16 March, 2011

As a Japanese-American recently repatriated from Egypt, this year’s news cycle has been a bit tough on my soul.  I’m having a hard time watching the news these days without feeling emotionally connected to all the devastation and strife that I see, both nature induced, and man-made.

There are a lot of things that I’ve been wanting to write about, as I’ve gone to several events in the DC area where I’ve listened to and talked to the most amazing minds working towards a new Egypt. I saw Michelle Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace give a really insightful outline on where Egypt can go from here.  I saw a panel at GWU which consisted of journalists, academics and activists (although I guess you can argue that all of them are activists) get into an intense debate about the role of the military and the Muslim Brotherhood in shaping the constitution and the future of the country. Tomorrow, I’ll be attending a lunch discussion at the Society for International Development for “A Discussion on the Current Situation and the Road to Reform.” One of my friends who I met at a Young Professionals in Foreign Policy event will be there so I’ll have two things to look forward to. I also recently had a job interview where I was asked to submit a writing sample, so I wrote up a short memo on US-Egypt trade relations. Fingers crossed. Needless to say, Egypt hasn’t left my mind.

I guess the big lesson that I’m learning from watching both Egypt and Japan go through their respective recovery/transition periods is that people show admirable abilities to come together and get through tough times. The international community, as always, is full of compassionate supporters and it makes me feel a bit more at ease when I know there are amazing people out there in this overwhelmingly big and sometimes depressing world.

My heart goes out to all of the people in Japan who have been affected in any way by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat. My mom told me that Japanese people are very strong and can endure very difficult situations. After WWII, we had nothing but we became one of the largest economies in the world. We can build our country again and again, no matter what happens. Also, everyone in my family is safe, if you were wondering. Hamdilallah (Arabic for thanks be to God… although on a side note… I’m not very religious, but it’s just a common saying to express relief).

Also, if you want to help out by donating money, Huffington Post made a fairly comprehensive list of places that you can donate to here.


On Libya

11 March, 2011

I’m going to dip my toes into some waters I haven’t tread in before: attempting to make sense of the civil conflict currently wracking Libya. There’s a lot of things to consider, and there’s a number of points that I’d like to address. I want to say up front that I am by no means an expert on Libya- I’m way better at Egypt and the Levant than I am with anything in North Africa. If I’m off base on any of my assumptions, please let me know and I’ll happily correct them.

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