Monday Morning Headlines
US May Take More Action In South Sudan
As the United States continued to evacuate more than 300 citizens, President Barack Obama informed Congress that he may take further action “to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our Embassy, in South Sudan.”
“The U.N. announced it was trying to rush more peacekeeping forces to landlocked, impoverished South Sudan as foreign powers urged both sides to stop fighting, fearing for the stability of an already fragile region of Africa. The South Sudan government said on its Twitter account it was no longer in control of Bentiu, the capital of Unity State.
“Bentiu is not currently in our hands. It is in the hands of a commander who has declared support for Machar,” it said,” reported Reuters.
As is the case in virtually all civil wars, the number of individuals caught in the middle are weighing heavily on organization resources. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 42,000 people have taken shelter in the U.N. camps, which is the majority of the 60,000 displaced by the surge of violence.
“The U.N. said it was getting increasingly difficult to provide for them because it is running short on resources and staff. It reported looting at humanitarian compounds in the states of Jonglei and Unity, the two regions largely out of government control,” the paper reports.
Despite Maoist Rhetoric, No Evidence Xi Jinping Will Follow His Path
As China marks the 120th anniversary since the rise of Mao, it is clear his presence remains strong in towns and cities across the nation.
“Mao remains a strong symbolic presence, though not nearly as ubiquitous he was during his lifetime. Thousands of Chinese tourists line up daily to view his embalmed body in its Tiananmen Square mausoleum, which has also undergone renovation. His image graces almost all bank notes from 1 to 100 yuan, and Chinese studios crank out a steady flow of new movies and television series based on highly sterilized versions of his life and the party’s history.
“Such hagiographies studiously avoid Mao’s central part in China’s two worst post-war tragedies: the 1959-63 Great Leap Forward and 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. As many as 30 million Chinese died through starvation and persecution,” writes Christopher Bodeen of The Associated Press.
That lingering presence may be one reason the current leader often resurrects his memory. In a profile of President Xi Jinping, Gordon Chang writes that Xi frequently uses language that elicits memories of Mao, but also are somewhat deceptive.
“Xi Jinping’s efforts to recreate the past, therefore, reveal an ambition lacking in recent Chinese supremos. It is said that each leader of the People’s Republic has been weaker than his predecessor, and that was certainly true through Hu Jintao, the “Fourth Generation” boss. Mao was as close as New China got to one-man rule, and successor Deng Xiaoping was a strongman as well, but eventually paved the way to collective rule. Jiang Zemin, Deng’s hand-picked successor, for the most part just let officials do what they wanted. Hu ended up as a paler version of Jiang. Many analysts have viewed this progression toward weaker leadership as progress, and in many ways, it has been that.”
Yet, he adds, his infatuation can also lead to real dangers.
“Xi is clearly out of touch. His Mao binge can only further divorce the Party from the Chinese people. The ruling organization still has the power to coerce, but not to inspire or lead. Xi Jinping may say, as he did this summer, that “our red nation will never change color,” but the Chinese people have simply moved on.
“On the day after Christmas, the great and glorious Communist Party of China will celebrate Mao’s birth. Yet Xi and the cadres will, for the most part, be doing so alone,” he concludes.
As Peace Talks Loom, Violence Escalates In Syria
In the last week accusations flew as often as lives were sacrificed in the increasingly violent situation in Syria.
“Video from Aleppo posted by activists showed a red fireball over a neighborhood, body parts and people digging frantically through the rubble as sirens wailed in the background. An antigovernment group, the Aleppo Media Center, put the death toll at 32, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict through a network of contacts in Syria, said it was 25, with others in critical condition. The government has said it is targeting “terrorist” insurgents in Aleppo, while residents and activists have said that, in recent days, the bombings have mainly killed civilians in some of the fiercest attacks there in months,” reports The New York Times.
2013: The Year In War By The Numbers
David Axe of the blog War is Boring has a statistical run-down of the wars waged and lives lost in 2013.