Top Picks - October 5 to 9: Worrisome reflections on Turkey’s future, pressure mounts to close GTMO, what it’s like to cover the White House & much more!

ONE OF THIS WEEK’S TOP PICKS FEATURES AN INTERVIEW WITH AN AUTHOR WHO EXAMINES WHAT PROMPTS PEOPLE TO DO GOOD? (THIS IMAGE IS FROM UNITY STATE IN SOUTH SUDA IN 2014. COPYRIGHT: ICRC/PAWEL KRZYSIEK) 

ONE OF THIS WEEK’S TOP PICKS FEATURES AN INTERVIEW WITH AN AUTHOR WHO EXAMINES WHAT PROMPTS PEOPLE TO DO GOOD? (THIS IMAGE IS FROM UNITY STATE IN SOUTH SUDA IN 2014. COPYRIGHT: ICRC/PAWEL KRZYSIEK) 

This week’s Top Picks is brought to you by Anna Nelson, the Head of Communications and Public Affairs for the ICRC in Washington D.C. (and former Intercross Editor).

The Atlantic ran an interesting piece by Soner Cagaptay, the Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute, who says while he’s “usually an optimist when it comes to Turkey’s future,” he’s now worried that faced with a “toxic combination of political polarization, government instability, economic slowdown, and threats of violence,” the country is in serious trouble. While he points out that Turkey has gone through turmoil before, he thinks things look different this time around.

Writing in the Washington Post’s PostEverything section this week, Professor Laurie Blank asks, “Was the U.S. attack on the Kunduz hospital a war crime?” She points out that while the suffering and horror of the tragic incident are all too evident, the “legality or illegality of the strike rests on what commanders knew at the time.” Blank teaches at Emory University law school and is the director of its IHL Clinic.

Meanwhile, The Post reported that “Time is running out for Obama to fulfill promise to close Guantanamo.” Reporters Missy Ryan and Adam Goldman say U.S. Defense Secretary Carter will face “a crucial test” in the coming months as “pressure mounts on the Pentagon to resettle the detainees overseas and help President Obama make good on one of his top national security goals.”

The New York Times is running a new series by the Times Insider, checking in with the reporters and editors behind some of their biggest stories. This week, the series checked in with Peter Baker, The Times’ chief White House correspondent and asked him what it’s like to cover any issue that crosses the President’s desk. From crashing on midnight deadlines to travelling around the world, Baker describes what makes his beat so fascinating. (Thanks to ICRC DC’s Deputy Head of Delegation, Mark Silverman for spotting this one!)

CNN says the Nobel Peace Prize Committee “confounded expectations” by bypassing figures such as Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel by giving the coveted award to the Tunisia National Dialogue Quartet. CNN says the move “appeared to be an effort by the Nobel Committee to bolster the Arab Spring,” which began in Tunisia in 2010. (An interesting bit of trivia: the Founder of the ICRC, Henry Dunant, won the very first Nobel Peace Prize back in 1901.)                 

Finally, vox.com wrote about a writer, Larissa MacFarquhar, who spent years studying what brings out the good in people. Interviewed by Vox’s Dylan Matthews, the author of the book, Strangers Drowning: Grappling With Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help, starts by explaining the difference between do-gooders and heroes. (Hint: Do-gooders plan good deeds in cold blood. Heroes have goodness thrust upon them.) Matthews also quizzes MacFarquhar about what drives altruism in people. It’s an interesting read humanitarians. 

Editor's note: A small but important caveat: just because something is featured here doesn't mean we endorse or agree with it. The views expressed in the links we're highlighting don't necessarily reflect those of the ICRC.