#ICYMI Friday Roundup June 6, 2014

Copyright: A Nelson/ICRC

Copyright: A Nelson/ICRC

This is a weekly list of articles, podcasts, videos, blog posts, and other online items that have caught our eye here at Intercross. The list is curated from a humanitarian perspective on armed conflict, so you'll discover links to a variety of things - from articles on international humanitarian law and the use of lethal force, to stories about finding dignity and compassion in the midst of conflict. A small disclaimer: Just because something is featured here, doesn't mean we endorse or agree with it, and the views expressed on the platforms we're highlighting don't necessarily reflect those of the ICRC.  It's a little bit eclectic and by no means exhaustive, but our hope is that it will open up a window on humanity in war and offer our readers some insight into what we're tracking here in DC. (You might find some light-hearted stuff at the end.) We do our very best to update it each Friday. Feel free to leave comments and point us in the direction of items we might have missed. 

May 31 – June 6

D-Day anniversary

Friday marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed on the French coastline of Normandy in an operation that would leave 9,000 soldiers wounded or dead.

The US Department of Defense dedicated a special site in honor of the anniversary, including photos, videos, testimonies and a wealth of other information.

TIME examined the backroom diplomacy taking place on the sidelines of the commemoration ceremonies.

Foreign Policy has a fascinating piece about a lesser known event that took place in France just a few days after D-Day: the Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane.

Linked to World War II, Al Jazeera is running a two-part series called Killing the Count. It chronicles the eventful life of Count Folke Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross and a leading figure in the rescue of thousands of concentration camp prisoners in the Second World War.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl release / Guantanamo

Headlines were dominated this week by the news of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release in Afghanistan and the transfer of five Afghan detainees out of the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Miami Herald cited the ICRC on Monday as having been kept in the dark about the transfers.

Writing for the Reuters blog, Charles Dunlap Jr, a retired Air Force major general, who is the executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law School, explores the principle of "leaving no man behind".

Nearly a week after his release, the Washington Post quotes sources outlining the "conditions for the detainees' release".

Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent non-profit research organization, takes an in-depth look at "the long-awaited US-Taleban prisoner swap".

Writing in Foreign Policy, Sulome Anderson, the daughter of former US hostage Terry Anderson offers her take on the Bergdahl release.

And, we missed this when it was published on May 30 but it deserves a mention anyway (#ICYMI): Just Security's Steve Vladeck offers an informative summary of the legal developments surrounding Guantanamo since 2012.

Vulnerable Migrants

President Obama recently declared that the flood of migrant children trying to cross the Mexican border into the US has become an "urgent humanitarian situation".

Read the Associated Press story.

NPR takes us to Texas to hear how some of the children are being housed and educated.

In a separate report on migration this week, NPR rides "The Beast" across Mexico to the US border and explores the treacherous trip more and more children are taking in an attempt to reach America.


Former NSA Director, Keith Alexander, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he expects "an attack is going to come", which will place the agency under further scrutiny. In the interview, the general tells Amanpour: “I do think an attack is going to come and hit us or Europe…And then people are going to swing this right around.”


The Atlantic got a rare look inside the Air Force's drone training classroom: "The technology of war is changing," Corey Mead reports, "but the fundamental conflict is the same."

Africa, polio & violence

Girl left in forest in Central African Republic chaos. This story from AP reveals both the tragedy and compassion than can be found in the midst of war.

Writing in the New Yorker, Sarah Stillman explores the political fight against polio and where the disease refuses to die. She writes, "The three countries where it remains endemic are Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Where else does the risk linger in 2014? The long list of trouble spots includes Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic, with recent appearances in Gaza and the West Bank."

Speaking of Nigeria, Al Jazeera English has an opinion piece with Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society, who writes that Boko Haram's appeal goes way beyond Nigeria.

On a more positive note, National Geographic's blog looks at "Life in Africa, Unfiltered" in an interview with one of the creators of the recently-revamped Everyday Africa website, which aims to show a different side of Africa than the stories of violence, rape and refugees we so often hear and, in our case, talk about.

US foreign policy

Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman explores possible book titles for President Obama's future foreign policy memoir.

Meanwhile, Politico looks at how Obama's attitudes and behaviour have changed in his second term in office.

Photography, philosophy, music, and ideas

A stunning collection of photos from Afghanistan is currently on display in London but if you can't make it to the UK, catch a glimpse of it here. The imagery is breathtaking.

The Philosopher's Mail ruminates on why conversations are often so boring and how you can cultivate better ones. Favorite quote: "Finding oneself in a good conversation can feel as haphazard and random as stumbling on a beautiful square in a foreign city at night ­– and realising one won’t reliably know how to get back there in daytime."

The New Yorker has a new blog about ideas, which seemed like a good... idea.

And speaking of New York and ideas, this is totally unrelated to war, law, policy or humanitarianism but it's a heckuva good listen from British band, Elbow (performing on Jimmy Fallon).