Saturday Reads

US Should Focus Less On Democracy, More On Stability
Charles A. Kupchan, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, argues that the United States should adopt a foreign policy that is more focused on establishing transitional governments, even ones that are not democratic. In fact, he contends American “promotion of democracy compromises its credibility because doing so is often at odds with its own policies,” particularly in the Middle East.

“To be sure, the American creed favors the promotion of democracy, and democracies do have a track record of better behavior than autocracies. But the penchant for rushing transitional states to the ballot box often does more harm than good, producing dysfunctional and illiberal regimes,” he writes.

Cairo Review of Global Affairs’ Akram Belkaïd says “as supporters of democratization in the Arab world, [it is time] to take a stand against what is happening in Egypt.”

Acknowledging that it might “sound naive,” he stresses the importance of renewing calls for calm and reconciliation despite their recent failures.

“They must be repeated again and again. Of course, we can hardly count on the Arab countries, some of which—we look toward the Arabian
Peninsula—are rubbing their hands together at the failure of the post-Mubarak transition. What would Europe and the United States like to do? What can they do? We all know that only Washington is capable of putting pressure on the Egyptian military to bring it to negotiations. Will America do so  One thing is certain, no one—not even Israel—has an interest in Egypt becoming a land of fire and blood.”

United Nations Says Central African Republic Nearing Collapse
One of the poorest countries in the world is on the brink of collapse United Nations officials warned last week. It was in March that Seleka rebels ousted the President Francois Bozize of the Central African Republic and troops from the African Union were dispatched in an attempt to restore stability. The troops have failed to maintain peace, which has triggered a plan by the United Nations to send experts to assess the situation.

“The Central African Republic is not yet a failed State but has the potential to become one if swift action is not taken,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos warned.

The humanitarian crisis in CAR also threatens the stability of its neighbors, Alex Thurston of World Politics Review asserted earlier this year.

In addition to coping with 37,000 refugees, the fact that Seleka forces recruited foreign nationals to fight only adds to “to the ongoing circulation of men and weapons in Central Africa,” he adds.

“Chad, which recently put down a coup attempt; Sudan, which faces rebellions in Darfur and along its new border with South Sudan; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the M23 rebellion continues in the east; and other countries in the region all likely find the situation in CAR concerning,” Thurston notes.

Et Cetera

In Syria, Echoes Of The Bosnian Civil War
Michael Ignatieff compares the similarities between the current situation in Syria with the collapse of the Bosnian government in the 1990s.

“What they both lack is time, the experience of democracy, and the opportunity—it can take generations—to forge political alliances across confessional, sectarian, and clan lines. This was the legacy of dictatorship that Tito bequeathed to Yugoslavia and it is Assad’s poisonous gift to Syria,” he says.

Drone Policy Remains Complicated By Ethics, Legality
Author Mark Bowden considers examines the moral and legal arguments surrounding the use of drones.

“The drone is effective. Its extraordinary precision makes it an advance in humanitarian warfare. In theory, when used with principled restraint, it is the perfect counterterrorism weapon. It targets indiscriminate killers with exquisite discrimination. But because its aim can never be perfect, can only be as good as the intelligence that guides it, sometimes it kills the wrong people—and even when it doesn’t, its cold efficiency is literally inhuman,” he writes in The Atlantic.











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