Friday’s Reading List
By Taylor Marvin
Stories I enjoyed this week:
Karla Zabludovsky reports from a small town in the Mexican state of Michoacán where self-defense militias, many dressed in camouflage uniforms bearing the flag of their indigenous community, disarmed police and chased away illegal loggers. But the town’s new governance isn’t universally popular, and barred voting in statewide elections in the town.
Jason Margolis on Bogotá’s stop-gap transit solution – buses in dedicated lanes, all while awaiting a hoped-for but expensive subway.
Charlie Jane Anders profiles the history of the international, and luckily fading, movement doubting the link between HIV and AIDS. Tragically, when scientists discovered the link between the virus and disease the LGBTQ community’s justifiable distrust of abusive state and institutional figures had lethal consequences. “We weren’t denialists,” Anders quotes one activist, speaking about the 1980s. “We just didn’t fucking trust anybody.”
On Twitter, Kelsey D. Atherton praised an April piece by Gregory D. Johnsen on CIA Director John Brennan’s close relationship with Barack Obama and the path towards “endless drone war.”
In Germany, activists opposed to the arms trade are attempting to draw a link between weapons exports and Europe’s refugee crisis. While of course directly attributing Middle Eastern conflicts to Germany’s arms business is wrong, the message may catch on among the public: “Germany delivered nearly 13 million euros in weapons to Syria between 2002 and 2013 – mainly tanks, chemical agents and small arms.”
Timothy Hoyt attempts to explain Obama’s Middle East strategy while rejecting accusations that Obama is unable to take sensible advice to abandon the region. Instead, Obama’s apparent mix of attention and neglect can instead be seen as a prudent response to the real limitations of both US interests and leverage. “The objective of strategy, after all, is to calibrate available resources to achieve political aims; and if those aims are overly ambitious, like fixing a broken Syria or ending Sunni–Shi’a conflict, or are ill-suited to our available means or public support, we may find ourselves bankrupt when threats to more significant interests arise.”
At Reuters, Ned Parker investigates the Iraqi state’s waning power compared to overtly sectarian paramilitaries. “Most young Shi’ite Iraqi men now prefer to join the paramilitary groups, which are seen as braver and less corrupt” than the regular military, Parker writes.
Also at Reuters, Maria Tsvetkova, Christian Lowe, and Olga Dzyubenko speak with veterans of the USSR’s shadowy history in the Middle East.
The Iranian government’s intelligence thugs harass and imprison the American-Iranian journalists who attempt to explain Iran to the world because, writes Azadeh Moaveni from experience, they “have an ideological vision of Iran’s future that requires continued isolation” (via Scott Peterson and Azadeh Moaveni).