North Korea: The Utilization of Nuclear Weapons for International Prestige

North Korea: The Utilization of Nuclear Weapons for International Prestige

By Hiroshi Nakatani*

It is striking that North Korea violated the agreement (the suspension of its nuclear program) concluded with the US earlier this year and launched the long-range missile, only to fail.[1] However, it was not surprising that it breached the agreement again given that it has, in fact, never fulfilled the commitment.[2] Because of North Korea’s actions the US food aid to the country has been halted.[3]

It is worth noting that, according to a document compiled by the Worker’s Party, North Korea’s actions have been inherited by the late Kim Jong IL, who allegedly ordered the nuclear program.[4] Now, the world is uneasily monitoring North Korea’s next move, which will most probably be the underground nuclear test – following the long-range missile launches in 2006 and 2009. North Korea appears to be carefully examining the time that its action will take place. It has been argued that the North exploits this crisis for diplomatic purposes, an act which is often called Nuclear Brinkmanship.[5] Continue reading

The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West by Niall Ferguson – Book Review

The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West by Niall Ferguson – Book Review

Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (The Penguin Press: New York), 654 pp., 2006, $14.96 USD

By Jeff Collins

How does one explain the vast amounts of blood spilled in the first half of the twentieth century? Just as importantly, how does one explain the decline of Western power and influence since that period? These questions lay at the heart of Niall Ferguson’s 2006 critically acclaimed book The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. For Ferguson, to find the answers requires an understanding of the period of warfare that dominated the last century. Now, grant it, there are quite a few books that have been published over the last number of years tackling the subject of Western decline (see Ian Morris’s Why The West Rules – For Now) which, in of itself, is hardly a new topic either. In fact, one could go as far back as 1918 and read German Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West. That being said, Ferguson’s book stands out for both its depth and the manner in which he interweaves several complex arguments summarising the decline of Western civilization’s predominance in world affairs. But then again, one should not expect anything less from one of the world’s most eminent historians. Continue reading

To Use or Not To Use Nuclear Weapons: A Question of Legality

by Jeff Collins

…the use of nuclear weapons is prohibited not because they are or they are [not] called nuclear weapons. They fall under the prohibition of the fundamental and mandatory rules of humanitarian law (which long predates them) by their effects, not because they are nuclear weapons but because they are indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.”    – Judge Ali-Saab[i]

When it comes to war and armed conflict, international law has always sought to balance military necessity with humanitarian considerations.[ii] It has done so by constraining state behaviour through “regulating the conduct of belligerents and…limiting the weapons that may be used…”[iii] Since 1945, a major challenge to this balancing process has been the threat of nuclear weapons. As the destruction evidenced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrate, in a world of proliferation (horizontal and vertical) and international terrorism, the international security implications stemming from the existence and use of such weapons is potentially catastrophic.[iv] Unfortunately – from an international legal point of view – the politics of Cold War deterrence prevented the emergence of a specific treaty prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons following World War Two.[v] This, despite the emergence of treaties prohibiting the use of ‘less’ destructive armaments (e.g. landmines) and other ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (e.g. the Chemical Weapons Convention) during the same time period (1945-present).

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Themes of Global Security: From the Traditional to the Contemporary Security Agenda

by Zenonas Tziarras

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Security and globalisation are two key concepts that we need to take into account in order to understand today’s international relations. In this light a significant number of both simple and complicated questions, that should be answered in order to understand global security today, arises. Some of these questions are: what does security mean? What is globalisation? Do we really live in a post-Westphalian system? What is armed conflict and what causes it? Is the proliferation of nuclear weapons really bad? Is the nuclear capability really enough to deter and maintain peace? Should the security concept be broadened? If yes, what other threats should it include? How “new” are “new wars” and to what extent is the “state failure” thesis valid? Is the “global war on terror” justified or is terrorism a means to a just end? Is it possible for development and security to coexist or should one of them pre-exist? How serious threat to security is the environment today and why? Should we see refugees as a humanitarian problem or as a security threat? In what follows we shall try to briefly address the above topics thus providing an overview of the contemporary global security environment.

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