Sunday Links

Teju Cole wrote a story for Twitter. A Piece of the Wall explores the desert spaces between Mexico and the United States and the ugly discourse around immigration; the direct and concise nature of the medium makes it all the more powerful. Cole talks about the piece here (H/T for both links to Tom from A View from the Cave).


I’ve been exploring Chris Blattman’s excellent advice for development students: Ten Things I Tell Undergraduates is a good place to start, but check out the sidebar for a wealth of helpful information.


Bill Easterly wrote The New Tyranny for Foreign Policy, based on his latest book, The Tyranny of Experts. I’m three chapters in, and so far its been a stimulating look at the history of ideas about development, and the conditions that make a paternalistic, rights-negating approach to development possible.


This is an old one but required reading: How To Write About Africa, by Binyavanga Wainaina.


On the state of economics: Michael Sandel calls for more explicit engagement with political philosophy in Market Reasoning as Moral Reasoning. I think his argument is compelling. Dani Rodrik’s What is Wrong (And Right) in Economics is a reminder that many economists are already engaging in these kinds of questions.


On Venezuela, A Historic Low for El Nacional seems like a fairly innocuous story but is, I think, tremendously significant. Fans of liberal democracy find it easy to sympathise with the Venezuelan opposition. This is a timely reminder that elements of the opposition are as sensationalist, populist and closed off to genuine dialogue as the chavistas. 


What They Said: Sunday 2 September, 2012

On Twitter:

“They abandoned the peace of security and are searching for the peace of
[Hugo] Chávez, [Daniel] Ortega [of Nicaragua] and [Fidel] Castro”.

Uribe, Colombian President during the Plan Colombia years (although the Plan was launched under President Pastrana), has his knickers in a bit of a twist after his successor, Juan Manual Santos, announced the beginning of peace talks with FARC guerrillas in Havana.

Santos was Uribe’s Defense Minister, and was hand-picked by Uribe as his successor on the expectation that he would continue Uribe’s mano dura (“iron fist”) policies – policies that did, it must be admitted, result in a considerably improved security situation in the country and reduced production of coca [sp].

Still, Uribe received criticism for being too tough and possibly breaching human rights and/or democratic values, and Santos has taken a different path, culminating in the third set of peace talks to take place since the FARC initiated armed struggle in 1964 (the two previous attempts were unsuccessful).

The government has promised there will be no pardons or amnesties for terrorists, and that the initiation of talks will not mean the abandonment of internal defense. I’m thinking almost forty years of guerrilla warfare warrant another go at peace. Cuba and Venezuela’s involvement in the process don’t mean an unquestioning acceptance of their internal politics (Norway and Chile are involved as well) – they are neighbours, after all, with a stake in the region’s security.

Uribe is very fond of Twitter-bashing the successor who clearly disappointed him greatly; I’m not sure it’s terribly productive.

A few links:

Edited, Monday 3 September, to add this gem:

“#TerrorismContinues: yesterday two soldiers killed in San Andrés de Cuerquia. To negotiate with terrorists, do the lives of soldiers not matter?