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Fighting Ideas: Military Power vs. Ideology,

We have been sold a story that goes like this: spend more on weapons, get more peace. But a strong government with an overpowering military didn't stop Luke Skywalker from joining the Rebel Alliance and launching an attack against the Death Star. It didn't stop Katniss from defying the Capitol. And it didn't stop Harry Potter and Dumbledore's Army from opposing the corrupt Ministry of Magic. La Résistance is an incredibly common trope.

Deterrence theory suggests that military strategy should entail more than just winning the war: it should deter conflict in the first place. By having a bigger military--a "bigger stick," if you will--you can avoid attacks because your opponent knows the damage they will incur in a fight is likely too big a price to pay. Typically applied to nuclear war, it certainly seems logical when dealing with certain actors--rational governments may avoid war with those who have nuclear bombs. Even in this context though, it is losing favor.

10 Horrifying Facts about Nuclear Weapons

This article was originally published for BogglingFacts. It has been cross-posted with the permission of author Reagan M.

On August 6, 1945, the world changed forever. After an American bomber unleashed the world’s first glimpse of an atomic bomb, countries scrambled to get their hands on the technology to ensure their safety. The power of nuclear weapons is almost unfathomable, and if nuclear war was to ever break out, it would likely spell the end of the world. Luckily, it’s this fact, among others, that has kept war from breaking out thus far. Read on for 10 more horrifying facts about nuclear weapons.

Key Elements of the Paris Climate Agreement: Deepening International Action

This article was originally published for the NRDC. It has been cross-posted with the permission of author Jake Schmidt.

World leaders are meeting in Paris to finalize an international climate change agreement that will require deeper emissions reduction commitments from all countries. If all goes well, all major countries will enshrine their new climate commitments in this agreement. The agreement will contain provisions to hold countries accountable to their commitments and mobilize greater investments to assist developing countries in building low-carbon, climate-resilient economies. And encouragingly, businesses, investors, states, provinces, cities, financial institutions, and others are already pledging actions to help governments implement the agreement and even exceed their commitments.

While the Paris agreement won't "solve" climate change, it can be a critical inflection point. It brings us much closer to a safer climate trajectory and highlights the path forward after Paris.

So what needs to be addressed in the Paris agreement if we are to build stronger international climate action that mobilizes action now and spurs even greater action in the years to come?

These key elements are outlined in the NRDC’s new "issue brief."

New emissions reduction targets for the Post-2020 timeframe by key countries

On this National Day of Giving

This year, GivingTuesday is arriving  just in time.

We're seeing four million refugees fleeing Syria; 38 million people worldwide internally displaced from war, terror, and suppression in 2014 alone; barrel bombs dropped on civilians by their own government; and countless other atrocities.

Now, under great pressure from the spread of terrorism, extreme weather, unrestrained war and huge migration flows across the globe, leaders from around the world are catching up to our vision of a well-governed world.

Citizens for Global Solutions has been invited to join global policy leaders in promoting crucial United Nations reforms, reforms that can prevent the triumph of terrorism, the cataclysm of global warming, or even World War III.

On Tuesday, December 1, Citizens for Global Solutions is participating in GivingTuesday, a day where people all across our nation come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to support the worthy causes in which they believe. 

We invite and encourage you to join the movement and to support Citizens for Global Solutions’ efforts to create a movement for crucial global governance initiatives before the window of opportunity closes.

Silent Violence Against Women

How many victims of silence there are, and at what cost! Silence has its laws and its demands.... Silence demands that its enemies disappear suddenly and without a trace. Silence prefers that no voice of complaint or protest or indignation disturb its calm. And when such a voice is heard, silence strikes with all its might to restore the status quo ante—the state of silence.     —Ryszard Kapuscmski, The Soccer War


November 25 is the UN-proclaimed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues to an alarming degree. It presents an attack upon women’s bodily integrity and their dignity. We need to understand the universality of violence against women; the various forms it takes; and the ways in which gender-based violence, discrimination, and the broader system of domination are inter-related. The value of a designated day is that it serves as a time of analysis of the issue and of rededication to taking action.

Belarus: The Wild Card

It seems that every time I look at my phone, there is a news alert telling me about a new catastrophe somewhere around the globe. In the midst of the Paris terror attacks and the latest confrontation between Turkey and Russia, it is easy to assume that human rights abuses today are centered around violent conflict, often on an international scale. While these crises are worth our attention and concern, it is important to remember that there are still domestic issues being overlooked.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported earlier this year on the status of human rights in Belarus, and the outlook was—and continues to be—bleak. HRW stated:

The human rights situation in Belarus has deteriorated drastically and was marked by flawed presidential elections in 2010 and an ensuing crackdown on peaceful protesters and opposition activists. During the Human Rights Council’s initial review of 2010, the government rejected recommendations to protect freedom of speech, association, and assembly, as well as to implement a moratorium on the death penalty…Belarus continues to use the death penalty and to severely restrict freedom of expression and association, including through harassment and intimidation of journalists and restrictive nongovernmental organization (NGO) laws.

The Refugee Crisis: How the United Nations is Dealing with the Problem

Syrian refugees walk past UNHCR tents at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

The events of November 13th have truly rocked civilized peoples of the world to the core. For many Parisians, it was just another Friday night: some decided to attend a soccer game; others made plans to have a quiet dinner at a favorite restaurant; and other people went to hear a concert.

However, as the world knows, this was no ordinary night. An evening of tranquility quickly turned to chaos. “The City of Light” was suddenly darkened, and what would happen next was uncertain.

The same group wreaking havoc across the Middle East brought its terror to the streets of the French capital. Yes, the Islamic State of Syria (ISIS) struck at the heart of Europe by hitting key soft targets in an attempt to inflict as much pain and suffering as they could. They place no value on human life, as they are willing to sacrifice their own lives in the name of a very twisted and perverse ideology.

What began as peaceful protests against the Syrian government in 2011 rapidly shifted to a violent insurgency. In its wake, the world is left with the decision of what to do next. One of the unintended consequences of this conflict is the mass exodus of refugees flowing across the Syrian border into neighboring states, like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. These countries are now burdened with caring for the many innocent victims of this violence.

"Think global, act local"

Climate change. Terrorism. Nuclear warfare. Pandemics. Today more than ever, we are being confronted with issues that are global in nature. Gone are the days when a country’s biggest problems were confined to its own boundaries. Nations are so economically, socially, and technologically intertwined that they are forced to depend on one another.

We are all, whether we realize it or not, impacted by globalization. Globalization doesn’t just apply to migration and other large-scale situations; it is present in everyday life.

People around the world are exposed to other cultures on a daily basis without crossing any borders, via international calls, emails, satellite TV, social media, and more. Most of the material possessions we own aren’t from our own country. Even much of our food has traveled: the average American meal is transported 1500 miles before being eaten! Furthermore, people might interact with immigrants, refugees, or tourists or frequent establishments that bring other cultures in close proximity to their own. This phenomenon is described by some as “internal globalization.”

As we can see, our lives have an inescapable global dimension. For this reason, it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the living conditions of our fellow humans across the world.

Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Vital Role of NGOs

Students in Mali (UN Photo/Marco Dormino)

When the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989, governments took a major step forward in establishing a framework of world law to protect the basic dignity and rights of children in all parts of the world. 

On November 20, we remember with gratitude those who worked to develop the concepts and reality of the Rights of the Child, but also to measure the tasks that are before us. This year the CRC saw major progress in the form of ratification by South Sudan and Somalia, which leaves the United States as the only country absent.

This universal framework is based on the principle that each child should have the possibility to develop into an active and responsible member of society. The way in which a society treats its children reflects not only its qualities of compassion and protective caring, but also its sense of justice, its commitment to the future and its urge to better the human condition for continuing generations.

TheCRC covers a wide range of human rights, which can be summarized as the three Ps: provision, protection and participation.

Too Young For Marriage: Why Children Wed and What You Can Do to Help

Young Sudanese girl holding a baby near USAID tent in Al Salam internally displaced persons camp. UNICEF estimates 33% of Sudanese women aged 20-24 were married before 18. Credit: Sven Torfinn/CC By 2.0

When you're a teenager, there is a lot to worry about—school grades, friend groups, identitybut for 700 million women alive today, they also had to worry about their husbands. While in the west we usually complain about our parents as teenagers and our mothers-in-law as adults, child brides often need to worry about their mothers-in-law as teenagers. They enter into the household of their spouse with no economic or social power, expected to cook, clean, and be obedient to their new family at the expense of their own health and well being.

You thought dealing with your spouse's parents was hard. In NPR’s #15Girls piece on a child bride in India, 15-year-old Namir is fighting to keep her grades up in order to attend a boarding school that gives her an excuse to live away from her husband. While young girls in some high schools dream of weddings, drawing images of their dresses and fantasizing about a happily-ever-after, others’ weddings mark the beginning of slavery akin to Cinderella before she met her Prince Charming.