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Terrorism and Security

There is a lot of talk around Russia-Georgia relations these days. One venue is the current “Geneva Process,” established in 2008 to attempt to sort out the mess created by the Georgian-Russian war. After seventeen meetings, there is no evidence of any significant progress. There is also a substantial array of informal processes involving all kinds of well-intentioned people from London, Washington, Georgia and Russia. They haven’t had any discernible impact either. Outsiders have a substantial interest in the normalization of the bilateral relationship. The situation between Georgia and Russia complicates the Western reset of relations with the Russian Federation. The unresolved conflict between the two obstructs Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Although the situation on the ground …

Iver Neumann, an authoritative researcher of Russian affairs, claimed in his central work ‘Russia and the idea of Europe: a study in identity and international relations’, that Europe has always been an important ‘Other’ when it comes to how Russia constructs and sustains its identity. Whilst this still seems to be the case, it could be argued that Europe is only one Other in the story of Russia’s constant invention and reinvention of its own identity. After World War II, Russia’s favourite choice of Other became split. Europe became (and remains) the preferred Other in relation to Russia’s view of its internal organisation – state, society, and culture. However, the United States has taken the prime position in relation to …

Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter Discusses New Shifts in US Diplomacy Play Episode Pause Episode Mute/Unmute Episode Rewind 10 Seconds 1x Fast Forward 30 seconds 00:00 / Subscribe Share RSS Feed Share Link Embed Download file | Play in new windowOn May 18, 2011 Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter delivered the inaugural Distinguished Fulbright Lecture in Oxford. The topic: The Turn: US Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2011. The key message I took away from the lecture was that during the Obama Presidency, US diplomatic missions have shifted their focus more towards societal actors. The nature of US diplomacy has expanded from acting almost exclusively on a government to government basis, to interacting with societal actors or even acting as a facilitator between societal actors in different countries. This change in diplomacy is part of the emergence of a new paradigm driving the US Foreign Policy post “9/11”. In this paradigm, separation gives way to interconnectedness, conflict to collaboration; and the sole …

Whichever way you look at it, the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden in a comfortable house in Abbottabad within walking distance of Kakul (Pakistan Military Academy) and a short drive from the nation’s capital Islamabad, constitutes an abject humiliation for Pakistan. The options are limited. Either the Pakistani authorities did not know that bin Laden was there, apparently for several years. In which case their incompetence is so colossal that it should cause widespread panic, except that it beggars belief. Or the Pakistani authorities knew of bin Laden’s presence in their midst. In which case the worst cynics have been proved right. There are some tell-tale pointers as to which of these is more likely to be true. …

Everyone wants to see wrongdoers punished. But safe exile for bad rulers is often the least worst option. The violence in the Ivory Coast that has left more than 1,300 dead since last November’s presidential election may soon be coming to an end. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to cede power after losing in the polls to Alassane Ouattara, is reportedly negotiating the terms of his surrender after a week-long offensive by pro-Ouattara forces. What’s puzzling about how this conflict is ending is why Gbagbo didn’t leave sooner, especially after African Union leaders had offered him immunity several times if he agreed to go into exile in South Africa. With 80% of Ivorian territory taken by pro-Ouattara forces and …

In his post of 30/03/11, Marko notes the debate surrounding whether the Coalition now taking military action in Libya can arm the rebels fighting in that country. This question is perhaps part of a broader question of whether the coalition can provide other military aid to the rebels, for example, by providing close air support for rebel advances into towns under the control of Col Gaddafi’s forces. As Marko notes, while the US and UK  have both denied that they have made a decision to provide arms to the rebels (see here and here), they have both argued that providing arms to the rebels would not be a breach of the arms embargo imposed by Security Council Resolution 1970. In fact media reports today …

I spent much of yesterday conducting interviews with the media about the situation in Libya. One of the questions I was repeatedly asked concerned the scope of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorises the use of force in Libya.  How far does the resolution permit the coalition now acting in Libya to go? What are the objectives of the coalition military action? Does it permit the targeting of Colonel Gaddafi? The objectives set out by the resolution seem to me to broader than what is commonly thought. Para. 4 which authorises the use of all necessary means (short of an occupation force) is not just about protecting civilians but also, importantly, about protecting civilian populated areas under threat of attack. In other words, that paragraph authorises the use of …

As Operation Odyssey Dawn gets underway, political leaders within the coalition continue to articulate their reasons for resorting to force. In so doing, each has invariably invoked the language of the just war tradition. On the eve of military action, President Obama proclaimed, ‘Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong. ’ Similarly, in his remarks to the Commons on 20 March 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron argued that coalition forces had a ‘just cause’ to use force. When it comes to assessing prospective causes for resorting to arms, few could be more compelling than the protection of populations under threat of mass slaughter. It was on the basis of this pressing need to protect that …