"Zarqawi's Jihad" William Arthurs
Summary: review of Jean-Charles Brisard, "Zarqawi: the New Face of al-Qaeda". "...Writers such as Walter Laqueur have cautioned against naive monocausal analyses of the causes of terrorism which leave out the diverse circumstances, aims and methods of the various individuals and groups who have conventionally been classified as terrorists. I prefer to locate terrorism as a correlate of the modern activist style of politics which embodies, or at least presents, fervent and dynamic ideological commitment, emphasises ends rather than means, and possesses a shrewd grasp of public relations and promotional techniques. This approach situates terrorism historically as a product of the dark side of the Enlightenment while leaving ample room to take account of the individual circumstances and personalities of the exponents of terror, whether they are heads of state or merely leaders of small activist groups..."
Original publication: Democratiya, issue 7 (December 2006): now archived by Dissent Magazine. All rights reserved. Read article.
"Russia's Gas Weapon: Gazprom Rising" Ziba Norman
Summary: How wise is it of the U.S. and Europe to cultivate a dependence on Russian state-owned Gazprom? For Russia watchers, Gazprom's recent announcement that it plans to move into the United States, with designs to take a 10 percent market share for liquefied natural gas by 2010 and increasing that up to 20 percent as soon as production permits, should have come as no surprise. The move is part of a long-term strategy that is being skillfully executed by the Russian state-owned energy giant with the full backing of President Vladimir Putin.
Original publication: International Herald Tribune, op-ed page, 21 December 2005. All rights reserved.
"Thinking Like Grandmasters" Ziba Norman
Summary: Putin's master maneuvers. Vladimir Putin believes that Russia has more than a minor role to play in the geopolitical game, and that, in his view, stability is not achievable without her. Developments in Russia in recent weeks give a clear indication of Putin's strategy to project this geopolitical power, in an attempt to re-assert Russia's pre-eminence and to ensure her future security.
Original publication: TechCentralStation, 5 December 2005. Copyright 2005 TechCentralStation. Read article.
"Ahmadinejad y las motivaciones reales de Iran" por Ziba Norman
Que nadie se lleve a error, Iran es antiamericano y anti-Israel...
El Diario Exterior, 21 de noviembre de 2005. (c) Fundacion Iberoamerica Europa. Fuente: TechCentralStation. (Translation into Spanish of "Iran's Balancing Act".) Pulse aqui.
Iran's Balancing Act" Ziba Norman
Summary: Denial is no basis for a foreign policy. The goals of both Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad are the same: an Iran militarily and economically dominant in the region.
Original publication: TechCentralStation, 4 November 2005. Copyright 2005 TechCentralStation. Read article.
"How to Lose Friends and Influence Nobody" Ziba Norman
Summary: Fortress America will not necessarily be a safer place. Ziba Norman on the Visa Waiver Program.
Original publication: TechCentralStation, 20 October 2005. Copyright 2005 TechCentralStation. Read article.
"The Economics of Security" William Arthurs
Summary: Traditionally, security has been understood in terms of technological advances. This paper argues that security is a subjective concept, and that problems of security can best be understood using simple economic concepts. Economics offers a wide range of tools and models to understand individual actors' decisions about security and the interaction that takes place during the emergence of a collective decision. Once security problems are understood as problems of resource allocation and incentives, behaviours usually characterised as perverse can be readily explained.
Original publication: this paper was delivered at the European Institute, the LSE, in June 2005. It will be published in hardcopy in late 2005. Copyright 2005 The Transatlantic Institute. Download.
"Dr Kelly's Religion" Ziba Norman
Summary: Dr David Kelly's attempt to square his allegiance to his religion and his professional duty may have led him to the decision to take his own life, in the belief that he had failed to uphold the high standards of the faith he had chosen.
Original publication: Prospect Magazine, January 2004. Copyright 2004 Ziba Norman. Download.
"The End of the Nation State?" Ziba Norman interviews French sociologist Dominique Schnapper.
Summary: Schnapper has been recognised for her life's work studying the nation state. Looking ahead she is pessimistic about the future health of democracy in Europe.
Original publication: RSA Journal, February 2003. Copyright 2003 Ziba Norman. Download.
"Is Abkhazian Independence a Fig Leaf for Russian Ambition?" Ziba Norman, 18 February 2009
News regarding the development of a Russian military presence in Abkhazia, on the Black Sea Port of Ochanchire, southeast of Sukhumi and the restoration of the Bombora Airfield in Gudauta, the largest in the South Caucasus, are clear markers for the Kremlin's agenda...
"A Chance for Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh Must Not Be Squandered" Ziba Norman, 11 February 2009
It has been reported that Armenia and Azerbaijan have reached some agreement on a four-point plan with the aim of reaching a resolution on the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Whilst no official agreement is likely to take place without the participation of the Minsk Group and the OSCE, it is hoped that both organisations foster the positive direction in which the discussions between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan are going. Cautious optimism and a resolve for peace must be the way forward.
"Political Philosophy and Political Reform in China" William Arthurs, 22 January 2009
We are delighted to be able to reproduce Xu Youyu's article "The Debates between Liberalism and the New Left in China since the 1990s" which reviews contemporary debates within China about globalisation, capitalism, freedom of thought, and China's relationship to the West -- and provides background to China's Charter 08 movement, launched last month.
"Obama and the Caucasus" Ziba Norman, 6 November 2008
The incoming US administration will face a range of foreign policy challenges around the world. What changes in US policy in the Caucasus region should we expect?
"The Importance of Akhalgori" Ziba Norman, 16 October 2008
Talks to ease the conflict over Georgia's Moscow-backed breakaway regions were suspended until next month on Wednesday after diplomats failed to get Russia and Georgia to agree on who was allowed to take part in the talks in Geneva. It is safe to say that the Russians were not overly concerned about last week's talks going ahead. At the last moment they insisted that Abkhazian and South Ossetian representatives be included fully in the talks, knowing that this would be unacceptable to Georgia...
"The Turkish Moment: unenviable job or great opportunity?" Ziba Norman, 11 September 2008
In the immediate aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War, Turkey finds itself in the unenviable position of holding the key to re-establishing balance in the region.
"Depoliticising Nature" William Arthurs, updated 1 September 2008
As we write this, almost two million people are heading inland from the southern US coastline, fleeing Hurricane Gustav. Readers may be interested in our Hurricane Katrina analysis from September/ October 2005. "The challenge of Katrina is twofold: policy responses that take these lessons into account cannot themselves be simple; and, given the current political dialogue, there is no way these policy responses can easily be aired."
"SCO sends a signal that Russia has overplayed its hand" Ziba Norman, 29 August 2008
Russian President Medvedev expected to return from the Annual Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ["SCO"] (a treaty organisation that includes Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with a clear message of support for Russia's actions in Georgia...
"Russians use ceasefire agreement as a basis for occupation" Ziba Norman, 26 August 2008
President Medvedev has officially recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. This move, taken in clear violation of international law and one with very clear advantages for Russia, marks the end of the first chapter of a story that began with an engagement between rebel separatists in South Ossetia and the Georgian army on 7 August, and ended with an invasion by Russia, supposedly acting as peacekeepers in the region.
"Russia's Challenge to NATO" Ziba Norman, 18 August 2008
Russia can no longer hide behind the claim that she was operating as a peacekeeper in the volatile Caucasus. Russia's challenge to Poland is loud and clear, it is a challenge to all members of NATO and the EU.
"Georgia--a broken country in a state of chaos" Ziba Norman, 15 August 2008
Georgia's President Saakashvili has officially signed a ceasefire agreement, together with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia. Georgia's request to replace Russian troops with EU or UN troops in the occupied areas was, predictably, dismissed. Whilst it appears as though the areas of Georgia that are not within the disputed separatist enclaves will remain entirely within the control of the Georgian government, it is not yet clear what will happen in the days that follow. Will Russia withdraw from areas such as Gori, outside of the disputed territory of South Ossetia? What will happen with the forces that are reported to have mobilised less than 40 miles from Tbilisi itself? In short the next phase in this may be as dangerous as the last week, leaving a broken country in a state of chaos.
"Russia: more to gain in War than Peace" Ziba Norman, 10 August 2008
The movement of Russian forces into Georgia in the past few days is the most significant event since the end of the Cold War. Russian forces continue to pursue aggressive military operations deep within areas of the sovereign state of Georgia: these include the bombing of the civilian international airport in Tbilisi, bombing raids outside the disputed separatist region which have resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties, attacks on critical infrastructure in the Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi amongst others, on depots for energy supplies, and on military sites. Where it will end is unclear, but Russia’s strategic aims are only too plain.
"Azerbaijan between East and West" Ziba Norman, 17 May 2007
In the geopolitical hotspot of Azerbaijan any semblance of calm is welcomed. So the prosperity that the country's estimated $140 billion in oil revenues promises to generate and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline have dominated the headlines, trumping more serious discussions about this complex nation struggling to find its identity.
"Redefining the issues: Does Iran pose a threat?" Ziba Norman, 19 April 2006
Game theorists are doing the calculus, claiming confrontation with Iran is all but inevitable. Israel, they say, might threaten a first strike nuclear attack, forcing the US to begin conventional military operations to avert an even more chilling scenario.
Russia's Gas Weapon/ background
Our director Ziba Norman's op-ed piece about the Gazprom corporation, Russia's Gas Weapon, appeared in today's IHT. Here is some of the background material on this subject which we prepared for internal use.
21-December-2005 @ 16:03:06
posted by William Arthurs
Belarus: In search of Democracy
Belarus has the grim distinction of being the sole dictatorship in Europe. Democracy activists, campaigning in advance of next year's presidential elections, have been targeted and suppressed by the regime.
16-November-2005 @ 23:06:12
posted by Ziba Norman
The two months that have passed since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans have offered an opportunity to consider the longer term implications and risks highlighted by this disaster.
11-November-2005 @ 14:30:44
posted by William Arthurs