Days like this…

Today the news media (that I follow anyway) are headlining the unprecedented, surprise visit of Secretary Kerry to Somalia, following meetings in Kenya to discuss the fight against Al Shabaab, regional security (with a focus on Burundi and Sudan) and refugees in Kenya.  Besides meeting with current politicians, opposition leaders, the UN High Commission for Refugees and…

Resilient in Kenya

From Dadaab to Nairobi My handsome, soft-spoken, well-dressed companion for morning coffee  at the Java House in downtown Nairobi this Saturday morning began his journey to this spot in 1992, fleeing the civil war in Somalia as a toddler with his parents. He grew up in one of the Dadaab refugee camps of Northeastern Kenya.  This complex of UN refugee camps was…

A Delicate Balance in Burundi

After decades of civil war, Burundi is exporting peace.   In the process, a fragile peace has come to Burundi.   But will it last through the next elections in 2015? Seven years ago, just one year after its own fighting ended, Burundi joined Uganda to support the African Union’s (AU) new peace keeping mission in Somalia,…

Rural Ethiopia at work, at home, and at play

Impressions on Market Day Eighty-two percent of Ethiopia population is rural – 68 million. On the outskirts of the urban centers of Bahir Dar and Gondar on a busy Saturday in the rainy season, most of these are headed to market on muddy dirt roads. Some are lucky enough to have wheels of some sort (carts, bicycles)…

The Art and Music of Democracy

I found myself crying again today.   Not at the top of a mountain peak, but standing in the Great Hall of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where vaulted ceilings soar over stained glass and murals and mosaics that for centuries have invited visitors to contemplate on the great themes of freedom, justice, and truth that inspire the art…

On the Morality and Practicality of Coercion with Iran in Mind

Steinbruner presents an alternative framework for considering the antagonistic stand-off between US and Iran – one that relies on mutually accepted principles deeply embedded in both cultures. The problem is translating those common principles into political action, with both parties having to answer to divergent stakeholders who rely on rhetoric of black and white accusations,…

Complex Systems, Resiliency and Conflict

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well-informed just to be undecided about them.   Laurent J. Peters A Systems View A system is an internally organized whole, where elements are so intimately connected that they operate as one in relation to external conditions and other systems.  A set…