What informs the decision to intervene in one situation and leave out another? How is Syria for example different from Libya? What informed America ... for instance to intervene in the Balkans or lead a NATO assault of Belgrade to avoid genocide in Kosovo whilst ignoring similar atrocities or even worse ones in Rwanda? Could it be political, geo-political, strategic, economic or racial?
How does one situate the U.S. marines' firefight with Saddam's troops in Iraq to save people, who would have otherwise been massacred with impunity, ... with the Syrian crisis, especially when the diplomatic effort truncated by the presence of UN special envoy Kofi Annan has not stopped the violence?
In this column, duly entitled, The dogs, the poles, the thieves and their detractors: why is establishing the Arctic as common heritage so important? ... Sarah Bracking delves into the dangers of market capitalism and the push for new oil frontiers in the Arctic. She points out that under the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea Treaty in force from 1994, all mineral and exploration rights extend 200 nautical miles off a coastline, or more if it is continental shelf, and if this were applied the status of ownership in the Arctic is in question. So why is this important to readers in Africa?
To avoid any possible misunderstanding, let me start by stating that Joseph Kony, the notorious rebel leader and relative of the equally infamous ... self declared witch - Alice Lakwena (frequented by many top Kenyan officials in Nairobi), cannot be taken lightly. For over twenty years he has led a rebellion against Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni. The atrocities he has committed include kidnapping children, rape, chopping off ears, noses and lips at will, among others. But notwithstanding arguments that he lacked a political programme, Kony had planned to set up a different system of governance for Uganda under his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) with, perhaps, himself as the top prophet.
Khadija anatomises the relationship between capitalism and conservation. She wonders whether the ecotourism industry is not simply a tamed and ... sanitised wilderness, whose architecture necessitates the valorisation of certain primitive natives, and the natural landscapes, commodified? Natives who are celebrated for their backward cultures, and who are dehumanised to become part of a natural wildness, in order to provide a visual time machine for visitors. But, where are the NGOs meant to tackle this thorny issue? Why are these 'spaces of exception' greenwashed?
Shauna and her colleague Simon, who is quite the ladies' man, are on a mission to dissect an energy sector initiative that binds the national ... electricity utility and a private company together in a murky concession agreement. Some remote areas of the KwaZulu-Natal province are laden with inadequate electricity services and underdevelopment in a backdrop of partnerships among "parties that have no communication whatsoever", and Shauna wants to get to the bottom of it. Following a number of spats, one of which makes Shauna feel like a "prize idiot", the two colleagues evoke the philosophies of Ubuntu.