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October 2020 Media Roundup

This is a roundup of news articles, reports, and other materials focusing on (in)security issues and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of Security in Context . The goal is to shed light on knowledge production on security related issues that are of public interest from different perspectives. Entries may include academic journal articles, think tank reports, non-governmental organizations releases, official documents or government commissioned research, and regular news items. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each roundup to admin@securityincontext.com

October, 2020

Climate Change and Security

'Sleeping giant' Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find

(October 27, 2020)

High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.

An Age of Actorless Threats: Rethinking National Security in Light of COVID and Climate

(October 23, 2020)

Climate change and the COVID pandemic are highlighting key weaknesses in U.S. national security strategy and policy. Addressing these issues will not just require making traditional national security agencies more climate- and pandemic-aware, but a reimagining of the concept of national security itself. 

Climate Superpowers Could Alter Foreign Policy Landscape

(October 21, 2020)

Tackling climate change could be an opportunity for global powers to unite over. China, the US and Europe stand a lot to gain through green cooperation and decarbonization. 

Climate Migration and Cities: Preparing for the Next Mass Movement of People

(October 19, 2020)

Climate change will drive mass migration over the coming decades. Cities need to adapt. There is a need for international coalitions that include a range of stakeholders—from city mayors to urban planners and climate scientists—to help design models that can be scaled up and across the world.

The great unravelling

(October 14, 2020)

An essay by climate scientist, Dr Joëlle Gergis, who argues that the planet may have already gone past the point of return in terms of environmental catastrophe. Her home country, Australia, experienced a glimpse of what is to come during the so called Australian “Black Summer” of 2020, as bushfires destroyed as much as 20% of Australia’s forests. 

Not personal enough: Why climate change is not yet a top priority

(October 9, 2020)

The vast majority of those in wealthy, industrial countries are not yet affected by climate change. Spurring ambitious-enough action to stem climate change will require persuading most people that its impacts - from deadlier weather to surging migration - are a direct and imminent threat to themselves.

Royal Navy chief warns climate change creates new security risks

(October 8, 2020)

Climate change is opening new shipping lanes that will allow Chinese warships a quicker route into Atlantic waters, the head of the Royal Navy has warned, as he set out emerging threats to British maritime security.  

Spreading disease, spreading conflict? COVID-19, climate change and security risks

(October 7, 2020)

COVID-19 stands to exacerbate climate change at the intersection of health, climate and conflict risks as it puts additional stress on resilience and livelihoods, limits the possibility of migration as a coping strategy, weakens relief efforts to reach the most vulnerable and increases risks of urban environments and protests.

Trump report touts oil and gas as 'energy security' amid US climate disasters

(October 6, 2020)

The Trump administration’s energy department is rolling out a lengthy report touting oil and gas as “providing energy security and supporting our quality of life”, without acknowledging that fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate crisis.

21st Century Diplomacy: Foreign Policy is Climate Policy (Report & Project Launch)

(October 1, 2020)

The Wilson Center launch a new foreign policy and climate policy project that invites a diverse set of foreign policy leaders, analysts, and thematic experts from around the globe to elucidate the connections between climate change and broader foreign policy objectives. What are the challenges ahead? And, where are the opportunities for driving transformative change towards a decarbonized world that is both more prosperous and more equitable?

Security and International Relations

Putin: Russia-China military alliance can’t be ruled out

(October 22, 2020)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday there is no need for a Russia-China military alliance now, but noted it could be forged in the future. Putin signaled deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing amid growing tensions in their relations with the United States.

We are now living in world of structural realism

(October 21, 2020)

TARIK OĞUZLU argues that the international relations theory of structural realism best describes World order today. Even the liberal internationalist projects such as the European Union are beginning to break down with member states pursuing the aggressive self-interest policies of the US and China. Now, the last space for democracy and liberalism is in the nation state itself, not the international arena. 

Brazilian Relations with Arab countries to become more strategic

(October 20, 2020)

The Economic Forum Brazil & Arab Countries promised Brazilian-Arab relations to move to new levels. Economic openness and cooperation and strategic policies to enhance political and economic ties between Brazil and Arab countries have been laid out in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Sweden to increase military spending by 40% as tension with Russia grows

October 15, 2020

Increased Russian activity in the Baltic Sea region has pushed Sweden into a hasty programme of rearmament, including buying Patriot missiles from the US.

China may pose threat to UK as northern sea route clears, says navy chief

(October 8, 2020)

Climate change is opening up new maritime routes as swathes of ice melt. The Northern Sea Route, once icebound, now links China to the UK’s northern waters by boat, which the Royal Navy considers a potential threat. 

Joint Statement by UNHCR, IGAD, the EU and the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan

(October 8, 2020)

The Foreign Ministers of Sudan and South Sudan held a meeting chaired by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and attended by the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, at which they agreed to begin an IGAD-led regional initiative to seek solutions to protracted displacement in Sudan and South Sudan.

Russian foreign policy looks East

(October 6, 2020)

Moscow is redefining its relationships with the EU, and the world more broadly with its relations with Beijing now firmly becoming the focal point. The realignment is in response to what Russia views as Western policies of containment and the most profoundly important geopolitical and economic development of our time: the rise of China.

Everything You Think About the Geopolitics of Climate Change Is Wrong

(October 5, 2020)

Conventional wisdom sees the coming transformation of the energy industry as the end of petrostates, but in reality the geopolitical fallout of a clean energy transition will be far more subtle, complex, and counterintuitive. Many of today’s predictions are likely to turn out wrong, or will take decades to unfold in unpredictable ways.

Understanding America's Declining Global Influence

(October 1, 2020)

A recent study by the RAND Corporation argues that America’s declining global influence is tied to several factors but most significantly overstretching, failure and retreat, leading to a mistrust in the competence of the US to lead on global challenges. 

Migration and Displacement

For Middle East children, pandemic adds to misery of displacement

(October 21, 2020)

The covid-19 pandemic compounds insecurity for children displaced across the Middle East. Already challenges for displaced peoples, access to adequate shelter, education, and social inclusion have all been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Escalating Conflict, Mass Displacement in the Central Sahel Require Concerted Action

(October 20, 2020)

A dramatic surge in violence in the Central Sahel this year has led to a worrying increase in fatalities and displacement across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) joins the international community and UN partners to call for concerted action to resolve the multi-layered crisis affecting more than 13 million people at today's Ministerial Round Table for the Central Sahel.

Half of Nagorno-Karabakh population displaced by Armenia and Azerbaijan clashes

(October 8, 2020)

Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have displaced up to 75,000 people - half of the population of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

COVID-19 and forced displacement in the global south

(October 7, 2020)

Berkeley Conversations is joined by the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at UC Berkeley, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement (JDC) to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on forcibly displaced people in the Global South, and efforts by NGOs and governments to support them.

Capitalism & Economy

Angela Davis on the Struggle for Socialist Internationalism and a Real Democracy

(October 31, 2020)

Angela Davis and Astra Taylor talk about economic democracy, criminal justice, and why we need a socialist internationalism.

Five questions about China’s latest five-year plan

(October 30, 2020)

After four days of private meetings among the top echelons of China’s ruling elite, Beijing has outlined its economic and social goals for the next five years. From achieving ‘healthy’ growth to technological breakthroughs, China has outlined its economic goals and strategies for the next five years.

Making inroads The overseas activities of Chinese banks shift up a gear

(October 28, 2020)

China’s banking system is the world’s largest. Its four biggest lenders, measured by assets, head the global league table. Yet Western banks rarely come up against Chinese peers in foreign climes. That has fed the stereotype that China’s banks are either uninterested in global business or, staffed by staid bureaucrats and stuffed with bad loans, are uncompetitive abroad. A new study suggests that this portrait is wide of the mark.

Celebrations as Chile votes by huge majority to scrap Pinochet-era constitution

(October 26, 2020)

Chile has voted overwhelmingly in favor of rewriting the country’s constitution to replace guiding principles imposed four decades ago under the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Capitalism is in crisis. To save it, we need to rethink economic growth

(October 14, 2020)

The failure of capitalism to solve our biggest problems is prompting many to question one of its basic precepts: growth.

Technologies of surveillance/Data Analytics/AI

Police given access to Test and Trace data on those told to self-isolate

(October 17, 2020)

The contact details of those who have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace are to be passed to the police on request, in a move that has alarmed senior health figures who are concerned it will undermine confidence in and co-operation with the testing regime.

Israel Extends Digital Surveillance of Citizens, Despite Lack of Coronavirus Data

(October 13, 2020)

With a very low success rate and few real details, the Shin Bet’s mandate for contact tracing was extended for the fifth time.

The Man Who Speaks Softly—and Commands a Big Cyber Army

(October 13, 2020)

Director of the NSA and leader of US Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone wields extensive power out of public purview.

Border Patrol Spent $2 Million On Google Maps For A Massive Surveillance Tool

(October 13, 2020)

The US Customs and Border Protection has spent at least $2 million in the last three years on the Google mapping software to support ATS, which critics say is a secretive, “terrifying,” huge surveillance system, one that draws in personal and location data from a vast number of government and commercial databases to make its risk assessments. 

Google Supplying Police User Information Based On Keyword Searches – Report (October 10, 2020)

Court documents reveal that Google, at the request of US law enforcement, has disclosed the IP addresses of everyone who had used keywords relevant to their investigations.

TikTok and the War on Data: Great Power Rivalry and Digital Body Counts

(October 6, 2020)

In September 2020, the Trump administration has initiated a global War on Data to ‘combat’ the malicious collection of US citizens’ personal data. The future uses of this war on data have huge implications to the safety and security of already vulnerable civilians around the world. 

Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality

Racism Is A Public Health Crisis

(October 28, 2020)

Amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK and the disproportionate mortality rate amongst BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) people during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to talk about what racism looks like in Britain.

Fijian-born British soldiers lose latest legal fight to stay in UK

(October 25, 2020)

The British army actively recruits from Fiji and those who serve more than four years have the right to remain in the UK if they can afford the application fees. But eight soldiers say that because of systemic administrative errors they were not properly informed of their rights when discharged and have subsequently been unable to gain the right to stay in the UK.

China’s crackdown on the Uighurs

(October 19, 2020)

China has appropriated the label of ‘terrorism’ with the advent of the global war on terror to justify its repression of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim-majority peoples in the Xinjiang region.

Why denouncing white supremacy creates safety, security, and racial equity

(October 14, 2020)

Like the historic civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter has drawn Americans to grapple with contemporary nationalism. America is now in fragile times that deserve the attention of federal, state, and local policies to confront white supremacy and other historical vestiges standing in the way of racial healing and reconciliation.

These are the best and worst states for women

(October 8, 2020)

A new index reveals that opportunities and obstacles for women vary across the United States. The study measures levels of employment, education, maternal mortality, political clout, and physical safety for women across 51 states.

Neoliberal antiracism and the British university

(October 2, 2020)

Rahul Rao maps the current calls to decolonise the university along with the history of neoliberal antiracism and its contradictions with racial capitalism and academia.

Introducing a new series on LGBTIQ Syria: Queerness and the revolution: Towards an alternative Syrian archive

In this new platform, members of different Syrian LGBTIQ communities aim to shed light on questions related to LGBTIQ relations, experiences and discourses in the Syrian context.

Arms, Weapons, and Military Industrial Complex

Time for UK, US to stop aiding terror against terror

(October 27, 2020)

It has been revealed that the Kenyan the government is working closely with US and UK intelligence agencies to wage a secret war on terrorism with dubious legality. This alliance is causing more instability for the very people it is meant to protect. 

Mr Netanyahu goes to Washington - with a dangerous military shopping list

(October 20, 2020)

Realising that Trump is unlikely to win a second term, the Israeli prime minister is scrambling to cement arms deals now

‘Machines set loose to slaughter’: the dangerous rise of military AI

(October 15, 2020)

Autonomous machines capable of deadly force are increasingly prevalent in modern warfare, despite numerous ethical concerns. The ethical benefits of AI expansion in war are far more complex and uncertain than many of its proponents claim.

Dismantling the counterterror narrative is long overdue

(October 15, 2020)

The language and logic of counter-terrorism established by the US has been used to justify a devastating spectrum of Muslim persecution from France to China.

Military Bases Never Go Unused

October 13, 2020

The role of military bases in the stoking of wars and how they are conducted has been a common feature of US military presence around the world. US military bases create animosity, protests and instability. 

The 20th Year of the Afghanistan War Should Be America’s Last

(October 13, 2020)

It is unlikely the architects of the war could have predicted that thousands of U.S. troops would remain on Afghan soil two decades later. Yet this is precisely what has occurred as the mission lost sight of its original goal. It’s time to come home.

'Poisoning the Pacific': New book details US military contamination of islands and ocean

(October 10, 2020)

More than 12,000 pages of US government documents show military operations contaminating the Pacific with radioactive waste, nerve agents, and chemical weapons like Agent Orange

Undercover soldiers: how the spy cops bill could bring the war on terror home

(October 10, 2020)

The controversial Covert Human Intelligence Sources bill (“Spy Cops Bill”) introduced in the UK this month allows state security agencies to break the law with limited discretion. Less known is the bill also proposes the British Military to be granted the same privileges.

A National Security Reckoning How Washington Should Think About Power

(October 9, 2020)

A column by Hilary Clinton arguing that US military spending is out of step with today’s threats. Clinton makes a case for reorienting investment into responding to other threats against domestic supply chains, climate change, and pandemics.

UK was second biggest arms dealer for last decade, figures show

(October 7, 2020)

Since 2010, the UK government has signed £86bn worth of contracts, with 60 per cent of those going to the Middle East.

Human Security

The root problem of poverty in Palestine is not Covid-19, but Israel’s colonialism

(October 20, 2020)

COVID-19 inducing ‘widespread despair’ among refugees, UNHCR appeals for urgent support for mental health

(October 10, 2020)

The consequences of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, protracted displacement and the critical shortfall in solutions to displacement are leading to widespread despair among refugees, warns UNHCR.

Food Security Declines in East Africa Following Economic, Climate and Conflict Shocks

(October 8, 2020)

Food security has weakened in East Africa since 2016, due to conflict, climate shocks and economic instability. Each of these issues has continued to exacerbate food insecurity in 2020.

Is the United States Heading for a Rural Insurgency?

(October 5, 2020)

The US has many signs of a coming insurgency from certain groups and in certain areas of the country. While the U.S. is not currently at the point of a full-blown insurgency, such insurgencies exist across a spectrum rather than being characterized by the crossing of a line, and consequently, it behooves us to worry now rather than when we get to “there.”

National security experts describe a distracted and potentially vulnerable country

(October 4, 2020)

US national security experts say the country is experiencing multiple potential vulnerabilities that is likely without precedent. 

Demolishing Human Rights in the Name of Reconstruction: Lessons Learned From Beirut’s Solidere for Syria

Reconstruction projects, in light of war and urban destruction, often displace existing residents and benefit wealthy elites and investors. The Syrian regime’s reconstruction of Marota City has followed the blueprint laid out by Beirut’s reconstruction project, Solidere. 

See also: Q&A: Comparing Beirut's Solidere and Damascus's Marota City

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