WINTER 2014 / VOLUME III ISSUE 1
What Will Red Risk How toGold? Save for Black In unstable regions, China searches for a stable oil supply By Carly West
Stay of Execution Leaving capital punishment behind By Ariadne Ellsworth
by Michael Tamayo
Jim Yong Kim Sponsored by: Sponsored by:
On bipartisanship and effective governance
The World Bank president on the next wave of development
Arianna Huffington Ethan Nadelmann
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EDITORS-IN-CHIEF MINTAKA ANGELL & BENJAMIN KOATZ CHIEF OF STAFF KATRINA MACHADO ASSOCIATE CHIEF OF STAFF MEGHAN HOLLOWAY SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR LAUREN SUKIN INTERVIEWS DIRECTOR HENRY KNIGHT MEDIA DIRECTOR MARIA PAZ ALMENARA ONLINE DIRECTOR CARTER JOHNSON BUSINESS & MARKETING DIRECTOR ELENA SALTZMAN LAYOUT DIRECTOR ELIZABETH STUDLICK
A STAY OF EXECUTION Leaving capital punishment behind Ariadne Ellsworth
WHAT WILL RED RISK FOR BLACK GOLD? In unstable regions, China searches for a stable oil supply. Carly West
THE GERMAN HOMESCHOOLING REFUGEES Meg Sullivan VENEZUELA’S RIGHT-WING REVOLUTION Paula Martinez Guterriez CONTRACEPTIVE RIGHTS ON TRIAL Lena Barsky FIGHTING FOR CHANGE IN THE MALL Joaquim Salles
SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR LAUREN SUKIN NATIONAL MANAGING EDITOR ALEXANDER LLOYD GEORGE GLOBAL MANAGING EDITOR MARINA DO NASCIMENTO ASSOCIATE EDITORS SADHANA BALA, MATTEO CAVELIER RICCARDI, EDWARD CLIFFORD, ARIADNE ELLSWORTH, NOAH FITZGEREL, JESSICA KENNY, KATHERINE LONG & BEN WOFFORD
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STRIP DOWN Ian Tarr THE URBAN NOOSE Eddie Mansius THE UNDEFEATABLE ENEMY Henry Knight OFF-TRACK TRADE Ezra Kagan
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HATE GONE VIRAL Joseph Frankel NORTH KOREA ON ICE Stella Kim HOW TO FORGET YOUR EX Athena Bryan THE WAITING GAME I Naishad Kai-ren THE SUBCONTINENT’S HOUSEKEEPERS Gae Leanza BPR MEDIA SPOTLIGHT: YEMEN’S ARAB SPRING
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“Underlying Asia’s calm is a bed of uncertainty.”
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ETHAN NADELMANN DIANE DUKE OLYMPIA SNOWE GEORGE AYITTEY GEORGE MILLER THOMAS MENINO ANGEL TAVERAS
THE MAGAZINE IN NUMBERS 2003 2008
PERCENTAGE OF UKRAINIANS BELIEVING THAT GOOD RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA WERE OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE
70% OF AMERICANS FAVOR THE PURSUIT OF THE DEATH PENALTY AGAINST TSARNAEV...
WHILE ONLY 33% OF MASSACHUSSETTS RESIDENTS DO
133,000 DEATHS ATTRIBUTED TO INDIVIDUALLEVEL POVERTY IN 2000
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A CHINESE-PRODUCED BASKETBALL COSTS THE EQUIVALENT OF $6 ON THE NORTH KOREAN BLACK MARKET BUT OVER $500 IN STATE-SANCTIONED STORES
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$76 BILLION AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP WILL ADD TO U.S. GDP
OIL REVENUE MAKES UP OF SOUTH SUDAN’S THOSE IN THE LOWEST INCOME BUDGET
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pying spaces previously dominated by the rich, such as malls, tensions inevitably arise. Rolezinhos represent not only the increasing social mobility of the poor in Brazil, but also the growing consumerism across all social classes. Much of the funk that is played and sung during rolezinhos is part of a sub-genre called funk ostentação, with lyrics full of brand names and artists who wear large gold chains and drive expensive cars. In Brazil, consumption brings status. At least in the beginning of the movement, before its political reformation, rolezinhos were gatherings in which an emerging class could meet to show off their new powers of consumption in the mecca of modern consumerism. They served to illuminate the fact that even as the purchasing power of the poor has improved, their neglected place in society has not. As the police response to rolezinhos has become more violent, gatherings are being convened faster and with greater numbers. Now they not only infiltrate middle class malls, but some of the most upscale malls as well. When a rolezinho was organized at JK Iguatemi, one of São Paulo’s most luxurious shopping centers, security set up a series of checkpoints near the entrance. Unaccompanied minors were stopped at the first checkpoint, and anyone who looked suspicious was stopped at the second and asked to show ID. People who were well-dressed and had whiter skin were not stopped. The Leblon mall, unsure of how to deal with a court order demanding that they block the rolezinhos without attacking regular shoppers, decided to close for the day when a protest was planned. As the participants waited outside, their presence dominated some of the most expensive real estate in Latin America. In a way, the defining political goal of the rolezinho was still realized, despite the locked mall doors: congregating and emphasizing the identity of the lower classes in a space usually reserved for the wealthy. The Facebook event descriptions of newer rolezinhos embody the passionate politics with which the movement is now characterized. The description for a rolezinho planned in an upscale mall in Rio de Janeiro’s Leblon neighborhood reads: “We
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What happens when 8,000 people decide to go to the mall together? This is becoming a legitimate question in Brazilian society and has generated debate over the crucial public issues of race, class and urban planning. A wave of youth mobilization comprised of mass mall gatherings called rolezinhos, or little strolls, is now sweeping the country’s urban centers. Since December, rolezinhos have descended upon malls in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The vast majority of those who join the crowds come from poor and marginalized neighborhoods — located in the urban periphery — called favelas. The gatherings themselves involve a lot of running (sometimes from police), singing funk (a rap-like musical genre popular in favelas) and a general raucous mess. There have been accusations that some rolezinhos have resulted in shoplifting or even mass robberies, but the vast majority so far seem to have been peaceful — at least until the police got involved. The first rolezinho of note took place on December 8, 2013 at the Metrõ Itaquera mall in São Paulo. Though it is hard to pinpoint what sparked this first gathering, it was likely the culmination of many factors: A lack of safe public spaces, the welcoming air-conditioned environment of the mall and the fact that teenagers were off from school are several possible answers. The goal of the first rolezinho was primarily just to have fun. Organized through Facebook, the Metrõ Itaquera rolezinho gathered 6,000 people in the mall’s corridors. As a result, employees closed their stores and called the police, fearing an arrastao, or mass robbery. Armed police soon arrived, cracking down on the protesters and arresting two people for stealing before
dispersing the crowd. But only three days later, a second rolezinho drew 2,500 people to the mall. This time, police were alert and on edge; 22 individuals were arrested in the affair. Soon, calls for “solidarity rolezinhos” in response to police brutality emerged on Facebook, and the trend has since accelerated. Unlike the mass political demonstrations that took place in large Brazilian cities last June, rolezinhos were not originally sparked by a particular group or even driven by an expressly political agenda. The birth of a rolezinho seems almost spontaneous: Someone creates a Facebook event, it starts to trend, and soon enough, thousands of people appear on the doorstep of a São Paulo mall. At their outset, rolezinhos were more of a social event than a political protest. In fact, many of the participants claimed that they were only there because they had nothing else to do, or because they wanted to meet girls. But that doesn’t mean that rolezinhos have stayed apolitical, as the heavy-handed police response catalyzed a political message among them. Brazilians face a reality in which police act with few scruples when it comes to the poor. The daily burdens to which many poor Brazilians are subjected — constant suspicion, unwarranted searches, being held without charges, and sometimes violence — are mostly foreign to the overwhelmingly white members of the Brazilian elite and upper-middle class. But as growing numbers of Brazil’s poor are lifted into the lower-middle class and begin occu-
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support the people in São Paulo against all forms of repression and discrimination against the poor and those of African descent, and especially against the brutal and cowardly actions of the police, be it in the malls, the beaches or the periphery.” The Facebook descriptions of rolezinhos past, which rallied protesters to “go up the down escalator,” and “press all the elevator buttons” show an extensive evolution that has culminated in a new political manifesto. Brazil’s political left says the participants are fighting the pseudo-apartheid that is endemic to Brazil; the right believes rolezinhos are excuses for theft, vandalism and public disorder. But if anything, rolezinhos are generating debate over veiled structural racism and social exclusion in Brazil — a debate that, while ever present, only now has a movement that truly exemplifies its importance. u
THE GERMAN HOMESCHOOLING REFUGEES MEG SULLIVAN How does Germany’s prohibition of homeschooling threaten the civil liberties of American evangelicals? The short answer is, it doesn’t. Nevertheless, conservative groups are warning Americans that their freedom to homeschool is under fire after the Romeikes — a German family seeking asylum in the United States in order to homeschool their children — lost their appeal in federal court in May of last year.
The Romeike family fled to the United States in 2008 after suffering legal consequences, including a $17,000 fine, for homeschooling their five children. In one instance, the police even forcibly took their children to school. Under German law, homeschooling is illegal except for in extraordinary circumstances, such as a child’s physical inability to attend public or private school. Aside from fines, homeschooling in Germany can also be punished by jail time and the removal of children from parents’ custody. The German government ensures the right to education for all its citizens; in the process, it reserves the ability to determine which educational institutions are qualified to teach. The Romeikes are evangelical Christians and desire to keep their children out of state-recognized institutions in order to teach them Christian values. They settled in Tennessee in 2010, after the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) argued their case, and a federal district court judge granted them political asylum. Under American asylum law, political refugee status is granted to those persecuted on the basis of religion, race, nationality or membership of a “particular social group.” And according to the HSLDA’s attorney Mike Connelly, German homeschoolers “are a particular social group.” To the dismay of the American homeschooling community and civil liberties advocates, the Justice Department concluded differently. The U.S. government challenged the federal district judge’s ruling on the grounds that homeschoolers are not a particular social group and that homeschooling is not a fundamental right. According to the Department of Justice, because the ban on homeschooling is applied to all members of German society broadly and equally rather than to a specific group of people, persecution of homeschoolers does not warrant asylum. In 2013, the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the Tennessee court’s decision. The Romeikes brought their case to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but they subsequently lost their bid. The threat of the Romeike’s deportation galvanized the American conservative community. An official petition, titled “Immediate Action Requested for Romeikes — Grant Permanent Legal Status to Persecuted German Homeschool Family,” was posted on the White House “We the People” website in March 2013. The petition requests that the Romeikes receive “full and
permanent legal status.” It received more than 127,000 signatures, surpassing the 100,000 mark that earns a petition an official administration response. Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, and many states have adopted homeschooling statutes or other forms of protecting the practice. Additionally, the Supreme Court case Meyer v. Nebraska set a precedent that a parent has the right to “establish a home and bring up children,” and to “worship God according to the dictates of [their] own conscience.” The principle component of the Department of Justice’s case that has driven the HSLDA and other homeschooling advocates into a public frenzy is the Obama administration’s opposing claim — that homeschooling is not a fundamental liberty. “This argument necessarily means that the United States government believes that it would not violate your rights if our own government banned homeschooling entirely,” said attorney and HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris. The likelihood of a national ban on homeschooling is far-fetched, and Farris’ words seem to be little more than fear mongering. The conservative Christian community should not feel threatened; there have been no recent threats to the rights of homeschoolers in America, and the popularity of the practice as well as Americans’ determined protection of civil liberties would cause a significant political and legal battle if a challenge to homeschooling rights arose at a state or national level. Additionally, the U.S. government does not grant political asylum to emigrants from countries whose laws simply do not align with those of the United States. Rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are not guaranteed to citizens of the world. Individuals punished under Germany or France’s rigid hate speech laws would not receive political asylum in the United States, even though American law provides extensive protection to hate speech. Just look at Snyder v. Phelps, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Westboro Baptist Church members picketing at a soldier’s funeral were protected under the First Amendment. In short, the Obama Administration’s tolerance of Germany’s strict homeschooling ban demonstrates respect for Germany’s sovereignty and its ability to determine its own society’s set of civil liberties — far more so than a desire to undermine the American legal foundation of homeschooling. The most recent news regarding Romeike v. Holder renewed some hope for the
German family and for evangelicals in the United States. The Supreme Court ordered the Obama administration to respond to the family’s appeal after the government initially waived its right to do so. If the Court agrees to hear the case, the HSLDA may yet secure an explicit acknowledgment of the fundamental right to homeschooling. “We are pleased by the court’s interest in the issues we have presented in our petition,” Farris commented. “Romeike v. Holder gives the court an opportunity to address important religious freedom and human rights issues. We hope that after due consideration of the government’s brief, they will agree to hear our case.” u
VENEZUELA’S RIGHT-WING REVOLUTION PAULA MARTINEZ GUTIERREZ
Though Maduro lacks the charisma of his late predecessor — and has lost substantial support from the Venezuelan people and even his own party — it seems likely that Chávez’s successor can regain the legitimacy he desperately needs to maintain office if he manages to control the uprisings. At the same time, it is uncertain what, if any, plan can emerge from a deeply fragmented opposition. Although they demand Maduro’s resignation, dissidents have not seriously proposed any candidate to replace him. If ever there were an opportunity for concrete action, it’s now; if the opposition cannot capitalize on recent events and finally consolidate a right-wing alliance, they may lose their chance. In the meantime, Venezuela’s human rights situation continues to deteriorate. Mutual accusations fly between the government and activists regarding the identity of the motorcycle assailants, while the population lacks the basic civil protections that would guard them from both the government and opposing activists. International organizations may need to carefully observe future marches if there’s any hope of averting a relapse into violence. Media censorship also remains an extremely worrying factor, since the protection of free speech is vital to hold the government accountable. Given the policies of Maduro’s administration and the disorganized state of the opposition, it seems that only the international community can maintain the flow of information by fighting for Internet access and the reestablishment of banned TV programs as a first step towards supporting fair democratic governance. Soon after the National Youth Day debacle, López called for other marches on February 18 in more Venezuelan cities. After Maduro issued a detention order against him, López — ever the shrewd political strategist — turned himself in, but not before making an impassioned speech atop a statue of a Cuban national hero, Jose Martí. “I will never leave Venezuela!” he shouted, reminding his followers to continue their fight for a free and fair country. As López had requested, the 18th was marked by protests. The aftermath of the protests symbolizes not a turning point for the opposition — though López continues to write messages of hope and support to his followers amidst an increasing death toll — but a bleak future for a rigid Venezuelan regime that is increasingly withdrawn from the international community and economy. u
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Like his predecessors, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros appeared in the streets on February 12 to join the government’s much-feted political theater of National Youth Day. Thousands gathered while official radio and TV channels broadcast the state-organized parade. When Maduro finally addressed the public, he congratulated the Venezuelan youth on their continued building of Bolivarian socialism. The celebration seemed like another standard holiday festivity in Venezuela, but the streets of Caracas, Mérida and Maracaibo told a very different story. At that very moment, university students across the country were holding peaceful demonstrations against Maduro’s policies. They had plenty to protest. Ever since Maduro became president following Hugo Chávez’s sudden death in 2013, the economic situation in Venezuela has dramatically worsened. The inflation rate has increased to become the world’s highest at 56.2 percent, the Bolivar has rapidly weakened and the country has suffered from brutal import limitations. Even before the protests, Maduro’s government was in a difficult position. The country’s lack of basic supplies resulted in a toilet paper crisis last year and has recently caused five newspaper companies deprived of printing paper
to finally close. It is hardly surprising that economic insecurity and the shortfall of basic necessities in Venezuela led weary students to demonstrate in the streets on National Youth Day. The protests quickly turned violent. Confrontations between students and the National Guard flooded YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. For several hours, these social networks rushed to deliver a flood of constantly updated information depicting the violence, including reports of shootings, arrests and deaths. Several reports detailed National Guard troops spraying tear gas on the students, while other photos captured unidentified men on motorcycles shooting civilians. International media has reported 17 protest-related deaths between February 12 and February 28. Far more terrifying for Venezuelans than the bloodshed was that virtually none of it was broadcast on national media that day. Even while social networks and international news outlets published appalling videos of violence, the Venezuelan government refused to issue a single report until the day after the brutality had ended. It even censored private media: Twitter images were blocked for at least two days and TV channels reporting on the conflicts were taken off the air. The Colombian news show “NTN24,” which had both publicized the conflict and remained in touch with Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, was banned from public and private TV. López, a Harvard alumnus, has taken a leading role in Venezuela’s center-right party, Voluntad Popular, publicly condemning both the clashes and the censorship, and even calling for Maduro’s resignation. Such dissidence is rare in a political arena dominated by Chavismo’s enduring influence; former opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, for instance, has largely remained silent throughout the protests following his defeat in the presidential elections last year. Official reports belatedly released days after the event state that, “99 people were arrested in these demonstrations, out of which 86 have already been liberated.” Maduro declared the protests an attempt by opposition forces to oust him from office, likening the situation to the protests against Chávez that led to the 47-hour coup d’état of 2002. Maduro also accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of conspiring against the Venezuelan government and expelled three American diplomats from Venezuela. In return, Washington gave three Venezuelan diplomats 48 hours to leave the country.
CONTRACEPTIVE RIGHTS ON TRIAL
BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW DISPATCHES
In January, two events at the Supreme Court — a blocked Obamacare mandate and an argument about free speech and abortion rights — struck a significant blow to the women’s reproductive rights movement. But these two decisions only portend more discord, as the Supreme Court will hear Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius this month. The first issue arose right at the end of 2013, when Justice Sonia Sotomayor “temporarily blocked” the Obama administration from forcing some religiously affiliated groups to provide health insurance coverage of birth control or face penalties as part of the Affordable Care Act. The contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act dictates that all employers must provide their employees with health care insurance coverage for contraception, including birth control pills. A group of nuns in Colorado filed an order requesting that the contraception mandate be stayed by a court so that the nuns’ religiously affiliated group, the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, would not have to violate its religious beliefs and provide contraception coverage to its employees. Since this provision of Obamacare was set to go into effect on January 1, Justice Sotomayor filed her response to the nuns late on New Year’s Eve in order to stop the law from taking effect. Specifically, “Sotomayor blocked the government from enforcing the requirement on the Denver [senior care] home until further notice from the Supreme Court.” Her block of the mandate applies to Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged and more than 200 other faith-based groups that purchase insurance from the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust. Notably, her stay of the mandate is not nationwide, but according to The Washington Post, “most nonprofit groups that challenged the mandate [have] received temporary reprieves,” indicating a larger anti-contraception mandate trend. Depending on how the Court rules in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, religiously affiliated organizations across the country may be freed from the so-called burden of the contraceptive mandate. Both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga have outcomes that have broader implications than the Obamacare contraceptive mandate — if decided a certain way, each case could grant corporations the same religious freedoms granted to American citizens under the First Amendment. But Sotomayor’s decision to side with the Denver nuns on New Year’s Eve and stay the contraception mandate for their religiously affiliated business is telling. While Sotomayor is considered to be a more liberal member of the Supreme Court, she nevertheless decided to deny contraceptive coverage to employees of a business based on that business’s religious affiliation. The Court will hear the oral arguments on March 25. Two weeks after Sotomayor’s stay on the contraceptive mandate, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for McCullen v. Coakley. At stake in this case is Massachusetts’ selective exclusion law, a law relating to women’s reproductive health clinics, which makes it illegal for speakers other than clinic “employees or agents…acting within the scope of their employment” to
“enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk” within thirty-five feet of the entrance, exit or driveway of “a reproductive health care facility.” The Massachusetts state legislature created this “buffer zone” law in 2007, and the law was upheld in both a district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. According to a summary of the ruling from the Oyez Project, the district court ruled that although the law “placed a restriction on the time, place and manner of speech,” it was constitutional “because it was content-neutral and still left adequate, if not perfect, alternative means of communications.” The First Circuit agreed with this reasoning but also held that “the Supreme Court, in Hill v. Colorado, had al-
ready affirmed a similar statute in Colorado that prohibited certain activities within 100 feet of abortion clinics.” As such, the Supreme Court will also discuss whether Hill v. Colorado allows for the enforcement of Massachusetts’ buffer zone law, and whether that law should be limited or overruled. Massachusetts instated the selective exclusion law because of the extremity of the anti-abortion protests that take place outside of reproductive health care facilities, which can effectively deny people access to services. In such a situation, the clinic might as well be closed. According to SCOTUSblog, when Massachusetts tried to create a law following the model set by Colorado in Hill v. Colorado, it “ultimately proved both ineffective at maintaining safe access to the clinics and difficult for police to enforce.” As such, legislation with stricter guidelines was written. The oral arguments for McCullen v. Coakley took place on January 15, and SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston reports, “It seemed apparent…that the Chief Justice holds the key vote on how far such [buffer] zones are likely to be restricted, but that [Associate Justice Elena] Kagan may help provide some cover for a decisive ruling that mandated narrower zones.” Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito all seemed staunchly anti-buffer zone, and if Chief Justice Roberts agrees with them, Denniston predicts that “buffer zones that are not confined explicitly to stopping violence or actual physical obstruction may well be doomed altogether — on strict First Amendment principles.” Despite the fact that Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan all seem to support the Massachusetts law, Denniston says that “by the end of Wednesday’s hearing, it was hard to see how the Court…would put together a majority to uphold a law that its lawyer repeatedly said was all about the use of public sidewalks as a forum for exchanging ideas.” Denniston’s grim outlook frustrates me, as does that lawyer’s description of the Massachusetts buffer zone law — really, “the use of public sidewalks as a forum for exchanging ideas” is what’s at stake here? The core of this issue is about protecting the women and men who make use of reproductive health care facilities and protecting the mere existence of the facilities themselves. The Massachusetts law is not the only thing at stake; the entire constitutional basis for buffer zone laws across the country and the fate of reproductive health care facilities are also hanging in the balance. u
STRIP DOWN The most dangerous SCOTUS case you’ve never heard of STORY BY IAN TARR / ART BY RACHEL HABERSTROH
performed regardless of the level of offense; the accused doesn’t have to be admitted to jail and the police officer need not provide a reason for the search. This sweeping decree has dealt a worrisome blow to privacy and due process rights with serious results. In the majority ruling, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas downplayed privacy and due process rights, prioritizing the needs and discretion of jailers. The Court “defer[red] to the judgment of correctional officials” because “[t]he seriousness of an offense is a poor predictor of who has contraband.” Since all detainees can be considered potentially threatening, no distinctions should be made between low-, middle- and high-level offenders. Because the whole spectrum of crimes is treated by the Court as the same — from the nonviolent and minor to the extremely gruesome — invasive security procedures administered to an accused murderer can also be applied to someone with an unpaid traffic ticket (as in the case of Albert Florence). To emphasize this point, Justice Kennedy recalled a few high-profile instances when “people detained for minor offenses…turn[ed] out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.” He noted that “hours after the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh was stopped by a state trooper who noticed he was driving without a license plate…One of the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93.” As the majority saw it, situations like these make more deliberate and cautious approaches to security — like strip-searching on a caseby-case basis depending on the detainee’s threat level — dangerously impractical. As such, the Court found that placing fewer restrictions on searches was the best way to avoid the aforementioned pitfalls — even if empowering the police meant acting to the
detriment of individual rights. By responding to all crime with the same security measures, no matter how invasive, the justices endorsed an alarming line of reasoning. After all, if different types of offenders have the same potential to smuggle contraband and should be stripsearched accordingly, then what about zero-level offenders? It’s a small jump from those who commit minor civil infractions to those who have committed no crime at all. If police forces around the country apply the Court’s logic consistently, then there’s no need to wait until a perceived offense has been committed; they should just go ahead and strip-search. These consequences are not an idle slippery slope prophecy, since precedent is extremely important in guiding the decisions of lower courts and government authorities. Recent actions show that this logic, reinforced by the Court’s decision, is already being put into practice. On January 30, Georgia police officers strip-searched drivers at routine traffic checkpoints. Just a day later, a lawsuit was filed against Chicago police who had conducted strip-searches in public. This is not to say that the Court’s decision in Florence is solely responsible for the expansion of intrusive policing, but it certainly lends legitimacy to these practices. After the Court gave such huge leeway to authorities, incidents like these have been — and likely will continue to be — on the rise. To some extent, the majority recognized that its rationale could be used to undermine privacy rights. In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito wrote that “the Court does not hold that it is always reasonable to conduct a full strip-search of an arrestee whose detention has not been reviewed by a judicial officer and who could be held in available facilities apart from the general population.” Yet the Court failed to provide a clear distinction between when
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n March 3, 2005, Albert Florence’s wife was driving her husband and their child down a New Jersey road. Unexpectedly, the family was pulled over by a police officer for an alleged speeding infraction. After checking the couple’s information in police records, the officer discovered that Mr. Florence had an outstanding warrant for an unpaid traffic fine. Florence had actually already paid the fine, but this had not yet been entered into the state’s computer system. Despite Florence’s protests, the police officer arrested him and brought him to jail, where he remained for nearly a week. During this time he was forced to undergo several invasive “strip and body cavity” searches; he had to remove his clothing, lift his genitals, shower, squat, and cough — all in front of police officers. After days of humiliation and emotional distress, Florence finally secured his release. He proceeded to sue the prison officials for violating his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. Although Florence’s plight is not very well known to the American public, the outcome of his case may have significantly weakened some of the United States’ most cherished constitutional protections — and did so with justifications that may end up leading us even further astray. Most people see the Constitution as a rock-hard pillar of essential freedoms. As such, it’s the North Star for American intuition in a whole host of heated issues, from gun rights to freedom of speech. However, in the 2012 Supreme Court case Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, intuition and constitutional interpretation sharply diverged. In a 5-4 decision, the justices not only ruled against Florence, but also declared that the “undoubted security imperatives involved in jail supervision” gave cause for officials to strip-search anyone accused of any crime. The searches can be
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such action is reasonable and when it is not. This opacity creates a low bar for the invasive and humiliating strip-searches. According to Justice Breyer — who was joined in the dissent by Justices Kagan, Sotomayor and Ginsburg — people have also been strip-searched for such minor infractions as “driving with a noisy muffler, driving with an inoperable headlight, failing to use a turn signal, or riding a bicycle without an audible bell.” Other violations that may now elicit strip-searches include leash law infractions, late child support and unlicensed driving. The Court followed a fallacious line of reasoning without a clear standard for applying it. Through its lack of rigor, the Court has introduced enormous opportunities for a miscarriage of justice. Perhaps the justices did not fully grasp the potential damage inherent in the humiliating nature of strip-searches. As stated in the Orange County, New York Correctional Facility Training Manual, a strip-search can involve a detainee “spreading and/or lifting his testicles to expose the area behind them and bending over and/or spreading the cheeks of his buttocks to expose his anus. For females, the procedures are similar except females must, in addition, squat to expose the vagina.” In plenty of circumstances, forcing someone to expose him- or herself in such a demeaning fashion can be deeply traumatic. This protocol is particularly harmful to victims of sexual assault, for whom any additional corporeal violation can be emotionally scarring. Women who are menstruating have also been forced to remove their tampons. In one particularly egregious interaction, an elderly nun was strip-searched after trespassing during an antiwar demonstration. These individuals — and others in similar situations — will be the vast majority of those subjected to strip-searches, not the terrorist masterminds to whom Justice Kennedy refers in his decision. In a brief delivered to the Supreme Court by a group of licensed psychiatrists for the Florence case, strip-searches were said to have inflicted “severe and pervasive psychological injury,” even in cases less extreme than the one that was before the Court. If these searches can be so damaging that psychiatrists say they “attack fundamental attributes of a person’s psyche,” then how can they be administered based on mere potential to commit a crime? Centuries of legal principle dictate that people should only be punished for past acts, but with this decision, the accused may easily be harmed before they
ever face a judge. The Court glossed over this ignominious abuse with alarming ease. Of course, it is not just the act of strip-searching, but also its practitioners, that are problematic. The reality that officers do not have to justify their searches indicates that the practice could easily become more common. Since police do not have to disclose a reason for each strip-search, they can use the threat of the humiliating practice to discourage defendants from, for example, calling their lawyers or invoking their constitutional rights. The police and jailers that administer this procedure have
been given huge license by the Supreme Court, and they now wield disproportionate power. Florence’s counsel posed this dilemma in oral arguments, to which the Court tersely responded that the issue was “not implicated on the facts of this case… and it [was] unnecessary to consider.” The Court’s decision makes it difficult to build a case against abusive authorities. Since officers do not need to have or give a specific motive in the first place, it would be extremely difficult to prove that they held a nefarious one. Although this immense power could
IN ONE PARTICULARLY EGREGIOUS INTERACTION, AN ELDERLY NUN WAS STRIP-SEARCHED AFTER TRESPASSING DURING AN ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATION. INDIVIDUALS IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS WILL BE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THOSE SUBJECTED TO A STRIP-SEARCH, NOT THE TERRORIST MASTERMINDS TO WHICH JUSTICE KENNEDY REFERS.
IAN TARR ‘17 IS UNDECIDED IN HIS CONCENTRATION.
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be wielded against any individual, it likely will exacerbate instances of institutional racism. Considering the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ finding that “blacks [are more likely] than whites…to experience use or threat of force,” strip-searches could easily become yet another conduit for this bias. Florence, an African-American, did not allege racial discrimination, and his case focused on the constitutionality of blanket strip-searches for all citizens. However, it is worth noting that the police department in which he was detained was under a court order at the time and had been “provided
federal monitors to assess stops of minority drivers,” according to The Chicago SunTimes. The humiliating facets of strip-searches and the ease with which they can be abusively applied cause this practice to straddle the line between routine safety procedure and illegitimate, de facto punishment for violating even the most minor aspect of the law. This punitive trait stems from the substantial harm that these searches cause: a destructive quality with which civil liberties organizations take issue. In response to the ruling, Stephen Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, declared that “being forced to strip naked is a humiliating experience that no one should have to endure absent reasonable suspicion.” Similarly, the American Bar Association found that indiscriminate strip-searches could violate international human rights. Even the American Correctional Association forbids strip-searches without reasonable suspicion. Before Florence, most of the lower courts took this information into account and prohibited strip-searches unless authorities had “a reasonable suspicion that contraband was present.” Now, the Supreme Court has weakened that more reasonable precedent. There are many reasons why the Court’s willingness to skirt over individual detainees’ rights is disconcerting, but perhaps the most compelling is the lopsided trade the justices made. The basis of their decision was a preference for concrete advancements in jail security over constitutional protections, but in this case, the advancements are so slim as to be irrelevant. As Justice Breyer illustrated in the dissent, and as Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor concurred, the instances in which random strip-searches are superior to less invasive, existing security methods are few and far between. There is ample proof of this trend; the New York Federal District Court com-
missioned a four-year-long study of 23,000 inmates who had been strip-searched in the state of New York. The study found that in only five of these instances was contraband discovered in such a way that solely a strip-search could have revealed it. Additionally, four out of these five searches were based on “reasonable suspicion,” meaning that under the Court’s one-size-fits-all approach, only one more successful stripsearch would have occurred. That’s a paltry 0.0043 percent success rate. The New York study was corroborated by a similar analysis of strip-searches in California. Out of 75,000 strip-searches, only three yielded contraband that would have gone undetected by a pat-down or other less invasive methods. Yet with Florence, the Supreme Court has decided to further erode privacy rights and support these ineffectual and invasive practices with few tangible returns to show for it. Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders is not a unique aberration in the annals of the Roberts Court. In District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, the Court stopped an imprisoned man from accessing and testing DNA used to convict him. Last year, the Court upheld warrantless collection of an arrestee’s DNA and even allowed it to be fed into a national database. In another case, Salinas v. Texas, it ruled that a defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself was only valid if he verbally invoked it. This constituted one of the most substantial restrictions on Miranda rights in decades. In another blemish on the Court’s privacy record, Chief Justice Roberts is responsible for appointing judges to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which grants the N.S.A.’s requests for information. Florence is merely one of the more recent instances in which the Court has encouraged the expansion of overbearing security practices. This trend does not seem likely to abate any time soon, and Americans should be worried about the wholesale weakening of constitutional safeguards that protect against due process infringements, privacy violations and abuses of authority. Perhaps even Justice Roberts himself is aware of this possibility; he recommended restraint in enforcing Florence “to ensure that we ‘not embarrass the future.’” Sadly for the rest of us, his appeal to caution may be too little, too late. u
THE URBAN NOOSE America’s four-wheeled friend is the city’s foe. STORY BY EDDIE MANSIUS / ART BY OLIVIA WATSON
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n January 28, a snowstorm descended on the amoeba-like sprawl of the Atlanta metro area. Businesses throughout downtown Atlanta called a snow day and let their employees go home early. Almost immediately, traffic in the notoriously congested city spiked. For nearly a full day, motorists sat immobile and shivering in one of the worst traffic jams the country has ever seen. Commuters holed themselves up in supermarkets, IHOPs and Home Depots rather than brave the roads. Over 1,000 traffic accidents were reported, and hundreds of motorists abandoned their cars along the city’s web of freeways to attempt a dangerous and icy trek home. The official snowfall recorded at the end of the day was only two inches. It’s true that the South has little practice dealing with snow. But Atlanta’s now infamous “snowjam” points to a much larger and more insidious problem than paltry winter weather budgets. It was Atlanta’s lack of investment in a robust and widespread public transportation system, not its lack of snowplows, that caused the snowjam. Too many people were forced to rely on single-passenger cars rather than mass public transit to return to the suburbs. Essentially, Atlanta’s urban growth paradigm, relying on sprawl and steering wheels, is no longer sustainable in the 21st century. Atlanta’s transportation woes are not unique; this knot of inefficiency ensnares cities around the nation. As more and more young Americans return to the urban core in search of employment, municipal, state and federal governments must work together to remedy the widespread lack of efficient public transportation and walkable infrastructure. Over the course of the past six decades, most American postwar cities have become automobile-obsessed, decentralized centers of population. And as slowly as the crawl of rush-hour traffic on I-95, these poorly planned postwar agglomerations are now beginning to realize the depth of their predicament.
The full history of America’s urban decline involves a multitude of factors, including suburban sprawl’s inextricable connection to racial disparities. Booming growth in city centers during the early part of the 20th century gave way to an outward diffusion that makes up today’s suburbs. As lower-income, immigrant and black communities began to move into the formerly white-collar city center, many white families decided to flee for the greener pastures of suburban lawns. Meanwhile, the practices of redlining and restrictive race covenants kept minorities sequestered in the urban core. By the end of World War II, the inner city had become synonymous with decay, violence and various other social ills in the public consciousness. Fears that the city center had declined beyond repair led many cities to carry out large-scale urban renewal projects that displaced thousands of low-income residents, shoving them into high-rise housing projects. In many cities, 19th century structures faced the wrecking ball to become what are now wide freeways and endless rows of asphalt parking lots. As Americans moved outward, cities and states constructed more freeways and wider roads. But instead of connecting these new suburban communities to the city via public transport, a federal highway funding matching system led many cities to focus their resources on freeway construction instead of more sustainable options, contributing to the American fixation with automobiles. Public transportation was expected to pay for itself on local budgets, while roadways were on Washington’s tab. In this way, a new chapter in public transportation’s history began, as cities dismantled streetcar systems, initiated fare hikes and instituted service cutbacks. America’s urban landscape soon became characterized by multilane freeways slithering out from central cities towards suburban communities and stretching even further to the exurbs.
In 2010, over 70 percent of Americans living in the 51 largest metropolitan areas were located in the suburbs. These suburban Americans commute largely by car: Only 5 percent use public transportation. Lack of efficient public transportation, the ease of multilane freeways and the relatively low price of cars and gasoline all contribute to the decision to drive rather than ride. So it is no wonder that many of the largest American cities face what Yale University Political Science Professor Douglas Rae calls “urban thrombosis.” Borrowing from the medical dictionary, the term likens the effect of a blood clot to the loss of mobility and resources in cities choked by their own traffic. As in the biological world, urban blood clots can have grave consequences. Atlanta’s snowjam demonstrates the necessity of large-scale public transportation networks, if only to provide disaster relief. When millions tried to evacuate Houston during Hurricane Rita, Mayor Bill White said, “Being on the highway is a deathtrap.” White’s sentiment reflected the larger reality that the city’s infrastructure was fundamentally insufficient for such a major evacuation. It’s not only about having accessible transportation; it must also be effectively deployed in case of emergency. Although New Orleans had 400 buses in daily use when Hurricane Katrina hit, officials admitted that they had never fleshed out plans to use them in an evacuation. A center point of the city’s evacuation plan was the use of highways as a route out of the city, but the implementation of the plan’s elements for inner city areas — especially where residents lacked cars — left thousands stranded in the Superdome or on rooftops. Looking towards the future of urban development, it is important to consider rising trends in urban occupancy and a growing desire for transportation alternatives. According to research by the Urban Land Institute, young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to live in
golf courses, gated communities and shiny new office towers. It is what post-modern urbanists refer to as an “edge city” — essentially a large center of employment that exists at the periphery of a metropolitan area. The burgeoning edge city is centrally located for residents of the city’s affluent south suburbs, with easy access to a ring road that encircles Charlotte. In April 2013, when insurance giant MetLife moved 1,800 jobs to Ballantyne instead of Charlotte’s downtown commercial hub, it was apparent that
eral government’s proposal to build a freeway through the heart of the city, Portland decided to substitute those funds for the construction of a public transit system, the MAX Light Rail. The system has an average of 120,400 boardings per weekday — certainly not bad for a city with a population edging past 600,000. Public transportation solutions have become more difficult to finance as cities have scaled back their budgets, but there are cheaper alternatives to building
nomically viable, they must work to create enticing urban environments for future generations. Density, walkability and efficient public transportation are all crucial pieces in this puzzle. As the current generation ages out from its perch atop American politics, the incoming crop has a chance to change the way the United States thinks about urban centers. In Charlotte, N.C., the city center is struggling to rebuild its vibrancy. With a metropolitan population of 2.3 million, Charlotte was the fastest growing American city between 2000 and 2010, with a growth rate of 64.6 percent, and is the second-largest financial center in the nation behind New York City. But in recent years, much of the post-recession job growth has moved into the abundant office space south of the city. Ballantyne, an upscale neighborhood occupying about 2000 acres of land on the state’s southern border, is lush with
the city’s urban dynamic was beginning to shift. The urban growth paradigm of the postwar era has left cities so decentralized as to necessitate the development of business districts outside the historic core. Commuters have started to give up on driving all the way into the city and instead are opting to drive halfway there — to suburbia’s version of a downtown. But while these denser sub-cores may seem harmless, they are often developed without sustainable, interconnected transportation between urban and suburban centers. The compromise of edge cities is not a viable solution to urban and suburban sprawl — it only adds one more isolated node to the mix. For years, cities like Portland, Oregon have fought this pervasive trend by investing in a robust public transit system and enforcing strict multi-use zoning policies. Instead of accepting the fed-
multi-billion dollar light rail and subway systems. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) offers the exclusive right-of-way of light rail without light rail’s sticker price. San Bernadino, despite (or perhaps due to) its location in the notoriously car-dependent Inland Empire of Southern California, has invested in a 15.7 mile-long BRT corridor. The price tag is $191.7 million. By comparison, Charlotte’s second light rail project is slated to cost $1.16 billion and cover just 18.6 miles. Ballantyne, at least for the foreseeable future, will remain accessible only by car. But as Atlanta recovers from its brief stint of apocalyptic mayhem, perhaps it will transform into a city that restrains, rather than reveres, America’s own four-wheeled creation. u EDDIE MANSIUS ‘17 IS AN URBAN STUDIES AND MODERN CULTURE AND MEDIA CONCENTRATOR.
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cities than their older counterparts, and 55 percent say that they value the quality of a city’s public transportation system when searching for a new home. As a result, companies hiring millennials are seeking to relocate to urban areas. Since the start of the economic recovery, companies are increasingly buying space in city centers as opposed to suburbs, hinting that perhaps America’s longstanding love affair with the car is slowly losing its luster. For American cities to remain eco-
THE UNDEFEATABLE ENEMY Liberals should declare peace on poverty. STORY BY HENRY KNIGHT / ART BY HALEY MOEN
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or President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 was a warring year. In August, Congress signed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the use of military force in Vietnam just six months after L.B.J. thrust the United States into a formally declared war on poverty. Fifty years later, the war rages on, bleeding in the hearts of high-minded progressives and dripping in the syndicated mockery of conservative talk radio. There are no doves, only hawks when it comes to poverty. Lost across the political spectrum amid the debate over how to eradicate poverty is the deeper question of whether or not poverty is even eradicable in the United States. The rhetoric of poverty wields substantial power over the terms on which we attempt to fight it. Liberals blindly bear the mantle of Johnson’s war — and the naïve assumption that poverty can be defeated — while conservatives exploit that proverbial blind spot. Molding a new narrative of American
poverty could break this longstanding power dynamic, which ultimately stands to the detriment of the poor. If liberals reframe the lexical parameters of their poverty discourse, they may seize genuine opportunities to improve the daily lives of the poor on a bipartisan basis. They need only to reject the verbal flourish at the heart of this partisan feud: Johnson’s unconditional declaration of war on poverty itself, which has long misrepresented the inescapable structural relationship between poverty and American capitalism. Johnson’s portrait of poverty as a tangible enemy laid the foundations for cuts to social programs later enacted by conservatives. Johnson deployed a robust social safety net, hoping to uproot the conditions that afflict the poor. The War on Poverty began with the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which most notably created Operation Head Start and was followed soon after by the expansion of Social Secu-
rity and the enactment of Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. With a half-century of history now in the books, ample evidence suggests the triumph of these efforts in alleviating — but not eliminating — the burdens of the poor. A recent study conducted by Columbia University researchers estimates that food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, housing subsidies and unemployment benefits alone lift 13 percent of the population — nearly 40 million Americans — out of poverty. But the specter of the official poverty rate, measured at 15 percent in 2014 — a number unchanged from 1994, 1984 and 1964 — casts a shadow of doubt over the legitimacy of the welfare state. When the War on Poverty proved unwinnable, liberals had every opportunity to become as jaded with this war as they did with the one in Southeast Asia. And any strategy predicated on winning this poverty war not only misses the point, but necessarily invokes the specter of losing. When
L.B.J.’s social safety net failed to measurably reduce poverty, President Ronald Reagan took the opportunity to dismantle huge swathes of it. Nearly a decade after the War was declared, Reagan offered the famous jibe “In the ‘60s we waged a war on poverty and poverty won.” Quite deliberately, Reagan integrated his vision for shrinking the federal government with Johnson’s declaration of war on poverty. Through little more than a brilliant rhetorical turn, he achieved a seismic ideological shift. The reasoning he pitched to the American people was simple: If poverty was indeed, as Johnson had asserted, surmountable, and two decades of high government expenditure had failed to surmount it, then something else must be to blame — perhaps, Reagan indicated, the
ANTIPOVERTY ADVOCATES STAND AT A CROSSROADS. THEY MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THE REAGAN NARRATIVE OF A LAZY, IDLE POOR OR TAKING A PAGE FROM HIS BOOK BY REFRAMING THE POVERTY DISCOURSE ENTIRELY.
erty advocates stand at a crossroads. They must choose between the Reagan narrative of a lazy, idle poor or, taking a page from his book, reframing the poverty discourse entirely. If American voters are to care about poverty, they must first care for the poor. To reconstruct the empathy for destitute Americans that has slowly eroded since the Johnson era, liberals should tell a new story, one that finds poverty in the nature of human systems, not in the nature of humans. The rhetorical shift should be subtle and consensus-building, rather than partisan and exclusionary. Liberals must stop conflating compromise with giving away the farm, and hone their efforts in on a policy realm with broad, bipartisan appeal: early childhood development and education. Early childhood development programs offer disadvantaged students and their families educational resources, health screenings and parental counseling services. By expanding Johnson’s Head Start initiatives and universalizing pre-kindergarten, liberals would subtly telegraph the correct message about welfare: Because poverty seems to be coupled with capitalism, a person’s economic status may depend more on the circumstances of their birth than on their own failings. Moreover, investing in early childhood development appeals across the political spectrum. The left would do well to emphasize the work of Nobel Laureate James Heckman, who points to the provision of preschool services for disadvantaged children as a rare convergence of social fairness and economic efficiency. With child poverty at 22 percent, liberals should set aside their warmongering ways and allocate their resources towards incremental progress. Well-intentioned leftists actually nurture poverty by refusing to acknowledge that it can be found in the nature of capitalism. Replacing the stale language of war with a fresh and more accurate narrative would not betray core liberal principles. On the contrary, it would mean seizing opportunities for real, if gradual, progress. Government may never declare definitive victory over poverty, as Johnson hoped it could. The poor may never extinguish their own condition, as Reagan hoped they would. Still, there is hope for a future in which the progressive movement inspires bipartisan action that, instead of aiming to defeat poverty, tackles it one step at a time. u HENRY KNIGHT ‘16 IS A POTENTIAL COMPARATIVE LITERATURE CONCENTRATOR AND INTERVIEWS DIRECTOR AT BPR.
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poor themselves. The effect was a reimagining of poverty as a byproduct of human nature and an individual, moral failing. Reagan solidified his rhetorical shift by transforming the image of public welfare from small, white, rural families to urban communities of color. The racialization of public assistance, coupled with the widely propagated myth of the “welfare queen,” contributed to the ease with which Reagan gutted several of Johnson’s programs. These cuts provide modern liberals with a crucial lesson: Even simple changes in discourse, particularly when reframing opposing ideology, can have immense power. The implication at the core of Reagan’s thesis holds true. Poverty is in the nature of something — but it’s not human nature. Rather, it seems to be in the bones of capitalism, which today cannot be found without some degree of structural poverty. Look no further than the lexicon Americans use to describe the legend that capitalism purports: the archetypal “rags to riches” story that forms the core of conservative poverty policy. For there to be riches, there must be rags. The adoption of this social mobility paradigm may explain why lower-income voters often choose not to vote for politicians willing to provide them with imme-
diate government assistance. A blue-collar worker near the poverty line and in pursuit of the American Dream would often rather reward a millionaire — and dream of becoming one. We are consigned to the inevitability of poverty. If this is true, the War on Poverty is unwinnable by nature. A revisionist’s take on the original Johnson fable — viewing poverty as an inevitable consequence of capitalism instead of a defeatable enemy — is ripe for use in contemporary liberal rhetoric. But today, even the staunchest of liberals refuse to make this argument, opting instead to insist that the war can still be won. Submission hardly makes for sexy politics, and few politicians ever prove willing to wave the white flag. By declaring war on poverty, Johnson confined liberals to an untenable position — they refuse to surrender, even when it might be a prudent policy for the sake of helping America’s poor. Call it the Johnson Paradox: L.B.J. inspired us to wage a war that, once initiated, gives us little hope of a resolution. President Bill Clinton’s welfare policies exemplified the chokehold of the Johnson Paradox on liberals. Under Clinton’s watch, the workfare experiments of the 1980s culminated in the passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, “ending welfare as we know it.” Decried as a shameful blow to the poor by the left, Clinton’s reform package replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), a cash assistance program used as income support, with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a work assistance program aimed at boosting employment. TANF imposed rigorous work requirements and lifetime limits on federal welfare recipients. But TANF may have had more to do with politics than poverty. Two numbers reveal its wild political success. The first is the percentage of state budget dollars allocated to cash assistance for needy families, which declined from 77 percent to 44 percent between 1997 and 2002, and the second is the 379 electoral votes that carried Clinton to victory during his 1996 re-election campaign. Clinton’s brand of “third way” liberalism was itself paradoxical — in order to survive, he was forced into illiberal policies that, following Reagan, cut social welfare spending dramatically. Of children with family incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line, TANF lifted only 23 percent out of deep poverty in 2005, a number that reached 64 percent with AFDC. Antipov-
STAY OF EXECUTION WITH ITS CONSTITUTIONALITY IN QUESTION, LEAVING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT BEHIND
STORY BY ARIADNE ELLSWORTH / ART BY BEN BERKE
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feel my whole body burning,” were Michael Lee Wilson’s last words in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on January 9. Seven days later, it took Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire 15 minutes to die from a similar lethal injection that is only supposed to take four or five. On January 28, Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls appealed to his state’s Supreme Court for a stay of execution. Smulls argued that the untested drug cocktails used in Wilson and McGuire’s apparently excruciating deaths, soon to be used in his own, violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” His request was denied, but the ruling turned out to be meaningless, as his execution took place four minutes before the court made its decision. Across the country, the constitutionality of capital punishment has been the subject of a rekindled debate. At the state
level, the January incidents involving misuse of experimental lethal cocktails have suggested violations of both the Eighth Amendment and procedural justice. But the problems don’t end with states. The federal prosecution in the Boston marathon bombing case is pursuing the death penalty as well, raising questions about capital punishment’s role as a tool for leverage in judicial proceedings. Not only would that violate the Fifth Amendment, it could be viewed as an abuse of governmental power. Internationally, the shortage of regulated and normalized poisons, following a European Commission ban on the sale of barbiturates to American prisons, symbolizes European disapproval of America’s death penalty and a view that the United States projects an outdated and backwards stance on this subject, and strays from its ideals of enumerated rights. The perception of the United States as a key international peace-
keeper and defender of human rights is deteriorating. In the midst of this crisis, 2014 has the potential to bring change to capital punishment policy. The prevailing sentiment in the international community is that the United States — the only G7 country yet to abolish capital punishment — maintains antiquated judicial practices. According to European Commission Vice President Catherine Ashton, the 2010 policy restricting the sale of barbiturates used in lethal injections to American prisons “contributes to the wider European Union efforts to abolish the death penalty worldwide.” Since then, the European Commission has increased trade restrictions, banning eight new barbiturates that can be used in lethal injections. The Obama administration’s attempts to acquire the necessary drugs for lethal injections have bordered on desperation. In early 2011, facing a crucial pentobarbital
fierce debate, the recent drug shortage and its aftermath have magnified the potential violations related to the use of the death sentence. According to David R. Dow, a death row lawyer and professor of law at the University of Houston, “the Eighth Amendment contains this idea that society’s standards of decency evolve over time, and so what is permissible in terms of punishment at one point in legal history can become impermissible later on.” As a result, what may have been legally permissible when the Constitution was drafted — or even in the 1970s, when lethal injection was first introduced — may no longer be legally permissible in 2014. The simultaneous deterioration in the quality of lethal injections and the
nearly impossible for Smulls to acquire the information that would have been needed to meet the court’s burden of proof. The McGuire and Wilson cases affirm the difficulties of meeting that burden of proof. McGuire’s prison guards accused him of “putting on a big show,” founding their accusation on the fact that, despite Wilson’s comment about burning sensations, he didn’t “show any signs of physical distress.” Legally, the amount of pain that corresponds to “needless suffering” is that which inflicts “more than necessary to accomplish the objective of death,” explains Dow. But while this is a viable legal definition, proving that there is excessive pain is difficult. As Ruddick explains, there is “no
IN 2012, ONLY 21 OUT OF 196 COUNTRIES IN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S STUDY CARRIED OUT AN EXECUTION. THE UNITED STATES WAS ONE OF THEM.
perceived evolution in society’s standards for human rights, makes the violation of the Eighth Amendment even more blatant. However, the process to prove such a violation is particularly difficult, even in light of recent events that have illustrated the cruelty of capital punishment. If a violation of the Eighth Amendment is claimed, the burden is placed on the defendant to prove that there is “needless suffering.” This has recently proven practically impossible for defendants, as it was for Smulls. In his case, Judge Beth Phillips ruled that speculation was not enough to ensure that the drug would cause needless suffering — while simultaneously conceding that it had been
way [for doctors] to establish before administration what a particular individual will experience,” and once administered, the lethal injection renders the person almost immediately unconscious, making it difficult to measure levels of pain. If McGuire’s 10 minutes of gasping are not evidence enough, there are few other ways to prove that a person is needlessly suffering. With evidence scarce and ignored by the courts, Dow believes that, in cases of capital punishment, “the burden of proof is excessively high; it is one that cannot be satisfied.” Further aggravating the apparent violation of the Eighth Amendment is the fact that some prosecutors have begun denying
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shortage, the White House made a direct appeal to the German government for supplies, only to be flatly turned away by Vice Chancellor Philipp Rosler himself. “I noted the request and declined,” he said. As a result of the shortage, American prisons have turned to compounding pharmacies, which manufacture drugs on demand using highly specific patents. The drugs used in Smulls’ and McGuire’s executions were from such compounding pharmacies, which are not held to the same Food and Drug Administration standards and regulations that typical pharmacies are. As such, the drugs they produce may contain impurities, as well as concentrations or compositions of chemicals that differ from what the standard drug cocktail contains. These compounding pharmacies have been party to the creation of novel and untested drug cocktails such as the experimental mix used in McGuire’s execution, which replaced the typical pentobarbital cocktail with a combination of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. By using drugs from loosely regulated pharmacies, prisons are gambling with the label of pain-free executions to which they lay claim. The lack of F.D.A. controls makes adjustments to a cocktail difficult if it proves to be ineffective or painful and laces the process with guesswork. William Ruddick, director and founder of New York University’s Center for Bioethics, draws parallels between compounding pharmacy drugs and street heroin. Because compounding pharmacy drugs are not held to the same standards as similar drugs produced in regular pharmacies, “one can’t form or rely on any generalizations about [their] effects.” Using such experimental drug cocktails — at least for the treatment of illnesses — has been considered unethical. According to Ruddick, medical professionals are responsible for using only thoroughly tested drugs unless “all fully approved drugs have failed to arrest dire diseases.” There is no reason to believe that the legal system and its prisons should be held to different standards. Yet correctional facilities continue to purchase drugs from compounding pharmacies and use them in untested cocktails. Missouri prisons tested the purity of some of their lethal drug supply in an Oklahoma lab that also approved injections responsible for the 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people. One of Missouri’s own judges accused the state’s prisons of “using shadow pharmacies hidden behind the hangman’s hood” to supply the drugs necessary to sustain the fifth-highest death penalty rate in the United States. While the constitutionality of capital punishment has long been a subject of
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Capital punishment legal for certain offenses Capital punishment abolished for all crimes Capital punishment used only for exceptional circumstances
the right to a pain-free execution, thereby rendering inmates’ constitutional recourse all but obsolete. After all, an execution is necessarily a harsh punishment, making the line between conducting one and conducting one cruelly and unusually especially thin. If a prisoner is already going to die, some would posit that the method of execution is irrelevant. And like most death row inmates, Wilson, Smulls and McGuire were not innocent men. Both Wilson and Smulls were convicted murderers, and McGuire was convicted of the 1989 rape and murder of Joy Stewart. During McGuire’s appeal, the Ohio Appeals Court Assistant Attorney General Thomas Madden said: “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution” — a statement many might agree with in light of McGuire’s crime. But this goes beyond the letter of the law, and denying the right to a pain-free execution may violate a principle regarding capital punishment established by the Supreme Court in 1947 with Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber. The case states that in order to uphold the concept of human dignity there cannot be “infliction of unnecessary pain in the execution of the death sentence.” Regardless of whether Smulls’ legal team could have reasonably satisfied the burden of proof placed on him by the courts, his execution — four minutes before his stay of execution was officially denied — is still a violation of procedural justice and a clear example of the chaos that occurs during the last stages of any death penalty case. As Dow explains, once signed, execution warrants “have a time frame during which the execution can occur. Frequent-
ly, litigation is still going on at the time or is initiated after the warrant is signed. What’s special about this event is that the two events passed each other in the night.” The execution took place before the legal process had fully run its course. Because
MISSOURI PRISONS HAVE TESTED THE PURITY OF THEIR LETHAL DRUG SUPPLY IN AN OKLAHOMA LAB THAT ALSO APPROVED INJECTIONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE 2012 MENINGITIS OUTBREAK THAT KILLED 64 PEOPLE. of the chaos caused by a death sentence, the attempts to save a client often continue until the last possible moment up until the execution itself. As a result, procedural justice can suffer. Dow holds that abolishing capital punishment “would clean up the legal system” and explains that “death penalty cases approach lawlessness” because lawyers can appeal cases indefinitely, effectively keeping them in the courts until the
sentence is carried out. This is to say that rather than ensure a fair process regardless of result, capital punishment cases manipulate the system towards securing the desired conclusion: the death penalty. The discussion of egregious legal interpretations at a state level feeds directly into the debate regarding capital punishment’s constitutional violations and distortions at the federal level. In the well-publicized Boston marathon bombing trial, defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently pleading innocent. However, according to Professor Daniel Medwed of Northwestern University Law School, the prosecution may be using the death penalty as a bargaining chip. Ever since the reinstitution of capital punishment in federal cases in 1988, the attorney general has authorized 500 federal defendants for capital punishment, yet only three of those defendants have been executed. There is speculation that on the federal as well as state level, capital punishment is pursued and authorized in expectation of extracting a plea deal from the defendant prior to entering the trial. “Even though the government is not supposed to use the death penalty as a bargaining tool, the reality is that a lot more cases are announced as death penalties than actually result in a [death penalty] trial,” says Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. In Tsarnaev’s case, the prosecution has sought the death penalty in part to avoid seeming soft on domestic terrorism, but Medwed suggests that there may also be subtler bargaining at hand. If the prosecution were not pursuing the death penalty, the defense would certainly want to take
THE DEATH PENALTY BY STATE
Fourteen states have abolished capital punishment. Kansas and New Hampshire have not, but neither has practiced capital punishment since 1976. Source: Amnesty International.
penalty by prosecutors. The use of the death penalty in overcharging is also indicative of how it may be used to violate the Fifth Amendment and its assertion of the right to avoid self-incrimination, since the death penalty can be used as a bargaining chip precisely to push a defendant to plead guilty. While overcharging — used in over 90 percent of felony cases — is standard in the legal system and a vital tool for prosecutors, its involvement in death penalty cases is different because it is necessarily a severe measure. Self-implication, or pleading guilty, isn’t necessarily wrong, but if an individual is coerced into such a measure under the threat of death, then it could be a violation of the Fifth Amendment. This line of reasoning is supported by the federal government’s explicit ban on the use of the death penalty to extract a plea. Capital punishment is doing a curious thing to the American legal system. Not only is it tarnishing the United States’ international image, it is systematically violating constitutional rights and muddling the domestic legal system. But recent months have
provided some hope for change. Georgia, amongst others, is contesting the secrecy surrounding the drug cocktails produced by compounding pharmacies. A Missouri judge has blocked certain pharmacies from selling drugs used in lethal injections to prisons. And perhaps most encouragingly, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado placed a block on an upcoming execution. The solution may be something akin to the 1972 to 1988 federal moratorium on capital punishment. The moratorium was instituted by the Supreme Court in Furman v. Georgia precisely for something strikingly similar to what we see today: a chaotic web of regulations surrounding the death penalty. But the system can still be cleaned up. An enhanced understanding of the interplay between procedural justice, the Fifth Amendment and the Eighth Amendment offers a chance to set stronger precedents for upholding constitutional rights in the face of capital punishment. u ARIADNE ELLSWORTH ‘17 IS A POLITICAL SCIENCE CONCENTRATOR AND A STAFF WRITER AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR AT BPR.
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the trial out of Boston because of media attention and the proximity to the event, while the prosecution would want to keep the trial in Boston to capitalize on the high emotions surrounding the case. With the pursuit of the death penalty, the defense may now want to keep the trial in Boston instead. While 70 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for Tsarnaev, only 33 percent of Massachusetts residents do. By keeping the trial in Boston, the chances of a death sentence may be substantially lower, favoring the defense. But the history of capital punishment’s role as a tool for the prosecution to gain leverage suggests that the defense may have preempted the prosecution, and pled innocent in anticipation of their call for the death penalty. Such a move by the defense would have left open the possibility for a plea deal. This would allow Tsarnaev to get away with a lighter penalty than many would like, and would effectively allow him to evade a death penalty trial. Such legal gymnastics display a concerning distortion of the legal system — one that has its roots in manipulation and overuse of the death
Death penalty statute No death penalty statute Retains death penalty in law, but doesn’t practice or is in process of repealing
OFF-TRACK TRADE The cost of free trade for the Democratic party STORY BY EZRA KAGAN / ART BY RACHEL HABERSTROH
BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW NATIONAL
ozens of Malaysian protesters recently dressed up like zombies to demonstrate what they perceive to be a fast-approaching, grim reality in their country — an Obama-backed free trade agreement that they believe will make vital medicine unaffordable. Luckily for them, the bill seems to be dead on arrival in the U.S. Congress. Over the past year and a half, the Obama administration has made significant progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal that would lower tariffs on, and increase engagement with, countries in the Pacific including South Korea, Australia, Vietnam and possibly Japan. However, as the deal nears completion, a rift between the Democrats and the face of their own party has emerged. With abundant concerns about the deal — especially over intellectual property rights, environmental protection and wage depression — it’s unclear whether Democrats will allow President Barack Obama a bipartisan victory on trade before his term is up. A marker of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” the TPP would be the largest free trade agreement of the modern age. The White House believes that the deal will provide a boost to the continuing economic recovery and could be an opportunity to solidify Obama’s economic legacy. The deal’s potential is substantial. Under the bill’s structure, new nations can join the agreement so long as they consent to basic regulations. This means that China, the second-largest economy in the world, could join the agreement in the future. If coupled with a prospective Trans-Atlantic trade deal with the European Union, the TPP would put Obama well on his way towards becoming the president responsible for the development of free trade among a large portion of the developed world. But these reasons alone have been insufficient to sway Congress. At the center of
the conflict is whether Congress will grant the president “fast-track authority,” a power that would give him the ability to circumvent Congressional input and complete the TPP bill more quickly. Once completed, the trade bill would go to the House and Senate floors for a straight up-or-down vote; representatives couldn’t offer amendments or repeal provisions within it, allowing the bill to largely bypass dissent. In addition to speeding up the process, fast-track makes trade bills easier to pass, even if certain special interests are not fully placated.
THE TOP 10 PERCENT OF EARNERS ARE EXPECTED TO CAPTURE ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF THE BONUS FROM GDP GROWTH RESULTING FROM THE TPP. This executive power is seen as a prerequisite to serious free trade negotiations. Joshua Meltzer, a trade scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former Australian trade official, said that unless the administration has fast-track authority, negotiations are “not an endgame.” And its use is by no means unprecedented. In the past, this authority has been used during the creation of the World Trade Organization, during the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and for myriad free trade agreements with countries like Israel, Canada and Oman. In 2000, former President George W. Bush campaigned for fast-track authority. After combating staunch opposition from both sides of the aisle, Bush was able to secure fast-track and retained the authority from 2002 until 2007. Obama faces similar backlash today. Given that the president is from the same party as the legislators, it would seem that Obama ought to have an easier time than Bush did. But Democrats appear to be, if anything, more reticent
with Obama. More than 150 members of Congress — all Democrats — sent a letter to the president expressing their opposition to granting him fast-track authority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have publicly stated their opposition to a bipartisan bill that would give the president this power. Many liberals share a fear that allowing the president to use fast-track would give Republicans — and more conservative Democrats — a chance to force a bill that undermines key liberal tenets: protecting the environment, limiting corporate favoritism and diminishing income equality. Opposition has become strong enough that even Vice President Joseph Biden admits that the bill is unlikely to pass both houses of Congress. Concerns among top Democrats start with the closed nature of the TPP negotiations. Even as the deal nears completion, Congress and the public have just begun to get a glimpse of the bill’s provisions. This secrecy has worried members of Congress, including Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the congressional committee responsible for regulating international trade. Wyden recently proposed legislation that would give members of Congress access to information on the trade bill. Leaks have, so far, been the main source of information regarding the bill. Apprehension over the environmental impact of the TPP has also caused serious headaches for members of the president’s party. The provisions in the deal pertaining to economic regulation, as recently released by WikiLeaks, seriously underwhelmed environmental activists. The TPP won’t require new trade partners to end practices detrimental to the environment, such as shark fin harvesting, which are illegal in the United States and considered antiquated even for developing nations. Moreover, en-
fear that the TPP will prioritize corporate interests over those of the public. Over the course of the bill’s formation, the U.S. trade representative has repeatedly briefed and solicited input from notable business leaders — a pattern that implies creeping corporate influence. Big business’s influence on the agreement isn’t limited to environmental provisions. In 2012, a letter signed by Senator Chris Dodd, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and industry representatives was delivered to the president. It urged him to add “comprehensive and high-standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property” to the TPP. In several of the agreement’s leaked portions, it seems that Dodd — chairman and C.E.O. of the Motion Picture Association of America — may have gotten his wish. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the TPP’s intellectual property provisions would effectively allow international enforcement of controversial U.S. policies such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and would make it more difficult to efficiently transfer data across the web. Criminal penalties would be instituted internationally for copyright infringers even if they download material for personal use. In addition, patent rules for pharmaceuticals mean that U.S. drug companies would be able to raise prices and restrict access to drugs both at
home and abroad while freezing competitors out of the market. This has prompted backlash from several congressmen and even Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who is usually an avid supporter of free trade. The largest concern for liberals isn’t international environmental damage or intellectual property abuse, but a problem much closer to home: national income inequality. The TPP highlights the clash between Obama and his party. Despite the generous portion of the 2014 State of the Union devoted to issues of income inequality, the trade bill that Obama is so vigorously advocating might accrue mixed economic results, with collateral damage for the middle class. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that the TPP will raise U.S. GDP by about $76 billion per year and could increase it by three times that amount should other Asian countries — China in particular — choose to join. However, that $76 billion would go directly towards the people least in need of economic assistance at the cost of domestic jobs. The left-leaning Center for Economic Policy and Research predicts that the top 10 percent of earners are expected to capture about 90 percent of the bonus from GDP growth. And since a free trade agreement will subject domestic businesses to competition from companies with unmatchably
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vironmentalists worry that increased trade will lead to an expansion of domestic fracking and heighten the potential for environmental catastrophe during transportation of natural gas overseas. Since the TPP includes developing nations, it is no surprise that the environmental regulations would not meet current U.S. standards. However, the TPP represents a greater divergence from standard U.S. environmental regulation, failing even to match the precedent of comparable trade deals. While NAFTA did not include much in the way of environmental safeguards, regulations in a 2007 trade deal with Peru authorized by President Bush set a precedent for the importance of environmental policy in trade. Under an agreement between Bush and Congressional Democrats, every trade deal to come would feature strict environmental regulations with the option of sanctions for rule breakers. But the TPP agreement does not follow these guidelines. If a TPP member nation were to introduce a new environmental regulation or antismoking law, companies could challenge the rule in an international court. This stems from a provision within the TPP agreement that allows corporations to sue foreign governments if they introduce regulations that do not constitute “fair and equitable treatment.” With this and other corporate-centered provisions, Democrats
low labor costs, lower-income workers may lose their jobs. While Americans will benefit from decreased prices on certain goods, the resulting unemployment will have an even greater impact on the economic vitality of the middle class. It is little surprise that the public, particularly in states where low-wage jobs are quickly disappearing, does not look fondly upon free trade deals. Approaching a critical election cycle that will determine the possible breadth of Obama’s reach for the last two years of his presidency, the Democrats and their president would do well to proceed with caution. The president’s public approach to the TPP issue is already beginning to reflect this concern. While Obama offered a thorough endorsement of the
TPP in the 2013 State of the Union, he only opaquely referenced his desire to pass “bipartisan trade promotion authority” in his 2014 address. A few days later, Reid, when asked about fast-track authority, said, “I think everyone would be well-advised just to not push this right now.” Reid is correct. Obama should indeed abandon his push for fast-track authority. Though it would help to expedite the process, the president will be hard-pressed to win support from his party without proper Congressional review and rigorous transparency. Right now, though, the Democrats are in a stalemate between a president trying to secure his legacy and a party deeply skeptical of free trade. If one side is to shoulder the blame, however, it is the one that sits in
the Oval Office. The president is obliged to realize that going on the offensive will only exacerbate the current situation; the Democrats’ concerns about environmental regulations, corporate influence and income inequality are real and well-founded. Instead of pushing the TPP, he should prioritize his party and use his pulpit to address safer and more palatable issues prior to the 2014 midterm elections, where Democrats are already facing worryingly strong challenges from the right. Should Obama fail to take this higher road, it will soon become evident that this Trans-Pacific free trade bill could be very expensive indeed. u EZRA KAGAN ‘17 IS A POTENTIAL POLITICAL SCIENCE OR ECONOMICS CONCENTRATOR AND A STAFF WRITER AT BPR.
TPP AND TRADE FLOWS 1,819 5,964
138 1,777 17 277
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NET IMPORTER FROM THE U.S.
NET EXPORTER TO THE U.S.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (BILLIONS USD)
HATE GONE VIRAL How the Internet has catalyzed a new wave of French anti-Semitism STORY BY JOSEPH FRANKEL / ART BY ELIZABETH BERMAN
ew, leave! France is not yours!” This was the rallying cry of up to 120,000 protesters on January 26. The protest, dubbed the Jour de Colère, or “Day of Anger,” was intended to showcase opposition to French President François Hollande, whose public approval ratings are the lowest of any president in French history. The demonstrations, however, have quickly turned into the latest exhibition of French anti-Semitism. France’s age-old predilection for anti-Semitism has strengthened, due in part to the proliferation of hateful ideas and memes throughout the Internet. The Jour de Colère bears witness to this trend. Since the movement first started mobilizing in November 2013, it has gathered around 23,000 fans and followers on social media. The movement centers on discontent with the country’s leadership, but the Internet’s capacity for mobilization has catalyzed the effective organization of subgroups, including one of anti-Semitic extremists. French-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, the icon of a new wave of anti-Semitism in France, called for fans to join the protests on his Facebook page, and they did. Already a controversial subject in France, Dieudonné’s viral anti-Semitism has demonstrated the speed with which inflammatory figures can use the Internet to gather support. Dieudonné invented a new logo for his brand of anti-Semitism: the quenelle, named after a French dumpling
abound on the Internet. One depicts an individual making the pose in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish School in Toulouse, where three Jewish children and their rabbi were gunned down in 2012. But the French government has begun to step in. Last September, two French soldiers were disciplined for performing the quenelle in front of a Paris synagogue and then posting the images online. Hollande’s administration removed some of Dieudonné’s YouTube videos and encouraged towns to cancel his shows, which Marseille, Lyon and several others later did. Despite interference by the French government, supporters have reposted Dieudonné’s videos. Dieudonné’s movement is far from the first instance of widespread anti-Semitic hatred online in France. The hashtag #UnBonJuif, or #AGoodJew, which incited a number of Holocaust-skewering jokes on Twitter, was removed through the intervention of the French Jewish student union. Two years later, the quenelle has replaced it, showing that questions on how to stymie hate speech online are far from answered. For all its usefulness, the Internet could quickly undo years of progress. In a world where Internet content is created and spread in the blink of an eye, it is terrifyingly simple for one man’s hateful gesture and message to become commonplace — even if it is not well understood. Some vigilantes have provided unorthodox responses, like hacking into Dieudonné’s website and publishing the list of his supporters. But while the Internet is used by some to fight the rising movement, other signs are not so promising. Two years ago, French Jewish organizations clocked an 84 percent spike in physical and verbal acts of racism; the accelerating pace is exacerbated by use of the Internet as a dissemination tool for hateful words and images. Given elements of its anti-Semitic past, if France continues to allow this kind of discourse to become acceptable, the menace will no longer be virtual. u JOSEPH FRANKEL ‘16 IS A COMPARATIVE LITERATURE CONCENTRATOR.
GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW
dish. The gesture is performed by pointing one arm diagonally downwards while touching the shoulder with the opposite hand. It clearly resembles an inverted Nazi salute, but subverts French laws that ban the original gesture. Dieudonné, however, maintains that it is no more than an “up yours” to the establishment. Ambiguity is one of Dieudonné’s trademarks. He prefers to brand himself as an anti-Zionist, not an anti-Semite. He avoids making unequivocally anti-Semitic remarks, instead choosing veiled threats, such as those made toward French-Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen, a vocal critic of Dieudonné. “I am not sure he will have time to pack his suitcase. When I hear him speak, Patrick Cohen, I say to myself, you see, the gas chambers…too bad,” said Dieudonné. Alexander Stille, a writer for The New Yorker, notes that “this is classic Dieudonné…the sentence is grammatically disconnected and…‘too bad’…gives him some plausible deniability.” The quenelle’s uncertain placement between hate speech and meme has given it its own ambiguity. NBA player Tony Parker, a French expatriate, has come under scrutiny after being photographed making the gesture, but claims no knowledge of its anti-Semitic connotations. Some may argue that the quenelle, like many things one can find on the Internet, is distasteful but relatively harmless. But Dieudonné’s record of hate speech, his 2009 candidacy for the European Parliament under the anti-Zionist party and the quenelle’s similarity to the Nazi salute suggest otherwise. Pictures of his supporters making the gesture — including some at Jewish sites and former Nazi concentration camps —
NORTH KOREA ON ICE Free market meth is cracking the Hermit Kingdom. STORY BY STELLA KIM / ART BY EMILY REIF
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o South Koreans, the city of Hamhung is known as the birthplace of Hamhung naengmyun, a popular cold noodle dish. However, to those living in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the city is synonymous with a different kind of delicacy: crystal meth. Methamphetamine is at the heart of a flourishing black market in North Korea. The growing volume of material goods funneling in and out of the country may be a sign of grassroots market reform, but in the short run it raises grave concerns about structural weaknesses that paint a grim picture of the country’s future. Goods traded on the country’s burgeoning black market are not limited to drugs; everything from household necessities to luxury electronic gadgets can be purchased illegally. The increasing amount of economic activity performed under the table is a reflection of poor economic conditions, fueled by a lack of foreign currency. With the virtual worthlessness of the North Korean won (KPW) and the huge disparity between official and black market rates for many products, the North Korean economy is hostage to its foreign currency supply. A basketball produced in China may cost the KPW equivalent of USD $500 in official stores, but only USD $6 on the black market, where buyers are expected to pay in U.S. dollars. Likewise, a five-KPW metro ticket is so cheap by black market rates that an American penny exceeds the price of one ticket. Because of the disparity, many North Koreans buy a significant portion of their goods outside state-sanctioned channels, but these markets are also the distribution mechanisms for items that, unlike a basketball or metro ticket, are illegal independently of how they are acquired. Meth production took off in the 1990s as a civilian solution to the economic destruction wrought by a famine that killed over one million people. Speculation inevitably surrounds any discussion of North Korea, but according to reports, former President Kim Jong-il set out to punish the private producers when he first learned the
extent of the meth epidemic in 2003. However, meth proved too profitable for him to shut down its trade. The government soon allowed the industry to grow, going so far as to order the construction of state-sponsored meth labs in cities like Hamhung for the mass production of the drug. But the government’s inability to meet soaring black market demand — both domestic and international — has seen production shift back towards private, amateur “chefs” working in underground labs or even home kitchens. Meth has become so prevalent in North Korea that even children consume it. The drug’s popularity is explained largely as a relief from the daily hardships of life under a repressive dictatorship. Meth’s painkilling properties have made it popular among the elderly and chronically ill. Because of its ability to suppress the appetite, the drug can temporarily alleviate the hunger pangs that are endemic in a country in which one in every three children is malnourished. For others, meth is simply the easiest and cheapest available escape — the drug of choice when needles for injecting heroin are too hard to come by. High demand means that the number of professional drug dealers and freelancers across the country has multiplied. They are often looking to supplement their official sources of income: There are reports that civil servants, who have stable jobs but make a monthly salary of 6,000 KPW — barely enough to buy a pack of cigarettes and a lighter — have found facilitating cross-border drug trafficking to be a lucrative side job. Illegal and semi-legal black markets are widespread, with unauthorized economic activities accounting for 40 to 70 percent of citizens’ daily lives. Many doubt that the government will tackle the problem. Shutting down the meth industry or curbing the drug’s distribution would be such a major undertaking for the troubled state that the DPRK seemingly has no choice but to tolerate illicit market activity. Even if North Korean politicians wished to shut markets down, there is little indication
that the government would have the wherewithal to do so. Past policy failures have become warnings to the state not to meddle in the expanding free market. State policies on agriculture, electricity and health care have been a series of disastrous experiments. The Public Distribution System, designed to distribute food to North Korea’s urban populace, is notoriously ineffective, leaving many in the country without food and necessities. This difficulty is compounded by previous state efforts to bring the underground economy under control. During a failed experiment with currency reform in 2009, the state seized all privately held foreign currencies in an attempt to centralize their use and force citizens to use the near-worthless KPW. Without foreign money, the black market shrank, leaving merchants in distress and citizens without affordable goods. Today, foreign currencies, which provide the purchasing power that the KPW cannot, have returned as the primary means of exchange on the now abundant black markets. These markets resurfaced because of the lack of legal trading options. Politics surrounding the DPRK’s numerous sanctions and its only trading partner, China, have made it difficult for legal trade to ex-
METH PROVED TOO PROFITABLE FOR KIM JONG-IL TO SHUT DOWN ITS TRADE. THE GOVERNMENT EVEN ORDERED THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATE-SPONSORED METH LABS.
STELLA KIM ‘16 IS A POLITICAL SCIENCE CONCENTRATOR AND A COPY EDITOR AT BPR.
GLOBAL BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW
ist — other than with North Korea’s tightly controlled state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The dearth of legal channels for commerce has pushed many merchants underground. Meanwhile, unofficial trade with China has actually bolstered the illicit economy by providing an influx of cash and high demand for North Korean drugs. China’s northeastern province of Jilin is home to two Korean autonomous zones, Yanbian and Changbai. These provinces have become major transit points for the North Korean drug trade as they flow through these points to inland China and eventually abroad to South Korea and Japan. The profits are then deposited in South Korean and Chinese banks and later delivered in cash by middlemen to the North Korean producers. Although the statistics are murky, border patrol agencies in these provinces have, since the late 2000s, repeatedly seized large shipments of meth. In July 2010, Yanbian border patrol seized over three pounds
of meth and USD $19,300 of drug money and arrested a North Korean drug kingpin known as “Sister Kim.” The occasional effectiveness of law enforcement does not seem to have stemmed the tide of drugs. China tolerates this illegal trade out of fear that instability in North Korea will produce a refugee crisis in its northeastern provinces. Given the region’s history of political volatility, the Chinese government tends to handle it with caution. But China has an economic reason to tolerate the black markets as well. Despite China and North Korea’s official trade relationship, North Korean SOEs often fail to pay for Chinese goods. Black market operations mean a quicker — and sometimes more reliable — payoff. Small-scale Chinese businesses are better off trading outside the government’s purview, because they can avoid North Korea’s cumbersome customs procedures. While the North Korean government certainly has an economic incentive to turn a blind eye to black markets, their prevalence represents a threat to the authoritarian regime. Underground trade is the antithesis to North Korean official economic policies. Black markets, with their streamlined distribution systems rooted in free market principles, ultimately signal a desire for change in economic policies. Addition-
ally, the wealth accumulated by these traders can be read as an early indication of the emergence of a middle class. Once emboldened by success, these merchants push even harder on the boundaries of commercial activity and form a market economy. South Korea’s government has, for years, aimed to catalyze political reform in its northern neighbor at the grassroots level by filling gaps and correcting inaccuracies caused by the North’s propaganda machine. There are radio stations dedicated to providing news for the North Koreans and television shows and e-books smuggled in on USB sticks. The illegal distribution of these goods has not only been crucial for the material well-being of DPRK’s citizens, but also for the spread of information and ideas into the Hermit Kingdom. But there is little in the way of a reform mentality in Pyongyang. When President Kim Jong-un emerged as his father’s successor, the world was hopeful that the young, Western-educated leader might enact state-orchestrated reform. It was widely hoped that his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and other key military figures would also form a behind-the-scenes power elite that would implement more modern economic policies, comparable to those of Deng Xiaoping in China during the 1970s. However, Jang was executed last December after a Shakespearean power struggle over the military’s control of lucrative state-owned fishing grounds. With his death, there remains little hope for top-down economic reforms. The hope that the emergence of this grassroots economic reform movement will spearhead political change in the near future is premature, as today the North Korean people lack the means for protest or uprising. Widespread meth addiction illustrates desperation within the status quo. However, the stage is being set for change. Citizens can’t alter the oppressive regime, but by using black markets, they can certainly subvert it. Poverty, the failures of centralization and an influx of outside information have all led to a dissatisfied populace, while the expansion of black markets hints at the beginnings of a liberalized economy and an accompanying middle class, even if it’s a middle class of drug dealers and black market merchants. For now, these are structures that the regime is tolerating — a stance which it may one day regret. u
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G K a C n i A h l L c , B i s o n R e o l i . O b g y a F e l t p r s p e
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y 2020, China will be spending $500 billion each year on crude oil imports — almost five times its current defense budget. The highest annual amount that the United States has ever spent on energy is $335 billion. In 2013, the United States spent less on oil than China. In the space of less than a generation, China has transformed itself from a nation almost completely cut off from the international markets to an economic superpower. Its tremendous growth has catalyzed a huge energy demand to sustain the rapid rate of development. But with limited domestic resources, China has turned to foreign coasts to keep its insatia-
ble thirst for oil at bay. China has extended its economic reach to a range of nations, including Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Iran. It has also developed alliances extensively throughout Africa, where oil and gas are plentiful, countries are eager for investment and political instability abounds. Peace is fragile in many of these countries, which are often led by regimes that Western governments deem unfit to trade with. For China, this brings an unfamiliar set of foreign policy demands, responsibilities and opportunities. Historically, China has upheld a staunch noninterference policy in the internal affairs of other countries. Respect for the sanctity of sovereignty has often been used as a justification for its international political actions — or rather, inactions. This has had to change, however, in the search for black gold. China’s trading part-
ners often lack developed infrastructure and face domestic security problems. The insecurity in these nations poses a constant risk to Chinese assets as they move within these countries, making it difficult for China to sustain its nonintervention policy. While China’s official rhetoric on apolitical investment has not changed, the powerful nation has adapted its formerly hands-off approach to protect its economic interests. The government of former President Hu Jintao adopted a globalized strategy to address China’s domestic oil shortage. This included offering financial, political and diplomatic support to national oil companies to secure foreign supplies of oil for China’s domestic use. Backed by cheap or even free credit from the country’s stateowned banks, oil companies such as the China National Petroleum Corporation (C.N.P.C.) began to drastically expand exploration, production and distribution within China’s borders. Meanwhile, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation acquired assets and petroleum-related companies around the world to supplement domestic supply. By 2011, these na-
in lots of places where people want change. he trials and tribulations with the Sudanese have brought to light several elements of China’s new, holistic approach to its international oil endeavors. China is Sudan’s largest foreign investor, purchasing about two-thirds of Sudanese oil. It has invested about $5 billion in oil field development and has helped build a pipeline from South Sudan to the Red Sea as well as a refinery near Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. The Chinese also own a large stake in the consortiums that pump out most of Sudan’s oil and hold 95 percent of the rights in a drilling area that straddles the troubled region of Darfur. Sudanese production of oil has risen from about 60,000 barrels per day in 1999 to more than 500,000 in 2006 — mostly due to Chinese investment. This has raised the stakes for both countries: Sudan is now economically dependent on China’s thirst for oil, and China has thrown billions of dollars of capital into a region gripped by a new wave of violence. The end of the Second Sudanese Civil War, which culminated in the secession of the South in 2011, has not entirely resolved the crucial economic disputes that spurred the separation. Both Sudan and South Sudan are reliant on oil revenues, which account for 98 percent of South Sudan’s budget. While the majority of the oil lies in the South, all of the pipelines run north. The two nations have fiercely disagreed over how to divide the oil wealth of the formerly united state. China’s weight as an investor in South Sudan gives it extra leverage in the negotiations and a method for diffusing some of the remaining tension. Sudanese oil motivated Chinese investment in, and the pursuit of close relations with, Khartoum long before the secession of the South. During the civil war,
SUDAN, CHINA, &
China maintained its ties with the North, but also worked to establish links with the nascent government that was developing in the Southern capital of Juba. It was one of the first countries to establish a consulate general there, which became an embassy after the South’s independence. Because China had been a major arms supplier to the Northern government during the war, many Southerners were angered that their government made lucrative deals with the Chinese after the conflict. This was not enough to sever ties, however, as China correspondingly adjusted its policy to improve its strained relations with Southerners. Since then, Beijing has invited numerous high-level Southern officials to China, including current President Salva Kiir, and has promised to invest heavily in South Sudan. Though China’s move towards increased diplomacy with the South was designed to secure oil investments upon South Sudan’s independence, this has also allowed China to become a mediator between the two sides. Despite this delicate diplomatic maneuvering, China’s interests remain at risk due to numerous unresolved disagreements between the North and the South. In one such dispute, the two sides disagreed on the price for using the North’s pipelines. While Juba operated most of the oil fields, Khartoum controlled all of the facilities for exporting crude oil. The inability to reach an agreement resulted in Juba’s decision in January 2012 to shut down all production in the South. China worked by quietly the behind the scenes with other interested parties, esnumbers pecially the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, to end the deadlock. Juba and Khartoum finally agreed in August 2012 on a package deal whereby Juba will reimburse Khartoum much less than
of Darfur’s oil
% regions are
of South Sudan’s budget comes from oil
owned by C.N.P.C.
of China’s oil supply in 2012 came from foreign imports
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tional oil companies had operations in over 30 countries in five continents. While these majority state-owned companies are not fully government agencies, they have been critical in extending China’s reach and securing its national interests. Because they are subsidized, these companies are less concerned with profitability than with the stability of their supply. Their state-mitigated risk allows these oil firms to focus on their alternate mandate as agents of China’s global energy policy. As the world’s second-largest economy, China’s foreign engagement is hugely important in shaping international politics. Accordingly, they are beginning to act more like a global superpower and have become progressively less agnostic when it comes to other nations’ internal affairs. As China continues to extend its reach, there is unprecedented opportunity for it to develop complementary approaches with the United States in support of peace. These two behemoths share a common vested interest in stability and could work together to achieve this. But the two countries approach strategic decision-making from very different perspectives. As a developing nation, China is necessarily more resource-driven than even the United States. China’s hegemony is goal-oriented, while the United States has the luxury of exerting softer power on the world stage. To sustain its model of investment in oil-rich but high-risk investment sites, China has prioritized relations with host governments. This strategy often manifests itself as support for incumbent regimes, regardless of local preferences or attempts by Western states to isolate authoritarian leaders. By offering these states financial aid and diplomatic cover in bodies such as the U.N. Security Council in return for privileged access to oil assets and supply rights, China has used its leverage to help states resist Western pressures like economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. All this does not mean that China doesn’t value peace. It has gone to great lengths to help secure the governments of partner countries and has built up infrastructure to increase social and political stability. But in terms of the balance between sustainability and democracy, China leans much farther than the West towards the former. Although China’s involvement is essentially about securing markets, it is also compelled to a politically competitive tango with the West. Every step China takes is closely monitored by the United States. While Chinese calls for the protection of human rights are quiet and inconsistent at best, the rise of China in these scattered regions has shown that purely strategic calculations may be improving stability — albeit
While Chinese calls for the protection of the rise of China in these scattered regio may be improving stability — albeit i
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originally demanded for use of the pipelines and will provide $3 billion in financial assistance to the North. As production in the two African countries resumed, China reduced the level of imports from both nations. China wasn’t the only country involved in the region. The United States worked with South Sudan to see their separatist aspirations come to fruition, while China played both sides, working with both the Southern and Northern Sudanese governments to secure peace. However, China’s efforts in the region came to benefit the United States as well — China’s finesse and willingness to work closely with both sides kept the oil running throughout the crisis, an outcome ultimately appreciated by the United States, with its large investments in the international oil market. Yet China’s mediation did not establish sustainability, as the conflict was ignited again in late 2013. Oil production dropped by about a fifth, and more than 300 C.N.P.C. workers have since been evacuated. The unrest in South Sudan, which has left more than 1,000 people dead, has prompted China to demand a cessation of hostilities and violence. China has taken an active role in Ethiopian-led mediation efforts and urged international powers to do the same. Foreign Minister Wang Yi made it clear that China wanted both sides to stop fighting
to deploy a joint military force to protect vital oil fields from rebels. For now, however, China is unwilling to move forwards on business contracts until the fighting stops. While diplomatic ties and official relations among the nations’ leaders are strong, it is more difficult to take the pulse of local opinions of Chinese investment. In 2012, 29 Chinese construction workers were abducted in South Kordofan and were released 11 days later, after intense negotiations. The Sudanese rebels were quoted as saying that they did not want to harm the workers, but instead aimed to send a signal to the Chinese government that they did not want it to be involved in the conflict over Sudanese oil. Such evidence isn’t as indicative of national sentiment as poll data might be, but it certainly points to Sudanese discomfort with the extent of Chinese influence. Some Sudanese resent the perceived self-interest at the heart of China’s efforts to mitigate the conflict.
il motivates China to keep the peace, but that may sometimes come at the cost of backing unpopular leaders. In Sudan, United States and Chinese interests overlapped to mutual acclaim, but this is not always the case. China’s focus on stability has put it at odds with the West in Libya, where the country supported Gadhafi throughout the Arab
After Gadhafi’s death, China quickly embraced Libya’s new government and updated references in state media, depicting Gadhafi as a madman whose time ran out, rather than a strongman who defied the West. and seek a reasonable and rational way out, and was even willing to mediate personally between the warring sides. This response highlights China’s increased willingness to use its political weight in order to protect its assets. Chinese officials have met with rebel and government delegations to discuss the terms of peace, but have simultaneously pursued separate talks with Sudan in order
Spring, largely due to China’s oil-related needs. Before the uprising in February 2011, China had outstanding contracts in the region that were worth about $20 billion, and its Libyan oil projects employed 36,000 Chinese workers at their peak. The deserted worksites that litter the Libyan landscape demonstrate the massive cost of violence in the region for China.
Because of the country’s well-documented long-term relationship with Gadhafi, China was originally reluctant to support Libya’s rebels when they asked the international community to intervene militarily in March. China abstained from a Security Council resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. Later that month, Chinese President Hu Jintao told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he should “give peace a chance” and favor diplomacy over NATO-led missile strikes. Official Chinese media outlets described the revolution as a “foreign military intervention” that led to “war and chaos.” Chinese correspondents were reportedly prohibited from using the word “revolution” in their dispatches from Libya. It was also revealed that Gadhafi’s officials had traveled to Beijing in July 2011 and met with representatives of state-controlled arms manufacturers, who were prepared to violate the U.N. arms embargo imposed on Libya and sell Gadhafi $200 million worth of weapons and ammunition. In Sudan, China was quick to pick both winning sides, and ultimately made similar choices in Libya. Originally, China aligned itself with Gadhafi, refusing to support the rebels. But as the civil war went on and Gadhafi’s chances slimmed, China started building an alliance with the insurgents and moving to the Western side of the conflict. It initiated contact with the rebels’ interim government — known as the National Transitional Council — as a first step in a plan to protect Chinese oil assets. Rapidly shifting its alliance after Gadhafi’s death, China embraced Libya’s new government and updated the references to the former leader in state media, depicting Gadhafi as a madman whose time ran out, rather than a strongman who defied the West. Towards the end of the conflict, China’s Foreign Ministry called for the rapid launch of an inclusive political process and economic reconstruction in Libya.
hina’s political-economic strategy of befriending convenient leaders has come to a comparable loggerhead with the West elsewhere, notably in its relationship with Venezuela. Howev-
f human rights are quiet and inconsistent at best, ons has shown that purely strategic calculations in lots of places where people want change. the Chinese government as it invests, since it makes Venezuela almost as economically unreliable as Libya and Sudan. Chronic goods shortages, a poor economy and rising crime in Venezuela brought people to the street demanding action. In February, a series of antigovernment protests forced the country to a halt.
interests, there’s an unprecedented opportunity for China and the West to develop more complementary approaches in support of peace and stability. Chinese and Western policymakers need to create avenues for dialogue at multiple levels. This must include not only officials, but also think tanks, academics and
Ironically, Chávez’s legacy is not Venezuelan independence, but an increased dependence on the Chinese to counterbalance dependence on the West. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying noted that the Venezuelan handling of the riots underscored China’s confidence in the government’s ability to protect national stability, which it determined to be in the fundamental interest of the Venezuelan people. Nevertheless, China has already decreased its financial assistance to the region because of the high inflation rates, a fact that has only exacerbated economic instability — and the riots. As China pulls its currency out of Venezuela, it may be learning, yet again, that there is potential for great harm in its high-risk investment strategies.
here are obvious economic consequences to the Chinese risk game: The state-owned C.N.P.C. declared in early 2013 that unrest in countries such as Sudan, South Sudan and Syria cost it the equivalent of 15 million metric tons of oil in 2012. But the implications of China’s global strategy to pursue oil abroad — specifically in unstable and conflict-ridden regions — are also an imperative consideration for Western policymakers. As one Western official admitted, “It’s like we operate in parallel universes: they do what they do, we do what we do.” Although different values and principles exist, a shared interest in stability represents a concrete foundation for cooperation. As Beijing’s approach towards conflict-affected countries evolves to protect deepening
NGOs. The precise meaning and implications of a stability-oriented strategy, and how best to promote it overseas, must be discussed. Small, practical, on-the-ground development projects ought to be jointly supported in countries affected by conflict, serving as possible entry points for more productive cooperation. The collaborative work that the two superpowers have done regarding North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is a testament to the possibility of sustained Sino-American compromise. China’s strategy in Sudan, Venezuela and Libya has ultimately coincided with U.S. interests, showing that even when the tempting presence of oil is involved, outright conflict between China and the United States can be avoided. For its part, China would be better off if its rise were perceived as peaceful. Its image as a global power will be greatly determined by the role it adopts in parts of the world that are troubled by conflict, so Beijing needs to recognize the consequences of its engagement and act accordingly. This may mean reassessing its commitment to noninterference. As Chinese policymakers grapple with how to square their newfound influence and responsibility, they may well find that the most self-serving solution is still a joint one. u CARLY WEST ‘16 IS A POTENTIAL COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONCENTRATOR AND A STAFF WRITER AND COPY EDITOR AT BPR.
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er, while it seems that Beijing has bitten the bullet and reconfigured its policies in Libya to support the rebels, it has been slower to shift away from the still-standing strongmen in Caracas. Since 2007, the China Development Bank has lent Venezuela $42.5 billion, collateralized by revenue from the world’s largest oil reserves. This is more than the $29 billion that the United States spent rebuilding Iraq between 2003 and 2006. Numerous deals in the past years have also established funds to provide capital for infrastructure projects and oil field development in the country — all, in turn, for repayment in oil from Venezuelan wells. In November 2013, Venezuela was reported to export 640,000 barrels a day to China, about 310,000 of which were used to pay back loans. The loans effectively cemented Chinese influence over former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who regularly spoke of recovering Venezuela’s sovereignty after decades of subjugation by the U.S. empire. Ironically, Chávez’s legacy is not Venezuelan independence, but an increased dependence on the Chinese to counterbalance dependence on the West. Those loans, in addition to securing large deliveries of oil, have returned in the form of contracts with Chinese state-run companies. These conglomerates gained stakes in Venezuela’s oil industry after American businesses abandoned the country under the threat of nationalization. In the wake of this Western exodus, the mismanagement of the government petroleum company, Petroleos de Venezuela, has made Chinese investment even more necessary. Venezuela has historically used much of China’s investment in order to fund lavish social spending — a practice which Chávez’s political heir, Nicolás Maduro, has continued. In December 2013, Maduro announced that he had closed a deal for $5 billion in credit from China that he would use for the development of welfare schemes. However, the cost of these projects goes beyond their nominal price tags. Years of populist mismanagement has left Venezuela with a looming currency crisis, massive inflation, corruption and inefficiency. All of this should be of concern to
HOW TO FORGET YOUR EX Away from Russia and the West, Ukraine is building an identity for itself. STORY BY ATHENA BRYAN / ART BY ANDREW STEARNS
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here’s something archetypal about the ignominious flight of a newly unseated despot — Louis XVI, the Tsar and the Shah all come to mind. It is tempting to add former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to this list and declare his flight a success for a Western vision of Ukraine. On February 21, Yanukovych disappeared from the Ukrainian presidential mansion, finally capitulating to weeks of pressure from street protests that had reached a violent apex days before. International leadership in European and American political circles was quick to revel in the president’s flight. Yet to couch the events of Ukraine’s revolution in this narrative is to absolve the West of its chronic absenteeism. As Ukraine begins to face off against Russia, it does so on its own terms. Ukraine’s battle against Russia is far from won, with the near-total dominance of the Russian Federation unlikely to evaporate soon. Since long before the recent protests, Western journalists have presented Ukraine as a country teetering on an East-West split. This model is inaccurate, as it suggests a battle pitched between Europe and Russia that has never been fought. More importantly, in neglecting Russia’s long history
as Ukraine’s colonizer, it overlooks the core issue at hand: Ukraine’s struggle for self-determination and national sovereignty. The backdrop of this struggle traces back to Ukraine’s now-infamous 2004 presidential election, where electoral results were unscrupulously rigged by Viktor Yanukovych, the candidate favoring pro-Russia policies. A massive peaceful protest dubbed the Orange Revolution forced the government’s hand, and the elections were redone. Viktor Yushchenko then assumed the presidency. His administration has since been regarded largely as a failure; the economy was not structurally reformed and corruption remained widespread. The image of a faltering Ukrainian government was also bolstered by heavy-handed Russian political maneuvers, which cultivated influence in Ukrainian affairs and put enormous economic and political strain on Kiev. When Yushchenko was elected, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that “Ukraine should think twice about any such embrace of the West.” What happened during the next few years made this a well-founded threat. The Ukrainian economy shrank by over 20 percent from 2008 to 2009 — largely because of punitive
stoppages of natural gas through Russian pipelines. For Russia, the resource has been a perfect political bludgeon; the state is virtually the sole provider of natural gas for nine Eastern and Central European countries. One telling statistic demonstrates the political power captured in the so-called Ukrainian-Russian “Gas Wars”: In 2003, 28 percent of Ukrainians expressed their belief that good relations with Russia were of paramount importance, but in 2008, after the Gas Wars, this number had almost doubled to 51 percent. It is hardly surprising, then, that 2010 witnessed the reelection of Yanukovych — the very same pro-Russian politician whose rigged election drove Ukrainians into the street for the Orange Revolution. Russian manipulation of Ukraine is nothing new. Gas prices shot up tenfold during a standoff over nuclear warheads in 1992. Then in 1993, Russia offered to forgive Ukraine’s gas debt for the modest price of total Russian control of the Sevastopol fleet on the Black Sea. Russia has repeated these tactics as recently as 2006 and 2009, years of Ukrainian elections. The same tactics were evident in a $15 billion aid package proposed in 2013 that is qualified strict-
ly on who governs Ukraine. Without considering decades of Russia’s hardball economic tactics, the West will continue to misapprehend Ukraine’s opposition. Protesters don’t represent a singular Western faction leveraging political interests against an Eastern one. Nor do Eastern sympathizers necessarily appraise a geopolitical alignment with Russia as beneficial or productive. Rather, Russia has employed tough economic and political strategies to tie Ukraine down. When Ukrainian politicians sympathetic to Russian interests attempted to quell protests by offering the opposition a chance for representation in the government, the opposition turned it down. It’s not a seat in the capital that protesters demand, but a Ukraine free from Russian marionette strings. Russia’s economic hegemony means that even without its preferred politicians in power, it still looms large over Ukrainian borders. At the beginning of the protests, Russia bared its teeth, recalling its ambassador from Kiev and questioning the legitimacy of interim president Oleksandr Turchynov. Russia clamped its jaws around Ukraine’s southeastern region of Crimea at the beginning of March, sending troops across the Ukrainian border. Russia’s aggression surpassed posturing to become a vigorous display of colonialist aspirations towards Ukraine. Kiev quickly warned Russia that further aggression would cause a full-blown war between the nations and
AFTER YANUKOVYCH REFUSED AN EU FREE TRADE DEAL, THE REACTION WAS A SHRUG. MERKEL’S MUTED COMMENT WAS ONLY: “UNFORTUNATELY, NOT ALL EXPECTATIONS WERE FULFILLED.”
through economic policies represents a passive endorsement of Russian geopolitics, but its even subtler participation in the cultural erosion of Ukraine actually represents a willing one. Like the Gas Wars, culture serves as a powerful tool that the Russian Federation uses to bolster its widespread influence upon Ukrainian political, economic and cultural apparatuses. So far, the West has not done nothing — just nothing that has had a significant effect. After Yanukovych fled the capital, the West triumphantly entered, despite its period of absenteeism, and declared itself a mentor in a revisionist history, sending in Ashton to negotiate the future of Ukrainian nation-building. A diplomat is less than what protesters in Libya or Egypt ever received. Naively, the EU re-proposed its free trade deal, confident it had ousted Russian influence. NATO and the United States have yet to commit to concrete action in the face of military aggression from Russia. While the international community does not remain wholly oblivious to Ukraine’s current violence and instability, they have not — and cannot — address the core issues, which reside more in Ukraine’s imprisonment under Russia’s political and economic thumb than in their own struggle for reform in those areas. Even if a Western aid package is eventually produced, aid is a good solution, but only to a temporary problem. Ukraine has been defined, more than anything, by suffering. From the mass starvation of the Holodomor to Chernobyl to today’s hellish turmoil, a pessimistic prediction could basically claim the country’s entire history as a precedent. Yet Ukrainians have been defiant of their seemingly impossible situation, with a steadfastness that belies hope and conviction stronger than the West seems to comprehend. The image of a Ukraine looking westward is a tremendous belittlement of the country’s struggle. Russia should not project its empire onto Ukraine, nor should the West project its own narratives. Escaping the jaws of Russia is a feat that has eluded Ukrainians for centuries. If the West is unwilling or unable to help them in this latest conflict, they can at least recognize the story for what it is. It is not an archetypal myth of democrats versus despots, but the narrative of a country struggling with its own history, identity and pain. u ATHENA BRYAN ‘15.5 IS A HISTORY CONCENTRATOR AND A STAFF WRITER AT BPR.
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called for backup from NATO. After the initial invasion, Washington was swift to contact and threaten Putin, and NATO began to talk up their response, but President Barack Obama was nevertheless criticized for his meek approach to the crisis. At press time, a Western military response looks less than likely. The West can barely contend with Russia for influence, nor has it often seemed to try. During Ukraine’s long history of gas conflicts, the West has been largely unwilling to discuss taking actions that would actually make them a player in protecting Ukraine against Russia’s economic maneuvers. In November, after Yanukovych refused an EU free trade deal under Rus-
sian pressure, the body’s reaction was essentially a shrug. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s muted comment on the talks was only: “Unfortunately, not all expectations were fulfilled.” Hints of a combined U.S.-Europe aid package followed, but Europe’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was quick to note that they would not be entering a “bidding war” with Russia. The EU was quick to dismiss the protesters’ cause after their proposed deal was shot down. Yet when the protests achieved major results, the West somehow managed to portray the moment as its victory. How can the West participate in a game it doesn’t understand? A critical failure of the East-West fallacy is its inability to contextualize Ukraine’s internal conflict in a post-colonial narrative. The West makes no clear cultural distinction between Ukrainians and Russians and understandably so, given the long history of Ukrainian repression. Soviet crackdowns of Ukrainian opposition (in the 1930s and 1970s) involved explicit discouragement of the use of the Ukrainian language. This was part of a pattern of activity that included the mass killings of the Ukrainian avant-garde of the 1920s — the would-be producers of Ukrainian culture. In addition, because Russia has long been the cultural epicenter of Eastern Europe, Eastern Europeans would go to Russia if they wanted a full education. Cultural producers were drained away from native cultures and added to the Russian canon. Take the Ukrainian Mykola Hohol, who left for Russia as a young man and would go on to publish the first great Russian novel as Nikolai Gogol. Because Westerners use “Soviet” interchangeably with “Russian,” the work of former satellite states is still ascribed to Russia, allowing the Soviet Union to stifle these countries in perpetuity. The result is a homogeneous ex-Soviet culture primed for Western consumption. Russia’s cultural dominance permeates even the language with which the Western media views Ukraine. Ukraine’s capital is referred to with the Russian “Kiev” by the American press, rather than the Ukrainian “Kyiv.” And Americans frequently refer to Ukraine as “the” Ukraine, likely derived from the Russian pronoun that denotes its object as a region — not an independent country with a separate identity. Culture and rhetoric matter, forming the basis for Western understanding of Ukraine’s identity and politics. The West’s relatively quiet onlooking as Russia strong-arms Ukraine
THE WAITING GAME Kerry’s about-face on the pivot to Asia STORY BY I NAISHAD KAI-REN / ART BY GOYO KWON
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t the World Economic Forum in January, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stoked international controversy when he compared relations between China and Japan to those between Germany and Britain just before the outbreak of World War I. In that context, United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s seeming disinterest in the Asia-Pacific theater is disconcerting to say the least. Kerry’s speech at the same forum granted a few lines to the Asia-Pacific region, but he spent the majority of his time addressing Middle Eastern conflicts. This isn’t the first sign of disengagement from Kerry, who just “doesn’t really do Asia,” according to Ian Bremmer, founder of the political research and consulting firm Eurasia Group. This was not always the Obama administration’s policy. Just two years ago, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the U.S. foreign policy focus for the 21st century. Coining the phrase “pivot to Asia,” Clinton sought to redefine U.S. foreign priorities in an era when Asia is increasingly economically pertinent. This strategy marked a departure from traditional U.S. foreign policy, which had until then been primarily concerned with ties and developments in Europe and the Middle East. The proposed pivot sought to give the United States an early advantage in forming strong relations with a region on the rise. Many Asian leaders welcomed the rebalancing of the U.S. strategic imperative. Fast forward to 2014, however, and the picture is remarkably different. Asian leaders are beginning to openly question American diplomatic and economic commitments to the region. Concern over the United States’ lack of participation is symptomatic of a greater unease surrounding China’s escalating regional dominance. While American presence was presumed to be a counterbalancing force against China’s strength, China has continued to grow as the United States has shifted its focus back towards the Middle East. Perhaps Clinton promised too much
when she penned her pivotal article in Foreign Policy. In it she highlighted six key tenets of the pivot: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening the United States’ working relationships with emerging powers, including China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights. Yet the article’s unwritten objective of keeping China in check, which initially drew support from other Asian leaders, is now the subject of great scrutiny. Clinton rejects the notion that America seeks to constrain China and its growth, focusing instead on the economic and diplomatic strategy of counterbalancing, rather than the military strategy of containment. However, most foreign policy observers agree that containment is the aspect of the pivot that has materialized most convincingly. By 2020, the United States is projected to shift 60 percent of its naval assets and overseas-based air force to the Asia-Pacific region, and transfers have already been taking place as the United States places several of the Navy’s newest ships in Singapore. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates subtly implied China was the reason for the move. While the United States eagerly engaged the region in the year following the pivot’s launch, diplomatic enthusiasm has now cooled — a shift marked by the State Department’s change of staff. Clinton memorably made her first trip as secretary of state to Asia, but her successor, John Kerry, chose instead to begin his term with a tour of nine European and Middle Eastern countries. This signaled Kerry’s divergent set of priorities, the list of which is crowned by an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Furthermore, the Syrian civil war and overtures made by Iran to mend its soured relationship with the United States have demanded much of Kerry’s attention, reinforcing the Middle Eastern theme of U.S. foreign policy. Given that Kerry simply does not seem
to be as skilled a diplomat as Clinton, Asian leaders’ concerns with his neglect of their region are understandable. In 2012, China flew state aircraft into disputed airspace for the first time since 1958, angering Japan, which claimed the same area. Clinton, still secretary of state at that time, warned the Chinese off and issued a strong statement against “any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration.” Just after Clinton stepped down in January 2013, a Chinese military frigate
allegedly locked its weapon-targeting radar on a Japanese naval vessel. Barely days into his job, Secretary Kerry hardly provided a reassuring statement to the Japanese. Without rhetorical support — and with U.S. interests drifting away — America’s Asian allies have been left to face a changing Asia on their own. In addition to diplomatic neglect, the United States’ unconvincing pivot to Asia has disappointed Asian nations econom-
Abe’s provocative comparison to World War I. Incidentally, the United States has individual mutual defense treaties with both Japan and South Korea, which require it to support them in a conflict if that conflict is provoked by a third-party aggressor. Allowing China to define the status quo in the region, especially when the United States could be drawn into a war, is hardly in the nation’s best interests. Lacking strong U.S. support, many countries will have to stand alone against China’s aggressive regional policies. In July 2013, Japan exacerbated tensions in the region with its Defense White Paper. This was postured as a response to the Chinese military frigate’s locking of its weapon-targeting radar on a Japanese naval vessel. Japan alleged that China had “attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion, which is incompatible with the existing order of international law.” This is not merely tough rhetoric from the Japanese government. Across the region, nations have allocated increasingly larger portions of their budgets to military expenditures. In the past three years, defense spending in the Asia-Pacific region has grown by 9.4 percent, with a significant 4.7 percent increase in 2013 alone. China has contributed to most of this growth, increasing its military spending last year by over 6 percent. This year, its defense budget is forecasted to eclipse that of France, Britain and Germany combined, sparking fears of China’s potential use of force in regional disputes. Military spending across the region has increased to counterbalance this, giving rise to a vicious circle. Without a convincing U.S. response to standoffs, the ball will soon be in China’s court to craft the parameters of regional foreign policy. And if the United States becomes further disengaged from the region, China’s neighbors will be in for a truly tough time. Manila learned this the hard way after Typhoon Haiyan wrecked the Philippines. While the United States and Japan pledged $37 and $10 million in relief assistance respectively, China initially provided a measly $100,000 in cash. Even after an international outcry, Beijing only increased its humanitarian aid to $1.6 million — significantly less than the $2.7 million Ikea offered. The disparity between the aid packages is but one difference between China and its neighbors — as increased military jockeying shows. Military experts agree that, if anything, the ballooning defense
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ically. President Obama’s absence at the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in Bali, Indonesia tellingly drew criticism from Asian leaders. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the United States had missed out on a “golden opportunity…to show leadership in that context of the new emphasis towards Asia,” while Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called Obama’s absence a “great disappointment.” Moreover, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations proposed by President
Obama, which will see 12 nations profit from enhanced trade and investment, have been progressing at a sluggish pace. Talks with the proposed trade partners have yet to be concluded and there is no foreseeable end date for the deal, as the Obama administration lacks Congressional support for the bill. Yet while the United States holds back, China is vying for control of Asia. In an era when fear of China and its potential is building in the United States, it is prudent to realize that a half-hearted version of the pivot to Asia only concedes control to the state with the most territory, biggest economy and strongest military in the region. The Obama administration has sought to reassure China that the pivot is economic, not militaristic, but nevertheless, China’s suspicions surrounding American intentions are an open secret. Xinhua, the state press agency, interpreted the pivot as “trying to drive a wedge between China and some of its Southeast Asian neighbors, which have enjoyed ‘20 years of steady friendship.’” Given the new American ambivalence, the Chinese have seized the lead in asserting regional hegemony. In 2013, Beijing declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that overlapped with the Taiwanese and South Korean ADIZs. China’s new ADIZ also includes the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are at the heart of a dispute with the Japanese. This latest act of belligerence comes as part of a series of protracted conflicts between China and its East Asian neighbors, Japan and South Korea. It’s also the event that prompted Japanese Prime Minister
budgets and continued series of conflicts in the region bring amplified opportunities for contact between the various militaries, exponentially increasing the chances of an accidental confrontation. Such a confrontation — especially if it included major powers like China and Japan — could have global consequences. Although it seems unlikely that the world’s second and third largest economies would risk their material growth for nationalistic pride, the region is still in need of a calming influence to check the current rapid militarization. This is the perfect opportunity for the United States to reassert its pivot. But while a firm pivot would allow it to contend with China, the United States would also need to ease the friction between its close allies, Japan and South Korea. The two East Asian neighbors are locked in yet another territorial dispute over a chain of islets, known as Dokdo to the Koreans and Takeshima to the Japanese.
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UNDERLYING THE REGION’S CALM IS A BED OF UNCERTAINTY. CHINA, JAPAN AND, MORE RELUCTANTLY, THE UNITED STATES ARE ALL JOCKEYING FOR POWER. AMIDST THE FLURRY OF ACTIVITY, THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS ARE WAITING FOR A FIRM AMERICAN RESPONSE. IT IS DIFFICULT TO SAY, THOUGH, HOW LONG THESE STATES’ PATIENCE WILL LAST.
Their antagonistic history has made American mediation all but necessary. On the economic front, delays in American TPP negotiations have opened up a new window of opportunity for intra-regional economic collaboration. Both China and Japan are courting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose combined GDP is already larger than India’s — despite having a population just half its size. In 2013 alone, both China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang met with ASEAN leaders. They have proposed improving the terms of the existing China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, while floating the notion of a “community of common destiny,” rhetorically highlighting that China is committed to the region for the long haul. Japan wasn’t going to miss the party. Abe bettered his Chinese counterparts by personally visiting all 10 ASEAN countries in a calendar year
and pledging an additional $1.65 billion in overseas development assistance and investment loans, reminding international observers of Japan’s largely understated regional influence. All this has ASEAN leaders quietly pleased with the state of international affairs. While Vietnam and Malaysia continue to have territorial spats with China, they are relatively small players in the South China Sea dispute, which now seems more likely to be shelved than resolved. China will not want to risk angering its newly-courted partners, especially when they could easily turn to the United States and the free trade bill it has proposed. The ASEAN as an organization has always been cautious about declaring political loyalties, preferring to maintain a solid policy of nonalignment. Barely five years after its formation, ASEAN leaders affirmed the Zone of Peace Freedom and Neutrality Declaration, stating that Southeast Asia should be “free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers.” As Singaporean Prime Minister Lee put it, the ASEAN would “like to have [their] cake and eat it.” In the same tradition as the United States, Japan and China’s recent generosity indicates that economic assistance is clearly used as a means of capturing political loyalty. This latest courtship will be a stern test of the association’s resolve. But underlying the region’s calm is a bed of uncertainty. China, Japan and, more reluctantly, the United States are all jockeying for power. Amidst the flurry of activity, the ASEAN member states are waiting for a firm American response. Despite American reticence, the United States maintains an advantage in the game that Japan and, more importantly, China, do not possess. Given its geographical distance, economic largess, and status as a dominant world power, it can bide its time before providing a robust reinvigoration of the pivot. It is difficult to say, though, how long the ASEAN states’ patience will last. Recently, President of the Philippines Benigno S. Aquino III insinuated a comparison between China and Hitler, alluding to Chinese control of the Scarborough Shoal, despite an agreement stating that both parties should withdraw until the status of its ownership was decided. He noted that the “Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II.” But Aquino’s concern is not necessarily representative of all ASEAN states, since he is undoubtedly trying to rally the world’s
support for the Filipino cause. Once a more neutral ASEAN leader — one who’s not directly involved in a conflict with China — sounds the alarm, China will have grave cause for concern. So far, all such players have maintained the ASEAN veil of neutrality. Due to its proximity to the ASEAN member states, China cannot play the same waiting game as the United States, but it can influence how long the patience of the ASEAN states will last. Should the Chinese continue to adopt military policies that contradict their economic efforts, they will only accelerate the process of turning their Asian neighbors towards the United States. With China’s track record of being unafraid to act unilaterally and impose its will on its neighbors, the region is wary of Chinese dominance. It might take China years to build up a benevolent image that inspires its neighbors’ trust, but if it does, the United States may lose its influential edge. The United States cannot afford to wait long for signs of trouble to appear before making a concerted effort to shore up the pivot. The lack of trouble is precisely what may drive Asian allies to more Sino-friendly foreign policy. ASEAN nations may soon decide that hedging their bets on an ambivalent America is not in their long-term interests, especially in an era of Western fiscal austerity. The U.S. defense budget has tellingly been in decline since 2011, when it peaked at just under $700 billion. This year, it is forecasted to be $612.4 billion, with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel planning to shrink the Army to pre-WWII levels. Washington is steadily losing the luxury of time. China’s dominance is not only pushing other nations into more radical actions that could drag the United States into wars, it is also solidifying its economic relations and building trust with other Asian countries. The United States has too many key interests in the region to contemplate pulling out just yet, and Obama needs to develop a comprehensive strategy to win back Asian-Pacific leaders before a new regional hierarchy emerges. Unless the United States switches tracks, the coming shift in power will leave it behind. Even if Secretary Kerry started booking more trips to the East, reasserting the American pivot to Asia will not be an easy feat. Hillary Clinton, while still secretary of state, famously mused in a document released by WikiLeaks: “How do you deal toughly with your banker?” u I NAISHAD KAI-REN ‘17 IS A HISTORY CONCENTRATOR.
THE SUBCONTINENT’S HOUSEKEEPERS The common man is cleaning up corruption.
STORY BY GAE LEANZA / ART BY KATRINA MACHADO gram based on radical Gandhian notions of self-government or Swaraj: Placing control in the hands of local communities, holding open town hall meetings and making important decisions based on voter input are all central tenants of the AAP’s self-governance platform. Populist measures that the party supports, such as lowering the price of electricity and offering free potable water, are direct responses to demands made by the movement’s support base. The AAP’s vision revolves around a mass experiment in participatory democracy: The party paints itself as a mechanism for giving citizens the tools to represent themselves by decentralizing political decision-making and focusing on the local level. This strategy is working. As the party’s ranks expand, its model — and with it, the idea of people’s power — is gaining traction. Arvind Kejriwal — the party’s head and an engineer trained in one of the country’s best technology schools — embodies the motif of the noble outsider on a crusade to clean up a broken system. He lives by the AAP’s anti-establishment political creed: using public transport, living in a modest three-bedroom flat and meeting personally to talk with disenfranchised rickshaw drivers. In doing so, Kejriwal successfully cultivates the image of a common man. But looks may be deceiving — and the AAP’s adherence to populist doctrine has not been without pitfalls. According to media allegations, AAP leader Somnath Bharti conducted a vigilante raid on an apartment
EMILIO LEANZA ‘15 IS A HISTORY AND ANTHROPOLOGY CONCENTRATOR.
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orruption is common in India, but the country’s newest political ensemble, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has a platform that defies the trend. Earlier this year, the AAP, which was established in 2012, surprised pundits and politicos alike by reaping astonishing results in Delhi’s state elections. The party embraces an ideology that advocates for the ordinary working-class man — just as its English translation, the Common Man’s Party, would suggest — and works towards anticorruption measures designed to foster better governance and increase transparency in the public sector. Motivated by the AAP’s iconic broom insignia, India’s citizens elected the party to several seats in the Delhi state legislature. The AAP’s message that the working class has the power to sweep the dust off of an establishment characterized by rampant corruption, crony capitalism and bureaucratic inefficiency had stuck. The AAP, however, is more than just another political opponent for the established parties — it’s a populist challenge to the prevailing style of governance. The two main parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the India National Congress (INC), appeal to their electorates through religious affiliation and economic policy. The latter emphasizes secularism, whereas the former has known connections with several Hindu fundamentalist organizations. Both avidly support increased liberalization of the Indian market. But the AAP claims to offer an alternative political pro-
complex housing several African students accused of running a drug and prostitution ring, after failing to convince judicial authorities to intervene. A protest was held in favor of Bharti’s decision to take the law into his own hands, but this also elicited many of AAP’s supporters to question the party’s ability — or willingness — to check violence against marginalized communities. Shots aimed at party politicians and skepticism about just whom the party represents have been combined with larger critiques about the party’s leftist roots. Surjit Bhalla, chairman of an Indian financial advisory company, has said that members of the AAP “really have zero clue about how the world has changed. Their economic policies hark back to the 1960s or ‘70s.” Fears about the viability of populism have also upset establishment leaders, such as senior politician Salman Khurshid, who has claimed that the “AAP has some of the worst kind of third rate people across the country…they smell of anarchy.” But even such harsh critiques are failing to make a strong dent in the AAP’s growing reputation as the anticorruption party. The party has launched a nationwide anticorruption campaign and is organizing rallies in 24 states. In Delhi, the AAP established a hotline for constituents to call in and report government corruption. And after only 49 days of being in office, Kejriwal announced his resignation from the legislative assembly. Kejriwal was commended for the move after portraying his decision as a principled act of protest against a corrupt government, and especially against established politicians connected to Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest businessman and energy tycoon. Ambani, recently the subject of an AAP corruption investigation, once claimed that the nation’s legislative assemblies were akin to his personal store. The AAP’s apparent refusal to be bought, then, offers a real possibility of a government outside the pocket of India’s economic elite. The AAP’s reputation for anticorruption principles may well come to the party’s aid in the May elections, where it is reportedly planning on putting hundreds of candidates up for office. Whether the party remains viable in the long-term or not, the AAP’s presence shows there is grassroots support for a radical reconfiguration of India’s political cronyism and for a restored focus on India’s common man. u
BPR Media Spotlight: Yeme PHOTOGRAPHY BY RUBA ALERYANI
en’s Arab Spring
Top: A protester stands on the roof of a bus to document demonstrators as they march through the streets near Change Square in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city. September 2, 2011. Blue graffiti on wall: “We want an educated president.” Red graffiti on wall: “We are coming.” Protester’s sign: “Leave and get out. The eye of truth.” Left: A protester holds up a peace sign during a demonstration on Zera’a Street in Sana’a. April 4, 2011.
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These photographs are a look back at Yemen’s 2011 revolution, which was first triggered by a mass desire to change the political structure and put an end to corruption and unemployment. As demonstrations escalated, protesters’ demands expanded to include an end to Yemen’s dictatorial family rule. In February 2012, protesters succeeded in ousting President of 33 years Ali Abdullah Saleh after more than a year of protests and over 2,000 casualties. Since then, former Vice President Abdo Rabo Mansour Hadi has been in power as interim president, guiding Yemen in its transition to a federalist democracy. Although Yemen has struggled in its path towards stability, the revolution has nevertheless brought about some positive results, from the National Dialogue Conference, which ended this past January, to the creation of a national unity government. Recently, as a measure to safeguard this transition process, the U.N. Security Council voted to impose sanctions on those who attempt to obstruct Yemen’s path towards change. See the rest of the photo essay in the Media section at www.brownpoliticalreview.org.
ETHAN NADELMANN Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit advocating for more liberal drug laws. He was formerly a professor of political science at Princeton University. INTERVIEW BY HENRY KNIGHT What liberties are at stake in the War on Drugs? I think that the most fundamental is the criminalization of people for the simple possession of small amounts [of drugs] for their own use. There’s a core principle at stake, which is that in a free society, nobody should be punished simply for what they put into their body, absent harm to others. I think that there is no legitimate basis in ethics, medicine or even the Bible for making a legal distinction between people who use or are addicted to alcohol or tobacco and those who use or are addicted to heroin or LSD. That’s the most serious violation of human rights we find in the Drug War.
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David Brooks’ recent piece, “Weed: Been There, Done That,” seems to imply a mutual exclusivity between using marijuana and achieving at a high level. How do you respond to that point? It was an utterly absurd piece and I think he was rightly ripped to shreds for it. It was about the silliest form of paternalistic thinking I can imagine showing up in a reputable publication. He essentially ignores the racial disproportionalities and injustice of the way that marijuana laws are enforced. He ignores the fact that marijuana is already widely available. I was almost embarrassed for him.
What does the Drug Policy Alliance do to combat racial disparities in drug law enforcement? We’ve been deeply involved in the efforts to roll back the mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses at both the state and federal level. We designed and won a ballot initiative in California in 2000 — Proposition 36 — that prohibited the incarceration of people for simple drug possession, provided they didn’t have a criminal history. We’ve been heavily involved in the effort in New York City to target the [police department’s] policy of arresting massive numbers of young, black men for having marijuana in their pockets. I think more people are now aware of the fact that if you were to randomly stop 100 young black men, 100 young white men, and 100 young Hispanic men and put your hands in their pockets, roughly the same percent would have marijuana. But in every town in America, the black kids are far more likely to get arrested for that offense. How do you combat the popularly held notion that drugs are dangerous under any circumstances? The public perception of marijuana is increasingly catching up with empirical evidence. A growing percentage of Americans understand that marijuana isn’t that dangerous or addictive and that nobody dies from smoking it responsibly. I think that the whole medical marijuana issue helped to transform the public discussion around marijuana. It enabled people to see that marijuana was a medicine for many people, especially the elderly ill. With respect to other drugs, it’s a much greater challenge that requires relentless public education. The conversation surrounding the recent death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman shows that Americans remain profoundly uneducated and misinformed about the
realities of heroin. Most people think that an overdose happens because you take too much heroin or too much of a pharmaceutical opiate, when in fact, so far as we can tell, most overdose fatalities result not just from taking too much of a drug, but from potentiating it with alcohol or sleeping pills. Remarkably few Americans know about the heroin maintenance programs that exist in a half-dozen European countries, whereby people who get addicted to illegal street heroin can get a legal prescription for pharmaceutical-grade heroin and that their lives improve as a result. We’re constantly trying to get information out in our public education, media appearances and testimony before state legislatures. Do you think the movement to legalize other drugs, like LSD, will follow a similar path as marijuana has? I think that psychedelics are the most likely class of drugs to be legalized next, but the approach will be very different than with marijuana…I think the legalization of psychedelics will occur through a revised regulatory process. Last year, the New Zealand parliament enacted a law allowing producers of new synthetic drugs to undergo a legal regulatory process similar to F.D.A. review. Whether or not their drugs were approved for legal production and sale depended on the extent to which they demonstrated their relative margins of safety. That’s the process whereby we’ll see an opening. Where do you see the marijuana legalization movement progressing from here? We plan to focus on passing marijuana legalization initiatives in Oregon, Florida and Alaska, getting decriminalization and medical marijuana legalization bills out of committee in a growing number of state legislatures and making sure [recent legalization laws in] Colorado and Washington continue to roll out effectively. In D.C. we’ve been working very closely with the city council to pass what will likely be the most expansive marijuana decriminalization bill ever. The real challenge for the Drug Policy Alliance is to keep the ball moving down the field. President Obama has not strictly enforced federal drug law where it conflicts with state drug law. How do you reconcile the disparate views of local, state and federal government in coming up with a streamlined drug policy? Given that Congress has been pathetically incapable of doing the right thing with respect to marijuana policy, I have to hand it to the Obama administration. What they’ve done in the past six months has been historic. Their efforts to allow Colorado and Washington to proceed responsibly with legally regulating and taxing marijuana, while avoiding a head on confrontation with federal law, have been remarkably constructive. The memorandums issued by the Justice Department, which gave Colorado and Washington a qualified green light to implement their initiatives, and the Treasury Department, which created space for federally regulated banks to do business with the marijuana industry, were really bold steps forward.
DIANE DUKE Diane Duke is the CEO of the Free Speech Coalition and former Senior Vice President of Planned Parenthood in Southwest Oregon. She previously worked with the Eugene Human Rights Commission fighting on behalf of marriage equality.
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL CHERNIN
There was a recent industry moratorium during which video production was halted, because there were a few potential cases of HIV in the community. Were there any differences in the reactions between owners of the entertainment companies themselves and the actual performers? When we have a moratorium, I very seldom sleep. I’m not losing sleep because of the producers — they have film in the bank. I’m losing sleep because of the performers. I want to stop the moratorium as soon as possible, while also ensuring the protection of the performers. We have an advisory council consisting of producers, performers, agents and medical professionals that talks about these issues. It’s been really effective. But those who I call “the leeches of the industry” try to publicize and sensationalize it in the media. Performer privacy is paramount. We speak to the
mainstream media because we have to keep rumors at bay. 18 U.S. Code § 2257 is the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. The overarching idea is to protect minors from entering the industry. You claim that it mandates excessive record-keeping. You’ve spoken out against this and taken it to court. What would be a viable alternative to protect minors in the industry? Even if there are no youths involved, if you’re shooting just 80-year-olds, and you misfile a piece of paper, you can get five years in prison for each misfiling. You’re not going to find that kind of regulation in any other industry. Additionally, the F.B.I. can come into your place of business without a warrant and search records unannounced. The burden of that law starts with the assumption that people in the adult entertainment industry are pedophiles. [Code] 2257 makes us prove that we aren’t pedophiles. The other problem is what they call “secondary producers.” If you just take a picture of a [video] box cover and it’s on your website, you are now responsible for having [performers’ names, aliases, addresses, etc.] We want to check IDs, and the person behind the camera will keep a record of that. If somebody has an underage person in their video, then have at them. But I think the government always wants to regulate. Sex is such an easy thing for the government to attack. Even when I worked at Planned Parenthood, regarding sex education, there were hot buttons everywhere. I don’t think that our industry would have a problem with regulation if it were right-sized and effective. Measure B was a ballot initiative in L.A. that required condom usage in porn as a workplace safety mechanism. Despite lobbying efforts, it still passed. What went wrong in the process of fighting it? It would have been better if we had started earlier. That’s partially our responsibility. But, you know, we’re looking at an AIDS Healthcare Foundation that has a $750 million war chest. [It] can just sit there and write checks. I’m out there hitting the pavement. Our industry is a great industry, but it’s difficult to get everyone to rally. It’s an industry of independent groups, and everyone has an idea of how it should go. Many companies are now moving to Las Vegas to avoid jurisdictional issues. Do you think this is going to be kind of a “not in my backyard” problem, where the capital of the industry is continually shifting? Las Vegas is a place that’s really concerned about jobs. One of the things that you’ll find is that our industry pays living wages and we bring a lot of revenue to the communities that we’re working in. Las Vegas had horrible unemployment. You need to understand the importance of industries that pay living wages and follow regulations. A lot of areas are welcoming us with open arms. So no, I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
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Could you provide a brief overview of what the Free Speech Coalition does? We’re the trade association for the adult entertainment industry, so we’re like the chamber of commerce. We lobby and litigate for the industry. We look for business trends and help with networking and education. We encompass not only the adult industry on the Internet, but also the adult pleasure products industry. How did you get into lobbying for the pornography industry? I was concerned about people’s civil liberties. It really hit home that I would be on the front lines fighting for freedom of expression. I truly believe that the glass ceiling for women is owning and asserting their sexuality. People see female [adult] performers as victims, but these are some of the most powerful women that I’ve ever met. Coming out about being in the porn industry feels similar to when I came out as a lesbian. I go to church every Sunday and people know exactly what I do. I don’t hide who I am. There’s a freedom that comes with that. Likewise, these actors enjoy sex, and they’re forthright about it. Society paints these women either as victims or sluts, and neither is the case. This was a natural progression from my human rights work — advocating for personal liberties and women’s rights. It’s important to note that the most sexist part of pornography is how men are treated. They’re paid less than women, and I would argue that their job is more complicated. How do you reconcile that with the way women are presented on camera? Is there anything in the way that these videos are filmed that might contradict what you’re saying about women being empowered and owning their sexuality? I remember walking through my first adult entertainment expo past a booth featuring a 300-pound woman in a G-string. She felt sexy and powerful. Hordes of people really appreciated everything about her. There’s a place for you in our industry; it doesn’t matter who you are. In pornography, you’re going to find disabled people, large-sized people…We don’t discriminate. I’d argue it’s what the media focuses on that causes problems.
OLYMPIA SNOWE Olympia Snowe is a former Republican Senator from Maine. She recently retired from the Senate and launched Olympia’s List, a centrist political action committee focused on ending gridlock in Washington.
INTERVIEW BY HENRY KNIGHT
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What is the mission of Olympia’s List and how do you envision its future? I created [Olympia’s List] because I want to support candidates in electoral primaries that are centrists willing to work across the political aisle. Right now, more ideologically-driven candidates are emerging from the primaries...I’m going to contribute to those who are willing to maximize the potential of public office... [and] expose these candidates to a larger platform nationally. In conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center, I launched Citizens for Political Reform last spring…to implement initiatives — such as independent redistricting commissions, open primaries and perhaps campaign finance reform — that we think could dilute the ideological impact of the polarizing political environment we’re grappling with today.
The individual mandate was originally proposed as the conservative alternative to President Clinton’s employer mandate plan in the 1990s. Now Republicans in the House have voted to repeal it more than 40 times. How have party politics shifted that drastically in just 20 years? It’s interesting, when I look back on my own career in public office…how dramatically the whole legislative and political environment has transformed into…polarizing gridlock. Unfortunately, with respect to the Affordable Care Act, both sides were unwilling to work together to figure out what was possible. I was a member of the Gang of Six that tried to negotiate a compromise on health care reform. The A.C.A. broke down in the finance committee because it became so complex. The bottom line is that you need to have both sides weighing in on the issue. The individual mandate was a lightning rod. Despite the fact that I opposed it, I worked in the finance committee with Senator Schumer to lower the penalties in the first years, until it could be ascertained what these plans coming out of the health exchanges would cost. I didn’t like the whole notion, but I think members of Congress have a responsibility to make it work. When can we expect either of the major parties to accept the legitimacy of a law they fundamentally disagree with? I never thought it was a winning or achievable strategy to tie the defunding of the Affordable Care Act to funding the government or averting the breach in the debt ceiling. Because what’s to say that the next president won’t be denied the ability to implement a law enacted by Congress? We could go down that path in perpetuity, but obviously to the detriment of the country. Republicans have an obligation to try to find ways to improve the A.C.A., as do Democrats. If one side locks down, we’re never going to be in a position as a country to come up with solutions to major problems. It matters because it gets to the heart of bipartisanship. Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and welfare reform [are] all landmark ini-
tiatives woven into the fabric of our country because of those strong bipartisan margins in both the House and the Senate. Not a single Republican voted for the A.C.A...I came up with [health care] initiatives back in the early 2000s because I was a ranking member of the small business committee, and half of the uninsured in the whole country work for small businesses. Unfortunately, on my side they weren’t prepared to address those issues, even when we held the majority. Was it unwise to eliminate the use of the filibuster in judicial nominations? I think that it was unwise for the same reasons; I thought it was unwise in 2005 when the Republican majority leader proposed jettisoning the 60-vote requirement for judicial nominees. The Democrats were the minority, and they were filibustering some of President Bush’s nominations. You see what happens? Each employs the other’s tactics depending on what position they’re in. My concern is that you’re going to have this vicious, perpetual cycle of retaliation and vindictiveness, as opposed to figuring out how you face one another across a table and try to resolve those issues. That’s how the Senate should function — through accommodation and consensus. I regret the decision of the majority leader, because I’m concerned there could be tremendous pressure, if the Republicans regain the majority, to jettison the 60-vote requirement for [ending a filibuster on] legislation. And then you’re making the U.S. Senate a majority institution, which it was not designed to be. That was not the intention of our Founding Fathers. How do you approach changing someone’s mind in Congress? By talking to them and using facts. When he was in the Senate, Governor Chafee co-chaired the Centrist Coalition, a bipartisan group that I eventually co-chaired. It was the means by which we brought both sides together on big issues. Despite our passionate viewpoints, we could resolve our differences. We actually formed during the shutdown of 1995 precisely because we wanted to demonstrate to the public that bipartisanship was alive and well and that the legislative agenda would not be derailed. It became the predecessor to the Balanced Budget Act passed in 1997. You have to work with one another. You have to respect differing views, not lock down and say, “It’s my way or the highway,” which is precisely what’s happening these days. You argue and compete on the best of ideas, but at the end of the day, you do it with an understanding that you’re going to reconcile your differences. In the shutdown of 1995, there wasn’t really a question about whether or not we would be able to solve it. But during the shutdown last fall, everyone wondered if it was even possible. That’s a very different proposition from the past, and I think it has jarred the American people, resulting in a historic loss of confidence in our elected officials.
GEORGE AYITTEY George Ayittey is the president of the Free Africa Foundation, associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a professor at American University. Dr. Ayittey has been named one of the top 100 public intellectuals of our time by Foreign Policy magazine. INTERVIEW BY BENJAMIN KOATZ the center and in the hands of one individual, it will always lead to tyranny. A unitary state system is more suitable for a country with a uniform population. But when you talk about a population with a lot of different nationalities, it becomes more difficult. That model was not suitable for Africa. Africa has an indigenous system; it had empires before colonialism. Take the Ghanaian empire, the Malian empire — they were confederacies, imperial configurations that allowed for significant delegation of authority and decentralization of power. After independence we should have moved towards a political system that was characterized by devolution of power. The fact that we can’t has been the root of so many of our problems. You’ve spoken of using a political structure resembling a council of elders to help Africa become freer. What would that configuration look like? Traditional African governments have at least three units: the chief, the council of elders, which is autonomous, and the people. The chief and the council of elders together must reach a unanimous verdict. If they can’t, then they call a meeting for the people to debate it. In traditional Africa, we govern very directly. People can speak freely at our village meetings. Freedom of expression was not invented by the West. We have had these concepts for a long time all over Africa. If you have a bad chief, the council of elders can remove them. You have said that the only good dictator is a dead dictator. Do you stand by this? No dictator — civilian or military — has brought lasting prosperity to any African country. No one. Don’t come and tell me that we need a good dictator. We have never had one that has done well for the poor in our countries. Nonetheless, the Cheetah Generation [a new generation of African activists] is not involved in killing dictators. How do you evaluate Nelson Mandela’s legacy in Africa? Mandela is one of the greatest leaders of modern time in Africa. He wasn’t selfish, and when he wanted to dismantle the apartheid in South Africa, he chose a system based on the African village model...Mandela set up a convention of many delegations, representing almost all of the important people in South Africa — even right-wingers. When they came, they hammered out a new compact to move Africa forward, which is [an] unambiguously African [process]. Second, Mandela believed in reconciliation. The West believes that you punish the guilty. In traditional Africa, we believe that jurisprudence should focus on restitution, reconciliation and restoration of social harmony. Let’s say that you have two people fighting in your village. Anybody else in the village directly or indirectly affected will have a chance to speak. The chief will listen to all and make a decision. Mandela also only stayed for one term. The rest of the African leaders, on average, stayed for 14 years. That’s why he was different.
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You have frequently said, “Africa is poor because she is not free.” What do you mean by that statement? Africa is not politically, economically or intellectually free. The solutions for Africa’s problems have to come from within Africa. You can’t find solutions to problems when you don’t have intellectual freedom. Of the 55 African countries, fewer than 10 have freedom of expression, freedom of press and economic freedom, and fewer than 13 are democratic. We African people fought for freedom from colonial rule back in the 1960s, and we still are not free because all we gained from independence was to exchange sets of masters. We have governments that are totally useless, sponge off [the people] and don’t provide basic services like clean water, electricity and health care. But we can’t speak out against it, and the United States cannot bring change; if the West wants to help, then it should support what Africans are trying to do for their own countries. It is the people who must do it themselves. You need to have a free media removed from the hands of the government, an aggressive attorney general to go after the corrupt and prosecute them and an independent judiciary. The Free Africa Foundation aims to “devise African-based solutions to Africa’s problems” and shape a better understanding of how to effectively aid the continent. What has your work with the foundation entailed? I set up the Free Africa Foundation back in 1993 with the help of Nelson Mandela’s daughter and her husband. We fought against the apartheid system in South Africa. But with so much focus on South Africa, the rest of Africa was forgotten. So much attention went to white oppression of blacks in South Africa, but we have not paid the same attention to black Africans killing their own citizens. We never paid much attention to Rwanda, where more than one million people were slaughtered and an apartheid regime existed between the Hutus and the Tutsis...Our only work is freedom. We do not care about the color of the oppressor. Freedom is freedom; oppression is oppression. Too often people come to define freedom in racial terms. Independence was in name only for this very reason. We replaced the white man with new colonialists, and the oppression of the African people continued unabated. Is there a legacy of colonialism that makes it difficult for Africans to be free? The European model [of government] that we had in Africa during colonialism was something that we retained after independence, and that leaves a lot of power in the hands of a few people. This is a unitary state system, where all the important decisions are [made] in the capital, as opposed to a federal system, where the center has quite a lot of power, but the constituent parts have some power as well, or a confederate system. If you create an unequal system where you concentrate a lot of power in
GEORGE MILLER Rep. George Miller (D-CA-11) is a senior member of Congress who announced his plans to retire at the end of his current term after more than forty years in office.
INTERVIEW BY SARAH SACHS
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At the end of an illustrious political career, what piece of legislation are you most proud of? I have two favorites. One was the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, passed at the very beginning of my 40 years in Congress. Today it’s known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It required that children with disabilities and handicaps no longer be segregated from mainstream public schools. The second was when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act at the end of my term; I first ran for office in 1974 on a platform of ending the war in Vietnam and passing a national health care plan.
Is there any particular vote you would do differently if given the chance? The authorization to use force in Afghanistan after 9/11. President Bush told us at the time that this authorization was necessary to deal with the people who perpetrated Osama Bin Laden’s attacks. But instead it was used to expand the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. That was a bad vote. You introduced a bill in Congress last March to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. Even Bill O’Reilly supports the increase, and some polls indicate that a majority of Republican voters favor it. Majority Leader Eric Cantor asserted that Democrats can’t be taken seriously on the issue of the minimum wage. What’s causing the divide between Republican members of Congress and the greater Republican Party? The divide is caused by the fact that minimum wage workers, to most Republican members of Congress, are simply invisible. Republican Congressmen don’t understand how unfair it is that people go to work all day long and still end up with a sub-poverty wage. People like Bill O’Reilly and Ronald Unz from California — both staunch conservatives — recognize taxpayer safety net programs like food stamps, housing allowances and health care costs supplement those low wages. In many cases, the public picks up the cost for employers who simply don’t want to pay livable wages. Eighty percent of these workers are women, and many of them have children. They are working for wages at the 1968 level. They deserve a raise. It’s a question of fairness. The Republicans are pretty indifferent to these problems. Do you think that the bill raising the minimum wage will pass in the House eventually? I think eventually it’s going to pass, because it’s widely supported among Democrats and Republicans in every region of the country. People understand that it’s impossible to live on $7.25 an hour and go to work every day. Are there any concessions in the bill that you think would have to be made in order to get people like Eric Cantor to come around to your side? I’m not sure I’ll ever get Eric Cantor on this bill, but I know that there are other Republicans who have already indicated that
[they would] vote on this. We’ll see. Before this year’s Congress is over and before the elections, I think that we’re going to have a vote on the minimum wage. I think we’ll win just like we did [when we increased it] in 2007 with Senator Kennedy. The Washington Post recently quoted you as saying that Ted Kennedy, who was renowned for his compromising legislative style, wouldn’t recognize today’s legislative process. What are some of the changes that you have seen in Congress, and why do you think they are happening? The big change is the unwillingness of the Republican Party to work with Democrats on a whole range of issues. They refuse to engage in the process of give and take that’s necessary to solve the problems that this nation has, and to make investments that the nation needs — whether they are institutions of higher education, research centers, physical infrastructure, roads or highways. They don’t have enough confidence in this country to reinvest in America. That makes it very difficult, and very different than when Senator Kennedy was here and from most of my previous time in Congress. In the coming midterm elections, what is the most compelling argument for the Democratic majority? Democrats really offer economic security. The Affordable Care Act provides economic security. The number one cause of bankruptcy is out of control medical expenses. I think that the idea of reinvesting in America facilitates the stability and growth of the economy. And the concerns about low-wage workers, about women getting equal pay, about women’s advancement in the workplace, really emphasize the question of fairness in our society. Those issues are continuing to grow in this very difficult economy. The Republicans are basically saying it’s just a Darwinian world, and that’s the way it is. They say the government shouldn’t do anything to make sure that women get equal pay for equal work, to increase the minimum wage, to make health care available to families who need it, but can’t afford it, and to prevent companies from excluding people because of pre-existing conditions. They have a narrow, corporate view of the world that only takes care of those who already don’t need any help. Millions of families across this country are having great difficulty working every day. The economic security that the health care bill provides to these families is really dramatic. What are your plans for retirement? Will we be seeing you in other roles? I hope so. I really want to be able to follow my passions, namely concerns about children: how they thrive and succeed in America, their education, health and family lives. This has been a passion of mine for my whole adult public life. I am also deeply concerned about the environment and the rights of people to organize in the workplace. I don’t know the mechanism yet, but these are the issues that make me go every day.
THOMAS MENINO Thomas Menino is the former longtime Mayor of Boston and co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He was recently appointed co-director of Boston University’s Initiative on Cities. INTERVIEW BY SAM RUBENSTEIN
Angel Taveras is the Mayor of Providence and a Democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island. INTERVIEW BY ANNETTE LOPEZ You’re currently running for governor, but your term as mayor lasts until next January. Under your leadership so far, education has been a priority, and Providence has been presented with the All-America City Award from the National Civic League for a plan to boost third grade reading proficiency. What issues are you planning to focus on in your last year as mayor? I always say that any crime is too much crime, so there’s always more work to reduce crime. While we have the lowest unemployment rate in five years, there are still too many people looking for jobs. I would like to continue to see improvement in education. The job of a mayor is never finished. There’s always more to do, and you always have to focus on what’s next. That’s how I’ve worked as mayor, and that’s how I’ll work as governor, too. Can you describe your vision for Providence and for Rhode Island? I envision a city and a state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, where every school is high-performing and children are learning every day, where people are starting and building businesses and people are working and raising families. I want people to come see what we have done with our state, and how we have turned it around to become a positive example for the rest of the country. Of course, that also means having a very safe community where we can enjoy beautiful Rhode Island without fear. Why do you want to be governor? I love this state. I have been blessed with the opportunity to live my dream of becoming a lawyer, going from Head Start to Harvard through our public schools. The people of Providence gave me the privilege of running this city, and together we have made some tough decisions, but we have improved the city. I want to make sure that children throughout Rhode Island have the same opportunities that I had as the son of a factory worker. As governor, that would be my focus: creating opportunities for others and making sure we get more Rhode Islanders back to work. You’re the son of Dominican immigrants. What would it mean to be the state’s first Hispanic governor? I think it says a lot about how special our country is, that someone who grew up like me can be sitting here, talking to you as mayor of Providence and as Democratic candidate for governor of Rhode Island. The president likes to say: “In no other country is my story possible.” I believe that. For me, it is a wonderful honor to be able to run for governor. It reminds me of the greatness of the American story. I look at it as a continuation of American history, because I’m just following in the footsteps of the Italians, the Irish and other immigrants who came before me. I’m just the latest version of that story.
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Many commentators have argued that today, mayors are some of the most effective actors in American government. Do you agree? Mayors are the most [effective] actors in government. Congress and state governments are gridlocked, and the action is with mayors. Mayors deal with issues they can’t duck, like education, public safety, homelessness and sustainability. Washington is politically paralyzed. We won’t see another piece of great legislation passed in this country until we get over that nonsense. To what extent do cities experience the repercussions of federal gridlock? There is no money left for cops or public housing. Health care and job training funds are held back. It’s certainly affecting the quality of life in our cities. It seems that Providence leaders often invoke Boston when explaining their vision for the city. Is Boston’s growth model applicable to other cities? Boston’s growth stems partially from its historical role as the nation’s education capital. We continue to turn out brainpower every year from our universities — we have 28 colleges and 250,000 students. When they graduate, they move back here and fill positions. I’m familiar with one company that moved out of Boston, couldn’t find any [qualified labor] and moved back. That’s what differentiates us from most cities. [Other cities] have to make it attractive for people to work there. You co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition that lobbies for reforms on the national level. What are the prospects for federal gun control legislation? It’s not gun control. It’s safety control. We’re just trying to take guns away from people who should not have gotten them in the first place. We should have background checks, not gun show loopholes. We should have a standardized process in America — I believe we are the only industrialized nation without one. The N.R.A. controls this issue. They spend millions of dollars to block legislation. Don’t these Congressmen see every day in the paper how many people are getting killed by guns? Where are they? Until people have the guts to stand up to them, we are going to continue to have this problem. You were widely praised throughout the country for your leadership during the weeklong crisis that ensued after the Boston Marathon bombing. What was that like? I got the message through my security staff. I immediately got the police commissioner on the phone for a briefing. I assembled my staff, told everyone to stay calm, checked myself out of the hospital and went to the press conference. My job was to make the people of Boston understand that we were still in control. I also had to inform the people what was going on throughout that week. We could not have a media blackout — every day we told them more and more about what was going on, and it helped people handle some of the anxiety. The people of Boston came out stronger after the marathon bombings. I never felt prouder of America than at that time.
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