June 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Tran’s article takes a different take from yesterday’s post, which discussed the correlation between aid and the likelihood of violent civil conflict, discussing instead how aid campaigns are losing support from the public, as the public looks at humanitarian work with increasing skepticism. One crucial thing he points out is that the type of publicity matters: « Read the rest of this entry »
June 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
There are a lot of articles that I’ll be discussing in coming days about aid skepticism, the backlashes and why its not working. It’s a given that aid needs reform. However, the timing of these studies, which conclude that foreign aid might not be all that helpful, correlates nicely with severe economic downturns. Many countries no longer commit to humanitarian causes, not only because they have no money, but also because it’s politically unpopular right now to be seen focusing on anything other than domestic priorities. I’m not suggesting that there’s some sort of global aid skeptic conspiracy to help alleviate politicians’ guilt or put aid on the backburner, but I am suggesting that this will ultimately be a side effect of an aid backlash.
June 28, 2012 § 3 Comments
After reading an article in Foreign Policy, entitled ‘Please Don’t Send Food‘, I began to think a lot about misappropriated food aid and its impact on conflict. I’m going to explore this for the next few days and see what we can rustle up to the surface – I think misappropriated aid is probably, for me, the key issue in private sector/aid integration that needs to be addressed. The private sector has a bottom line, and if huge percentages of investment/capital (the aid itself, or the services provided by aid) are exacerbating the problem or being squandered, then aid will continue to be a poor choice for investment.
To the point of conflict exacerbation:
“Looking at a sample of developing countries between 1972 and 2006, economists Nancy Qian of Yale University and Nathan Nunn of Harvard University found a direct correlation between U.S. food aid and civil conflict. For every 10 percent increase in the amount of food aid delivered, they discovered, the likelihood of violent civil conflict rises by 1.14 percentage points.”
How aid comes to act in favor of violent civil conflict:
The qualitative evidence points to aid stealing as an important mechanism. Humanitarian aid is particularly easy for armed factions and opposition groups to appropriate since it is physically transported over long distances, often through territories only weakly controlled by the recipient government. Reports indicate that up to eighty percent of aid can be stolen en route (Polman and Waters, 2010, p. 121). Even when aid reaches its intended recipients, it can still be appropriated or “taxed” by armed groups, against whom the recipients are typically powerless. This misappropriated aid is then used to fund conﬂict. (Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian)
So the obvious counterpoint to this article is what can be done in place of food aid? Anything? or is the ability to help and feed some worth the cost? Reforms are obviously needed, as many have pointed out, but with the logistical struggle of aid in the first place and the decreasing financial ability of donor countries to provide funding for better transport and security for the aid, the problem seems likely to get worse before it gets better.
June 23, 2012 § 2 Comments
Attempting Denouement apologizes for a recent lack of posts – work deadlines and trips to North Dakota have taken over – thankfully @arandomthing was here to save the day and keep the content going.
The great Leviathan of the old testament is a sea monster so powerful it could beat the Kraken up for its lunch money. It is also the name chosen for a massive natural gas field in the eastern Mediterranean with enough gas to supply Israel for 100 years. Though the image of an all powerful sea monster is fitting for such a find, Israelis prefer the less provocative translation of the term which is taken to be “whale”. Such a large find, in such a dangerous and contested neighborhood, is surely provocative enough.
He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.Nothing on earth is his equal— a creature without fear.He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.
The Leviathan gas field is part of a large geological formation called the Levant Basin which stretches from Syria’s waters in the north to the edge of Sinai in the south and out eastward towards Cyprus. A USGS assessment of the formation can be found here. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The Rio+20 conference, or as it’s formally known, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, takes place in Rio de Janeiro from 20-22 June 2012, in celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the Earth Summit in 1992. The original Earth Summit made progress in brining sustainable development, poverty eradication and environmental issues to the forefront of global discussion.
The conference this year focuses on two themes: “a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.” Over 50,000 people are expected to participate in the conference – government figures, including Hillary Clinton, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the UN, development banks, regular banks, etc. This is a big, exciting conference that ideally, would push forward global ideas for reform.
Except that Europe, the major benefactor of environmental progress in the Western world, is falling apart at the seams, literally; and the President of the United States (along with Angela Merkel) won’t attend because of the fear of being seen as more concerned with international issues than domestic issues. The New York Times points out that George H.W. Bush attended the Earth Conference in 1992, against the advice of his political consultants, and lost the election that year to Clinton. To this I say: correlation, not causation, but I can see why Obama would be spooked by it. However, in an ideal world (which we are not in right now, obviously) I wish Obama would go. It seems like something the guy I elected in 2008 would do, despite policy advice. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 12, 2012 § 2 Comments
A lot of rage/commentary out there on Twitter and mainstream media regarding the leaks. Some are pro-leak and stating that they’re exposing truths the American people need to know. Some are pro-leak because they believe it supports a particular agenda, and they agree with that agenda. This make up most of the commentary.
The rage seems to come into play from those who believe the security of the nation has been willfully compromised by people promoting a personal agenda or, in the case that elicits the most anger, promoting an electoral agenda.
Since this is our blog, I’ll go ahead and state (speaking only for myself, I suspect Kat will disagree) that I fall (just barely) in the anti-leak category, and struggle to characterize myself as anti-leak. To me, I believe if you have something to say that you feel is wrong, you’re a whistleblower – this is by no means an easy thing to do, so I recognize the complexity in making such a decision, but the point is, it’s public. It may or may not work out, but you and parties affiliated with the information at hand are aware that you are going public. A leak is by nature something done on the sly – the consequences can quickly spiral and there’s much less control in the process. The incident that put me squarely in the anti-leak corner was the leak that doctors were being used to gather information in Pakistan about Bin Laden. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
First, props to Ingrid for keeping everything alive! She’s been offering great insights and awesome posts. The girl’s on fire.
I’m always intrigued by innovative ways of dealing with conflict within society. There are several organizations out there taking very interesting approaches. One such example is that of Search for Common Ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are using
participatory theatre as a means of engaging people in conflict resolution. They recognize that conflict is a necessary element to society – it helps society evolve. They also recognize it is an important part of any drama. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
After contemplating yesterday’s post on discourse and its impact on conflict transformation, I questioned the final line of a Foreign Policy article I read recently, “A Giant Among Giants” about Glencore, the biggest commodity trading firm in the world. Glencore (background info at the bottom of the post) is somewhat notorious for their dubious business practices but recently went public, shedding light on transactions that could turn the public against them – so why go public? The article concludes thusly:
Still, like all good business even Glencore has to keep up with the times. Marc Rich* seems to agree: “Discretion is an important factor of success in the commodity business,” he told an interview when Glencore announced it would go public. “They probably didn’t have a choice. Transparency is requested today. It limits your activity, to be sure, but its just a new strategy to which they have to adapt.”
I want to believe that the public push for better business practice was the central impetus for Glencore going public, but even if the company shed light on their operations, I can’t see any indication of their business practices being impacted by the IPO. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 6, 2012 § 1 Comment
Nazya Fiaz of the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad wrote an article for the most recent edition of Journal of Strategic Studies about how discourse shaped the militancy in the FATA and how it could be used to defuse the militancy, when combined with a comprehensive counterterror program.
Her points offer a lot of insight into discourse and how it changes dialogue between entities. There is a lot here that can be applied to the private sector and offers a new paradigm through which security and development can be viewed.
Fiaz argues that without changing discourse, a counterterrorism strategy will not take hold because the mindset of the people involved in the militant movement will never be changed (and in fact may only be reinforced). « Read the rest of this entry »