Chapel Hill Political Review April 2011 http://studentorgs.unc.edu/thehill
Volume X, Issue V
Feet in the Street Protests Erupt Around the World
Latin America and Libya Strange ties between Libya and Latin America
The Situation in Wisconsin Union workers come together in protest
Oil and Arab Revolution The would-be effects of protests in Saudi Arabia
From the Editor To our readers:
When it came time to decide our focus for this issue, we were hesitant to center our April issue on the Arab Revolution. However, we couldn’t help but notice that protests, revolution, and the average man raising his voice in the street has not been limited to the Middle East and North African protests. In this issue, we focus on the recent phenomenon of street-born protests around the world. We examine comparisons of the Arab Revolution to revolutions of the past (pgs 12-13), inspect ties between the in-crisis state of Libya and Latin America (pg 14), and take a look at the potential consequences on oil markets if protests extend to Saudi Arabia (pg 15). We even discuss the rising ethnic tensions in the Caucus Mountains and the increase in protests of the Ingush people (pg 27). We also examine protests and revo-
Send us your comments We’re poud to share our work with you, and we invite you to share your thoughts with us. Send us a letter or e-mail -- not 250 words, please. Include your name, year and major.
lution on a domestic level. We examine the positions of the conflicting parties in the Wisconsin protests (pg 8), and we examine the arguments for and against the recent Supreme Court decision that protests of military funerals are protected by the First Amendment (pg 10). Moving away from the protest aspect, but still focusing on potential radical change on the domestic scene, we look at the Pence Amendment (pg 7), the Defense of Marriage Act (pg 8), and even changes to medical liability legislation in North Carolina (pg 9). Thank you for picking up (or downloading) this issue of The Hill and supporting our endeavors to spread the nonpartisan conversation and examine issues without partisan bias. We hope you find this issue interesting and informative, and we hope you continue to read our magazine in the future. Sarah Wentz is a junior majoring in political science and global studies. 208 Frank Porter Graham Student Union UNC-CH Campus Box 5210 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5210 http://email@example.com
Chapel Hill Political Review Our Mission: The Hill is a medium for analysis of state, national and international politics. This publication is meant to serve as the middle ground (and a battleground) for political thought on campus where people can present their beliefs and test their ideas. A high premium is placed on having a publication that is not affiliated with any party or organization, but rather is openly nonpartisan on the whole. Hence, the purpose of The Hill is to provide the university community with a presentation of both neutral and balanced analysis of political ideas, events and trends. This means that, on the one hand, the publication will feature articles that are politically moderate in-depth analyses of politics and political ideas. These articles might be analytical, descriptive claims that draw conclusions about the political landscape. On the other, The Hill will feature various articles that take political stances on issues.
The Hill Staff MANAGING EDITOR Sarah Wentz EDITORS Caroline Guerra Clayton Thomas SECTION EDITORS Alex Jones Siddarth Nagaraj WRITERS Amanda Claire Grayson Caroline Guerra Sam Hobbs Alex Jones Krishna Kollu Radhika Kshatriya Ismaail Qaiyim Maximillian Seunik Stephanie Shenigo Clayton Thomas Kevin Uhrmacher Avani Uppalapati Tunu wa-Dutumi Sarah Wentz Daixi Xu WEB EDITOR Sarah Wentz DESIGN Rachelle Branca Kevin Uhrmacher Sarah Wentz HEAD OF ART Megan Shank ART Alya El Sayed-Ali JR Fruto Grainne O’Grady Megan Shank Connor Sullivan CIRCULATION Amanda Claire Grayson Wilson Sayre TREASURER Kendall Law FACULTY ADVISOR Ferrel Guillory
Volume X, Issue V
Protests in Wisconsin Union workers take to the streets in fight for collective bargaining rights
Medical Liability Law Changes in NC Legislation changes in NC that may affect you
Rising Water Changes Is water following the path of oil?
Protests Throughout History Can we compare the 2011 protests to 1776, 1848, or 1989
Latin American & Libya Strange ties between Libya & South America
Oil & the Arab Revolution The would-be effects of protests in Saudi Arabia
In Every Issue Notes from The Hill Hill-O-Meter The Last Word
Notes from The Hill
Notes from The Hill Hope for the Lost West
Dambisa Moyo, author of New
York Times bestseller “Dead Aid,” has done it again. Upon its U.S. release in February 2011, her latest novel, “How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly and the Stark Choices Ahead,” debuted at # 6 on the New York Times bestseller list, #4 in the Washington Post, and #2 in the Wall Street Journal. The book is Moyo’s analysis of “the seemingly inevitable decline of the industrialized West- the United States, in particular- and the ‘rise of the rest’, led by China.” In this brief, Moyo examines the past fifty years of Western economic history and makes an argument for the consequences of the actions for America, the West, and developing nations. The brief begins with much economic theory which, though simplified, is likely difficult to understand for anyone unfamiliar with economic theory and jargon. Though Moyo clearly tries to make her argument accessible to those without any experience with or substantial knowledge of economics, the very advanced nature of the theory prevents it from being accessible to any ol’ Joe on the street. That said, Moyo does an admirable job of making her argument comprehensible and accessible to an audience beyond professors and scholars. One of Moyo’s points is that while the West has believed itself to be infallible, at least on an economic level, in many ways their policy decisions are 4
to blame for the current woes, as well as the trouble Moyo predicts for the future. Moyo says, “The West believed its economic superiority would always win- it was wrong. The technology that was conceived and built for the West’s advantage has ultimately been used against it, and taken for a song.” The West has developed, industrialized, and made an exorbitant amount of money in public and private markets, but ultimately the fruits of these labors have allowed developing nations to begin to compete and outbid Western companies. On this point, at least, we are in accord with Ms. Moyo.
proven that politicians will spend beyond the government’s means to satisfy the people and maintain their positions. We have trouble believing this will change in the near future, even if our economy sees further downturns.
Included on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in May 2009, and featured on Oprah Winfrey’s power list of 20 remarkable visionaries in September 2009, Dambisa Moyo has grabbed attention with her ideas for economic development. Her latest book is only further justification that her ideas deserve to be heard. “How the West Was Lost” is an enjoyable read, and While Ms. Moyo’s economic worth any reader’s time who has analysis seems relatively sound to an interest in the domestic and a set of admittedly undertrained world economies and the role of eyes, her political analysis seems the U.S. in their futures. slightly less so. One point we disagree with is the eventuality Sarah Wentz is a junior majorof governments spending less on ing in political science and global healthcare and education. Moyo studies. argues this will be necessary, saying “In years to come governments will be forced to spend less on health [and education], and politically have to face the backlash that would ensue from such a decision.” We at The Hill, however, feel it is naïve to believe that politicians will cut public spending in such an unpopular manner and brave the backlash for “the greater good.” This is not out of cynicism, but out of the realistic understanding that politicians want to be re-elected and will not act in a manner that may jeopardize this. History has
By the Numbers: NC Census Data
9,535,483 North Carolina has grown 18.5% since the 2000 census, with growth focused in the center regions of the state. Specifically, the Triangle area has experienced tremendous growth. This is likely the result of initiatives such as Research Triangle Park, which attracted several national companies to the area. The population boom has fallen just short of garnering the state another representative in the House, which would add to its current 13.
Growth in N.C. Hispanic population
Growth in N.C. nonHispanic population
Hill-O-Meter By Sarah Wentz
Nicolas Sarkozy & Francois Fillon: This French duo is leading the way in the charge against Libya. The French are getting much of the media attention regarding the Libyan crisis, and truly, Sarkozy and Fillon could use the positive press. Meanwhile, there are rumors of drama behind the scenes between the two. Mes amis, play nice, s’il vous plait.
Who’s on top of the heap right now? Who has fallen far? We track the up-and-comers and the down-and-outs.
Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton: Obama and Clinton dropped the ball on responding to the Middle Eastern protests, and we imagine they’re now scratching their heads trying to figure out how they got left behind.
Muammar Gaddafi: It takes a special kind of leader to hold on to power when his neighbor rulers have long since fallen, and the UN and Western powers are rallying against you. Gaddafi is just that kind of leader. Lucky Libya, eh?
Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali & Hosni Mubarak: They took their sweet time, but these two have left their respective presidencies. Although, they didn’t make their exits until after pulling a bank job- each left bringing a sack or two of money- the total sums of which are unknown. Unemployed and still rich...we’re kinda jealous.
Obama Administration Ceases to Protect Defense of Marriage Act Gay marriage advocates achieved a
small but significant victory this past February. On February 23, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) bans federal recognition of same-sex marriage. The announcement came after weeks of deliberation by members of the Justice Department and the White House, and it has reignited the longstanding debate over whether or not gays should have the right to marry. President Obama’s decision to no longer defend DOMA bodes well for the future of the gay rights movement. The timing of this recent decision by the Obama administration is quite logical. The announcement comes at a time when the gay rights movement is having something of a revival with the recent ending of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a law that banned openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Gay marriage remains divisive, but the tide seems to be turning. A poll conducted by ABC News-Washington Post found that 53 percent of Americans favor gay marriage as of March 18, 2011, a dramatic increase from 32 percent in 2004. What’s more, the announcement by the Obama administration that they will no longer defend DOMA was met with a relatively muted response from most Republicans. One reason for the Republican silence, however, could simply be that gay marriage as a political issue is no longer as potent and divisive as in the past. By deeming DOMA unconstitutional, the administration is pointing to a slow easing into a shift towards
widening the definition of marriage, both by the federal government and the American electorate. The Justice Department’s defense of DOMA has previously rested, in part, on arguments having to do with the encouragement of procreation and “traditional morality,” arguments that have become increasingly difficult to defend. In his letter to Congress, Eric Holder also concluded that “classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny,” meaning that courts must view laws that affect gay individuals with the same level of scrutiny as laws that affect women or minorities. According to Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker, this argument constitutes “a legal standard that will almost certainly result in bans on same-sex marriage being declared unconstitutional.” Indeed, this change in stance by the Justice Department regarding DOMA bodes well for those seeking a federal lift on prohibition of same-sex marriage. Despite the many positives that this decision bodes for the gay rights movement, challenges remain. Thomas M. Carsey, a professor and director of the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at UNCChapel Hill, notes that “[t]his is a significant event, but the real issue is how the U.S. Supreme Court will interpret DOMA should a case reach them.” According to Jeffrey Toobin, it is probable that the Obama administration’s view could impact Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy—the court’s swing, and therefore most important, vote. The fate of DOMA most likely lies in the hands of the Supreme Court, as they are the only body (other than Congress) that can deem the law unconstitutional. Resistance from Congress also remains strong, as
Speaker of the House John Boehner has decided to use the House as a third-party defendant of DOMA. And although the Obama administration has decided to no longer defend the law in court, they are still obligated by the constitution to uphold and enforce it. The long battle over gay marriage is by no means over, and the recent decision by the Obama administration does little to suggest its abrupt end. However, no longer defending DOMA is a huge political win for the gay community. President Obama, who officially prefers civil unions over complete marriage equality, has recently stated that his views on gay marriage are “evolving.” No longer defending DOMA only reinforces his evolving stance. For the time being, it seems as if the argument is shaping up in favor of gay marriage. However, the winds of policy development change regularly and there is no guarantee that DOMA will be over-turned in the near future. Tunu wa-Dutumi is a junior majoring in global studies.
Does the Pence Amendment Foreshadow Change for Planned Parenthood? Planned Parenthood, the nation’s
leading provider of women’s sexual and reproductive services, has recently been on the chopping block of Congress’s budget debate. Representative Mike Pence’s amendment to the fifth House Continuing Resolution for the 2011 fiscal year, which passed 240-185 on a mostly party line vote, bars Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds. Pence has unsuccessfully introduced legislation for the last three congressional sessions to eliminate federal funding to any organization that provides abortions. Both parties have accused the other of raising divisive social issues during a budget crisis and continued economic uncertainty, and this issue is no exception. Each side of this debate disagrees over the amendment’s true intentions. Pence and his supporters tend to frame this issue to be about budget austerity and the need to cut programs, while opponents stress that the amendment is about attacking one organization instead of focusing on jobs and the economy.
Opponents of this amendment point out abortions are only 3 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. Other important services that will be defunded include access to contraceptives, breast and cervical cancer exams, and STD and HIV testing. Planned Parenthood estimates that the 48 percent of its patients that are on Medicaid, a federally funded program, will lose access to important health care services as a result of the amendment. Many of these patients consider Planned Parenthood to be their only source of primary healthcare.
There is also debate over the extent to which federal funds aid abortions. Opponents highlight the fact that federal funds cannot legally pay for abortions. Last year, Planned Parenthood received a quarter of its funds through Title X of 1970’s Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal family planning program, and it specifies that its funds cannot go toward abortions. Additionally, the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of Medicaid for abortions. Although Rep. Pence acknowledges this, he believes that Representative Pence believes that federal funds contribute to overhead the budget is a “moral document” and operational costs in a “loophole” and that, in the spirit of fiscal re- that allows Planned Parenthood to straint, defunding Planned Parent- facilitate more abortions through hood will save $363 million. Pence, increased alternative funds. who is a tenacious pro-life advocate, believes that Planned Parenthood On the opposing end of the debate, should not receive any federal funds Representative Louise Slaughter because it is the largest abortion argued that the amendment was provider in the nation. He regretfully “proposed under the guise of beadmits that Planned Parenthood ing fiscally responsible, but nothing has the right to perform abortions could be further from the truth.” under Roe v. Wade, but he poses the She further contended that for evquestion, “Why do tens of millions ery federal dollar invested in family of pro-life American taxpayers have planning, taxpayers save four dollars to pay for it?” as a result of Planned Parenthood’s preventative health services. Other female representatives introduced
gender into the conversation during the House floor debate. Representative Jan Schakowsky declared, “Instead of attacking unemployment, Republicans are waging a war against women.” In an emotional account, Representative Jackie Speier described the time she received an abortion due to a pregnancy complication and chastised Pence for trivializing the gravity of a woman’s decision to undergo an abortion. UNC Professor of Feminist Political Theory Susan Bickford said the fact that Congress is a mostly male institution “can’t help but affect the culture of the institution, as well as the substance of the options considered” and added that it would be “interesting to see how the vote would’ve gone if we had something approaching gender parity.” Although the amendment did not pass the Senate, its passage in the House has resonating effects. It has brought women’s sexual and reproductive health issues into salience and has mobilized advocates for Planned Parenthood. This is a small defeat for Pence. He has already introduced the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act” which eliminates federal funds for any entity that provides abortions. It is uncertain what the fate of Planned Parenthood will be in the future. If the GOP gains control of Congress in 2012, it could be a nasty war that will pit Planned Parenthood’s supporters against Representative Pence and his colleagues. Daixi Xu is a sophomore majoring in political science and art history.
The Situation in Wisconsin: Protests for Collective Bargaining Rights The controversial restriction of
high impact on working mothers.
Governor Scott Walker’s Republican state senate voted to eliminate collective bargaining provisions for most public workers that have been in place for decades, sending a maelstrom of angry protesters to the grounds of the capital.
In March 2011, the Wisconsin Women’s Council released a fact sheet showing that 71 percent of working mothers in Wisconsin are employed outside the home—more than the US average of 60 percent. Not all of them work in the public sector, of course, but the same fact sheet reveals that 56 percent of state government workers and 58 percent of local government workers
collective-bargaining privileges in Madison has set unions against Republicans, leading to intense debates across the nation.
State senators have since expunged all financial aspects of the bill and pushed the legislation through. With the legislation, Walker hopes to cut government spending and reverse Wisconsin’s fiscal woes. However, the question remains, are these measures a progressive strategy to help reverse the state’s $3.6 billion budget gap without raising taxes and cutting jobs, or are they a tactic to weaken the power of the union? Collective bargaining puts power into the hands of workers and allows them to negotiate for higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions. Walker’s bill limits collective bargaining over wages and removes workers’ ability to negotiate for pensions and benefits. While this move is set to save $30 million in the last three months of the current fiscal year alone, critics of Governor Walker’s proposal argue workers may face a reduction in their ability to seek higher wages and benefits – a result that may particularly affect women. Surveys have shown a large number of women working in the Wisconsin public sector, suggesting the new legislation will have a particularly
Spending & Deficit in Wisconsin are women. Critics of the new legislation are especially concerned for women’s wages. Women workers face an everpresent wage gap, regardless of their place in the private or public sector, and the recent change in legislation, some argue, will hurt women worker’s wages. According to the Economic Policy Institute, unionization raises female worker’s wages by 11.2 percent and women of color earn almost 35 percent more than non-union women of color. In a recent report, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research also notes that it will take almost 45 years – the year 2056 – for
women’s wages to catch up to those of men. However, the state stands to break ground on reducing its deficit. According to Walker, having workers pay more for pension and health care costs would improve the state’s financial standing and allow schools and local governments to better manage the more than $1 billion in reductions he’s proposing in his two-year budget. In fact, Walker’s bill also contains provisions to restructure the state’s debt, reducing service costs by $165 million this fiscal year. Further, the proposal places state-run heat and energy plants up for sale, which some say will allow private sector expansion, job growth, and competition in Wisconsin’s energy industry. Even with much of the furor having died down, opinions on the matter still contrast in Wisconsin and across the nation. As with any piece of legislation, there are potential beneficial and harmful effects and multiple positions. Some of these viewpoints are affected by complex relationships and the ever-blowing winds of change. According to Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Ralph Byrns, “the main fault of the unions was their inability to foresee that future politicians wouldn’t necessarily respect the special relationship between government and union and renege on past deals.” However, the situation continues to evolve and only time will tell what the prevailing outcome will be. Maximillian Seunik is a first-year majoring in global studies and political science.
Medical Liability Law Reform in North Carolina North Carolinians may see the
effect of the new Republican state government in the area of health care, where they are attempting to push through medical liability reforms. Despite the partisan sponsorship of the bill, medical liability reform is a motion also supported by President Obama and the national deficit-reform commission. Current practices force doctors to practice defensive medicine, wherein they perform superfluous tests and procedures in order to protect themselves from lawsuits. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that national medical liability reform has the potential to save Americans $57.5 billion. Common proposals for medical liability reform take the form of damage caps, modifying and the collateral source rule. The damage cap imposes limits on noneconomic damages, which attempt to pay patients for intangible injuries, such as pain, emotional distress, and loss of a family member. The rationale behind these caps is that juries inflate the amount of damages awarded because they cannot quantify the monetary amount of these damages. The North Carolina Medical Liability Reform Bill (known as Senate Bill 33) addresses five important points of reform. The bill institutes a cap on non-economic damages of $500,000 which will be adjusted for inflation. The cap mandates the maximum amount of funds that a plaintiff may receive as well as the amount a defendant must pay for all claims from all parties arising from the same case. This means that the cap is not stackable, so that it cannot be mandated that the defendant pay the cap multiple times in the same case. Another point of the bill increases liability protection for
those rendering emergency care. This is similar to the Good Samaritan law already in place. It is aimed at protecting workers who are forced to make split-second decisions in life-threatening situations, such as gunshot wounds, aneurysms, and strokes. Additionally, the bill mandates separate trials for liability and damages. This provision means that a jury must determine that a medical worker is liable for damages, and then a separate trial and jury is used to determine the amount of damages. The purpose of this is to keep a jury awarding damages from being prejudiced by evidence that shows a degree of harm. The bill also includes periodic payments of future damages awards over $200,000, which means that payments may be stopped if the recipient dies before the final payments are due, with exceptions for payments for loss of future earnings and future household services. Finally, the point for the reform of appeal bonds allows for fair bond requirements to be set if a judgment exceeds a doctorâ€™s insurance limit. Additionally, doctors would have ample opportunities to appeal judgments.
determine the amount of damages due. Critics cite violations of the right to trial by jury, separation of powers, and equal protection under the laws as reasons to void the bill. Medical liability law reforms are becoming increasingly popular within states, particularly after the Republican sweep of the midterm elections. Despite support on both sides of the partisan line, each state must independently evaluate whether the benefits of cutting costs and allowing doctors to do their job more freely are worth the possibility of reducing the payouts of patients. Additionally, proponents of the changes must find a way to appease those who believe the damage caps are unconstitutional. While the North Carolina bill has widespread support, its advocates still have much to do in order to ensure that this bill passes the House and is signed by Governor Purdue. Stephanie Shenigo is a junior majoring in political science
The proposed medical liability reform bill has many proponents who argue that the bill will be beneficial to both patients and doctors, as it will lower taxes and insurance costs, and allow doctors to focus on treatment instead of protecting themselves from lawsuits. However, critics claim that liability protection for emergency workers lowers the standard of care required for doctors. Additionally, opponents contend that the proposed damages cap is unconstitutional, stemming from the belief that a jury has the right to
Protests Protected: Military Funerals Safe Under First Amendment For the case of Snyder vs. Phelps,
controversy has marked the path in and out of the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in favor of Phelps, allowing protests at military funerals. Phelps’ family constitutes a majority of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas. Members of the church protested at the funeral of former Iraqi Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder in Maryland. The Marine’s father, Albert Snyder, sued Fred Phelps, head of WBC, for intentionally inflicting emotional distress and invading privacy during his son’s funeral in March 2006. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Phelps’ favor, citing the First Amendment. Many political and social groups and the public are disappointed the Phelps’ have no legal repercussions for their offensive behavior. By ruling in the church’s favor, the Court is allowing WBC to continue what many consider hateful speech. The church is very vocal about its anti-homosexual stance and has even been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other organizations. WBC espouses that killing soldiers is God’s way of punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality. They hold signs such as “God hates fags” and “America is doomed.”The SPLC states on its website that WBC is “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.” Apart from the public, political leaders also disagree with the Court’s decision. Forty-two senators, including Republican and Democratic Party heads, urged the Court to declare the Phelps’ protesting unlawful. Richard
L. Eubank, National Commander of the politically powerful Veterans of Foreign War, reported being “greatly disappointed” with the Court’s ruling. Though there may be much
public disapproval for the Court’s decision, the Court’s responsibility is to make decisions based on the constitutionality of the matter, not public opinion. Many First Amendment scholars say the Court’s decision is not surprising. UNC Law Professor William Marshall, a First Amendment specialist, said, “The court was pretty consistent with their approach based upon cases in the past.” He believes the First Amendment should protect discourse on political and social issues and uphold space for dialogue on democratic procedure. In concurrence, other scholars argue that to fully uphold the value of free speech, society must protect ugly speech that may not have popular approval. Chief Justice John Roberts utilized the same reasoning in writing his majority opinion. He also said WBC was protesting in a public place re-
garding public matters, so Snyder’s claim to invasion of privacy was unsupported. The lone dissenter was Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., who said to The New York Times, “In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.” Perhaps with similar thinking, over 40 states have enacted laws to restrict or entirely prohibit funeral protests. Kansas prohibits public demonstrations within 150 feet of any funeral entrance whereas Florida prohibits protests at military funerals in particular. Westboro attorney and church member Margie J. Phelps remarked to The State, a South Carolina newspaper, that these restrictions were “ill-designed and completely unconstitutional,” adding that “[t]here’s going to be all sorts of appealing.” Whether one agrees with the legislation and WBC or not, this prediction seems sound. While the Supreme Court has indeed declared protests at funerals lawful, it is not yet clear whether the laws enacted by these states will be declared unconstitutional, and appeals are likely in the meantime. Professor Marshal expects laws with neutral positions to have a greater chance of being upheld. “Laws with a particular viewpoint are more likely to be declared unlawful,” Marshall said. If a state’s funeral restriction law is caused by an event the Supreme Court deems acceptable, those laws could be revoked. Avani Uppalapati is a first-year majoring in political science.
Water Prices Rising What comes to mind when you think of the word “gasoline”? Perhaps a frustrated yelp and the adjectives costly and scarce. Can you imagine having the same reaction to water?
The expression “water is the new oil” is up and about in international circles. Indeed, a CIA report declares that water scarcity will be a major source of world conflict by 2015. Even today, over 1.2 billion people across the world live in water-scarce areas. The situation is different in America, where people pay more for their mobile phones than do for their drinking water. What accounts for the relatively cheaper prices of water in America? Not only does America have more natural water resources than a dry country like Saudi Arabia, U.S. policymakers extensively subsidize water prices. However, the times are a-turning. As decreasing domestic supply intersects increasing domestic demand, water prices in the USA will rise. All across the land of the free, water resources are dwindling. On one level, reserves of fresh water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer in the Great Plains, are being depleted too rapidly. More water is being pumped out of the ground than is being recharged by natural processes. Additionally, climate change is reducing rainfall, making for hotter summers with even more evaporation. It has also contributed to increased flooding. In some cities such as Philadelphia, water flooding often overfills the sewer system, causing waste-water to be diverted to local water sources and thus creating water quality problems. Indeed, environmental issues – subsidence, salt intruding into the water
supply, fissures, sinkholes, rainwater not entering the ground-table – will exacerbate problems with the quantity and quality of drinkable water. Not only is the supply of the water decreasing, the demand for water is increasing. What makes this combination so deadly is that much of the increase in demand is in areas where the supply is already stretched. Dr. Stephen Birdsall, Professor of Geography at the University of North Carolina, said in an email interview to The Hill, “In the U.S. over the past half century, population growth has been greater in some areas that do not have abundant, natural water supplies. Think of the Southwest and interior West.” Furthermore, ethanol production is consuming more and more water resources, with every gallon of ethanol requiring four gallons of water, not including the water required to grow the necessary corn. Ironically, with combating climate change comes conflicts with water conservation. When the Obama administration encouraged building solar plants in the Southwest, Jon Jarvis, now the Park Service Director, argued that placing them in the Southwest would drain the already stressed water supply there. Interestingly, typical solar plants use two or three times as much water as coal plants.
to become even more difficult. An EPA study estimates that it will cost about $335 billion to repair and restore the nation’s decaying infrastructure. Currently, water line bursts occur every two minutes on average. The failure of a pipe not only wastes water but also leads to an invasion of nearby bacteria and dust. Unfortunately, current solutions to this problem – using chlorine and flushing pipes – are not sustainable. Finally, it is costly to subsidize water prices with a recession-badgered budget. While many water conservation efforts have certainly been beneficial, some are backfiring. By encouraging citizens to conserve too much, municipalities are finding that they don’t have enough sales revenue to pay for the costs of providing water, thereby increasing prices even more. Ultimately, a collision of vectors – huge infrastructure costs, decreasing supplies of fresh water, increased demand for water and the need for balanced budgets – will almost certainly cause water prices to rise. Krishna Kollu is a junior majoring in economics and computer science.
Already made difficult by conflicts over water ownership, such as the fight over the use of the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoos River Basin between Alabama, Florida and Georgia, supplying water is about
A Comparison of the Arab Revolution and Revolutions Throughout History
Revolutionary change comes
in waves, and right now an enormous tidal wave has swept across North Africa. Political revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, an uprising and civil war in Libya, and major protests in Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern states erupted beginning in December 2010 and continuing into 2011 in what some have called an “Arab Spring.”Throughout history, several years will forever claim significance—1776, 1848, 1989, and now 2011—for their revolutionary legacy. In 1776, thirteen American colonies declared their independence from the British Empire and fought the bloody Revolutionary War until the British abandoned claims to American land in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Only six years later, liberal political groups and ordinary masses of citizens united in the streets of Paris and other French cities as France experienced its own social and political upheaval known as the French Revolution. The same Enlightenment-era philosophers, lack of political representation, and excesses of an outdated and lavish monarchy motivated these two similar revolutions, paving the way for a long process of nation- and state-building. In 1848, revolutions erupted across
viet Union. Events began in 1989 when the Solidarity party in Poland participated in Parliamentary elections and won a sweeping victory, pushing many Communist candidates completely out of their seats and ushering in a new non-Communist government by September 1989. Revolutions followed in Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia (the first peaceful turnover, termed the Velvet Revolution), Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia. By 1991 the Soviet Union had completely collapsed. So the question remains, What kind of wave is the IsEurope due to radical political forces including liberalism, na- lamic world experiencing now? The tionalism, and socialism. France’s street protests in European naFebruary Revolution saw the end tion-states in 1848 largely failed to of constitutional monarchy, the achieve any lasting change, whereas Italian revolution pushed for na- all of the Soviet successor states tional unification of city-states, function as independent polities and German protests and rebel- some 20 years later. When masses lions stressed popular democracy in the Islamic states receive much and social liberalism. In each of of their inspiration from historical these nations, street revolutions revolutions and liberal political orchestrated by the middle and ideas, what aims will provide them lower classes aimed for national realistic change? unity and liberal government, but each in turn faced defeat by imperial During the Weil Lecture on Amerimilitary forces and ineffective rule. can Citizenship, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf explained that the same Fast forward almost 150 years, ideals of liberal democracy, social and East European nations were equality, economic opportunity, and clamoring for independence from national identity that motivated another imperial power: the So- Western revolutions in the 18th and
“The American and French revolutions really set the ball rolling.”
19th centuries are inspiring young Muslims in North Africa in the Middle East now; as he stated, “The American and French revolutions really set the ball rolling.” Where is the ball going, though? With the precedent set by the American Revolution and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Middle East has seen overwhelmingly rapid hope and action for change, but the development of a stable political system and social and economic rights may be a substantially slower process.
The protests in the Middle East share some key features with previous revolutions. While the advent of the popular press played a key role in the 1848 revolutions (and to some degree in the American and French revolutions), a new technology—social media—has offered the masses a new way of organizing and mobilizing, even when the press is dominated by the state. For example, the Tunisian bloggers responsible for Nawaat. org received the 2011 Reporters without Borders award for media freedom because of their contributions to the revolution.
and occasional violence by security forces, did not employ violence as a strategy. Likewise, the Egyptian revolution which began on January 25 emphasized civil disobedience, workers’ strikes, street demonstrations, and political protests. The death tolls for each Egypt and Tunisia range from 200 to 700, the major casualty of each revolution being Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak, who have each fled their respective countries. The Libyan protests (like ones in the past, particular 1848) were not met with such peaceful submission, as Gaddafi’s government has sent in armed forces and mercenaries to quell the protests that began February 15. The rebel forces have taken a number of cities and have gained the international support of a NATO coalition. With a death toll approac hing 10,000, the Libyan armed conflict is clearly of a different character than Tunisia, Egypt, and other protests in the region.
in the Middle East share some key features with previous revolutions.”
Arab Revolution Status Report: Overthrowing of Regime & True Revolution: Egypt Tunisia
Civil War: Libya
Government Changes in Response to Protests: Jordan Oman Syria Yemen
Major Protests: Bahrain Iraq
Minor Protests: Algeria Dijibouti Kuwait Lebanon Mauritania Morocco Saudi Arabia Sudan Western Sahara
What these protests and revolutions mean for the future of the Middle East is unclear, but the past waves of revolutions bring both hope and concerns for protesters.
One key feature of protests in Tunisia and Egypt especially has been their relative peacefulness. Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immo- Amanda Claire Grayson is a sopholation on December 17 marked the more majoring in political science and beginning of a series of protests peace, war, & defense. which, while often met by repression
Libya and Latin America: an Unlikely Partnership When the uprising in Libya broke to Venezuela. This report obviously Morales, has had ties with Qaddafi out in February, press coverage of international reaction was mostly limited to the usual suspects, entities that are and have seemingly always been key players in world affairs, like the United States and the European Union. But there was another set of actors that were eventually acknowledged as having a role in the crisis. Many people might be surprised to find out that the countries of Central and South America were extremely influential in Libya’s pre-uprising relations with the outside world and with the international community’s response to the revolution. Probably the first time many observers became aware of the connections between Libya and Latin America was when, relatively early in the conflict, it was reported in Western media outlets that Libyan leader Colonel Muammer Qaddafi had fled
turned out not to be the case, but it did point to the strong but perhaps relatively unknown relationship between the two countries.
That relationship is based mostly on the close personal ties between the two countries’ eccentric leaders, Qaddafi and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Both international pariahs, the two men have met dozens of times in the past several years and have signed many important economic and diplomatic agreements. In 2009, a large soccer stadium was built and named after Chavez in Benghazi, the city that is now under attack by Qaddafi’s forces as the center of the opposition. The underlying force that brought Qaddafi and Chavez together, antiAmericanism, is embraced by other Latin American leaders as well, and they have accordingly supported Qaddafi. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who knows a thing or two himself about U.S. interventionism, has been extremely vocal in his support for the Libyan ruler. Ortega affirmed his support for Qaddafi and argued that the colonel, as target of “a ferocious media attack”, has received unfair treatment. At one point in the crisis, the Jerusalem Post reported that Qaddafi’s sons were urging their father to seek asylum with Ortega. The godfather of Latin American anti-U.S. sentiment, Fidel Castro, was less vociferous in his support, but warned that rhetoric against Qaddafi might foreshadow a ground invasion of Libya by colonialist Western powers. A final anti-U.S. voice on the continent, Bolivia’s Evo
since 2008 but has been largely silent as events in Libya have progressed. As surprising as the close links between the sparsely populated North African country of Libya and Latin America seem, the diplomatic reaction against Qaddafi is perhaps even more confounding. The leader in this effort is Peru. Not exactly a key player on the geopolitical stage, it was nevertheless Peru that took the lead in the diplomatic backlash against the Qaddafi regime, becoming the first country to sever ties with Libya in late February. If it appeared, given the universal condemnation of Qaddafi’s crackdown, that Peru might be the forerunner of an international diplomatic repudiation of his regime, it quickly became clear that this was not the case. To date, Peru has been followed only by Botswana on the list of nations to cut ties with Libya. Furthermore, unlike nations like Brazil or Venezuela, Peru has few economic interests in the North African state, so it unclear just what the importance of Peru’s action is. Still, Latin America is playing a role. Colombia, as a member of the Security Council, cast a key vote in favor of Resolution 1973, authorizing the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians. And Mexico, led by President Felipe Calderon, has become increasingly vocal in its condemnation of the violence. While events in Libya remain uncertain, one thing that seems assured is that the Libyan uprising will remain a major episode in the history of Latin American foreign policy. Clayton Thomas is a senior majoring in history.
What Protests in Saudi Arabia Could Mean for the Oil Markets Whe recent spike in the price of been speculating that revolution if the cost of transporting increases crude oil started on January 25, when protests broke out in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak. On that day, oil was selling at $86 a barrel. In the following weeks, turmoil spread to Libya, and more importantly, to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, who vastly out-produce Libya. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, with a 23 percent share in global oil production.
The revolution has spread to Bahrain, but the Saudi government has managed to stave off political tumult for now. A revolution in Saudi Arabia will lead to skyrocketing oil prices, and political turmoil would only exacerbate the immense debt crises that many economies are facing. But then, it would be a mistake to assume that revolution will certainly happen in Saudi Arabia, a country with a longstanding history of denying basic rights to its people. Practice of any religion other than Islam is banned in the country, and beheadings and public executions still occur in Saudi Arabia. Rallies planned in the country for the first week of March drew small crowds, with no protests taking place in the capital. As a preemptive measure, Saudi rulers deployed hundreds of police officers, blocked off major roads, and increased security near their oil fields, thereby subduing many protesters. Financial markets hate uncertainty, and much of it has been going around. Speculation has run unchecked, and it might be driving oil prices higher than the revolutions themselves. The latest U.S. government report on oil speculation showed that large speculators own options to purchase almost 80 percent of the world’s oil inventory. Many investors have
in Saudi Arabia would result in a record-breaking price of oil at over $200/barrel, which would have been unthinkable months ago.
Speaking to The Hill, Professor Enrico Spolaore, co-editor of the journal Economics & Politics and Chair of Economics at Tufts, explained that “expectations have been more important than actual changes in supply. Libya is a major oil producer (it supplies about 2 percent of world oil), and its production has almost completely stopped.” This hasn’t directly raised oil prices because other countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have increased their production to offset the shortfall from Libya, the unnecessarily dramatic rise in prices is because of the inelasticity of the oil market. Spolaore explained that this means “even small disruptions - or expectations of future disruptions - may have big effects on prices.” A revolution in Saudi Arabia would have grave consequences for the global economy. First, high oil prices leave the economy vulnerable to other market shocks that could tip the world over the edge of another recession. In Europe, if the price of oil causes slowdown in the market it could lead to global tremors. Many countries remain on the brink of economic meltdown; for example, Standard & Poor’s rating agency has demoted Greece’s financial status to below that of Egypt. Rising oil prices could prove disastrous. The United States might feel the effects as well, because of its dependence on foreign imports. The US imports over 50 percent of its oil; in 1973 (the year of the Arab oil embargo), it imported only 35 percent. 60 percent of the goods Americans buy are manufactured overseas, and
sharply, the costs will be passed on to consumers.
People in the U.S. are already feeling financial pain from the revolts in the Arab world. Oil prices have surged 24 percent since mid-February, after turmoil in Libya made much of the country’s oil production shut down. Rebels seized control of some of Libya’s oil, after capturing the oil refinery town of Brega. The Libyan National Council, a group formed of anti-Gadhafi rebels, announced its control of the eastern part of Libya and its oil deposits and revenues, thereby leading to more chaos in oil prices. The more the price of oil increases, the larger the trade deficit becomes. It means that fewer American dollars will go to support American businesses, which in turn means that tax revenues will fall, and the budget deficit will grow. Dennis Lockhart, President of the Atlanta Federal Bank, has said that if oil prices keep rising, it might mean more quantitative easing, which lowers interest rates but can also lead to inflation. This may mean that prices of oil and other commodities will rise again, leading to a vicious cycle that will become hard to break. Depending on the outcome of these revolutions, the United States may find itself entering another global economic downturn. Radhika Kshatriya is a sophomore majoring in philosophy.
Will Corruption in India Dampen the Nation’s Bright Future? In times of global economic uncer- were not enough, in November it was his opponents to portray him as an tainty, India has reason to feel optimistic. The world’s largest democracy has a robust economy which grew at an enviable rate of 9 percent in 2010 and continues to be fuelled by increased trade and economic liberalization. Yet even as the pace of growth remains high, India’s future is threatened by the specter of corruption, which has long pervaded both the government and the private sector. A recent spate of national scandals which have cost taxpayers billions of rupees has engulfed India’s national government, provoking
revealed that in 2008 India’s Minister of Communications illegally sold licenses at below-market prices to major mobile phone companies. The fraudulent sale cost taxpayers more than $39 billion. Unprecedented in its scale, the scam demonstrated the perpetuation of illicit dealings between public officials and corporate interests even as economic liberalization has been credited with improving transparency. Furthermore, the privatization of public sector industries (such as communications) has also been crucial to India’s economic success, raising worrying questions about future growth if gross corruption lingers.
The scandals’ political implications are complex. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is facing
ire at political leaders and broader concern over the sustainability of India’s growth amidst endemic corruption. India’s ongoing “season of scams” began with investigations by India’s main public anti-corruption body, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), into preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Designed to rival China’s successful hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics (and to suggest a future Indian bid) the event instead exemplified incompetence, receiving criticism for poor organization, construction delays and unsafe housing for athletes. The Games’ initial budget of $450 million ballooned to $6 billion, although the total cost is believed to be even higher. As if that
honest but weak leader of unscrupulous officials. Although not personally implicated in the scandals, Dr. Singh has become more politically vulnerable due to the scams. One thing seems sadly clear: regardless of how ongoing scandals affect the country’s current political leadership, state efforts to combat graft look unlikely to succeed given the systemic nature of the dilemma. Corruption is endemic to all levels of Indian society; according to the Global Financial Integrity Index, the black market economy accounts for half of GDP. Given that the entire body politic engages in corrupt behavior itself, there is little motivation to take aggressive steps against such activity. As if to highlight the absence of strong voices for transparency in the government, P.J. Thomas, who Dr. Singh appointed to lead the CVC, was recently forced from his position by the Supreme Court over charges of mishandling investigations into Congress officials’ activities. However, when assessing
we should view corruption “not as pathology affecting only developing countries, but instead as a global phenomenon.” mounting criticism over his government’s ties to the affairs. Dr. Singh, unlike the ruling Congress Party, has no history of corruption and was chosen as prime minister by the party leadership in large part because of his personal reputation and his economic expertise. Since overseeing India’s successful transition from socialism to a market economy as finance minister in 1991, Dr. Singh has won international respect and political success (he is India’s third-longest serving prime minister). However, his party’s long history of malfeasance has now led
endemic corruption in India, one should remember that the country is not alone in its problems. As Sara Smith, Assistant Professor of Geography, notes, we should view corruption “not as pathology affecting only developing countries, but instead as a global phenomenon.” Without substantive transparency, India’s attempts to maximize its potential will be severely foreshortened, jeopardizing its promising outlook for the future. Siddarth Nagaraj is a junior majoring in global studies and political science.
Ethnic Tensions Strengthen in the Caucus Mountains In 1944, the Soviet security forces the city in an attempt to restore their The Ingush insurgency has already pushed six million people into cattle cars and sent them from their homes in the mountains of the Caucasus to the frozen Kazakh steppe. While these people, the Ingush, were starving and suffering in camps on the tundra, their neighbors, the Ossetians, moved in and occupied Ingush villages in the balmy valleys in which they had lived for centuries. 77 years later, Russian aggression is once again causing the Ingush to resent the people who stole their land. Heavy-handed repression of Ingush by Russian thugs is driving young Ingush men toward radicalism and lighting a flame of hatred under the Ingush people. Russian forces may blow this fire further and immolate the entire southern Caucasus.
When they returned from exile in 1955, the Ingush demanded their homes back. The Kremlin, still suspicious of Caucasian peoples, refused to evict the Ossetian squatters. Smoldering at the injustices they continued to endure, the Ingush intelligentsia began speculating about “reclaiming” their “native” land through an irredentist campaign. For thirty-seven years, the threat of Soviet force kept the Ingush from campaigning to take back Prigorodny, the focal point of the territorial dispute. When the USSR collapsed and the threat of retribution was lifted, Ingush nationalists attacked
historical territory. Their forces were repulsed, and by the end of the skirmish, 600 Ingush had been killed.
The 1992 conflict over Prigorodny heated the climate of mistrust between Ingushetia and North Ossetia. The embers of hate continued to glow long after the conflict’s initial kindling burned out. But as long as the nations were internally stable, they co-existed in a tense peace. Starting with the bombing of an Ossetian school in 2004, Ingushetia became more dangerous and the nations’ relations became more volatile. Ingushetia became more violent over time, as Islamist terrorists spilled in from neighboring Chechnya. Between 2005 and 2009, Ingush militants killed over 400 police and 3,000 civilians. The terror reached a high point in June 2009, when militants attempted to assassinate the province’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Enraged, Yevkurov vowed to retaliate “mercilessly”. Yevkurov’s crackdown was reinforced by a repressive campaign by Russia’s internal security agency. The two forces have terrorized Ingushetia’s population, and, ironically, their campaign to eliminate terror has “turned more Ingush to the [terrorist] cause”. Out of fear and desperation, more Ingush are joining the rebellious faction. Ingushetia is becoming more dangerous by the day.
Timeline of Events 1944
Soviet security forces ship six million Ingush from their homes in the Caucus Mountains to the Kazaksh steppe
The Ingush return from exile to find their homes inhabited by the Ossetians.
Ingush nationalists attack Prigorodny in an attempt to reclaim the city
begun thrusting its sword into North Ossetia. In September 2009, Ingush militants blew up a bazaar in the Ossetian city of Nazra, killing 17 people. After the attack, the North Ossetian president claimed his government would “go to war with the terrorists”. As the insurgents have grown more agitated, their sorties have extended deep into Russia Proper. In January 2011, an Ingush militant was alleged to have bombed the airport in Moscow. In response to the attack, Russia is expected to devote more resources to pacifying Ingushetia. Under pressure from abusive local forces and Kremlinbacked thugs, the Ingush population will become more radical, more resentful, and more violent. The Prigorodny conflict still has not been resolved. As the violence in Ingushetia intensifies, some militants might attack the city in a messianic attempt to “restore historical justice,” as Ingush nationalists used to say. With so much malice between the republics, such an event would bring Ingushetia and North Ossetia to war. The Kremlin’s heavy-handed security tactics, having started the Prigorodny conflict in the 1940’s, might bring the feud to a final, bloody end. Alex Jones is a sophomore majoring in business and political science.
An Ossetian school is held hostage and bombed for three days by Ingush and Chechen forces
Attempted assassination of province president Yunus-Bek Yevkurov A few months later: bombing of bazaar in the Ossetian city of Nazra kills seventeen
Bombing of Moscow airport
Would Alternative Voting Spell Big Change for the UK? On May 5 UK Prime Minister Associate Professor of Political Sci- to me that that’s almost the only David Cameron makes good on a promise he made a last year to the Liberal Democrats. To gain a majority in Parliament, Cameron’s Conservatives and the third party formed a coalition government. Now a negotiated referendum could change deep-seated norms of the UK electoral system. For years, political scientists regarded the United Kingdom as the epitome of majoritarianism. Characterized by winner-take-all politics with power concentrated at the center, majoritarianism opposes consensual norms of power-sharing and proportional representation (PR). Over the course of recent history, several circumstances have shifted the United Kingdom away from its majoritarian roots, and the upcoming referendum could produce a like result. Alternative Voting, while not very proportional in its representation of minority parties, would alter the system of counting votes. Currently, a ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP) system is used, meaning simply that the person with the most votes wins, even if they do not have a majority. Alternative Voting would change that, having voters rank their preferences of candidates. After votes were counted, if no candidate received 50% of the vote, all of the ballots cast for the lowest vote-getter would be redistributed based on whoever was listed as the second preference. This process would be repeated until a candidate received 50%. The Liberal Democrats hope the referendum will change the ‘First Past the Post’ system because it disadvantages smaller and regionally distributed parties. But how much would an alternative voting system actually change the electoral outlook in the UK?
ence and Chair of the Global Studies department Andrew Reynolds has done extensive research and consultation on constitutional design and electoral politics. His work has involved travel to innumerable corners of the earth, including Afghanistan, Burma and South Africa. Reynolds sat down with The Hill to share his thoughts on the vote. “It’s not clear to me if it makes a dramatic difference, even moving to AV,” says Reynolds. Estimates say only a relatively small number of seats would change hands if AV replaced FPTP. Some early figures gave the Liberal Dems only 15-20 more seats if AV were used in 2010. That is almost nominal when considered against the 650-member House of Commons.
thing they’re getting out of this deal,” says Reynolds. Liberal Democratic polling numbers have plummeted since the Coalition formed. Reynolds believes that the party is getting “all the blame and none of the benefit.” Whether the referendum will pass seems uncertain, with AV and FPTP running close to one another in the polls. Those numbers have fluctuated over time, and seem to be premature considering the large percentage of ‘Don’t Know’ responses. Either way, it is certainly an extraordinary occurrence when citizens get a choice of electoral systems. Long-term, Reynolds says that if the referendum fails, “you really don’t see any likelihood of electoral change in the foreseeable future.”
Alternative Voting, while not very proportional in its representation of minority parties, would alter the system of counting votes.
Some think the Liberal Democrats should have pushed harder on the Conservatives, who seemed to have a lot to gain from the compromise. “Many people, including myself, believed that they should have said at least have a referendum where PR is one of the choices,” Reynolds adds. The Liberal Democrats preferred PR, but ultimately AV was the only of the two put on the ballot. As a student, Reynolds was a leader of the Young Liberals, a youth movement of the Liberal Democratic Party. Because of the recent actions of Liberal Dem leadership, he has resigned from the party. “The question is: If it doesn’t pass, will the Liberal Democrats stay in the coalition government? It seems
Kevin Uhrmacher is a first-year majoring in journalism and political science.
Controversy Continues to Follow Silvio Berlusconi Silvio Berlusconi has carved out a describe Berlusconi’s recent time in complicated and ambiguous reputation for himself. Viewed as the often comical and somewhat unassuming prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi’s unique persona renders both amusement and frustration. Some would replace “comical” with incompetent and “unassuming” with corrupt. Berlusconi’s Italy is one that is fundamentally impacted by both the man and his politics. Italy also occupies a principle role as an EU state strategically located in Southern Europe, west of the Balkans. Whatever impression Berlusconi leaves on Italy will be felt throughout the region and within the EU. Controversy seems to follow Italy’s prime minster. While in office he has faced multiple charges in court. Some of these include criminal allegations, tax fraud, collusion, ties to the mafia and other offenses. Despite multiple cases brought against him, Berlusconi was found guilty only once for lying under oath in 1990, and he has never been sentenced in court. His latest controversy along with new charges of corruption and solicitation of sexual services from a minor may change that. Berlusconi is alleged to have engaged in sexual acts with a then-underage belly dancer named Karima El Mahroug (nicknamed Ruby Rubacuori or Ruby Heartstealer in English) in exchange for gifts and other favors. If convicted, he could face up to fifteen years in prison. Additionally, Berlusconi is being indicted for “Malfeasance in Office,” as he allegedly used his political power to have El Mahroug released after she was detained on theft charges by claiming she was a relative of Hosni Mubarak. These particular charges highlight a particular strain of corruption based on sexual misconduct that has come to
office. The charges notwithstanding, the prime minster has created a reputation for himself characterized by sexual overindulgence and lavishness.
Another element that may impact Berlusconi’s current hearings and any future charges brought against him are his proposed changes to the Italian legal system. The bill, which was recently unveiled in Rome, would force magistrates to choose either a career as a prosecutor or judge. Currently it is possible to switch between the two. Opponents of the bill say it seeks to punish magistrates for indicting the prime minister. Independent magistrates have occupied an important function in Italian politics, as their prosecutions uncovered massive corruption in the Italian political system in the 1990s, forcing a complete overhaul. This is not the first time Berlusconi has proposed legislation that could potentially affect the mechanisms of the Italian legal system. The prime minister’s majority in Parliament allowed passage of a bill that both shortened the statute of limitations for court proceedings and stipulated that false accounting only be illegal if there is a specific damaged party filing charges with the authorities. Both these developments directly affected cases in which Berlusconi was charged, as many of the cases against him were unsuccessful due to the statute of limitations expiring. This time, however, the prime minister’s proposed legislation may not pass due to the only slim majority of his party in the lower house.
group, Mediaset, owns 3 of 7 national channels. The Freedom of the Press Global Survey, Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists have all been extremely critical of Berlusconi’s ownership of significant portions of Italian media. The Freedom of the Press global survey in 2004 downgraded Italy from ‘free’ to ‘partly free.’ Based on the classifications of Reporters Without Borders, this particular type of overt influence via ownership of popular media is rare for Western countries. Furthermore, Berlusconi’s business interests have generated tensions between NATO and Russia. In addition to Berlusconi’s increasingly warm relationship with Vladimir Putin over the last few years, a proposed deal between ENI, Italy’s state-owned energy company, and Russian state-owned Energy Company Gazprom was blocked by parliament due to concerns that Berlusconi had personal interest in the contract. The fate of Berlusconi remains elusive. Based on precedent, it is likely that the current charges may just evaporate in the legal system. Perhaps less idealistic critics hope that all of this will force the prime minster to step down. Either way, a legal battle with possible implications for the region looms over the longest standing prime minster of an EU country. Ismaail Qaiyim is a junior majoring in history and peace, war, & defense.
Another interesting aspect of the issue is the geopolitical implications of Berlusconi’s private business holdings. The prime minister’s television
David Cameron Presents “The Big Society”: Reform in the United Kindom?
One must look no further than
a “Big Society”-type plan might their protest signs to know that Tea emerge from the House, but only Partiers are engrossed by the idea if the Republicans and Tea Partiers of small government. The clearly are able to form a cohesive magrassroots “LukeAmerica 2020” jority. It does not take a stretch of Wordpress blog compiled a list of the imagination to see how popular over 200 slogan ideas for fellow Tea rhetoric in the U.S. could lose much Party protesters that included such of its clarity and attractiveness to the telling mottos as “More government general public if crafted into a largefor the people = less freedom of the scale plan by leaders in the House, people,” “The very small list: things for instance. On the other hand, government does well,” and “High U.S. conservatives might be able to taxes + big government = SLAV- learn from Cameron’s mistakes and ERY.” No one can deny that these employ more effective advertising ideas—or less dramatic versions of techniques to communicate the goals them—have garnered a lot of pub- of a “Big Society”-type program to lic support throughout the United the public. States. Across the pond, United Conservatives outside the UK might Kingdom Prime Minister David also learn from Cameron’s sticky Cameron must be scratching his situation regarding volunteerism. head. He, too, is in favor of shrinkOne of the important aspects of “the ing the government, but instead of Big Society” is the focus on increased greeting cheering crowds, he has volunteerism to take the place of faced heavy opposition. government as much as possible. Part of the problem for Cameron Many in the UK disagree with this seems to be a breakdown in com- principle on its face, instead arguing munication. Presented to the public that, in Professor Vosper’s words, as “the Big Society,” Cameron’s plan “volunteering…is supplementary of decentralizing government and to the welfare services the state shifting power to local communities provides rather than a replacement has left many citizens “pretty baf- of it.” If state services are slimmed fled,” according to The Economist’s down, is it reasonable to think that British politics blogger, Bagehot. Sue Britons will be able and willing to Vosper, Professor of Politics at Birk- pick up the slack? beck University of London, agrees, A recent study conducted by the explaining in an interview with The Hansard Society would suggest not. Hill that “Cameron could not sell This study found that only one in ten his idea because no one understood Britons were definitely planning to what it was about.” volunteer in the coming two years. A This confusion seems to contrast full forty-one percent of those polled sharply with the reception small- for the study described themselves government arguments have enjoyed as “apathetic,” “alienated,” or “unenin the United States. Of course, with thusiastic” regarding volunteer work a Democratic president in power, in the public sphere. strong small-government rhetoric Moreover, many of the charity orhas not yet been packaged into an ganizations theoretically empowexecutive branch plan of action;
ered by the “Big Society” are facing substantial cuts in funding. Nicholas Timmins of the London-based Financial Times recently suggested that “billions [of pounds are] likely to be cut from public service contracts the voluntary already holds.” As a result, many people in the voluntary sector that otherwise supported Cameron’s emphasis on volunteerism are frustrated, arguing they cannot be expected to assume more responsibility with no time to adjust to dramatic changes in funding. The government’s answer to these concerns is the “Big Society Bank.” This bank, slated to start operations later this year, will provide loans for all types of social ventures that will fill the void left by a shrinking central government. It is uncertain whether or not this bank will provide sufficient capital to enough charities and other social ventures to keep the “Big Society” plan on track. If these non-state actors cannot make up for reduced state services, social unrest will undoubtedly increase. Even though the idea of small government has become quite popular here in the U.S., our leaders will most likely still have to work hard to make big cuts in state services and government jobs more palatable to some. The ultimate success or failure of David Cameron’s “Big Society” can serve as a guide. Caroline Guerra is a senior majoring in political science and global studies.
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Japanese Crisis Bodes Well for Prime Minister In less than four years, Japan has seen four prime ministers come and go. The approval ratings of the current prime minister, Nsoto Kan, have been in continual decline since his election to the position in 2010. In early March, political analysts were largely consistent in their prediction of the impeding removal of Mr. Kan from office. However, the triple crisis that hit the nation on March 11 - earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster - has had a somewhat revitalizing effect on public opinion of the prime minister and his cabinet. Approval ratings jumped from Mr. Kan’s low of 19.9% in February to 28.3% in the weeks following the disaster. While the rating is still considerably low for a Japanese prime minister, the sudden surge in Mr. Kan’s popularity is a notable improvement. The abrupt bump may be reassuring for Mr. Kan and his cabinet, but is no sure indication of a change in public support. The increase likely has little to do with his recent performance (which has been highly criticized) and more to do with an emerging sense of national unity as the Japanese people join together in their struggle for recovery. The survey, conducted by Kyodo, also showed that nearly 60 percent of the Japanese population approves of the government’s response to the earthquake and tsunami. However, a similar number disapproves of how the government is handling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis. Many people have expressed frustration with Mr. Kan and the Japanese government for their unclear position regarding the damaged nuclear reactors. Citizens complain that
By Bronwen Clark Originally Posted April 4, 2011
the government is minimizing the actual threat of leaked radiation and keeping vital information from the public.
tsunami. Instead of being welcomed by the town’s population, however, many were indifferent, to the prime minister’s arrival.
Criticized for his avoidance of media attention these past weeks, Mr. Kan finally spoke to the press on April 1. He attempted to reassure the public, saying “I am confident that we will overcome the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake ... and recreate a wonderful Japan”.
“To be honest, most of the people are wondering why he was here,” says Kazuo Sato, a local fisherman, to reporters covering the prime minister’s visit. “I would have thought the prime minister would have come here sooner”.
Mr. Kan went on to detail a massive restoration plan for Japan, including freezing a chunk of the 2011 fiscal budget and moving funds instead into a supplementary budget aimed at providing temporary housing for displaced families, clearing streets of debris, securing jobs, and restoring Japanese industry. The prime minister was considerably more evasive when asked about plans regarding the Fukushima plant, however. His position on the future role of nuclear power in Japan was unclear. “Of course solar, wind and biomass energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide are very important,” Kan said in his Friday address. “But in a sense, I think that nuclear power should also get credit from the viewpoint of not emitting carbon dioxide and that naturally, we need to continue thinking about how to balance supply.” His ambiguous stance on nuclear energy has frustrated much of the Japanese population. The Kyodo survey reported that 63.7 percent of the population believed Mr. Kan was failing to exercise sufficient leadership in addressing the issue. On Saturday, April 2, Mr. Kan made his first visit to Rikuzentakata, a seaside town which suffered severely when hit by the
While much of the town is disappointed in the amount of time it took for Mr. Kan to personally assess their situation, a fair number have forgiven him, understanding that his first concern was the containment of the Fukushima nuclear radiation. The triple crisis has mandated extensive government action, ranging from the coordination of search and rescue missions to the attempted containment of nuclear reactors leaking radiation into the surrounding environment. With so many demands on Japan’s resources, the government is struggling to adequately address all concerns. Assertive leadership is in high demand in Japan as the nation continues to battle the aftereffects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It is a time of high stress and pressure for the Japanese government, but so far, it looks as though the “Great Eastern Japan Earthquake” may have a similar impact on Mr. Kan’s popularity as the 9/11 terrorist attacks did on that of President Bush.
The Last Word
Republicans Line Up for 2012 The Role Republican Candidates Will Play
There is no doubt that President
Obama is running for re-election. There are, however, questions of whether or not he can win and who the Republican nominee will be. In the 2010 midterms, voters responded to Republican illustrations of the Democrats as bigspending, big-government liberals who forced an unpopular health care bill through Congress. In an interview with The Hill, journalist Michael Green argued that, “in 2012, with reform of their government a priority, voters might choose a conservative pragmatist who has met a payroll.” On the other hand, incumbents are typically re-elected; only three presidents since WWII have been voted out of office: Ford, Carter and Bush Sr. The parties of both Reagan and Clinton sustained major defeats in their first midterms, but both went on to win resounding re-elections. With his approval rating at 48 percent, Obama appears to be in a strong position to launch his bid for another term, but there is plenty of time for something to go wrong.
faced serious opponents in their primaries. While Obama has alienated many on the left, it is not likely that he will meet any serious obstacles to the Democratic nomination. Second, the economic recovery needs to continue and, ideally, gather some momentum. According to polls, the economy is still the number one issue with voters, and regardless, domestic affairs tend to dictate elections. If the recovery seems strong and robust, voters will generally give credit to the current administration and Obama’s standing would rise accordingly. Unfortunately, unemployment is expected to remain around 9 percent for some time. Finally, Obama’s re-election
pro-business image to improve his relationship with the driving force behind our economy: corporate America. Another centrist platform where Obama stands to gain is foreign policy; traditionally an opportunity for bipartisan support, foreign policy success can be a major stimulus for approval ratings. Of course, much of the election will depend on the Republican nominee. As author John Heilemann explained to The Hill, “In 2011, a swarm of nominees will chuck their hats into the ring.” The most obvious candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who made a promising run for the Republican nomination in 2008. Romney is a moderate and has a strong record for good business sense and fiscal responsibility. However, he has flip-flopped on social issues important to conservatives and he passed a health care bill as governor almost identical to Obamacare, difficult issues for Romney to overcome in a primary.
“Incumbents are typically re-elected; only three presidents since WWII have been voted out of office.”
Obama’s chances for re-election depend on three factors. First, will Obama face a primary challenger? Each of the three presidents who lost their re-election campaigns 22
campaign will largely require a successful move to the center on certain key issues. To combat the impression that Obama is a biggovernment liberal, his administration needs to pass a credible attempt to address the debt and deficit. In a similar vein, Obama needs to project and cultivate a
Another potential candidate is Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Pawlenty is an uncontroversial pragmatist, but he has relatively low name recognition and some believe he lacks the political acumen to win an election.
Governors Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi are also contemplating a run. Barbour is charming and well sponsored, and Daniels is a policy expert with a plain, direct style. Both governors are moderate, both have national experience in the Republican Party and they happen to be close friends, which means that both will not run. Jon Huntsman is the former governor of Utah and a rising star in the Republican Party, but he served as Obamaâ€™s ambassador to China for the past two years, which would be harmful in the primary. The next batch of Republicans considering a run for the presidency is more predictable. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is a personable evangelical who appeals to the Republican Partyâ€™s base. He is also well known from his second place finish in the 2008 Republican primary. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, is extremely popular among conservatives and the Tea Party movement, but moderates still remember his ineffective record as speaker during the Clinton administration. Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, is attractive to the partyâ€™s Christian constituency. Of course, the biggest name in Republican politics is Sarah Palin. It is not clear if she intends to run, and most agree she is not a viable candidate for the general election, but she will exercise tremendous influence
The Last Word on the primaries regardless. All there are two groups of candidates four of these candidates have one that are competing for the votes thing in common: they are all of two separate constituencies. contracted pundits on Fox News. This fact threatens to tear the Republican Party apart. There are several other names mentioned for the Republican The Republicans will have to switch nomination. Some are strong can- 91 electoral votes in 2012 to take the White House. They would be wise to remember that independents decide elections. If Republicans nominate a hardcore conservative, it is hard to imagine Obama losing. If Republicans nominate a moderate candidate, it will drag the president to the center and present voters with a didates who insist that they will much more interesting choice. not run, such as Jeb Bush (former Florida governor and older brother SamHobbs is a sophomore majoring to George W.), Governor Chris in history, and peace, war & defense. Christie of New Jersey and Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Others are weaker contenders who would enter the race simply to boost their profile: former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, Libertarian Ron Paul, and Donald Trump. There is no shortage of candidates in the Republican Party, but there are also no clear frontrunners. Seven out of the nine serious candidates have served as governor, suggesting that Republicans are emphasizing executive experience. Most of them have also successfully managed a budget crisis. However, there is a divide in the Republican Party between the moderate establishment and the far right conservatives who identify with the Tea Party. As a result, April 2011
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