HSSC Launch Event on 29 Nov 2019: Space Security

In recent years, space has become a topic of security interest: States such as China and Russia increase their military space investment, the European Union discusses its first space defence programme, while President Trump called for a new “space force.” What are the challenges and opportunities related to security and space technology? And how can the international community prevent an arms race in space?

For its launch event, the HSSC has the honour to welcome Ms Andrea Richards, Responsible at the Foreign Ministry for Space Security in the Section Security Policy and NATO and Mr Marc Becker, Space Situational Awareness Officer at Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt. Hertie students will have the unique opportunity to discuss space security with our experts and gain valuable insights in one of today’s emerging security challenges.

Introduction to the Security 101

Security issues are omnipresent – just open the newspaper and you will read something about Syria / Iraq / Afghanistan / Ukraine / North Korea / terrorist attacks in XYZ / refugee crisis and so on.

And when we read those news, we often times tend to think that the conflict is specific to the region and historical developments. But it is much more complex than that: this is why there are whole departments analysing the different aspects of security. And we want to help you understand them.

In our Security 101 we aim at explaining and de-mystifying international security and security policy. We will explain basic concepts of international relations that can frame the debate about a certain issue. We will highlight historical developments and their effect on our thinking and perception of war. We will conceptualise specific conflicts and give you a deeper level of understanding of the conflicts.

We hope to contribute to the security debate and help interested readers in understanding and participating. In many states, the discussion is only led by experts not including the broader public. Hopefully, we can help to change this and open the debate.

The Opinion Piece of Politics

Position papers might sound like a rather boring affair. But on the contrary, they can be exciting, controversial, and sometimes even fun.

We all have opinions on almost everything – the kind of milk we want to drink, the sweets we prefer, labour hours, tax rates, and whether going to war is the right thing to do or not. But many of our opinions are based on tradition (“that’s the way we always did it”) or on values. While this is not generally a bad thing, it can cloud our judgement and sometimes keep us from evaluating a situation or issue at hand objectively. (Although after enough philosophy classes, it becomes quite obvious that objectivity is an in itsefl impossible concept.)

So why are position papers valuable nevertheless?
Position papers of our authors are not some mere vague statement  but specific and reasoned in empirical or theoretical evidence. When reading the papers, you might agree or disagree but you can understand the reasoning behind the position hold. Our authors outline their experiences on the topic, relevant facts from history or research, and take their own spin on the topic. Their recommendations are based on a critical assessment of the issue. And this – in my humble opinion – is worth reading.

Why you should pay attention to our analysis

There are several reasons why our analysis should not be dismissed as “just student talk.” While it is true that we are students, we think this is only one reason why our analyses can add some value to the general discussion of current issues.

Our perspective as students of international security in Germany gives us insights into current trends in research. This insight into new developments and concepts lets us question traditional explanations of old and new issues. This “new spirit” and openness towards creative approaches is worth paying attention to.

We are all studying in Berlin and we are also a group of students with diverse backgrounds. From Central Asia to Northern America, from the Middle East to Subsahara Africa – we have experienced different circumstances and been confronted with a diversity of challenges. This diversity in background, which is often missing in the  security debate, is  another reason why reading our analyses are insightful.

International Security is still too often dominated by men and not reflective of the diversity of actors impacted by international security. It is important to us to challenge this status quo by acknowledging the importance of gender-balance in international security.

NATO Engages London

Representing HSSC and the Centre for International Security at NATO Engages in London

2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the NATO alliance. Heads of states, governments and military leaders came together in December for the annual NATO Leaders’ Meeting to celebrate this milestone and discuss current challenges for the alliance. On the eve of this event, the NATO Engages conference invited leaders from NATO Allies and experts to reflect and debate on the future of the alliance. We had the opportunity to join the guests in Central Westminster Hall and engage in the conversation. So what are our take-aways from the conference?

To the future and beyond. Looking at how to innovate the alliance, the conference discussed hot topics such as Hybrid Warfare, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, Social Media and Disinformation as well as Space Security. The key question was how NATO should handle these manifold challenges in the future. Most interesting to us: platform engineering as a tool to counter online disinformation instead of building strong counter-narratives. Indeed, this perspective opens the debate: should liberal democracies intervene in the business structures of private tech companies?

Carl Miller and Rand Waltzman discuss the implications of disinformation and possible countermeasures

Diversity matters. Canadian PM Trudeau voiced it very clearly: “More diversity makes for better outcomes.” Women and cultural diversity in peace and security was not the topic of any panel, but speakers and moderators actively requested the inputs of women and youth. Is international security policy still the “old white boy’s club”? Hearing how this perspective is increasingly being challenged among experts and leaders was important. However the composition of some panels shows that there is still a long way to go. Conversations with panellists and participants underlined the need to continue pushing for more inclusion and diversity in foreign policy.

Pm Trudeau and PM Rutte commit to diversity in international affairs and international security.

Brain dead? After 70 years, are we today experiencing the brain death of NATO, as suggested by Emmanuel Macron? Or is the alliance a relevant platform to tackle emerging security challenges?  The conference did not merely highlight NATO’s achievements, but also debated the challenges it is facing. Deep ideological heterogeneity within NATO put the question of values and mission back at the centre of the debate. In this context, Turkey’s controversial purchase of the S-400 and the offensive in Syria were subjects of heated debates. Also the question of defence spending was raised, where Trudeau was having a bad sell. Nevertheless, the biggest problem to NATO is cohesion – or to be more precise – the lack thereof.

NATO Engages was a mixture between panels with academia and policy advisors, discussions between politicians, and storytelling elements. The last part connected NATO to people and their experiences: A former US representative to NATO on 9/11, a young Afghan singer hoping for a better life for Afghan women, a son of refugees from the Kosovo war, a 14 year old unfolding the perspective of Gen-Z. Listening to their stories highlighted in another way, how decisions in international security are not abstract but severely impact people’s lives in very diverse ways.

Empowered and Inspired. Attending NATO Engages enabled us to connect with leading experts and practitioners. It reaffirmed the importance for our generation to actively engage in international security policy, to question and debate the status quo, in order to find innovative solutions to the challenges of our times. In this vein, we are now planning the HSSC activities for 2020, with the goal to debate international security issues in an inclusive and interdisciplinary space.