February 2014

After Cambodia's political opposition voiced its support for China's territorial claims, Beijing gradually began to withdraw its support for embattled Prime Minister Hun Sen. As Murray Hiebert and Phuong Nguyen report, that's prompted him to strengthen Phnom Penh's ties with Japan and other ASEAN states. » More

Balancing Transparency and National Security
19 February 2014

Is keeping military funding secret truly necessary for national security? Not according to Pieter and Siemon Wezeman. Greater transparency not only makes governments more accountable, it also helps reduce the causes of insecurity and conflict. » More

Making the Joint Plan of Action Work
20 February 2014

With talks now resumed in Geneva, Shashank Joshi asks whether the P5+1 Joint Plan of Action (JPA) with Iran will bear fruit or not. He believes that curtailing Tehran's nuclear program is possible, but only if negotiators resolve six open questions about its future direction. » More

Azerbaijan: Baku Wrestles With a Syria-Salafi Connection
21 February 2014

What has prompted as many as 300 Azerbaijanis to fight alongside rebel groups in Syria? According to Shahin Abbasov, dire economic conditions at home could be the reason. » More

//    Blog
New Displacements as Philippines Nears Final Peace Deal
17 February 2014

The Philippine government has launched a new military offensive against Muslim splinter groups on the island of Mindanao, reports IRIN. Unfortunately, the offensive has caught the local population in the crossfire and displaced an estimated 10,000 of them. » More

Rethinking German Foreign Policy: The Long Road Ahead
18 February 2014

Is the time right for Germany to embark on a more proactive and assertive foreign policy? Markus Weidling thinks so – but not before Berlin discusses its ambitions with its international partners and German civil society. » More

Hamas and Hezbollah Agree to Disagree on Syria
19 February 2014

Hamas and Hezbollah's divisions over Syria have put their decades-old relationship under strain. Yet, as Giorgio Cafiero and Peter Certo reveal, the divisions aren't so severe that they endanger their strategic partnership against Israel. » More

China is Marching West for Food
20 February 2014

China's economic success is undermining its ability to feed itself, warns Zhang Hongzhou. This helps explain why Beijing's pivot westward is as much about enhancing its food security as it is a tit-for-tat response to the US's military presence in Asia and the Pacific. » More

Arctic Rhetoric
21 February 2014

Is the media over-exaggerating the tensions that exist between the Arctic states? Absolutely, says Erica Dingman. Worse still, the poor reporting has obscured the high-level confidence-building measures that have been adopted throughout the region over the past few years. » More

//    Video
Are Nuclear Weapons Still Fit for Purpose?
In this video, King's College London's Lawrence Freedman and BASIC's Ward Wilson ponder the continued utility of nuclear weapons, to include their perceived deterrence value. » More

Fragile States: The Role of Media and Communication
In this video, three experts explore the challenges of developing media structures and processes in fragile states, with a particular emphasis on Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, and Somalia. » More

Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before it is too Late
In this video, Joe Cirincione, who is a former member of President Obama's nuclear policy team, argues that the threats posed by nuclear weapons have hardly waned. Questionable stockpile controls, the possibility of nuclear terrorism, and the potential 'nuclearization' of the Middle East are just some of the problems that require continued vigilance. » More

Coming Up
Next week's theme: Nuclear Proliferation and Security

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