While this might seem like a given, as an International Relations and Political Science major, I can tell you that it’s a very complicated question that whole courses were devoted to determining. A great video by C.G.P. Grey attempts to address the issue in under five minutes (I recommend you check out his many other enlightening videos).
In a world where around 870 million people suffer from chronic malnourishment — and tens of millions more come very close — wasting food would be a significant moral calamity. Unfortunately, as the Washington Post’s Brad Plummer reported on his WonkBlog, it’s also a disturbingly common and large scale problem, one that is hardly limited to privileged first-worlders living in abundance (although that’s a big part of it).
Between 30 and 50 percent of all the food that’s produced on the planet is lost and wasted without ever reaching human stomachs. That’s the stunning takeaway from a new report (pdf) from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
We’ve covered food waste before on this blog, but those figures seemed staggering to the point of absurdity. So I thought I’d comb through the report and pull out some of the concrete details that help illustrate just how the world can actually waste this much food. A sampling:
- “A [survey] in India showed that at least 40% of all its fruit and vegetables is lost between grower and consumer due to lack of refrigerated transport, poor roads, inclement weather and corruption.”
- “In mature, developed economies such as the UK and USA … entire crops, or portions of crops, can be rejected prior to harvest on the grounds of physical appearance. As a result of these factors, up to 30% of the UK vegetable crop is never harvested.”
- “Grain wastage in store varies widely with the type of crop and the region. In a developed country such as Australia, wastage of 0.75% in stored grain is at the upper end of acceptability … [In] Pakistan, losses amount to about 16% of production, or 3.2 million tonnes annually, where inadequate storage infrastructure leads to widespread rodent infestation problems.”
- “Many of the grain stores in the former Soviet Republics were engineered and constructed in the 1930s, and cold-storage warehouses and food processing facilities date back to the 1950s. As a result they are inefficient by modern engineering standards, and frequently both insanitary and unsafe.”
- “[M]any less-developed nations are located in the warmer, hotter regions of the world, such as India and Africa where post harvest losses of fruit and vegetables can range between 35–50% annually, and these countries lack the engineered infrastructure required to facilitate such post-harvest cooling.”
Note that the U.S. alone wastes $165 billion in food each year, which amounts to perhaps 40 percent of our domestic supply — a staggering number in a country with a fairly high percentage of impoverished and food-insecure people. Not only is wasting food on this scale a tragedy in its own right, but it also puts pressure on our already-strained resources, namely water, land, and energy.
Thankfully, like most such social issues, there are reasonable and plausible solutions — albeit ones requiring a tremendous amount of financial and political investment.
For poorer countries, simply building better food-storage buildings could cut down massively on waste in places like Pakistan or Ghana (which lost 50 percent of its stored maize in 2008). Better harvesting technology and techniques could also help, although the report suggests that some nations like India will need more sweeping societal and political changes to cut down on waste.
Meanwhile, wealthier regions like the United States and Europe will need to think harder about not throwing out so much perfectly good food — see this old post for more on that. One small step, which Britain has been exploring of late, is to rethink their use of food labels, which often encourage supermarkets to toss out food long before it actually goes bad.
Furthermore, time is of the essence, as other global problems are exacerbating the issue:
That may not seem like a pressing task right this second, but these issues are likely to get more attention in the years ahead. Scientists say it’s going to be a challenge feeding the world as the population soars past 7 billion and climate change deals a blow to crop yields in the decades ahead. Apart from advanced farming techniques and better land management, we’ll also need to figure out how to tamp down on food waste.
Again, this would require a significant amount of political and economic capital, from both the private and public sectors. The public needs to become more aware of this issue and put pressure on politicians and companies alike to take action. It will require a significant multidimensional approach, which is no easy task given all the other complex national and global problems occupying most societies. Of course, the consequences of inaction will be far more difficult to deal with.
To learn more about the big picture regarding this topic, read this PDF essay by the University of Minnesota’s Jonathan Foley.
There’s a widespread misconception — bolstered by news media and political rhetoric — that the U.S. is enduring a flood of migrants from Mexico. On the contrary, both legal and illegal immigration from south of the border has declined by 80 percent since 2007, the lowest at any point since 1991. The number of Mexicans returning home outnumbered those leaving the country — in fact, more Americans have left for Mexico than the other way around, with the number surging since 2005. Subsequently, our southern neighbor hosts over one million U.S. citizens, more than any other country in the world.
Furthermore, this trend is likely to be permanent, because Mexico is actually doing far better than most people realize. Since the recession, it’s economy has grown twice as fast as America’s (albeit from a much lower base). Depending on how you measure it, Mexico has the 11th to 14th largest economy in the world, with some sources predicting that it will grow to become the fifth or seventh largest by 2050 (around the level that France, the UK, and Germany are today). A few scholars even believe that Mexico could become an influential global power, which isn’t far fetched when you consider that in some areas, it’s comparable or superior to China, India, Russia, and other emerging powers.
Since the mid-1990s, the majority of Mexicans have become part of the rapidly growing middle-class, with the country recently being classified as a newly-industrialized nation. Mexico’s average life expectancy and poverty rate is comparable to the U.S. (thanks in part to its universal healthcare system), while one-third of Mexican states have a crime rate equal to or less than America’s. While the country is still enduring many problems — including one of the worst rates of violence and income inequality in the world — it’s not the dystopia that popular culture and news media make it out to be.
Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in the title role, was recently released in theaters with much critical and financial success. I haven’t seen the film myself, although I had heard vaguely about incident on which it was based. Unfortunately, though perhaps unsurprisingly, the film hardly reflects reality, mischaracterizing the titular captain as being far more heroic than he really was, and taking considerable liberty with how the whole event played out.
All that aside, the more unfortunate misconception will not be about Captain Phillips’s character, but about the background and circumstances around the hijacking. Given that the film is intended to be a fast-paced thriller, there wasn’t much effort to provide a context for why piracy is endemic in that part of the world — which for the sake of entertainment, would be an acceptable omission to make, were it not for the fact that most Americans learn about other parts of the world through the variable perspectives of filmmakers (Indeed, given how much our society consumes entertainment media, it’s usually the dominant influence on all sorts of ideas and values.)
As an article in Slate noted, piracy off the coast of Somalia stems from a number of factors, many of which are the responsibility of the outside world:
For instance: In the film, Muse [the pirate captain] briefly mentions foreign vessels coming to take away the fish off the Somali coast. Viewers new to the subject may not know what to make of these remarks, but they refer to what many observers believe was a precipitating cause of the uptick in Somali piracy roughly 20 years ago. When the regime of longtime Somali dictator Siad Barre collapsed in 1991, the country was plunged into ongoing violence between rival armed groups and left without a central government capable of defending the country’s economic interests—including the “exclusive economic zone” off the Somali coast. Fleets from Europe and Asia quickly moved in, depleting the supply of fish.
As an African Development Bank report from 2011 put it, “Fishermen, dismayed at the inability of the central government to protect their country’s EEZ, and at the number of foreign fishing vessels illegally exploiting their traditional fisheries, took matters into their own hands. Initially arming themselves to chase off the illegal foreign fishing vessels, they quickly realized that robbing the vessels was a lucrative way to make up for lost income. Seeing their success, land based warlords co-opted some of the new pirates, organizing them into increasingly sophisticated gangs.” (There have also been periodic reports of toxic waste being dumped off Somalia’s shores, including by the Italian mafia.
Unlike pirates in most parts of the world, who specialize in stealing goods on board ships, Somali pirates nearly always hold ships for ransom, sometimes for months at a time. (The Maersk Alabama incident depicted in Captain Phillips was unusual in that the crew fought off the pirates after they had already boarded.) Shipping companies were generally willing to write off pirate ransoms as the cost of doing business. This ransoms could reach as high as $9.5 million though they were generally around half of that. So it’s not surprising that the pirates in the movie aren’t impressed by Phillips’ offer of the $30,000 in the ship’s safe.
In other words, piracy is driven by a combination of political instability, economic collapse, and sheer desperation, all of which have been compounded by the external plundering of one of the last major sources of food and income.
None of this justifies piracy of course, but it does highlight the nuance and moral complexity of these sorts of phenomena — as in most issues in international relations, the causes and motivations are rarely clear cut or black and white. Piracy thrives largely in impoverished and lawless areas for a reason. Lacking any sort of opportunity, many Somalis simply don’t have a choice.
From what I’ve read, Captain Phillips does make an effort to show some of this nuance, and apparently portrays the pirates’ plight somewhat sympathetically. Regardless, my issues is less with the movie and more with how portrayals of the outside world in entertainment media is so often taken at face value…an issue for another day.
It’s self-evident that the internet has done much to bring different cultures together, helping to facilitate or event create trends that transcend boundaries and languages. This is especially the case with social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, through which people can access each other’s posts, videos, music, and other outputs freely and easily.
In order to better understand this cultural globalization, the MIT Center for Civic Media that has launched What We Watch, a website which tracks global video watching trends based on collected public data from YouTube’s Trends Dashboard. Through its neat interactive map, you can view how culture spreads through YouTube videos, and can even pinpoint where a particular video is trending and which countries and regions tend to share the most similar tastes.
Foreign Policy has an article on the project that includes a few interesting case studies — for example, some videos (such as Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”) seemed to be popular across many different countries, while others were limited mostly to those with shared languages and cultures. The results are pretty interesting:
While Argentines, Colombians, Mexicans, and Peruvians tend to watch the same videos as one another, Portuguese-speaking Brazilians are outliers in Latin America, having more in common — at least when it comes to YouTube — with Australia, Canada, and Sweden, among others (though not, it seems, Portugal).
Turkey — that bridge between East and West — favors popular videos in Europe, like this One Direction video, to those in the Middle East, which include several clips from Arab Idol and a music video by Elissa, which was trending in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, among others. (Admittedly, language likely plays a significant role here.)
The project is in part a way to find videos you might not have come across in your own country. But the map’s creators also want it to capture how culture spreads: Which videos blow up, and what paths do they take? Just how did the Dutch start watching a video by Alfaaz featuring Yo!Yo! Honey Singh, for instance? Why do some videos, like this ridiculous British ad for cereal, never win over a global audience,while this very sweet ad for Google Hangouts has garnered widespread global popularity — except in the United States, which appears to be its intended target?
Two countries that could serve as bridges, researchers found, are the United Arab Emirates and Singapore – both notable as small countries that share a lot of content with a wide range of nations. Both have large expatriate populations as well as large numbers of “guest workers.” “We can imagine a video popular in India making its way to Yemen through the United Arab Emirates,” researcher Ethan Zuckerman wrote.
It’s pretty neat stuff, and definitely worth checking out. You’ll also get to view these most popular videos yourself, so you can better see what your fellow global citizens are into — and whether you can relate!
According to a comprehensive new report issued by the Walk Free Foundation of Australia, there are nearly 30 million slaves in the world right now, including forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, and child brides in forced marriages. Slaves were found to be living in all 162 countries that were investigated, including in the United States, which hosts around 60,000. Read more about this issue here.
You don’t have to be a fellow Canada lover to appreciate that nation’s tremendous success in creating a prosperous and democratic society that is nonetheless one of the most immigrant-friendly and multicultural in the world. As Toronto- based Al Jazeera columnist Murtaza Hussain notes in a recent piece, the country has excelled not only in integrating its foreign-born population, but also in promoting acceptance and even pride among all Canadians towards immigrants and their cultures:
In major cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, roughly half the population consists of visible minorities, yet the type of social segregation and alienation prevalent in Europe is nonetheless conspicuously absent.
While immigrants tend to settle in the same neighbourhoods upon arrival, they also partake in Canadian society to a far greater degree than their European counterparts. Immigrants to Canada tend to achieve economic success, high levels of education, and social integration at a level unseen in European societies. Correspondingly, Canadians also tend to have a much more positive opinion of immigration than Europeans. In a 2006 poll asking what made them “proud to be Canadian”, multiculturalism ranked second place, behind only the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Furthermore, while immigration from Muslim-majority countries has become an increasingly contentious issue in many Western countries, the experience of Canadian Muslims defies many of the stereotypes promulgated about this community. In his book, Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism, the Canadian author Michael Adams conducted one of the broadest studies of the Canadian Muslim population ever, and found a community which strongly identified with the country and its institutions. To this end, a 2007 CBC News poll concluded that “Canadian Muslims appear to be the most contented, moderate and, well, Canadian, in the developed world.”
Thus, if multiculturalism has failed, one would be forgiven for being oblivious to this as a Canadian, where it is widely considered one of the nation’s most cherished attributes.
Indeed, Canada has long had the highest per-capita immigration rate in the world, a status that hasn’t changed despite the global recession and the coming to power of the Conservatives in 2006. Uniquely, multiculturalism pervades Canadians of almost every background and political persuasion, as demonstrated fairly recently:
This multicultural attitude recently appeared to come under siege when French-separatist politicians in Quebec – mimicking their ideology counterparts in Europe – caused a stir by introducing laws to ban hijabs and other religious attire in their province.
The feeling of dread amongst many immigrant Canadians – especially Muslims – that they were about to become the target of politically-charged xenophobia during an election season began to rise; but what was most telling was the reaction of the rest of Canada to these moves. Instead of winning support, the Parti Quebecois has come under fire while the rights of minorities have been overwhelmingly defended.
Politicians across the political spectrum spoke out to denounce the crude – and, significantly, un-Canadian – attitude taken in these proposed laws. Incredibly, newspaper ads were even taken out in other provinces welcoming Muslim women with the message: “We don’t care what’s on your head, we care what’s in it“. This is a sentiment which strikes to the core of what most people understand a multicultural Canada represents, and it is thus unsurprising to see why Muslim-Canadians identify so strongly with their country.
Indeed, both Canadian-born and foreign-born citizens shared similarly positive sentiments regarding immigration, integration, and cultural pluralism, as evidenced by a 2012 poll undertaken by five nation organizations. As CBC News reported:
When asked what makes a good citizen, the top five responses were: obeying laws, actively participating in the community, helping other people, being tolerant of others and sharing or adopting Canadian values.
But when asked to list what they did to be good citizens, respondents cited volunteer work, being kind/generous to others, paying taxes, obeying laws and voting.
The survey suggests Canadians have a broad, inclusive view of citizenship and see immigrants as their equals: nearly 9 out of every 10 respondents agreed that a person born outside Canada is just as likely to be a good citizen as someone born here.
“There’s no real evidence of people feeling threatened or a sense that, ‘Well, people can come live here from other countries, but they’re not quite the same,’” said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute.
When it comes to immigration and citizenship, the views of the majority of Canadians born in the country and the 20 per cent born outside it are largely aligned. Canadian-born and foreign-born respondents were equally likely to feel fully like citizens (78 percent versus 75 percent).”
So what accounts for this remarkably amiable relationship? Well, much of it seems to be the product of a positive feedback loop triggered by Canada’s own deliberate promotion of the benefits of immigration, which included the constitutional recognition of multiculturalism as an inherent Canadian values — an officiation that few other countries have done.
Usha George, dean of Ryerson University’s Faculty of Community Services, says the survey’s findings confirm a lot of what those working with new Canadians know already.
The willingness of Canadians to not view a person’s foreign background as an impediment to citizenship is a product of the country’s multicultural policies and the visible effect of immigrants on the economy, George said.
Integration of immigrants has worked in Canada because the government has funded programs that teach immigrants about Canadian values and society has adapted its institutions to accommodate diversity.
“The mutual recognition that we should be respectful to each other and celebrate diversity in a genuine way, those values permeate the whole society,” said George, whose faculty trains many of those who provide social and other services to new immigrants.
Whatever Canada is doing, it seems to be positively influencing immigrants’ views of the country, the survey suggests: 88 per cent of respondents who were born outside Canada said they were very proud to be Canadian, compared with 81 per cent of those born here.
Vikram Kewalramani immigrated to Canada from India in 2006 and is now a Canadian citizen living in Toronto. (Roma Andrusiak/CBC)
“Canadians who were not born in Canada are more proud than naturally born Canadians simply because we had the choice of being Canadian,” said Vikram Kewalramani, who immigrated to Canada in 2006 from India. “It wasn’t something that, literally, was a birthright. We consider it a privilege.”
For Amal Ibrahim, a Palestinian who became a citizen last year along with her two children, Canadian citizenship is primarily about respecting differences.
“It’s a great diverse culture where people learn how to live in harmony with each other while they have different ideas, different religions and different backgrounds,” she said.
As with most sociocultural developments, I imagine a big part of this sentiment also has to do with Canada’s historical and geographical character: the immense country — the second largest in the world — has always been sparsely populated, relying on a hodgepodge of different groups to settle its vulnerable and difficult frontier against the much larger neighbor to the south. This is most exemplified by the centuries of cohabitation and compromise between the distinct English and French communities, which precipitated a tradition of mutual acceptance, cultural tolerance, and cooperation (however begrudging).
As a “new” country composed of disparate settler groups, Canada also had less cultural and traditional baggage than the longer-established nations of Europe (and to a degree the United States), and thus was formed through the various waves of different immigrants that have come through during its brief history. Canadian readers can feel free to enlighten me, as my time is too short to explore the topic further.
In any case, the combination of practical and idealistic views towards immigration have created a surprising amount of consensus and cohesion among this diverse nation, one that is based largely on mutually-beneficial sociopolitical values:
Tolerance of others who are different was among the top five behaviours survey respondents considered a “very important” part of being a good citizen. Others were:
- Treating men and women equally (95 per cent ranked this ”very important”).
- Following Canada’s laws (89 per cent).
- Voting in elections (82 per cent – the same as tolerance of others).
- Protecting the environment (80 per cent).
Immigrants’ views of what makes a good citizen were strikingly similar to those of native-born Canadians, said Neuman. In the majority of cases, the responses of the two groups varied at most by only a few percentage points.
“People might think … that newcomers are coming [into] this country … with their own sense of what it means to be a citizen, and they don’t really buy into the same perspective that native-born Canadians have,” he said.
“And this research pretty clearly suggests that they’re largely the same perspective, and the more somebody is in this country, the more immigrants buy into the native-born view.”
Thus, as Canadians accept and accommodate their immigrants, so too do those immigrants “return the favor”, so to speak, by being productive, law abiding, and dedicated citizens. Hussain wraps up his article with a seemingly simple formula for how it all works:
Herein lies the great success of Canadian multiculturalism; a society which integrates newcomers not by force but through generosity, benevolence, and sincerity to its values and principles. Given such a national character it is unsurprising why Canadian immigrants of all backgrounds tend to become “Canadian” so enthusiastically -i and it is for this reason that Canada has become an exemplar of social cohesion in an increasingly globalised world.
I would love to see how this compares to Canada’s southern neighbor. The US tends to be very accommodating of a variety of immigrants as well, albeit with a much greater emphasis on assimilation and a much stronger undercurrent of anti-immigration sentiment. I imagine we’re somewhere between Canada and Europe in this regard, but that’s a topic for another day perhaps.
Of course, I have no delusions about Canadian society being some multicultural paradise on Earth; obviously, racism and discrimination still exist, as do issues of integration. But by global standards, Canada has come much farther than most nations, and could probably serve as a vital example of how to create a diverse nation that is nonetheless fairly cohesive, stable, and prosperous.
As always, I welcome all readers — especially Canadians — to weigh in. I wrote all this quite quickly, so forgive me if I missed anything.
It seems deceptively easy, doesn’t it? For many years, the conventional wisdom has been that simply handing money to people is, well, too simple — there are just so many other complex factors at work, the poor will misuse or abuse the money that’s given, and so on. Such concerns have colored our own debates about welfare and economic assistance, even though evidence suggests that the such programs have indeed reduced poverty.
But Slate reports on a recent study in one of the poorest parts of the world that demonstrates that unconditional cash transfers not only raises the living standards of those who receive it, but it also increases hours worked and labor productivity, thereby leading to a virtuous cycle of overall economic growth.
The research comes from a 2008 initiative in Uganda’s very poor northern sections. The government announced plans to give roughly a year’s worth of average income (about $382) to young people aged 18-34. Youths applied for the grants in small groups (to simplify administration) and were asked to provide a statement about how they would invest the money in a trade. But the money was explicitly unconditional—parceled out as lump sums with no compliance monitoring.
It’s easy to see that a nice injection of cash would make people better off. But in principle, the long-term impact could be ambiguous. Give money to a person whose only job prospects are low-paying and unpleasant, and perhaps he’ll simply respond by working less. That kind of income support would increase human welfare, but not really create any economic growth. That’s not what happened in Uganda. The government selected 535 groups—a total of about 12,000 people—for the experiment. Of the 535 groups, about one-half were randomly selected to actually get the money, and the rest were denied. Blattman, Fiala, and Martinez then surveyed 2,675 youths from both the treatment and the control group before dispersal of money, two years after dispersal of money, and four years after dispersal of money.
The results show that the one-off lump-sum transfer had substantial long-term benefits for those who got the cash. As promised, the people who received the cash “invest[ed] most of the grant in skills and business assets,” ending up “65 percent more likely to practice a skilled trade, mainly small-scale industry and services such as carpentry, metalworking, tailoring, or hairstyling.” Consequently, recipients of cash grants acquired much larger stocks of business capital and thus earn more money—a lot more money. Compared to the control group, the treatment group saw a 49 percent earnings boost after two years and a 41 percent boost after four.
Pretty positive outcomes, to say the least? The implications are even more encouraging.
Maybe there’s just no feasible way for subsistence farmers and casual laborers in rural Africa to get loans at reasonable interest rates. When young people get money for free, they’re able to put it to such good use that it’d be well worth their while to pay interest in order to get their hands on it. But there’s no Ugandan equivalent of federally subsidized student loans for youth to jump-start their tailoring careers.
One of the most interesting results from the experiment is that recipients of grants actually report 17 percent more hours worked, suggesting that the money serves as a true bridge to economic opportunity. Grant winners increase both the quantity and quality of labor supplied, suggesting there should be at least some spillover benefits to the broader community. No doubt there are major limits to how far up the development ladder you can climb with this strategy: It might not work in moderately prosperous countries with more access to capital. But these results are extremely encouraging. A large share of poor people live in countries (India, for example) that have enough financial resources to undertake transfer programs all on their own. And people in the rich world can pitch in as well. GiveDirectly is an exciting new charity model that lets you directly transfer money to households in Kenya.
Overall, the message is that taking a huge bite out of global poverty may be easier than most people realize. Poor people just need more money.
Like any method of poverty alleviation, there will be limits and caveats. But given its relative simplicity and cost-effectiveness, there is no excuse why we shouldn’t see more efforts like this being undertaken.
While I do think that the focus on overpopulation is understandable, I also believe that it’s dangerous distraction from a much bigger issue: overconsumption.
For every large family living in an impoverished part of the world, there is a single individual in a developed nation that is consuming far more than all of them in terms of both calories and natural resources.
And even though population growth in the wealthier part of the world is slowing (and in some cases even reversing), increased longevity means that the comparatively small number of over-consumers continue to absorb more resources over a longer period of time.
Furthermore, as Western — namely American — habits of consumption take hold in developing nations, we risk straining our environment and resources further.
One case in point: the United States, with around 5% of the world’s population, consumes about a quarter of the planet’s fossil fuels. What were to happen if another developing nation of a similar size or greater follows our model of development? China, for example, despite all its emphasis on alternative energy, still relies largely on coal and oil.
Again, this isn’t to say that both issues are mutually-exclusive. But if we minimize population growth while continuing to voraciously consume our resources, it won’t make a difference. We need to change the way we manage our crops, food distribution, water, and more
ON the night of Sept. 16, 1982, the Israeli military allowed a right-wing Lebanese militia to enter two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camps’ narrow and darkened alleyways. Nearly all of the dead were women, children and elderly men.
Thirty years later, the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps is remembered as a notorious chapter in modern Middle Eastern history, clouding the tortured relationships among Israel, the United States, Lebanon and the Palestinians. In 1983, an Israeli investigative commission concluded that Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them.
While Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood. This summer, at the Israel State Archives, I found recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre. The verbatim transcripts reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier.