The ethical consequences of academic research in terms of its capacity to induce insecurity is an old topic of discussion that has affected various disciplines in different ways. Generally speaking, the more abstract the output of a given discipline, the less frequently it comes up in debates about what limits academics should put on their research activities.
Let’s start with the natural sciences. Ethics are such a huge topic in the highly empirical fields of medicine and biology that, when Europe says “Ethics Committee” they mean „medical ethics“, and there are entire NGOs devoted to the ethics of biological research. For their potential to inform weapons development, chemists and physicists are also generally fairly aware of the potential ethical consequences of their work in terms of security. Einstein famously regretted encouraging the American government to pursue atomic weapons research, and Robert Oppenheimer, who led that research in the Manhattan Project, could hardly bear to remember his role in creating the most destructive of weapons.
von Martin Schmetz & Andrea Jonjic
Im Februar hatte Martin einen Rantpost über Koordination in der europäischen Netzpolitik geschrieben und die Tatsache beklagt, dass jeder auf nationaler und europäischer Ebene scheinbar ein anderes Konzept verfolgt. Mit dem Urteil des EuGH von Dienstag, dass erst mal ein Ende der Vorratsdatenspeicherung bedeutet, hat ein signifikantes Element der europäischen Netzpolitik eine neue Richtung bekommen. Doch kann dies genutzt werden um zwischen nationaler und europäischer Ebene erste Elemente einer zusammenhängenden europäischen Netzpolitik zu schaffen?
by Ben Kamis
Martin, my most cyber-literate colleague and all-around nice guy, recently posted about privacy, arguing that privacy is something categorical that can be protected or violated, not just a word to describe certain practices of divulging or withholding and always as a question of more or less. Here I’m going to reply that he’s right in a certain context, but that context doesn’t go far enough, and so neither does he. Along the way, I hope to explain some differences between how people are conceived in modern and post-modern philosophy, and why privacy is actually a huge deal with very important consequences in certain conceptualizations of security, especially in the context of cyberspace. I’m setting the bar pretty high, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, which also means that I’m going to be taking some huge leaps that would normally require a lot more careful argumentation. But this is definitely an important question, and the answer will hopefully be interesting.
by Martin Schmetz
Stumbling over a Wired article this morning, which claimed that privacy is, in fact, thriving online, I was ready to dismiss it as another April’s fools article. But it turned out that the article was posted a day earlier, and this, as well as its tone, suggest that the author, Nathan Jurgenson, was being serious. Needless to say, I disagree with his assessment – privacy was in danger on the Internet before, and it continues to be.
von Alexander Sami Lang
The bloody rebellion in Syria has aroused hostilities between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, a religious conflict that dates back to the first Muslim civil war and the Battle of Siffin in 657 AD which took place on the banks of the Euphrates river, in what is now Ar-Raqqah, Syria. Today we see how the conflict is again spreading from Syria to the rest of the Middle East in places like Tripoli in Libanon, Falludscha in Iraq and Sad’ah in Yemen. But how did it come to this?
by Klaus Segbers
1. The factual annexation of the Crimea by Russian troops and Russia-oriented militias is unacceptable. The claim that there was harassment against Russian speaking people on Crimea, and that human rights have been violated, is laughable. There was no attempt by the Russian government to address these alleged incidents with the Ukrainian government, or European agencies. Russian military moves were and are a cold-blooded attempt to rewrite the history of 1954, and the European map. Western societies and governments shouldn’t leave any doubt about that. There cannot be business as usual with the Russian leadership for the time being.
von Ben Kamis
On 11 February, the World Fought back against Mass Surveillance. See those capital letters? They denote Things that Matter – somehow. We don’t necessarily know who ‘We’ are, what the ‘World’ is, nor whether the Mass Surveillance We’re against is the big and sexy kind run by acronymized (foreign) government agencies that We all recently learned about through Edward Snowden or the everyday kind conducted by means of cookies, computer profiles and GPS data we all send to whomever is watching in the course of a normal day’s activities, like checking Facebook, leaving the house to buy some bread or sending family pictures over the holidays via email. But ‘We’ ‘Fought’ ‘Them’, or maybe ‘It’.
As briefly as I can, I’m going to try to explain why this is bunk. In short, we are not who We think We are and nor are They, and that the Fight never happened.
by Gerben Stormbroek
“We shall bring victory”. Those were the words of sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, on 25 may 2013. Usually these words would be directed at Israel, the sworn enemy of the Lebanese movement. But this time Nasrallah was referring to the fighting in Syria. That night Hezbollah explicitly chose to side with the Syrian government in her fight against the rebels in the ongoing civil war. Why does the Shia Islamic and pro-Iranian Hezbollah stand so firmly alongside the secular Arab nationalist regime of Bashar al-Assad? What are the consequences for Lebanon and what does the interference of Hezbollah tell us about the balance of power in the small and deeply divided neighbouring country of Syria?
Our most recent podcast: We were able to talk to the Japanese cultural anthropologist Mihara Ryôtarô while he visited Frankfurt in July for a talk on the Coool Japan Initiative [link]. As we have written on K-Pop in the past, we were very interested to talk about this kind of export promotion of cultural goods as a foreign policy strategy: Do export subsidies of J-Pop artifacts really promote Japanese soft power in the region? What are the dangers of promoting certain images of Japanese-ness? And is fried sushi really cool?
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Mihara Ryôtarô talking with Philipp Offermann and Martin Schmetz (from left to right)
by Chris Lee-Gaston
As police with tear gas and water cannons fuel unrest across Turkey, it seems that many eyes are wearily cast over Europe’s favourite neighbour, soon to join the list of potentially unstable Middle-East nations. Yet even as Erdogan’s messy power play brings Turkey’s democratic survivability into question, the nation’s solar energy industry is breaking new ground and massive nuclear power capacity is quietly being prepared to relieve the nation’s energy import dependency. In Brazil, riots breaking out over a transport price hike reflect the pressures of inflation and widespread corruption: an outburst fuelled by a long history of mismanagement and ineffective policy at state and federal levels. Nevertheless, big plans are underway for the expanding of Brazil’s power grid, set to underwrite national economic growth into 2030 and beyond. Behind these gruelling scenes of democratic upheaval, lie two distinct cases of energy policy in the making, in spite of overt political turmoil. This post highlights two instances of critical energy policy, unfolding behind the scenes.
by Chris Lee-Gaston
Recent public, political and media focus on the politics of drones and in the highly speculative field of cyber-warfare have led me recently to do some speculation within my own topic and namely over the specific implications of nuclear power as an energy security question, within the politics of democratic nations. This article provides a brief surmise of two current examples of the critical yet often indistinct influence of energy security strategy within International Relations, both of which are approached from the perspective of relations with Asia’s principal economic and strategic power, China. Discussion of the important Australian and Japanese strategic nuclear relations to China, point towards the pervasive nature of strategic management of unqualified risks within IR: bear with me, while we dig ourselves a rabbit hole…