Category Archives: United Nations

The UN Says US Drone Strikes in Yemen Have Killed More Civilians Than al Qaeda

Samuel Oakford  reports for VICE News:

American drones strikes may have killed as many as 40 Yemeni civilians over the past year, the UN reported on Monday, offering a tally of the human cost of the long-running US campaign against al Qaeda in Yemen, which has continued amid the chaos of country’s current war.

The data on drone strikes came from the latest report on Yemen issued by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCHR), which compiled accounts of human rights violations from July 1, 2014 to June 30 of this year.

The US first launched armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over Yemen in 2002, but the bulk of strikes carried out by the aircraft have taken place since since 2011. According to figures maintained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Drone War program, at least 101 people have been killed by confirmed drone strikes in Yemen, plus 26 to 61 others killed by “possible extra drone strikes.” Between 156 and 365 civilians have also been killed in other covert missions since 2002, according to the group.

If accurate, the UN’s estimates would represent a significant rise in confirmed civilian casualties in the country as a result of drone strikes.


UN: Gaza could be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020 if trends continue

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

A new United Nations report says Gaza could be “uninhabitable” in less than five years if current economic trends continue.

The report released Tuesday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development points to the eight years of economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians there over the past six years.

Last year’s war displaced half a million people and left parts of Gaza destroyed.

The war “has effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid,” the new report says.


UN Official Says Human Suffering in Yemen ‘Almost Incomprehensible’

Kanya D’Almeida reports for IPS News:

With a staggering four in five Yemenis now in need of immediate humanitarian aid, 1.5 million people displaced and a death toll that has surpassed 4,000 in just five months, a United Nations official told the Security Council on August 19 that the scale of human suffering is “almost incomprehensible”.

Briefing the 15-member body upon his return from the embattled Arab nation on Aug. 19, Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien stressed that the civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict and warned that unless warring parties came to the negotiating table there would soon be “nothing left to fight for”.

An August assessment report by Save the Children-Yemen on the humanitarian situation in the country of 26 million noted that over 21 million people, or 80 percent of the population, require urgent relief in the form of food, fuel, medicines, sanitation and shelter.

The health sector is on the verge of collapse, and the threat of famine looms large, with an estimated 12 million people facing “critical levels of food insecurity”, the organisation said.

In a sign of what O’Brien denounced as a blatant “disregard for human life” by all sides in the conflict, children have paid a heavy price for the fighting: 400 kids have lost their lives, while 600 of the estimated 22,000 wounded are children.


ISIS: Iraq conflict leaves nearly 15,000 civilians dead over last 16 months

The Associated Press reports:

Conflict in Iraq has led to nearly 15,000 civilian deaths and left 30,000 wounded during a 16-month period that ended on 30 April, according to a UN report.

The UN’s human rights office and its mission in Iraq said violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses by the Islamic State group, which controls large swaths of Iraq’s north and west, may in some cases amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.

Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops. Isis captured Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and the majority of western Anbar province in 2014 and still holds large parts of the country, though Iraqi forces have made progress in recent months with the help of a US-led air campaign.

During the 16-month period, the report said, more than 2.8 million people fled their homes and they remained displaced in the country, including an estimated 1.3 million children.

The UN officers did not break down who was responsible for the casualties.’


The Srebrenica Precedent

David N. Gibbs, author of First Do No Harm, writes for Jacobin:

This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, in which eight thousand people were killed in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The mass killing was the single deadliest event of the Bosnian War, and the most recognized atrocity of the post–Cold War era.

Its significance cannot be overstated: the massacre triggered a NATO bombing campaign that is widely credited with ending the Bosnian War and giving NATO a new lease on life after the fall of the Soviet Union. Ever since, the Srebrenica precedent has been invoked to justify military interventions around the globe.

In 2005, Christopher Hitchens defended the US decision to invade Iraq with an article entitled “From Srebrenica to Baghdad.” In 2011, when Guardian columnist Peter Preston advocated military intervention in Libya, his article began with the words: “Remember Srebrenica?” In 2012, a call in CNN for Western intervention in Syria appeared under the title “Syria, Sarajevo, and Srebrenica.” And a 2014 article on ISIS advances in Syria warned of a possible “New Srebrenica,” with the implication that Western military action was needed to prevent this calamity.

When supporters of military intervention cite Srebrenica, it’s often to insist on the need to dispense with diplomacy and use decisive military force in response to humanitarian emergencies. As a 2006 New Republic editorial succinctly argued, “In the response to most foreign policy crises, the use of military force is properly viewed as a last resort. In the response to genocide, the use of military force is properly viewed as a first resort.” Given the broad way that genocide is now defined, this is a call for interventions without limit.’


How Britain and the US decided to abandon Srebrenica to its fate

Florence Hartmann and Ed Vulliamy report for The Guardian:

MUSLIM REFUGEES[…] Over two decades, 14 of the murderers have been convicted at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadžic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, await verdicts in trials for genocide. Blame among the “international community”charged with protecting Srebrenica has piled, not without reason, on the head of UN forces in the area, General Bernard Janvier, for opposing intervention – notably air strikes – that might have repelled the Serb advance, and Dutch soldiers who not only failed in their duty to protect Srebrenica but evicted terrified civilians seeking shelter in their headquarters, and watched the Serbs separate women and young children from their male quarry.

Now a survey of the mass of evidence reveals that the fall of Srebrenica formed part of a policy by the three “great powers” – Britain, France and the US – and by the UN leadership, in pursuit of peace at any price; peace at the terrible expense of Srebrenica, which gathered critical mass from 1994 onwards, and reached its bloody denouement in July 1995.

Until now, it has always been asserted that the so-called “endgame strategy” that forged a peace settlement for – and postwar map of – Bosnia followed the “reality on the ground” after the fall, and ceding, of Srebrenica. What can now be revealed is that the “endgame” preceded that fall, and was – as it turned out – conditional upon it.

The western powers whose negotiations led to Srebrenica’s downfall cannot be said to have known the extent of the massacre that would follow, but the evidence demonstrates they were aware – or should have been – of Mladic’s declared intention to have the Bosniak Muslim population of the entire region “vanish completely”. In the history of eastern Bosnia over the three years that preceded the massacre, that can only have meant one thing.’


Will the UN Tackle Impunity for Peacekeepers Who Sexually Abuse Women and Children? Interview with Paula Donovan

Interview from 2nd July with Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World. She is part of the Code Blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations military and non-military peacekeeping personnel. (Democracy Now)

4,777 Killed in Iraq during June

Margaret Griffis reports for Antiwar:

The United Nations released its June casualty figures. It found that 1,466 people were killed and 1,687 were wounded. The fatalities are the highest since last September and may be due to increased fighting involving security figures and the fall of Ramadi. The U.N. does not attempt to tally deaths among the militants, so these are the absolute minimum figures possible. There is evidence that the Iraqi government is undercounting its dead, and there is no method to count the victims behind enemy lines., using news reports, found at least 3,311 militants were killed and 287 were wounded. Many of these deaths were reported by the Iraqi government, which could be exaggerating its successes. On the other hand, many of the wounded might not have fallen into government hands and therefore are uncountable. In total, 4,777 were killed and 1,974 were wounded during June.’


Amid Warnings of Famine, Yemeni Civilians Trapped Inside Conflict with No End in Sight

‘U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a full investigation after Saudi coalition airstrikes hit a U.N. compound in Yemen. A guard was injured when the office of the U.N. Development Programme in the southern city of Aden was hit Sunday. The United Nations has warned Yemen is one step away from famine as a humanitarian crisis intensifies. We discuss the latest with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who reported recently from Yemen.’ (Democracy Now!)

Humanitarian Warriors

Chase Madar writes for the London Review of Books:

Harold Koh is the former dean of Yale Law School and an expert in human rights law. As the State Department’s senior lawyer between 2009 and 2013, he provided the Obama administration with the legal basis for assassination carried out by drones. And despite having written academic papers backing a powerful and restrictive War Powers Act, he made the legal case for the Obama administration’s right to make war on Libya without bothering to get congressional approval. Koh, who has now returned to teaching human rights law, is not the only human rights advocate to call for the use of lethal violence. Indeed, the weaponisation of human rights – its doctrines, its institutions and, above all, its grandees – has been going on in the US for more than a decade.

Take Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, former director of Harvard’s Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy and self-described ‘genocide chick’, who advocated war in Libya and Syria, and argued for new ways to arm-twist US allies into providing more troops for Obama’s escalated but unsuccessful war in Afghanistan. This last argument wasn’t successful in 2012, though she was at it again recently when interviewed on Charlie Rose. Or there’s Sarah Sewall, another former director of the Carr Centre, who was responsible for the material on human rights in the reworked US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Or Michael Posner, the founder of Human Rights First, now a business professor at NYU, who, as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour in Obama’s first term, helped bury the Goldstone Report, commissioned by the United Nations to investigate atrocities committed during Israel’s 2008-9 assault on Gaza. Or John Prendergast, a former Human Rights Watch researcher and co-founder of Enough, an anti-genocide group affiliated with the Centre for American Progress, who has called for military intervention to oust Robert Mugabe.’


UN Official: ‘Gaza reconstruction could take 30 years’

The National reports:

‘Gaza reconstruction could take 30 years’Gaza reconstruction is moving at a “snail’s pace” and at this rate, it would likely take 30 years to rebuild the extensive damage from last summer’s Israel-Hamas war, a senior UN official said. Roberto Valent, the incoming area chief of a UN agency involved in reconstruction, blamed the delays on the slow flow of promised foreign aid and continued Israeli curbs on the entry of building material to Gaza.

Speaking in the Gaza City office of the UN Development Programme, he said his tour of destroyed neighbourhoods this week was “very, very disheartening”.

Israel and Egypt have severely restricted access to Gaza since the militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

After last year’s 50-day war, Israel allowed the import of some cement and steel under UN supervision to ensure the materials would not be diverted by Hamas for military use.

Mr Valent said on Wednesday that the system is too slow and Israel must open Gaza’s borders to allow for the speedy rebuilding or repair of 141,000 homes he said suffered minor to severe damage or were destroyed.’


UN Report: Israel Committed Unprecedented Devastation and Killings in 2014 Gaza War

Saudi-led naval blockade leaves 20 million Yemenis facing humanitarian disaster

Julian Borger reported earlier this month for The Guardian:

Twenty million Yemenis, nearly 80% of the population, are in urgent need of food, water and medical aid, in a humanitarian disaster that aid agencies say has been dramatically worsened by a naval blockade imposed by an Arab coalition with US and British backing.

Washington and London have quietly tried to persuade the Saudis, who are leading the coalition, to moderate its tactics, and in particular to ease the naval embargo, but to little effect. A small number of aid ships is being allowed to unload but the bulk of commercial shipping, on which the desperately poor country depends, are being blocked.

Despite western and UN entreaties, Riyadh has also failed to disburse any of the $274m it promised in funding for humanitarian relief. According to UN estimates due to be released next week 78% of the population is in need of emergency aid, an increase of 4 million over the past three months.

The desperate shortage of food, water and medical supplies raises urgent questions over US and UK support for the Arab coalition’s intervention in the Yemeni civil war since March. Washington provides logistical and intelligence support through a joint planning cell established with the Saudi military, who are leading the campaign. London has offered to help the Saudi military effort in “every practical way short of engaging in combat”.’


Leaked cables: Morocco lobbied UN to turn blind eye to Western Sahara in ‘House of Cards’ operation

Joe Sandler Clarke and Katherine Purvis report for The Guardian:

The Moroccan government intercepted United Nations communications and used “unethical tactics” in a “House of Cards”-style operation designed to get the organisation to turn a blind eye to the humanitarian situation in Western Sahara, according to a leaked UN report.

The leaked report is a UN analysis of correspondence between the Moroccan government and the country’s permanent ambassador to the UN in Geneva and later New York, Omar Hilale, in the period from January 2012 to September 2014. The Moroccan correspondence was made public last year by an anonymous source using the @chris_coleman24 Twitter handle.

The Moroccan correspondence appears to show that the north African country intercepted internal UN communications; made significant donations to the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) with the expressed intention of influencing the body; lobbied to cancel fact-finding missions to the area by senior officials; and attempted to stop a mandate to monitor human rights abuses being given to the UN peacekeeping mission in the territory.’


Think Tank: Global Conflicts “Cost 13% of World GDP”

BBC News reports:

Syrian residents flee Maskana town in the Aleppo countryside and make their way towards the Turkish border on 16 June 2015Conflicts around the world cost $14.3tn (£9.1tn) last year, 13% of world GDP, says a survey on global peace.

That amount is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, the report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said.

The divide between the most peaceful and the least peaceful nations was deepening, the annual report added.

Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation, whilst Syria is the least.

Libya saw the most severe deterioration over the course of 2014, according to the Australia-based IEP says.

The Middle East and North Africa now ranks as the world’s most violent region, overtaking South Asia which received that ranking for 2013.’


UN accuses Eritrea of “possible crimes against humanity”

Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War “Lawful” and “Legitimate” Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation: Interview with Yousef Munayyer and Gideon Levy

‘The Israeli government has released a report that concludes its military actions in the 2014 war in Gaza were “lawful” and “legitimate.” The findings come ahead of what is expected to be a critical United Nations investigation into the 50-day conflict that Israel has dismissed as biased and refused to cooperate with. More than 2,200 Palestinians died in what was called “Operation Protective Edge,” the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. In its report, Israel says it made “substantial efforts” to avoid civilian deaths, insisting Hamas was to blame for the high number of civilian casualties and accusing Hamas militants of disguising themselves as civilians and of converting civilian buildings into military centers. We are joined by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the former executive director of The Jerusalem Fund. We also go to Tel Aviv to speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist, whose latest piece is “Israel washed itself clean of Gaza’s dead beach children.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

20% of Africans Live in Post-Conflict Fragile States: Interview with Leonce Ndikumana

‘Leonce Ndikumana, director of the African Policy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute says while poverty, inequality, weak institutions, and low development in general are the outcome of fragility, they also undermine efforts to accelerate economic development in these countries. He also says aid and timing coupled with a national economic development strategy by sector is required for success.’ (The Real News)

Saudi Arabia “seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council”

Roisin O’Connor reports for The Independent:

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to make a bid to head the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, in a move that has been described as the “final nail in the coffin for the credibility” of the HRC.

Reports of the bid come just days after Saudi Arabia posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners. This year it has already put 85 people to death in what has been branded by Amnesty International a “macabre spike” from the 87 people it killed in total last year.

The country will move to assume lead control over the HRC after 2016 when the presidency is awarded to a new nation.

UN Watch, a non-profit human rights group that monitors the international body, disclosed Saudi Arabia’s intentions in a recent report and urged the United States to fight against it.’


E.U. Seeks U.N. Backing for Military Action to Stop Wave of Migrants Fleeing Horrific Abuse in Libya: Interview with Magda Mughrabi

‘The European Union is expected to ask the United Nations Security Council today to permit military action against human traffickers operating out of Libya. The U.N. estimates more than 60,000 people have already tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya into Europe this year. Over 1,800 migrants have died in the attempt, 20 times more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, the European Commission is due to make a proposal that member countries take in refugees under an E.U. quota system. The European Commission’s migration policy will also propose organizing legal means for migrants to come to Europe so they don’t turn to traffickers. This comes as a new report by Amnesty International reveals how migrants are forced to flee Libya because of “horrific abuse.” The report is based on interviews with refugees and migrants across Libya who face “rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs.” We are joined by the report’s author, Magda Mughrabi, Libya Researcher at Amnesty International.’ (Democracy Now!)

The United States Considers Itself a Human Rights Champion. The World Begs to Differ.

Jamil Dakwar writes for the American Civil Liberties Union:

UN Building; Photo Source: Jamil DakwarStarting Monday, the United States’ human rights record will be subject to international scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council. It may just be the perfect catalyst for the Obama administration to make good on past and present wrongs that should never be associated with a liberal democracy predicated on respect for human rights.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is part of a regular examination of the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member countries and will be the second review of its kind for the U.S. since 2010.  The review comes at a critical time when the U.S. human rights record has been criticized for falling short of meeting international human rights standards. From racially biased policing and excessive use of force by law enforcement to the expansion of migrant family detention and from the lack of accountability for the CIA torture program to the use of armed drones abroad, the U.S. has a lot to answer for.’


Record 38 million people internally displaced by conflict

Al Jazeera America reports:

Conflicts and violence in places like Syria and Ukraine have displaced a record 38 million people in their countries — equivalent to the total populations of New York, London and Beijing, a watchdog group said Wednesday.

Nearly one-third of them — 11 million people — were displaced last year alone, with an average of 30,000 people fleeing their homes every day, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said in a report.

“These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signaling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians,” said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which is behind the IDMC.

Internally displaced people (IDPs) have been forced to leave their homes but remain in their country, as opposed to refugees, who flee across borders.’


Why Saudis Derailed Imminent Yemen Deal with Airstrikes: Interview with Joe Lauria

Joe Lauria is the Wall Street Journal’s UN correspondent. He discusses how a former UN envoy came forward with details of a power-sharing deal in Yemen and why Saudi Arabia would want to prevent that deal from becoming a reality. (The Real News)

Austria, backed by 159 nations, calls for ban on nuclear weapons

Louis Charbonneau reports for Reuters:

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith addresses the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, in a file photo.  REUTERS/Chip EastAustrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz was speaking at the five-year review conference of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Diplomats from the 159 countries supporting the ban, presented ahead of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atom bombs dropped on Japan, said the initiative was modelled on successful campaigns to ban land mines and other weapons and could take years to move forward.

The initiative has virtually no support among NPT nuclear weapons states and veto-wielding Security Council members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – or the countries of NATO, an alliance that provides a kind of “nuclear umbrella” security guarantee for its members.

But most of the 193 U.N. members back it.’


U.N. warns Yemen campaign’s civilian toll violates laws of war

John Zarocostas reports for McClatchy:

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Thursday that Saudi Arabian air strikes and combat between Yemen’s warring sides that target civilian and United Nations facilities are having a devastating impact on humanitarian aid efforts and are in violation of the laws of war.

In a statement, Ban said the attacks included bombardment of hospitals, humanitarian warehouses and U.N. compounds, and that civilians in Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, had been targeted by snipers. He called the attacks “unacceptable and in violation of international humanitarian law.”

U.N. officials have cited both the air campaign and fighting between Houthi rebels and supporters of the government of exiled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in statements denouncing the growing civilian toll. But they’ve been particularly critical of the Saudi air strikes, which they say have all but halted any effort to evacuate civilians by air or deliver humanitarian aid. The United States is providing aerial refueling and intelligence to the Saudi-led campaign.

On Thursday, Ban said more than 1,200 people have been killed in the past six weeks of fighting and that 300,000 have fled their homes.’


UN Expert: Secret Trade Negotiations Are A “Threat To Human Rights”

Glyn Moody reports for Techdirt:

Here on Techdirt, we’ve had plenty of posts looking at the major trade agreements currently being negotiated. As we’ve noted, criticism of TPP and TAFTA/TTIP has come from many quarters, particularly for the corporate sovereignty provisions, which are seen as problematic both on the left and right wings of the political spectrum. Intellectual Property Watch carries a fascinating statement criticizing key aspects of trade negotiations, which looks at things from quite a different angle. It’s written by Alfred de Zayas, who is the “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” — apparently an honorary and unpaid position. In his statement, he expresses:

his deep concern over the general lack of awareness on the adverse effects that existing, or under negotiations, bilateral and multilateral free trade and investment agreements have on the enjoyment of human rights in many countries, particularly in the developing world.

Specifically, he is concerned about the secrecy of trade talks, and the fact that key stakeholders like trade unions, environmental protection grups and health professionals are excluded — something that we’ve commented on many times here on Techdirt. He also thinks that fast-tracking the adoption of treaties — as is currently being attempted in the US — has a “detrimental impact on the promotion of a democratic and equitable world order.”‘


Afghan Civilian Toll Rising Again, 2015 Could Be Another Deadly Record

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The latest quarterly report out of the UN shows 521 civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2015, including 136 deaths. This is an 8% increase over the same period in 2014, which was itself the deadliest since the UN began keeping track.

UN officials warn that as the spring thaw begins the tolls are likely to start soaring again, setting the stage for another terrible year for civilians trapped 14 years deep into a NATO occupation.’


Neocons, R2Pers and Hypocrisy

Robert Parry writes for Consortium News:

Sometimes I’m challenged over my linking belligerent neoconservatives with “liberal interventionists” who justify U.S. military invasions under the “humanitarian” banner of “responsibility to protect” – or R2P – meaning to intervene in war-torn countries to stop the killing of civilians, like the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda.

And, most people would agree that there are extraordinary situations in which the timely arrival of an external military force might prevent genocide or other atrocities, which was one of the intended functions of the United Nations. But my overall impression of R2Pers is that many are careerist hypocrites who voice selective outrage that provides cover for the U.S. and its allies to do pretty much whatever they wish.

Though one can’t generalize about an entire group – since some R2Pers act much more consistently than others – many of the most prominent ones operate opportunistically, depending how the dominant narrative is going and where the power interests lie.’


10 Truly Absurd Features of Contemporary Foreign Affairs

Stephen M. Walt writes for Foreign Policy:

Those of us who work on foreign policy like to think of ourselves as hard-headed, rational people who don’t easily succumb to myths, fables, or delusions. If only that were true! In fact, foreign-policy mavens as just as vulnerable to blindered thinking as any other human beings, and our community has its own set of odd beliefs and practices that are rarely questioned or criticized.

In fact, if one moves outside the bubble of mainstream discourse and takes a hard look at some familiar elements of contemporary world politics, they begin to look rather peculiar, even absurd. What do I mean by that? I mean an unusual, bizarre, risible, and hard-to-justify state of affairs whose dubious nature is no longer questioned, mostly because we’ve grown accustomed to it and no longer notice how weird it really is. These situations are like the discarded oddities of a bygone era — like phrenology, corsets, powdered wigs, binding feet, etc. — or like the bad habits that we sometimes acquire without noticing how strange or damaging they might be.

Some of these absurdities persist because they’ve been around a long time, or because powerful interests defend them vigorously, or because they align with broader social prejudices. Some of them may in fact be defensible, but we should still bring such oddities out into the open air on occasion and ask ourselves if they really make sense.’


China: The World’s New Peacekeeper?

Emma Campbell-Mohn writes for The Diplomat:

While Americans recognize China’s rapid rise as an economic powerhouse, the implications remain murky. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, most people unfavorably view China as the world’s leading economic power. Indeed, twenty percent of Americans viewed China, not Iran, as America’s top enemy in 2014. When discussing China, Americans think of its 13.39 trillion GDP (2013 est.), expansion into the South China Sea or human rights abuses.

Yet China’s global influence is expanding in surprising ways. China is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. China’s rise in peacekeeping operations is indicative of China’s rise in global prominence by both expanding its role in foreign affairs and protecting its own economic interests.’