Friday Water Cooler

Starvation: A Tool Of War Almost More Effective Than Chemical Weapons
Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum describes Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad’s new weapon of choice – starvation. She notes that starvation has been a tool used against one’s enemies throughout history from medieval Europe to Hitler and Stalin, but adds that in Syria it will only get worse.

“Worse is to come, for as the war continues, the politics of starvation grow more complex. In revenge for the siege of Homs, Syrian rebels have besieged a handful of villages near Aleppo. In other places, government blockades are looser, though everyone knows they could be tightened if need be. In this war, starvation is a particularly useful battle tactic and a political tool. Not only can it help armies growing short of weapons, starvation can literally eliminate opponents. People who are starving — or dead — will not fight back,” Applebaum writes.

She says it is particularly effective and destructive because unlike chemical weaponry, starvation “is useful in this war because it does not rise to the highest levels of international concern” and rarely does outrage about starvation give “rise to a debate about humanitarian intervention. And this is why it continues: For the perpetrators, it’s a slower, safer form of murder than a nuclear bomb. Which doesn’t mean that it is any less lethal for the victims.”

Russian intransigence, like Assad’s starvation strategy, is likely to continue. This week, Russia expressed its opposition to a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding greater humanitarian access in Syria to those in urgent need of food and medical supplies.

According to The Washington Post, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters this week Russia is “against moving to a resolution now in the Security Council” and that “it’s not a good time to have any resolution discussed in the Security Council.”

In Tackling Problems In A Globalized World, The Approach Must Be Broad And Comprehensive
Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown asserts that in a increasingly interconnected world solutions must be broader and comprehensive.

“If we are going to remain committed to the idea that globalization should be good for all, focus must be placed on improving an entire system as opposed to combating a particular problem in isolation. This is appealing and common sense. The link between quality of life and quality of product is expansive; to be addressed it must be considered broadly. Even though this may strike you as obvious, not only is it not traditional, it’s disruptive. These are not the “brand stories” which businesses are not used to telling… at their peril,” she argues.

Conversely, Brown contends societies often have difficulty responding to a challenge made more difficult in a globalized world. This challenge will require business and governments to frame problems differently than in the past.

“This larger framing of what we consume, what business must consider, problems governments must face is revealing a new kind of global citizen. Amongst old business there will be, undoubtably, much denial. Meanwhile, shifting global currents create safe harbor for new leadership. The question of survival relies, as always, on our resourcefulness. We must also be bold,” counsels Brown.

China Continues To Invest In US
China is forever seeking opportunities for investment and the US continues to be a land of opportunity.  – despite understandable concerns about national security. Ziad Haider, a former national security aide in the Senate, looks at the several case studies to demonstrate how Chinese firms approach business in the US and how they manage to overcome concerns over national security.

“The volume and sophistication of Chinese firms looking to enter the US market is growing: CFIUS filings by Chinese investors more than doubled between 2011 and 2012, from ten to 23. So far the data suggest that Chinese firms are not grossly singled out. Should the US-China trust deficit deepen, further hurdles may arise as may an aversion to invest. For now, Chinese companies are faring better than assumed,” writes Haider, an attorney and Asia Director of the Truman National Security Project.

Concerns about national security aside, Haider contends that “considerations unique to Chinese firms exist and frictions can rise in tandem with investment and a fluid strategic dynamic, the United States remains open for business.

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