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Must Reads of the Week: Myanmar's Transition, Africa and the ICC, European Enlargement and More

Author: Editors
January 17, 2014


"Keeping an Eye on the People With Guns in Myanmar's Transition"
By Lex Rieffel

"Standing in the way of success in the peace process — as well as most other aspects of the transition to better governance — is the government's apparent inability to control the guns. Has there ever been a successful transition in which the government does not have authority over the military and the police?"

(Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)
"A Bullingdon Bust-Up That Masks a Real Welfare Problem"
By Gideon Rachman
Financial Times

"The enlargement of the EU and the free movement of people are both fine ideas. But, taken together, they have changed the nature of the union. A pragmatic pro-European should acknowledge that, when circumstances alter, democratic systems adapt. Changes to the welfare rules – allowing countries more scope to give priority to their own citizens – would make it easier to win the more important argument for open borders."

"Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?"
By Peter Bergen, David Sterman, Emily Schneider, and Bailey Cahall
New America Foundation

"Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.... The overall problem for U.S. counterterrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don't sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques."

"After the AUMF"
By Jennifer Daskal and Stephen I. Vladeck
Harvard National Security Journal

"Calls for a new framework statute to replace the [2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force] are unnecessary, provocative, and counterproductive; they perpetuate war at a time when we should be seeking to end it."

"Africa Attacks the International Criminal Court"
By Kenneth Roth
New York Review of Books

"The court's future now rests to a large extent on the battle being waged between African leaders with little interest in justice and those Africans, including many activists and victims, who see an end to impunity for mass atrocities as essential for Africa's future. One can only hope that the welfare of African people takes precedence over the perceived interests of African leaders."

"Investment: Dollar Disruptions"
By Robin Wigglesworth
Financial Times

"A dollar renaissance is unlikely to prove as agonizing as it did in the past. The biggest risk in 2014 is going to be the more immediate impact that the Fed's unwinding of its quantitative easing programme will have on global borrowing costs. Chinese economic growth – a big driver of emerging economies – is another wild card. But a stronger dollar will not prove painless and policy makers in the developing world should not be complacent."

"Africa: China and Japan's Next Battleground?"
By Shannon Tiezzi
The Diplomat

"Japan's strategy … is economically focused. It's clear that Abe's pursuit of a relationship with Africa is closely connected with Japanese businesses. China, on the other hand, constantly emphasizes the "friendship" between its government and those of African nations. Though Chinese companies do big business in China, Beijing almost never alludes to this fact in its official remarks."

"Syria's Uprising Within an Uprising"
By Rania Abouzeid
European Council on Foreign Relations

"The armed Syrian opposition, in all of its disparate glory, has long talked of a revolution after its revolution to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a period when scores would be settled between various anti-Assad groups…. Elements of all of these various fault lines had become frontlines during isolated bouts of rebel infighting over the past year or more, but the decision by so many different groups to take on ISIS at the same time, and in so many locations, was surprising. What was also surprising was how quickly ISIS was initially routed from some areas."

"Breaking the News: The Role of State-Run Media"
By Christopher Walker and Robert W. Orttung
Journal of Democracy

"Aside from outliers such as Cuba, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, today's authoritarian regimes do not seek total domination of all the means of mass communication. What they want instead is what we might call "effective media control"—enough for them to convey their strength and puff up their claims to legitimacy while undermining potential alternatives. Such state dominance—whether exerted through overtly state-run or merely state-pliable media outlets—enables regimes to put progovernment narratives front and center while using the power of editorial omission to limit systematic criticism of official policies and actions."

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