Posts by: Bridget Conley

This week, I interviewed Fred Bauma and Sylvain Saluseke, democracy activists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both were arrested by Congolese security forces on March 18, 2015. Sylvain was held over a month and Fred remained in prison until August 2016 (more on this herehere, here, here and here). In this interview, […]

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We need a foreign policy debate that builds on principled concern for civilian protection as articulated in the anti-atrocities policy agenda, which is married to a strategy for protection that expands across and shapes U.S. foreign policy, per se. The question that I would like to see debated, and which has implications for U.S. domestic policy as well is: What would a U.S. policy defined by the goal of de-legitimizing use of force against civilians and prioritizing peace-building look like?

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In our offices, we have a kitchen table which, as in many work and home spaces around the world, is where some of our most compelling conversations take place, prompted by informality and collegiality. I will be trying to capture the spirit of these conversations in a new interview series with my colleagues. The first interview […]

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In his final address to the American public as President, on January 17, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned of the rise of a military-industrial complex and the threat it posed to what he saw as the ultimate goal of U.S. foreign policy, peace. Eisenhower valued the goal of peace and realized that its priority as a guiding ideal for U.S. policy was undermined by a set of interests that were being cemented and expanded in the Cold War climate. He described the potentially distorting impact on U.S. policy—not only by intricate design but also “unsought” as ideology, interests and profit converged around militarization. Waste was not Eisenhower’s foremost concern when he drew attention to the military-industrial complex. Rather, he was concerned with the distortion of interests that skewed the focus of U.S. foreign policy. The “Global War on Terror” extends and expands the threat Eisenhower identified. In addition to the skewing factor of commercial and political interests in large-scale weapon systems, tilting the balance of democratic practice away from the interests of peace is the expansion of securitization and intelligence. We must now speak of a security-intelligence-military industrial complex, which ebbs away at transparent democratic practices.

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Memory is not the opposite of forgetting, these two ideas are, as many others have also noted, twins. Rather memory unravels and intervenes, it destabilizes; so its opposite is institutionalized narrative. Memory is most powerful when it makes little sense in relation to the ways we try to tame it, be that for reactionary or liberal narratives. This also means one must part ways with memory at some point, switch to another language once lesson learning and meaning extraction become the goals. This work is overtly and rightly political, and must stake its claims on those grounds.

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My edited volume, How Mass Atrocities End: Studies from Guatemala, Burundi, Indonesia, the Sudans, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Iraq (Cambridge 2016) was published recently, with case study chapters by Roddy Brett, Noel Twagiramungu, Claire Q. Smith, Alex de Waal, Fanar Haddad, and myself. To help bridge the academic research with policy audiences, we also produced a short briefing paper based […]

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