News Summary

Global Catastrophic Risk Institute – September Summary The Global Catastrophic Risk Institute has a lengthy summary of events and research from the past month, including news on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on the impact of wasted food on the environment, and an article in The New York Times by University of Maryland geography professor Erle Ellis examining the question of whether the human population is close to the limits of what the planet can support.

Al Shabab Attack Reflects Shift In Tactics
Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens of the Council on Foreign Relations looks at the recent attacks in Kenya and what Al Shabab’s change in tactics means for Africa and the global fight on terrorism.

“Whatever the identity of the assailants, last week’s strike at the heart of Kenyan high society is a reminder that al Shabab and its cadre of battle-hardened recruits will remain a threat to the region for some time to come. Western observers should watch carefully, as this is unlikely to be the last such atrocity,” he writes.

Neglecting Somalia Would Be A Mistake
Tobias Zick also cautions the Western world if it fails to heed the lessons from the Nairobi attack saying it is a reminder that Somalia “is an international problem” that stretches beyond the borders of Kenya.

“What took place in the Nairobi shopping center was not only an attack on Kenya, but also on the international community whose representatives — UN employees, diplomats and development workers — regarded the Westgate center as an escapist oasis amid the turbulent region of East Africa,” writes Zick. He also contends that the attack casts a pall over the happy story of economic progress in Africa because, he says, the lack of security is a reflection of the corruption and poverty existing in Northern Africa.

Are Colonial Borders To Blame For Today’s Middle East Problems?
Can current crises in the Middle East be attributed to the establishment of borders by European during colonial times? Nick Danforth makes his case in The Atlantic that it is little more than an excuse that has gone beyond its expiration date.

“The idea that better borders, drawn with careful attention to the region’s ethnic and religious diversity, would have spared the Middle East a century’s worth of violence is especially provocative at a moment when Western powers weigh the merits of intervention in the region. Unfortunately, this critique overstates how arbitrary today’s Middle East borders really are, overlooks how arbitrary every other border in the world is, implies that better borders were possible, and ignores the cynical imperial practices that actually did sow conflict in the region,” Danforth asserts.

Even if their intentions were truly notable, Danforth does not believe that would have mattered and, he adds, “creating more countries would have just meant more borders to fight over, while fewer large countries would have turned regular wars into civil ones.”


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