The CSS Blog Network

Kony 2012 – How 100 Million Clicks Went to Waste

Image from invisible.tumblr.com

The Kony 2012 video produced by Invisible Children has attracted somewhere between 80 and 100 million views by now. No matter what your position on the campaign is, it is undeniable that it managed to tap a huge reservoir of public attention. The viral campaign and reactions to the video quickly spilled over from internet blogs to the classic medias, with basically all big newspapers, TV stations and radio stations running a story on Kony 2012 at least once. And that’s when it all went wrong.

The simplified and – as many rightly point out – to some extent even dangerous message of the video was answered with a global smear campaign that started picking apart not only Kony 2012 but also Invisible Children’s organizational structures and accounting practices. In the end, Kony 2012 has left behind only losers. The current victims of the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan remain largely ignored, the formerly war affected communities in northern Uganda feel deeply offended by the video, the work of Invisible Children has been discredited, its co-founder and Kony 2012 producer Jason Russel had a mental breakdown in public, and a huge potential of public awareness that could have really made a difference in Central Africa has been squandered. » More

Security Jam 2012: Halftime

Security Jam 2012: Brainstorming Global Security

We’re now half-way through the Security Jam (organized by the Security and Defense Agenda), with almost 9,000 logins and 2,000 posts. 31 polls have been published so far, with 56% believing NATO should remain involved in Libya’s transition, and 43% identifying cyber as the most worrying transnational threat. As the Security Jam gathers pace on its third day, many excellent ideas are already out there and have been discussed intensely. Here are the updates from the seven different forums: » More

Libya’s Struggle with Federalism

Libyans rally against federalism. Image: magharebia/flickr

Opponents and supporters of federalism clashed with knives, guns and rocks in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday 16 March. The violence erupted after hundreds of people demonstrated in favor a political project aimed at dividing Libya into three autonomous regions.

That demonstration was one of several rallies that started after a conference of tribal and political leaders in Benghazi. The conference unilaterally declared Cyrenaica (Berqa in Arabic) an autonomous polity, polarizing public opinion and prompting fears that the country might split up. These developments seem to intensify the struggle for the future of Libyan governance.

Under these conditions, does federalism have a future? » More

Where Does Russia’s Opposition Go From Here?

Anti-Putin rally in Moscow on 4 February 2012. Image: Wikimedia Commons (Leonid Faerberg)

The crowds are dwindling at the protest rallies, the energy seems to be draining away.

There are several problems for Russia’s opposition movement. The first is that Vladimir Putin’s crushing victory in the presidential elections – no matter how flawed – has changed the equation in Russia, and the opposition is struggling to adapt to this new reality. Some opposition groups believe that even without any cheating on election day, Putin would have got just over 50 per cent of the vote, and thus won in the first round, (although these groups would also argue that the electoral campaign as a whole was not fair, and that Putin’s return to the Kremlin is a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the constitution). Nonetheless, the reality is that  Putin is back, with a six year term, and this drains the morale of the opposition. » More

Are Domestic Factors Relevant in Deciding to Join a Military Coalition?

‘Stop the War Coalition’ event against a military assault in Iran by the US, UK and Israel. Image: moblog.net

Atsushi Tago claims that they are. His presentation at the CIS Colloquium series on Thursday (March 15, 2012) aimed to challenge mainstream opinion – including the results of his own previous research – and prove that, apart from solely international factors, domestic factors also matter in explaining why a country chooses to join an ad-hoc military coalition. With the quantitative analysis he presented, he was trying to validate a particular hypothesis: that in an election year, in an economic recession, or in period of domestic riots, a country is less likely to join a military coalition. In view of the upcoming elections in Israel and the US, Tago’s research could be of considerable interest for professionals and academics working with the Iranian nuclear issue.

Tago’s logic is threefold: first, he claims that the true benefits (or detriments) of joining a coalition force are often hidden from the electorate. Therefore, in an election year, governments will be reluctant to participate in armed coalitions for fear that the people will voice their disapproval at the ballot. » More

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