Because I’m currently nearly bedridden and off to La Paz tomorrow, in lieu of a real analytic post, I thought I’d pay homage to Nick Hornby and make a top 10 list of the best articles I’ve read since I’ve started blogging. In no particular order…
1. The Unbelievable Lightness of Some African States - James Fearon, writing for the Monkey Cage, gets a crucial question in state stability. Why are wealthy dictators unable to secure their rule through legions of loyal personal guards?
2. The Curse of Stability in Central Asia – This next piece, written by Sarah Kendizor over at Foreign Policy, also challenges common wisdom on state stability. How is that many states in Central Asia seem constantly of the verge of failing, yet never quite do?
3. A Fresh Look at ‘the Mainstream’ – Swarthmore professor and lifelong activist George Lakey looks at how activists define themselves in Waging Nonviolence, and wonders if self-marginalization in the pursuit of integrity is worth it, or if that is a false choice.
4. Guns as Witchcraft – Another post by another Swarthmore professor. In the wake on the Newton shootings, Africanist Tim Burke writes a deeply personal reflection on guns and witchcraft, as he tries to untangle Orientalist attitudes toward witchcraft by framing beliefs in gun ownership in that very framework.
5. Why Rebels (Sometimes) Commit Atrocities – Alex Bellamy, writing in the Global Observatory, looks at why some rebel group commit atrocities and other don’t, arguing that context and ideology matter.
6. Africa’s Image and Reality: Wealth and Poverty Sit Side-by-Side – In African Arguments, Richard Dowden takes on both the Africa Rising motif and images of Africa as being filled with starving children, concluding, that well, both are true, and it’s more complicated.
7. Racism Obstructs Extremism in Mali - Too many analyses of Mali put the country at the heart of a global Islamist conspiracy, and John Campbell, in Africa in Transition, argues that local tensions are not only a cause of the conflict, but caused significant friction within the rebel movement.
8. Who Will Write About R2P’s African Origins? – R2P has received plenty of heat from mostly leftist commentators for being neo-colonial and a Western tool to invade smaller nations. Oliver Stuenkel fights back, demonstrating that R2P is more than just a Western concept.
9. The Cat’s Cradle of Congolese Politics – In Reinventing Peace, Jason Stearns intricately sketches out the causes of conflict in Eastern Congo in the last ten years.
10. States Are Like the Millennium Falcon – Jay Ulfelder gets his nerd on while making some solid points on the nature of states.