What kind of future worlds do experts of international security envision? This paper studies the role of experts in DC's think tanks, a relatively small world socially and culturally highly homogeneous. It underlines the characteristics of this epistemic community that influence the way its analysts make claims about the future for security. The DC's marketplace of the future lacks diversity. The paradigms analysts use when they study international politics are very similar. Moreover, the range of issues they focus on is also relatively narrow.
The paper highlights three main features of the relation between those who make claims about the future of security and those to whom these claims are addressed (mainly policymakers). First, it shows that, for epistemic but also for political reasons, the future imagined in think tanks is relatively stable and linear. This future also contributes to the continuity of political decisions. Second, the paper shows that think tanks are also "victims of groupthink", especially when they make claims about the future. Third, it underlines a paradox: scenarios and predictions create surprises. Claims about the future have a strong tunneling effect. They reinforce preexisting beliefs, create focal points, and operate as blinders when, inevitably, the future breaks away from its linear path.

“Natural” risks and catastrophes appeared in the international arena in the early 1990s. A real « world » of “natural” catastrophes has emerged internationally and has become more and more institutionalized. This study raises questions such as: how has this space been built? How do actors legitimize its necessity? What does it tell us about the way the contemporary world manages fears globally? A diachronic approach of this double process of internationalization and institutionalization allows the author to situate the phenomenon in the historical and global context, and notably of a context of transformation of the notion of security. The sociological analysis of the main multilateral organizations that contribute to forming this space invites us to apprehend the various lines of tension that cross over, and to foresee its complexity. Despite the many attempts to make this space appear as a “community” of sense and practices, strong disparities characterize the actors’ approaches.

The Darfur crisis has shed light on unresolved crises at its borders in Chad and the Central African Republic. What these various conflicts most have in common is probably the existence of transnational armed movements that endure and reorganize in the fringes created by state dynamics in the region as well as the aporias of the international community’s conflict-resolution policies doubled by the choices of certain major powers. An analysis of the situation in the Central African Republic and the history of certain armed movements active in this regional space argues in favor of a less conventional approach to crisis-solving strategies. It points up a zone centered on the Central African Republic and its borders with neighboring countries as the real site for the analysis of armed factionalism since the wave of independence and the specific trajectories of state-building.

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Changes in the architecture of international engagements in peacemaking over the last decade can be traced through a comparison of the Peace Accords of 1997 which ended five years of civil war in Tajikistan with the on-going intervention in Afghanistan which began in the context of the global war against terrorism. The comparison points to the challenges that complex interventions face today: the collapse of stabilization, transition and consolidation phases of peacemaking; the lack of clarity about motivations for engagement; the ambiguous methods of state-building and uncertain ownership of peace processes. The success of the externally-led Tajikistan peace process can be attributed to the common search for collaboration between international organizations and regional powers and the gradual sequencing of the different stages: negotiation for power sharing, followed by consolidation, and finally state-building. By contrast, the changing motivations for intervention, the isolation of the Western alliance from regional actors, and the external actors’ own role as parties to war, which provokes escalating reactions, are the potential elements of failure in Afghanistan. Ultimately, it is the national ownership of peace processes that creates the necessary legitimacy for peacemaking to be durable.

On December 2, 2004, the European Union took over from NATO the main peacekeeping forces that had been deployed in Bosnia-and-Herzegovina since the signature of the Dayton Accords. The launch of EU military operation Althea was presented by its supporters as a major test for the ESDP, especially as it pertained to a wider Europeanization of post-conflict management in Bosnia. Against this background, Althea provides a fruitful locus to assess one of the EU’s most frequent claims - that it possesses a specific know-how when it comes to combining the military and the civilian aspects of post-conflict management. In this study, Althea is primarily approached through the way it is viewed by both its participants and by Bosnians. Several issues are addressed: First, how do historical legacies of the international presence in Bosnia weigh upon the very definition of mission Althea, its implementation and its local receptions? Second, coordination of the various European actors present on the field has emerged as one of the major challenges the EU needs to face. Third, the study draws attention to the possible discrepancy between various understandings (among Althea personnel and Bosnian people) of what a European military mission entails. Last but not least, the study highlights complex rationalities at work when phasing out an operation like Althea. EU exit strategies seem to derive rather from bureaucratic logic than objective assessment of stability in Bosnia.

The international community analyzed the crisis in Somalia in light of its own interests rather than the reality of the country. After having failed to work out a true reconciliation government between 2002 and 2004, western countries went about keeping alive a government that had no real legitimacy, but backed by Ethiopia and Kenya. The emergence of the Islamic Courts in June 2006 reshuffled the cards. More than the radicalization of the Islamic Courts, two arguments finally determined Somalia’s fate and the rekindling of war there. Ethiopia couldn’t stand to see an autonomous power friendly to Eritrea appear on its southern flank. And the United States wanted to signal the absolute predominance of its fight against terrorism over any other consideration. Such a posture provided the opportunity to try out a new security doctrine giving the Pentagon ascendancy over the pursuit of alleged terrorists, co-opting new regional powers on the African continent in the process, given that most of its European allies once again proved particularly limp in the face of yet another militarist drift on the part of Washington. Incapable of occupying the political space, the transitional Somalian government encouraged radicalization. The specter of an Iraq-style conflict in Africa began to loom with Ethiopia’s shaky victory in January 2007.