It seems paradoxical to regularly hear of “neglected” or “forgotten” conflicts. Jan Egeland, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, described the war in Northern Uganda as the “biggest forgotten, neglected humanitarian emergency” in 2003. Our partners, such as the International Crisis Group, write about Congo’s forgotten Katanga crisis or Pakistan’s forgotten Balochistan conflict. And Forgotten Diaries, a multiple- award- winning project, has been exclusively covering forgotten conflicts since 2008. When policy makers, the media, and researchers talk about forgotten conflicts again and again, can we really call them forgotten?
At the end of each year our partners at the Fundación para las Relaciones y el Diàlogo Exterior (FRIDE) reflect on the challenges that are likely to shape the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy agenda over the next twelve months. As the most recent bailout package for the floundering Greek economy demonstrates, the unifying thread of these challenges is that of geo-economics.
In Challenges for European Foreign Policy in 2012: What Kind of Geo-Economic Europe? FRIDE argues that the ongoing Euro crisis – coupled with shifts in global power that our Editorial Plan continues to analyze – has heralded the return of a more assertive focus on immediate economic interests. Accordingly, geo-economics is defined by FRIDE as 1) the use of statecraft for economic ends; 2) a focus on relative gain and economic power; 3) a concern with gaining control of resources; 4) the enmeshing of state and business sectors; 5) the primacy of economic over other forms of security.
A recent thought-provoking and provocative op-ed in the New York Times has presented a serious challenge to those who view drones as nothing more than the evil extensions of secretive warfare. According to Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Mark Hanis, “[i]t’s time we used the revolution in military affairs to serve human rights advocacy.”
Voices critical of Israel’s role in the Middle East sometimes argue that its occupation of the West Bank, much of the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip is imperialist in nature. Such criticism draws a parallel with 19th and 20th century European imperialism, casting the Palestinians as the indigenous inhabitants of the region and the Israelis as a hostile ‘foreign’ power. Another implication of this characterization, however, is that the occupation is economically motivated, or is best understood in economic terms. Today, to complement our discussion of ‘Economics, Politics and War’ last week, we examine some aspects of the political economy of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically (and with the help of Miriam Qamar’s recent essay “Thoughts on the Dialectics of Revolution and Palestinian Nationalism”), we do so through a Marxist lens.
Remember when TIME magazine selected You – Yes, You – as Person of the Year? It was back in 2006 when the magazine’s editors decided that the year’s big story was about community and collaboration on the internet – i.e., “about the many wresting power from the few…and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.” Given the overarching theme we have explored over the last thirteen weeks – that the international system is undergoing fundamental and irreversible changes in its structure – we think it is only right to close the first part of our three-part Editorial Plan by revisiting TIME’s initial claim. We believe it’s right not only because social media has stopped being a “massive social experiment” and has become an integral (and complex) part of people’s lives, but also because the topic points us towards the second part of our plan, which will begin on April 2.
Indeed, if the initial part of the plan focused on answering a simple question (how is the structure of international system changing at its most fundamental level?) then the second part begs us to answer a follow-on question – if the international system is transforming itself in major ways, what impact are these changes having on power relationships throughout the world, whether formal or not? While answering this question is our next overarching objective, we have a transitional one we need to address this week – are the internet and social media helping to change the international system by empowering non-state actors and individuals? In other words, is the internet further eroding the state’s traditional monopoly on power when it’s the state that ultimately controls access to new and old media in the first place?
These are the questions we consider this week in our dossier, “The New Information Revolution.”