US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

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"How can America heal from the Trump era? Lessons from Germany’s transformation into a prosperous democracy after Nazi rule"

Sylvia Taschka meint, dass sich die USA bei ihrer Aufarbeitung der Trump-Ära an der Entnazifizierung der deutschen Nachkriegszeit orientieren sollten. "The United States finds itself in a different place and time than postwar Germany, but the challenge is similar: how to reject, punish and delegitimize the powerful enemies of democracy, pursue an honest reckoning with the violent racism of the past, and enact political and socioeconomic policies that will allow all to lead a dignified life."

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"The Taliban are megarich – here’s where they get the money they use to wage war in Afghanistan"

Hanif Sufizada hat einen näheren Blick auf die Finanzierungsquellen der Taliban geworfen. "The Taliban militants of Afghanistan have grown richer and more powerful since their fundamentalist Islamic regime was toppled by U.S. forces in 2001. In the fiscal year that ended in March 2020, the Taliban reportedly brought in US$1.6 billion, according to Mullah Yaqoob, son of the late Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who revealed the Taliban’s income sources in a confidential report commissioned by NATO and later obtained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In comparison, the Afghan government brought in $5.55 billion during the same period. The government is now in peace talks with the Taliban, seeking to end their 19-year insurgency. I study the Taliban’s finances as an economic policy analyst at the Center for Afghanistan Studies. Here’s where their money comes from."

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"Beheading in France could bolster president’s claim that Islam is in 'crisis' – but so is French secularism"

Nach der Enthauptung eines Lehrers in Frankreich meint Ahmet T. Kuru, dass sich auch der französische Säkularismus in einer Krise befinde. "French secularism, which is embraced by both the progressive left and the Islamophobic right, goes well beyond the American democratic concept of separating religion and state. Called 'laïcité,' it essentially excludes religious symbols from public institutions. France has banned Muslim women’s headscarves in schools and outlawed religious face coverings everywhere. There are no such bans in the United States. While both America and France have ongoing debates about 'Islamic fundamentalism' and 'Muslim terrorists' and views that can be defined as Islamophobic have some popular support, American democracy generally provides better opportunities for the integration of various religious groups."

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"In a battle of AI versus AI, researchers are preparing for the coming wave of deepfake propaganda"

Experten bereiten sich bereits heute auf künftige Propagandaschlachten mit Deepfake-Videos vor, berichten John Sohrawardi und Matthew Wright. "An investigative journalist receives a video from an anonymous whistleblower. It shows a candidate for president admitting to illegal activity. But is this video real? If so, it would be huge news – the scoop of a lifetime – and could completely turn around the upcoming elections. But the journalist runs the video through a specialized tool, which tells her that the video isn’t what it seems. In fact, it’s a 'deepfake,' a video made using artificial intelligence with deep learning. Journalists all over the world could soon be using a tool like this. In a few years, a tool like this could even be used by everyone to root out fake content in their social media feeds. As researchers who have been studying deepfake detection and developing a tool for journalists, we see a future for these tools. They won’t solve all our problems, though, and they will be just one part of the arsenal in the broader fight against disinformation."

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"Coronavirus: how countries aim to get the vaccine first by cutting opaque supply deals"

Viele Länder versuchen derzeit, sich mit komplexen Lizenzvereinbarungen den Zugang zu den kommenden Coronavirus-Impfstoffen zu sichern, berichtet Duncan Matthews, Professor für Urheberrecht an der Queen Mary University of London. "(…) while this global pandemic surely demands a globally coordinated response, governments have instead been clamouring to secure their own supplies of the vaccine. (…) Public money invested in publicly funded institutions should be treated as a public good, not as private intellectual property rights to be licensed and traded by private companies without full and proper public scrutiny. The vaccine nationalism that we have seen in the past couple of months only encourages this. At the very least, these agreements need to be fully transparent to address these concerns."

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"High-tech surveillance amplifies police bias and overreach"

Der Einsatz neuer Überwachungs- und Big-Data-Technologien durch die Polizei habe die aktuell diskutierten Probleme der Polizeiarbeit nicht etwa verringert, sondern im Gegenteil verschärft, meint Andrew Guthrie Ferguson. "The lesson of the first era of big data policing is that issues of race, transparency and constitutional rights must be at the forefront of design, regulation and use. Every mistake can be traced to a failure to see how the surveillance technology fits within the context of modern police power – a context that includes longstanding issues of racism and social control. Every solution points to addressing that power imbalance at the front end, through local oversight, community engagement and federal law, not after the technology has been adopted. The debates about defunding, demilitarizing and reimagining existing law enforcement practices must include a discussion about police surveillance."

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"How politicians talk about coronavirus in Germany, where war metaphors are avoided"

Im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Regierungschefs verzichte Bundeskanzlerin Merkel in ihren Anmerkungen zur Coronakrise auf Kriegsmetaphern, stellt Dagmar Paulus fest. "Many political leaders around the world have reached for the imagery of conflict to describe the coronavirus pandemic. In France, President Emmanuel Macron said his nation was at war with an invisible enemy. Over in the US, President Donald Trump positively revels in the idea of being a 'wartime president'. In the UK, Prime Minister Johnson has spoken of the virus as an 'enemy and even said that 'we must act like any wartime government' to protect the economy. But in Germany this kind of language is not circulating. The virus is not an 'enemy', and the process of containing it is not a war. Perhaps there’s a tendency among German politicians to avoid war metaphors for historical reasons. There may be a feeling that it does not go down well nationally and internationally if German political leaders speak about war, even metaphorically."

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"PPE and contactless delivery: drug dealers reveal how they are adapting to coronavirus"

Der Drogenhandel werde durch die Coronakrise zumindest in Großbritannien nicht erkennbar behindert, berichten die beiden Kriminologen Tammy Ayres und Craig Ancrum. "While the COVID-19 lockdown might have brought most parts of the economy to a halt, it seems to have had little effect on drug dealers. They have even found opportunity in the situation. They wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid infection, finding a neat way to cover their faces to avoid police surveillance in the process. The COVID-19 pandemic has not diminished the supply of and demand for illicit drugs in the UK – particularly cannabis and cocaine. And while it might be difficult to see the attraction of using stimulants and party drugs like MDMA and cocaine in the confines of your own home during lockdown, users seem to be taking full advantage of the extra time on their hands."

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"Coronavirus is not a bioweapon — but bioterrorism is a real future threat"

Die kanadischen Biochemiker Trushar R. Patel und Michael Hilary D'Souza erklären, warum man die Gefahr des Bioterrorismus im Licht der Corona-Pandemie wieder ernster nehmen sollte. "An act of bioterrorism could have the same effect on our lives and the economy. Terrorist organizations actively seek to cripple a target economy through the employment of simple technologies in coordinated and sophisticated attacks on key infrastructure. (…) While countries like the U.S. and Russia inherited advanced biological weapons programmes from the Cold War, rogue nations like North Korea and terrorist organisations like al-Qaida are actively seeking to develop programs and infrastructure for their own use and deterrence against foreign interference. With easily obtainable and simple technologies, the ability to invest in an underground bioweapons program is widely available. All that is necessary to bridge the gap is talent."

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"Terrorists, militants and criminal gangs join the fight against the coronavirus"

In Ländern wie Brasilien, Libanon und Afghanistan beteiligen sich kriminelle Banden, Terroristen und bewaffnete Gruppen am Kampf gegen die Ausbreitung des Coronavirus, berichtet Jori Breslawski. "As a scholar of armed-group behavior, the actions taken by all of these organizations are far from surprising. In many countries, criminal gangs, insurgents and terrorist groups govern areas where the central government’s power is weak or nonexistent. Some of these groups already provide social services, like medical care, education and an organized way to resolve disputes – analogous to a rudimentary justice system. A weak pandemic response from a formal government creates an opportunity for the violent group to earn legitimacy in the eyes of the public. (…) Another potential reason for these groups’ efforts could be that many of them operate in areas where their family and friends live – so they naturally want to help keep their people safe and healthy."

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"Why a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 could have lethal consequences"

Die weltweiten rigiden Maßnahmen zur Eindämmung der Corona-Pandemie könnten Alex Broadbent zufolge einen Kollaps der globalen Wirtschaft herbeiführen, der afrikanische Länder besonders hart treffen und zum Tod von Millionen Menschen, darunter vielen Kindern, führen würde. "Suppose you had the choice between two health policies, A and B. Policy A would result in the death of a lot of elderly people. Policy B would result in the death of a lot of children, especially infants. Which would you choose? (…) Many leaders are doubtless aware of their dilemma, but their ability to express this and their ability to make choices is restricted, as the treatment of British leadership shows. In Africa, it’s questionable whether leaders have a political choice, given intense pressure from an international community that isn’t thinking about the differences of the African context, and a WHO offering no region-specific technical advice. Leaders need to be given the space to say shocking things, to be upfront about what might go wrong, to change their minds in the face of new evidence, and to pick the lesser of two evils. Doctors face such choices every day, and they are horrible. But they are unavoidable. Without a proper estimation of the costs as well as the benefits of the measures currently being implemented, no rational assessment of their merit can be made."

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"Should Nigeria have released Boko Haram suspects?"

Die Regierung in Nigeria hat vor kurzem etwa 1.400 mutmaßliche Mitglieder der radikalislamischen Terrorgruppe Boko Haram freigelassen und dies mit dem Erfolg ihres Deradikalisierungsprogramms "Operation Safe Corridor" begründet. Die Entscheidung ist in Nigeria auf massive Kritik gestoßen. Jideofor Adibe, Politikwissenschaftler an der Nasarawa State University in Keffi, kann die Kritik verstehen, sieht jedoch keine Alternative. "These reactions mask a fundamental challenge facing governments in conflict situations: how does it deal with defectors? Simply executing combatants, or detaining them indefinitely, aren’t viable options. De-radicalisation and re-integration programmes therefore become unavoidable. (…) Most countries faced with violent extremism and terrorism have adopted one form or another of de-radicalisation programmes. Whether they have worked or not is hard to judge because assessments are very often made by people responsible for the programmes. But one thing is clear: governments don’t have many viable alternatives."

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"Slavery is not a crime in almost half the countries of the world – new research"

Katarina Schwarz, Jean Allain und Andrea Nicholson präsentieren die Ergebnisse ihrer neuen Untersuchung, der zufolge Sklaverei in 94 Ländern formell nicht verboten sei. "Legal ownership of people was indeed abolished in all countries over the course of the last two centuries. But in many countries it has not been criminalised. In almost half of the world’s countries, there is no criminal law penalising either slavery or the slave trade. In 94 countries, you cannot be prosecuted and punished in a criminal court for enslaving another human being. Our findings displace one of the most basic assumptions made in the modern antislavery movement — that slavery is already illegal everywhere in the world. And they provide an opportunity to refocus global efforts to eradicate modern slavery by 2030, starting with fundamentals: getting states to completely outlaw slavery and other exploitative practices. (…) Although 96% of all these countries have some form of domestic anti-trafficking legislation in place, many of them appear to have failed to prohibit other types of human exploitation in their domestic law. (…) In all these countries, there is no criminal law in place to punish people for subjecting people to these extreme forms of human exploitation. Abuses in these cases can only be prosecuted indirectly through other offences – such as human trafficking – if they are prosecuted at all. In short, slavery is far from being illegal everywhere."

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"The Iraq War has cost the US nearly $2 trillion"

Neuen Berechnungen des "Costs of Wars"-Projekts zufolge hat der Irak-Krieg die USA fast 2 Billionen US-Dollar gekostet. "Even if the U.S. administration decided to leave — or was evicted from — Iraq immediately, the bill of war to the U.S. to date would be an estimated US$1,922 billion in current dollars. This figure includes not only funding appropriated to the Pentagon explicitly for the war, but spending on Iraq by the State Department, the care of Iraq War veterans and interest on debt incurred to fund 16 years of U.S. military involvement in the country."

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"The Trump administration has made the U.S. less ready for infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus"

Die US-Regierung habe in den vergangenen drei Jahren einiges getan, um die Ausbreitung von Infektionserregern wie dem Coronavirus in den USA zu erleichtern, kritisiert Linda J. Bilmes. "Two years ago, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates warned that the world should be 'preparing for a pandemic in the same serious way it prepares for war'. Gates, whose foundation has invested heavily in global health, suggested staging simulations, war games and preparedness exercises to simulate how diseases could spread and to identify the best response. The Trump administration has done exactly the opposite: It has slashed funding for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its infectious disease research. For fiscal year 2020, Trump proposed cutting the CDC budget by US$1.3 billion, nearly 20% below the 2019 level. (…) As climate change warms the Earth, thousands of long-frozen dormant diseases are defrosting. And the World Health Organization reports that 75% of all emerging pathogens over the past decade are zoonotic diseases, most of which are understudied. As Bill Gates warned in 2018, 'If history has taught us anything, it’s that there will be another deadly global pandemic.' I believe the U.S. must allocate more resources to research, detection and global prevention and communication efforts, not less."

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"Why the US-Iran conflict isn’t driving oil prices higher – and why it probably should"

Scott L. Montgomery macht darauf aufmerksam, dass die aktuelle Iran-Krise entgegen mancher Erwartungen bisher nicht zu einem rasanten Anstieg des Ölpreises geführt habe. Dies sei u.a. auf die neue Rolle der USA als Energie-Exporteur zurückzuführen. "Oil traders therefore have much reason to be nervous. But they aren’t. Why? A big reason (…) is that the global oil market has abundant supply, fed by soaring U.S. production. In under a decade, America has been transformed from a huge importer to a major new exporter. These exports grew from 0.6 million barrels per day in early 2017 to over 4 million by December 2019. For several years, OPEC and Russia have cut their own production to keep prices from falling, due to U.S. supply. Also, oil demand has weakened due to the global economic slowdown, caused by the U.S.-China trade war, a slumping auto industry and other factors. This has supported a perception that the oil market can absorb almost any shock, even the loss of life in a military exchange."

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"From Zimbabwe to Bolivia: what makes a military coup?"

Blessing-Miles Tendi von der University of Oxford erinnert nach dem erzwungenen Rücktritt des bolivianischen Präsidenten an den auf ähnliche Weise herbeigeführten Sturz des simbabwischen Präsidenten Mugabe im Jahr 2017. Im Fall Simbabwe könne heute kaum noch ein Zweifel daran bestehen, dass es sich um einen Militärputsch gehandelt habe. "Subjective uses of the word coup risk banalising and misrepresenting a term that has a clear meaning. Patrick McGowan, an accomplished researcher on coups in Africa, has offered a usefully precise definition. Coups are ejections from power of political leaders, through unmistakably unconstitutional means, mainly by part of the army: 'Either on their own or in conjunction with civilian elites such as civil servants, politicians and monarchs.' Zimbabwe’s 2017 coup played out along the lines of McGowan’s definition. Whether events in Bolivia constitute a military coup will become clearer in the coming weeks and months as researchers and investigative journalists uncover the elite politics at play behind the scenes and the exact motivations of Kaliman and his fellow military commanders."

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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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