danalwyn: (Default)
2011 Headcount - including the late Dear Leader:

  • Than Shwe (Burma): retired (maybe)

  • Ben Ali (Tunisia): deposed

  • Hosni Mubarak (Egypt): arrested

  • Fidel Castro (Cuba): retired (medical)

  • Muammar Gaddafi (Libya): killed while resisting revolution

  • Kim Jong-Il (North Korea): heart attack

Is it just me, or am I beginning to run out of people to make fun of?
danalwyn: (Default)
A lot has happened in Libya in the past few weeks, culminating with this weekend's push into Tripoli. A lot that seemed clear a month ago is no longer clear, and a lot that seemed impossible is no longer impossible.

If there's anything that should be clear from the Libya situation, it's that military affairs, social affairs, and economic affairs take time, where pundits take none. When the loyalists were on the verge of taking Benghazi, everyone was frightened that the end of the world would happen right there and then, that the war was lost for the rebels. This was part of what pushed the strong NATO intervention. When that intervention failed to win the war for the rebels in the first week, the words quagmire and "no end in sight" were tossed around. As the stalemate continued, that perspective gained strength, until the whole western intervention looked like just another bungled disaster. Now the interventionists are basking in their glory, and gloating to their more pessimistic colleagues.

Many people predicted the same thing - the war would be won for the rebels if they could figure out how to operate effectively and cohesively in the west against Gaddafi's greater firepower. They also predicted that, despite contrary appearances, international isolation was hurting Gaddafi's regime. Both those predictions appear true, as the rapid folding of regime forces has indicated. But it took time. Not that it took a long time - for a civil war to last only months is remarkably short, even in the age of motor transportation. All complicated affairs, and wars most of all, take time. For all we know, the rebels will suffer another reverse and be driven out of the city (although that looks unlikely).

That's probably the most important lesson we can learn about whatever happens in Tripoli today (the situation is still not clear), these things take time. Wars are not ended in days, effects are not instantaneous. If it takes half a year for a popular rebellion across an oppressed country to seize the capital of a hated and outdated leader, imagine how long it takes for a foreign country to occupy another and then try and change its entire political and social structure.

Oh, and the other thing to learn - people can take care of themselves if you give them the chance.
danalwyn: (Default)
If you've got some goodwill to spare today, Tropical Storm Emily is hovering within 100 kilometers of Port-au-Prince, Haiti right now, a city where over 600,000 people are still living in tents. Currently it looks like the heart of the storm will pass slightly west of the main city, but even so a possibly devastating near miss is about to hit one of the world's largest populations of internally displaced homeless people. Wish them luck - it's too late now for anything else.
danalwyn: (Default)
And to keep with my habit of posting commentary on news about violence roundup of weird, potentially destructive news from the past [arbitrary number] of weeks. This time though, in keeping with the media's habit of ignoring serious topics in favor of celebrities, I'm ignoring serious wars all over the world to give the roundup from Southeast Asia.

Srs Business And All That )
danalwyn: (Default)
Since this journal normally looks more like a news and politics blog then anything else, here are some updates from the last month for things I'm watching that could go boom just to prove that if I've been replaced by a doppelganger, he's at least consistent.

The World Keeps Going Faster )
danalwyn: (Default)
Coup count for 2010: -1

Coup successfully squashed. Probably. The situation is unclear, but it looks like the coup plotters are holed up in an army barracks near the airport, and are not in control. If, 24 hours into a coup, you aren't appointing a new minister of Finance and Looting, chances are your coup has failed. They're probably using their position near the airport to threaten to shut it down, giving them a bargaining chip to use in negotiations. Who knows how good it is? I can't guess, not being able to find the barracks accurately on a map, but maybe it's enough of a threat to keep them from getting lined up against a wall and shot (although the leaders will probably be quietly 'done away with', either physically or politically).

What's annoying to me is the lack of information. A rather serious attempt was made to overthrow the government of a country with twenty-one million people, which is already in a rather serious internal political struggle. This seems to rate about two news articles in each of the major news sources (one for the announcement, and one for the "looks like it's over" speech), which comes out to about 0.02 Kate Middletons. This left about a twelve hour gap where, for all we knew, zombie lemurs were overrunning Antananarivo and eating the populace. It's an interesting failure mode for media, which maybe needs to think about how to incorporate local journalism and cooperation in events in places where they don't have good sources.

Domino #2

Nov. 17th, 2010 08:33 am
danalwyn: (Default)
Coup count for 2010: +2

Well, we haven't had one since February, so I thought we might be safe, but there now appears to be a serious coup in progress in Madagascar. This should hardly be unexpected, since Madagascar has been in the throes of a political and economic mess for some time, and the referendum probably didn't help. Nobody knows whether the coup is successful or not; the military appears to have some disagreement as to whose side they're on. Possibly this will just blow over, which would make everyone happy (except for possibly the people in Madagascar, and Greenpeace, but really, who cares about them? We're only in this for the lemurs).

Well, we almost got through the year with only one. Maybe 2011 will go more smoothly.
danalwyn: (Default)
Coup count for 2010: +1

Since it overthrew a scummy regime, and since it happened in inaccessible Niger, don't expect anything serious anytime soon.
danalwyn: (Default)
And speaking of people making pacts "with the devil"...

Former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, speaking during his trial for war crimes at The Hague, decided he had nothing to lose, and threw Pat Robertson (as in, American televangelist, Haiti-made-a-deal-with-the-devil Pat Robertson) under a bus last week. Taylor, who is guilty as hell of having perpetrated a series of mass atrocities during the Sierra Leone war (not to mention at home), revealed the long-suspected details of his and Robertson's gold exploration venture in Liberia, indicating that as part of the original deal, Taylor would give Robertson's company a license in return for Robertson lobbying the new administration on his behalf.

Or course, by Robertson's own tortuous train of thought (which I won't dignify by calling logic), Liberia probably made a deal with the devil. If Liberia did, Robertson was one of the devil's agents, or possibly even the devil himself, and since he believes that prayer can defeat demons, one wonders if he prays for himself. He probably needs it.
danalwyn: (Default)
Remember Moussa Dadis Camara? He managed to get himself in trouble lately by, oh, being responsible for the rape and/or murder of hundreds of people, which is the sort of thing that slips out of the media's eye.

Of course, that's not the way he tells it.

Camara's Day in Court )

ETA: Where did all my links go?


danalwyn: (Default)

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