Apologies for the lack of updates. Tomorrow I will contribute a post about the current status of drug policy, and wednesday I will post about Harper's drug policy. I will be having more free time coming up this week, so I will work hard to provide some real content. I don't want to give you bullshit - so bear with me a few more days.
Also, if anyone visiting here is familiar with HTML code (I know that I should know it) let me know. I'm trying to re-design the blog so it will be more user-friendly, and I may need a bit of assistance.
In earlier comments, I considered Somalia's status as the world's most failed states and wondered how far Yemen would fall on the list before it resembled the former state. In this section, I will very briefly note some of the reasons for the poor governance in Sub-Saharan Africa, with some final comments on a recent paper that considers how "contagious" a failed state is.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains a pretty terrible place in terms of governance, especially Central and East Africa. Consider the countries considered “Critical” that are all connected to one another through a chain of borders. Of course, these “borders” are often nothing more than lines on a map:
This past week the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its annual “World Drug Report”, which contained some interesting insights on the global illicit drug markets.
Here's a couple of links that will provide some entertainment while I develop new posts.
1) John Roberts' tenure on the Supreme Court has meant contradictory free speech rulings.
It should come as no surprise that the Bush legacy will haunt the United States for decades to come, with the Supreme Court becoming more conservative than any other time in recent decades. Under Roberts, Corporations were given a full and unequivocal right free speech, while providing "material support" to terrorist groups - including discussing or advising them on becoming non-violent organizations - will remain an indictable offense with terms up to 15 years in jail.
Back in the 1980s the translation of this ruling would be: Advising the African National Congress or Nelson Mandela would be an offense worthy of 15 years in jail.
Welcome to Conservative activist judges, folks.
For the first time since 2003, and after two years of delays and disputes over voter registration, Somalilanders will vote in the second Presidential election in their young country's history.
in 1991, after the Somali National Movement (SNM) defeated President
Barre's troops in Northern Somalia, Somaliland remains unrecognized.
While under international law their existence is relatively sound –
British Somaliland, its former territory, joined together with
Italian Somaliland (Puntland and southern Somalia) after five days as
an independent country in its own right – the rest of the world
still supports the Transitional Federal Government, which has little
representation from Northern Somali clans. Siad Barre virtually
ignored the north of Somalia for decades during his rule, which saw
him invest most of his country's wealth into the then-capital
Mogadishu. Then, when the SNM was founded in the late 1980s, Barre's
troops brutally bombed and destroyed critical northern towns and
slaughtered countless civilians. The SNM's victory was not intended
to set Somaliland onto a path of independence, but popular pressure
forced the SNM-led government to declare independence.
Another day on the killing streets of Juaréz (Source: http://publicintelligence.net)
When Felipe Calderón won 2006's contentious elections, he pledged to bring war to the drug trafficking organizations (DTOs)* that were corrupting, corroding and murdering their way towards immense riches. Most local police forces in the country have long made their choice of plata o plomo (silver or lead; the bribe or the bullet), as have the state and federal police forces. The army, meanwhile, is somehow considered less corrupt but are renowned for their brutal torture and kidnappings.
Calderon has deployed numerous federal police and soldiers to border regions and areas facing high levels of drug production or trafficking. As of late 2009, at least 40,000 have been dispersed and it is likely that more have followed in recent months. But the violence, mayhem and murders have not stopped. In fact, since deploying government forces the situation has gotten much worse. The numbers below might appear to speak for themselves, but really they do not. This list of ejecuciones (DTO-related murders) must be considered indicative, as the Mexican army and police forces also murder, but for a Mexican reporter to tell this would result in his or her death – so it is not reported. If one is lucky, an army murder is classified as “cartel-related”, and is included.
In this commentary on the Failed States Index (FSI), I will briefly examine the political and economic decline in Yemen that threatens the very foundations of the state.
Consider, Yemen's ranking on the FSI from 2007, when the Fund for Peace (http://www.fundforpeace.org) settled on scoring 177 countries. The FSI ranks countries based on several indicators, including demographic pressure, economic distribution between groups, and ability to provide basic government services.
(out of 177 countries)
Since 2007, Yemen's institutions have demonstrably declined in their ability to function properly. Unlike some countries that fell in the ranking as a result of the consolidation and (at least partial) improvement in governance, Yemen continues to plummet in the ranking. It's hard to imagine Yemen falling much further, though it's important to consider its neighbour to the South, across the Gulf of Aden: Somalia.
So why has Yemen declined? In large part, I think state neglect has played a large role, though Yemen never had much a central state to begin with. I think four possible factors merit mention:
This week, Foreign Policy magazine released the 2010 rankings for its Failed States Index , and there are several interesting changes to note. Of course, it should not come as a surprise to many that Somalia topped the list as most failed state, considering the country has no central government and is actually fragmented into three main pieces:
Somaliland (self-declared Republic)
Following years of war against President Barre's dictatorial and brutal regime, Somaliland (once British Somaliland) rescinded its act of union with Italian Somaliland (now Puntland and Southern Somalia) and declared itself independent. Though several relatively credible elections have been held, and peace largely achieved without foreign assistance through traditional institutions, the country remains totally unrecognized.
Puntland's regional government can barely be called a government at all. Officially, it seeks a federation with other regions of Somalia. Unofficially, it is host to most of the Somalian pirates that threaten ships within a wide radius of the Somalian coastline. There are several theories why some people in this autonomous region have turned to piracy, including the unemployment in fishing industries resulting from illegal over-fishing of Somalia by foreign ships, but clearly the Puntland regional government could care less about the only real economic activity in its domain.
The area of the country most fought over, and for good reason (at least for a warlord): Barre invested almost all of the country's wealth in Mogadishu and other cities in Southern Somalia, making it the "best" place to plunder.
Victoria Clark – Dancing on the Heads of Snakes
In this brief but relatively in-depth study of Yemen, Clark splits her book into two complimentary sections. In the first half, she examines the country's history from the mid-16th century to 2000, highlighting its complex tribal structure and religious groups. The consistent failure of occupying forces, including Egypt to Britain, to subdue the entire Yemeni population figures prominently as Clark describes the independence of two Yemens: the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR; North Yemen) and later the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY; South Yemen) – the only Marxist state in the Arab world. From the 1960s to 1991*, the two countries were governed in entirely different ways, with the latter aligning with the USSR and the former joining the non-aligned movement (and even joined in a federation with Nasser's failed Pan-Arabism experiment, the United Arab Republic ). Indeed, while the PDRY formed a frightening secret police with East German assistance and attempted to eliminate tribalism in all its forms, the YAR exploited tribalism by bribing the well-armed tribes into submission and creating vast networks of corruption and patronage. Under President Saleh, who became president of the YAR in 1978, the two Yemens united as the USSR collapsed and the wealthier, more populous North essentially took over the oil industry and land previous beholden to South Yemen.
What are transnational networks?
Other than an abstract academic term, they are the links that seamlessly cross borders to connect people, places and things.
So what's this blog all about?
It's about Canadian, American, and international affairs. It's about economics, the media, evolving societies, and globalization. It's about shedding light on topics that are all too often ignored and approaching those most discussed from a different perspective.
This week I will be spending time to actually write some in-depth posts on a few topics:
- Somaliland's upcoming election
- the sorry state of Canadian parliament
- The Obama presidency, thus far
From the archives: The search for Percy Fawcett, an early 20th century explorer who himself went in search of what he call the "Lost City of Z". Later turned into a book, this article is a fantastic exploration of the Amazon.
Ezra Klein considers the GDP contribution of a wide range of stimulus policies.