Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

18
Aug

What Exactly Is Going On In Ukraine?

Written on August 18, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Security

Among Russia watchers, the month of August has become somewhat notorious. Rare is the year that goes by without an eventful August. Sometimes the chaos is internal (the wildfires of 2010 and 2012), while other years the events are external (2008’s Russia-Georgia War comes to mind).

This year, another August surprise seems increasingly possible. The Ukrainian territories that have been occupied by Russia since 2014 are taking their turn in the spotlight. While violence in the east of the country—the so-called Lugansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics—has begun to ramp up considerably, the past days have seen worrisome developments in Russian-annexed Crimea.

The circumstances are still somewhat murky, but it seems clear that some kind of incident occurred on the Russian-occupied side of the Crimean border that resulted in the death of two Russian service members. While the events occurred over the weekend, they did not fully escalate until a few days later. The Russians have accused Ukraine of crossing that border—into what is de jure Ukrainian land—and committing “terrorist acts” that “we will not let pass idly by.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation’s monitoring mission could not “confirm media reports of security incidents involving shooting or military activities” in northern Crimea, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has written that the United States “government has seen nothing so far that corroborates Russian allegations.” Read more…

Hannah Thoburn, Aug. 11th, hudson.org.org

15
Aug

In the next few months, a mixed force of Iraqi Arab and Kurdish security forces — including various Sunni and perhaps some Shiite militia elements — will enter Mosul, clear the city of Islamic State extremists and then work to bring governance, stability and reconstruction to one of Iraq’s most complex cities and its province.

There is no question that the Islamic State will be defeated in Mosul; the real question is what comes afterward. Can the post-Islamic State effort resolve the squabbling likely to arise over numerous issues and bring lasting stability to one of Iraq’s most diverse and challenging provinces? Failure to do so could lead to ISIS 3.0.

The prospect of the operation to clear Mosul brings to mind experiences from the spring of 2003, when the 101st Airborne Division, which I was privileged to command, entered a Mosul in considerable turmoil. Our first task, once a degree of order had been restored, was to determine how to establish governance. That entailed getting Iraqi partners to help run the city of nearly 2 million people and the rest of Nineveh Province — a very large area about which we knew very little.

Establishing a representative interim council to work with us in Nineveh proved to be no easy task — and its formation and subsequent developments hold insights for the coming endeavor in Mosul. Read more…

David Petraeus is a retired U.S. Army general who commanded coalition forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 and served as CIA director from 2011 to 2012. He is a partner in a major global investment firm.

August 12th, thewashingtonpost.com

13
Aug

Nation-States in the Digital World

Written on August 13, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Political Economy

To understand geopolitics is to understand power. The Oxford English Dictionary defines power as “the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way, to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.” Science offers a more precise definition. In physics, power is the rate at which work is done — the work/time ratio, showing the amount of energy consumed per unit of time. The two definitions complement each other — power has to do with efficiency and influence, building on energy. The digital environment stands astride the logical patterns the human mind develops — it depends only on innovation and need, with limited to no state intervention. But the nation-state is not completely absent in the digital world and all that regards it, cyberspace included.

Digital Power

Digital power embraces and enhances the three dimensions that traditionally define national power — political, economic, and military. In order to establish how nation-states build digital power, it is essential to understand the developing factors for the digital environment and the way states facilitate, use, or impede evolution in the sector.

While the internet remains an important component of cyberspace, networked technologies that allow industrial machines to communicate with each other and with their operators are the defining features of the fourth industrial revolution that cyberspace now encompasses. It is these technologies that bring competitive advantages to nation states. Their goal is to increase efficiency, reduce downtime, and monitor quality. The way countries support innovation and promote technological advances, forging dependencies among themselves, will help shape geopolitical trends. Digitalization starts by affecting the economics of a country, forcing it to adapt its policies. Read more…

By Antonia Colibasanu
August 13, 2016, realclearworld.com

31
Jul

After the terror attacks in Paris last November – a carefully coordinated series of assaults carried out by multiple attackers, resulting in 130 deaths – there was intense pain and fear, but also a spirit of unity and resilience. By contrast, since the Bastille Day massacre in Nice – where an attacker, having received help from five men better described as criminals than as radical Islamists, barreled a truck into a crowd, killing 84 people, many of them children – the dominant feelings seem to be impotence and anger.

The French are now frustrated and anxious. They are used to some semblance of security in their cities, which have long been bastions of knowledge and art, not sites of relentless terror. They want to feel safe again – whatever it takes. These feelings are entirely understandable, but they don’t necessarily contribute to effective decision-making.

The “whatever it takes” is the problem. If people feel that their leaders are failing to protect them, they may turn to more radical alternatives; already, populist and even overtly racist political parties are gaining traction in France and elsewhere. Urged on by such forces, people may even decide to take the law into their own hands. Read more…

July 25th; Dominique Moisi, a professor at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), is Senior Adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI) and a visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of La Géopolitique des Séries ou le triomphe de la peur.

https://www.project-syndicate.org

28
Jul

Has the world gone mad? This question is occupying the minds of many people these days. It feels like the world is out of step, that multiple crises are encroaching upon us and that the distant world of international politics is about to get dangerously personal. How are we supposed to deal with the feeling of living in an era that we no longer seem to understand?

“I’m tired of living in interesting times,” a Twitter user wrote several days ago. His words were retweeted more than 1,000 times. Everyday, people on social media ask: What is wrong with 2016? When will it be over? What more does it have in store for us?

This year, international political events have overlapped in an unsettling way. Something seems to be coalescing and brewing, though it’s not yet clear what. Each new development seems to come a bit faster than the last. It may have begun with the Arab Spring in 2011, but it also continued with the wars in Libya and Syria and was further exacerbated by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the latest terrorist attacks. We are witnessing the destabilization of the world as we’ve known it since 1989.

When our phones began vibrating a week ago Friday with breaking news alerts about the military coup in Turkey, we were still processing our shock over the terrorist attack in Nice, France. Each shock fades quickly in light of the next one. On Sunday, a Syrian refugee detonated a bomb outside an outdoor concert in Ansbach, Germany. Last Friday, an 18-year-old student shot and killed nine people in Munich, most of them teenagers. And only days before that, a 17-year-old asylum-seeker in Würzburg attacked a group of Chinese tourists with an ax. Read more…

The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 30/2016 (July 23rd, 2016) of DER SPIEGEL.

Mathieu von Rohr is DER SPIEGEL’s deputy foreign editor.

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