Posts by: Bridget Conley

By Bridget Conley-Zilkic & Lauren Spink

While the precise details last night’s shooting of a young black man, Vonderrit Myers Jr. (18 years old), by a policeman in St. Louis, Missouri are still emerging, the events immediately triggered multiple causes for concern. This incident, like the August shooting of Michael Brown in the nearby town [...]

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In the late 1800s, Russian playwright Anton Chekhov famously introduced a principle that would later come to be known as “Chekhov’s gun”: “if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”[i] Chekhov thereby succinctly illustrated the principle [...]

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If it weren’t for the cruel stakes of the violence, U.S. policy in Iraq would form the perfect parody of the idea that militarized response to threats against civilians is a viable policy, let alone that this tactic could be mistaken for a strategy. After all, given the patterns of assaults against civilians in Iraq, the intervention should have come in 2006 – 2007, or even earlier, in March – April 2003, because these are the periods during which the spikes of violence against civilians reached their peak. Of course, the great irony is that no one, least of all anti-atrocity advocates, could have called for U.S. military intervention then. If anyone had wanted to suggest this policy – and no one did — there was one fatal logical flaw: the intervention had already occurred. The only time you can call for intervention is after the U.S. had left; but it would be folly to pretend that just because this little catch in the intervention logic had been resolved that the policy itself would have improved.

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Up to 40,000 members of Iraqi minority groups are at severe risk from the advancing forces of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS/ISIL). The most urgent crisis, according to accounts from eyewitnesses, news and humanitarian organizations, is the plight of the Yazidis—a small group that follows an ancient monotheistic religion that includes elements of [...]

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The news this week is particularly bad and worth highlighting not only for what it says about threats to civilians today, but how it might imply different strategies for civilian protection. Taken together, these stories suggest that there is an enormous protection gap where hubris once offered military intervention and promises of state-building as fail-proof [...]

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The New York Times this morning has an article that begs attention–not only for what it says about the mercenary  (i.e. “private security”) firm formerly known as Blackwater, then Academi, merged with Triple Canopy, and now part of a new firm, Constellis Holdings– but for what it says about the state of defense [...]

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