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Posts from the ‘Friday’s Reading List’ Category

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Ist. ital. d'arti grafiche, "Map of Italian possessions and zone of influence in Africa," 1896. Via Wikimedia.

Ist. ital. d’arti grafiche, “Map of Italian possessions and zone of influence in Africa,” 1896. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

Nabeelah Jaffer has a thoughtful take on the debate over the acceptable limits of cultural appropriation.

In response to increased competition on routes to India — and perhaps indicative of the business-driven spread of Indian culture — Dubai’s Emirates Airlines ramps up Indian culinary offerings.

An extremely detailed reading list on Brazilian culture, protest, politics, and much more.

Could a BRICS bank, led by poorer countries and willing to pay less heed to humanitarian and environmental concerns, compete with the establishment World Bank?

Haleh Anvari on the outside world’s practice of using Iranian women’s clothes as their benchmark for superficial understanding of the country (via RezaAsadi).

And from Tuesday, a review of news and analysis focusing on ISIS’ advance in Iraq, at Political Violence at a Glance.

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Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Codex Mendoza, 16th century. Via Wikimedia.

Codex Mendoza, 16th century. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

The Chinese military’s role in the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali; interesting note on the PLA’s lack of French speakers, which presumably will become an increasing problem as China’s presence in Africa grows.

Apropos of King Juan Carlos announcement that he will abdicate, the declining popularity of the Spanish monarchy.

Colin M. Snider on the ethics of “favela tours” in Brazil and “poverty tourism” more generally. Somewhat relatedly, are Argentina’s poor falling farther behind despite Kirchnerismo’s “winning decade”?

Polling shows that Brazilians are less confident that their country is already a world power or soon will be than they were four years ago, and overwhelmingly say that Brazil deserves more international respect (via Brazilian Character Lab). Josh Busby is in Brazil, and talks a bit about the country’s development.

Speaking of polls, public opinion surveys among Arab countries suggest that US military intervention in Syria would be unpopular, despite support for US action among many Arab governments.

No one is even pretending that there’s money available to pay Afghanistan’s army after US funding dries up in 2018 (via Milena Rodban).

The increasingly open debate over Iran’s nuclear program within the country, and why negotiators should focus on verification, not the number of Iranian centrifuges.

Graduation advice for aspiring humanitarians: don’t try to save the world, develop local knowledge, and be aware of your limited perspective (via šīrīn ✺ šəfīʿ).

And, from earlier in the week, further linkage at Political Violence at a Glance.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Hungarian stamp with a jinni from the One Thousand and One Nights, 1965. Via Wikimedia.

Hungarian stamp with a jinni from the One Thousand and One Nights, 1965. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

Endorsing the so-called Asia Pivot, Peter Beinart argues that American foreign policy must discriminate between core interests and conflicts the US should avoid investing itself in.

Four decades after its democratic revolution, reflecting on a Portugal, and by extension, southern Europe, that to many feels less sovereign than before.

The risks of the long lag time required to host mega sport events — years after it was chosen to host the 2014 World Cup, today’s Brazil is a different place.

The choice to translate Frozen — Disney’s most translated film — into Modern Standard Arabic, rather than more accessible dialects (via Marc Lynch).

Why dismissing all criticism of Turkey’s prime minister as “anti-Erdoganism” is effective, and is Turkey regressing towards the mean of failed democracy?

Why have CIA drone strikes in Pakistan been on hold for the last half year?

The structural roots of Nigeria’s violent instability.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Isaak Brodsky, "Lenin in Smolniy in 1917," 1930. Via Wikimedia.

Isaak Brodsky, “Lenin in Smolniy in 1917,” 1930. Via Wikimedia.

Apologies for the recent lack of posting. What I read this week:

If Swiss bank Credit Suisse knowingly assisted in tax evasion, why is it even allowed to do business in the US at all?

After legalizing the cultivation and sale of marijuana Uruguay announces that it will sell the drug virtually tax-free to avoid being undercut by illegal traffickers.

On the subject of contraband trafficking, fossil poaching and the black market in dinosaur bones.

The varying success of Europe’s political fringe: France’s Marine Le Pen benefits from the unpopularity of beleaguered François Hollande, and a look at Europe’s Euroskeptic parties.

The Middle East’s water crisis. Check out the stunning orbital image in the linked piece, as well.

The troubles of Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, an early leader of southwest Mexico’s communal self-defense groups.

From yesterday, more linkage at Political Violence at a Glance.

Update: Title altered because I somehow got my “Weekly Links” and “Friday’s Reading List” wires crossed.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Lucas van Leyden, "Healing the Blind Man of Jericho," 1531. Via Wikimedia.

Lucas van Leyden, “Healing the Blind Man of Jericho,” 1531. Via Wikimedia.

Writing and analysis I found interesting this week:

Via Sarah Kendzior, how structural funding and employment shortfalls create a dearth of American experts on Russia and Central Asia.

France maintains its we-sell-arms-to-anyone reputation, pushing ahead with the sale of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships Russia (via Robert Farley). When they enter service these modern ships will be a dramatic boost to Russian expeditionary capability.

Timothy Burke thinks about sovereignty.

Minh-Ha T. Pham takes a provocative look at cultural appropriation in the world of high fashion:

This is the problem with cultural-appropriation critiques. They depend on reductive binaries—“high culture” and “low culture,” and oftentimes, “first world” and “third world”—that preserve the hierarchical relations between the fashion industry and the cultures being appropriated…

Rather than obsess over whether certain practices and forms of cultural appropriation are “good” or “bad,” “racist” or “post-racial,” respectful or not, inappropriate discourse asks what is not appropriate-able, what cannot be integrated into and continue to maintain the existing power structure of the high fashion system, and why. In doing so, we truly challenge the idea of the absolute power and authority of the West to control how the world sees, knows, and talks about fashion.

The “100 years” of narco culture in Sinaloa (via Victor Asal and Brian J. Phillips).

Oliver Kaplan examines the role of folk beliefs in Colombian conflict.

On New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson’s firing: “The New York Times appears to have wanted a woman at the top, without actually letting her be in charge.” (Via Heidi N. Moore.)

Finally, more links at Political Violence at a Glance.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, "The tomb of Publio Vibio Mariano," 1756. Via Wikimedia.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, “The tomb of Publio Vibio Mariano,” 1756. Via Wikimedia.

Writing and analysis I found interesting this week:

Does the United States’ overwhelming military dominance encourage it to neglect the peace-building resources of its diplomatic corps?

The American Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to suspend the importation of elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe — where limited hunting is legal — spurs controversy. Hunting brings money into local economies and can fund anti-poaching efforts by governments, but others assert that encouraging the killing the threatened and emotional creatures is simply wrong.

Despite a comfortable lead in South African elections — the first to feature voters with no memory of the pre-1994 white rule — is the dominant African National Congress headed towards one day falling from power?

Brazil’s struggle to extend universal healthcare to a diverse, unequal, geographically-enormous country of 200 million people, and what its uneven efforts can teach the US.

Via Jay Ulfelder, Venezuelan security forces find their less-than-lethal arsenal growing less effective over time, as demonstrators learn to counter weapons like tear gas.

Daniel Solomon charts the similarities and differences between the 2012 Stop Kony — focused on influencing the US to devote greater attention to the hunt for the insurgent group the Lord’s Resistance Army — and today’s #BringBackOurGirls — created by Nigerians to draw attention to the recent Boko Haram mass kidnapping –activist campaigns.

Last week CJ Chivers and Noah Sneider spoke with eastern Ukraine’s armed separatists — divide the country along the Dnieper River, says one.

Finally, at Political Violence at a Glance, more links.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Jean-Léon Gérôme, "View of Medinet El-Fayoum," 1870. Via the National Gallery of Art.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, “View of Medinet El-Fayoum,” 1870. Via the National Gallery of Art.

On Monday Daniel Larison thoughtfully responded to my recent piece on Ukraine, Syria, and the credibility argument.

In 1971, weaponized smallpox was accidentally released in the USSR. Only quick action by authorities prevented what could have been a catastrophe.

Via Andrew Lebovich, Morocco’s language debate over colloquial and Modern Standard Arabic. Teaching in colloquial language could improve early education, but others fear it would isolate the country from the wider Arab world.

Another take, this time from Matt Fay, on the question of whether retaining the nuclear weapons it inherited from the USSR would have helped Ukraine.

Also on Ukraine, Christian Caryl reminds Nicholas Kristof that the world has changed (if it ever was a simple as Kristof assumes): Just because people learn English, listen to American music, and wear jeans they don’t necessarily support American foreign policy goals.

Scott McConnell discusses Secretary of State John Kerry’s “apartheid” comment regarding Israel: “What Kerry said may be a gaffe, but it is one that most people know to be true. And look around: more and more are ready to take the flak and abuse hurled at those who speak the truth out loud.”

But aside from the wasted lives and human wreckage left by the Israel-Palestine impasse, Roger Cohen has a point. “Permanent occupation is what several ministers in Netanyahu’s coalition government advocate,” he recently wrote in the New York Times. “Backed by the evidence, they are certain it can be managed. They are right.” (Via Allison Beth Hodgkins.)

Steven Cook and Michael Brooks argue that President Obama’s Middle East policy is as good as could reasonably be expected in unpredictable times. The opening of relations with Tehran is firmly in the “too soon to tell” category, and it’s possible future observers will condemn the world’s failure to act in Syria. But I tend to agree that it is difficult to see what an otherwise measured Obama administration should have done differently, except in hindsight.

A new House bill threatens the editorial independence of Voice of America. “You can’t mix media and government PR, or propaganda, or whatever you call it,” comments Negar Mortazavi.

Relatedly, a question: is the recent all-Venezuela-all-the-time Voz de América leader a reflection of a story that flatters US foreign policy, or simply because the ongoing protests are genuinely the biggest story in the Spanish-speaking world?

The changing face of São Paulo’s “Crackland,” the distinct culture of the drug-centered neighborhood, and Latin American governments’ efforts to combat domestic drug consumption.

Why the course of transgendered people’s rights in South-ish Asia is not identical to the Western (intolerant) model.

From Thursday, more linkage at Political Violence at a Glance.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

René Caillié, Timbuktu looking west, 1830. Via Wikimedia.

René Caillié, Timbuktu looking west, 1830. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

Anne-Marie Slaughter counsels striking Syria — specifically, the regime’s fixed-wing air force — as a show of credibility to deter Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Daniel Larison reminds that “Russia wasn’t impressed by the willingness to use force in Libya,” and questions why strikes in Syria should make any impression on Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

On a similar bent, Tom Nichols fears that a successful Russian dismemberment of Ukraine without serious punishment risks the entire international order by “accepting the return of war as a normal part of statecraft without even the pretense of self-defense.”

After the deadliest incident in the history of climbing Mount Everest, a look at where and how people die on the mountain.

While I am fairly wary of Robert D. Kaplan’s writing, an interesting review of his latest book and another on China’s rising ambitions.

Murderous opposition threatens environmental activists in Brazil and elsewhere. Killers and the interest are rarely punished, because forces who favor exploiting the land typically have far greater political weight than the environmentalists and indigenous groups who fight to conserve it.

Javier Corrales looks at why Venezuela’s protest have been dominated by the middle class, which he links to the country’s growing incomes and a broader world trend of middle class protest.

Mitchell Plitnick sees right-wing nationalism, not religious politics, as the real long-term threat to Israeli society.

After the death of famed author Gabriel García Márquez, Kevin Lees writes on how the Colombian author introduced him to Latin America. And via Patrick Iber, how should García Márquez’s long and close relationship with Fidel Castro color how we view his legacy?

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the so-called Carnation Revolution that spelled the end of the Portuguese Estado Novo dictatorship and colonial empire, but after forty years of democracy Portugal faces depressing economic woes.

Finally, more linkage at Political Violence at a Glance.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

"Kelileh o Demneh," 1429. Via Wikimedia.

“Kelileh o Demneh,” 1429. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

More on the new heavy arms spending by a number of African states.

Marginalized young Saudis risk arrest by posting protest videos on YouTube, which accuse the country’s rulers of being “totally detached from the reality of people’s lives, because they remain preoccupied with succession to the throne and grand projects, such as initiating interfaith dialogue, although they do not communicate with their own people.”

Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos will run alongside environmentalist vice presidential hopeful Marina Silva, though current president Dilma Rousseff is widely favored to win reelection. Rousseff’s expected October win would mean four back-to-back terms by her Workers’ Party in the presidency.

A not very favorable take on the state of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who leaves office next year, though the Economist’s dig at her makeup is sexist and unwarranted.

Is Brazil’s militarized favela pacification strategy chasing security or just counterinsurgency?

Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea was unexpected, but a conflict over Ukraine’s consideration of closer ties to Europe was clearly brewing for some time. Why wasn’t the West better prepared?

Dan Nexon doubts that NATO has any credibility on Ukraine and that “escalating efforts by NATO at military deterrence actually increase the pressure on Moscow to take decisive action in the near term.” James Goldgeier attacks the common argument that post-1989 NATO expansion provoked Russia and was thus a mistake — if Russia takes such offense at its neighbors joining the Atlantic alliance, maybe it shouldn’t have given them such reason to fear it. (Via Max Fisher.)

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has failed, leaving the United States with the question of what to do next. Focusing on first developing Palestinian institutions as a road to statehood is just “a prescription for extending the occupation indefinitely by making it run smoothly,” writes Paul Pillar.

Peter Frase considers the middle ground between Star Trek utopianism and bleak hopelessness about the future many on the left seem to embrace. I think “post-history” is a good way of describing both.

From yesterday, more links at Political Violence at a Glance.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Grafia S.A.I.I.G, Abruzzo travel poster, 1920. Via Wikimedia.

Grafia S.A.I.I.G, Abruzzo travel poster, 1920. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

In what is sure to be controversial, New York Times op-ed asks whether Iran and Israel are exchanging theocracy. While I think it is important to remember that US policy in support of Israel is not primarily driven by American Jews, and Iran is far from a democracy, Abbas Milani and Israel Waismel-Manor’s argument is a provocative one.

The “Cuban Twitter” fiasco risks USAID’s ability to present itself as an aid agency (via IR/PS).

Qatari construction for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will likely kill thousands of migrant workers. Danny Hirschel-Burns ask whether this makes FIFA a mass killer.

Why isn’t Brazil taking a harsher line on Mercosur partner Venezuela’s repression? And what’s behind Brazil’s “uncritical” take on international development?

Conflict over including cross-cultural subjects engulfs Australia’s history textbooks in “curriculum wars.”

Capital in the 21st Century seems an interesting book, though Kevin Drum has a few criticisms.

Michelle Goldberg sees #CancelColbert, a Twitter push spearheaded by Asian American activist Suey Park, as symptomatic of “left-wing anti-liberalism” and activism that has become “less about winning converts and changing the world and more about creating protected enclaves and policing speech.” Brittney Cooper counters that activism is not about censorship or dividing progressivism, but instead “forcing an acknowledgment that racism is painful, harmful and unacceptable.” (Via
Aura Bogado and šīrīn šəfī.)

More linkage on conflict at the blog Political Violence at a Glance.