International InSecurity

Just my thoughts on different issues within International Security. I do not claim to be an expert on anything and am open to criticism, suggestions, and submissions relating to International security, peace, conflict, and all the wonderful issues that International Relations addresses.

This blog is my chance to explore both the realist and the liberal sides of my brain through analysis of current and past events, policy suggestions, and acknowledgment of how these issues impact me as a young American-born African woman.

Palestinian- Israeli Conflict: The Quest for Home at the Expense of Peace and Humanity

This conflict seems to be never-ending. 

I have many issues with the Zionist factions that seem to control the state of Israel ( ranging from occupation of Palestinian lands, mistreatment of immigrants, specifically African immigrants, and their “alliance” with the US). But, at the end of the day, I, along with the rest of the world, will eventually like to see peace in the region. 

The latest violence has been undeniably detrimental to any prospects for peace. While Israel maintains that it is merely “defending itself from rockets from Gaza” with its airstrikes, the death toll does not hide the fact that this is a military offensive that will further escalate tension. It’s awful that Israeli children and citizens have to deal with constant threat from rockets, but it’s even worse that those in Gaza have to deal with seemingly indiscriminate bombings that have killed more civilians than Israeli targets. The latest ground incursions into Gaza by Israeli forces further proved that this is an unmatched fight. 

There will always be distrust among Palestinians and Israelis since they know, that at the end of the day, each party’s goal is their own self-determination and preservation. 

This conflict always brings me back to the film Munich in which there are several conversations that show how nuanced the situation really is. Also, these conversations show that ultimately, foreign intervention cannot force these people to live peacefully, but if there will be peace, both sides have to be willing to come to the table, concede some things, and recognize and respect each other’s humanity. 

A few quotes from the movie that I think are important are: 

"We had to take it, because no one would ever give it to us." -Avner’s mother when talking about building the state of Israel 

While Israelis do deserve a state of their own, this quote accurately evokes the nature of how the state of Israel came to be. Upon reading both the Case for Israel and the Question of Palestine, as well as other literatures on the formation of Israel and destruction of Palestine, it is clear that Israel feels entitled to this land. While the entitlement can be considered warranted due to the Hebrews historic and religious ties to the land, the same can be said for Palestinians who also are tied to the land. I support self-determination 100%, but not if it comes at the expense of another people’s livelihoods. 

"We kill for our future. We kill for peace."- Ephraim

This view can apply to both sides.  I don’t believe that the more violent members of Hamas who seek to take back what they believe is theirs at all costs and the Israeli state honestly believe that the attacks and offensives will ultimately lead to peace for everyone, but I believe they believe that peace will come for their own people with the destruction of the Other. 

Eventually the Arab states will rise against Israel. They don’t like Palestine but they hate the Jews more…the rest of the will see what Israel does to us…We can wait forever…The world will see how they made us into animals. They’ll start to ask questions about the conditions in our cages…My father didn’t gas any Jews..It will take 100 years but we’ll win…How long did it take the Germans to make German?…Don’t know what it is not to have a home? That’s why you european reds don’t get it. You say it’s nothing but you have a home to come back to…we want to be nations.Home is everything.

This quote is beautiful. Again, it applies to both sides. Home is everything. There is a reason why the Palestinians are fighting to the death, because they want the home that they once had. The Jews, also want to keep their home and that is understandable. But, at the end of the day, if a people cannot create their own home without turning others into “animals” with terrible “cage conditions” then the world should not support their struggle. Everyone deserves peace, everyone deserves a chance to live, and everyone deserves a home.

Now you might wonder why I, a Liberian-American care or what stake I have in this. Well, I consider myself a citizen of this world. I have been fortunate enough to not grow up to the sound of bombs or fear of rockets launched at me, but I have experienced the effects of the struggle for a “home.” In the US, I have seen what it is like for minorities who constantly try but fail to become apart of the white supremacist system. In Liberia, I understand the effects of this struggle  when I learned about the Americo-Liberians who returned to Africa (Liberia) to create a home after the end of slavery, just to oppress the indigenous people already living there. This oppression ultimately led to the civil war in the country that they are still struggling to bounce back from. I experienced the affects of the struggle for home when I lived in Italy, and met many immigrants who just wanted to be apart of the Italian society and the Italians who did not except them. In addition, I care because there are human lives involved. Besides the discussions about territory, people on both sides of the “borders” and even within borders of Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank cannot move freely on the land they consider their home. People are dying in this situation. 

I’m not saying that I have all or even any answers to this conflict, and quite frankly I don’t believe that it is my place (or anyone in the West for that matter). But, when people on both sides start ignoring each other’s humanity (for example, gathering and cheering when Israeli airstrikes his Gaza sites, or even indiscriminately launching rockets to cause fear), I and the rest of the world cannot sit silent and blindly continue to support a side. 

Women, Peace, and Security: A Gendered Look at International Security

Women in the security and peace process is not new, but they are becoming more appreciated in the international security community. There are many networks, NGO’s, and even government agencies around the world that are now trying to understand the gendering of security. The rise of female presidents, prime ministers, and even parliament members around the world also serves as a testament of recognition of the utility of having women in power. Comparing the rise of women in power with the increase of international security and even development is useful for assessing how gender in politics affects the international security system. 

I have been extremely interested in how women affect the security system since a class that I took on Women in World Politics. Ignoring stereotypes (about the maternal nature of women making them biologically peaceful, or even the fact that women are by nature less aggressive), the numbers prove that countries in which there is higher gender equality and have women in positions of power are more secure. 

The empowerment and mobilization of women in any society inevitably will lead to a more financially and politically secure environment. It has been argued that since women make up half of the global population, it does not make sense that they are continuously oppressed and exploited. Half of the population uneducated, unempowered, and without a voice means that countries are only reaching half of their economic and political potential (for the skeptics out that that don’t believe that women’s empowerment and liberation is important for a nation). Economically, it is detrimental to ignore women’s roles in different cultures and societies. Especially in agriculture-based countries, women are often the “breadwinners.” I don’t mean this just by how much money they make (because in most cases, they aren’t paid financially), but they bring in most of the agricultural earnings within the family. If countries find ways to economically support and compensate women who do most of the agricultural work, these women will not only be able contribute to their families’ economic wellbeing, but also to the economic wellbeing of the state. Politically, women need to be included and even have positions of power because as half of the population in any given country, their needs and welfare need to be met by legally-binding legislation. In many countries, gender equality is lacking especially politically. These countries have weak laws, if any, to protect women from economic exploitation and domestic abuse. Having women represented politically not only gets women at the table, but also inevitably leads to a change in political culture as men in politics now have to consider the ideas and initiatives of their co-legislators. 

While I’d like to have a peachy-keene outlook on world politics and the involvement of women as inevitable. Economic and political empowerment cannot happen if women are not educated. Even in this day and age, the education ratio between men and women is lacking. Even if women make it to secondary education, in poorer countries they often drop out in order to take on more responsibilities (farming, helping to raise siblings, child marriage for financial compensation) for their families. This has an immense  effect on the number of girls and young women who are able to receive higher education. An uneducated society is an unproductive society. It’s impossible for women to mobilize and become empowered if they aren’t exposed to their options in the world. 

But, back to women in security.

Women often play a pivotal in the security process. When they are educated (or given opportunities to receive an education), and when there is a sense of economic and political empowerment, women have proven that they deserve a spot at the negotiation table when it comes to international security.

Two organizations that I would like to highlight that exemplify this rational are: the Women in Peace and Security Network (WIPSEN) and the Women In International Security (WIIS).  

Women In Peace and Security Network (WIPSEN):

WIPSEN, founded in 2006 in Ghana is one of many emerging exemplary organizations that seeks to educate and empower women so that they can have larger roles in the peace process. As a Pan-African, women-led organization, it is clear that the founders of WIPSEN realized early on that security issues (war, political and financial instability) that plague almost every African nation at some point affect women differently than they do men. Because women often bear the brunt of violence and political instability, it makes perfect sense that the women who took the initiative to create WIPSEN and other organizations similar realized the power that women were lacking and should have in these situations when pertaining to peace building and  stability. The women of WIPSEN seek to educate women on their options, as well as influence the policy that affects women every day, especially in times of political disarray. WIPSEN currently works with other organizations in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria,  and the Ivory Coast. I personally believe in the mission of WIPSEN because looking back at history, it is obvious that in patriarchal societies that often oppress women, the men in power are not looking to advance women’s interests. The women of WIPSEN are women who are educated, are financially secure, and do have a sense of political leverage. Because they have made it their mission to enlighten women on their importance within society so that women can have the courage and even the opportunity to have their voices heard, these women are enabling the the mobilization of a section of the global population that is often ignored. 

The work that WIPSEN does to mobilize and empower perfectly compliments the work that the Women In International Security Network does to utilize and advance women’s leadership.

Women in International Security (WIIS):

WIIS, founded in 1987 is a professional network that seeks to connect women in the security field and advance women’s leadership opportunities. WIIS seeks to empower women in international security professionally and academically. It is currently active in more than 47 countries with women from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The fact that WIIS has been able to expand shows the power of education and empowerment. The women of the WIIS network are in different stages of their academic and professional careers, but the fact that they all understand the importance of gendering security unites them. Using a broad definition of security, the women of WIIS deal with issues relating to war, working with men, international insecurity, and even peace-sustaining initiatives. These women, who come from various countries use their education and their political leverage to help other women trying to enter and succeed in the security field. 

There are many examples of women in power and women in security that prove that giving women access to education, financial stability, and leadership opportunities is not only beneficial to individual families, but entire countries as well. I like to think that women are the cornerstone of society culturally, economically, and socially (even if their importance is not often recognized). Because of this, I find it insane that there are not more opportunities for women to lead especially politically. Women, as the predominant victims of political insecurity, should and need to have more of a say in how the peace process plays out. Negotiations about policies that affect women, especially after times of violence and war should not neglect them, but actually include- if not put women at the forefront of said negotiations. Because instability and war affect men and women different, I believe that countries should take a gendered approach when addressing security, both during and especially after instability. 

Back From Hiatus

Hello everyone! 

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything, but I’m back! 

I will attempt to tackle three issues this week:

1) Gender & world security

2) Russia vs. the West

3) A Profile of security in an African country (still deciding which)

I have been very busy with school. But, now that things are dying down, I will definitely be writing more and sharing my thoughts about international security! 

For several nights after the curfew was declared on 14 August, the streets of Cairo were quieter and darker than I’d ever seen them. As quiet as the morgue, the saying goes, except that our morgue, in Zeinhom, was the busiest place in the city: the dead arriving in scores; giant, refrigerated meat trucks parked in the narrow road to hold the corpses the morgue could not accommodate; relatives and friends, distraught, trying to access bodies; residents burning incense on the street to try to mitigate the smell … The morgue is the point to which our reality keeps returning.

statedept:

Are you interested in a career on the front lines of today’s most pressing global issues, perhaps at the UN or another international organization? Check out the new and improved International Organization Careers website and learn more about these exciting and varied opportunities on DipNote!

Signal boost

statedept:

Are you interested in a career on the front lines of today’s most pressing global issues, perhaps at the UN or another international organization? Check out the new and improved International Organization Careers website and learn more about these exciting and varied opportunities on DipNote!

Signal boost

postcardsfromethiopia:

Some of the lessons we had during camp.

Others included: Life Tree (values and goals), Immune System education, Finger Painting Stories, Letter to Self, Decision Making, etc.

Also everyday after lunch, we had an hour of “camper time” where the campers got to choose from a variety of activities such as, volleyball, coloring, frisbee, origami, soccer, water color painting, friendship bracelet making (super popular with all campers), and taekwondo. 

Check out our daily schedule for all the lessons and activities we did.

Because gender equality is and will always be an international security issue! 

(via peacecorps)