Columnists

Lest we forget

“Who is the enemy other?” asked Jeffrey Murer in an openSecurity agenda-setting article. Identifying the ‘enemy’ lies at the heart of security policies and practices - but who is the enemy and how do we know them?

Over the past year openSecurity has explored these issues in the collection below. Now, Jeffrey Murer reflects on this series and entreats us to find the other in ourselves.


Sri Lanka’s twin challenges

The Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo was the occasion for renewed demands that the state account for the brutal ending of its war with the Tamil Tigers in 2009. But Sri Lanka's appalling human-rights record does not only apply to its violent past: today too civil-society organisations are under heavy authoritarian pressure.

Beyond enemy images: politics and the Other – a retrospective

Jeffrey Stevenson Murer reflects on openSecurity's collection of articles, which have explored the creation of the other as 'enemy', externally and in ourselves.

Conflict and narrative

It's being painted in small, nervous brushstrokes now, but if the 3,000 or so people in attendance at the Combatants for Peace Memorial Day ceremony are any indication, it seems there is a new complicated narrative being written.

Wake up calls: why aren't we up yet?

The bombings in Boston brought to mind familiar images from past American tragedies and its wars abroad. But why are we still shocked?

How the clash between Islamism and Zionism not only affects the Middle East but also the west

The author in his latest book, Dangerous Liaisons: The Clash between Islamism and Zionism (2013), contends that the antagonism between Islamism and Zionism in the west is a significant threat to integration and social cohesion. More attention should be paid to this ethno-religious political clash that has already seen its first proxy war

The desert's fertile soil: threats of instability still growing in the north

Claims of a French victory in Mali assume that groups aimed at an Islamic state. But western intervention in another 'front' on the war on terror yet again threatens future conflict, leaving northern populations vulnerable to the grievances that caused the insurgency in the first place.

Nuclear weapons, basketball diplomacy and war in Korea

While North Korea's nuclear threats towards the US remain in the realm of the absurd, the government's latest denunciation of the armistice agreement dangerously raises tensions between an inexperienced leader in Pyongyang and an untested president in Seoul.

Toxic images or imaging the other

In the aftermath of the Toulouse killings of March 2012, the French state projected a set of 'toxic images' clearly demarcating the republic's enemy in young, Muslim men. 

Playing chicken with the Islamic Republic

Threats of attack and sanctions have proven to be a double-edged sword, inflicting real damage on both the Iranian regime and its democratic opposition, with real costs for the fragile European economy and America’s strategic power.

Nuclear assurances: when a fatwa isn’t a fatwa

Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. What does its disregard mean for his ability to project authority to both international actors and domestic audiences?

Split of a soul: when politics shoots at culture

The 2011 referendum granting South Sudan independence served as a decisive verdict on the history of decades-long civil war as well as the foundational tenets of the modern international community. Adil Babikir evokes lost narratives of national unity that once resounded in both Sudan and South Sudan through a single name: Mongo Zambeiri.

Resisting the other of the ‘war on terror’: lessons from Japanese internment camps?

Though intended to be temporary in nature, Agamben argues that the ‘state of exception’ has become a permanent fixture of democratic governance. This ‘war’, declared by the US and its allies against a tactic, and therefore unbound by time or space, is ongoing.

Joycean nightmares, Parnellite politics, and the Northern Irish riots

Attributing the violence associated with Northern Ireland's 'flag riots' to the peace process itself is a capitulation to the view of Northern Ireland as unable to escape the nightmare of its history, leaving questions of social responsibility endlessly deferred.

Algeria, Mali: another front in the “Global War on Terror”?

Algeria partnershipWhat the Islamist terrorist threat has become is an incoherent pretext to intervene militarily on the part of the west. The only principled position to adopt therefore is the rejection of both, for the self-determination and sovereignty of the peoples.

The creation of an unbridgeable divide

Syria's civil war is now strongly characterised by militias identifying along sectarian lines. The growing divide between Sunnis and Alawites has profound implications for Syria, and the Middle East.

Israel in trouble: review of The Gatekeepers, by Dror Moreh

As Israelis go the polls on 22 January, Israeli democracy is in real trouble. At least that’s the message from a group of Israeli security mandarins at the centre of the Oscar-nominated documentary film The Gatekeepers.

Iran and the repercussions of US policymaking

Western analysts often and articulately point out why the United States fears Iran. But what does Iran have against the United States? Do we understand why Iran is taking such a belligerent course?

What do we mean by Islamism?

The British media and political landscape have done much to obscure a proper in-depth understanding of Islamism, the ideology, as separate from the Muslim faith. Two books can be a small help - everyone should read them.

Breaking the vicious circle - reconciliation in OSCE areas

Work must be done to overcome divides even many decades after official agreements to end violence have been signed. But the process is neither simple nor direct, with social media as easily a tool for vitriol as for furthering understanding of others. What, and who, can help?

Violence, space and memory in the new Northern Ireland

Violence in Belfast in September and December 2012 bears witness to the collision of the 'old' and the 'new'. As Northern Ireland embarks upon a decade of centenaries, the question arises: who hosts memory - and how?

Headscarfs and homosexuals - feminist ideals in xenophobic politics

When the protest against a lecture by the controversial Islamist Bilal Philips risked being hijacked by Danish populist forces, it was a vivid reminder of what happens in practice, despite declarations by right-wing populist leaders.

Confronting militarist mindsets in Israeli society: interview with New Profile founding members

In an increasingly right-wing political environment, addressing the place of the military in Israeli society means going through the cracks rather than lobbying government. International connections help, but it's outreach, not funds, that count.

Out of nowhere? The Taliban and Malala

Amidst calls for justice through the barrel of a gun and hopes Pakistan's army will break ties with the TTP, does an emphasis on the narrative of Violence against Women play into the very binaries that legitimate the Taliban's existence?

Let Vietnam live!

John Berger was in England for Oxford Vietnam Week (Jan. 25 – 31, 1967), when he said, ‘The simple issue around which all the history of the rest of the century will concentrate: are we in the privileged quarter of the world, going to continue to exploit the other three quarters?’  In republishing his speech in full, Let Vietnam Live! – may we wish the author many happy returns of the day.

Pakistan’s disappearing Hindus

The political system works against minorities in Pakistan, dovetailing wealth, power, and sectarianism. While Pakistan's Hindus feel the effects keenly, the elites have adjusted to the political apparatus rather than challenging it.

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