coupla excerpts

8 Nov

A few thoughts that have stood out to me recently from books I’ve read, touching on a number of different issues:

“Reforestation is also an issue in Kanha National Park and in all the other remaining habitats for tigers, the park’s most famous and pivileged residents.  In Kanha, as in many other places, a desire to protect the forest makes governments keep marginalized people off the land.  When I was in Kanha, I kept thinking, ‘What a strange world where a few hundred tigers can displace thousands of human beings.’ Not that I begrudge the tigers, I am an even bigger fan of the charismatic animals than are most other citizens of the United States.  Yet the relevance of that comparison points to the problem: the displacement of people from the tigers’ habitat is not really about the relative power of tigers and humans.  It is about the power of the tigers’ allies (people like me) relative to that of the men and women who live around the tigers’ homes, people who, on average, have 1/200th or 1/300th of the market power, the income, that I have.  The whims of those of us whom money has made powerful, our consumer tastes, and even our ideas about right and wrong can reach out and change the lives of people on the other side of the world about whom we know nothing.”                                                                            Craig Murphy, The United Nations Development Program: A Better Way? p.31

“Foreign aid cannot be separated from either foreign or security policy, in spite of the propensity of many analysts to do so; however, all three can be reconstructed in ways that emphasize one over the other at any point in time.”                                  Louis A. Picard and Terry F. Buss, A Fragile Balance p. 4-5

“In situations of protracted armed conflict in sub-Sahara Africa, there exists a strong tendency to describe rebel violence as a senseless war of ‘all-against-all’ ; this Hobbesian violence is often illustrated by the sight of drugged and gun-toting youngsters engaged in the harassment of innocent civilians, and whose sole motivation seems to lay in benefiting from organized plunder.  However ‘senseless’ it may appear, violence still has its functions.  It is used to foster strategies of political control, and has an important identity and social function.”                             Roberto Beneduce, Luca Jourdan, Timothy Raeymaekers & Koen Vlassenroot “Violence with a purpose: exploring the functions and meaning of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo” p. 1

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