America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016

President Obama did reduce the number of US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he dramatically expanded the air wars and the use of special operations forces around the globe. In 2016, US special operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries – a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration.

Looking back at President Obama’s legacy, the Council on Foreign Relation’s Micah Zenko added up the defense department’s data on airstrikes and made a startling revelation: in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Continue reading

Saferworld new reports: Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia

However, alternatives to the dominant military-authoritarian paradigm – in which militarised notions of masculinity are also a prominent feature – are available. In the discussion paper, Dilemmas of Counter-Terror, Stabilisation and Statebuilding, Saferworld provided a review of global evidence on the impacts of existing approaches, and suggested a number of constructive directions for improved policy, including:

  • Avoiding defining conflicts narrowly as problems of ‘terror’, ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalisation’, and instead adopting a more impartial, holistic and sustainable approach to resolving them
  • Changing international and national policies and approaches that fuel grievances and undermine human rights
  • Redoubling efforts for diplomacy, lobbying, advocacy and local-level dialogue to make the case for peace and adherence to international law by conflict actors
  • Looking for opportunities to negotiate peace – balancing pragmatic considerations with a determined focus to achieve inclusive and just political settlements in any given context
  • Considering the careful use of legal and judicial responses and targeted sanctions as alternatives to the use of force
  • Taking greater care when choosing and reviewing relationships with supposed ‘allies’
  • Supporting transformative reform efforts to improve governance and state-society relations and uphold human rights
  • Choosing not to engage if harm cannot be effectively mitigated and no clear solution is evident.

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Famine as a crime against humanity

Abdi Ismail Samatar, “Famine as a crime against humanity,” Al Jazeera, 01 Dec 2011

Drought does not necessarily lead to famine: The catastrophe in Somalia was man-made.

The coordinator of the Monitoring Group recently published an article in which he claimed that the Somali famine is not only a catastrophe, but that identifiable individuals and groups engaged in the production of the famine and therefore have committed crimes against humanity. This bold statement by the coordinator of the Monitoring Group demands careful assessment.

It has been common wisdom for decades that droughts do not by themselves lead to famines, and the cause of the latter is the failure by national and international authorities to take action long before people run out of food. There have been 10 major droughts over the last 50 years in the Horn of Africa in general, and in Somalia in particular.

The evidence gleaned from this climatic record show that most droughts did not produce famine. …
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