This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

(Image: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty)

‘It was carnage’: Nigeria reels from bullets and brutality of protest crackdown

Neil Munshi

Financial Times

“Don’t run! Sit down!” yelled the young woman on the stage at the hundreds of impassioned protesters in front of her. “Hold your flag . . . Nobody will attack us.”

But even as she was captured on video trying to calm the young Nigerians gathered at Lekki tollgate in Lagos for a protest against police brutality, gunfire was already crackling.

Soon, footage began to circulate online showing people fleeing and screaming as men in camouflage opened fire on the crowd. The violence in Africa’s biggest city on Tuesday night left at least 10 dead, according to Amnesty International, and the nation reeling. (Read more)

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Afghanistan’s peace talks are set to fail if women are not included

Quhramaana Kakar

Independent

After four decades of devastating conflict, the Taliban and Afghan government formally meeting for the first time appeared to be a landmark moment. 

Many in the international community had high hopes for the peace talks in Doha, which follow the agreement between the US and the Taliban in February to end a near 20-year war. The negotiations then offered an opportunity to cement and further the inclusion of women in all aspects of Afghan life.

But the last week has seen fierce clashes between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in Helmand, with reports of dozens of casualties. While renewed fighting risks jeopardising the peace talks, there is another fundamental concern: the talks are failing to include women. (Read more

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Greater Manchester Tier 3 rules: what the stand-off tells us about England’s centralisation

John Denham

LSE Blogs

With the Manchester lockdown having been announced without an ‘agreement’ with mayor Andy Burnham, and with First Minister Mark Drakeford having confirmed a ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales, the contrasting powers of the devolved nations, England’s localities, and the union government could not have been made more obvious. Every English lockdown measure is imposed by the union government. Local leaders have no legal powers to veto or amend proposals. Any ability to extract extra cash reflects the government’s desire to see them share responsibility or blame, not a rational assessment of need.

The performative stand-off has provoked a new debate about England’s centralisation under the union government; yet every aspect of the current crisis has been seen many times before. For decades, England’s governance has been defined by management of the relationship between the centre and the local, the distribution of funding within England, the structures by which local areas are represented, the autonomous powers that they hold (or lack), and the inability of the union’s political culture to reflect the reality of multiple centres of power. (Read more)

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Bolivia’s Socialists may revive Latin America’s ‘pink tide’

Ishaan Tharoor

Washington Post

Eleven months ago, the White House celebrated a dramatic change of power in Bolivia. Protests and a mutiny among security forces followed a disputed election, in which long-ruling President Evo Morales had sought a controversial fourth term in office. Facing the prospect of looming violence at home, Morales stepped down and fled the country. An interim regime took his place, led by the marginal right-wing senator Jeanine Áñez.

The Trump administration hailed the fall of another leftist government in the Western hemisphere, linking Morales’s rule to the embattled regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua. “Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard,” President Trump said in a statement last November. “We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.” (Read more)

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The World Order That Donald Trump Revealed

Tom McTague and Peter Nicholas

Atlantic

To Donald Trump’s critics, four years of posturing has left him exposed for all the world to see. The president hasn’t made America great again, they argue; he has made it weaker than it’s ever been: disrespected, ridiculed, and now even pitied, as it struggles to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. He has failed to rebalance relations with China, failed to deal with North Korea, failed to end the endless wars in the Middle East, failed to cow Iran, failed to stop European free-riding, and even failed to improve relations with Russia. And that’s before one considers his record of undercutting or destroying international treaties on climate change, trade, and nuclear weapons.

To Trump’s supporters, this is manifestly unfair. The president has, for them, finally reversed Barack Obama’s weakness: He has reinforced red lines, put America first, ripped up bad deals, corralled allies to pay more for their own defense, led the global change in attitude against China, defeated the Islamic State, and kept the United States out of any new wars. Add to that deals in the Middle East to normalize ties with Israel and the new line of communication with Pyongyang, and the world, they say, is now a safer place, and one that is better for American workers. If he has ruffled feathers and offended people along the way, so be it. (Read more)

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