Some, like C-SPAN, provide a live stream of congressional events, speeches and hearings (often on foreign affairs); others offer insights into current affairs drawn from expert interviews, while the Economist, for example, provides audio summaries of their Special Reports and a weekly podcast outlining the key events to look out for in the days ahead. The London School of Economics and the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations provide audio and video files of speeches and public lectures held at the schools on a wide variety of topics and often by high profile speakers.
And remember that we can also be found on the audio airwaves – enjoy ISN podcasts at home or on the go!
A small group of Center for Security Studies staff watched the film “Johnny Mad Dog” today. It’s a war film played by former child soldiers of Liberia, filmed in Liberia about one and a half years after the actual war (1998-2003).
The Johnny Mad Dog Foundation was created with the aim of bringing a framework and support to the actors in the movie, most of whom fought with Charles Taylor or the Lurd Forces.
The film is highly graphic, difficult to watch and absorb at times, as it shows very realistically the utter mess of urban warfare in contemporary Africa. The crazy way the kids dress seems total fiction, until one sees the photos of the actual child soldiers during the Liberian war.
In the making of the film, former child soldiers were interviewed, and they were very clear that they wanted to tell their own story, give a voice to the unspeakable experiences they had been involved in, how they were manipulated, so that in their turn they start manipulating and violating others.
Academics and even staff of ‘conflict resolution’ NGOs often work with texts, juggling concepts, theories and methodologies. In contrast, this kind of film puts a human face on to violence. It reminds one of the brutality that comes with conflict and the emotions that are conjured.
Once the war ends, the suffering continues, and it is extremely difficult for former child soldiers to find a place in society. However, it is not as though they have become war machines, the film shows how aspects of humanity remain, how they can switch their emotions off, but at times also on again. Video extracts from the film can be seen at TFM Distribution.
Twitter had a lead role in the Iranian uprising after the contested elections last month. But that wasn’t the first time a popular form of communication proved vital in a democracy movement. This week we’re focusing on the impact platforms such as Twitter, Facebook – and Web technology overall – have on democracy movements and the relationships between governments and their constituents.
Here’s a quick rundown of just a few website highlights:
Every year, 20 June marks World Refugee Day . The UNHCR notes that for the 42 million uprooted people around the world, “a shortage or lack of the essentials of life – clean water, food, sanitation, shelter, health care and protection from violence and abuse – means that every day can be a struggle just to survive.”
So how could this situation be improved? In the first of his lectures as part of the Reith Lecture Series 2009 , Harvard professor Michael Sandel discusses the idea of tradable refugee quotas. In this system, each country would be allocated a yearly quota based on national wealth. Then, states would be free to buy and sell these obligations – and, according to market logic, everyone benefits: Countries unwilling to accept refugees meet their obligations through outsourcing, those willing to accept gain a new source of revenue, and more refugees are rescued than would otherwise find asylum.
This is just a tiny, tiny word of caution to remember as we take in the Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and other user-generated content from Iran.
First, although it’s invigorating to see the amount of info being passed on Twitter, I think there may be a quantity vs quality issue going on. I won’t go as far as Kara Swisher and call it the ‘Forrest Gump of International Relations’, but some of the tweets I’m seeing are…well…if not exactly Forrest Gump material, then maybe that of his long lost cousin who made it out of Savannah, Georgia before he did.