Under the heading of the “Green Revolution”, agriculture has been industrialized for higher yields. | Photo: Unsplash, James Baltz | Free use

Why will so many Scientists Boycott the UN Food Systems Summit?

At the upcoming Food Summit, the United Nations take a necessarily hard look at the world’s food systems. “Not hard enough”, claim an increasing number of food and agricultural scientists who are losing their patience with the globalized system of agribusiness and its failure to deliver for the world’s poor and the environment.

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Which challenges and discourses will dominate NATO’s future strategic concept? New FES/PRIF Study maps three alternatives visions for the evolution of the Atlantic alliance. | Photo: flickr, © NATO | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Three futures for NATO: New FES/PRIF backgrounder for the 2021 NATO summit

Today, NATO‘s Heads of State and Government are meeting in Brussels for a summit that is expected to set the course for the rejuvenation of the Atlantic alliance. Leaders will discuss the report of the NATO Expert Group, kick off the process for developing a New Strategic Concept, and signal a closing of transatlantic ranks. Against this background, the new FES/PRIF Report “Three visions for NATO” offers a glimpse behind the headlines. It maps expert debates about the future of the alliance across and within NATO member states and identifies three alternative “futures” for the evolution of the alliance.

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Helmet and Flack Jackets of U.N. Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. | Photo: flickr, UN Photo/Marie Frechon | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Give Peacekeeping a Chance in Afghanistan

The withdrawal of U.S. military in Afghanistan is underway and the security situation is increasingly worsening. This blog explains why, unlike counterinsurgency, peacekeeping could actually work to stabilize the country as it is based on the consent of the parties of the civil war.

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Symbolic picture: newly elected president, Guillermo Lasso (center) is leaving the inauguration ceremony arm in arm with Guadalupe Llori (right), indigenous leader and newly elected president of the National Assembly. | Photo: Flickr, Asamblea Nacional del Ecuador | CC BY-SA 2.0

Moving past the Pro-Correa / Anti-Correa divide in Ecuadorian politics: The indigenous Pachakutik party as a third force

On May 24, the day he took office as Ecuador’s new president, Guillermo Lasso,  was seen leaving the ceremony next to Guadalupe Llori, indigenous leader and newly elected president of the National Assembly. Lasso, a conservative politician and former banker, had won the runoff against Andrés Arauz, the candidate supported by the political movement of former president Rafael Correa, who had governed the country between 2007 and 2017. Yet, Ecuador’s new political landscape offers a chance to move beyond the polarization between Correa supporters (Correístas) and opponents (Anti-Correístas). A key sociopolitical force in this regard is the indigenous movement and its political organization, Pachakutik.

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Deutsche Verbindungsoffiziere im Rahmen der ISAF-Mission in Kabul 2010. | Photo: Flickr, ©Bundeswehr/Andrea Bienert

Lernen aus Afghanistan: Aufstandsbekämpfung und zivile Opfer

Westliche Regierungen sprechen von einem planmäßigen Abzug aus Afghanistan und den vielen Erfolgen der vergangenen 20 Jahre. Es handelt sich aber um eine militärische Niederlage. Nach Großbritannien und der Sowjetunion unterlag nun auch ein NATO-geführtes Bündnis afghanischen Guerillakämpfern. Doch nicht nur für westliche Demokratien ist die Bilanz der Aufstandsbekämpfung (bei der asymmetrisch operierende Guerillas konventionell überlegene Streitkräfte überlisten) düster: die Hauptopfer des Krieges sind Zivilisten in Afghanistan. Eine zentrale Lehre aus Afghanistan ist, dass zivile Opfer in asymmetrischen Kriegen unvermeidlich sind. Zumindest aus ethischen Gründen sollten Staaten, die sich dem Schutz von Menschenrechten verschrieben haben, solche Kriege daher nicht kämpfen.

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"Venezuela wants peace" | Photo: Flickr, Wilfredor | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The EU, Venezuela, and democracy promotion: A rejoinder to Elliott Abrams’ comments

In his blog post “The EU and Venezuela: More Bad Advice”, published on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams critically reviews my thoughts on “A New Framework for Dealing with Venezuela: From Democracy to Conflict Resolution”. In this piece, I argued that the EU should shift from what I call the “democracy framework” to a “framework of peace mediation and conflict resolution”. Abrams’ comments give me the opportunity to clarify some issues and tease out key differences between his approach and the one I am arguing for.

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Welche Lehren lassen sich aus dem 20jährigen Einsatz der NATO in Afghanistan ziehen? | Photo: flickr, U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Die NATO in Afghanistan: Geschichte eines Versagens oder Scheiterns?

Der Abzug der NATO aus Afghanistan hat begonnen. Trotz aller Bemühungen und bester Vorsätze der intervenierenden Staaten, trotz eines riesigen Einsatzes militärischer und ziviler Ressourcen, hinterlässt die Mission nach 20 Jahren einen Scherbenhaufen. Im unwahrscheinlichen best-case Szenario führt der inner-afghanische Friedensprozess zu einer Einheitsregierung oder territorialen Machtteilung. Den wahrscheinlicheren Szenarien zufolge übernehmen die Taliban nach Abzug der NATO-Truppen die Macht oder es eskaliert der Bürgerkrieg. In beiden Fällen dürften die mageren Aufbauleistungen schnell verloren gehen.

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Strait of Hormuz – the strait between Iran on the north coast and the Arabian Peninsula on the south is less than 40km at some points. It is one of the world’s most strategically choke points. | Photo: © European Space Agency via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Overcoming Gulf-Rivalry? Challenges and Chances of Saudi-Iranian Dialogue

While the Saudi-Iranian relations have mostly been shaped by ‘peaceful rivalry’ since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, they increasingly turned hostile following the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. Building on recent dynamics in the Gulf region, high level politicians of Saudi Arabia and Iran have signaled serious willingness for dialogue and reconciliation. We argue here that these renewed efforts are primarily motivated by security and economic concerns but have also been supported through a series of informal interactions at different societal levels. While dialogue seems possible and desirable, its long-term prospects will be challenged by changing regional dynamics and the respective political will to overcome historical constructs of rivalry and regional competition.

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What should we call those who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 of this year? | Photo: flickr, Tyler Merbler | CC BY 2.0

The Capitol Rioters and their Supporters beyond “Us vs. Them”: A view from outside the US

What should we call those who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 of this year? Struggles over possible labels matter: What one calls a certain group has implications for the ways in which one can and will engage with them. The polarization of Americans when it comes to classifying the attacks is indicative of a larger dilemma: how should one respond to the rioters and their demands – and is that even an option?

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Bild der Gropiusstadt in Berlin, die sich sicherlich als Beispiel eines "peripheren Zentrums" beschreiben lässt. | Photo: © P. Darmochwal via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

AfD, Corona-Pandemie und (städtische) Geographien der Peripherisierung

Der Aufstieg der AfD scheint im Superwahljahr 2021 gebremst. Die Verluste in den Landtagswahlen von Baden-Württemberg und Rheinland-Pfalz sind aber kein Zeichen für den Anfang vom Ende der Partei. Bei ihrem Parteitag am vergangenen Wochenende hat die AfD in den Corona-Maßnahmen eindeutig ihr neues Feindbild gefunden, dem sie das Narrativ einer vermeintlich heilen Normalität entgegensetzt. Die Verluste sollten ebenso wenig als ein Zeichen dafür gedeutet werden, dass die dem Wahlerfolg von 2017 mitunter zugrundeliegenden sozialen Konfliktlagen und Polarisierungen in der Gesellschaft zurückgedrängt worden wären. Im Gegenteil: Die Geographie der Pandemie deckt sich erstaunlich stark mit jener des Wahlerfolgs der AfD. Das Konzept der Peripherisierung bietet sich an als Klammer für die beiden Dimensionen, Wahl der AfD und hohe Covid-19-Inzidenzen, und erlaubt es, das Nebeneinander und die Verwobenheit unterschiedlicher sozialer und politischer Phänomene zu beleuchten.

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