The Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security
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Table of Contents Faculty Spotlight Dr. Ricardo René Larémont & Sereena Karsou..............................................9 Successful Western Intervention? Dorothy Manevich................................................................13 The Potential Energy of Sectarian Divide in Syria Jordan Clifford.........................................15 Qatar’s Diplomatic Offensive Ben Sheridan...............................................................................17 Global Credit Market Losers Jacob Hayutin..............................................................................19 The Eurozone Crisis Yosep Lee....................................................................................................22 The Polish Pivot Joshua May.....................................................................................................24 Exporting Democracy Anika Michel.........................................................................................27 Sino-American Relations at Binghamton University Kaixiang Yu........................................29 The West’s Nuclear Energy Predicament Juwon Sul................................................................30 Dorm Room Diplomacy Programming.....................................................................................33 Maintaining Its Mission? Jasmine Patihi..................................................................................34 Iyad Burnat Sereena Karsou.......................................................................................................36 Dorm Room Diplomacy & AJC Zachary Levine....................................................................36 The Future of the Kurdistan National Movement Joshua May..............................................37 Women in the Workforce Alice Genkin...................................................................................38 A Night with Dean Eric Schwartz...........................................................................................38
Contributor Biographies Alice Genkin is a senior studying philosophy, politics, and law at Binghamton University. She has also studied at the University of Nottingham in the U.K., and at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. She hopes to pursue a career in the field of international education after graduation. Anika Michel is a senior at Binghamton University with a double major in English with a concentration in rhetoric and Spanish language and literature. She is also a global studies minor. Anika is fluent in Spanish and has also attended university in Spain. She hopes to pursue a career in international relations. Benjamin Sheridan is a senior at Binghamton University. Before Binghamton, Ben lived in Jerusalem and attended Kivunim: New Directions. In 2012, he was a Goldman Fellow at AJC. At Binghamton, Ben founded Dorm Room Diplomacy and served as the group’s first President while pursuing his degree in political science, with a focus on global and international affairs. Dorothy Manevich is a junior studying history, political science, and French language and literature at Binghamton University. Upon graduation in May 2014, Dorothy hopes to work for the US State Department regarding foreign policy issues. Elaine Ezrapour spent a year in Jerusalem on a yearlong coexistence program entitled Kivunim: New Directions, where her courses demonstrated how two seemingly opposing people - Jews and Palestinians - have underlying similarities in their histories, languages, customs and cultures. Elaine is majoring in philosophy, politics and law and is also a JFEW-SUNY International Relations and Global Studies scholar. She serves on the executive boards of Hillel and Dorm Room Diplomacy. Jacob Hayutin is a senior with a double major in philosophy, politics and law and history and is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Binghamton Review and Managing Editor of The Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security. Upon graduation from Binghamton University in December 2013, he hopes to pursue a career in news media. Jasmine Patihi is a senior at Binghamton University graduating in May 2013 with a BA in philosophy, politics, and law and a BA in Judaic Studies. Upon graduation she hopes to attend law school in Israel to focus on conflict resolution and international law practices pertaining to the Middle East. 7
Jordan Clifford is a junior studying international relations and economics. He strives to attend graduate school at Georgetown or M.I.T to follow a career path in security studies and intelligence.
Joshua May is a freshman double majoring in political science and Arabic. He hopes to work in the field of international relations.
Juwon Sul is a sophomore majoring in Political Science with a focus on international relations at Binghamton University. Juwon lived in Chile for nearly 10 years and can speak English, Spanish, and Korean fluently. Juwon has vast insight in the areas of global Christianity and the politics of his home country South Korea.
Faculty Spotlight: A Sit Down With Dr. Ricardo René Larémont Ricardo René Larémont is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at SUNY Binghamton and a Carnegie Corporation Scholar on Islam. He has served on the faculty of SUNY Binghamton since 1997. He obtained his Ph.Dfrom Yale University, his J.D. from New York University School of Law, and his B.A cum laude from New York University School of Arts and Science. His principal books include: Revolution, Revolt, and Reform in North Africa; Islam and the Politics of Resistance in Algeria, 1783-1992; Islamic Law and Politics in Northern Nigeria; Borders, Nationalism, and the African State; and, The Causes of War and the Consequences of Peacekeeping in Africa. His research focuses upon political Islam, Islamic law, conflict resolution, democratization, and civil/military relations, usually in the region of North Africa and the Sahel.
SK: How are the consultations conducted? RL: Most of my work until this moment in time has been on the Sahel. So, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, but the book that I just edited is coming out this fall, titled Revolution, Revolt, and Reform in North Africa, so they will probably be calling me on that pretty soon.
and a professor, but which do you prefer more? RL: I have the best of both worlds. You see the thing is I really love are the students here, and I made a conscious choice because I had been a lawyer before and I practiced from 1980 until 1987. I did not really like it much so in 1987 I moved to Michigan and I just happened to fall into settle in this IraqiChristian neighborhood. Everyone around me was speaking Arabic. So, I decided to go to the University of Michigan Flint and learn Arabic. As I learned Arabic, I was interacting with the people in my neighborhood. Finally in about 1988 I said, you know, I don’t want to do this anymore. I think I’m going to go back and get a Ph.D. I decided in 1988 to make a change and in 1990 I started a Ph.D program at Yale. Then I started working my dissertation. Initially, I was going to write a dissertation about Lebanese merchants in West Africa; these are people who had economic power without political power. Then I went to visit my advisor in Paris; I was sitting in a restaurant in the 5th Arrondissement the night before I was supposed to see him to talk about my progress on my dissertation. The people at the table next to me in this little dark hole of a restaurant were engaging in a heated argument about Algeria. I said, “Wow, that sounds a lot more interesting than the dry subject that I’m working on,” so I immediately dropped it and just picked up Algeria. That was the summer of 1991; by 1993 I was a Fulbright Scholar in Algeria.
SK: When is it coming out? How much time did you spend on it? RL: It’s coming out in August. I spent about two years on it.
SK: You specialize in North Africa... RL: ...North Africa and the Sahel. Years ago, I used to do more North Africa and West Africa, but that was way too big, so North Africa and the Sahel. That’s it.
SK: You have the opportunity of being both a diplomat
SK: What are some of the trends that you see in extremist
Kaixiang Yu is a sophomore with a major in industrial and systems engineering at Binghamton University. Kaixiang spends his time experimenting with math and technology but is passionate about learning world issues and society development. As a Chinese international student, Kaixiang is currently focused on what he can do to improve and innovate Sino-American relations. Sereena Karsou is a senior at Binghamton University studying philosophy, politics, and law with a minor in environmental studies as well as Editor-in-Chief of The Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security. Sereena has lived in various regions throughout the world and upon graduation in May 2013, plans to use her language skills and experience to further a career in international diplomacy and journalism. Yosep Lee is a junior at Binghamton University where he is majoring in political science and politics, philosophy, and law. He is an international student from South Korea and speaks eight languages. Through his language skills, he looks forward to gaining a greater understand of world culture and hopes to work for the United Nations in the future. Zachary Levine is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Weston, CT. In addition to serving as President of DRD International and past co-President of the UPenn Chapter, Zachary works for a microfinance start-up in New York City and a social impact, management, financial and strategic consulting firm in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the UPenn Dean's Advisory Board and will be working at the Rock Creek Group in Washington DC this summer. 8
SK: Thank you for sitting down this DRD for this conversation. You mentioned that you have been a consultant to various governments in the past. What are some of the nations that you have previously worked with? RL: I have worked with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, government of Morocco, government of Mauritania, a lot for the European Union, France’s Ministry of Defense, and also France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
groups in North Africa? RL: Let me rephrase what I’m doing. I just finished this book as you know, Revolution, Revolt, and Reform in North Africa. The present project that I’m trying to fund is called After the Fall of Qaddafi; the Political, Economic, and Security Consequences for Libya, Mali, Niger, and Southern Algeria. I could include Mauritania as well. I guess I could really include Tunisia as well, but I am not. Maybe eventually. We as the United States are not paying a great deal of attention to it, but the French, the Spanish and the English are paying a great deal of attention to what is happening in Libya and the Sahel. What you had there is you a security regime stabilized by Qaddafi, in the sense that with his petroleum he distributed a lot of public goods throughout Niger, Mali and Libya itself. Now when he was taken out of the picture, that largesse that he was distributing within the region began to disappear. One of the reasons why Qaddafi was really interested in the Sahel is that, as you know, he was originally a pan-Arabist; very tightly connected with Gamal Abdel Nasser and he saw himself as the replacement for Gamal Abdel Nasser. But from what I’ve heard, his mother’s originally from Agadez in Niger, so he has a very strong Sahelian interest. In the 1980’s and 1990’s through the beginning of the first decade of the 20th century, he supported various networks throughout the region. When he was taken off the scene, that support network disappeared and it had destabilizing consequences in Libya and Mali, less so in Niger and to a certain extent in southern Algeria. So, I think this is a new phenomenon that we’re looking at because although the region is sparsely populated, its quite complex. It’s mostly populated by Arabs and also by Amazigh, a Berber speaking people. They don’t feel as though they belong to the governments of Mali and Niger because they’re northern, lighter skinned people who look a little different, and they haven’t been fully integrated into the state. Secondly, these people have been in the contraband trade for at least two or three centuries. Stuff like counterfeit cigarettes, petroleum and narcotics are flowing north, and stolen cars from Italy are arriving in Tripoli and Algerians. As we know from our study of Columbia or Mexico, any time you have these criminal networks, you then create networks that are independent of the state. So that’s what I’m really interested in right now. I’m also interested in the consequences of the Arab Spring, and what it means constitutionally in North Africa as well as determining whether the region is going in a positive direction. I really do not think it is 10
going in a positive direction at all in Egypt. I think it is a little bit more hopeful in Tunisia. Again to answer your question, I don’t like to frame things from a neoconservative perspective which is always to say, ‘well what is the next source of terrorism.’ I prefer to have a different paradigm of thinking about stuff which is, ‘what’s happening now and what are the demands and aspirations of the people on the ground?’ And when you look at this part of the world, what you’re seeing is a marginalized people. The Tuareg people, some Arabs, but mostly Tuaregs, they don’t really feel as though they belong to the governments of Libya, Algeria, or Mali. They have historically been involved in contraband and unless they are integrated into the states of Mali, Niger and Libya, they are always going to be this quasi-autonomous, nonintegrated social force that resorts to the black market in order to survive. Then those autonomous, quasi-criminal networks link with things like al-Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb. al-Qaeda always moves into regions of the world where the state is not strong. They did it in Pakistan. They did it with al-Shabaab in Somalia, and now they’re about to do the same thing in this region of the world. There is an opportunity to study what’s going on there because the people of these regions are not hardcore puritanical Muslims. They are pretty laid back. They have their Sufi traditions that coexist with their Islam. That’s what I’m interested in next. SK: How does the existence of a black market and the structural economic difficulties influence who ultimately profits? RL: Well, people have to survive. Not so much in Egypt, but the economies of Egypt and Tunisia are imploding rather drastically. This means that people are suffering immensely, in economic terms. Algeria and Morocco are not as bad. The surprising thing is that the fastest growing economy in the world in 2012 was the Libya’s. Natural gas production in Libya right now exceeds what it was before the revolution. So a lot of money is flowing in Libya and that then provokes a next set of questions, ‘what is going to happen with that money?’ Libya historically had been a place in which Qaddafi used his petroleum wealth to distribute resources to his people the way the Saudis do. This works amongst a small population. However, we are talking about a population of 8 million people, and Libya has a lot of natural gas for a small population. Does that mean that the sub-Saharan Africans who were working and living here before will come back? Well it wasn’t really that, it was kind of like a fantasy. The majority of workers in Libya were Egyptian,
followed by Sudanese and Ethiopians. SK: When you say, “were,” period are you referring to? RL: Before the revolution, a lot of the people who were doing menial work in Libya were not Libyans. They were Egyptians. SK: And is it hard for them to obtain Libyan citizenship? RL: It can be, and they are guest workers. It is hard to gain citizenship as a guest worker sometimes. Another complicated factor of the hydrocarbon business is it makes a lot of money but it doesn’t employ a lot of workers. It’s not labor intensive, it’s capital intensive. Now you have a capital intensive industry that’s wealthy, and one that creates other industries. So maybe you will have a construction industry, and then you will have a furniture industry. People are building buildings, roads, and furniture because in these are signs of economic growth. People come to work on roads and buildings, to build furniture, and to service cars. Libya, then, becomes a nation of growth for the region. Libya, if I’m correct, has the largest oil and gas reserves on the African continent, followed by Nigeria and then Algeria. When we examine this question of the contraband trade, as goes Libya, it may have a beneficial affect on Egypt and to the East, and maybe even from Tunisia through to the West. The region is going to profit from the energy, and it will affect the contraband trade. However, the people in the Sahel are not close enough to those petroleum sites. So for these relatively small populations, they will still resort to the contraband trade, cigarettes, stolen cars from Europe, or cocaine. With cocaine, a connection starts in Columbia; then Columbia will give it to Venezuela; then from Venezuela to the west coast of Africa. Now the primary supply line is up the west coast of Africa to Europe, where traffickers put them on container ships. Interpol has started policing the coast, slowly moving to the interior. They may fly over the Sahara and see these small antiquated Boeing 707’s, a chartered plane for trafficking. SK: So then what affect does Libya’s booming natural energy industry have on the turmoil in the region? RL: It’s potentially stabilizing because of all the money that’s coming in. One problem is you have in Libya is that there isn’t a national army. Instead, you have 200 militias. Maybe three or four big militias have set themselves apart, and they don’t necessarily answer to the state, they answer to the leader of the militia. In this sense, Libya could eventually go the route of Lebanon. We have a national army, but we also have militias. Ideally in a state you do not want a whole bunch of militias. The worst case being Somalia.
Until quite recently militias were in control and there was no state. So the question is, where is Libya on the continuum between an ideal place which is France or the United States, where the army is subservient to the government, and the opposite extreme. Is it like Lebanon? A quasi-stable but no ideal? Or is it more like Somalia? Which is not what you want? Where is it? That is one of the hidden security challenges. SK: How do you feel about France entering Mali? What benefits or setbacks would it be to Mali to have no other intervening forces? RL: The Malian army was so disorganised and so poorly sustained on a material basis that they were under the verge of being very easily defeated by the jihadists. SK: Where? RL: In the north. They were allegedly beginning to make progress towards the South, and that is why the French stepped in. I got emails from people that I know who were soldiers in the Malian army and they were engaged in a battle for northerm Mali, and, literally, the machine gun that was on his pickup truck was not properly bolted on. He couldn’t shoot straight, and he’s encountering jihadist forces who have captured arms from Qaddafi’s arms depots. I mean, they have sophisticated, accurate weaponry. They have bazookas, and he’s up here with his rickety little machine gun. So he’s completely outgunned. It was an army that was poorly supplied and couldn’t shoot straight. So the French quickly deployed, they were not really them seizing an opportunity. President Hollande is not incredibly popular in France. He was not necessarily considering doing anything in Mali, until his military advisors said ‘Look, all of these jihadist forces are moving south along one highway. You can pretty much take all of them out with almost no cost if you attack them.’ He saw this as an opportunity to do something and become popular domestically. He deployed 2,000 French troops, sort of like the United States attacking the Iraqi military as they were trying to retreat from Kuwait. This was known as the highway of death. They were all retreating on one highway, and US military aircraft basically destroyed the whole convoy. That is what they call the Valley of Death. The French took some aircraft and some infantry, but their target was largely lining this highway. It was a strategic error on the part of the jihadists that made eliminating these forces very quick and with very little cost. If you take it in the context in which president Hollande is unpopular, its a no-brainer. Even though he wasn’t necessarily inclined to do it at the beginning. SK: Professor, thank you for your time. 11
Successful Western Intervention? The French in Mali By Dorothy Manevich
French intervention in Mali should not be written off as either another chapter in the valiant fight against radical Islamist fundamentalism or another chapter in neo-imperialist western intervention. To believe either of those narratives completely is to dangerously oversimplify an extremely nuanced situation. Circumstances on the ground suggest that French intervention has been positive and successful, thus far, but runs the risk of counter-productivity in the long term. In other words, the longer French forces stay in Mali, the more likely the pendulum of public opinion is to swing to the second, less forgiving, narrative. As its former colonizer, France has an extremely complex relationship with Mali. In 1892, France made Mali a part of its burgeoning colonial empire. After over 60 years
of oppressive colonial rule, Mali became an independent republic in 1960. Although this independence did not come as a result of a long, bloody war as elsewhere in Francophone Africa, most notably in Algeria, the relationship remained strained. However, French is still Mali’s official language, indicating persevering cultural ties, and Franco-Malian relations have stabilized in recent decades. An equally, if not more, important narrative in understanding the current situation is that of the Tuareg people. This group has strong territorial ties to northern Mali that go back hundreds of years and a unique ethnic and cultural identity. The Tuareg people have staged numerous rebellions in pursuit of an independent state that they would call Azawad. Northern Mali, with its sparse population and distinct Tuareg identity has remained disjointed from the south. Since independence, the Tuareg have held consistent grievances against the Malian government
for southern economic and political dominance. Over the course of the 20th century, Malian governments have consistently broken promises of increased northern autonomy. Large Tuareg rebellions in the 1960’s and 1990’s gave way to smaller insurgency efforts in the 2000’s. This pattern of violence took a drastic turn between 2011 and the beginning 2012, after revolution in Libya caused spillover into northern Mali. Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s former fighters arrived in Mali with massive amounts of arms and radical zeal. Many of them had ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). These fighters joined the Tuareg insurgency, and the suddenly well-armed rebels began overrunning Malian army strongholds in the north. However, the Islamic radicals soon hijacked this independence movement. They effectively side-lined Tuareg leaders and made their goal the establishment of a rigid Islamic society in Mali. Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré’s failure to squash January 6, 2012 A bomb explodes in Damascus, killing 25 people and injuring dozens more. It is the second attack in the capital in the last two weeks.
January 1, 2012 Arab Parliament withdraws Arab League monitors in Syria as the al-Assad government continues to crackdown on rebel-held areas. January 4, 2012 European Union announces an oil embargo on Iran. Iran responds to talk of new sanctions from Europe and the U.S. by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, test-firing new missiles, announcing its first nuclear-fuel rod and warning a U.S. aircraft carrier not to return to
the Persian Gulf.
the insurgency led to a military coup in March that was met with popular support. Instability reigned in the south as the northern rebels swept closer and closer to Bamako, the Malian capital. Due to this instability, the rebels were able to take three of Mali’s most important cities, Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal in just three days. By July, the Tuareg MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) had lost all of its influence to AQIM affiliates and other radical Islamists. In their wake, radicals imposed the harshest versions of Sharia law on conquered
peoples and left ancient Islamic cities, such as Timbuktu, in shambles. Struggling to stabilize its power in the south, let alone battle rebels in the north, the post-coup Malian government reached out for help. In December 2012, the MNLA ceded its demand for independence in favor of Tuareg autonomy within northern Mali, and realigned itself against the Islamist rebels. Unfortunately, by this time, they held little power in the north. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recognized that this radicalism and violent instability conflicted with its
security interests and thus, with the United Nations Security Council’s approval, began to organize an African mission to put down the insurrection and re-establish the southern government’s legitimacy. However, ECOWAS had few resources to rally and massive organizational hurdles to overcome. As rebels reached within 600km of Bamako in early January 2013, the government began to fear that the rebels would take the county before any such African force came to its aid. Thus the Malian government requested French intervention. On January 11th 2013, the French army launched Operation Serval in order to defeat the rebels and restore stability under the southern government. French ground and air forces, in conjunction with the Malian military, quickly began pushing rebels further and further north. Within a month, Franco-Malian forces had taken back almost every important Malian city and driven the Islamists into hiding. Soldiers from Chad had joined the struggle against the Islamists, and ECOWAS tried to speed up preparations for its planned intervention. The rebellion devolved into an ongoing insurgency, with systematic raids and counterraids occurring on both sides. Today fighting remains generally localized
January 22, 2012 Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in January 2011, announces that she will vacate her seat in the House of Representatives. Jared Lee Loughner shot Congresswoman Giffords through the head at pointblank range in Tucson during a public appearance.
January 11, 2012 Iranian media reports that Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan is killed in Tehran during the morning commute by a motorcycle bomber. Roshan is the fourth Iranian nuclear specialist killed in two years.
February 1, 2012 At least 73 people are killed in riots between fans of rival teams during a soccer match in Port Said, Egypt.
to small regions in the far north. The radical rebels have not given up the fight and continue using guerilla tactics to inflict casualties. The initial military campaign against the radical Islamists, however, has been deemed a success. Now the question becomes, how can the international community reestablish stability within Mali and prevent the resurgence of any such insurrection? The key phrase here is “international community”, not France. The abrupt and unilateral action taken by France has already been criticized within North Africa, particularly by Algeria. This is not to say that France should not have intervened. In fact, French intervention in Mali, so far, has been closer to ideal than any other like mission taken on by a western country in recent decades. French forces had not only the consent, but the full will of the Malian government and the majority of the international community behind them. This, of course, stands in stark contrast to western intervention in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. French intervention also came at a good time. The rebels had not completely cemented their positions in the north, and had not yet reached the capital. However, prolonged French presence will legitimize claims of neo-colonialism and create increased
The Potential Energy of Sectarian Divide in Syria By Jordan Clifford
resentment of the west throughout the region, particularly in light of France’s colonial past. Francois Hollande’s administration must now play a part in the great balancing act that is a post-conflict society. They should continue fighting insurgents in conjunction with African forces in the north, but carefully turn this task over to the Malian army and ECOWAS. Essentially, France should maintain a strong enough military presence to circumscribe the return of mass violence. Of course, a lasting power-sharing agreement between
February 4, 2012 Russia and China veto a measure in the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the persisting violence in Syria. The Syrian military begins its assault of Homs. In eleven months, the UN estimates 5,000 people have been killed.
the southern government and the Tuareg and plans for democratic elections must progress. However, these must be ECOWAS or UN initiatives. French meddling in government design and elections will only undermine the legitimacy of the Malian government in the eyes of its neighbors, and potentially of its citizens. So far, this seems to be the Hollande administration’s plan. Time can only tell whether or not this will be a reality, but if it is, we may very well see the resurgence of a peaceful, non-radical Mali and a western intervention success story.
February 13, 2012 Attackers target Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India. Two casualties occur in a series of drive-by motorcycle bombings. The next day in Bangkok, several people are wounded in a number of explosions. Two Iranian passport holders are arrested after police find explosives in a Bangkok apartment.
February 12, 2012 Protests in Athens turn violent as Parliament waits to approve new austerity measures on the Greek economy. Over 80,000 people riot, with wide reports of arson. Police clash with protestors throwing rocks. The next day, legislators approve the austerity measures. 14
The Revolutionary wave of popular demonstrations christened as the “Arab Spring” has shook the Middle East since the first demonstrations first erupted in Tunisia on December 18th, 2010. The Pan – Arab awakening pulsed through Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and eventually Yemen. However, the last domino has yet to fall. As Syria’s civil war approaches the end of its second year, doubts remain as to the result and pending effects of the outcome on the surrounding areas, specifically, Lebanon. The outcome of the events in Syria will inevitably affect
the political structure of its smaller, political dependent neighbor. The current Syrian government is led by the minority Alawite community and the nationalist Ba’ath (resistance) Party which took power in 1963 after a coup led by Hafez alAssad. The Alawites are a sect of the Shiite Muslims, and are included in the broader Sunni/Shiite conflict. In the Syrian Civil War the popular antigovernment opposition is largely Sunni backed, while overwhelming support for the Al-Assad government stems from the close alliance between Al-Assad and Hezbollah, a Shiite political party based in Lebanon. Following the death of president Hafez al-Assad in 2000, control shifted to his son, Bashar al-Assad, who promised reform of the country. However these reforms never materialized to the public and in 2011 government security forces used force to crush protests, igniting broader violence across the state. Civil war has ensued as the majority Sunni opposition continues to increase in saliency and credibility. The Syrian civil war is different in regards to the other Arab Spring movements in that the opposition and the government are at a stalemate. As the war drags on, and Bashar al-Assad refuses to step down, there is more and more anxiety as to what will happen
in neighboring Lebanon. After all, Hilal Khashan, a political scientist at the American University of Beirut, asserts that “Syria and Lebanon are twin countries - if something happens in Syria it is bound to reverberate here [Lebanon].” The Lebanon civil war in the 1980’s allowed Syria to extend its political and military influence on Lebanon. Syria’s substantial influence, if not control over Lebanon’s domestic politics, finally subsided when Bashar al-Assad ended the presence of Syrian troops there in 2005 after to intense international pressure stemming from the assassination of Lebanon Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The stakes in the outcome of the war in Syria are immense for Hezbollah,
March 4, 2012 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin claims victory in the Russian Presidential election. 15,000 Russians gather in a Moscow Square amid allegations of election fraud; riot police arrests hundreds. February 26, 2012 One month before Russian elections, two men are arrested and a third is killed in Odessa, Ukraine. Authorities claim victims were connected to Chechen terrorist cell and were plotting to assassinate Vladimir Putin.
March 6, 2012 Speaking to a crowd of 13,000 in Washington, DC, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows, “I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.” Comments are seen as a criticism of President Obama’s approach towards the Iranian nuclear program. 15
a Lebanese political organization enlisted by Iran as a proxy group for its terrorist undertakings. Lebanon is the only Arab member of the United Nations Security Council, and the Hezbollah—led government coalition in Lebanon was among the few who voted against UN resolutions to condemn the Assad regime’s use of force. While the al-Assad regime is supported by the Hezbollah regime in Lebanon, the Sunni-led antigovernment opposition is widely popular amongst Lebanese Sunnis. This leaves the situation in Lebanon hinging on the outcome of the crisis in Syria. If Syria divides on sectarian lines, it is likely to transcend the boarder and affect Lebanon. As more sectarian cleavages develop in Syria, Ghaleb Qandil, a Lebanese commentator, asserts there will be “major repercussions” for Lebanon. Spillover into Lebanon from the Syrian conflict is already underway. Syrian refugees, rebel groups, army deserters, and regime defectors are fleeing to the Sunni majority northern Lebanon. Local support for the Syrian popular opposition movement in this area is high. This inflow of rebels could likely create a proxy battle ground for the Syrian conflict in northern Lebanon – much like the Rwanda spillover in the Congo and surrounding areas. Recent bombings
Qatar’s Diplomatic Offensive
Iran’s Little, Growing Problem By Benjamin Sheridan
of areas within Lebanon known to be channels for arms smuggling for the Syrian opposition is only a taste of what may follow. The consequences are even graver for the de facto coalition led by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is Iran’s largest proxy terrorist organization and holds a significant proportion of military leverage in Lebanon. Regime change in Syria will lead to a hindrance in supply transport from Iran. Moreover, government structure in Lebanon is a power sharing agreement amongst the three main religious groups, Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. A successful sectarian uprising in Syria will affect the adhesiveness of the ethnically heterogeneous state and may weaken Hezbollah’s grip. Sectarian conflict was marginally
avoided in Lebanon in 2008 after Hezbollah nearly sparked a civil war. Concern now arises if the sectarian divides developing in Syria will reignite a similar case across the border. The possibility of conflict on the home front of Lebanon would also refocus Hezbollah’s concerns from Israel to the developing sectarian conflict at home. As the Syrian crisis persists, we can inevitably there to be major repercussions to be felt across sectarian lines in Lebanon. The future will be shaped by the broader Sunni-Shiite dynamic, the result of the events in Syria, and the support from third party countries. Regime change in Syria will produce immediate political, social, and military turmoil in Lebanon as Hezbollah and Shiite minority parties will try to cling to power.
March 11, 2012 Afghan President Hamid Karzai is outraged following the massacre of 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan by an American soldier. President Barack Obama calls to express his shock and deep sympathy for the tragedy.
March 19, 2012 A mass shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France leaves three students and one teacher dead. All French presidential candidates vow to work together to bring the fugitive to justice. 16
March 31, 2012 UN special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan declares unequivocally that the “deadline is now” for an immediate ceasefire. Peace remains elusive as the country plunges further into civil war.
When Iranians head to the election booths on June 14th, 2013, current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not be on the ballot. After eight years, President Ahmadinejad’s term limit is set to expire; he will leave behind an Iran that has grown its regional influence while becoming increasingly militant in its dealings with the west. The five most popular candidates right now include the former Minister of Housing and Urban Development Mohammad Saeedikia, a religious fundamentalist; Manouchehr Mottaki, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, also a conservative; political analyst, Hooshang Amirahmadi, a popular reformist candidate seeking better relations with the West; former Parliament member Mostafa Kavakebian, the founder of the Democracy Party; and
Mohammed Bokiri Kherrozi, the secretary general of Hezbollah of Iran. Although many more candidates have entered the fray, it is preordained that Ayatollah Khomeini prefers a candidate who will not deviate far from status quo. The incoming President’s agenda will be packed from the moment he takes office. His priorities include, the expedited development and safeguarding of Iran’s costly nuclear program, maintaining credibility in Syria against a growing Sunni coalition, with ample international backing, and regaining its influence in the Palestinian territories and Iraq. Iran depends on its allies to circumvent the harsh regime of political and economic sanctions that has been levied against it in
April 1, 2012 Democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi wins seat in Parliament after historic elections in Myanmar, a marked divorce of power from the military junta. The Nobel Prize laureate was previously under long-term house arrest.
the past five years. The success of the next Iranian President will be measured by his ability to reshape Iran’s image from marginalized to mainstream beyond its weaker, politically dependent neighbors. Whereas the bulk of President Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy focused on countering American influence in the Middle East, Iran’s next President will be lucky to only hold such contentious adversaries. These traditional powers no longer pose the most dangerous threat to Iran’s geopolitical stability. Increasingly, the tiny kingdom of Qatar poses a model much more threatening to Iran due to its tactful diplomacy, relationships with Iran’s traditional non-state allies, and support of opposition movements in conflict-ridden countries. Since sending its special forces to Libya and funding efforts by the National Transitional Council to overthrow Ghaddafi loyalists in 2012, Qatar has
April 12, 2012 The Syrian government and opposition agree to cease hostilities following months of brutal warfare. A ceasefire is reached, ending months of bloodshed. Violence returns shortly after.
April 6, 2012 North Korea prepares for missile launch despite international condemnation. Kim Jong-un, still solidifying his power over the nation, continues taking bold and aggressive moves in defiance of international sanctions. 17
emerged as a serious powerbroker in the Middle East. In the past twelve months both the Taliban and Hamas have opened offices in Doha, Qatar’s capital city. Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamas bin Khalifa al-Thani, pledged an unprecedented $400 million in economic aid to Gaza, and became the first head of state to visit the territory since Hamas took control of it in 2007. Qatar also aligned itself with Turkey as the leading Middle Eastern nations recognizing the Syrian National Council as the legitimate opposition against Bashar al-Assad. The SNC has since found a safe haven in Doha and has been a beneficiary of military aid and political capital from Qatar’s government. By taking a defiant stand opposite Iran, Qatar has claimed its stake as the counteracting force in the umma to state terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. In the very likely event that the civil war in Syria spills into Lebanon, sectarian violence may drive Hezbollah from its position of political dominance atop the Lebanese government. When it is no longer politically advantageous to ride the Iranian bandwagon Hezbollah will also be forced to reevaluate their close relationship with its longtime ally. Iran cannot sustain proxy wars throughout the Middle East with any real intensity, and with limited resources at their disposal it would be a pyrrhic victory at best. With no Hamas, no al-Assad and a fleeting
Global Credit Market Losers The Cypriot Banking Crisis & Japan’s Printing Problem By Jacob Hayutin
Hezbollah, the next President of Iran will be forced to make defining action during his first hours in office. A country with less total area than Puerto Rico, Qatar’s growth has been fueled by its abundance of natural resources, visible international influence and amicable relationship with the West. Sixty percent of Qatar’s GDP comes from natural gas revenues and the country’s population of less than two million people enjoy a high quality of life. The petite state sits on some of the largest natural gas fields in the world, and it attracts many foreign business. At one point, Qatar even tried to sell oil to Israel. Qatar is also home to the US Central Command Forward Operating Center; it plays an integral role in a larger coalition defense apparatus in the Persian Gulf. This force also includes the US Navy Fifth Fleet in neighboring Bahrain. In its corner Qatar has not only the
April 28, 2012 Blind, pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng holed up in US Embassy, Beijing, after a escaping from house arrest. Guangcheng requests political asylum in the US. Guangcheng is eventually brought safely to the United States.
West, but also a number of the West’s regional adversaries. Ultimately, Qatar’s strength lies is its strategic approach to building bilateral relations. Such balance appeals to the Obama administration’s markedly less aggressive proselytizing of America’s democratic values than its predecessor, as well as the opportunistic politicking of non-state actors such as the Taliban and Hamas. If Qatar can retain its credibility as an ally of political Islam with non-state elements in the Middle East while dissociating itself from the practice of jihad, it will preserve the trust of the United States government and fill a special role as a respected negotiations mediator. In this sense, neutrality makes Qatar the greatest threat to Iran in the Muslim world. With shrewd diplomacy, immense wealth, and a comparably liberal society Qatar’s ceiling is not yet in sight.
May 6. 2012 François Hollande defeats Nicolas Sarkozy in the French Presidential election. Hollande is the first Socialist elected to the office since François Mitterrand in 1995.
May 1, 2012 In Kabul, Afghanistan, President Obama and President Karzai sign an agreement promising U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan for one decade after the withdrawal of US forces. Obama addresses Americans, saying, "The goal that I set, to defeat Al Qaeda and deny it the chance to rebuild, is now within our reach.”
examine markets. For example, the United States has experienced fourteen recessions since the Great Depression. In every case except the most recent, the economy as a whole has been intimately led out of recession by the real estate market. Although each case has its own idiosyncrasies, an examination of a few of the biggest losers can help explain the consequences of debt addition. The two most interesting of late are Cyprus and Japan. Euro Zone Begets a Piglet Here at Binghamton, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Dorm Room Diplomacy hosted Consel General Koula Sophianou of Cyprus. Her lecture consisted of anecdotal
success stories about her family, attributed to ubiquitous platitudes about the value of education. Ironically, she had nothing to say about financial literacy. Social education is certainly important, but her audience may have benefited from a more relevant discussion about the lack of diversity in the Cypriot financial structure. The Republic of Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean just south of Turkey and west of Syria, home to approximately 1.1 million. Cyprus joined the Eurozone in 2008 and has been suffering from recession for about a year. Over half of the Cypriot economy is made up of financial services that are attractive to foreign direct investment. Most depositors are Russian and use Cyprus as an offshore
Over the past ten years, global credit market debt has compounded at an annual rate of almost 11%, from $80 trillion to $200 trillion dollars. That’s roughly 250% of GDP. The consortium of spending-addicted governments and their printingprone central banks can explain this novel financial phenomenon. The biggest culprits include: the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan. The debt problem has boldly challenged the way many economists and investors May 6, 2012 In Moscow, protests breakout near the Kremlin the day before Vladimir Putin’s third inauguration as Russia’s president. Demonstrations turn violent with 20,000 anti-government demonstrators armed with smoke bombs, bottles, and sticks.
May 26, 2012 Thirty-two children under the age of ten are killed when the Syrian government attacks the village of Houla. Russia signs UN Security Council message criticizing the government’s role in the attack.
May 6, 2012 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls for early elections in Israel. In his speech, Netanyahu vows to “form the broadest government that is possible.” Days later, Netanyahu forms a unity government with Shaul Mofaz, the newly elected chief of Kadima, the main opposition party. It is one of the largest coalitions in Israel’s history.
tax haven. This narrow structuring made Cyprus’s economy heavily reliant on those deposits--in fact, so much so that deposits peaked at about four times the size of Cyprus’s domestic economy. If Cyprus only accounts for about one-fifth of 1% of the Eurozone, then why is this story making the front page of every major media outlet? On March 16th, the full service of the state’s two largest banks were closed by the European Union due to insolvent securitization of Cypriot banks, backed by Greek bonds and exacerbated by a deflating real estate bubble. The European Central Bank gave Cyprus until Monday, March 25th, to propose a plan for restructuring, under the threat of cutting off all liquidity. The initial plan called for Cyprus to raise 5.8 billion euros, in return for a 10 bn-euro joint bailout from the EU and IMF. The most recent projections estimate the bailout will need to be closer to 23 bn euros, calling on Cyprus to raise another 7 bn euros. The the first round of mandates shut down the state’s second largest bank, Cyprus Popular Bank, and aggressively downsized its largest, the Bank of Cyprus. The plan to pay for the debt imposed a levy on all depositors at a rate of 9.9% with over 100,000 Euros (their FDIC equivalent) and 6.75% for those with
less. CPB limited daily withdrawals to 100 euros and the Bank of Cyprus imposed a limit of 120 euros, for fear of cash hoarding. A similarly panicked strategy was used by FDR as proposed in his famous Fireside Chat in 1933. By Monday the multibillioneuro bailout was secured from international creditors, implementing strict controls and cutting Cyprus off from much of the Eurozone. CPB has been closed and all uninsured depositors have been levied, as well as 40% of all depositors elsewhere. However, the tax on depositors with fewer than 100,000 euros was cut out in the eleventh hour of bargaining. Gabriel Sterne at Exotic, a hedge fund advisory, projected a 10% decline in GDP this year and 8% in the next. He also stated, “We think the peak to trough decline in annual real GDP will be in the order of 23%, similar to Greece.” This means skyrocketing unemployment, business bankruptcies, and slumping tax revenues, all under the greater pressure of the global credit market squeeze. Dutch Deputy Finance Minister Frans Weekers said he, “wouldn’t be surprised if [Cyprus’s financial needs] will be more.” Despite the clear evidence that Cyprus will be struggling from this collapse for many years to come, Yiannakis Omirou, president of
Cyprus’s Parliament, said, “the deal was a positive development, signaling it could enjoy broader political support. [emphasis mine]” Only a well-lettered politician could say something that absurd in midst of such crisis. It is true one of the jobs of politicians, especially in states of emergency, is to minimize panic, but notions this disingenuous look more like an inappropriate affect. For the Eurozone, Cyprus is a forgotten cough in its sickly life. But for the people of Cyprus, this begins an era of economic servitude to the more solvent nations of the north. Mr. Omirou could have been more earnest by proposing legislation to rename the Eurozone “Animal Farm,” change his own title to “Snowball,” and welcome his people to the ranks of the PIGS. Japan’s Printing Problem As the fourth largest economy in the world, Japan is a far more concerning and complicated case. The lost decade that began in the 90’s has now been stretched to almost a quarter century. At the end of 2012, the central government of Japan reached a debt level equivalent to more than 200% of its
June 9, 2012 The European Central Bank announces that Spain will receive up to $125 million in bailout money. This immediately follows the downgrade in Spain’s credit rating to BBB, reflecting the deepening financial crisis in Spain, and in the euro zone.
June 4, 2012 US drone attack kills Abu Yahya alLibi, a high-ranking Al Qaeda official, and 15 other militants in Pakistan. This event brings US targeted killings via drone strikes further into the spotlight. 20
June 21, 2012 Moody’s downgrades the credit ratings of 15 American, Canadian, and European Banks. This further emphasizes the fragility of the small gains in the battle against the EuroAmerican financial crisis. Growth remains sluggish and confidence low.
GDP, totaling 997 trillion yen or $80 thousand per capita. Compared to the US, at around 100% of GDP or $53,000 per capita. On top of this, the revolving door at the BOJ has chewed up and spit out ten ministers of finance in the last six years. The last minister to maintain position for more than a single year was Sadakazu Tanigaki, from 2003-2006. Under the intensified pressure of negotiating terms for the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, Japan’s net exports are likely to continue to deteriorate. In the past few weeks the yen has depreciated by over 25%. Fleeing foreign investment demands domestic funding, but increased life expectancy is consuming what little is left. As opposed to younger workers, who save and invest for retirement, the elderly are more postured to spend. In 2008, USA Today reported, “Japan, [is] home to one of the world’s longest average lifespans. More than 20% of the population is over 65, and the country is forecast to have the globe’s largest number of centenarians — 1 million — by 2050,” under the headline, “Japan Holds Diaper Fashion Show for Adults.” More recent reports confirm this projection. Following the example of the Federal Reserve and the EU, Japan’s most recent restructuring involves a record breaking quantitative easing stimulus. “The Fed, the ECB and the BOJ, have more than doubled the combined size of their balance sheets since the global financial crisis broke out in 2007, expanding them by a total of June 22, 2012 Syrian government forces shoot down a Turkish fighter jet over the Mediterranean Sea. The event is a serious blow to Turkish-Syrian relations.
$4.7 trillion. With the BOJ’s action, that amount could be increased by at least a further $1.3 trillion by the end of 2014.” J. Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital Management, (one of the few firms to predict and capitalize from the subprime mortgage crisis) compared Japan’s debt problem to Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme in an interview at the University of Virginia in 2011; “The reason Bernie Madoff’s failed, which probably has nothing to do with Japan other than that it’s a pretty good analogy, was he had more people leaving his scheme than entering and that’s typically what every ponzi scheme is.” With both foreign and domestic investment dwindling and the scarcity of available credit, it is hard to say if any fiscal policy or monetary stimulus can lead to long term solvency. At the Americatalyst conference in Austin 2012, Bass was given the keynote address. In which he explained, when central balance sheet debt gets to be 2025% of tax revenues, an irreconcilable nonlinearity develops between the two. Japan is currently spending around 23% of tax revenues on interest each year. At the end of 2012, Japan’s debt was twentythree times its tax revenues. That means a 1% rise in the average debt cost will increase the overall interest expense by another 23% of tax revenues. So, the average debt cost is only about 3% away from the point where interest consumes all of tax revenues. If Japan can pursue a 2% rise in inflation without increasing their debt cost and while attracting
foreign investment, then it may be able to avoid a tragic proverbial debt overdose, at least for the next few years. Whether the intentions of these banks were more influenced by excessive optimism or panic is irrelevant. Over the last decade the debt problem phenomena has changed the parameters of international trade, in which these banks had become too comfortable. Now that the United States has lost confidence in its real estate recovery postulate, Cyprus has hardly any economic freedom left and no one wants to have anything to do with the yen, we can only hope each of these states begin to take their debt addiction more seriously.
July 13, 2012 China’s economic growth drops to 7.6%, the lowest level for three years. The global financial crisis affects China, but the economic powerhouse still experiences immense growth. This spurs concern, especially in the United States, of a looming shift in world order.
June 24, 2012 Mohamed Morsi becomes the President of Egypt, marking a milestone in the development of a postrevolution democracy in Egypt. Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The new Egyptian government must now write and pass a new constitution.
The Eurozone Crisis By Yosep Lee
The Eurozone crisis has proven to the world that there are, indeed, no borders that separate European countries from each other financially. One country’s economic downfall can disperse pressure amongst other European countries to pursue austerity measures. Since the end of 2009, Greece has been facing the prospect of deep social unrest due to the severe economic crisis, spreading the threat of financial crisis to other European Union member states. Portugal has followed suit, being impacted heavily by a steady loss of competitiveness in wages, a large public debt and a high budget deficit. Accordingly, Portugal’s credit rating has been downgraded. Spain has also lost control over its debt which was brought forth by the effects of the property crash and its rising budget
deficit. Spanish banks have financed Portuguese’ companies borrowing, placing them into a financially insoluble situation, and causing financial strain. Unlike in Greece, where debt is largely the result of government borrowing, Spain and Portugal have far more private-sector debt. These countries’ economies have reduced to the point where they must rely on the Economic and Monetary Union and International Monetary Fund to bail them out of their debts. As the euro crisis has worsened, its serious economic impact is slowly spreading to large players of the EU such as Germany, Netherlands and France. Germany, the eurozone’s biggest economy, has so far accepted the of burden of bankrolling structured solutions for severe debt crisis in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy.
July 18, 2012 Kim Jong-un is officially appointed Supreme Leader of North Korea. With this appointment he takes control of the North Korean military, as well as every other aspect of governance in the country. The international community hopes this will mark a departure point in North Korean relations with the rest of the world, but expectations remain low.
However, the German government has been clear in telling EU member states with large debt that help is contingent upon domestic austerity measures. Despite Germany’s conditions, the debtor nations prefer to imitate the U.S. economic recovery as the ideal model. Reckless spending has provoked Germany to tighten their fiscal belt, with hopes that the debtors will take a hint and reconsider their economic stimulation mechanisms. What is intriguing at this moment of crisis is how other debtor nations view Germany’s role in resolving the crisis. The majority of European countries experiencing the serious downfall of their economy blame Germany for profiting billions of Euros from the crisis. Despite the blame game, demand for German exports have remained
July 26th, 2012 Approximately 200 people are killed in one day of fighting across Syria. Refugees continue to spill into neighboring countries without any existing prospects for negotiation. The opposition remains fractured and disorganized.
July 23, 2012 In a series of attacks by militants, 103 people are killed in Iraq. The attacks take place in over a dozen cities, after an announcement by Al Qaeda of a new offensive aimed at destabilizing the fragile Iraqi government. 22
strong demand from both non-EU nations and peripheral European countries. In fact, Germany must remain economically stable and create attractive investment opportunities if any of the European debtor nations hope for economic assistance. Meanwhile, other European countries including France insist retaining Eurobonds as an option for saving the currency. Germany prefers to emphasize the importance of establishing competitive markets and ensuring that markets produce
outcomes close to their theoretical potential. While Germany and France clash over the Eurobonds plan, Russia and Cyprus hope to reach a deal over a multibillion-dollar loan to save the Mediterranean island from a fiscal crisis. Cyprus’ banks were heavily affected by the debt crisis in Greece due to the large holdings of Greek debt, both private and public. The country’s financial institutions have lost value due to large volume of its bonds being
held by Greeks. In attempt to fend off financial meltdown, Cyprus’ government locked down most of their banks and ATM machines to avoid cash hoarding. This isn’t a merely financial problem of Cyprus, Greece and Russia, but for the entire European Union. The illusion of the economic union’s strict borders have only magnified the problems of helpless debtor nations, who are reprimanded for seeking outside assistance. The European Union is waiting for Cyprus’ policymakers to make the right choice and save the country from further economical downfall. Strong European countries are still battling with how to approach their severe debt crisis, and many predict that the Eurozone crisis may get worse this year because of the potential for Greece to default on its sovereign debt. Although any predictions are arbitrary, it is clear that the crisis has affected European markets by limiting their performance compared to their global counterparts. Europe and the entire global economy are in a desperate predicament that has far-reaching consequences. One third of 2013 has passed, and so far the European Union’s paymasters are showing growth. We will see where the rest of the year leads the EU.
August 16, 2012 At a media conference in Ecuador, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño declares, “The government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or in its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange.” Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks. August 8, 2012 Egypt launches attack against militants in Sinai desert. The move comes as retaliation for the killing of 16 soldiers at an Army checkpoint. An airstrike, ordered by President Morsi, kills about 20 militants. The next week, President Morsi shuffles the leadership of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a strong post-Mubarak powerbroker.
August 20, 2012 President Obama promises military action if Syrian government moves biological or chemical weapons. The UN has withdrawn its observer mission, citing increased violence. More than 20 Syrian’s remain kidnapped in Lebanon.
The Polish Pivot
Eastern European Policy in a Time of Neo-Sovietism By Joshua May
In a time marked by prominent threats to international stability stemming from the Middle East, China and the Korean peninsula, and the resulting, “Asian pivot,” Eastern Europe has been all but forgotten. Once the focal point of world attention, Eastern Europe has suffered from international neglect following the breakup of the Soviet Union, seen by many as a sort of “closing chapter” to the drama of the latter 20th century. Yet, even two and a half decades since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the nations of Eastern Europe still have reason to fear the looming Russian shadow. The Putin regime has embarked on a troubling path that can be best described as neo-Sovietism; it is in the moral and strategic interests of
the United States and NATO to be cognizant of Russian interference in the stability and sovereignty of its Eastern European allies. Just as in the wake of the First World War, it is now the popular assumption of the international relations theorist that conventional war is all but impossible in modern Europe. The strong economic and commercial links between the nations of Europe seemed then and now to disincentivize any conflict as being far too costly. In particular, it was hoped that the Russian Revolution that overthrew the czars would institute a government more pacifistor at least less warmongering- than its predecessor. A scant three months following the end of the Great War, however, a largely forgotten act of Russian aggression was committed in Eastern Europe: Lenin, in his quest to export the Revolution, invaded the newly independent state of Poland in February 1919. Poland, faced with total annihilation against an impossibly superior force, barely managed to avoid such a fate through a combination of the
military brilliance of Premier Józef Piłsudski and divine intervention. The textbook defense of Warsaw, now called the Miracle on the Vistula River, cut short Lenin’s designs on Eastern Europe and routed the Soviet forces, which were forced to fall back. The significance of the Polish victory cannot be understated. Had Poland fallen, the Russian armies would have undoubtedly continued their march through Europe, meeting only the severely war-weary Germans and French in opposition. Europe as we know it would have been dramatically altered. The greatest crime of the war, however, was not the overt Russian aggression but the treason of the West. Having carved the new Poland out of its historic lands following WWI, the Western nations proceeded to largely forget about it, leaving the state to defend itself in 1919. A very similar situation has begun to manifest itself in the 21st century- a newly liberated Poland, faced with a new and unknown Russian regime, abandoned by its Western allies. To be sure, the situation is not quite as bad as it was
any other name would smell as rotten. In 2004, shortly after joining the EU, the Poles incensed the Russian dictatorship when it led the EU delegation to the Ukraine for the purposes of restoring democratic legitimacy following a rigged election. The election, which had strong evidence of Russian meddling, was held anew under the careful watch of Western- notably Polishobservers. A pro-Western candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, was elected in a free and fair election, causing a great deal of consternation in the Kremlin. The remainder of the decade developed into a prolonged proxy war between Russia and Poland. A Polish
September 11, 2012 Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials are killed in an attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Reports indicate the attack was planned in advance. Media outlets point to a YoutTube film called Innocence of Muslims, as a possible provocation.
August 22, 2012 After nearly two decades of negotiations, Russia joins the World Trade Organization.
August 21, 2012 In 11th year of the War in Afghanistan, the US death toll reaches 2,000.
some 90 years ago: as a member of NATO, Poland can ostensibly count on her allies to come to her defense in the face of aggression. The threat vector, however, has changed: although a conventional Russian invasion of Poland cannot be definitively ruled out (most likely through the Kaliningrad oblast to Poland’s northeast) the more imminent threat is far more devious. Taking advantage of Western negligence as it always has, the Russian regime, led by KGB barbarian Vladimir Putin and his partner-in-crime Dmitry Medvedev, has sought to reestablish influence in the region. This influence necessarily must and will take into account Polish opposition: Poland has always been the largest thorn in the side of Russian imperialism. Therefore, it is clear that Poland will be the main target of any renewed Russian ambitions in the region. This is not merely academic posturing: Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia proved that it does not hesitate to use military force to accomplish its aims, and its support of Iran and Syria proves its willingness- indeed, its eagernessto openly defy the West. This, coupled with Russia’s meddling in the internal politics of many of its Eastern European neighbors, notably Belarus and the Ukraine, paints a clear picture: a Soviet by
September 4, 2012 United Nations reports more than 100,000 Syrians became refugees in August, coinciding with increased attacks against rebel strongholds. Iraqi-US relations damaged after Iran uses Iraqi airspace to transport supplies to Syrian government forces.
September 13, 2012 American embassies across the Arab world are attacked in apparent protest over YouTube film. Protests are held outside US diplomatic installations in Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Kuwait.
electorate growing increasingly worried of Russian aggression brought to power in 2005 the strongly pro-West, antiRussian Law and Justice Party, led by the charismatic Kaczyński brothers. Out of spite, the Russians began economic warfare, banning all Polish farm imports and signing a secret deal with Germany that saw the creation of an underseas Gazprom gas pipeline that deliberately bypasses Poland. The latter was notably and accurately compared by Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski to the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the document that set forth the terms of bilateral invasion of Poland in 1939. Perhaps the most infuriating September 14, 2012 German embassy in Khartoum comes under attack. In Tripoli, one protestor is killed in clashes with security forces.
incident, from the Russian perspective, came in 2007. The George W. Bush administration, the friendliest to Poland since Ronald Reagan, recognized the growing neo-Soviet threat and moved to counter it. President Bush pledged to install purely defensive missile batteries in Poland and the Czech Republic, two strong American allies and genuine democracies. These SAM (surface-to-air missile) sites would be strategically placed to protect military and population centers against any incoming air threat, but could not be used in any offensive operations. Predictably, the Russians were livid, condemning the alleged aggression of the United States and NATO by installing such “threatening” defensive missile sites. The only possible actor that would oppose a stronger Polish defense is an actor committed to ensuring Polish weakness and susceptibility to Russian hegemony. Make no mistake: Russia, like any other predator, has always had a keen sense of detecting weakness in its prey. The Obama administration has set back USPoland relations by decades, beginning with the borderline treasonous move of unilaterally cancelling all missile deals with Poland and the Czech Republic. The Obama administration’s stance of
appeasement towards the Russians is a contemptible display of cowardice that has already resulted in negative consequences. Our standing in the world takes a hit when we abandon an ally and refuse to honor treaty commitments, but the biggest consequence to date came in April 2010. In that month, a plane carrying President Kaczynski and nearly 100 other top dignitaries, politicians and military leaders mysteriously crashed outside Smolensk, Russia. This is ominous for several reasons. The Polish delegation was en route to a memorial to the 20,000+ Polish officers and intelligentsia massacred by the Russians in 1940. The wreckage of the plane was immediately impounded by the Russians and has never been returned, nor access allowed to international investigation. Initial reports of traces of explosives found in the wreckage have been suppressed, and a man who recorded footage of Russian soldiers executing survivors on the ground was found murdered by Russian thugs. The silence of Western powers in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding this tragedy has been deafening. Whether this was a sign of growing Russian confidence in the face of an abandoned Poland or a tragic accident, the truth must be ascertained, because the
Exporting Democracy By Anika Michel
potential costs are too high to ignore. This possible assassination of the Polish delegation is at the forefront of PolishRussian tension, and if the West seeks stability in the world it must seek it in Eastern Europe. Will this year be a repeat of 1919, when the West ignored Poland and almost lost itself as a result? Or will we stand strong against Neo-Sovietism, affirming our commitments to our allies and ensuring peace and democracy across Eastern Europe and everywhere else the Putin shadow looms? Our decision must be made soon and it must be made definitively. History shows that the Russian bear is patient, but that when he smells weakness, he will strike.
October 7, 2012 Hugo Chávez is elected to a third term as President in Venezuela. The incumbent wins with 54% of the vote defeating Henrique Capriles Radonski. October 3, 2012 Turkey retaliates against mortar attack from Syria that killed five Turkish citizens. The next day the Turkish parliament approves continued military action against Syria. 26
October 9, 2012 Taliban militants target 14 year-old Mulala Yousoufazi, an outspoken critic of the extremist group, on a school bus coming home from school. Yousoufazi sustains two gunshot wounds to the head and neck. Taliban spokesman says, “She has become a symbol of Western culture...Let this be a lesson.” Eventually, Yousoufazi is sent to the UK for rehabilitation.
In order for the United States to promote democracy in other parts of the world, there has to be an understanding of our own democratic society, as well as the culture and politics of other countries. Democracy in America and other westernized nations is fundamentally based on the ideals of liberty and equality, which are exemplified through our amendments, such as the right to vote and freedom of speech. These rights are essential to our society because they represent the ideals of justice and egalitarianism, both of which are vital for democracy to prosper. However, the United States needs to evaluate its own democracy before exporting our unique form of government to other nations. This means understanding the fundamental domestic issues in each country. Yes, the United States has a democracy that can serve as a model for the rest of the world, but that cannot be determined until we October 15, 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepts responsibility for diplomatic security following Benghazi attack and vows to improve security for US personnel.
know where the flaws lie in our system and how these problems can be resolved. Through domestic evaluation, the United States will know how to examine other countries. Then, and only then, will it be determined which countries are suitable for democracy. It is evident that the United States has advanced a great deal since the Civil Rights era, considering that there are now laws that ensure equal access to opportunities for minorities. Yet, racial tension still exists in America. How can there be a promotion of democracy when one of the major domestic challenges we are facing today is ethnic discrimination? Unfortunately, there are laws that have inadvertently sustained this
matter, such as the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law permits the use of force or arms in self-defense if one feels threatened, without attempting to retreat or avoid the conflict. The law has resulted in self-defense claims in crimes committed against African-Americans, most recently two cases involving teenage boys in Florida. In both incidents, the young men were weaponless and brought no threat, but were murdered by Caucasian males who claimed they felt threatened. While the “Stand Your Ground” law was put into place to serve a purpose of extreme danger, these recent cases show that this is a law that needs to be amended. The law is an example of how the United States has to corroborate the current state of democracy to ensure that
November 11, 2012 Syrian opposition forms new Syrian National Initiative with Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib as leader. France becomes the first Western country to recognize the new coalition. Two weeks later, rebels take a key military airbase outside Damascus.
October 19, 2012 Top Lebanese security official Brig. General Wissam alHassan is killed in a blast in Beirut’s Christian section. Al-Hassan was an ally of assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and a vocal opponent of Syrian meddling in Lebanese affairs. Eight people are killed and over eighty are injured.
every citizen is in fact protected under the legal system, before promoting it in other areas of the world. Once the United States begins to promote democracy in other countries, there has to be an understanding of the politics, culture, and the aspirations of the people in those particular countries. Moreover, the United States has to carefully look at how each nation treats its people because then it will become clear that not every nation is suited for western democracy. In recent years, the United States has made efforts to establish a form of democracy in predominantly Muslim nations throughout the Middle East. However, these particular countries may not be suited for democracy because Sharia law heavily influences their social and legal structures. Sharia law, which is the basic legal code for the religion of Islam, conflicts with western ideals of equality. For example, discrimination on the basis of religion is permitted under Sharia because Islam is seen as dominant. Muslims are considered to be full citizens, whereas individuals who follow Judaism or Christianity are not allowed the same rights as Muslims. Can Sharia law really coexist with secularism and the democratic principles of the United States? This example of religious bias indicates it is not the case. Sharia law also exhibits gender inequality. The rules of Sharia place women in the positions of secondary citizens, as they are viewed as lacking
November 12, 2012 Israeli tanks fire on Syrian army units after mortars land near the Golan Heights.
Sino-American Relations at Binghamton University By Kaixiang Yu
in morals and intellect, and therefore must be placed in the legal guardianship of their male relatives. In regards to legal rulings, the testimony of a female witness is only worth half the testimony of a male witness. While women are only allowed to have one husband, men are allowed to have as many as four wives. A daughter will only inherit half of what her brother will receive. Perhaps the most apparent form of gender bias is exhibited in the Sharia justice system. One example is the fact that female rape victims are punished, either by imprisonment or death, on grounds of illegitimate sexual intercourse. Gender discrimination goes against the equality that is argued by United States democracy in every way. How can the United States promote its particular form of democracy to Muslim nations that are so committed to upholding their observance of Sharia law? If Sharia law exemplifies the religious ideals that are essential to those individual Muslim societies, then
perhaps those nations are not suited for western style democracy. I believe that the United States can serve as an adequate model of government, as our nation has come a long way in the past century. However, the mere fact that our current state of liberty and equality is not even 100 years old yet demonstrates that there is still more work to be done. Our form of democracy is not perfect, and there are current issues that show the flaws in our system. We need to identify the boundaries democracy encounters in our own society and others. Once we have gained this clarity, we will see that we are a nation suited for democracy. The United States will then have, not only the credibility to promote democracy, but also the ability to determine which parts of the world democracy can function best to benefit the people.
November 26, 2012 President Morsi declares authority over Egypt’s courts. Makes decree in effort to hasten transition. The move is met by international condemnation and protests across Egypt. Days later, a draft of Egypt’s new constitution is released, and immediately draws heavy criticism.
November 14, 2012 Israel kills Hamas commander Ahmed al-Jabari in Gaza amid a series of Palestinian rocket attacks against Southern Israel and Israeli air strikes against targets in Gaza over a four day period called Operation Pillar of Defense. Soon, air raid sirens are sounded in Tel Aviv. One week after hostilities begin, Egyptian and US governments announce ceasefire.
It is rare for many Chinese students studying at Binghamton to cultivate friendships with their American counterparts. Some choose to pursue close relationships with Americans: they hang out at night, play games together, and participate in the some of the same clubs. Still, this represents a minority. More often than not, interactions between Chinese and American students come through group projects for class, during which time few discussions about the individuals’ background take place. The ESL department also been implementing the Conversation Pair Program to match Chinese and American students, but the impact has been minimal. Sadly, American and Chinese students have less and less to do with each other on campus. However, it is imperative to promote
these cross-cultural relationships while at Binghamton because it will one day bring the populations of the world’s greatest powers much closer. Developed cross-cultural friendships brings peace in our world. Social constructivism can help people understand different cultures, unique concepts, and competing interests. Most importantly, this type of personal friendship can reduce the misunderstanding, bias, and irrational opinions between peoples. In 2012, 194,000 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students were studying in the US; what would be the long-term impact if each of them had formed one lasting friendship with an American student? A university is the easiest place for Americans to make friends with Chinese. It is not necessary to spend thousands dollars to go China in order to make Chinese friends. One need not commit a year of volunteering in China to make Chinese friends. The University represents the most propitious environment for relationship building between Chinese and American students to flourish. Not many people have realized this great opportunity, and schools lack in programs to help different cultures and ethnic groups make genuine connections. It may not be easy to imagine the future benefits cross-cultural friendships may bring to Sino-American relations. However, evolving the way we interact with each other will one day change the political, economic, business, and cultural exchanges between the two countries, and may even inspire
the rest of the world. Binghamton’s student body, comprised of American and international students, represent the future leaders in politics, business, and education. We are all potentially future policy makers, and we each hold an immense stake in what the future will bring. Thus, it is important and necessary to improve US-China relationship in Binghamton University. Realizing this concept, our community has began to mobilize, with the establishment of a chapter of Global China Connection. GCC aims to foster strong relationships among Chinese and non-Chinese students that would change the world. So far on campus, the organization has made many strategic relationships with groups that share our vision for a interdependent future. GCC has established an “English Corner” and a “Chinese Corner” to provide an environment for meaningful relationship building. In the future, GCC will develop its programming with a focus on the culture, concepts, and opinion exchanges between Chinese and American students. By this, GCC we will be able to influence how the US and China will treat each other as both friends and strategic allies, leading the world toward a much brighter future.
December 1, 2012 Thousands of protestors gather against new constitution in Egypt. Morsi calls for a national referendum on December 15. November 29, 2012 UN upgrades Palestinian status from non-member status to non-member observer state. The Palestinian mission will have access to the International Criminal Court and other international organizations. Israel announces expanded construction in settlements and freezing of PA tax revenues.
December 5, 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognizes National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as legitimate opposition. She says, “Now that there is a new opposition formed, we are going to be doing what we can to support that opposition.”
The West’s Nuclear Energy Predicament By Juwon Sul
“A nuclear accident anywhere is a nuclear accident everywhere,” is a widely quoted saying amongst leaders in the field of nuclear energy. While many have asserted that nuclear energy is the sustainable clean future that can replace fossil energy, after the disastrous Fukushima Daichi incident some leading nuclear energy producing countries, like Germany, have decided to halt production of nuclear energy. Other countries that rely heavily on nuclear energy like Great Britain and France have criticized this action on the basis that it is implausible to replace our consumption of fossil fuel with any other energy other than nuclear energy. This article will discuss the drawbacks of nuclear energy through examination of the reasons why Germany has decided to phase out all its nuclear power program. Only a few years ago, the world experience a phenomenon named as the Nuclear Renaissance. The most
prominent benefit of this movement asserted by many is that nuclear energy is a clean alternative to fossil fuels. What does the word clean imply? It does not mean that it does not produce any harmful substances but rather that it is relatively less detrimental to the environment. Nuclear energy is argued to be the most eco-efficient energy of all resources, as it produces the most electricity while causing the least damage to the environment. One thing that many scholars have come to agree upon is that global warming is happening and human beings may be its leading cause. International attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like the Kyoto Protocol, have been largely unsuccessful. While, Germany is one of the countries that has been successful in keeping the protocol, it is not using nuclear energy to meet these parameters. The reasons behind Germany’s anti-nuclear policy can be summarized to three reasons: growing safety concerns following catastrophic events in Chernobyl and Fukushima, investment in renewable energy and the inefficiencies of fossil fuels, and the revelation of Germany’s vulnerability to a directly strike against of its nuclear power plants. Many have argued that nuclear energy is clean and that it does not disrupt the environment. However, incidents like the Three Miles Island accident, Chernobyl, and the Fukushima Daichi catastrophe have
proven otherwise. Although only three significant accidents have occurred, their impact has been far reaching and internationally detrimental relative to accidents induced by man. For instance, the Chernobyl disaster produced more than 200 times the radiation that was discharged by the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; millions of people were exposed to alarming level of radiation. On the other hand, the disaster at Fukushima Daichi sent shockwaves through the developed world. While the level of radiation was significantly lower than what was produced in Chernobyl, what surprised the world was the fact that Japan, one of the world’s most developed countries, was also vulnerable to such an accident. What is the most horrifying is that it is difficult to accurately measure the damage. The radiation could possibly contaminate the environment for several decades. Yet, countries like
December 12, 2012 North Korea successfully launches a satellite into orbit. The successful launch increases concerns that North Korea may be able to build an intercontinental ballistic missile. World leaders pass another round of sanctions on North Korea. December 6, 2012 Kate Middleton released from hospital after three days. The Duchess is pregnant with an unborn child who will one day take the throne of England. 30
January 1, 2013 French troops are deployed to Mali in response to calls from help from African leaders. Northern Mali has been cut off from the south by groups linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. President Hollande declares, “This operation will last as long as is necessary.” By February, there are over 1,400 French troops in the West African state.
France defend the production nuclear energy without making public estimates of the cost of cleaning a nuclear meltdown. Some believe the costs would amount to three times of France’s overall GDP. The second reason why Germany has decided to phase out all nuclear power plants is its trust in additional energy sources. Currently, Germany uses solar, wind, and biomass energies to produce twenty-five percent of its electricity. This number is believed to go up to 35-40% by 2022 and 80% by 2050. It is true that there are many obstacles to overcome, such as improving the technology necessary to store electricity produced by renewable energies. One ongoing project is building more than 5,000 miles of power lines to make room for new energy sources which will cost around $25 billion. Nevertheless, the fact that Germany successfully focused its efforts towards strengthening its capabilities in renewable energy is evidence that it may be able to achieve its energy goals absent of a nuclear energy January 2, 2013 According to a United Nations release, more than 60,000 people have been killed in the civil war that has engulfed Syria. Over one million refugees have left the country.
program. Germany has also pointed criticism at France. While France relies on nuclear power for the production of 75% of its electricity, last winter saw an increasing demand for electricity which could not be met. France had no other option but to import electricity generated by photovoltaics located in Southern Germany. Although Germany’s decision has been criticized as being a whimsical reaction out of fear, it has shown its resolve by following through on its promises with action. The last factor that influenced Germany’s policy change is the vulnerability of its nuclear power plants against airstrike. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 not only caused deep pain and sorrow to the American people, but it also helped policy makers around the world recognize a particular flaw in security measures for nuclear power plants. The idea that a big commercial aircraft fully loaded with fuel crashing into a nuclear power plant was previously unimagined. Two AlQaeda leaders revealed that their group was originally planning on striking the Indian Point power station near the Hudson River in 2001. The attack codename was, “electrical engineering.” Khalid Sheik Mohammad, one of the Al-Qaeda leaders currently under the US custody, confessed that his original plan would have been far more disastrous. The only reason
why this plan was not carried out was his miscalculation that the US might already have had an air-defense system in place. The truth is the US did not have any defense against such attacks. As a response to this revelation, the German government conducted a research on the vulnerability of its own power plants to air attacks, with staggering results. Fairly novice propeller plane pilots who participated in the Technology University of Berlin simulation showed a success rate of almost 50% in striking German power plants. The results were so provocative that they were never made entirely public except for one summary of events classified as highly confidential. These kind of findings are believed to have influenced Germany’s decision to phase out all of its nuclear power plants. Since the Fukushima disaster, the so called Nuclear Renaissance has come to a halt. Countries like Germany have shifted its policy from nuclear energy to renewable energies. What about the United States? According to the nuclear power plant accident database from 1950-2010, four accidents occurred in New York and almost thirty accidents across the US Electricity produced by nuclear energy may be somewhat clean and affordable, but the cost of even one accident reveals that the consequences of any mistake can be immense. The results of good research demonstrates that harnessing nuclear energy cannot be safely controlled or regulated by current technology and safeguard measures.
January 25, 2013 President Morsi declares a state of emergency in three cities: Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said. Demonstrations erupt after twenty-one people receive death sentence in Port Said for their role in a fatal soccer brawl in February 2012. Government response results in 45 deaths in Port Said. Police reportedly shoot live ammunition and tear gas at protesters in other cities, including Cairo.
January 16, 2013 Islamists take roughly forty hostages, including British and American citizens, at an Algerian oil field. Actions are said to be in response to French intervention in north Mali. The next day, Algerian Special Forces storm the compound, killing 29 kidnappers. Thirty-seven hostages are found dead after the raid.
Dorm Room Diplomacy Programming 2012 -- 2013
Between American Universities and India, Iraq, Jordan, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Turkey, and the UAE Frequency: Weekly
‘5 Broken Cameras’ Screening Followed By Conversation with Iyad Burnat Date: November 18th, 2012 Location: Binghamton University Union
Dorm Room Diplomacy & AJC Connections
Date: January 18th, 2013 Location: AJC International Headquarters, Midtown NYC
The Future of the Kurdistan National Movement Featuring Dasko Shirwani Date: February 2nd, 2013 Location: Binghamton University Union
Women in the Workforce
An Analysis of Positive Change in the Cypriot Economy Date: March 7th, 2013 Location: Binghamton University Union
A Night with Dean Eric Schwartz ‘79 Postponed until Fall 2013 Date: March 18th, 2013 Location: Binghamton University Union
Maintaining its Mission?
Why Dorm Room Diplomacy Must Change By Jasmine Patihi
The purpose of Dorm Room Diplomacy videoconferencing is to foster relationships between university students across the world, with the knowledge that participants will likely one day hold governmental, public administrative, and diplomatic positions of importance in their home country. DRD videoconferences provide an arena to debate important political, economic, and societal issues, and become familiar with people from distant regions of the world. Experiences in DRD videoconferences prepare students to make a difference in our world. However,DRD videoconferences do more than just that. They introduce participants to sensitivities of particular cultures, religions, and countries. Videoconferences encourage students to be articulate, learned and direct in their arguments, but most importantly they create friendships and connections between students that may have
otherwise never been able to communicate, let alone discuss the theoretical steps to world peace. Attending the videoconferences in which I partook were one Christian and two Jewish Americans, one Jordanian Muslim, and one halfChristian and half-Muslim Lebanese student. Our conversations were about women’s rights and gender roles in the Middle East, the meaning and significance of democracy, and most often the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We discussed whether Israel had the right to exist as Jewish state, potential solutions to the conflict, threats to Israeli and Palestinian security, media portrayal of the conflict, and more. In particular Laila [sic], the Lebanese participant, and myself were most vocal about the IsraeliPalestinian issue. We disagreed on everything. However, on the last videoconference session of the semester Laila invited me for qahwa (the Arabic word for coffee) if I was ever in Lebanon, and I invited her on a walk through Central Park, should she find herself in New York. DRD allowed me to share and listen to real, unfiltered, unedited, and biased opinions from one another. These opinions will one day shape fundamental efforts, ideologies, grass-roots movements, and political preferences. For me, the significance in this opportunity and experience was that I heard firsthand what a real
February 1, 2013 Suicide bomber, Ecevit Sanli, detonates blast near US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, killing himself and one other. The blast was immediately labeled a terrorist attack. The Turkish government identifies the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party as the main planners. The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party is considered a terrorist organization by the US government.
February 11, 2013 Pope Benedict XVI announces he will resign, becoming the first pope to step down from the position since 1415. He cites old age and deteriorating strength as the primary reasons for his retirement.
February 2, 2013 French President Francois Hollande visits Mali to congratulate French and Malian troops for, “an exceptional mission,” although, “the fight is not over.” 34
person felt and thought and how a conflict that affects me also affects them. This notion of personability continually reminds me that at the end of the day conflicts involve people. Laila did not change my opinions, and I do not know if I changed hers. Still, she instilled in me a sort of sensitivity for people in general that I may have lost in college. Although she completely supports groups I deem “the enemy” I do not hold any negative feelings or wishes for her. WeeklyDRD videoconferences became one of the most anticipated parts of my senior year at Binghamton. However, no program is without flaw. DRD is wonderful in that it tries very hard to provide raw conversations that might yield global breakthroughs one day. Yet, I do not think that important breakthroughs will be made or that DRD can claim to be an unbiased organization because of how it hosts its videoconferences at this time. From my experience, the organization holds an inherent bias. Many of the videoconference conversations are about the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. While there were no Israelis or Palestinians on my conference, the conversations still led to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more often than not. Originally a Palestinian has signed up for my DRD session,
exist because Israel is excluded from DRD conferences right now due to technological constraints stemming from international relations norms. Holding conversations about ArabIsraeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts impedes DRD’s true mission. Dorm Room Diplomacy’s noIsrael policy leaves it up to non-Israeli students, and students living outside of Israel, to defend, argue, and be knowledgeable about Israel and present an Israeli opinion. Since so much of these conferences surround the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian issue, I think it is unfair to limit the range of conversations that can be reach because of restricted representation from one side. As much as Americans benefit from speaking with Arab students, Arab and American students would benefit immensely from talking directly to Israelis, as opposed to American students acting as intermediaries for the underrepresented Israeli narrative. If DRD would eliminate its noIsrael policy and extend its hand to Israeli universities to participate in videoconferences, the organization will gain immediate legitimacy in the eyes of countless students. Even more importantly, it will benefit all students who participate in DRD. but was unable to attend, and the fact that a Palestinian student was supposed to attend is testament to
DRD’s successful outreach in that area. However, the possibility of having an Israeli participant included did not
February 12, 2013 President Obama gives his first State of the Union of his second term. Obama declares, “Let me repeat: Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”
February 15, 2013 Debris from a meteor lands in Siberia, injuring more than 1,000 people. The ten ton meteor exploded upon colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists believe most of the rock evaporated upon the initial impact.
February 15, 2013 The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces announce they are open to talks with members of the Syrian government to find a political solution to the nearly three year civil war. Rebel leaders demand that Bashar al-Assad not be included in any negotiations. 35
Iyad Burnat A Palestinian Voice By Sereena Karsou On November 18, 2012, Binghamton Dorm Room Diplomacy was privileged enough to host Iyad Burnat, the leader of the Popular Resistance Committe of Bil’in, a town in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Mr. Burnat was gracious enough to include Binghamton as one of the stops on his American tour which included top universities across the country. His arrival followed a screening of the movie 5 Broken Cameras. The documentary’s namesake are the five cameras used by Iyad’s brother, Emad, during filming. The film is meant to record the life of Palestinians living in Bil’in amidst the construction of Modi’in Ilit, a Israeli settlement built partially on their land. It accounts numerous clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli border patrol units, some ending tragically. The film was co-directed by Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker. 5 Broken Cameras won a Sundance Film Festival documentary award and Emad is the first Palestinian nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. March 5, 2013 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dies after a long battle with cancer. Elections are to be held within 30 days. Vice President Nicolás Maduro takes over as interim President.
Dorm Room Diplomacy & AJC
The Future of the Kurdistan National Movement
Featuring Dasko Shirwani
By Zachary Levine
By Joshua May
In January 2013, representatives from Dorm Room Diplomacy University Chapters gathered in New York City to attend a private dialogue session held by the AJC. For the Chapter leaders, this session presented us a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge understanding we had gained through several semesters of DRD videoconferences. For the AJC, it was a first chance to witness and even take part in what we believe to be the crossroads between international dialogue, twenty-first century technology, and college innovativeness—the Dorm Room Diplomacy dialogue sessions. Ephraim, a senior AJC member, began the meeting. After we all introduced ourselves and spoke briefly about our backgrounds, Ephraim told us about the AJC and lectured on the textual, cultural
and historical commonalities between the Islamic and Jewish religions. From there a deep discussion opened up; the environment was inquisitive and inviting, including all of the different perspectives and viewpoints present. The questions that were posed and the answers that were posited were insightful and respectful, making for a great experience from which there was significant value added. I personally walked away from the session not only equipped with a new knowledge base, but more importantly, with new friendships that will only continue to strengthen the growing DRD network. We all hope that this is the first of many engagements with the AJC, and we cannot thank them enough for hosting such a fantastic event.
March 13, 2013 Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio will succeed Benedict as Pope. Pope Francis, the name 76-year-old Begoglio will take, is the Catholic Church’s 266th pontiff. He is the first Latin American pope.
March 8, 2013 After successful satellite launch in February, UN Security Council unanimously passes another round of sanctions against North Korea. China is involved in passing the new measures. US and South Korea continue military drills amidst buildup in tensions on Korean Peninsula. 36
In keeping with their commitment to representing all sides of the Middle East, the Binghamton chapter of Dorm Room Diplomacy recently hosted Mr. Dasko Shirwani, the Director of Community Affairs for the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world that still remain stateless- and with a population rivalling that of Canada’s, Mr. Shirwani spoke of the pressing need for independence for a people long-suffering. Scattered around the world, the Kurdish people are concentrated mostly in Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq--perhaps the worst four countries in the world after North Korea for a people who desire simply peace and stability--in short, to be left alone. In Turkey, the country infamous for massacring over a million Armenians, the government has enacted a brutal crackdown over the years on the Kurdish minority. In Iraq, a similar story occurred the barbaric rule of Saddam Hussein, when mustard gas was used to wipe out entire villages of Kurdish men, women and children in the late 1980s. In Syria, the revolution that has engulfed the nation in war while the West sits idly by has not left the Kurds unaffected, and the violence has touched every aspect of life. And finally, in Iran, the Kurds have similarly suffered under the monstrosities of a group of Neanderthals known locally as Mullahs. Put simply, the outlook for the Kurds is dire. This did not deter Mr. Shirwani, however, from remaining unabashedly proud of the distance his people have come thus far, and of the potential for reaching the goals ahead. He saw great hope first and foremost in his native Iraq- the definition of ethnic fractionalization. While the Shi’a and Sunni blow each other up in their petty sectarian struggles, the Kurds have gradually amassed more and more autonomy in the north. The American liberation of the country and the toppling of Saddam have allowed Iraqi Kurdistan--the most oil-rich region anywhere in the world--to assume a degree of independence like never before. The Kurds, Mr. Shirwani maintained, are a distinct and unique entity, with a story and a promise all their own. They deserve to be granted a state long denied, a state as individual and as different from its neighbors as the Kurds themselves are. It is time, he asserted, to rectify the colossal ignorance that created imaginary nations like Iraq and Jordan after World War II. Considering that Mr. Shirwani does not to this day speak any Arabic (and in fact did not even encounter the language until coming to America, of all places) but only his Kurdish, it is easy to see how the Kurds can make the case that they are a people all on their own. In an age when individuality and the right to self-determination of all peoples is supposedly cherished, it is time to stand up as an international community and work together to help our Kurdish brethren, who have suffered for far too long. It’s time for Kurdistan. March 22, 2013 President Obama negotiates reconciliation between Turkey and Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally apologizes for the death of nine Turkish citizens aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, killed in 2010 by an Israeli Special Forces’ raid. Both countries vow to restore full diplomatic relations after compensation of Turkish families.
March 14, 2013 Xi Jingpin becomes Premier of China, replacing Hu Jintao.
March 24, 2013 The IMF and EU requests that Cyprus raise $7.5 billion by taxing bank deposits of more than $129,000. Cypriots protest the move, which targets a significant amount of wealthy Russians who keep their money in Cyprus’s banks. Cypriot Parliament rejects a $13 billion bailout proposed by the EU and IMF.
Women in the Workforce
An Analysis of Positive Change in the Cypriot Economy By Alice Genkin
Binghamton Dorm Room Diplomacy welcomed Consul General Koula Sophianou of the Republic of Cyprus on International Women’s Day 2013. Consul General Sophianou spoke about her own experiences as a female in the world of diplomacy, the condition of women in the Cypriot workforce, and recent economic, political and social advances for women globally. International Women’s Day, held March 8 annually, honors the contributions and achievements of women around the world. First held in 1911, the idea was conceived by Second International, an organization of socialist and labour parties in late 19th century Paris. Similar groups in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland held rallies and marches in the following year, campaigning to end discrimination and empower women in the social, political, and economic realm. Today, International Women’s Day is considered an official holiday in many countries around the world, including Russia, Mongolia, Georgia, and Vietnam. In the United States, International Women’s Day is extended throughout the month of March, when Americans observe Women’s History Month. In March 2011, the White house issued a 50 year progress report on the status of women in the United States The report found that younger women are now more likely than their male counterparts to hold a college degree and that the number of men and women in the labor force has nearly equalized.
At the event, Consul General Sophianou urged for continued education as a central tool of empowerment for the women in America as well as the women back in her home country. She noted the importance of sustaining an environment where gender equality is both taught and put into practice from a very young age, and she spoke about her family’s economic struggles, which led her to
April 1, 2013 In protest of sanctions handed down by the international community, Kim Jung-Un promises to strengthen the North Korean nuclear program. United States continues to call for the North to stand down.
enter the workforce at a very early age. Ultimately, the Consul General believes these experiences shaped her attitude as a diplomat today. Though the last century has ushered in a significant shift in both women’s and society’s understanding of gender equality, much work remains to be done. In 2012, the United Nations’ theme for International Women’s Day was “Empower Rural WomenEnd Hunger and Poverty,” aimed to bring to attention to the critical role that rural women have played in the global economies of both developing and developed nations. On behalf of Binghamton University DRD chapter, we thank Consul General Sophianou for sharing her own story and for continuing to inspire global empowerment.
A Night with Dean Eric Schwartz ‘79 Postponed until Fall 2013
A Letter From the Editor When Ben Sheridan e-mailed me in the summer of 2012 asking if I wanted to be a part of a new organization on campus called Dorm Room Diplomacy, it was a no-brainer. Immediately ideas started bouncing back and forth. It was there that the idea of a journal came to fruition. My experiences of having lived in various cities around the world such as Nablus, Amman, Bucharest, London and New York were telling me to get involved so that others in a position similar to mine would have an outlet for which to voice their internationallyminded opinions. The nights that I had stayed up late on campus to discuss the Middle East or foreign interests told me that there was a community of students on campus interested in foreign policy. The Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security shines a light on the brilliant Binghamton student body that is not only willing, but eager, to engage in conversation with the world about the most pressing international pressures of our time. This journal is a comprehensive look at the worlds most critical issues, inviting its audience into a conversation regarding international relations, security, and foreign policy concerns. I am grateful to have been working with the best of the best throughout this entire endeavor. A special thank you is extended to Dr. Larémont for taking the time to meet and discuss the progress of this journal, from inception to completion, without hesitation. Further thanks is owed to Ben Sheridan without whom neither Dorm Room Diplomacy nor The Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security would have been created; this journal is a testament to his hard work and dedication. Thanks is also in order to Jake Hayutin, the editor of the Binghamton Review, whose support and collaborative effort has been invaluable. Lastly, a big thank you to Elaine Ezrapour and Alice Genkin who were critical contributors throughout the entire formatting and editing process. On behalf of all of the contributors and supporters, thank you for taking the time to explore the first edition of The Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security! Truly yours, Sereena Karsou @sereenaok Founder & Editor-in-Chief
April 18, 2013 Police kill Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two suspects in Boston Marathon bombing case, after a car chase ends in a shoot out. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19 year old college student, is only captured a day later in Watertown, Massachusetts after an extensive manhunt and citywide lockdown. The brothers are of Chechen origin, but had been in the US for most of their lives.
April 15, 2013 Two bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The blasts kill three people. Suspects are at large for three days. Envelopes addressed to the President and multiple Congressmen are found in Federal screening facilities containing ricin, a deadly poison.