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american foreign policy Spring 2015

Volume XIV, Issue II

From the Editor-in-Chief


Dear Readers,

Editor-in-Chief Molly Reiner ’17

For the spring 2015 issue, AFP explored global economic trends from Russia to Venezuela to American attempts to broker free trade agreements. In addition, we shed light on some of the inner workings of governmental structures in the Middle East, namely General Sisi’s Egypt and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

President Jamal Maddox ’16

To begin, we look inward at the American policies regarding free trade. Connor Pfeiffer describes the necessity for such agreements as the Trans Pacific Partnership in the Asia-Pacific region and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with our European allies. Free trade, he argues, will bolster not only our economy, but also the global economy as a whole.

Editorial Board Molly Reiner ’17 Jamal Maddox ’16 Eli Schechner ’18 Michael Smerconish ’18 Lauren Wodarski ’17

We then turn to the Middle East, where ISIS has been systematically destroying cultural relics from ancient empires are being ruined at an alarming rate. Idir Aitsahalia describes this trend, illustrating the multiple motivations behind such action, and outlining the global responsibility to respect remaining cultural heritage sights for future generations. Our cover article discusses Russia’s choice between territorial expansion and inter-state cooperation. Justinas Mickus and John Zarilli outline this dilemma, describing the tenuous nature of the economic partnership known as the Eurasian Economic Union in light of Russian aggression in the Ukraine. With international outrage at Russia’s actions growing, Justinas and John take a fresh perspective in exploring Russia’s future in the international community. Finally, Eli Schechner discusses the unique role of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in mitigating terrorist threats in the Middle East. Not only must Mr. Sisi combat the threat from Hamas on Egypt’s border, but it must also deal with the growing threat presented by Iran, which is currently in negotiations with the P5 + 1 regarding their nuclear program.

Editors-in-Chief Emeriti Joe Margolies ’15

In “AFP Explores the News,” Jamal Maddox discusses the implications of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s appointment as chairman of the African Union. In light of the extreme economic and social problems plaguing Zimbabwe, this choice will have an important effect on the world’s view of his regime. Finally, in “Talking Points,” I outline the effect of dropping oil prices on three member states of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Though falling prices on the surface seem extremely beneficial, especially to consumers, residual effects on the economies of exporting countries are often severe.

Managing Editor Emeritus Rahul Subramanian ’15

Tucker Jones ’16

Blog Editor

Please continue to visit our blog at for short news updates. As always, if you are a Princeton student interested in getting involved, or if you have a comment or question about this issue or AFP in general, don’t hesitate to email me at

Michael Smerconish ’18

Sincerely, Molly Reiner Editor-in-Chief

Cover Design Eli Schechner ’18

AFP Advisory Board

American Foreign Policy is a student-written, student-run publication based at Princeton University. It was founded in the wake of September 11th to provide Princeton students with a forum to discuss the difficult problems and choices facing the United States in the world. American Foreign Policy magazine is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. No part of this publication should be construed to promote any pending legislation or to support any candidate for office. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Woodrow Wilson School, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the James Madison Program, Princeton University, or American Foreign Policy. AFP gladly accepts letters to the editor, article proposals, and donations, which are fully tax-deductible.

Wolfgang Danspeckgruber: Director, Liechtenstein Institute for Self-Determination Robert P. George: Director, James Madison Program G. John Ikenberry: Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs Cecilia Rouse: Dean, Woodrow Wilson School

This publication strives to use all Creative Commons licensed images. Please contact AFP if you feel any rights have been infringed. All correspondence may be directed to: American Foreign Policy, 2262 Frist Center, Princeton, NJ 08544


American Foreign Policy @AFPPrinceton


A merican F oreign P olicy Spring 2015, Volume XIV, Issue II

ta b l e o f co n t e n ts

4 6

8 9 10 12 15 16 17 18 Photo Credits: Xinhua, Flickr, Wikipedia

America Needs Free Trade Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Partnerships Connor Pfeiffer ’18 International Playground Bullies Non-State Actors and the Increased Deliberate Targeting of Cultural Heritage Idir Aitsahalia ’18 Putin’s Tough Trade-Off Territorial Gains or Economic Cooperation Justinas Mickus ’18 and John Zarrilli ’18

AFP Quiz

Lauren Wodarski ’17

Global Update Eli Schechner ’18

General Sisi’s War How Egypt’s Leader Confronts His Nation’s (and the Region’s) Most Pressing Threats Eli Schechner ’18

In Context

Lauren Wodarski ’17

Mugabe Takes On A New Role AFP Reviews the News Jamal Maddox ’16 Global Gallery The World in Pictures Lauren Wodarski ’17 Oil Prices and the World Economy The Consequences of Low Prices Molly Reiner ’17

Spring 2015

Cover Image by Eli Schechner ‘18


U.S. Foreign Policy

America Needs Free Trade Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Partnerships


ver the past decade, the United States has been negotiating new, multinational free trade agreements around the world. The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would establish a free trade zone that would include the United States, Japan, and nine other countries, while several others are considering joining the negotiations. Across the Atlantic, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would establish free trade between the United States and the European Union (EU). Both would dramatically expand global trade and benefit the United States and other parties to the agreements. The United States should negotiate and ratify both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in order to boost the U.S. economy and strengthen U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would increase U.S. exports to the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, TPP member countries already are one of the United States’ largest export markets, with U.S. exports to those countries totaling over USD 618 billion in 2009. However, trade barriers still exist that limit U.S. exports. Vietnam, for instance, still charges tariffs of up to 15% on some American goods while Japan charges a 38.5% tariff on beef and 40% on processed cheese according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Tariffs like these in TPP countries discourage American businesses from exporting goods to the region and make American products less competitive in foreign markets. If the TPP is negotiated and ratified, however, the vast majority of these tariffs will be eliminated and new markets will become profitable for American companies. The U.S. would also stand to benefit more even where free trade agreements already exist between the U.S. and TPP countries. Free trade between Korea, which does have a U.S. agreement, and Japan would have residual economic effects on regional trade


Connor Pfeiffer ‘18

that would, in the long-run, also benefit the U.S. and the entire TPP area. A study by two Brandeis University economists even estimates that the TPP could increase U.S. exports by over USD 120 billion (4.4%) by 2025. In short, ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership would allow American companies to more easily export goods to Asia. Approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership would also boost the U.S. economy domestically. A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that the TPP could result in an annual GDP gain of almost USD 80 billion for the United States and a USD 300 billion gain in global GDP. This increase in U.S. GDP as well as the benefits for the world economy will result in job creation and new opportunities in the United States. Secretary

“With new opportunities for American businesses, new jobs, and cheaper goods for everyday Americans, the TPP would boost the U.S. economy and better connect our economy to the Asia-Pacific region.” of State John Kerry wrote in Project Syndicate earlier this year that the agreement could create 650,000 new American jobs over the next several decades. With new opportunities for American businesses, new jobs, and cheaper goods for everyday Americans, the TPP would boost the U.S. economy and better connect our economy to the Asia-Pacific region. Turning to the Atlantic, a free-trade agreement with the European Union would also have massive economic and trade benefits for the United States. According to a study by the European Com-

American Foreign Policy

mission, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would increase U.S. GDP by almost USD 130 billion (0.4%) annually. This in itself is incredibly beneficial for the U.S. Additionally, the agreement’s positive effect on the EU economy will also help the U.S. in the long run. The same study projected that the EU would see annual GDP gains of over USD 160 billion (0.5%) annually. The boost provided by the TTIP would help jumpstart the EU economy because many of Europe’s economies are still struggling with debt and low inflation rates. Since Europe is one of the slowest growing regions in terms of GDP, boosting economic growth in the EU would help the global economy as a whole. The agreement would also reduce many tariffs that harm U.S. exports to the EU. For example, the Cato Institute estimates that the EU charges tariffs of 17% on American honey and 12% on American beef. By reducing these and other trade barriers, the TTIP would be a catalyst for transatlantic trade and benefit the U.S. and EU economies. Both free-trade agreements would improve U.S. foreign relations by forcing the resolution of many contentious international issues. Free-trade agreements usually come with negotiations and settlements on issues beyond tariffs and trade regulations. While some critics might wonder why free trade agreements should venture into areas not directly related to trade, these issues strengthen trade pacts by resolving issues that could make the agreement less effective in boosting trade and resolving international disputes that hinder international cooperation. For instance, the TTP negotiations have included a discussion on intellectual property rights. This has been a contentious issue between the U.S. and many countries in the region because of lax protections for American intellectual property in many TPP countries. Addressing intellectual property will make American media companies more willing to do business in TPP countries because their intellectual property will be protected. In the TTIP, proposed areas of the agreement include EU government transparency and anticorruption. This will help American companies avoid the harmful effects of corruption in some EU member states. Issues like these are among the most contentious in free trade negotiations because they often require member states to make big changes

U.S. Foreign Policy

European and American officials meet to discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

to their laws and give up policies meant to benefit their economy. Some might interpret this as infringing on state sovereignty, but instead it is a conscious trade-off being made by a nation to forgo some of its existing policies in order to receive the benefits of a free trade agreement with other nations. Forcing agreement on these issues in a free trade pact will reduce tensions in the long-run because bilateral relationships can focus on issues where nations agree instead of contentious issues that have now been resolved by an agreement. Free trade agreements also set up ways of mediating future disputes, so issues that reappear can be resolved more easily. The economic incentives to solve these issues are also important. Contentious international issues that have not been solved in the past are now tied to economic benefits received through free trade agreements. The U.S. would see its position strengthened in both regions because these trade pacts would create stronger economic ties to regional allies. These stronger economic ties will lead to close cooperation in other areas because the agreements will resolve many contentious political issues. By forcing agreement on points of contention between countries, the TTP and TTIP will reduce tensions between the US and its foreign partners and make cooperation on other issues much easier. Despite the potential benefits of both

the TPP and TTIP, many in the United States still have reservations about these agreements because of concerns about labor and environmental standards, the dismantling of protectionist trade policies, and the loss of domestic jobs in certain industries among other concerns. How-

“Forcing our companies to compete within a larger foreign market drives down prices for consumers and helps the economy in the long-term despite initial job losses.� ever, many of these concerns, repeated by similar groups each time a new free-trade agreement comes around, are either unfounded or are not as bad as estimated. Those concerned about the loss of traditional domestic jobs in manufacturing and other fields fail to recognize the changing face of the global economy. These types of jobs have been declining in the U.S. for decades because of a shift to the service sector, but many still remain because American companies have adapted to a changing economy to compete with foreign pro-

Spring 2015

ducers. Forcing our companies to compete within a larger foreign market drives down prices for consumers and helps the economy in the long-term despite initial job losses. While free trade agreements often contain provisions requiring signatories to adhere to certain environmental and labor standards, an expectation that a less developed country can rise to western standards overnight is simply impractical. Instead of holding up incredibly beneficial trade agreements over these issues, the better solution is to make significant gains in these areas and then let the economic grown seen by each country make future gains possible because foreign companies and government will be able to afford to increase labor and environmental protections. Ratifying these agreements will push the U.S. forward into an age of greater economic ties with two of the world’s most important regions. Increased trade and economic growth will be incredibly beneficial to Americans and the millions of people who live in these two regions. In the midst of an economic recovery and a world fraught with international conflicts, these agreements will be good for the U.S., and Americans should support them. Afp Connor may be reached at


Middle East

Iraqis walk through the rubble of the Prophet Younis Mosque in Mosul, destroyed by ISIS in July, 2014. Image courtesy of Reuters.

International Playground Bullies Non-State Actors and the Increased Deliberate Targeting of Cultural Heritage


ast week, the world stared at their computer screens in horror as Islamic State fighters gleefully smashed ancient Assyrian statues with hammers and drills. These treasures in Iraq’s Mosul Museum traced their history back thousands of years to the Assyrian Empire and made a crucial mark in world history. Right before the museum, badly looted in 2003, was about to reopen with aid from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a mob of jihadists robbed humanity of part of their shared heritage. The destruction of the winged bull statues is the latest example of a recent trend whereby cultural heritage, defined as the physical remnants of the past that fit into both the cultural identity of a group and the collective history of humankind, is the deliberate target of violence. In the past two decades, major cultural sites have been lost to violent conflict including Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas, Stari


Idir Aitsahalia ’18

Most in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syria’s Great Mosque of Aleppo, and the tombs of Timbuktu in Mali. Paradoxically, the number of cultural heritage sites has risen while the overall number of conflicts in the world was decreasing. Moreover, international efforts to bind states in protecting cultural sites during conflict also became stronger during that period, such as the founding of the International Committee of the Blue Shield in 1996 and recent additions to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Why, then, are we witnessing an increase in the destruction of cultural heritage sites and property? This puzzle can be explained by the simultaneous rise of violent non-state actors, defined as factions that lack international recognition and civil political structures but hold power through force and terror. These violent nonstate actors destroy cultural heritage because they define their existence

American Foreign Policy

and identity on cultural grounds, through their symbolic actions relayed through global media, and by their refusal to be bound by international rules. A first motivation for violent non-state actors to destroy cultural heritage stems from their basing their identity and justifying their existence on cultural grounds. As modern conflicts are predominantly intercultural rather than international, and nonstate actors generally consist of ethnic or religious groups, cultural sites

“Violent non-state actors destroy cultural heritage because they define their existence and identity on cultural grounds, through their symbolic actions relayed through global media, and by their refusal to be bound by international rules.”

have become an obvious target for four main reasons: to fuel hatred, to destroy historical evidence of the presence of the other culture, to erase evidence of exchange between the two cultures in the past, and to prove the superiority of their own culture. The Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan, destroyed by the Islamist Taliban faction in 2001, represent one of the most revealing examples of this practice of rewriting history by eliminating traces of another culture. Though historians lack a clear date on which Buddhist missionaries entered Afghanistan, archaeological evidence shows that Buddhists had already built structures in the first few centuries A.D., which continued into the seventh and eighth centuries, when the famous Bamiyan Buddhas were built. They came to symbolize a distinct Central Asian identity that combined the cultures of civilizations as disparate as Greece, India, and China. After the end of the Cold War, the militant group preaching a radical interpretation of Islam, the Taliban, rose to power in Afghanistan. In 2001, they engaged in “cultural terrorism” by destroying both Buddhas, a costly act that did not serve a strategic purpose in the sense of traditional international warfare but was a symbol meant to eradicate the traces of a culture that had preceded Islamic Afghanistan and name Islam as the only religion that had shaped Afghan culture. The recent destruction of the Assyrian statues in Mosul, which had long preceded Islam, follows this pattern. In the same spirit of rewriting history, radical Islamist clerics have even called for the destruction of the Pyramids of Giza. A second motivation for violent non-state actors to destroy cultural heritage sites is their need to justify and broadcast their existence to the world, which leads them to pursue a strategy based on highly symbolic attacks. These groups know that by targeting well-known, and well-loved, cultural sites, they will obtain better global media coverage than by simply killing more civilians in a region to which the world pays little attention. In the words of Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Knight, “Grandiose bluster is demanded of effective

Middle East

warrior propaganda that seeks to provoke.” Modern telecommunications make the prominent, almost theatrical destruction of cultural heritage more effective for non-state actors. ISIS members filmed and showed the destruction of the Mosul statues to the world, as if bragging about an achievement.

“The residents of Mosul, who nearly all reject this extremist belief and see these pre-Islamic artifacts as part of their shared heritage, have been powerless to protest, facing credible death threats if they open their mouths.” A third motivation explaining violent non-state actors’ destruction of cultural heritage is their stubborn refusal to be bound by international rules. In the past, states have targeted monuments and works of art in order to eradicate their enemies’ culture, but international legislation since World War II has made huge strides in prohibiting this. Following Nazi Germany’s widespread desecration of Jewish art and the razing of Warsaw in order to “Germanify” the city, as well as the collateral damage to countless historic monuments in Europe due to indiscriminate bombing, the international community banded together to put an end to the practice of heritage destruction. Nation-states now feel so compelled to protect cultural heritage in light of international treaties that they will sometimes pursue this goal even if it constitutes a military liability. By contrast, most violent non-state actors deny the very existence of concepts such as global cultural heritage.

Spring 2015

A spokesman for Ansar Dine militants in Mali told international reporters, “There is no world heritage. It does not exist. Infidels must not get involved in our business.” Rather than cooperating with the international agencies who instruct them to protect cultural heritage, non-state actors openly defy them. Resistance to international authority is as central to the goals and methods of non-state actors as that of petulant teenagers and playground bullies. With the international community unable to protect their heritage, people around the world have lost a crucial part of who they are. The residents of Mosul, who nearly all reject this extremist belief and see these pre-Islamic artifacts as part of their shared heritage, have been powerless to protest, facing credible death threats if they open their mouths. The rise of non-state actors over the past two decades explains the puzzling rise in cultural destruction in a world where nation-states have signed agreements and even accepted military burdens in order to protect cultural sites. Regardless of whether international laws technically apply to non-state actors, no one in the current international system can enforce them in practice on lawless groups that deny the very existence of a global cultural heritage. Since non-state actors are ipso facto powerful where state structures have failed or broken down, such as Yugoslavia, Somalia, and Iraq, there is no domestic state military force to hold back the non-state actors from their destructive goals. Non-state actors’ repeated defiance of the international community proves author Matthew Stover’s words, “orders not backed by force are only suggestions.” Ultimately, there is no easy and obvious way to protecting cultural heritage against those hell-bent on wiping it off the face of the planet. In order to find an appropriate solution, we must collectively decide just how much we value cultural heritage and what we are willing to sacrifice in order to protect it for future generations. Afp Idir may be reached at



Putin’s Tough Trade-Off Territorial Gains or Economic Cooperation Justinas Mickus ’18 and John Zarrilli ’18


hen the Russian Federation, B elarus, and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to formally establish the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on May 29, 2014, it looked as if Russia’s goal to solidify its hegemony in the post-Soviet region had become much more attainable. Less than a year later, the EEU is nowhere near the role of an economic giant and its global role is negligible. But even if there are flaws intrinsic to the EEU, the main problem facing Russia, the Union’s leader and primar y driving force, lies with how it conducts policy elsewhere. Russian ambitions in establishing a political and economic community of post-Soviet states on par with the European Union and the West overall is jeopardized by the Kremlin’s destructive policies in Ukraine and the resulting fallout with the West. It has become apparent that if Russia associates its long-term ambitions with a healthy and united EEU, it must cease its assertive—and alienating—policy towards Ukraine. In its early stages from 20102013, the EEU showed economic promise that would not only benefit Russia but also all of its members. The EEU accelerated the policies adopted by its predecessor, the Eurasian Customs Union: it moved quickly to eradicate trade barriers that previously inhibited free-trade between its countries, and thus regional financial interconnectedness increased. This lead to to an explosion in trade and commerce between the Union’s 175 million people, and further in-


creased its GDP - which had already reached USD 4 trillion. Smaller members are expected to be the primar y beneficiaries of deeper economic integration in this region, while Russia hopes to benefit from positioning itself as the driving force of its neighbors’ development. Increasing interdependence thus will give Russia leverage against the EU through increased international clout and prevent its neighbors from opening up to the West.

“Russian ambitions in establishing a political and economic community of post-Soviet states on par with the European Union and the West overall is jeopardized by the Kremlin’s destructive policies in Ukraine and the resulting fallout with the West.” Yet the EEU’s lack of ability to adjust to the global market has cast doubts on the benefits of exclusive association with Russia. The systematic flaw in the design of the EEU is that it relies primarily on the economic strength of Russia, which in turn is heav-

American Foreign Policy

ily dependent on the strength of its oil exports. Currently, Russian dependence on oil is so astounding that the countr y loses USD 2 billion in revenues with each one dollar drop in the price of oil. Unsurprisingly, the late-2014 drop in Brent crude oil prices from USD 110 to USD 50 a barrel hammered the Russian economy, which is projected to move into recession possibly as soon as mid-2015. As the Russian economy wanes, its trading capacity with its EEU partners decreases along with the political influence of the Kremlin. This raises a set of issues for both Russia and the EEU as a whole. First, the lure of the partnership with Russia stems from its ability to provide cheap oil and energ y exports. Thus, to maintain its influence within the organization, the Kremlin is incentivized to manage its oil market to keep the prices low and competitive, exerting great costs to the government. Energ y Minister Alexander Novak has acknowledged this difficult position, who said that cutting production or raising prices “will mean a loss of our niche market.” Secondly, the smaller member states are aware that cheap goods can be obtained from other providers with less political restrictions and conditions. Cognizant of this, the EEU members are showing increasing interest in forging closer trade relations with East Asian economies, notably China, India, South Korea, and Vietnam. Trade agreements with these nations, if established, will benefit the individual members of the EEU economically, while simultaneously considerably decreasing the political and economic Russian hegemony within the organization. Yet the greatest threat to the future of the EEU has less to do with pure economics and more with the Kremlin’s aggressive and alienating foreign policy regarding the Ukrainian crisis. The hardline stance President Vladi-

mir Putin has assumed regarding Ukraine has not only prompted international condemnation and hurtful economic sanctions from the West, but also is eerily reminiscent of the strong-arm policies the Kremlin utilized in the time of USSR during the Cold War. As such, Russia’s current actions

“As the Russian economy struggles, it has become more and more isolated and its rhetoric and actions more aggressive, the other Eurasian Union founders seem to be increasingly protective of their individual economic and political interests.” amplifies the skepticism of Kazakhstan’s and Belarus’ leaders, thus undermining the Russian desire to bring its neighbors under its influence. The Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, while a generally reliable partner of Mr. Putin, has described the Crimean annexation as “a bad precedent” for regional relations, and his Kazakh colleague Nursultan Nazarbayev has asserted that his countr y’s involvement in the EEU will never compromise its sovereignty and that “Kazakhstan will not enter an organization which threatens our independence.” B oth countries have substantiated their statements with specific actions against Moscow. After the initial rounds of Western sanctions hit the Kremlin, and Kazakhstan’s trade with Russia


fell by a fifth, Astana stepped up its efforts to secure cooperation with China, signing two agreements on oil, gas, infrastructure, and energ y at a collective value of USD 44 billion. Further, both Mr. Nazarbayev and Mr. Lukashenko refused to join Mr. Putin in the Russian embargo on European fish, meat, dair y, and agricultural imports the Kremlin implemented as a response to Western sanctions. As the Russian economy struggles, it has become more and more isolated and its rhetoric and actions more aggressive, the other Eurasian Union founders seem to be increasingly protective of their individual economic and political interests. At the core of the issue is the mismatch between the interests of the Russian state and the ways its leadership is tr ying to achieve them. With nearly each new development in the Ukrainian crisis, Vladimir Putin’s policies appear as increasingly divergent from the long-term interests of the Russian Federation. When Mr. Putin pursues policies that defy the West and marches towards his ideal of Greater Russia, he is compromising the prospects of sustainable Russian regional dominance potentially available through the EEU. The smaller member states of this union are not as loyal to and fearful of the modern Kremlin regime as they were during the Soviet era. Mr. Putin’s actions in Ukraine are anachronistic and detrimental to the new Russian state. His ambition to establish Russian hegemony with an iron fist is greater than the Kremlin’s economic and political power to pursue such a goal, and thus his neighbors are slipping from his fingers. Afp Justinas may be reached at

AFP Quiz Multiple Choice Quarterly Lauren Wodarski ’17 1. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean one year ago this March, had which final destination? A. Hong Kong B. Beijing C. Sydney D. Bangkok 2. A recent national outbreak of the measles, declared eradicated in the United States, originated in which American location? A. Disney World B. New York City C. Disneyland D. Princeton 3. Which possible 2016 presidential candidate recently came under fire for improper email use? A. Chris Christie B. Hillary Clinton C. Elizabeth Warren D. Jeb Bush 4. Who was the Russian liberal opposition leader recently killed in Moscow? A. Alexei Navalny B. Mikhail Kasyanov C. Boris Nemtsov D. Dmitry Peskov 5. The Islamic State recently bulldozed ancient ruins in which country? A. Syria B. Turkey C. Iraq D. Canada

Answers on page 17

John may be reached at

Spring 2015


A: President Barack Obama

announces the beginning of normalization of relations with CUBA. The United States has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba since 1960.

B: Weeks after the Charlie Hebdo

and Hypercacher terrorist attacks in Paris, a gunman in Copenhagen, DENMARK kills two at a free speech seminar and the Krystalgade synagogue.

C: The American diplomatic mis-

sion to YEMEN evacuates 19 posts due to terrorist threats after Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sana’a.

G: Alberto Nisman, just hours be- H: King Abdullah II of JORDAN I: In a surprising upset, former fore he was to formally accuse the President of ARGENTINA of covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA Jewish Community Center bombings in Buenos Aires, is found dead in his home.


launches a series of airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham following the release of a video showing Jordanian pilot Muath alKasasbeh being burned alive.

American Foreign Policy

cabinet member Maithripala Sirisena defeats the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa to become the next President of SRI LANKA.

D: United States Ambassador to

SOUTH KOREA Mark Lippert was slashed on the face and wrist by a man with a knife in Seoul. Lippert was listed in stable condition following the attack.

J: Boko Haram terrorists massacre

over two thousand civilians in the village of Baga, NIGERIA. Two months later, the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledges allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

E: Police arrest four in connection F: Israeli Prime Minister Benjawith the January 27 assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a leading politician of RUSSIA’s opposition.


Voters frustrated with the worst economic crisis in decades will head to the polls in IRELAND to vote in a new Irish parliament.

Spring 2015

min Netanyahu presents the case against the emerging nuclear pact with Iran in front of a Joint Session of UNITED STATES Congress.


Petrobras, state-owned oil company of BRAZIL, faces a corruption scandal and threatens to take down the Brazilian economy with it.

Source: The BBC, CNN, The Economist, RealClearWorld


Middle East

General Sisi’s War How Egypt’s Leader Confronts His Nation’s (and the Region’s) Most Pressing Threats


onday, July 1, 2013. Then-defense minister of Eg ypt General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offers an ultimatum to the presidential palace: “if the demands of the people are not met within [48 hours], then we will be obliged to fullfil [sic] our historical duty towards our countr y and the great people of Eg ypt to map out a future plan for the countr y.” No response from Cairo. Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Packs of militar y vehicles, armored tanks, troops and officers of Eg ypt’s Armed Forces swarm into central Cairo. The reign of Mohamed Morsi, darling of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first “democratically” elected President of Eg ypt, comes to an abrupt end, almost exactly one year after taking office and eight months after issuing a decree which effectively placed limitless power in the hands of the President. The fall of Mr. Morsi was dramatic, both as a turning point in an already historic decade regarding the simultaneous democratization and radicalization of Middle East regimes, but also for its pure cinematic qualities. The ultimatum. The televised announcement of the ouster of Mr. Morsi. The President sending incendiar y tweets against the Armed Forces while under house arrest. The suspension of the Constitution. The ascension of Interim President Adly Mansour. The gathering of “huge crowds” of pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood rioters flooding Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square, blinding Mr. Morsi’s private air force’s pilots with bright green laser pointers. In the months following Mr. Sisi’s takeover and subsequent election to the Presidency of Eg ypt, Mr. Sisi has maintained a dramatic public image: at times a liberal maverick among Middle Eastern militar y re-


Eli Schechner ‘18

gimes, all the while never forgetting his militar y background, fierce resolve, and crusading spirit to not just degrade, but obliterate any threats of jihadism putting his vision for a modern state of Eg ypt in jeopardy.

“Mr. Sisi has maintained a dramatic public image: at times a liberal maverick among Middle Eastern military regimes, all the while never forgetting his... fierce resolve...[to] obliterate any threats of jihadism.” Consider, for example, the declaration of Mr. Sisi’s government at the end of Januar y that the alQassam Brigades, the militar y wing of Hamas, is not only banned from operations within Eg ypt, but also is designated as a terrorist organization. This designation represents a drastic break from the policy of Mr. Morsi, who not only accommodated the Gaza Strip-based Sunni militant group but is currently on trial for “conspiring” with Hamas and organizing their assistance in a prison break which freed him during the Revolution of 2011. What would have once seemed unimaginable, Mr. Sisi announced one month later his administration’s intent to label not only the al-Qassam Brigades, but all of Hamas a terrorist organization.

American Foreign Policy

During his presidency, Mr. Sisi has also worked to combat growing jihadism in the Sinai peninsula. In retaliation against a mounting trend of suicide bombings and attacks against police stations and militar y institutions, compounded with the never-ending number of rocket attacks against Israel, Mr. Sisi launched a campaign on the Eg ypt-Gaza Strip border aimed at simultaneously thwarting lone wolf jihadists in the Sinai peninsula and neutralizing Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Consisting of militar y operations, mass trials, and an element of ideological reform, Mr. Sisi’s administration has—in addition to issuing the terrorist designation—closed the R afah crossing, razed nearly two thousand homes to create a buffer zone in the R afah region, destroyed hundreds of “terror tunnels” used to smuggle weapons, money, and people between Eg ypt and the Gaza Strip, and vowed to arrest any Hamas members found in Eg ypt. This crackdown against Hamas comes at the heels of and as a natural outgrowth of Mr. Sisi’s larger war against Islamic jihad, a war which has faced both tactical and ideological fronts. Following the Januar y attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and the Hypercacher kosher market, Mr. Sisi broke from other Muslim leaders in calling for a “revolution” within Islam, confronting head-on the radical Islamists at whose hands Mr. Sisi claims “the umma [worldwide Islamic community] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost.” Most recently, Mr. Sisi’s Ministr y of Religious Endowments was granted permission to close 27,000 mosques which had ser ved as breeding grounds for Islamic terrorism. These anti-jihadism measures also come as a new chapter in a book familiar to Eg yptians. Numerous Eg yptian presidents—from Nasser to Sadat to Mubarak and now Sisi—have defined their reigns by unrelenting measures against terrorism, most usually against the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1954, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamism and Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalism increasingly at odds, eight shots fired by Muslim Brotherhood member Moham-

Middle East

Men on a truck wave the Egyptian flag at a pro-Sisi demonstration in Cairo. Image courtesy of Flickr.

med Abdel Latif narrowly missed Mr. Nasser as he spoke in Alexandria. In the fourteen remaining years in which he would ser ve as Eg ypt’s President, Mr. Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoned hundreds of members and affiliates, and oversaw the execution of its leading ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, in 1966.

“Numerous Egyptian presidents—from Nasser to Sadat to Mubarak and now Sisi—have defined their reigns by unrelenting measures against terrorism, most usually against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

B eginning in 1970, Mr. Nasser’s successor, Anwar al-Sadat, released Muslim Brothers jailed under Mr. Nasser’s presidency to counterbalance the Leftism, Nasserism, and nationalism he rejected politically.

Yet in his political motions—a 1979 peace treaty with Israel and a turn toward the West for militar y support— he fell seriously out of favor with the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1981, influenced by the writings of Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, militants of a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot lobbed grenades and fired AK-47s at Mr. Sadat’s obser vation stand over a militar y victor y parade in Cairo, killing the President and ten others. In a similar fashion, Hosni Mubarak ascended to the Presidency in 1981 with a firm resolve to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. But by Januar y 25, 2011, the undercurrents of revolution, stirred by the Brotherhood but experienced by common folk in Tahrir Square, had grown to over whelm Mr. Mubarak, whose thirty-year reign came to an end, paving the way for the new Eg yptian elections which brought Mr. Morsi to power. Mr. Sisi’s crackdown on jihadism has reached beyond the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot Hamas. Following the beheading of twenty-one Eg yptian Coptic Christians on a beach in Sirte, Libya, Mr. Sisi showed no remorse in bombarding the perpetrators, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Within

Spring 2015

hours, Mr. Sisi had begun a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS weapons stockpiles and training locations in Derna and throughout Libya, to the annoyance of the United States. O ver the summer, Eg ypt declined to join President Obama’s coalition of nation’s combating ISIS, favoring a more direct retaliator y approach to a more immediate threat than President Obama’s stated long-term goal to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. This move plays into a gradual unraveling of the ties between the United States and Eg ypt. Citing the questionable means under which Mr. Sisi came to power in Eg ypt, the State Department reduced its militar y aid package to Eg ypt by USD 260 million in weapons and helicopters in October 2014 and has criticized Eg ypt for its airstrikes in Libya. All the while, a new threat pervades the Middle E ast. As the world watched Israeli Prime Minister B enjamin Netanyahu announce to a joint session of C ongress in early March, “to defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war.” While the Sunni jihadist and nuclear Iran threats seem to overlap in urgenc y, victims, and international attention, Mr. Netanyahu continued, “the difference is that


Middle East ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.” Mr. Sisi has proved his worth in fighting the former, but where does the general, and his nation, stand on the latter? According to a 2012 poll by the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner firm, sixty-one percent of Eg yptians support Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. Yet at the ver y same time, a full ninety percent of respondents would consider a nuclear-capable Iran to be a “serious threat for Eg ypt.” What explains these seemingly incongruous numbers? The Eg yptians are not, as these numbers may imply at first glance, a suicidal people, nor are they blissfully blind to their own security threats. R ather, the proof of the pudding can be found in a follow up question in the ver y same poll. When asked about Eg ypt’s own nuclear ambitions, eighty-seven percent of Eg yptian respondents indicated that they support Eg ypt building a nuclear weapons arsenal. A Tehran announcement of a nuclear weapon would ensure this possibility for Eg ypt. Eg ypt has come a long way since

2013, during which Eg yptian negotiators walked out of nuclear nonproliferation talks held in Geneva, protesting the lackluster commitment of the world to a nuclearweapons-free Middle East. Now, Eg ypt itself, previously a staunch advocate for a nuclear-free zone, reconsiders its role in pushing back against Iranian aggression, and the role of nuclear weapons in that fight. This confirms the decades-old fear of Middle East analysts, that a nuclear-capable Iran will bring about a regional nuclear arms race, embroiling not only Eg ypt, but also other “moderate” Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. As Mishaal al-Gergawi, managing director of Abu Dhabi’s Delma Institute, puts it, “a lot of the Gulf countries feel they are being thrown under the bus […] The Gulf thought it was in a monogamous relationship with the West, and now it realizes it’s being cheated on because the U.S. was in an open relationship with it.” Feeling increasingly abandoned by the United States, which appears to the region to not only be condoning but facilitating Iran’s hegemonic takeover of the region, Eg ypt, Turkey, and the Gulf states rely on themselves for defense in an age of palpably waning American inf luence. Iran’s regionally expansive ambitions are overt: guided by a principled commitment to “ex-

“A nuclear-capable Iran will bring about a regional nuclear arms race, embroiling not only Egypt, but also other ‘moderate’ Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey.” porting the [Islamic] Revolution,” Tehran and its proxies already hold significant power in Baghdad, B eirut, Damascus, and most recently, Sana’a. The combination of this tendenc y (and polic y position) to exert inf luence in neighboring Middle Eastern countries with Iran’s unrelenting quest for nuclear weapons poses a real threat to the region and the world. In contrast to countries such as Israel, widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, Iran aggresses its neighbors, and to do so backed with the potenc y of a nuclear weapon and the recklessness to use it poses unprecedentedly grave regional dangers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo. Image courtesy of RIA Novosti.


American Foreign Policy

This is why even though the presence of Israeli nuclear weapons fails to set off a nuclear arms race, Iranian nuclear weapons will. It is this fear, as well as the calculated withdrawal of American involvement in the Middle East, that sends Russian President Vladimir Putin to Cairo. Meeting with Mr. Sisi in Februar y, Mr. Putin pledged Russia’s support in jumpstarting Eg ypt’s nuclear program. Eg ypt already maintains two nuclear research reactors, and, thanks to the preliminar y agreement with Russia, will soon construct its first nuclear power plant. This agreement falls into line with Russia’s emerging Middle East polic y : thwart and challenge the United States at ever y turn. When the United States reduces aid to Eg ypt, Russia sends fighter jets to fill the void. When the United States negotiates a deal with the Iranian ayatollahs, abandoning Eg ypt and the Gulf allies, Russian state nuclear agencies simultaneously build Eg yptian nuclear power plants and fortif y Iran’s illicit nuclear sites at Bushehr. In the coming year, the P5+1 talks with Iran could head in an unknown number of directions. All the while, tensions, fears, and uncertainty, backed with a replacement of waning U.S. inf luence with a nuclear-happy Russia, rise in a Middle East teetering on the edge of a nuclear arms race. Squarely in the middle of this drama sits Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a Churchill among Chamberlains, whose countr y’s nuclear future is contingent upon the deal being brokered in Switzerland. Afp

Middle East

In Context

Compiled by Lauren Wodarski ’17 “History has placed us at a fateful crossroads...One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but...will inevitably lead to war.” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech to the United States Congress warning of the dangers of a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran that is too lenient.

“As far as I can tell, there was nothing new. If we are successful at negotiating, this will be the best deal possible for prohibiting Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,”

President Barack Obama in response to Netanyahu’s speech on the Iranian threat.

“If these convoys are carrying humanitarian assistance, why not allow a full inspection?”

U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, on the road to compliance with the September Minsk Agreement etween Russia and Ukraine.

“I ran into the bush. Since then I [have] never seen my husband and three children, [I] came back to our village in the afternoon, dead bodies were scattered everywhere.” Fatima Abaka, a resident of the Nigerian village of Njaba, where Boko Haram is rumored to have killed as many as 100

Eli may be reached at update: The Winter 2015 issue of American Foreign Policy included an AFP Explores the News segment titled “Some Unlikely ISIS Recruits.” More recent intelligence has identified “Jihadi John” as 26-year-old Londoner Mohammed Emwazi, not Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. AFP regrets this error. AFP additionally notes that Cherif Kouachi, one of two terrorists who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, was an aspiring rapper.

people in the past month.

“The fundamental struggle for dignity has been a driving force in all human history worldwide, and what drives us are a set of universal values and aspirations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry at the 28th session of the Human Rights Council. Sources:,, The BBC, The Washington Post

Spring 2015



Mugabe Takes On A New Role AFP Reviews the News


n January 30th, 2015, members of the African Union (AU) officially appointed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to act as the body’s chairman. The chairmanship of the Addis Ababa-based organization, comprised of the continent’s 54 countries, lasts one year per term, and is largely ceremonial. But Mr. Mugabe’s appointment has raised hackles within and outside of the southern African nation among his critics. Robert Mugabe, 91, ascended to the presidency of Zimbabwe in 1987. Before his career as the nation’s chief executive, he was a respected opponent of the white-dominated government of Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia. For the first decade of his tenure, Mr. Mugabe was revered as a successful post-colonial leader; when he headed the Organization of African Unity (OAU) -- the predecessor of the AU -- in 1997, his nation’s economy was the fastest growing on the continent. Almost two decades later, Zimbabwe’s fortunes have, to say the least, been reversed. The landlocked country now faces many problems, ranging from hyperinflation to Western sanctions and unproductive land policies that have gutted the once

Jamal Maddox ‘16

prosperous agricultural sector. To many, blame for Zimbabwe’s problems falls squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Mugabe. Vince Musewe, a Harare-based political commentator, writing on the occasion of Mr. Mugabe’s 91st birthday in The Guardian on February 20th, put it bluntly: “Clearly, Mugabe does not care. And even if he did, he doesn’t have the energy or wherewithal to deal with the myriad economic and social problems he has created under his dictatorship.” What exactly comprises these “myriad economic and social problems?” His failed attempt at land reform—beginning in 2000—dispossessed white landowners and transferred thousands of commercial farms to inexperienced black farmers, turning Zimbabwe from a breadbasket to a net importer of agricultural products. Moreover, repeated allegations of voter intimidation and electoral fraud, in addition to other suspected human rights violations, have led Western nations to impose economic sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his associates. With this context in mind, critics of the Zimbabwean leader fear that his appointment as the chairman of the AU will lend legitimacy to his regime. These suspicions are

not without merit; AU chairmanship gives Mr. Mugabe a voice on the world stage as the global face of the organization, while the European Union recently lifted a 2002 travel ban on the leader in order to allow him to carry out his newfound duties.

“Almost two decades later, Zimbabwe’s fortunes have, to say the least, been reversed. The landlocked country now faces many problems.” But such concerns may be overblown. The AU chairman does not hold decision making power, a role that is instead executed by the chair of the AU Commission. The easing of travel restrictions by the EU only applies when Mugabe is travelling in his role as AU Chairman. Moreover, Mr. Mugabe recently served as the head of the Southern African Development Community, another regional intergovernmental organization, without engendering much criticism. For now, Mr. Mugabe’s new role at the AU will hopefully bring attention to his faltering leadership in Zimbabwe. Afp Jamal may be reached at

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe turned 91 in February 2015. Image courtesy of the Financial Gazette.


American Foreign Policy


American Alan Gross cheers during President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address. Mr. Gross had been held prisoner in Cuba since 2009. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to congress. Meanwhile, health workers protect themselves from exposure to ebola in Sierra Leone. Images courtesy of and Flickr.

Global Gallery The World in Pictures Compiled by the Editorial Board

AFP Quiz Answers Multiple Choice Monthly 1. B 2. C 3. B 4. C World leaders march in support of free speech after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris.Image courtesy of The Blaze.

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5. C


Talking Points

Oil Prices and the World Economy The Consequences of Low Prices


Compiled by Molly Reiner ’17

fter an increased supply of oil flooded the market in recent months, oil prices around the world have plummeted. The effects on the world economy, however, have been a mixed bag. While Americans are feeling relief at the pump, countries with economies centered on oil, like Venezuela and Iran, are strugging while Saudi Arabia calls the shots. Read about the effect of falling oil prices on OPEC economies in this edition of Talking Points.

In this Section Venezuela

Food Shortages and Public Unrest


Added Pressure

Saudi Arabia Biding Its Time

Venezuela The global drop in oil prices has led to extreme food shortages in Venezuela, a member country of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), where the national debt has grown to unmanageable levels. In addition to being unable to sell oil at a profitable price abroad, the Venezuelan government has accrued debt through subsidized oil transfers to Latin American countries – a program created in the hopes of forming a coalition against the United States. This foreign policy objective has been hindered, however, by growing popular unrest due to severe food shortages , resulting in martial control in Caracas. Venezuela maintains commitment to creating a socialist bloc in South America. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Gas and oil fields near Ahwaz, Khuzestan province, Iran (April 2008). Image courtesy of Flickr.


American Foreign Policy

Iran Although Iran is less dependent on oil exports than other OPEC countries, low oil prices threaten to undo the country’s recent economic gains. Government budgetary planning, based on oil at 72 dollars a barrel, must now be re-evaluated, with severe consequences for Iran’s spending capacity. Meanwhile, Iran is struggling with the P5 plus 1, consisting of UN Security Council permanent member states and Germany, to conclude a nuclear deal they deem favorable. With the likelihood that such a compromise is reached seeming increasingly unlikely, Iran’s already faltering economy may face additional sanctions. Thus, oil revenues that are lower than expected pose a real problem for the future security of the Tehran economy.

Talking Points Saudi Arabia While other OPEC members face questions about how to pay their bills, Saudi Arabia has maintained a relatively stable economic position. This is made possible by The Kingdom’s massive financial reserves, which give the royal family breathing room before deciding to drop production in order to raise prices. Sitting in an immensely beneficial position, the Saudi government can adopt a strategic perspective. One of the countries threatened by an Iranian nuclear program, the Saudis are not complaining about an oil market that hurts the economic capabilities of its prime enemy. But they certainly cannot bide their time forever, as even the Saudi economy will eventually feel the loss in profits.

Riyadh at night. Image courtesy of Thamer Al-Hassan.

Learn more about issues relevant to American foreign policy on our blog, located at For quick foreign policy updates, follow us on Twitter @afpprinceton Acknowledgement

American Foreign Policy magazine thanks the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University for its generous sponsorship. The Program is dedicated to examining the application of basic legal and ethical principles to contemporary problems and offers numerous opportunities for student engagement, including sponsoring conferences, seminars, lectures, and colloquia throughout the year. The Program’s Undergraduate Fellows Forum provides opportunities for Princeton undergraduates to interact with Madison Program Fellows and speakers. For more information on events and how to get involved please visit the Program’s website.

Spring 2015


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Spring 2015  
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