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off her majesty’s secret service


vol. xiv no. 2

columbia political review

Revisiting Scotland’s Push for Independence PLUS INSIDE: Discussion on Careers and the Columbia Education (p. 8) Subverting the Twitter Ban in Turkey (p. 4) Debating Ukraine: Prof. Kimberly Marten and Student Voices on Crimea (p. 19)


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cpr Volume XIV, no. 2

masthead: Editor-in-Chief Publisher Managing Editors

Web Editor Senior Editors

Associate Web Editors

Arts Editor Copy Chief Assistant Copy Editors

Design Editors

Gregory Barber Omeed Maghzian Joshua Fattal Tommaso Verderame Stewart Shoemaker Asha Banerjee David Blackman Jamie Boothe Daniel Brovman Julian NoiseCat Brina Seidel Sophie Wilkowske Jason Zhu Zubair Akram Anais Carell Andre Paiva Anushua Bhattacharya Sofi Sinozich

Editor’s Note


his issue marks the beginning of a new and exciting partnership between CPR and the Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA).

As you’ll see in these pages, what’s tried and true about CPR is staying constant in this transition: We’re the same, “multi-partisan” CPR team, devoted as ever to providing a dynamic venue for student debate, interviews, and original student articles on global and domestic political affairs. Now, however, we’ll be working in the context of CIRCA’s broader network of politically engaged students, joining our two communities to reach a larger, and more diverse, audience than ever before. Unlike perhaps any CPR issue before it, our latest is filled with unique Columbia perspectives. In our Student Stump, campus leaders, along with many of the university’s top professors and administrators, contribute their thoughts on the relationship between the professional world and Columbia’s unique educational mission. In a spread designed by Alejandra Oliva, we deconstruct the intense philosophical debate about the liberal arts and professionalization that sizzles underneath the Columbia Core. In our second feature, Eric Wimer and Ben Rimland debate Russian aggression in Ukraine, contextualized by an interview with Barnard Professor Kimberly Marten, a top Russia expert. For our cover story, Taylor Thompson responds to an argument I made in these pages two years ago about Scotland’s then-proposed, and now impending, independence referendum. I’ve had the unique pleasure of seeing my own (and perhaps prematurely sunny) conclusions about self-determination torn down in a brilliant blaze of James Bond references and reality checks. I’d like to thank Taylor, along with Geetika Rudra, whose analysis of twenty-first century statecraft kicks off the current issue, for their incredible contributions to CPR during their time at Columbia, and for guiding so many of us on the current board. We’re so glad you took one more turn with us before graduation. Thank you to all the current staff, our readers, and contributors to this and the prior issue for a wonderful semester together. Have a great summer!

Zubair Akram Angela Chen Michael Greenberg Yeye Kysar David Blackman Alejandra Oliva

Artists: Claire Huang (pages 5, 6) Lucy Jakub (page 15, cover) Jasmine Oghaz (page 14) Cibel Quinteros (pages 17, 18, 22, 23) Anne Scotti (pages 24, 25)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed herein belong to their authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Columbia Political Review, or of Columbia University.


CPRegards, Gregory Barber Editor-in-Chief

SUMMER.2014 table of contents

Cover Story

Features 4 #Diplomacy When Silicon Valley and Statecraft Collide

12 Off Her Majesty’s Secret Service Revisiting Scotland’s Push for Independence

By Geetika Rudra

By Taylor Thompson


American In-Gene-uity Regulating the Business of Genetic Modification

By Jamie Boothe 24 Strait Talk Exercising Caution in Taiwan-China Relations By Larry Hong

Briefing: Ukraine 19 Columbia Students Debate Ben Rimland and Eric Wimer 22

An Interview with Prof. Kimberly Marten

Student Stump 8 Cashing In on Columbia Gayatri Spivak, ADI, Dean Valentini, Bhagwati, et al.

By The Numbers: 17,000:

Number of tweets per minute sent at the height of the protest movement in Turkey


Percentage of Scots favoring independence as of April opinion poll


Number of realms (at least) ruled by Mer Majesty, even if Scotland becomes independent.


The amount of ad revenue generated for Twitter by their Turkish user base


Of young Taiwanese support the parliamentary occupation


Number of websites banned by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan


Number of Russians attending a Moscow rally to support Crimea’s split from Ukraine 3

columbia political review :: summer 2014


#Diplomacy When Silicon Valley and Statecraft Collide By Geetika Rudra


n the morning of March 21, 2014, Turkish Twitter users woke up to the sounds of phones buzzing and computers pinging as over 40,000 people logged on and tweeted from the microblogging site. That Friday morning saw the number of tweets sent from devices inside Turkey increase by 138 percent, growth that would continue in the following days to a rate of 17,000 tweets per minute. Odd, considering that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had banned Twitter the night before. Erdoğan’s ban prevented any individual using a mobile or computer device within Turkey’s borders from accessing and using Twitter. The ban came in response to government protestors who used the site to spread wiretapped recordings and documents implicating the Erdoğan government in corruption allegations during the weeks leading to Turkey’s spring elections. And yet after Erdoğan’s ban went into effect, the number of tweets coming out of Turkey doubled and the hashtags “Twitter is Blocked in Turkey” and “Dictator Erdoğan” surged in the global trending topics. This piece will explore the ways in which the US government and American technology companies have contributed to the use of technology in emerging popular uprisings. American technology companies, functioning for-profit and in alignment with the US State Department’s diplomatic goals for Internet freedom, aided Turkish Twitter users in foiling Erdoğan’s censorship. We have entered a new age of twenty-first century statecraft, in which tech companies have come to command tremendous power over an online network of international users. In the hours following the ban, Twitter, headquartered almost 10,000 miles away from Istanbul in San Francisco, posted on its website a message instructing Turkish users on how to


send tweets through text messaging services. HootSuite, another American company headquartered in San Francisco, also announced that Turkish users could bypass the ban by using its third-party application. A host of other American technology companies offered avenues to circumvent the ban, but it was the lesser-known company called AnchorFree that fully rendered Erdoğan’s ability to govern Turkey’s Internet users obsolete. Reporters Without Borders, a nonprofit organization that monitors

“Despite their profitdriven interests, companies like Twitter play a pivotal role in furthering the State Department’s goal of promoting ‘the freedom to connect’ around the world.” global press freedoms, ranks Turkey 154 out of 179 countries. By comparison, Finland is ranked first for press freedoms and the United States is ranked at 32, with North Korea and Eritrea finishing the list at 178 and 179, respectively. Despite its attempts to reduce government interference with how its citizens use the Internet in a bid to appeal to the European Union for membership, Turkey has been continually cited since 2010 by free speech advocates like the OpenNet Initiative and Freedom House for blocking access to 30,000 controversial websites and punishing Internet users for online comments. All of Turkey’s Internet traffic is handled by Turk Telekom, a formerly state-owned Turkish telecommunica-

tions company that, despite privatizing in 2005, has used its centralized control of Turkey’s Internet access to facilitate regulation of online content and shutdowns at the behest of the Turkish government. A law enacted on February 5, 2014 by the Erdoğan government gave the Turkish telecommunications authority, the arm of government that works directly with Turk Telekom, the power to block any website within 24 hours without first seeking a court ruling and requiring Internet providers to store all user data for up two years and to make it immediately available to authorities upon request. Along with Twitter, Turkey also targeted YouTube in its March ban, which, as of April 2014, continues to be blocked. Erdoğan has also threatened to block Facebook access, calling for a complete “eradication of social media” in an April campaign speech. Not surprisingly, Erdoğan’s actions and statements have been met with condemnation from the international community. Although never speaking directly with the Turkish government about the ban, the United States State Department equated it to “twenty-first century book burning” and urged its ally not to fear the freeflow of ideas the Internet allows. In a similar vein, the European Union called the ban “gravely concerning.” The US State Department, which unilaterally condemns breaches of free speech around the world, did not, and could not, do anything to expressly prevent or end Turkey’s ban. But it did not have to. American technology companies were already acting towards the same ends of free speech, participating in what Alec Ross, a member of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, called “twenty-first century statecraft.” In an interview with The New York Times from 2010, Ross credits Clinton for ushering in a new age of American digital diplomacy: “She’s the godmother of twenty-first centu-

columbia political review :: summer 2014 ry statecraft.” In this age, American diplomatic agendas, like supporting democratization around the globe, are not only furthered by traditional State Department methods, but also through the work of private American technology companies whose interests lie in the availability of an open and global Internet. As Ross explains to the Times, “A lot of the twenty-first century dynamics are less about, ‘Do you comport politically along traditional liberal-conservative ideological lines?’” He continues, “Today it is—at least in the spaces we engage in—‘Is it open or is it closed?’” Before Alec Ross joined the State Department, the position of senior advisor for innovation to the secretary of state did not exist. Ross describes the State Department to The New York Times as “white guys with white shirts and red ties talking to other white guys with white shirts and red ties, with flats in the background, determining the relationships.” As the Times reported in his interview, Ross played an instrumental role in connecting then-Secretary of State Clinton to major figures in the American technology industry like Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, and Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter. After hiring Ross, Secretary Clinton delivered her now-famous speech on Internet freedom at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. In her speech Clinton asserted that the United States considered the freedom to connect online an important aspect of both human rights and foreign policy agendas. Clinton explained the freedom to connect as “the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the Internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate in the name of progress.” Though she was speaking four years before the events in Turkey, Clinton nonetheless offered a stern condemnation to governments seeking to censor the Internet. “Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks. They have expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent polit-

ical speech,” she said. “These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right ‘to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’” Clinton outlined in her speech her intention for the State Department to work in tandem with the technology sector to further the freedom to connect. “Today I am announcing that over the next year, we will work with partners in industry, academia, and

features non-governmental organizations to establish a standing effort that will harness the power of connection technologies and apply them to our diplomatic goals.” The most important aspect of Clinton’s 2010 speech is that she acknowledged an alignment of interests between the State Department and technology companies. Speaking in regard to a 2010 incident in which Google ceased operations in China in response to requests from the Chinese government to access email accounts


features of targeted dissidents, Clinton said, “Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions. I hope that their competitors and foreign governments will pay close attention to this trend.” That the corporate interests of American technology companies have come to align with the United States’ policies on human rights and foreign relations is hardly a surprise. What Clinton calls “the freedom to connect” furthers the bottom line of companies like Google and Twitter, whose revenues are made through paying consumers or advertisers, and thus depend on maximizing the number of users in a given regional market. The Turkish government, for example, estimates that Twitter makes $35 million a year in ad revenue from its 12 million Turkish users. Twitter has not confirmed or denied this figure. Despite their profit-driven interests, companies like Twitter play a pivotal role in furthering the State Depart-


columbia political review :: summer 2014 ment’s goal of promoting “the freedom to connect” around the world. Ross explained this role in a 2012 article for CNN, written shortly after the Arab Spring. Ross used the Arab Spring to draw three conclusions about the impact connective technologies made by American companies have had in advancing the United States’ pro-democracy agendas abroad. Ross first notes that connective technologies further social and political movements at a pace never before seen in recent history because of their ability to remove the need for real-time information and action when mobilizing. He writes, “Movements that would have once taken years to develop and relied on strong ties between people well-known to each other can now be built in days or weeks, leveraging the relatively open platforms that social media provide.” Second, Ross asserts that because connective technologies change the way people receive and send information, it is easier for individual citizens

to share their ideas with a global audience. Ross cites this as one of the reasons the Arab Spring was able to gain traction on an international level. “Activists in the Tunisian Diaspora curated and distributed this content, leading to its pick-up by pan-Arab satellite television networks including Al Jazeera. This allowed students with a few dozen friends and followers on social media to become eyewitness sources for satellite TV networks that broadcast their stories to hundreds of millions of viewers. The Tunisian government of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was unable to contain this flow of media information.” This leads Ross to his third and most important conclusion that “new information networks have disrupted leadership structures.” Ross writes, “More than anything else, we can draw the early conclusion that connection technologies redistribute power from hierarchies to citizens and networks of citizens. These technologies are changing the entire political ecosys-

columbia political review :: summer 2014 tem. They are changing the nature of who is participating, who has power and how that power is exercised.” By looking at the events in Turkey, it becomes evident that Ross was correct in saying that in this newly emerging ecosystem, those groups who have both power and the ability to exercise it have changed tremendously in the age of digital diplomacy. President Erdoğan was unable to exert political power over dissidents when he attempted to ban Twitter in Turkey. While the legal infrastructure existed to enact such a ban, there was virtually no operational power infrastructure to enforce the ban. Erdoğan can exercise power over his citizens within Turkey’s borders, but he cannot exert the same power over his citizens on the Internet. The Internet exists beyond Turkey’s borders and, by extension, beyond Erdoğan’s realm of power. This was made possible, in large part, by a very particular kind of American connection technology: the virtual private network, or VPN. In the simplest terms, VPN software allows online users connected to the Internet, a public network, to hide their identities and location when online. If a Turkish Internet user uses a VPN, his computer will not show that he is in Turkey. A popular VPN software manufacturer is an American company headquartered in California, called AnchorFree. AnchorFree’s software, called Hotspot Shield VPN, was the most popular method used by Turkish citizens to bypass Erdoğan’s ban on Twitter. According to statistics provided by AnchorFree, in the twelve hours following Erdoğan’s ban, downloads of Hotspot Shield VPN, which is free for smartphone devices, increased from 10,000 to 270,000 in Turkey. It has since been downloaded 800,000 times in Turkey alone. Software like Hotspot Shield VPN basically allows users to operate on the Internet without geographic detection, creating an online environment unbounded by national borders. Internet users in France become indistinguishable from Internet users in the United States or Turkey, making it impossible for countries to regulate online activity within their borders. Users can easily bypass the Internet regulations and censors put in place by their govern-

ments—in the online world, borders inside which leaders have traditionally governed cease to exist. AnchorFree serves as an example of an American company that has disrupted power balances in foreign countries, not acting on behalf of the State Department but still working to-

“Twenty-first century statecraft,” as used by Clinton and Ross, will rely on the cooperation of American technology companies that will yield increasing power and infl uence over a global network of Internet users.” wards the same goals. “AnchorFree is a mission-driven company, with a mission to provide secure access to the world’s information for every person on the planet,” David Gorodyansky, AnchorFree’s founder, told TechCrunch in March. Despite Gorodyansky’s role as a CEO, he, and others like him, are being hailed as startup activists. “My advice is for startup activists to confer with officials in government not necessarily for approval,” Ross told TechCrunch in the same March article, “but for situational awareness that can help inform their strategies.” The future of digital diplomacy is currently trending towards joint cooperation between companies like AnchorFree and the State Department. “I think that startups can perform functions once reserved to government, but they are well served to be as educated as possible before they wade into foreign affairs,” Ross said. In 2012, Alec Ross left his position at the State Department to work in the private sector. He now sits on the board of advisors for AnchorFree. Yet, many remain wary of cooperation between for-profit technology companies and the State Department. Enrique Piracés, vice president for human rights of Benetech, a nonprofit technology company, tells TechCrunch, “Their [AnchorFree’s] solu-

features tion seems to be convenient and cost-effective, and some of their features are very clever, but unless there is access to the source code it is hard to think of it as a secure or trustworthy solution.” The work of Piracés and Benetech serves to illustrate the inherent conflict that arises between governments and for-profit organizations. Companies like AnchorFree are just as likely to act against the State Department’s goals and interests as they are to act in tandem, should it prove to be an economically profitable action. On March 26, 2014, a court in Turkey temporarily suspended Erdoğan’s ban on Twitter, stating that the ban violated Turkey’s constitutional commitment to free speech. Regardless, Erdoğan has continued his crusade against Twitter and other American technology companies like Facebook and YouTube. “I don’t understand how people of good sense could defend his Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are all kinds of lies there,” Erdoğan reportedly said at an election rally, according to the BBC. The suspension of Erdoğan’s Twitter ban is largely a symbolic move as it could never be effectively enforced. That American companies were able to completely render ineffectual a foreign nation’s laws has important consequences for the future of American diplomacy. “Twenty-first century statecraft,” as used by Clinton and Ross, will rely on the cooperation of American technology companies, which will yield increasing power and influence over a global network of Internet users. This reliance works, for now, as long as figures like Ross continue to move through the revolving door between government and the private technology sector. But most importantly, this reliance will only work to promote a sustainable form of diplomacy if corporate interests can continue to align with the diplomatic agenda of the State Department. • Geetika Rudra, CC `14, is a creative writing and American studies major. She is the former editor-in-chief of Columbia Political Review, and will attend Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism in the fall. She can be reached at:


columbia political review :: summer 2014

student stump

Cashing In On Columbia? As the end of the year approaches, students across Columbia’s campus are turning their thoughts towards the world outside the gates of 116th and Broadway. With recovery from the global recession proceeding slowly and youth unemployment at almost 15 percent, it is tempting to question the actual value of our liberal arts degrees. We reached out to the Columbia community to find out their views on education and the economy, asking student groups, professors, and administrators the following question: What role should Columbia play in preparing students to face this economy?

Sunil Gulati, Economics

Columbia, in addition to providing graduates basic skills (communications, etc.) should be an opportunity to experiment and experience. Preparing for the economy is easier than preparing for life and the latter is much easier if passion is central to the choices one makes. Finding that passion is more often than not based on experimentation and experience.


It is understandable that students are concerned about jobs. I have three kids out in the world, and I know how tough it can be. But I have two words of warning: A certain kind of narrow-minded professionalization is the antithesis of true education. What you do to make yourself “job-ready” may be at the expense of benefits that can only be acquired from an open-minded approach to learning. Moreover, the best kind of education, such as that Columbia students are extremely fortunate to have access to, prepares you for a satisfying and successful life, and not just a “career.” I know many people who aggressively sought career advancement from early on, and who later on found themselves working hard and making money, but got no enjoyment from what they were doing. I would not want to live that way.


non-profit/ NGO

computers: software

media research legal services Martin Chalfie, Biological Sciences

I hope that what students learn during their time at Columbia (from their classes, from their classmates, and from the experience of living for four years in New York City) enriches their lives and will continue to do so. I am not sure that the job of the university is to prepare people for the future in any specific sense, but rather to widen their perspective as to what the future can be.


Rashid Khalidi, History

education Company Industries for K-12 2013 CC and SEAS Graduates Ricardo Reis, Economics

This recession, as well as the evolution of the labor market over the past two decades, suggests that success in the labor market depends on having a set of skills that give you an edge across at least four dimensions. First, to be able to change occupations to follow demand. Second, to not be easily substituted by machines or computers, by relying on the creativity and personal relations that humans excel at. Third, being ready to learn, more than to do, so that you can adapt to new technologies. And fourth, realize that there is strong competition from all corners of the globe. All four factors support the value of a liberal arts education at a top university, like Columbia.

columbia political review :: summer 2014

John Kymissis, Electrical Engineering

Students needs marketable skills to be productive members of society (and have a job). Columbia offers many opportunities for students to develop those skills, both through a high level of technical education and through a grounding in writing, critical thinking, and the liberal arts. Even people in the deepest technical areas spend nearly all of their time reading, writing, and editing written documents ― don’t let anyone tell you those skills aren’t important for high level work in any field! Can we do more? Absolutely. I think that we can provide more guidance, earlier, on what students can do to maximize their education and marketability. We can also do more (and many people at Columbia are working hard on this) to create a local ecosystem for economic development, which would have many benefits. Our graduates are successful, though, because the basic components are here and have been for the past 250 or so years.

Gayatri Spivak, English and

Comparative Literature Students from a world-class university such as Columbia must enter the various economies from which they come and work with them to turn the global economy around in the service of the world, rather than a sustainable underdevelopment which increases the gap between the rich and the poor.

student stump

Bob Neer, History & Core Lecturer

First, Columbia should educate students to think paradigmatically: to understand the specific issue presented within a broader context of meaning so that they can devise innovative and constructive responses. Second, it should sensitize them to the global implications of virtually every aspect of our contemporary economy. Third, introduce them to fields of thought that are not specifically economic ― for example, science, history, literature, and art ― that will give them a competitive edge over others with narrower fields of vision and, simultaneously, help sustain them as they travel turbulent economic seas.

Post-Graduate Plans for 2013 CC and SEAS Graduates not searching/ other time off


graduate studies employed

Susan Elmes, Economics

Ideally, a Columbia education does not prepare a student for a specific career but for a range of careers. It is much less common today for a person to stay in the same field for his or her whole working life. Learning how to write and speak well, to think analytically and quantitatively, and to synthesize information are skills needed in a wide range of professions. These are the same skills that students use every day at a liberal arts college like Columbia. Once in an occupation, you will learn the specific responsibilities required in that position. However, it is the skill set that you bring from Columbia that will help you excel in that position.

Jagdish Bhagwati, Economics, Law and Interna-

tional Affairs Education, in terms of both opening your mind and acquiring skills, means that students should be exposed to informed debates among faculty on issues before the world today. At Columbia today, money goes instead to programs like the Committee on Global Thought and the Earth Institute which are led by people who want to bamboozle students into specific advocacy by packing panels with people who share their specific prescriptions. Their programs are a travesty of the Habermaasian democracy that we ought to encourage. This needs to be changed; rotating the leadership of such programs, so they do not turn into fiefdoms, would help.


student stump

Zack Newman, President, Application Development Ini-

tiative (ADI) As somebody who is fortunate enough to be passionate about a highly employable field, I have the luxury of being able to say that I wish I focused more on skills and topics that were less directly relevant to jobs during my time at Columbia. That said, I also don’t think that Columbia should just kick you out after four years and expect you to figure your life out on your own. The problem, I think, is that a lot of talented students emerging from Columbia don’t know about opportunities that are out there. Our Center for Career Education is awesome if you want to go into finance or consulting, but to my knowledge their résumé editing services are tailored to these fields. Columbia’s job is to educate you, not to hold your hand into the real world. But a little help never hurt.

Rishab Guha, President, Columbia Parliamentary Debate Any humanities professor will tell you that there are plenty of employers looking for workers skilled at critical reading and writing. Far fewer have had a conversation with those employers to get a sense of the specific skills and competencies they’re looking for. And I’m not sure if any have incorporated that feedback into the way they structure and teach their classes. By contrast, my discipline, economics, has adjusted to meet the needs of its students without sacrificing intellectual vitality. Academic economics is an incredibly mathematically sophisticated field: A major in math is practically a prerequisite for admission to most Ph.D programs. But advanced math isn’t necessary to understand the fundamental economic concepts at work--and the techniques of academic economics are useless for the finance/consulting jobs that most undergrad majors desire. By jettisoning the trappings of academic rigor in favor of a focus on core concepts the Economics department has given itself the flexibility to teach those concepts in a way that emphasizes the skills that employers want to see―an example other departments can and should follow.

columbia political review :: summer 2014

Kevin Zhang, President, Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs (CORE) I believe that the future of the economy includes two interesting and potentially powerful trends. First of all, more and more, students, particularly at Columbia, want to feel that they can take on significant and impactful responsibility immediately. Secondly, the economy of the future looks less guaranteed, more fluid, and broadly more entrepreneurial. Columbia should prepare students for the implications of these trends. The Business Management concentration was a step in the right direction, but the program remains underdeveloped, unloved, and deeply lacking in resources. Experiential learning is also critically important. In contrast to the vibrant programs at Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford, the Columbia Student Enterprises are small, lethargic projects. Columbia is at heart a liberal arts institution, and that will not change. Over the past few decades, great entrepreneurs have come from all walks of life, and the University has been exceptional in producing those leaders. But as the skills needed to succeed in the workplace and economy become ever more complex and specific, the University should loosen the curriculum a bit and admit, at least to some small degree, that practical education can be paired with the liberal arts.

$100,000 or more $90,000 to $99,999 $80,000 to $89,999 $70,000 to $79,999 $60,000 to $69,999 $50,000 to $59,999 $40,000 to $49,999 $30,000 to $39,999 $20,000 to $29,999

Sarah Durham, Head Logistics Coordinator and Max Marshall,

Veritas Forum

Could Columbia achieve better post-graduation employment metrics? Sure. Our University could shunt MFAs into computer science classrooms, make sure all our Philosophy majors are Excel certified, and hold a mandatory “networking skills” seminar during NSOP. But—at least for now—Columbia still prides itself on providing a seemingly more economically aloof brand of learning through the Core and the liberal arts education it embodies. One of the routinely ignored display cases on Hamilton’s ground floor records the goal of the whole enterprise. Those whom the Core educates “must have learned to feed their souls upon good books, pictures and music.” In return, they will “possess an inner life of sufficient richness to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” That was written in 1938, surely a time of “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, and of economic ruin even greater than our own. 1938 may speak to 2008: let’s accept their thesis and let humanizing habits—instead of marketable skills—save us.


columbia political review :: summer 2014

James Valentini, Dean of Columbia College

The role of a liberal arts education is to teach you how to think and to prepare you for any career that you choose. The skills that you hone in the Core – to analyze, to communicate, to understand big ideas – will be valuable in whatever career that you pursue. Whether you become a filmmaker, an entrepreneur, or a research scientist, you will have to express your knowledge, share it, and explain it. You will have to present ideas, propel plans, and communicate your accomplishments. You will have to challenge and critique, persuade and convince, judge and assess. You are learning to do these things in Lit Hum, CC, and your other Core courses. You are learning about human interaction, human communication, and human motivation. You are learning to take chances, to be creative and productive, and to challenge yourselves and others. These skills will help you succeed in whatever economy, in whatever path you choose.

student stump

Mary Boyce, Dean of Columbia Engineering

As articulated in our mission statement, Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science educates and prepares students to go on to become innovative, socially responsible leaders in industry, government, and academia. Our education is grounded in the fundamental principles and creative approaches of engineering, while being critically informed by the broader perspective of a distinguished liberal arts education. The natural integration of the University’s Core liberal arts program with our rigorous engineering curriculum is a tremendous asset for our students. This curriculum is further enhanced by a multitude of co-curricular opportunities. We live today in a global, multi-disciplinary world with very fluid boundaries, and it is essential that our students have broad-based intellectual skills—that they have the ability to think, work, and act in creative, analytic, and synthetic ways, bringing together ideas from diverse fields and merging these into a cohesive, problem-solving approach to world issues. Our students are in the enviable position of being part of a vibrant, creative, innovative community, poised to be adaptive to an ever-changing world and economy and to bring their talents to help shape the future.

Natalie Friedman, Dean of Studies,

Initial Salaries for 2013 CC and SEAS Graduates

Barnard College I believe those of us in college administration who advise students can prepare them to confront the current economy by helping them think expansively about jobs and careers. Most students, because of their relative youth and limited experience of the working world, are familiar with the most visible careers or most visible kinds of labor -- i.e., doctors, lawyers, teachers, retail, finance, maybe jobs related to local or federal governments. But there are a host of jobs and careers out there, many of them in new and growing fields, that students aren’t aware of, or they aren’t able to connect their passions or skills to those potential jobs. For example, I’ve met with students interested in statistics who haven’t yet discovered the vast array of jobs for statisticians, from the field of policy to the field of medicine to the field of higher education and institutional research. It’s up to us as administrators to inform ourselves of the new trends and fields out there, and to let students know that their liberal arts skills are transferable to those fields.


cover story

columbia political review :: summer 2014

Off Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Revisiting Scotland’s Push for Independence


hen Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman cast a former truck driver and coffin polisher from Edinburgh as James Bond in 1961, English public schoolboy and confirmed snob Ian Fleming opined that he was “an overgrown stunt man” and “unrefined.” Yet Sean Connery eventually won over 007’s creator, and Fleming was inspired to write a father from Glencoe and an education at Fettes into Bond’s backstory. A Scottish father, a Scottish school, and a Scottish actor – James Bond may not be as English as you thought. Of course, James Bond is not Scottish. A Scot, an Australian, two Englishmen, a Welshman, and an Irishman have portrayed him in the main film series. Far from being just another English gentleman, James Bond is quintessentially British. The lineage of our favorite fictional womanizing alcoholic killer may not seem like a political issue, but it is – sort of. With their ancient “unwritten constitution,” their messy imperial history, and their mix of national identities, the British have learned to live with complexity. That has not stopped Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party (SNP) from trying to make them uncomfortable with it. The SNP’s platform is nothing if not simple: Scotland should leave the United Kingdom. And with a referendum asking “Should Scotland be an independent country?” scheduled for September 18, the party leading the so-called “Yes campaign” may get its wish. Most Americans may not give much thought to British politics, but they have a huge stake in the debate over Scottish independence—and not just because James Bond’s national identity hangs in the balance. April polls place the Yes campaign’s support at 46 percent, meaning that if the referendum were held today, Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom. However, as numerous commentators have pointed out, the


By Taylor Thompson No side held a 24-point lead as recently as November. The trend line does not look good for opponents of independence. There are a variety of explanations for why the race is tightening. Some argue that the No campaign has been overly negative and has thus turned off a growing part of the electorate. It could also be that many voters are only beginning to pay attention to the debate, with the vote now just five months away. The most obvious factor, however, is the Yes campaign itself, and Salmond in particular. The doughy first minister, labeled a “bandit” by one British government source in the pages of The Guardian, is writing checks his party cannot cash, whatever the result of the referendum. It is not enough to say that Salmond is engaging in the typical wishful thinking of the campaigning politician;

“Most Americans may not give much thought to British politics, but they have a huge stake in the debate over Scottish independence—and not just because James Bond’s national identity hangs in the balance.” he is willfully deceiving the people of Scotland. Some of the distortions and falsehoods he has promoted would be laughable, if the consequences were not so dire. Salmond’s case for independence rests on faulty evidence and flawed arguments, on issues ranging from the monarchy to defense to economic policy. In the 20th century, it became common for nations within the British Empire to gain their independence while continuing to recognize the British monarch as head of state. Thus, Queen

Elizabeth II is today the sovereign ruler of 16 separate realms. It is easy enough to imagine that Scotland could retain the queen in the case of independence. Indeed, from the accession of King James in 1603 until the Acts of Union in 1707, that is exactly the type of personal union the Scots had—it was not the first such union, and if Salmond has his way, it will not be the last. Or so he and his party claim. The SNP has a strong republican faction that includes some of the party’s leading members, and its younger members are almost uniformly anti-monarchist. Salmond may claim that an independent Scotland will keep Elizabeth on as Queen of Scots, and it will certainly have to do so for some time to avoid alienating voters, but the SNP is a fundamentally republican force. Its members have no great love for the House of Windsor, and their political aims are said to be anathema to the queen and other members of the royal family, who do not wish to preside over the breakup of their country. If Salmond’s manipulations were limited to questions surrounding the monarch, or his bizarre proposal that an independent Scotland would drive on the right side of the road, perhaps he could be forgiven. But even on more substantive, practical questions, the SNP refuses to tell the truth. Scotland’s position in international organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union would undergo fundamental changes if the Scots declare independence. Salmond and his party have tried to obscure this fact by making contradictory and false claims. For instance, the SNP maintains strict opposition to the presence of nuclear weapons on Scottish soil and in Scottish waters—a major point of contention in British politics, since the Vanguard-class submarines carrying the United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear missiles are based in Scotland. Scottish independence would see the new-

columbia political review :: summer 2014 ly-empowered Holyrood government demand that Westminster remove all British nuclear forces from its territory. The consequences of doing so would not be trivial. Tucked away on the west coast of Scotland, Clyde Naval Base provides British nuclear submarines with quick and reliable access to the open waters of the North Atlantic. It is one of only three bases currently operated by the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom, and identifying and constructing alternative facilities would be expensive and time-consuming. The process might even disrupt Britain’s ability to hang onto its independent nuclear deterrent. As Lord Robertson, the former Secretary-General of NATO, has argued, “It is one thing to unilaterally disarm yourself but when you choose to unilaterally disarm your neighbor you are playing with fire.” The British military has been under fiscal strain for years—even before the current coalition government’s deep budget cuts, its core capabilities were eroding. Scottish independence would force the United Kingdom to reevaluate its status as a nuclear power, and more importantly, it would likely involve a major reorganization of the British military, since at least some of its units and hardware would presumably be transferred to the new Scottish state. The United Kingdom’s defense establishment, like that of the United States, is a vast national enterprise, and uncoupling Scotland from its neighbors would result in waste, duplication of efforts, and doubts about Britain’s ability to honor its obligations to its allies. Applying for membership in NATO is not a rubber stamp process. Scotland would need the consent of every NATO member state in order to join the alliance as an independent state,

and it would also have to meet specific criteria under a Membership Action Plan (MAP). One of the main requirements of the MAP framework, which has been used to bring seven countries into NATO, is that domestic legislation in the prospective member state cannot interfere with alliance cooperation. The SNP’s anti-nuclear policies will make it impos-

sible for Scotland to comply with the rules of NATO, and it will therefore be excluded from—or rather, it will voluntarily exit—the world’s most powerful and successful collective security pact. Salmond would undoubtedly protest, but it is impossible for NATO to compromise on such an important issue. NATO members are under the US nuclear umbrella—no country should be

cover story able to benefit from that level of protection without full participation in the alliance. The irony of Salmond’s position is that, in the long run, the SNP stands a much better chance of getting what it wants – the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland and continued membership in NATO – if the Scots vote against independence. London could eventually agree to relocate the nuclear weapons, perhaps in return for assurances that no additional referenda will take place anytime soon. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom would remain in compliance with its obligations under NATO. While imperfect, such a resolution to the nuclear question is preferable to Salmond’s preferred course of action, which would inevitably result in Scotland’s isolation from NATO. Another international body which might very well turn Scotland away is the European Union. The SNP has repeatedly argued that it could enter the union “seamlessly” as a continuing member state under Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, something that both EU and British officials have categorically denied. Instead, Scotland would have to wait until 2016, when independence would take full effect, and then apply for accession under Article 49. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, has said that it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for the Scots to gain membership, which (as with NATO) requires the consent of every EU state. There is ample reason to take Barroso at his word. Kosovo still cannot join the European Union, despite being independent since 2008, because Spain does not wish to encourage the secessionist movements within its own borders. Even if Scotland could win, in principle, the right to join the European Union, it would not be able to do so on terms acceptable to the majority of Scots. EU member states are required, under the Maastricht Treaty and subsequent revisions, to adopt the euro. The United Kingdom negotiated an opt-out agreement permitting it to retain the pound sterling, but this


cover story

provision would not apply to an independent Scotland. Salmond insists that Scotland will not only be able to avoid adopting the euro, but that it will even be able to continue using the pound. The vehement denials of officials from the British government and the European Union alike (and since when do London and Brussels agree on anything?) should leave no doubt that the SNP is dead wrong about both the currency issue, and its status vis à vis the European Union. But Salmond has doubled down on his positions. Perhaps he believes that a resounding win in the referendum will give him additional leverage when the time comes to negotiate the details of Scotland’s in-


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dependence, or that the Scottish electorate will not notice the growing gulf between reality and his rhetoric. It does not take a genius, or even a trained economist, to understand why London will never share the pound with an independent Scotland. The British need only look across the English Channel to see what happens when monetary union is not accompanied by fiscal union, as was the case in the eurozone. Repeating the same experiment in the event of Scottish secession will surely result in failure. David Cameron is not a bully, nor are the officials of the Bank of England. They simply accept what Salmond cannot – that Scotland is fiscally out of step with the

rest of Britain and is effectively subsidized by funds from Westminster. The left-wing state that the SNP wants to build north of the border is unsustainable absent English largesse, and no amount of North Sea oil revenue will change that. Since declaring independence would require Scotland to give up the pound, the only apparent alternative would be to join the eurozone. Scots would overwhelmingly oppose this move, assuming the SNP even managed to negotiate Scotland’s entry in the first place. Most of Britain has watched the monetary meltdown on the Continent with no shortage of schadenfreude, and see the notion of spurning London in favor of Brussels (or is it Berlin?) for the patent absurdity that it is. Salmond and his compatriots probably do too, which is why they have to continue pretending that their new nation can have its haggis and eat it too. Indeed, the rosy economic future they envision for an independent Scotland is at the core of their campaign. In the end, however, they cannot escape economic reality. Scotland greatly benefits in material terms from its union with the rest of Britain, and secession would adversely affect Scots’ quality of life, regardless of which currency the new state ends up using. On a variety of constitutional, military, diplomatic, and economic issues, Salmond is trying to mislead the people of Scotland. Unfortunately, he appears to be succeeding, at least for the time being. The nightmare scenario for unionists is that a mismanaged No campaign (currently dubbed “Better Together”) will not only antagonize the Scots, but also encourage some English conservatives to conclude that Scottish secession would be a good thing. Without Scotland in the union, there may be a permanent Tory majority in the House of Commons—a tantalizing prospect for some, even at the alarmingly steep cost of a diminished Britain less able to act on the world stage. And that Britain, a Little England with Welsh and Northern Irish appendages (which might experience nationalist resurgences of their own if Scotland votes Yes), will struggle to be an effective partner for the United States. While US government officials are understandably reluctant to comment on a foreign referendum—and any such interference could backfire horribly—

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Americans should not be in doubt as to their desired outcome. Anything short of a resounding defeat for the Scottish secessionists would be a blow to America’s oldest and strongest alliance. The present global situation demands effective international cooperation, and while the United Kingdom is no longer a world power of the first order, it can continue to play a major role in a broader Western alliance. If London is preoccupied with the details of its divorce from Edinburgh, it will be forced to divert significant attention away from its regional and global responsibilities. This dismal state of affairs would have worldwide repercussions. The oldest and closest security relationships in the world today are those which exist among the English-speaking peoples of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The level of cooperation, integration, and intelligence-sharing among these countries is truly unprecedented in world history. As the long-term viability of existing international institutions is called increasingly into question, the United States will have to take the lead in their reform – but it must also redouble its commitment to those nations which have always and will always share its aims and interests most closely. The promotion of a strong and vibrant Anglosphere capable of acting force-

fully and in unison across the globe should be a foundational principle of US foreign policy. Needless to say, if the United Kingdom ceases to exist in its current form in September, this important goal will experience a significant, even fatal, setback. Whatever sympathy Americans may feel for the cause of Scottish independence must be tempered by a clear-eyed appreciation of the American national interest. The United States should not insert itself into the Scottish referendum, and the Obama administration’s decision to refrain from comment on the matter is a prudent one. Nevertheless, it is overwhelmingly clear that Salmond and the SNP are leading a campaign which is not only dishonest, but fundamentally at odds with America’s goals and its longstanding relationship with the United Kingdom. British identity has long been complex and multifaceted; Scottish pride is no reason to allow a relatively small group of deluded nationalists run the United Kingdom into the ground. The Better Together campaign has the facts on its side: if it can defeat Salmond in September, it would do much to discredit the independence movement’s most able and visible spokesman. The SNP will continue to advocate for secession, of course, but unless the vote is extremely close, it will struggle to justify another referendum in the foreseeable future. At most, they will manage to extract additional


devolved powers from Westminster. The United Kingdom will move on – together – and with any luck, Alex Salmond will have met his Waterloo, or rather, his Falkirk. On August 23, 1305, Sir William Wallace was hanged, drawn, and quartered in London for high treason against King Edward I of England. Generations of Scots to come would remember him as their national hero. But on October 21, 1805, or June 18, 1815, or July 1, 1916, or June 6, 1944, were the English distant and foreign oppressors, or were they loyal comrades in arms? Would it not detract from the shared sacrifices of all the people of Britain if they, having fought so hard and so long to protect their island and their way of life from invasion, lent more weight to the whims of a few short-sighted secessionists than to the blood of millions? English public schoolboys will always be snobs, but the Scots are much better off with them than without them. • Taylor Thompson, CC `14, is the former managing editor of Columbia Political Review. He wishes to thank CPR’s past and present staff (but especially Geetika Rudra and Greg Barber) for four wonderful years filled with Liam Neeson movies and Pacific island takeovers. He can be reached at:


columbia political review :: summer 2014


American In-Gene-uity

Regulating the Business of Genetic Modification


recent development in human genetic engineering has shaken the scientific and medical communities: A newly presented in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique involves the creation of a fertilized human egg with half of its nuclear DNA from one mother, the other half from the father, and the mitochondrial DNA from a second mother. Thus, the produced zygote and eventual fully-grown child would in a very unambiguous sense have three distinct genetic parents. The technique was developed to prevent a form of inheritable late-onset blindness. This development is only the most recent to come out of the burgeoning field of genetic engineering, but the idea of a human with three genetic parents (that is, compared to the two genetic parents of fetuses carried by surrogate mothers) demands a serious conversation about the future legality and ethics of human genetic manipulation. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley foresaw a dystopian near-future in which human genetic engineering produced a rigidly stratified society where one’s life and opportunities were dictated by the genes that each had been endowed with by a centralized politico-medical institution. This satirical and often humorous work was written decades ago, and, since then, whether it was Dolly the cloned sheep or the embryonic stem cell debates of the early 2000s, virtually every press release concerning genetics has brought up talk of a potential Huxleyan dystopia. However, the novelty of recent research is that actual people—real, living human beings who will walk among us someday as colleagues and fellow citizens—will be intrinsically affected by the genetic manipulation conducted on their single-celled selves. The religious right branded human embryonic stem cell research “playing God,” but that work was only ever intended to lead to treatments for diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease in


By Jamie Boothe grown humans; if that is playing God, then augmenting human genes from the moment of conception is taking the game to a whole new level. Regardless of one’s religious inclinations, here arises a difficult question: If we can edit a human’s genes at the zygotic level to prevent a disease, why not use the same approach to “design” better humans: taller, more attractive—and the granddaddy of them all—smarter? To be clear, it is almost certain that traits such as physical features and intelligence are not simple genetic switches; there is not a single gene that can be turned on to make someone a future model or genius. Such traits are thought to be the product of the individual’s prenatal and postnatal environments, with only a partial contribution from pure genetics. However, as the understanding of the human genome and gene expression progresses, it seems inevitable that eventually some genes will be pinned down as directly contributing to tall height or high intelligence, just as genetic sources of various predilections to cancer have recently been discovered.

“If we can edit a human’s genes at the zygotic level to prevent a disease, why not use the same approach to “design” better humans: taller, more attractive— and the granddaddy of them all—smarter?” Such developments create a dichotomy with a very fine line of separation. There are two possible ways in which to approach the genetic augmentation of humans: the medical approach and what I deem the preference approach. A medical approach entails using ge-

netic manipulation for the prevention and treatment of “disease,” while the preference approach would use manipulation to intrinsically shape an individual to some ideal preference. Now this dichotomy demands the definition of another term: namely, what is “disease” and what is not? Pinning down an objective definition is difficult, but perhaps a reasonable attempt would be this: A disease is a biological condition or state that limits or eliminates an individual’s ability to live at least a normal life. In this case, one’s quality of normality can be thought of as each person’s closeness to the average of the species. For example, being a few inches below average height is normal (and will not prevent anyone from living a “normal” or better that average life), while genetic dwarfism is a disease because it leads to objective difficulties. Thus, the medical approach to genetic manipulation would see dwarfism, but not merely below-average height, as fair game for prevention or correction; the preference approach, on the other hand, would be willing to prevent below-average height and even give an individual above-average height if the parents so wished (which is a frequent personal preference). Many of such preferences are ultimately cultural; different societies have different definitions of aesthetic physical ideals. But the overwhelming majority of such traits (hair color, skin tone, etc) are just that: aesthetic. It is from this preference-based approach that a political, ethical, and even philosophical tornado forms. The medical approach, with its goal to address disease, may on occasion make us feel uncomfortable (for example, a person with three genetic parents), but by preventing diseases it will continue to carry out the role of the medical profession: keeping society’s constituents healthy and thus able to lead normal lives. Some would argue that genetic improvement is indeed unnecessary or

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unjustifiable for purely aesthetic traits, but would be justifiable if it only focused on traits that actually improve ability or fitness, such as intelligence and physical strength. While the idea of generations of inherently faster, stronger, and smarter humans certainly sounds attractive, the question of applicability must be considered. Intelligently producing genetically “superior” babies, whether done by genetic alteration or simple in vitro selection of the best possible zygotes produced by a couple’s own natural sex cells, will almost certainly be a very expensive procedure, and one that health insurance companies will definitely not cover. The process will be an elective one that individual couples must pay for themselves. There is undoubtedly a great amount of disparity and inequality in our country today, whether regarding educational access or familial wealth, and indeed stark inequality has affected all societies throughout history to some degree. However, since its founding, the promise of America has always been that if you are willing to educate yourself and work hard, you can overcome the circumstances of your birth. This is a noble premise indeed and one that places the impetus to succeed in life squarely upon the individual, but

unfortunately genetic engineering of this type would pose a threat to this ethos. Considering how economic success is nowadays often seen as the most desirable life goal, one’s success in life, especially if intelligence becomes genetically improvable, would be influenced by each person’s parents’ decision to not fully trust in their own gene pool (or the natural probabilistic products of said pool) or their own ability to raise and parent a successful, happy individual. Our increasingly competitive global society has created a culture here in America of “helicopter parents” and “Tiger Moms,” terrified by the idea that their children will not be the best, and so if made available and legal it is a certainty that many would-be parents with the necessary financial means would rush to have their children endowed with a menagerie of desirable traits. If it is provided, they will come. If left unregulated by laws or statutes, such techniques will be exploited if and when they are made commercially available. A sometimes amusing, but always uncomfortable, reminder of this can be seen in the sperm and egg donation solicitations on elite university campuses: “Superior” genes (or more specifically, genes and traits


that the society embraces) are something that some people are willing to pay for, no matter how impersonal the procurement of said genes may be. However, as with ordinarily-conceived offspring, there is still an element of general opportunity; while wealthy individuals can impersonally buy what amounts to sex cells from individuals who suit their preferences, any person regardless of financial means in theory has access to such genetic material through natural, consensual reproduction. Here lies the fundamental difference with genetic engineering that makes it so dangerous and inequitable: It would allow individuals of financial means to circumvent one of the most fundamental equalizers of the human race—genetic randomness. A naturally intelligent and attractive couple is completely capable of conceiving a naturally unintelligent and unattractive child, and barring significantly far-off adult genetic engineering, there is nothing that can be done to change said individual’s genes. The reverse situation is of course also completely true. But embryonic genetic engineering would allow those with one resource—money—to prune their potential offspring to their choosing and thus fool nature. Such a disparity in genetic opportuni-



ty would lead to further stratification of our society that would be difficult, if not impossible, to amend–retroactive action is tough once “designer babies” have already entered the population. Thus, it is necessary for the US government to preempt such a development by instituting clear and firm rules for the human genetics industry. The government should continue to fund and facilitate research in the field because it holds the promise of many therapeutic methods, but the clinical applications of said research must be soundly regulated. The regulations should explicitly outline what the standard of care is with regards to genetic treatment and prevention of “diseases” while also being proactive in making aesthetic and preferential augmentation explicitly banned. Whether it is drugs or abortion, it is naturally difficult for a government to prohibit anything; black markets and under-the-table operations always spring up to some degree, and one can certainly imagine such clandestine practices being provided to the most demanding or well-connected parents. However, the “they’ll find a way” argument is not sufficient in this case. The difference between genetic enhancement and other services is that the conductors of such practices must always


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be well-educated and experienced individuals; while a high school dropout can cook meth on the street, it takes a learned scientist or physician to genetically augment any creature, let alone a human. Such people are fewer and easier to track, and they have credibility and reputations to lose. Governmental prohibition and enforcement would thus most likely be effective and prevent widespread non-therapeutic applications of the practice. While there might be an illegal “enhancement” here or there, strict enforcement similar to current legal, medical, and pharmaceutical oversight could prevent the vast majority of abuses. In addition, to prevent the possibility of certain foreign nations becoming genetic enhancement havens, this is legislation that the United States can and should produce in cooperation with fellow developed nations, especially in Europe. This is fundamentally a human problem and one that people of all nationalities need to address sooner rather than later. With that being said, the typically monumental task of getting America’s opposing political factions to pass bipartisan legislation could actually be easy in this case. Conservatives and libertarians (and their representatives) are by definition skeptical of any new

governmental regulations, especially in the troubled wake of Obamacare. However, most self-identified conservatives in the United States are religious and already oppose genetic manipulation under the premise that it is unnatural and, as shown with the debates over embryonic stem cell research, they are fully willing to encode such views in legal regulations. Libertarian-leaning people will be a bit more difficult to convince, but there is an argument that can also be made to liberals that should be effective in overriding their laissez-faire and progressive (genetic, in this case) tendencies, respectively. Namely, such people will be receptive to the argument that human genetic engineering will lead to less equal opportunity and less of an impetus being placed on the will and determination of the individual (not one’s parents, but their own self). Regardless of whether political action is taken, one thing remains certain: Genetic engineering is coming. It promises us a healthier society, but it could also be used to divide us as human beings in a way never before possible. In truth, the possibility of designer babies is only the symptom of an underlying disease in our culture: a fear of having less-than-superstar children. But while other steps are needed to treat the sickness, this is one symptom we can definitely prevent. • Jamie Boothe, CC `15, is majoring in biochemistry. He is the Executive Director of the Columbia University College Republicans, and can be reached at:


columbia political review :: summer 2014

Crimea and Punishment

Students Speak Out About Russia, Ukraine, and the West


Will Putin’s actions in Crimea pay off? When he is not writing for CPR or the Spectator, Eric Wimer (CC `16) can usually be found on stage. He sings Bass for the Kingsmen and directs/ produces plays when he can, acting or choreographing as well whenever he gets the chance. In Ben Rimland is a junior in Columbia College studying political science and art history. His interests include security studies and

his free time, he’ll work out with CU Tae Kwon Do, work for change with Student Worker Solidarity or the CU Dems, and simulate space battles with CIRCA. He is a triple concentrator in American Studies, Political Science, and English.

American foreign policy in East Asia. This summer he will be working at the Asia Society in Mumbai.


It is very easy to look at Putin’s incursion into Crimea, along with his ludicrous denials, and say, as German Prime Minister Angela Merkel said to Obama that “he’s living in another world,” that reality is bound to catch up with him sooner or later. But Putin has been playing to his people from the very beginning, agitating and stirring up nationalism to buoy his career in times of trouble, and the United States is powerless to stop him. Putin’s approval rating since he arrived in office, based on data from the respected Levada Center, re-

The many permutations of the Ukraine crisis, going by such monikers as the Maidan revolution, Crimean crisis and now the Separatist crisis, have together become the greatest foreign policy crisis since the end of the Cold War. Russian president Vladimir Putin has unleashed a terrifying Pandora’s box of ethnic nationalism, and while Russian opinion polls may be rising rapidly in response to his annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Putin will come to dearly regret his recent actions. To examine just how Putin’s adventures will lead inevitably to failure, we must briefly examine his motives and goals in Ukraine. To understand the Russian attempts to destabilize Ukraine and annex Crimea as long­planned would be a mischaracterization. Even under relatively pro­-Western president, Viktor Yuschenko (not to mention recently deposed president Yanukovych), Ukraine had been firmly un-

veals that after arriving on the scene as the unknown successor handpicked by the terribly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, the strong man reversed his image within a matter of months, “riding a wave of war hysteria,” over the “popular” Chechnyan war, as the The New York Times reported at the time. Already, they were calling his image a “cult of personality,” fueled by aggressive, revanchist language and an image of “above all, manliness” refreshing to Russia that, all too often lately, had been feeling helpless and defeated. The economy rose conveniently (cont. p 20)

der Putin’s thumb. The lease on the Black Sea naval fleet at Sevastopol had been renewed up to 2042, and Yanukovych had expressed an eagerness to move away from a proposed EU association agreement and closer to the still­hypothetical Russian led Eurasian customs union. This is precisely why Putin saw the Maidan revolution not as just another permutation of the “color revolutions” which swept across Eastern Europe in the last decade, but as a stinging and highly offensive rebuke in the face of all that Russia done to “support” Ukraine. His actions have been highly emotional, unscripted, and highly cynical. If Ukraine is to reject Putin’s overtures, then, in the eyes of the former KGB officer, it is to have no stable government at all. However, Putin has executed this campaign in a manner that will only serve to work against his effort to again bring Ukraine into (cont. p. 20)



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briefing soon after, but the data shows that Putin’s approval rating had already shot sky high before it did. In a speech on March 18th, Putin made another crucial shift in direction. Up until then he had been using the word Rossisskii to describe the Russian people, a word more associated with citizenship on the state level. This time, he claimed that Kiev is a Russkii (ethnicly Russian) city and that the Russkii people were made one of the largest divided nations in the world when the former Soviet republics split. It was the culmination of his courtship of nationalist, revanchist Russians that has been his chief strategy of preservation since 2001. After Chechnya, the next largest spike in approval ratings, a shot from 60-80 percent, coincided with his aggression towards Ukraine, after an embarrassingly ramshackle start to the Sochi Games and even more embarrassing election fraud that he was still recovering from. By espousing this racist, militaristic ideology, Putin is actually building support, not losing it. The United States swings around talk of sanctions, but in reality they are just as irrelevant to the conversation as Russian objections were when we invaded Iraq, or bombed Libya, or impressed our power upon other smaller, weaker countries.



Recent history has shown that sanctions don’t damage the autocrats and billionaires, but only manage to hurt the people. And Russia is not Iran. The United States wishes it had Russia’s rate of economic growth and steady supply of petrodollars. There are many eager partners, China first among them, who will gladly buy whatever oil we refuse to. This means that we need Russia more than Russia needs us and, outside of military action, which Putin knows the public will not (nor should they) stomach, there’s not much the United States can do. This is not to say that the United States “lost” this round, because as I said, Russia has been similarly powerless to stop our military incursions. It’s simply the state of international politics. So if the United States can’t punish Putin and his people reward him for this brash action, who’s to tell him tell him that he’s “living in another world?” While his actions make no sense to Merkel or Obama, Putin is very much of this planet. He’s living in Russia, where people have consistently rewarded this type of action. Until the people evolve their incentives, citizen by citizen, this type of aggression and maddening double-speak will continue to pay dividends for the president.

Russia’s orbit. Chiefly, Putin’s careful choice of wording in his speech announcing the annexation of Crimea (employing the word russkii, meaning ethnic Russian, rather than rossisski, meaning a citizen of Russia), represents the re­opening of the ethnic Pandora’s box which tore apart Eastern Europe in the early nineties. This, compounded by the anger of the Ukrainian people over the invasion itself, means that entire future generations will grow up seeing Russia and ethnic Russians as an existential threat. It is hard to fathom, then, how Ukraine will allow its Eastern regions to be cleaved off without kicking off a bitter insurgency. Many of Russia’s ethnic minorities, including Chechens and those in Russia’s far east, will look to Putin’s ethnic nationalism with fear and disgust. It is entirely possible that they will begin to clamor for their own separation from Russia as they feel unsafe in a country deemed exclusive for



the russkii. Though the West’s response so far has been anemic, Putin will still find Russia crippled by Western sanctions in response to his actions. Russia’s stock index, the MICEX, has fallen dramatically since the start of the crisis, and if Iran­-style sanctions are put into effect, Putin will have overseen the collapse of his rentier state. And finally, any credibility Putin may have had in calling out the West on ignoring international institutions will be utterly and irrevocably lost. It is critical to understand that most of these drawbacks will not manifest themselves in the short term. It will take some time for sanctions to bite, and hopefully the West will understand the grave threat posed by Putin. But make no mistake, the actions of the past few months will end poorly for the chekist­-in-­chief.

{REBUTTALS} Putin has faced similar decisions before, and he has shown a pattern of fostering nationalism through conflict and displays of strength even at the cost of actual well-being. A poor, angry Russia actually suits his designs better than one with a rising middle class and liberal tendencies. He’s using conflict with Ukraine to tighten his grip on Russia, and turning weak sanctions into just one more example for his propaganda machine.


The specter of racism has been rising in Russia for years, fueled by Putin’s deliberate efforts to consolidate power around nationalistic nostalgia. He didn’t just insert that loaded word (Russkii) into his language because of a bitter emotional flare up. Back in 2007, in its campaign for reelection, Putin puppet candidates like Vladimir Zhirinovsky were already decrying opponents who “take money from the pocket of the working Ivan and give it to the


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bandit Mohammed, who cuts Ivan up in pieces and buys himself a third Mercedes.” This is nothing new. So why would Putin fuel ethnic conflict? To understand this we have to go back to before the 2007 elections, when the far-right was his biggest challengers. What better way to maintain power than by co-opting the opposition? Back in 2005, Dmitry Rogozin had been barred for agitating against immigrants, but by 2007 he was campaigning for Putin’s United Russia party with those same messages. Ethnic wars, so long as they are short and victorious, have become a key tool to unite the majority of Russia’s population around a common enemy, further reinforcing the Russian identity by defining what it isn’t. It has worked from when France consolidated over the bodies of Huguenots to Russians today forming all white, “pure” towns like Khotkovo, which kicked out its foreigners in 2007. Breakups a la Yugoslavia won’t happen under Putin’s reign either. Ethnic Russians compose 81 percent of the population and the next largest group (Tatars), only 3.7 percent. Yugoslavia was 36 percent Serb, 20 percent Croat, and 9 percent Bosnian according to its 1981 census. And even Yugoslavia didn’t disintegrate until its order-keeping dictator Tito passed. Remember that, even with the population fully behind them, Chechnyan rebels were crushed easily, serving as nothing more than a tool for Putin’s nation-building. All dissenting ethnic groups can do in response is provide another opportunity for a short, victorious war. Putin wouldn’t hesitate if provoked. As to those threatened minorities who leave? They can’t flee West thanks to sanctions restricting property ownership there, neither can they keep their money offshore. As to other places to take your money and run, most aren’t as secure as Russia. So big money will stay put. Migrant labor, sadly, is all too easy to replace. With oil prices ever rising and an army of willing buyers to grab the goods we refuse to buy, any trade restrictions will be trivial. And any restrictions on travel will actually feed into Putin’s narrative of a Russia besieged, of Western forces maliciously attacking it. After all, Putin can argue, “Where were the sanctions when the United States invaded Iraq?” The United States was not sanctioned, they have armies. This is also why international legitimacy is something that Putin has already shown he is prepared to lose. I doubt any Western power has seriously listened to his perpetual UN objections for years now. He is courting his own alliances, and countries like China or Iran, to name the biggest of many anti-Western leaning countries, could care less about a UN thumbs up. But we should remember that a stable country or an economically successful one, are irrelevant to Putin’s goals. The consolidation of his power gains only from the image he fosters, which is why he was popular before the economy even gained steam, and this grab for Crimea has strengthened his power. The people may make him pay yet, but Crimea won’t help them step in that direction.

briefing Eric has made some great points in his essay—indeed many I agree with. While there are certainly problems in accepting at face value opinion polls conducted in an autocratic society where dissent is frowned upon (even if the collection methodology is sound), there is little doubt that Putin’s actions have been enormously popular among most Russians. And finally, sanctions on individuals are just as toothless as Eric asserts they are. The many comments and jokes had by Putin and his acolytes over Western travel bans and asset freezes suggests that they matter little. But Eric is dead wrong on two counts: that America needs Russia more than Russia needs America, and that sanctions on the whole are ineffective. Let’s start with the first point. To argue that Russia, a middle-­income rentier state, is somehow in a position to bring the United States, a high­-income post­-industrial state, to its knees is ludicrous. A whopping 1.2 percent of American imports come from Russia, and while most of that is oil, America’s surging energy industry is on track to make the country energy self­-sufficient in the coming decades. The vast majority of Russia’s other exports to the United States include metals, gems, and rubber—in other words, raw materials. Currently, the only major economic concern stemming from the deep freeze in US­-Russian relations is space cooperation, as many American rockets use Russian engines and NASA currently farms out many of its launches to the Russian space agency. However, given the break­neck pace of development in the private American space industry, this is unlikely to be an issue for long. It is instead Russia which needs the United States, and desperately. Primarily, this need stems from the unfettered access currently enjoyed by Russian companies to the American financial system. Gazprom and Rosneft, the Russian national natural gas and oil companies, do their business in dollars and euros. Depriving them of access to the American and Western financial system, which could be accomplished with the stroke of a presidential pen, would be a tremendous blow to the Russian state and its coffers. This brings us to the second point, the efficacy of sanctions as a whole. I do concede, as I mentioned earlier, that sanctions on individuals can be ineffective. And surely, as I’ve written elsewhere, I do wish that the West would take a stronger and more focused response to Russia’s military bravura. Finally, there is general acknowledgement that there is little stomach (at least in Europe) for sweeping sanctions on Russian industry. But, such sweeping sanctions were what drove the election of President Hassan Rouhani in Iran and his desire to reintegrate Iran into the global system after years of isolation. Ultimately, however, the question does arise: Are sweeping sanctions the most effective way of accomplishing Western political objectives in the near-­term? The answer is no, as sanctions are much more effective in the long­game than the short. But, the recent deployment of 600 American troops to Eastern Europe, along with an air force wing of F­16 fighters, is a more reassuring reminder that the West is slowly beginning to take Putin’s threats seriously, and will ensure that he will come to regret them.




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Ask the Experts:

An Interview with Professor Kimberly Marten CPR: What will be the repercussions of Putin’s increasingly ethnic-based rhetoric (e.g. switching to russkiy rather than rossiyskiy)? Is ethnic nationalism just a rhetorical tool Putin is using, or is it becoming a guiding philosophy? Prof. Marten: President Putin’s statement to parliament on March 18 marked the first time he used ethnic-interest language to explain or justify his actions. It is not clear what this will mean in the future. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a speech about Crimea two days later where he was careful to speak only in state-interest, not ethnic-interest, terms. This may mean that Putin’s speech was a trial balloon that failed, and that it will be forgotten in the long run. It could, though, mark a disturbing and potentially frightening turn. That statement could be used to justify any military action on behalf of ethnic Russian minority populations living throughout the post-Soviet space. It could also be a signal to the Russian domestic audience that ethnic conflict is okay at home, potentially accelerating the neo-Nazi attacks on ethnic minorities


inside Russia that have not been thoroughly investigated or punished by state authorities in recent years.

Russia, even with these added economic burdens—or whether at some point the elite turns against him.

CPR: From whom should Putin fear reprisal? NATO/the West, Russian citizens and activists, Russian political and economic elites? Does he face real consequences for further action in Ukraine, or are these parties all unwilling or unable to punish him effectively?

CPR: Should the United States opt for a conciliatory policy with Russia, or try to punish Russia with economic sanctions and military action? What is the West’s best response to Putin? How would the European economy fare against the inevitably higher energy prices incumbent with any strong response to Russia?

Prof. Marten: The Russian military is much larger and more sophisticated than the Ukrainian military is, and Ukraine is not a member of any military alliance. No force is going to be able or willing to stop Putin if he truly wants to take chunks of Ukrainian territory. He has already decided that he is willing to take the risk of facing a violent insurgency in Crimea; the risks of violence will skyrocket if he tries to occupy parts of the Ukrainian mainland, too. In economic terms, Putin is already facing sanctions, and further action on his part is likely to shock the international community into strengthening them. The Russian economy was faltering before Crimea happened, and the added pressure of sanctions fears on Russian international trade and investments, in addition to the added economic burden of subsidizing Crimea (which still depends on mainland Ukraine for its supplies of everything from food to water and electricity, and has relied on huge budgetary bailouts from Kiev) is going to have significant consequences on Russia. Putin thinks he is going to address this problem by turning Crimea into a gambling mecca, but he faces competition from other areas on the Black Sea for clients, including the city of Batumi in Georgia. Many people have argued that Putin made a bargain with the Russian middle class, of trading economic health and stability for authoritarian control. The question is whether global oil and gas prices will remain so high that Putin can continue to fulfill his part of that bargain through the profits earned by state-controlled energy exports from

Prof. Marten: This is not a new Cold War, because Russia is no longer a global power (it is merely a regional power). But it’s time to dust off the precepts of George Kennan, one of the greatest U.S. diplomats of the early Cold War era, who also had to deal with unpredictability emanating from Moscow. Kennan argued that the U.S. needed to engage in crystal clear extended deterrence, so that Soviet expansionism would be contained. In this case, that would mean reiterating U.S. military treaty commitments, especially to NATO member-states that border Russia, Ukraine, and the Black Sea. At the same time, Kennan argued that authoritarian regimes need enemies in order to justify their existence, and that if the Soviet Union faced no real external threats, the system would eventually collapse under its own weight. He was right. So that means that the United States also has to be careful not to take actions that are threatening to Russia. We should do everything we can to undercut the enemy image that Putin is trying to create about US goals. We need to seek areas of mutual interest with Russia wherever we might find them, including nuclear weapons non-proliferation in places like Iran and North Korea, the chemical weapons accord we are jointly overseeing in Syria, international legal, trade, and environmental cooperation in the Arctic, and perhaps even working jointly to control terrorism and the drug trade extending out from Afghanistan. Because Russia is far from a unified state, and in fact even lacks a unified

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elite inside the Kremlin (Putin faces a snake-pit of competing elite networks), it also means we have to be careful not to punish Russia as a whole, and especially not those members of the elite who lean toward the West and toward international economic cooperation. Instead we should be targeting only those members of Putin’s regime who share his aggressive goals. It is too early to know what the result of the shale oil and gas revolution will be on European energy prices, and what effect this will have on either the European economy or the willingness of European energy firms to redirect their trade away from Russia. We do know that Putin chose a bad time for his aggression, though, because the global energy economy is in so much flux, and Russian oil and gas were already facing new competition.

CPR: Assuming Putin makes no more forays into Ukraine proper, what will the Kremlin’s relationship with the new government be like? What is the strategic importance of Ukraine without Crimea to Russia? What role does oil/natural gas play in all of this? Prof. Marten: Putin will likely have less influence on Ukrainian domestic politics in the future than he has had in the past. Crimea was the Ukrainian region with the largest ethnic Russian population, and their votes no longer matter to Kiev. The more land he takes in the south and east, the even less Kiev has to worry about the ethnic Russian vote. Putin may be able to get concessions out of Ukraine that stem from fear, but he may ironically have accel-


erated the resolve of Ukrainian elites to overcome their own internal problems, including by cleaning up corruption and cementing civilian control over the security forces, and thereby make Ukraine a more attractive candidate for western trade and investment. • Kimberly Marten is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, and a member of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Faculty at Columbia University. Marten’s research examines how patron/client politics and corruption affect international security. She has recently discussed the Ukraine crisis in a number of publications, including Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post, and in appearances on The Daily Show, NPR, MSNBC and other media outlets.



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Exercising Caution in Taiwan-China Relations


he largest-scale occupation of Taiwan’s legislature in its history by frustrated student demonstrators ended last Monday when Wang Jin-pyng, president of the legislature, visited the occupied chamber and offered a key concession. He said that a bill that would allow lawmakers to have greater oversight of agreements with China should be approved before the legislature resumed consideration of the trade pact. Although the protest lurched towards an end, important questions were raised in the aftermath of the protest. One such question, for example, is who should clean the streets of Taipei. The massive occupation of the main chamber of the legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, created huge piles of black trash bags by the legislature’s doorstep. Papers were also strewn across the floors and desks, and walls inside the chamber were decorated with banners proclaiming bold revolutionary slogans such as “Free Taiwan.” Estimates of total repair costs added up to tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars. The mere question of who should pay for these damages incited vigorous debates in Taiwan. Other, more serious questions, however, concern the identity of the Taiwanese that had been ruthlessly questioned in the protest as well as the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland, which had always been a contentious issue but again came to the forefront of national attention. To understand the recent developments in cross-strait relations, it helps to go back two months to February 11 when the head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council met with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office in the city of Nanjing. This meeting marked a watershed moment in the thawing relationship between two former geopolitical, prompting all major newspapers in China to issue enthusiastic commentary that the relationship be-


Strait Talk Larry Hong

tween China and Taiwan had opened a “new chapter.” Indeed, this day marked the first time in over three decades that the leadership of mainland China and Taiwan conducted formal political discourse since China and Taiwan split in 1949, when China insisted on its sovereignty over Taiwan and threatened to use all possible means to regain its “former territory.” These past few weeks, however, witnessed the occupation of the Taiwanese legislature by discontented Taiwanese youth as a result of their opposition to the recent trading pact between Taiwan and China. Young Taiwanese people strongly object to this agreement for three main reasons. The first reason is familiar to any college freshman who has taken Econ 101—the protection of domestic industry. By opening up trade with China, Taiwanese farmers may lose out to cheaper food imports from mainland. The second argument is more disheartening. Some Taiwanese fear that the trading pact, which is China-friendly President Ying-Jeou Ma’s attempt to further economic cooperation with China, risks making

“Ma’s undemocratic practices led some demonstrators to portray him as a dictator and put out the quasi-Lockean slogan ‘when dictatorship becomes real, revolution should be an obligation.’” Taiwan more dependent on the economy of the mainland. The third reason arises from Taiwan’s deep-rooted suspicions regarding a unification-obsessed China. Many fear that the trade services pact is simply the first step in a Beijing-orchestrated plan to win back Taiwan by buying up its assets. This kind of economic imperialism, warned some,

is already quietly manifesting itself in Hong Kong. Before long, the wave of sinification will find Taiwan, if proper precautionary measures are not taken. Demonstrators are especially weary of the Taiwanese government’s reaction towards this pact. In particular, they expressed their utter disappointment at the failure of Ma’s government in holding an open dialogue with the people of Taiwan, which they think could be a slippery slope that leads to the disintegration of Taiwan’s very democratic foundations. In fact, it is fair to argue that the reason why people would go to such length to protest is not because of the specific content of the pact so much as the government’s attempt to hide the pact from the public eye. One of the protest leaders, Huang Yu-feng, for example, told the South China Morning Post that “We will continue [the occupation] since [President] Ma did not respond to our demands or hold an open dialogue with the students and the people. We will take further actions.” In part to give a boost to the languishing economy in Taiwan, and in part to salvage his own unpopular political career, Ma has tried to chauffeur the pact under the radar. In dealing with student protestors, Ma’s government chose to violently crack down on the protest, resulting in a sizable number of personnel casualties. Ma’s undemocratic practices led some demonstrators to portray him as a dictator and put out the quasi-Lockean slogan “when dictatorship becomes real, revolution should be obligation.” The protest also had a huge impact on Taiwanese politics. In the aftermath of the protest, Su Tsenng-Chang, the current chairman of the opposing DPP, and Frank Hsieh, former presidential candidate, two central figures from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party which is expected to take over the Taiwan

columbia political review :: summer 2014 government in 2016 and favors a more separatist political stance towards the mainland, have dropped their bid to lead their party in the election of 2016. This dramatic regrouping signaled that the old guard of Taiwan politics is gradually giving way to younger, more liberal politicians. And what does this protest mean for China? For obvious reasons, Chinese political leaders have insisted on taking a more optimistic view of cross-strait relations. According to Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, it was “clear that the protests would not affect the development of cross-strait ties.” Li Keqiang, premier of China, also expressed hope that Taiwan would “seize the opportunities” and take advantage of China’s economic reforms. However, such official statements conceal the distress of Chinese political leaders, who already have enough domestic and international problems to worry about. Domestically, China faces slowed economic growth, public corruption, environmental degradation, and food and drug safety problems, just to name a few issues. Insofar as foreign relations are concerned, China has either territorial disputes or geopolitical conflicts—or both—with nearly all of its neighboring countries. Improving the relationship with Taiwan is, for China, a temporary relief as it might take mainlanders’ attention away from glaring domestic problems. Nevertheless, the massive-scale demonstrations destroyed that fantasy and promised greater problems for Chinese leadership. Moreover, the protest movement in Taiwan could have serious repercussions for other regions that are already dissatisfied with the interference of Beijing, most notably Hong Kong. Critics of China have long pointed out that since its reunion with Mainland in 1997, Hong Kong has increasingly relied on trade with the mainland in order to maintain its economic stability. They also observe that Hong Kong is under the current leadership of a puppet government headed by CY Leung, who is supported by the Chinese Politburo and the conservative Hong Kong business community. The protest in Taiwan might raise Hong Kongers’ aware-

ness of their own dwindling democracy. Since Hong Kong increased its reliance on trade with the mainland, Hong Kong is also becoming increasingly vulnerable to the political demands from Beijing. Hong Kong was forced to make compromises on many of its sacred democratic practices, including limiting the freedom of speech, especially regarding anti-China propaganda, and limiting


access to direct and free elections. The protest in Taiwan might lead to an existential crisis among Hong Kongers, who are, on the one hand, skeptical of the revolutionary excesses in Taiwan, but on the other hand, secretly jealous of Taiwan’s nearly uninhibited expression of freedom. The protest in Taiwan might also cause Hong Kong to rethink its former role as the mediator of the rela-



tionship between the mainland and the island. It is no secret that the freedom entrenched in Hong Kong’s “one country, two policies” political system comes with the unfortunate clause of having to convince Taiwan that the particular political system enjoyed by Hong Kong could be similarly applied to Taiwan without any violent transition. The protest in Taiwan could be seen as astounding testimony to the extreme ineffectiveness of such persuasion. Will Taiwan be the new Hong Kong, or will Hong Kong become the new Taiwan? The answer is likely to be neither, but the two regions are likely to be able to learn a lot from each other. What does all this mean for Chinese political leadership? It is unfortunate that the Chinese government is presented with the impossible choice of being too tough or too soft


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on Taiwan. Either choice is likely to backfire. If China presses Taiwan too hard, it is conceivable that the latter will not easily yield its cherished freedom, and put up a good political fight by winning sympathy from the

“It is unfortunate that the Chinese government is presented with the impossible choice of being too tough or too soft on Taiwan.” Western world. However. if China appears soft, it risks upsetting the billion-strong Chinese population, who are already disillusioned with the status quo. Furthermore, it also gives other neighboring countries the

opportunity to negotiate a better deal with China. What is the solution to this dilemma? As the massive protest in Taiwan suggests, there is really no easy solution. The leadership of Taiwan and mainland should continue to hold slow and progressive bilateral conferences that improve cross-strait relations on more equal terms. My condolences to those mainlanders who want to see the reunion with Taiwan in a short period of time. It may not happen soon. • Larry Hong, CC `17, is interested in studying economics and political science. He also enjoys backpacking, dining out, watching movies, and reading in his spare time. He can be reached at:


CPR vol. xiv no. 2

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Summer 2014  

The Summer 2014 issue of Columbia Political Review!