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VOLUME II ISSUE 1

The Frenchman’s Burden What’s Really Going on in Mali by Jorge Tamames

Good News

Journalism, Funded by You

Christopher Cox and Richard Blumenthal

on Gun Legislation


Editorial Board

Senior Managing Editor Carol Kim National Managing Editor Kathy nguyen Global managing editor Jorge tamames, Michael Chernin, MARINA Do Nascimento, jake karr, benjamin koatz, dorI rahbar & lauren sukin

Copy Editorial Board

Chief copy editor Dori Rahbar copy editors Sarah Domenick, anne moody, ALEXA VAN HATTUM & ned willig

Online Board

online director lewis pollis webmaster emma funk Column Managers Houston Davidson, Matt Mccabe, Bradley Silverman & Jorge Tamames

(1) Good News (2) Richard Blumenthal (3) Tax the (Right) Rich (4) The Frenchman’s Burden (5) Steven Rattner

Staff Writers

Staff Writer Managing Editors Jake Karr & Lauren Sukin Featured Staff Writers Mike D’Ortenzio, Jake Karr, James Konsky, Thomas Nath, Francis Torres & Carly west

Layout Board

layout & Art director katrina machado associate layout directorS Ben Berke & MARLENA MORSHEAD layout associates Gabrielle Hick, Sarah Lu & Liz Studlick

Artists

STAFF

Staff Artists Rachel Haberstroh, Katrina Machado, SHeila Sitaram & Olivia Watson CONTRIBUTING ARTIST TIFFANY KEUNG DISPATCHES & LETTER TO THE EDITOR artist KATRINA MACHADO Cover artist Olivia Watson

Executive Board

Editors-in-Chief Alexandros Diplas & Ben Wofford Chief-of-Staff Todd Harris Senior Managing Editor Carol Kim Interviews Director Christopher Wilbur Online Director Lewis Pollis Business & Marketing Director Chiamaka Anyoku Layout & Art Director Katrina Machado Media Director BEN WOLKON

Business & Marketing Board

business & marketing director chiamaka anyoku BUSINESS & SALES ADVISOR CHRISTOPHER WILBUR business & marketing associates Sarah Pariser, elena saltzman & Allie Valicenti

Interviews Board

interviews director christopher wilbur Interviews managing editor Henry knight Assistant Managing Editor Christina Kata deputy editor viktoria belberova Content Manager Owen Greenwald interviews associates OMAR BEN haliM & IaN Reardon

Media Board

Media Director Ben Wolkon Associate Director Jarrett Key New Media Manager & Associate Chief-of-Staff Neil Singh Project MANAGER Emily Gelber CHIEF MEDIA EDITOR dan Kopin

3 4

CONTENTS

Columnists

Featured columnists lena barsky, Carter johnson, Dan Kopin, Annika Lichtenbaum, siavash naderi, Graham Sheridan & ben wofford

2

1

$202M “Those listed on the Forbes 400 netted an average income of $202 million and paid an effective tax rate of 19.9 percent in 2009.” pg. 9

75% 260

“75 percent of French citizens support the intervention in Mali.” pg. 23

“In the last five years, Indian political parties have nominated a total of 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women.” pg. 21

Features 10 GOOD NEWS

Journalism, funded by you

Ben Wofford

22 THE FRENCHMAN’S BURDEN What’s really going on in Mali

Jorge Tamames

Dispatches 4 IF YOU DON’T HAVE A

WARRANT, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BLOOD

Lena Barsky

5 KEEP CALM AND SHELTER MORE REFUGEES

Annika Lichtenbaum 6 SHINZO ABE AND JAPAN’S (OLD) NEW MONETARY POLICY

Carter Johnson

7 FIXING CHILDHOOD OBESITY, IMPERFECTLY

Matthew McCabe

National 8 TAX THE (RIGHT) RICH David Kaufman 13 HOW TO USE A DRONE Daniel Duhaime 16 WEDDED TO DELAY Lauren Sukin 18 (DON’T) BE OUR GUEST Jake Karr

Global 20 IT WON’T GO AS IT ALWAYS GOES

David Adler

26 WHY SO SYRIOUS? Michael Chernin 28 LEGACY OF A STRONGMAN’S DAUGHTER

Woojeong Jang

Interviews 30 STEVEN RATTNER 31 THOMAS POGGE 32 CHRISTOPHER COX 33 RICHARD BLUMENTHAL 34 PETER SCHIFF

Letter to the Editor 35 A RESPONSE TO

“NUCLEAR IRAN, SAFER WORLD” BY BEN HALIM

Katherine Long

5


Editorial Board

Senior Managing Editor Carol Kim National Managing Editor Kathy nguyen Global managing editor Jorge tamames, Michael Chernin, MARINA Do Nascimento, jake karr, benjamin koatz, dorI rahbar & lauren sukin

Copy Editorial Board

Chief copy editor Dori Rahbar copy editors Sarah Domenick, anne moody, ALEXA VAN HATTUM & ned willig

Online Board

online director lewis pollis webmaster emma funk Column Managers Houston Davidson, Matt Mccabe, Bradley Silverman & Jorge Tamames

(1) Good News (2) Richard Blumenthal (3) Tax the (Right) Rich (4) The Frenchman’s Burden (5) Steven Rattner

Staff Writers

Staff Writer Managing Editors Jake Karr & Lauren Sukin Featured Staff Writers Mike D’Ortenzio, Jake Karr, James Konsky, Thomas Nath, Francis Torres & Carly west

Layout Board

layout & Art director katrina machado associate layout directorS Ben Berke & MARLENA MORSHEAD layout associates Gabrielle Hick, Sarah Lu & Liz Studlick

Artists

STAFF

Staff Artists Rachel Haberstroh, Katrina Machado, SHeila Sitaram & Olivia Watson CONTRIBUTING ARTIST TIFFANY KEUNG DISPATCHES & LETTER TO THE EDITOR artist KATRINA MACHADO Cover artist Olivia Watson

Executive Board

Editors-in-Chief Alexandros Diplas & Ben Wofford Chief-of-Staff Todd Harris Senior Managing Editor Carol Kim Interviews Director Christopher Wilbur Online Director Lewis Pollis Business & Marketing Director Chiamaka Anyoku Layout & Art Director Katrina Machado Media Director BEN WOLKON

Business & Marketing Board

business & marketing director chiamaka anyoku BUSINESS & SALES ADVISOR CHRISTOPHER WILBUR business & marketing associates Sarah Pariser, elena saltzman & Allie Valicenti

Interviews Board

interviews director christopher wilbur Interviews managing editor Henry knight Assistant Managing Editor Christina Kata deputy editor viktoria belberova Content Manager Owen Greenwald interviews associates OMAR BEN haliM & IaN Reardon

Media Board

Media Director Ben Wolkon Associate Director Jarrett Key New Media Manager & Associate Chief-of-Staff Neil Singh Project MANAGER Emily Gelber CHIEF MEDIA EDITOR dan Kopin

3 4

CONTENTS

Columnists

Featured columnists lena barsky, Carter johnson, Dan Kopin, Annika Lichtenbaum, siavash naderi, Graham Sheridan & ben wofford

2

1

$202M “Those listed on the Forbes 400 netted an average income of $202 million and paid an effective tax rate of 19.9 percent in 2009.” pg. 9

75% 260

“75 percent of French citizens support the intervention in Mali.” pg. 23

“In the last five years, Indian political parties have nominated a total of 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women.” pg. 21

Features 10 GOOD NEWS

Journalism, funded by you

Ben Wofford

22 THE FRENCHMAN’S BURDEN What’s really going on in Mali

Jorge Tamames

Dispatches 4 IF YOU DON’T HAVE A

WARRANT, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BLOOD

Lena Barsky

5 KEEP CALM AND SHELTER MORE REFUGEES

Annika Lichtenbaum 6 SHINZO ABE AND JAPAN’S (OLD) NEW MONETARY POLICY

Carter Johnson

7 FIXING CHILDHOOD OBESITY, IMPERFECTLY

Matthew McCabe

National 8 TAX THE (RIGHT) RICH David Kaufman 13 HOW TO USE A DRONE Daniel Duhaime 16 WEDDED TO DELAY Lauren Sukin 18 (DON’T) BE OUR GUEST Jake Karr

Global 20 IT WON’T GO AS IT ALWAYS GOES

David Adler

26 WHY SO SYRIOUS? Michael Chernin 28 LEGACY OF A STRONGMAN’S DAUGHTER

Woojeong Jang

Interviews 30 STEVEN RATTNER 31 THOMAS POGGE 32 CHRISTOPHER COX 33 RICHARD BLUMENTHAL 34 PETER SCHIFF

Letter to the Editor 35 A RESPONSE TO

“NUCLEAR IRAN, SAFER WORLD” BY BEN HALIM

Katherine Long

5


DISPATCHES } IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WARRANT, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BLOOD

4

The Internet has been abuzz with dissections of and discussions about President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the sequester, and a certain leaked immigration memo. However, I think it’s time we take a step back and reminisce about the good old days of this past January. In particular, we should be reminiscing about January 9, 2013, when the case Missouri v. McNeely was heard. You might be thinking: “It’s the beginning of spring! We’ve got a case about Section 5 of the VRA at hand and two— count them, two—same-sex marriage cases coming up! What could possibly be as important as those topics?” Two words, dear readers: blood samples. On October 3, 2010, Missouri resident Tyler McNeely was caught driving above the speed limit and was stopped by police. When McNeely was pulled over by officer Mark Wilder, he showed physical signs of intoxication and “performed poorly” on four sobriety tests. McNeely refused to give a breathalyzer test, so Wilder took McNeely to the hospital to obtain a blood sample. After Wilder read McNeely the “Missouri Implied Consent” statement, McNeely refused to give a sample, and yet one was taken anyway. The sample proved that his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, and McNeely was charged with driving while intoxicated. He moved to suppress the evidence of his blood sample, though, because Wilder had taken it without a warrant. The trial court granted McNeely’s motion, but Missouri appealed because the “risk of McNeely’s blood alcohol level decreasing over time” was an “exigent circumstance”—an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement—that necessitated the immediate draw of McNeely’s blood. The

Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court both held that the trial court was wrong in suppressing the blood sample. On January 9 the Supreme Court heard the case. The case is tricky, because on the one hand, the Fourth Amendment guarantees that searches and seizures must be reasonable, and that to carry out these searches and seizures a warrant cannot be issued unless probable cause is established and the specifics of the search are outlined. McNeely’s blood sample was taken without consent and admitted as evidence in a court of law even though it was obtained without a warrant—that action was a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. On the other hand, McNeely was visibly intoxicated and posed a danger to himself and others by driving in such a state; the charge of driving while intoxicated was appropriate. Also, the exigent circum-

stances exception has been widely recognized by courts for some time, so Missouri’s appeal on that basis was valid. The question at hand on January 9 was whether, under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment, a blood sample can be taken without consent or a warrant. As the FBI explains in their Law Enforcement Bulletin, the exigent circumstances exception was first outlined in the case United States v. Rengifo, heard by the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 1988. Rengifo defined exigent circumstances as occurring “when a reasonable officer could believe that to delay acting to obtain a warrant would […] permanently frustrate an important police objective,

such as to prevent the destruction of evidence relating to criminal activity or to secure an arrest before a suspect can commit further serious harm” (858 F.2d 800, 805 (1st Cir. 1988)). Twenty-three years later, the Supreme Court heard Kentucky v. King and provided a clearer set of guidelines for the exception: it applies “as long as the police do not gain entry to premises by means of an actual or threatened violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Based on the facts in McNeely, it seems that Officer Wilder did not violate the Fourth Amendment or threaten to do so, and thus Missouri’s appeal under the exigent circumstances exception was appropriate and constitutional. Except, in this situation, it wasn’t. It’s one thing to break into a house because of exigent circumstances, but another issue entirely when the excuse of “exigent circumstances” is used to justify the forcible drawing of blood from a man who had refused to consent to the procedure. Drawing blood is an invasive procedure involving needles, not just a search through a house, which changes the scope of the question. And on January 9, the Supreme Court agreed with this line of thinking. During oral arguments, the liberals and conservatives seemed to be in agreement that the exigent circumstances exception held no weight in McNeely. “Two impressions were dominant throughout the argument,” wrote lawyer Lyle Denniston in an analysis of the oral argument on SCOTUSBlog. “The Justices generally do regard the use of a needle to take a blood sample as quite an intrusive gesture by the government, and the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement should not be cast aside for all cases of drunk driving when officers decide to order a blood draw.” When opinions are released, the exigent circumstances exception will probably be modified to say that police will need to attempt to obtain a warrant before taking blood samples from individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated. As is usually the case when the Supreme Court tries to define various exceptions to the constitution, there will still be room for vagaries. For the time being, you can rest assured that your blood can’t be taken from you— at least, not without a warrant. u

KEEP CALM AND SHELTER MORE REFUGEES ANNIKA LICHTENBAUM It seems absurd to claim that any country in a region as unstable as the Middle East and North Africa has a stagnant political situation, but if any of them fits the bill, it’s Lebanon. Despite its seeming volatility, exemplified by constantly shifting party alliances and the numerous armed conflicts involving Israel and Syria, Lebanon’s politics have remained virtually the same since the end of the French occupation during World War II. Governmental positions are still allocated according to religious sect, parliamentary representation is based on a population census last taken in 1932 and the only coherent efforts to bring any change to this system—namely, the recently proposed electoral law that would require that the Lebanese vote only for candidates of their own sect—are doomed to bring about even more gridlock and sectarian strife. Furthermore, though Lebanon is constantly forced to provide the proxy battleground on which long-running tensions between Israel and Iran play out, there have been no significant regime changes or foreign policy shifts in decades. To top it all off, there are no resentful masses or angry protestors in Lebanon to rival those elsewhere in the region. In fact, the attitude of the Lebanese people is characterized by complete resignation to, and even pride in, the convoluted nature of their political culture. It resembles a sort of head-shaking acceptance of the fact that Lebanon has unique and deeply rooted issues that might never be solved— and a shoulder-shrugging readiness to enjoy themselves thoroughly in spite of it: “Keep Calm and Carry On” combined with “YOLO,” if you will. So what would it take to shift the institutionalized snafu that is daily life in Lebanon? Until recently, the prospects for change in the near or distant future looked bleak. Even with the ever-escalating violence in Syria, it seemed unlikely that anything short of a dramatic overthrow of Syrian

President Bashar al-Assad, and the chaotic power vacuum that would ensue, could change even a stitch in the fabric of Lebanese society. But it has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks that it is not only the political developments in Syria that merit attention but also their socioeconomic effects—namely, the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon and other states in the Levant. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are currently upwards of 300,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and the number is increasing by the hundreds and even thousands every day. And then there are the testimonials of women and children who trek for miles across dangerous desert roads to reach border crossings; accounts of large families who are forced to share cramped, makeshift living quarters; even tales of bomb attacks on refugees. The message couldn’t be clearer: Syrians fleeing the violence between government and opposition forces face horrendous conditions, even after they leave their war-torn country. But only lately has much media attention turned to the increasingly serious effect this mass exodus is having on the neighboring states—particularly Lebanon—that must accommodate these refugees. Essentially, the large number of Syrians in the country could exacerbate what is already Lebanon’s biggest problem: sectarian tension. The majority of the Syrians entering the country are Sunni Muslims, which shouldn���t be an issue in itself because Sunnis already make up between a quarter and a third of the Lebanese population. The potential for conflict arises from the geographical segregation of sects in Lebanon, as well as the sheer number of Syrians. Sunni communities are concentrated in certain areas of the country—Tripoli, the northern coast, and parts of the Bekaa Valley—which were the first-choice destinations of Syrian immigrants. But these communities simply don’t have the resources to support the needs of all the refugees, who have been forced to spill over into Christian and Shi’a areas in Beirut and southern districts, Hezbollah strongholds. Though aid organizations may still provide assistance to Syrian refugees in these areas, help is given only reluctantly and may in fact decrease going forward. The reason for this is that Syrians are unwelcome in these areas, both politically and economically. Politically, their greatest problem is Hezbollah. The Shi’a Muslim

party, which controls the ruling coalition in the Lebanese government and is responsible for much of social welfare provision in Lebanon, remains firmly allied with the Assad regime. Due to this alliance, aid to the refugees has been slow in coming, not only from organizations in Hezbollah-dominated areas but also from the national government itself. In order to provide better aid to the Syrians, the UN has advised that the Lebanese government set up formal refugee camps like those that already exist in Jordan and Turkey. However, this subject is a sore one for the Lebanese and particularly Hezbollah, given their past experiences. Decades ago, thousands of Palestinian refugees fled from Israeli-occupied territory into Lebanon and still live there today in established camps, which drain resources that could be used to benefit Lebanese citizens. This deep-seated resentment of formal refugee camps, in addition to the dominant coalition’s loyalty to Assad, would cause an increase in political sectarianism if such camps for Syrian refugees were indeed established. If the issue of camps is still too sensitive for the Lebanese, it seems only logical that Syrians should forge their paths as refugees in another way: assimilation into Lebanese society. But if this were allowed to happen, the Lebanese people would likely suffer the economic ramifications of a sudden workforce influx. The increased competition for jobs and resources in an economy with an already skyrocketing unemployment rate would not just disenfranchise the Lebanese but foster even more resentment between them and the refugees, particularly in Shi’a areas already tense about the arrival of the Sunni Syrians. The bottom line is that when it comes to Lebanon’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, there is no easy solution—on top of the hostility arising from general institutionalized Lebanese sectarianism, the establishment of refugee camps would inflame religious tensions, and social assimilation would economically hurt everyone involved. The Lebanese, who have long resented constantly being drawn into Syrian conflicts, are now affected by their troublesome neighbor in an even deeper way than ever before. And as a result, the fabric of their society may not merely fray, but actually start to rip. And so comes the inevitable question: what, if anything, is to be done? The proposal of military intervention has been null

DISPATCHES BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW DISPATCHES

LENA BARSKY

From our featured columnists at BrownPoliticalReview.org

5


DISPATCHES } IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WARRANT, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BLOOD

4

The Internet has been abuzz with dissections of and discussions about President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the sequester, and a certain leaked immigration memo. However, I think it’s time we take a step back and reminisce about the good old days of this past January. In particular, we should be reminiscing about January 9, 2013, when the case Missouri v. McNeely was heard. You might be thinking: “It’s the beginning of spring! We’ve got a case about Section 5 of the VRA at hand and two— count them, two—same-sex marriage cases coming up! What could possibly be as important as those topics?” Two words, dear readers: blood samples. On October 3, 2010, Missouri resident Tyler McNeely was caught driving above the speed limit and was stopped by police. When McNeely was pulled over by officer Mark Wilder, he showed physical signs of intoxication and “performed poorly” on four sobriety tests. McNeely refused to give a breathalyzer test, so Wilder took McNeely to the hospital to obtain a blood sample. After Wilder read McNeely the “Missouri Implied Consent” statement, McNeely refused to give a sample, and yet one was taken anyway. The sample proved that his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, and McNeely was charged with driving while intoxicated. He moved to suppress the evidence of his blood sample, though, because Wilder had taken it without a warrant. The trial court granted McNeely’s motion, but Missouri appealed because the “risk of McNeely’s blood alcohol level decreasing over time” was an “exigent circumstance”—an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement—that necessitated the immediate draw of McNeely’s blood. The

Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court both held that the trial court was wrong in suppressing the blood sample. On January 9 the Supreme Court heard the case. The case is tricky, because on the one hand, the Fourth Amendment guarantees that searches and seizures must be reasonable, and that to carry out these searches and seizures a warrant cannot be issued unless probable cause is established and the specifics of the search are outlined. McNeely’s blood sample was taken without consent and admitted as evidence in a court of law even though it was obtained without a warrant—that action was a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. On the other hand, McNeely was visibly intoxicated and posed a danger to himself and others by driving in such a state; the charge of driving while intoxicated was appropriate. Also, the exigent circum-

stances exception has been widely recognized by courts for some time, so Missouri’s appeal on that basis was valid. The question at hand on January 9 was whether, under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment, a blood sample can be taken without consent or a warrant. As the FBI explains in their Law Enforcement Bulletin, the exigent circumstances exception was first outlined in the case United States v. Rengifo, heard by the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 1988. Rengifo defined exigent circumstances as occurring “when a reasonable officer could believe that to delay acting to obtain a warrant would […] permanently frustrate an important police objective,

such as to prevent the destruction of evidence relating to criminal activity or to secure an arrest before a suspect can commit further serious harm” (858 F.2d 800, 805 (1st Cir. 1988)). Twenty-three years later, the Supreme Court heard Kentucky v. King and provided a clearer set of guidelines for the exception: it applies “as long as the police do not gain entry to premises by means of an actual or threatened violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Based on the facts in McNeely, it seems that Officer Wilder did not violate the Fourth Amendment or threaten to do so, and thus Missouri’s appeal under the exigent circumstances exception was appropriate and constitutional. Except, in this situation, it wasn’t. It’s one thing to break into a house because of exigent circumstances, but another issue entirely when the excuse of “exigent circumstances” is used to justify the forcible drawing of blood from a man who had refused to consent to the procedure. Drawing blood is an invasive procedure involving needles, not just a search through a house, which changes the scope of the question. And on January 9, the Supreme Court agreed with this line of thinking. During oral arguments, the liberals and conservatives seemed to be in agreement that the exigent circumstances exception held no weight in McNeely. “Two impressions were dominant throughout the argument,” wrote lawyer Lyle Denniston in an analysis of the oral argument on SCOTUSBlog. “The Justices generally do regard the use of a needle to take a blood sample as quite an intrusive gesture by the government, and the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement should not be cast aside for all cases of drunk driving when officers decide to order a blood draw.” When opinions are released, the exigent circumstances exception will probably be modified to say that police will need to attempt to obtain a warrant before taking blood samples from individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated. As is usually the case when the Supreme Court tries to define various exceptions to the constitution, there will still be room for vagaries. For the time being, you can rest assured that your blood can’t be taken from you— at least, not without a warrant. u

KEEP CALM AND SHELTER MORE REFUGEES ANNIKA LICHTENBAUM It seems absurd to claim that any country in a region as unstable as the Middle East and North Africa has a stagnant political situation, but if any of them fits the bill, it’s Lebanon. Despite its seeming volatility, exemplified by constantly shifting party alliances and the numerous armed conflicts involving Israel and Syria, Lebanon’s politics have remained virtually the same since the end of the French occupation during World War II. Governmental positions are still allocated according to religious sect, parliamentary representation is based on a population census last taken in 1932 and the only coherent efforts to bring any change to this system—namely, the recently proposed electoral law that would require that the Lebanese vote only for candidates of their own sect—are doomed to bring about even more gridlock and sectarian strife. Furthermore, though Lebanon is constantly forced to provide the proxy battleground on which long-running tensions between Israel and Iran play out, there have been no significant regime changes or foreign policy shifts in decades. To top it all off, there are no resentful masses or angry protestors in Lebanon to rival those elsewhere in the region. In fact, the attitude of the Lebanese people is characterized by complete resignation to, and even pride in, the convoluted nature of their political culture. It resembles a sort of head-shaking acceptance of the fact that Lebanon has unique and deeply rooted issues that might never be solved— and a shoulder-shrugging readiness to enjoy themselves thoroughly in spite of it: “Keep Calm and Carry On” combined with “YOLO,” if you will. So what would it take to shift the institutionalized snafu that is daily life in Lebanon? Until recently, the prospects for change in the near or distant future looked bleak. Even with the ever-escalating violence in Syria, it seemed unlikely that anything short of a dramatic overthrow of Syrian

President Bashar al-Assad, and the chaotic power vacuum that would ensue, could change even a stitch in the fabric of Lebanese society. But it has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks that it is not only the political developments in Syria that merit attention but also their socioeconomic effects—namely, the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon and other states in the Levant. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are currently upwards of 300,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and the number is increasing by the hundreds and even thousands every day. And then there are the testimonials of women and children who trek for miles across dangerous desert roads to reach border crossings; accounts of large families who are forced to share cramped, makeshift living quarters; even tales of bomb attacks on refugees. The message couldn’t be clearer: Syrians fleeing the violence between government and opposition forces face horrendous conditions, even after they leave their war-torn country. But only lately has much media attention turned to the increasingly serious effect this mass exodus is having on the neighboring states—particularly Lebanon—that must accommodate these refugees. Essentially, the large number of Syrians in the country could exacerbate what is already Lebanon’s biggest problem: sectarian tension. The majority of the Syrians entering the country are Sunni Muslims, which shouldn’t be an issue in itself because Sunnis already make up between a quarter and a third of the Lebanese population. The potential for conflict arises from the geographical segregation of sects in Lebanon, as well as the sheer number of Syrians. Sunni communities are concentrated in certain areas of the country—Tripoli, the northern coast, and parts of the Bekaa Valley—which were the first-choice destinations of Syrian immigrants. But these communities simply don’t have the resources to support the needs of all the refugees, who have been forced to spill over into Christian and Shi’a areas in Beirut and southern districts, Hezbollah strongholds. Though aid organizations may still provide assistance to Syrian refugees in these areas, help is given only reluctantly and may in fact decrease going forward. The reason for this is that Syrians are unwelcome in these areas, both politically and economically. Politically, their greatest problem is Hezbollah. The Shi’a Muslim

party, which controls the ruling coalition in the Lebanese government and is responsible for much of social welfare provision in Lebanon, remains firmly allied with the Assad regime. Due to this alliance, aid to the refugees has been slow in coming, not only from organizations in Hezbollah-dominated areas but also from the national government itself. In order to provide better aid to the Syrians, the UN has advised that the Lebanese government set up formal refugee camps like those that already exist in Jordan and Turkey. However, this subject is a sore one for the Lebanese and particularly Hezbollah, given their past experiences. Decades ago, thousands of Palestinian refugees fled from Israeli-occupied territory into Lebanon and still live there today in established camps, which drain resources that could be used to benefit Lebanese citizens. This deep-seated resentment of formal refugee camps, in addition to the dominant coalition’s loyalty to Assad, would cause an increase in political sectarianism if such camps for Syrian refugees were indeed established. If the issue of camps is still too sensitive for the Lebanese, it seems only logical that Syrians should forge their paths as refugees in another way: assimilation into Lebanese society. But if this were allowed to happen, the Lebanese people would likely suffer the economic ramifications of a sudden workforce influx. The increased competition for jobs and resources in an economy with an already skyrocketing unemployment rate would not just disenfranchise the Lebanese but foster even more resentment between them and the refugees, particularly in Shi’a areas already tense about the arrival of the Sunni Syrians. The bottom line is that when it comes to Lebanon’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, there is no easy solution—on top of the hostility arising from general institutionalized Lebanese sectarianism, the establishment of refugee camps would inflame religious tensions, and social assimilation would economically hurt everyone involved. The Lebanese, who have long resented constantly being drawn into Syrian conflicts, are now affected by their troublesome neighbor in an even deeper way than ever before. And as a result, the fabric of their society may not merely fray, but actually start to rip. And so comes the inevitable question: what, if anything, is to be done? The proposal of military intervention has been null

DISPATCHES BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW DISPATCHES

LENA BARSKY

From our featured columnists at BrownPoliticalReview.org

5


and void for a while now, but surely humanitarian aid is still a possibility, for the good of both the Syrian refugees and their Lebanese hosts. If even Israel is more able and willing to provide healthcare for Syrian refugees than Lebanon (as its recently established border hospital evidences), then surely other states can step in and help the Syrians and the Lebanese before this mutually destructive relationship reaches a breaking point. Britain seems to be heading in the right direction; during a visit to Lebanon in February, British Foreign Secretary William Hague not only pledged millions of dollars to assist various Lebanese civil society groups in their aid efforts, but also emphasized “setting out an enhanced offer of support for Lebanon’s stability.” Ultimately, the plight of these refugees cannot be treated as an isolated humanitarian crisis. As horrific as the conditions faced by Syrians are, they remain inextricably connected to socioeconomic issues in neighboring states. If they are not addressed on a comprehensive scale, massive socioeconomic changes may be in store for countries like Lebanon. And if there’s anything the Lebanese can tell you, it’s that the situation, as complicated and tense as it looks now, can always get worse. u

SHINZO ABE AND JAPAN’S (OLD) NEW MONETARY POLICY

6

It was a little over five years ago that Shinzo Abe, Japan’s ninetieth prime minister, unceremoniously resigned his post amid government scandal. He had been at the helm of Japan’s government only a year, and at the time of his resignation his approval ratings were less than thirty percent. Now Mr. Abe, revived and newly elected in September, pledges to bring to Japanese economic and foreign policy the strength he believes is necessary. It is no secret that Abe is more nationalistic than his predecessors, and in the parliamentary elections of last year he pledged a tough stance both on the ongoing dispute over the Senkaku Islands—the ownership of which has long been a source of tension between Japan and

icy. Starting in January 2014, the Bank of Japan began buying back 13 trillion yen ($145 billion) per month in government bonds for an indefinite period of time. Of course, it is easy to discern differences between U.S. and Japanese policy. When the Federal Reserve first set out on their quantitative easing process, they proceeded to buy billions of dollars worth of toxic assets. Japan, on the other hand, is only buying its own bonds. The similarity that remains, however, is a prodigious expansion of the monetary base in both cases. Since December 3, the yen has fallen approximately 12 percent against the dollar. In January, it hit a two-and-a-half year low, and such depreciation of the yen—no doubt tied to Abe and the Bank of Japan’s new proposed policies—has led many to talk of “currency wars,” or a surge of competitive devaluations enacted by central banks aimed at achieving low exchange rates and export-driven growth. “There are multiple ways to improve competitiveness, other than to use currencies as a tool,” said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at a January press conference in Washington. Her statement echoed accusations by Russian and German finance ministers that Japan is pursuing a “beggar-thy-neighbor”

policy—one that brings down other economies in order to grow—by devaluing its currency at the expense of other nations’ economies. Whether Japan is initiating a collective competitive devaluation or not, their new economic policies are undeniably clear in their effect: devaluing the yen. Japan has long been the most developed of the East Asian countries and grew to become so under the constant and careful gaze of their great trading partner across the Pacific. Surrounded by the increasing power of emerging markets, it is fitting that now more than ever Japan seems to echo the U.S. with a monetary policy designed to stave off what is perhaps an inevitable decline. Yet such a policy may further a descent into economic torpor, not stop it. Either a central bank does not ease enough and the economy sinks further into decline, as seen in Japan at the outset of the 2000s, or a central bank inescapably overshoots the mark and—perhaps trying to compensate for a failure the first time around—ends up with higher levels of inflation than ever intended. As 2013 opens, Japan seems to be dangerously dancing somewhere in the latter of these two stages. Both investor Jimmy Rogers and journalist Matt Taibi, among others, have spoken of such a danger, particularly when it comes to an exit of the easing process. Their arguments concern U.S. Federal Reserve practices, but could easily apply to those of the Bank of Japan. As noted, this is not the first time Japan has enacted easing policies designed to combat deflation; the Bank of Japan was the pioneer of the process. From 2001 to 2006, the central bank increased their monetary base by nearly 50 trillion yen. Now, seven years on and still trying to fight their way out of what they call Ushinawareta Nijūnen, or “A Lost Twenty Years,” the Japanese are turning to the same tactic that many acknowledge to have been a failure. Is there any reason to think it would work this time around? At worst, we will find either a yen inflated beyond any desirable level, or an impatient group of Japanese bureaucrats calling for more and more central bank purchases, resulting in an even deeper trip down the rabbit hole, something the United States knows all too well. Now more than ever, Japan stands in stark contrast to the developing nations of Asia. China, for example, welcomes Xi Jinping and the chance to put a new face at the head of the world’s second largest economy. Though we do not know whether the suc-

cession of Xi Jinping represents change, we do know that there is possibility for it. In Japan, however, the central bank’s aggressive monetary policies likely represent more of the same. Let’s hope that this time, the consequences fall short of disastrous. u

FIXING CHILDHOOD OBESITY, IMPERFECTLY MATTHEW MCCABE

In February I took part in the 2013 Policy Solutions Challenge USA, a competition that asked public policy students to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Given how much America spends on healthcare, this is an important issue: childhood obesity cost the nation $14.1 billion in 2009; obesity explains 27 percent of the rise of healthcare costs from 1987 to 2001; obesity counted for 10 percent of all medical spending in 2008; and childhood obesity can lead to a greater risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and contribute to a lower quality of life. It was interesting to see the differences and similarities among the approaches of the various teams. One team of doctoral students took an evidence-based approach, focusing on interventions that have been proven in the scientific literature, such as breastfeeding and more sleep. But these measures are not only difficult to translate into policy, but also seem to fall short of a comprehensive solution to the problem of childhood obesity. The unfortunate fact is that policy is often not backed by convincing scientific evidence. Part of this stems from the difficulty of scientifically investigating policy problems that are extremely complex and affect a large and diverse population. In addition, scientific methods are either impractical or unethical. For example, it’s hard to justify giving a random sample of the population welfare benefits, while withholding benefits from others, to test the effect of those benefits. The Brown team made three policy recommendations for alleviating childhood obesity: reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program, create minimum national physical education standards

and push states to track the weight status of students and report that status to parents. By some estimates, $4 billion of SNAP funds—formerly known as food stamps— are spent each year on soda. We proposed using incentives, such as subsidies and surcharges, to push SNAP participants to purchase healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. Increasing how much kids exercise at an early age has the potential to improve physical and cognitive health and foster good habits at an early age. Reporting the weight status of students to their parents is probably the most controversial part of the proposal, but a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine (Krista Casazza et al., “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity,” Feb. 5, 2013) suggests that without involving parents, efforts to combat childhood obesity aren’t as successful. For those concerned about governmental overreach and the intrusion of the “nanny state,” our policy proposals—along with most government efforts to improve public health—are bound to be troubling. Especially when it comes to an issue like obesity, it’s easy to make the argument that people should be responsible for their own choices. But what about children, an especially vulnerable population? Should we rely only on parents? Children spend much of their lives in school; what is our communal responsibility to promote health in this setting? Moving even a little beyond the language of personal responsibility raises many difficult questions. T H E

J A N U S

F O R U M

L E C T U R E

GUNS IN AMERICA

While I have some sympathy for the purely libertarian argument that people should remain responsible for their own choices, I have less tolerance for the fiscal conservative who decries all government programs as too expensive. Using figures from the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity cost the government, through Medicare and Medicaid alone, around $75 billion last year. It’s foolish to believe that public policy issues, such as obesity or infrastructure or poverty, don’t impose costs on society. Obesity is driving up your insurance premiums and costing taxpayers through increased Medicare and Medicaid expenses. Not every problem needs a public solution, but such solutions should be considered when it becomes clear that society is bearing much of the costs. In a perfect world, all policy solutions would be scientifically proven and subject to strict cost-benefit analysis. This is not a perfect world, however, and policy is often made through trial and error. Scientific research and cost-benefit analysis should still hold an important place in policymaking. But we have to accept that policymaking is an imperfect process, where political feasibility often trumps ideal policy. I’m not sure that my team’s policy solutions are the best, or even that they would all work. But I’m excited that there are many people—politicians, policymakers, non-profits (and students)—working to help alleviate childhood obesity and the other problems facing this country. u S E R I E S

|

B R O W N

U N I V E R S I T Y

Guns in America: Reducing Crime March 14, MacMillan 117, 3:30pm Speakers: Steven Lippman, John Lott, Carl T. Bogus

Guns in America: Cultural Legacy March 21, MacMillan 117, 4pm Speakers: Ellen Alberding, Cheryl Olson, Craig Whitney

Guns in America: Mental Health April 9, MacMillan 117, 4pm Speakers: Richard Alan Friedman, Doris Fuller, Jeffrey Swanson

politicaltheoryproject.org

DISPATCHES BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW DISPATCHES

CARTER JOHNSON

China—and a persistently deflated Japanese economy. While the territorial dispute seems alternately to lumber and rage on, Abe’s actions in the economic realm have led many to fear his increasing control over a constitutionally separated Bank of Japan. To address Japanese monetary policy, Abe revealed in January what has since been dubbed “Abenomics,” a strategy characterized by two-pronged controls enacted by the Bank of Japan. The central bank has set a targeted inflation rate of 2 percent and committed to “open-ended purchases,” a practice similar to the quantitative easing now common in U.S. Federal Reserve pol-

7


and void for a while now, but surely humanitarian aid is still a possibility, for the good of both the Syrian refugees and their Lebanese hosts. If even Israel is more able and willing to provide healthcare for Syrian refugees than Lebanon (as its recently established border hospital evidences), then surely other states can step in and help the Syrians and the Lebanese before this mutually destructive relationship reaches a breaking point. Britain seems to be heading in the right direction; during a visit to Lebanon in February, British Foreign Secretary William Hague not only pledged millions of dollars to assist various Lebanese civil society groups in their aid efforts, but also emphasized “setting out an enhanced offer of support for Lebanon’s stability.” Ultimately, the plight of these refugees cannot be treated as an isolated humanitarian crisis. As horrific as the conditions faced by Syrians are, they remain inextricably connected to socioeconomic issues in neighboring states. If they are not addressed on a comprehensive scale, massive socioeconomic changes may be in store for countries like Lebanon. And if there’s anything the Lebanese can tell you, it’s that the situation, as complicated and tense as it looks now, can always get worse. u

SHINZO ABE AND JAPAN’S (OLD) NEW MONETARY POLICY

6

It was a little over five years ago that Shinzo Abe, Japan’s ninetieth prime minister, unceremoniously resigned his post amid government scandal. He had been at the helm of Japan’s government only a year, and at the time of his resignation his approval ratings were less than thirty percent. Now Mr. Abe, revived and newly elected in September, pledges to bring to Japanese economic and foreign policy the strength he believes is necessary. It is no secret that Abe is more nationalistic than his predecessors, and in the parliamentary elections of last year he pledged a tough stance both on the ongoing dispute over the Senkaku Islands—the ownership of which has long been a source of tension between Japan and

icy. Starting in January 2014, the Bank of Japan began buying back 13 trillion yen ($145 billion) per month in government bonds for an indefinite period of time. Of course, it is easy to discern differences between U.S. and Japanese policy. When the Federal Reserve first set out on their quantitative easing process, they proceeded to buy billions of dollars worth of toxic assets. Japan, on the other hand, is only buying its own bonds. The similarity that remains, however, is a prodigious expansion of the monetary base in both cases. Since December 3, the yen has fallen approximately 12 percent against the dollar. In January, it hit a two-and-a-half year low, and such depreciation of the yen—no doubt tied to Abe and the Bank of Japan’s new proposed policies—has led many to talk of “currency wars,” or a surge of competitive devaluations enacted by central banks aimed at achieving low exchange rates and export-driven growth. “There are multiple ways to improve competitiveness, other than to use currencies as a tool,” said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at a January press conference in Washington. Her statement echoed accusations by Russian and German finance ministers that Japan is pursuing a “beggar-thy-neighbor”

policy—one that brings down other economies in order to grow—by devaluing its currency at the expense of other nations’ economies. Whether Japan is initiating a collective competitive devaluation or not, their new economic policies are undeniably clear in their effect: devaluing the yen. Japan has long been the most developed of the East Asian countries and grew to become so under the constant and careful gaze of their great trading partner across the Pacific. Surrounded by the increasing power of emerging markets, it is fitting that now more than ever Japan seems to echo the U.S. with a monetary policy designed to stave off what is perhaps an inevitable decline. Yet such a policy may further a descent into economic torpor, not stop it. Either a central bank does not ease enough and the economy sinks further into decline, as seen in Japan at the outset of the 2000s, or a central bank inescapably overshoots the mark and—perhaps trying to compensate for a failure the first time around—ends up with higher levels of inflation than ever intended. As 2013 opens, Japan seems to be dangerously dancing somewhere in the latter of these two stages. Both investor Jimmy Rogers and journalist Matt Taibi, among others, have spoken of such a danger, particularly when it comes to an exit of the easing process. Their arguments concern U.S. Federal Reserve practices, but could easily apply to those of the Bank of Japan. As noted, this is not the first time Japan has enacted easing policies designed to combat deflation; the Bank of Japan was the pioneer of the process. From 2001 to 2006, the central bank increased their monetary base by nearly 50 trillion yen. Now, seven years on and still trying to fight their way out of what they call Ushinawareta Nijūnen, or “A Lost Twenty Years,” the Japanese are turning to the same tactic that many acknowledge to have been a failure. Is there any reason to think it would work this time around? At worst, we will find either a yen inflated beyond any desirable level, or an impatient group of Japanese bureaucrats calling for more and more central bank purchases, resulting in an even deeper trip down the rabbit hole, something the United States knows all too well. Now more than ever, Japan stands in stark contrast to the developing nations of Asia. China, for example, welcomes Xi Jinping and the chance to put a new face at the head of the world’s second largest economy. Though we do not know whether the suc-

cession of Xi Jinping represents change, we do know that there is possibility for it. In Japan, however, the central bank’s aggressive monetary policies likely represent more of the same. Let’s hope that this time, the consequences fall short of disastrous. u

FIXING CHILDHOOD OBESITY, IMPERFECTLY MATTHEW MCCABE

In February I took part in the 2013 Policy Solutions Challenge USA, a competition that asked public policy students to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Given how much America spends on healthcare, this is an important issue: childhood obesity cost the nation $14.1 billion in 2009; obesity explains 27 percent of the rise of healthcare costs from 1987 to 2001; obesity counted for 10 percent of all medical spending in 2008; and childhood obesity can lead to a greater risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and contribute to a lower quality of life. It was interesting to see the differences and similarities among the approaches of the various teams. One team of doctoral students took an evidence-based approach, focusing on interventions that have been proven in the scientific literature, such as breastfeeding and more sleep. But these measures are not only difficult to translate into policy, but also seem to fall short of a comprehensive solution to the problem of childhood obesity. The unfortunate fact is that policy is often not backed by convincing scientific evidence. Part of this stems from the difficulty of scientifically investigating policy problems that are extremely complex and affect a large and diverse population. In addition, scientific methods are either impractical or unethical. For example, it’s hard to justify giving a random sample of the population welfare benefits, while withholding benefits from others, to test the effect of those benefits. The Brown team made three policy recommendations for alleviating childhood obesity: reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program, create minimum national physical education standards

and push states to track the weight status of students and report that status to parents. By some estimates, $4 billion of SNAP funds—formerly known as food stamps— are spent each year on soda. We proposed using incentives, such as subsidies and surcharges, to push SNAP participants to purchase healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. Increasing how much kids exercise at an early age has the potential to improve physical and cognitive health and foster good habits at an early age. Reporting the weight status of students to their parents is probably the most controversial part of the proposal, but a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine (Krista Casazza et al., “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity,” Feb. 5, 2013) suggests that without involving parents, efforts to combat childhood obesity aren’t as successful. For those concerned about governmental overreach and the intrusion of the “nanny state,” our policy proposals—along with most government efforts to improve public health—are bound to be troubling. Especially when it comes to an issue like obesity, it’s easy to make the argument that people should be responsible for their own choices. But what about children, an especially vulnerable population? Should we rely only on parents? Children spend much of their lives in school; what is our communal responsibility to promote health in this setting? Moving even a little beyond the language of personal responsibility raises many difficult questions. T H E

J A N U S

F O R U M

L E C T U R E

GUNS IN AMERICA

While I have some sympathy for the purely libertarian argument that people should remain responsible for their own choices, I have less tolerance for the fiscal conservative who decries all government programs as too expensive. Using figures from the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity cost the government, through Medicare and Medicaid alone, around $75 billion last year. It’s foolish to believe that public policy issues, such as obesity or infrastructure or poverty, don’t impose costs on society. Obesity is driving up your insurance premiums and costing taxpayers through increased Medicare and Medicaid expenses. Not every problem needs a public solution, but such solutions should be considered when it becomes clear that society is bearing much of the costs. In a perfect world, all policy solutions would be scientifically proven and subject to strict cost-benefit analysis. This is not a perfect world, however, and policy is often made through trial and error. Scientific research and cost-benefit analysis should still hold an important place in policymaking. But we have to accept that policymaking is an imperfect process, where political feasibility often trumps ideal policy. I’m not sure that my team’s policy solutions are the best, or even that they would all work. But I’m excited that there are many people—politicians, policymakers, non-profits (and students)—working to help alleviate childhood obesity and the other problems facing this country. u S E R I E S

|

B R O W N

U N I V E R S I T Y

Guns in America: Reducing Crime March 14, MacMillan 117, 3:30pm Speakers: Steven Lippman, John Lott, Carl T. Bogus

Guns in America: Cultural Legacy March 21, MacMillan 117, 4pm Speakers: Ellen Alberding, Cheryl Olson, Craig Whitney

Guns in America: Mental Health April 9, MacMillan 117, 4pm Speakers: Richard Alan Friedman, Doris Fuller, Jeffrey Swanson

politicaltheoryproject.org

DISPATCHES BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW DISPATCHES

CARTER JOHNSON

China—and a persistently deflated Japanese economy. While the territorial dispute seems alternately to lumber and rage on, Abe’s actions in the economic realm have led many to fear his increasing control over a constitutionally separated Bank of Japan. To address Japanese monetary policy, Abe revealed in January what has since been dubbed “Abenomics,” a strategy characterized by two-pronged controls enacted by the Bank of Japan. The central bank has set a targeted inflation rate of 2 percent and committed to “open-ended purchases,” a practice similar to the quantitative easing now common in U.S. Federal Reserve pol-

7


TAX THE (RIGHT) RICH When it comes to taxes, the left is risking reform for rhetoric

Story by DAVID KAUFMAN / ART by RACHEL HABERSTROH

8

through the yet-unclosed carried-interest loophole. The issue at stake is the public’s tendency to divide society into the “1-percenters” and the “rest of us,” resulting in poor public policy. Why can we not discern between millionaires in home equity and those who actually earn millions? Given that the majority of the 0.1 percent of income earners work in finance, why do they continue to pay fewer taxes than even the middle class? Instead of punishing the few rich people who do pay their fair share, it is time to draw attention to those who do not. American society is often divided into the working class, the middle class, the upper-middle class and the rich. The category of the rich, however, has become in some ways as socioeconomically diverse as the rest of the spectrum. The lifestyle of a public school district superintendent on Long Island (where salaries can often exceed $350,000, in part due to high costs of living) and a hedge fund billionaire in New York City have little in common, though the two individuals would fall into the same class, according to the model. Yet it seems every time Congress agrees on higher taxes for the wealthy, it is often the former who have to patriotically pay up. “The 99 percent versus the 1 percent” may sound like a noble and democratic idea, but it is woefully misleading. The fundamental problem of the American left’s noble pursuit of progressivism and fairness is that it often translates into well-intentioned but ultimately unpro-

ductive or even counterproductive policies, such as rent control, farm subsidies and tax increases on the upper middle class during hard economic times. To avoid repeating these mistakes, policymakers must be specific when referring to the “wealthiest Americans.” In contemporary American society, three distinct classes of the economic elite exist. Lowest on the scale are the rich, who constitute 5 percent of U.S. households and who, despite including millionaires in name, have most of their net worth tied up in home equity. These people live well compared to the average American, making between $400,000 and $1 million per year. They can pay full private university tuitions, take nice family vacations and still maintain their nest eggs. They should therefore pay a higher tax rate than the average. But they should not bear the brunt of the highest tax rate alone. The national tax agenda should instead focus on members in the other two groups: the very rich and the ultra-rich. The very rich, comprising 0.9 percent of U.S. households, make between $1 million and $10 million a year and live quite nicely. They tend to own second homes and can travel in luxury. Most, but certainly not all, work in finance; others are executives of small and medium-sized companies. Those who do work in finance generally pay an effective tax rate of only 20 to 25 percent, while others who work in nonfinancial sectors have traditionally paid the top rate of 35 percent and this year will pay close to 40

percent. Lastly, we have witnessed the emergence of a new class of rich—the top 0.01 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent, the richest of the rich. This extraordinarily affluent group is composed of billionaire entrepreneurs, private equity managers, Swiss bank account holders and World Economic Forum attendees. These are truly “the wealthiest Americans”; working almost exclusively in finance, they have yet to contribute their “fair share” because legally, they do not have to.

The public tends to divide society into the ‘1-percenters’ and ‘the rest of us.’ why can’t we discern between millionaires in home equity and those who actually earn millions? A subset of this group, those listed on the Forbes “400 Richest Americans,” netted an average income of $202 million and paid an effective tax rate of merely 19.9 percent in 2009, the most recent year for which these data are available. These figures are disturbing in a democratic society. Pinning down a tax rate that is fair to everyone may be impossible, but this level of economic injustice is inexcusable. The tax rate should not depend on how earners’ incomes are derived—despite Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s claim that his profession is “God’s work.” But how do we resolve this outrageous

inequity in income tax payment without further destabilizing the quavering economic recovery? The Green Party would have us tax capital gains as ordinary income. While there is certainly merit in this argument—it would raise the tax rates paid by the rich and close the carried interest loophole—it might also decrease investment that is necessary for growth, especially by the middle and upper-middle classes. Capital gains taxes are set lower than income taxes precisely to encourage risk taking, and while it seems implausible that top investors would resort to playing golf and smoking Stogies if their stock were taxed as income, this measure would adversely affect everyone else in the market by discouraging the purchase of shares in new companies. There is a better way to right the wrong: the institution of new adjusted-for-inflation alternative minimum taxes (AMTs) for both the super-rich and the richest of the rich. Warren Buffett has proposed the idea twice, and while it would only serve as a stopgap measure until broader income tax overhaul, it would help bring a necessary sense of fairness to the United States’ Internal Revenue Service code. The plan would work like this: individuals making over a million dollars a year and couples making $1.25 million would compute their current effective tax rates. If their income mostly came from capital gains and their calculated rate was, for example, around 20 percent, they’d pay an AMT of 36 percent. Since that rate would still be lower than the top marginal tax rate

of 39.6 percent, it would not discourage investment, while representing a fairer share of the tax burden. The ultra-rich—those who make over 10 million dollars annually—would pay an AMT of 41 percent, which, though apparently high by today’s standards, does not approach the tax rates exceeding 70 percent until the early 1980s. The prospects of such sweeping reform, however, are not bright, even if it is championed by the ultra-rich likes of Warren Buffett. Sadly, it is still those that own the gold who make the rules. Wall Street continues to spend hundreds of millions per year lobbying for low tax rates. As the current carried interest loophole nears its closure, the private equity lobby is busy negotiating favorable terms. Despite the rhetoric of “igniting class warfare” and “European-style socialism,” equal application of tax law to all types of income should be a unifying, rather than divisive, call for the American populace. There are countless suggestions for remedies, but citizens need to unite behind fundamental ideals such as equality of legal status of incomes to preserve our American identity. The unofficial American motto, e pluribus unum, is engraved on the currency of U.S. taxpayers. When it comes time for the federal government to collect taxes, it ought to apply the principle of national unity and responsibility championed by that motto. u DAVID KAUFMAN ‘16 is a classics concentrator.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

T

he echoes of Occupy Wall Street’s chants for egalitarianism have long faded from the streets of downtown Manhattan, but U.S. politicians have yet to decide how to spread the burden of taxation equitably among the citizenry. From the campaign trail to the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama has called upon the “wealthiest Americans” to pay their “fair share.” But essential to effective policymaking is establishing who exactly the “wealthy” are and what share is objectively fair. Despite apocalyptic December 21 prognostications, 2012 should have been a year of hope for the United States. An election cycle and an automated round of sequestrations should have spurred rational discussion about raising revenue in the country. But the absurd reality of the fiscal cliff deal, or the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, is that it actually punishes the upper-middle class while remaining silent on the continued, albeit legal, tax avoidance of the ultra-rich. Citizens who earn an annual salary of over $400,000 will now pay roughly 40 percent of their income to Uncle Sam. But their wealthier counterparts who make millions yearly through Wall Street speculation still pay just the capital gains rate, which remains at 25 percent. Even more egregious is the fact that people working in private equity who make tens of millions in management fees—which are neither investments nor speculation—will continue to masquerade their income as capital gains

9


TAX THE (RIGHT) RICH When it comes to taxes, the left is risking reform for rhetoric

Story by DAVID KAUFMAN / ART by RACHEL HABERSTROH

8

through the yet-unclosed carried-interest loophole. The issue at stake is the public’s tendency to divide society into the “1-percenters” and the “rest of us,” resulting in poor public policy. Why can we not discern between millionaires in home equity and those who actually earn millions? Given that the majority of the 0.1 percent of income earners work in finance, why do they continue to pay fewer taxes than even the middle class? Instead of punishing the few rich people who do pay their fair share, it is time to draw attention to those who do not. American society is often divided into the working class, the middle class, the upper-middle class and the rich. The category of the rich, however, has become in some ways as socioeconomically diverse as the rest of the spectrum. The lifestyle of a public school district superintendent on Long Island (where salaries can often exceed $350,000, in part due to high costs of living) and a hedge fund billionaire in New York City have little in common, though the two individuals would fall into the same class, according to the model. Yet it seems every time Congress agrees on higher taxes for the wealthy, it is often the former who have to patriotically pay up. “The 99 percent versus the 1 percent” may sound like a noble and democratic idea, but it is woefully misleading. The fundamental problem of the American left’s noble pursuit of progressivism and fairness is that it often translates into well-intentioned but ultimately unpro-

ductive or even counterproductive policies, such as rent control, farm subsidies and tax increases on the upper middle class during hard economic times. To avoid repeating these mistakes, policymakers must be specific when referring to the “wealthiest Americans.” In contemporary American society, three distinct classes of the economic elite exist. Lowest on the scale are the rich, who constitute 5 percent of U.S. households and who, despite including millionaires in name, have most of their net worth tied up in home equity. These people live well compared to the average American, making between $400,000 and $1 million per year. They can pay full private university tuitions, take nice family vacations and still maintain their nest eggs. They should therefore pay a higher tax rate than the average. But they should not bear the brunt of the highest tax rate alone. The national tax agenda should instead focus on members in the other two groups: the very rich and the ultra-rich. The very rich, comprising 0.9 percent of U.S. households, make between $1 million and $10 million a year and live quite nicely. They tend to own second homes and can travel in luxury. Most, but certainly not all, work in finance; others are executives of small and medium-sized companies. Those who do work in finance generally pay an effective tax rate of only 20 to 25 percent, while others who work in nonfinancial sectors have traditionally paid the top rate of 35 percent and this year will pay close to 40

percent. Lastly, we have witnessed the emergence of a new class of rich—the top 0.01 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent, the richest of the rich. This extraordinarily affluent group is composed of billionaire entrepreneurs, private equity managers, Swiss bank account holders and World Economic Forum attendees. These are truly “the wealthiest Americans”; working almost exclusively in finance, they have yet to contribute their “fair share” because legally, they do not have to.

The public tends to divide society into the ‘1-percenters’ and ‘the rest of us.’ why can’t we discern between millionaires in home equity and those who actually earn millions? A subset of this group, those listed on the Forbes “400 Richest Americans,” netted an average income of $202 million and paid an effective tax rate of merely 19.9 percent in 2009, the most recent year for which these data are available. These figures are disturbing in a democratic society. Pinning down a tax rate that is fair to everyone may be impossible, but this level of economic injustice is inexcusable. The tax rate should not depend on how earners’ incomes are derived—despite Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s claim that his profession is “God’s work.” But how do we resolve this outrageous

inequity in income tax payment without further destabilizing the quavering economic recovery? The Green Party would have us tax capital gains as ordinary income. While there is certainly merit in this argument—it would raise the tax rates paid by the rich and close the carried interest loophole—it might also decrease investment that is necessary for growth, especially by the middle and upper-middle classes. Capital gains taxes are set lower than income taxes precisely to encourage risk taking, and while it seems implausible that top investors would resort to playing golf and smoking Stogies if their stock were taxed as income, this measure would adversely affect everyone else in the market by discouraging the purchase of shares in new companies. There is a better way to right the wrong: the institution of new adjusted-for-inflation alternative minimum taxes (AMTs) for both the super-rich and the richest of the rich. Warren Buffett has proposed the idea twice, and while it would only serve as a stopgap measure until broader income tax overhaul, it would help bring a necessary sense of fairness to the United States’ Internal Revenue Service code. The plan would work like this: individuals making over a million dollars a year and couples making $1.25 million would compute their current effective tax rates. If their income mostly came from capital gains and their calculated rate was, for example, around 20 percent, they’d pay an AMT of 36 percent. Since that rate would still be lower than the top marginal tax rate

of 39.6 percent, it would not discourage investment, while representing a fairer share of the tax burden. The ultra-rich—those who make over 10 million dollars annually—would pay an AMT of 41 percent, which, though apparently high by today’s standards, does not approach the tax rates exceeding 70 percent until the early 1980s. The prospects of such sweeping reform, however, are not bright, even if it is championed by the ultra-rich likes of Warren Buffett. Sadly, it is still those that own the gold who make the rules. Wall Street continues to spend hundreds of millions per year lobbying for low tax rates. As the current carried interest loophole nears its closure, the private equity lobby is busy negotiating favorable terms. Despite the rhetoric of “igniting class warfare” and “European-style socialism,” equal application of tax law to all types of income should be a unifying, rather than divisive, call for the American populace. There are countless suggestions for remedies, but citizens need to unite behind fundamental ideals such as equality of legal status of incomes to preserve our American identity. The unofficial American motto, e pluribus unum, is engraved on the currency of U.S. taxpayers. When it comes time for the federal government to collect taxes, it ought to apply the principle of national unity and responsibility championed by that motto. u DAVID KAUFMAN ‘16 is a classics concentrator.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

T

he echoes of Occupy Wall Street’s chants for egalitarianism have long faded from the streets of downtown Manhattan, but U.S. politicians have yet to decide how to spread the burden of taxation equitably among the citizenry. From the campaign trail to the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama has called upon the “wealthiest Americans” to pay their “fair share.” But essential to effective policymaking is establishing who exactly the “wealthy” are and what share is objectively fair. Despite apocalyptic December 21 prognostications, 2012 should have been a year of hope for the United States. An election cycle and an automated round of sequestrations should have spurred rational discussion about raising revenue in the country. But the absurd reality of the fiscal cliff deal, or the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, is that it actually punishes the upper-middle class while remaining silent on the continued, albeit legal, tax avoidance of the ultra-rich. Citizens who earn an annual salary of over $400,000 will now pay roughly 40 percent of their income to Uncle Sam. But their wealthier counterparts who make millions yearly through Wall Street speculation still pay just the capital gains rate, which remains at 25 percent. Even more egregious is the fact that people working in private equity who make tens of millions in management fees—which are neither investments nor speculation—will continue to masquerade their income as capital gains

9


Good News Meet the new journalism, funded by you

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Story by BEN WOFFORD / ART by GABRIELLE HICK ture dexterity for the web came the wide latitude to get stuff for free. When Hollywood obsessed over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last year, it wasn’t for nothing: the movie industry loses billions every year through pirating, torrents and ripping. (Hollywood is one of the few U.S. industries doing extremely well, in case anyone was wondering.) So by the mid-2000s, it seemed hard to overstate our deadbeat obsession for free Internet content. On the verge of bankruptcy, nearly every newspaper and magazine offered itself online at the turn of the century, free of charge. The result was not pretty. The worst damage was for newspapers. The classical vanguards of black and white were soon red all over—millions in debt, imminent bankruptcy and a 90-degree plummet in revenue that left even the most cynical observers bewildered. The list of bankruptcies included former giants with many readers and Pulitzers to speak of. Magazines didn’t fare much better. If newspapers were scooped by the unblinking gaze of online content, magazines had to deliver something especially revelatory once per week. They didn’t, and newsweeklies dived, the recession only intensifying the decline. Last year alone, The New Yorker fell 17 percent, TIME 30 percent and Newsweek folded in print. “In the fight for the American consumer, magazines are losing,” wrote media critic David Carr last

year. Magazines and newspapers are different animals, but the root of their decline is the same, a phenomenon that news analyst Paul Ivan calls the Krugman Paradox. When the Internet came, print advertising left at a rate-of-plummet roughly fifty times the paltry growth of digital dollars. Thus the paradox: when columnist Paul Krugman posts an online op-ed, it routinely garners millions of page-views—and one PetMeds ad. Despite attracting an enormous audience, online journalism continues to lack any reliable ad model. “But here’s the rub,” observed Ta-Nahesi Coates in The Atlantic last year: “No one knew.” At the turn of the century, no one knew the future of online rates. Nobody knew about the rise of Google or the Krugman Paradox. Assuming the Internet would save them, news companies bet the farm blind. Back in the proverbial boardroom, now, editors were bracing themselves. The Internet soon became Millennials’ number one source of information by the end of the decade, surpassing television in 2010. But the Krugman Paradox, clearly dictating an end to free-as-you-want content, jutted for attention more than the predilections of young readers. Circulation and ads were not going to cut it; somebody had to pay. The riddle had two parts. First, how to charge for content that once was free. And second, how to make a generation

uring the fall of 2012, Andrew Sullivan had an idea. Something about the way media companies were trying to solve the Krugman Paradox was all wrong. The thought must have been stewing for years at Sullivan’s popular blog, The Dish. But a decision from his boss, Tina Brown, set the spark when Sullivan and his colleagues at Newsweek/Daily Beast were told that Newsweek would fold in print, converting entirely to digital form. Commentators reacted predictably, ratcheting up their jeremiad for a weakening industry. But Sullivan was thrilled: for years he had been preaching the possibilities of digital, urging print magazines to convert. Sullivan was looking at the Krugman Paradox upside-down. The problem was not that ads couldn’t rake in enough revenue, he reasoned. The problem was that the model required ads at all. As a godfather of the modern blogging genre, Sullivan was the perfect candidate to attempt something out of the box and take his audience along with him. The primary advantage of The Dish is its 1.3 million readers, publishing their comments, questions and polemics, with Sullivan curating the ensuing repartee. It’s a monument to the democratizing power of online content, but also the ability to crowdsource consumer psychology. Sullivan was harpooning for the White Whale, what economists and analysts had debated for years: if readers would ever pay for online content. So, Sullivan decided, why not ask them? In October, Sullivan initiated a thread, “Will Readers Finally Pay for Content?” The groupthink on the blog first deemed the online New York Times’ “porous paywall” a success—named a “paywall” for the website’s requirement to subscribe, and “porous” for the ability to view limited numbers of articles, as well as re-links from outside sites, for free.

Then the thread tackled TPM Prime, a new, exclusive VIP forum for loyal readers of online news and journalism blog Talking Points Memo (TPM) to discuss issues with founder and indie journalist superstar Josh Marshall, while the news site in general remained free. In essence, Prime created a way for TPM to leverage Marshall as its most marketable asset. That development must have made Sullivan, who has garnered one of the most dedicated followings in the blog world, take notice. “If The Dish succeeds, it will be partly because Sullivan has cultivated the loyalty of a readership,” wrote Conor Friedersdorf, a columnist at The Atlantic. That’s roughly where Sullivan conceived the formula that could take his blog into financial independence. If The Dish went ad-free, readers might perceive the

The dish has the potential to disrupt the narrative construed around ads. because while sullivan is shunning advertising, the rest of online journalism is making exactly the opposite bet. gesture as a symbol of respect after years of loyal readership. Cutting ads, in other words, might be a profit-raiser. Even in a “mutualized model,” a term coined by The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridge to describe journalism in which readers are active participants, turning a profit would still prove a tall order—staff salaries, health care, operating costs—and Sullivan was going for the grand slam: absolutely zero advertisements. Finally, The Dish rolled out its new model last January, the first of its kind to charge readers for a blog. The Dish utilizes a new payment paradigm Sullivan calls a “freemium-based meter.” Its “metered” component resembles The New York Times, limiting extended reads for non-subscribers but allowing unlimited access through links or social media. And its focus on core readers for subscription revenue clearly resembles TPM Prime. Sullivan estimates he’ll need $900,000 by year’s end to stay profitable; one month into the initiation of the meter, The Dish raised just over two-thirds of that. “The real test is whether people re-subscribe,” said Sullivan, meaning his payment experiment will require years, not months. The new Dish’s success has the poten-

tial to disrupt the narrative that media mavens have construed around the centrality of ads. Because while Sullivan is shunning advertising, the rest of online journalism is making exactly the opposite bet, assuming that readers will simply never pony up and aggressively doubling down on inventive ad models. Exhibit A: the rise of “advertorials,” dummy articles actually written by advertisers. Advertorials are so much more profitable than conventional online ads that media companies like BuzzFeed think they’ve found their own solution to the Krugman Paradox. Last February, Sullivan found himself seated next to BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, sparring over the ethics of advertorials. “You’re clearly trying to trick people,” Sullivan said of the deceptive appearance of advertorials, a tense silence growing in the audience. “One has to ask, can we trust you?” “Unless readers think we have someone on staff named Sony,” countered Smith, referring to the by-line of advertorials, “I don’t think anyone will be confused.” One thing is clear: both men are leading their media companies into uncharted cultural territory, a decadal courtship for the future traffic of young readers. And eventually, only one can win.

I

f you parsed through the faces of VIPs behind Obama at his Inauguration, you first noticed Beyoncé, and a few rows down, billionaire Chris Hughes and his recent husband, Sean Eldridge ’09. The power couple plainly appeared rich, magnetic, and incredibly good-looking. And they should. Hughes, one of the quieter profiles of Facebook’s founding four, with a net worth south of a billion, left in 2007 to lead the Obama campaign’s social media strategy. And in 2012, at age 28, he bought The New Republic, hiring himself as editor-in-chief. At 28 years, he’s the youngest since Sullivan to become editor—not the only detail they share. Throughout the marathon year of publicity following his purchase, Hughes showed a tendency to reach for the starcrossed idioms of profitability and idealism and wind them into a single tenor. And like Sullivan, Hughes places the romantic ideal of good journalism at the center of breaking even. “I believe in the power of great writing to shape how we see the world,” says Hughes in one breath, and in the next, “It’s our challenge to prove…to the world that

FEATURE BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

F

or one brief moment in 1967, Broadway met political journalism halfway. In the banter following Fiddler on the Roof ’s “If I Were a Rich Man,” Tevye laments his daughter’s refusal to enter an arranged marriage for the money. “But money is the world’s curse!” protests his daughter. “Oy, may the Lord smite me with it,” responds Tevye, the indigent tailor of Anatevka. “And may I never recover.” Ten years ago, we might well have eavesdropped on any editorial boardroom in America. The Internet age had arrived, and print journalism faced a grim future. For these news executives, marrying their journalistic ideals with the fiscal priorities of a declining business was like a fiddler on the roof, trying to stay balanced—wearing an anvil. There was much to kvetch over. Opinion makers in print had weathered the calamitous Bush years, with the public’s trust in the media then at all-time lows. But the worst was coming. Millennials had begun graduating from college en masse and percolating into the white-collar job market, the life source of print media and so-called thought-leader magazines. The viability of an entire sector of public culture, it seemed, suddenly rested in the wallets of a generation that exhibited some seriously chronic issues with remuneration. Along with Millennials’ second-na-

morally averse to paying for anything, pay for anything. The media mavens were out to square an epochal circle. For years, they came up empty. Print news had long banked on the emergence of “some nebulous future ‘free’ innovation,” wrote Ryan Chittum in 2012, when the search for the Great White Whale of political journalism was still underway. “Not one of 1,500 American newspapers has yet to find it in some 17 years of the web era.” Until now.

11


Good News Meet the new journalism, funded by you

10

D

Story by BEN WOFFORD / ART by GABRIELLE HICK ture dexterity for the web came the wide latitude to get stuff for free. When Hollywood obsessed over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last year, it wasn’t for nothing: the movie industry loses billions every year through pirating, torrents and ripping. (Hollywood is one of the few U.S. industries doing extremely well, in case anyone was wondering.) So by the mid-2000s, it seemed hard to overstate our deadbeat obsession for free Internet content. On the verge of bankruptcy, nearly every newspaper and magazine offered itself online at the turn of the century, free of charge. The result was not pretty. The worst damage was for newspapers. The classical vanguards of black and white were soon red all over—millions in debt, imminent bankruptcy and a 90-degree plummet in revenue that left even the most cynical observers bewildered. The list of bankruptcies included former giants with many readers and Pulitzers to speak of. Magazines didn’t fare much better. If newspapers were scooped by the unblinking gaze of online content, magazines had to deliver something especially revelatory once per week. They didn’t, and newsweeklies dived, the recession only intensifying the decline. Last year alone, The New Yorker fell 17 percent, TIME 30 percent and Newsweek folded in print. “In the fight for the American consumer, magazines are losing,” wrote media critic David Carr last

year. Magazines and newspapers are different animals, but the root of their decline is the same, a phenomenon that news analyst Paul Ivan calls the Krugman Paradox. When the Internet came, print advertising left at a rate-of-plummet roughly fifty times the paltry growth of digital dollars. Thus the paradox: when columnist Paul Krugman posts an online op-ed, it routinely garners millions of page-views—and one PetMeds ad. Despite attracting an enormous audience, online journalism continues to lack any reliable ad model. “But here’s the rub,” observed Ta-Nahesi Coates in The Atlantic last year: “No one knew.” At the turn of the century, no one knew the future of online rates. Nobody knew about the rise of Google or the Krugman Paradox. Assuming the Internet would save them, news companies bet the farm blind. Back in the proverbial boardroom, now, editors were bracing themselves. The Internet soon became Millennials’ number one source of information by the end of the decade, surpassing television in 2010. But the Krugman Paradox, clearly dictating an end to free-as-you-want content, jutted for attention more than the predilections of young readers. Circulation and ads were not going to cut it; somebody had to pay. The riddle had two parts. First, how to charge for content that once was free. And second, how to make a generation

uring the fall of 2012, Andrew Sullivan had an idea. Something about the way media companies were trying to solve the Krugman Paradox was all wrong. The thought must have been stewing for years at Sullivan’s popular blog, The Dish. But a decision from his boss, Tina Brown, set the spark when Sullivan and his colleagues at Newsweek/Daily Beast were told that Newsweek would fold in print, converting entirely to digital form. Commentators reacted predictably, ratcheting up their jeremiad for a weakening industry. But Sullivan was thrilled: for years he had been preaching the possibilities of digital, urging print magazines to convert. Sullivan was looking at the Krugman Paradox upside-down. The problem was not that ads couldn’t rake in enough revenue, he reasoned. The problem was that the model required ads at all. As a godfather of the modern blogging genre, Sullivan was the perfect candidate to attempt something out of the box and take his audience along with him. The primary advantage of The Dish is its 1.3 million readers, publishing their comments, questions and polemics, with Sullivan curating the ensuing repartee. It’s a monument to the democratizing power of online content, but also the ability to crowdsource consumer psychology. Sullivan was harpooning for the White Whale, what economists and analysts had debated for years: if readers would ever pay for online content. So, Sullivan decided, why not ask them? In October, Sullivan initiated a thread, “Will Readers Finally Pay for Content?” The groupthink on the blog first deemed the online New York Times’ “porous paywall” a success—named a “paywall” for the website’s requirement to subscribe, and “porous” for the ability to view limited numbers of articles, as well as re-links from outside sites, for free.

Then the thread tackled TPM Prime, a new, exclusive VIP forum for loyal readers of online news and journalism blog Talking Points Memo (TPM) to discuss issues with founder and indie journalist superstar Josh Marshall, while the news site in general remained free. In essence, Prime created a way for TPM to leverage Marshall as its most marketable asset. That development must have made Sullivan, who has garnered one of the most dedicated followings in the blog world, take notice. “If The Dish succeeds, it will be partly because Sullivan has cultivated the loyalty of a readership,” wrote Conor Friedersdorf, a columnist at The Atlantic. That’s roughly where Sullivan conceived the formula that could take his blog into financial independence. If The Dish went ad-free, readers might perceive the

The dish has the potential to disrupt the narrative construed around ads. because while sullivan is shunning advertising, the rest of online journalism is making exactly the opposite bet. gesture as a symbol of respect after years of loyal readership. Cutting ads, in other words, might be a profit-raiser. Even in a “mutualized model,” a term coined by The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridge to describe journalism in which readers are active participants, turning a profit would still prove a tall order—staff salaries, health care, operating costs—and Sullivan was going for the grand slam: absolutely zero advertisements. Finally, The Dish rolled out its new model last January, the first of its kind to charge readers for a blog. The Dish utilizes a new payment paradigm Sullivan calls a “freemium-based meter.” Its “metered” component resembles The New York Times, limiting extended reads for non-subscribers but allowing unlimited access through links or social media. And its focus on core readers for subscription revenue clearly resembles TPM Prime. Sullivan estimates he’ll need $900,000 by year’s end to stay profitable; one month into the initiation of the meter, The Dish raised just over two-thirds of that. “The real test is whether people re-subscribe,” said Sullivan, meaning his payment experiment will require years, not months. The new Dish’s success has the poten-

tial to disrupt the narrative that media mavens have construed around the centrality of ads. Because while Sullivan is shunning advertising, the rest of online journalism is making exactly the opposite bet, assuming that readers will simply never pony up and aggressively doubling down on inventive ad models. Exhibit A: the rise of “advertorials,” dummy articles actually written by advertisers. Advertorials are so much more profitable than conventional online ads that media companies like BuzzFeed think they’ve found their own solution to the Krugman Paradox. Last February, Sullivan found himself seated next to BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, sparring over the ethics of advertorials. “You’re clearly trying to trick people,” Sullivan said of the deceptive appearance of advertorials, a tense silence growing in the audience. “One has to ask, can we trust you?” “Unless readers think we have someone on staff named Sony,” countered Smith, referring to the by-line of advertorials, “I don’t think anyone will be confused.” One thing is clear: both men are leading their media companies into uncharted cultural territory, a decadal courtship for the future traffic of young readers. And eventually, only one can win.

I

f you parsed through the faces of VIPs behind Obama at his Inauguration, you first noticed Beyoncé, and a few rows down, billionaire Chris Hughes and his recent husband, Sean Eldridge ’09. The power couple plainly appeared rich, magnetic, and incredibly good-looking. And they should. Hughes, one of the quieter profiles of Facebook’s founding four, with a net worth south of a billion, left in 2007 to lead the Obama campaign’s social media strategy. And in 2012, at age 28, he bought The New Republic, hiring himself as editor-in-chief. At 28 years, he’s the youngest since Sullivan to become editor—not the only detail they share. Throughout the marathon year of publicity following his purchase, Hughes showed a tendency to reach for the starcrossed idioms of profitability and idealism and wind them into a single tenor. And like Sullivan, Hughes places the romantic ideal of good journalism at the center of breaking even. “I believe in the power of great writing to shape how we see the world,” says Hughes in one breath, and in the next, “It’s our challenge to prove…to the world that

FEATURE BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

F

or one brief moment in 1967, Broadway met political journalism halfway. In the banter following Fiddler on the Roof ’s “If I Were a Rich Man,” Tevye laments his daughter’s refusal to enter an arranged marriage for the money. “But money is the world’s curse!” protests his daughter. “Oy, may the Lord smite me with it,” responds Tevye, the indigent tailor of Anatevka. “And may I never recover.” Ten years ago, we might well have eavesdropped on any editorial boardroom in America. The Internet age had arrived, and print journalism faced a grim future. For these news executives, marrying their journalistic ideals with the fiscal priorities of a declining business was like a fiddler on the roof, trying to stay balanced—wearing an anvil. There was much to kvetch over. Opinion makers in print had weathered the calamitous Bush years, with the public’s trust in the media then at all-time lows. But the worst was coming. Millennials had begun graduating from college en masse and percolating into the white-collar job market, the life source of print media and so-called thought-leader magazines. The viability of an entire sector of public culture, it seemed, suddenly rested in the wallets of a generation that exhibited some seriously chronic issues with remuneration. Along with Millennials’ second-na-

morally averse to paying for anything, pay for anything. The media mavens were out to square an epochal circle. For years, they came up empty. Print news had long banked on the emergence of “some nebulous future ‘free’ innovation,” wrote Ryan Chittum in 2012, when the search for the Great White Whale of political journalism was still underway. “Not one of 1,500 American newspapers has yet to find it in some 17 years of the web era.” Until now.

11


12

paywalls so much as Kickstarter,” explains Reuters news analyst Felix Salmon of these new models. “It feels good to support something you love and admire.” Ditto for Josh Marshall’s Prime, or the link to The New Republic you’ll get from your mom and read on your tablet. This is the new journalism: a network of “mutualized” online reporting and elite blogging, all stewed in the same social media pot—funded by you. Back in Anatevka, news traditionalists have chosen to grapple with the tide of change by more or less going nuts. “All of my life, developing credentials,” NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams complained recently. “Now I’m up against a guy named Vinny who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.” What Williams didn’t mention is that in the epic showdown against Basement Vinny, Williams is losing. Network TV audiences continue to shrink by about 2 percent annually, the Internet nipping at its heels in second place, and Millennials accounting for most of the decline in the last five years. “Everything about old media and mainstream media organizations is based on monopolies, like the national networks,” Marshall told me, but “when people talk about the decline of newspapers, all of that is a loss of monopoly power.” Williams and Vinny are the perfect metaphor, then, for a familiar generational archetype. Print is barely profitable, and until the moment that it isn’t, the old guard will continue to rip into “uninformed” young people who “think news is garbage.”

That seems hard to reconcile with Millennials’ claim to the most educated generation in human history. What print vanguards mean is that we don’t read the news their way—walking to the bus, buying the paper and tipping a fedora. But the future is mutualized, and so are the consequences: last year, 68 percent of readers under age 34 responded that they believe technology has improved media. But only 30 percent in that age range said they trust the opinions of a magazine editor. Between a monolithic Cronkite who hopes we buy from Sony, and a Vinny that tugs on our heartstrings ad-free, we’ll choose Vinny any day of the week. None of this will be comfortable. In Rusbridge’s manifesto, he makes clear that he wishes his industry could revel in the comfort—and profits—of a former era. That’s what makes inaction, perhaps, so tempting. “A failure to experiment is more dangerous than trying new things,” Rusbridge wrote. If Sullivan, Marshall, Hughes and the revolution they lead are still standing in one year, the choice for media executives will be, well, dramatic. After he breaks tradition and allows his daughter to marry the goy, our friend Tevye realizes he must leave Anatevka behind. The success of journalism might just hinge on how quickly news organizations can muster the same courage, and never look back. u BEN WOFFORD ‘14 is a HISTORY concentrator and editor-in-chief at BPR.

POLICY MEMO HOW TO USE A DRONE A Brown student imagines the White House’s most secret memo

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ear Mr. President: Wearing a worn face and clean suit, John O. Brennan—your top counterterrorism aide and nominee for Director of the CIA—vigorously defended your administration’s counterterrorism policies at his February 7 confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. As a result of pressure from senators leading up to the hearing, the Justice Department released a white paper articulating the legal and constitutional basis for its strikes. While the white paper is unclassified and broad—unlike your Office of Legal Counsel’s memorandum specifically authorizing the targeted killing of Anwar al-Aulaqi in 2011—it offers your administration’s first comprehensive explanation of the targeted killing program maintained by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). At your request, this memo will analyze the constitutional legitimacy of targeted killings and the remedy proposed to limit potential abuse of executive power. In order to judge the validity of the targeted killing program, we should evaluate your administration’s constitutional and legal claims on the basis of their narrow scope. First, the white paper does not address the minimum requirements necessary to permit targeted killing. Rather, it applies only to the unique case of an American citizen who: (1) is a “senior operational leader” affiliated with al-Qaida or another belligerent group in the War on Terror; (2) is engaged in an armed conflict as recognized by precedent; (3) is operating in foreign territory where capture is infeasible; and (4) has been determined by a “high-level government official” to pose an “imminent threat” of violent attack. Certainly your administration selected this construction deliberately, since articulating some minimum threshold would codify limits on the executive’s power and expose its conduct to external scrutiny. While such a scope may not encompass every targeted killing conducted on an American citizen,

Story by DANIEL DUHAIME / ART BY TIFFANY KEUNG the ensuing debate over the legality and constitutionality of that action cannot occur in the abstract—the American people need to know what makes a drone strike legal. Operating under this premise, the government’s interest-balancing approach to constitutional challenges is the most effective and pragmatic means to deal with such a U.S. citizen. Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the geographic, statutory and constitutional limits on presidential authority will undermine the effectiveness of proposals to subject targeted killings to judicial scrutiny. Precedent and long-since codified legal principles dictate that the United States Supreme Court should extend constitutional and statutory deference to the executive, particularly in regard to the military and foreign affairs. Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests the president with “the executive Power” and places the president as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” With respect to foreign affairs, Article II §2 further empowers the president “to make Treaties” and “appoint Ambassadors,” and §3 compels the president to “receive Ambassadors.” In aggregate, these powers constitute an explicit delegation of constitutional primacy over the country’s external affairs to the political process. “Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question,” the majority explains in Baker v. Carr, “is found a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department…or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it.” The executive’s authority over the nation’s external affairs is in fact the quintessential constitutional commitment for the purposes of the political question doctrine, a premise furthered by the judiciary’s inability to effectively discover or manage the exercise of such authority. As a result, the executive should be afforded expansive deference over these inherently political questions such that if its construction is rationally concluded, it is

permissible. Similarly, the Court extended statutory deference to the executive in Chevron v. NRDC. In that case, the majority reasoned that where statutory language is ambiguous, the executive’s interpretation should stand, so long as it constitutes a permissible construction of the statute. Thus, the executive ought to enjoy elastic deference over the judiciary if the president neither thwarts the statutorily expressed will of Congress nor violates the limits of the constitutional commitment by transgressing the textual authority of coordinate branches. In sum, as long as you act within the current law, you can’t be sued for violating the Constitution. But does the law permit you to kill one of your own citizens?

T

he most significant source of statutory authority for the targeted killing of an American citizen affiliated with al-Qaida is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed in the wake of September 11, 2001. The AUMF provides the president with the prerogative to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against “those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the September 11 attacks. Unlike other provisions of statutory, constitutional and international law—which cannot consider the existence of non-state actors—the AUMF’s broad delegation was clearly intended to incorporate the modern threat of terrorism. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Court affirmed the executive’s right to constitutionally use force against an American citizen under the penumbra of the AUMF. “A citizen, no less than an alien,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes in the plurality, “can be part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners and engaged in an armed conflict against the United States.” As a result, the precedent clearly recognizes that American citizenship alone does not protect a non-state actor from the force authorized under the

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

we can find a profitable model.” So far, Hughes’ leadership has demonstrated most of the changes you might expect from a founder of Facebook. Alongside an elite cadre of bloggers, the revamped site is a coding masterpiece, rendering each article an interactive wonderland in which every word can be tweeted, posted to Tumblr or shared on Facebook. A dynamic bar paces your completed percentage of the article, as if to affirm that your precious online minutes are as important to you as they are to the magazine’s bottom line. If you didn’t know better, you might guess this was an overture to a generation with a strong habit for doing lots of things besides reading, and social media is likely the next shoe to drop. The percentage of consumers who read news through social media doubled between 2010 and 2012, now at 20 percent, and the next big puzzle will be how to convert Facebook’s power to derail your homework into making you read an article at The New Republic. That is clearly Hughes’—and Sullivan’s and Marshall’s—objective: to adapt to the behaviors of the next wave of news consumers, not change them. While 70 percent of users click news links on Facebook from family or friends, only 13 percent do so for news organizations. The genius of Sullivan’s scheme, then, is to blur the line between the first category and the second. Suddenly, the use of advertorials becomes a starkly different path: making a dime to stay afloat, versus losing the trust vital to making mutualized journalism click. “The real parallel here is not to media

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paywalls so much as Kickstarter,” explains Reuters news analyst Felix Salmon of these new models. “It feels good to support something you love and admire.” Ditto for Josh Marshall’s Prime, or the link to The New Republic you’ll get from your mom and read on your tablet. This is the new journalism: a network of “mutualized” online reporting and elite blogging, all stewed in the same social media pot—funded by you. Back in Anatevka, news traditionalists have chosen to grapple with the tide of change by more or less going nuts. “All of my life, developing credentials,” NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams complained recently. “Now I’m up against a guy named Vinny who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.” What Williams didn’t mention is that in the epic showdown against Basement Vinny, Williams is losing. Network TV audiences continue to shrink by about 2 percent annually, the Internet nipping at its heels in second place, and Millennials accounting for most of the decline in the last five years. “Everything about old media and mainstream media organizations is based on monopolies, like the national networks,” Marshall told me, but “when people talk about the decline of newspapers, all of that is a loss of monopoly power.” Williams and Vinny are the perfect metaphor, then, for a familiar generational archetype. Print is barely profitable, and until the moment that it isn’t, the old guard will continue to rip into “uninformed” young people who “think news is garbage.”

That seems hard to reconcile with Millennials’ claim to the most educated generation in human history. What print vanguards mean is that we don’t read the news their way—walking to the bus, buying the paper and tipping a fedora. But the future is mutualized, and so are the consequences: last year, 68 percent of readers under age 34 responded that they believe technology has improved media. But only 30 percent in that age range said they trust the opinions of a magazine editor. Between a monolithic Cronkite who hopes we buy from Sony, and a Vinny that tugs on our heartstrings ad-free, we’ll choose Vinny any day of the week. None of this will be comfortable. In Rusbridge’s manifesto, he makes clear that he wishes his industry could revel in the comfort—and profits—of a former era. That’s what makes inaction, perhaps, so tempting. “A failure to experiment is more dangerous than trying new things,” Rusbridge wrote. If Sullivan, Marshall, Hughes and the revolution they lead are still standing in one year, the choice for media executives will be, well, dramatic. After he breaks tradition and allows his daughter to marry the goy, our friend Tevye realizes he must leave Anatevka behind. The success of journalism might just hinge on how quickly news organizations can muster the same courage, and never look back. u BEN WOFFORD ‘14 is a HISTORY concentrator and editor-in-chief at BPR.

POLICY MEMO HOW TO USE A DRONE A Brown student imagines the White House’s most secret memo

D

ear Mr. President: Wearing a worn face and clean suit, John O. Brennan—your top counterterrorism aide and nominee for Director of the CIA—vigorously defended your administration’s counterterrorism policies at his February 7 confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. As a result of pressure from senators leading up to the hearing, the Justice Department released a white paper articulating the legal and constitutional basis for its strikes. While the white paper is unclassified and broad—unlike your Office of Legal Counsel’s memorandum specifically authorizing the targeted killing of Anwar al-Aulaqi in 2011—it offers your administration’s first comprehensive explanation of the targeted killing program maintained by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). At your request, this memo will analyze the constitutional legitimacy of targeted killings and the remedy proposed to limit potential abuse of executive power. In order to judge the validity of the targeted killing program, we should evaluate your administration’s constitutional and legal claims on the basis of their narrow scope. First, the white paper does not address the minimum requirements necessary to permit targeted killing. Rather, it applies only to the unique case of an American citizen who: (1) is a “senior operational leader” affiliated with al-Qaida or another belligerent group in the War on Terror; (2) is engaged in an armed conflict as recognized by precedent; (3) is operating in foreign territory where capture is infeasible; and (4) has been determined by a “high-level government official” to pose an “imminent threat” of violent attack. Certainly your administration selected this construction deliberately, since articulating some minimum threshold would codify limits on the executive’s power and expose its conduct to external scrutiny. While such a scope may not encompass every targeted killing conducted on an American citizen,

Story by DANIEL DUHAIME / ART BY TIFFANY KEUNG the ensuing debate over the legality and constitutionality of that action cannot occur in the abstract—the American people need to know what makes a drone strike legal. Operating under this premise, the government’s interest-balancing approach to constitutional challenges is the most effective and pragmatic means to deal with such a U.S. citizen. Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the geographic, statutory and constitutional limits on presidential authority will undermine the effectiveness of proposals to subject targeted killings to judicial scrutiny. Precedent and long-since codified legal principles dictate that the United States Supreme Court should extend constitutional and statutory deference to the executive, particularly in regard to the military and foreign affairs. Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests the president with “the executive Power” and places the president as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” With respect to foreign affairs, Article II §2 further empowers the president “to make Treaties” and “appoint Ambassadors,” and §3 compels the president to “receive Ambassadors.” In aggregate, these powers constitute an explicit delegation of constitutional primacy over the country’s external affairs to the political process. “Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question,” the majority explains in Baker v. Carr, “is found a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department…or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it.” The executive’s authority over the nation’s external affairs is in fact the quintessential constitutional commitment for the purposes of the political question doctrine, a premise furthered by the judiciary’s inability to effectively discover or manage the exercise of such authority. As a result, the executive should be afforded expansive deference over these inherently political questions such that if its construction is rationally concluded, it is

permissible. Similarly, the Court extended statutory deference to the executive in Chevron v. NRDC. In that case, the majority reasoned that where statutory language is ambiguous, the executive’s interpretation should stand, so long as it constitutes a permissible construction of the statute. Thus, the executive ought to enjoy elastic deference over the judiciary if the president neither thwarts the statutorily expressed will of Congress nor violates the limits of the constitutional commitment by transgressing the textual authority of coordinate branches. In sum, as long as you act within the current law, you can’t be sued for violating the Constitution. But does the law permit you to kill one of your own citizens?

T

he most significant source of statutory authority for the targeted killing of an American citizen affiliated with al-Qaida is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed in the wake of September 11, 2001. The AUMF provides the president with the prerogative to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against “those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the September 11 attacks. Unlike other provisions of statutory, constitutional and international law—which cannot consider the existence of non-state actors—the AUMF’s broad delegation was clearly intended to incorporate the modern threat of terrorism. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Court affirmed the executive’s right to constitutionally use force against an American citizen under the penumbra of the AUMF. “A citizen, no less than an alien,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes in the plurality, “can be part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners and engaged in an armed conflict against the United States.” As a result, the precedent clearly recognizes that American citizenship alone does not protect a non-state actor from the force authorized under the

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

we can find a profitable model.” So far, Hughes’ leadership has demonstrated most of the changes you might expect from a founder of Facebook. Alongside an elite cadre of bloggers, the revamped site is a coding masterpiece, rendering each article an interactive wonderland in which every word can be tweeted, posted to Tumblr or shared on Facebook. A dynamic bar paces your completed percentage of the article, as if to affirm that your precious online minutes are as important to you as they are to the magazine’s bottom line. If you didn’t know better, you might guess this was an overture to a generation with a strong habit for doing lots of things besides reading, and social media is likely the next shoe to drop. The percentage of consumers who read news through social media doubled between 2010 and 2012, now at 20 percent, and the next big puzzle will be how to convert Facebook’s power to derail your homework into making you read an article at The New Republic. That is clearly Hughes’—and Sullivan’s and Marshall’s—objective: to adapt to the behaviors of the next wave of news consumers, not change them. While 70 percent of users click news links on Facebook from family or friends, only 13 percent do so for news organizations. The genius of Sullivan’s scheme, then, is to blur the line between the first category and the second. Suddenly, the use of advertorials becomes a starkly different path: making a dime to stay afloat, versus losing the trust vital to making mutualized journalism click. “The real parallel here is not to media

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BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

ment’s interests are heavier, the risk of liberty deprivation without sufficient process is exacerbated and the costs of providing additional process increases drastically. A similar balancing test is necessary to reconcile the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures with the statutory and constitutional ambiguity surrounding non-state actors. As a result of such legal uncertainty, the most similar case is Tennessee v. Garner, wherein the Court held that the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer did not violate the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights so long as the officer had probable cause to believe that the suspect posed a significant threat of death or injury. To come to this conclusion, the Court balanced the nature and quality of the intrusion against the government’s own interests. This ruling was clarified in Scott v. Har-

MR. president, as long as you act within the current law, the drone program is not unconstitutional. but does it allow you to kill one of your own citizens?

-state actors is legally identical, whether in Afghanistan or Yemen.

T

he rights laid out in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments pose two types of constitutional challenges to the legality of the targeted killing of an American citizen. Your administration does not pretend to ignore or nullify these rights overseas; rather, it argues that the government interest at hand overwhelms the private interest of the individual. “An individual’s interest in avoiding erroneous deprivation of his life is uniquely compelling,” the Justice Department states. “At the same time, the government’s interest in waging war, protecting its citizens and removing the threat posed by members of enemy forces is also compelling.” In Mathews

v. Eldridge, the Court held that while the termination of Social Security benefits invoked due process rights, no pre-termination hearing was necessary to satisfy those rights. To determine the amount of process due, they reasoned, the Court should weigh the competing interests at hand as well as the burdens imposed by providing additional process. The Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld affirmed the legitimacy of this test, using it to weigh the due process rights of an American citizen challenging his detention after capture in Afghanistan. In this way, contesting a targeted killing on Fifth Amendment grounds is quite analogous to petitioner Hamdi’s claims. The circumstances of both cases, moreover, should dictate a similar result when competing interests are weighed, because during war the govern-

ris by specifying that determining whether a seizure was unreasonable is contingent on specific circumstances. In one of few tangential references to the bounds of the executive’s authority, the Department of Justice hastens to point out that the balancing test is far more stringently applied domestically than when applied to an American citizen abroad. As with the Due Process Clause, the government’s argument is uniquely compelling when limited to the narrow scenario that the Justice Department addresses. Irrespective of the target’s constitutional rights, the nature and quality of the intrusion—occurring in the context of an armed conflict abroad—serve to diminish private interests and augment the governmental interest at hand. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles cannot be construed to constitute an unreasonable search because—as the subject is an active belligerent in that armed conflict and thus a legitimate target under laws of war— the method of force is unrelated to its legality save where explicitly prohibited, which drones are not.

C

hairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), other members of the Intelligence Committee and even your former Secretary of

Defense Robert Gates have recently hinted at legislation that would apply judicial review to the targeted killing of citizens. Mr. Brennan agreed that the topic was “worthy of discussion,” a phrase likely employed by executive branch officials in response to proposals about how to limit executive power. Such legislation would be modeled on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to adjudicate secret, ex parte requests for surveillance warrants. The circumstances for proposals are analogous: the legislative branch, responding to a perceived aggrandizement of executive power, asserted itself to institute more robust oversight. While in theory a sound policy response, the constitutional questions surrounding such a court—as the history of FISA and FISC demonstrate—would become debilitating in times of crisis, compromising its objective of substantively constraining the executive. First, the structure of the court presents both practical and constitutional questions. In a situation where the window of opportunity to conduct such operations is severely limited—to say nothing of the often even smaller window between when actionable intelligence is obtained and when the opportunity for action closes—the proposed drone court would be unable to effectively and efficiently judge such requests. Consequently, the only other manner in which to proceed would be for the court to impose a preemptive judgment about whether the government possessed enough evidence to justify a future targeted killing. The criteria for such a decision are “inherently predictive judgments” that include the scope of the individual target, the imminence of the threat and the feasibility of capture. These seem to be inherently, explicitly and exclusively executive functions, unable to be transferred to a court technically and constitutionally ill-suited to judge them. There exists no judicially discoverable or manageable standard for evaluating such claims, and so to impose them would ironically—by substituting the reasoned decisions of elected officials for those of judges—make the process less accountable to the people. Furthermore, the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping and subsequent amendments to FISA demonstrate that the constitutional questions surrounding a FISC-like court inhibit compliance and accountability. Although the Patriot

Act of 2001 broadened FISA to more comprehensively account for the threats of terrorism following the September 11 attacks, President Bush nevertheless utilized a presidential order to authorize warrantless wiretapping in defiance of FISC. In 2008, Congress consented to the Bush administration’s actions by further amending FISA to retroactively legalize the majority of its warrantless wiretapping program. Moreover, as demonstrated by the conduct of FISC, this elastic deference is extended to the executive by both the legislative and judicial branches. In 2011, for example, FISC rejected none of the Justice Department’s applications for electronic or physical surveillance, amending only 30 and approving 1,745. Institutional inertia toward executive deference thus implicitly recognizes constitutional primacy over such national security issues and defeats the substantive purpose of check-and-balance oversight. Applying the structure of FISC to an analogous drone court would thus repeat the mistakes of FISA, codifying immutable standards that cannot evolve to changing circumstances, transferring oversight authority from the appropriate legislative committees to an insular panel of judges, and providing no meaningful constraint on executive action during times of crisis. Instead of prescribing external standards that incentivize lowest common denominator compliance with the judicial branch, an internal approach—legislating an oversight panel consisting of the president, his senior national security team and senior members of the intelligence committees—would reintegrate the legislative branch into a regime of executive oversight. If the Constitution possesses no explicit enforcement mechanism to limit executive power—if it is, in fact, the greatest aggrandizer of executive power—no judicial oversight can change that. Thus, the only feasible check-and-balance oversight must be accomplished internally, reassigning political questions to political branches and incentivizing executive compliance with the legislature’s constitutionally conferred power of the purse. Mr. President, while I cannot speak to the morality of your drone policy, I can advise that this power is legal. As many serving in your position have been told before: use it wisely. u

DANIEL DUHAIME ‘14 is a HISTORY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE concentrator.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

14

AUMF. However, the Court in Hamdi did not address whether the executive’s plenary powers under Article II were sufficient to justify the application of such force. It is likely for this reason that your administration seeks to identify only the sufficiency, rather than the necessity, of the conditions it sets forth for a lethal operation. While both precedent and statutory language seem to plainly affirm the use of lethal force on an American citizen who is a belligerent in an armed conflict, the most consequential issue left unanswered by the white paper is which authority—the executive’s authority or the authority conferred by the AUMF—is dispositive to such use. Similarly, much of the outcry about targeted killings centers around their proliferation in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan, not popularly understood to be active battlefields like Afghanistan. However, this view is premised on an anachronistic legal framework that defines conflict as occurring between sovereign states. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Court held that a conflict between a sovereign state and a non-state actor was “not of an international character” for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions because it was not “a clash between nations.” Because the Conventions define an armed conflict according to the “legal status of the entities opposing each other,” conducting targeted killings in different countries does not alter their legality because the legal status of non-state actors is unchanged. None of the three branches, moreover, have identified strict geographic limits on the scope of AUMF. “If…the ultimate purpose of the drafters of the Geneva Conventions was to prevent law avoidance…by developing de facto triggers,” write Geoffrey S. Corn and Eric Talbot Jensen, “then the myopic focus on the geographic nature of an armed conflict in the context of transnational counterterrorist combat operations serves to frustrate that purpose.” Indeed, constraining the War on Terror to some stringent geographic standard would neglect the fluidity of threats in a globalized world. Still, some limits on this geographic scope exist. To comply with international legal principles, such strikes require that the host nation consents or that they are unable or unwilling to do so. Applying these principles to the circumstances outlined in the white paper permits the executive to determine that an armed conflict exists in those nations in which targeted killings have been conducted because the threat posed by non

15


BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

ment’s interests are heavier, the risk of liberty deprivation without sufficient process is exacerbated and the costs of providing additional process increases drastically. A similar balancing test is necessary to reconcile the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures with the statutory and constitutional ambiguity surrounding non-state actors. As a result of such legal uncertainty, the most similar case is Tennessee v. Garner, wherein the Court held that the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer did not violate the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights so long as the officer had probable cause to believe that the suspect posed a significant threat of death or injury. To come to this conclusion, the Court balanced the nature and quality of the intrusion against the government’s own interests. This ruling was clarified in Scott v. Har-

MR. president, as long as you act within the current law, the drone program is not unconstitutional. but does it allow you to kill one of your own citizens?

-state actors is legally identical, whether in Afghanistan or Yemen.

T

he rights laid out in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments pose two types of constitutional challenges to the legality of the targeted killing of an American citizen. Your administration does not pretend to ignore or nullify these rights overseas; rather, it argues that the government interest at hand overwhelms the private interest of the individual. “An individual’s interest in avoiding erroneous deprivation of his life is uniquely compelling,” the Justice Department states. “At the same time, the government’s interest in waging war, protecting its citizens and removing the threat posed by members of enemy forces is also compelling.” In Mathews

v. Eldridge, the Court held that while the termination of Social Security benefits invoked due process rights, no pre-termination hearing was necessary to satisfy those rights. To determine the amount of process due, they reasoned, the Court should weigh the competing interests at hand as well as the burdens imposed by providing additional process. The Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld affirmed the legitimacy of this test, using it to weigh the due process rights of an American citizen challenging his detention after capture in Afghanistan. In this way, contesting a targeted killing on Fifth Amendment grounds is quite analogous to petitioner Hamdi’s claims. The circumstances of both cases, moreover, should dictate a similar result when competing interests are weighed, because during war the govern-

ris by specifying that determining whether a seizure was unreasonable is contingent on specific circumstances. In one of few tangential references to the bounds of the executive’s authority, the Department of Justice hastens to point out that the balancing test is far more stringently applied domestically than when applied to an American citizen abroad. As with the Due Process Clause, the government’s argument is uniquely compelling when limited to the narrow scenario that the Justice Department addresses. Irrespective of the target’s constitutional rights, the nature and quality of the intrusion—occurring in the context of an armed conflict abroad—serve to diminish private interests and augment the governmental interest at hand. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles cannot be construed to constitute an unreasonable search because—as the subject is an active belligerent in that armed conflict and thus a legitimate target under laws of war— the method of force is unrelated to its legality save where explicitly prohibited, which drones are not.

C

hairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), other members of the Intelligence Committee and even your former Secretary of

Defense Robert Gates have recently hinted at legislation that would apply judicial review to the targeted killing of citizens. Mr. Brennan agreed that the topic was “worthy of discussion,” a phrase likely employed by executive branch officials in response to proposals about how to limit executive power. Such legislation would be modeled on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to adjudicate secret, ex parte requests for surveillance warrants. The circumstances for proposals are analogous: the legislative branch, responding to a perceived aggrandizement of executive power, asserted itself to institute more robust oversight. While in theory a sound policy response, the constitutional questions surrounding such a court—as the history of FISA and FISC demonstrate—would become debilitating in times of crisis, compromising its objective of substantively constraining the executive. First, the structure of the court presents both practical and constitutional questions. In a situation where the window of opportunity to conduct such operations is severely limited—to say nothing of the often even smaller window between when actionable intelligence is obtained and when the opportunity for action closes—the proposed drone court would be unable to effectively and efficiently judge such requests. Consequently, the only other manner in which to proceed would be for the court to impose a preemptive judgment about whether the government possessed enough evidence to justify a future targeted killing. The criteria for such a decision are “inherently predictive judgments” that include the scope of the individual target, the imminence of the threat and the feasibility of capture. These seem to be inherently, explicitly and exclusively executive functions, unable to be transferred to a court technically and constitutionally ill-suited to judge them. There exists no judicially discoverable or manageable standard for evaluating such claims, and so to impose them would ironically—by substituting the reasoned decisions of elected officials for those of judges—make the process less accountable to the people. Furthermore, the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping and subsequent amendments to FISA demonstrate that the constitutional questions surrounding a FISC-like court inhibit compliance and accountability. Although the Patriot

Act of 2001 broadened FISA to more comprehensively account for the threats of terrorism following the September 11 attacks, President Bush nevertheless utilized a presidential order to authorize warrantless wiretapping in defiance of FISC. In 2008, Congress consented to the Bush administration’s actions by further amending FISA to retroactively legalize the majority of its warrantless wiretapping program. Moreover, as demonstrated by the conduct of FISC, this elastic deference is extended to the executive by both the legislative and judicial branches. In 2011, for example, FISC rejected none of the Justice Department’s applications for electronic or physical surveillance, amending only 30 and approving 1,745. Institutional inertia toward executive deference thus implicitly recognizes constitutional primacy over such national security issues and defeats the substantive purpose of check-and-balance oversight. Applying the structure of FISC to an analogous drone court would thus repeat the mistakes of FISA, codifying immutable standards that cannot evolve to changing circumstances, transferring oversight authority from the appropriate legislative committees to an insular panel of judges, and providing no meaningful constraint on executive action during times of crisis. Instead of prescribing external standards that incentivize lowest common denominator compliance with the judicial branch, an internal approach—legislating an oversight panel consisting of the president, his senior national security team and senior members of the intelligence committees—would reintegrate the legislative branch into a regime of executive oversight. If the Constitution possesses no explicit enforcement mechanism to limit executive power—if it is, in fact, the greatest aggrandizer of executive power—no judicial oversight can change that. Thus, the only feasible check-and-balance oversight must be accomplished internally, reassigning political questions to political branches and incentivizing executive compliance with the legislature’s constitutionally conferred power of the purse. Mr. President, while I cannot speak to the morality of your drone policy, I can advise that this power is legal. As many serving in your position have been told before: use it wisely. u

DANIEL DUHAIME ‘14 is a HISTORY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE concentrator.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

14

AUMF. However, the Court in Hamdi did not address whether the executive’s plenary powers under Article II were sufficient to justify the application of such force. It is likely for this reason that your administration seeks to identify only the sufficiency, rather than the necessity, of the conditions it sets forth for a lethal operation. While both precedent and statutory language seem to plainly affirm the use of lethal force on an American citizen who is a belligerent in an armed conflict, the most consequential issue left unanswered by the white paper is which authority—the executive’s authority or the authority conferred by the AUMF—is dispositive to such use. Similarly, much of the outcry about targeted killings centers around their proliferation in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan, not popularly understood to be active battlefields like Afghanistan. However, this view is premised on an anachronistic legal framework that defines conflict as occurring between sovereign states. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Court held that a conflict between a sovereign state and a non-state actor was “not of an international character” for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions because it was not “a clash between nations.” Because the Conventions define an armed conflict according to the “legal status of the entities opposing each other,” conducting targeted killings in different countries does not alter their legality because the legal status of non-state actors is unchanged. None of the three branches, moreover, have identified strict geographic limits on the scope of AUMF. “If…the ultimate purpose of the drafters of the Geneva Conventions was to prevent law avoidance…by developing de facto triggers,” write Geoffrey S. Corn and Eric Talbot Jensen, “then the myopic focus on the geographic nature of an armed conflict in the context of transnational counterterrorist combat operations serves to frustrate that purpose.” Indeed, constraining the War on Terror to some stringent geographic standard would neglect the fluidity of threats in a globalized world. Still, some limits on this geographic scope exist. To comply with international legal principles, such strikes require that the host nation consents or that they are unable or unwilling to do so. Applying these principles to the circumstances outlined in the white paper permits the executive to determine that an armed conflict exists in those nations in which targeted killings have been conducted because the threat posed by non

15


Wedded to DELAY Rhode Islanders should say ‘not yet’ to ‘I do’

Story by LAUREN SUKIN / ART BY SHEILA SITARAM

16

have signed onto the bill. Eleven rejected it. Of the remaining sixteen, four lean toward support; four, opposition. The last eight claim they will need more time to consider. Paiva–Weed commented that she isn’t sure there is enough support for passage, and at this point, no one knows what the outcome will be. The justification for passage ought to be either because the bill is a full and forward-thinking embrace of equality, or that it is a measure designed to positively but gradually integrate same-sex marriage and its acceptance into Rhode Island society. Under the first justification the bill falls just short. The House’s version of the bill includes a provision stating that religious leaders do not have to officiate same-sex ceremonies, and religious institutions retain the ability to independently decide who is eligible to marry. Allowing religious groups to define and perform marriages according to their own guidelines, without state rules or even official recommendations, is like buying Rhode Island a ticket to the separate-but-equal ballpark. If our aim is to pass a symbolic extension of equality and to truly affirm commitment to same-sex marriage, why skirt around the heart of discrimination—religious rejection? There simply isn’t a good reason, save for the second rationale: the bill is the next step in the path toward equality. Unfortunately, this bill might still be too big of a step for now. Some may find it strange that marriage equality would meet so much resistance in a state with a predominately Democratic Senate. But Rhode Island isn’t as liberal as you might think. With a population of over 1 million residents, Rhode Island is smallest only in geographical size. This population is not the most diverse: 86.3 percent are Caucasian, 12.8 percent are Latino, 7.2 percent are African American and 3.1 percent are Asian. Residents are slightly less educated

by national standards: the state high school graduation rate is 84.3 percent, while the national average is 85.4 percent. The state’s economic measures hover around or below the national average: Rhode Island’s home ownership rate is four percentage points lower, and its poverty rate is 1.5 percentage points lower. Rhode Island is also the most Catholic state in the country, with 59.5 percent of the population following Roman Catholic tradition. Given these statistics, Rhode Island’s royal blue is somewhat amazing, especially for social issues. Still, it is important for the legislature to remember their constituencies and avoid alienating the 36 percent of voters who are against marriage equality. Challenges to the bill come largely from religious organizations. Rhode Island already recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, but religious institutions in the state still do not have to. Many Catholics protest the new proposal, claiming that the bill lacks provisions to accommodate their religious beliefs. Exemptions to protect religiously affiliated institutions may be the key to unlocking support. Legislative testimonies have included laments that religious institutions would still indirectly be forced to recognize these marriages by changing rules such as employee

The House’s version of the bill buys rhode island a ticket to the separate-but-equal ballpark. benefit policies. If the bill is seen as a gradual next step, religious exceptions may be a concession worth making, for now. These institutions may change their positions eventually, but in the meantime, assuaging their concerns may prove critical to giving the public time to calmly observe the positive results of marriage equality. Since Rhode Island has already been taking a series of measured steps toward LGBTQ equality, it is a reasonable goal to seek a next-stage-style bill to continue the trend of progressively easing into true acceptance. The current version of the bill, which lacks certain exemptions, could create resentment due to Rhode Island’s political and cultural climate. Without revision, its contested passage would be counterproductive to the ultimate goal, assuming measured integration is preferable to a more Cooper v. Aaron–style move, the case that forced states to implement Brown v. Board. Two other arguments against the bill have been presented, which serve as additional reasons why, since the bill fulfills

neither of the best justifications, it could be better to hold off on such a hasty shotgun-wedding decision. Paiva–Weed’s main argument against the bill is simply that it isn’t a priority; economic matters take precedence. The legislature is currently considering several tax reform measures, which will have a larger immediate impact affecting business decisions and incomes—especially important as the state climbs its way out of an economic pit. The legislature must also address the even more pressing costs of rising gas prices, a flu epidemic, sustained power outages and damages to state property due to Winter Storm Nemo. These proposals don’t carry the same historical and symbolic social weight, but they are much more time sensitive. Paiva–Weed has also focused her criticism by citing the effect of the Supreme Court’s upcoming case on gay marriage. Because there will be a lag of at most three months between the possible passage of the Rhode Island bill and the Supreme Court case, there’s a large probability that any measure is almost entirely symbolic, because the SCOTUS decision will in effect force the legislature to draft a new bill. Religious groups echo Paiva–Weed’s concerns. The executive director of the Rhode Is-

LAUREN SUKIN ‘16 is a POTENTIAL POLITICAL SCIENCE AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE concentrator and editor-atlarge at bpr.

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BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

C

onnecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington state, Washington, D.C. and two Native American tribes are already wedded to the notion. Illinois is currently considering buying a ring. California is conditionally engaged. In an attempt to overcome decades of oppression and discrimination, an increasing number of states are negotiating same-sex marriage proposals. Rhode Island, which presently recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, may soon start allowing in-state ones. At first glance the conditions seem to be favorable. The Democratic Speaker of the House, Gordon Fox, is openly gay; the Republican-turned-Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee is supportive of gay rights, having introduced the same-sex marriage bill every year since 1997 and passed samesex civil union legislation in 2011. The state House passed legislation in January to legalize same-sex marriages with a 51–19 vote. Democrats control the state Senate by 32–5–1. However, the bill’s passage is not guaranteed. Three key Democrats—Senate President Teresa Pavia–Weed, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Michael McCaffey—oppose the measure. Ruggerio and McCaffey co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, though Paiva–Weed did not support it. The 10-member Senate Judiciary Committee is closely divided: four for, four against. The remaining two undecided committee members can expect intense lobbying from both sides over the next couple of weeks—or even months. Sit back and enjoy a big mug of coffee milk, because it might take a while. If the Senate Judiciary Committee passes the bill, it will still face a fight in the Senate at large. Eleven of the thirty-eight senators

land Catholic Conference urged the Senate to table the proposal, stating, “Given that the United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on this very divisive matter, legislative leaders should focus on initiatives to reduce the state’s high rate of unemployment and poverty by addressing the economic challenges that affect all Rhode Islanders.” The case will come up in March with a decision in June; it could apply either specifically to California, its state of origin, or it could set rules on gay marriage that would affect the entire nation. President Obama has remained adamant that same-sex marriage legislation is a local issue, a view that holds consistent with a previous Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. It is important to remember that the Supreme Court decision is not about a federal rule but a state one; the case is specifically about California legislation. Even in the Obama Justice Department’s last-second amicus brief supporting petitioner Perry, their arguments went little beyond some broad statements of support, and declined to lobby the Court for bold national change. Nevertheless, the decision will likely result in a national policy (if not ultimately a federal law) that will heavily impact the Rhode Island legislation. Thus, the upcoming Supreme Court decision might justify holding off on the same-sex marriage issue in favor of economic reforms. Remember that delaying the bill doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting it. If the Rhode Island Senate deals with pressing issues first, then stalling the vote until after the SCOTUS decision means it can change the bill to fit in with new federal interpretations and rules. A decision like this will impact the entire population of the state now and into the future. Even if it passes, it will not be very meaningful after the fact: the SCOTUS decision is bound to have a huge influence over state gay marriage policy. As a result, passing the bill now might not be the best use of resources. It would certainly be a step backwards for the bill to be rejected in response to critics who view the proposed legislation as too extreme a measure. Rhode Island has already taken several steps towards equality. We just need to take it slow. Rhode Island needs the best bill possible—even if it means waiting a while. u

17


Wedded to DELAY Rhode Islanders should say ‘not yet’ to ‘I do’

Story by LAUREN SUKIN / ART BY SHEILA SITARAM

16

have signed onto the bill. Eleven rejected it. Of the remaining sixteen, four lean toward support; four, opposition. The last eight claim they will need more time to consider. Paiva–Weed commented that she isn’t sure there is enough support for passage, and at this point, no one knows what the outcome will be. The justification for passage ought to be either because the bill is a full and forward-thinking embrace of equality, or that it is a measure designed to positively but gradually integrate same-sex marriage and its acceptance into Rhode Island society. Under the first justification the bill falls just short. The House’s version of the bill includes a provision stating that religious leaders do not have to officiate same-sex ceremonies, and religious institutions retain the ability to independently decide who is eligible to marry. Allowing religious groups to define and perform marriages according to their own guidelines, without state rules or even official recommendations, is like buying Rhode Island a ticket to the separate-but-equal ballpark. If our aim is to pass a symbolic extension of equality and to truly affirm commitment to same-sex marriage, why skirt around the heart of discrimination—religious rejection? There simply isn’t a good reason, save for the second rationale: the bill is the next step in the path toward equality. Unfortunately, this bill might still be too big of a step for now. Some may find it strange that marriage equality would meet so much resistance in a state with a predominately Democratic Senate. But Rhode Island isn’t as liberal as you might think. With a population of over 1 million residents, Rhode Island is smallest only in geographical size. This population is not the most diverse: 86.3 percent are Caucasian, 12.8 percent are Latino, 7.2 percent are African American and 3.1 percent are Asian. Residents are slightly less educated

by national standards: the state high school graduation rate is 84.3 percent, while the national average is 85.4 percent. The state’s economic measures hover around or below the national average: Rhode Island’s home ownership rate is four percentage points lower, and its poverty rate is 1.5 percentage points lower. Rhode Island is also the most Catholic state in the country, with 59.5 percent of the population following Roman Catholic tradition. Given these statistics, Rhode Island’s royal blue is somewhat amazing, especially for social issues. Still, it is important for the legislature to remember their constituencies and avoid alienating the 36 percent of voters who are against marriage equality. Challenges to the bill come largely from religious organizations. Rhode Island already recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, but religious institutions in the state still do not have to. Many Catholics protest the new proposal, claiming that the bill lacks provisions to accommodate their religious beliefs. Exemptions to protect religiously affiliated institutions may be the key to unlocking support. Legislative testimonies have included laments that religious institutions would still indirectly be forced to recognize these marriages by changing rules such as employee

The House’s version of the bill buys rhode island a ticket to the separate-but-equal ballpark. benefit policies. If the bill is seen as a gradual next step, religious exceptions may be a concession worth making, for now. These institutions may change their positions eventually, but in the meantime, assuaging their concerns may prove critical to giving the public time to calmly observe the positive results of marriage equality. Since Rhode Island has already been taking a series of measured steps toward LGBTQ equality, it is a reasonable goal to seek a next-stage-style bill to continue the trend of progressively easing into true acceptance. The current version of the bill, which lacks certain exemptions, could create resentment due to Rhode Island’s political and cultural climate. Without revision, its contested passage would be counterproductive to the ultimate goal, assuming measured integration is preferable to a more Cooper v. Aaron–style move, the case that forced states to implement Brown v. Board. Two other arguments against the bill have been presented, which serve as additional reasons why, since the bill fulfills

neither of the best justifications, it could be better to hold off on such a hasty shotgun-wedding decision. Paiva–Weed’s main argument against the bill is simply that it isn’t a priority; economic matters take precedence. The legislature is currently considering several tax reform measures, which will have a larger immediate impact affecting business decisions and incomes—especially important as the state climbs its way out of an economic pit. The legislature must also address the even more pressing costs of rising gas prices, a flu epidemic, sustained power outages and damages to state property due to Winter Storm Nemo. These proposals don’t carry the same historical and symbolic social weight, but they are much more time sensitive. Paiva–Weed has also focused her criticism by citing the effect of the Supreme Court’s upcoming case on gay marriage. Because there will be a lag of at most three months between the possible passage of the Rhode Island bill and the Supreme Court case, there’s a large probability that any measure is almost entirely symbolic, because the SCOTUS decision will in effect force the legislature to draft a new bill. Religious groups echo Paiva–Weed’s concerns. The executive director of the Rhode Is-

LAUREN SUKIN ‘16 is a POTENTIAL POLITICAL SCIENCE AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE concentrator and editor-atlarge at bpr.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

C

onnecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington state, Washington, D.C. and two Native American tribes are already wedded to the notion. Illinois is currently considering buying a ring. California is conditionally engaged. In an attempt to overcome decades of oppression and discrimination, an increasing number of states are negotiating same-sex marriage proposals. Rhode Island, which presently recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, may soon start allowing in-state ones. At first glance the conditions seem to be favorable. The Democratic Speaker of the House, Gordon Fox, is openly gay; the Republican-turned-Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee is supportive of gay rights, having introduced the same-sex marriage bill every year since 1997 and passed samesex civil union legislation in 2011. The state House passed legislation in January to legalize same-sex marriages with a 51–19 vote. Democrats control the state Senate by 32–5–1. However, the bill’s passage is not guaranteed. Three key Democrats—Senate President Teresa Pavia–Weed, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Michael McCaffey—oppose the measure. Ruggerio and McCaffey co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, though Paiva–Weed did not support it. The 10-member Senate Judiciary Committee is closely divided: four for, four against. The remaining two undecided committee members can expect intense lobbying from both sides over the next couple of weeks—or even months. Sit back and enjoy a big mug of coffee milk, because it might take a while. If the Senate Judiciary Committee passes the bill, it will still face a fight in the Senate at large. Eleven of the thirty-eight senators

land Catholic Conference urged the Senate to table the proposal, stating, “Given that the United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on this very divisive matter, legislative leaders should focus on initiatives to reduce the state’s high rate of unemployment and poverty by addressing the economic challenges that affect all Rhode Islanders.” The case will come up in March with a decision in June; it could apply either specifically to California, its state of origin, or it could set rules on gay marriage that would affect the entire nation. President Obama has remained adamant that same-sex marriage legislation is a local issue, a view that holds consistent with a previous Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. It is important to remember that the Supreme Court decision is not about a federal rule but a state one; the case is specifically about California legislation. Even in the Obama Justice Department’s last-second amicus brief supporting petitioner Perry, their arguments went little beyond some broad statements of support, and declined to lobby the Court for bold national change. Nevertheless, the decision will likely result in a national policy (if not ultimately a federal law) that will heavily impact the Rhode Island legislation. Thus, the upcoming Supreme Court decision might justify holding off on the same-sex marriage issue in favor of economic reforms. Remember that delaying the bill doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting it. If the Rhode Island Senate deals with pressing issues first, then stalling the vote until after the SCOTUS decision means it can change the bill to fit in with new federal interpretations and rules. A decision like this will impact the entire population of the state now and into the future. Even if it passes, it will not be very meaningful after the fact: the SCOTUS decision is bound to have a huge influence over state gay marriage policy. As a result, passing the bill now might not be the best use of resources. It would certainly be a step backwards for the bill to be rejected in response to critics who view the proposed legislation as too extreme a measure. Rhode Island has already taken several steps towards equality. We just need to take it slow. Rhode Island needs the best bill possible—even if it means waiting a while. u

17


(Don’T) BE OUR GUEST Guest worker programs propagate indentured servitude Story by JAKE KARR / ART BY RACHEL HABERSTROH

18

are bound. What is constant, however, is that exploitation—or, at the very least, the very real potential for it—is found everywhere. Through a moral loophole in our public policy, we continue to propagate a modernized form of indentured servitude that is completely at odds with our modern values. As the issue of immigration reform once again takes center stage in the theater of the absurd—Congress—it is time we take action to defend the rights of these workers— and our principles in the process. Recent congressional proposals reprehensibly hint at the possible expansion of our antiquated migrant labor programs. Progressive proposals from civil society groups call for serious structural reforms, additional legislation and enhanced government oversight. However, what we need is not to ameliorate the conditions of bonded labor but to abolish it altogether, once and for all. Indentured labor in the U.S. territory actually predates the founding of our country. Alongside slavery in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the colonies relied on predominantly European peons to build the future of the nation. It is estimated that 50 to 70 percent of all early immigrants to North America arrived through some sort of debt slavery, though they were allowed to remain here as freemen once their service was completed. After the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, a steady stream of immigrants from countries such as China, Japan and the Philip-

pines provided the extra provisional manpower to fuel the economic growth of the Gilded Age and beyond. During World War II, in response to a shortage of able-bodied American men, the United States launched the notorious Bracero Program, which led to the persistent abuse of millions of Mexican migrant workers—until the Civil Rights and Farmworkers Movements helped to hammer a nail in its coffin in the 1960s. However, the H-2 visa program, which was created for related reasons in 1943, is still in effect. The H-2 program has become the primary vehicle by which U.S. companies can “import” unskilled workers for seasonal work—that is, the means that enable U.S. companies to carry out this ancient practice in the twenty-first century. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 split the program into the subcategories H-2A for agriculture, and H-2B for non-agricultural labor such as forestry, housekeeping, construction, carpentry and restaurant work. In 2011, 106,000 workers were funneled through these two programs alone, known for having the least protections and worst abuses of any of the temporary work programs. Nine out of ten workers that fall under the H-2 classification hail from Latin America, and the vast majority come, unsurprisingly, from Mexico. Of the 55,000 H-2A visas issued, 52,000 were from Mexico; of the 51,000 in the H-2B program, the leading country contributors were again Mexico (over 36,000), Jamaica (almost 5,000) and Guatemala (up to 3,000).

are vulnerable to easy exploitation. With limited or no access to the courts, migrant workers must choose between total submission to their supervisors or the risk of deportation. Since they know that their employees are completely dependent on them, some employers get away with murder, practically imprisoning their employees in substandard housing or withholding their wages. Guest workers should have “the protection of the marketplace, just like everybody else,” says Mr. Cohen. Without this, U.S. workers—with the full range of protections afforded them— cannot compete with migrant workers who can be legally underpaid and abused. The result is a system that negatively affects guest workers and union workers alike. Guest worker programs promote an un-free labor market, so it would seem incongruous for business interests to promote their extension. Yet a common complaint of the private sector is the oft-repeated refrain that there are some “dirty jobs” that Americans just refuse to do. We should not buy into such dismissive propaganda, the rhetoric of cost-cutting capitalists who logically prefer cheap, unregulated foreign labor to more expensive, unionized American labor. U.S. companies that intend to recruit for jobs overseas must appear to adhere to the very vague and often unenforced DOL stipulation that they “initially attempted to find U.S. workers to fill these slots.” They call this “positive recruitment” and tellingly, even on the DOL website, the term itself is in quotation marks. In reality, most employers don’t go through too much trouble to secure a native employee base for these sorts of jobs, and the government has only recently (as of last year) mandated “the creation of a national electronic job registry for all H-2B job orders to improve U.S. worker access to these temporary jobs.” As long as U.S. companies can continue to look outward for sources of low-cost labor, they will not have any incentive to look inward. Big-business advocates also like to argue that these low-wage, no-benefit jobs are vital to our economy, and thus we should not do anything that might jeopardize the status quo. Take a moment to consider that line of reasoning. It might seem, at first glance, like a reasonable claim: we as a nation rely on the products of certain labor, so we must ensure that there are workers willing to do what must be done. On second thought, though, it is easy to perceive just how shockingly bankrupt this position is. Consider now that the same exact argu-

ment was made on behalf of slavery, which was indeed the foundation of the Confederate economy. This is as short-sighted an argument in 2013 as it was 150 years ago. The indentured servitude that continues to this day in the form of legalized guest worker programs underscores the stagnation of outdated sectors of our economy that refuse to modernize, either technologically or morally. Business owners may cry that without such exploited labor, they cannot stay competitive, but any business model that relies on exploited labor should not be competitive. Companies should be forced to adapt to modern times and modern values, lest they fail. Guest worker programs have not been at the forefront of the current immigration reform debate, but they need to be. Neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano have so much as mentioned the issue in recent public appearances. As always, the focus is on dealing with existing illegal immigrants by paving them a metaphorical “path”— and on thwarting future illegal immigrants by fencing off that actual path known as our southern border. Common-sense proposals for the reform of guest worker programs expand the rights of seasonal workers, increase federal oversight over employers and cut out the outsourced middlemen. But as long as the entire system exists, exploitation will continue. There is a popular saying in the Spanish-speaking world, hecha la ley, hecha la trampa: “Where there’s a law, there’s a loophole.” Even the best proposals—which extend the possibility of lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship to guest workers—are hardly sufficient, because our promotion of human rights in the long term will not absolve our inhumanity in the short term. Nevertheless, these perpetual peons deserve to be given the option to reside in the United States, at the very least. After all, shouldn’t all those who help build and sustain our economy be able to take part in our society? We like to boast about the United States as a nation built by immigrants, and that is true enough. Not all of them chose to come here, of course, but at the end of the day, at least they were given the opportunity to stay. It’s about time we show these “guests” of ours some true hospitality. u JAKE KARR ‘13 is a COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN STUDIES CONCENTRATOR, and editor-at-large at bpr.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

T

his year, around 700,000 people will arrive in the United States legally through various temporary work programs. They will reach our shores or cross our borders as neither permanent residents on the one extreme nor illegal immigrants on the other. Their arrival is bittersweet: they come for the ageold American promise of work, but they are not like all those hopeful immigrants of the American imaginary who dream of a better and new life. They are, in fact, officially designated as “non-immigrants.” Their time in the country has a fixed expiration date and so, although many return year after year, they have no prospect of ever being placed on the “path to citizenship”—seen now as one solution to the current underclass of 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. Because they are neither citizens nor legal residents, workers in these programs are not afforded the same protections and privileges as U.S. workers. Department of Labor (DOL) laws that could prevent their mistreatment are either unenforced or, in some cases, non-existent. Stories of systematic abuse abound. Violations of minimum wage and minimum standards of living are widespread. The degree of exploitation endured by these foreign workers—who range from farm and factory workers to nurses and doctors—can vary depending on the nature of their work, the political power or will of their own home governments and the whim of the employers to whom they

Today we attempt to put a modern, more palatable spin on the practice of indentured servitude. We label meager improvements in servants’ rights “reforms,” and we call the servants themselves “guest workers.” As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), however, emphasizes in “Close to Slavery,” their exposé on this issue, “Far from being treated like ‘guests,’ these workers are systematically exploited and abused.” For many, the journey of exploitation begins at home, where labor recruitment firms, crassly called “body shops,” traffic poor workers from the developing world on behalf of U.S. companies. These outsourced contractors are almost always unaffiliated, so that U.S. employers over here cannot be liable for any of the misdeeds committed over there—which can include things like forcing desperate guest workers to go into debt in order to pay fraudulent upfront fees and promising false wages and accommodations in return. For example, according to the SPLC, “guestworkers from Guatemala generally pay at least $2,000 in travel, visa and hiring fees to obtain forestry jobs in the United States” through the H-2B program. That’s a little less than half the Guatemalan Gross National Income per capita. Once in the country, the circumstances for guest workers can become even more dire. Some U.S. employers seize the passports and Social Security cards of their foreign employees, effectively holding them hostage for the duration of their stay in the States. There are well-documented cases of employees who complained about working conditions to their employers, only to be silenced with threats of deportation. In situations such as this, the obstacles precluding guest workers from the U.S. justice system are often insurmountable. Most H-2B workers are not eligible for the same federally-funded legal services that would be available to any U.S. worker. Such legal aid is available in theory to those in the H-2A program, but fear of reprisal and the lack of DOL commitment stop most from speaking out. Furthermore, many workers are not even aware of their rights, since efforts are rarely made to overcome the language barrier confronting poorly-educated, primarily Spanish-speaking migrants. The main vice of the guest worker programs, according to SPLC President Richard Cohen, is the fact that migrant workers are tied to the company whose name is on their visa. Employees are prohibited from seeking other employment, and therefore

19


(Don’T) BE OUR GUEST Guest worker programs propagate indentured servitude Story by JAKE KARR / ART BY RACHEL HABERSTROH

18

are bound. What is constant, however, is that exploitation—or, at the very least, the very real potential for it—is found everywhere. Through a moral loophole in our public policy, we continue to propagate a modernized form of indentured servitude that is completely at odds with our modern values. As the issue of immigration reform once again takes center stage in the theater of the absurd—Congress—it is time we take action to defend the rights of these workers— and our principles in the process. Recent congressional proposals reprehensibly hint at the possible expansion of our antiquated migrant labor programs. Progressive proposals from civil society groups call for serious structural reforms, additional legislation and enhanced government oversight. However, what we need is not to ameliorate the conditions of bonded labor but to abolish it altogether, once and for all. Indentured labor in the U.S. territory actually predates the founding of our country. Alongside slavery in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the colonies relied on predominantly European peons to build the future of the nation. It is estimated that 50 to 70 percent of all early immigrants to North America arrived through some sort of debt slavery, though they were allowed to remain here as freemen once their service was completed. After the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, a steady stream of immigrants from countries such as China, Japan and the Philip-

pines provided the extra provisional manpower to fuel the economic growth of the Gilded Age and beyond. During World War II, in response to a shortage of able-bodied American men, the United States launched the notorious Bracero Program, which led to the persistent abuse of millions of Mexican migrant workers—until the Civil Rights and Farmworkers Movements helped to hammer a nail in its coffin in the 1960s. However, the H-2 visa program, which was created for related reasons in 1943, is still in effect. The H-2 program has become the primary vehicle by which U.S. companies can “import” unskilled workers for seasonal work—that is, the means that enable U.S. companies to carry out this ancient practice in the twenty-first century. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 split the program into the subcategories H-2A for agriculture, and H-2B for non-agricultural labor such as forestry, housekeeping, construction, carpentry and restaurant work. In 2011, 106,000 workers were funneled through these two programs alone, known for having the least protections and worst abuses of any of the temporary work programs. Nine out of ten workers that fall under the H-2 classification hail from Latin America, and the vast majority come, unsurprisingly, from Mexico. Of the 55,000 H-2A visas issued, 52,000 were from Mexico; of the 51,000 in the H-2B program, the leading country contributors were again Mexico (over 36,000), Jamaica (almost 5,000) and Guatemala (up to 3,000).

are vulnerable to easy exploitation. With limited or no access to the courts, migrant workers must choose between total submission to their supervisors or the risk of deportation. Since they know that their employees are completely dependent on them, some employers get away with murder, practically imprisoning their employees in substandard housing or withholding their wages. Guest workers should have “the protection of the marketplace, just like everybody else,” says Mr. Cohen. Without this, U.S. workers—with the full range of protections afforded them— cannot compete with migrant workers who can be legally underpaid and abused. The result is a system that negatively affects guest workers and union workers alike. Guest worker programs promote an un-free labor market, so it would seem incongruous for business interests to promote their extension. Yet a common complaint of the private sector is the oft-repeated refrain that there are some “dirty jobs” that Americans just refuse to do. We should not buy into such dismissive propaganda, the rhetoric of cost-cutting capitalists who logically prefer cheap, unregulated foreign labor to more expensive, unionized American labor. U.S. companies that intend to recruit for jobs overseas must appear to adhere to the very vague and often unenforced DOL stipulation that they “initially attempted to find U.S. workers to fill these slots.” They call this “positive recruitment” and tellingly, even on the DOL website, the term itself is in quotation marks. In reality, most employers don’t go through too much trouble to secure a native employee base for these sorts of jobs, and the government has only recently (as of last year) mandated “the creation of a national electronic job registry for all H-2B job orders to improve U.S. worker access to these temporary jobs.” As long as U.S. companies can continue to look outward for sources of low-cost labor, they will not have any incentive to look inward. Big-business advocates also like to argue that these low-wage, no-benefit jobs are vital to our economy, and thus we should not do anything that might jeopardize the status quo. Take a moment to consider that line of reasoning. It might seem, at first glance, like a reasonable claim: we as a nation rely on the products of certain labor, so we must ensure that there are workers willing to do what must be done. On second thought, though, it is easy to perceive just how shockingly bankrupt this position is. Consider now that the same exact argu-

ment was made on behalf of slavery, which was indeed the foundation of the Confederate economy. This is as short-sighted an argument in 2013 as it was 150 years ago. The indentured servitude that continues to this day in the form of legalized guest worker programs underscores the stagnation of outdated sectors of our economy that refuse to modernize, either technologically or morally. Business owners may cry that without such exploited labor, they cannot stay competitive, but any business model that relies on exploited labor should not be competitive. Companies should be forced to adapt to modern times and modern values, lest they fail. Guest worker programs have not been at the forefront of the current immigration reform debate, but they need to be. Neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano have so much as mentioned the issue in recent public appearances. As always, the focus is on dealing with existing illegal immigrants by paving them a metaphorical “path”— and on thwarting future illegal immigrants by fencing off that actual path known as our southern border. Common-sense proposals for the reform of guest worker programs expand the rights of seasonal workers, increase federal oversight over employers and cut out the outsourced middlemen. But as long as the entire system exists, exploitation will continue. There is a popular saying in the Spanish-speaking world, hecha la ley, hecha la trampa: “Where there’s a law, there’s a loophole.” Even the best proposals—which extend the possibility of lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship to guest workers—are hardly sufficient, because our promotion of human rights in the long term will not absolve our inhumanity in the short term. Nevertheless, these perpetual peons deserve to be given the option to reside in the United States, at the very least. After all, shouldn’t all those who help build and sustain our economy be able to take part in our society? We like to boast about the United States as a nation built by immigrants, and that is true enough. Not all of them chose to come here, of course, but at the end of the day, at least they were given the opportunity to stay. It’s about time we show these “guests” of ours some true hospitality. u JAKE KARR ‘13 is a COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN STUDIES CONCENTRATOR, and editor-at-large at bpr.

NATIONAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL

T

his year, around 700,000 people will arrive in the United States legally through various temporary work programs. They will reach our shores or cross our borders as neither permanent residents on the one extreme nor illegal immigrants on the other. Their arrival is bittersweet: they come for the ageold American promise of work, but they are not like all those hopeful immigrants of the American imaginary who dream of a better and new life. They are, in fact, officially designated as “non-immigrants.” Their time in the country has a fixed expiration date and so, although many return year after year, they have no prospect of ever being placed on the “path to citizenship”—seen now as one solution to the current underclass of 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. Because they are neither citizens nor legal residents, workers in these programs are not afforded the same protections and privileges as U.S. workers. Department of Labor (DOL) laws that could prevent their mistreatment are either unenforced or, in some cases, non-existent. Stories of systematic abuse abound. Violations of minimum wage and minimum standards of living are widespread. The degree of exploitation endured by these foreign workers—who range from farm and factory workers to nurses and doctors—can vary depending on the nature of their work, the political power or will of their own home governments and the whim of the employers to whom they

Today we attempt to put a modern, more palatable spin on the practice of indentured servitude. We label meager improvements in servants’ rights “reforms,” and we call the servants themselves “guest workers.” As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), however, emphasizes in “Close to Slavery,” their exposé on this issue, “Far from being treated like ‘guests,’ these workers are systematically exploited and abused.” For many, the journey of exploitation begins at home, where labor recruitment firms, crassly called “body shops,” traffic poor workers from the developing world on behalf of U.S. companies. These outsourced contractors are almost always unaffiliated, so that U.S. employers over here cannot be liable for any of the misdeeds committed over there—which can include things like forcing desperate guest workers to go into debt in order to pay fraudulent upfront fees and promising false wages and accommodations in return. For example, according to the SPLC, “guestworkers from Guatemala generally pay at least $2,000 in travel, visa and hiring fees to obtain forestry jobs in the United States” through the H-2B program. That’s a little less than half the Guatemalan Gross National Income per capita. Once in the country, the circumstances for guest workers can become even more dire. Some U.S. employers seize the passports and Social Security cards of their foreign employees, effectively holding them hostage for the duration of their stay in the States. There are well-documented cases of employees who complained about working conditions to their employers, only to be silenced with threats of deportation. In situations such as this, the obstacles precluding guest workers from the U.S. justice system are often insurmountable. Most H-2B workers are not eligible for the same federally-funded legal services that would be available to any U.S. worker. Such legal aid is available in theory to those in the H-2A program, but fear of reprisal and the lack of DOL commitment stop most from speaking out. Furthermore, many workers are not even aware of their rights, since efforts are rarely made to overcome the language barrier confronting poorly-educated, primarily Spanish-speaking migrants. The main vice of the guest worker programs, according to SPLC President Richard Cohen, is the fact that migrant workers are tied to the company whose name is on their visa. Employees are prohibited from seeking other employment, and therefore

19


aging the opportunity of large-scale public dissatisfaction to chisel away at the parliamentary majority. Now, as the momentum of the early demonstration fades, the movement must reorient itself to retreat from party politics into a stance that is truly discursive, looking not for short-term legislative Band-Aids but for long-term social change. In a late December address to the nation, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi pledged to combat the “pervasive, shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women and girls,” bringing forth a new lexicon in Indian politics to describe an issue that had largely laid dormant and invisible to the penthouse of Parliament. Yet these were words delivered for transcription; footage reveals Gandhi reciting lines from rote, and it is difficult to parse out the compassion from the political calculation. Elections are approaching in 2014, and Gandhi’s Congress Party has

IT won’t go AS it always goes Women’s Rights in India needs a new model for action

I

used to travel two hours a day on the Delhi metro to go to university. In the fluorescent frankness of public transportation, conditions of gender violence are impossible to ignore. Trains are separated into general and women’s compartments, a necessary division to offer women a safe space in which to travel. Still, crowds of men gather at the edge of the women’s car, staring unabashedly at them across the divide. The few women who stand amidst the crowds of the general compartment are often groped, grazed or leaned against. One morning in November, as the train stopped at Rajiv Chowk station, a flood of passengers exited the car. I watched as a man grabbed the behind of a young woman, who did not even turn around to see him. He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “Chalta hai,” he

20

said—“So it goes.” The gang rape of 23-year old Nirbhaya in Delhi last December was a great tragedy, but the outrage it has generated is a triumph for many. The widespread protests that erupted in its aftermath were equal parts fury and relief: here was an international awakening to a fact of daily life that remained shockingly pedestrian until her death. Brown University professor Patrick Heller’s recent op-ed in The Indian Express (“Taking back the city,” Feb. 6, 2013) lavishes praise on the demonstrations for challenging a “cultural and legal status quo that demeans and victimizes women.” At the same time, Heller expresses skepticism toward movements’ capacity to maintain momentum and deliver institutional change. His reservations are certainly justified. So-

cial movements in India have a remarkable ability to stagnate as politicians juggle the blame, gesture toward reform, and by and large crouch until the wave of controversy has passed. Yet where Heller’s analysis highlights the productive, central role played by the urban middle class, many point with deep concern to the periphery of the movement: a substantial part of the Delhi demonstrations, composed of protesters who care little about gender violence and are content to join the public mob, agitate for the sake of agitation and compromise the movement’s non-violent means. This periphery accounts for an international media corps gawking at Parliament’s Raisina Hill, portraying “terror in Delhi” and tossing out rape statistics to feed outrage abroad. And last, as usual, it includes politicians lever-

long been criticized for being out of touch with aam admi (the common man), due to economic reforms such as encouraging foreign direct investment and reducing subsidies for propane—both seen as favors for Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. The ambivalence toward Gandhi’s speech stems from an underlying impression that her condolences were merely a means for reestablishing solidarity with her constituents before voters head to the polls. These are the side effects of democracy. India is by no means the only country in which politicians pick up on social issues to boost their electoral résumés—yet the urgency of India’s gender violence requires Gandhi to approach the issue differently than standard procedure dictates. No one could deny the key role played by policymakers in aiding the movement. Policy could serve to challenge the status quo in a variety of ways and help protect women; more police accountability, harsher penalties for sexual violence and a more efficient legal system that can prosecute offenders effectively are all welcome. Heller is right

anti-corruption campaign were exhausted, and Hazare could only muster a slow burn on his own. At his second fast this fall, only a small gathering of protestors lent their support. Media outlets were quick to note the disappointing turnout. Meanwhile, the Jan Lokpal Bill foundered, and while corruption made its way onto the temporary short list of India’s hot political topics, the parliamentary status quo remained largely unaffected. It is a tragic tale, and one that Indians cannot afford to repeat in the case of gender violence. The issue at stake is social and requires a shift in discourse. Education reform is crucial: schools in India can no longer afford to shy away from addressing issues of sex and educating its students about its safe practice. The workplace, too, must make changes. At St. Stephen’s college, an elite institution preparing the next generation of Indian leaders, a horrific sexual harassment case among its faculty was completely ignored and covered-up while the administration actively intimidated students who attempted to protest. The current movement cannot afford to narrow its ambitions. When women are afraid to travel on public transit, when they do not feel protected by the very force of law designed to provide protection, and when—in the case of Delhi—they are advised not to leave the house at night, neither legislation nor civil disobedience will suffice. The Indian media has begun to pay attention to stories of rape and harassment, pushing them from page seven or eight— where they normally reside—to the front cover. This, as Heller notes in his piece, is a success in itself. But violence persists. In February at a non-violent student rally against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the police deployed water cannons and beat protesters across the barricade, then sexually harassed many of the women at the helm of the protest. The Nirbhaya case will proceed and the offenders will be punished. Meanwhile, opponents of gender violence in India face the urgent task of creating a new model for action that will continue to unsettle the status quo: keeping the conversation alive, demanding justice from parliament, and proving that women’s rights are more than an electoral issue. Nahin chal hoga—it will not go as it always goes. India must play that on loop until it becomes true. u DAVID ADLER ‘14 IS A DEVELOPMENT STUDIES CONCENTRATOR.

GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW GLOBAL

Story by DAVID ADLER / ART BY TIFFANY KEUNG

on the train i watched a man grab the behind of a young woman, who didn’t even turn around. he laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “so it goes,” he said.

to point out that the movement will have to make its march through the institutions. Yet policy can only offer so many solutions, and patriarchy is equal parts public and private. The Indian state—overburdened with poverty while attempting to chart the path of its high-powered global economy—has only limited capacity, and women’s rights are not a top priority. Following Nirbhaya’s death, only a handful of states have made significant policy changes. Such lack of initiative is no coincidence. As the Association for Democratic Reforms makes clear, in the last five years Indian political parties have nominated a total of 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women. More importantly, though, we should remember that legislation is not a substitute for social change. Norms and behaviors fuel these issues, and while those norms will eventually have to find expression in the institutions, minor policy changes here and there in response to protests, without the backing of a long-term, concrete strategy, will do little else besides allowing politicians to feel they have appeased the masses. In this regard, the gay rights movement exemplifies what will happen if the present mobilization does not develop a long-term strategy. With courage and persistence, gay rights activists mobilized large numbers to protest against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, composed of British-era legislation that criminalized all sexual activities “against the order of nature”—sodomy among them. Facing major public pressure, the Delhi High Court finally scrapped Section 377 in July 2009, a major victory for the movement. Yet in the wake of that success, the gay rights movement struggles to keep its numbers. Many of its fringe members walked away in 2009 feeling like the job was done, even though homosexuality remains heavily stigmatized throughout the subcontinent. The 2011 anti-corruption movement followed a similar pattern. After a series of major corruption scandals in the summer of 2011, the streets of nearly every major Indian city overflowed with protesters as Anna Hazare languished in prison. Hazare had become the Gandhian figure driving the movement forward, offering his body as sacrifice when he launched his first major fast and demanded the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill, which would establish an independent body to investigate all levels of parliamentary corruption. Only one year later, the fireworks of the

21


aging the opportunity of large-scale public dissatisfaction to chisel away at the parliamentary majority. Now, as the momentum of the early demonstration fades, the movement must reorient itself to retreat from party politics into a stance that is truly discursive, looking not for short-term legislative Band-Aids but for long-term social change. In a late December address to the nation, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi pledged to combat the “pervasive, shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women and girls,” bringing forth a new lexicon in Indian politics to describe an issue that had largely laid dormant and invisible to the penthouse of Parliament. Yet these were words delivered for transcription; footage reveals Gandhi reciting lines from rote, and it is difficult to parse out the compassion from the political calculation. Elections are approaching in 2014, and Gandhi’s Congress Party has

IT won’t go AS it always goes Women’s Rights in India needs a new model for action

I

used to travel two hours a day on the Delhi metro to go to university. In the fluorescent frankness of public transportation, conditions of gender violence are impossible to ignore. Trains are separated into general and women’s compartments, a necessary division to offer women a safe space in which to travel. Still, crowds of men gather at the edge of the women’s car, staring unabashedly at them across the divide. The few women who stand amidst the crowds of the general compartment are often groped, grazed or leaned against. One morning in November, as the train stopped at Rajiv Chowk station, a flood of passengers exited the car. I watched as a man grabbed the behind of a young woman, who did not even turn around to see him. He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “Chalta hai,” he

20

said—“So it goes.” The gang rape of 23-year old Nirbhaya in Delhi last December was a great tragedy, but the outrage it has generated is a triumph for many. The widespread protests that erupted in its aftermath were equal parts fury and relief: here was an international awakening to a fact of daily life that remained shockingly pedestrian until her death. Brown University professor Patrick Heller’s recent op-ed in The Indian Express (“Taking back the city,” Feb. 6, 2013) lavishes praise on the demonstrations for challenging a “cultural and legal status quo that demeans and victimizes women.” At the same time, Heller expresses skepticism toward movements’ capacity to maintain momentum and deliver institutional change. His reservations are certainly justified. So-

cial movements in India have a remarkable ability to stagnate as politicians juggle the blame, gesture toward reform, and by and large crouch until the wave of controversy has passed. Yet where Heller’s analysis highlights the productive, central role played by the urban middle class, many point with deep concern to the periphery of the movement: a substantial part of the Delhi demonstrations, composed of protesters who care little about gender violence and are content to join the public mob, agitate for the sake of agitation and compromise the movement’s non-violent means. This periphery accounts for an international media corps gawking at Parliament’s Raisina Hill, portraying “terror in Delhi” and tossing out rape statistics to feed outrage abroad. And last, as usual, it includes politicians lever-

long been criticized for being out of touch with aam admi (the common man), due to economic reforms such as encouraging foreign direct investment and reducing subsidies for propane—both seen as favors for Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. The ambivalence toward Gandhi’s speech stems from an underlying impression that her condolences were merely a means for reestablishing solidarity with her constituents before voters head to the polls. These are the side effects of democracy. India is by no means the only country in which politicians pick up on social issues to boost their electoral résumés—yet the urgency of India’s gender violence requires Gandhi to approach the issue differently than standard procedure dictates. No one could deny the key role played by policymakers in aiding the movement. Policy could serve to challenge the status quo in a variety of ways and help protect women; more police accountability, harsher penalties for sexual violence and a more efficient legal system that can prosecute offenders effectively are all welcome. Heller is right

anti-corruption campaign were exhausted, and Hazare could only muster a slow burn on his own. At his second fast this fall, only a small gathering of protestors lent their support. Media outlets were quick to note the disappointing turnout. Meanwhile, the Jan Lokpal Bill foundered, and while corruption made its way onto the temporary short list of India’s hot political topics, the parliamentary status quo remained largely unaffected. It is a tragic tale, and one that Indians cannot afford to repeat in the case of gender violence. The issue at stake is social and requires a shift in discourse. Education reform is crucial: schools in India can no longer afford to shy away from addressing issues of sex and educating its students about its safe practice. The workplace, too, must make changes. At St. Stephen’s college, an elite institution preparing the next generation of Indian leaders, a horrific sexual harassment case among its faculty was completely ignored and covered-up while the administration actively intimidated students who attempted to protest. The current movement cannot afford to narrow its ambitions. When women are afraid to travel on public transit, when they do not feel protected by the very force of law designed to provide protection, and when—in the case of Delhi—they are advised not to leave the house at night, neither legislation nor civil disobedience will suffice. The Indian media has begun to pay attention to stories of rape and harassment, pushing them from page seven or eight— where they normally reside—to the front cover. This, as Heller notes in his piece, is a success in itself. But violence persists. In February at a non-violent student rally against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the police deployed water cannons and beat protesters across the barricade, then sexually harassed many of the women at the helm of the protest. The Nirbhaya case will proceed and the offenders will be punished. Meanwhile, opponents of gender violence in India face the urgent task of creating a new model for action that will continue to unsettle the status quo: keeping the conversation alive, demanding justice from parliament, and proving that women’s rights are more than an electoral issue. Nahin chal hoga—it will not go as it always goes. India must play that on loop until it becomes true. u DAVID ADLER ‘14 IS A DEVELOPMENT STUDIES CONCENTRATOR.

GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW GLOBAL

Story by DAVID ADLER / ART BY TIFFANY KEUNG

on the train i watched a man grab the behind of a young woman, who didn’t even turn around. he laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “so it goes,” he said.

to point out that the movement will have to make its march through the institutions. Yet policy can only offer so many solutions, and patriarchy is equal parts public and private. The Indian state—overburdened with poverty while attempting to chart the path of its high-powered global economy—has only limited capacity, and women’s rights are not a top priority. Following Nirbhaya’s death, only a handful of states have made significant policy changes. Such lack of initiative is no coincidence. As the Association for Democratic Reforms makes clear, in the last five years Indian political parties have nominated a total of 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women. More importantly, though, we should remember that legislation is not a substitute for social change. Norms and behaviors fuel these issues, and while those norms will eventually have to find expression in the institutions, minor policy changes here and there in response to protests, without the backing of a long-term, concrete strategy, will do little else besides allowing politicians to feel they have appeased the masses. In this regard, the gay rights movement exemplifies what will happen if the present mobilization does not develop a long-term strategy. With courage and persistence, gay rights activists mobilized large numbers to protest against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, composed of British-era legislation that criminalized all sexual activities “against the order of nature”—sodomy among them. Facing major public pressure, the Delhi High Court finally scrapped Section 377 in July 2009, a major victory for the movement. Yet in the wake of that success, the gay rights movement struggles to keep its numbers. Many of its fringe members walked away in 2009 feeling like the job was done, even though homosexuality remains heavily stigmatized throughout the subcontinent. The 2011 anti-corruption movement followed a similar pattern. After a series of major corruption scandals in the summer of 2011, the streets of nearly every major Indian city overflowed with protesters as Anna Hazare languished in prison. Hazare had become the Gandhian figure driving the movement forward, offering his body as sacrifice when he launched his first major fast and demanded the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill, which would establish an independent body to investigate all levels of parliamentary corruption. Only one year later, the fireworks of the

21


THE T T HM E E FH RE E NC AT N ’H S DE N BU RE Uranium. Campaign checks. Oil. What’s really going on in Mali Story by JORGE TAMAMES / ART by BEN BERKE

22

logical and consistent with modern times, the other rational and rooted in history— pervade the official discourse about the intervention. For one, the story of Operation Serval reads like the newest page in the tiresome history of the War on Terror—or “Overseas Contingency Operations,” the Orwellian rebranding of the term. President Hollande’s vow to “destroy terrorists” and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s description of Mali’s insurgence as an “existential threat” to “our way of life” are telling tributes to the enduring legacy of post-9/11 neurosis. The operation is linked to NATO’s recent intervention in Libya, as Mali’s instability is in great measure an offshoot of the latter’s: the influx of former Muammar Qaddafi loyalists and mercenaries from Tripoli to Azawad, following the dictator’s murder in late 2011, lit the fuse of the ongoing conflict. In addition, Operation Ser-

val follows a pattern of increasing foreign policy activism on the part of the French government. Its unilateral recognition of the Syrian National Council as the country’s sole representative last November raises the question of whether Operation Serval will mobilize support for a similar initiative in Syria, or contribute to the consolidation of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine in international relations. On the other hand, there is much that the War on Terror clichés and R2P rhetoric conceal, starting with the viability of the operation itself and the greater stakes for France. Operation Serval’s stated goal is to stop the Islamists’ advance, reverse it, and cripple them in the process. The French and Malian militaries have successfully retaken the town of Konna—the insurgency’s former springboard to southern Mali—followed by Gao and Timbuktu in central Azawad, and finally Kidal and Tessalit near the Algerian border. But ousting the reb-

A

t first glance, it seems as though the stars aligned to make Operation Serval a textbook case _of legitimate humanitarian intervention. The Hollande government complied with all legal niceties required to intervene: it received a clear UN mandate and waited for Mali’s official request for help. It also garnered support from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Chad, which have committed 3,300 and 1,800 forces, respectively, to the intervention. The rhetoric Hollande employs when addressing his African counterparts attempts to bolster support for France’s activism throughout the continent. In a recent speech in Dakar, Senegal, the president stressed the need for a “sincere” relationship between France and Africa and an end to their conflictive interaction. His tone was in stark contrast to that of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 speech, also in Dakar, in which the former French president used the opportunity to muse upon the ills of the “the African man”—specifically, on his “failure to enter history” while “living in a world of fancy.” Needless to say, the speech was not well received. More importantly, this particular intervention is an easy one to sell. The Islamist insurgency in Mali, composed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and the terrorist organization Ansar Dine has galvanized French public opinion. The rebels’ tactics of systematic amputation of limbs and stoning of adulterers, coupled with the imposition of strict Shariah law throughout Azawad, are all too reminiscent of outrageous conditions in

Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan. Even concern for Timbuktu, with its historical landmarks and Tatooinesque architecture, is a motivation for backing the intervention: the Malian town’s possible destruction recalls the 2001 dynamiting of Afghanistan’s Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban, which drew international condemnation. Accounts of Malians cheering French troops, waving French flags, and even naming their children “Hollande” add further legitimacy to Operation Serval. After all, it has saved the southern part of the country from an Islamist takeover. Moreover, domestic politics have provided an equally strong, if not stronger, impetus for the French government to intervene. 75 percent of people questioned in France in January supported the intervention in Mali, buying into its legitimacy. Launching Operation Serval offered Hollande an opportunity to boost his approval ratings, which have plummeted for several reasons since he was elected to office in May 2012. He made the decision to send troops to Mali not simply because it was good politics, but because that added benefit clearly made the choice ever more appealing. One factor contributing to Hollande’s decline in popularity is his internal management of France’s economy. Recent wavering on fiscal policy has inspired Hollande’s pejorative nickname “Flanby,” after a trademark French caramel custard that is soft and wobbly. During the 2012 elections, he ran on a pro-growth platform representing the Parti Socialiste (France’s Socialist Party), promising to reverse austerity policies that had been implemented in France following the German-led trend of belt tightening in the eurozone. Instead, after his victory Hollande ended up kowtowing to Berlin and drafting the toughest budget in the last three decades of French economic history. Yet his government’s adoption of rigueur—the French version of austerity with a human face, based more on increasing fiscal pressure than on slashing welfare spending—has failed to revitalize France’s stagnant economy. To make matters worse, Hollande’s flagship economic proposal, a 75 percent income tax applied to earnings above €1,000,000, was shot down in December 2012 by the French Constitutional Court. What is more, the ongoing euro crisis has, at France’s expense, consolidated Berlin’s dominance as leader of the eurozone. As Brussels sees it, today’s Franco–German

axis functions to hide Germany’s strength as much as it does to hide France’s weakness, a fact made painfully clear to Hollande during the latest negotiation of the EU’s 2014–2020 budget. When his country’s interests were outmaneuvered by Germany and Britain, Hollande was forced to settle for a less than wholly satisfactory deal that hurt his domestic popularity. Add a botched January attempt by French special forces to rescue a hostage in Somalia, reminiscent of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s Desert One debacle in Iran, and it is evident why Hollande’s position was untenable. The opportunity to intervene in Mali thus seemed too good to pass up. Operation Serval is backed by the French citizenry, and it allows the French government to pitch itself as a relevant global actor and draws attention away from the troubled domestic and European political economy. It has even generated an increase in Hollande’s approval ratings, as Monsieur Flanby revealed his solid resolve in deploying hard power in his foreign policy. On the whole, it appears as if moral and pragmatic considerations justified the intervention.

D

espite such a rosy presentation of the intervention, Malians should remain skeptical of its desirability. France’s familiar neocolonial reliance upon its former African territorial possessions for strategic resources, Mali included, has led Paris to numerous feats of realpolitik in the past, including support for the corrupt likes of Mobutu Sese Seko, former president of Zaire, and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, former president of Tunisia. France’s notorious history of military interventionism in Africa has rarely captured the attention of international mainstream media, yet this background context is critical to understanding the logic behind Operation Serval. The connection between French and African elites—from those in Tunisia to those in Madagascar—is a complex one, a relationship associated with opaque backroom dealings at the Élysée Palace involving only the executive branch of government. One leading critic of French policies in Africa likened the liaison to an iceberg: its visible tip displays France’s well-wishing rhetoric, but its hidden body contains the exploitative collusion of elites pursuing narrow interests at the expense of the African public. The coziness of this liaison— termed

FEATURE BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

F

rance is at war. At the time of writing, 4,000 French soldiers are deployed in Azawad, the northern half of Mali, fighting a combination of Islamist and separatist insurgents who took over the region in mid-2012. Codenamed Operation Serval, the intervention is the largest launched by a Western power in a Muslim-majority country since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Although France’s official rhetoric stresses the importance of assisting Mali in the fight against radical Islam and protecting French expatriates, France’s history of neocolonial meddling in African affairs sheds light on the current intervention’s darker motives. Operation Serval is a risky bet, yet French President François Hollande’s socialist government is willing to take its chance in order to preserve French influence abroad, safeguard strategic interests in the region and advance its domestic agenda. Two distinct narratives—one ideo-

els from Mali’s northern mountain ranges, where they are presently regrouping, will prove elusive. French forces are unprepared for a counterinsurgency campaign, and porous national borders across the Western Sahara allow the insurgency to move in and out of the country at its convenience, as the Taliban do in Afghanistan. For this reason, it is not clear whether Operation Serval will achieve much in the long term. In the short term, however, it wards off an insurgency that could spread to neighboring Niger, where nuclear giant company Areva gathers much of the uranium that fuels France’s power plants. This economic consideration is rarely invoked in the defense of France’s decision to intervene, but is essential to understanding it.

23


THE T T HM E E FH RE E NC AT N ’H S DE N BU RE Uranium. Campaign checks. Oil. What’s really going on in Mali Story by JORGE TAMAMES / ART by BEN BERKE

22

logical and consistent with modern times, the other rational and rooted in history— pervade the official discourse about the intervention. For one, the story of Operation Serval reads like the newest page in the tiresome history of the War on Terror—or “Overseas Contingency Operations,” the Orwellian rebranding of the term. President Hollande’s vow to “destroy terrorists” and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s description of Mali’s insurgence as an “existential threat” to “our way of life” are telling tributes to the enduring legacy of post-9/11 neurosis. The operation is linked to NATO’s recent intervention in Libya, as Mali’s instability is in great measure an offshoot of the latter’s: the influx of former Muammar Qaddafi loyalists and mercenaries from Tripoli to Azawad, following the dictator’s murder in late 2011, lit the fuse of the ongoing conflict. In addition, Operation Ser-

val follows a pattern of increasing foreign policy activism on the part of the French government. Its unilateral recognition of the Syrian National Council as the country’s sole representative last November raises the question of whether Operation Serval will mobilize support for a similar initiative in Syria, or contribute to the consolidation of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine in international relations. On the other hand, there is much that the War on Terror clichés and R2P rhetoric conceal, starting with the viability of the operation itself and the greater stakes for France. Operation Serval’s stated goal is to stop the Islamists’ advance, reverse it, and cripple them in the process. The French and Malian militaries have successfully retaken the town of Konna—the insurgency’s former springboard to southern Mali—followed by Gao and Timbuktu in central Azawad, and finally Kidal and Tessalit near the Algerian border. But ousting the reb-

A

t first glance, it seems as though the stars aligned to make Operation Serval a textbook case _of legitimate humanitarian intervention. The Hollande government complied with all legal niceties required to intervene: it received a clear UN mandate and waited for Mali’s official request for help. It also garnered support from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Chad, which have committed 3,300 and 1,800 forces, respectively, to the intervention. The rhetoric Hollande employs when addressing his African counterparts attempts to bolster support for France’s activism throughout the continent. In a recent speech in Dakar, Senegal, the president stressed the need for a “sincere” relationship between France and Africa and an end to their conflictive interaction. His tone was in stark contrast to that of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 speech, also in Dakar, in which the former French president used the opportunity to muse upon the ills of the “the African man”—specifically, on his “failure to enter history” while “living in a world of fancy.” Needless to say, the speech was not well received. More importantly, this particular intervention is an easy one to sell. The Islamist insurgency in Mali, composed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and the terrorist organization Ansar Dine has galvanized French public opinion. The rebels’ tactics of systematic amputation of limbs and stoning of adulterers, coupled with the imposition of strict Shariah law throughout Azawad, are all too reminiscent of outrageous conditions in

Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan. Even concern for Timbuktu, with its historical landmarks and Tatooinesque architecture, is a motivation for backing the intervention: the Malian town’s possible destruction recalls the 2001 dynamiting of Afghanistan’s Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban, which drew international condemnation. Accounts of Malians cheering French troops, waving French flags, and even naming their children “Hollande” add further legitimacy to Operation Serval. After all, it has saved the southern part of the country from an Islamist takeover. Moreover, domestic politics have provided an equally strong, if not stronger, impetus for the French government to intervene. 75 percent of people questioned in France in January supported the intervention in Mali, buying into its legitimacy. Launching Operation Serval offered Hollande an opportunity to boost his approval ratings, which have plummeted for several reasons since he was elected to office in May 2012. He made the decision to send troops to Mali not simply because it was good politics, but because that added benefit clearly made the choice ever more appealing. One factor contributing to Hollande’s decline in popularity is his internal management of France’s economy. Recent wavering on fiscal policy has inspired Hollande’s pejorative nickname “Flanby,” after a trademark French caramel custard that is soft and wobbly. During the 2012 elections, he ran on a pro-growth platform representing the Parti Socialiste (France’s Socialist Party), promising to reverse austerity policies that had been implemented in France following the German-led trend of belt tightening in the eurozone. Instead, after his victory Hollande ended up kowtowing to Berlin and drafting the toughest budget in the last three decades of French economic history. Yet his government’s adoption of rigueur—the French version of austerity with a human face, based more on increasing fiscal pressure than on slashing welfare spending—has failed to revitalize France’s stagnant economy. To make matters worse, Hollande’s flagship economic proposal, a 75 percent income tax applied to earnings above €1,000,000, was shot down in December 2012 by the French Constitutional Court. What is more, the ongoing euro crisis has, at France’s expense, consolidated Berlin’s dominance as leader of the eurozone. As Brussels sees it, today’s Franco–German

axis functions to hide Germany’s strength as much as it does to hide France’s weakness, a fact made painfully clear to Hollande during the latest negotiation of the EU’s 2014–2020 budget. When his country’s interests were outmaneuvered by Germany and Britain, Hollande was forced to settle for a less than wholly satisfactory deal that hurt his domestic popularity. Add a botched January attempt by French special forces to rescue a hostage in Somalia, reminiscent of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s Desert One debacle in Iran, and it is evident why Hollande’s position was untenable. The opportunity to intervene in Mali thus seemed too good to pass up. Operation Serval is backed by the French citizenry, and it allows the French government to pitch itself as a relevant global actor and draws attention away from the troubled domestic and European political economy. It has even generated an increase in Hollande’s approval ratings, as Monsieur Flanby revealed his solid resolve in deploying hard power in his foreign policy. On the whole, it appears as if moral and pragmatic considerations justified the intervention.

D

espite such a rosy presentation of the intervention, Malians should remain skeptical of its desirability. France’s familiar neocolonial reliance upon its former African territorial possessions for strategic resources, Mali included, has led Paris to numerous feats of realpolitik in the past, including support for the corrupt likes of Mobutu Sese Seko, former president of Zaire, and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, former president of Tunisia. France’s notorious history of military interventionism in Africa has rarely captured the attention of international mainstream media, yet this background context is critical to understanding the logic behind Operation Serval. The connection between French and African elites—from those in Tunisia to those in Madagascar—is a complex one, a relationship associated with opaque backroom dealings at the Élysée Palace involving only the executive branch of government. One leading critic of French policies in Africa likened the liaison to an iceberg: its visible tip displays France’s well-wishing rhetoric, but its hidden body contains the exploitative collusion of elites pursuing narrow interests at the expense of the African public. The coziness of this liaison— termed

FEATURE BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

F

rance is at war. At the time of writing, 4,000 French soldiers are deployed in Azawad, the northern half of Mali, fighting a combination of Islamist and separatist insurgents who took over the region in mid-2012. Codenamed Operation Serval, the intervention is the largest launched by a Western power in a Muslim-majority country since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Although France’s official rhetoric stresses the importance of assisting Mali in the fight against radical Islam and protecting French expatriates, France’s history of neocolonial meddling in African affairs sheds light on the current intervention’s darker motives. Operation Serval is a risky bet, yet French President François Hollande’s socialist government is willing to take its chance in order to preserve French influence abroad, safeguard strategic interests in the region and advance its domestic agenda. Two distinct narratives—one ideo-

els from Mali’s northern mountain ranges, where they are presently regrouping, will prove elusive. French forces are unprepared for a counterinsurgency campaign, and porous national borders across the Western Sahara allow the insurgency to move in and out of the country at its convenience, as the Taliban do in Afghanistan. For this reason, it is not clear whether Operation Serval will achieve much in the long term. In the short term, however, it wards off an insurgency that could spread to neighboring Niger, where nuclear giant company Areva gathers much of the uranium that fuels France’s power plants. This economic consideration is rarely invoked in the defense of France’s decision to intervene, but is essential to understanding it.

23


Françafrique as a parody of the positive spin on France–Africa relations during post–World War II decolonization—has also turned out to be a great boon for the French political class, especially the Gaullist right, which to this day receives generous campaign contributions from elites in its African client states. It was Jacques Foccart, chief of staff for African matters for both former French presidents Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou, who established and perpetuated France’s neo-colonial grip on the continent. Under the stewardship of “Monsieur Afrique,” which lasted from 1960 to 1974, France’s reactions to the independence movements of its former colonies took a distinctively Lampedusian turn, changing everything to keep everything the same. During this period, Paris consistently propped up dictators and supported military coups; it also encouraged the Biafran secession that lead to a civil war in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. In the context of the Cold War, these policies served the purpose of keeping large swaths of Africa from falling under the influence of the Soviet bloc. The end of the Cold War, however, did not bring an end to France’s meddling in Africa. Although Foccart was replaced in 1974, both the D’Estaing and the Mitterrand governments followed his African policy schema. The latter, in fact, brought Foccart back as an adviser during Jacques Chirac’s tenure as prime minister, and François Mitterrand’s presidency witnessed a shameful Françafrique episode of alleged complicity with Hutu authorities during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The continuity of France’s neoimperial foreign policy became even more blatant under Jacques Chirac’s presidency. Afri-

24

can donors allegedly made frequent cash contributions for the campaigns of the president and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Cote d’Ivoire became France’s “little Iraq” in 2004 when French soldiers destroyed the Ivorian air force and killed dozens of unarmed civilian street protestors in muddled circumstances—a reckless, violent rampage of retaliation after Ivorian nationalist Young Patriots attacked French homes and businesses in the African country. In 2007 Sarkozy pledged to put an end to Françafrique—only to welcome Qaddafi in his visit of honor to France and endorse Gabon President Ali Ben Bongo’s victory in a disputed election. Talk about Europeans being from Venus. The way France has thrown its weight around in Africa is all the more shocking because coverage of the issue has rarely made it into Western headlines. It is against this realpolitik backdrop, however, that Africa primarily views the Mali intervention—and for good reason. Françafrique also means France à fric, fric being a French slang word for “cash.” The French business establishment has benefited from gaining preferential access to African resources and strategic assets, namely oil and uranium in the Niger basin. This in turn has supported the development of France’s independent energy policy, which relies on nuclear plants to satisfy 80 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Safeguarding uranium production in Niger constitutes a key objective of French foreign policy, and the risk of the insurgency spreading from Mali is too great. Tuaregs compose a substantial part of these forces, nomads spread throughout the Western Sahara that lack a state of their own. This means that Mali’s Tuareg insurgency could easily spread to neighboring Niger, where

French nuclear giant Areva collects around a third of its uranium supply. Areva’s two mines extract 4,000 tons of uranium every year; a third one will add a further 5,000 from 2014 onward. It’s impossible to extricate the motivations behind the Mali intervention from France’s desire to maintain its grip on regional economic and strategic assets. Even the operation’s code name betrays this goal: the serval, an African wild cat, has the notable tendency of urinating up to 30 times per hour in order to mark its territory.

C

olonial legacies aside, Operation Serval might not be feasible in the long term. The ambivalence of most NATO members, the unreliability of Hollande’s African allies and Mali’s history of recurring civil strife generate doubt regarding the viability of the operation. The United States’ lack of support is unwelcome news in Paris. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice described the French plan to intervene as “crap.” The Obama administration has found only slightly more encouraging words and is airlifting French soldiers to Mali, but it will not engage beyond that point. This noncommittal stance falls in line with the ongoing pivot of U.S. forces to East Asia, but it unsurprisingly displeases French policymakers, who claim that U.S. leaders have failed to establish a middle ground between the excesses of the Bush years and today’s isolationism—alas, if only they would follow each and every one of Paris’s guidelines. The problem here is a recurring one: European nations lack the capacity to conduct effective large-scale interventions without the United States, and Americans have lost the stomach for such involvement after the

the independent Republic of Mali, Tuaregs in the country have risen against the central government in the southwest several times. Their revolts have been crushed by the Malian military at every instance, generating occasional refugee crises. Furthermore, current rebel forces are fragmented into three Islamic factions and a nationalist secular one, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). To the extent that the nationalist and Islamist insurgents are already split and have occasionally fought each other, driving a lasting wedge between them should prove relatively easy. The MNLA in fact has already offered to collaborate with French forces. For this cooperation to last, however, southern Mali would have to share its sovereignty with Azawad and perhaps contemplate a partition of the country. Civil strife would otherwise be unlikely to diminish. Unfortunately, destabilizing episodes of ethnic conflict have been common during previous uprisings and are already taking place now, as black Malians destroy the property of Arabs and Tuaregs while the national army refuses to take sides. All of this suggests that French authorities will have to work closely with their Malian counterparts and perhaps even actively interfere in the country’s political process to contain the tensions. That type of action could prove controversial, given the dark history and legacies of Western interference in Africa’s affairs.

W

hat are the ultimate consequences of the French intervention in Mali? At the time of writing, the country’s urban areas are under the control of French and African forces. Still not decisively defeated, the Islamists have retreated to Azawad’s northeastern mountains, and France lacks the resources to conduct a full counterinsurgency campaign there, although the recent killing of AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar by Chad’s military leaves room for optimism. Nevertheless, French forces are in the process of declaring victory and going home. The appearance of suicide bombers in Gao is another reason for France to pull out as soon as possible, before escalation becomes unavoidable. The decision to intervene is still a risky bet in retrospect. France’s presence is currently approved by both the French and Malian publics, but it will not remain in favor forever, especially if and when French soldiers begin to suffer more casualties— the latest body count is only three. It also remains

unclear whether Mali will be able to stand by itself once French forces leave, considering there is no exit strategy in place to accommodate the country’s Tuareg minority. To the extent that Tuareg populations are also present in Niger, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso, any granting of regional autonomy could have destabilizing consequences throughout the region by inspiring spillover rebellions. For this reason, prospects for an enduring resolution to separatist pressures are dim. Should French forces end up bogged down in a sub-Saharan version of Afghanistan, Operation Serval would destroy Hollande’s presidency and further weaken Mali. If, however, they withdraw in time and Mali remains relatively secure, Operation Serval will be perceived as a success. Perhaps it will significantly boost Hollande’s popularity, paralleling former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s experience with the Falkland Islands. Whether Operation Serval can push France’s foreign policy in a more responsible direction remains to be seen. Up to this point, the intervention has been executed with more skill and care than previous ones. But France remains deeply invested in Africa, and a drastic reformulation of its foreign policy is off the table. Economic constraints will, however, set a limit to France’s interventionism sooner than later. The country is too weakened by the ongoing euro crisis to indefinitely exercise control over its former colonies. And France’s early withdrawal from Afghanistan and its 2010 defense agreements with the United Kingdom speak to the limits of its military spending, though the latter suggests that military cooperation within the EU might attenuate the ongoing shrinkage of European defense budgets. In this regard, a proposed way forward is to “Europeanize” France’s military bases in Africa, opening them up to participation from other EU members. This could blunt the edge of French interventionism and work to stabilize Africa—but can it be presented as anything other than a modernday Scramble for Africa? Especially at a time when the future of their common currency is still far from settled, perhaps it would be wise for France— and the rest of Europe—to consider taking a lesson from Flanby, cease pushing forward and begin pulling back. u JORGE TAMAMES ‘13 is an INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONCENTRATOR and global managing editor at BPR.

FEATURE BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

Left: A caravan of donkeys travels past the Sankore Madrasah, an iconic mosque in Timbuktu. Right: Soldiers conduct close-quarter battle drills in Bamako, Mali.

debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan. Support from the European Union (EU) is also insufficient. Most European countries are limiting their contribution to logistical support and the training of Mali’s military, which does not amount to much. Once again, French officials have not taken this very well, complaining about the absence of a common foreign policy in the EU—a sad absence indeed, but a European foreign policy, if it is ever to exist, cannot simply tag along with France’s, despite the obsessive wishes of the old and venerable Gaullist tradition. As a result, France must go it alone. The dubious credibility of France’s African allies is just as disturbing. Nigeria’s military, currently a leading presence in the ECOWAS deployment, has a notorious track record of human rights abuses. It is also underfunded and possibly incapable of conducting frontline operations. The case of this regional hegemon is not isolated but indicative. Algeria is another noteworthy French ally. France considers the country a key partner in the struggle against radical Islam. Though Algeria remains under dictatorship, it earned Western support after waging a ruthless war against its own Islamist insurgency in the 1990s. Officially defeated in 2002, part of the insurgency merely moved to neighboring Mali, where it founded AQIM. Algeria is not contributing troops to Operation Serval, but it has allowed French aircraft to fly over its airspace in order to intervene in Mali. In return, Hollande tacitly supports its brutal regime; it is, after all, the enemy of France’s enemy. Mali itself presents other concerns. There is the immediate problem of the lack of a legitimate government. Previously a success story of democratization since 1992, Mali experienced a military coup d’état less than a year ago; current President Dioncounda Traoré came to power after brokering a deal with the army. The episode casts an embarrassing light upon the U.S. military, under whose oversight Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, the coup’s leader, was trained and instructed. Far worse in the long term, the country suffers from problematic statehood deriving from the arbitrary drawing of its borders by colonial powers. The Berbers and Tuaregs of northern Mali have a history of rebellion against the south of the country, where the majority of the population is black. Since the 1960 formation of

25


Françafrique as a parody of the positive spin on France–Africa relations during post–World War II decolonization—has also turned out to be a great boon for the French political class, especially the Gaullist right, which to this day receives generous campaign contributions from elites in its African client states. It was Jacques Foccart, chief of staff for African matters for both former French presidents Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou, who established and perpetuated France’s neo-colonial grip on the continent. Under the stewardship of “Monsieur Afrique,” which lasted from 1960 to 1974, France’s reactions to the independence movements of its former colonies took a distinctively Lampedusian turn, changing everything to keep everything the same. During this period, Paris consistently propped up dictators and supported military coups; it also encouraged the Biafran secession that lead to a civil war in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. In the context of the Cold War, these policies served the purpose of keeping large swaths of Africa from falling under the influence of the Soviet bloc. The end of the Cold War, however, did not bring an end to France’s meddling in Africa. Although Foccart was replaced in 1974, both the D’Estaing and the Mitterrand governments followed his African policy schema. The latter, in fact, brought Foccart back as an adviser during Jacques Chirac’s tenure as prime minister, and François Mitterrand’s presidency witnessed a shameful Françafrique episode of alleged complicity with Hutu authorities during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The continuity of France’s neoimperial foreign policy became even more blatant under Jacques Chirac’s presidency. Afri-

24

can donors allegedly made frequent cash contributions for the campaigns of the president and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Cote d’Ivoire became France’s “little Iraq” in 2004 when French soldiers destroyed the Ivorian air force and killed dozens of unarmed civilian street protestors in muddled circumstances—a reckless, violent rampage of retaliation after Ivorian nationalist Young Patriots attacked French homes and businesses in the African country. In 2007 Sarkozy pledged to put an end to Françafrique—only to welcome Qaddafi in his visit of honor to France and endorse Gabon President Ali Ben Bongo’s victory in a disputed election. Talk about Europeans being from Venus. The way France has thrown its weight around in Africa is all the more shocking because coverage of the issue has rarely made it into Western headlines. It is against this realpolitik backdrop, however, that Africa primarily views the Mali intervention—and for good reason. Françafrique also means France à fric, fric being a French slang word for “cash.” The French business establishment has benefited from gaining preferential access to African resources and strategic assets, namely oil and uranium in the Niger basin. This in turn has supported the development of France’s independent energy policy, which relies on nuclear plants to satisfy 80 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Safeguarding uranium production in Niger constitutes a key objective of French foreign policy, and the risk of the insurgency spreading from Mali is too great. Tuaregs compose a substantial part of these forces, nomads spread throughout the Western Sahara that lack a state of their own. This means that Mali’s Tuareg insurgency could easily spread to neighboring Niger, where

French nuclear giant Areva collects around a third of its uranium supply. Areva’s two mines extract 4,000 tons of uranium every year; a third one will add a further 5,000 from 2014 onward. It’s impossible to extricate the motivations behind the Mali intervention from France’s desire to maintain its grip on regional economic and strategic assets. Even the operation’s code name betrays this goal: the serval, an African wild cat, has the notable tendency of urinating up to 30 times per hour in order to mark its territory.

C

olonial legacies aside, Operation Serval might not be feasible in the long term. The ambivalence of most NATO members, the unreliability of Hollande’s African allies and Mali’s history of recurring civil strife generate doubt regarding the viability of the operation. The United States’ lack of support is unwelcome news in Paris. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice described the French plan to intervene as “crap.” The Obama administration has found only slightly more encouraging words and is airlifting French soldiers to Mali, but it will not engage beyond that point. This noncommittal stance falls in line with the ongoing pivot of U.S. forces to East Asia, but it unsurprisingly displeases French policymakers, who claim that U.S. leaders have failed to establish a middle ground between the excesses of the Bush years and today’s isolationism—alas, if only they would follow each and every one of Paris’s guidelines. The problem here is a recurring one: European nations lack the capacity to conduct effective large-scale interventions without the United States, and Americans have lost the stomach for such involvement after the

the independent Republic of Mali, Tuaregs in the country have risen against the central government in the southwest several times. Their revolts have been crushed by the Malian military at every instance, generating occasional refugee crises. Furthermore, current rebel forces are fragmented into three Islamic factions and a nationalist secular one, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). To the extent that the nationalist and Islamist insurgents are already split and have occasionally fought each other, driving a lasting wedge between them should prove relatively easy. The MNLA in fact has already offered to collaborate with French forces. For this cooperation to last, however, southern Mali would have to share its sovereignty with Azawad and perhaps contemplate a partition of the country. Civil strife would otherwise be unlikely to diminish. Unfortunately, destabilizing episodes of ethnic conflict have been common during previous uprisings and are already taking place now, as black Malians destroy the property of Arabs and Tuaregs while the national army refuses to take sides. All of this suggests that French authorities will have to work closely with their Malian counterparts and perhaps even actively interfere in the country’s political process to contain the tensions. That type of action could prove controversial, given the dark history and legacies of Western interference in Africa’s affairs.

W

hat are the ultimate consequences of the French intervention in Mali? At the time of writing, the country’s urban areas are under the control of French and African forces. Still not decisively defeated, the Islamists have retreated to Azawad’s northeastern mountains, and France lacks the resources to conduct a full counterinsurgency campaign there, although the recent killing of AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar by Chad’s military leaves room for optimism. Nevertheless, French forces are in the process of declaring victory and going home. The appearance of suicide bombers in Gao is another reason for France to pull out as soon as possible, before escalation becomes unavoidable. The decision to intervene is still a risky bet in retrospect. France’s presence is currently approved by both the French and Malian publics, but it will not remain in favor forever, especially if and when French soldiers begin to suffer more casualties— the latest body count is only three. It also remains

unclear whether Mali will be able to stand by itself once French forces leave, considering there is no exit strategy in place to accommodate the country’s Tuareg minority. To the extent that Tuareg populations are also present in Niger, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso, any granting of regional autonomy could have destabilizing consequences throughout the region by inspiring spillover rebellions. For this reason, prospects for an enduring resolution to separatist pressures are dim. Should French forces end up bogged down in a sub-Saharan version of Afghanistan, Operation Serval would destroy Hollande’s presidency and further weaken Mali. If, however, they withdraw in time and Mali remains relatively secure, Operation Serval will be perceived as a success. Perhaps it will significantly boost Hollande’s popularity, paralleling former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s experience with the Falkland Islands. Whether Operation Serval can push France’s foreign policy in a more responsible direction remains to be seen. Up to this point, the intervention has been executed with more skill and care than previous ones. But France remains deeply invested in Africa, and a drastic reformulation of its foreign policy is off the table. Economic constraints will, however, set a limit to France’s interventionism sooner than later. The country is too weakened by the ongoing euro crisis to indefinitely exercise control over its former colonies. And France’s early withdrawal from Afghanistan and its 2010 defense agreements with the United Kingdom speak to the limits of its military spending, though the latter suggests that military cooperation within the EU might attenuate the ongoing shrinkage of European defense budgets. In this regard, a proposed way forward is to “Europeanize” France’s military bases in Africa, opening them up to participation from other EU members. This could blunt the edge of French interventionism and work to stabilize Africa—but can it be presented as anything other than a modernday Scramble for Africa? Especially at a time when the future of their common currency is still far from settled, perhaps it would be wise for France— and the rest of Europe—to consider taking a lesson from Flanby, cease pushing forward and begin pulling back. u JORGE TAMAMES ‘13 is an INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONCENTRATOR and global managing editor at BPR.

FEATURE BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW FEATURE

Left: A caravan of donkeys travels past the Sankore Madrasah, an iconic mosque in Timbuktu. Right: Soldiers conduct close-quarter battle drills in Bamako, Mali.

debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan. Support from the European Union (EU) is also insufficient. Most European countries are limiting their contribution to logistical support and the training of Mali’s military, which does not amount to much. Once again, French officials have not taken this very well, complaining about the absence of a common foreign policy in the EU—a sad absence indeed, but a European foreign policy, if it is ever to exist, cannot simply tag along with France’s, despite the obsessive wishes of the old and venerable Gaullist tradition. As a result, France must go it alone. The dubious credibility of France’s African allies is just as disturbing. Nigeria’s military, currently a leading presence in the ECOWAS deployment, has a notorious track record of human rights abuses. It is also underfunded and possibly incapable of conducting frontline operations. The case of this regional hegemon is not isolated but indicative. Algeria is another noteworthy French ally. France considers the country a key partner in the struggle against radical Islam. Though Algeria remains under dictatorship, it earned Western support after waging a ruthless war against its own Islamist insurgency in the 1990s. Officially defeated in 2002, part of the insurgency merely moved to neighboring Mali, where it founded AQIM. Algeria is not contributing troops to Operation Serval, but it has allowed French aircraft to fly over its airspace in order to intervene in Mali. In return, Hollande tacitly supports its brutal regime; it is, after all, the enemy of France’s enemy. Mali itself presents other concerns. There is the immediate problem of the lack of a legitimate government. Previously a success story of democratization since 1992, Mali experienced a military coup d’état less than a year ago; current President Dioncounda Traoré came to power after brokering a deal with the army. The episode casts an embarrassing light upon the U.S. military, under whose oversight Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, the coup’s leader, was trained and instructed. Far worse in the long term, the country suffers from problematic statehood deriving from the arbitrary drawing of its borders by colonial powers. The Berbers and Tuaregs of northern Mali have a history of rebellion against the south of the country, where the majority of the population is black. Since the 1960 formation of

25


WHY SO SYRIOUS? Black humor amid horror in Syria

Story by MICHAEL CHERNIN / ART by SHEILA SITARAM

26

wrote, “If the characters were not qualified for tragedy, there would be no comedy.” In one oft-told story, a heavily armed Syrian soldier orders the driver of a rusted sedan to step out of his vehicle. The car and its driver, who is on his way from Aleppo to Damascus, have reached one of hundreds of military checkpoints controlling the flow of vehicles in and out of the Syrian capital. The driver readily presents his identification papers, making sure to mask any semblance of disapproval or defiance. “Now you!” the soldier orders, staring at the passenger. Breaking with the driver’s technique of offering the man anything and everything, the passenger shouts, “Oh, you’re screwed. Don’t you know who I am? I’m mukhabarat (military intelligence).” The soldier responds: “No, you’re the one who is screwed. This is a Free Syrian Army checkpoint!” Some deconstruction provides valuable insight into why this story-based joke is so humorous and meaningful to the Syrian people. Firstly, mukhabarat, meaning “intelligence,” refers either to a clandestine intelligence officer or to the organization itself. The traveling mukhabarat assumes he has caught members of the Syrian Armed Forces harassing an officer of the state (himself)—an act which in a highly hierarchical and rigid authoritarian system can cost one dearly. The retort and punch line that this checkpoint in fact belongs to the Free Syrian Army indicates that rebels, not the government’s military force, control the checkpoint. Since comedy is commentary, one implicit meaning of the joke is that the situation is so chaotic that even highly

trained government spies can’t discern who the rebels are and who the Assad loyalists are. Whatever the interpretation, the great majority of Syrian citizens have been questioned or harassed by a government

official at some point in their lifetimes. This ultimately gets to the heart of why pitch-black comedy resonates so strongly with Syrian citizens. Rather than finding it exploitative or offensive, most Syrians can relate to it. Many in the United States are lucky enough to have daily problems that require simple solutions, most of which end up in stand-up comedy routines. Dating and endless lines at women’s restrooms have been adopted into our col-

has called for it and the God of Heaven welcomed it…The days of patronage are gone, thanks to our peaceful revolution… Hey, Syria, our revolution is peaceful!” Christa Salamandra, anthropology professor at Lehman College, calls Top Goon’s work “the kind of humor that you don’t necessarily laugh at…the ultimate red line for Syrian culture producers.” Salamandra neatly contextualizes Top Goon’s role by observing that while some culture producers toe that line by criticizing the regime “in very vague terms” only, dissident humorists such as Top Goon are “stomping over that red line.” Another group, “The Germs,” is a comedy coalition whose name derives from Assad’s comparison of oppositional factions to the spread of germs and illness. However, their Facebook page, while an effective way of disseminating information, leaves them vulnerable to mukhabarat investigation because it boasts a tab devoted to “Top Fans”—individuals who are recognized for consistent interaction with the website. In

produces a series of five-minute clips using dialogue, song, and finger puppets to depict President Assad and his cronies as mentally unstable and impotent. Reminiscent of the grotesque imagery often seen in beaked Venetian Carnival masks, Top Goon features an elongated and manic Assad dancing around while being plagued by demons. These darkly humorous images meet with lyrics that reinforce the opposition movement’s legitimacy: “Syria

August 2011, renowned Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was savagely beaten and his hands were broken in a moblike warning to cease producing comedic works that undermine the Assad regime’s authority. When people are being beaten and detained for producing controversial comedic material, how can an organized opposition group maintain a fan base? Prior to the start of the Arab Spring, the Syrian mukhabarat failed to conceive

of Internet and social media being used for revolutionary purposes. At first, protesters were able to take advantage of this, utilizing Twitter and Facebook to share information about how to combat the effects of tear gas using household items like Coca-Cola. By now, however, intelligence officials across the Arab world have developed systematic methods of shutting down servers and satirist organizations alike. In order to circumvent government harassment, some more serious political organizations have scorned the Internet in favor of the printing press, rejecting the very medium that is often credited with giving such power and anonymity to the Arab Spring in the first place. Funded through individual private donations, opposition newspapers like Hurriyat (Freedom) and Enab Baladi (Grapes of My Country) are printed and distributed under the cover of night directly to people’s homes, largely in and around the capital, Damascus. Thus far, satirists and comedians have struggled to maintain a presence via traditional print media: an above-ground satire newspaper, Al Domari (The Lamplighter) thrived for just two years in the early 2000s before being banned by the government. But if more comedy groups like “Top Goon” and “The Germs” followed the lead of the politically-minded Hurriyat, perhaps they too would be capable of reaching a large population without access to the Web. By distributing physical publications covertly to those who do not actively seek out satire, as one does on the Internet, they could likely expand their base. They would also provide an incredibly valuable service to those trapped in Syria’s major cities: a small degree of comfort-by-delivery. We hear relatively little of the ways in which the Syrian people are fighting back through non-violence and creativity. Too often, the conflict is dichotomously depicted as the armed opposition shooting at the regime, and the regime shooting back. A third party has emerged, however, craving and deserving our attention. These writers, painters, sketch artists, broadcasters, filmmakers, printers and musicians have harnessed the simple human desire to smile, and with it they have activated a previously untapped faction: the majority of Syrians who prefer the pen to the sword. u MICHAEL CHERNIN ‘15 is a POLITICAL SCIENCE CONCENTRATOR and editor-atlarge AT BPR.

GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW GLOBAL

T

wo years ago, chaos broke loose when Syrian protesters began demonstrating their deep discontent with President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. As the next domino to fall in the Arab Spring, Syrians followed Tunisians, Libyans and Egyptians in voicing their outrage over human rights violations, economic stagnation and restricted political freedoms. With such a backdrop framing our view of this country, the words “humor” and “Syria” might seem highly antithetical. For a country with a “Top 25” ranking in Foreign Policy magazine’s Failed State Index, it would seem nothing could be more serious than addressing Syria’s ongoing refugee crisis, economic decline or human rights violations. And from the perspective of the oppositional body, the Syrian National Council, there is nothing humorous about an international community reluctant to intervene, a 60,000plus death toll and military checkpoints that frequently turn into deathtraps. But this is not the story of military measures taken by rebel leaders to undermine al-Assad’s dictatorship. This is the story of how the Syrian people accomplished such a task, by developing a distinctive form of pitch-black humor borne out of the daily atrocities suffered under an authoritarian regime. If the question was how to construct an atmosphere that fostered comedy and humor in spite of the omnipresent rain of bomb shells, police harassment and a failing economy, the answer is relatively simple: comedy develops because of, not despite, these horrors. As poet and playwright Christopher Fry once

lective consciousness as experiences that nearly everyone recognizes. In Syria the sounds of exploding shells, random security checkpoints, and food rations are the daily occurrences that become fodder for national humor. Another joke highlights the widespread dearth of basic goods and services, like the availability of gas: “A man returns home with a live chicken for dinner…His wife tells him the family no longer has a knife to slaughter the bird, nor do they have gas to cook it with. Upon hearing the news, the chicken begins clucking: ‘Long live Bashar! Long live Bashar!’” Comedy in Syria has served two valuable functions over the past two years. First, it has developed into a tool for political mobilization that has garnered support for opposition groups. Second, it has constructed a national coping mechanism that produces a modicum of joy in a landscape relatively devoid of it. A host of comedy groups have arisen in opposition to the ruling Ba’ath Party’s leadership. One such group, Top Goon,

27


WHY SO SYRIOUS? Black humor amid horror in Syria

Story by MICHAEL CHERNIN / ART by SHEILA SITARAM

26

wrote, “If the characters were not qualified for tragedy, there would be no comedy.” In one oft-told story, a heavily armed Syrian soldier orders the driver of a rusted sedan to step out of his vehicle. The car and its driver, who is on his way from Aleppo to Damascus, have reached one of hundreds of military checkpoints controlling the flow of vehicles in and out of the Syrian capital. The driver readily presents his identification papers, making sure to mask any semblance of disapproval or defiance. “Now you!” the soldier orders, staring at the passenger. Breaking with the driver’s technique of offering the man anything and everything, the passenger shouts, “Oh, you’re screwed. Don’t you know who I am? I’m mukhabarat (military intelligence).” The soldier responds: “No, you’re the one who is screwed. This is a Free Syrian Army checkpoint!” Some deconstruction provides valuable insight into why this story-based joke is so humorous and meaningful to the Syrian people. Firstly, mukhabarat, meaning “intelligence,” refers either to a clandestine intelligence officer or to the organization itself. The traveling mukhabarat assumes he has caught members of the Syrian Armed Forces harassing an officer of the state (himself)—an act which in a highly hierarchical and rigid authoritarian system can cost one dearly. The retort and punch line that this checkpoint in fact belongs to the Free Syrian Army indicates that rebels, not the government’s military force, control the checkpoint. Since comedy is commentary, one implicit meaning of the joke is that the situation is so chaotic that even highly

trained government spies can’t discern who the rebels are and who the Assad loyalists are. Whatever the interpretation, the great majority of Syrian citizens have been questioned or harassed by a government

official at some point in their lifetimes. This ultimately gets to the heart of why pitch-black comedy resonates so strongly with Syrian citizens. Rather than finding it exploitative or offensive, most Syrians can relate to it. Many in the United States are lucky enough to have daily problems that require simple solutions, most of which end up in stand-up comedy routines. Dating and endless lines at women’s restrooms have been adopted into our col-

has called for it and the God of Heaven welcomed it…The days of patronage are gone, thanks to our peaceful revolution… Hey, Syria, our revolution is peaceful!” Christa Salamandra, anthropology professor at Lehman College, calls Top Goon’s work “the kind of humor that you don’t necessarily laugh at…the ultimate red line for Syrian culture producers.” Salamandra neatly contextualizes Top Goon’s role by observing that while some culture producers toe that line by criticizing the regime “in very vague terms” only, dissident humorists such as Top Goon are “stomping over that red line.” Another group, “The Germs,” is a comedy coalition whose name derives from Assad’s comparison of oppositional factions to the spread of germs and illness. However, their Facebook page, while an effective way of disseminating information, leaves them vulnerable to mukhabarat investigation because it boasts a tab devoted to “Top Fans”—individuals who are recognized for consistent interaction with the website. In

produces a series of five-minute clips using dialogue, song, and finger puppets to depict President Assad and his cronies as mentally unstable and impotent. Reminiscent of the grotesque imagery often seen in beaked Venetian Carnival masks, Top Goon features an elongated and manic Assad dancing around while being plagued by demons. These darkly humorous images meet with lyrics that reinforce the opposition movement’s legitimacy: “Syria

August 2011, renowned Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was savagely beaten and his hands were broken in a moblike warning to cease producing comedic works that undermine the Assad regime’s authority. When people are being beaten and detained for producing controversial comedic material, how can an organized opposition group maintain a fan base? Prior to the start of the Arab Spring, the Syrian mukhabarat failed to conceive

of Internet and social media being used for revolutionary purposes. At first, protesters were able to take advantage of this, utilizing Twitter and Facebook to share information about how to combat the effects of tear gas using household items like Coca-Cola. By now, however, intelligence officials across the Arab world have developed systematic methods of shutting down servers and satirist organizations alike. In order to circumvent government harassment, some more serious political organizations have scorned the Internet in favor of the printing press, rejecting the very medium that is often credited with giving such power and anonymity to the Arab Spring in the first place. Funded through individual private donations, opposition newspapers like Hurriyat (Freedom) and Enab Baladi (Grapes of My Country) are printed and distributed under the cover of night directly to people’s homes, largely in and around the capital, Damascus. Thus far, satirists and comedians have struggled to maintain a presence via traditional print media: an above-ground satire newspaper, Al Domari (The Lamplighter) thrived for just two years in the early 2000s before being banned by the government. But if more comedy groups like “Top Goon” and “The Germs” followed the lead of the politically-minded Hurriyat, perhaps they too would be capable of reaching a large population without access to the Web. By distributing physical publications covertly to those who do not actively seek out satire, as one does on the Internet, they could likely expand their base. They would also provide an incredibly valuable service to those trapped in Syria’s major cities: a small degree of comfort-by-delivery. We hear relatively little of the ways in which the Syrian people are fighting back through non-violence and creativity. Too often, the conflict is dichotomously depicted as the armed opposition shooting at the regime, and the regime shooting back. A third party has emerged, however, craving and deserving our attention. These writers, painters, sketch artists, broadcasters, filmmakers, printers and musicians have harnessed the simple human desire to smile, and with it they have activated a previously untapped faction: the majority of Syrians who prefer the pen to the sword. u MICHAEL CHERNIN ‘15 is a POLITICAL SCIENCE CONCENTRATOR and editor-atlarge AT BPR.

GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW GLOBAL

T

wo years ago, chaos broke loose when Syrian protesters began demonstrating their deep discontent with President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. As the next domino to fall in the Arab Spring, Syrians followed Tunisians, Libyans and Egyptians in voicing their outrage over human rights violations, economic stagnation and restricted political freedoms. With such a backdrop framing our view of this country, the words “humor” and “Syria” might seem highly antithetical. For a country with a “Top 25” ranking in Foreign Policy magazine’s Failed State Index, it would seem nothing could be more serious than addressing Syria’s ongoing refugee crisis, economic decline or human rights violations. And from the perspective of the oppositional body, the Syrian National Council, there is nothing humorous about an international community reluctant to intervene, a 60,000plus death toll and military checkpoints that frequently turn into deathtraps. But this is not the story of military measures taken by rebel leaders to undermine al-Assad’s dictatorship. This is the story of how the Syrian people accomplished such a task, by developing a distinctive form of pitch-black humor borne out of the daily atrocities suffered under an authoritarian regime. If the question was how to construct an atmosphere that fostered comedy and humor in spite of the omnipresent rain of bomb shells, police harassment and a failing economy, the answer is relatively simple: comedy develops because of, not despite, these horrors. As poet and playwright Christopher Fry once

lective consciousness as experiences that nearly everyone recognizes. In Syria the sounds of exploding shells, random security checkpoints, and food rations are the daily occurrences that become fodder for national humor. Another joke highlights the widespread dearth of basic goods and services, like the availability of gas: “A man returns home with a live chicken for dinner…His wife tells him the family no longer has a knife to slaughter the bird, nor do they have gas to cook it with. Upon hearing the news, the chicken begins clucking: ‘Long live Bashar! Long live Bashar!’” Comedy in Syria has served two valuable functions over the past two years. First, it has developed into a tool for political mobilization that has garnered support for opposition groups. Second, it has constructed a national coping mechanism that produces a modicum of joy in a landscape relatively devoid of it. A host of comedy groups have arisen in opposition to the ruling Ba’ath Party’s leadership. One such group, Top Goon,

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LEGACY OF A STRONGMAN’S DAUGHTER How an election became a contest for Korea’s past as well as its future

Story by WOOJEONG JANG / ART BY KATRINA MACHADO

28

Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship and fought for the democratization of South Korea throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The 2012 presidential election, then, was not only a contest to set the nation’s course for the next five years, but a deep-rooted struggle to define the past and the ultimate values of South Korean society. In essence, Koreans were deciding between different interpretations of Park Chung-hee’s rule. The result

not only park chung-hee’s daughter but many south koreans now accept that the dictatorship was a necessary condition for the sake of rapid economic growth. liberals, however, continue to condemn the dictatorship. was his daughter’s victory. In December 2012, TIME magazine defined this election as a confrontation between a strongman’s daughter and a human rights lawyer. However, within the confines of this overly simplified framework, it seems difficult to explain how a dictator’s daughter who never declared political severance from her father could become a democratically elected president. In reality, Park Geun-hye’s electoral chances could not have been solely determined by the easy political formula of “democracy over dictatorship,” assuming, as that schema suggests, that Park Geun-hye represents the legacy of dictatorship. Rather, there were many variables at play, all of them rooted in the

complex history and politics of Korea. The collective memory of South Koreans, who have a traumatic history marked by Japanese colonization, post-war division, civil war, dictatorship and a 1997 financial crisis, must be explained in order to fully understand the nature of President Park’s victory. First, South Korea is a highly conservative society. Shortly after becoming independent from Japanese domination in 1945, the country was divided into a capitalist South and a communist North. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering the Korean War. Ever since, the presence of North Korea has been the greatest threat to the South’s national security. The long confrontation gave birth to a peculiar brand of South Korean conservatism lacking pan-Korean nationalism, despite such nationalism becoming a major component of conservatism in many countries. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to take a softer stance toward North Korea, exposing themselves to attacks based on anticommunist rhetoric from the right. Because South Korea’s political constituency is so markedly conservative, liberal presidents have only served two out of eighteen terms in the history of South Korean democracy. Even during these two terms, conservatives held a majority in the South Korean congress for most of the time. As former Healthcare Minister Yoo Simin remarked in his book “It Is a Fate,” it is as if South Korean liberals were “playing soccer in a slanted field”: blunders made by conservatives usually go unnoticed, whereas even a slight mistake committed by a lib-

to frame the senior Park as a respectable leader who saved the nation from the communist threat by reviving the economy. As a result, not only Park Chung-hee’s daughter but in fact many South Korean conservatives accept that the dictatorship was a necessary condition for the sake of rapid economic growth and a strong national defense. They argue that nothing could have been worse than being conquered by the communist North. Thus, balanced against economic growth and the stabilization of social order, the violation of human rights was simply a lesser evil and could be condoned for the greater good. Liberals, on the other hand, continue to condemn his dictatorship, arguing that economic growth and the protection of human rights are not mutually exclusive, and asserting that economic growth cannot be an excuse for Park’s abuse of power. These opposing narratives clashed fiercely throughout the election season, as the most intense and jarring debate regarding modern Korean politics was formally introduced into the electoral and cultural arena.

Many political commentators predicted that being framed as a dictator’s heir would give Park Geun-hye a substantial disadvantage, and it was unclear whether she could endure accusations grounded in moral issues and her father’s disregard for human rights without losing legitimacy. The attack on her father’s legacy, however, actually worked in her favor, because the contention served to consolidate her largest constituency: older generations. According to Realmeter, one of the largest polling organizations in South Korea, the voter turnout of the over-50 age group was about 90 percent in the 2012 presidential election. Such a record suggests that Park Geun-hye successfully mobilized her constituency. Support came chiefly from the sense of stability and the link with the past that she embodied for older South Koreans, who remain nostalgic for the astonishing economic growth they witnessed firsthand during the senior Park’s regime. Liberal critics, meanwhile, lambast depictions of that period for being increasingly romanticized since the 1997 financial crisis. The 2012 South Korean presidential election demonstrates that political decisions made today are profoundly influenced by collective memory. The decision to elect Park Geun-hye will itself become part of South Korea’s common past one day, and can immensely affect the country’s future. But the challenges for South Korea are all too present. President Park must now work to unite a society that became deeply fragmented during the presidential election, and precisely because she is a symbol of South Korea’s controversial past, Park might be the only figure who can truly reconcile the divided people and heal their wounds—that is, if she works to embrace both sides and distance herself from the most controversial aspects of her father’s legacy. In September 2012, Park Geunhye formally apologized for human rights violations committed during her father’s rule—a good start—though some observers doubted her sincerity given the approaching election and her reluctance to criticize outright the senior Park. But by electing Park, many South Koreans have cemented their interpretation of the past—and the key to the future is now in her hands. u WOOJEONG JANG ‘16 is a POLITICAL SCIENCE CONCENTRATOR.

GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW GLOBAL

O

n December 19, 2012, South Korea held its eighteenth presidential election. As a result, Park Geun-hye became the first female president in Korean history. She is the notable daughter of Park Chunghee, the dictator who ruled South Korea between 1961 and 1979. Park Geun-hye has never formally declared political severance from her father. The victory of such a controversial candidate was a dramatic outcome that has critical implications for South Korean society. Park Geun-hye’s father came to power through a military coup in 1961 and ruled the nation for 18 years until his assassination. Liberal critics harshly condemn Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship, during which the imposition of martial law and use of torture became all too common. On the other hand, many conservatives believe that he was a legitimate and charismatic leader whose economic policies generated growth at an unprecedented rate. In today’s South Korea, the most important distinction between conservatives and liberals, besides their stance on North Korea, is their view of Park Chung-hee’s regime. In this context, President Park is her father’s political heir as much as she is a symbol of both acclaimed and discredited aspects of his dictatorship. This particular legacy starkly contrasts with the past of her opponent, Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer who had fought against Park Chung-hee’s repressive regime and was imprisoned for his activity in 1975. Moon Jae-in represented those who opposed

eral ends up as a fatal own goal. This suggests that regardless of the conservatives’ presidential candidate, the liberal opponent would have never had an easy chance. Another factor to take into account is the remarkable economic growth that took place during Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship. The Korean War, which lasted for three years, completely destroyed the cities and infrastructure of South Korea. Even after the armistice, many South Koreans lived in poverty and in constant fear of a possible invasion from the north. During Park Chung-hee’s regime, the country’s economy experienced an average annual growth rate of 10 percent. South Koreans began to believe they were now safe from the threat of communism, since the nation’s wealth increased substantially, and society—as well as the military—became more stable. Regardless of whether the high rate of economic growth should be attributed to Park Chunghee’s economic policies or to the broader global trend of growth in East Asia, economic conditions were favorable enough

29


LEGACY OF A STRONGMAN’S DAUGHTER How an election became a contest for Korea’s past as well as its future

Story by WOOJEONG JANG / ART BY KATRINA MACHADO

28

Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship and fought for the democratization of South Korea throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The 2012 presidential election, then, was not only a contest to set the nation’s course for the next five years, but a deep-rooted struggle to define the past and the ultimate values of South Korean society. In essence, Koreans were deciding between different interpretations of Park Chung-hee’s rule. The result

not only park chung-hee’s daughter but many south koreans now accept that the dictatorship was a necessary condition for the sake of rapid economic growth. liberals, however, continue to condemn the dictatorship. was his daughter’s victory. In December 2012, TIME magazine defined this election as a confrontation between a strongman’s daughter and a human rights lawyer. However, within the confines of this overly simplified framework, it seems difficult to explain how a dictator’s daughter who never declared political severance from her father could become a democratically elected president. In reality, Park Geun-hye’s electoral chances could not have been solely determined by the easy political formula of “democracy over dictatorship,” assuming, as that schema suggests, that Park Geun-hye represents the legacy of dictatorship. Rather, there were many variables at play, all of them rooted in the

complex history and politics of Korea. The collective memory of South Koreans, who have a traumatic history marked by Japanese colonization, post-war division, civil war, dictatorship and a 1997 financial crisis, must be explained in order to fully understand the nature of President Park’s victory. First, South Korea is a highly conservative society. Shortly after becoming independent from Japanese domination in 1945, the country was divided into a capitalist South and a communist North. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering the Korean War. Ever since, the presence of North Korea has been the greatest threat to the South’s national security. The long confrontation gave birth to a peculiar brand of South Korean conservatism lacking pan-Korean nationalism, despite such nationalism becoming a major component of conservatism in many countries. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to take a softer stance toward North Korea, exposing themselves to attacks based on anticommunist rhetoric from the right. Because South Korea’s political constituency is so markedly conservative, liberal presidents have only served two out of eighteen terms in the history of South Korean democracy. Even during these two terms, conservatives held a majority in the South Korean congress for most of the time. As former Healthcare Minister Yoo Simin remarked in his book “It Is a Fate,” it is as if South Korean liberals were “playing soccer in a slanted field”: blunders made by conservatives usually go unnoticed, whereas even a slight mistake committed by a lib-

to frame the senior Park as a respectable leader who saved the nation from the communist threat by reviving the economy. As a result, not only Park Chung-hee’s daughter but in fact many South Korean conservatives accept that the dictatorship was a necessary condition for the sake of rapid economic growth and a strong national defense. They argue that nothing could have been worse than being conquered by the communist North. Thus, balanced against economic growth and the stabilization of social order, the violation of human rights was simply a lesser evil and could be condoned for the greater good. Liberals, on the other hand, continue to condemn his dictatorship, arguing that economic growth and the protection of human rights are not mutually exclusive, and asserting that economic growth cannot be an excuse for Park’s abuse of power. These opposing narratives clashed fiercely throughout the election season, as the most intense and jarring debate regarding modern Korean politics was formally introduced into the electoral and cultural arena.

Many political commentators predicted that being framed as a dictator’s heir would give Park Geun-hye a substantial disadvantage, and it was unclear whether she could endure accusations grounded in moral issues and her father’s disregard for human rights without losing legitimacy. The attack on her father’s legacy, however, actually worked in her favor, because the contention served to consolidate her largest constituency: older generations. According to Realmeter, one of the largest polling organizations in South Korea, the voter turnout of the over-50 age group was about 90 percent in the 2012 presidential election. Such a record suggests that Park Geun-hye successfully mobilized her constituency. Support came chiefly from the sense of stability and the link with the past that she embodied for older South Koreans, who remain nostalgic for the astonishing economic growth they witnessed firsthand during the senior Park’s regime. Liberal critics, meanwhile, lambast depictions of that period for being increasingly romanticized since the 1997 financial crisis. The 2012 South Korean presidential election demonstrates that political decisions made today are profoundly influenced by collective memory. The decision to elect Park Geun-hye will itself become part of South Korea’s common past one day, and can immensely affect the country’s future. But the challenges for South Korea are all too present. President Park must now work to unite a society that became deeply fragmented during the presidential election, and precisely because she is a symbol of South Korea’s controversial past, Park might be the only figure who can truly reconcile the divided people and heal their wounds—that is, if she works to embrace both sides and distance herself from the most controversial aspects of her father’s legacy. In September 2012, Park Geunhye formally apologized for human rights violations committed during her father’s rule—a good start—though some observers doubted her sincerity given the approaching election and her reluctance to criticize outright the senior Park. But by electing Park, many South Koreans have cemented their interpretation of the past—and the key to the future is now in her hands. u WOOJEONG JANG ‘16 is a POLITICAL SCIENCE CONCENTRATOR.

GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW GLOBAL

O

n December 19, 2012, South Korea held its eighteenth presidential election. As a result, Park Geun-hye became the first female president in Korean history. She is the notable daughter of Park Chunghee, the dictator who ruled South Korea between 1961 and 1979. Park Geun-hye has never formally declared political severance from her father. The victory of such a controversial candidate was a dramatic outcome that has critical implications for South Korean society. Park Geun-hye’s father came to power through a military coup in 1961 and ruled the nation for 18 years until his assassination. Liberal critics harshly condemn Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship, during which the imposition of martial law and use of torture became all too common. On the other hand, many conservatives believe that he was a legitimate and charismatic leader whose economic policies generated growth at an unprecedented rate. In today’s South Korea, the most important distinction between conservatives and liberals, besides their stance on North Korea, is their view of Park Chung-hee’s regime. In this context, President Park is her father’s political heir as much as she is a symbol of both acclaimed and discredited aspects of his dictatorship. This particular legacy starkly contrasts with the past of her opponent, Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer who had fought against Park Chung-hee’s repressive regime and was imprisoned for his activity in 1975. Moon Jae-in represented those who opposed

eral ends up as a fatal own goal. This suggests that regardless of the conservatives’ presidential candidate, the liberal opponent would have never had an easy chance. Another factor to take into account is the remarkable economic growth that took place during Park Chung-hee’s dictatorship. The Korean War, which lasted for three years, completely destroyed the cities and infrastructure of South Korea. Even after the armistice, many South Koreans lived in poverty and in constant fear of a possible invasion from the north. During Park Chung-hee’s regime, the country’s economy experienced an average annual growth rate of 10 percent. South Koreans began to believe they were now safe from the threat of communism, since the nation’s wealth increased substantially, and society—as well as the military—became more stable. Regardless of whether the high rate of economic growth should be attributed to Park Chunghee’s economic policies or to the broader global trend of growth in East Asia, economic conditions were favorable enough

29


INTERVIEWS 1

Check out full interviews online at BrownPoliticalReview.org

STEVEN RATTNER

A New York Times Op-Ed contributor and recent author of Overhaul, Steven Rattner ’74 was the leader of President Obama’s task force to rescue the auto industry in 2009.

BY HENRY KNIGHT

In a recent article for The New York Times you wrote, “From Washington’s point of view, divesting its remaining shares [in GM] will end an uncomfortable and distinctly un-American period of government ownership in a major industrial company.” What was the toughest decision your task force faced? The toughest decision we faced was whether or not to save Chrysler. Chrysler was the number three company in Detroit. It didn’t have any operations of any consequence outside of the U.S….A lot of people said that we should let Chrysler go, that that’s what capitalism was all about: some companies succeeding, others failing. We made a determination that Chrysler could be saved and the president made a decision that Chrysler should be saved. The economy was losing 700,000 jobs a month, and the idea of 300,000 more jobs going in an instant was very unappealing. It was fully argued within the administration with people on both sides of it, providing very good substantive arguments. I think it’s very clear the president made the right decision in the end. Republicans recently reversed course by voting to temporarily extend the debt ceiling. Are there signs of compromise beginning to emerge from the partisan bickering in Washington? What are the prospects for a larger deal resolving the deficit?

30

If Congress doesn’t take action to stop the sequester, which appears a likely scenario, then what are its immediate effects on the economy? Any time the government changes its behavior, in this case by spending less, it has an economic effect. The macroeconomic effect of spending less is simply to slow the economy because there’s less money in the economy. It’s not a change in the economy from being in a recovery mode to being in a recession mode, but it will have an effect. On a more microeconomic level, there will be a lot of individual effects. For example, unemployment payments will immediately go down by 11 percent. Everyone talks about air traffic control, agricultural inspections, things like that. There will be lots of small—and maybe not so small—dislocations in different pockets of the economy where spending cuts take hold. In the long run, what I’m most worried about is that we are cutting the wrong kinds of spending—things like research and development, infrastructure, and the like. One criticism of Medicare’s structure is that it leads to the overconsumption of health care. How do we deal with that overconsumption? This is one of the toughest moral dilemmas, because in pretty much everything [we] do, we make decisions on how much to use based on price: how much gasoline to buy, what restaurant to go to… In health care, when you essentially say that everyone should have what they need, you’re basically saying that price should not be a factor in their decisions. That then raises the possibility of overconsumption because “why not, you’re not paying for it.” There’s definitely some of that going on right now….We have to get to a place where there is some economic impact on people based on their decisions. [We need it to be] that people do have some incentive to use the right amount of medical care to get the care they need, but not to use more than they need. What do you think the Democratic Party will gravitate toward in its plans to reform Medicaid and Medicare? The Democratic approach [has] two components. One is simply better management of the health care system. [For example], using some of these new innovative ideas for how physicians are compensated… compensating them based on results, not just on amount of time spent. Innovative practices, I think the Democrats will put a lot of stock in. And the second thing I think you’ll see Democrats put some stock in is asking the wealthy to bear more of the burden, whether it’s higher premiums or having benefits phase out for people above a certain income level.

What factors will eventually lead to a conception of social justice expanded to the global level? The factors are twofold. The first is cultural convergence, meaning that we are constantly moving closer together culturally, and becoming less suspicious and hostile towards each other. That’s happening through the process of globalization, better communication, travel and trade. The other factor is that we also move closer together in terms of our standard of living. So for people who are much richer than others, it is somewhat frightening to be told that we should ultimately aim for a world of convergence, in which people in Africa are more or less as well off as we are. But if you said in the European Union, we should aim for a world in which Bulgaria is as well off as Germany, that wouldn’t be as dramatic of a statement, because Bulgaria has already achieved about half to a third of Germany’s standard of living. It becomes less and less frightening as we get closer to that goal. What role do you think we play in perpetuating global poverty and what can we do about it? I think the main role that we play in contributing to abject global poverty is through our governments. Our governments are generally defending our interests, and in particular the interests of the most powerful elites within our richer countries—namely the interests of banks, multinational corporations, hedge funds or anyone who can lobby. The U.S. political system is one that is largely privately financed, to the tune of many billions. The last election apparently cost about $6 billion dollars, in terms of private money flowing in. Of course that money doesn’t flow in for nothing. This is money that is invested by smart people who put the money there because they want certain outcomes. And so the U.S. government, especially at the international level, more so than at the national level, becomes an instrument for these elite players and is pushing for those supranational rules and arrangements that naturally increase the share of the global product that these agents can claim for themselves. Now without intending it, if you enlarge your own share, you will, as a side effect, reduce the share that is left for others. Poor people can’t lobby at international negotiations, they have no one to take care of their interests.

THOMAS POGGE

Thomas Pogge is the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University and currently serves as the Director of Yale’s Global Justice Program. He is the author of many works in political philosophy, including World Poverty and Human Rights.

BY HENRY KNIGHT What are the ramifications of the budget deficit and debt crisis and how does this influence our spending? I think it’s pretty dangerous for the world economy, at this point, to let something like the sequester kick in. I’m a philosopher, not an economist, but this is elementary economics. I do understand the perspective of people who are in favor of taking austerity measures. But the sequester shouldn’t be implemented in a time of economic fragility. I think we should start right now in trying to get the economy going in a way that is especially focused on poorer people. Poor people spend a larger share of their income than everybody else, and so supporting them, not necessarily with cash but also with education, will shrink inequality and will also give the economy a boost. You have suggested an alternative to the patent system as it applies to pharmaceutical companies. Can you explain how your proposed system operates? The basic idea of the system is that you establish a second track in which pharmaceutical innovators can be rewarded for the effort of researching and developing new medicine. The current track grants patents to companies and allows them to sell their patented medicine at a very high price, protected by the temporary monopoly that the patent provides. The alternative route would require companies to voluntarily register their medicine with something called the Health Impact Fund, and they then get a reward each year for ten years that is based on the health impact of their medicine. So the more health gains the medicine achieves in the world, the more money they get as reward payments. Companies would sell the medicine at cost and make no money on the production or sale of the medicine, but make all their money on the health rewards that it confers upon the world. Each year there would be a limited pool of reward money available—let’s say six billion dollars—and that money would be divided among the registered products in proportion to their health impact. So there would be an artificial market, where demand and supply of innovation would regulate the price.

INTERVIEWS BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW INTERVIEWS

One of the most striking phrases employed in President Obama’s reelection campaign was Joe Biden’s “Osama is dead, and General Motors is alive!” In retrospect, how do you evaluate the strategy you pursued to rescue the auto industry? Would you do anything differently? I think in retrospect the president made the right decision to rescue the auto industry. The companies are healthy again. They’re profitable, they’re hiring more workers, they’re producing more cars. It’s hard for me to understand what the argument would be that the president shouldn’t have done anything. As for what we could have done differently, I’ve said that I think in retrospect we may not have fully appreciated how competitive this industry is and how important it is for this industry to have the lowest possible cost. But on balance, I really don’t think there’s anything material I would do differently.

I can’t say that I’m very optimistic that there are signs of progress on the gridlock in Washington. It looks like sequestration is going to go into effect, which is a truly stupid idea. The Republicans backed off the debt ceiling because it was a politically disastrous place for them to be, but I don’t really see any signs that the gap between the two parties is closing. The only good thing is that this series of deadlines is gradually forcing steps to address the fiscal problem. But do I see any real change in the mood in Washington or the ability of Washington to get stuff done? No.

How would you characterize your own moral philosophy? Where do your ideas come from? First, I focus on institutional design. So rather than focusing on questions of how individual and collective actors interact, I instead focus on the design of the ground rules—the basic procedures that structure and organize social systems. That’s something that follows John Rawls, who has also done that. He hasn’t done that at the global level though, which I have. The second important point is that I focus on negative duty violations. I characterize certain unjust institutional arrangements as constituting a violation of a negative duty, in order to better serve those who play a role in designing and imposing these institutions, as a method of taking advantage of them to exploit others in the process. [Editor’s note: Pogge has long argued that because the international order is built in such a way as to perpetuate poverty in underdeveloped countries, we are actively harming these individuals and infringing on their negative liberties. A negative duty means we have a positive obligation to change the international institutions to rectify such inequalities. See Pogge’s 2006 article, “Severe Poverty as a Violation of Negative Duties.”]

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INTERVIEWS 1

Check out full interviews online at BrownPoliticalReview.org

STEVEN RATTNER

A New York Times Op-Ed contributor and recent author of Overhaul, Steven Rattner ’74 was the leader of President Obama’s task force to rescue the auto industry in 2009.

BY HENRY KNIGHT

In a recent article for The New York Times you wrote, “From Washington’s point of view, divesting its remaining shares [in GM] will end an uncomfortable and distinctly un-American period of government ownership in a major industrial company.” What was the toughest decision your task force faced? The toughest decision we faced was whether or not to save Chrysler. Chrysler was the number three company in Detroit. It didn’t have any operations of any consequence outside of the U.S….A lot of people said that we should let Chrysler go, that that’s what capitalism was all about: some companies succeeding, others failing. We made a determination that Chrysler could be saved and the president made a decision that Chrysler should be saved. The economy was losing 700,000 jobs a month, and the idea of 300,000 more jobs going in an instant was very unappealing. It was fully argued within the administration with people on both sides of it, providing very good substantive arguments. I think it’s very clear the president made the right decision in the end. Republicans recently reversed course by voting to temporarily extend the debt ceiling. Are there signs of compromise beginning to emerge from the partisan bickering in Washington? What are the prospects for a larger deal resolving the deficit?

30

If Congress doesn’t take action to stop the sequester, which appears a likely scenario, then what are its immediate effects on the economy? Any time the government changes its behavior, in this case by spending less, it has an economic effect. The macroeconomic effect of spending less is simply to slow the economy because there’s less money in the economy. It’s not a change in the economy from being in a recovery mode to being in a recession mode, but it will have an effect. On a more microeconomic level, there will be a lot of individual effects. For example, unemployment payments will immediately go down by 11 percent. Everyone talks about air traffic control, agricultural inspections, things like that. There will be lots of small—and maybe not so small—dislocations in different pockets of the economy where spending cuts take hold. In the long run, what I’m most worried about is that we are cutting the wrong kinds of spending—things like research and development, infrastructure, and the like. One criticism of Medicare’s structure is that it leads to the overconsumption of health care. How do we deal with that overconsumption? This is one of the toughest moral dilemmas, because in pretty much everything [we] do, we make decisions on how much to use based on price: how much gasoline to buy, what restaurant to go to… In health care, when you essentially say that everyone should have what they need, you’re basically saying that price should not be a factor in their decisions. That then raises the possibility of overconsumption because “why not, you’re not paying for it.” There’s definitely some of that going on right now….We have to get to a place where there is some economic impact on people based on their decisions. [We need it to be] that people do have some incentive to use the right amount of medical care to get the care they need, but not to use more than they need. What do you think the Democratic Party will gravitate toward in its plans to reform Medicaid and Medicare? The Democratic approach [has] two components. One is simply better management of the health care system. [For example], using some of these new innovative ideas for how physicians are compensated… compensating them based on results, not just on amount of time spent. Innovative practices, I think the Democrats will put a lot of stock in. And the second thing I think you’ll see Democrats put some stock in is asking the wealthy to bear more of the burden, whether it’s higher premiums or having benefits phase out for people above a certain income level.

What factors will eventually lead to a conception of social justice expanded to the global level? The factors are twofold. The first is cultural convergence, meaning that we are constantly moving closer together culturally, and becoming less suspicious and hostile towards each other. That’s happening through the process of globalization, better communication, travel and trade. The other factor is that we also move closer together in terms of our standard of living. So for people who are much richer than others, it is somewhat frightening to be told that we should ultimately aim for a world of convergence, in which people in Africa are more or less as well off as we are. But if you said in the European Union, we should aim for a world in which Bulgaria is as well off as Germany, that wouldn’t be as dramatic of a statement, because Bulgaria has already achieved about half to a third of Germany’s standard of living. It becomes less and less frightening as we get closer to that goal. What role do you think we play in perpetuating global poverty and what can we do about it? I think the main role that we play in contributing to abject global poverty is through our governments. Our governments are generally defending our interests, and in particular the interests of the most powerful elites within our richer countries—namely the interests of banks, multinational corporations, hedge funds or anyone who can lobby. The U.S. political system is one that is largely privately financed, to the tune of many billions. The last election apparently cost about $6 billion dollars, in terms of private money flowing in. Of course that money doesn’t flow in for nothing. This is money that is invested by smart people who put the money there because they want certain outcomes. And so the U.S. government, especially at the international level, more so than at the national level, becomes an instrument for these elite players and is pushing for those supranational rules and arrangements that naturally increase the share of the global product that these agents can claim for themselves. Now without intending it, if you enlarge your own share, you will, as a side effect, reduce the share that is left for others. Poor people can’t lobby at international negotiations, they have no one to take care of their interests.

THOMAS POGGE

Thomas Pogge is the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University and currently serves as the Director of Yale’s Global Justice Program. He is the author of many works in political philosophy, including World Poverty and Human Rights.

BY HENRY KNIGHT What are the ramifications of the budget deficit and debt crisis and how does this influence our spending? I think it’s pretty dangerous for the world economy, at this point, to let something like the sequester kick in. I’m a philosopher, not an economist, but this is elementary economics. I do understand the perspective of people who are in favor of taking austerity measures. But the sequester shouldn’t be implemented in a time of economic fragility. I think we should start right now in trying to get the economy going in a way that is especially focused on poorer people. Poor people spend a larger share of their income than everybody else, and so supporting them, not necessarily with cash but also with education, will shrink inequality and will also give the economy a boost. You have suggested an alternative to the patent system as it applies to pharmaceutical companies. Can you explain how your proposed system operates? The basic idea of the system is that you establish a second track in which pharmaceutical innovators can be rewarded for the effort of researching and developing new medicine. The current track grants patents to companies and allows them to sell their patented medicine at a very high price, protected by the temporary monopoly that the patent provides. The alternative route would require companies to voluntarily register their medicine with something called the Health Impact Fund, and they then get a reward each year for ten years that is based on the health impact of their medicine. So the more health gains the medicine achieves in the world, the more money they get as reward payments. Companies would sell the medicine at cost and make no money on the production or sale of the medicine, but make all their money on the health rewards that it confers upon the world. Each year there would be a limited pool of reward money available—let’s say six billion dollars—and that money would be divided among the registered products in proportion to their health impact. So there would be an artificial market, where demand and supply of innovation would regulate the price.

INTERVIEWS BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW INTERVIEWS

One of the most striking phrases employed in President Obama’s reelection campaign was Joe Biden’s “Osama is dead, and General Motors is alive!” In retrospect, how do you evaluate the strategy you pursued to rescue the auto industry? Would you do anything differently? I think in retrospect the president made the right decision to rescue the auto industry. The companies are healthy again. They’re profitable, they’re hiring more workers, they’re producing more cars. It’s hard for me to understand what the argument would be that the president shouldn’t have done anything. As for what we could have done differently, I’ve said that I think in retrospect we may not have fully appreciated how competitive this industry is and how important it is for this industry to have the lowest possible cost. But on balance, I really don’t think there’s anything material I would do differently.

I can’t say that I’m very optimistic that there are signs of progress on the gridlock in Washington. It looks like sequestration is going to go into effect, which is a truly stupid idea. The Republicans backed off the debt ceiling because it was a politically disastrous place for them to be, but I don’t really see any signs that the gap between the two parties is closing. The only good thing is that this series of deadlines is gradually forcing steps to address the fiscal problem. But do I see any real change in the mood in Washington or the ability of Washington to get stuff done? No.

How would you characterize your own moral philosophy? Where do your ideas come from? First, I focus on institutional design. So rather than focusing on questions of how individual and collective actors interact, I instead focus on the design of the ground rules—the basic procedures that structure and organize social systems. That’s something that follows John Rawls, who has also done that. He hasn’t done that at the global level though, which I have. The second important point is that I focus on negative duty violations. I characterize certain unjust institutional arrangements as constituting a violation of a negative duty, in order to better serve those who play a role in designing and imposing these institutions, as a method of taking advantage of them to exploit others in the process. [Editor’s note: Pogge has long argued that because the international order is built in such a way as to perpetuate poverty in underdeveloped countries, we are actively harming these individuals and infringing on their negative liberties. A negative duty means we have a positive obligation to change the international institutions to rectify such inequalities. See Pogge’s 2006 article, “Severe Poverty as a Violation of Negative Duties.”]

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INTERVIEWS 1

CHRISTOPHER COX Christopher Cox is the chief national lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

BY Omar Ben Halim & Chris Wilbur

You support mental health background checks, but there is a constellation of issues in getting that information from states to the federal government. Accomplishing this could be time consuming and costly. What would be the monetary cost to the American taxpayer? Well, you know it’s a difficult issue. The NICS [National Instant Checks System] was started in 1993, and over a billion dollars has already been spent. It hasn’t worked for a variety of reasons. Some states have state privacy laws prohibiting these kinds of records from getting into the system, so we are currently working with a number of states to change these laws so that the states are actually legally capable of putting them in the system. Mark Kelly testified that in Arizona there are over 120,000 records that were not put into state records. Some governors have not, for political reasons, wanted to put the records in the system. They are more interested in protecting or not stigmatizing people who have been adjudicated as violent by not entering their name into the system. It is not only the mental health records, but also the felony records that were underreported, and the records on restraining orders were underreported. If you look at Newtown or Aurora or Tucson, a background check would not have prevented any of those individuals because they weren’t in the system. They had not been adjudicated by a court, and that goes to the problem of civil commitments in this country.

32

You’ve talked a lot about a culture of violence in America. Where does it come from? You know, it’s a fair question from an overall statistical standpoint. Crime, including violent crime and murder, is at 40-to50-year lows, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a significant level of violent crime. There are 25,000 violent crimes committed every week in this country, so obviously we feel from the Second Amendment standpoint that law-abiding people should have the ability to defend themselves because police—despite their best efforts in responding to crimes—can’t be everywhere, and people have a right in this country to defend themselves. As for the overall level of violence, there’s been a lot of attention to violent movies, TV shows, video games. I’m not suggesting that the solution by any stretch is to ban violent video games, but certainly it’s an area that needs to be discussed. A large bulk of NRA revenue comes from corporate sponsors, 74 percent of which comes from companies involved in the firearms industry. How do you balance your commitment to the interests of the NRA members with the interests of your corporate sponsors? That issue has gotten a lot of attention. I think it’s important to understand that in the NRA as a whole, less than 15 percent of the annual budget goes towards our political and lobbying operations. Over 85 percent of our revenue goes to programs like children’s safety, youth hunting initiatives, law enforcement training, military training, good safety and responsibility-type deals. The average contribution to the NRA is about $25, so it’s not an organization that’s funded with large contributions. There is support from the industry for a variety of different NRA programs. We have a law enforcement division within the NRA; we have a range development division. These are all areas where it’s very logical and understandable why the industry would be supportive of those sorts of programs. You say the White House is more concerned with attacking legitimate gun owners than coming to an agreement on workable legislation. What would you say their incentives are? The proposals they have introduced would not have prevented Newtown, Connecticut. They would not have prevented Aurora, they would not have prevented Tucson. And what we had hoped for was a meaningful conversation on how we keep our kids safe, and there are things that can and should be done. Unfortunately they [the White House] seem more interested in a decades-old political agenda to push gun control and not address the underlying problems. We don’t say that in a dismissive way, we say that in a disappointed way. We’re having meaningful conversations with elected officials across the country, including on Capitol Hill, about things that can address the underlying problems out there: lack of school security, a breakdown in the mental health system, and a lack of prosecution of criminals. You’ve got a couple of different problems here; the mass murderer is very different from the street criminal. There are things that could be done to address both of those problems, but gun control is not a serious solution to addressing those problems.

What common sense regulations on gun ownership should we implement to address gun violence immediately? What do you propose to mitigate gun violence in the long term? I don’t necessarily distinguish between short term and long term. The effort to reduce gun violence has to be seen as a marathon, not a sprint. There’s no single solution, no one cure for gun violence, and no single state can do it alone because [gun trafficking has] no respect for state boundaries. Guns can be trafficked across state borders and cause harm in Connecticut, even though they are purchased elsewhere. So I think the strategy has to be a national solution, and it may be accomplished in steps. What are those steps? One, a ban on illegal trafficking. Two, instituting federal penalties for firearms purchases by one person posing as another. Three, requiring criminal background checks on all firearms purchases. Right now there’s a so-called gun show loophole for private sales, which means that 40 percent of all firearms purchases involve no background checks. Four, there should be background checks on ammunitions purchases. It’s currently against the law for certain categories of people—convicted felons, drug addicts, seriously mentally ill, domestic abusers and fugitives—to buy both firearms and ammunition. We need to extend background checks to all firearm sales and ammunition purchases to make the database for background checks more accurate and complete. Many states right now fail to provide important information relating to [criminal] convictions or [civil] commitments based on mental health. I’ve also supported a ban on assault weapons and highcapacity magazines. The goal is to accomplish these measures incrementally, step-by-step if necessary. Over what period of time I can’t say precisely. Certainly the effort has to be longer than a single session. As a gun control advocate, how do you operate amidst NRA rhetoric that labels many of the actions you take as infringement upon Second Amendment rights? First and foremost, I support the Second Amendment, which has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to include an individual right to possess firearms. Responsible gun owners are in favor of many of these measures that reduce gun violence. The National Rifle Association’s leadership fails to accurately reflect the views of its members, many of whom have told me they support responsible, sensible measures to keep firearms and ammunition out of the hands of domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, criminals and others who should not have firearms. Newtown has convinced many people that the time has come for this nation to do more to protect its citizens against gun violence, which kills 33 people every day. Since Newtown, more than 2,000 people have perished as a result of gun violence. It’s a problem, a scourge that afflicts rural areas as well as our big cities. The facts here are the most persuasive evidence that we need better and stronger laws to protect our people. The NRA’s strategy to combat rising support for gun control seems to partially rely upon the “Connecticut Effect” waning in the upcoming months. Is the “Connecticut Effect” a proper way to frame the debate about gun ownership restrictions? The Connecticut Effect is not going away. If the NRA is counting on the Connecticut Effect dissipating or fading, it’s very mis-

richard BLUMENthal Richard Blumenthal is the senior United States Senator from Connecticut, a Democrat who has advocated for gun control legislation.

BY HENRY KNIGHT

taken. The conference that we held in Connecticut in February, with the Vice President speaking, demonstrated how acutely and actively people continue to be affected by the Newtown tragedy. This time is different. The country has really mobilized and come together behind the feeling that we need to do something about gun violence. I’ve heard this again and again and again from families of victims, from people in Newtown, from communities across Connecticut, and from individuals across the country. If the NRA’s tactic is to wait for people to lose interest or outrage, I think that strategy is misguided. Newtown was an unspeakable and unimaginable, horrific act of gun violence, in which twenty innocent and beautiful children and six heroic and courageous educators were killed. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be the last of these kinds of tragedies. People continue to be victims of gun violence. It’s an ongoing tragedy. With that in mind, do you think that the measures taken by President Obama, both his legislative proposals and his executive orders, are a good first step and a step in the right direction? The President’s proposals and initiatives are a very solid first step in the right direction. The Judiciary Committee will be voting in March on significant measures that require legislation. Regarding some of those measures, do you see any of them in particular as attracting consensus from both sides of the aisle? All of these measures are viable, politically and practically. The specific steps right now that seem most likely to gain political bipartisanship are background checks and trafficking, and possibly the ban on high-capacity magazines. But all are achievable. I’m working hard, as a member of the Judiciary Committee and as a co-sponsor of [all] these measures, to advocate for them and help put together specific compromise-based versions that will attract bipartisan support. Mental health has to be part of the solution—better services and diagnoses, whether it’s in the schools or elsewhere. School safety also has to be addressed, so as to make our schools more protective of children against this kind of violence. Again, it’s not one single solution: it has to be a comprehensive strategy.

INTERVIEWS BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW INTERVIEWS

Senator Richard Blumenthal says that there is a disparity between NRA leadership and members, and that responsible gun owners support a lot of the pending legislation. How do you interpret that trend? Senator Blumenthal is basing his remarks off of a poll that was conducted and paid for by Mayor Bloomberg. We don’t give NRA membership lists to anyone. So he is using a bogus poll to pursue a bogus agenda, but that’s what we have come to expect. We did a scientific poll and released it to the media, so no one could ask questions about the way we ask questions or the nature of the poll. The poll came back overwhelmingly positive, that over 92 percent of our members support the positions of the National Rifle Association.

FACE-OFF ON GUN LEGISLATION

33


INTERVIEWS 1

CHRISTOPHER COX Christopher Cox is the chief national lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

BY Omar Ben Halim & Chris Wilbur

You support mental health background checks, but there is a constellation of issues in getting that information from states to the federal government. Accomplishing this could be time consuming and costly. What would be the monetary cost to the American taxpayer? Well, you know it’s a difficult issue. The NICS [National Instant Checks System] was started in 1993, and over a billion dollars has already been spent. It hasn’t worked for a variety of reasons. Some states have state privacy laws prohibiting these kinds of records from getting into the system, so we are currently working with a number of states to change these laws so that the states are actually legally capable of putting them in the system. Mark Kelly testified that in Arizona there are over 120,000 records that were not put into state records. Some governors have not, for political reasons, wanted to put the records in the system. They are more interested in protecting or not stigmatizing people who have been adjudicated as violent by not entering their name into the system. It is not only the mental health records, but also the felony records that were underreported, and the records on restraining orders were underreported. If you look at Newtown or Aurora or Tucson, a background check would not have prevented any of those individuals because they weren’t in the system. They had not been adjudicated by a court, and that goes to the problem of civil commitments in this country.

32

You’ve talked a lot about a culture of violence in America. Where does it come from? You know, it’s a fair question from an overall statistical standpoint. Crime, including violent crime and murder, is at 40-to50-year lows, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a significant level of violent crime. There are 25,000 violent crimes committed every week in this country, so obviously we feel from the Second Amendment standpoint that law-abiding people should have the ability to defend themselves because police—despite their best efforts in responding to crimes—can’t be everywhere, and people have a right in this country to defend themselves. As for the overall level of violence, there’s been a lot of attention to violent movies, TV shows, video games. I’m not suggesting that the solution by any stretch is to ban violent video games, but certainly it’s an area that needs to be discussed. A large bulk of NRA revenue comes from corporate sponsors, 74 percent of which comes from companies involved in the firearms industry. How do you balance your commitment to the interests of the NRA members with the interests of your corporate sponsors? That issue has gotten a lot of attention. I think it’s important to understand that in the NRA as a whole, less than 15 percent of the annual budget goes towards our political and lobbying operations. Over 85 percent of our revenue goes to programs like children’s safety, youth hunting initiatives, law enforcement training, military training, good safety and responsibility-type deals. The average contribution to the NRA is about $25, so it’s not an organization that’s funded with large contributions. There is support from the industry for a variety of different NRA programs. We have a law enforcement division within the NRA; we have a range development division. These are all areas where it’s very logical and understandable why the industry would be supportive of those sorts of programs. You say the White House is more concerned with attacking legitimate gun owners than coming to an agreement on workable legislation. What would you say their incentives are? The proposals they have introduced would not have prevented Newtown, Connecticut. They would not have prevented Aurora, they would not have prevented Tucson. And what we had hoped for was a meaningful conversation on how we keep our kids safe, and there are things that can and should be done. Unfortunately they [the White House] seem more interested in a decades-old political agenda to push gun control and not address the underlying problems. We don’t say that in a dismissive way, we say that in a disappointed way. We’re having meaningful conversations with elected officials across the country, including on Capitol Hill, about things that can address the underlying problems out there: lack of school security, a breakdown in the mental health system, and a lack of prosecution of criminals. You’ve got a couple of different problems here; the mass murderer is very different from the street criminal. There are things that could be done to address both of those problems, but gun control is not a serious solution to addressing those problems.

What common sense regulations on gun ownership should we implement to address gun violence immediately? What do you propose to mitigate gun violence in the long term? I don’t necessarily distinguish between short term and long term. The effort to reduce gun violence has to be seen as a marathon, not a sprint. There’s no single solution, no one cure for gun violence, and no single state can do it alone because [gun trafficking has] no respect for state boundaries. Guns can be trafficked across state borders and cause harm in Connecticut, even though they are purchased elsewhere. So I think the strategy has to be a national solution, and it may be accomplished in steps. What are those steps? One, a ban on illegal trafficking. Two, instituting federal penalties for firearms purchases by one person posing as another. Three, requiring criminal background checks on all firearms purchases. Right now there’s a so-called gun show loophole for private sales, which means that 40 percent of all firearms purchases involve no background checks. Four, there should be background checks on ammunitions purchases. It’s currently against the law for certain categories of people—convicted felons, drug addicts, seriously mentally ill, domestic abusers and fugitives—to buy both firearms and ammunition. We need to extend background checks to all firearm sales and ammunition purchases to make the database for background checks more accurate and complete. Many states right now fail to provide important information relating to [criminal] convictions or [civil] commitments based on mental health. I’ve also supported a ban on assault weapons and highcapacity magazines. The goal is to accomplish these measures incrementally, step-by-step if necessary. Over what period of time I can’t say precisely. Certainly the effort has to be longer than a single session. As a gun control advocate, how do you operate amidst NRA rhetoric that labels many of the actions you take as infringement upon Second Amendment rights? First and foremost, I support the Second Amendment, which has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to include an individual right to possess firearms. Responsible gun owners are in favor of many of these measures that reduce gun violence. The National Rifle Association’s leadership fails to accurately reflect the views of its members, many of whom have told me they support responsible, sensible measures to keep firearms and ammunition out of the hands of domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, criminals and others who should not have firearms. Newtown has convinced many people that the time has come for this nation to do more to protect its citizens against gun violence, which kills 33 people every day. Since Newtown, more than 2,000 people have perished as a result of gun violence. It’s a problem, a scourge that afflicts rural areas as well as our big cities. The facts here are the most persuasive evidence that we need better and stronger laws to protect our people. The NRA’s strategy to combat rising support for gun control seems to partially rely upon the “Connecticut Effect” waning in the upcoming months. Is the “Connecticut Effect” a proper way to frame the debate about gun ownership restrictions? The Connecticut Effect is not going away. If the NRA is counting on the Connecticut Effect dissipating or fading, it’s very mis-

richard BLUMENthal Richard Blumenthal is the senior United States Senator from Connecticut, a Democrat who has advocated for gun control legislation.

BY HENRY KNIGHT

taken. The conference that we held in Connecticut in February, with the Vice President speaking, demonstrated how acutely and actively people continue to be affected by the Newtown tragedy. This time is different. The country has really mobilized and come together behind the feeling that we need to do something about gun violence. I’ve heard this again and again and again from families of victims, from people in Newtown, from communities across Connecticut, and from individuals across the country. If the NRA’s tactic is to wait for people to lose interest or outrage, I think that strategy is misguided. Newtown was an unspeakable and unimaginable, horrific act of gun violence, in which twenty innocent and beautiful children and six heroic and courageous educators were killed. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be the last of these kinds of tragedies. People continue to be victims of gun violence. It’s an ongoing tragedy. With that in mind, do you think that the measures taken by President Obama, both his legislative proposals and his executive orders, are a good first step and a step in the right direction? The President’s proposals and initiatives are a very solid first step in the right direction. The Judiciary Committee will be voting in March on significant measures that require legislation. Regarding some of those measures, do you see any of them in particular as attracting consensus from both sides of the aisle? All of these measures are viable, politically and practically. The specific steps right now that seem most likely to gain political bipartisanship are background checks and trafficking, and possibly the ban on high-capacity magazines. But all are achievable. I’m working hard, as a member of the Judiciary Committee and as a co-sponsor of [all] these measures, to advocate for them and help put together specific compromise-based versions that will attract bipartisan support. Mental health has to be part of the solution—better services and diagnoses, whether it’s in the schools or elsewhere. School safety also has to be addressed, so as to make our schools more protective of children against this kind of violence. Again, it’s not one single solution: it has to be a comprehensive strategy.

INTERVIEWS BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW INTERVIEWS

Senator Richard Blumenthal says that there is a disparity between NRA leadership and members, and that responsible gun owners support a lot of the pending legislation. How do you interpret that trend? Senator Blumenthal is basing his remarks off of a poll that was conducted and paid for by Mayor Bloomberg. We don’t give NRA membership lists to anyone. So he is using a bogus poll to pursue a bogus agenda, but that’s what we have come to expect. We did a scientific poll and released it to the media, so no one could ask questions about the way we ask questions or the nature of the poll. The poll came back overwhelmingly positive, that over 92 percent of our members support the positions of the National Rifle Association.

FACE-OFF ON GUN LEGISLATION

33


Check out full interviews online at BrownPoliticalReview.org

PETER SCHIFF

Peter Schiff is the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. and author of The Real Crash, which discusses the financial future of America. He is the host of The Peter Schiff Show at schiffradio.com.

BY OLIVER HUDSON & chris wilbur

In your book, The Real Crash, you argue that the 2008 financial crisis was an overture to a much bigger crash that’s not far off. Why do you believe that this catastrophic crash is coming? I understand the dynamics that are at work. It was very predictable if you understood the dynamics that were driving the economy during the 2000s and the 1990s. It’s the consequence of what we did to artificially stimulate ourselves out of the last recession. I mention in my book that it’s not the disease that will be fatal to the U.S. economy, but the government’s cure. There’s an actual fiscal cliff coming—not the one that everyone talks about, but the one that I write about, which is, “What happens when interest rates rise and we can’t afford to make payments?” We know what happened in Greece, right? Collapse. We have the same dynamic going on here. Is there any way to avoid such a crisis? If, in order to avoid that outcome, we try to print money as a way out, then we have an even bigger crisis. The dollar col-

34

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Is there ever any legitimate government intervention to an economic crisis? Most of the economic problems we have can be traced to a government program or government subsidy. Removing that program or subsidy is definitely something that government can do. You’ve argued that the rising cost of college education has a lot to do with government loans for college education. Could you explain? The real increase in the cost of college started after the GI Bill, when the government started giving people money to go to college. If you allow students to tap into huge reservoirs of money, they can all bid against each other for a tuition slot. Colleges know this. They start competing on other things, like who’s got the best gymnasium, who’s got the fanciest dorms, who’s got the best restaurants. All of a sudden, prices are going up without any constraint because the buyers are 18 to19year-old kids who don’t really know any better, and their guidance counselors are telling them “You’ve got to go to college. Pay for it later. You’ll make a fortune.” Everybody goes to college now, even people who will have no real benefit from it. What would higher education look like without government involvement? If the government got out, colleges would have to figure out how to attract customers. They might say, “Do we really need this gymnasium? Are we overpaying our professors? Do we have too many professors, or too many teaching administrators? Where can we cut? What can we get rid of?” Colleges would do that if they had to, but they don’t have to now, so why should they? There’s no reason to lower tuition. In fact, colleges today often compete on who has the highest tuition, because that somehow confirms that it’s a better college. We’ve got to change that. The reason that politicians love this is that’s how they get votes from students. They use their subsidies to get the cost of college to be sky-high—so that students know that they can’t possibly afford it—and then they promise government aid in exchange for their votes. Students will always want more government loans because they know how expensive college is. They need those loans to go. They don’t understand that the only reason it’s so expensive is because of those loans. Now you’ve got a voter who needs your help, and they’re going to vote for you, even though they would have been self-sufficient without you. This is how politics work. College is already not worth the price that you pay for it, and the dynamic is just going to get worse as the price of a college degree—and the number of unemployed college grads—keeps going up. At some point, the bubble bursts.

A response to “Nuclear Iran, Safer World” by Omar Ben Halim While I agree with Mr. Omar Ben Halim that a nuclear Iran could be capable of balancing Israeli power and lead to a more stable Middle East (“Nuclear Iran, Safer World?” Vol. 1, Issue 2), I take issue with many of the points he marshals in support of his thesis. A more nuanced analysis of Iran’s internal affairs might have led Mr. Ben Halim to a different conclusion. The author’s first mistake is to overestimate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s influence within the regime. The structure of government in Iran does not give the president control over the army. Additionally, in light of not only Iran’s rapidly approaching presidential election in June but also the less-than-covert power struggle between President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei—a struggle in which Khamenei came out on top—Ahmadinejad’s power base is weaker than ever. The New York Times recognizes that neither he nor his cabinet control policy. Ahmadinejad is a glorified figurehead; it is a mistake to conflate his “unsubstantiated bluster and inflammatory foreign policy” with the views and actions of the “highly intelligent and

rational” ulama who truly control the country. Brown Political Review’s illustration, featuring a bust of Ahmadinejad behind a pile of nuclear weapons—thus linking the president to Iran’s nuclear program and implying that he has some measure of control over it—did not help debunk this misconception. Nor am I capable of accepting Mr. Ben Halim’s conclusion that upon obtaining a nuclear weapon, Iran would necessarily cut off funds to Hamas and Hezbollah. Why would an “intelligent and rational” group of individuals forgo such access to avenues of influence? Funding Hamas and Hezbollah is a potent bargaining chip for the Islamic Republic. It is conceivable that upon obtaining a nuclear weapon, Iran would agree to stop funding Hamas and Hezbollah in exchange for a reduction in sanctions, but suggesting that the first necessitates the second is a mistake. Moreover, the author fails to distinguish between American political rhetoric and actual policy. Hawkish United States congressmen have been making noise about attacking Iran for decades, but the tacit consensus has been a policy of co-

ercive diplomacy. It is inconceivable that America would attack Iran. As Ben Halim notes in his article, Iran is a “country of 75 million people”—who despite widespread dissatisfaction with the revolutionary regime would fight tooth and nail against an American occupation. Downplaying this dissatisfaction, however, is the author’s largest error. He assumes that, because the Islamic Republic has been able to maintain power in Iran for “over 30 years,” it is stable enough to be trusted with nuclear weapons. This is not necessarily the case. The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring repeatedly destabilized regimes that had been in power for 58 years (Egypt), 42 years (Libya) and 43 years (Syria). Clearly the length of time that a regime has remained in power is no guarantee of internal stability. Furthermore, the author ignores signs of destabilization in Iran: the Green Movement, drug shortages, the plummeting value of the rial, and hints that June’s presidential election will be the least open in the history of the Islamic Republic. The fact of the matter is that Iran will probably develop a nuclear weapon sometime in the future, and, rhetoric aside, there is no real support among policymakers in Washington for an attack on Iran, meaning coercive diplomacy is off the table. So what happens if—and when—a nuclear Islamic Republic crumbles? Its weapons, more likely than not, will end up in the hands of terrorists. In the words of Austin Long, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, “The world might be forced to choose between hoping the Iranian regime crushes the uprising or risking the Iranian nuclear arsenal becoming uncontrolled.” This in and of itself is reason to oppose a nuclear Iran, despite the ease of containment and a potentially stabilizing effect on the region. u Katherine Long ‘14.5 is a Middle Eastern Studies concentrator.

Submit your letters to: comments@ BrownPoliticalReview.org

LETTER BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW INTERVIEWS

Why do you believe that President Obama’s recent economic policy has been harmful? Obama is growing the government even faster than [George W. Bush] did. Bush’s policies were deficit spending, Keynesian stimulus and artificially low interest rates. Those policies, together with the Federal Reserve, inflated the real estate bubble. President Obama was only too happy to run with that. Ben Bernanke continued with Alan Greenspan’s failed policies of keeping interest rates artificially low. People are surprised that we don’t have a stronger recovery, that we’re not creating more jobs. That’s exactly what I said was going to happen, that the stimulus would not work. In fact, as it wears off, we’ll discover that the economy is in even worse shape than before the stimulus was administered. I would try to undo the damage that had been done by my predecessors, and convince Congress that their legislation has harmed the economy. We have to start removing government tentacles, to stop all the borrowing and the spending—to have the Federal Reserve allow interest rates to rise, then allow the market to restructure based on those higher rates. The economy needs fewer resources going into finance, education, health care and housing, and more resources back in the private sector.

lapses, prices go through the roof, and this whole phony economy unravels. We are headed for a real-world day of reckoning. We didn’t prevent that; we’ve merely postponed it. There’s no way to avoid it, but there is a way to minimize the damage and shorten the recovery period. We need to understand how screwed up this economy is, how much money we’ve squandered, how many of our resources we’ve wasted. We need to reset. Start over. And that means we need to let interest rates go up so that Americans will save again. We’ve got to get rid of rules and regulations that have been layered onto the economy so businesses can focus on generating profits. We’ve squandered our money. We need to acknowledge this.

35


Check out full interviews online at BrownPoliticalReview.org

PETER SCHIFF

Peter Schiff is the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. and author of The Real Crash, which discusses the financial future of America. He is the host of The Peter Schiff Show at schiffradio.com.

BY OLIVER HUDSON & chris wilbur

In your book, The Real Crash, you argue that the 2008 financial crisis was an overture to a much bigger crash that’s not far off. Why do you believe that this catastrophic crash is coming? I understand the dynamics that are at work. It was very predictable if you understood the dynamics that were driving the economy during the 2000s and the 1990s. It’s the consequence of what we did to artificially stimulate ourselves out of the last recession. I mention in my book that it’s not the disease that will be fatal to the U.S. economy, but the government’s cure. There’s an actual fiscal cliff coming—not the one that everyone talks about, but the one that I write about, which is, “What happens when interest rates rise and we can’t afford to make payments?” We know what happened in Greece, right? Collapse. We have the same dynamic going on here. Is there any way to avoid such a crisis? If, in order to avoid that outcome, we try to print money as a way out, then we have an even bigger crisis. The dollar col-

34

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Is there ever any legitimate government intervention to an economic crisis? Most of the economic problems we have can be traced to a government program or government subsidy. Removing that program or subsidy is definitely something that government can do. You’ve argued that the rising cost of college education has a lot to do with government loans for college education. Could you explain? The real increase in the cost of college started after the GI Bill, when the government started giving people money to go to college. If you allow students to tap into huge reservoirs of money, they can all bid against each other for a tuition slot. Colleges know this. They start competing on other things, like who’s got the best gymnasium, who’s got the fanciest dorms, who’s got the best restaurants. All of a sudden, prices are going up without any constraint because the buyers are 18 to19year-old kids who don’t really know any better, and their guidance counselors are telling them “You’ve got to go to college. Pay for it later. You’ll make a fortune.” Everybody goes to college now, even people who will have no real benefit from it. What would higher education look like without government involvement? If the government got out, colleges would have to figure out how to attract customers. They might say, “Do we really need this gymnasium? Are we overpaying our professors? Do we have too many professors, or too many teaching administrators? Where can we cut? What can we get rid of?” Colleges would do that if they had to, but they don’t have to now, so why should they? There’s no reason to lower tuition. In fact, colleges today often compete on who has the highest tuition, because that somehow confirms that it’s a better college. We’ve got to change that. The reason that politicians love this is that’s how they get votes from students. They use their subsidies to get the cost of college to be sky-high—so that students know that they can’t possibly afford it—and then they promise government aid in exchange for their votes. Students will always want more government loans because they know how expensive college is. They need those loans to go. They don’t understand that the only reason it’s so expensive is because of those loans. Now you’ve got a voter who needs your help, and they’re going to vote for you, even though they would have been self-sufficient without you. This is how politics work. College is already not worth the price that you pay for it, and the dynamic is just going to get worse as the price of a college degree—and the number of unemployed college grads—keeps going up. At some point, the bubble bursts.

A response to “Nuclear Iran, Safer World” by Omar Ben Halim While I agree with Mr. Omar Ben Halim that a nuclear Iran could be capable of balancing Israeli power and lead to a more stable Middle East (“Nuclear Iran, Safer World?” Vol. 1, Issue 2), I take issue with many of the points he marshals in support of his thesis. A more nuanced analysis of Iran’s internal affairs might have led Mr. Ben Halim to a different conclusion. The author’s first mistake is to overestimate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s influence within the regime. The structure of government in Iran does not give the president control over the army. Additionally, in light of not only Iran’s rapidly approaching presidential election in June but also the less-than-covert power struggle between President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei—a struggle in which Khamenei came out on top—Ahmadinejad’s power base is weaker than ever. The New York Times recognizes that neither he nor his cabinet control policy. Ahmadinejad is a glorified figurehead; it is a mistake to conflate his “unsubstantiated bluster and inflammatory foreign policy” with the views and actions of the “highly intelligent and

rational” ulama who truly control the country. Brown Political Review’s illustration, featuring a bust of Ahmadinejad behind a pile of nuclear weapons—thus linking the president to Iran’s nuclear program and implying that he has some measure of control over it—did not help debunk this misconception. Nor am I capable of accepting Mr. Ben Halim’s conclusion that upon obtaining a nuclear weapon, Iran would necessarily cut off funds to Hamas and Hezbollah. Why would an “intelligent and rational” group of individuals forgo such access to avenues of influence? Funding Hamas and Hezbollah is a potent bargaining chip for the Islamic Republic. It is conceivable that upon obtaining a nuclear weapon, Iran would agree to stop funding Hamas and Hezbollah in exchange for a reduction in sanctions, but suggesting that the first necessitates the second is a mistake. Moreover, the author fails to distinguish between American political rhetoric and actual policy. Hawkish United States congressmen have been making noise about attacking Iran for decades, but the tacit consensus has been a policy of co-

ercive diplomacy. It is inconceivable that America would attack Iran. As Ben Halim notes in his article, Iran is a “country of 75 million people”—who despite widespread dissatisfaction with the revolutionary regime would fight tooth and nail against an American occupation. Downplaying this dissatisfaction, however, is the author’s largest error. He assumes that, because the Islamic Republic has been able to maintain power in Iran for “over 30 years,” it is stable enough to be trusted with nuclear weapons. This is not necessarily the case. The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring repeatedly destabilized regimes that had been in power for 58 years (Egypt), 42 years (Libya) and 43 years (Syria). Clearly the length of time that a regime has remained in power is no guarantee of internal stability. Furthermore, the author ignores signs of destabilization in Iran: the Green Movement, drug shortages, the plummeting value of the rial, and hints that June’s presidential election will be the least open in the history of the Islamic Republic. The fact of the matter is that Iran will probably develop a nuclear weapon sometime in the future, and, rhetoric aside, there is no real support among policymakers in Washington for an attack on Iran, meaning coercive diplomacy is off the table. So what happens if—and when—a nuclear Islamic Republic crumbles? Its weapons, more likely than not, will end up in the hands of terrorists. In the words of Austin Long, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, “The world might be forced to choose between hoping the Iranian regime crushes the uprising or risking the Iranian nuclear arsenal becoming uncontrolled.” This in and of itself is reason to oppose a nuclear Iran, despite the ease of containment and a potentially stabilizing effect on the region. u Katherine Long ‘14.5 is a Middle Eastern Studies concentrator.

Submit your letters to: comments@ BrownPoliticalReview.org

LETTER BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW INTERVIEWS

Why do you believe that President Obama’s recent economic policy has been harmful? Obama is growing the government even faster than [George W. Bush] did. Bush’s policies were deficit spending, Keynesian stimulus and artificially low interest rates. Those policies, together with the Federal Reserve, inflated the real estate bubble. President Obama was only too happy to run with that. Ben Bernanke continued with Alan Greenspan’s failed policies of keeping interest rates artificially low. People are surprised that we don’t have a stronger recovery, that we’re not creating more jobs. That’s exactly what I said was going to happen, that the stimulus would not work. In fact, as it wears off, we’ll discover that the economy is in even worse shape than before the stimulus was administered. I would try to undo the damage that had been done by my predecessors, and convince Congress that their legislation has harmed the economy. We have to start removing government tentacles, to stop all the borrowing and the spending—to have the Federal Reserve allow interest rates to rise, then allow the market to restructure based on those higher rates. The economy needs fewer resources going into finance, education, health care and housing, and more resources back in the private sector.

lapses, prices go through the roof, and this whole phony economy unravels. We are headed for a real-world day of reckoning. We didn’t prevent that; we’ve merely postponed it. There’s no way to avoid it, but there is a way to minimize the damage and shorten the recovery period. We need to understand how screwed up this economy is, how much money we’ve squandered, how many of our resources we’ve wasted. We need to reset. Start over. And that means we need to let interest rates go up so that Americans will save again. We’ve got to get rid of rules and regulations that have been layered onto the economy so businesses can focus on generating profits. We’ve squandered our money. We need to acknowledge this.

35


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Brown Political Review - Spring 2013 Issue