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Topical Alert: Security Affairs

(Updated October 9, 2014)

ARMS CONTROL & DISARMAMENT

COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY: BACKGROUND AND CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jonathan E. Medalia. September 29, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 73 pages, 700.73 KB]
A ban on all nuclear tests is the oldest item on the nuclear arms control agenda. Nuclear testing has a long history, beginning in 1945. The Natural Resources Defense Council states that the United States conducted 1,030 nuclear tests, the Soviet Union 715, the United Kingdom 45, France 210, and China 45. (Of the U.K. tests, 24 were held jointly with the United States and are not included in the foregoing U.S. total.) The last U.S. test was held in 1992; Russia claims it has not tested since 1990. In 1998, India and Pakistan announced several nuclear tests. Each declared a test moratorium; neither has signed the CTBT. North Korea announced that it conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013. Since 1997, the United States has held 27 "subcritical experiments" at the Nevada National Security Site, most recently in December 2012, to study how plutonium behaves under pressures generated by explosives. It asserts these experiments do not violate the CTBT because they cannot produce a self-sustaining chain reaction. Russia reportedly held some such experiments since 1998.

DEFENSE POLICY

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR OBAMA'S MILITARY CAMPAIGN AGAINST ISIS. Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. September 15, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 15 pages, 765.29 KB]
President Obama's plan for a military campaign against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria is drawing public support. And, in a rare display of bipartisanship, majorities of both Republicans (64%) and Democrats (60%) approve of the president's plan. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

POLITICAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGE: REVOLUTIONS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR THE U.S. MILITARY. Strategic Studies Institute. John R. Deni. September 9, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 93 pages, 1.02 MB]
Dramatic political, economic, and social changes across both the Greater Middle East and Latin America over the last several years, in some instances revolutionary, in others evolutionary, have had profound implications for global security generally and U.S. security specifically. Policymakers in Washington are hence confronted with the issue of how to respond to the various changes in these disparate regions in order to safeguard U.S. interests, promote Western values, and shape the security environment into the future. The authors assess the changes across these two important regions, outline the implications for U.S. security and specifically for the U.S. military, and offer policy recommendations for the way forward.

MILITARY & DEFENSE

THE OTHER QUIET PROFESSIONALS: LESSONS FOR FUTURE CYBER FORCES FROM THE EVOLUTION OF SPECIAL FORCES. RAND Corporation. Christopher Paul et al. October 3, 2014.
Full Text  [PDF format, 84 pages, 713.90 KB]
A review of commonalities, similarities, and differences between the still-nascent U.S. cyber force and early U.S. special operations forces, conducted in 2010, offers salient lessons for the future direction of U.S. cyber forces. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

POLITICAL STABILITY

ZIMBABWE: WAITING FOR THE FUTURE. International Crisis Group. September 29, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 20 pages, 281.54 KB]
Zimbabwe's growing instability is exacerbated by dire economic decline, endemic governance failures, and tensions over ruling party succession; without major political and economic reforms, the country could slide into being a failed state, according to the report. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

VENEZUELA: DANGEROUS INERTIA. International Crisis Group. September 23, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 16 pages, 1006.55 KB]
Summary [HTML format, various paging]
The streets of Venezuela's major cities are now largely calm, following several months of violent clashes between opposition demonstrators, security forces and civilian gunmen that left more than 40 dead. The crisis, however, is not over, according to the report. The opposition is demanding freedom for several dozen activists jailed during the unrest and an end to the threat of prosecution against more than 2,000. The underlying causes have not been addressed, and calls to restore autonomy and independence to the justice system and other key institutions have not been heeded. Living standards continue to decline due to economic recession; violent crime remains at record levels, and labor unrest and protests over poor-quality public services are often dealt with harshly. Greater international efforts are required to bring the sides back to the negotiating table, since the alternative to dialogue is likely to be further violence sooner or later. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

THE STRUGGLE FOR THE LEVANT: GEOPOLITICAL BATTLES AND THE QUEST FOR STABILITY. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Aram Nerguizian. September 18, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 357 pages, 6.06 MB]
The United States and its allies compete with Iran in a steadily more unsettled and uncertain Levant. The political upheavals in the Middle East, economic and demographic pressures, sectarian struggles and extremism, ethnic and tribal conflicts and tensions all combine to produce complex patterns of competition. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

CAMEROON: PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE. International Crisis Group. September 4, 2014.
Summary in English [HTML format, various paging]
Cameroon's apparent stability belies the variety of internal and external pressures threatening the country's future, according to the report. Without social and political change, a weakened Cameroon could become another flashpoint in the region. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

TERRORISTS & TERRORISM

KENYA: AL-SHABAAB - CLOSER TO HOME. International Crisis Group. September 25, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 20 pages, 378.43 KB]
One year after the Westgate attack, Al-Shabaab has become more entrenched and active in Kenya. Meanwhile, the country's immediate post-Westgate unity has broken down in the face of increasing attacks, and the political elites, security services, and ethnic and faith communities are beset by mutual suspicion and recriminations, says the report. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY? EXPATRIATION OF U.S. CITIZEN "FOREIGN FIGHTERS." Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. September 15, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 2 pages, 57.53 KB]
Some Members of Congress have advocated and sponsored bills for expatriation, one way of losing citizenship, as a method of dealing with U.S. citizens fighting abroad for foreign terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This phenomenon has piqued concern in Congress about the possibility that such citizens may return to the United States to perpetrate terrorist acts on U.S. soil or may flout U.S. foreign policy by continuing to fight abroad for such groups.

EFFECTIVE CVE APPROACHES. U.S. Institute of Peace. Georgia Holmer. September 10, 2014.
Full Text [PDF format, 3 pages, 261.16 KB]
Unlike other counterterrorism strategies, countering violent extremism (CVE) focuses on preventing individuals from being recruited into or joining violent extremist groups. CVE is a complex endeavor, largely because the reasons individuals become involved in extremist violence are in themselves complex and the dynamics are unique to each conflict. Using Kenya as an example, and drawing on observations from a recent visit, the author explores how promoting a more nuanced understanding of radicalization can help reach those who are at risk of being pushed and pulled into extremist violence. [Note: contains copyrighted material.]

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