If you haven’t watched Sunday’s premiere, well, go do it already…and then come back and read:
Rob Sheffield’s pitch-perfect commentary in Rolling Stone, sampled here:
Many fans were horrified to see Don act like a starry-eyed sucker [last season], instead of the cool customer we need him to be. It turns out this guy believes in Hollywood happy endings. He’s not satisfied to sell the American dream – he wants to believe. And if even Don Draper falls for his own promises, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Nelle Engoren’s predictions as to what will make Mad Men history over at Salon:
While provoking countless fights between parents and children, shorter skirts and longer hair (on both genders) were only the most visible signs of the (not just sexual) revolution. It’ll be amusing to see if Don finally washes the Brylcreem out of his hair and whether Pete appears in a Nehru jacket, but the real question is who will adopt the new fashions of the mind.
Vanessa Quirk’s meditation on the Mies in Mad Men:
The show draws in audiences with a meticulous, sumptuous set design that allows a nostalgic journey back in time: when design was innovative & clean, architecture was confident (cocky even), and modernism still held its promise.
And Terry Gross’s interrogation of Matthew Weiner the man (behind the man) of the moment on NPR’s Fresh Air.
Off next week: Back to blogging on April 9 with The Jungle.
. . . at TED and calling for a revolution in education:
Many of our ideas have been formed not to meet the circumstances of this century but to cope with the circumstances of previous centuries…Our minds are still hypnotized by them and we have to disenthrall ourselves.
Watch Robinson’s previous TED talk on how schools kill creativity here.
On Joseph Kony’s influence:
Kony, against whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant, now heads a causeless, but lethal and exceptionally resilient band of guerilla fighters. Its endurance stems in large part from his leadership; he demands a mixture of strict military obedience and spiritual devotion.
On the importance of ‘political will’:
Lack of political will has deprived [US-supported Ugandan] Operation Lightning Thunder of the troops and equipment it needs to stop the LRA. Kony’s band has been far away from Uganda for so long that President Museveni no longer sees it as a major threat to his core interests. In mid-2010, he withdrew about half the forces engaged in the hunt so he could pursue tasks elsewhere that he considered more politically important.
Incentives to ignore the LRA:
Northerners have not seen an active LRA fighter since before the Juba peace talks began in 2006 and no longer regard the movement as a threat. Capitalising on this, Kampala’s presentation of the fight against the LRA shifted. In late 2009 and early 2010, the army regularly published the growing kill and capture count. But with little change in the numbers to celebrate subsequently, it has encouraged people to forget about the LRA.
In mid-2011, Foreign Minister Oryem Henry Okello said the LRA is “not a force to be reckoned with, they are very far away … and they are no longer a threat to the people of Uganda”. . . Museveni also withdrew troops from the LRA operation because he wanted sufficient manpower at home to ensure that parliamentary and presidential elections in February 2011 went his way.
Questionable incentives for continuing the hunt:
Maintaining the hunt, even at half-strength, also allows Uganda to obtain
additional military assistance from the U.S. Under some domestic pressure to end LRA atrocities, Washington had by September 2011 spent over $38 million on Operation Lightning Thunder, largely in logistics and intelligence support. There is a risk this steady aid flow has made Museveni more interested in prolonging the operation than finishing the LRA.
On Congolese resistance to the hunt:
The DRC’s deeply engrained suspicion of the Ugandan army’s intentions on its soil has become a major hindrance in the fight against the LRA.
The Congolese say the Ugandans attribute attacks to the LRA for which they themselves are responsible in order to justify their presence. This makes civilians mistrustful and reluctant to pass on valuable information about LRA activity.
Communities in crisis:
After almost three years since the LRA left its camps in Garamba Park, communities and inter-communal relations across the DRC/CAR/South Sudan tri-border region are under strain. The group’s violence and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people have created a widely reported humanitarian crisis and taken a heavy toll on the region’s social fabric.
The Home Guard [in South Sudan] has largely succeeded in protecting civilians from LRA attack. . . it enables civilians to go back to their home areas, farm and return to town after a few days to sell their produce. This reduces dependency on aid and boosts the badly hit local economy. However, as the Home Guard grows in size and stature, communities are becoming more militant and quicker to use force. . . Some self-defence units aspire to be military-style squads and are arming themselves with AK-47s as well as homemade shotguns.
On the potential of AU leadership:
The AU decided to join efforts to eliminate the LRA under pressure from both member states and the U.S. While Uganda feared an AU intervention would weaken its control on the operation and was, therefore, a reluctant
participant from the start, the DRC, the CAR and South Sudan hoped an AU intervention would broaden the pool of donors and beneficiaries. . . More generally, donors saw the AU’s engagement as an opportunity to pursue the long-term goal of building its institutional capacity in conflict management. This aligned with the principle, popular in Africa and among donors, that Africans should take ownership of and address their own security challenges – “African solutions to African problems”.
A conflict of expectations:
As negotiations progressed, it became clear the EU, the AU’s main donor, and African member states hold very different views on how the AU should intervene. While Brussels recognises the Ugandan military operation as the most feasible way to stop the LRA, it is unwilling to support directly the military aspects of the AU plan. . . In contrast, Uganda, the DRC, the CAR and South Sudan envisage the AU primarily as a fundraiser for their armies. . . . The AU is, therefore, caught between the conflicting demands of its main donor and member states. It must try to satisfy both, because to act it needs both money from the EU and political backing from its members. So far it has been unable to reconcile the two.
On the longevity of the U.S. commitment:
The Defense Department reassured the committee it would be a “short-term deployment” and that if a review “in a few months” found the advisers were having little effect, they would be withdrawn. Since Obama is up for re-election in November 2012, he will not want to extend the deployment longer than absolutely essential to achieve the result that would have bi-partisan support, namely removing Kony from the battlefield.
Those of us wanting to learn more about the enduring threat the Lord’s Resistance Army poses to Central Africa can turn to International Crisis Group, a conflict-prevention non-profit with a history of proposing complex solutions to complex problems.
Last November, ICG weighed the likelihood of an “end game” in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army:
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remains a deadly threat to civilians in three Central African states. After a ceasefire and negotiations for peaceful settlement of the generation-long insurgency broke down in 2008, Uganda’s army botched an initial assault. In three years since, half-hearted operations have failed to stop the small, brutally effective band from killing more than 2,400 civilians, abducting more than 3,400 and causing 440,000 to flee.
In 2010 President Museveni withdrew about half the troops to pursue more politically rewarding goals. Congolese mistrust hampers current operations, and an African Union (AU) initiative has been slow to start. While there is at last a chance to defeat the LRA, both robust military action and vigorous diplomacy is required. Uganda needs to take advantage of new, perhaps brief, U.S. engagement by reinvigorating the military offensive; Washington needs to press regional leaders for cooperation; above all, the AU must act promptly to live up to its responsibilities as guarantor of continental security. When it does, Uganda and the U.S. should fold their efforts into the AU initiative. . .
Hat tip: I learned about this report, while reading an article originally published last December in Uganda’s The Independent
Well, the video appears to have made a splash. More than 50 million people have watched it and a meaningful fraction of that group have taken some form of action to show their interest.
I’m glad to see journalists doing their job, asking legitimate questions and encouraging skepticism, although I’m a little surprised by the cynicism and contempt on display – I’m not linking either word, but there are plenty of examples of both below. Should I be surprised? Maybe not. Should we all be a bit more cynical post-Three Cups of Deceit? Probably.
The organization backing the Kony 2012 campaign, Invisible Children, has already had its “Jane Fonda” moment and been accused of taking up the “white man’s burden” here and here. Oh Kipling! (I remember my reaction when I first read this poem in middle school: “But it’s a satire…right?”)
Without further ado, read for yourself, draw your own conclusions:
From The New York Times:
“Online a Distant Conflict Soars to Topic No. 1″
“How the Kony Video Went Viral”
“The Kony Kerfuffle”
From The Guardian:
Kony 2012 Documentary on Ugandan Warlord is Unlikely Viral Phenomenon
Kony 2012 video goes viral, and so do concerns about its producers
Kony 2012: What’s the Real Story?
Child abductee featured in Kony 2012 defends film maker’s against criticism
From The Christian Science Monitor:
“Invisible Children Video Stirs US Response: We’re Hunting Down Joseph Kony”
And Foreign Policy:
Guest Post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things)
Invisible Children has issued an official response to criticism here. I’m looking forward to starting to learn more about Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army as soon as this arrives in the mail – scratch that, it just arrived!
Not good enough, Epic Records CEO. Not epic at all. Totally inadequate in fact.
Free Fiona’s fourth studio album now please!
For those of us not lucky enough to see the little Apple in concert this month and presumably playing new music, there is plenty of old music to go around, some of it previously undiscovered (by me, anyway), including this fabulous playlist of covers put together by TwentyFourBit, from which comes the above video of Apple singing Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” on the Watkins Family Hour.
Tell it like it is, Bare Naked Ladies: “These a-pples are de-li-cious! ‘As a matter of fact they are,’ she said. Can all this fruit be free-ee-ee?”
March Madness: Sigmund Freud’s Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria.
German choreographer Pina Bausch died just a couple of days before this film was to begin shooting. Wim Wenders, best known for the 1987 feature Wings of Desire, has nonetheless created an utterly mesmerizing 3D tribute to a genius of the body.
Watch the trailer above or here.