Wednesday 18 February 2015

Links 18/2/15


The Atlantic with a thorough and insightful analysis of ISIS' ideology (and goes back to the profound question of whether ISIS is a rational actor/whether any actor with an apocalyptic ideology can be rational).
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal. 
The Atlantic: What ISIS Really Wants, March 2015
Minsk II, after the collapse of the first ceasefire agreement in January that was never effective, ended with a deal on a number of peacemaking measures (a ceasefire, observed by the OSCE, starting on February 15, a withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides, pullout of mercenaries and foreign troops from the territory, exchange of prisoners and hostages, restoring the control of the Ukrainian border to the Ukrainian government, discussions about changes in local elections in the disputed territory). 
So today’s agreement, while perhaps better than nothing, is fraught with hard questions and the potential for breakdown. Poroshenko may face criticism at home, where attitudes toward Russia have hardened over the past five months (one of the unintended consequences of Russia’s virtual war against Ukraine is that he has made a generation of Ukrainians anti-Russian). But the Ukrainian president undoubtedly feels that he had little choice. He badly needs breathing space so that he can address a looming financial crisis and implement critical reforms. 
Brookings: Minsk II—will it meet a better fate than Minsk I?, February 12, 2015

The New York Times with a portrait of Parisian city planning and the connection between cultural division and poorly developed suburbs on the city's southern, northern and eastern fringes. 
As much as any struggling suburb, this one shows how urban development across decades, even centuries, has failed millions of immigrant families and contributed to what France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, recently denounced as “territorial, social, ethnic apartheid.” His remark provoked a lot of hand-wringing in France. But, as all sorts of French planners, architects, historians and political scientists point out, a legacy of belonging and exclusion, center and periphery, inside and outside, is baked into the very layout of Paris and of places like Grigny, which has nice old houses and woods but is a de facto warehouse for tens of thousands of mostly poor, disenfranchised Muslims. 
NY Times: Paris Aims to Embrace Its Estranged Suburbs, February 12, 2015

Foreign Affairs on how technological development will affect the future of energy, especially when it comes to solar power and batteries .

CSIS on China's activism when it comes to the international economic order: 
The administration’s emphasis on U.S.-China competition over rules for trade and aid taps into a deep-rooted concern that, as China becomes more powerful, it is slowly turning its back on the existing international order in favor of making new rules consistent with its own interests and subject to its domination. Hence, the worries about the New (BRICS) Development Bank, the Silk Road initiatives, and the internationalization of the Renminbi.  
CSIS: Thoughts from the Chairman: How to Pragmatically Respond to Greater Chinese Activism on the Global Stage, February 13, 2015

Pop Culture: 

Time Out interviews Sleater-Kinney: "It’s a dismissive term. Our music doesn’t actually sound angry; there’s so much joy in it and levity. It’s easy to diminish something by calling it angry. You can write it off as being reactionary. And reactionary means that it wasn’t intentional, but our music is intentional." (and Rolling Stone with backstage pictures of their first show in nine years)

THEEsatisfaction released its album EarthEE and it's very very good. 

New shows to watch: I failed with Fortitude, because I'd rather be re-watching all seasons of Forbrydelsen, but Better Call Saul had a good start, and Wolf Hall lacks the Mantel's gorgeous prose, but is promising otherwise. 

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