IPPR Blog
  • About IPPR

    Founded at UCL’s School of Public Policy, the International Public Policy Review provides a forum for debate, discussion and online networking in the emerging fields of Global Governance and International Public Policy. As a rigorous student-led academic journal, it publishes both original research and innovative commentary from within the School of Public Policy's postgraduate community.
  • Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

    A New Idea of War, And I Like It

    By Saskia Kok, on 21 January 2014

    By Francisca Stewart

    Emile SimpsonEmile Simpson, a genuine war veteran with 3 tours in Southern Afghanistan under his belt, stands before us at University College London waiting for his introductions to conclude. He launches enthusiastically into a 40-minute talk on his conception of contemporary war. His parents are both Cambridge academics and he attended Oxford University before deciding to join the British Army. His choice to join the British Army was fueled by his interest in history and his fondness for adventure. During his time in the military, he first was a platoon commander, then a military intelligence officer, and finally worked in the headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). From his experiences he authored a book, War From the Ground Up: 21st Century Combat as Politics, which offers a theory on war today, as well as a possible solution for the future of wars. Now retired from the army, Simpson is completing a PhD in International Law at King’s College.

    His talk on military strategy and theory is laced with personal accounts. He comes across as as quite business like as well as serious when talking about what he saw first hand, getting quickly to the important matters at hand and the underlying issues. He also has moments where he breaks away from the script and recounts funny and light-hearted moments of his time in Afghanistan. Simpson discusses the traditional understanding of war as being binary, ending with a victor and a loser, and where political and military activities do not mix. According to Simpson, the problem with the Afghanistan war is that it does not fit into this traditional model, as we have formerly understood it to be. It is a war with no clear-cut goals and no obvious end in sight. There are many open-ended questions such as who the enemy is in any given situation and what winning the war would actually look like. To these questions, there appears to be no apparent answers. Adding to this, the United States’ perceived poor choice to coin the war in Afghanistan “the war on terror” has made it that much more ambiguous.

    Simpson describes the ongoing conflict as kaleidoscopic and fragmented as opposed to polarized with a “them” and an “us”, since the war is not just about a straightforward two-sided battle. Every action taken has a political consequence attached to it. Plans are created with political considerations in mind, and because of this there are violent as well as non-violent acts of persuasion taking place. Simpson did point out that there was a marked improvement from his first tour in 2007 to his last tour in 2011 as far as better targeting the genuine enemy. But the drawn out war has shown that we must recondition our expectations of the traditional formulation of war, because at this point there will be no clear cut victory and defeat.

    During the talk, one student asked him if he feels the British army’s presence in Afghanistan was at this point still beneficial. While he didn’t say 100% one way or the other, he did admit that the democracy that had been promised to the Afghans had not been delivered, indicating the British army was not benefitting the Afghan population. Simpson concludes his talk with his take on modern war, claiming that while he believes that the traditional paradigm of war still exists, there is now a trend toward armed politics and strategic narratives. These narratives give meaning to actions taken by connecting the actions to important policies, which in the Afghanistan war have focused mainly on women’s rights, democracy, and the eradication of drugs.

    In all, Simpson argues that a clear policy aim must be provided from the start as well as identifying the perceived enemy. He also believes in the idea of persuasion through “winning the enemies’ hearts and minds,” as this will positively change the atmosphere when trying to negotiate and solve problems. Simpson’s conclusions are thoughtful and logical and could potentially save a lot of wasteful time and effort in the future if they are actually applied. Whether this will happen in our increasingly bureaucratic societies remains to be seen, but it would do a world of good for the excruciatingly long and drawn out Afghanistan war. In the meantime, I will not be holding my breath.

    Welcome!

    By Claire McNear, on 15 December 2013

    Welcome to the blog of UCL’s International Public Policy Review. IPPR is a student-led publication, committed to promoting quality contributions from postgraduate students in the policy and international affairs fields. We publish academic articles, policy reviews and opinion pieces.

    Launch iPlatform: The Interview

    By Saskia Kok, on 4 November 2013

    By Ahmed Al Araifi, Cody Portin and Alice Vincent

    UCL School of Public Policy, 4th November 2013, 4pm

    With Malik Dahlan, President at the iPlatform for Global Change (“the iPlatform”) and Chief Lawyer at a law firm based in the Middle East;

    and Professor David Mednicoff, Director and Chairman of the iPlatform Committee of Academic Fellows and Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

     As students in the UCL School of Public Policy and on behalf of UCL we thanked Mr. Dahlan and Professor Mednicoff for taking time to allow us to conduct an interview and for choosing UCL as the place to launch their exciting new initiative: the iPlatform.

    Cody Portin, David Mednicoff, Alice Vincent, Malik Dahlan and Ahmed Al Araifi.

    Cody Portin, David Mednicoff, Alice Vincent, Malik Dahlan and Ahmed Al Araifi.

    iPlatform
    The iPlatform is an independent, not for profit, innovation platform for law and policy, connecting diverse generations of leaders and scholars and providing opportunities for young people, academics, and other thinkers, across universities, organisations and institutions around the world, to develop global thought leadership and cutting edge research and practical solutions to law and policy challenges.

    There is an abundant amount of organizations that are concerned with global governance, law and policy research worldwide. What makes the iPlatform different?
    Malik Dahlan: We are really motivated by a generational dialogue that has been missed by most organizations you have described. Events that occurred in 2011 in the so-called Arab Spring or the English Riots or even the Occupy Wall Street Movement spoke about something much deeper and I think David (Prof. Mednicoff) and I and our friends in the organization, while connected to many academic institutions, think tanks and other international organizations, realized that the real problem is that we are not engaging with those who actually have ownership of the problem. We need youthful thinking to surface as it should and the iPlatform is open to all for that thinking to surface.

    iPfGC_0044-001Professor Mednicoff: Malik and I have been thinking about the iPlatform for several years and we have a vision for not necessarily a large entity but a small flexible organization that really focuses on being highly transnational with the potential to connect institutions, academic powerhouses and other organizations. We aspire to be truly global. We are an open platform and we have several places where anyone can contribute an idea. We are launching a competition today that reflects our commitment to the empowerment of youth and encourages innovation in the field of policy research.

    Can you elaborate on the membership and governance structure of the iPlatform?
    Malik Dahlan: One point we’re focused on in terms of governance is to have representation from academia, policy-makers, business and government. The committee of fellows is the academic committee in charge of programming, and another level is the Global Advisors who want to be affiliated, associated or contribute to the iPlatform and mentoring of young persons.

    Professor Mednicoff: We have an evolving academic fellows group. The priorities for people to be in this group are:

    1. that they are committed to diverse, open multidisciplinary, high quality research that brings together academia and policy experts;
    2. to be globally diverse; and
    3. to be genuinely interested in incubating projects by combining enthusiastic students and established policy experts and academic networks.

    We aim to free up academic networking and are unified by globalism and real commitment to bringing projects that can hopefully inspire people like you to join up and collaborate with us.

    How are policy projects chosen, submitted, and worked through?
    iPfGC_0072-001Professor Mednicoff: It is best to use our new iLab which is a major part of the iPlatform or to work through the website. Students need not worry if a policy project is not precisely in the iPlatform’s area of expertise because through us they have access to many networks and we want to free up academic networking. As a very open, and transnational organization, there are many contacts and networks that the iPlatform can utilize to make connections and introductions, using networking and mentorship programmes for projects they feel have substance.

    The iPlatform is very keen on the empowerment of youth and creating opportunities for them. Can you tell us how this will be done? Moreover, the iPlatform has strong relationships with a number of academic institutions of the highest caliber.  How will these relationships be utilized to pursue your objectives?
    Malik Dahlan: The empowerment of youth is a very important aspect for the iPlatform. Their empowerment can be through various elements we strive to provide such as internships, scholarships and bursaries. Moreover, later today we will be launching, alongside the iPlatform, a competition that revolves around policy research and the engagement of youth with the policy world. We will provide prizes and will also publish the selected policy proposals. As to our relationship with the institutions you mentioned, we aim to facilitate, through them, a connection and link that will enable all members of our organization specifically and the global youth generally a chance to communicate effectively. We believe that a number of the problems that exist today exist because of miscommunication and through our relationships we aim to connect the good to the better and the inexperienced to the experienced and so on.

    There is a lot of focus at the iPlatform on the Middle East, both in terms of content and members. What are the differences or similarities that you see with the rest of the world in terms of the rule of law?
    Professor Mednicoff: We do not mean to be particularly or exclusively focused on the Middle East but Arab countries are currently so much in the western consciousness and so intertwined with our global challenges. We should not ignore the importance of current events in the Middle East and the connected aspects of global debate.  We are fortunate to have particular contacts and expertise with respect to that region and it is a matter of political obligation to try to do what we can.  If we could do something towards eventual Syrian reconstruction, then we would feel we were making a useful contribution.

    For more information visit the iPlatform website: http://www.innovation-platform.org

    About Malik Dahlan and Professor David Mednicoff
    Malik DahlanMalik Dahlan is President of the iPlatform Board of Overseers. He is also the iPlatform Founder and Chief Lawyer at a Qatar based law firm. He has held numerous distinguished posts, including as a Regional Expert in Constitutional Affairs, Oil and Gas, selected by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. He was founding Director of the Qatar Law Forum of Global Leaders in Law, and advised on the establishment of the QFC Civil and Commercial Court and Regulatory Tribunal. He serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Middle East, and he is a fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. He was the founding President of the Harvard Law School Association of Arabia, and is the Chairman of the Harvard Law School International Alumni. He was awarded an LLB from the University of Cairo, an MA in Government and Middle East Studies at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and an LLM at Harvard University School of Law.

     

    David MednicoffProfessor David Mednicoff is Chairman of the iPlatform Committee of Academic Fellows. He is also the iPlatform Director and Senior Academic Fellow, and Director of Middle Eastern Studies and a Professor of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He is a scholar of the rule of law, politics and public policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. He has received various teaching honors including a university-wide Lilly Teaching Fellowship and a US national prize for innovative teaching related to the US after 9/11. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in law in Qatar in 2006-2007 and a Research Fellow in 2010-2011 in the Dubai Initiative at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was awarded a BA from Princeton University and an MA, JD and PhD from Harvard University.