Author Archives: sylviestein

Do Americans Care About the World Anymore?

I was reading a Foreign Policy blog post this morning when I came upon a startling fact: international issues are a priority for less than two out of ten Americans. More than eight out of ten, on the other hand, cited domestic policy as their number one voting issue.

The findings, from a Washington Post-ABC News poll, got me thinking: do Americans care about the world anymore? Have domestic hot button issues — underemployment, slow or negative job growth, immigrationgay rights, contraception and reproductionOccupy YouNameIt — taken over the political main stage and left the burning issues of the international landscape — fraudulent Russian elections, the Syrian crackdown, European disintegration, the transition of the Libyan government, clashes in Somalia, the DRC, and Sudan, to name a few — high and dry? And maybe, dare I say it, could that be a good thing for the United States?

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Filed under 2012 Election, Economics, Human Rights, U.S Foreign Policy, U.S. Politics

Dictator on Trial: Gbagbo at the ICC

It’s official: Laurent Gbagbo is the first head of state to be sent to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. He is currently being charged with crimes against humanity, murder, and rape — the allegedly systematic attacks committed in the four months after Gbagbo refused to admit defeat to his long-time rival, Alassane Outtara, in the Ivory Coast’s 2010 elections. But the story is far more complex than just that. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Human Rights

Burmese Democratization: Slow but Steady Change

Rewind to Burma (otherwise known as Myanmar) in 2010. The government was ruled by an iron-fisted military junta, the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was being wrongfully held under a 20-year-long house arrest, and the general elections were declared fraudulent by the United Nations and a variety of Western nations, including the United States. But, with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visiting the nation and speaking with Suu Kyi yesterday, how is democracy faring in the Southeastern Asian country today? Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Human Rights

What Do Elections Mean for the DRC?

When, in 2006, Joseph Kabila became the first democratically elected president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many Congolese and international observers felt assured that stability had finally come to the country. During the previous decade, Congo had been marred by widespread violence, including the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II — a conflict involving three Congolese rebel movements, 14 foreign armed groups, and countless militias; killed over 3.3 million Congolese; and destabilized most of central Africa. But, to put it simply, stability did not come to the country. Since 2006, clashes have killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of fighters and civilians and forced half a million people to relocate. Congo is now the stage for the largest humanitarian disaster in the world — far larger than the crisis in Sudan.

So what will the current elections mean for stability in the DRC? Could new leadership usher in a new era of tranquility and peace? Or could a second term for Kabila do the trick? Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Human Rights

How Much Did the Arab Spring Cost?

$55 billion dollars, according to a new report released by consulting group Geopolicity. The report reveals that Egypt, Syria, and Libya were hit the hardest financially by the protests in North Africa and the Middle East. So what do these astronomical prices mean for the region now? Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Arab Spring, Economics, Human Rights, Middle East

HB56: Anti-Immigration Laws Get Harsher

Heard of HB56? Described as the “new Jim Crow” and the nation’s harshest anti-immigration law yet, this legislation is splintering families and inspiring fear across the state of Alabama. Like Arizona’s anti-immigration law, the bill requires that police investigate and detain anyone who gives them “reasonable suspicion” to believe that they may be undocumented. It explicitly states that undocumented immigrants may not receive any public benefits, and forbids employers from hiring, harboring, renting to, or even giving rides to undocumented immigrants. But it gets more shocking from there. Continue reading

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Filed under Human Rights, Immigration, U.S. Politics

How do we think about famine in Somalia?

Today,the International Red Cross began an enormous distribution of aide to one million people in famine zones in Somalia — the country with the highest malnutrition level in the world. The Red Cross is targeting areas controlled by Islamic militants; but will this kind of aide distribution be the solution to the 30,000 (and growing) people dying each day of famine?

Yes, al-Shabaab (Somalia’s largest Islamist militant group, which is currently fighting to overthrow the current transitional federal government) has been blocking foreign aide and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Yes, it theoretically makes sense to give food directly to those areas most affected by such a group. However, the notion that Red Cross aide and other foreign aide continue to propagate is that throwing money at the problem will somehow fix it. Continue reading


Filed under Africa, Human Rights