"I think there are certain times where you have tectonic shifts and change always happens that way."
On the latest episode of 'That Made All the Difference,' Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, shares his thoughts on the role we all have to play in bringing our communities and the environment back to health.
For many, Paul Rusesabagina became a household name after the release of the 2004 tear-jerker film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Rusesabagina, who used his influence as a hotel manager to save the lives of more than 1,000 Rwandans, has again made headlines in recent weeks after he was reportedly duped into boarding a flight to Kigali, Rwanda's capital, where he was promptly arrested on terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder charges. Rusesabagina's supporters say he is innocent and that the move is retaliation against the former "hero" for his public criticism of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with a strong hand since ending the civil war in the mid 1990s.
<p>Indeed, this case reflects the full scope of complexities underpinning contemporary Rwandan politics. </p> <p><strong>Paul Kagame: A "benevolent dictator"</strong></p> <p>Much of Kagame's worldview was formed during his formative years growing up in a Ugandan refugee camp. An ethnic Tutsi, Kagame was one of hundreds of thousands who fled during the country's decades-long civil war to escape violent attacks by the Hutu-led government. </p> <p>In the waning days of the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26875506" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Rwandan genocide </a>— during which Tutsis were systematically raped, tortured and murdered by their Hutu neighbors, and some 1 million Rwandans were killed — Paul Kagame commanded the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RFP), a Tutsimilitia, which eventually ended the Hutus' murderous campaign, emerging as the most powerful political force in post-conflict Rwanda. Kagame became president in (elections) in 2000.</p> <p>Since then, Kagame has been credited with overseeing a period of stability and economic prosperity after one of the world's bloodiest conflicts, but <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/kagame-african-leader-obama-shouldnt-invite-109677" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">critics</a> accuse him of widespread <a href="https://vimeo.com/107867605?utm_campaign=5370367&utm_source=affiliate&utm_channel=affiliate&cjevent=20b86c22fdb411ea82be007f0a240611" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">human rights abuses. </a></p> <p><strong>Internal perceptions</strong></p> <p>While many Rwandans revere Kagame for his role in ending the conflict and then putting Rwanda on the map as one of the <a href="https://qz.com/africa/1783714/african-economies-to-watch-in-2020-debt-and-climate-crisis/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">fastest-growing</a> economies in Africa, and one of the best places to do business in the world (in the <a href="https://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/Annual-Reports/English/DB2019-report_web-version.pdf" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Bank's 2019 "Doing Business" report </a>it ranked 29th out of 190 countries), he is also widely viewed as a <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/kagame-african-leader-obama-shouldnt-invite-109677" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">strongman</a> known for suppressing dissenting views and creating an atmosphere of growing mistrust and fear.</p> <p>Indeed, politically motivated killings and enforced disappearances of high-profile <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rwandas-opposition-rattled-by-killings-and-disappearances-of-members/a-50596049" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">political opponents </a>in the years since Kagame took power are well documented, while <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/28/rwanda-repression-across-borders" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">human rights groups</a> have long denounced arbitrary arrests and torture of Rwandans who dare to criticize the government. </p> <p>Many Rwandans also lament the concentration of power amongst a small group of political elite who are loyal to the president. Kagame's <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/world/africa/rwanda-elections-paul-kagame.html?_r=0" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reelection</a> in 2017 — when he claimed to have reaped a fanciful 99 percent of the vote — was seen by many as a sham, reflective of the oppressive political environment the RFP has cultivated. Importantly, this contested election came just two years after Kagame held a referendum overriding term limits that would allow him to stay at the helm until 2034. (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/26/it-looks-like-a-gameshow-russias-pseudo-vote-on-putins-term-limits" target="_blank">Vladimir Putin </a>seemed to like the move, following suit this year.)</p> <p><strong>External perceptions</strong></p> <p>The international development community, and much of the West, have lauded Kagame for steering the country through a period of profound economic growth that's lifted at least 1 million people out of poverty. Meanwhile, Kagame's focus on expanding female representation in politics — over <a href="https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2018/8/feature-rwanda-women-in-parliament" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">60 percent</a> of the country's lawmakers are women — has also endeared him to leaders in Europe and the US. (When <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-42834308" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">US President Donald Trump </a>met with his Rwandan counterpart in 2018, he praised Kagame's "absolutely terrific" leadership and said: "It's a great honor to have you as a friend." ) </p> <p>Additionally, the Kagame government's focus on promotion of new technologies and environmental policy (in 2019, Rwanda became the first African country to introduce a complete <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/blogs/11156/34-plastic-bans-in-africa/#:~:text=Rwanda%20is%20a%20shining%20star,sale%20of%20plastic%20carrier%20bags.&text=In%20October%202019%2C%20Rwanda%20became,on%20all%20single%2Duse%20plastics." rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">ban </a>on all single-use plastics) has led to strong partnerships with economic heavyweights like Germany. The two countries recently created a <a href="https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/press-releases/first-for-africa-volkswagen-and-siemens-launch-joint-electric-mobility-pilot-project-in-rwanda-5510" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">joint pilot project </a>to introduce electric cars to Rwanda, with plans to expand the electronic automotive industry throughout the region. </p> <p>To be sure, while some Western leaders have condemned Kagame for his human rights record in the past — with Washington going so far as to <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-rwanda-usa/u-s-cuts-military-aid-to-rwanda-over-congo-rebel-support-idUSBRE86K0AY20120721" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">cut </a>military aid to Rwanda in 2012, citing the government's support for violent militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo — most have been willing to look the other way because of the country's economic potential. (In the 1990's, leaders including President Bill Clinton and the UK's Tony Blair repeatedly praised Kagame's leadership as visionary.) </p> <p><strong>A complex legacy</strong></p><p>Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer, philosopher and dissident, once said: "The battle between good and evil runs through the heart of every man." While Paul Kagame has pioneered reforms that have helped stabilize a war-torn country, many believe that his oppressive tactics have led to continued pain and suffering, <a href="https://theconversation.com/rwanda-cant-achieve-reconciliation-without-fixing-its-democracy-94925" target="_blank">making it hard </a>for Rwanda's post-genocide society to fully heal. </p>
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September 24, 2020
In an interview with Eurasia Group Vice Chairman Gerald Butts, Nicolas de Rivière cautions against an overly halcyon view of the UN's history. The Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations explains that throughout its 75 years the organization has confronted adversity. This moment is no exception, but "we have no other choice" than cooperation in order to address today's biggest crises, he explains. Rivière also discusses the global pandemic response, a need for greater commitments to climate action, and a recent move by the US to push for renewed sanctions against Iran.
One of the biggest threats to 21st century international peace is invisible. It recognizes no borders and knows no rules. It can penetrate everything from the secrets of your government to the settings of your appliances. This is, of course, the threat of cyberattacks and cyberwarfare.
During the coronavirus pandemic, cyberattacks have surged, according to watchdogs. This isn't just Zoom-bombing or scams. It's also a wave of schemes, likely by national intelligence agencies, meant to steal information about the development and production of vaccines. Attacks on the World Health Organization soared five-fold early in the pandemic.
<p><strong>Why is the threat of cyberwarfare growing, and why isn't more being done to stop it?</strong></p><p><strong>Hacking is increasingly the business of nation-states.</strong> Not so long ago, hackers were mainly hooded freelancers sitting in their basements stealing credit card numbers. Now they are increasingly the employees of national intelligence services. </p><p><strong>Why are countries investing more and more in the cyber game?</strong> For one thing, hacking is a cheap way to level the playing field with larger global rivals. For North Korea or Iran, you no longer need a powerful military in order to project power across the globe. You just need a laptop and a few good programmers. What's more, unlike missile launches or invasions, the targets can't always tell where a cyberattack has come from. Plausible deniability comes in handy, especially when attacking someone bigger than you. </p><p><strong>Targets are getting fatter. </strong>As countries build out 5G networks, data flows will increase massively, as more than a billion more people move online over the next decade. The so-called "internet of things," the network in which everything from your watch to your (potentially self-driving) car to your refrigerator are being hooked up to the internet. (That said, huge gaps in internet access persist, as we <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/why-covid-19-will-widen-the-global-digital-gap" target="_self">wrote here</a>.)</p><p><strong>There are no rules. </strong>Conventional war has rules about whom you can and cannot attack, occupy, or imprison. They aren't always respected or enforced — but the cyber realm has very few rules, mainly because the world's major cyber powers don't want them. If you're Vladimir Putin, hacking has brought dividends that your flagging economy and mediocre military cannot. If you're the US, you're historically wary of any binding rules about the conduct of war. (If you're Gulliver, why tie yourself to the ground for the sake of Lilliput?) So, while various groups of countries have, under UN auspices, <a href="https://www.un.org/disarmament/ict-security/#:~:text=It%2520was%2520then%2520adopted%2520without,Assembly%2520as%2520resolution%252053%252F70.&text=The%2520GGE%2520reports%2520have%2520been,consensus%2520in%2520resolution%252070%252F237." target="_blank">started to develop</a> "norms" – they are not binding. </p><p><strong>Unfortunately, it may take a catastrophe to create those rules.</strong> So far, the damage inflicted by hackers has mostly been economic. In 2017, the NotPetya virus, which targeted Ukraine, quickly spread around the globe, inflicting $10 billion worth of <a href="https://www.ciab.com/resources/notpetya-a-war-like-exclusion/" target="_blank">pain</a>. It was, so far, the <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/notpetya-cyberattack-ukraine-russia-code-crashed-the-world/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">worst cyberattack in history</a>. </p><p>But it's not hard to imagine a cyberattack on a hospital network, a power grid, or a dam that kills thousands of people and forces even more from their homes. How can those responsible be called to account? And what would it take to make future such attacks much less likely?</p><p>Will it take an event that inflicts that much human damage for governments and tech companies to sit down and hammer out cyber-rules of the road? </p>
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September 23, 2020
Malaysian political drama: Malaysia's (eternal) opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he finally has enough votes in parliament to be appointed prime minister, seven months after the coalition that was going to support him collapsed amid an internal revolt that also forced out 95-year-old Mahathir Mohamed as head of the government. Two years ago, Mahathir — who governed Malaysia from 1980 to 2003 — shocked the country by running in the 2018 election and defeating his former party UMNO, which had dominated Malaysian politics since independence in 1956. After winning, Mahathir agreed to hand over power to Anwar — a former protégé with whom he had a falling out in the late 1990s — but Mahathir's government didn't last long enough to do the swap. Will Anwar now realize his lifelong dream of becoming Malaysia's prime minister? Stay tuned for the next parliamentary session in November.
<p><strong>Mozambique seeks EU help amid ISIS crisis:</strong> After an <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-japanese-pm-falls-ill-isis-in-mozambique-eastern-med-tensions-rise" target="_self">army assault</a> failed last month to reclaim a strategic port from Islamic State-linked fighters, Mozambique is now turning to the European Union for <a href="https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/world/africa/2020-09-23-mozambique-asks-eu-for-help-amid-wave-of-islamic-state-attacks/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">help</a>, so far to train its military. The jihadis, who took control of the port in northern Cabo Delgado province in mid-July, are still holding out despite frequent attacks by Mozambican soldiers assisted by foreign <a href="https://allafrica.com/stories/202007270611.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">mercenaries</a>. Meanwhile, the government is running out of ideas for how to put end to a standoff that is <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/islamist-attacks-in-mozambique-threaten-to-disrupt-total-led-natural-gas-project-11597944723" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">affecting</a> major foreign investments in offshore liquified natural gas projects that need access to the port. If the <a href="https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2020/05/28/Mozambique-Cabo-Delgado-Islamic-State-SADC" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">crisis</a> — which has already killed over 1,500 people and displaced more than 300,000 since the rebels first tried to seize the port in 2017 — continues, we're watching to see if Mozambique asks the EU to go beyond training military assistance launch its third combat mission to Africa to prevent ISIS from gaining a foothold in the southern part of the continent.</p><p><strong>Polish government cracks up over… fur?</strong> Poland's right-wing coalition government is <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-animals/polands-ruling-party-says-coalition-could-collapse-over-animal-rights-bill-idUSKBN268250" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">on the brink of collapse</a> after a massive internal revolt over a bill that outlaws the fur industry and prohibits the ritual slaughter of meat for export. The bill was championed by <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-election-kaczynski/polands-kaczynski-steps-out-of-shadows-to-mobilize-rural-vote-idUSKBN1WQ0Q9" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Jaroslaw Kaczynski</a>, leader of the dominant Law and Justice party (PiS), but it provoked a backlash from rural Poles and farmers. In the end, more than a dozen PiS members voted against it, as did the members of junior coalition partner United Poland. The rift isn't just about fur: The leader of United Poland, the ultranationalist Zbigniew Ziobro, is staking a claim to leadership of the Polish conservative movement that has put him directly at odds with PiS party elders. Senior PiS members <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/animal-rights-bill-threatens-to-break-polands-ruling-coalition/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">say</a> they are willing to ditch United Poland, form a minority government, and call fresh elections. But that's a big gamble: in 2019 the PiS managed to cobble together a majority only with United Poland's help.</p>
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