Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 90

This week, our Top5 starts from the open letter of protests (here and here) signed by several academic associations over the death of Giulio Regeni.

On the same dramatic issue, here you’ll find another analysis by other important members of the academic community on Egypt and human rights. Here some interesting perspectives on field research and political instability in Norther Africa (and beyond).

A quite relevant meeting occurred in Rome on Tuesday. The foreign ministers of the six countries — Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (the 6 founding members of the EU) — held a dinner to discuss setting up a very informal group of “core” states prepared to push the EU forward. Here the report by Politico.

What is the appropriate response to terrorist attacks? A very problematic and broad question. Here an excellent symposium that aims at addressing such complicate issue.

Finally, moving through the ISA Annual Convention in Atlanta, a reminder of all the recent updates on the conference.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 77

Hot topics abound, as usual. The causes of the Russian plane’s crash in Egypt last week have not yet been ascertained. But it seems that they give another reason for a dispute between the West and Russia. Media of the latter, says The Atlantic’s Brian Whitmore, even suggest a conspiracy masterminded by Western powers.

Time for presidential primaries’ debates. “Outsiders” are in the lead in the Republican field. We know something of Donald Trump’s foreign policy ideas, but very little on Ben Carson’s. This FP article depicts the views of the retired surgeon’s foreign policy advisor.

The new President is likely to find a pretty confused situation (to say the least) in the Middle East. And American troops that have stepped up their commitment from training missions to direct engagement. This is one of the latest reports on anti-ISIS actions in Iraq and on the uneasy relations between US and Iraqi forces.

More on the background, but not necessarily less important. Micah Zenko makes the case for “Red Teams”. Having second opinions and fostering an organizational culture and set-up that accept dissent and promote skepticism can lead to overcome the worst cases of organizational myopia, and forcefully argues that US armed forces should do that in a new book. But, is it a cost-free strategy?

The brain drain is clearly not just an Italian problem. The US military is struggling to attract and then retain the best minds, not an easy thing when the bureaucratic constraints are cumbersome, note David Barno and Nora Bensahel.

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Borders in Transition: Rethinking Sovereignty, Domestic Politics and International Relations in the MENA Region

Venus in Arms recommends a very interesting conference: “Borders in Transition: Rethinking Sovereignty, Domestic Politics and International Relations in the MENA Region”. The event will take place at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence – 11-12 December 2014.

The conference is organized by the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies  and specifically by the project “Borderlands“, directed by Professor Raffaella Del Sarto.

Here you’ll find additional details on the conference. Here the Programme.

The conference sets out to explore the impact of the transition process in North Africa and the Middle East (MENA) on the nature and management of borders. Focusing on Libya, Egypt/Sinai, and Syria/Iraq, the conference addresses the following questions: Firstly, what are the implications of the altered nature of borders in the region for the notion of state sovereignty? Secondly, how did altered patterns of border management affect the role of specific local and societal actors? Thirdly, the conference will reflect on the regional and international dimension of these developments, including the implications for the EU–the ‘borderlands’ of the MENA region.

Registration for this event is mandatory.

See you there.

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Mapping European Security: The EUISS Yearbook 2014

Some weeks ago the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) has published the second edition of the Yearbook of European Security (YES). The EUISS, which was set up in January 2002 as an autonomous agency under the CSFP (Common Foreign and Security Policy), is the Union’s agency dealing with the analysis of foreign, security and defence policy issues.

The “EUISS Yearbook of European Security 2014” provides a “comprehensive survey of the EU ‘toolbox’ as well as a “targeted analysis of European defense spending”.

Here you’ll find the link to the document.

Just at the beginning of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, it is worth reading a detailed analysis of the current state of the play concerning security and defense in Europe.

In addition, the authors (Antonio Missiroli, Florence Gaub, Olivier de France and Daniel Fiott) assess “the changes and developments that have occurred in three ‘signature’ countries of the so-called Arab Spring”: Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

Here below a selected passage from the foreword:

2013 was a remarkable year for the Union’s foreign, security and defence policy. The latter, in particular, concentrated the minds and mobilised the energies of all EU institutional actors in the run-up to the European Council meeting of December focused on ‘defence matters’ (the Documents section of this volume includes the full reproduction of relevant texts). Furthermore, the issue of cybersecurity gained in saliency and even urgency due to both internal policy developments and external political challenges. For its part, EU diplomacy proved its worth by facilitating both a landmark agreement between Belgrade and Pristina (in the spring) and a preliminary deal between the so-called ‘3+3’ and Tehran on Iran’s nuclear programme (in the autumn). Meanwhile, the Union’s neighbourhoods have remained a major source of concern, with growing instability in both the South – including our neighbours’ neighbours, from Mali to Sudan – and the East, where signs of turmoil started to become apparent well before the end of the year. 2014 will mark the conclusion of the post-Lisbon phase of European integration, characterised by the gradual implementation of the new treaty provisions and the establishment of a new institutional ‘system’ for the EU’s foreign and security policy – both carried out at a time of deep economic crisis inside the Union and rapid political change outside”.

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