Marginalisation and Political Violence: Understanding Boko Haram

Ronan Farrell | Consultancy Africa Intelligence | February 2012


The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has become one of the most potent examples of the ways in which underlying structural inequalities can drive political violence. The brutal attacks on 25 December last year are only the latest in a number of violent events linked to the group and fighting has continued over the last two months. Writing for Consultancy Africa Intelligence, Ronan Farrell discusses the emergence of Boko Haram against a backdrop of economic growth in Nigeria (on the back of high oil and gas prices) but extreme inequality.

Image source: pjotter05. 

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Mutually Assured Destruction: Fifty Years and Counting

Tom de Castella | BBC News Magazine | February 2012

Issue:Global militarisation

Writing for the BBC, Tom de Castella explores the reasons why the fear of a nuclear exchange has receded in the public imagination. Marking the fiftieth anniversary of Robert McNamara’s speech to the American Bar Foundation that outlined the official US position on mutually assured destruction (MAD), de Castella talks to a number of experts about the continuing threat from nuclear stockpiles around the world.

Image source: Leeks. 

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Reinventing Energy Futures

Institute for the Future | Four Visions Map | February 2012

Issues:Climate change, Competition over resources

Over the next few decades, the increasing demand for resources and the pressures of climate change are going to force some rapid and potentially difficult decisions on the role of energy in the global economy. A useful exercise has been undertaken by the Institute for the Future in terms of exploring a number of scenarious that could come to characterise our political, social and economic systems depending on the energy choices we make today.

Image source: Ulleskelf. 

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A Realist Argument in Favour of Non-Violent Opposition in Syria

Daniel Serwer | The Atlantic | February 2012

Issue:Global militarisation

How can the state violence in Syria be stopped? Daniel Serwer argues in the Atlantic that, given the Syrian regime’s complete failure to protect its own citizens it may be morally justifiable to arm the Syrian opposition; however from a realist perspective it is neither ‘possible nor wise’ as a means to topple Assad and bring about accountable politics. A violent reaction to the state’s overwhelmingly superior violence would not only destroy the opposition’s legitimacy, but would eventually draw them into a militarised conflict that they could not win.

Serwer strongly advocates mass-participatory non-violent approaches which use tactics that are difficult to attribute to single individuals. In the end, removing the regime’s ability to instil fear will be the surest way to ensure its downfall, as seen in the cases of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, and Serwer argues that this is still possible, even now after so much bloodshed.

Article Source: the Atlantic

Image Source: Yunchung Lee

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Militarisation and Negotiated Agreements: Avoiding the Pitfalls

Michael Krepon | Arms Control Wonk | February 2012

Issue:Global militarisation

Long-time and widely respected arms control watcher, Michael Krepon has written an interesting post on the Arms Control Wonk website about the perils of assuming that a negotiated outcome is always a good one. As the phrase goes, "the devil is in the detail" and looking very carefully at the relationship between militarisation and the provisions that get contained in treaties is all important.

Image source: UN.

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New Research Highlights the Role of Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier in Fragile Regions

Theresa Polk | New Security Beat | January 2012

Issue:Climate change

The role of climate change in exacerbating conflict situations has been confirmed by various recent studies, as reported by Theresa Polk at New Security Beat. Studies include research into the effects of the short-term weather systems El Niño and La Niña, which have shown to increase the risk of conflict in troubled areas such as Somalia. The first conclusion to draw from these studies is that climate change acts as a threat -multiplier in places that are already affected by issues such as poor governance or ethnic division; conversely, countries and regions that do have effective conflict-prevention mechanisms are generally able to withstand the extra stresses caused by climate change. The second conclusion is that there is no one-size-fits-all policy that can be applied to different communities coping with climate change and conflict risk, thereby showing the need for further context-specific research.

Article Source: New Security Beat

Image Source: CMagdalin

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