Month: January 2013

Counterinsurgency and the Iron Clad Law of Second Order Consequences

There are two rather over-used, if entirely accurate, rules in the UK Armed Forces. The first is von Moltke, the Elder’s maxim that “no plan ever survives contact with the enemy” (meaning be ready to adapt — and quickly — for every eventuality). The second is Dwight D Eisenhower’s observation that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” These basic principles are inculcated into every military officer again and again.

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Afghanistan’s Electoral System and Security Sector Reform

Recently, I had the opportunity to return to Afghanistan to present research findings that intended to assist Afghans as they consider how changes to their current electoral system might affect governance. The research question I was tasked to explore was quite intriguing, and one where the literature was essentially silent: How does an electoral system shape governance of the security sector?

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World Bank Hosts Roundtable Addressing Security Sector Expenditure Challenges

Security sector reform (SSR) suffers from a number of challenges in post-conflict states, but expenditure management and financial review of SSR processes pose particular challenges that are not present in other sectors, such as health and education. These challenges, and the gaps in knowledge and expenditure management, are what pushed the World Bank and DCAF to convene a roundtable in October 2012 to address these issues.

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Revisiting the Western Balkans

David Law recently returned to the Western Balkans after an absence of over a year to attend a conference that brought together Parliamentary Defence and Security Committees from several countries of the region, as well as Turkey. The venue was Rakitje, the headquarters of RACVIAC, an organisation originally set up to supervise disarmament arrangements among the former Yugoslav republics, but now focuses on promoting regional dialogue and cooperation more generally.

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Mali: The importance of SSR in Bamako

Before March 2012, not many would have expected Mali to be the next potential battleground in the war on terror. However Mali’s free and fairly elected government, led by Amadou Toumani Touré, was overthrown in a military coup. Although an interim government was established, a power vacuum was created allowing a Tuareg rebel group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to seize control.

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Guatemala: President Pérez Molina’s Successes and Failures

President Pérez Molina’s first year in office has produced mixed results. Although the administration has enjoyed some modest successes on the economic and social front but has suffered a series of disappointments and setbacks to Guatemala’s most important challenge ­– improving governance and security. What Guatemala needs is a top-to-bottom police reform steeped in modern policing concepts such as community policing and respect for human rights.

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