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In Depth

In Depth: Thinking about Military History in an Age of Drones, Hackers, and IEDs

in In Depth

AP/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency/Carnegie Mellon // The Army’s Crusher combat robotic vehicle makes its way through the desert at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.Paul J. Springer (Foreign Policy Research Institute) — We live in a transitional period in the history of human conflicts. Military robotics and cyber capabilities constitute a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) that will permanently alter the nature of warfare.

The United States, which leads in the creation and adoption of these forms of technology, has the unique opportunity to shape the RMA and prevent some of its negative consequences, but only if it acts quickly and decisively to lead an international movement that can address the worst potential consequences of these developments.

Absent such a determined effort, military robots and cyber capabilities are likely to make human conflict even more painful and costly, not only for uniformed military organizations but also for the noncombatant civilian populations of the world.

In Depth: The Dilemmas of Captivity

in In Depth

Carl Mydans // German soldiers surrendering during World War II.Paul J. Springer (Foreign Policy Research Institute) — For as long as humans have engaged in warfare, some unfortunates have been forced to surrender to the enemy and place their trust in the people who previously they had tried to kill.

Surrendering on the battlefield is one of the most dangerous and harrowing experiences that a combatant might have to undertake, regardless of the time period or the form of conflict.

However, in the twenty-first century, not only does the act of surrender carry an inherent danger, there is no guarantee that the treatment meted out by the captor will follow the international guidelines that have been established over the previous two centuries.

In Depth: NATO’s Role in Counter-Terrorism

in In Depth

Press Accociation // The number 30 double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on July 7, 2006.Juliette Bird (Terrorism Research Initiative) — In today’s febrile climate where terrorism has become a topic of importance, not only for terrorism ‘experts’ but for the average citizens of many countries, there has been a huge amount of soul searching and summit summoning in search of an adequate response.

Terrorism, in addition to being subject to what has been referred to as the ‘politics of labelling’[1], is not monolithic; it has no single trigger or context and its manifestations are many and varied.

Thus, as the United Nations’ Global Counter Terrorism Strategy[2] recognises, there are roles for a broad spectrum of actors in taking action against it.The perpetrators of terrorism and those that support terrorism as a legitimate strategy are the base level actors who must be countered.

Jihadism, Narrow and Wide: The Dangers of Loose Use of an Important Term

in In Depth

Al-Hayat Media Center // Islamic State murder video of 18 Syrian soldiersMark Sedgwick (Terrorism Research Initiative) — The term “jihadism” has become increasingly popular since 2000, and especially since 2008. It is used in two main ways.

Sometimes it is used very narrowly, as by Omar Ashour, who defined jihadism in 2011 as the belief that “armed confrontation with political rivals is a theologically legitimate and instrumentally efficient method for socio-political change” (emphasis MS) [1].

Sometimes it is used very widely, however, interchangeably with terms such as “Islamism” and “violent extremism.” “Jihadism” may even seem to be replacing “Islamism,” a possibility foreseen by Martin Kramer more than ten years ago in an article in which he noted how “Islamism” was then replacing “fundamentalism,” and wondered what new term might one day replace “Islamism” [2].

In Depth: How Moscow’s Migrant Workers became Islamic State Fighters

in In Depth

SIPA/Scanpix // Islamic State fightersDaniil Turovsky (Meduza) — Fighters from the world’s largest terrorist group, the Islamic State of Syria and Lebanon (ISIL), have threatened to open a new front, this time in Central Asia.

In April 2015, in the Tajikistani capital Dushanbe, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of the threat of an invasion of Tajikistan by ISIL, which could, in turn, threaten Russia. Russia promised the country support, and is planning to send 70 billion rubles ($890 million) for weapons and to secure the border with Afghanistan.

Meduza correspondent Daniil Turovsky set off to Tajikistan and found that the majority of new fighters in the Islamic State are being recruited by “Chechen groups” from migrants working at Moscow’s construction sites. As a result of their efforts, 2,000 to 4,000 Central Asian migrants have already departed for Syria.

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