Tuesday, December 28, 2010

G. Clooney and Darfur

You really have to admire George Clooney for his work in calling attention to the crisis in Darfur. He just outdid himself with the recent news that, in coordination with several actors including the UN and Harvard, he'll be launching private satellites to watch for any kind of increasing conflict in the Sudan as the referendum approaches between the north and south.

The Satellite Sentinel Project will launch on Dec 30, with the website going live right about now. It's nice to have deep pockets, connections, and a brand name to make things happen! Clooney is spending $750,000 to launch the effort, which will monitor troop movements with the images being uploaded to the satsentinel.org website within 24 hours for all the world to see what may or may not be happening in the lead up to the vote for succession. How's that for revolutionizing genocide prevention?

Clooney makes a great point when he makes note of how one can imagine the impact if this were 1943 and we were able to detect through pictures what was happening at Auschwitz. No one would be able to say they didn't know, and the deniers would be denied after the fact. Why hasn't anyone else thought of this? Kudos to George Clooney and his passion for the cause.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Belarus Election

CNN is reporting, to no one's surprise, that Alexander Lukashenko has won the election there. President Lukashenko, dubbed "the last dictator of Europe" by Condi Rice, has been in power since 1994. No less than nine candidates ran against him, and when the exit polls returned the result, protests erupted in the streets of Minsk as everyone knows this election is not legit.

This past week, leading up to the election, Foreign Policy magazine ran a story about life in Belarus under the dictatorial regime. The eight or nine mini-bios in the article describe an authoritarianism that to most living in the twenty-first century, seems to more closely Hollywood films than anything that would be deemed modern on the European continent. To think that Belarus is more or less boundaried, certainly to its west, by thriving social democracies who long ago sought to rid themselves of anything not resembling a democratic society, makes the situation in Belarus even more astounding.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Richard Holbrooke

Very unfortunate news that Richard Holbrooke passed away today. In my genocide class earlier this year, we learned about the role he played in negotiating a peaceful resolution to the Yugoslav wars. And with the daily news originating out of AfPak, seeing his name is a common occurrence. Someone starting out in international affairs can only hope to accomplish a quarter of what this man accomplished in a stellar career where he brought about real change and saved lives.