Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 34

Just another massive financial crisis in Russia? According to The Economist: “The Russian currency crisis many feared is now a reality and the mood in Moscow close to panic. Russians are right to worry: they are heading for a lethal combination of deep recession and runaway inflation”. Yesterday in Moscow shops people converted roubles into goods. Here you can see how the Ruble Crisis looked like in the 90s.

Moving to Iraq, The New York Times provides a detailed report on the “Desert War on ISIS”. While in the initial weeks of the air campaign three out of every four missions still return with their bombs for lack of approved targets, in recent days the Iraqis “have been advancing, forcing ISIS to fight more in the open”.

Unredacted focuses on the Kennedy and Johnson Administration’s consideration of preventive military action to prevent or to delay China from acquiring a nuclear capability. Recently the National Security Archive published an Electronic Briefing Book of documents on the United States and the Chinese nuclear weapons program during the early 1960s.

The SIPRI just published the Top 100 arms-producing and military services companies fact sheet. Despite three consecutive years of decreasing sales for the Top 100, total revenues remain 45.5 per cent higher in real terms than for the Top 100 in 2002.

Finally, Venus in Arms honors again Nick Hornby and his idol, Thierry Henry, who has just announced his retirement from football. He has been really a fantastic player (we also appreciate the fact that his Italian experience was a failure because…ehm, at that time we did not support you Thierry…)


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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 3

First suggestion: look at this website to understand the Rwandan Political Violence in 1994. After 20 years we deserve detailed explanations of what happened. The Christian Davenport’s webpage is full of significant information. Here you’ll find “3 things to know about Rwanda”:  1) There Were Several Forms of Violence at Once (e.g., genocide, politicide, civil war, reprisal killing, random political violence), 2) The Perpetrators Include the Extremist Hutu Government, the Rwandan Patriotic Front as well as ordinary Rwandans 3) The Majority of Victims were Likely Hutu and not Tutsi

OECD releases the “Peer Review” of Italian Development Cooperation, 2014. According to the OECD: “Italy has raised its foreign aid contributions and its future targets, reversing a trend of falling development assistance”. Indeed, Italian Official Development assistance (ODA) decreased steadily between 2008 and 2012, but it rose in 2013. We should remember that the UN target for ODA is 0.7% of gross national income (GNI), while the Italian ODA/GNI ratio was 0.14% in 2012. The review finds that: “the country’s contribution to international development could be more effective with a clearer overall strategy and closer co-ordination across government departments”. OECD recommends institutional changes to improve the running, delivery and evaluation of development programmes. As stated by the review, some of these issues may be addressed in a reform bill being examined in Parliament.


The Atlantic provides a complex and thought-provoking article by Ian Morris on war, civilization and the future of mankind. In the words of the author: “The average person is now roughly 20 times less likely to die violently than the average person was in the Stone Age”. Optimism has recently shaped the debate on the future of war. Take a look if you are interested in such controversial issue.

SIPRI has released new figures on world military expenditure, accounting a fall of 1.9 per cent in real terms since 2012. Such drop in the global total comes from decreases in Western countries, led by the United States. But military spending in the rest of the world excluding the USA increased by 1.8 per cent. The next three highest spenders—China, Russia and Saudi Arabia—all made substantial increases. According to the SIPRI: “Austerity policies continued to determine trends in Western and Central Europe and in other Western countries”. But military spending in the Middle East increased by 4.0 per cent in 2013 (while in Africa augmented by 8.3 per cent). The first country in Africa with military spending over $10 billion? Algeria (Arab spring is far far away)

Finally, Guinea-Bissau.  Two years and one day after the coup in the March-April 2012 presidential polls, Guinea-Bissau will finally hold elections on 13 April 2014. As reported by the International Crisis Group: political and military leaders had no choice but to hold elections to avoid bankruptcy and escape from continuing international isolation. The country, which became a strategic hub in the “African Route” of cocaine (from Latin America to Europe), is considered as the first “narco-state” because of the significant role played by drug cartels. But several studies have recently illustrated how the mainstream view on “mafia-state” or “narco-state” is misleading (for a different perspective here and here).


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