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Terrorism and Security

On 21st May, an American airstrike killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. This operation, which involved multiple drones, comes as a relief to many, as Mansour had been actively planning and carrying out attacks across Afghanistan. According to the US Secretary of State John Kerry, Mansour ‘posed a continuing imminent threat to US personnel in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces, and members of the US and the NATO coalition.’ The killing of the Taliban leader, however, is likely to lead to unwelcome consequences, and will hamper peace talks between the insurgents and the government. The issue of peace talks has always been unpopular among the Taliban’s most senior leadership. In the wake of Mansour’s …

US administrations may change, but the North Korean problem, in all its guises, has plagued the United States for at least the past thirty years. The new Commander-in-Chief, Joe Biden, and his administration are facing increasing calls from the broader international community to clarify US policy towards East Asia, which includes China, Japan, and the two Koreas. The last Democratic administration, that of Barack Obama, focused on strengthening US bilateral alliances within the East Asian region, regional stability, and bolstering relationships with emerging powers. Yet, it did not fully address one of the greatest geopolitical challenges in the region: North Korea’s nuclear program. During the Obama administration, North Korea conducted four nuclear tests, one of which it claimed to be …

In February 2020, the Trump administration made a deal with the Taliban. Under what became known as the Doha Agreement, the US and all foreign forces promised to depart Afghanistan by May 2021, so as long as the Taliban held up its side of the deal to 1) enter into peace talks with the US-backed Afghan government and 2) ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. So far, the agreement is technically being implemented. Peace negotiations began in September 2020, though they have yet to produce results. The Taliban have also stuck to the letter if not the spirit of the deal by holding off attacks against US and Allied forces (although attacks against the Afghan government and civilians have continued). However, with the May deadline fast approaching, President …
"Cyber Security at MoD" by Defence Images

Since January 20th, the Biden administration has been focused above all else on tackling Covid-19 and passing a landmark economic relief bill. This is unsurprising. In the context of a global pandemic, with an urgent vaccine rollout taking place, the US government must prioritise tackling Covid-19 and its economic consequences. However, President Biden has a raft of additional problems waiting at his doorstep. In particular, the US faces a two-pronged cybersecurity crisis: the impact of a vast cybersecurity breach known as the SolarWinds attack that was likely perpetrated by Russian intelligence, coupled with the fallout from Trump’s ‘legacy of cyber confusion’.   This leaves Biden with three tasks. First, he must deal with the immediate consequences of SolarWinds: identifying what data has been compromised and doing everything possible to patch exploited systems. Next, he must hold Russia accountable …
Rubble in front of a wall/fence with graffiti reading "V+XO Peace + Love". Over the fence, three different wall structure prototypes are visible.

Joe Biden’s presidential victory has brought temporary relief for many undocumented and mixed-status families in the US. Biden promised to reverse several of Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugee policy within his first 100 days in office including reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) also known as “Remain in Mexico,” and creating a “road map” to citizenship for the approximate 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US. While Biden’s immigration agenda contains federal and local level priorities, little emphasis has yet been placed on the bilateral scale with the US’s southern neighbour, Mexico. Yet, bilateral immigration negotiations should be a priority for administrations on both sides of the border. In …

While Covid-19 has spurred debate about the need to elevate public health as a security concern, the securitisation of health presents both opportunities and trade-offs that need to be considered if we are to reallocate military spending to prepare for the next pandemic.  The devastating toll of the Coronavirus pandemic has ignited a debate about the intersection of public health and national security. Once recognised as global leaders in pandemic preparedness, the United States and the United Kingdom have struggled to integrate policy responses to Covid-19 into existing security frameworks and to allocate resources accordingly. Indeed, public health spending in both countries pales in comparison to spending on counter-terrorism, even though more American lives have been lost to the pandemic than in all US wars since World War II and the number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK far exceed those attributed to terrorism in the last 50 years. Consequently, some academics and policymakers have questioned whether the prevailing notion of national security—a state’s capacity to defend its territory and …

The longstanding Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has generated massive human rights violations, becoming a humanitarian disaster. It is not only an internal matter for Myanmar, as it has destabilized the regional tranquility of South and Southeast Asia and triggered a global outcry. In this article, I will illustrate why major states, such as China, India, Russia, and the US, have adopted a policy of overlooking the Rohingya crisis. I have intentionally excluded the potential for a prominent leadership role from the already fragile Muslim world because of both their general absence from the central world leadership and their preoccupation with their own domestic crises. The Rohingya are the largest community among eight prominent Muslim groups in Myanmar and have lived in its Rakhine State (formerly Arakan) for generations. They are envisaged by the nation’s government and Buddhist population as illegal Bengali immigrants who came from what is …

In a farewell speech to Colombia’s armed forces last year just prior to leaving office, ex-president Juan Manuel Santos boasted: “Today we have the best armed forces in our history.” Proudly, he added: “We’re a global reference!” And indeed, it seems as though Colombia had opened a new chapter. Since the 2016 peace accords with the country’s largest guerrilla organisation, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the nation appears to be on an uphill climb.  With the FARC at the negotiation table, the story goes, the country was finally able to look ahead and dedicate its resources to transition and reconstruction: the reintegration of former combatants, the redistribution of formerly occupied territories, and the recovery of an economy weakened by decades …

US president Donald Trump recently announced the establishing of a “Space Force,” a new branch of the military to project US military might into outer space. In doing so, he followed up on his March 2018 statement that his administration “recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea.” While such ideas are neither wholly new nor exclusively held by president Trump, they seem to challenge the fundamental principle of outer space as a global commons, which was enshrined in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Questions of outer space security are not just important for their own sake, as this article will show, they have wide-reaching implications for global security. Global security and space security …