My interest here is in what these movies try to say about the world and the place of violence — evil or righteous – in it. As American films in a world where the United States still possesses more military firepower than any other country (as example, in 2016 the US defence budget nearly topped the next fifteen largest national defence budgets combined), it is difficult not to view these films as metaphors for US power, regardless of the various nationalities of the characters. The launching point for these thoughts is Wonder Woman: the first female-led superhero movie, notably directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. One could examine the film, as many have, from a feminist perspective, in which the film appears as a triumph of female power. More interesting to me is, given the amount of violence on display in the genre, what does a film want to say about violence? In this, Wonder Woman is a serious backward step from the emerging trend of more established superhero franchises that have recently projected a sense of unease about the inevitable harms and trade-offs that come with reliance on destructive force.Continue Reading →
My research over the past year has returned to a topic I once spent a great deal of time thinking about: memorial museums. And so I took advantage of a recent trip to New York City to tour, for the first time, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
The events of September 11th – […]Continue Reading →
On September 5, 2013 we argued in The New York Times against the Obama Administration’s proposal to respond to the crossing of a red line in Syria – use of chemical weapons against civilians – by arguing that bombing for bombing’s sake was ill-conceived as punishment, failed to protect civilians and hindered peacemaking.
The question was not then, as it is not now, whether gassing civilians is acceptable. It is illegal and atrocious. The question remains one of the best strategy for protecting civilians and how use of force might play a part in service of this goal. Ending atrocities can have a military component, but ultimately it demands a political agenda and strategy.Continue Reading →
The case studies (look here for an alpha listing of cases) include all cases post-1945, that demonstrate strong evidence of the killing of at least 50,000 civilians or persons rendered hors de combat. The studies focus on the direct killing, expanded to include those who died […]Continue Reading →
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 here, here, here, here and here). In this interview, […]Continue Reading →
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?Continue Reading →
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