International Crisis Group

Today, the White House is expected to announce new steps designed to ease investment in Burma, the notoriously closed-off country whose ruling junta, to nearly everyone’s surprise, has recently begun to liberalize. The White House’s decision follows years of sanctions against Burma, but it’s far from clear that sanctions spurred the government’s recent reforms.  In fact, their efficacy has long been disputed.

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Europe’s Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation By Robert S. Leiken (Oxford University Press, 354 pp., $27.95)  After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent By Walter Laqueur (Thomas Dunne Books, 322 pp., $26.99)  In two separate incidents in March, Mohammed Merah, a French-born French citizen who thought he was waging jihad, ambushed four soldiers around Toulouse, killing three of them. A week later, he shot dead three children arriving for morning classes at a nearby Jewish school, along with a young rabbi who was father to two of them.

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Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa By Jason K. Stearns (PublicAffairs, 380 pp., $28.99) The history of Congo is the history of mass murder. What is going on today—with rebels, government soldiers, and armed groups from neighboring countries raping and slaughtering Congolese civilians—is a continuation of the ruthlessness that has been embedded in this country for more than a hundred years.

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Editor's Note: On Wednesday, I raised several questions about our intervention in Libya. Not long afterwards, Heather Hurlburt e-mailed with some answers. Readers may recognize Heather from her past contributions to this blog. A former speechwriter and foreign policy adviser in the Clinton Administration, she has also worked for the International Crisis Group, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Congressional Helsinki Commission.

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Pullout

If you've been following developments in Darfur, then you know the situation is dire. Last month, the U.N. reported that fighting between the Sudanese army and an obscure rebel faction rendered the Jebel Marra region in southern Darfur inaccessible to humanitarian aid, cutting off some 100,000 Darfuris who had relied on aid agencies for food, water, and medical care.

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Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror By Mahmood Mamdani (Pantheon, 398 pp., $26.95) The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All By Gareth Evans (Brookings, 349 pp., $24.95) I. IN THE SUMMER OF 2007, Mahmood Mamdani found himself at a meeting of activists and politicians, listening to sentiments that had by then become quite common among a certain class of politically active Americans. The speakers were calling on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Darfur.

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Red Herring

Why did Russia really invade Georgia? In late September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and offered a rather stunning explanation. Lavrov--who previously spent a decade as Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, where he mastered the body of international precedents and U.N.

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Occupational Hazard

'Take off your veil!" the Somali soldier shouted at the woman in the mostly empty street. Steadying his assault rifle with his right hand, he ripped away the woman's black niqab with his left. "Why are you coming so close to us? You have explosives?" He leveled the muzzle of his gun against the bridge of her nose. Her mouth, suddenly embarrassed and exposed, broke into a jester's forced grin. "I just want a juice," she pleaded. Except for a handful of armed soldiers, the only other person on the deserted street was a man selling mango juice from behind a table.

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