Gun Deaths? A Loaded Question

As a European, it can be too easy to chide the US for its obsession of guns. The caricature of a gun-toting, murdering, ‘hick’ is one that is all too acceptable in the UK and abroad. Most often accepted as proof of this, is the ratio of gun deaths per capita versus the amount of guns, as shown below.

Gun deaths vs ownership

Gun deaths vs ownership

However, some of the largest amount of gun deaths come from suicides. So what does it look like without that? Gun homicides plotted against gun ownership is shown below.

Gun homicides vs gun ownership in the OECD.

Gun homicides vs gun ownership in the OECD.

The above chart helps calm the debate a bit, at least among OECD countries. The chart below shows a trend in gun homicides, that the most common signifier isn’t actually the rate of gun ownership, but of course gang violence and even wars.

Note: I mainly sit on the fence for this issue, but this is a repost of Mark Reid’s graphs here, which I think are important to the debate

Comments & Curios V

Who did you rape in the war, daddy? (a question for veterans that needs answering)

A well-written article about the ‘Other’ in warfare, and how easy it is to glorify war. The title is not in reference to a child asking their parent the question, but related to a story heard from a Vietnamese grandmother who was raped by a GI with his rifle – that the GI (if he survived) is unlikely to have told anyone of the experience, much less their own children.

Six steps to fix a broken Mali

the French-led military intervention in Mali has at least brought the country back from the brink of disaster, and opened up a space in which Malians can finally begin to chart a way forward for their nation. If I were advising the people who hold Mali’s fate in their hands — not only Mali’s interim president, but members of influential donor governments in North America and Europe — here’s what I’d recommend …

Welcome to Palestine: What’s Your Faith?

Maysoon Zayid explains what he would show Obama on his visit to Palestine, and why.

Marxism focuses specifically on economic structure. Class and economic tension defines how agents act, and can thus explain events. From the example of the Rwandan genocide through Marxist analysis, we can see which aspects are important and how they would prevent further instances.

(French researcher) warned of class exploitation by the Hutu when hired to evaluate a World Bank project in the region. They were doing this systematically through favouritism and theft to encourage economic dependency.

The ‘commodity crash’ of the 1990s hit hard poor countries such as Rwanda dependent on their exports. The Hutu government relied upon these exports, as well as foreign aid to maintain their class structure . Amid famine and hardship the Rwandan government accepted a restructuring programme that devalued their currency, cut social welfare, and inflated prices. Other consequences of austerity were disease and malnutrition.

Instability and uncertainty due to economic woes caused actual conflict in the form of both war and genocide. Whilst it is debatable still whether the Hutu or the Tutsi first struck, both died in huge numbers due to a severely weakened government and economy.

One of the less graphic images of the genocide.

Other theories, such as Liberalism stress cooperation and community within the international sphere. Marxism refutes this. For instance, the economic dependency of Rwanda on international aid (especially that of the French who have fought previously in the name of freedom and human rights) meant that substantial influence was not used to stop the genocide or war and instead to maintain economic domination.

Countries such as China (which sold over 500,000 machetes) and Egypt (which financed interest-free loans in order to sell weapons to Rwanda) could too have used their economic position to promote peace. Marxist theorists would be worried that there is a real danger of re-igniting conflict today. Despite austerity being implemented, Rwanda has higher debt levels now than in the 1990s and there are a whole myriad of social problems that are yet to have been solved.

Reblogged from An Africanist Perspective:

On the 14th of June this year President Obama outlined his policy for Sub-Saharan Africa . Included in the policy statement were four key strategic objectives: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade, and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development.

In my view, of the four aspirational goals the one that will receive the most attention in the near future will be the third (especially security).

Read more… 678 more words

Great analysis, it would be interesting to write something similar on American foreign policy for Russia (and what could've been for Romney).

A Russian-African Comeback?

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation has rarely looked towards Africa. Slow progress and increasing competition from China and other European countries has meant Russia still has a long way to catch up in terms of engagement.

Russia has been increasingly falling back to old habits of neglecting relations with countries that don’t directly border it. The two-headed eagle facing both East and West, long symbolic of Russia’s foreign policy (facing both Europe in the East and Asia the West), has re-emerged with the recent APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Forum being hosted in Vladivostok.

However, Russian foreign policy is increasingly gaining ground in Africa and the Arab world – ground that it lost in the 1990s. Alexander Rahr, a political scientist from Germany stated that “Moscow has become strong enough to play its own role in world politics.”