Human Rights Watch
Two leading human rights NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, released separate reports on U.S. drone warfare this week. They were focused on different places geographically—Amnesty’s report, “Will I be next? U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan,” focuses on Waziristan and the tribal regions of Pakistan that border Afghanistan, while Human Rights Watch’s offering, “Between a Drone and Al Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of U.S.
Whether or not the United States intervenes in Syria’s civil war, one thing about the current situation won’t change: Those of us outside Syria’s borders will never be entirely sure what’s happening within them. Syria has become the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, and legacy media outlets have, understandably, sent fewer and fewer of their reporters into harm’s way. This means that if journalists and policymakers in western countries want information from a source other than Bashar al Assad’s regime, they have to take it from citizen journalists, nearly all of whom are activists who openly support the opposition.
Since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year, the Egyptian military—which occupies a key role in the new government—has not exactly distinguished itself on questions of human rights. According to Human Rights Watch, security forces continue to assault and imprison activists who criticize the military. Protesters are regularly beaten and in some cases killed, and the government’s abhorrent treatment of women is becoming a major cause for concern.
After a year of bloodshed, the crisis in Syria has reached a decisive moment. It is estimated that more than 7,500 lives have been lost. The United Nations has declared that Syrian security forces are guilty of crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, the execution of defectors, and the widespread torture of prisoners. Bashar Al-Assad is now doing to Homs what his father did to Hama. Aerial photographs procured by Human Rights Watch show a city that has been laid to waste by Assad’s tanks and artillery.
Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement By Brad R. Roth (Oxford University Press, 320 pp., $70) Sovereignty is back. Our debates about the global economic crisis keep returning to the problem of sovereign debt and the need for sovereign guarantees to reassure the markets. We keep hoping that somewhere, sometime, in the downward spiral of de-leveraging and disillusion there will be an authority—a sovereign—to take charge and put an end to our anxiety. This longing for an authority, after years of market follies, runs very deep. We want to know that someone is in control.
Write it down. Write it. With ordinary ink on ordinary paper; they weren’t given food, they all died of hunger. All. How many? It’s a large meadow. How much grass per head?
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live By Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster, 263 pp., $26.99) In 1975, Malcolm Bradbury published The History Man, a piercing satire of the narcissistic pseudo-intellectualism of modern academia. The novel recounts a year in the life of the young radical sociologist Howard Kirk—“a theoretician of sociability”—who is working on a book called The Defeat of Privacy.