Constructing the Molotov Cocktail: Nationalism and Kashmir (dec. 2014)

12/4/2014 – International Relations @ Northeastern University
 Aaj woh Kashmir hai Mehkoom-o-Majboor-o-Faqir
Kal jise Ahl-e-Nazar kehte thay Iran-e-Sagheer
Today is a Kashmir subordinate, obligated, beggared
Which yesterday the wise called Little Iran
– Allama Iqbal

At first glance, South Asia since its inception may seem like a behemoth with realist tenets where there are meant to be tendrils. Pakistan and India’s enduring rivalry is one that seems to be perpetuating an endless struggle for domination – not regional domination, at least on Pakistan’s part. It is a quest to “one-up” the other and glean victories in small doses, if the slews of wars within the first 45 years after India and Pakistan’s independence are any indication. The four wars (1947, 1965, 1971, 1999) officially fought by the two countries do not include crossfires and standoffs. Most of these wars have been over Kashmir – with the exception of the War of ’71, which resulted in the independence of Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan. One could even point out that the Nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan (1974-1998) is the perfect example of realism in the Nuclear age – but this would undermine the very tenets upon which the two countries were created, and upon which they still function and create foreign policy to this day. As the prime catalyst for conflict between the two nations, Kashmir is the perfect case study to assess the applicability of international relations theory. My hypothesis, and what I will be attempting to prove through this essay, is that constructivism is the most closely applicable theory to the conflict over Kashmir. It should be noted that for the purposes of this essay, any references to Kashmir includes the territories of Jammu & Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, as well as Aksai-Chin, with distinctions made when needed. Continue reading “Constructing the Molotov Cocktail: Nationalism and Kashmir (dec. 2014)”


KONY 2012 – the new internet meme

TRIGGER WARNING: Human Rights injunctions. Not the most fun of topics.


Now I am sure you all have heard about this phenomenon. I’m willing to bet a lot of you reading this are all for the “Make Kony Famous” campaign, and I’m sure you all have good intentions. After all, who wouldn’t want to throw a ruthless war criminal behind bars for his acts?

But this is not the way to go. Uganda is on the path to recovery, and it needs help in this recovery – what it DOESN’T need is a terribly flawed organization forming an army of twitter hashtags to make famous a man who has done all the damage he needed to, and to shed light on the LRA, which is in decline. I repeat: UGANDA IS RECOVERING.

Let’s backtrack though. Who is Joseph Kony?

Joseph Kony is the head of the LRA, the Lord’s Resistance Army, which is a group of guerrilla fighters, whose purpose was to convert Uganda into a theocratic state. The problem which such pro-theocracy groups is that it only takes a little while before they launch a grand crusade aimed at purifying certain peoples. Then we have a problem because Joseph Kony pretty much declared himself a spokesperson of god. And then you throw a bit of occultism into the mix et, voila! Now you have a borderline cult of an army going around inducting little boys into their “cause” and raping innocent children. The LRA grew to terrorize not only Uganda, but the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Kony himself went on to take 88 wives (by “taking,” it means he declared all these poor women to be his wives, beat them into submission, and impregnated them). The LRA comprised of about 60000 child-soldiers. This number is much disputed, however, but just think about the sheer number of children they abducted.

But if this is so heinous, why am I not a fan of Kony 2012?

Scroll back up – because UGANDA IS RECOVERING. As are the other countries! And now you have Invisible Children, calling for military intervention in a country that doesn’t need it anymore just months after oil has been discovered in the country. How is this not problematic? Moreover, Invisible Children has been called out over and over for being flawed. “Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services […] with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.

Furthermore, Invisible Children supports the Ugandan Army which isn’t all that better than the LRA by way of raping and looting. They’re asking for the kind of intervention that won’t help anyone but the military – what these people need is aid to recover, to educate, to ensure that this kind of a thing never happens again.

Hashtags and posters won’t help. When the people in question do not support KONY 2012, why should you, a person entirely detached from a situation that has little relevance now? What you can do is seek out alternative charities and spread awareness for those. That’s much better than “Making Kony Famous.” People have already tried to make Kony “famous” by trying to arrest him multiple times but that hasn’t worked out

Personally, I believe we should be focusing on preventative measures to ensure something like this will never happen again, rather than screeching about a chapter that has long since been read.

Because honestly, when has military intervention ever helped anything?

Seriously though, the next time a charity organization asks you to help a population, take the time to find out what that population has to say.

Besides. If you’re going to be harping on about war criminals, I think you should take a look at the long line of US presidents unto this day first.

Or, better yet, the guy who went on a murder spree in Afghanistan a couple days ago.

That’s a bit more relevant to, you know, 2012.



Genie, a feral child

A feral child is a child who has been raised without the socialization obtained in the “civilized” world; as such, the child does not know the concept of language, human care, or social behavior and other things attributed to children raised in a human society/household. This thus not necessarily mean that all children are raised by wild animals, or self-raised; they may instead simply be severely isolated.

Genie was such a case. For the first 12 years of her life, her father kept her strapped to a potty chair in a dark room, with only a plastic raincoat to stare at. Some nights, she was bound in a sleeping bag and put to sleep in a metal-cased crib. Whenever she tried to verbalize, she would be beaten by her father. He would bark and growl at her to scare her into submission. Her brother and mother were forced to remain in the house and, sometimes, weren’t allowed to speak either; they were especially forbidden to socialize with Genie.

By the time her mother actually left her husband, with Genie, she was 13 years old and had a vocabulary of 20 words, which were mostly negative and were remnants of her struggles against her father’s abuse. When she was taken to a foster home, she was initially thought to be 6 years old and autistic. She walked with her hands outstretched in front of her like claws and didn’t learn to smile until she was with her second foster family, where she slowly began learning to interact. However, research interest in her dimmed and she was shifted around several foster homes, none of which could care for her adequately. She was abused for vomiting in one of the households, and as a defense mechanism and out of fear, refused to open her mouth for fear of vomiting. She had regressed back to silence.

She was born in 1957. As of 2008, she is a ward of the state. No one knows much about her, what her name is now, or where she lives.

It goes to show what isolation can do to a person; this is why solitary confinement drives so many prisoners insane. It’s a terrible thing to do to a person and it’s an even more abhorrent thing that a parent could do that to their own child. This is an incredible sociolinguistic case though, but it makes me so, so sad that her degeneration was caused by a lack of funding in the research. Imagine what more we could have learnt; more importantly, imagine how much more she could have grown. I really hope Genie’s doing well, wherever she is.

Apparently there’s a movie based on her life called Mockingbird Don’t Sing. Definitely on my to-watch list!