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Showing posts from September, 2011

Books I'd like to read: We Meant Well-How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People

"Everyone in Iraq was there on a series of one-year tours, myself included," he says. "Everyone was told that they needed to create accomplishments, that we needed to document our success, that we had to produce a steady stream of photos of accomplishments, and pictures of smiling Iraqis and metrics and charts. It was impossible, under these circumstances, to do anything long term ... We rarely thought past next week's situation update. The embassy would rarely engage with us on a project that wasn't flashy enough to involve photographs or bringing a journalist out to shoot a video that looked good. The willingness to do long-term work ... never existed in our world." These words by a US Foreign Service employee for 23 years sound so disturbingly similar to many other stories from Afghanistan and Iraq that I was first tempted to shrug my shoulders and just get on with my life. But my desire to read, review and most likely recommend another interesti…

Finding solace and closure -is academia prepared for student's uncomfortable development experiences?

I read a really interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education today: In Why I Can No Longer Teach U.S. Military History a history professorexplains the new challenges she encountered in class: [T]he discomfort I endured last semester was something new. From the start, I realized that many students in the class were not as interested in exploring the seminal issues of U.S. military history as they were in finding solace, seeking closure, or securing an understanding of their own—or, in many cases, their loved ones'—recent military experiences.Even if we take into consideration that there is a geographical element to it - the university is in Texas which has large bases of the US Department of Defense - her article raises important questions for other areas of scholarship, teaching and academic debates. 
While the focus in universities is often on 'employability' and equipping students with skills prior to their departure, the question for a field like developm…

A Better Basra-a development review

As loyal readers of my humble blog know, reading accounts of transnational professionals about their experiences in the aid and reconstruction industry is one of my hobbies-even if this may sound a tad bit geeky ;).
Caroline Jaine's account of her time as a communications expert for the British Foreign Office in Basra, Iraq is a frank, unpretentious and un-cynical tale of how the mother of three survived in the militaristic bubble of Basra in 2006. This smart and inexpensive ebook (electronic publishing is another geeky hobby of mine...) is a great read-especially for those not yet war-, conflict- and development-hardened souls who want to get a better idea of what it feels like next time academic experts talk abstractly about the 'securitisation of aid'.

Here is what Caroline and Askance Publishing are promising the reader in 'A Better Basra. Struggling for Strategy and Sanity in Iraq':
In July 2006 British Diplomat Caroline Jaine volunteered to work in Iraq. As a …

Softcore famine p@rn-Globe & Mail Somalia issue