Tag: Civil war

The Shimmering Illusion

Filed in Perspectives by on 15th Nov 2015 7 Comments

Based on presentation to the Thomas More Institute in Montreal, Canada in November 2015.

Wouldn’t it be nice if political leaders actually served their citizens? However, despite noble words of taking office to serve people, over time consensus, negotiation and agreement tend to give way to such sentiments as ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.’ One compromise leads to another and democracy slowly shifts from serving the people to serving those in power. In extreme cases, violence replaces dialogue. The Fragile States Index for 2015 assigns countries a score based on such social, economic and political criteria as mounting demographic pressures, massive displacement of refugees, uneven economic development, severe economic decline, and wide spread human rights abuses. Countries such as the United States have a score of 35.3, Canada 25.7, Germany 28.1, the United Kingdom 33.5 and France 33.7. The lower the score, the better political leaders serve their citizens. However, if we choose four countries in Africa in various states of development, we see a marked difference in the score. Mali, for example, comes in at 93.1, Malawi 86.9, Togo 86.8 and Côte d’Ivoire 100. Continue Reading »

The Fog of War

Filed in Articles by on 5th Sep 2013

The fog of war wafts around us as preparations continue for a US-French military action against Syria. President Barack Obama is failing to gain much support for such a move. According to Obama, a coordinated military response is needed to teach Syria not to use chemical weapons against men, women and children in violation of an international ban against their use. It is not yet clear who is responsible for using them, the regime of Bashar al-Assad or the rebels fighting to bring down his dictatorship. President Vladimir Putin of Russia maintains Syria would not use such weapons especially since an inspection team from the United Nations was on the ground in Damascus at the time.

As the majority of leaders at the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg balked at the prospect of a cruise missile campaign against Syria, the drums of war beat on. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, says the Arab League offered to bankroll a military action. That amounts to paying someone else to do the dirty work of getting rid of hard-line Islamists, while making mercenaries of the US military. Iran and its allies, the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, promise to attack Israel if Washington goes ahead with its plan. Continue Reading »

Sierra Leone: A Dream of Freedom

Filed in Case Studies by on 23rd Mar 2009

In March 1991, warlord Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone and the Rebel United Front invaded Sierra Leone from a part of Liberia controlled by Charles Taylor, who then led the insurgent National Patriotic Front of Liberia. It was the beginning of a nine-year civil war. However, the events that led to the war started long before. Continue Reading »

In The North

Filed in Perspectives by on 27th Jan 2009

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – We were sitting at a bar in Grand Bassam, some 25 kilometres east of Abidjan. Grand Bassam is a small, quiet village of beach resorts in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).  One hotel, Koral Beach, is nestled beneath towering palms and overlooks the water with its magnificent thundering waves in a constant attack on the hot brown sands. It’s not a luxury hotel in the sense of the huge American or French hotel chains, or even by Third World standards, but for those who frequent the place, the basic comfort there is a world away from the hovels and tin-roofed shacks of the poor. It was the week of Barack Obama’s swearing in as president of the United States, the same week I was giving a journalism course at a seminar for the written press.

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