Chapel Hill Political Review Volume XIII Issue IV studentorgs.unc.edu/thehill
Back & Forth The Hill examines some of the worldâ€™s tug-and-war conflicts: Drone Warfare, Nuclear Armamernt, Israeli & Palestine, Turkish-Kurdish relations, and the Iraq War
UNC’s Nonpartisan Political Review
Volume XIII Issue IV studentorgs.unc.edu/thehill
MANAGING EDITORS Sam Hobbs & Radhika Kshatriya SECTION EDITORS Brendan Cooley, Jon Buchleiter WRITERS Carol Abken, Lyndsey Bernal, Brian Braytenbah, Christopher Brown, Jon Buchleiter, Dain Clare, Brendan Cooley, Sam Hobbs, Radhika Kshatriya, Tess Landon, Sarah Lunenfeld, Nikki Mandell, William Rogers Perlmutter, Walker Swain DESIGN Radhika Kshatriya HEAD OF ART Robert Bridgers TREASURER Christie Blazevich FACULTY ADVISOR Ferrel Guillory PHOTO CREDITS Flickr: C0ver- Funky64; p 6- Joe Frisino; p 10- Blyzz; p 15- The U.S. Army; p 19- jessica @ flickr
Dear Readers, Usually, it’s bad news that makes it into the headlines and good news goes largely underreported. For this reason, we have decided to focus on seemingly unending conflicts that might hold some hope for the future in our last issue.
On the domestic front, we look at the impact of sequestration and American austerity, and also examine the new marijuana laws that were voted on in the last election. And we also look at the truth behind education numbers in America.
We take a look at recent breakthroughs in the Israel-Palestine Peace talks and see their implications on middle east policy. We also discuss North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and China’s role in the process. There is an article discussing peace talks and a ceasefire between the Turks and the Kurds and why its timing is especially fortuitious. Nikki Mandell reflects on the Iraq war and where the U.S. stands in the region today.
In international news, we examine what the death of Hugo Chavez means for the region, and discuss what kind of leader Pope Francis I will be. Thanks for picking up this issue of The Hill, we hope you will keep supporting us in the future.
Sam Hobbs Radhika Kshatriya
Contents Domestic 4 Should Assault Weapons Be Banned? 6 The Carbon Tax Passed or Past?
7 Sequestration in North Carolina
Cover 12 The Israel-Palestine Peace Process Where are we now?
13 Turkey’s “Kurdish Problem” Calls for peace in the Region
14 The Iraq War’s 10th Anniversary Then and Now
International 16 The Chavez Legazy 18 Why not arm Syrian Rebels? 19 The New Pope
Why we should expect big things
Should Assault Weapons Be Banned? Lyndsey Bernal
he question on whether or not to impose stricter gun control legislation has been an ongoing subject debated by gun advocates and critics for some time. With recent crises such as the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that resulted in the deaths of 20 students and six faculty members, and the open-fire massacre at the Aurora Movie Theater in Colorado, lawmakers have opted to ban the use of federal assault weapons in the hopes that it will mitigate cases of gun violence. As of currently, three states have successfully passed legislation banning the use of assault weapons: New York, Colorado, and most recently, Connecticut after the state’s governor, Daniel P. Malloy, signed a bill into law banning the sale or purchase of high-capacity ammunition magazines such as the ones used in the Newtown shooting in December. The bill’s package includes doing universal background checks for all gun purchases, establishes a new “ammunition eligibility certificate”, and extends the assault weapons ban to 100 new types of firearms, but only one of the several features is required for the weapon to be banned. According to a remark by Connecticut Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. on Wednesday, the day before the actual signing of the gun ban, “Democrats and Republicans were able to come to an agreement on a strong comprehensive bill. That is a message that should resound in 49 other states and in Washington, D.C.
And the message is: We can get it done here and they should get it done in their respective states and nationally in Congress.” However, primary gun advocacy groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) argue the constitutionality of such laws, saying that Americans should have the right to bear arms in cases of self-defense, as stated by the Second Amendment. In response to President Obama’s call for more gun control legislation in Colorado, which includes an assaults weapon ban, universal background checks for criminals, and a prohibition on high-capacity ammo magazines, David Keene, president of the NRA asserted that new gun control legislation will not pass when lawmakers realize that it will do nothing to curb gun violence.
it’s a feel good law. And if you look at the statistics, you will see that less than one percent of crimes are committed with assault weapons—less than one percent. That’s like nothing. If you really wanted to ban firearms—that is, the ones actually doing the crimes—you’d be looking at handguns. But no one is willing to talk about handguns. They talk about assault weapons because the weapons are easy to ban—they look scary. But looking scary doesn’t make them scary. But Winston C. Cavin, a journalism professor from UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, disagrees. He argued, “…Personally, I think we should bring back the assault weapon ban that was put in place in 1994 and expired in 2004, and we should limit the number of shots that can be fired with one clip of ammunition…”
In an interview with Newsmax, he said, “…many of these things are basically what I call feel-good proposals. They won’t do anything to either cut gun crime on the one hand or gun violence as the president calls it on the other.”
However, he explained that expecting all guns to be banned is unrealistic. “This country was founded on guns and violence…I think guns are inextricably a part of the American fabric. I don’t think they should be banned altogether,” Cavin said.
The debate for and against gun control safety extends even beyond the scope of national issues to regional news at UNC-Chapel Hill.
With proposals calling for stricter gun control legislation currently being debated by lawmakers on the floor in Washington, it will be interesting to see which side gains favor in the great debate.
When asked about his thoughts concerning a proposal for an assault weapons ban, Jeremy Hodges, a UNC Junior and vice president of the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club said, “I think
itizens looking to reform drug policies in the United States have turned to a new tool to enact change – the state ballot initiative. In November 2012, constituents in three states voted on measures to legalize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana. The measures passed in Washington and Colorado by 56 to 44 and 55 to 45 percent margins, respectively, and failed in Oregon by a 53 to 47 percent margin. Washington and Colorado are currently grappling with implementing the new laws, which violate federal drugs laws.
medical purposes. California was the first state to pass a medical marijuana law in 1996. Currently medical marijuana is legal in nineteen states and Washington DC.
The federal government began regulating marijuana in the United States in the 1920s. As part of the “War on Drugs,” a term referring to the federal government’s campaign against drug production and use both domestically and internationally, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. The law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 Substance, which means that (A) marijuana has a high potential for abuse, (B) it has no currently accepted medical use for treatment in the US, and (C) there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. The Controlled Substances Act bans marijuana use in the US and mandates criminal penalties for offenders of the law.
The new Washington and Colorado laws represent a different sort of defiance of the Controlled Substances Act, as the laws make marijuana available to all people age 21 and older. Washington’s Initiative 502 and Colorado’s Amendment 64 both mandate that only state-approved vendors can sell marijuana. Furthermore, the laws require all sales to be taxed. In this regard, the states’ regulation of marijuana is similar to the current alcohol regulations that all states have adopted over the years.
The federal government’s ban on pot has been questioned by states that have passed medical marijuana laws. These laws permit people with a chronic illness to grow or obtain marijuana for
While the federal government continues to deny that marijuana has medical value, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a Justice Department memorandum in 2009 addressing the issue by stating: “The focus of federal resources should not be on individuals whose actions are in compliance with existing state laws.”
The federal government has yet to issue a formal response to Washington and Colorado’s laws. However, Holder said in a recent interview he has talked with the governors of both states and is coming close to announcing a formal policy response. Since the possession laws apply only to Washington and Colorado, it complicates law enforcement’s handling of certain scenarios such as a person pur-
chasing marijuana in Washington and then crossing over the border to Idaho. Another scenario the law does not specifically address is whether tourists are allowed to purchase marijuana in these states, or if purchasing pot is strictly limited to residents of Washington and Colorado. Businesses in Washington and Colorado have wasted no time taking advantage of the new state marijuana laws. In both states, entrepreneurs recently opened up recreational marijuana clubs, where consumers can smoke pot legally with others. Additionally, potential marijuana suppliers are applying to the state regulation boards for licenses to open up recreational dispensaries, hoping to have their brick-andmortar shops open by the end of 2013. The issue of marijuana regulation represents a clash between state and federal powers. If the federal government attempts to exert its power over Washington and Colorado by cracking down on pot smokers and marijuana dispensaries, it will be defying the will of the people in these states. The federal government has other urgent issues to address and should let Colorado and Washington implement their new laws.
Passed or Past? Tess Landon
enry Waxman, U.S. Rep for CA (D), along with fellow congressman Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator for RI (D), recently propositioned a new tax on carbon emissions. The “discussion” began on March 12th with the release of Waxman and Whitehouse’s “discussion draft” outlining an unprecedented method of allotting carbon a price. To understand the full story we need to delve into the history of carbon taxes. U.S. Rep. John Larson was first to face Congress with his bill “America’s Energy Security Trust Fund Act of 2009″, igniting a half-decade stretch of proposed and denied carbon taxes, cap-ntrade, and an array of other similar bills. Larson’s proposal would start the tax at a mere $10/ton increasing $10 every year, ex-
cept in the case that EPA emission targets (by 2050, emissions should be decreased 80% from 2005 levels) aren’t met in which the tax would increase by $15 for that year. This tax was sent to a committee, or a bill death penalty, in March of that year. Believe it or not, a republican took the second initiative. Former U.S. Rep. of SC, Bob Inglis, promoted the carbon tax “Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2009” which called for an upstream carbon tax starting at $15/ton increasing for 30 years to $100/ ton. All revenue would be used to alleviate payroll taxes for both the employee and employer. This bill was sentenced to serve life in a committee alongside his predecessor two months later. Next at bat was “Save our climate 2011” fostered by U.S. Rep. Fortney Stark of CA (D). It was a simple tax calling for a baseline of $10/ton increasing $10 every succeeding year, but the use of revenue was un-specified. This bill died in October 2011. The main argument against Carbon Taxes, insofar, has been their political vulnerability. The level at which the tax should be set to produce efficient outcomes is unknown, thus the tax could be altered several times before finding the right price and even then carbon taxes are seen as environmentally inefficient in comparison to carbon cap-and-trade programs. So why even consider a carbon tax? The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the net benefits of a carbon tax are
roughly five times the benefits of a carbon cap-and-trade program and a carbon tax is constant incentive to reduce emissions due to a price attached to all emission, not simply a specified amount. The Waxman/Whitehouse carbon tax proposal is essentially like the rest: the largest contributors to carbon emission will have to pay a fee per each ton of carbon that will increase each year but their unique design includes efficient implementation. The task of implementation will be split between the EPA and Treasury Department; the job of carbon appraisal will be executed by the EPA while the Treasury Department will be in charge of fee collection and distribution. Thus each sector is functioning in their area of expertise. The efficiency in the forefront of the process will be reflected in better outcomes of both economic and environmental efficiency. The debate over a carbon tax is at its most intense point yet, the decision on this tax could potentially determine whether the idea of a carbon tax is passed or past.
Sequestration’s Effects in NC
urrently, the nation is experiencing a program of federal spending cuts called sequestration. Sequestration involves across-the-board cuts in government expenditures on everything from defense to national park upkeep. The cuts began on March 1st, as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. This measure was initially intended to pressure Congress into agreement on spending cuts that were less arbitrary and more carefully designed before sequestration could take effect, but obviously that did not happen. Consequently, the House and Senate are now discussing a new budget, but, unsurprisingly, have yet to come to an agreement.
pay by 117.5 million dollars. So areas like Fayetteville will bare more of the brunt of the impact of sequestration.
The actions of our leaders in Congress will have consequences here in North Carolina, but some North Carolinians will feel it harder than others. According to a report released by the White House regarding the effects of sequestration in North Carolina, we will see dramatic effects as early as next year.
According to a report released by the White House regarding the effects of sequestration in North Carolina, we will see dramatic effects as early as next year.
North Carolina’s education systems will lose 25.4 million dollars in funding for primary and secondary schools, and an additional 16.8 million dollars will be pulled from special needs education programs. And the cuts extend to other sectors as well. The report claims that Defense spending will be hardest hit, taking 136 million dollars from Army Base operations in NC. Also, 22,000 civilian Department of Defense employees will be furloughed, reducing gross
Other cuts, while not as significant will still take a considerable chunk out of budgets across the state, including millions in environmental programs aimed at keeping our air and water clean, and another three million dollars in public health programs. However, according to Joe Weisenthal from Business Insider, the spending cuts will have “virtually no change to our debt” and its predicted trajectory, because most of the projected increase in the debt comes from health care spending on Medicare and Med-
icaid. He suggests that the 85 billion dollars in across the board spending cuts is “a silly way to cut spending.” The UNC system will not be directly affected by sequestration, but that is not to say state leaders will not pull funds from higher education to cover the cuts in other areas. However, research funds will be cut by sequestration, which may hurt some departments at research schools like UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State. In an interview with Patrick Conway, professor of Economics at UNC, he said the average North
Carolinian should not really be affected by sequestration. However, he stressed that those most affected by the spending cuts will be people who rely on government aid programs. “If you’re someone who is getting unemployment insurance, if you’re on Medicaid, if you’re getting disability payments, and if you’re in special needs classes in high school or grade school, then you’re going to suffer,” said Conway, “because sequestration and the way the state government is responding to it is falling squarely on those who you would think need a safety net.” The reasoning behind the state government not stepping up to
breathe life into special aid programs is the belief some beneficiaries of these programs may be relying on the government when they could be working, and if these programs were cut, citizens on welfare and other aid programs may get jobs. “There may be some of that going on,” said Conway, “but that’s a really strong argument. It’s a very Darwinian argument… I don’t think anyone ever gets comfortable with not having enough money, or not being able to feed your kids.”
Innovation in Education Jon Buchleiter
ver recent years a steady stream of studies and standardized test scores have seemingly signaled the decline of the United States education system. While America’s schools face a number of challenges at all levels, a more balanced assessment of these reports reveals more promising prospects. The most frequently cited markers in claims about the faltering education system are scores on standardized tests, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Over the last decade, the United States has slipped in all three of the subject areas tested and lies at or below the average of all countries tested. Other tests and measures have also been devised - most of which place the United States near the middle of the pack. These ostensible failures in primary and second education seems incompatible with a higher education system that by almost all accounts remains the best in the world. However, these metrics belie both strengths of U.S. primary and secondary education as well as weaknesses in the U.S. network of postsecondary schools. The students selected to participate in these tests are controlled for socioeconomic differences and other factors, however, a significant difference remains in the samples collected from the U.S. and other countries. Most samples from other countries, including those leading the United States, only test students who have previously demonstrated
intellectual aptitude. Others who are enrolled in vocational and technical schools are generally not included in these tests. Richard Nelson, retired administrator and instructor of history and political science at numerous secondary and postsecondary schools including the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Wisconsin, says using these test scores is “a comparison of apples and oranges.” While these comparisons may be somewhat misleading, the results should not be summarily dismissed. Tracking systems have contained numerous faults and hold a stigma in the U.S. However, carefully designed systems have had dramatic success separating pupils based on academic ability and should be should be recognized and incorporated into the U.S. system. A tracking system could improve competitiveness both in classroom results and more importantly in the long-term economically. Nelson believes a tracking system controlled for socioeconomic and racial bias would dramatically improve secondary education. A system allowing students to choose a suitable track would be more efficient than trying to educate all students to the same high level as other states’ elite pupils. Just as these test results should not be ignored on account of different samples, the reputed strength of U.S. higher education should not blind us to defects in the system. American society has gradually adopted a mindset holding college as an irre-
placeable means to success. The message has led many students to pursue college degrees even when they do not significantly help many of these individuals. The result has been one of the highest college dropout rates among developed countries. A more balanced approach including expanded areas of vocational, technical and business training would have a number of benefits. It would be advantageous for thousands of young people, and Nelson also points out that the influx of experts in realms of technology would also improve national industrial infrastructure. Rather than continue to propagate the “college for all” message, Nelson urges telling young people “postsecondary education is absolutely essential.” This education may not necessarily be a liberal arts degree from a four-year university, but it provides individuals with skills for a prosperous future. Innovation has long been cited as a major contributor to U.S. greatness, and a strong education system forms the foundation for maintaining that strength. This innovative spirit should be channeled into improving the U.S. education system at all levels to make it more effective structurally and more beneficial for all involved. Maximizing creative and intellectual potential of some students and preparing others for successful careers in other sectors will help improve the overall strength and competitive edge of the United States.
The Elusive Grand Bargain
t has been a long and discouraging struggle to reach a bipartisan “grand bargain” that resolves our long-term debt problem. There were high summits between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, which ultimately broke down. Bipartisan negotiations led by the “Gang of Eight” in the Senate failed to produce a deal, as did a specially created supercommittee composed of Democrats and Republicans from both the House and the Senate. We have lurched along from one manufactured crisis to the next – including spats over the debt ceiling, a government shutdown, the fiscal cliff and sequestration – none of which resulted in the coveted grand bargain. There has been at least one bit of positive news recently. For the first time in four years, the Democrats in the Senate have passed a budget, reviving the traditional budget process whereby each chamber of Congress produces a budget and then the two are reconciled. Of course, the chances are exceedingly slim of a successful reconciliation, and the competing budgets serve more to highlight the wide gap between the parties than anything else. The Senate Democrats’ budget reflects their concern for mitigating the impact of austerity. They replace the indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts from sequestration with 500 billion dollars in targeted cuts to domestic programs deemed less important. Their budget includes 100 billion dollars in new spending
on infrastructure to stimulate the economy and to modernize our pitiful transportation networks. In addition, the Democrats’ budget raises nearly one trillion dollars in new revenue by closing unspecified tax loopholes and expenditures for the wealthy. In ten years, the Senate Democrats’ budget would cut the deficit in half and reduce the ratio of public debt to GDP from 75 percent to 70 percent. (Economists roughly agree that debt starts to hold back the economy when the ratio reaches 90 percent.) Republicans contend that the Democrats’ cuts do not go nearly far enough, pointing out that the debt ratio would begin to rise again after 2023, and they balk at any increased spending or taxes in the meantime. The House Republicans’ budget would eliminate the deficit, thus balancing the budget, in ten years, and reduce the public debt ratio to 55 percent. It is much more aggressive than their past proposals, which did not attempt to balance the budget until 2040. The Republicans accomplish this feat by turning Medicare into a voucher system and Medicaid into block grants to the states. Food stamps would also become block grants, and the Republican budget would freeze student aid. They shift the sequester cuts from defense to domestic spending, and they call for reducing the top income tax rates and recovering the lost revenue through unspecified increases elsewhere. In contrast to recent talk of changes in the GOP, their bud-
get doubles down on the policies of the Romney campaign. Republicans brag that they balance the budget in ten years, but Democrats respond that the House plan balances the budget by shifting costs to the poor, the elderly and the states. In any event, the Republican budget represents a hardening of their position – they propose to do in ten years what they previously allowed thirty years to do. President Obama offered his own plan in an attempt to initiate negotiations, but it immediately faced attacks from both sides. To attract Republicans, he included modest cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but he insists that they accept increases in tax revenue in exchange. Republicans flatly refuse to consider any additional tax increases. This is the crux of the stalemate - the impasse before which all past attempts at compromise have failed. There is always hope for a breakthrough, but there are few signs of one approaching. Compromise is necessary in a divided government, but when Obama offers concessions, liberals accuse him of caving and he still meets intransigence on the right. After two and a half trillion dollars in spending cuts over the last two years, Republicans see no reason to compromise. Moreover, making deals with Obama is anathema to the Republican base. Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.
Droning On and On Christopher Brown
nmanned combat vehicles, or drones, have changed the face of warfare and counterterrorism in the United States’ “War on Terror”. Currently, the CIA’s Special Activities Division handles all drone procedures. President Obama has increasingly used drones as a primary means to combat Al Qaeda and the Taliban and has pursued targets in countries with whom the United States is not technically at war. Using drones in Pakistan is controversial due to increasing civilian deaths, but there has been some amount of coordination between the United States government and the Pakistani government over drone strikes, despite public commendation by the Pakistani administration. There is growing anti-American sentiment in Pakistan over this issue. Further, the legality of using drones in Pakistan has been questioned. An independent expert, working on the behalf of the UN, found that civilian deaths resulting as collateral from United States drone strikes violates Pakistan’s sovereignty. The UN report stated that using drones within Pakistan’s borders without the government’s consent is a violation of Pakistan’s autonomy. Therefore, the United States does not have the legal authority to continue to use drones to target insurgents in Pakistan. Despite this, “the Obama administration has defended its use of drones since they reduce American causalities. For this reason the use of drones has public support in the United States. A recent Gallup poll1 found that 65% of Americans support the
use of drone attacks on terrorists abroad. Administration officials argue that the drone policy is effective because it is “targeted” warfare, and diminishes the need to send troops into combat. As other countries deploy drones in combat, the United States’ liberal military policy on drones will have to change. Due to their stealth nature, drones are able to covertly violate a nation’s airspace. Up to this point, the United States is the primary beneficiary of this technology, but other countries are catching up. In 2011, Iran captured a United States spy drone and refused to return it and likely used it to reverse engineer their own technology. China has invested large amounts of money in attempts to balance the United States’ advantage from its own drones. The Chinese have an economic advantage and produce drones at a lower cost than the United States. As this technology becomes more lethal, limitations must be placed on the use of these advanced weapons. When other nations are able to violate
our airspace and potentially carry out military strikes on military and civilian targets it is inevitable that the public opinion of drones will change. Furthermore, the United States is setting a dangerous precedent of using drones without regard to state boundaries. At this point, drones enjoy relative popularity in the United States. Soldiers do not have to be deployed if an unmanned aerial combat vehicle can successfully take out a target. However, if enemy drones ever threaten U.S. soldiers or citizens, this stance will change, and might result in changing how the United States uses drones. The role that drones will play in warfare is not clear but it is clear that they are the weapon of the future. It is necessary for drones to be handled appropriately by all nations. Our current administration should be aware of this and not wait until it is too late and a drone war with another country is inevitable.
Are We Heading for Nuclear War?
resident Obama is already busy fighting nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. He may not have been prepared for the resurgent threat of nuclear proliferation stemming from another region of the world. On the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has already lined up its rockets in preparation for striking U.S. military bases in the Pacific and South Korea. According to a report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), “If [the U.S.] makes a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, [North Korea] should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.” The threat followed the U.S. Air Force’s practice launch of two B-2 Stealth Bombers over South Korea on Thursday. According to the American command in Seoul—South Korea’s capital—the exercises were done to showcase U.S. long-range missile capability. The two bombers, capable of holding nuclear arms, dropped inert munitions on a range off the South Korean coast, the New York Times reported. In the past few months, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has made several threats to the U.S. and South Korea. It has threatened pre-emptive nuclear attacks against the U.S. and South Korean government, launched three nuclear tests, placed a satellite in space,
declared an end to the 1953 armistice that put an end to the fighting in the Korean War, voided any non-aggression pacts with South Korea, severed all lines of communication with South Korea, and declared to be in a “state of war” with South Korea. In response to these recent threats, the U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution condemning North Korea’s actions and imposed stricter trade sanctions against North Korea in the hopes that the economic damage will deter North Korea from pursuing its nuclear aims. However, a new development has occurred in the United Nations. China, who had long been an ally
industrial growth and power output have stagnated due to a lack of funding. Its economy relies on foreign aid and capital investments from its two major trading partners, China and South Korea, to sustain itself. In response to a question at a White House press briefing on Tuesday concerning North Korea’s recent threats against the U.S., Press Secretary Jay Carney responded, “…North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric and the threats that they engage in follow a pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others. And, as we say consistently, the DPRK will achieve nothing by these threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and
China’s turn against its friend has demonstrated to North Korea that its third nuclear test was a step too far. of North Korea, recently voted to impose sanctions on North Korea after it conducted its third nuclear test in February. Because a great deal of North Korea’s foreign trade and investments come from China, the financial impact to North Korea’s economy would further hinder any future improvements to the country’s current standard of living. North Korea has experienced chronic economic issues over the past few years. The country has been subjected to crop failures due to a lack a lack of arable land and fertile soil, leading to food shortages and people suffering from malnutrition. In addition,
undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia.” So far, Carney seems to be right. China’s turn against its friend has demonstrated to the North Korea regime that its third nuclear test was a step too far. But if the United States and China waver in their denouncement of North Korea’s actions, and grant concessions in response to its bellicose threats, North Korea will continue to face an incentive to exhibit this kind of behavior, and do little to strengthen the fragile peace that has existed on the peninsula since the end of the Korean War.
Israel and Palestine- Is Peace Possible? Carol Abken
growing number of Israelis and Palestinians doubt the viability of a two-state solution for ending the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Twenty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinian territories are still under Israeli military occupation, and Israeli
moud Abbas, and Islamic militant group Hamas that does not recognize Israel. Hamas has begun to transition from being a purely military organization that conducts terrorist attacks on Israel to being a more political one with a constituency in Gaza. Earlier this year, Fatah and Hamas
settlements continue to spread throughout the West Bank. In retaliation, Palestinian terrorist groups launch offenses that threaten Israeli civilians. However, a one-state solution will not work. After so much violence and animosity from both sides, it is unrealistic to think that Israelis and Palestinians could share the same state peacefully. A two-state solution remains the only feasible option for granting the Palestinians the ability for freedom of movement and the alleviation of misery in their own state, and for ensuring that the Israelis have the safety to continue living in theirs. According to Gallup, two-thirds of both Israelis and Palestinians support the peace process, pursued through nonviolent means.
pushed for reconciliation after violent rivalry following Hamasâ€™ seizure of the Gaza strip in 2007 and legislative victory in the Palestinian National Authority in 2006. Though Fatah and Hamas are seeking reconciliation to establish unity within Palestinian society, they are still divided about how to proceed afterward.
President Obama must make negotiating peace and seeking a solution a priority, though political change must come from the region itself.
Palestinian leaders have failed to form the cohesive leadership necessary in order to be able to broker a successful peace agreement with Israel. Leadership is split between the historically secular nationalist movement Fatah, currently led by Mah-
President Obama supports a border agreement based on the green line, the pre-1967 Six Day War borders on which Fatah has agreed to start negotiations. The continued Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory east of the green line are an ongoing barrier to the peace process. In 2009, Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton called for a freeze on Israeli settlements that has not been reinforced by rightwing Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu despite the fact that a majority of Israelis support the dismantling of settlements in Palestinian territory as part of a peace agreement. To the disappointment of Palestinians, Obama said little regarding the
continued settlements in his recent visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, which are considered illegal under international law. In light of the historically and religiously embedded violence surrounding this conflict, the continued push for a two-state solution is absolutely necessary for achieving peace. According to Jerusalem-native Shai Tamari, Associate Director for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations at UNC, President Obama must make negotiating peace and seeking a solution a priority, though political change must come from the region itself. It is possible that another attempt at reinvigorating the peace process will come into play during Obamaâ€™s second term, such as George W. Bush tried to orchestrate in his second term. The United States is already politically and monetarily involved in the conflict, and is expected to play a positive role in the creation of an effective peace agreement. If the United States fails to do so, it will be viewed increasingly warily by the Arab world.
Turkey’s “Kurdish Problem”
et guns be silent and let politics dominate.” These historic words by Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan mark the beginning of another attempt for a peace settlement between the militant Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Turkish government, headed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK is one of the longest problems currently in existence; it has been ongoing for nearly thirty years, but the tensions stretch back for centuries of ethnic conflict. The Kurds are an ethnic minority in Turkey who have tried to set up an independent state for many years now. They live in the border regions of Turkey, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, and their population numbers at approximately between 15 and 20 million people. What marks these peace negotiations as different from the past is that the PKK has renounced its demands for an autonomous Turkish state, and instead is fighting for equal rights, like the right to teach Kurdish in schools or for more local Kurdish administrations. In other words, the PKK is demanding a Turkey where Kurds and Turks can live together as equals, instead of drawing boundaries based on ethnicity. So why now? Well, one reason is that it has been nearly ten years since the AKP has been in power, and it is one of the only parties in modern Turkish history that has full control of the government. Today’s Turkey is very different
from the past; it is much more willing to negotiate with the PKK because it has the ability to negotiate. The younger generation of Turks and Kurds also see the problem differently than their forefathers, and so are more willing to negotiate. With the power of the military greatly reduced by Prime Minister Erdoğan and the AKP, fewer extra-governmental agents can levy threats to the Turkish government to control the outcome of these peace negotiations. Engaging in talks with PKK leader Öcalan was a risk for the Prime Minister, because if the talks fail, it would be blight on his reputation and would be a huge setback for the peace process. Öcalan is also responsible for the deaths of many Turks, so
There are still problems to overcome. Öcalan has called for PKK fighters to withdraw from Turkey, but has not stated a deadline to the withdrawal. The PKK is calling for significant government reform and a mutual ceasefire—neither are small concessions. There have been seven previous attempts at a ceasefire, so it won’t be easy.
many Turks see negotiating with him as wrong. However, if the talks succeed, Erdoğan would be praised domestically and internationally, and he might even receive the Nobel Prize.
Olympics. Turkey’s conflict with Kurds has been a blight to its politics, always coming in the way of Turkey being recognized as a fully democratized nation which grants equal rights to all of its citizens. Peace between Kurds and Turks would secure Turkey’s position and safety.
But Erdoğan is a pragmatist; he seems to be ready to embrace Turkey’s Kurdish minority, partly because it would be a vital trading partner as both consumers of Turkish goods and suppliers of energy. And Erdoğan is also ambitious; he is clearly vying for more inclusion in the West, and has placed a bid to host the 2020
But Erdoğan is a pragmatist; he seems ready to embrace Turkey’s Kurdish minority.
And solving the “Kurdish problem,” as it is called, will have huge payoffs for Turkey’s relations with both its Western and Eastern neighbors, as well as for domestic politics. So much so that it has almost become an imperative that Turkey come to terms with the PKK. The PKK plays a significant role in Iraq, Syria and Iran, and achieving peace with its Kurdish minority will increase Ankara’s leverage with its neighbors.
If this process succeeds it means a better world for all of us, because it proves, once again, that different ethnicities can live together in harmony. We have witnessed success in similar agreements in Northern Ireland and South Africa, among other countries. Let’s hope it works for Turkey.
Iraq: Then and Now Nikki Mandell
he War in Iraq began as a response to a pervading extremism within the United States that was unduly concerned with the threat of nuclear war. Ten years ago, we were first persuaded to unite against the Iraqi government by a knee-jerk jingoism caused by 9/11 and perpetrated by the rhetoric in Washington. Now, the extremism exists is the public’s opposition to the war, prompted by unreasonable expectations of progress in the past decade. In order to analyze a then and now picture of Iraq, we need to look
the Middle East.
at which outcomes are subsisting and which will be leaving along with the American troops.
ple economically more than ever before.
Since the removal of this dictator, reform has taken place, however slowly that reform may have come. Iraq’s economy has experienced consistent growth since 2008, mainly due to oil revenue. Movements towards privatization of oil have sparked the interest of many international companies to invest in the country. Laws for full privatization have been stuck the legislature since 2007, but the country now has the potential to support its peo-
Ten years ago, we were first persuaded to unite against the Iraqi government by a knee-jerk jingoism caused by 9/11 and perpetrated by the rhetoric in Washington.
Saddam Hussein is dead. This is often the leading argument for those in support of the war, and rightly so. By early 2003, Saddam was consistently defying UN mandates. Of the 26 demands made by the Security Council since 1990, Iraq had complied with only three. The leader was not only a threat to the international community and the US, but to his people as well, with countless cruel violations to their human rights. And, although there were no WMD found in 2003, it’s very likely that Saddam would have used oil revenue to pursue a nuclear weapon, potentially creating intense and unstable competition for power in
Potential is a word that well-describes Iraq’s transition to democracy. This transition has progressed from direct U.S. rule to partial Iraqi participation, and finally full Iraqi administration of the country. Since Iraqis reclaimed sovereignty in 2004, they have managed to write and ratify a constitution, hold regular provincial and general elections, and begin to establish a tradition of peaceful transfer of political power. This is a very significant reversal of the authoritarian rule in Iraq between 1958 and 2003, when governments were only replaced by violence and coups. While these steps all laid the ground-
work of democracy, there were still many setbacks, including lack of experience with democracy and Sunni-Shi’a conflict. One problem that faces many countries attempting to change to a democracy is corruption. Corruption is widespread within in Iraq stretching from small bribes to checkpoint officers, to money laundering in the Central Bank of Iraq. A report released by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in October of 2012 stated that the Central Bank of Iraq’s illegal transactions were, “symptomatic of a troubled year…evidenced by increasing corruption, resurgent violence, deepening ethno-sectarian strains, growing apprehensions about the conflict in Syria, and widening divides within the coalition government.” These outcomes could very well be a result of America being too eager to thrust its form of democracy on a country with a different cultural and historical background. Very little planning or specialization was put into the reconstruction of Iraq, in fact, Bush originally sold the war as quick and economical, claiming that once Saddam was overthrown the country’s oil revenue would offer them success. Now, after $1 trillion spent and thousands of lives lost, American troops have finally returned home. Although, perhaps, it’s what this $1 trillion was spent on that’s given the American public their
Potential is a word that well-describes Iraqâ€™s transition to democracy. This transition has progressed from direct U.S. rule to partial Iraqi participation, and finally full Iraqi administration of the country. extreme reaction: the violence. Some 4,488 U.S. service personnel died in Iraq since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 19 March 2003, according to the latest figures from the US Department of Defense. But tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have also died since 2003 as a result of sectarian killings and a violent insurgency. According to The Iraq Body Count organization, the number of civilian deaths since March 2003 is between
112,017 and 122,438. These numbers are shocking and saddening, and it is very possible that they couldâ€™ve been avoided had U.S. troops been more prepared to rebuild the nation. But, they are a reality of war, and to represent them as pointless is to be as shortsighted as the US government was in 2003. Ten years is not long for a country to learn how to walk again, and the overall benefits, or failures, of
this war will not be understood for a long, long time.
The Chavez Legacy Sarah Lunenfeld
he announcement of Hugo Chavez’s death appeared nearly as controversial as the former President’s fourteen-year reign over the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Rumors of U.S. involvement in his death and the possible embalmment and public display of his remains swirled
Western countries?” Through nationalizing key industries, appointing loyalists to leadership positions, and funneling revenue into the projects of his choice, Chavez managed to centralize an immense amount of unchecked power – power used to strengthen relationships with adversaries
as information slowly found its way to the media. His death, considered timely by some and untimely by others, leaves many unanswered questions for Venezuelans, Americans, and the world at large. One is left to wonder if the reforms put in place by Chavez during his tenure will continue to stand, and question the direction in which Venezuela will go under new leaders and in evolving relationships.
of the United States like Cuba and Iran.
Chavez’s association with countries like Cuba and Iran has not been the only strain on the relationship between the United States and Venezuela
It is critical to first understand the socialist reforms put in place during Chavez’s tenure. The Chavez administration nationalized oil production, Venezuela’s leading export, and increased involvement in OPEC. Chavez’s goal? Lessen the wealth inequality gap among citizens in order to lift the lower classes (and gain popularity). Did he succeed? According to the CIA Factbook, Venezuela’s GINI coefficient decreased by about ten points from 1998 to 2011, indicating that the distribution of wealth is dramatically more equal. One may then ask, “Why the unpopularity with
Chavez’s association with countries like Cuba and Iran has not been the only strain on the relationship between the United States and Venezuela – his constant denouncement of industrial capitalism and the “imperial West,” coupled with efforts to block U.S.-led involvement in South America, and allegations of voter fraud have burdened the relationship. Furthermore, rule of law and fair elections are an important point on America’s checklist when assessing allies. Chavez managed to pass legislation banning Presidential term limits in 2009, further centralizing his power and alarming U.S. leaders. The United States disapproves of unfair elections, yet they are the norm in Venezuela. Loyalists have convinced poorer classes to vote for Chavez by increasing welfare spending while state-run television networks have slandered presidential challengers. Henrique Capriles, Chavez’s adversary
during the 2012 election, was often slammed as a homosexual, pro-Zionist and imperialist. Those quick to assume that Chavez’s passing will translate into a healthier relationship between Venezuela and the United States may want to reassess their projections. While Capriles will attempt to win the presidency once more, perhaps ushering in an open market and encouraging privatization, Chavez’s legacy leaves lots of loyalists in leadership positions. Support for the Chavez-chosen interim President, Nicolas Maduro, may also prove an insurmountable challenge for Capriles. Maduro is expected to continue on in a similar fashion as his appointer. An optimistic sign for improving relations with the US came when President Obama released a statement on Chavez’s death stating, “The United States reaffirms its support of the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with its government.” However, actions speak louder than words, especially in international relations. Rumors continue to swirl concerning U.S. involvement in Chavez’s death (which the U.S. government adamantly denies), and the circumstances surrounding the expulsion of two Venezuelan diplomats from their embassy in the United States, and it seems unlikely the two countries will be able quickly to put past grievances aside in order to forge a more mutually beneficial relationship.
Origins of U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement Brendan Cooley
hen President Obama announced the beginning of negotiations between the United States and European Union on a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement (FTA), he argued the FTA would have one overarching purpose—job creation. Americans are often wary of free trade and see it as a source of job loss, rather than and opportunity for employment growth, particularly when trading partners (see China, People’s Republic of) don’t abide by internationally-established norms. But despite many Americans’ antipathy toward France, we tend to see Europeans as partners in global economic competition, and share ideas about governing international trade. Proposals for a trans-Atlantic FTA have existed since the 1990s, but President Obama’s appeal marks the first time Western leaders have placed substantial political capital behind the initiative. Experts agree the proposed FTA would lead to significant economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic, which raises the question why the United States and European Union have not already signed such an agreement. While leaders insist the proposed deal is motivated only by a desire to expedite economic recovery, in reality the proposal likely stems from international political considerations. Since the end of World War II, the United States and Europe have controlled the global free trade agenda, first through the General Agreements on Tar-
iffs and Trade (GATT) and later through the World Trade Organization (WTO). This partnership led to successive rounds of trade liberalization worldwide, as smaller powers agreed to U.S. and European terms in exchange for access to their indispensable markets. This trade liberalization led to the economic growth and a concurrent rise in political status for some third world countries, specifically those labeled the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). As their global political clout has grown, these states have demanded more concessions from the Western powers in global trade talks, resulting in stalemate at the most recent Doha Round of the WTO.
international trade talks.
After more than a decade of negotiations, the Doha Round, started in 2001, is considered ‘dead’ by many observers. The United States and the European Union want liberalization in services and further intellectual property protection from the developing world, while the developing world wants liberalization in agriculture from the West. According to Thomas Oatley, professor of political science at UNC, the proposed U.S.-EU FTA is best seen as a strategic gambit by the West, designed to impel the BRICS to concede more in
temporary diversion from a pattern of sustained global liberalization, rather than a precedent for the increasing regionalization of free trade.
Because of the structural similarities in American and European economies, the two sides actually have relatively little to gain from the proposed FTA. But in signaling to the BRICS they are willing to pursue alternatives to growth outside of global free trade, they hope to fracture the BRICS coalition (and break the Doha stalemate) and revitalize the global trade agenda. The BRICS are more powerful than they were ten years ago, but they remain dependent on Western markets for continued growth. Americans and Europeans hope this dependence drives them back to the bargaining table, and the trans-Atlantic FTA is simply a
Proposals for a trans-Atlantic FTA have existed since the 1990s, but President Obama’s appeal marks the first time Western leaders have placed substantial political capital behind the initiative.
Why Not Arm the Syrian Rebels? William Rogers Perlmutter
hen the Syrian Opposition Coalition was created in Doha, Qatar on November 11th 2012, observers of geopolitics had the same thoughts: there is an umbrella organization? Let’s begin supplying arms to remove Bashar al-Assad. However the United States in particular has
one branch, your outreach capabilities become limited.” Such unintended consequences would be foreign policy nightmare for anyone in ranks of government. Secondly, the Bush Administration’s foreign policy legacy does not allow for direct unilateral ac-
This is an opportunity for European powers to both walk and talk for the first time since the end of the Cold War. not shown staunch commitments to bring down the minority-run Alawite government. Why? There are rational historical reasons behind such a decision. First and foremost, as history has haunted foreign policy-makers in the American government, militarizing groups whose intentions are unknown by both decision-makers and intelligence analysts could have profound impacts on regional and global security at-large. Specifically, the funding of mujahedeen fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s to defeat the Soviet Union appeared to be a great success. But as the funneled by the U.S. government during the Cold War were later used on American soldiers after September 11th in the war in Afghanistan, any smart policymaker would now think twice before handing weapons to militant groups with such nonchalance. When interviewing Cristina Barrios, an expert on global democracy promotion, the reality was clear: “we do not have a proper or reliable mapping for knowing who the Syrian ‘opposition’ really is. If you arm
tion from the United States. After the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, would President Obama dare to undermine international agreements and attract the disapproval of intervention from China and Russia, permanent members of the UN Security Council? President Obama has called for multilateral action on every global issue since becoming the president. However the White House warned that the use of chemical weapons from the Assad regime to Syrian citizens would precipitate an armed military intervention by the United States. Until multilateral negotiation can take place, the previous administration’s legacy dampens or al-Assad commits greater human rights atrocities, little can be done to fix the problem. Barrios suggested that the reason the United States cannot solve the crisis is because it ”burnt many of our bridges in the Middle East, however, Europe can still go across and come back when needed.” This is an opportunity for European powers to both walk and
talk for the first time since the end of the Cold War. The European Union has an arms embargo on the whole country of Syria. If the embargo is lifted, the UK and France have shown a willingness to arm the opposition forces immediately. The EU has been criticized for lacking military capabilities while relying partnerships such as NATO, the moment to change is now. With coordination from new Secretary of State John Kerry, a great opportunity exists for potential European action. Although a ‘EUtopian’ idea (as many are about what Europe should be in the future), the reality is that member-state preferences will stall such an ambitious goal in the present moment. A higher degree of cooperation is necessary to solve the crisis in Syria. Between the United Nations, the EU and NATO, consensus on how to end the atrocities in Syria has not been fruitful. Coupling this reality with the inward policy approach of the United States since 2008, unilateral intervention from the former ‘global policeman’ is unlikely. Finally if history teaches us anything, a militarization of the Syrian Opposition Coalition might lead to foreign policy meltdown if such weapons are used against regional allies like Turkey and Israel. In short, no public solution today ensures a realizable, democratic transition within Syria and ensures global security while not agitating political elites throughout the world. Thus, the war in Syria will persist.
Expect Big Things from Francis I
Roman Catholic Pope of the late 20th Century, John Paul II, served as a galvanizing influence in the movement to tear down the oppressive Communist regime in his home nation of Poland. This movement, known as Solidarity, had its roots in civil disobedience-type actions and remained a decidedly secular organization. It certainly did benefit from the attention of John Paul, and over one billion other Roman Catholics worldwide, during the 198990 period. With this in mind as a major example (among many others), it is hard to imagine the Church and State will ever be entirely separated, despite many philosophies or policies calling and advocating for this.
Aires. On top of this, he cooked his own meals and rode public transit to work each morning – a lifestyle reflecting the pronounced concern for the poor he has exuded throughout his religious life. Indeed, this faith-inaction type of attitude continued into the first weeks of his papacy: after being introduced and delivering a blessing to the throng gathered in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis declined escort and chauffeur, hopping onto the bus with other Cardinals to return to his hotel. He has also decided to reside in the Vatican guesthouse, a smaller and presumably more modest residence that the Apostolic Palace traditionally used by Popes.
Moving to the present, latest estimates put the number of Roman Catholics worldwide at just over 1.1 billion, and the Church is experiencing rapid growth in areas of the developing world, especially Africa and South America. No doubt, these voices were cheering especially loud on 13 March when the current Pope, Francis I, was elected following the February resignation of Benedict XVI, the proximal successor to John Paul II. Francis is the first non-European Pope in several centuries and the first ever from the “New World” (prior to his election, he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina).
These details show that, like his predecessor John Paul II, Francis is a man of action. He lives out the teachings of the Christian faith he has devoted his life to. These actions often appear unorthodox given the pomp and circumstance of his past and present Church positions. This
contrasts with his immediate predecessor Benedict XVI, whose papacy focused more on clarifying doctrinal disputes in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Benedict’s papacy has been referenced by some as a “breathing period” after the long and tumultuous tenure of John Paul II. This is not to say Benedict XVI’s papacy was in any way inferior to others; indeed, it reflected his past as an academic, just as John Paul II’s earlier involvement in political & humanitarian struggles was reflected in his papacy. This trend will likely continue with Francis I. The Pope’s involvement in humanitarian matters and accompanying political issues is certainly something to be anticipated, if not expected under Francis.
While Archbishop, Francis I (known as Cardinal Bergoglio at the time) made waves by refusing to live in the diocesan mansion, instead taking up residence in a modest apartment in Buenos Balcony at St. Peter’s Cathedral, The Vatican