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Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

James Rattray, 19th-century lithograph depicting royal Afghan soldiers, 1846. The British Library - Online Gallery via Wikimedia.

James Rattray, 19th-century lithograph depicting royal Afghan soldiers, 1846. The British Library – Online Gallery via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

Andrew Lebovich has a fascinating post on the challenges of conducting historical research in Algeria.

Kate Bubacz collects photos from a violent week in Israel and Palestine.

Anna Edgerton Raymond Colitt read a shakeup of President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet as a sign of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s growing influence. Also in Brazil, justice and memory in the wake of the military dictatorship’s torturous war on leftist guerrillas (via Claire Rigby).

Elsewhere in Latin America, Nathaniel Parish Flannery talks to the Atlantic Council’s Peter Schechter about Chinese investment in the region.

James Traub on the crisis of UN peacekeeping: peacekeepers are increasingly placed in dangerous combat zones while “the European forces that once formed the backbone of many tough peacekeeping missions have vanished,” and in the words of a recent report “there is a clear sense of a widening gap between what is being asked of [U.N.] peace operations today and what they are able to deliver.” On a similar note, Séverine Autesserre catalogues how UN peacekeeping can go wrong (via FP Interrupted); the lack of local knowledge, expatriate staff turnover, and disconnect between peacebuilders and local communities Autesserre identifies is reminiscent of Rory Stewart’s chapter in the book Can Intervention Work?

Perhaps relatedly, Sarah Bush examines why Washington often supports American NGOs working abroad rather than local organizations, despite the risk of a perception of “foreign interference” and local knowledge deficits.

Ana Palacio has a fairly negative take on the emerging economies BRICS bloc’s political and economic influence (again via FP Interrupted). Oliver Stuenkel, who has based his career on both studying and predicting emerging economies’ rise, argued last month that the emerging world is likely to continue growing.

Joshua Foust on being gay in the national security community.

Civil asset forfeiture may be only one example of police abuses primarily directed at people of color – and a comparatively minor one, since it doesn’t kill – but it is egregious.

I enjoyed the science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent novel Aurora – in particular the novel’s “big idea,” which can’t be discussed without spoilers – and enjoyed this spoiler-filled question and answer with the author at io9.

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