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What Sustains the The World’s Oldest Guerrilla Group?

Monday, November 24, 2014

For more than fifty years Colombia has suffered an armed conflict involving the FARC guerrillas. As this video profile from The Economist explains, sustained strong cash flows from drug dealing and other illegal activities is the key reason why FARC has been able to sustain its activities for so long.

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Global Issues - Hakimullah Mehsud and the Peace Process in Pakistan

Monday, November 04, 2013

One day after initiating the start of a potential peace process, Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a drone strike. This BBC video looks at the potential implications of the killing of Mehsud for the prospects of peace in Pakistan.

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FPTP - Should Britain Arm the Syrian Rebels?

Friday, November 01, 2013

Parliament’s rejection of airstrikes on Syria last reopened the debate over whether Britain should be intervening at all in Syria’s ongoing conflict – and if so, how?

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Extremism in the Desert - Where Next for the War on Terror?

Friday, January 25, 2013
This short interview by The Economist magazine is well worth watching as it explains why Islamic extremism is on the march in Africa. The transnational nature of the extremist group that conducted the terrorist activity in Algeria is also discussed. read more...»

Spanish Politics - Catalan Independence

Monday, December 31, 2012

Nick Graham explains the background to moves towards independence by the Catalan region.  During a period when easy credit, generous government subsidies and seemingly endless growth made Spain the economic dynamo of Europe, Spain’s highly decentralised system of government was an envied and admired way of organising a country with what historically had often been troublesome and destabilising centrifugal forces.

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Osama doc on Ch4 well worth watching

Thursday, September 08, 2011

If you didn’t watch Osama: Shoot to Kill on Ch4, it is worth catching on 4OD over the next month or so.

Like most TV documentaries it is takes slightly too long to get the information over, but what I found especially fascinating as part of the film was how those at the top echelons of what is an almost incestuous inside the beltway culture kept the manoeuvre secret .

Shame there hasn’t been an accompanying film looking at the significance of 9/11 and subsequent events in geo-political terms.

View it here while it lasts.

9/11 ten years on

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I don’t know how many blog users access the site for PSHE related stuff, but here are details of something I did with my 3rd form today.

I try to make the subjects topical to what is going on at the the time and the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was pretty obvious.

With access to a projector, most questions on the worksheet can be covered.

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Documentary heads up

Sunday, September 04, 2011

With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming soon we can expect a raft of related features and documentaries, but Shoot to Kill on Channel 4 is highlighted by a number of Sunday papers as the documentary of the week…

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Global Issues: Sudan as a case study - several topics covered in one resource

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This BBC graphic kills a whole multitude of birds with one stone. The split in Sudan as shown by the interactive map can be viewed in several ways: by geography, ethnicity, education, food security and others. All this means that it could come in useful when teaching about culture as a cause of conflict, the clash of civilisations, the difficulty of making seeping assumptions about poverty & development and a whole load more.

Global Issues - Who Has the Nuclear Threat?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lots of developments recently regarding arms treaties and the control of nuclear weapons.  This neat interactive graphic summarises which nation states currently have nuclear weapons, and also provides a summary timeline of the Arms Race

Nuclear Weapons - Interactive Resource

Global Issues: Is talking to the Taleban the only way to end the conflict in Afghanistan?

Monday, March 22, 2010

There are increasing signs of Western diplomatic engagement with the Taleban and the sense that it will be ‘jaw jaw’ rather than ‘war war’ that will bring somekind of resolution to the conflict. For an idea of how the deal might work take a look at this BBC report.

Global Issues: The rise of cultural conflict

Monday, March 08, 2010

A couple of stories in the news over the last few days emphasise the prominence of cultural conflict:

1) China says it expects new attacks by separatists seeking independence for the traditionally Turkic Muslim region of Xinjiang after deadly ethnic violence there last year.

2) Some 500 people, including many women and children, are now reported to have died in a weekend religious clash near Nigeria’s city of Jos, officials say.

...and an excellent pictorial overview of current day conflict

Global Issues: Islamic scholar Tahir ul-Qadri to issue terrorism fatwa

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This BBC report relates neatly to the elements of the Global Issues course dealing with cultural conflict, the Clash of Civilisations and terrorism. An influential Muslim scholar is to issue in London a global ruling against terrorism and suicide bombing. Dr Tahir ul-Qadri, from Pakistan, says his 600-page judgement, known as a fatwa, completely dismantles al-Qaeda’s violent ideology.

Global Issues: Conflict - Pakistan’s Security Challenges

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
General Musharraf (President of Pakistan 2001-2008) gave a talk at Chatham House on Monday addressing the issue of ‘Pakistan’s Security Challenges’. He began by saying that ‘Pakistan is the most happening place in the world and that there is never a dull moment.’

General Musharraf said terrorism and extremism are the main challenges currently faced by Pakistan.  His talk touched on:

- Security challenges ranging from an insurgency in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, to a spate of bomb blasts that appear to be growing in intensity.
- Do these bomb attacks suggest that the militant groups are on the back foot in the tribal areas, or that they are growing in confidence?
- The current state of Pakistan’s relations with India, and with Afghanistan.

You can download a transcript of the talk and also watch a video of it on Chatham Houses’ website.  Here is the link.

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Global Issues: Identity Politics and Cultural Conflict - The Great Divide within Islam

“Don’t know your Sunnis from your Shias? You are not alone, but their conflict will shape the future of the world” writes Mehdi Hasan in an article entitled ‘The Great Divide’ in the New Statesman.  For those studying Global Issues it should make fascinating reading given the rise of identity politics and also given Huntingdon’s ‘clash of civilizations’ debate which has been severely critiqued for assuming Islam to be a monolithic bloc.

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Global Issues: WMD and Rogue States - IRAN

Monday, February 15, 2010

Iran, our favourite ‘rogue state, has just announced that it now the capabilty to produce weapons grade uranium and has plans for 10 new nuclear sites.  As Iran is a key case in point of how the international community aims to limit nuclear proliferation and curb ‘rogue’ states this story is worth tracking with all its twists and turns.

‘Hundreds of thousands of government supporters massed in central Tehran to mark the anniversary of the revolution that created Iran’s Islamic republic - while president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chose the day to proclaim his nation is now a “nuclear state”’.  The Independent carries the story.  Also an earlier article entitled ‘Iran condemned as it reveals nuclear plans’ assesses Iran’s ability to pose a nuclear threat.

A recommended article which appeared a few months ago in the Newstatesman entitled ‘How Iran went nuclear’ tells the remarkable story of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, which began as an expression of western modernity but has now hardened into a statement of reaction, isolation and rage.

For a really rado pinko lefty slant John Pilger argues that the Iranian nuclear threat is a lie! He argues that Obama’s “showdown” with Iran has another agenda. The media have been tasked with preparing the public for endless war. Read here for the conspiracy!

Also, here is some general stuff on what is a ‘rogue state’...

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Global Issues: Terrorism: The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda [The Economist]

The bombs that stopped the happy talk: It was too soon to say that Osama bin Laden’s followers were on the wane—but pessimism should not be overdone.

“ONLY a few months ago, intelligence experts were saying that al-Qaeda and its allies were in decline, both militarily and ideologically. But two bombs less than a week apart, one failed and the other successful, have put an end to such optimism.”

This from a brilliant article in The Economist which outlines the current threat posed by al-Qaeda, but also gives a very good insight into the nature of the organisation.  There is also an interesting graph entitled ‘a deadly calculus’

which plots the fatalities in al-Qaeda attacks.  Read more here.

Global Issues: Terrorism - Al Qaeda: A threat transformed? [FT]

This is an excerpt from an excellent article in the Financial Times – it is a must read.

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Global Issues: Conflict - Afghanistan

The current ‘military surge’ underway in Afghanistan puts the conflict back in the spotlight not least in terms of questions of strategy and what type of war is being waged in countering the Taliban insurgency.  ‘Clear, hold, build’ has been the holy trinity of counter-insurgency operations, but what exactly does this entail and what chance does it have of succeeding?

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Global issues - the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank

Saturday, February 13, 2010

An excellent interactive graphic here on the WSJ which provides a historical guide to the growth of Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank area.

Virtual warfare? Using drones in Afghanistan to ‘spot’ IEDs

Friday, February 12, 2010

It seems that the main weapon used by the Taliban against NATO forces in Afghanistan is the IED - hardly a day goes by without a news report about a British soldier being killed or wounded by such a device. In response the western forces using drones in Afghanistan to provide intelligence and firepower. They use sophisticated cameras to spot suspicious activity and attack the Taliban as they plant the IEDs.

All this highlights the differing tactics used by the opposing sides and the lengths that NATO forces go to avoid casualties. The idea of British personnel piloting drones from a portacabin in their base and using machinery rather than manpower to carry out operations fits into the idea of ‘virtual warfare’. This concept is part of the debate about the ‘revolution in military affairs’, ‘new wars’ and the James Der Derian book ‘Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network’.

What Next for Pakistan?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dr Farzana Shaikh, Associate Fellow at Chatham House gives an excellent summary of the current situation in Pakistan. The three minute clip covers the key problems that the Zardari adminstration is currently facing.

Global Issues: Using a webquest to teach Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

After going through the theory of Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations theory using a webquest to allow students to decide for themselves how credible his thesis is can be useful. By using links to various news stories a group can both arrive at a judgement and also get to grips with a few case studies in modern conflicts that they might otherwise be unaware of. The list does not contain links to summaries of the Iraq War and Afghanistan - which will be tackled in a more direct focus later.

The next part of the jigsaw is to look at the various criticisms that have been levelled at Huntington and to ask how valid these are.

For an extension on this more able students might be encouraged to read Huntington’s original article and his riposte to his critics.

Generation Jihad: Peter Taylor’s new documentary, BBC 2 tonight, 9pm

Monday, February 08, 2010

Peter Taylor’s new offering, this time investigating the terrorist threat from young British Muslim extremists radicalised on the internet, is on tonight at 9pm. Further details on the programme can be found here

Getting students to introduce Global Issues (4D) to themselves

It is always good to start a new module with an overview of topics that are going to be studied. Even better to get students to introduce themselves to the subject matter and work out what key issues they’ll be tackling. Using a simple map of Afghanistan and Pakistan (along with some carefully placed questions) allowed a group to essentially extract from their own knowledge the nature of the course.

The conversation started with the war (‘New wars’, insurgency, the clash of cultures and the role of religion, differing views of human rights), navigated its way to terrorism (both in the region and domestically), managed to venture into WMDs (the starting point being the situation in Pakistan) and looked at possible solutions to the problem (poverty & development, nation building, international financial mechanisms etc). We didn’t quite manage to work environmental issues into the mix but three out of four wasn’t bad.

Peter Taylor’s ‘Age of Terror’

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Peter Taylor’s documentary ‘Attack on the West’ is a hugely useful resource for the Terrorism topic in the Global Issues course. The entire Age of Terror series is relevant but, in the interests of time, the episode detailing the truck bombing on the US Embassy in Nairobi is possibly the most useful. It does contain some pretty graphic images but does provide some real insight into the pre-9/11 nature, methods and outlook of Bin Laden’s war on the west. The other programmes feature the story of the Entebbe hostage drama, a huge cache of arms being sent to the IRA by Colonel Gaddafi, a 1994 Islamist plot to fly a hijacked Air France jet into buildings in Paris and the attack on a school in Breslan.

As an accompaniment the BBC’s Age of Terror webpages are similarly excellent. In addition Peter Taylor’s more recent investigations into Al-Qaeda (‘The New Al-Qaeda:’ ‘Investigating al-Qaeda’ ) are summarised on the BBC website. I can’t find these programmes themselves online - it would be great if anyone could flag up where they can be found.

British forces fighting ‘new’ wars with new tactics ?

Friday, February 05, 2010

A couple of useful articles published in recent days give students evidence on the extent to which the British Army is adapting to fighting in different kinds of conflicts.

The BBC report on Operation Moshtarak mentions that the Army are conducting ‘shaping operations’ in that they warn the local population of the impending offensive and work with tribal elders in order to win ‘hearts and minds’. By doing so, of course, the British lose the element of surprise but, it is hoped, some Taliban will see the writing on the wall and lay down their weapons. That is the theory.

The Daily Telegraph published an article yesterday on the ‘toxic cocktail’ of state-sponsored terrorists, extremist groups and criminal ganags that will form new enemies in the decades to come. The publication of the MOD’s assessment of future conflict now opens up the debate about what our armed forces shoudl look like and the role they should play in the future.

The Decade of Terror - Reuters Pictures of the Decade

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A stunning online slideshow here from Reuters tells the story of a decade of global terror and violence.  Many of the images are hard-hitting.  All are thought-provoking. An amazing resource to use as stimulus material for Politics units covering global issues.

Launch Reuters Images of the Decade

Global Issues - Afghanistan Interactive Timeline

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A super interactive timeline from the Washington Post brings up bang up to date on the history of the war in Afghanistan.

Terrorism - Analysis from the Economist

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It seems that terrorists are getting younger, according to an interesting piece of analysis from the Economist.  A good graphic here too for use in lessons.

Nuclear Warheads - Who Has Them - and How Many?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A neat pdf download from the Times which illustrates the current portfolios of nuclear warheads around the world.

Whither support for war on terror?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

There’s a fine piece of writing by Tim Garton Ash in Thursday’s Guardian on how the war on the faltering economy has put thoughts about the so called war on terror to the back of many peoples’ minds.

“The first thing I see every time I come to New York is something that is not there. That soaring absence of the twin towers on the skyline of Manhattan remains this city’s most haunting presence. A landmark of air. But the shadow cast by the absent twin towers is no longer the defining feature of world politics in the way that the shadow cast by the Berlin Wall was for nearly 30 years. Most people don’t any more feel that we live in a “war on terror” in the way that we did feel that we lived in a cold war. Not across the world. Not in America. Not even in New York.”

More conflict in the pipeline?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

According to a feature in the T2 section of today’s Times, key to understanding the conflict in the caucuses is the existence of 155 miles of pipeline snaking through Georgia.  The authors argue that the conflict between Russia and its neighbour is not solely due to oil (true also of America’s invasion or Iraq, remember), but the geo-political relationships in the region are heavily influenced by black gold

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