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Terrorism and Security

The United States has a consistent Strategic Culture, centered on a sense of exceptionalism, values-driven foreign policy, casualty aversion, as well as strong leadership. These features reflect in its space policy and ambitions, where the US has cooperated with other nations but assumes a position of natural leader. It remains to be seen how this role will evolve – although the sense of exceptionalism may endure – as new actors, including private companies, make their way into space. Why Strategic Culture Matters Developed in the 1970s, “Strategic Culture” is a concept used to analyze the role of culture and national idiosyncrasies in shaping national security decisions. As with many paradigms developed during the Cold War, it emerged in the context of …

The world is experiencing an ‘environmental crime crisis’. Dwarfed only by the trafficking of drugs, humans and counterfeit goods, the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be the fourth largest type of transnational organised crime. But compared to the smuggling of bullets and bodies, wildlife crime is vastly under-researched. Most people have not even heard of the world’s most trafficked mammal, the humble and far from headline-grabbing pangolin. Yet one area of this booming illicit trade receives more attention than most: poaching for ivory and rhino horn. Driven by growing Asian prosperity, particularly in Vietnam and China, a revived market for ivory and horn has expanded to unprecedented heights for modern times. Accompanying this growth is a narrative which connects …

Peacekeeping is at the centre of the UN’s efforts to maintain international peace and security. Today, more than 100,000 soldiers and police from 125 countries are serving as blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers around the world. These soldiers and police are endeavouring to keep the peace within, or between, more than 20 conflict-affected states and territories. How effective are UN peacekeeping efforts? There have been spectacular failures (Rwanda) and notable successes (El Salvador) but how great is the contribution of UN peacekeeping overall? Scholars are divided on this question. Virginia Page Fortna’s seminal work on the impact of UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs) suggests that the presence of UNPKOs significantly improves the chances of peace surviving following the cessation of hostilities. In the …

“When you kill innocent children – innocent babies – babies – little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines,” Trump said when asked about Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed some 80 civilians and injured many more. Thursday night he swiftly followed through with his remarks, launching missile strikes on Shayrat airfield in Syria, where the attack is suspected to have originated. Commentators have been quick to point out Trump’s remarkable U-turn on Syria. From his ‘America First’ rhetoric, to his cosying up to Putin and repeated statements that he thinks ‘many very bad things …

On Sunday, the Colombian people rejected the recent peace deal that the Colombian government had reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after 52 years of civil war. The plebiscite narrowly failed: 50.2 percent rejected the peace accord, while 49.8 percent were in favour. What, exactly, were Colombians voting on? Colombians cast votes on whether they support the peace agreement, reached in August and formally signed on Sept. 26. The content of the 297-page peace accord had been made public before the vote. Who voted no? The “no” vote is not representative of all Colombians. Less than 40 percent of Colombians voted in the plebiscite, leaving many voices unheard. This was partly related to weather conditions; the Caribbean …

On Aug. 29, 2016, the Colombian government and the leftist insurgent group FARC initiated a cease-fire. The two parties had reached a remarkable peace accord a few days earlier, hoping to end 52 years of civil war. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the peace deal will be formally signed Sept. 26, which would trigger the 180-day demobilization of the FARC. Colombia’s armed conflict, the longest-running in recent global history, left more than 220,000 people dead and about 6.7 million displaced within the region. The cease-fire formalizes the end of combat activities between state forces and the FARC, formally known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — and all hostilities against civilians. After decades of brutal violence and several failed peace processes, this …

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 …

Last week’s coup attempt by military forces in Turkey — the military’s first overt attempt to take power since 1980 — came as a great shock to the international community. At least 290 people were killed and 1,440 wounded. The coup also spurred a dramatic wave of purges; less than 24 hours after the turmoil began, 2,839 army members and a member of the constitutional court were arrested, while 2,745 judges and five members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors were removed from their posts. The purges only intensified thereafter; within a week, about 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers found themselves detained, suspended or under investigation. The government’s rhetoric and consistent inaction, contextualized within its wider response to the …