Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Failing Syria's refugees

Sent to you by klcreative via Google Reader:

via David Rothkopf by casey.marye on 12/2/12

   -- The Middle East Channel Editor's Blog -- 
 There are plenty of strong reasons for the United States and the international community to remain deeply cautious about taking a deeper role in Syria's internal war. Concerns about the nature of the Syrian opposition and the unintended effects of arming them, fears of a slippery slope from limited to direct military involvement, and questions about international legitimacy remain as urgent as ever.  But what could possibly justify the failure to adequately address the humanitarian needs of the expanding Syrian refugee population?  
Nobody can seriously question the magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis. There are now more than 465,000 refugees registered with UNHCR in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and North Africa. By past experience, this likely dramatically undercounts the real number as many refugees shy away from registering with official organizations. That does not count the internally displaced, which likely number in the hundreds of thousands. Most of the refugees are living in harsh conditions, inside or outside of camps.  [[BREAK]]
But, as with the Iraqi refugee crisis of the mid-2000s, the international community is once again failing to respond to this urgent humanitarian problem. The United States has given almost $200 million to help Syrian refugees, and Britain some $85 million. But it clearly is not enough. As a harsh winter approaches, international relief agencies report significant shortfalls in their funding appeals and failures to deliver on promised contributions. UNHCR reports that donors have met only 35 percent of its $500 million appeal. Save the Children claims a $200 million shortfall and only 50 percent funding of its refugee relief needs. On Tuesday, the United Nations World Food Programme expressed deepening concerns over rapidly deteriorating food security inside Syria, compounded by inhibited distribution with the escalating and expanding conflict. Meanwhile, host governments complain of the economic and social burden, and many fear their destabilizing impact.
The international community should have learned more from its poor performance in dealing with Iraqi refugees over the last decade, of the deep human cost and the long-term destabilizing effects of such refugee flows.  Dedicating serious resources to assisting Syrian refugees seems like an obvious and core part of any effort to contain and mitigate the regional fallout of the crisis -- whether or not Assad quickly falls, and regardless of the questions surrounding military intervention. 
The shortcomings of the international response to the Syrian refugee crisis across the region is difficult to fathom given its obvious humanitarian and strategic importance. It is even more difficult to justify given that helping refugees offers such an obvious way to "do something" without committing to military options deemed unwise. Humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees should be a high priority that does not get lost in the ongoing debates over arming the opposition, the course of the internal war, and possible military interventions.  The problem here is not really the United States, which has provided the largest share of official relief, but rather the Gulf states which have not matched their words of support with money, other states which typically step up in such situations, and the broader donor community. 
POMEPS and The Middle East Channel recently spoke with Northwestern University Assistant Professor Wendy Pearlman, who has just returned from over a month in Jordan interviewing Syrian refugees. Watch the video here:
For more from the Middle East Channel on Syrian refugees, see:
- David Kenner, "Winter is Coming"  (Nov 1)
- Justin Vela, "Turkey's Men in Syria" (Sep 18)
- Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, "Syrian Spillover" (Aug 10)
- Stephen Kalin, "Little Solace for Syrian Refugees in Egypt" ( Aug 10)
- Justin Vela, "No Refuge" (Mar 7)
- Nicholas Seeley, "Jordan's open door for Syrian refugees" (March  1)

Things you can do from here:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Appreciating What's In Front of You: Today!

I am really thinking about these words at the end of the piece.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Throw "IT" in the Trash

I recently responded to a comment made on one of my post. The comment centered on me being thankful for things. While I may not express it all the time, I am very grateful, for everything that I have been able to experience in life. But the conversation reminded me of one of the primary principles that leads my living in life. Here's my response:

I'm not sure I agree with your point. There's not much one can learn, moving forward, from success. I don't believe in ceremonies or celebrations, just wins. However, that doesn't preclude me from being grateful for the things I have accomplished. I am very thankful. :-)

My professor in a 3-D Concepts course made us throw our assignments (sculptures, renderings, etc.) in the trash after the critique and grade. It wasn't a big deal when I knew I produced a half-done sub-par product. I could have trashed it before class started. But when I finally spent some time and created something extremely beautiful and useful (a sculpture made totally out of pretzels), the act of throwing it in the trash was very problematic.

I now live by that process for everything that I do in life. Professor Owens-Hart's point was that the true value in producing masterpieces does not lie in the artifact itself, but in one's ability to replicate it at any point in time. The great ones can call it up at a moment's notice, and are so finely tuned that the concern is on the 5% that's not right. Throwing it in the trash is not an act of being ungrateful. It's an act of investing in yourself by saying, "if I had to, I could do it all over again, but even better". Success is not a destination, it's a process.

I think I will make a post on this.

I find that many people go through life through the lens of destinations. You hear it all the time - "They are changing the software again!" - or - "He will just have to accept me as I am!". If there is one thing that's constant in life, the notion of process and change would be it. The privilege of earth centers on have a moment in the vast space of time to change and interact with the things around you, not in the way that comets collide with on another, but in a manner where most can become better. 

For a moment, imagine if you had to throw it all away - your possessions, your accomplishments, and everything else that you have used to identify your value. How problematic would that be for you? I'm not talking about the inconvenience of it. Most people get bent out of shape when they have to refill out a library card application. I'm talking about your resolve that you could do it again, and would do it again, and would do it better. 

People create masterpieces everyday and go unnoticed, and life moves on. That doesn't mean it's not a masterpiece. It doesn't mean that it's not useful to society. It only means that the circumstances were not right for that masterpiece to be accepted by society - that's all. But, should that stop the person from doing it all over again tomorrow? If we have learned anything about the great ones, the answer is clearly "no", because that's what they do, and that's who they are. 

I understand the pain of being unaccepted, ignored, rejected - having our stuff trashed by others. I know how it feels to give it your all and have it be laughed at, or something much worse. The pain is often driven more by the fact that you want that artifact, that expression, to be a full representation of you. The reality is that it's only an artifact or an expression that comes from something that is built to repeat that process over and over again. From now on, make masterpieces over and over again. Give them more than is expected. And after you do it, THROW IT IN THE TRASH, and go back to the lab and do it again. You will be conditioning yourself for greatness. TRUST ME!

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Personal Update

Okay, here we are on Monday heading into the home stretch to conclude the 2012 year. This moment reminds me of a preacher that was just released from prison for child-support evasion. He began his sermon by saying these words:

"Man never runs out of chances. He runs out of time."

Whatever you planned for 2012, either you did it, or you didn't. Time is up for this year. Whatever resulted from your plans this past New Year's Day, I hope in some respects you have grown, matured, and developed into a better warrior - a better thinker. I have one last project to conclude for this year - prospectus submission and defense - that was part of my plans for the year. I did not achieve everything planned for the year, but this one will be vitally important for very personal reasons. I have learned that packing your life with small, medium, and large goals helps you go through the process of refining your life to be more effective.

In a recent conversation with my good friend and counselor, I told him that I now have the focus of a an addict. I know I could use a better analogy, but hear me for a second. First, I recognize that any addiction is a bad thing, and an unfortunate situation for all those impacted by this psychological phenomenon. Addiction is a reality that most of us deal with in some form or fashion. But my point centers on the reality of the focus of an addict, to ignore things around them, to commit themselves to a lifelong pursuit for the purest experience possible, to being intolerant of the things that interfere with that pure experience. No substitutes, no additives, and nothing that does not lead to and produce the pure experience.

They say the process for obtaining a pure element like gold requires a process of enduring high levels of heat and pressure to separate the impurities from the core essence of the desired element. I am finding myself going through this refining process to be the best professional and problem-solver I can be in life - in the tradition of the addict.

Make the choice to be effective today.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Tweet from Wall Street Journal (@WSJ)

Wall Street Journal (@WSJ)
Employees who are the most productive are also the happiest at work. Ways to raise both metrics:

Download the official Twitter app here

Thank You,

Kenyatta Lovett

Sent from my iPhone