The Brothers Wilders and African Comic Books: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders (Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters)

Is Nikki Haley Ready for War?
Richard Gowan | Politico
“On Tuesday, Haley underwent a sort of multilateral initiation ritual as Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution the U.S. had worked up with Britain and France demanding that the Syrian regime should be held to account for its continuing use of chemical weapons. U.N. diplomacy can be a rough sport.

Sooner or later, one of these situations will take a decisive turn for the worse, putting Haley’s nascent diplomatic skills to the test. As I noted in a Politico profile of Haley’s predecessor, Samantha Power, every U.S. representative to the U.N. has to be ready for their ‘Srebrenica moment’: An all-out crisis that threatens to leave thousands or tens of thousands dead and humiliate both the U.N. and Washington. Power’s own predecessor, Susan E. Rice, went through her version during the 2011 Libyan war. Power confronted more than her fair share of serious crises, from the collapse of South Sudan in 2013 to the siege of Aleppo last December, and often found herself unable to avert them. Haley could face even more appalling tests.”

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The Struggle to Be British: My Life as a Second Class Citizen
Ismail Einashe | The Guardian
“Colindale was home to a large white working-class community, and our arrival was met with hostility. There were no warm welcomes from the locals, just a cold thud. None of my family spoke English, but I had soon mastered a few phrases in my new tongue: ‘Excuse me’, ‘How much is this?’, ‘Can I have …?’, ‘Thank you’. It was enough to allow us to navigate our way through the maze of shops in Grahame Park, the largest council estate in Barnet. This estate had opened in 1971, conceived as a garden city, but by the mid-1990s it had fallen into decay and isolation. This brick city became our home. As with other refugee communities before us, Britain had been generous in giving Somalis sanctuary, but was too indifferent to help us truly join in. Families like mine were plunged into unfamiliar cities, alienated and unable to make sense of our new homes. For us, there were no guidebooks on how to fit into British society or a map of how to become a citizen.”

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In Africa, Locally Produced Comic Books Are Starting to Catch On
Greg Presto | Marketplace
“It’s just one of many homegrown comics being created in Africa, where locally produced comics are catching on. There's a story about an alternate universe where Europeans failed to colonize Africa. There’s a noir detective series. Another series tells the story of a psychic hero called Alednam (‘Mandela’ spelled backwards).

They look just as slick as any American comic, but these stories aren’t an easy sell to traditional African publishers. Many artists self-publish runs of 200 to 500 copies, but they still need a place to sell them. Emmanuel Nyakwada, an artist who goes by the pen name Point Blank Evumbi, created a delivery service to distribute his comics.”

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Military-Grade Camera Produces Eerie Photos of Refugees
Charley Locker | WIRED
“You can’t help but feel profound sadness seeing Nilufer Demir’s photograph of Alan Kurdi, the little boy who drowned as his family fled Syria, or desperation looking at Darko Bandic’s photo of thousands of migrants crossing Slovenia on foot. That’s the point. Most photographers want you to empathize with their subjects. Richard Mosse wants to unsettle you.

Mosse uses a military thermal radiation camera to create remarkably detailed panoramas of refugee camps in his ongoing series Heat Maps. By employing technology more typically used in surveillance and warfare, Mosse offers a critique of how refugees are too often treated—as a threat to be mitigated or a logistical problem to be solved. ‘It’s my attempt to use that technology against itself, to create an abiding image of very provisional, temporary spaces that we’d rather overlook in our society,’ says Mosse.”

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Dutch Populist’s Brother Speaks Out
Claus Hecking | Der Spiegel
“He is a master of short messages. And in this complex age, that is precisely what many people want: a simple political vision without any nuance. Geert gives them that. He creates an identity: We, the Dutch people. And he also creates opposite poles: Muslims, the European Union, the elites. Terrorist attacks, refugees and the euro crisis engender fear and dissatisfaction. My brother, French populist Marine Le Pen and others take advantage of this mood and offer seemingly simple solutions: out with the migrants, close the borders, exit the EU. But our problems are far more complex. Geert peddles illusions to people.”

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The Holocaust’s Great Escape
Matthew Shaer | Smithsonian Magazine
“Now Zeidel himself had arrived in the forest. Nazi guards led him through a pair of gates and past a sign: ‘Entrance Strictly Forbidden. Danger to life. Mines.’ Ahead, through the gaps in the pines, he saw massive depressions in the ground covered with fresh earth—the burial pits. ‘This is it,’ he said to himself. ‘This is the end.’

The Nazi killing site at Ponar is today known to scholars as one of the first examples of the ‘Holocaust by bullets’—the mass shootings that claimed the lives of upwards of two million Jews across Eastern Europe. Unlike the infamous gas chambers at places like Auschwitz, these murders were carried out at close range, with rifles and machine guns. Significantly, the killings at Ponar marked the transition to the Final Solution, the Nazi policy under which Jews would no longer be imprisoned in labor camps or expelled from Europe but exterminated.”