Hollywood Finally Does Something Right

“Captain Phillips”, the new Tom Hanks movie about the 2009 Maersk Line attack by Somali pirates, and subsequent rescue operation of the captain, was the best security-related movie I have seen since “Breach”. Despite some people giggling throughout the movie, it was not funny, or even, “entertaining” in a conventional sense. Then again most movies are just as much about what the audience brings in as what the movie aims to portray. To me, this episode was just a small glimpse into the much larger picture of Somali piracy. I liked that the movie quite realistically portrayed the way Somalian warlords use local villagers to perform their bidding in capturing ships, kidnapping hostages, and exchanging them for hefty ransoms. Max Boot, in the July 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs, provided an excellent overview of the ransom situation and a series of excellent suggestions, based in history, of eliminating that security situation altogether. But the focus of the movie was not the battle of strategies or a survey of all pirate attacks. It focused on an individual, faced with the challenging of saving the ship from a group of attackers. There are rumors that the historical Captain Phillips was not the courageous, quick-thinking he is portrayed to be. I was not surprised that the situation was somewhat exaggerated for dramatic effect. None of it took away from the merit and point of the movie. Regardless of the historical Phillips’s initial recklessness, or at least, the team’s interpretation of his actions, much remains to be said for the attempt to outwit the pirates.

The acting in the  movie was top notch. Tom Hanks is as superb as I have ever seen him. He begins as a shaky, unsure regular Joe type, who is trying to fake it through a traumatic, highly unusual (for him) situation. However, he becomes increasingly confident, deliberate, and as the movie progresses, cunning. The pirates, excellently played by a team of newcomers, were quite realistic and rather frightening. I liked that the director did not attempt to make them all “redeemable”. Some film critics disagree, and argue that the director was trying to send a “we are all humans” message, and to contrast the overwhelming might of US ships and Navy against the pathetic figures of the pirates ambushing the ship, and later crouching down in their skif. But to me, the essence of the pirates (and the director’s view of them) was encapsulated in Captain Phillips’ outcry: “You’re NOT just a fisherman!” On the one hand, the film acknowledges the sad reality that Somalia is a failed state with no infrastructure, and with villagers completely in the power of the local war-lords. On the other hand, individuals still have a choice, as we see in the differences between the pirates. One is just a kid, who did not realize what he was getting into and came to regret his decision. He was the one who ended up showing some compassion to Phillips, but ended up dead having made his choice to stick with the pirates. The leader of the gang was conniving and ambitious, and although he claimed he had no choice and had to proceed with the hostage-taking or face sure death in the hands of the warlord, at no point in time when he had a choice to retreat before it became “too late” did he exercise it. As for the other two pirates, they were drug addicts and completely savage. But not insane. They knew exactly what was going on and what would happen once the US Navy arrived.

The conversation between Phillips and Muse/Skinny (the leader of the gang of pirates) shows more resignation than true hopelessness on the pirate of the pirates.  Phillips says that there’s gotta be something better than kidnapping people. Muse says that in America, there is but not in Somalia. At no point during Phillips’s time as a hostage does Skinny ever show regret or remorse over doing what he does… only a glimpse of regret over having to relinquish the real earnings to the warlords. He does not show any concern for his family left behind, for the wounded kid who came to pirate with them, for his hostage (only in so much as he needs him alive for ransom), or for his community. There is not even a thought in his mind of expressing the wish to go someplace better (other than his sarcastic comments about coming to the U.S) or finding help in trying to create the opportunities that are now non-existent… or even just getting away from the war lords. As for his companions, they are acting no better than the war lords who sent them, and become increasingly abusive towards their hostage for no reason at all.  There is no discussion of Al Shabab, Islam, or Al Qaeda in the movie, other than Skinny claiming that they are not Al Qaeda and just want money for ransom. On the one hand, this lack of discussion of other issues that plague Somalia help focus on the personal situation of Phillips and his interactions with the pirate. On the other, without understanding the interconnections between war lords, who profit from piracy, Al Shabab that is so prevalent in Somalia, and its links to Al Qaeda one cannot fully comprehend the situation, and thus, to an average viewer unfamiliar with the backdrop, against which the movie is taking place, the stand-off MAY indeed become another generic action sequence, albeit more exotic and gritty than your average shoot-em-up urban gorefest.

For the more discerning viewers, this movie is an opportunity to start thinking about the much more complex reality of piracy, terrorist groups, and failed states that lie behind it.  While certainly not a full exploration of the issue, it could certainly serve as a beginning of a disconcerting exploration. For everyone else, it might be one of the first films in recent years where the evildoers are presented without sentimentality, or an attempt to make their motivations appear more complex than they really are, and for that, at least, I am grateful. Is this a start of a much more down to earth approach to real issues in Hollywood Lalaland? I am not holding my breath, but I will hope that at the very least, the future movies will emulate this movie, rather than some recent propagandistic disasters such as Zero Dark Thirty.  Also, kudos on bringing Somalia to the radars…. it gets much space in newspapers, but not too much attention from the general public being so far away and largely irrelevant to the average citizen’s life. I hope to be exploring the approach to the security issue from Somalia soon.

Examining the Syrian Crisis Through the Lens of the Just War Theory

This post was written for the Conditions of War and Peace class I am currently taking. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

The Case of Syria
After this week’s class, focused on just war and intervention, it would be interesting to examine the case of Syria against the Yugoslavia and Libya examples used in the lecture. Before I get into Syria, let us review the underlying concepts.

Just war is used to describe a combination of a just cause, such as the defense of one’s homeland against an invasion, and legitimate means, i.e. proportionality and distinction.

Proportionality refers to trying to minimize casualties and property damage by inflicting no more harm than one expects to gain benefit.

Distinction refers to the practice of separating combatants and non-combatants.

Intervention refers to the use of military force either to prevent a humanitarian disaster, i.e. when a dictator is slaughtering a vulnerable population, or alternatively, international organizations can come together to act as supportive government when a government is too weak, poor, or otherwise incapable to provide security to its population (a failed state). A failed state can come around as a result of a war, international or civil, or even as a result of a well-meaning intervention.

Yugoslavia is widely used as an example of failure of the international community to act in a timely matter to prevent mass casualties. Although limited to a massive civil war in a localized area, Yugoslavia presented a cause for concern for a number of international actors. It was also the chessboard where various political interests were played out before any action was taken to protect civilian population. Europe had an interest in ending violence that set a dangerous precedent for the war-ravaged continents, which had finally enjoyed peace and relative stability for the past several decades. Russia identified with its Serbian Slavic “brethren” and sided with them during all the follow-up conflicts. The United States initially stayed out, but with NATO late in the gained, air bombed Serbia after the Srebrenica massacre to protect Muslim population. UN condemned the violence, but did not actually get involved in the conflict, opposing the idea of international organizations getting involved in a local civil war. Regardless, much of the discussion is focused on the perception that NATO acted too late and could have saved many lives. IN the later follow-up conflicts, NATO did get involved at earlier stages. Currently, former Yugoslavia Federation republics are enjoying peace and stability as independent states.

With Libya, Colonel Qaddafi, the dictator who ended up agreeing to give up his nuclear arsenal after the ousting of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, ended up squashing initially unarmed uprising and showing overwhelming force in Benghazi and Tripoli. UN, forewarned by the unfortunate events in Yugoslavia, passed resolution 1973, which created no-fly zone against Qaddafi’s forces and was backed by the Arab League and the Western forces alike. Consequently, Libya was air bombed, which helped remove Qaddafi from power, and was cited as an emergency action to prevent a mass killing of civilian protestors. However, the result of the ousting was the coming to power of a government, that was largely unable to provide security, and some members of which had links to Al Qaeda. A failed state creates another burned on the international community, despite the good reason of saving lives that led to the intervention.

Syria example is still more complicated than the previous two. Bashar Assad has indeed used a very heavy hand against the rebels. The current uprisings initially started out as peaceful localized protests, but quickly spread throughout the country, engaging a variety of groups, including Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and various Al Qaeda associates, and turning increasingly violent. As a result of the lethal violence, much of the civilian population has been caught between Assad and his army and Al Qaeda-backed rebels. Both sides have been cited for their gross human rights violations. Chemical weapon attacked have occurred, widely attributed to Assad, though some argue that the rebels have used chemical weapons in the past.

The international community has expressed extensive concern for the use of WMDs, as well as the mass casualties in the civilian population. However, attempts to stabilize the situation through economic sanctions, have been largely stymied at the UN by Russia and China. The United States has proclaimed the use of WMDs as a red line in the conflict, but the method of intervention – a series of short air strikes, which might not accomplish much, or a longer involvement that might stretch US financial and human sources beyond its capabilities, has not been decided upon, and after a controversial stormy discussion in the Congress, has been discarded. Other allies have backed out of intervention, and other regional actors chose not to get military involved. Syria represents a strategic interest for many, many actors both in the area and outside of it, and this looks like the instance where involvement could bring in so many complications and so little relief that it might not be worth it.
Despite the general sympathy for the suffering population, there are several issues to consider. The first and the foremost is that there is no viable leadership to take over should Assad be removed. Currently, the majority of the rebels consists of Al Qaeda associates. The rest are disparate, voiceless, and corrupt. Some would compare Syria to both Libya and former Yugoslavia, wherethe dictators reigned – Qaddafi and Milosevic, respectively, but also terrorist-linked groups (some of which did come to power in Libya, and in the case of former Yugoslavia, attacked Serbian civilians in retaliation for atrocities committed by Milosevic). Due to the lack of political alternatives, Syria seems to be heading in the direction of eventual dismemberment or at the very least, a failed state scenario not dissimilar to Somalia and Sudan. Due to its strategic location, and interest of such rogue actors as the Iranian-backed Hezbullah, Iran itself, and numerous others, it has a much greater potential for regional and international destabilization than Yugoslavia and even Syria.

Military intervention seems to be a hopeless, rather than a just cause, in Syria’s case. Not only is it notlikely to save the civilians who have not yet fled the country or have been internally displaced, but it has the potential to bring Al Qaeda associates to power, or else to draw in a harangue of various actors into a proxy war, which will make Vietnam seem like a skirmish, due to the globalization of threats in the region, as well as nuclear ambitions and capacities of some of the interested parties. Looking at this rather messy example, one has to argue that any intervention or war, however just or humanitarian at the heart of it, should not be undertaken without clear objectives, means to attain them, and a sound, realistic exit strategy.

Yugoslavia and Libya required nothing more than air bombings on the part of the countries, who participated in the interventions. Objectives for Syria have not been articulated, as no one has envisioned the next step after removal of Assad and his cohorts. Nevertheless, not to end on a pessimistic note, that does not mean that a military intervention or a just war are the only ways to help civilian populations trapped between a rock and a hard place of dictators and violent groups. Perhaps similar steps could have been taken in Yugoslavia and as well, although in both instances political interests or lack of good planning prevented the international community from taking decisive non-action until events spiraled out of control.

A combination of tough economic sanctions for the dictator (which Russia in particular has been opposing from the outstart), political incentives, clandestine backing, grooming, and most importantly investing into of PROMISING non-corrupt non-Al-Qaeda groups, humanitarian and other material support for constructive grassroots movements among the population, and committed peacekeeping forces with the ability to stand up to both the army and at the rebels would be the ideal scenario. But even some of these factors could be more fruitful than a hopeless military intervention at this point.

Furthermore, infiltrating the rebel forces and slowly destroying them from within could solve the problem without further implicating the non-combatants. While understandably, the course focused on just war and intervention as necessary international steps to helping helpless civilian populations, it drew a false dichotomy of inaction and strong military k involvement as the only possible reactions to a crisis as observed in Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria. There is a potential for many intelligent, creative, political and combined solutions that could save many lives, much property, and prevent the disaster of collapsed states and embittered, alienated populations.
In cases that are messy, where there are no clear winners, and there is a lot of wrong committed by all sides, ideas of proportionality and distinction seem to be, if not completely inapplicable, then at least bound to be reevaluated and restructured to fit in with the new, increasingly complicateds\, global realities. Hopefully, in the future, I will be posting more on these principles and the necessity for rethinking international law in terms of the new global threats. To make it clear, I believe that while humanitarian causes are very important, all three crises described above involved a number of various geopolitical considerations that were no less important to contemplate. However, such considerations lie beyond the scope of this reflection on the principles of just war theories.

Creative, Tasteful, Useful Destruction

Continuing my series of posts from my time as an YPFP Foreign Language Fellow, covering UN Foundation’s Social Good Summit:

Разрушение со вкусом и пользой

Разрушение далеко не всегда означает неприятности и разгром, как показал МастерКласс в первый день саммита посвященного улучшению общества. Часто нужно разрушить старые представления дабы новые парадигмы могли найти себе место и укоренится в обществе. Самым ярким примером того является развитие технологий. Так же как телефон в свое время заменил телеграфы, а компъютеры заняли место, ранее занимаемое печатными машинами, любое новшевство устранеет какой-то старый порядок. Вытеснение старого новым может произойти не только на уровне как-либо технологических инноваций, но и на уровне методов и восприятий. Даниэла Фостер с энтузиазмом поведала о разрушении, в котором самым неожиданным образом учавствовала она сама.

Казалось бы, никому бы не пришло в голову думать о правительстве как о вместилище новшевств. Тем не менее, благодаря усилием Даниэлы и другим прогрессивно настроенным чиновникам, даже закостенелая бюрократия двинулась вперед вслед за другими частями общества. Даниэла со смехом рассказала о попытках ГосДепа соперничать с частным сектором и ввести систему общественной информатики на правительственном уровне. К тому времени как ГосДеп дошел до этого “открытия”, частный сектор уже ушел далеко вперед, и все “прогрессивные” предложения казались безнадежно устеревшими. Так было не раз, и в конце концов, Даниэла предложила прекратить гонки черепахи за зайцем и попросту оседлать зайца.

Она предложила партнерство с частным сектором, что само по себе шло в разлад с предыдущим правительственным подходом. Однако, к немалому удивлению сотрудников Мисс Фостер, разружение удалось на славу. Обоим партнером было что выиграть из такого альянса. Правительство получало новшество на которые у чиновников не было ни денег, ни времени, ни подхода, а частный сектор получал желаемые субсидии на развитие науки и техники. Разрушение однако, просто так не дается. Как Даниэла Фостер, так и Мэри Энн Петрилло, работающая на Сиско, и Питер Симс из 92У, известный своей книгой “Малые Ставки” выразили мнение что без провалов разрушение редко когда удается. Симс утверждал что провалы приводят к росту, улучшению, и даже многим нововведениям, а Фостер, утверждала что в современном обществе, индивидуумы, настроенные на эксклюзивное отношение к прогрессу, обречены на провал, в то время как коммандное или партнерское

отношение к дело приведет к пересмотру закостенелых взглядов и выработке нужных методов. Все участники утреннего обсуждения согласились что развитие сейчас идет по модели партнерства, а старые методы донора-приемника канули в Лету. Каждый участник партнерства в инновации должен вносить соответствующий вклад, каждый несет ответственность, каждый должен правильно оценивать ценности других участников, быть готовым и к провалом и разрушению, и сохранять гибкое отношение к согласованию в коммандных условиях. В таком случае, разрушение будет не накладным, а наоборот, даже через многие провалы, обязателно приведет к важным, полезным, и конструктивным нововведениям.

And the translation is as follows:

Destruction does not always mean problems and chaos, as was demonstrated in the MasterClass for fellows from various young professional programs on the first day of teh UN Foundation’s Social Good Summit. Very often one needs to break down old gestalt so that new paradigms could find their places and take root in society. Development of digital technologies would be the most prominent example. Just as the telephone once came to replace telegraphs, and just as computers took the place, once proudly held by the typewriters, any innovation edges out some old order. The displacement of the old with the new may take place not only on the level of some digital novelties, but also of methods and perceptions. Daniella Foster, the Director of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) at the State Department, enthusiastically told the tale of destruction, which, in the most unexpected manner, ended up involving her.

It would seem that no one would immediately volunteer the government as a candidate to be a depository of innovations. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of Daniella and other progress-minded officials, even such an ossified bureaucracy like the State Department moved forward to join the rest of society in the 21st century. Laughing, Daniella told us about the State Department’s attempts to compete with the private sector and to develop a system of social media on the governmental level. By the time the State Department got to this “innovation”, private sector had already gone very far ahead in terms of its social media practices, and all the “progressive” suggestions appeared hopelessly outdated. This happened time and again, and finally, Daniella suggested ending the race between the turtle and the hare and simply to catch a ride on the hare.

She got the idea of partnering with private industries, which in itself, ran counter to past governmental practices in the area of communications. However, much to the great astonishment of Ms. Foster’s colleagues, this entente worked out well. Both partners had something to gain from such an alliance. The government would receive innovations, for which the officials would otherwise have no money, time, or approach, whereas the private industries would receive desirable subsidies for explorations in science and technology. However, creative destruction, often does not come easy. Just like Daniella Foster, Mary Ann Petrillo, who works for Cisco, and Peter Sims of 92Y, known for his book “Small Bets”, expressed the opinion that without failures, creative destruction is rarely successful. Sims claimed that failures lead to growth, improvements, and even many innovations, whereas Foster stated that in the contemporary society, individuals, with an attitude of exclusivity towards progress, are doomed to failure, while a team or partnership attitude will lead to the review of archaic perspectives and the development of new methodologies. All the participants of the morning discussion concurred that today’s development runs along the partnership model, whereas the old donor-beneficiary model have fallen into oblivion. Each partner in innovation development has to bring something appropriate to the table. Each carries a portion of the responsibility. Each has to be able to correctly evaluate the values of the other participants, to be ready for failures and for destruction, while preserving a flexible mindset towards finding agreement in a team environment. In such cases, destruction will not be problematic; on the contrary, even after many failures, it will inevitably lead to important, useful, and constructive innovations.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a… Drone!

Thanks to Fordham Law’s Center on National Security (yes, at least one of my law school dreams has come true!), I have had an opportunity to hear a number of experts in security-related issues I probably would never have heard otherwise. One of them was Martin Chamberlain, a UK barrister, who has represented both petitioners and defendants on a variety of human rights related matters, and who has also acted as a Special Advocate on various national security and terrorism cases. The topic of the conversation was “Drones, Courts, and Foreign Policy”.

After first establishing that drones are not really different from any other type of weapon, and therefore, should not be considered in any different light than other weapons, Mr. Chamberlain got into more interesting legal issues surrounding the way drones are viewed by the British courts. Well, first off , they really are not – considered, that is. Most cases dealing with such issues have been found unjusticiable; one case that Mr. Chamberlain is currently working on may end up resulting in a decision, but that remains to be seen. Overall, although UK may in fact have significant differences in opinion with the current administration over the usage of drones in counterterrorism operations, it is loathe to admit as much publicly for political reasons, and therefore there is not much commentary to be found on such issues.

However, one avenue that the critics of UK’s alleged involvement in drone strikes have found was the possibility of pursuing a domestic criminal course of action. In essence, to draw such an accusation would mean showing that UK nationals involved in such operations are operating outside of what would be legal under domestic criminal law or international law. (Not that anyone is about to admit publicly that any UK citizens are in fact involved in anything of that nature or that the majority of UK is about to express interest in this issue). Defense to such an accusation would rest upon whether there exists a state of “armed conflict”, and whether UK is party to it. According to The Economist panel, there are no armed conflicts (under traditional international law definition) today. Although one can (and many do) argue that the definition of armed conflict should be expanded, that the policy of defining the current state of affairs as a state of armed conflict against Al Qaeda and its associates is too limiting, that counterterrorism operations  imply short-term reactionary thinking and impugn methodology rather than the motivation behind that strategy, for the time being such policy discussions are tabled or perhaps discussed, by the relevant policy-makers.

In either case, however, they lie beyond the scope of this current posting, as I found some other questions much more interesting and worthy of exploration.  An armed conflict by definition implies a military engagement on some level. The drone strikes at issue have been famously run by the CIA. The issue is, for those UK nationals engaged in helping the CIA operate those drone strikes, what level of culpability, if any, would be found should the courts decide that there is no armed conflict as there is no military engagement? Again, a reasonable argument would be that intelligence operations have been traditionally covert or clandestine, have operated in the realm of their own, and the legislatures as well as courts would not touch them or the underlying legal precepts with a ten-foot pole without a due scandal. However, what is at issue here is that such operations have been run rather publicly, US citizens abroad have been killed by presidential decree through intelligence=based operations rather than in the course of military engagement or after a procedure of criminal prosecution, and really, there is no framework in place to establish a “code of ethics” for when intelligence operations seem to take on military goals and tactics. There are overt military operations and there are covert wars. Covert wars are secretive. They take care of business without drawing attention to the actors behind the scenes. Here, for the first time, we have secret agencies operating quite openly. And that, on some level, defies public understanding. Not necessarily because people are against such agencies or their activities, though there are plenty of those as well. Not because the efficacy of such operations is in doubt (many, including Chamberlain himself, appear to think that drones are much more effective weapons, and much better at minimizing civilian deaths).

But we have organizations, whose activities are supposed to be in the realm of shadows being used as tools in the brightest light, and lawyers and laymen alike are scratching their heads. Are those agencies engaging in basically illegal activity or is their role changing as they take on quasi-military status? If the courts ever decide to grant such issues justiciability, which is not likely to happen anytime soon, (and probably for the best), a conscientious judge should find that agencies and their allies abroad, are not entirely independent entities but rather tools, implemented by their government. If any activities violating domestic or accepted international law occur, and there is no evidence of individual malfeasance, the buck stops with those who have ordered the operations. In other words, ultimately, the courts would have to conclude that the issue, at the end of the day, is still political, and leave it to the check-and-balance system to enforce compliance with the accepted norms. On the other hand, if we are to adopt the view that the role of the intelligence agencies is changing and that, in the long run, at least on some level, we should view them as partners to the traditional military institutions, our views of the current legal framework regulating both the agencies and the definitions of armed conflict should be revamped if we are ever to hope for an effective but ethical implementation of these policies.

Drones are but one area where the agencies are attracting attention, as some of their activities become more transparent and they engaged with other entities in public view. Surely, with the development of technologies, and natural evolutions of any bureaucracies, there may be more such arenas. Whatever our legislatures or courts end up deciding in the long run, the one thing must remain clear: those individuals and groups who choose to serve their countries and show loyalty to their allies must not be allowed to carry the burden of politics going awry. Should they, in good faith engage in such or other operations under the impression of fulfilling their duty, only to be scapegoated by the politicians behind such policies when something goes awry, responsibility for such failure should rest where it originated. Should such policymakers find themselves in a position of preferring to disassociate from their earlier course of action and the very tools they wielded to enforce it, hopefully the public will remember, who, at the end of the day is behind all policies, who is the creator, the preserver, and the enforcer.

I do not want to see a repetition of – yes, I hate going there, but I must – Vietnam, where, unfortunately, many soldiers, who went off to war in good faith and out of a patriotic sense of duty, were demonized as war criminals when the war went off course. I am not suggesting that any of it is likely to happen in the future, but the legal questions raised in the course of the drone discussion certainly pointed to a number of ways history might end up repeating itself if we do not, in our minds, establish clear boundaries of where we are going to go in our pursuit of justice… or enforcement of current legal frameworks, which may not be the same thing.

The Price of Inaction

Recently, I had the honor of being selected as a Young Professionals in Foreign Policy Foreign Language Fellow, after participating in a writing competition. In that capacity, I got to cover the United Nation Foundation’s Social Good Summit, tweeting and blogging in Russian. Because the Summit touched on so many important issues and topics of interest to me, I decided to repost some of blog entries, and provide the translation below. I will intersperse the entries with other issues of interest.

Когда цена бездействия превышает цену действия

На саммите посвященном улучшению общества немало внимания уделялось использованию цифровых технологий и средств общественной информации для устранения таких распространеных проблем как нищета, последствия кризисов, эпидемии, и разрушение инфраструктур. Автор филмьма “Невидимые дети” Пол Полман упомянул о том, что цена бездействия начинает превышать цену действия. Любое действие в ответ на общественные проблемы чревато последствиями, однако оставлять проблемы без ответа лишь усугубляет неприятности, которые в конце концов стоят обществу намного больше. Этот рефрен повторялся в разных вариациях в течении первого дня саммита. Заместитель Главного Секретаря ООН Ян Элиассон привел связь между развитием инфраструктур, человеческими правами, и миром. Позже, президент Мирового Банка Джим Ёнг Ким подчеркнул что ключ к миру это развитие общества.

Он предложил начать глобальное социальное движение дабы положить конец нищите. Предприниматель Эрнесто Аргуэльо рассказал о своем опыте предоставления доступного жилья рабочим в Центральной Америке. Из его опыта, должный уровень жилищных условий повлиял, даже можно сказать, перевернул жизненую установку рабочих, и превел к объединению в общины, развитию коммунного порядка, соседскому содействию, и самоуважению выраженному в активном желании повысить уровень жизни и положить конец преступности, безотцовщине, отсутствию образования, и прочим общественным проблемам. К сожалению, многие из этих призовов остались в области идеалов. Ораторы приводили лишь довольно общии примеры, и хотя общее настроение казалось оптимистичным, и многои спикеры согласились что так называемое поколение тысячелетников отличается практичным, активным подходом жизни, занимается добровольной деятельностью, и в общем, стремится помочь ближним, конкретные способы помощи не обсуждались, а лишь призывали лидеров среди молодежи искать ответы и возглавлять движение.

Таким образом, многие из речей не слишком отличались от многих подобных конференций, и хотя, в общем, дух был ясен и возразить было бы трудно против благих намерений участвующих, хотелось бы видеть более конкретную программу по ряду четко выраженных вопросов. Более того, в будущем желательно не полагаться на эмоцианальный настрой слушателей, а проявить более четкую связь между упомянаямыми инфраструктурными проблемами, нарушениями человеческих прав и гражданских свобод, и миром. Во многих странах, где наблюдается довольно приличный, или хотя бы растущих, уровень жизни, все-таки проявлются серьезные нарушения прав (например, в Китае и Саудовской Аравии), а мир и стабильность отнюдь не гарантируют хорошую экономику.

When The Price of Inaction Becomes Higher Than the Price of Action

The Social Good Summit devoted much attention to the use of digital technologies and social media towards eradicating such social plagues as poverty, crises aftermath, epidemics, and destruction of infrastructures. Paul Polman, the director of the film “Invisible Children”, mentioned that the price of inaction is growing higher than the price of action. Any action in response to social problems risks negative consequences; however, leaving these problems unanswered only makes the issue worse, and in the end, the price will be much higher. This refrain, with variations, was state repeatedly throughout the first day of the summit. Jan Eliasson, the Deputy of the UN Secretary-General, revealed the connection between infrastructure development, human rights, and peace. Later, Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, underscored that social development is the key to peace.

He suggested starting a social movement for the sake of ending poverty. Ernesto Arguello, an entrepreneur, narrated the story of his experience providing affordable living to a community of South American laborers. In his experience, an appropriate standard of living affected, or even, one might say, overhauled the attitude and life positions of the workers, leading to communal unity, development of order, neighborly help, and self-respect, evidenced by an active desire to continue raising standard of living and to end crime, fatherlessness, lack of education, and other social issues. Unfortunately, many of these outcries remain the realm of aspirational ideals. The orators provided only the most general of examples, and although everyone’s mood seemed optimistic, and many of the speakers agreed that that the millenial generation is marked by a practical, active life attitude, does community service, and in general, tries to help others, there was no discussion of more concrete types of help. The speakers merely called on young leaders to look for answers and to head social movements.

Thus, many of the talks did not differ all that much from speeches at many similar conferences, and although the spirit of the summit was clear and it would be difficult to argue with the good intentions of the gatherers, one would have liked to see a more concrete, actionable program in response to a better-defined outline of priorities. Moreover, in the future, it would be better not to rely on the emotional sway of the audience, but to reveal more clear links between the above-mentioned infrastructural problems, human rights and civil liberties violations, and peace (or lack thereof). After all, many countries, which pride themselves on a pretty decent, or at least growing, standard of living, may still observe somewhat serious human rights violations (see China and Saudi Arabia). Peace and stability are not at all a guarantee of a good economy, either.