Chapel Hill Political Review
Volume XI, Issue I
Dealing with Debt
Recession Continues to Create Havoc
Debt Reduction Examining the Supercommittee
Economic Sovereignty Integration in the Eurozone
Doha Deadlock The Doha Roundâ€™s Impasse
From the Editor
To our readers: Hello and welcome back! As we publish our first issue of the academic year, we are moved to reflect on the turbulence that has characterized political events at home and abroad in recent months. In the past twelve months we have witnessed Republicans regain control of the House and the waging of a fierce political and ideological battle over the federal government’s spending. Change has been even more tumultuous on the global stage, where revolts across the Arab world have led to the fall of dictators throughout North Africa. But it is perhaps the economic world which remains most gripped by uncertainty. Three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, global stock markets are more unstable than ever, and confidence about future growth is low. Amidst such dramatic changes, feelings of doubt and frustration are growing in many quarters. With that in mind, our first issue of the semester examines a diverse array of debacles that are
being fought out amidst heightened tensions. In our cover piece, we examine the significance of the U.S.’s credit rating downgrade that took place following the summer’s prolonged fight over the debt ceiling (pgs. 12-13). Disagreements over how to deal with debt extend to the European Union, where countries consider how to help troubled member states (pg. 16). Meanwhile, the Congo prepares for tightly contested elections (pg. 7) and the U.S. faces potential major changes in its strategic relationships with China (pg. 9) and Pakistan (pg.11). And in domestic affairs, The Hill speaks with one of major figures involved in the fallout over a controversial new immigration law in Alabama (pg. 19). As we prepare to launch yet another year, we at The Hill look forward to covering new events in all political arenas and continuing our tradition of nonpartisan analysis. Siddarth Nagaraj & Sarah Wentz
firstname.lastname@example.org http://studentorgs.unc.edu/thehill We’re proud to share our work with you, http://chapelhillpoliticalreview. wordpress.com and we invite you to share your thoughts with us. Send us a letter or email (no more 208 Frank Porter Graham Student Union than 250 words, please) and tell us what UNC-CH Campus Box 5210 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5210 you think. Send us your comments!
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 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. 2 The Hill
MANAGING EDITORS Siddarth Nagaraj Sarah Wentz SECTION EDITORS Amanda Claire Grayson Sam Hobbs WRITERS Brendan Cooley Joseph Davies Eric Eikenberry Brian Godfrey Sam Hobbs Kerri Kearse Kelly Kessler Radhika Kshatriya Katlyn Moseley Siddarth Nagaraj Ismaail Qaiyim Chris Smith John Son Kevin Uhrmacher Avani Uppalapati Sarah Wentz Daixi Xu Richard Zheng BLOG EDITOR Eric Eikenberry HEAD OF DESIGN Rachelle Branca DESIGN Jenna Jordan Radhika Kshatriya Kevin Uhrmacher Sarah Wentz HEAD OF ART Connor Sullivan ART Daniel Kolev Connor Sullivan TREASURER Christie Blazevich FACULTY ADVISOR Ferrel Guillory This magazine was paid for, at least in part, by Student Activities Fees at a cost of approximately $1.00 per copy.
Volume XI, Issue I October 2011
Contents Cover 12
US Drops Out of the AAA Club
Behind the Supercommittee
Doha Round Derailed
Economic Sovereignty in the Eurozone
Standard & Poorâ€™s downgrade
A look at the Deficit Reduction Committee
Examining the Doha stalemate
Discussions on Integration
Elections in the Congo
The search for a unity candidate
A summer of discontent
on the Ballot in NC 18 Marriage Amendment on same-sex marriage slated for May Reform in Alabama 19 Immigration Religious freedoms threatened?
Notes from The Hill
Who’s on top of the heap now? Who has fallen far? We track the up-andcomers and the down-and outs.
Mitt Romney: He’s not leading in the polls…yet. But after winning the recent spate of GOP debates by virtue of his ability to string together sentences into coherent arguments, Mitt Romney has seen his support steadily rise in key primary states, and Republican insiders are quietly lining up behind the electable candidate.
Rick Perry: For all of his far-right rhetoric, it’s Perry’s pragmatic governing decisions that are giving members of the GOP base second thoughts (because George Washington was against HPV vaccinations, or something). He’s losing ground, but even a semi-conscious performance at the next debate could send him to the top again.
3 Jon Huntsman & Gary Johnson: A globe-trotting, principled conservative and a pure libertarian who doesn’t radiate crazy-uncle vibes? BORING. Their accomplished records and reasonable policy positions have me hitting the mute button every time they’re asked a question. Thank god Michele Bachmann is still in the race.
4 Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich & Rick Santorum: Dudes, just quit. Are the moderators still sending questions your way? It’s becoming painful. Seriously, I’ll buy a cookie-cake for the first one of you that ends it. Please, think of the children. 4 The Hill
Eric Eikenberry is a sophomore majoring in global studies.
From the Left & Right
Notes from The Hill
As always, Republicans are opposed to any measure that involves an increase in taxes. According to Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways & Means committee, “Our current path is unsustainable and unacceptable. We must force Washington to live within its means...”
Bush Era tax cuts must not be renewed. Senator Patty Murray, co-chair of the supercommittee, states, “The top 2 percent of Americans are costing us a trillion dollars.” Jobs are pivotal to solving the ballooning U.S. debt. Representative Xavier Becerra claims the Republican view on debt reduction “does nothing to fix the biggest decicit holding our economy back: the jobs deficit.”
Heavy cuts must be made, especially to entitlement programs such as Medicare. Fred Upton, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, believes that “[the] exploding cost of healthcare is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges.”
Because of the debt-ceiling crisis, a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (composed of six Republicans and six Democrats) must agree by November 23, 2011 on how to cut $1.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years. Richard Zheng is a first-year majoring in business.
President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress calling them to pass the $477 billion American Jobs Act, which would provide tax incentives to employers who hire unemployed veterans and long-term unemployed individuals, extend temporary payroll tax cuts, and invest in modernizing public schools and infrastructure.
The U.S. Postal Service is nearing a default on a $5.5 billion payment to retiree benefits this month. Although it operates as an independent agency of the federal government, the Service receives no funding from taxpayers, relying instead on stamps and packaging services for revenue. A White House-backed bailout plan would end Saturday mail service and refund $6.9 billion to the agency from the federal retirement fund in order to prevent major downsizing.
News In Brief
5 Palestinian President Mah-
moud Abbas announced that he would appeal to the United Nations for Palestinian statehood the following week. The Obama Administration has been firm with its stance on the continuation of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and began pressuring President Abbas to drop his bid before the US uses its veto on the UN Security Council against his appeal.
The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which previously banned homosexuals from serving in the military, officially came into effect on September 20th.
4 The proposed $35 billion Duke Energy and Progress Energy
merger was heard by N.C. Utilities Commission in Raleigh on September 20th. The merger would create the nation’s largest energy provider, reaching over 7 million customers in six states. Opponents fear such a large company’s political influence, higher electricity rates, and increased reliance on fossil fuels. Daixi Xu is a junior majoring in political science and art history. October 2011
Libya’s Legal Legacy By Ismaail Qaiyim
he intervention in Libya represents a dynamic shift in the nature of international interventions. When the fever of the Arab Spring engulfed Libya, Col. Muammar Gaddafi bitterly suppressed unarmed protesters and an eventual armed insurrection ensued. Many armed rebels sprang forth from Benghazi, a city in the east, and with very little initial success pushed westward toward the capital Tripoli. Since then the rebels, now known as the National Transition Council (NTC), have consolidated most of the country with small isolated pockets of resistance. The rebels did not act alone, as the U.S. and eventually NATO supported the rebels with aerial bombardments of Gaddafi positions. Libya showcases a war that is not just a singular uprising, but one truly bolstered by the NATO powers. Therefore, the complex circumstances that have since arisen are a mix of legal, humanitarian, and practical difficulties that each hold implications for the character of extra-state intervention in the future. From a legal standpoint, the nature of the foreign involvement in Libya is dubious. The UN Security Council specifically authorized humanitarian intervention. UNC Professor of international law, Mark Weisburd, in an interview with The Hill, maintained that this is the first instance in which the UN Security Council has offered such a use purely for humanitarian purposes. NATO was specifically tasked with protecting civilians, and it eventually became clear that the mission in Libya amounted to military support for a faction engaged in civil war, so much so, that some jokingly called it “Sarkozy’s war.” 6 The Hill
Even more astonishing is the response to this violation of mandate. “The one thing I am comfortable saying is that it is surprising to me that NATO was allowed to get away with exceeding its mandate without creating a tremendous amount of criticism,” said Professor Weisburd. Russia and China, two potential detractors, have largely remained silent in regards to NATO’s position. For whatever reason, it appears as though the international community viewed Gaddafi as an expendable figure, but the potential impact of this uncritical attitude could rebound in future conflicts. Ironically, Gaddafi had previously been removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terror and even maintained somewhat friendly relations with several NATO countries prior to the protests. In an even more convoluting twist, rebels claim to have found documents in an abandoned Gaddafi compound that link U.S. and British intelligence agencies to Gaddafi attempts to locate and punish political dissidents. Amnesty International has released a report entitled The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture, in which both Gaddafi and actors within the NTC are accused of engaging in actions that amount to war crimes. In addition to Gaddafi loyalists, much violence and ill-treatment is being directed toward black Africans accused of being Gaddafi mercenaries, according to a UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya. Many of the mercenaries whom Gaddafi used to suppress the population were from sub-Saharan African countries; however, the vast majority of Africans in Libya are simply migrant workers that pre-dated the Libyan war. The NTC denies these allegations and maintains its use of a fair legal process.
Complex circumstances also make the pursuit of human rights in Libya a daunting and complicated task. Libya is not a member of the ICC, but a referral to the Security Council over the summer by an external state to pursue violators has led the matter to be considered by the ICC prosecutor. These conditions make the attainment of both justice and human rights in Libya elusive. Also divisions within the rebels and Libya itself have made the pursuit of abusers from all factions extremely costly in terms of political stability. Lastly, the attitudes of the NATO powers that favor reconciliation within Libya have created a sense of global disengagement with regards to issues of justice and accountability on the ground. The legacy of Libyan intervention is indeed a wild card. While Professor Weisburd believes that the difficulties faced by the rebels in their struggle despite NATO support make future interventions more unlikely, it seems as though a precedent for military-style humanitarian intervention does exist. Depending upon the direction of the new Libyan government, particularly if it is viewed as Islamist in nature, NATO may seriously think twice about using military force to intervene in conflicts further down the road. Ismaail Qaiyim is a senior majoring in history and peace, war, & defense.
A Search for Unity Among the Opposition
By Sarah Wentz
n a country with 250 identified ethnic groups and as many as 700 local languages and dialects spoken, as well as a history of numerous divisions, secessions, and reunifications, election season can get a little complicated. Due both to the demographics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the chaotic social and political history, the build-up to election day in the DRC is tension-filled and ridden with violence and social unrest. Only the second national election under the current constitution (which came into effect in February 2006), this election features, at the time of publication, eleven candidates including the incumbent, President Joseph Kabila. President Kabila has ruled since 2001, when he took office after the assassination of his father LaurentDesiré Kabila, who himself came to power when he overthrew dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and declared himself president. Joseph Kabila was elected to office in 2006, after a partial referendum approved a new constitution in December 2005. After election results released in August 2006 failed to produce a majority, a run-off election was held in October between Kabila and opposition leader (and vice president) Jean-Pierre Bemba. The election result declared Kabila the winner, though Bemba rejected the results, claiming irregularities. In November, however, the Supreme Court confirmed Kabila’s victory, and Kabila was inaugurated on December 6th, unsurprisingly with a different vice president. The 2006 election featured an astounding 33 candidates. Most of them, however, received less than one percent of the votes. This election features fewer candidates, but the opposition still seeks a “unity”
candidate to further strengthen their chances of victory. In a country with such diversity, the idea of such a person seems far-fetched. Who could appeal to the wide spectrum of the opposition? With so many ethnic and linguistic differences in the nation, one would guess a “unity” candidate is more of a dream than a possibility.
actually born in Rwanda. This is greatly disputed, but regardless of its veracity, this theory will hurt Kabila’s re-election chances. Léon Kengo wa Dondo, the third major candidate (who also ran in 2006) was actually born in Burundi. At the time of his birth, however, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo all comprised the Belgian Congo. As a result, Kengo’s ethnicity will not create difficulty for him at the polls. Dissatisfaction among many Congolese has led to strong support for the opposition and efforts to seek a “unity” candidate amongst them in order to best oust Kabila. Etienne Tshisekedi, Professor Nzongola argues, is the best man to unite the opposition. He has led the opposition since he founded the Union for Democracy and Social Progress in 1982.
According to UNC Professor Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (who specializes in the study of modern African political history), however, ethnicity is not an issue in the way one might expect. Dr. Nzongola, professor of African Studies, asserts that ethnicity matters more in the sense of whether or not the candidates are actually Congolese. What Nzongola refers to as a “birthers movement” is leading to an increased importance placed on the nationality (and through that, ethnicity) of presidential candidates. Of the three candidates attracting the most attention, only one is believed to be born in present-day Congolese territory, Etienne Tshisekedi. President Kabila, many believe, is actually the adopted son of Laurent-Desiré Kabila, and was
“When he speaks,” Dr. Nzongola says, “people listen to him; they respect him…[Tshisekedi] is the most popular leader in the country.” Tshisekedi boycotted the 2006 election, but has chosen to run in this election. If Tshisekedi truly is able to unite the opposition, then this election should prove not only to be interesting, but it may bring about change for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sarah Wentz is a senior majoring in political science and global studies.
Turkey: the world’s next superpower? By Chris Smith
arlier this summer, several weeks before the Libyan rebels made their push into Tripoli, the Turkish government gave them a boost in the form of $100 million in aid. On August 19th, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdoğan and his wife visited Mogadishu, becoming the first non-African leader to do so in nearly two decades. During the first week of September, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu took a tour of southeastern Europe and conducted what the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman has dubbed “mosque diplomacy”: visiting Muslim worship sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Romania. These are just a few examples of how Turkey’s foreign policy has changed substantially since 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power. Turkey is quickly becoming a major world power, particularly due to an economic explosion over the past decade. The Turkish economy grew at an astounding rate of 11 percent in the first quarter of this year, a growth rate faster than China during the same period. According to the World Bank, Turkey now ranks as the fifteenth largest economy in the world in terms of GDP. This strong economic growth has allowed Turkey to pursue a more engaging foreign policy. Turkey’s foreign policy has been mostly pro-Western since its founding in 1923. Turkey was the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel in 1949, joined NATO in 1952, and remained a U.S. ally throughout the Cold War. During this time, Turkey largely ignored its neighbors in the Middle East, a policy it now seeks to change. Now Turkey is pursuing “zero problems with its neighbors,” a pol8 The Hill
icy engineered by Ahmet Davutoğlu, who served as an advisor on international relations to Erdoğan before becoming Foreign Minister in 2009. This new “zero-problems” strategy includes working towards resolving many of Turkey’s longstanding conflicts, including those over Cyprus, Kurdish rebels, and the Armenian genocide. However, it also involves deepening ties with its neighbors in the Middle East, particularly Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
Turkey clearly is becoming less dependent on other major powers and is trying to become a major power in its own right. Turkey is also taking a leadership role on several issues. Turkey has sought to mediate the dispute between the West and Iran over its nuclear ambitions and has also been front-and-center in the Arab Spring, giving millions in aid to the Libyan rebels. Erdoğan has made recent trips to Egypt and Tunisia to outline his plans for supporting the transition to democracy. Furthermore, Turkey has spent money to restore Ottoman-era mosques and build Turkish schools and cultural centers in Kosovo and Bosnia, while also pledging millions to build infrastructure, including roads and communications in Somalia. There are several views regarding Turkey’s renewed influence. Some media outlets in southeastern Europe have labeled Davutoğlu’s policies as “neo-Ottoman,” claiming that Turkey seeks to regain control and influence over territories that were once part of the
Ottoman Empire. Others speculate that Turkey needs new markets for its exports in order to maintain its economic growth. According to The Economist, Turkish exports to Africa have risen from $1.5 billion in 2001 to over $10 billion in 2009. Some analysts in the U.S. have voiced concern that Erdoğan and many in his administration have secret Islamist leanings, explaining the shift away from the U.S. and Israel in favor of Turkey’s Muslim neighbors. A rift between Israel and Turkey has emerged over the Mavi Marmara incident in which Israeli soldiers killed several Turkish aid workers trying to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Regardless of the view one takes, Turkey clearly is becoming less dependent on other major powers and is trying to become a major power in its own right. Despite the fact that Turkey’s European Union accession has received strong opposition from France and Germany, its robust economy may make inclusion too good to resist, given Europe’s current troubles. A strong argument can also be made that Turkey is the most democratic Muslim-majority country in the world, making its growing influence ultimately a positive force. Although it remains to be seen just how far Turkey will rise, foreign policy analysts should definitely pay attention. Chris Smith is a senior majoring in global studies and religious studies.
Standoff in the South China Sea By Katlyn Moseley
n late July, a Chinese warship confronted an Indian naval vessel sailing in the South China Sea, reviving an ongoing conflict that has remained unresolved despite over two decades of negotiations. While India, Vietnam, and other East Asian countries believe these waters to be international, China claims them in their entirety. The reemergence of the conflict over the waters of the South China Sea led many to question whether or not the United States is losing power in the international realm. American foreign policy in the East Asian region consists of two goals: to retain peace and stability among East Asian countries and to prevent China from becoming an actual threat to U.S. hegemony. The promotion and retention of freedom of the seas has also been a crucial part of American foreign policy since WWII. With these foreign policy aims, many question why American officials have neglected to take an authoritative stance against recent Chinese naval aggression in the waters. In an article for the Center for a New American Security, senior fellow Robert Kaplan predicts, “The waters of the South China Sea may constitute the military front line of the coming decades” as China begins to increase its naval strength, forcing others to respond reciprocally. Although unlikely, increased Chinese aggression could potentially lead to major conflict. Kaplan additionally explains that several East Asian countries—Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia—heavily depend on the United States for diplomatic and military support against China. So why hasn’t the United States taken a more aggressive stance against China in order to protect its allies and its own interests in the area?
a devastating confrontation, U.S. officials seem to prefer subtle influence in the region.
Although Kaplan suggests solving the South China Sea crisis would leave “Asia, and the world, a more secure and prosperous place,” two factors explain the U.S.’s current lack of response. In light of recent economic struggles, it is possible that U.S. policymakers fear that offending an economically prosperous China would have devastating repercussions on America’s domestic economy. However, the United States may simply be picking its battles. While the conflict is significant, it must be viewed and examined in tandem with other U.S. foreign policy aims, especially those in the Middle East and North Africa. With so many resources being expended on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now the intervention in Libya, American officials must decide if taking an aggressive stance against China now is a wise foreign policy choice.
According to Dr. Thomas Oatley, UNC Professor of Political Science, the United States is acting more as a “security blanket, rather than a conflict solver.” American maintenance of a permanent naval presence in the region as well as efforts to retain the current status quo allows it to be a behind-the-scenes, nonconfrontational actor in the conflict. The United States can offer support to its allies without offending the Chinese government beyond the point of repair. In conclusion, the United States is prepared to live with the current situation in the South China Sea. The U.S. can simply retain its military presence in the region rather than taking a hard line against China’s aggression, allowing American officials to protect their allies and U.S. interests without sparking a great power conflict. Katlyn Moseley is a sophomore majoring in history and political science.
Were the US to act authoritatively against Chinese encroachment on other nation’s claims to the South China Sea, China would likely fight back. Given that Chinese history is laden with instances of foreign exploitation, the regional hegemon will likely not allow a foreign power to repeat history. When faced with the choice of taking a relaxed stance against China or possibly causing October 2011
Somalia’s Crisis: Famine Amid Devastation By Brian Godfrey
ccording the United Nations, approximately 12 million people across the Horn of Africa are currently in a state of food crisis, emergency, or famine. In addition, some 4 million people in southern Somalia are in what is possibly the region’s worst famine since 1992, when the Somali central government collapsed. A “famine” is the worst stage of food scarcity, characterized by widespread malnourishment and starvation. Potentially hundreds of thousands could die in the upcoming months; already reported are the deaths of tens of thousands of individuals, many of whom are children. With hundreds of Somalis dying every day, huge segments of the population are fleeing to Kenyan refugee camps. However, many are unable to leave, and the issues of overcrowding, disease, and malnutrition are still very real. The famine in and around southern Somalia has resulted from many factors. The most acute cause of the crisis has been an ongoing drought, which first struck last autumn during the region’s expected wet season. Other observers of Somalia’s crisis blame desertification, poor governance, and a lack of institutional resources as contributors to food scarcity. As citizens of a country without health centers, adequate infrastructure, or basic welfare services, Somalis are already incredibly disadvantaged—making an already dire situation even more devastating. Farmers are abandoning their plots, and families are slaughtering or selling their invaluable livestock for food. It is evident that Somalis will require international aid for some time to come. Mark Bowden, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, commented: “This isn’t a short-term crisis.” The situation has been exacerbated for months by Al Shabab, 10 The Hill
the region’s militant Islamist group that has ties to al-Qaeda. Without a central government, Shabab has control over all but a portion of the capital city of Mogadishu. The group has severely restricted the influx of aid and the movement of Somalis out of fear that foreign aid will bring about Western influence and undermine their pseudo-theocracy. UNC Professor of African Studies Bereket Selassie stated, “The Shabab are determined to create an Islamist state, and they are therefore against the internationally supported government of Somalia. The Shabab apparently don’t want Western aid, and they don’t care if people die. They are part of the problem.” Because of the militants’ control over the region, humanitarian efforts have been frustrated by U.S. regulations preventing any aid from being given to terrorist groups. The militants regularly demand a large portion of food and medical supplies, so as a result much of the vital aid has not reached famine victims inside Somalia. Very recently, the U.S has relaxed aid restrictions, and Shabab has become more lenient in the face of mass starvation. New optimistic reports claim that some food aid is reaching certain portions of southern Somalia, but the situation is far from stabilized. As the famine continues in the region, aid agencies must become creative with supply distribution, utilizing local traders and supply chains. Though not perfectly efficient, this approach will at least ensure more aid reaches the Somali peoples. In addition, Arab countries like Saudi
Arabia or Egypt should ramp up efforts to help victims when the anti-Western Shabab is making things difficult for the international community. The entire region will need longterm assistance before agriculture can meet sustainable levels. Al Shabab seems to have lost much of its power during the famine, reportedly “temporarily” pulling its forces out of Mogadishu and suffering internal divisions between the leadership. The international community should view Somalia as a region marked by famine and devastation rather than just a breeding ground for piracy and terrorism. Without proper assistance soon, the situation in Somalia will continue to deteriorate and discourage the future realization of a stable Somalia. Brian Godfrey is a sophomore majoring in political science and geography.
Discontent in US-Pakistan Relations By Siddarth Nagaraj
he killing of Osama bin Laden last May elicited many reactions around the world: shock, relief, celebration, anger, and ambivalence. While bin Laden’s death may have helped bring some sense of closure to those affected by the September 11th attacks, the circumstances under which it occurred have heightened tension amidst the already frayed relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. The discovery that bin Laden had for several years been living in Pakistan embarrassed the country’s government, which had staunchly protested claims that the al-Qaeda leader was hiding within its borders. Pakistani officials were further upset by the manner in which bin Laden was killed, as a team of U.S. Navy SEALs entered Pakistan, attacked the terrorist’s compound, and left the country’s airspace without notifying authorities. The U.S. decision to act without informing Pakistan has created ire in both countries, drawing attention to a complex partnership.
“both sides know that the relationship is critical for counterterrorism success and that building trust is key.”
Although the U.S. and Pakistan have a long history of diplomatic and military ties, in recent years relations have largely been dominated by efforts to combat Islamist terrorism. In the last decade, Pakistan has received more than $11 billion in military aid from the U.S. even as terrorist attacks within the country have increased in frequency and impact. Intelligence sharing between the two governments has been crucial to counterterror efforts in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, but concerns about the alignment and trustworthiness of the Pakistani intelligence establishment have generated a sense of ambiguity within the U.S.-Pakistani partnership.
Ultimately, it appears as though there is little the U.S. can do to sever ties between the ISI and extremists. Some U.S. officials such as CIA Director General David Petraeus even see such relations as a counterterror asset, arguing that the ISI’s network of contacts among extremists enables intelligence-gathering. U.S.Pakistani cooperation continues, as the recent capture of senior al-Qaeda members shows. Yet it is clear that ambiguity of loyalties within Pakistan’s intelligence services has badly damaged relations with the U.S. and is a tremendous barrier to necessary mutual trust, even as the security of both countries depends upon their cooperation.
In particular, Pakistan’s InterServices Intelligence (ISI) has attracted criticism from international
security analysts and prominent politicians over its alleged ties to Islamist militant groups. The ISI, which openly supported the mujahideen (and later the Taliban) during the 1980s and 1990s, has been accused by the Indian and Afghan governments of fomenting terrorist attacks within those countries and is believed by many to be a source of intelligence for extremists in Pakistan. Given these concerns, doubts about how much either government can trust the other have significantly strained U.S.-Pakistani ties. In the U.S., anger over bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan culminated in Congress’s suspension of foreign aid, which caused some to fear lessened cooperation and a shift in Pakistani policy. Since the operation, Pakistan has been keen to stress its ties to a traditional ally: China. In addition to accepting aid from Beijing, Pakistan defied U.S. requests by allowing Chinese engineers to examine an American helicopter abandoned after the raid. The southern province of Sindh also recently mandated the teaching of Mandarin in schools, suggesting a possible shift in interests. However, the ISI’s links to extremists have undermined Pakistan’s relations with China too, as the latter has accused the agency of supporting Islamists in its troubled Xinjiang Province. Professor David Schanzer, a counterterrorism expert at Duke University, believes that contrary to some assumptions, the Obama Administration’s decision not to inform Pakistani officials of the plan to storm bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound does not indicate
U.S. distrust of Pakistan. He notes that although the U.S. chose not to notify Pakistan of its intention to raid the compound, the operation was “a very high stakes matter” and that counterterror cooperation continues even amidst Pakistani anger over the incident. Professor Schanzer also believes that both governments will overcome the current impasse, since “both sides know that the relationship is critical for counterterrorism success and that building trust is key.” Indeed, Pakistan has ample incentive to support anti-terror initiatives. More than 35,000 of its citizens (including 5,000 law enforcement officials) have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2001. In many ways, the fight against Islamist terrorism is an existential struggle for Pakistan.
Siddarth Nagaraj is a senior majoring in global studies and political science. October 2011 11
By Krishna Kollu
he stock market opened on Monday, August 8th 2011 to a raucous selling spree. That day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 630 points, or about 5.6%. The S&P 500 fell 6.7 percent, as the NASDAQ lost 6.9 percent – the worst day in the stock market since the recession in 2008. What happened? A few days earlier, the United States of America lost a seventy year old record when Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the long term debt rating of the United States of America from AAA to AA+, putting it on par with Belgium and New Zealand and below counties such asLuxembourg, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. What exactly is a credit rating? According to S&P, a “sovereign credit rating represents our opinion on both the ability and willingness of a particular sovereign government to pay its market debt in full, on time, and according to the terms of the obligation.” In other words, the credit rating is an educated answer to the following question - how likely is the nation to pay back its debts in a timely, faithful manner? Why the downgrade? S&P primarily named political reasons, saying “Elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt.” Essentially, S&P cited the uninspiring summer of political wrangling between President Obama and his congressional counterparts, leading to a last-minute debt deficit 12 The Hill
s Out of the
the credit rating is an educated answer to the following question- how likely is the nation to pay back its debts in a timely, faithful manner?
compromise. The bitterly partisan, ideological process sparked questions about whether a credible, long-term debt deficit reduction is even possible in such a divisive environment. The downgrade will have consequences. Having a AAA rating enabled the United States to borrow at cheap rates and made treasuries a wise, non-risky place to invest, helping the nation to fight two wars and finance domestic security nets. As a result of the downgrade, interest rates are expected to rise. Not only is the federal government likely to pay tens of billions more to borrow money, states, municipalities, and private citizens are likely to bear the blow of increased interest rates.
A+ A BBB
At the individual level, consumers will see an impact when it comes to credit cards, mortgages, and even business loans. On a local level, many municipal bonds will fall in danger of being downgraded, making it harder to finance public work projects such as libraries and storm-water management projects. Although the downgrade caused much short term damage in the stock market, investors have ironically flocked towards U.S. treasuries. Indeed, Treasury yield ratings have dropped through August, indicating that there is increased investor demand for them. Even though the downgrade from AAA ought to signal less confidence in U.S.
treasuries, U.S. banks still treat Treasury bonds as risk-free assets. These strange phenomena can be explained partly by the fact that there is economic tumult globally, making U.S. treasuries still attractive to investors seeking liquidity as well as safety. Strictly speaking in financial terms, investors don’t seem to accept the validity of the downgrade. Professor of Economics Geetha Vaidyanathan said to The Hill, “The downgrade in the ratings of U.S. T-securities is obviously not taken seriously by the market. With the current conditions in global financial markets, especially the Greek bond crisis, U.S. T-securities are seen as the safest assets.” Indeed, Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffet argued that the S&P, instead of downgrading, should have promoted the United States to a AAAA rating (which no sovereign nation possesses). Just as the credit downgrade has led to contradicting results in the economic world, so have there been diverging opinions in the political world. Across the globe, official news agency Xinhua in China, criticized Washington’s borrowing and spending habits, even going as far as to argue for the introduction of “international supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars” and “a new, stable and secured global reserve currency.” On the other hand, the French Finance Minister expressed “full confidence” in the fundamentals of the U.S. economy. Similarly, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed faith in the U.S., noting that the two other major ratings agencies, Moody and Fitch, did not downgrade the debt rating of the United States. Reactions have been harsh domestically. Presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich used sharp rhetoric to put the blame on the president. Even political candidate Jon Huntsman, arguably the most moderate of the Republican
presidential hopefuls, slammed the president for his spending policies, accusing him of a lack of leadership. On the other side, the administration disputes the downgrade. The Treasury noted that there was originally a $2 trillion dollar mistake in S&P’s analysis before they corrected the mistake and changed the reasoning of the downgrade to a primarily political one. Politically, the president and his Democratic counterparts argued that the S&P report affirmed a need for a balanced approach to deficit reform that included both spending cuts and revenue increases. Evidently, mixed reactions to the downgrade abound. Surely time will tell how the downgrade affects the United States, and whether or not the country will manage to solve its long term deficit problems and regain its status in the AAA club. Krishna Kollu is a senior majoring in economics and computer science.
With the current conditions in global financial markets, especially the Greek bond crisis, U.S. T-securities are seen as the safest assets.
STANDARD & POOR’S
Credit Ratings Around the World
France Luxembourg Netherlands Singapore United Kingdom
New Zealand Sweden United States
AAChina Ireland Japan
A+ Israel A
South Korea Russia South Africa
BBB Mexico Russia
CC Greece October 2011 13
Examining the Deficit Reduction Committee By Sam Hobbs
ess than ten years after Dick Cheney famously declared that “deficits don’t matter,” the debt is back on top of Washington’s agenda. With U.S. public debt over 14 trillion dollars, and projected to rise astronomically, people across the political spectrum agree the debt is unsustainable, threatening the financial integrity of our government.
four trillion dollars before it will begin to diminish as a percentage of GDP. That number is considerably higher than the supercommittee’s present target, prompting many to ask the members to “go big” and aim for a larger deal. Undoubtedly, the members will struggle to find four trillion dollars in cuts when the two parties could barely agree to one trillion dollars previously.
Despite agreement on the problems the current debt poses, leaders have failed repeatedly to agree on a solution. President Obama established a bipartisan commission to reduce the debt in 2010, but Congress and the president both ignored its recommendations. Since then no less than three bipartisan efforts to reduce the deficit have failed to reach an agreement. The final resolution to the debt-ceiling crisis this summer succeeded only in delegating the problem to a supercommittee.
The largest contributors to the deficit are entitlements and defense spending, together constituting approximately 60 percent of the federal government’s budget. Consequently, any serious effort to balance the budget would have to include cuts to these programs. Previous debt talks have recommended raising the retirement age and increasing the payroll tax to pay more into the entitlement system. However, these recommendations would not meet the modest goal of 1.5 trillion dollars in cuts, illustrating that any plan cutting four trillion dollars from entitlements and defense alone would be harsh and politically unfeasible.
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, divided evenly from the House and Senate. It is charged with finding between 1.2 and 1.5 trillion dollars in cuts. It only has to achieve a simple majority before sending its proposal to Congress for an up-ordown vote, prohibiting Congress from altering the legislation. If the committee fails to reach an agreement, or if its proposal fails to pass Congress, then a set of triggers will automatically cut 1.2 trillion dollars from domestic and defense spending. The triggers are meant to be anathema enough to both parties to provide incentive to compromise and reach an agreement. Experts have calculated that the U.S. must reduce its debt by at least
Instead, many suggest the supercommittee should use new revenues in addition to cuts to entitlements and defense to help reduce the deficit. Democrats have propose eliminating tax loopholes and subsidies in a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code, broadening the tax base and lowering overall tax rates. Conservatives balk at the suggestion of any tax increases, arguing raising taxes would be disastrous for our economy during such an uncertain and vulnerable recovery. Democrats, for their part, refuse to consider cuts to entitlements unless the Republicans agree to new revenues. This impasse has crippled each negotiation so far.
to the American public, the solution
seems clear, but the parties will not budge 14 The Hill
To the American public, the solution seems clear, but the parties will not budge. UNC professor of Public Policy, David Gitterman, contends, “Any deal will have to include both entitlement cuts and tax increases, but I’m not sure that this committee has the political will to make that happen.” Four of the members of the supercommittee also served on President Obama’s bipartisan debt commission, and each voted against that commission’s proposal. Not one of the members has yet broken with their respective party line, but there are reasons for optimism. The triggers should provide an incentive to find a more palatable deal, despite Congress’s nasty habit of repealing self-imposed penalties before they take effect. Furthermore, the consequences of inaction were made clear when Standard & Poor reduced the US credit rating after the dysfunction in Washington this summer. The supercommittee will not want to be blamed for any economic distress, especially when Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low. It has until November 23rd to submit its plan to Congress, which then has one month to vote on it. It is not clear if the committee will succeed in cutting 1.5 trillion dollars from the debt, much less the four trillion dollar target, but it will certainly be a major test for our government. If it fails, there is little chance that our government will accomplish anything before the next election, leaving our economy and future exposed to the consequences. Sam Hobbs is a junior majoring in history.
Deadlock in Doha Discussions By: Brendan Cooley
orld Trade Organization statistics show that since 1950, the volume of world exports has increased thirtyfold. Accompanying this remarkable increase in global trade has been the largest increase in global prosperity in history. In 2001, world leaders attempted to further this global integration through the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Targeted specifically at the grievances of developing countries, the round looked to follow up on the success of the Uruguay Round, which ended in 1995. Apart minor setbacks, usually following recessions, the WTO and General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, the organization it replaced) have steadily grown in membership and opened world markets. Ten years after it began, however, the Doha Round has made almost no progress. Talks have been suspended since 2008, and many are calling for a complete abandonment of the initiative. This striking failure calls into question the power of the WTO to continue global trade liberalization. Numerous studies claim that passing Doha Round’s could add hundreds of billions of dollars to world GDP. According to a policy brief by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the U.S. alone could add $36 billion to its GDP if Doha Round initiatives were implemented. Developing countries would have yet higher gains relative to their GDPs. But the Doha Round has divided trade delegations into two camps. The United States, the European Union, and Japan have traditionally been the largest advocates of the WTO, but Doha targets the agricultural subsidies that are tied to
the Doha Round has divided trade delegations into two camps. powerful domestic constituencies. Therefore, it is difficult for politicians in developed countries to negotiate in good faith, because they face political fallout from making significant concessions. Emerging markets (India, Brazil, and China in particular) make up the other camp. Their farmers, in their eyes, are subjected to unfair competition from the developed world. Consequently, Doha means a lot to them. Further liberalization of agriculture will benefit their economies. However, Doha is targeting the industrial policies that have contributed to their economic development. They feel that this is too high a price for the limited reductions to which the developed world has committed. The conflict between the two camps has been exacerbated by the global recession and the protectionist impulses that accompany such economic downturns. But the recession cannot qualify as an excuse for the round’s failing. Seven years of negotiation before the financial crisis failed to produce results. So if the worldwide recession carries little blame for the stalling in talks, where does the blame for the Doha Round failure lie? Why are these two divergent groups unable to reach an agreement? Developing countries usually do not face the same political constraints with their industrial policies that developed countries face in their agricultural policies. However, their domestic constituencies want to see them “stand up” to the developed world, which has, in their view, reaped the majority of the benefit from the global free trading regime at the expense of
labor in poorer countries. These divergent interests have clashed, casting a shadow of doubt over the future of trade liberalization. In addition, the growth of some developing countries has changed the dynamic of trade negotiations. Brazil, India, and China are playing a much larger role in the WTO and are now looking to grab a stake in the international institutions that govern world politics. Developed countries, led by the United States, are trying to “pacify” these efforts and maintain the traditional dominance they have enjoyed in these institutions. “This is the first round that the emerging market countries are playing a central role, both in shaping the agenda and being at the center of negotiations,” said UNC professor of international political economy Thomas Oatley. “And I think they are so determined to establish a reputation as strong bargainers within the organization that they’re unwilling to accept less than an extraordinary agreement.” The United States is no longer the single dominant force in the WTO. New powers are trying to shape its future. Developed countries’ inability to shake powerful domestic interests, and developing countries’ desire to become major players on the world stage are paralyzing talks. These dynamics make it unlikely that progress will be made in the forum of the Doha Round. It appears vital that trade liberalization continue in order to reverse global economic stagnation. Brendan Cooley is a sophomore majoring in peace, war, & defense and economics. October 2011 15
To Integrate or to Disintegrate? By Joseph Davies
ater this year a newly designed two-euro coin will be introduced to commemorate ten years of the single currency as ‘a true global player.’ The coin will enter circulation at a perilous moment in the young currency’s history when its very existence is threatened by the continuing sovereign-debt crisis. With the single-currency project on life support, the prevailing opinion of the European political elite and policymakers across the world has converged upon the view that to overcome its sovereign-debt crisis, Europe must move closer together. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission told leaders earlier this month that Europe needed ‘a new federalist moment’ underscoring his view that Europe must integrate further or face disintegration. His voice adds to a growing chorus, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who believe a panacea to Europe’s woes lies in the creation of a comprehensive fiscal and economic union. Blair, Schroeder and others envision an economic union that would see the transfer of ‘a dimension’ of economic sovereignty from national governments to a centralized entity with taxation and spending powers. Relinquishing a sizeable chunk of national sovereignty would represent a tectonic shift in the foundations of Europe and raise critical questions about the democratic legitimacy of its institutions. Nonetheless, many analysts believe a fiscal union is the only fix to a major design fault in the Euro’s architecture, the contradictory structure that saw a disparate array of nations surrender their 16 The Hill
That is Europe’s question.
envision an economic union that would see the transfer of ‘a dimension’ of economic sovereignty monetary policy yet retain their fiscal policy. This, for many, was unsustainable and the current crisis vindicates their view that the Eurozone requires both a monetary and fiscal union. The path to fiscal unity nevertheless is a politically fraught one, requiring approval of all seventeen members and hurdles including hostile public opinion in referenda and challenges within national courts. There are those, however, who look to more modest integrationist reforms. Andrew Moravcsik, professor of politics and director of the European Union Program at Princeton told The Hill that the term “‘fiscal unity” makes it seem as if we are contemplating something radical and extreme whereas what we are talking about is something akin to the [International Monetary Fund], plus perhaps Eurobonds.” Moravcsik is referring to the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent rescue fund that is set to assume its role in 2013 where it will potentially oversee the issuance of Euro-wide bonds. The bonds, hailed as a ‘master solution’ by the Italian finance minister, would be jointly underwritten by all seventeen member-states, allowing the troubled, riskier countries to borrow at the low German interest rates. Yet, in spite of their widening appeal, Eurobonds look stuck on the drawing board. Critically, in light of her splintering governing coalition and skeptical public, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vehemently rejected the in-
troduction of Eurobonds “as out of the question,” as the arrangement would require core Eurozone members (namely Germany and France) to underwrite the debts of heavily indebted Eurozone states. Furthermore, Germany’s constitutional court recently indicated in a ruling that Eurobonds would be unconstitutional. Without the support of Europe’s largest economy, the establishment of a Eurobond system is simply a fantasy. Deepening fiscal integration to varying degrees has emerged as a remedy to this crisis, yet both modest and fundamental reforms currently seem unattainable. If progress is made, it will follow a painstaking process of approval that will take months if not years to complete. Time, though, is not what policymakers have; the magnitude of Europe’s woes escalates by the day, and continued inaction means the currency’s life chances remain terminally low. Most worrying of all is Germany’s intransigence to swallowing the spoonful of the necessary but unpleasant medicine of endorsing domestically unpopular measures. Thus, the Eurozone has reached a dangerous impasse, one which could herald its imminent demise. And on that dire forecast, the European mint might be well advised to put plans for its next commemorative coin firmly on hold. Joseph Davies is an exchange student majoring in political science.
Short on Jobs, Long on Ambition By Kevin Uhrmacher
he Arab Spring revolutions continue their sweep across North Africa and the Middle East. In the wake of the uprisings, the media has portrayed the cause of the events in the region in multiple ways, several of which miss the normative cause of the revolutions. The Domino Theory. One narrative focuses on the story of the fruit vendor in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, who lit himself on fire in protest of continuous persecution by a government official. The story then goes on to describe the spread of protests in Tunisia, the quickened fall of the government and the emboldened movements in states like Egypt, Syria and Libya. While the domino theory describes one reason these revolutions have occurred successively, it neglects the unrest that existed long before the Bouazizi incident. The Freedom Agenda. This explanation gives credit to the Bush Freedom Agenda for helping to spread democracy. It says that U.S. actions may have removed the incentive to join extremist groups. While youth in North Africa are less likely to turn to extremism, there are still few places for them to turn instead. The Twitter Story. Perhaps the most reported of the three theories is the impact that social media has had on the revolutions. The gist of the story is that Twitter and Facebook allowed for organization of revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere among the technologically advantaged youth population. But Twitter didn't give people reason to riot; it only made it easier to organize to do so. Connecting like-minded revolutionaries, social media enabled uprisings, not caused them.
The real reason for the Arab Revolution
It is unemployment, especially among youth, that provided fertile ground for revolutionary sentiment among the populace. Paul Collier invokes his ‘greed v. grievance’ model when he argues that economic issues motivate civil war much more so than do social divisions (ethnicity, religion). Collier proposes that as economic variables decrease (specifically, per capita income), the likelihood of revolution increases. Morocco is one North African nation experiencing a wave of protests. The country has an official unemployment rate near 10 percent, though many believe the rate is actually much higher than reported. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is large and growing in Morocco. Doctor Amrami Azel-Arab, a professor at a Moroccan university, sat down with The Hill to discuss the ongoing changes in his and neighboring countries. Azel-Arab points to the economy as a cause for the protests sweeping his country. "What has driven this change is the poor economic conditions of our land,” he said. “Food prices have risen, and jobs are difficult to find. When you hear the people protesting, what do they say? They demand change; they want lower food prices and more (and better) jobs." Meanwhile, unemployment rates in Egypt loom around 10 percent, while those in Tunisia are near 15 percent. In Libya, perhaps the most violent of the revolutions to
have overthrown a leader, nearly a third of the population is jobless. Yet Moroccans have not overthrown their monarch. King Mohammed VI has made an effort to publicly demonstrate he is improving the state of the economy, initiating social reforms and trying to demonstrate to the citizens of his country, even if only on a superficial level, that he understands the worries of the protesters and is working to remedy them. The story of Mohammed Bouazizi may have triggered revolution across the region, but the economic hardships in the country are what motivated the revolutionaries. "In Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, we all want the same thing. We want change, in freedom and economic opportunities," Dr. Azel-Arab said. Indeed, it seems the economic change he talks of may be the only thing that can bring a peaceful end to the unrest in the region. Kevin Uhrmacher is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.
The story of Mohammed Bouazizi may have triggered revolution across the region, but the economic hardships in the country are what motivated the revolutionaries. October 2011 17
The Next Domino: NC Bans Gay Marriage By Radhika Kshatriya
n April of 2009, Iowa’s Supreme Court legalized gay marriage by rejecting the state’s definition of marriage as that between a man and a woman, saying that the narrower definition violated the equality clause in Iowa’s constitution. During floor debates in Raleigh over a new constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to between one man and one woman, a few Republicans expressed fears that what happened in Iowa might happen here: claiming “activist” judges could use North Carolina’s equality clause as grounds to overturn North Carolina’s same sex marriage ban. Currently, life partners in samesex relationships are not granted the same benefits that are granted to married couples. The state has already outlawed same-sex marriage, and would not recognize same-sex marriages from other states under the Defense of Marriage Act. Iowa isn’t the only state where same sex unions have been permitted due to court action. Bill Brooks, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council explained in a telephone interview with The Hill that “the proposal to add a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in North Carolina really received an extra push after Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage in 2004, but the language in the amendment has been sitting there in one form or another for the last eight years mostly unchanged.” The legalization in 2004 was due to a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. On September 14th, the state legislature adjourned after agreeing to place a constitutional amendment on the May 2012 primary ballot that would strengthen North Carolina’s Defense of Marriage Act by limiting marriage as that be18 The Hill
tween one man and one woman, also banning civil unions. In less than 24 hours, that session resolved an issue that has been discussed in Raleigh for almost eight years. The quick resolution of the matter has left many Democrats and gay rights advocates criticizing the lack of a public comment period. The bill passed by 30-16 in the Senate, where Republicans have a 31-19 majority, and because constitutional amendments do not require action from the executive branch, the referendum will bypass Democratic Governor Bev Perdue and go straight to voters in the May 2012 primary. The amendment probably faces better chances of passing if it is on the May ballot rather than the November ballot because the Republican presidential primary will draw a proportionately larger number of conservative voters than liberal voters to the polls. Results from Public Policy Polling showed that a majority of North Carolinians believe same sex marriage should be banned, but at the same time many oppose an amendment which writes that into the state’s constitution. 61 percent think gay marriage should be illegal, while 31 percent believe it should be legal. Republicans are split 86 percent to 7 percent, and Democrats only narrowly support it (47 percent to 44 percent). However, when asked about civil unions, 54 percent of North Carolinians support recognizing gay couples. Voters also said that if the election was today they would vote against the amendment (55 percent in opposition, 30 percent in support). Even most Republicans said they would vote
against it (47 percent to 37 percent). Looking at the disparity between the strong opposition to the term “marriage” to describe same sex unions and the relative opposition to this proposed amendment, it seems that what most people in North Carolina object to is the use of the term “marriage” to describe a union between same sex couples. Maxine Eichner at the University of North Carolina School of Law outlined some of the problems she perceives with the proposed amendment for The Huffington Post. Eichner said that the constitutional amendment “still has the potential to invalidate domestic violence protections for members of unmarried couples, as an Ohio court did with even narrower language in its state’s marriage amendment.” The amendment might also invalidate domestic partner benefits that are currently awarded by some municipalities and private businesses. While many polls have shown that an increasing number of the general public, especially young Americans, favor gay marriage or civil unions, there has been a concerted effort to protect the traditional limitation of marriage in recent years. If passed, the amendment would make North Carolina one of 29 other states that prohibit same-sex marriage via the state constitution. Whatever the outcome, the fight over same-sex marriage is far from over. Radhika Kshatriya is a junior majoring in philosophy.
it seems that what most people in North Carolina object to is the use of the term “marriage” to describe a union between same sex couples
Cracking Down on Christianity? By Kerri Kearse
Alabama’s Immigration Law Causes Controversy
coalition of Alabama Episcopalian, Roman Catholic and United Methodist bishops are suing the governor, attorney general, and district attorney of their state on the grounds that Alabama’s new immigration law violates their First Amendment right to fulfill their religious duties. The bishops allege that if the new law were to be enforced, it would criminalize the Bible’s command to be a Good Samaritan. In the suit, the plaintiffs cite many Biblical passages that they feel obligate them to feed, transport, and shelter those who are in need- regardless of what their immigration status may be. Alabama is the latest of many states to adopt tough anti-illegal immigration legislation. Modeled after Arizona’s immigration law, Alabama’s House Bill 56 is meant to make it difficult for the estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants (less than 3 percent of the state’s overall population) living in Alabama to lead normal lives. Under this new law, all employers must check the legal status of all potential hires using the E-Verify system, schools must report the status of all enrolling students, landlords can no longer legally rent to illegal immigrants, and knowingly transporting undocumented people is now a crime. The religious leaders fear that their churches will be penalized for helping undocumented immigrants as a part of their Christian duties- sheltering and feeding the homeless, transporting them to and from church, etc. “I favor immigration reform,” said Bishop Parsley, the Episcopal bishop involved in the lawsuit, in an interview with The Hill, “but I think this is an overreaching law and creates a climate of fear in our state that is unnecessary and damaging. This law lends itself to racial profiling and makes anyone who has darker skin liable to be
searched. It suggests people have to carry papers at all times, which is not very American in my view. I think the Hispanic people have many gifts and should be welcomed into the church. The church needs to minister to those who are here. Jesus said for us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He didn’t put an asterisk by it saying who is our neighbor and who isn’t. If they happen to be undocumented people, we are still called to minister to them.” Another surprising group that is taking a stand against Alabama’s immigration law is fiscal conservatives. Many fiscal conservatives fear that the government would be negatively impacting local businesses under the new policies, and it would further depress the state’s economy. If found to be employing undocumented workers, businesses must, for a first offence, fire all illegal employees and shut down business for 10 days. Upon a second offence of hiring an undocumented immigrant, the business can be stripped of all of its Alabama licenses permanently and shut down, leaving many Alabamans- documented and undocumented- jobless. Farmers also have contested the law, arguing that undocumented workers tend to make up a fair portion of their workforce, and because so many have left the state with the passage of H.B. 56, crop productions will have to be reduced for lack of workers. However, not everyone sees this
new law as an attack on the religious or economic freedoms, in fact, many residents of Alabama are pleased that the state government are taking immigration so seriously and passing the tough legislation where the federal government has not. State Representative Micky Hammon, who co-sponsored the bill, expects that the law will make more jobs available for citizens and cut costs in the state’s budget because there will be fewer undocumented people using state services. Residents in favor of the law think the arguments made by the diocese leaders in particular are exaggerated. “The opponents of enforcing immigration law and the supporters of amnesty for illegal immigrants are using this as kind of an emotional issue. Raising this phony idea that a nun ladling out soup to an illegal alien is going to be wrestled to the ground by the SWAT team- it’s complete baloney. No one believes that any priest or nun is going to be arrested for dispensing communion or serving illegal aliens in a soup kitchen, ” said Mark Krikorian, the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, to CNN. Federal Judge Sharon Blackburn, after suspending the law for several weeks as she examined it, has recently passed a ruling saying that the majority of the law is constitutional. However, she has passed an injunction saying that the aspect of the law that was the bishops’ primary concern- specifically defining what qualifies as harboring or trafficking undocumented persons- will not be enforced until the issue has been reviewed further. In the meantime, discussion of anti-illegal immigration legislation is likely to continue to abound. Kerri Kearse is a sophomore majoring in English and broadcast journalism. October 2011 19
Comedy in Politics
By Avani Uppalapati
tephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are well known for making people laugh. They poke fun at superficial matters, such as a politician or newsperson’s appearance or mannerisms, but they also acutely highlight the controversial topics of the day – whether it is Senator John Kyl and his statements about Planned Parenthood or the mainstream media’s disregard for Ron Paul. Some argue that their political coverage is actually helping the public stay attuned to political issues. Others dismiss it as nothing more than plain entertainment, while yet others find it detrimental to the public’s knowledge of the issues at hand because of their alleged liberal bias. Either way, their prominence in politics is hard to ignore and must be understood to help clarify the political atmosphere.
One must wonder, however, how seriously to consider Colbert’s and Stewart’s actions when they claim to primarily be entertainers. Professor Daniel Kreiss of the UNC Journalism School said “Both are in the traditional political satire and as such, they are consequential.” He opines that Stewart plays a big role as a media watchdog and holds press accountable for the way they cover Washington. One such example is his segment on the media ignoring Ron Paul. Stewart shows multiple media clips that ignore Ron Paul in their conversations of top Republicans. He takes that opportunity to assume a befuddled
According to Professor Kreiss, Colbert’s satire is aimed more at critiquing the Republican Party – such as mocking Fox news and their stances on issues.
UNC Journalism professor, Anne Johnston, said “Colbert and Stewart have openly said they are entertainment. Stewart has specifically said ‘I’m not trying to give people the news.’” Both comedians have different styles, but the sarcasm shines through in their actions. Colbert furthers the limits of his sarcasm with the establishment of his Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. Colbert makes a serious point with his Super PAC, criticizing the methods of outside groups while being a part of the system. True to the usual practices of a Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow does not disclose its sources of funding since it is not required to by law. In a comment to the New York Times, Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution said “This is a funny person being very serious, actually talking about process. What comedian talks about process?” 20 The Hill
another now. Gay people can’t do that. Gay people can’t get married.” Clearly, Stewart is knowledgeable about the issues and has strong opinions.
expression and recount statistics and poll standings that indicate Paul is actually doing better than some of the politicians mentioned by reporters. Stewart not only comments on media coverage of political issues, but comments directly on the issues as well. In one show, he covers the January 2010 Citizens United ruling allowing corporations to spend freely for political matters. In discussing this issue with Senior British correspondent, John Oliver, Stewart exclaims “Yeah, you have more rights than people now. Corporations can merge with one
This begs the question as to whether Colbert and Stewart’s involvement in politics can be seen as partisan. Kreiss said both try to reduce partisanship in the country, but it is clear to him that they have liberal leanings. Meanwhile, Johnston says “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that says they are increasing partisanship. Stewart seems to take any side to turn on.” Johnston says of Colbert’s Super PAC, “It’s part of the political process. It becomes incumbent on us as voters and viewers to be more critical of all types of advertising we see in political campaigns – I don’t mean negative, by critical. We need to continue being vigilant.” Colbert and Stewart have certainly taken on that responsibility and established themselves as prominent members of the political community. Avani Uppalapati is a sophomore majoring in political science and public policy.
Rick Perry’s Education Policy By Kelly Kessler
An Idea Bigger Than Texas?
s Rick Perry becomes a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president, it is important to take a closer look at his stance on education. As governor of Texas, Rick Perry advocated for a policy that allowed graduates of Texas high schools who were undocumented immigrants to attend colleges in Texas at the in-state tuition rate. Despite backlash from other Republicans, Perry has stood by this policy, defending it as a way of investing in youth.
With a combination of online courses, courses at community colleges and courses at a four-year college, it could be possible to get a degree for $10,000.
Recently, Perry unveiled a plan to reduce the cost of a college degree. In February, he presented his plan to Texans by asking universities in Texas to come up with a plan for a degree that would cost at most $10,000. Governor Perry expected that eventually 10 percent of students would choose the $10,000 degree option. While greater access to a college education is generally a policy that politicians agree on, not many define a target price for a degree and make it a concrete goal. When Perry introduced the plan as governor he was speaking specifically about Texas; however, since he is now running for president, one has to wonder if he will expand this policy to the national scale.
An economics professor at UNC who wished to remain anonymous also expressed concern over Perry’s plan. While the professor felt that it was unlikely that this policy would affect the four-year degree, they did express concern that it would not allow those seeking the cheaper degree the same opportunities as those earning a four-year degree. They argued that increasing government subsidies rather than encouraging the use of grants and loans would not make the degree fundamentally cheaper, and it would only serve to provide incentives that would pressure low-income students into a less desirable degree. They also stressed the importance of research at large universities and building the reputation of the school in order to improve the value of the degree.
Governor Perry’s plans focus on using existing strategies to make the $10,000 degree a reality. With a combination of online courses, courses at community colleges and courses at a four-year college, it could be possible to get a degree for $10,000. It is also possible that a shift to cheaper degrees could bring about sweeping changes to the education system, and increase the demand for alternative degrees. While his plan is striking, critics have expressed doubts over its feasibility. Faculty members at universities in Texas have also spoken out about the difficulty of providing a quality education for
increasingly lower prices. Is it desirable to spend less money on faculty and technology in order to provide a cheaper, but possibly less rigorous education? Others argue that four-year colleges could be made more efficient, but maybe not to the point of a $10,000 degree. There are ways to cut costs. For example, if universities arranged teaching and research responsibilities in more efficient ways, then tuition costs could be cut dramatically. However, it is unlikely that there is a one-size-fits-all solution. There are also some concerns about the long-term effects of this plan in terms of social inequality and quality of education. By creating incentives for attending community colleges or taking courses online, this policy could translate into low-income students not utilizing the grants or loans that are already available for traditional universities. If the quality of their education suffers as a result, it could be the start of a vicious cycle. Cutting costs at four-year universities could also lead to a decrease in the quality of the education provided to those seeking out the standard 4-year degree. While Perry’s views on education have come out through his tenure as governor, none of the Republican contenders have devoted space to education in the issues portion of their websites. Republican debates have focused mainly on the economy, job creation and foreign
policy. As the Republican nomination process goes on, it is going to be important to get a sense of how the candidates feel about education.
While increasing access to education is a valiant goal, creating a general policy for a problem with many different facets may not be the best approach. As Perry continues his run for the presidency, it will be interesting to see how this policy evolves. Kelly Kessler is a senior majoring in political science.
October 2011 21
Obama Rejects EPA Recommendation By John Son
ith the threat of a double dip-recession looming, a stagnant 9 percent unemployment rate, and an upcoming presidential election, President Obama decided to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its new proposal for higher ozone standards. The proposal called for new ozone standards of 60-70 parts per billion, a higher standard than the 75 enacted under the Bush administration. Business leaders and Republican members of Congress protested the proposed EPA rules, arguing that they would hurt the economy by costing companies tens of billions of dollars in an already struggling economy. Union leaders claimed the new measures could result in the loss of over 250,000 jobs in the utility industry. The new proposal was expected to cost the economy between $19 and $90 billion by forcing hundreds of counties around the nation to improve their air quality. The EPA contended these costs, arguing that the new standards would save 4,300 lives per year, prevent 7,000 hospital visits and avoid 2.6 million missed days of work or school. These effects, according to the EPA, would save $37 billion, greatly mitigating, if not completely eliminating, the costs to the economy. Obama’s decision to block the new EPA rules angered many environmentalists and liberals, who viewed the new standards as a clear step towards fulfilling campaign pledges regarding the environment. Despite liberals’ negative response, Obama’s decision makes sense for several reasons. First, the upcoming 2012 presidential election will certainly feature the current state of the economy and unemployment 22 The Hill
Folly or Fortune?
as primary issues. Fighting for a relatively small change in ozone standards that could exacerbate both problems would not help his chances at reelection. The speech on jobs he gave only six days after blocking the new EPA rules further illustrates his prioritization of the economy and jobs as campaign season draws closer. Had Obama supported the EPA’s new rules, he would have been supporting a decision that could have potentially hurt the energy sector and caused a large loss of jobs. So rather than causing an uproar over an economically controversial issue, he decided to block the legislation. But out of the debate over air quality arises the question: Does it really matter if the new requirement of 60-70 parts per billion is enacted? Ozone is the primary constituent of smog pollution. The EPA has regulated ozone since its founding: Twenty-nine days after its founding, the EPA issued the Clean Air Act of 1970, the first regulation on air quality in the United States. Since then, amendments have been gradually added over the years, with the current legal level of 75 parts per billion of ozone enacted by the Bush administration in 2008. The EPA describes “8 hour average ozone concentrations of 85 to 104 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) as ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups’, 105 ppbv to 124 ppbv as ‘unhealthy’ and 125 ppb to 404 ppb as ‘very unhealthy.’” According to the EPA’s own data, in other words, the current standards are not even high enough to fit into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category, and so are not essential to the public’s health.
At the same time, Professor Phillip Bromberg, Scientific Director for the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Biology notes the complexity of the issue. Today’s levels of 75 ppbv are significantly lower than in the past, so the issue is no longer if large segments of the population are negatively affected, but the effect on certain sensitive groups, which have been shown to be affected even at very low levels of 20 ppbv. To lower ppbv levels to that point or further, however, would be virtually impossible and very expensive. So while there is value in protecting those sensitive groups, at what point is it simply too expensive and unrealistic to continue to lower levels? It should also be noted that the EPA’s claim that reduced ozone pollution is specifically responsible for fewer sicknesses and deaths would be hard, if not impossible, to prove. President Obama’s choice to save the battle for another day appears a wise one. It will allow him to focus on spurring job growth rather than engaging in a partisan battle over the regulations’ actual effect on the public’s health, their cost to the economy and their effect on jobs. Obama’s decision was undoubtedly disappointing for EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who made the new rules the primary focus of the EPA in past months. But it follows his strategy of trying to rise above partisan battles over small issues to focus on the larger issues at hand (namely unemployment and the economy) and to prevent a relatively small issue from hurting his reelection chances. The 2012 elections will show whether the president’s decision, among others, will bring about his reelection. John Son is a first-year majoring in political science.
Best of the Blog
Palestinian Authority Seeks Statehood at the UN
Posted September 20th, 2011
This month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally requested that the U.N. recognize Palestine as a state. To put it delicately, this situation is a huge mess for everyone involved, but it’s helpful to take a quick look at the current position of the conflicts principal actors, Israel, the Palestinian Authority (and the people the PA represents), and their self-designated intermediary, the United States. Israel finds itself increasingly isolated both within the Levant and on the wider world stage. The Arab Spring destabilized the fragile barriers Israel had constructed to buffer itself from the rest of the Middle East. Mubarak never championed Israel in public, but he could be counted on to uphold the Camp David Accords, maintain peace in the Sinai and, against the express wishes of the Egyptian public, partner with Israel to blockade Gaza. If a new Egyptian regime ends up being somewhat democratic and beholden to popular opinion, then Israel will be stuck with an unfriendly (though non-threatening; an attack against Israel by Egypt–or for that matter, any Middle Eastern country–would be suicide), unhelpful neighbor. Israel has also lost the support of one-time ally Turkey, whose officials recently kicked the Israeli ambassador out of Ankara and downgraded relations between the two countries, ostensibly because Israel refuses to apologize for the deaths of Turkish citizens who were killed while manning an aid flotilla intent on breaking the Gaza blockade, a flotilla raided by Israeli commandos. Turkey has also stopped all joint-military activities with Israel, and Prime Minister Erdogan seems determined to go with the current rightward flow of his nation.
For Israel, then, Palestine’s push for statehood couldn’t have come at a worse time. International disapproval of Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians can only increase unless they are willing to sit down and hammer out a two-state solution in the near future, something that will not happen as long as Israel’s governing coalition is led by right-wing Likud and far right Yisrael Beiteinu. Having already promised to veto the Palestinian resolution, the U.S. will lose what respect it had in the region, and further efforts to capitalize on the Arab Spring will be pursued in vain. According to some reports, Palestinians are no longer listening to U.S. overtures, and recent attempts to convince the PA that their U.N. gambit could damage the peace process only hardened PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ resolve to go forward with his plan. Though he had the best of intentions, Obama has seen his push for a two-state solution fail, and if Palestine goes ahead with the resolution, then Israel will react with anger, not conciliation. The peace process may cease for the near future. U.S. officials are right to think that Abbas’ attempts to declare statehood at the U.N. are ill-timed and that real statehood can only come through negotiations with the Israelis. But the Palestinians know this as well. They are under no illusions that, should their resolution somehow pass the Security Council (it won’t) and gain enough votes in the General Assembly, the West Bank and Gaza will gain complete autonomy and expand to the elusive 1967 borders. That’s not the point of their push; it’s all psychological. The Palestinians have come to view the peace process as so hopeless that a big shakeup, even if counterproductive in the short term,
seems their best option. They have no leverage with which to negotiate, so they have to hope that strong international support will provide the outside pressure necessary to keep a two-state solution alive. I’ll outsource the rest of this analysis to Juan Cole, who captures the Palestinian mindset when he writes: “It should be remembered that the Palestinian leadership was ambivalent about this step [requesting statehood at the U.N.], and felt forced into it by the absolute intransigence of the Netanyahu government, which refuses to freeze Israeli settlements while negotiations are being held concerning the land the Israelis are squatting on. It would be like negotiating with someone about a piece of pie when they have a fork and are eating away at the pie, of which there is less and less left even as you negotiate for a piece of it. The Palestinians are afraid that if the negotiations go on like this, at the end of them they will only get some crumbs of a stale pie crust, because the other party in the negotiations has gobbled up the very thing over which there were negotiations.” In the end, no one wins, but the Palestinians have the least to lose. If the PA pulls back, or if Israel realizes that resuming direct negotiations is in their best interest, then all three actors will have dodged a bullet. Right now, however, the prognosis looks poor. ERIC EIKENBERRY
October 2011 23
For more material from The Hill, or information on joining our staff, please check out our website at http://www.studentorgs. unc.edu/thehill
Please contact us if youâ€™re interested in advertising or making a donation.