International Conflicts: Bridging the Divide

https://i2.wp.com/www.iiss.org/-/media/Images/Publications/The%20Military%20Balance/MilBal%202014/Conflict-Map-2014-crop-798x449.jpg

Conflict Map 2014 Courtesy of the International Institute of Strategic Studies

The recent advancement of the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria has led both countries into violent chaos and instability, while Israel and Afghanistan are experiencing similar situations with various militant factions. Similarly Russia and Ukraine are undergoing a different type of exclusion policy orchestrated by their own governments causing unrest between its own people. While the wars or conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have remained prolonged as the problems within their governments have never been addressed, the larger global cause of these conflicts seems to be the policies of exclusion that create an environment which allows radical organizations like ISIS to gain ground. According to Marwan Muasher, How the Iraq Crisis Highlights a Need for Inclusion Policies Across the Middle East, the Iraqi crisis highlights how sectarian conflicts are tearing the Arab country apart with Syria serving as an extreme example. During the Arab Spring, many of its leaders have used the religious and ethnic divides to gain or stay in power while taking away the rights of the non-ruling sectors of society. Muasher explains:

“Governments that have risen to power during the Arab Spring claiming visions of building pluralistic societies have, once in power, embraced exclusionary policies that only benefit certain sectors of society. Inclusionary policies in Iraq and throughout the region must be embraced in order to achieve political pluralism. The Arab world must accept and pride itself on the diversity of its people and allow all voices to be heard. The Arab uprisings demand that all regimes reconsider their policies to allow for differences of views, ethnicities, and beliefs, so they treat every citizen as equal.”

The focus in Iraq and with many of these exclusionary governments should be to build a pluralistic society rather than living in the past. The process itself will be painful and take some time, but each country must take action and responsibility for their own destiny. For democracy to take hold, each country must build a national identity stronger than any individual allegiance by embracing all people regardless of political, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, and gender equity. Muasher brilliantly and simply points out that the U.S. and international community needs to look at these conflicts not just as military actions to secure the region, but as a transition period for each. The transition period may take years to see progress, however inclusion not exclusion must be embraced in order to having a functioning society as a commitment to pluralism will lead to a sustainable political and economic renewal. In addition, Muasher points out that inclusion in the political process for all parties will allow everyone to feel they have a stake in the system:

“What is worse than the Skyes-Picot agreement, which produced artificial boundaries in the Eastern part of the Arab world, is its dissolution. Ethnically or religiously pure states are not the answer to achieving productive societies. Rather, it will lead to non-viable entities at war with each other. A separated Iraq will only result in more war and strife for years to come.”

If inclusion doesn’t become a standard policy, then not only the Middle East but Afghanistan and Ukraine will also become victims of their own exclusionary policies that so far has caused devastation, death and destruction. Here is a summary of the numerous news stories this week about what exclusion policies can do:

Israeli military masses troops along Gaza border
Jul 8th 2014 4:53PM
JOSEF FEDERMAN AND NAJIB JOBAINJERUSALEM (AP)

On Tuesday, Israel launched its largest offensive in Gaza in nearly two years aiming at numerous targets and killing 19 people in order to end weeks of heavy rocket fire. While Gaza militants unleashed rockets onto Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel mobilized its troops along the Gaza border for a possible invasion making this offensive the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since the 8 day battle in November 2012. In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the rocket attacks on Israeli communities would not be tolerated. Israel and Hamas have remained bitter enemies over the years with numerous rounds of fighting, however, a truce had ended the conflict in 2012. The fighting continued throughout the day with many Palestinian residents of Gaza running from their homes as Israel continued its airstrikes leaving some with bloody faces and many to pick up the motionless bodies of fellow Palestinians. In addition, many residents, fearing an Israeli ground operation, moved deeper into Gaza to stay with relatives. In southern Israel, hundreds of thousands of citizens were ordered to stay indoors due to the rocket fire from Gaza leaving the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem deserted. According to military Israeli military officials, when asked by Channel 2 TV if a cease fire is possible, the military spokesman replied “Not now.” The U.S. State Department condemned the rocket fire on Israel and hoped Israel’s strong message would deter further attacks, according to spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The escalation on Tuesday has led many world leaders to condemn the actions of Hamas and call for restraint. According to the article:

” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the indiscriminate multiple rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and demanded an immediate halt to the attacks, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Arab League Chief Nabil Elaraby called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to take necessary measures to stop the violence.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attacks and urged calm. ‘The people of Israel have the right to live without constant fear for their security; the people of Gaza also have the right to live in peace,’ he said.”

Afghanistan Suicide Attack Near Clinic Claims At Least 16 Lives, Including 4 Foreign Troops
By AMIR SHAH and RAHIM FAIEZ
Posted: 07/08/2014 3:22 am EDT Updated: 07/08/2014 2:59 pm EDT

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah told his supporters on Tuesday that he will claim victory in the country’s election claiming massive fraud caused his rival to take the lead in the preliminary results. In response, the United States warned both camps against seizing power as it would put international financial and security support at stake. According to the article, violence has escalated once again across the country as a suicide bomber struck Afghan and foreign forces near a eastern province clinic in Parwan that killed 16 people. Abdullah will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday at the Afghan capital on Friday in a bid to defuse the situation. The Afghan Independent Election Commission on Monday said that June 14 preliminary results put former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in the lead for the presidency however no winner has been declared due to millions of ballots being audited for fraud. The article states: “According to the preliminary results, Ahmadzai had about 4.5 million votes, or 56 percent, while Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44 percent. Turnout was more than 50 percent.” In the first round of voting on April 5, Abdullah had more votes with46 percent to Ahmadzai’s 31.6 percent but did not get the majority need to avoid a runoff. While Abdullah refused to recognize this second round of voting, Ahmadzai, a U.S. educated former finance minister and World Bank official, had this to say:

“‘We welcome him (Kerry) coming here, but the real responsibility is up to us and we are hopeful that we will fulfill all our responsibilities,’ he said at a news conference at his home in Kabul. ‘We are prepared to engage in political discussion in order to make sure that we move to insure the legitimacy of the process, its fairness and the acceptance of its results.'”

The election commission does admit that vote rigging had occurred and will audit ballots from 7,000 of the 23,000 polling stations. Abdullah claims that the President Hamid Karzai, Ahmadzai and the election commission were colluding against him. The U.N. mission in Afghanistan called for both candidates to show restraint and take steps to control their supporters in order to prevent civil disorder and instability.

Ukraine takes aggressive stance toward separatists
Jul 9th 2014 2:31AM
By YURAS KARMANAU and PETER LEONARD

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government announced it would remove  pro-Russia separatists from their reduced area of control and impose new condition before peace talks happen. However, the government will not use air and artillery strikes to regain control of rebel held territories in eastern Ukraine in order to avoid terrorizing civilians. After losing Slovyansk, the militants regrouped in Donetsk where they occupy government building and move around the city. Adrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self proclaimed independent Donetsk People’s Republic, said the rebels have 15,000 fighters and will defend the city a major industrial hub of 1 million. More than 400 people have died and tens of thousands have fled during the three month long standoff between the government in Kiev who took power after the ousting of the Russia friendly president in February and rebels. Rebels in Ukraine and nationalists in Russia want the Kremlin to protect insurgents, however Russian President Vladimir Putin remains wary of further sanctions by the West which has already banned visas and asset freezes on Russian officials and members of Putin’s inner circle after Crimea was annexed in March. According to the article, Defense Minister Valery Heletey on Tuesday said the cease fire negotiations will not continue until the rebels lay down their arms which is something the rebels refuse to do.

The Blame Game: To Rape or Be Raped?

Swiss Gang Rape Victim, Husband Partially To Blame For Attack, Indian Officials Suggest.

Indian officials are now claiming that the Swiss tourist and her husband could be partially to blame for the attack and gang rape that occurred in a remote wooded area in Madhya Pradesh last week because the couple did not ask about the safety of the region according to the Huff Post. On Friday, the couple pitched a tend in the forest in Madhya Pradesh while on a cycling trip, according to the Associated Press, when around 9:30 p.m. a group of men beat up the husband, tied him to a tree, gang raped the wife and robbed the pair, police confirmed. On Sunday, police spokesman Avnesh Kumar Budholiya during a press conference said the tourists are partially to blame for the assault due to the fact they didn’t consult the local police about the area before traveling through the area reports the Independent. Budholiya explained,”No one stops there. Why did they choose that place? They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would have passed a police station on the way to the area they camped. They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.” Another official, Umashankar Gupta the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh explains, “The rape of the Swiss national is unfortunate but foreign travelers should inform the police about their movement so they can be provided with adequate protection. They often don’t follow the state’s rules.”

The Times also reported that Madhya Pradesh has one of the highest rates of crimes against women in the country which the Swiss tourists were unaware of. A senior official from the region also has this to say: “They apparently lost track and took a wrong turn and decided to halt for the night by the side of a village brook little realizing that the district with 85:100 men to women ratio is not the safest place for women.” CNN reported that six men have been arrested in connection with the gang rape, while the victim was hospitalized after the attack claiming four of them raped her and the other two robbed the couple. All six will appear in court Monday. The gang raped comes only three months after the gang rape of a 23 year old woman on a public bus by five men in New Delhi who unfortunately died due to her injuries. The defense attorney for three of the accused men partially blames the now deceased woman saying a “respected lady” does not get raped. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it is common in India to blame the victim of such crimes because of a woman’s role in society. Ranjana Kumari, director for New Delhi based Centre for Social research told the news papers that,”This is the mentality which most Indian men are suffering from unfortunately. That is the mindset that has been perpetrating this crime because they justify it indirectly, you asked for it so it is your responsibility.”

Fifth Third Bank To Help Unemployed Mortgage Customers Find Jobs – Careers Articles

Fifth Third Bank To Help Unemployed Mortgage Customers Find Jobs – Careers Articles.

There are so many things now in the news that bring tears to my eyes, but for once this story makes me feel hopeful for the future and that humanity is not completely gone in today’s empire of greedom. With debates or sequestration and gun control continue to make no progress at all, I am glad to see a bank take some of the major problems facing everyday Americans under their wing. Even with corporation’s own self interests at an all time high and squeezing the American for every last penny, its nice to see a company harken back to the days of the great depression at time not so different from now. At least someone can make a decision and find a way to help others get back on their feet as well as be rewarded for their efforts handsomely. What am I talking about? Let me explain.

Most people see banks as income sucking entities that only care about their bottom lines. However the problem with this analysis is in order to have a good bottom line they have to care about their customers who bring in the money to the bank. Well with any business it is important to care about the customer since its the company’s reputation that will be destroyed in the end. There are a range of mortgage relief options from the well intended to the deceptive and illegal, but one bank is offering a way to transform the lives of the unemployed mortgage customers who can’t make their payments. Fifth Third Bancorp based int he Midwest is offering 16 weeks of job assistance free to its customers who miss two consecutive mortgage payments due to unemployment reports the Chicago Tribune. The job assistance is coming from NextJob a Bend, Oregon based employment firm who provides one on one coaching and job search software. Since the housing market burst in 2008, unemployment has soared causing many jobless homeowners to struggle and lenders to step in to help them. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began offering and extending temporary reprieves from mortgage payments, but for many that these solution are short term and many home counselors say long term solutions are needed. During the program’s trial last year, 11 of the 28 partcipants found work by the end of the six months nearly 40 percent. The Fifth Third group believes it is smart business since the job search only cost $1,500 per person compared to the $40,000 to $60,000 that banks lose when a home is foreclosed on and unemployment is the main problem causing people to default. NextJob has expanded its job finding capabilities beyond just finding help for employees laid off by employers. The company also has two 40 foot buses filled with computer stations that they park in undeserved communities to offer financial help. “Job loss, followed by the loss of one’s home, is severely damaging to individuals and families,” NextJob’s CEO John Courtney said while speaking about his new multiyear contract with Fifth Third Bank. “This program is a simple but big idea and it’s time has come for the banking industry.”

Military Suicides Reached Record High In 2012

 Military Suicides Reached Record High In 2012.

US military suicides surged to 349 last year higher than American combat deaths in Afghanistan causing some experts to predict that it will get much worse this year. The causes range from anxiety over a shrinking force in the combat zone to severe strain on military personnel with over a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. By no means are these the only reasons, the Pentagon has stressed the need to understand what causes active duty troops to take their own lives. The suicide figure exceeds the 295 Americans who died in Afghanistan last year and some in Congress are pressing the Pentagon to do more. “Now that we’re decreasing our troops and they’re coming back home, that’s when they’re really in the danger zone, when they’re transitioning back to their families, back to their communities and really finding a sense of purpose for themselves,” said Kim Ruocco, whose husband, Marine Maj. John Ruocco, killed himself between Iraq deployments in 2005. She directs a suicide prevention program for a support group, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

 

The problem is ongoing and the Pentagon has made suicide prevention a priority. David Rudd, a military suicide researcher and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Utah, said he sees two main categories of troops who are committing suicide at an accelerating pace: Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress or substance abuse, and those who have not gone to war but face troubled personal relationships, money problems or legal woes. He does not see a decline soon he actually is predicting an increase in military suicides.

 

It is sad but true. Not only our military, but U.S. civilians are committing suicide with no help from our government. The government needs to put the people not themselves first. The great amount of stress service personnel is under is more than anyone could understand but we can at least try. For what the government pays them to defend our country, the government could at least take an interest when they come home or offer services for them on the field. It is sad the decline of humanity in the world. The stresses for us at home just escalate a growing a problem for those who come home, so listen Obama and Congress get your ducks in a row and handle what you seem to be ignoring. The private interest seems to rule the roost instead of policies and spending that benefit the people.

6-Month-Old Baby Ejected In Car Crash, Miraculously Surives

6-Month-Old Baby Ejected In Car Crash, Miraculously Survives.

This is an amazing story considering in most of these crashes the fatality rate in almost a 100%. A six-month-old baby boy survived a horrific car accident last week in Raymond, Maine, the force of the crash ripped the baby from his car seat and threw him 25 feet landing in the snow. The boy suffered a fractured skull but will recover. The boy’s mother was distracted adjusting her GPS when she ran a stop sign at an intersection colliding with a pick up truck driven by another woman with two kids in her own car.

IRS Delays Tax Season, Will Start Accepting Returns On January 30

IRS Delays Tax Season, Will Start Accepting Returns On January 30.

Unfortunately they did it anyway people. I can’t believe they would do this but luckily they only postponed it until the end of January when they will begin accepting them. The IRS says late changes to federal tax laws (remember the fiscal cliff people that we supposedly avoided) means that more than 120 million taxpayers – about 80 percent of all filers – should be able to start filing their federal returns on Jan. 30. Others will have to wait until late February or March to file because the agency needs time to update and test its systems. Don’t pain yet people here is a list of the people who will have to wait: people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. The filing season had been slated to start Jan. 22 but was delayed because of the big tax package passed by Congress Jan. 1. We did kind of avoid the fiscal cliff I guess but Obama and Congress still have caused people to delay their tax season plans. This should be a lesson to our leaders that what you do does actually have  a ripple effect.

Hillary Clinton Returns To Work After Blood Clot Hospitalization

 

Hillary Clinton Returns To Work After Blood Clot Hospitalization.

I am so glad this little lady is okay because I hope she runs for president next election in 4 years! Okay I am not afraid to say it. She has accomplished so much during her husband’s presidency, as secretary of state, and gosh darn it she’s a firecracker speaking her mind. Cheers, a standing ovation and a gag gift of protective headgear greeted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she returned to work on Monday after a monthlong absence caused first by a stomach virus, then a fall and a concussion and finally a brief hospitalization for a blood clot near her brain. She was also given a blue football jersey with “Clinton” and the number 112 – the record-breaking number of countries she has visited since becoming secretary of state – printed on the back. After the initial fun and merriment Clinton returned to business and stressed during the meeting the need for State Department to implement the review board recommendations for improving security in high threat diplomatic posts. She would like them in place before her successor takes over.