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About Mary Kaldor

Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science and author of ‘New and Old wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era’ 3rd edition, 2012

Articles by Mary Kaldor

This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why we should oppose British air strikes against ISIL in Syria

Britain’s Prime Minister says we should not undertake air strikes lightly – he is right: we need to think about legitimate state building, not replying to terror with terror.

Countering the logic of the war economy in Syria

The country has entered a vicious circle where Syria’s own resources are being used to destroy it, and where ordinary people have no choice but to rearrange their lives around the conflict and either join or pay armed actors to meet everyday needs.

Momentous times for democracy in Europe

The shocking behaviour of the Eurozone leaders in punishing Greece for voting against austerity has alarming implications for the future. Is it too late to put democracy and Europe together again?

The habits of the heart: substantive democracy after the European elections

Despite the dramatic spread of democratic procedures in recent decades, there is a profound and growing deficit in substantive democracy everywhere. ‘They call it democracy but it isn’t’ was one of the slogans of the Spanish indignados.

What to do in Syria?

The war in Syria is illegal. If a criminal had poisoned someone, our concern would be how to protect the public from future poisonings and how to arrest the criminal and bring him (or her) before a court of law. And civil society needs to be directly involved in the talks.

Bordering on a new World War 1

What is missing is any serious discussion about the plight of the Syrian people. If it turns out that a red line has been crossed, then any intervention will be a geo-political intervention against the Assad regime. The likely response is to arm the rebels rather than to intervene to protect ordinary people.

The new war in Europe?

The European Union was founded in reaction to what I call ‘old war’ – the wars of the twentieth century. Even though material interests ought logically to lead to increased political cooperation, contemporary European politics, or the absence of politics, suggest instead the possibility of what I call a ‘new war’.

Subterranean Politics in Europe: an introduction

In a study of Europe’s “subterranean politics,” Mary Kaldor’s team at the London School of Economics and Political Science, working with partners across Europe, has examined both new political parties and public protests, finding that all of these phenomena share not only opposition to austerity, but also extensive frustration with politics as currently practised. This week, the team reported on their findings.

Global Civil Society 2012: ten years of ‘politics from below’

The question we ask is whether today’s generation of protestors represent the harbingers of a new emancipatory agenda, or whether the opposite is the case, that social fragmentation and polarisation from above as well as from below could usher in an even more dangerous and divided world. Or both?

What to do about Syria's new war?

The key to any intervention is to combine upholding human rights inside Syria with de-escalation of the broader regional conflict. Far from being contradictory, these two goals – human rights and peace – reinforce each other.

‘Mr former Havel': the kind of politician we need

Warm memories pay tribute to Vaclav Havel who died today

Can Intervention Work? by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus: book review

It is possible to walk the tightrope between the horrors of over-intervention and non-intervention. Mary Kaldor agrees, while insisting on distinguishing between genuine humanitarian interventions and the War on Terror.

The new road to Europe: ways out of the hydra-headed crisis

The European Union is uniquely placed to solve the problems that have been caused by the tensions and templates of national political solutions in a globalised economy. There exists a positive European reinvention of the Union for all those that are rightly indignant

Mary Kaldor

To save the euro and prevent the disintegration of the European Union, by 2013 European leaders have established a fiscal mechanism (European level taxes, borrowing and spending) which then pushes them to democratise Europe and hold elections for a President of both the Council and Commission. The new (woman) president acquires human security capabilities that have transformed the ability of the UN to stop wars and protect civilians so as to create space for democratic politics..


Finnish 2-euro coin commemorative of 100 years of universal suffrage, 2006, wikicommons/European Central Bank (ECB)

Libya: war or humanitarian intervention?

In the end the prospects for democracy depend on whether the rebels can mobilise support politically throughout Libya. The problem with the military approach is that it entrenches division. Our preoccupation with classic military means is undermining our capacity to address growing insecurity.

Afghanistan dreads the spring

Afghans suffer at the hands of everyone - the Taliban, the Afghan security forces, the international forces, and the warlords or drug barons - sometimes in combination. In language that is reminiscent of the way young people are talking in other parts of the Middle East, they want to reclaim their dignity.

Civil Society in 1989 and 2011

What is happening in Tunisia and Egypt is the completion of the 1989 revolutions. Giving back to us the meaning of civil society, this calls for a total rethinking of western security, foreign and economic policies

This week's theme: Human Security in practice

Mary Kaldor’s latest book is The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace co-authored with an American serving army officer, Shannon Beebe and published by Public Affairs. The book was primarily aimed at an American audience in the hope that the actual experience of Iraq and Afghanistan may open up an opportunity for rethinking security. It taps into what is already a wide-ranging debate in security circles. Here, our Human Security columnist introduces a special series of articles commissioned for openDemocracy on this theme

Time for the human approach

Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new post-cold war security order offers a significant opportunity for the world. But both the West and Russia need to move on from conventional security logic, and think in terms of the human, argue Mary Kaldor and Javier Solana.

Documents at odds: the UK’s national security review

The narrative of the Cold War imposed a simplified vision of the world. The UK’s defence review does move towards an understanding that risks normally associated with domestic concerns now have to be dealt with on a global scale. What it does not do is to create a capability for this kind of intervention

Reconceptualising war

What if defeating the enemy was the justification for war, but not its real goal? What if its goal was a certain kind of power-brokerage?

Can Greece Lead the Way?

As the left across Europe flounders in the wake of the economic crisis, the Greek socialist party under George Papandreou could prove the exception with its dramatic election victory. His aim is nothing less than a pioneering form of progressive government that combines green development, democratic openness and international reconciliation.

Dismantling the global nuclear infrastructure

Over the last couple of years, a new anti-nuclear movement has emerged led by former politicians and officials of the Cold War era. They want to rid the world of nuclear weapons and they have put forward proposals for achieving this that largely consist of business left unfinished when they were in power. If they are to succeed in their ultimate goal, they need to be complemented by an anti-nuclear movement composed of citizens and politicians of the emergent global era who could develop a new set of proposals aimed at challenging outdated ways of thinking about nuclear weapons.

Poverty and activism: the heart of global civil society

The worldwide economic recession has focused attention on the problems of poverty and those who endure or are being pushed into it. The fact that - even before the onset of the current crisis - one-sixth of the world's population continue to live in extreme poverty and that many millions suffer and die needlessly for want of proper healthcare or clean water is a standing rebuke to claims that economic growth will automatically spread material affluence and "lift" millions from hardship.

Ashwani Kumar is associate professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics (LSE). Among his publications is Community Warriors: State, Peasants and Private Caste Armies in Bihar (Anthem Press, 2008)

Jan Aart Scholte is professor of politics and international studies and director of the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR) at the University of Warwick. He is co-editor of the journal Global Governance

Mary Kaldor is professor of global governance and co-director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics (LSE)

Marlies Glasius is a lecturer in international relations in the department of politics, University of Amsterdam. Among her books is The International Criminal Court: A Global Civil Society Achievement (Routledge, 2007)

Hakan Seckinelgin is a lecturer in international social policy in the department of social policy, London School of Economics (LSE). Among his publications is International Politics of HIV/AIDS: Global Disease-Local Pain (Routledge, 2008)

Helmut Anheier is director of the Center for Civil Society at UCLA's School of Public Affairs, and professor of sociology at Heidelberg University

The prevalence of poverty on this scale must be considered a failure of the world order (see Peter Singer, "A life to save: direct action on poverty", 11 May 2009). That means it is an issue not just for governments or international organisations, but for "global civil society" too. What has global civil society to say about poverty; what does the engagement of the one with the other reveal about the life of this vital idea itself?

India in the global order

These are the twin themes of the Global Civil Society Yearbook 2009 (Sage, 2009), the ninth edition of a series and a project that has sought to track and make sense of the evolution of civil-society initiatives and ideas around the world over this tumultuous decade. The many contributors to the latest volume consider the role of global civil society in pressing for a fairer world order which can address the problems of poverty.

In the first edition of the yearbook, global civil society was defined as the "sphere of ideas, values, institutions, organisations, networks, and individuals located between the family, the state, and the market and operating beyond the confines of national societies, polities, and economies" (see Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius & Mary Kaldor, Global Civil Society 2001).  

But any creative notion must be open to critical questioning. The focus of the current yearbook on poverty - a collaboration between the LSE's Centre for the Study of Global Governance and Mumbai's Tata Institute of Social Sciences - raises several. Among them are the following:

* Is global civil society in practice dominated by the ideas and values of rich countries purveyed by international NGOs and other institutions organised and funded  in the global north?

* Are the prevailing conceptions of poverty shaped by those who have never experienced it?

* Worse still, is global civil society a mechanism for legitimating extremes of wealth and poverty, for "naturalising" the continued existence of poverty?

* Is it an expression of the hegemony of rich states? Does it represent a form of "governmentality", which manages inequality on behalf the rich?

* Alternatively, does it offer a potential platform for the voices of the poor?

To explore these questions, the yearbook took as a lens for investigation the Indian context, where approximately a quarter of the world's poor people live - a huge number of them belonging to the categories of dalits (traditionally lower-castes), and adivasi (indigenous peoples and tribes). India may have made progressive strides in reducing poverty since independence, but it still harbours around 240 million people living below the "poverty-line".

In contrast to western developed societies, the Indian variation of the poverty-line is (infamously) defined in terms of absolute poverty - access to sufficient food energy for biological survival - that focuses on a "'minimum level of living' rather than ‘reasonable level of living'" (see R Ramakrishna, Economic Reforms: Poverty and Inequality, 2004). Moreover, chronic hunger is systemic and violence against poor people is pervasive in many parts of India. As important, rising inequality has exacerbated the conditions of the country's poor. All these reasons make India a suitable core theme for the study of poverty with a global civil society focus.

The need to encompass India's place in the global order, to accommodate comparative studies, and to examine the global-local nexus led to a decision to alternate chapters that focus on India and are written by Indian authors with those tackling global concerns. It is through the global-local interchange that some answers begin to take shape; and the hope that poverty may be ultimately eradicated begins to transcend national boundaries, cultural barriers, and ethnic prejudices.

The anti-poverty resource

A key proposition that emerges from our researches, particularly relevant at a time when "naturalising" explanations of poverty retain their appeal, is that poverty - in India and elsewhere - is not a natural or passive state that results from backwardness or lack of engagement with modernity and globalisation. Nor are poor people a single entity, categorised under the label "poor" and defined in terms of bundles of goods or money. They are - in India - adivasi, dalits, sex-workers, homeless migrants, street-vendors, squatters, bonded-labourers, displaced people, eunuchs, construction-workers, riot-affected people, excluded diasporic citizens, refugees, street-children, and slum-dwellers. They lack the resources, opportunities and participatory avenues in collective-decision making that would enable them to overcome their poverty. Their poverty is reproduced over and over again through obstacles actually constructed as a consequence of modernity; they are the victims not of a timeless condition of poverty but of an ongoing and renewable process of impoverishment.

The Indian focus of the yearbook is an opportunity to feature those engaged in the great variety of civil-society activism in the country, as well as encompassing those living in extreme forms of absolute poverty and those lacking voice and representation in collective decision-making (sometimes distinct but often overlapping categories). In Indian and other contexts, scholars and practitioners from India, Australia, Wales, Mali, Thailand, South Africa, the United States and Egypt interrogate discourses of poverty as well as statistics; study local groups that engage global issues as well as global organisations that intersect with local contexts; and explore theory and practice, the secular and the religious, the visual and the verbal.

Amid this variety, a theme that emerges clearly in the 2009 edition of the yearbook is that the most resourceful, entrepreneurial people in the world are indeed those real "slumdog millionaires" who must scratch out their survival every day in the bleakest, most degrading of circumstances and ultimately overcome all forms of adversity to embrace and hang on to life. Their poverty, these studies show, is owed not to their own failings (or past karmas) but to structural realities - both economic (the inequitable distribution of global capital, the exploitation of cheap labour) and political (the manipulation of global institutions of governance, the legacy of authoritarian and ineffective states).

This discovery helps to rebut the trend of some of the critical questioning outlined above that sees global civil society as at its core a set of western NGOs which act as a non-political group of transnational service-providers. To the contrary, most civil-society scholars today view civil society as "inherently a political project" whose purpose is to resist dominant structures of power, enhance the hold of popular sovereignty in decision-making and reconceptualise the rights of poor and disadvantaged people, locally and globally.

The yearbook's authors treat the "poverty-reduction project" as an open-ended process whereby inegalitarian and unaccountable structures of power are interrogated, criticised, challenged, and ultimately reversed. The critical scrutiny of global civil society should continue, but the evidence of our researches is that its actors are at the forefront of campaigns that have the best chance of "making poverty history".

Also in openDemocracy:

Marlies Glasius, Helmut Anheier & Mary Kaldor, "Global civil society: the politics of a new world?" (15 January 2004)

Marlies Glasius, "Global civil society comes of age" (14 November 2001)

Neera Chandhoke, "What the hell is 'civil society'?" (17 March 2005)

Leni Wild, "The darker side of global civil society" (3 April 2006)

Gaza: the "new war"

Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian gynaecologist who lives in Gaza and works in an Israeli hospital and runs a free clinic in Gaza on weekends. His specialty is infertility and he helps Israeli women who have difficulty conceiving. He was born and brought up in a Palestinian refugee camp and became a doctor after studying his own medical records when he was ill as a boy.

The paradox of Basra

When I arrived in Basra on a Royal Jordanian flight from Amman, my bags were searched. I had been reading Patrick Cockburn’s book on Muqtada al-Sadr on the plane. The glossy cover with Muqtada’s picture and English writing was greeted with excitement by the customs officers, probably themselves poor Shi’a. One of them kissed the picture of Muqtada and asked if he could keep the cover.

Secure Afghanistan

During the election campaign, Barack Obama made much of the situation in Afghanistan. Indeed he argued (rather disappointingly since the war in Iraq should be regarded as a terrible mistake regardless of what was happening in Afghanistan) that the reason he was against the war in Iraq was because it diverted attention from Afghanistan and the hunt for Al Qaeda. He has already expressed his commitment to an Afghan ‘surge’ and he plans to send extra combat brigades to the area. He also made it clear that he was ready to continue ‘operations’ in Pakistan.

Crisis as prelude to a new Golden Age

Underlying the financial crisis is a deeper structural crisis in the real economy. It has to do with the mismatch between our social and political institutions and the profound changes in society wrought by the so-called `new economy.' This is why the solution goes well beyond a bank bail-out. Sustainable economic growth and stability can only be achieved again through a `new deal' at a global level that includes addressing climate change, poverty reduction and human security. Indeed, the present crisis is one of those epochal moments in human affairs. How we act now will have implications far beyond the present turmoil. It will shape the lives of future generations.

Mary Kaldor is professor of global governance at the London School of Economics (LSE), and convenor of the human-security study group that reports to the European Union's foreign-policy chief Javier Solana

Links relating to this article and Mary Kaldor's other columns are available at diigo here.

The best book to explain all this is Carlota Perez Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: the Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages.Perez can be described as a neo-Schumpeterian (a strand of economic thought developed in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex in the 1980s and 1990s, under the inspiration of Christopher Freeman ).

Their argument is based on the idea of long waves in the history of capitalism, as a consequence of the bunching together of technological innovations, which they call a `techno-economic paradigm '. Each wave is characterised by some critical invention that leads to a new set of technologies and infrastructures that all are interlinked, and a new type of `best practice'.

Since 1771, when Arkwright's Mill was opened in Cromford, there have been five great surges of development:

  1. the industrial revolution characterised by the mechanised cotton industry, factory labour, and the spread of canals;

  2. the age of steam and railways;

  3. the age of electricity and steel;

  4. the age of the car and mass production and

  5. our own era the age of information and telecommunications technologies.

Also in openDemocracy on the global financial crisis of 2007-08:

Tony Curzon Price, "Responsible recessions" (3 April 2008)

Willem Buiter, "The end of American capitalism (as we knew it)" (17 September 2008)

Fred Halliday, "The revenge of ideas: Karl Polanyi and Susan Strange" (24 September 2008)

Godfrey Hodgson, "The week that democracy won" (29 September 2008)

Tony Curzon Price, "Unprincipled madness" (1 October 2008)

Grahame Thompson, "Deglobalising the crisis" (3 October 2008)

Will Hutton, "Wanted: a fairer capitalism" (6 October 2008)

Avinash Persaud, "Europe's financial crisis: the integration lesson" (7 October 2008)

Paul Rogers, "A world in flux: crisis to agency" (16 October 2008)

Andrew Dobson & David Hayes, "A politics of crisis: low-energy cosmopolitanism" (22 October 2008)

Paul Rogers, "A crisis-opportunity moment" (23 October 2008) Anita Sharma, "The core crisis: standing with the poor" (30 October 2008)

Each era is characterised by some defining moment like Ford's Model T first mass produced in 1908 or the discovery of the microprocessor in 1971; by its own core factor of production such as oil (the age of the automobile) or the chip (the age of information technology). The epoch is also defined by a core economy - Britain in the first three waves with the US and Germany catching up in the third wave, and the US in the two most recent waves, spreading to Europe and Asia.

Each era goes through an installation periodthat ends in a financial collapse and a deployment periodwhen all conditions are there for taking full advantage of the new technologies across the whole economy and the benefits are more evenly spread throughout society. This ends in a phase of maturity and eventually saturation when the techno-economic paradigm is diffused throughout the economy and society and when technological progress slows down, the core factor of production is no longer plentiful and when protest about established ways of doing things develops..

Perez's contribution is two fold. First she demonstrates the importance of the institutional framework. She explains crises and depressions in terms of a mismatch between social and political institutions and the techno-economic paradigm. She accounts for `golden ages' in terms of contrasting periods of harmony.

The depression of the 1930s is explained in terms of the mismatch between financial and regulatory arrangements, which were an expression of the social and political institutions, largely established by Britain in the late nineteenth century and the huge potential for economic expansion resulting from the marriage of oil and mass production pioneered in the United States known as Fordism.

These new technological discoveries had resulted in massive productivity increases that were not matched by the pattern of demand. The `new deal' and the war led to redistribution of income and the construction of the Bretton Woods system, through which sterling was supplanted by the dollar, that enabled the rise and spread of mass consumption in the West (and in the East, mass armaments) and that led to a new Golden Age in the 1950s and 1960s. .

But already in the late 1960s the productivity gains of the mass production era began to slow down and workers and students began to rebel against the tedium of mass production routines. The stagflation of the 1970s and 1980s was the result of the maturity of those technologies, when it became harder and harder to innovate within the existing paradigm, when markets became increasingly saturated and when the key factor of production, oil, became much more expensive.

The developed economies revived in the 1990s. Not only was there intense investment in information technology itself which was beginning to weigh more significantly in growth and employment but we also witnessed the modernization of the mass production industries with computerized equipment, the internet and the new organizational models. At the same time and thanks to the global reach of telecommunications, massive production capacity was created across the world, and especially in Asia .

The rapid growth of information and telecommunications technologies and their application to a range of industries in the last two decades has, however, largely taken place within the pattern of demand established during the Fordist era, based on consumption and, to a lesser degree, military spending. Cars and consumer durables have greatly improved. The Internet has made possible cheap air travel. New consumer goods like ipods or video games have been invented. New more precise aircraft, missiles and tanks have been developed in the military sector. Above all, similar patterns of consumption have reached millions of people in places like China or India.

But all the same the new paradigm is coming against limits - limits imposed by existing patterns of income distribution, limits resulting from the saturation of consumer markets in the West and, perhaps most importantly the economic and environmental limits that are the consequence of the dependence of this pattern of growth on carbons, especially oil. What is needed now are a new set of institutions capable of shifting the pattern of demand so as to allow the new paradigm to diffuse through out the global economy in a sustainable way.

Perez's second contribution is to explain the role of finance capital in these great surges of development. Finance is critical for the spread of innovation. Schumpeter defined capitalism as that `kind of private property economy in which innovations are carried out by means of borrowed money.' Each wave is also characterised by financial innovations - joint stock companies in the railway age, hire purchase in the automobile age, or plastic and e-banking or hedge funds in the current era. In the installation phase, finance capital starts to fund the new technologies and big profits are made. Indeed, many of the new financial innovations have made possible the increase in real consumption; for example, credit cards and new types of mortgages. This is the period when deregulation becomes fashionable and when free markets are seen as the mechanism for addressing the sluggishness of the old paradigm.

Snuff Mill, Morden Hall Park, Merton, London.
Severn Trent Railway Steam Engine

Want some chips?


But because the spread of the new paradigm comes up against limits, the installation period ends in a frenzy phase when the `new economy' is not yet large enough for sustained investment but when finance capital has got used to making big profits. `In order to achieve the same high yield from all investments as from the successful new sectors' says Perez `finance capital becomes highly `innovative'. Imagination moves from real estate to paintings, from loans in faraway countries, to pyramid schemes, from hostile takeovers to derivatives or whatever.'

This is the moment when greater risk is licensed and when a mountain of paper wealth is created masking the mismatch between the new economy and the social and political institutions. This is a period of extreme social polarisation when the gains from economic growth are not redistributed. It is a period that celebrates making money, in which selfishness is considered `good'. And it is in this context that financial schemes become increasingly wild.

At the same time, the financial architecture, along with the institutional framework, also inhibits the channelling of capital into productive growth. In each wave, financial architecture has been centred on the core country. The dominant currency was sterling in the first three waves. After Bretton Woods, the dollar became the international currency and the federal reserve the lender of last resort. For the first twenty five years after Bretton Woods, the system, based on fixed exchange rates tied to gold and the dollar, worked rather well; this was a period of harmony, the Golden Age of the automobile era. The United States provided massive economic and military assistance to the rest of the world (except the Communist bloc), which returned to the US in the form of purchases of American goods.

But as other countries caught up, US trade surpluses vanished. The turning point was the high cost of the Vietnam War and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971, the same year that Intel invented the microprocessor. In the subsequent era of floating exchange rates and neo-liberal prescriptions, the dollar remained the dominant currency. But instead of stimulating the rest of the world, the American financial system sucked in money from the rest of the world through massive borrowing. Much of this money came from the so-called emerging markets and oil states via what are known as sovereign wealth funds. But it also came from poor countries who borrowed when economic aid dried up and who continue to be net lenders to the United States. The trillion dollar war in Iraq and the Bush era tax cuts for the rich has taken US borrowing to new heights; as of September 2008, overall US debt was 350% of American GDP.

The borrowing was, of course, a stimulus to the world economy. China and India grew dramatically through exporting to the indebted West. But both because of exchange rates and because there were no limits to US borrowing, most of the current account surpluses ended up inflating Western assets rather than improving infrastructure and reducing poverty. As long as the world had confidence in the United States (and Britain) and as long as assets continued to inflate thus generating high returns from lending, the debt could keep growing.

The current crisis is the end of the frenzy phase of installation -the moment when the bubble has burst. Of course the immediate crisis is the consequence of short term factors (weak financial regulation, securitisation, excessive risk-taking, etc.) whereas the underlying structural problems are long-term. While the argument about the mismatch between institutions and the techno-economic paradigm suggests that a crisis is inevitable, the theory cannot predict when the crisis will happen or how.

The risk is that ameliorative measures are taken now to restore trust in the financial sector without addressing the long term structural problems that result from the dismantling of many of the institutions of the automobile era, through deregulation, and the absence of an appropriate institutional framework for the new information era. The problem is that patterns of demand and the habits formed by political and social institutions tend to be much more resistant to change than economies. Or to put it in another way, economic change is a consequence of market relations, whereas institutions and culture change through various forms of social and political contestation. In previous eras, it has taken war and revolution as well as prolonged depression before a new institutional framework was established. After all, the Wall Street crash took place in 1929 and it was only after the war and fascism, that the conditions for a new golden age of the automobile era were established.

The point, of course, is that the crisis is a turning point when the challenge is to establish a new global regulatory framework that can channel the new innovations into economically and environmentally sustainable economic growth. We need a new global financial architecture-, based on a combination of the dollar, the euro and the yen and a new exchange rate mechanism - in short, a new Bretton Woods. We need new methods of financial regulation as well as access to liquidity for poor countries. But above all, we need a new global stimulus package that will facilitate the spread of the information era and the growth of productive capital in sustainable ways so that lending does not continually increase debt but also creates sufficient income based on productive work to repay debt. Otherwise, the global economy is likely to limp along and we are likely to face more crises (both economic and political) in the future.

Such a package could involve large-scale redistribution to developing countries , allowing them to build the critical infrastructures of the information era, and to increase the consumption of poor people by providing jobs so that consumption is financed by productive income rather than debt. But it would also need to involve energy saving innovation, recycling especially waste, and the development of renewables, especially solar power, so that increased economic growth does not come up against the limits that could result from the high price of carbons and environmental degradation including global warming. It must be possible to spread the benefits of development without killing the planet.

The package would also need to involve a restructuring of the security sector away from the Fordist preoccupations with state security and sophisticated weapons platforms powered by combustion engines to providing the everyday security that could enable economic development in large parts of the world relying on to a much greater extent on improved communications than improved weapons. This is what is needed to initiate the transition from installation to full deployment, to promote the golden age of the information era.

In many of the commentaries on the crisis, there are calls for a new Keynes. Others insist that Keynsianism never worked and that neoliberalism should not be abandoned. What these two views fail to take into account is that the appropriate remedies depend on the phase of the long cycle. In the installation period, liberalisation frees up finance capital to invest in the new paradigm and to finance big increases in productivity. But in the deployment phase, some sort of stimulus is needed to channel finance into sustainable outlets and to develop appropriate markets.

The new Keynes has to be a Neo-Schumpeterian. Neo-Schumpeterianism is both supply side and demand side; it is about matching the social and institutional framework to the techno-economic paradigm. Keynes thought it was enough to dig holes within a national context if that would stimulate the economy and, indeed, that was the solution in a mass production era. But in the current era, any stimulus has to be directed towards structural sustainability on a global basis. This is Keynsian in the sense of stimulating demand but it is neo-Schumpeterian in so far as it matters how money is spent, in the insistence that any stimulus must provide a sustainable outlet for the extraordinary gains in technological know-how of the last thirty years.

A global effort to eradicate poverty and tackle climate change world-wide would be the best way to overcome the limits to productive and environmentally sustainable growth and spread the new techno-economic paradigm.

'New thinking' needs new direction

Is it possible to suppose that the United States might finally experience its own perestroika after the end of the Cold War? I am not referring to the movement around Barack Obama's call for change, although that could potentially be a critical factor in reinforcing and sustaining the new phenomenon of perestroika. Nor am I referring to the financial crisis although that too could provide an impulse for transformation. Rather I am talking about the far reaching debate and indeed restructuring currently going on inside the Pentagon as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mary Kaldor is professor of global governance at the London School of Economics (LSE), and convenor of the human-security study group that reports to the European Union's foreign-policy chief Javier Solana

Links relating to this article and Mary Kaldor's other columns are available at diigo here.

The end of the Cold War did not lead to the dismantling of the military-industrial complex, which continues to exercise a powerful and pervasive political, economic and cultural influence on American society. Military spending fell after 1990 and the number of troops were reduced but research spending on advanced military technologiesw remained at its Cold War level, thereby constituting a permanent pressure to develop and produce new weapons systems. Moreover the Cold War narrative (drawn from the experience of World War II) about the role of the United States as a global leader in promoting democracy against its enemies through superior know-how, continued to dominate security thinking. Indeed the narrative was reinforced by the widespread argument that Reagan's decision to deploy cruise missiles was what ended the Cold War and by the experience of the 1991 Gulf War, which seemed to prove the salience of sophisticated technology. Throughout the 1990s, the United States continued to emphasise the importance of airpower and rapid decisive manoeuvre warfare incorporating new advances in information technology as the cornerstone of American strategy. And defence intellectuals continued to draw up scenarios in which these forces would be used to repel a new range of enemies from rogue states to terrorists. Indeed the immediate aftermath of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan was characterised by a mood of triumphalism about the American Way of War and the relevance of concepts like the Revolution in Military Affairs, Defence Transformation, or Netcentricwarfare.

Several years and thousands of casualties later, the atmosphere is very different. The worsening violence in Iraq and Afghanistan led to a serious questioning about the effectiveness of the US tactical approach. Moreover, despite the largest ever military budgets, there were shortages of troops and equipment suitable for ground wars because of the expenditure on large sophisticated systems. Many were arguing that success in regime collapse had created a vacuum of lawlessness filled by political insurgents and violent criminals and that efforts to attack insurgents using superior firepower merely increased opposition to occupation. On 10 January, 2007, President Bush announced a new military plan for Iraq, known as the `surge'.

The surge in Iraq was not just about an increase in troops, it was about a profound change in strategy and tactics, based on, to use the jargon, a population-centric approach. General Petraeus's `new thinking' emphasised, above all, the protection of civilians over and above force projection - a radical turn around in the way American forces are used. Instead of technology and firepower, the emphasis has been on bottom-up local security. His latest `Counter-insurgency Guidance' (published 8 July 2008) includes instructions like `Secure and serve the Population', `Live among the People', `Promote Reconciliation', `Walk', `Build Relationships', `Employ money as a weapons system', `Empower subordinates'.

Public Domain: Street Security in Iraq by Mike Pryor US Army, 2007 (DOD 2007_070405) The reduction in violence in Iraq over the past year and a half was mainly due to the fact that Sunni insurgents overwhelmingly switched sides, choosing the US rather than Al Qaeda, which, in turn, was in part but only in part a consequence of the new policy of direct population security by the United States. Instead of remaining behind protected enclaves and using firepower to attack insurgents, which usually involved so-called collateral damage, US forces spread out to population centres, not only providing security, but also helping to provide basic services and humanitarian relief. It then became possible to negotiate ceasefires with Shiite militias as well. (some argue that this was possible because ethnic cleansing had largely been completed in Baghdad). It also became possible to start to build much more effective Iraqi security forces than hitherto, incorporating many of the veterans of Saddam's army who had been dismissed by Bremer immediately after the American invasion. This strategy was, of course, combined with what is known as `kinetic force' to attack Al Qaeda as well as renegade Shiites like the `special groups' who did not respect the cease-fires; improved knowledge of the `human terrain' allowed the US to target these groups much more effectively. 

The change in strategy was the outcome of a broad debate in the Pentagon, especially among the Army and the Marines. My first intimation of change was when in 2005, I received an email from a beltway bandit (a Washington consultancy firm) appropriately named Hawk Systems Inc. They explained that they had received the contract from the Pentagon to `rethink the principles of war' and asked if I would contribute a chapter, relating to my work on `new wars' and human security. The book that came out of the project was circulated to all US staff colleges This year I was invited by the US Army War College to talk about `new wars' -a subject, that to my surprise, is now widely discussed.

Small Wars Manual 2Much of the new thinking derives from a strategic current within the US military that dates back to the US Marines 1940 Manual entitled `Small Wars'. This current of thinking lost the battle for strategy in Vietnam but remained alive in certain military circles. Much of the contemporary debate can be found in an online magazine entitled Small Wars Journal, which includes fascinating blogs from active servicemen about their experiences. One of the discussions, for example, is about the relevance of `fourth generation warfare', which refers to the impact of globalisation on war and the argument that nations have `lost the monopoly on force'. Another is about nation-building and the idea that `progressive stabilisation' capacity needs to be built in to combat units. Stabilisation is defined (in Defence Directive 3000 -05) as the effort to `create a secure and stable environment and to provide for the basic needs of the population to include food, water, sanitation and shelter.'

An article by Condoleeza Rice in the current issue of Foreign Affairs demonstrates how far this debate has gone. She is one of the more conservative members of the Bush Administration and it was she who famously said that it was not the job of American soldiers to accompany little girls to school. `In these pages in 2000' she writes `I decried the role of the United States, in particular the US military, in nation-building. In 2008, it is absolutely clear that we will be involved in nation-building for years to come.' She still insists that it is not the job of the military but nevertheless argues strongly for a capacity to provide `population security' in Afghanistan, which she defines as `addressing basic needs for safety, services, the rule of law, and increased economic opportunity.'

Of course, the `new thinking' is not uniformly shared. On the contrary, most of the US military retain what one `small wars' blogger describes as a `cultural aversion' to nation-building. In particular, the air force and the navy remain wedded to sophisticated systems capable of striking at long distance. In June, Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense, dismissed the Air Force secretary and the air force chief of staff, ostensibly for `poor performance in securing of sensitive materials' ( it was discovered that four high tech electrical nose cones for nuclear missiles were sent to Taiwan instead of helicopter batteries -a mistake that is difficult to believe especially as it was not revealed for eighteen months!) But according to the New York Times, in a report that reflects the talk in the Pentagon, Gates was `frustrated about Air Force actions on weapons procurement, budgets, and the execution of the mission in Iraq.' It is the fact that there is a struggle going on and not simply a change of direction that underlines the character of what might be described as the new perestroika and offers the possibility of real change. 

So what are the implications of this debate and where will it lead? A first question is whether the reduction in violence in Iraq can be sustained. This depends not on what the US military do but on the politics of Iraq. Can the Iraqi government gain the support and trust of the population, which, in the end, is what makes stability possible? And, if not, and new violence erupts perhaps also involving the Kurds, will the old guard in the Pentagon be able to turn around and claim, as they did after Vietnam, that these military intellectuals messed up and what was needed was even more firepower? While many on the left would like to see the US defeated in Iraq and troops withdrawn in humiliation, this would have catastrophic consequences in Iraq and is likely to have perverse consequences for politics inside the US. On the hand, if stability is sustained, this could also strengthen the `new thinking'.

A second question is will the new population-centric approach be adopted in Afghanistan? This month, General Petraeus becomes commander of Centcom, in charge of both Iraq and Afghanistan. At present, despite brave words about reconstruction, the main thrust of American and British policy seems to be to attack the Taliban at long distance, especially in Pakistan. As the situation worsens and spreads to Pakistan, can the Iraq model offer an alternative? Is it possible to apply the same kind of nuanced approach to the Taliban that could result in the marginalisation or isolation of extremists? And if not, what are the limits of the `new thinking'? Are we `faced' with what the conservatives call the `long war', which will justify the continued acquisition of all kinds of new methods of killing? 

iraq And a third question, which follows from the first two, is whether the new approach can be used for global peace operations in the future or whether it is a more efficient form of American imperialism? Most `new thinkers' still insist that the US needs both a stability capacity and a war-fighting capacity. Indeed, some proponents of `new thinking' are suggesting that a capacity for both decisive military actions and stabilisation could enable the US to invade countries like Iran and Syria and simultaneously clean up the aftermath. At present, of course, US forces are much too over stretched but what if the US leaves Iraq and Gates succeeds in overall restructuring? 

This is why what happens in the forthcoming US elections is so important. The changes within the Pentagon need political direction. Are population security or stability operations viewed as a means to an end - defeating terrorists that might attack the United States, winning the War on Terror? Or is the goal population security globally, which might require the use of military force against those nihilistic terrorists or genocidaires who are not amenable to negotiation and who cannot be arrested? In other words, is the goal to protect the United States unilaterally or can there be a new understanding that American security depends on global security? In the first case, the `new thinking' continues to be viewed as a secondary or marginal activity for US forces. But if the aim is global security, the primary requirement is for a stabilisation capacity to end wars rather than fight them.

The incoming President needs to articulate a new narrative for US security policy based on the notion that population security (or I would say human security) is a world-wide goal rather than the War on Terror and that the US will strengthen multilateral institutions in order to develop the capacity to prevent conflicts as well as reducing violence and contributing to stability and reconstruction. That way, the new President will able to harness the current perestroika to a new post-Cold War political paradigm.

Sovereignty, status and the humanitarian perspective

I first visited South Ossetia in the summer of 1995, just as the end-game in Bosnia-Herzegovina was being played out. I was ushered in to meet the so-called foreign minister of the enclave and, to my surprise, a large portrait of Radovan Karadzic was prominently displayed on the wall. When I asked him about it, he said that the portrait had been presented to him by the Bosnian Serb delegation at a meeting of Eastern Christians and that he greatly admired the Bosnian Serb independent stance.

Mary Kaldor is professor of global governance at the London School of Economics (LSE), and convenor of the human-security study group that reports to the European Union's foreign-policy chief Javier Solana

Among Mary Kaldor's many articles in openDemocracy:
"Safe democracy" (23 December 2004)

"America's Iraq plight: old and new thinking" (13 February 2007)

"Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report" (20 May 2007) - with Mient Jan Faber

The story is revealing because it shows that the Balkan parallel with Ossetia (and Abkhazia) is not Kosovo but Republika Srbska. These two break away statelets were created with Russian support during the break-up of the Soviet Union - probably as a way of maintaining control over the South Caucasus, which Russian traditionalists regard as their backyard. At that time, of course, the Russian state was not unified and so whether this was deliberate policy or part of the jockeying for power among sections of the military, remnants of the KGB, or Russian mafia who want to control Black Sea tourism will never be known.

Like Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union was divided into a hierarchy of administrative units, based on what were known as titular nationalities. South Ossetia and Abkhazia were autonomous provinces within Georgia. In such units, those who belonged to the titular nationality (in this case Ossetian and Abkhaz) were given privileged positions within the administration, which they were loath to lose, with the introduction of elections. When fighting broke out in 1991-2 and 1992-3 (largely started by Georgia but won by the Ossetians and the Abkhaz with Russian military help mainly in the form of North Caucasian irregular fighters) the majority of the population (largely Georgian) was expelled. Even before this latest war, there were still well over two hundred thousand of displaced personsliving in Georgia in tragic conditions. A further 130,000 have been added in August. Cease-fires were brokered by the OSCE (The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, established as a result of the Helsinki Agreement of 1975). Russian peace-keepers were supposed to maintain the ceasefires (along with Georgians and Ossetians in the case of South Ossetia). Both enclaves are isolated, under populated and characterised by fear, lawlessness and poverty, which exacerbate a combination of ethnic polarisation and criminality.

The debate about the future of South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) is rarely framed in human terms. Rather it is framed in terms of status issues and geo-politics. The argument is presented as an argument about national self-determination versus territorial integrity. Expressed in these terms, it is not possible to be for the independence of Kosovoand against the independence of Republika Srpska. If you accept the principleof national self-determination, then you favour independence for both and if you are concerned that the creation of new mini-statelets will represent a dangerous precedent for minorities in other states then you are for territorial integrity.

Among openDemocracy's articles on Georgian politics and the region, including the war of August 2008:

Robert Parsons, "Mikheil Saakashvili's bittervictory" (11 January 2008),

Jonathan Wheatley, "Georgia's democratic stalemate" (14 April 2008),

Robert Parsons, "Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia: thewar option"(13 May 2008),

Thomasde Waal, "The Russia-Georgia tinderbox" (16 May 2008),

AlexanderRondeli, "Georgia's search for itself" (8July 2008),

Thomas de Waal, "South Ossetia: the avoidabletragedy" (11 August 2008),

Ghia Nodia, "The war for Georgia: Russia, thewest, the future"(12 August 2008),

Donald Rayfield, "The Georgia-Russia conflict: lostterritory, found nation"(13 August 2008),

Neal Ascherson, "After the war: recognisingreality in Abkhazia and Georgia" (15 August 2008),

George Hewitt, "Abkhazia and South Ossetia:heart of conflict, key to solution" (18 August 2008),

Ivan Krastev, "Russia and the Georgia war: thegreat-power trap" (19August 2008).

Fred Halliday, "The miscalculation of small nations"
Plus: openDemocracy's Russia section reports, debates and blogs the Georgia war.

If, however, the debate is framed in humanitarian terms, then it is possible to arrive at different answers in different situations. My position on Northern Ireland was that I did not mind whether Northern Ireland was part of Ireland, part of Britain or part of Timbuctoo as long as Catholics and Protestants could live alongside each other in their own homes. That was also my positionon the former Yugoslavia. I did not mind whether Yugoslavia remained one state or became six states (the six republics) or eight states (the six republics plus two autonomous provinces) as long as individuals could live in their communities without fear of violence. In other words the solution to the question of status should be pragmatic rather than principled -- the principle is about human rights not status. Thus I favour independence of Kosovo because there are good reasons to fear for the human rights of Kosovo Albanians, based on past experience, should the province be returned to Serbia, although at the same time I favour an international presence to guarantee the human rights of the Kosovo Serb minority. I am against the independence of Republika Srbska or its annexation by Serbia because there are good reasons to suppose that the return of Muslim and Croat refugees and displaced persons (who represented the majority of the population before the war) would be even more difficult. I would agree to the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia provided all the displaced persons could return and receive compensation, and provided an international presence (not Russia) could guarantee human rights. And of course there are other possible permutations that could be acceptable, provided they were reached through agreement among all the relevant parties.

The difference between a humanitarian approach and a status approach is mirrored in the different security approaches of the EU and the OSCE, on the one hand, and NATO, on the other. The EU was founded as a security organisation; the aim was to prevent another war on European soil and the method was economic and social integration. The EU's securityapproach largely consists in exporting this method - although the European Security and Defence Policy also includes diplomacy and peace-keeping as well as what is known as civilian crisis management. The OSCE reflects the three approaches, or `baskets' of the Helsinki Final Act -- the peaceful settlement of borders; economic, social and cultural cooperation; and respect for human rights. In contrast, NATO is based on a much more traditional geo-political approach where security largely consists of the military defence of territory - even if NATO is adopting new roles in places like the Balkans and Afghanistan. At the end of the Cold War, many hoped that the OSCE would replace both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Instead, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and NATO expanded eastwards. While the OSCE was established as an organisation, its role has been marginalised by both NATO and the EU. The expansion of NATO has meant moving what is seen as the Western border eastward, implicitly up till now against Russia, and the rebuilding of the military forces of the new members.

Within the framework of the EU and the OSCE security approaches, the solution to the 'frozen conflicts' of the Balkans and the South Caucasus has to do with dialogue (involving all the parties to the conflict including displaced persons), economic and social assistance to help normalise everyday life, and human rights monitoring and, theoretically, enforcement (though this has been very weak). This approach, which seeks to minimise violence of all kinds, is necessarily slow and messy.But it is thwarted by a geo-politics in which the breakaway statelets are viewed as pawnsin a big power game. Thus the independence of Kosovo is supported by the West and opposed by Russia, while the opposite is the case for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In the South Caucasus, the geo-political approach is dominant. The presence of OSCE and the EU are ineffective, largely because of the geo-political competition for control over the supply and transportation of oil. Russian traditionalists argue that they need to control the Caucasus in order to retain control over the oil, while American neo-conservatives, led by Vice-President Dick Cheney, argue that access to oil in the Caucasus and Central Asia is critical in order to reduce reliance on the Middle East. Both sides seem to believe that influence over the states of the region is the way to ensure control of oil supplies.The key factor in this respect is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline built by BP under American pressure to transport Azeri oil to the West. An uneconomic route was chosen (actually the high price of oil now makes it more economic) in order to avoid both Russia and Iranthat passes through Georgian territory. The enthusiasm of Georgia for joining NATO has to be understood in the context of this geo-political competition. The use of force by Georgia to take back South Ossetia and the exaggerated response by Russia also have to be understood in terms of traditional military and territorial thinking, even though, interestingly, both sides tried to present what they were doing in humanitarian terms.

In a globalised world, where instability is largely a consequence of weak states, religious and national extremism or transnational crime, the geo-political approachis much less effective than in earlier times (as argued hereby Ivan Krastev). The use of conventional military force brings not control but instability as the Americans have painfully discovered in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the aim of the war in Iraq really was control over oil supplies, as Alan Greenspan assumed, it was not very successful as oil production is only now beginning to creep back up to pre-war levels. The same is true of the recent military adventures in the South Caucasus. Indeed the BTC pipeline had to be closed when the conflict broke out.

On that first visit of mine to South Ossetia, the so-called foreign minister explained that he did not have much time because he had to go to the wedding of a relative. Would we like to join him, he asked. The wedding was a raucous street party with delicious food, like everywhere in the region. (I still have the recipe for aubergine in a walnut sauce that I tasted there -- reproduced here). As the bride and groom departed in a revved up grand old Lada, the young men used their guns to shoot out every single street lamp. The result of Russia's (and Georgia's) August military adventures is more displaced persons, more destroyed homes, more criminality and more fear. The street lamps in South Ossetia and parts of Georgia will not be restored for a long time.

Europeanising Cyprus

A short time ago, we crossed over to northern Cyprus, with a French colleague, at Ledra Street in Nicosia in order to meet our Turkish Cypriot friend from the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Fatma Azgin. We sat down at a café and ordered lemonades. Fatma opened her handbag and proudly produced her brand new European passport. Unfortunately, she did not have much time because the next day, her family would cross over to the south in order to take her son to Larnaca airport where he is leaving to do a doctorate at Manchester University - as a European Union student.

Mient Jan Faber is professor of Citizens' Involvement in War Situations at the Free University in Amsterdam. For many years he worked for the Dutch Interchurch Peace Council (IKV) on civil-society initiatives.

Also by Mient Jan Faber in openDemocracy:

"Talking to terrorists in Gaza" (14 February 2005)

"Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report" (20 May 2007) - with Mary Kaldo
Fatma's passport is a Republic of Cyprus passport in three languages (Greek, Turkish and English). It is the whole island that has joined the European Union even though it is formally represented by the Republic of Cyprus, the government in control in the south. That means that Turkish people living in the north are entitled to claim the benefits of membership, even though that may involve going through the Republic of Cyprus. The membership of Cyprus in the European Union allows Fatma and others like her to break out of the isolation but it also recognises her as a Cypriot and a European. The café owner offered us all extra lemonade because she was so happy to have fellow Europeans in her café.

Fatma's newfound European identity is a bright spot in an otherwise worsening relationship between the EU and Turkey. In Turkey, the process of democratic reform has slowed down. There were high hopes after the victory of the (moderate Islamist) Justice & Development Party (AKP) in the parliamentary elections of 22 July 2007.

The Turkish roadblock

The AKP had already shown its determination to introduce a raft of democratising measures. However since then, little in the way of democratic reform has been achieved, for instance in the field of press freedom. Moreover, the party continues to face attacks from the secularist fundamentalists. Parliament, dominated by the AKP, passed a resolution against banning the headscarf in universities. In response, hardline secularist groups managed to bring a case before the courts under the penal code to ban the AKP and also the DTP (the Kurdish Democratic Society Party) for its alleged relations with the outlawed PKK.

The situation in Turkey is becoming increasingly polarised between Islamic democracy and the secularist-authoritarian inheritance of the Kemalists, in a situation complicated even further by the indictment on 15 July 2008 of eighty-six people charged with planning to overthrow the government on behalf a hardline secularist group called Ergenekon. If the courts uphold the case and declare the AKP illegal, this will deliver a serious blow both to Turkey's democratic hopes and to the negotiations on Turkish membership of the EU. Indeed the deteriorating situation is already contributing to a growing anti-Turkish mood within the EU, which could become worse during the French presidency.

Mary Kaldor is professor of global governance at the London School of Economics (LSE), co-chair of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly and governor of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Her books include New & Old Wars (1999) and Global Civil Society: An Answer to War (2003) Among Mary Kaldor's many articles in openDemocracy:

"Safe democracy" (23 December 2004)

"Parallel politics in Iraq" (22 March 2005) - with Yahia Said

"Iraq: the wrong war" (8 June 2005)

"London lives" (7 July 2005)

"America's Iraq plight: old and new thinking" (13 February 2007)

"How to free hostages" (29 September 2004)

"Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report" (20 May 2007) - with Mient Jan Faber

"The Balkans-Caucasus tangle: states and citizens" (9 January 2008)

A solution to the long-running Cyprus problem could, perhaps, break this deadlock - in four ways. First, a Cyprus solution would mean that Turkey would lift its current embargo on all trade that passes through Greek Cypriot ports. This would unfreeze some important parts of the negotiations that have been halted as a consequence of the embargo. Second, the Cyprus problem is one of the rationales along with the Kurdish problem for the dominant role of the military in Turkish politics. Third, solving Cyprus would weaken one of the arguments put forward by those who oppose Turkish membership because of the occupation since July 1974 of part the island by the Turkish military. Fourth, and most important, a solution would mean that Turkish people living in northern Cyprus would be fully included in the European Union and that will demonstrate that the EU, in principle, is not anti-Turkish and remove one of the central arguments of the anti-European hardliners in Turkey.

A new momentum

So what is the prospect for a solution? For more than forty years, there have been efforts to reach an agreement to overcome the partition of the island. There is broad agreement that the solution is a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. Every so often, the talks seem close to fruition and then fail at the last moment. The most recent failure was the Annan plan in 2004 when Cyprus joined the EU. The plan was supported in a referendum in the north but overwhelmingly defeated in the south, thereby allowing only the government of the south to represent Cyprus in the EU.

What has changed is that there are now (after the election in Cyprus of February 2008) governments in both north and south, for the first time, that favour a solution. As a consequence, efforts are already being made to improve the communications between the two halves of the island. Border restrictions have been lifted; crossing is very easy. There is no obvious police presence. Northerners can use Larnaca airport and work in the south. All this has taken place without a single violent incident. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are able to mingle freely. And this in itself has important implications for the peace process. The main rationale for the division of the island is that the north needs Turkish troops to protect them from the Greek Cypriots. That argument still persists but is much weaker than before.

In parallel, with the improvement of everyday life, the preparatory process of negotiations is now taking place with working groups and technical discussions. Unlike previous efforts which were largely the consequence of outside pressures, the current peace process is initiated from within Cyprus.

Despite the new momentum, there is caution both among civil society and within the political class, mainly because they have been disappointed too many times in the past. We were given many reasons for this caution. The negotiators are sometimes caught up in the obsessions and sticking points of the past. Turkish military influence could still be a powerful constraint in the north. The south has a minority government dependent on the support of the rejectionist parties, including the party of the former president Tassos Papadopoulos. Finally, there is a tendency among the political class on both sides to feel comfortable with the status quo. The impression we gained was that there is much more enthusiasm for an agreement within civil society than among politicians and negotiators.

A Cypriot pioneer

Nevertheless, there is no going back. What is happening in Cyprus could be viewed as an example of the way deepening can follow the widening of the EU. If a solution is indeed achieved, then it is important for the future of the EU that it is seen to play a crucial role in promoting a solution.

The EU could do three things. First, the European parliament could offer to host a gathering of civil society in north and south to initiate a sort of democratic convention about the future shape of Cyprus. This could increase pressure on the political classes to reach a solution. Holding it in the European parliament and involving all the guarantor powers especially Turkey, would greatly enhance the visibility and legitimacy of such a convention.

Second, the European Union should make it clear to Turkey that any solution of the Cyprus problem will speed up the negotiations over Turkish membership.

Third, the EU should also consider what kind of security arrangements will be needed after an agreement. The EU brought the conflict inside the union by admitting Cyprus and now it has a responsibility to make sure the islanders are secure. This does not mean security in a traditional sense. Rather it means everyday personal security - freedom from fear and freedom from want. The military threats have disappeared but there remains organised crime, poverty in the north, and ethnic tension. Much of this will be the responsibility of a future Cyprus government. But it will need outside help since many of these new sources of insecurity are transnational. That outside help should come from both the EU and Turkey. At present there are British and Turkish troops on the island. The south wants demilitarisation of the island. Nevertheless, the agreement should include some visible security presence from Turkey and the EU (not necessarily military) to show the commitment of both to peace and stability in Cyprus.

These measures would not only strengthen and Europeanise the peace process in Cyprus. They would also bring Turkey closer to Europe. Let us hope that Fatma is blazing a trail for all other Turks to get a European passport.

The Balkans-Caucasus tangle: states and citizens

The many victims of the war on terror have included multilateralism. So damaging are the effects that 2008 could see an unravelling even of the achievements of the multilateral approach of the 1990s in the Balkans, the Caucasus and elsewhere. To avert this fate, in a period when the United States will increasingly be consumed by the presidential election race, the European Union in particular will be challenged to adopt a clearer and sharper sense of responsibility in potential conflict-zones.

Mary Kaldor is professor of global governance at the London School of Economics (LSE), and convenor of the human-security study group that reports to the European Union's foreign-policy chief Javier Solana

Among Mary Kaldor's many articles in openDemocracy:

"Iraq: a war like no other" (27 March 2003)

"Iraq: the democratic option" (13 November 2003)

"Safe democracy" (23 December 2004)

"Parallel politics in Iraq" (22 March 2005) - with Yahia Said

"Iraq: the wrong war" (8 June 2005)

"London lives" (7 July 2005)

"America's Iraq plight: old and new thinking" (13 February 2007)

"How to free hostages" (29 September 2004)

"Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report" (20 May 2007) - with Mient Jan Faber

Most immediately, there is a probability that Kosovo will early in 2008 declare independence - albeit in the slightly qualified form that follows the Martti Ahtisaari plan delivered to the United Nations in March 2007, with its call for "supervised independence" and a continuing international presence. But in any case, the declaration is likely to be followed by a spate of similar acts in other territories - the northern Serb part of Kosovo, Herzeg-Bosne (the Croatian mini-state in Bosnia-Herzegovina) or Republika Srpska (the Serbian entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina). The "frozen conflicts" in the south Caucasus are likely to see similar shifts, with possible independence moves - with encouragement from Russia - by Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. So the formal break-up both of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of Georgia are possible in 2008.

The seeds of violence

The challenge of Kosovo will be a test-case for the European Union. Until now, the EU's efforts in eastern Europe and the Balkans have been relatively successful in avoiding the kind of instability that characterises large parts of Africa and the middle east or that is likely to follow the death of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. With the reform treaty now in place and plans for a new security strategy underway, the EU needs to take a lead in managing the process of serial declarations of independence.

There is a real risk of spreading destabilisation in the Balkans and the Caucasus. The criminal/nationalist entrepreneurs who profited from the wars in the 1990s were never properly dealt with. On the contrary, they have been nurtured by the combination of nationalist governments, high unemployment and lawlessness. Governments in the region - in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania or Georgia, for example - are not simply (as the jargon has it) "weak states"; their weakness is sustained by what some have described as shadow networks of transnational crime and extremist ideologies. There has been an expansion of human-trafficking, money-laundering, and the smuggling of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and weapons over the last decade - much of it to satisfy European and American markets - and all in the face of international agreements, aid programmes and the presence of foreign troops and agencies.

These problems are the outward manifestation of unresolved economic, social and institutional problems which the international community - whose policy toward these regions has been dominated by a top-down approach designed above all to maintain stability - has failed to address. Political efforts have been focused on status; military efforts have given priority to separating forces and controlling heavy weapons; economic efforts have concentrated on economic growth, macroeconomic stability and control of inflation.

Among openDemocracy's articles on Kosovo and the future of the Balkans:

TK Vogel, "Kosovo: a break in the ice" (2 February 2007)

Marko Attila Hoare, "Kosovo: the Balkans' last independent state" (12 February 2007)

Vicken Cheterian, "Serbia after Kosovo" (18 April 2007)

Eric Gordy, "Serbia's Kosovo claim: much ado about..." (2 October 2007)

Paul Hockenos, "Kosovo's contested future" (16 November 2007)

Juan Garrigues, "Kosovo's troubled victory" (7 December 2007)

Meanwhile the entrepreneurs of violence have fed on the spread of grassroots populist nationalism and/or religious radicalisation that has exploited the frustrations arising from high levels of unemployment, high crime rates and human-rights violations, the trauma of past violence, and the weakness of civil society. For example, the Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaci won the Kosovar elections of 17 November 2007, and (while the main current Serbian politicians are nationalist enough) there is a risk that the more extreme radical nationalist Tomislav Nikolic will do well in the Serbian presidential elections scheduled for 20 January 2008.

Violence will further strengthen the position of these "spoilers". The Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo envisages "decentralisation", which means in current conditions a kind of internal partition between Serb and Albanian municipalities. A new bout of ethnic cleansing will lead to the expulsion of Serbs from the southern part of Kosovo and of the few remaining Albanians in the north. Militant groups with names like the Albanian National Army or the Prince Lazar Army (named after the Serbian leader killed in the myth-encrusted battle of Kosovo in 1389) are already mobilising. The violence could spread to areas where there are neighbouring Albanian minorities, such as Macedonia and southern Serbia, as well as to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The tension will be worsened if, as is expected, a Serbian blockade of Kosovo is imposed; this would in particular stop electricity supplies. It is possible to outline similar scenarios in the south Caucasus.

A test for Europe

How will the international community respond to these developments? At the moment, as usual, the discussion is about status. The US will support the independence of Kosovo. The EU will be divided and Russia will oppose this outcome. Yet the real issue is how to protect ordinary people from the effects of these high-level manoeuvres. Nato forces are now trying to protect the borders of Kosovo instead of focusing on protecting both Serbs and Albanian at risk of ethnic cleansing and trying to maintain public security.

The EU is planning to send a rule-of-law mission, which is much needed. But who will provide alternative sources of electricity and jobs for Albanians and alternative sources of income for Serbs who are currently dependent on Belgrade and have no option than to obey Belgrade's dictates even if they might prefer to stay in Kosovo and live with their erstwhile neighbours? Above all, who is talking to ordinary people - among them Serbs, Albanians, Croatians, Georgians, Abkhazians, and Ossetians - all of whom long for peace and work, but whose voices and concerns are often appropriated by extremists?

Can the European Union respond to these challenges? Will it remain stuck in arguments for and against changes of status, or will it prove to have the resources and political will to protect people and communities?

How to free hostages: war, negotiation, or law-enforcement?

The eruption of hostage–taking onto the agenda of international politics and the lives of ordinary citizens worldwide – both those directly affected and those consuming the phenomenon via the media spectacle – is not itself new. But while past incidents like the 444–day United States embassy crisis in Iran from 1979–80 and the seizure of westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s could be understood as particular outgrowths of defined security crises, hostage–taking in the era of “war on terror” has acquired new and more disturbing aspects that reflect the changing relationship between war and politics.

Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report

To enter Gaza from Israel you have to cross at Erez where the Israelis have erected a huge new terminal made of glass, steel and Jerusalem stone (it is actually 1.7 km inside Palestinian territory - even at the moment of withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005, the Israelis couldn't resist taking a little bit extra). To get inside the terminal compound, you show your passport at a barrier, then cross a big empty space and enter the terminal. In a glass booth, a pretty Israeli soldier sits high above you, asks severely what you plan to do, and checks your name in the computer.

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