Consider the flying toilet. The term comes from the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Within the slum, there is often less than one latrine per 50 shacks, with each 12-foot by 12-foot shack containing, on average, eight people. Kibera sits on government land that never fully transferred legally to its pre-independence residents, and, as such, the government treats residents as squatters with no right or entitlement to legal, social, or economic protection. A complete lack of governmental presence within the slum means that at night, with no street lights and collections of roving thugs (and, at times, predatory policemen looking for a shakedown), using toilets can become dangerous. In response, shacks stock up on plastic bags, defecate or urinate into them after dark, and fling them from their windows out into the streets to bake in the morning sun.
In April 2009, Columbia University’s Task Force on Undergraduate Education released “An Agenda for the Future,” a cheery strategic document, which, translated into two words, read: excelsior, Columbia! On pages 16 and 17, the report rejoices in and urges forward the internationalization of Columbia – not just the establishment of foreign outposts vis-à-vis Global Centers and the development of the [...]
So far in our discussion of drone policy, started here by Urja Mittal, we have assumed that this technology is the most efficient for fighting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. By Urja’s account, the debate over drones is currently an issue of educating the public and finagling legal details. I cannot accept this as an initial premise. Before diving into this [...]
Whenever Americans recall Somalia, whether considering lofty foreign policy aims or simply reflecting upon the chance encounter with the name, our minds inevitably snap back to October 3, 1993 and the tragedy that was the Battle of Mogadishu. This is a memory of eighteen U.S. soldiers lying senselessly dead and desecrated, one even decapitated, in the streets of a hostile city. Given the striking clarity with which Black Hawk Down has memorialized the chaos and the horror of this battle, it is no surprise that the trauma remains fresh in our collective consciousness. At the time, the shock of this loss and the seemingly intractable and inhuman belligerence and disorder of the nation compelled the U.S. and all other foreign forces to withdraw. Somalia did not fit with the spirit of the times, the notions of how intervention and aid was to be conducted. After 1993, Somalia dropped off the map of U.S. foreign policy, relegated to a distasteful and repressed memory, and no one has been able to make a great case for a return.
“The time is ripe for change in Cuba.” Many have made this claim before, and many have been dead wrong. Indeed, the Cuban Castro regime, having survived to see ten U.S. presidents come and go, outlasted an embargo for over fifty years while maintaining its communist-authoritarian integrity. His rule has inspired, as of late, a spate of rather pessimistic literature. [...]
You, or several of your friends, are studying either Mandarin or Arabic. It’s a fact. Of that pool, the vast majority have undertaken their studies because they see Mandarin and Arabic as useful languages—languages that will set them apart from the crowd, advance them in their careers, and possibly earn them a buck or two.