Page 12 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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MAY 2013
Climate Change: A Climate and
Security Correlations Series.”
In fve essays, scholars identify ways
in which various environmental events,
both internationally and in North Africa
and the Middle East, led to social and
political change in North Africa and the
Middle East. Collectively, the con-
tributors make a plausible case for the
connection, in contrast with the many
casual observers who have asserted that
social media drove the Arab Spring.
In her preface, Anne-Marie Slaughter
(a former director of policy planning at
State, now an international afairs and
politics professor at Princeton) writes
that the efects of global climate change
“signifcantly increased the interactive
efects—and hence the overall impact—
of political, economic, religious, demo-
graphic and ethnic forces.”
As she notes, the region is particularly
vulnerable to such shocks. Because they
have relatively little arable land and water
resources, many countries in North Africa
and the Middle East must import between
a quarter and half of their food.
Given this dependence on imports, the
markedly poor global wheat harvest from
2009 to 2011 had a devastating impact on
these governments’ stability. Te poor
harvest was caused by various environ-
mental factors: an historic drought in
China, brushfres in Russia, record rainfall
in Canada and freezing storms in the
United States—all at least implicitly linked
to global warming.
As Sarah Johnstone and Jefrey Mazo
argue in their essay, “Global warming may
not have caused the Arab Spring, but it
may have made it come earlier.”
—Jef Richards, Editorial Intern
Salvaging Somalia
n January the Obama administration
ofcially recognized the government
of Somalia for the frst time in more than
two decades. Somalia has been regarded
by many as the epitome of a failed state
since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.
Te fghting soon devastated the country’s
infrastructure and agricultural produc-
tion, which fed further competition for
limited resources.
In 1992, Washington organized and
led a successful international coalition
to restore order and alleviate the famine.
However, Somalia fell back into chaos in
1993 when the United States withdrew
from the country after 19 American troops
were killed in Mogadishu.
After years of internal confict and
political violence, a Transitional Federal
Government was created in 2004 with the
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