Demography and Politics

Middle East Institute just published a long piece by me on the possible demographic impact on Lebanon from the Syrian refugee crisis. There are a million refugees in Lebanon now — that’s nearly a 25 percent boost in the population of the country. It would be like the U.S. having to absorb 78 million refugees in a two-year-period. Another million could flow into Lebanon by year’s end.

Demography shapes politics, especially in Lebanon. See my article here.

Syrian Jihadists “Strident” In Diverting UN Food Aid

The head of the UN’s World Food Program, Ertharin Cousin, talked with me about her efforts to convince cash-strapped Western donors to give money to feed the burgeoning number of Syrians displaced by the violence and on how “al-Nusra has gotten much more strident in diverting our conveys” in Syria. Link to the Newsweek/Daily Beast here.

The Price of Freedom

The media and civil libertarians have quite rightly been exercised over Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the extent, reach and range of the intelligence services snooping on Americans (and foreigners) – snooping that’s been done in the name of security and justified as important in the fight against terrorism.

But there’s a sad reflection in today’s Washington Post on how little Americans on the whole care about privacy rights and their own civil liberties.

Walter Pincus notes the scant public interest in an open session this week of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a panel created by Congress on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The panel examined the once-secret data collection programs but few people attended and Pincus observes: “I viewed the two-hour session Wednesday on C-SPAN, and it had generated only three Facebook recommendations and 52 tweets.”

 

 

Libya To Make Conflict Rape A War Crime

Interesting piece and a hopeful one from the London Guardian about an upcoming vote in the Libyan General National Congress to make rape carried out during war a war crime. But it might have been useful to put some stronger qualifiers in: the lack of counseling for women (and men) who suffered sexual violence during the overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi; the pressure in the past and (have heard by word of mouth) now on women to marry their rapists; and the failure to mention that some rebels were also involved in inflicting sexual violence. The Guardian article is here.