Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 104 Re-run

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Description: Interventions, Interference, and Invasions: Nate and Bill lead a world tour of the post-WWII history of countries entering other countries’ civil wars and uprisings, for good or ill, and what it means for the future. (We talk about Cuba, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Indonesia, Guatemala, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and many others.) People: Bill, Nate. Originally produced: October 20th, 2014. Re-edited and abridged: April 19, 2017.

Discussion Points:

– Kissinger’s plan to bomb Cuba and what the future of the embargo is
– CIA history: Why arming rebels has often failed and what it means for US plans in Syria now
– What does the future hold for international and unilateral military interventions in armed conflicts and crises? Is the UN still relevant?

Episode 104-Abridged (54 min)
AFD 104

Related links
Segment 1

NYT: Kissinger Drew Up Plans to Attack Cuba, Records Show
AFD: Jimmy Carter’s Election Prevented a Disastrous War in Cuba

Segment 2

NYT: CIA Study Says Arming Rebels Seldom Works

Segment 3

AFD: Confusion in Libya as Egyptian jets bomb Benghazi
AFD: US suddenly surprised to find Mideast states acting unilaterally
AFD: Is the US-led Syria operation vs ISIS legal under international law?
AFD: France announces indefinite Sahel deployment
AFD: France: Back to Africa?

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

March 22, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 174

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: 2017 French presidential election campaign and the UN counterinsurgency mission in Mali. People: Bill and Nate. Produced: March 20th, 2017.

Episode 174 (51 min):
AFD 174

Further reading:
– 2014: “EU Elections, the Rising Populists, and Why Europe is Worried”
Our partial archives on Mali

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

Libya talks: A pox on both your houses of parliament

A top Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader has called for the fractured country’s UN-brokered talks to dump both rival expired governments and start over with a wider table that acknowledges power realities on the ground, according to the Libya Herald:

A peace deal had to be based on national consensus, he said. Moreover, it could not ignore those who had power on the ground, such as the Libya Dawn militias in the west of the country, and in the east, not just members of the Benghazi and Derna shoura councils but the Khalifa Hafter’s Operation Dignity as well. Tribal and political leaders equally had to be involved along with elders from across the country and representatives of Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani’s Dar Al-Ifta, and even supporters of the former regime.

Any attempt to build peace around the HoR [House of Representatives] and the GNC [General National Congress] would fail, he warned. They were deeply unpopular with the Libyan public and could not contribute to stability in Libya.

 
This is pretty fair given that both rival governments’ democratic mandates have now entirely expired and the last UN negotiator turned out to be secretly on the payroll of the United Arab Emirates, which was bombing one of the sides. It’s also worth noting that his list of participants specifically includes the people most virulently opposed to his own faction, as well as various ideological rivals and quasi-allies.

Map of three coastal cities in Libya. Adapted from Wikimedia.

Map of three coastal cities in Libya. Adapted from Wikimedia.

Good news about … malaria?

Yes, there is good news about malaria: the rate of annual mortality from the disease has reached an all-time low. The United Nations reported on July 6th that deaths due to malaria were projected to be just 20 per 100,000 people in at-risk-populations in 2015, down from 48 per 100,000 people in 2000 – a decrease of 58%, which indicates that more than 6 million lives have been saved in the past 15 years.

malaria-progress-2000-2015-united-nations

Malaria is a parasite spread to humans through mosquito bites. Symptoms of malaria are flu-like and include high-fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and can lead to death if not treated properly. The United Nations and others committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals have been fighting malaria largely through the distribution of hundreds of millions of insecticide treated mosquito nets, education campaigns of the symptoms of malaria, and improved treatment of malaria-infected patients.

The United Nations also announced that they would need at least another decade to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which were originally slated to be achieved by this year. The fight against malaria is hardly over, yet it is still serves at as a reminder of what can be achieved when resources and appropriate technology are committed to a problem in the developing world.

Information and chart from the United Nations’ Millennium Goals Report 2015.

Ceasefire deal reached in northern Mali

Just four days of UN-backed talks in Algeria between the Malian government and ethnically-motivated separatists resulted in an immediate ceasefire in northern Mali.

Islamist rebels, however, did not participate in talks or agree to the deal:

The six groups that signed the ceasefire were mostly Tuareg but also included Arab organisations. Signatories included the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA). They did not include groups linked to Al-Qaeda which had fought alongside the MNLA to occupy northern Mali for more than nine months before being ousted in 2013 by French and Malian troops.

 
This ceasefire is the latest stage in winding down — or at least once again pausing — the ongoing, simmering conflict that brought down the Malian government in the south in 2012, led to the proclamation of an (unrecognized) independent state in the north, and brought a French military intervention force into the country in early 2013.

It’s the just the latest step in the seemingly unresolvable north-south resource division conflict that has raged for a century, but which had escalated sharply with the fall of the Qaddafi regime in nearby Libya. The latter had been providing mercenary employment to many jobless, impoverished young men from northern Mali and the Arab Spring ended that arrangement. Additional concerns, such as global warming’s contributions to desertification and drought conditions, also caused a spike in discontent.

The Qaeda-aligned groups who, unsurprisingly, did not participate in the ceasefire deal include a mix of foreign and local fighters. They are likely to continue making trouble in the area for some time to come, unless they head to other pastures, such as the emerging Libyan Civil War and the ISIS satellite provinces rising there.

It’s also unclear how long a ceasefire or peace can endure in northern Mali before breaking down once more, without a wider solution to poverty and resource concerns for the arid, poor region.

As I argued during the 2013 French intervention, the West should seriously consider making a significant anti-poverty investment in northern Mali and other parts of the Sahel, in the tradition of the Marshall Plan, instead of relying on militarized governments and the occasional European or American fighter jet squadron to “fix” these crises briefly.

Weirdly, tax cuts don’t solve poverty, finds UN in New Zealand

Building off the theme in my most recent post, about anti-poverty programs in Bolivia and Brazil, let’s look at two industrialized economies. A UNICEF report compared the anti-child-poverty programs of the (center-right) New Zealand government with the anti-child-poverty programs of neighboring Australia (led by a center-left government until 13 months ago). Here’s what they found, according to TV NZ:

A United Nation’s report says New Zealand’s child poverty and inequality rates aren’t improving, despite what it describes as the Government’s ‘ambitious’ programme of tax cuts.
[…]
It says several Australian policies, which have increased Government spending on families with one-off payments, have had a greater effect.
[…]
The National Advocacy Manager for UNICEF NZ, Deborah Morris-Travers, says the numbers suggest the Government needs to review how it is tackling child poverty.

“The report points to Australia where cash payments were made available to low-income families, protecting the poorest children and stimulating consumption to promote recovery. This is contrasted with New Zealand’s policy of tax cuts, which have done nothing to improve the situation for child poverty.”

 

What a surprise!

Granted, while Australia is similar in many ways, it is also many times larger by population and economic capacity; so how does New Zealand’s effort stack up against other peer economies?

There has been a 0.4% drop in child poverty rates here [in New Zealand]. But in similar-sized countries like Norway and Finland, child poverty rates have reduced by 4.3% and 3.2%, respectively.

 
In other words, further evidence (like in Brazil and Bolivia) that simpler, more direct transfer programs — instead of the indirect, “trickle-down” tax cut theories George H.W. Bush once dubbed “voodoo economics” — seems to work better to combat extreme poverty, even in developed economies.

After all, the very poor tend to earn so little money that they are not paying taxes that can be cut. Without a “negative income tax” system, tax refund money will never reach them directly. Hence, direct and hassle-free benefits have more impact. The money in such programs goes directly to the problem spots and helps establish a clear safety net and economic floor for children. That allows them to grow up healthier and with better prospects, while permitting up their parents to make ends meet and start to climb the economic ladder out of dire poverty and debt traps.

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October 22, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 104

AFD-logo-470

Description: Interventions, Interference, and Invasions: Nate and Bill lead a world tour of the post-WWII history of countries entering other countries’ civil wars and uprisings, for good or ill, and what it means for the future. (We talk about Cuba, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Indonesia, Guatemala, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and many others.) People: Bill, Nate. Produced: October 20th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Kissinger’s plan to bomb Cuba and what the future of the embargo is
– CIA history: Why arming rebels has often failed and what it means for US plans in Syria now
– What does the future hold for international and unilateral military interventions in armed conflicts and crises? Is the UN still relevant?

Episode 104 (57 min)
AFD 104

Related links
Segment 1

NYT: Kissinger Drew Up Plans to Attack Cuba, Records Show
AFD: Jimmy Carter’s Election Prevented a Disastrous War in Cuba
NYT Editorial Board: End the U.S. Embargo on Cuba

Segment 2

NYT: CIA Study Says Arming Rebels Seldom Works
AFD: Gen. Dempsey Outlines Proposed Syrian Rebels Plan

Segment 3

AFD: Confusion in Libya as Egyptian jets bomb Benghazi
AFD: US suddenly surprised to find Mideast states acting unilaterally
AFD: Is the US-led Syria operation vs ISIS legal under international law?
AFD: France announces indefinite Sahel deployment
AFD: France: Back to Africa?

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.