In the all Ukraine all the time edition of the Duck, here are some essential reads from this week. Will ad more in a bit.
- Dan Nexon channeling his inner Henry Kissinger on the Monkey Cage
- Henry Kissinger channeling his inner Henry Kissinger in the WaPo
- Joshua Rovner on why Russia's intervention in Ukraine is a blunder
- What will Germany, one of Russia's main trading partners, do?
- Obama administration issues new sanctions
- Crimea prepares for a snap referendum in 10 days on secession
- Bob Gates tells Republican critics of Obama and Ukraine policy to cool it
- Hillary unhelpfully compares Putin to Hitler (see Kissinger above)
- Lindsey Graham even more unhelpful on Twitter
This duck is a bit under water these days. We've reached the mid-semester pre-spring break moment of high activity and low energy (warm weather and SXSW beckon). In the meantime, I've flagged a few stories, a great Economist round-up on the health of the oceans (not good), a post by Chris Bertram on the changing face of blogging (more corporate, less fun), Rosa Brooks tells Sheryl Sandberg to take a hike (lean back, don't lean in), the air quality is so bad in Beijing that (the dogs wear masks) and more...
Good morning Ducks, here are your links from South Asia... (I am not even going to pretend I know what's going on in the Ukraine, Syria, Somalia, or Venezuela. I'll stick to what I sort of know...).
Vasundhara Sirnate at The Hindu writes passionately in defence of the offensive. While Indian liberals will (rightfully) continue to be upset at Penguin India's capitulation to the so called "offended" feelings of a small and obscure group of Hindu fanatics, the liberals fail to realize that the increasing pressure to censor and protect the sentiments of various religious communities is actually just an extension of the dominant state ideology, what Manjari Chatterjee Miller labelled as "Post-Imperial Ideology" in her recent book Wronged by Empire. Miller argues that Indian prickliness (in international relations) toward perceived slights in status and Indians' desire to consistently frame relations in terms of victimizers and victims is a major legacy of the trauma of colonialism. So perhaps it should not surprise us that in the domestic arena, the work of a brilliant (foreign) scholar of Hinduism can be painted as little more than an attempt to humiliate and offend pious Hindus. India will need to change more than its censorship policies (which are actually pointless in a digital age), it will need to change its hegemonic ideology -- which is of course highly unlikely. In the meantime, the lesson for foreign scholars and foreign diplomats is clear: speaking boldly in India will result in little more than squabbles in which the foreigner is accused of deliberately seeking to humiliate the Indian state or people.
- Arwin Rahi at the Diplomat argues that Afghanistan must recognize the Durand Line as its permanent border with Pakistan. Rahi is at least correct that Afghanistan needs to come to terms with this boundary -- because for better or worse South Asia has inherited Westphalian definitions of statehood, but if anyone thinks that Afghan recognition of the border will end Pakistani efforts at influencing the character of the regime in Afghanistan, they are forgetting the broader strategic orientation of the Pakistani military.
- Javid Husain at the Nation (Pakistan) calls for national reconciliation in Afghanistan to avoid a civil war. Unsurprisingly, he claims that the Afghan Constitution should be modified to meet the "reasonable" demands of the Taliban. Umm... right. Moving on... He also says that Karzai has displayed a "belated eagerness" to reach a deal with the Taliban, which indicates that the author was mentally on hiatus for the last decade. Despite the howlers, the article may indicate that there is at least a faction in Pakistan that would settle for using the Taliban as a kind of veto player (as opposed to seeking outright hegemony) in post-Karzai Afghanistan.
Good morning. Here are your links ...
This Duck spent the day in the car en route to the Brazilian consulate in Houston to get visas for a summer field course so I'm running behind in my linkage for the week. In the car, I had the amazing experience of listening to an audioversion of The Idealist, Nina Munk's magisterial account of Jeff Sachs and the Millennium Villages Project. I'm moderating a conversation with Ms. Munk on Monday. For those of you who follow debates in international development, I found her take on Sachs to be quite measured, far more nuanced than the media accounts I had read. At times, I found myself admiring Sachs and at other times was amazed by his naivete. Throughout, I was enthralled by the access Munk had to pull off the enterprise. I'll have more to say about it after Monday...
In the meantime, the Winter Olympics have started! Here is some news to accompany what promises to be a weird sporting event, given the live tweets of journalists who found their rooms in disarray, the campaign to kill stray dogs, a blockade on U.S. yogurt, the anti-gay laws, and the specter of terrorism. On top of that, the U.S. ambassador to Russia announced that he is done after Sochi. More curious, a call by the Deputy Undersecretary of State and the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine was leaked on YouTube. At least the skiing and snowboarding tonight was fantastic.
Howdy. Here are your Monday links...
Your humble blogger (I like saying that. Now that Dan Drezner no longer has a blog [sniff], I will say it for him)...Your humble blogger is in London, and after a red eye flight, a noon presentation, ten hours of a sleep coma, another presentation, I'm ready to provide you with your latest in belated Thursday links. Themes this week (surprise!) - HIV/AIDS spending, conservation, pollution, GDELT lives!
Hi Ducks. Here are your Monday links:
- The Disorder of Things has a great post on "Cavity Searches in Intern(ation)al Relations" and ... umm... other forms of intercourse between states.
- Hamza Saif at Chapati Mystery reviews "Globalism and Vernacular in Contemporary Pakistani Rap." (Apparently the real Slim Shady is Pakistani. Who knew?)
- Juan Cole at Informed Comment explains "Why Tunisia's Transition to Democracy is Succeeding while Egypt's is Failing."
- Max de Haldevang at the LA Review of Books discusses Kyrgyzstan and the Uzbeks. De Haldevang writes, "Since 2010, Kyrgyzstan has celebrated Central Asia’s first electoral transfer of power, the creation of a progressive constitution, and the installation of a government that misses no opportunity to underline how they are residing over the region’s first parliamentary democracy. A reasonably boisterous civil society has developed, the media is relatively free — although word is that journalists’ support is easily bought — and, uniquely for the region, the leader is not an autocrat." But it's not all good news in Bishkek...
As sleet and ice descend upon Austin, Texas this Thursday evening, here are some stories in keeping with this wackadoo weather. Rick Perry and weed at Davos with Kofi Annan, Downton Abbey goes on safari, Putin warns gays to stay away from kids, GDELT goes dark, and scientific findings that may be flashes in the pan...
Good mornin' Ducks! Here are your links:
- Oliver Steunkel discusses "The Death of IMF Reform?" at the Post-Western World Blog. The US Congress' rejection an IMF funding request by the Obama administration "... leaves the 188-nation group without additional resources and blocks an increase in voting power for China, India, Brazil and other emerging markets."
- Stephen Harner explains "Why China's ADIZ is Necessary" at the China-US Focus blog. He argues, "The calculation and timing of China’s move may also evidence a reluctant realization that military-to-military dialogue with the United States was proving fruitless in achieving any reduction in provocative U.S. surveillance operations in the East China Sea... At the strategic level, China’s establishment of a clear ADIZ has been made necessary by the Obama administration’s military power focused “rebalance” (or “pivot”) to Asia."
- Stuart Elden critiques and interprets the notion of territory and human predation in the work of Grégoire Chamayou at the Funambulist. Chamayou contrasts Foucault's icon of pastoral power, the shepherd, with the hunter of men. In Chamayou's notion of cynegetic power, "Instead of leading the flock, the hunter follows to seize; it is a territorial power, but one that fluctuates between the fixed space of the city and the exterior, a power that is 'not limited in its predatory extent by any external boundary. It is exercised, from a territory of accumulation, on the resources of an indefinite exteriority.'"
- Lauren Harper at Unredacted enumerates "The 'Top 10' Surveillance Lies Edward Snowden's Leaks Shed 'Heat and Light' Upon."
Apologies for the delayed linkage. This Duck has been in flight all day and just landed (insert joke here...). I'm attending the launch of the new AidData Research Consortium (ARC), which is a USAID funded research effort to use geospatial data on foreign assistance to ask and answer interesting questions. My bit is related to disasters and humanitarian assistance. I'll have more to write on the topic soon.
It's been quite a newsy week, aside from the Chris Christie drama on the domestic front (time for some traffic problems ...). On the foreign policy front, former SecDef Bob Gates' memoir is all the rage. Colin Kahl and Matt Kroenig are back at it in Foreign Affairs on the folly and wisdom of attacking Iran. Bill Easterly and Chris Blattman size up the study of development in light of Nina Munk's takedown of Millennium Villages. The National Security Archive released important documents about the Rwandan genocide. China's foreign health minister comes to grips with the country's pollution crisis that is one of the leading causes of death. New person to head PEPFAR and US HIV/AIDS initiative. And, how blue fin tuna went from cat food to sushi delicacy to near extinction. Links aplenty below...
Hi, Ducks! Happy New Year! I'm back after a semester wandering across northern India. Did you miss me? Well, here are your links anyway...
We're going to kick of 2014 right with our morning linkage. I'd like to say the stories coming out from around the world are festive and joyful, but I suppose the habit in the profession is to be drawn to difficult news from around the world.
Here are some interesting stories that caught my eye this week. The New York Times ran an extended story trying to come to grips with the real reasons for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Abdul Mohammed and Alex de Waal, experienced hands when it comes to South Sudan, provide their take on what's gone wrong there. And will Russia's efforts to ward off disaster in the Olympics work? Finally, there may be some good news out there on the conservation front for once!
Well, I hope you survived the crush of end of term and then the crush of family and holiday stuff, if you are in to that kind of thing. In the meantime, if you stepped away from the media, what did you miss? Well, South Sudan is on the brink while the Central African Republic may be stepping back from it. Syria remains an awful mess, with winter being a desperate time for IDPs and refugees. There are some unexplained dolphin deaths and more difficult conservation news so time to re-double our efforts at understanding and problem-solving of all sorts in the new year. Here are some stories to get you thinking...
What's right and wrong in the world this holiday season? This is a sundry list related to recent interests of mine, mostly related to humanitarian assistance.
- UN seeks record $13 billion for humanitarian assistance in 2014, half of it for Syria
More than half of Syria’s population of 22 million is now in need of aid, according to United Nations estimates.
Mandela's memorial service was yesterday, and the speeches and coverage were laudatory, as they should be, and the crowd was raucous, celebratory, despite the rain. Obama in his speech challenged the audience to use Mandela's example in their own lives, to "take risks on behalf of ideals" but in a studied, disciplined manner.
I was most struck by the notes of dissensus, the public in the stadium booing South Africa's President Jacob Zuma when he appeared on the big screen and the coverage noting that the anti-apartheid movement and Mandela were not universally embraced by U.S. policymakers at the time.
A friend asked me who are the younger Mandelas of the future? Here, it's hard to imagine individuals who will or may have such impact, in part because people who have the charisma and intelligence to be transformational historical figures are often killed in their prime before their full contributions can be realized. It's also true that in this era of instant celebrity we too soon elevate people to receive acclaim, sometimes deserved but in others cases, like Greg Mortenson and his story, much of it untrue, of extending education access in the Stans. In other cases, there isn't a single individual leading the charge but a movement, a network that catalyzes action. Here are some recent news stories that pick up on these themes.
This week's stories have no unifying theme other than they kind of capture the end of term mood, a certain grumpiness on the part of the writer (Bjorn Lomborg's tsk tsking of clean energy advocates, Paul Collier's screed against immigration) or not altogether pleasant images (an elephant run amok in a wedding, modern conflict with bows and arrows). Happy grading! Or dissertating! Or turning in those final papers! Enjoy. (My wife pointed out a hopeful Iranian "Yes We Can" video of Rouhani so all is not bleak!).
This was a momentous week with the announcement of an interim deal on Iran's nuclear program. There were some critics to be sure of this effort, but I for one am hopeful that the six month effort to halt or at least pause some aspects of Iran's nuclear program will eventually lead to a permanent reduction of tensions between Iran and the West.
It's obviously too soon to say but as we give thanks this holiday season for our families and friends, we can only hope that the diplomatic overtures will ultimately bear fruit. With the past decade plus having yielded relentless military campaigns (some of them necessary but wars without seeming end nonetheless), we can only wish for pragmatic leaders to seize moments of opportunity to avoid yet another war. I know some people don't see it that way, so here's a set of links describing the deal, providing some links and commentary from critics, and some links to defenders of the agreement.
The annual climate negotiations are going on at the moment in Warsaw, Poland. For long-time observers of the process, they have a Groundhog Day-esque quality to them. Every year the same issues seem to come up again and again, and it's unclear if there has been any meaningful progress or if each negotiation is more or less a replay of what transpired the previous year, with divisions between developed and developing countries almost always ever-present.
Rich countries aren't doing enough while poor countries and environmental activists are demanding greater action because there is a climate crisis. Somehow, 10,000+ activists descending upon delegates of nearly 200 nations doesn't seem to do much, yet the annual dance. This year is no different, though it is an interim meeting before a new and improved climate agreement with some legal form set to be negotiated in 2015. In the meantime, here is what's going down this year...
This week, more news from the relief effort and typhoon Haiyan and how the events in the Philippines threaten to overshadow the on-going climate negotiations in Warsaw.
The Security and Relief Situation on the Ground
- U.S. military ramps up aid to Philippines with up to 1,000 soldiers likely on the ground from Okinawa in short order, ferrying Filipino troops and aid supplies
- Plenty of gasoline but gas stations won't open for fear of looting; mayor, a relative of Imelda Marcos, urges residents to flee, tells foreign aid workers "Please be self-sufficient, because there’s nothing"
- Tacloban so bad that some prisoners who were freed from jail during the storm turning themselves in to get food and water
- Fears of nearby guerillas coming to the area
- Mob ransacked food storage in Tacloban, rice bags collapsed killing eight looters, nearby Ormoc peaceful
- 1,000 Filipino troops deployed to the Tacloban area to restore order, curfew