Absurd Wars?

by Edward B. Rackley To remark on how seamless our online and natural worlds have become is ho-hum these days, but last week as I slurped morning coffee and chatted online with a former Mai Mai rebel (whom I’ll call ‘Dikembe’) in turbulent eastern DR Congo, I found new reason to pause. Exchanging views on…

Haiti’s Splendor Within

by Edward B. Rackley While other countries are rediscovering people power and casting out dictators, Haiti is allowing them back. ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier came and went last January; Aristide now has a passport and may return any moment. If Baby Doc’s mute visitation was a desperate bid to correct a country’s freefall, his affect conveyed…

Follow the Money Trail…

Book Review: It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower, Michela Wrong (HarperCollins, 354pp, 2009) by Edward B. Rackley A fast-moving tale of intrigue, deception and murder, It’s Our Turn to Eat follows conflicted patriot John Githongo into battle with a $1 billion USD corruption scheme directed by co-workers in Kenyan President…

Love a Man in Uniform? Think Twice in Congo

In today’s world, rarely do raping and pillaging so routinely coincide as in Eastern Congo's conflict. Increased scrutiny from the US Congress and concerned activist networks are highlighting the systematic rape and abuse of Congolese women and girls by marauding security forces, particularly Congo’s National Army. Equally appalling is Congo’s 'conflict minerals' problem—mineral ores extracted…

Siam I am

by Edward B. Rackley Nature captivates in Thailand. Its beaches and islands are legend; its birdlife and tropical flora endlessly entertain. On this visit though, nature bored me. A relentless jetlag was partly to blame. Its disorientations so warped my perceptions and instincts that I acquiesced to its inversions, accepting the Thai night as my…

May our Gods be angry: Celestial politics in Bas Congo

Edward B. Rackley Unlike in Latin America, where liberation theology was once an influential force, Christians in Africa rarely confront political oppression. On the surface, African Christian institutions claim not to meddle in affairs of the State. These days, ‘conversion of the heathens’ is passé, as Christianity is now a widespread and entrenched belief system.…

Werner Herzog: Beyond the syphilitic machine

Edward B. Rackley Even the most subtle and complex artists can’t escape the crudity of synopsis. Grazing the critical literature surrounding Herzog’s films and career, two stock phrases repeat incessantly: ‘man vs. nature’ and ‘Heart of Darkness parable’. These signposts may guide the uninitiated, but as always the map is never the terrain. Generically speaking,…

They might be giants

The town of Washington DC, where I live, is lilliputian in many ways. There are a few giant Gullivers, surrounded by droves of busy-body Lilliputians. I figure among the diminutive, cause-obsessed lilliputian hordes. We run to and fro with much speed but variable impact, given our small stature. We are disposable and easily replaced; not…

Carrots for the General

Edward B. Rackley Pencils ready? Here’s today’s five-second brain teaser: What incentives succeed in getting autocrats to relinquish power peacefully? The use of sticks and carrots to bring about reform is fertile fodder for political theory, yet in practice the tools of the trade are limited and primitive. Privation of goods or commerce is common…