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ETH Zurich
International Relations and Security

This Week at the ISN

Our Weekly Content Roundup

4 January 8 January 2015

JUMP TO Editorial Plan | Security Watch | Blog | Video

// Security Watch

This week, our two Security Watch (SW) series continue to feature 'evergreen' article that are of enduring interest. (We'll
resume providing new materials next week.) The first SW series focuses on economic sanctions and their relationship to
political gain; the problematic use of proxies in wars; the questionable utility of offshore balancing as a foreign policy; the
fundamental attributes of great powers; and how policymakers should conceptualize violent radicalization. Then, in our
second SW series, we look at the diverse nature of today's global protest movements; how the Middle East's secular
revolutions stimulated a religious backlash; the ten lessons openDemocracy learned from its openSecurity Project; how
capital flows to emerging markets are contributing to the decline of the West; and why Pakistan's government has to be
more proactive in controlling the country's Madrassas.

How Do International Economic Sanctions (Not) Work?

4 January 2015

Lee Jones has spent five years researching how the economic pain created by sanctions translates into political gain for
those inflicting them. Among other things, his findings suggest that sanction regimes are most effective against countries
that have powerful and well-organized opposition groups. More

The Complexities of Global Protests

4 January 2015

Why do Thomas Carothers and Richard Youngs believe that the global protests we've seen in recent history aren't being
interpreted properly? Well, by characterizing them in overly sweeping ways, we may be overlooking their most striking
feature i.e., their sheer diversity. More

The Problem with Proxies: Ideology is No Substitute for Operational Control

5 January 2015

What have the United States' dubious attempts to arm 'reliable' Syrian opposition fighters confirmed? The answer,
according to Yelena Biberman and Orr Genish, is that successful proxy campaigns need to strike a difficult balance
between operational freedom and control. More

The Caliph's Revenge

5 January 2015

While the secular revolutions of the 20th century built up the Middle East's institutions and economies, they also gravely
wounded moderate religious sensibilities. It's no surprise then, argues Paul Salem, that the region is now in the grip of a
ferocious and unhinged religious backlash. More

Retrenchment Chic: The Dangers of Offshore Balancing

6 January 2015

Should America pursue a minimalist foreign policy known as offshore balancing? Not according to Hal Brands. Wanting to
retrench the US' force posture and alliance commitments is based on questionable less-is-more logic. After all, how does
reduced engagement magically lead to greater security and influence? More

Ten Theses on Security in the 21st Century

6 January 2015

What did our partners at openDemocracy learn from their openSecurity project? Here are Robin Wilson's ten takeaways,
which include the following the true focus of security in a democratic society must be on the individual rather than the
state; mass surveillance doesn't work; and climate justice is the key to a safer world. More

What Makes a Great Power?

7 January 2015

The Decline of the West? Been There, Done That

7 January 2015

Those who believe the West is experiencing a form of imperial decline cite familiar reasons eroding military budgets, the
growing assertiveness of China and Russia, etc. John Rapley, however, points to another cause. He attributes the West's
decline to capital flows making their way to emerging markets. More

Violent Radicalization Revisited: A Practice-Oriented Model

8 January 2015

How should policymakers and researchers conceptualize the process of violent radicalization? Today, Daniel Koehler
proposes a model that treats it as a form of intellectual 'de-pluralization' which deliberately occurs outside of mainstream
political culture. More

Curbing Militancy: Regulating Pakistan's Madrassas

8 January 2015

Humaira Israr thinks that Pakistan must invest more heavily in registering, regulating and reforming its religious
seminaries. The government's inertia thus far has only aggravated the country's already-precarious security situation.

// Blog
After Palmyra, What Can the World Do to Protect Cultural Treasures?
4 January 2015

Indeed, what can the international community do to prevent further attacks on important cultural and historical sites?
Agnieszka Jachec-Neale recommends including "monuments men" in military operations, enhancing the training of others
on preservation methods, etc. More

Ecological Security
5 January 2015

When analysts talk about security and the environment, they tend to focus on how environmental problems inevitably
become security ones. This must change, says Matt McDonald. That's because this approach tends to ignore the social
construction of "security" and other concerns. More

Military Leaders: Climate Change, Energy, National Security Are Inextricably Linked
6 January 2015

Why are US military leaders trying to build a consensus on the direct links between climate change, energy and national
security? Schuyler Null's answer points to 1) the impact that fluctuating climate-related costs have on defense budgets; 2)
the growing problems associated with maintaining infrastructure, etc. More

Religious Politics and the Rise of Illiberal Religion

7 January 2015

Throughout the world, progressive visions of religion and society are being replaced by illiberal and exclusionary ones.
Today, Scott Hibbard partly blames this development on mainstream political actors and their growing hostility towards the
idea of inclusive societies. More

Does Surveillance Mean the Death of Democracy?

8 January 2015

Are increased levels of surveillance really eroding the democratic principles we take for granted? Not necessarily, says
Manuel Arriaga. He thinks the real challenge to democracy is a compliant and fearful public that has forgotten the true
meaning of freedom. More

// Video

Hot Wars: The Changing Nature of Conflict and the Exercise of Power

In this video, four IISS analysts 1) trace the changes that have occurred in the application and utility of force, and 2)
speculate on the nature of armed conflict in the future.

Noam Chomsky: On Power and Ideology

In this video, political iconoclast Noam Chomsky discusses 1) the persistent features that shape US foreign policy,
including the idea of American exceptionalism, 2) the factors that are raising US domestic concerns about the P5+1-Iran
nuclear agreement, etc. More

Order without Law? Gangs and Other Forms of Alternative Social Order in and Beyond the Prison

In this video, three researchers debate 1) the significance of prison gangs and other manifestations of informal social
organization; 2) the conditions under which such groups arise; and 3) their relationship to formal sources of power.

// Multimedia Content
Here is a selection of this week's additions to the ISN Digital

Publications More
// The Future of Peace Operations: Maintaining Momentum More
// Working with a Rising India
// Japan's Security Role and Capabilities in the 2020s More

Videos More
// The Challenges for Europe in 2016 More
for the Twenty-First Century More
/ 2016 Index of US Military Strength More

Audio / Podcasts More

// ECFR's World in 30 Minutes: The Future of Europe
// The Aftermath of World War II and the New Political Geography of Europe
// Crime Fighting, Perverted: Interpol and Authoritarian RegimesMore

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