US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

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"Al-Qaida is stronger today than it was on 9/11"

Die Al-Qaida sei heute stärker denn je, stellt Christian Taylor fest. Wichtige Gründe für das Comeback seien der amerikanische "Krieg gegen den Terror" und eine Neuorganisation der Terrorgruppe, die nicht länger auf einen charismatischen Anführer wie Osama bin Laden angewiesen sei. "Despite a United States-led global “war on terror” that has cost US$5.9 trillion, killed an estimated 480,000 to 507,000 people and assassinated bin Laden, al-Qaida has grown and spread since 9/11, expanding from rural Afghanistan into North Africa, East Africa, the Sahel, the Gulf States, the Middle East and Central Asia. In those places, al-Qaida has developed new political influence – in some areas even supplanting the local government. So how does a religious extremist group with fewer than a hundred members in September 2001 become a transnational terror organization, even as the world’s biggest military has targeted it for elimination? According to my dissertation research on the resiliency of al-Qaida and the work of other scholars, the U.S. 'war on terror' was the catalyst for al-Qaida’s growth. (...) Al-Qaida is no longer a hierarchical organization taking orders from its famous, charismatic leader, as it was on 9/11. But it is stronger and more resilient than it was under bin Laden. And the 'war on terror' has helped, not hurt it."

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"The Defense Department is worried about climate change – and also a huge carbon emitter"

Das US-Militär trage mit seinen eigenen CO2-Emissionen nicht unwesentlich zum Klimawandel bei, schreibt Neta C. Crawford, Politikwissenschaftlerin an der Boston University. "Although the Defense Department has significantly reduced its fossil fuel consumption since the early 2000s, it remains the world’s single largest consumer of oil – and as a result, one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters. (...) the Department of Defense is the U.S. government’s largest fossil fuel consumer, accounting for between 77% and 80% of all federal government energy consumption since 2001. (...) In 2017 the Pentagon’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled over 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. If it were a country, it would have been the world’s 55th largest greenhouse gas emitter, with emissions larger than Portugal, Sweden or Denmark."

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"In India, WhatsApp is a weapon of antisocial hatred"

Rohit Chopra schreibt in seinem Bericht zu den laufenden indischen Parlamentswahlen, dass sich der Messenger-Dienst WhatsApp in Indien zu einer Plattform für Hass, Fehlinformation und wilden Gerüchten entwickelt habe. "Of course, media technologies do not make anything happen by themselves. Their effects depend on how they’re used. In the Indian context, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government and its digital allies have legitimized an unusually high degree of bigotry and virulence against minorities, particularly Muslims and the members of the lowest caste, called Dalits. As a result, it’s easy for party members and social media volunteers to use digital platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to inflame sectarian sentiments. In the run-up to the election, they have created a climate of general distrust, fear and paranoia in which disinformation cannot be distinguished from credible facts."

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"Big Fail: The internet hasn’t helped democracy"

Robert Diab, Rechtsprofessor an der Thompson Rivers University, verweist auf Untersuchungen des Politikwissenschaftlers Matthew Hindman, denen zufolge das Internet und die sozialen Medien nicht zu der von vielen erhofften demokratischen Belebung des öffentlichen Raums geführt haben. "In the recently published 'The Internet Trap: How the Digital Economy Builds Monopolies and Undermines Democracy' author and professor Matthew Hindman suggests that as we enter the web’s third decade, market forces drive the vast majority of traffic and profit to an exceedingly small group of sites, with no change on the horizon. Hindman’s findings unsettle an earlier picture of the web as a tool for broader civic engagement and a healthier democracy (...) In The Internet Trap, Hindman extends the inquiry, finding that while the net does lower the basic cost of mass communication, the cost of building and keeping a large audience remains high. Studying the rise of sites like Google and Amazon, Hindman found that the net’s most popular sites built and maintained their audiences by harnessing 'a host of economies of scale' that go beyond network effects. (...) If our picture of the web as a tool for citizen empowerment is a mostly a mirage, it’s time we regulated the dominant sites more effectively in order to serve the public interest."

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"Colombia’s troubled peace process and the lessons of Bosnia-Herzegovina"

Die Konfliktforscher Stefanie Kappler und Louis Monroy-Santander von der Durham University vergleichen die Probleme des Friedensprozesses in Kolumbien mit der Entwicklung Bosnien-Herzegowinas seit den 1990er Jahren. "While Colombia’s 50-year conflict was not divided along ethnic lines, the parallels between these two troubled peace processes are uncomfortably close. Just as in the Bosnian case, the structures of separation that underpinned Colombia’s conflict for five decades might outlast the war’s official end. (...) As in the Bosnian case, Colombia faces the risk that its hard-won peace mechanisms could be co-opted for political ends. If that happens, the country’s political and economic polarisation will only become deeper entrenched – and the needs of its civilians will never be fully met."

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"Trump-Kim deal: why the two Koreas will probably never become one country again"

Selbst im Fall einer erfolgreichen Umsetzung der Vereinbarungen Donald Trumps und Kim Jong-uns wäre eine Wiedervereinigung Nord- und Südkoreas nahezu ausgeschlossen, meint Niki J.P. Alsford. "Today’s younger Koreans have no memory of the 'unified' state, and more and more young people in South Korea seem content with the idea of two Koreas. After all, it’s perfectly normal for two countries to share historical heritage and linguistic background without thinking of themselves as a single 'divided nation'. This fits a global trend towards a world of more smaller countries, not new larger ones. (...) As the world order becomes more and more dominated by the relationship between two superpowers, North Korea may once again look play China off against its principal rival, as it did in the 1960s after the Sino-Soviet split. In so doing, Kim can reap the maximum benefit in terms of economic, political, and potentially military aid – all of which will in turn help him retain power even as North Korea grows and living conditions there improve."

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"Who exactly are 'radical' Muslims?"

Z. Fareen Parvez, Soziologin an der University of Massachusetts Amherst, spricht sich gegen eine vorschnelle Charakterisierung von Salafisten als "radikale" Muslime aus. "France and Germany are targeting this movement, vowing to 'clean up' or shut down Salafist mosques, since several arrested and suspected terrorists had spent time in these communities. As a scholar of religion and politics, I have done research in Salafi communities, specifically in France and India, two countries where Muslims are the largest religious minorities. Salafists constitute a minority of the Muslim population. For example, in France, estimates range from 5,000 to 20,000 – out of a Muslim population of over 4 million. Security experts estimate a worldwide number of 50 million out of 1.6 billion Muslims. (...) The vast majority of people who loosely affiliate with Salafism, however, are either simply nonpolitical or actively reject politics as morally corrupt. From 2005-2014, I spent a total of two years as an ethnographic researcher in the cities of Lyon, in southeastern France, and in Hyderabad, in south India. I clearly observed this among these two communities."

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"Forget sanctions, reining in North Korea will need a whole new approach"

Die bisherige internationale Sanktionspolitik gegenüber Nordkorea sei offensichtlich gescheitert, stellt Lully Miura, Politikwissenschaftlerin an der University of Tokyo, fest. Notwendig sei eine neue Mischung aus militärischen und diplomatischen Initiativen, die zum einen die US-Verbündeten stärker unterstützen und zum anderen dem nordkoreanischen Regime mehr Sicherheit vermitteln sollten. "Clearly both hawkish and dovish moves are necessary. On the hawkish side, a military buildup beyond what the US currently offers the region will probably become necessary. The ability to strike North Korean nuclear facilities and missile sites, upgraded intelligence, and perhaps even a nuclear deterrent of Japan and South Korea’s own may become necessary. (...) On the other side, what Pyongyang wants is assurance of its regime’s survival. In diplomatic terms, this may mean officially recognising the state. Negotiations to open diplomatic ties will probably have to include some kind of economic assistance as well. This will be critical for North Korea to start developing meaningful industry that it can use to earn foreign currency."

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"Will Colombia’s most 'stubborn' rebel group agree to peace?"

Fabio Andres Diaz berichtet über den Beginn der Friedensverhandlungen mit der letzten verbliebenen Rebellenbewegung in Kolumbien, der National Liberation Army (ELN). "Though the ELN has weakened over the past decade, it is still estimated to have around 1,300 soldiers and operates in ten different departments within Colombia (almost a third of its territory). A successful agreement with the ELN, which is more a clandestine political organisation than a FARC-esque military body, is a necessary next step in ending the country’s 50-year civil war. (...) This is the ELN’s fourth official attempt to negotiate with the Colombian state. With its more horizontal and decentralised structure, and because revolutionary dissent is an ELN objective, the group is considered to be more 'stubborn' than the FARC. As such, it is difficult to predict the outcome of this upcoming peace process."

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"It’s time for us to admit we’re afraid of terrorism"

Nach der jüngsten Reihe von Terroranschlägen in Frankreich rät die Soziologin Mabel Berezin der Regierung, die wachsende Furcht in der Bevölkerung ernst zu nehmen. Beschwichtigungen spielten unter den heutigen Umständen vor allem dem Front National in die Hände. "Le Pen recognizes and acknowledges rather than denies fear. She talks tough. After the November Paris attacks, she said that 'France is not safe.' This resonates with ordinary people watching the attacks in multiple media. In response to the Nice attacks, Le Pen posted on her website, 'The war against the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism has not begun; it’s now urgent to declare it.' In contrast, the emotionally tone-deaf French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told shocked French citizens after the attack that 'Times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism, and we must face this together and show our collective sang-froid.' Social media lit up against him. He was booed when he attended the commemoration ceremony in Nice for the victims. What Le Pen understands, and Hollande and others ignore at their peril, is that fear is a powerful emotion."

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"Netanyahu hates the Iranian nuclear deal, but he’ll take credit for it anyway"

Der israelische Premierminister hat das internationale Atomabkommen mit dem Iran bis zum Schluss mit allen Mitteln bekämpft. Seit dem Beginn der Umsetzung des Abkommens äußert sich Netanjahu Julie M. Norman zufolge zunehmend pragmatisch. "As Goldberg wrote in the Atlantic article, 'Netanyahu’s complaint is not with the Iran deal. It is with the notion that one can deal with Iran.' The fact that the international community, and the United States in particular, was willing to engage with Iran has left Netanyahu 'licking his wounds,' but with Implementation Day, even Netanyahu has made a subtle pivot towards pragmatism. Bibi may still hate the agreement, but his response this past weekend reflects a slight shift from the past as he seeks to leverage the deal for Israel’s political and strategic interests."

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"Why Germany’s decision to join the fight against Islamic State is so significant – and misguided"

Ian Klinke, Politikwissenschaftler an der University of Oxford, hält die deutsche Entscheidung zur Beteiligung der Bundeswehr am internationalen Syrieneinsatz für "überraschend" und "fehlgeleitet". "This expression of military solidarity with France is to some degree surprising. Berlin has long maintained a culture of military moderation. Meanwhile, Germany has a rather pressing problem with right-wing extremism at home. (...) The decision to enter the conflict in Syria is also surprising because, unlike France, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US, Germany has not recently witnessed a successful act of Islamist terrorism against its own citizens on its own territory. (...) Germany has been haunted by right-wing extremism, though. Xenophobic street movement Pegida continues to attract large crowds to its protests and the new right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany is now the third strongest party in some polls. Newspapers Die Zeit and Tagesspiegel say 156 people have died in Germany since 1990 as a result of right-wing extremist attacks – although government estimates are much lower."

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"How Europe helped save Obama’s historic nuclear deal with Iran"

Das Weiße Haus hat den Versuch des US-Kongresses, das Atomabkommen mit dem Iran zu stoppen, erfolgreich abgewehrt. Hierfür sollte sich US-Präsident Obama nicht zuletzt bei seinen europäischen Verbündeten bedanken, meint Nader Habibi. "These countries influenced the decision of the members of the US Congress both directly and indirectly, and it’s possible the deal wouldn’t have survived without their efforts. (...) European lobbying in defense of the agreement began almost immediately. The British, French and German ambassadors in Washington paid several visits to Capitol Hill. (...) In addition to this direct European lobbying, President Obama benefited indirectly from intense European efforts to send diplomatic and trade delegations to Iran after July 14. (...) While there is no formal evidence that the Obama administration had any discussions with European governments about the impact of these visits on US Congress, it is hard to imagine that the credibility that these visits offered to Obama’s argument went unnoticed by the White House."

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"Cameron’s Syria drone strike 'revelation' is a diversion"

Der britische Premierminister David Cameron hat verkündet, dass zwei britische IS-Kämpfer in Syrien bei einem Drohnenangriff der britischen Luftwaffe gezielt getötet worden sind. Scott Lucas, Politikwissenschaftler an der University of Birmingham, meint, dass Cameron die überraschende Meldung als Ablenkungsmanöver geplant habe, um Fragen nach der britischen Position in der Flüchtlingskrise und der Zukunft des Assad-Regimes auszuweichen. "Given that a primary cause of displacement has been the Assad regime’s attacks on civilian areas, the logical answer would be to prevent Damascus from launching such attacks in the future. But ever since parliament rejected military intervention following the regime’s chemical attacks in August 2013, the government has shied away from proposing operations inside Syria, even to set up a 'safe haven' or 'no-fly zone'. (...) Cameron’s statement on Monday was a relatively low-cost diversion – even if the government now faces questions about the legality of the attack in Syria."

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"More than 2,800 people are dead in Yemen – so why aren’t we outraged?"

Trotz der mehr als 2.800 Opfer des von Saudi-Arabien angeführten Krieges in Jemen werde der Konflikt in der westlichen Öffentlichkeit weitgehend ausgeblendet, stellt auch Sophia Dingli fest. Sie macht mehrere Faktoren dafür verantwortlich: "Perhaps this is a factor of the distance between Yemen and the West, both real and imaginative. Yemen is further away from Europe than Gaza in both senses, and 'we' simply know far less about it. More importantly, reporting on Yemen has so far been based on the false identification of the state and its citizens with 'uncivilised' tribes and angry, al-Qaeda-affiliated Muslims. Most stories about Yemen up to the beginning of the war revolved around terrorism and drone strikes. As a result, the lives of Yemenis have perhaps slipped down the 'scale of innocence' on which we grade others and their suffering."

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"Why are our perceptions about the military so far off the mark?"

Bobby Duffy vom britischen Meinungsforschungsinstitut Ipsos MORI stellt eine Umfrage vor, in der das öffentliche Bild vom Militär in den USA, Großbritannien, Frankreich, Kanada und Australien untersucht wurde. In Großbritannien habe sich herausgestellt, dass die Öffentlichkeit Soldaten verstärkt als "Opfer" wahrnehme, obwohl dies kaum der Realität entspreche. "All of this points to the significance of the media, entertainment and others who present images of the armed forces, such as charities and campaign groups. Studies show that there has been a stronger link between the armed forces and the 'victim' narrative in recent years, and that seems to be feeding through into public perceptions."

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"Behind the Boko Haram headlines, slavery in Africa is the real crisis"

Anlässlich der Entführung von hunderten Schülerinnen in Nigeria erläutert Emma Christopher, Aktivistin und Historikerin an der University of Sydney, an mehreren Beispielen, dass Sklaverei in vielen Ländern Afrikas immer noch verbreitet sei. "In Nigeria, there are 'tens of thousands of people bought and sold every year', according to Africa expert Benjamin Lawrance. The majority are children: in 2003, the International Labour Organisation estimated that as many as six million Nigerian children had been trafficked at some time in their lives. In Africa as a whole, the scale of the problem is vast and far beyond the resources currently allocated to fight it, let alone sufficient to help victims. Lobby group and NGO Free the Slaves estimates that US$1.6 billion profit (an amount larger than the GDP of eight African countries last year) derives from African and Middle Eastern slavery annually."

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"The tiny Estonian town that could spell the end of NATO"

Michael Ben-Gad zweifelt nach der russischen Übernahme der Krim, ob die Sicherheitsgarantien der NATO in Osteuropa noch ernst genommen werden können. Sollte Russland weitere Gebietsansprüche in angrenzenden Ländern stellen, könnte das Militärbündnis auseinander brechen. "(...) if the assurances made to Ukraine only 20 years ago can so easily be exposed as empty posturing, how soon before Putin turns his attention to the Baltic and exposes the assurances made during NATO’s expansion there in 2004 as little more than the elaborate bluff they have always been? It may already be too late to save NATO – and the small Estonian city of Narva (population 64,667) is where it might well be buried."

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