HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW
REVIEWING TWILIGHT OF THE ELITES
CAN SYRIA SURVIVE WITHOUT ASSAD?
INTERVIEW: ROBERT ZOELLICK
VOLUME XXXIX NO. 3, FALL 2012 HPRONLINE.ORG
PETER GOMES AND GAY REPUBLICANS PROFESSORS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
HOW HARVARD GRADS ARE CHANGING THE WAY WE VOTE WHAT THE IOP POLL TELLS US ABOUT OURSELVES
HARVARD V. HARVARD
4 The Professor As Pundit Matt Shuham
9 In Defense of Pink Elephants Ivel Posada
7 The Dawn of Digital Democracy Andrew Seo
12 Millennials and the IOP Survey Ben Scuderi
FUNNY PAGES 3
14 Too Much of a Good Thing? Daniel Lynch
Mitt Romney Acceptance Speech & Voter ID Laws Sarah Siskind
UNITED STATES 16 Can Michelle Rhee Save American Education? Colin Diersing 18 Puerto Rico: An Unfair Fight
20 Chicago: The Fight for American Schools Ross Svenson 24 The Gangs of Syria Gram Slattery
22 Libertarianism: A Movement in Chains Tom Silver
ENDPAPER 44 Who Do We Think We Are? Paul Schied
28 On Punishment: Breivik, Justice & Philosophy Oliver Wenner 30 Europe Between Technocracy and Democracy Krister Koskelo 32 Pacific Pivot John F.M. Kocsis and Alasdair Nicholson 34 The New Age of Pacific Trade Elsa Kania
BOOKS & ARTS 38 I am a Feminist, and So Can You! Holly Flynn and Valentina Perez
INTERVIEWS 41 Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj Zorigoo Tugsbayar 42 Robert Zoellick Rajiv Tarigopula
36 Pathologies of the One Percent Wendy Chen
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. ISSN 0090-1030. Copyright 2012 Harvard Political Review. All rights reserved. Image Credits: Newscom: Cover. Flickr: 1-InSappoWeTrust; 4-Chatham House; 12-John Walker; 16-The National Academy of Sciences; 19-Joe Shlabotnik; 21-JeanPaulHolmes; 25-Gage Skidmore; 24-FreedomHouse2; 28-Matthias Rhomberg; 30-Adam Baker; 35-Gobierno de Chile. SuperPAC App: 8. Wikimedia: 32-David1010; 42-International Monetary Fund.
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HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW A Nonpartisan Journal of Politics Established 1969—Vol. XXXIX, No. 3
EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Jonathan Yip PUBLISHER: Andrew Seo MANAGING EDITOR: Neil Patel ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: Alex Chen ONLINE EDITOR: Paul Schied COVERS EDITOR: Beatrice Walton CAMPUS EDITOR: Tom Gaudett CAMPUS ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Medha Gargeya INTERVIEWS EDITOR: Alpkaan Celik U.S. SENIOR EDITOR: Caroline Cox U.S. ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Frank Mace U.S. ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Daniel Backman WORLD SENIOR EDITOR: Josh Lipson WORLD ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Arjun Mody WORLD ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Gram Slattery B&A SENIOR EDITOR: Eli Kozminsky B&A ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Holly Flynn B&A ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Wendy Chen HUMOR EDITOR: Sarah Siskind STAFF DIRECTOR: Zeenia Framroze BUSINESS MANAGER: Olivia Zhu ASSISTANT BUSINESS MANAGER: Naji Filali CIRCULATION MANAGER: Ross Svenson DESIGN EDITOR: Sam Finegold GRAPHICS EDITOR: Gina Kim MULTIMEDIA EDITOR: Eric Hendey WEBMASTER: Corinne Curcie WEBMASTER: Ben Shryock
SENIOR WRITERS Lena Bae, Christine Ann Hurd, Kathy Lee, Raul Quintana, Henry Shull, Simon Thompson, Jimmy Wu
STAFF Jay Alver, Oreoluwa Babarinsa, Humza Syed Bokhari, Alex Boota, Samuel Coffin, Tyler Cusick, Jacob Drucker, Mikhaila Fogel, Harleen Gambhir, Nick Gavin, Aditi Ghai, Barbara Halla, Raphael Haro, Kaiyang Huang, Nur Ibrahim, Elsa Kania, Brooke Kantor, Adam Kern, John Kocsis, Sandra Korn, Krister Koskelo, Ha Le, Ethan Loewi, Daniel Lynch, Ken Mai, Jimmy Meixiong, Jacob Morello, Chris Oppermann, Lily Ostrer, Caitlin Pendleton, Valentina Perez, Heather Pickerell, Cory Pletan, John Prince, Ivel Posada, Gabriel Rosen, Matt Shuham, Alexander Smith, Martin Steinbauer, Alastair Su, Danielle Suh, Lucas Swisher, Rajiv Tarigopula, Selina Wang, Danny Wilson, Teresa Yan, Jenny Ye, Benjamin Zhou
ADVISORY BOARD Jonathan Alter Richard L. Berke Carl Cannon E.J. Dionne, Jr. Walter Isaacson Whitney Patton Maralee Schwartz
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FROM THE EDITOR Humble Harvard Dear Readers, More than any other university, Harvard lies at the nexus of American public policy, politics, and academia. Eight presidents have graduated from Harvard, and on Nov. 6, the nation will choose yet another alumnus to be commander-in-chief. Similar statistics hold for Supreme Court justices, senators, and members of Congress. For these astonishing numbers, the university’s engagement in the political world is far more remarkable and nuanced than just the decades-old education of our leaders. Drew Faust publically supported the DREAM Act, the university recently submitted an amicus brief supporting affirmative action in Fisher vs. University of Texas, and Elizabeth Warren is running for Senate. Our fall issue explores the less appreciated aspects of Harvard’s presence in election 2012. Harvard’s motto is Veritas, Truth, and Matt Shuham examines how it holds up when professors go to bat for political candidates. Niall Ferguson, Greg Mankiw, David Cutler, and others have moved between scholarship, punditry, and politics—sometimes to less than stellar peer reviews. Ivel Posada looks at gays in the Republican Party, starting with our very own iconoclast, Peter Gomes. The Institute of Politics runs the preeminent poll on youth political views, and Ben Scuderi tries to figure out what millenials are thinking. Finally, we would not expect any less from Harvard students than to attempt to change the very way we vote and watch political ads; Andrew Seo digs deeper. Harvard has long exhorted its students to “better serve thy country and thy kind,” but Wendy Chen’s review of Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes ought to give us pause. The book details a society that is less mobile and an elite that is more corrupt than ever before. Meritocracy, he argues, inevitably poisons itself. And there is no doubt that Harvard lies at the heart of Hayes’ fatally flawed
“cult of intelligence.” These are not new charges. William Deresiewcz has written that Ivy League schools inculcate the belief that non-elites were “less good, less bright” and “weren’t worth talking to.” Test scores become identity, and intellect becomes entitlement: “they think they deserve more than other people because their SAT scores are higher.” If Harvard is in fact training our future leaders, then this entitlement only feeds Hayes’ self-serving meritocracy. There are no simple rebuttals or solutions to Twilight’s larger critique. But, starting with Harvard wouldn’t be a bad choice. Let us not fool ourselves; one Harvard student blithely told The Crimson: “I mean Harvard is supposed to be like the symbol of American power.” Smugness and self-assurance run deep here. We’re often reminded of our talents, urged to change the world, with the expectation that we do. To guard against that conceit, we should take Drew Faust’s 2012 baccalaureate address to heart: we are indeed extraordinary—extraordinarily lucky. Of the 120 million 21-year-olds on Earth, we wound up here. We owe parents, teachers, predecessors, history, and, above all, sheer luck. Meritocracy and hard work are no doubt part of the equation, but in short, we didn’t build that. Buying wholly into the story of meritocracy risks “forgetting the sense of obligation that derives from understanding that things might have been otherwise.” To forget about chance is to think that a Harvard degree entitles us to something— fortune, fame, comfort, health, happiness. Remember Faust: “luck is about never taking anything for granted.” Righting the American meritocracy is no easy task, but the work starts right here on campus.
Jonathan Yip Editor-in-Chief
FUNNY PAGES ROMNEY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH MADLIB! My fellow citizens, I stand before you today to accept this position as _________________. I assume my position not as Insert Office
a __________________ but as an American with a serious concern for the state of __________________ Political Party
and the state of the nation. As you all know, I have been _____________ ____________________ since Pro/Con
Another Trending Issue
day one. This is not an issue we can stand to ignore, not when _______% of Americans are sufferNumber
ing as a result every day. The founders of this great nation wrote, “We the People” for a reason. Neither can we let the growing threat of ___________stan be ignored. Forgive me, but I just feel very -stan prefix
______________________________ about these critical issues. Which is why, here and now, I pledge to Insert Human Emotion
_______________ this fight. United we will stand, and God bless ___________________ . Verb
NEW VOTER ID LAWS PROPOSED - No unnatural hair colors (chemicals interfere with electronic ballots)
- Dress code: business casual f minimum
- No last names that end in ‘ez,’ fffirst names that begin with ‘La,’
- No accents, dashes, spaces or ffweird symbols in names
- No organ donors
- Must present Y chromosome - No piercings (metal interferes with electronic ballots) - Acceptable ID alternatives: hunting license, NRA membership card, or baptismal certificate FALL 2012 HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW 3
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What happens when Veritas meets the campaign trail? Itâ€™s not pretty.
The Professor As Pundit Matt Shuham 4 HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW FALL 2012
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n an interview with the Harvard Crimson last year, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger mentioned something unique about the Kennedy administration: it was the first to heavily utilize college professors. Kissinger said, “it was only in the Kennedy administration in the sixties that an organic relationship was established between the White House and Harvard… [that] has continued not so much between Harvard and the White House, but between the academic world and the White House.” This mindset of professors, not only as educators but also as policymakers, has pervaded our government since the 1960s. And why shouldn’t it? While some argue that so-called “technocrats” are incapable of directing nations through troubled waters, few oppose the idea of having informed and scholarly advisers guiding our leaders. There is a readily fluid relationship between “governing” and “campaigning.” During the 2008 presidential election, John McCain’s advisors included professors from Stanford, Columbia Business School, Vanderbilt, and Harvard among many other institutions. Barack Obama’s advisors notably included Lawrence Summers and Jeffrey Liebman, two big-name Harvard professors who left the “Kremlin on the Charles” to advise the then-Senator. Now, Alan Krueger, a professor at Princeton, is the administration’s top economic advisor However, what might once have been considered mere policy and campaign advice has become something new, as professors have turned into political surrogates.
A REAL PROBLEM Harvard historian Niall Ferguson is well known for his conservative political opinions, especially concerning economics. His rows with staunch liberal Paul Krugman are as entertaining as they are informative, and his lectures are spectacular. In his class “International Financial History,” he switches rapidly between discussions of gold bullion and credit default swaps to the origins of monopolies on printing money and ancient banking in Sumeria. While beloved in the classroom, Ferguson recently created a firestorm of controversy with his Newsweek cover story, “Obama’s Gotta Go,” an economic analysis of President Obama’s campaign promises and rhetorical points. But, soon after its publication, Ferguson faced a slew of responses that challenged his facts and accused him of manipulating the truth. A close examination is telling: for instance, Ferguson uses employment numbers from January 2008 as reference points, even though Obama was inaugurated a whole year afterwards. Likewise, he writes that the expenses associated with Obamacare incur a “net cost” of $1.2 trillion but fails to mentions a CBO report stating that the accompanying cost saving will render it debt-neutral. For a few short hours on the blogosphere, a legion of fact-checkers produced a complete set of analyses encompassing many more factual errors than what was just mentioned. However, Ferguson is not the only Harvard professor to become entangled in dubious factual assertions. This election has seen a slew of professors jumping to aid candidates from both parties. Harvard’s experts on history, economics, and political science are now slinging mud as easily as they once slammed each other in peer-reviewed quarterly journals.
Gregory Mankiw, professor of Harvard’s largest course, “Introduction to Economics,” has long been involved in Republican policymaking, and formerly served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for George W. Bush. Mankiw, now an economic advisor for Romney and a regular columnist for the New York Times, is one of the strongest voices for center-right economics in America today. In August, Mankiw co-authored a policy briefing with others on Romney’s economic advising team. We should not be surprised by its conservative slant, as Mankiw’s job is to present a coherent academic argument for Romney’s economic goals. What should concern us though are the briefing’s misrepresentations and omissions of economic research. As the Washington Post noted, the briefing left out favorable economic studies on the Cash for Clunkers program. Beyond that, the briefing ignored most studies that credit the stimulus with halting the economic downturn. Overall, the three professors that authored the paper, Mankiw chiefly among them, seemed to have traded their academic laurels in for partisan pompoms. The politics of professorship extend beyond the role of “advisor” though. Many political juggernauts from the past few decades first began by leading classrooms. Presidents Obama and Clinton taught law, as did Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. Newt Gingrich was a history professor before entering Congress, and Robert Reich, Labor Secretary under Clinton and former candidate for the Massachusetts governorship, teaches economics at U.C. Berkeley. I am certain that these professors believed that their personal ideologies had no place in any college curriculum. But, should we be concerned when partisan candidates and their partisan advisors use rhetoric that misrepresents the truth? This is debatable, because politics primarily concerns candidate narratives and messaging. What is instead worrisome about professors, Republican and Democrat alike, is not that they inform politicians and the general public from their perches in the ivory towers of academia, aloof and distant from the “real world.” Rather, it appears that the exact opposite is taking place: our professors have abandoned their sacred role as the unbiased arbiters of fact and fiction in favor of much more partisan roles.
A BRIEF HISTORY I recently spoke with John Thelin, a professor of the history of academia and public policy and the University of Kentucky, and author of an article on Mitt Romney’s time at Harvard. According to Thelin, our view of professors today originates in the German universities of the 19th century. A new focus on research, humanities, and the interconnectedness of disparate fields had the auxiliary effect of promoting professors as the unique holders of knowledge. “If you read into German universities in the 19th century, where the tradition of the grand lecturer came about, [you’ll see that] there’s always been some temptation… where professors begin to use the bully pulpit.” Fast forwarding to today, we observe that professors use their positions not only to educate their students, but also as “pulpits” to advance personal beliefs. However, this inherently might not be problematic. Students know when they are being lied to and when they are only hearing one side of the story. One could even argue that students are
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The August 27, 2012, Newsweek issue featured an opinion piece by Professor Niall Ferguson. self-policing; for instance, some biology students have insisted on hearing about both creationism and the theory of evolution. A problem arises though when confronting the other role that our professors play as educators for the public. One of the biggest differences brought on by the Internet, Thelin said, was the transformation in the target audience for academics. “If a professor who’s an expert is talking to or writing for a national audience, it’s a very different responsibility than leading a seminar or leading a lecture.” What happens when a discussion moves from the small academic environment of university campuses to the open, public arena of political dialogue? Cordial debate, subtle details, and intensely considered arguments may fall by the wayside in favor of harsh rhetoric, used as blunt weapons to degrade the opposing side. This may explain Mankiw and Ferguson’s recent transgressions. Indeed, some professors choose to flex their academic expertise to play hardball on the national stage, forgetting or even ignoring the reality that subtle points of economics or history are most likely lost when taken in short sound bytes, second-hand conversations, and bold headlines that read, “Obama’s Gotta Go.”
MOVING FORWARD Louis Menand, an English professor at Harvard, was once asked, “Who is your audience?” He replied simply, “I have to write… in a way that appreciates that… [the reader] is probably a very well-educated, smart person that at the same time doesn't know anything, effectively, about what I’m writing.” Simply put, intellectual curiosity is far more important than formal training in any given topic.
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The market for information has risen with the democratization of journalism on the web. This new audience has an intense thirst for knowledge, reflected by the success of platforms like BigThink, TED Talks, iTunesU, Academic Earth, and MIT OpenCourseware. People are beginning to realize the true value of having the entire academic world at their fingertips. Meanwhile, our professors must recognize this new academic climate. Millions of people are supremely thirsty for knowledge, but may not have substantive backgrounds in any given field, whether economics, history, politics, or something else. Professors have the sacred responsibility of bringing these new readers into the debate, not assuming that they will forever be susceptible to partisan pandering, lax fact checking, and half-truths. This does not mean that professors should stoop to the lowest common denominator of writing just to reach the largest audience. Nor does it mean they should retreat back into academia, having failed to raise our national discourse into something more productive. But, they must take the time to explain one’s field and sow the seeds for a new cadre of informed readers, both inside and out of the classroom. Professors, give us time, guidance, and most importantly, all of the information. We’re curious. What used to be cloistered academic discussions amongst peers with PhDs is now broadcast and splashed on front pages across the world. If fundamentally transformative educators rise to the occasion, they will recognize that their arguments, discussions, and debates can truly be tools for bettering our world and for getting more people involved in solving the challenges that face us. But, professors must realize that they cannot sink to our current level of discourse; they must lift us up to theirs.
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THE DAWN OF DIGITAL DEMOCRACY
How recent Harvard graduates are changing the way Americans vote for the better
oth the Obama and Romney campaigns are employing digital technology to outspend, outmaneuver, and outfox one another. Millions of dollars are being poured into data servers that collect your personal information in an attempt to determine whether you will commit money or votes. If Howard Dean pioneered the digital campaign in 2004 and Barack Obama took organizing online in 2008, then 2012 is the year that politics leveraged personal data for political gain. But how has this technology helped the average citizen make informed decisions? Quite simply, it has not. There is a seismic imbalance between the frequencies at which technology is being used by campaigns for partisan bickering and by voters for practical purposes. Fortunately, social entrepreneurs are filling the void where government, corporations, and campaigns dare not venture. The upcoming 2012 election could be a seminal moment,
regardless of who ultimately controls Congress and the Presidency. The contest can permanently alter the way citizens utilize technology in the civic sphere, and several Harvard graduates, through startups they founded such as TurboVote and Super PAC App, are pioneering this effort. While these endeavors represent considerable progress though, there is more to come.
EASIER VOTER REGISTRATION Seth Flaxman was fed up with the archaic system of voter registration. He was unable to exercise his civic voice because of registration regulations and inconveniences associated with mailing in required forms. He tells the HPR, “I just missed so many elections. I didn’t re-register. I couldn’t figure out how to vote by mail. Or I didn’t realize that an election had happened.
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Every conceivable way I could miss an election happened to me.” Flaxman wanted to align 21st century technologies with the civic sphere, and saw Netflix as a model for how simple voting could become. The DVD rental service was a highly efficient system that served its customers like clockwork, mailing its customers with DVDs and prepaid return envelopes. Flaxman and his cofounder Kathryn Peters adapted this model for TurboVote while attending the Kennedy School of Government in 2010. Voters can fill out all the necessary information online and TurboVote will complete the paperwork, mailing you the necessary documentation along with a pre-stamped and addressed envelope. The service can also send emails and text messages with alerts concerning upcoming deadlines and contests. Flaxman comments, “We’re trying to modernize voting for the way we live to get people reengaged with our democracy.” Between the 2010 midterm elections and the beginning of this year’s presidential contest, TurboVote became a fullyfledged online registration tool servicing 54 college campuses across the country, including Harvard. Furthermore, the organization hopes to continue expanding and become the default mechanism for how people register to vote and apply for absentee ballots. Despite TurboVote’s success though, it confronted its fair share of startup challenges. Flaxman stated, “The initial challenges were the same challenges faced by anyone starting a social enterprise. ‘How do you build your team?’ ‘What do you do next?’ ‘How do you get traction?’” Nevertheless, the organization quickly internalized best practices to answer those questions. TurboVote’s founding predated the Harvard’s Innovation Lab and the establishment of the Harvard Presidential Public Service Fellowship Program. Today though, both ventures support dozens of startups annually, including those that aimed at public service. The Innovation Lab helps new enterprises find mentors, procure funding, and even apply for workspace. Meanwhile, the Presidential Fellowship gives students financial freedom to pursue nonprofit projects that improve civic discourse, providing up to $5,000 for undergraduate and $8,000 for graduate students. Harvard has become an environment conducive to civically minded startups, and as the university continues to foster collaboration between its schools and develop partnerships between the public and private sectors, we can expect to see more startups like TurboVote emerge.
SEEKING TRUTH IN POLITICAL ADVERTISING While Jennifer Hollerman attended the Kennedy School, she received inspiration for a startup from another university in Cambridge. She was taking a class entitled “Social Television” at MIT’s Media Lab this past spring when she developed a project that would capitalize on mobile technology to educate voters. Hollerman knew that super PACs would play an inordinate role this election cycle given their clandestine nature and incredible fundraising capacity. She wanted to improve political transparency by shining a light on their television advertisements and ultimately developed an application. By holding up a smartphone and recording the commercial’s audio, anyone can identify the Super PAC behind the advertisement, whom they support, and how much money they have raised.
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The app identifies the Super PAC behind the commercial.
Her peers and professors were impressed by the idea’s potential, encouraging her to develop the Super PAC App full time. “It was a now or never moment,” she told the HPR. After receiving funding from the Knight Foundation, assembling a team, and working through the summer, the application was ready for marketing the week before the Republican National Convention. The response has been positive so far: “We received a warm reception from both conventions—from journalists, delegates, people who lived in both cities and just interested in learning about our app,” said Hollerman. “We wanted to create an app so that people could tune in and engage with what’s going on.” Hollerman entered the Kennedy School’s mid-career program after a journalistic career covering both digital media and politics. By founding Super PAC App, she combined these experiences and made a difference in society, providing voters with a powerful tool for making informed decisions on Election Day. She states, “Without civic engagement, we have a broken system.”
ELECTION 2016 AND BEYOND Creating a profitable startup is difficult enough, despite the potential for support by venture capital and private equity firms. The odds for success are even smaller for TurboVote and Super PAC App, which aim to maximize social good, not profits. How can the country move forward and reform the political process without typical business incentives? For one, TurboVote and Super PAC App are blazing trails for the next generation of social entrepreneurs. TurboVote adapted an existing private sector business model for political purposes, and Super PAC App provided a model for startups to cooperate with universities and foundations to create low-cost, highimpact tools. Harvard is also making concerted efforts to help students turn their ideas into reality through the Innovation Lab and Presidential Fellowship. Following these examples will help students build the tools that will impact future elections. As Hollerman aptly concludes, “I think that we’re defining politics in new ways and technology is creating new opportunities to engage and educate voters… we’re going to see many more in the years ahead.”
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In Defense of Pink Elephants Why Gay Republicans Deserve Respect Ivel Posada
onventional wisdom about gays and politics is simple enough: self-respecting queer persons vote blue, and self-loathing closet cases vote for the other party. Indeed, for many, being gay and Republican is a walking oxymoron. But, intrigue over gay Republicans frequently extends to the point of vilification. Although homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic comments are abhorred in liberal circles, bashing gay Republicans is an all-too-common sport. Just last month for example, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank maligned gay Republicans as “Uncle Toms,” meekly bowing to their oppressors. Far from eliciting reprobation, Frank’s vitriol received high praise from gays and liberals across the blogosphere. One commentator echoed the running sentiment, stating “Barney is 100 percent correct about those rotted pieces of self loathing garbage at Log Cabin, AND those despicable shit bags at GOProud for that matter… gay republicans are TRUE OXY-MORONS!” This prejudice against gay Republicans is somewhat unsurprising. Ostracizing people for being different is as old as homophobia itself, but this time gays are the ones victimizing their own kin. My purpose here is firstly to highlight the valuable contributions Republicans, gay and straight alike, have made to gay rights, secondly, to argue that their continued support is necessary for the movement’s future success, and thirdly, to advocate acceptance for gay Republicans.
ELEPHANT MUSCLE IN THE PUSH FOR GAY RIGHTS Rev. Peter Gomes For the overwhelming part of his adult life, the Reverend Peter J. Gomes – Harvard’s famed Baptist African-American
preacher – was a conservative Republican. He delivered the benediction at Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration and gave the National Cathedral sermon at George H.W. Bush’s 1989 inaugural. Then, in 1991 he stunned the Harvard community when he publicly revealed his homosexuality in response to homophobic articles written in a conservative campus magazine. The announcement before the crowd of students, faculty and administrators that had gathered to protest the publication proved a crucial turning point in Gomes’ professional career. He declared, “I will devote the rest of my life to addressing the ‘religious case’ against gays.” The results are clear: his books and articles carry to this day some of the most powerful theological arguments for accepting gays as equal members of God’s creation. Mary Cheney She directed V.P. Operations for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, and held the Bible as her father was sworn in for the second time as Vice President of the United States. Mary Cheney has also mothered two children and is happily married to her long-time partner, Heather Poe. However, when President Bush endorsed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman, Cheney writes in her autobiography that, she “seriously considered packing up [her] office and heading home to Colorado.” Yet, during the 2004 campaign, “I didn’t have the luxury of voting on [one] issue alone.” The stakes were too high, she continues, to ignore issues like the War on Terror and the nation’s economic future. George W. Bush, in her eyes, was the best candidate to advance these interests. To criticize Mary Cheney for this decision is effectively suggesting that gay people must be single-issue voters. But why should it be that in every instance gays must prioritize
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The Republican Party does not have a sterling record on gay rights...But this simplistic historical narrative that many liberals adopt selfishly ignores the crucial role certain Republicans have played and continue to play.
marriage equality above economic and national security concerns? This is a dilemma that many gay liberals do not grapple with; the Democratic Party supports both their social and economic policy positions. But, consider the counterfactual: in an alternate universe where Republicans championed gay rights and unbridled capitalism and Democrats championed traditional family values and a progressive economic agenda, who would gay liberals vote for then? Gay Republicans face this harsh trade-off every election cycle. The fact that some ultimately prioritize economic issues over social ones does not make them bad people. Furthermore, prominent gay conservatives like Mary Cheney are doing great work to promote the understanding and acceptance of LGBT people within the Republican Party. Just like the increased political presence of gays persuaded the Democratic Party to abandon its long history of LGBT abuses, the growing presence of gay conservatives will promote greater tolerance within the Republican Party. Log Cabin Republicans One commentator compared them to “black people who support the KKK,” and another lambasted them as “chickens who vote for KFC,” but the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), the nation’s largest group of gay conservatives, were among the major forces that compelled Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the military’s ban on openly gay service members. In 2004, the LCR filed suit in federal court challenging the DADT statute as unconstitutional under the grounds of due process and free speech. The case was decided six years later in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, when Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction barring the enforcement of DADT. The timing proved crucial. The case was decided in September 2010, two months after the House had approved legislation repealing DADT. However, the bill stalled in the Senate, and speculation abounded that Senate Democrats lacked the necessary votes for repeal. The LCR case greatly
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intensified political pressure, presenting Congress with a strict ultimatum: either repeal DADT or let the judiciary take matters into its own hands. After months of deadlock, the Senate finally approved repeal. Lost among self-congratulatory liberals however was the important role gay Republicans played in bringing this about. Other Republicans have been equally important contributors to ensuring equality for gays, though an extensive treatment of their efforts must be overlooked at the present moment. However, consider the many Republicans who, at great political risk, cast the deciding votes to enact marriage equality in states like New York, Maryland, and Washington, and Republican appointed and affiliated judges who have handed gay rights activists major legal victories. Progress could not have been won without their support, and although Representative Frank insists they have been “of no use to us,” an unbiased examination reveals that their support has proven, not only useful, but also indispensible. Certainly, the Republican Party does not have a sterling record on gay rights, nor has it escaped notice that many efforts to expand gay rights have been impeded by GOP opposition. But this simplistic historical narrative that many liberals adopt selfishly ignores the crucial role certain Republicans have played and continue to play.
GAY PEOPLE NEED THE REPUBLICAN PARTY It remains an inescapable political reality that America operates under a two-party system. Thus, any true and lasting advances for gay rights must ultimately win bipartisan support. For this reason, Republican support of LGBT issues is indispensible to the movement’s ultimate success. While this transformation will not occur overnight, it will require support from more LGBT Republicans, because the current low number is both a cause and effect of the GOP’s anti-gay stances. It is precisely because Republicans are not accountable to queer constituencies that the GOP has the luxury to spurn the LGBT community. This luxury will be short lived, and three mutually reinforcing phenomena ensure this. First, increasing acceptance of homosexuality has made it
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easier for gays to publicly identify themselves. This subsequently means that Republicans are now more likely to personally know someone who identifies as LGBT. Unsurprisingly, polls show that people are more likely to support gay equality when they have a LGBT close friend or relative. Republicans are no exception. Second, the Republican Party is becoming increasingly accepting of LGBT issues. According to a 2008 Washington Post poll, 64 percent of self-described conservatives supported allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Sixtythree percent of Republicans did not support a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, and a recent CBS News poll found that 59 percent of Republicans now support either same-sex marriage or civil unions. Thirdly, voting trends suggest that an increasing number of LGBT voters are supporting Republicans. According to CNN exit polling data, President George W. Bush won 23 percent of the gay vote in 2004, and 27 percent cast their ballots for John McCain in 2008. During the 2010 midterm elections, 31 percent of LGBT voters were voting red. Republicans now garner a third of the gay vote, making an eightpercentage point inroad with LGBT voters over a mere six year period. These trends are not surprising. As public support for gay rights increases, the issue will lose its politically divisive power, and all that will be left to demarcate the political lines will be a few social issues, like abortion and immigration, and an overwhelming array of economic issues. Increasing numbers of LGBT Republicans foreshadows the advent of a great political consensus on gay rights, and if current trends hold, that consensus is nearing. These facts incontrovertibly shatter the myth that gay Republicans are self-loathing closet cases. The recent increase in LGBT Republicans cannot be explained by the notion that more gay people hate themselves. Instead, we must conclude that the significant increase in Republican LGBT voters is a direct result of decreasing politicization of gay rights, increasing acceptance of LGBT Republicans, and the growing number of gays who accept the GOP economic vision.
GAY REPUBLICANS DESERVE RESPECT But, what about party loyalty? Must gays support the Democratic Party, the same party that has advocated for them? No. If the memory of the Great Emancipator could not keep African-Americans within the Republican fold, then surely the memory of the Great Advocate, Barack Obama, will prove similarly incapable of creating political loyalty. The noble work Democrats accomplished in advancing equality entitles them to great honor, but not to everlasting support from the gay community. Gays, like all citizens, have only one duty when voting: voting in accordance with their conscience. When gay Republicans vote for Mitt Romney on Election Day, they are driven by a sincere belief that, all things considered, he would make a better President than Barack Obama. However, gay Republicans find themselves ridiculed, demeaned, and targeted by tawdry jokes. The culprits are typically Democrats trying to exact political dues and liberal gays who find the idea of gay Republicans too queer to stomach. This sorry situation highlights two things: a shameful ignorance about the core purposes of the gay rights movement, and how little the gay community has learned from its own experience with intolerance. It is not an oversimplification to state that gays have always fought for liberation from stereotypes; the freedom they have always sought has been the freedom to define their own identities. Continued pressures to chain gays to the Democratic Party seriously imperil this goal. We must acknowledge that the connection between sexual orientation and political affiliation does not have natural roots. Aside from this, I will regret witnessing the moment when a large segment of the gay community must be instructed on tolerance. Make no mistake, snide references to LGBT Republicans as oxymorons are not policy statements. Being gay is hard enough; there is no need to add more weight to the heavy cross they bear.
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WHAT ARE MILLENNIALS THINKING? Ben Scuderi
Today, there an estimated 80 million American “Millennials,” the generational cohort comprised of those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. But, given the current policy debates, you might not even know they exist. Matthew Warshauer, student director of Harvard’s Public Opinion Project, tells the HPR that, “If [Millennials] were more organized, they would be one of the largest voting blocs in the nation.” Unlike the ‘greatest generation’ or ‘baby boomers’, Millennials have not exerted their political power except during the exceptional 2008 election. With Millennial participation likely to recede this fall, political leaders are unlikely to address issues uniquely important to young people. This is where the Public Opinion Project, known informally as the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) Survey, comes into play. The poll, regularly cited by diverse media outlets like the New York Times, MSNBC, and National Journal, sheds light on the dormant demographic that will eventually become the dominant force in American politics. Although no poll is a perfect prognosticator, the project provides a glimpse into future political possibilities, examining issues that will breed either future contention or consensus.
A DECADE OF DATA The survey began in 2000 as the brainchild of two Harvard sophomores interested in engaging American youth with public service. John Della Volpe, a public opinion professional and the IOP Director of Polling, believes that the students’ interest was piqued by the diminished political participation of youth during the 1996 presidential election. That lethargy threatened to repeat itself during the 2000 election, and the students hoped to gauge whether young peoples’ political apathy was mirrored by similar disengagement in community service. The survey is now 12 years old and has been published 21 times, once per semester. This track record makes it one of the longest-running surveys specifically focused on American youth. Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief of the Gallup Poll, tells the
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HPR that, “As a rule of thumb, young people are more difficult to poll than old people.” However, the current IOP version is unique among political surveys: it is conducted online, but uses a careful randomization process based on phone records to construct a “panel” of respondents. The survey, which originally queried only 18 to 24 year-old college students by phone, now draws from the larger pool of all 18 to 29 year olds, including graduates and non-college students. The online design improves upon traditional surveys because as Della Volpe explained, young people are less willing than their elders to respond to phone surveys. Using an online poll makes the survey process less onerous and more accessible for youth. The past decade’s data from the IOP Survey reveals two macro-facts about Millennial political engagement. First, the engagement of young people in community service at the local level has generally stayed constant, and second, their engagement in electoral politics generally increased after 2000, peaking in 2008. Since then though, youth electoral participation has dropped. Della Volpe argues that this trend can be explained by 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, which were both formative events for young people that brought home the tangible importance of politics and government. Access to absentee ballots increased for young voters during this timeframe, and the advent of the Internet facilitated campaigns’ efforts to target the youth vote. President Obama’s 2008 election campaign, which effectively targeted young people, was the modern high-water mark for youth involvement, the culmination of eight years of expanded efforts. However, he says, “reality set in - the market crashed and politics became less relevant.” Since 2008, overall trust in government institutions has declined, dissatisfaction with government is up, and the astronomic expectations of the electorate have receded. During the 2010 midterm elections, youth participation in electoral politics suffered a steep setback, with participation likely to remain low on Election Day. While it is impossible to tell whether the recent decline in participation will continue
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long term, it is clear that low civic engagement will relegate the interests of Millennials onto the sidelines of critical political debates.
PREDICTABLY UNPREDICTABLE, CONSISTENTLY CONTRADICTORY Although Millennials are less inclined to vote this cycle, they still have staunch opinions on important issues. The IOP Survey finds that young Americans are more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans, a hardly surprising finding. However, breaking the data out into crosstabs reveals that 18 to 24 year olds are more conservative and undecided about the election than the 25 to 29 year old cohort. Still, President Obama maintains a high level of support from young people: 52 percent of respondents approved of his job performance in the latest survey edition. Although Warshauer classified support for the President among Millennials as “ever-shifting,” he noted a majority of Millennials support him and that a plurality expected him to win reelection. Switching to issues, the poll results illustrate that on many metrics Millennials have policy preferences that do not converge cleanly with their ethical beliefs. For instance, a highly popular position with bipartisan support among Millennials is the view that the U.S. should engage in coalitional foreign policy. But, according to Della Volpe, although about three quarters of young people support this proposition, they are torn between it and the equally widely held belief that the U.S. should always provide moral leadership on the world stage. Millennials’ opinions about abortion follow this contradictory streak. According to a 2011 Pew Center for Public Religion poll, 60 percent of Millennials supported legal abortion in all or most situations, but only 46 percent thought that actually having an abortion was morally acceptable. Furthermore, although the economy and depressed labor market weighed most heavily on Millennials’ minds, young people are nowhere near agreement on economic policy priorities. For instance, while pluralities supported the notion that the government should provide basic health care for those who cannot afford it and spend more to reduce poverty, pluralities also believed that tax cuts, rather than government spending, effectively stimulate growth. One social issue that garners more agreement among youth is gay marriage: in the IOP poll, a strong plurality agreed that homosexuality was morally acceptable. Strong bipartisan support for gay marriage among Millennials has also been documented by many other organizations. A different Pew poll found that 49 percent of Republican Millennials and 44 percent of white evangelical Millennials supported gay marriage, levels of support far higher than found among their older counterparts.
that while economic debates will remain highly contentious, liberal social attitudes and policies will become more accepted. Newport however cautioned that these trends may moderate as Millennials age. He pointed specifically to religion: currently, Millennials are far less religious than their parents, but religiosity generally grows after age 24. He commented, “Age 23 is the Death Valley of religion - it’s the lowest point in American religious lives.” According to Newport, religiosity falls from age 18 to 24, but then reverses course and grows steadily until age 44 because 90 percent of Americans will either get married or have children during that period of their lives. This religiosity is important because it is correlated with conservatism and membership in the Republican Party, and taking this into account, predicting the future of American political debate becomes even more difficult. A prominent finding that is unlikely to change is that, just like their baby boomer parents, Millennials are willing to engage in cognitive dissonance. For instance, Millennials agree that generous and compassionate government is good, but simultaneously want lower taxes. On foreign policy, Millennials want to increase multilateral cooperation and shed solo interventionism, but yearn to keep America the potent moral force it has become on the world stage. Finally, concerning social issues, Millennials are willing to accept the legality of abortion, but are unwilling to accept its morality. That same contradictory streak has already manifested itself throughout prior generations. Some things never change.
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE The relative strength of Millennial support for stances opposed by their elders suggests that the national political debate several years from now will be wildly different. Trends suggest
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TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? HOW BALANCED REPORTING OBSCURES THE TRUTH Daniel Lynch
Next week, Americans will choose their President. Yet, when voters most need the truth, and facts are available instantaneously from many sources, a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans’ confidence in media has reached new lows. This distrust largely stems from perceptions of bias. However, the pursuit of balance should be an equal cause for concern. For many media outlets, balance merely entails giving both sides of a story equal representation. This may seem reasonable, but what happens when one side is objectively right or wrong? Then, media outlets do the public disservice by falling back on “he-said-she-said” coverage that makes no attempt to distinguish fact from fiction. Mark McKinnon, former top media advisor to George W. Bush and John McCain, aptly tells the HPR, “getting both sides doesn’t mean you’re getting at the truth.”
TRUTH IN THE BALANCE? ‘Balanced’ reporting may encourage politicians and interest groups to make misleading claims, knowing that they can get uncritical media coverage. Rather than call them out, the media often only reports the original statement and the opponent’s rebuttal, without attempting to discern the truth. For instance, Mitt Romney’s campaign garnered considerable press attention with its claim that the Obama administration had removed the work requirement from welfare. The claim was widely denounced as false by experts and fact-checkers. Yet, as the Columbia Journalism Review reported, some newspapers either quoted only the Obama campaign’s response
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or buried the independent experts’ rebuttals deep within articles. This created a typical tit-for-tat situation in which voters would not know whom to believe. While he-said-she-said is widely, “accepted, conventional and problematic,” McKinnon believes that the welfare attack was, “so egregious and so patently wrong that … the media did a good job pointing it out.” Nevertheless, the Romney campaign got its message out, which explains why McKinnon laments, “increasingly, campaigns don’t seem to care about the truth.” By not calling politicians out for false statements and providing equal coverage for all views, the media gives disproportionate attention to beliefs that defy broadly accepted empirical data. One example of such false balance concerns global warming. According to a study conducted by experts Jules and Maxwell Boykoff, “When it comes to U.S. media coverage of global warming, superficial balance—telling ‘both’ sides of the story—can actually be a form of informational bias…[and has] allowed a small group of global warming skeptics to have their views greatly amplified.” When equal coverage is combined with a failure to fact-check, people have little aside from preexisting biases to guide them.
JOURNALISTS’ BALANCING ACT There are longstanding disincentives for journalists to fact-check aggressively. Professor Alex Jones, Director of the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, told the HPR that, “journalists don’t like to do it because it infuriates the people who are corrected,” and “access is an important part of journal-
Moreover, the “truth” is not necessarily clear-cut...one problem with ‘objectivity’ is that, “objectivity is a socially relative concept.” ism.” Jones further explained that it is highly unusual for a print journalist to directly call someone a liar, as it is the “culture of American journalism to be more dispassionate.” Professor Richard Parker, also of the Shorenstein Center, told the HPR that some journalists have a strong belief that they are within, “an ‘inner circle’ of decision-makers, one in which the journalist’s role is to convey decisions and persuade the public of their rightness.” Moreover, he-saidshe-said is faster and easier for journalists who, in the era of electronic media, operate under ever-tighter deadlines. According to Parker, journalists themselves believe “almost universally” that failure to investigate the truth results from “time and deadline pressures.” Money similarly plays a determining role: when print publications are struggling financially, fact-checking departments are considered luxuries. After Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson’s inaccuracy-laden cover piece attacking President Obama, Newsweek acknowledged that, “like other news organizations today,” it does not employ fact-checkers. A writer for The Economist’s Democracy in America blog summarized the situation more bluntly: “Balance is easy and cheap. In political journalism, a vitriolic quote from each side and a punchy headline is all that is needed to feed the news machine.” Such reporting also shields journalists from the burden of making judgment calls that can leave them open to accusations of bias. Jones suggested that the hyper-partisanship of American politics makes journalists especially cautious to, “avoid shrill cries of bias by including a perspective that may simply not have any basis… that that is a craven way to do journalism, but…one that helps you avoid trouble.” Accusations of bias often come from activist bloggers and media watchdog groups. According to Jones, such entities can play a useful role in monitoring reporters, but they can also “terrify people and intimidate them,” and journalists fear “being pilloried by bloggers.” Moreover, the “truth” is not necessarily clear-cut. Parker observes that one problem with ‘objectivity’ is that, “objectivity is a socially relative concept.” Tellingly, the Society of Professional Journalists removed “objectivity” from its Code of Ethics in 1996. While journalists have a duty to check the accuracy of facts, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between fact and opinion. Rather than make too many such judgments, journalists often elect to give both sides coverage and move on.
CAN FACT-CHECKERS TIP THE BALANCE? While the media may not fact-check aggressively, numerous websites have emerged to fill the void. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, head of FactCheck.org and Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, explained FactCheck.org’s policy to the HPR, stating that its goal was to, “Determine how the source justifies a claim and seek corroborative or disconfirming evidence.” While fact-checkers are valuable, Jones believes they are, “providing a corrective that the reporter should have done himself.” However, many of these organizations have themselves been accused of bias, which has created some familiar problems. Readers may not trust the fact-checkers, and thus politicians may not fear being criticized by them. McKinnon worries that hyper-partisanship means that being called out “can be a badge of honor.” For example, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse recently stated in response to pushback from factcheckers over the welfare ads that, “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Perhaps reacting to such accusations of bias, some fact-checkers are engaging in the same false balance already prevalent in mainstream news reporting.
BEYOND BALANCE Journalism is a highly competitive profession in which reporters race to crank out the latest news. Sorting through an issue to separate fact from fiction can be tricky and timeconsuming, and in the current political climate, any reporter who appears even remotely biased faces pushback. Thus, it is easy to understand why many journalists hide behind hesaid-she-said reporting. However, when this happens they deprive readers of the opportunity to make an informed decision and allow politicians and interest groups to spread misinformation with little fear of consequence. Fact-checking organizations may help, but they tend to reach predominately high-information voters and have little effect on campaigns, which often ignore them or accuse them of bias. Until journalists themselves behave more like investigators and less like stenographers, politicians may see little disadvantage to dishonesty.
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Can Michelle Rhee Save American Education? Colin Diersing Michelle Rhee is a lightning rod. Gwen Samuels, a former Head Start teacher and current education activist in Connecticut, knows what it is like to stand too close. When Samuels partnered with Michelle Rhee in Connecticut, a previously civil debate about education policy quickly turned into all-out warfare. “People I didn’t even know existed started coming after me,” Samuels told the HPR. Unwittingly, she had stumbled into the political minefield that surrounds America’s most beloved and hated education reformer. Rhee first entered the national conversation as the hard-charging Chancellor for D.C. public schools. She was an unconventional choice for the job: 37 years old, KoreanAmerican, and without significant school management experience. However, after being appointed by Mayor Adrian Fenty, she quickly established herself as a juggernaut in the national education reform movement. She took on politically difficult fights, firing hundreds of school officials, closing under-enrolled schools, and pushing for a new contract incorporating a controversial merit pay provision. Meanwhile, she forged a national media presence, appearing on covers for Time and Newsweek and giving countless TV interviews. Rhee’s slew of transformative reforms ended when Fenty lost his reelection bid. She resigned the next day, but mere weeks later Rhee announced that she was founding StudentsFirst, an education reform organization. With unprecedented resources and unique media savvy, Rhee is reshaping the landscape of education reform.
education politics. Asked by the HPR to evaluate its success, Rhee expressed cautious optimism, saying, “We’ve made tremendous progress… we met our original goal of having one million members by our first year… We’ve raised a lot of money, changed a lot of laws, engaged in a lot of races. So, have we made a lot of progress? Yes, 100 percent.” “Have we changed the game for kids?”, Rhee asks rhetorically, answering, “on that front we’ve started to build an organization that is on track to do that.” Many education reformers acknowledge StudentsFirst’s tremendous resources, given Rhee’s unparalleled fundraising capacity. Rhee biographer Richard Whitmire told the HPR, “She
STUDENTS FIRST The expectations surrounding StudentsFirst’s creation were high. Rhee announced intentions to raise a billion dollars and create a political counterweight to entrenched interests, fundamentally reshaping the landscape of
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“If you see me hugging Michelle,” another local activist mused, “that’s just for the cameras.”
can do this because moguls will give her lots of money and it takes lots of money. Who else can do that? I can’t think of anyone.” These resources have the potential to reshape the politics of education reform. StudentsFirst has spent those resources aggressively on advertising, lobbying, and support for endorsed statelegislators. John DeBerry, a Tennessee legislator who was endorsed by StudentsFirst, told the HPR, “They have the resources to support candidates and send people into communities to talk to people.” StudentsFirst has aggressively pushed back against DeBerry’s critics, sending paid canvassers into the district and trying to boost his pro-reform record. The organization’s rapid expansion has not come without growing pains though. One local activist felt the organization’s style hurt long-term reform efforts, and most agree that Rhee’s claim that StudentsFirst is a grassroots organization is overstated. Off the record, one education reform organization leader told the HPR, “Michelle Rhee has her own agenda. They’re more of a grass-top movement.” They are, though, still the biggest game in town. “If you see me hugging Michelle,” another local activist mused, “that’s just for the cameras.”
THE LIGHTNING ROD Samuels entered education activism because she wanted to improve her child’s school. She decided that a ‘parent trigger’, which would give parents a mechanism to demand turnaround of an underperforming school, should be introduced in the Connecticut state legislature. Samuels received pushback from teachers unions, but was unfazed until she started working with StudentsFirst. She says, “If I thought the union fight was hard, this was like me going in the ring with Mike Tyson.” The governor backed out of a rally he had previously committed to when Rhee announced she would attend. When the dust settled however, aggressive reform was passed. The case highlights the effect that Rhee often has on a situation. Simply by showing up, she politicizes, nationalizes, and polarizes a situation. Those within the movement, however, insist that this can be beneficial. “She’s the lightning rod, the right flank” said the President of Students for Education Reform; “She changes the polarization.” Whitmire adds that many education reformers feel they have political cover to be more aggressive because “everyone has agreed to hate on Michelle,” and when they do, everyone else has more
space to create consensus. Rhee insists this isn’t a role that she intentionally fills. “ If some education reformers say [I’m] good to have around because then all their vitriol can be directed towards [me], and they have more cover to do their work, that’s fine. But that’s not really what I do.” Her role, she says, is just to advocate what’s best for kids. Ultimately, though, even those who have seen the costs of Rhee’s polarization at work acknowledge its effectiveness. “We needed our voices to be heard,” Samuels reflects, and Michelle Rhee brought along a loudspeaker.
“MICHELLE RHEE IS A WIMP” Although legislative activism has largely been confined at the state level, StudentsFirst is also setting its sights on reshaping the national politics of education reform. Rhee herself insists that she is a liberal Democrat, but traditionally her style of education reform has been more popular with Republicans. Rhee is confident that this is changing, stating, “When I started in education reform 20 years ago the Democratic Party was in general very reticent to get involved in these education reform issues…. The dynamics have shifted.” There has been tangible success: “The U.S. conference of mayors, through the leadership of my husband (the Mayor of Sacramento) passed some very controversial resolutions and they did it with a unanimous vote.” Despite her interest in national policy making, Rhee insists that she will never run for public office. When pressed about whether or not she would accept the position of Secretary of Education, Rhee deferred, insisting, “I think Arne Duncan is doing an excellent job.” She believes she is more effective operating outside the system, commenting, “I think the most important thing I could be doing right now is exactly what I am doing at StudentsFirst.” In the long-term, she sees the movement being driven by a new generation. “Someone should come along who is even more radical than I am… I’m waiting for the next person to come from behind and say ‘Michelle Rhee is a wimp’… the new kind of reformers should be pushing the wall forward’” For now, however, Rhee seems content to be running head-on into anything in her way, and although she’s been called many things, it seems unlikely anyone will be calling Michelle Rhee a wimp anytime soon.
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AN UNFAIR FIGHT PUERTO RICO’S RIGGED VOTE ON ITS POLITICAL STATUS Pablo Hernandez My grandfather was born in 1936. When he was 16, Puerto Rico ceased being a mere territory of the United States and adopted “Commonwealth” status. His mother had helped found the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), and his father was a pro-statehood Republican and local Supreme Court justice. He would become the pro-Commonwealth party’s leader and eventually serve as Governor of Puerto Rico. This family history symbolically resembles Puerto Rico: a big family passionately divided by preferences about the island’s political status. Commonwealth status is unique and unprecedented under U.S. federalism. Under the Commonwealth, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens locally organized under an autonomous government similar to that of a state. They do not vote in presidential elections and may elect one non-voting representative to Congress, even though federal law applies in Puerto Rico unless explicitly stated otherwise. Nevertheless, consistent with the founding principle of no taxation without representation, Puerto Ricans are exempt from federal taxation, and the Commonwealth can determine its own fiscal policies. Historically, Commonwealth supporters have called for expanding local autonomy within the U.S. constitutional framework, a hotly debated concept popularly known as “enhanced” Commonwealth. Puerto Ricans have twice voted for Commonwealth in 1967 and 1993, but supporters within the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) were unsuccessful at negotiating their proposed enhanced Commonwealth. Subsequently, in 1998, the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (NPP) designed another plebiscite with a sole Commonwealth option that would have been unable to expand Puerto Rican autonomy. Commonwealth supporters felt excluded and successfully rallied support for “None of the above,” defeating statehood. On Election Day, Puerto Ricans will vote for the fourth time on their political status, but this time the question will be framed differently. Rather than explicitly choose between independence, statehood and the existing Commonwealth, Puerto Ricans will have a confusing two-step choice to make. Given past plebiscite results, this is a fundamentally flawed vote with an
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undemocratic structure designed to assure statehood that will likely backfire.
A “RIGGED” PROCESS The upcoming plebiscite excludes the possibility of voting for either “enhancing” Commonwealth or “None of the above”. Rather, the two-round plebiscite first asks voters whether they want to continue under the “present territorial relationship,” a term designed to evoke what some consider a colonialist legacy. Subsequently, on the same ballot, voters must choose between “non-territorial options.” These options include statehood, independence, and free association, a form of independence that has been termed by ballot drafters as “sovereign Commonwealth” to confuse Commonwealth supporters. This is tantamount to asking Americans during the 1992 Presidential election: “Womanizing Governor of Arkansas: Yes or No?” and then making them choose between the “non-womanizer options,” George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. Roberto Prats, Chairman of the Puerto Rican Democratic Party, told the HPR that this process is “an exercise in mathematics” strategically designed to favor statehood. “If you bundle statehood and independence supporters against the Commonwealth, in theory you will win the first question with a resounding ‘No.’” Prats’ claim is grounded in the 1993 plebiscite results: together, statehood (46.3 percent) and independence supporters (4.4 percent) voting “No” would have defeated Commonwealth supporters (48.6 percent) voting “Yes.” Had the upcoming ballot sequence been used then, statehood would likely have easily won by drawing merely 10 percent of Commonwealth supporters, an easy goal for an island inherently afraid of independence. Statehood supporters frame the issue differently, arguing that the present relationship is undemocratic and justifying its exclusion from the second round. For NPP leader Ricardo Rosselló, the only thing unfair is, “the current status and its negative effects on our society.” He argues that no political process is perfect and the opportunity to reject what he considers the current
colonial status, “outweighs any other political consideration.” Furthermore, Rosselló questions Prats’ premise, citing recent polls where statehood gathers more support than Commonwealth in head-to-head matchups. Nevertheless, polls from the past 23 years show Puerto Ricans continuously alternating between favoring Commonwealth and statehood. Two years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives appeared to share Prats’s concern. When a bill calling for a similarly structured plebiscite concerning Puerto Rico’s political status was considered, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), classified this arithmetic scheme as a “rigged process.” She presented an amendment to add a Commonwealth option for the second round of voting. The Foxx amendment and larger bill passed, but died in the Senate, leaving the governing NPP to design the plebiscite locally.
WHAT TO EXPECT? The pro-Commonwealth PDP will vote to preserve Puerto Rico’s current status, motivated to protest against the incumbent NPP governor for excluding their Commonwealth aspiration from the ballot. Ironically though, the “rigged” plebiscite structure might backfire. Recent polls indicate a majority of eligible voters favor maintaining the existing Commonwealth, and even more surprisingly, a fourth of NPP supporters intend to vote for preserving the Commonwealth. Apparently, they fear that voting “No” would send an anti-American message to Congress. Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock attributes this to media outlets that “somewhat erroneously have suggested” that if voters choose statehood and the U.S. Congress rejects the island’s bid, then independence would come by default. Statehood supporters legitimately have more reasons to worry. This plebiscite labels the free association option “sovereign Commonwealth” to persuade Commonwealth supporters to vote “No.” Free association earned only 0.3 percent popular support in the 1998 plebiscite, but using the language “sovereign Com-
monwealth” has had unintended consequences. Free association is virtually tied with statehood in second round polls because most voters are confused between “sovereign” and “traditional” Commonwealth. This underscores the political impact the word “Commonwealth” has, and sheds light on why its adversaries have avoided tackling it head-first. The PDP rejects free association and has asked its voters to abstain from the second ballot question, but apparently, its supporters are not listening and are voting for “sovereign Commonwealth” to defeat statehood. The confusion surrounding “sovereign Commonwealth” is causing havoc. For Prats, this is irrelevant, since he believes the “‘Yes’ result will prevail in the first question thus making the second question moot.” Apparently, the NPP’s plan to secure a statehood victory by first uniting statehood, independence, and free association supporters against the Commonwealth and then dividing Commonwealth supporters between these options may run awry: they are positioned to lose both rounds of their ill-conceived plebiscite.
TOWARDS A FAIR PROCESS The United Nations acknowledges self-determination when a political unit chooses freely between annexation, independence, free association, and “the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people.” The latter for Puerto Rico would be Commonwealth, and the Obama administration has acknowledged Puerto Ricans’ right to choose between all four options, committing itself to respecting the results of November’s plebiscite should it produces a “clear” result. However, this confusing and unfair process will likely fail to produce a clear result. Statehood could theoretically arise even if a plurality of voters favor Commonwealth, and “Sovereign Commonwealth” could win amidst great confusion. Rather, the vote should be simple: choose explicitly between statehood, independence, free association, and Commonwealth, and have a run-off between the two most popular choices.
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CHICAGO: THE FIGHT FOR AMERICA’S SCHOOLS Ross Svenson
acob Cedarbaum’s first month as a Chicago public school science teacher was certainly unusual. He headed straight into the first Chicago teachers’ strike in over 25 years, which highlighted opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push to scale back anticipated pay raises, extend the school day, and tie standardized test scores more closely to teacher evaluations. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike demonstrates the harsh reality that unions and reformers are speaking past each other. After several years of tenuous cooperation, teachers unions feel compelled to take a stand before ceding too much ground. Education reformers meanwhile are emboldened to reach further, given their recent successes, but are hampered by budget woes. The strike signals further discord to come, as unions and reformers battle for control of education policy.
GRUDGING COOPERATION As Professor Martin West of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an expert on the politics behind K-12 education policy told the HPR, “Arguably, the most important development in the politics of education in the past decade has been the rise of a significant reform wing in the Democratic Party.” A new generation of prominent Democratic politicians from Newark Mayor Cory Booker to President Obama have embraced components of education reform that include charter schools, extending the school day, and tying teacher evaluations more closely to standardized tests. This has led to tense negotiations
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between unions and Democratic administrations, famously embodied by those in Washington, D.C. between the teachers union and Chancellor Michelle Rhee. However, the teachers unions have accepted some reforms. Dr. Matthew Chingos, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, told the HPR, “This shift has a lot to do with President Obama’s support for education reforms.” Now, both major political parties support aspects of reform and, as Chingos observed, “this consensus has forced the unions to grudgingly come along.” Unions have negotiated in order to preserve their place at the table, working with reformers in Delaware and Tennessee to institute reforms that helped those two states receive federal grants from the Race to the Top program. Both states passed measures tying teacher pay and promotions in part to student performance, while expanding charter schools and outlining plans to address failing schools. The manner in which the President has worked with unions has fostered the tenuous collaboration. West noted that Obama, when speaking to the National Education Association, said in reference to education reform, “We want to do this with you, not to you.” This attitude stands in stark contrast with the posture adopted by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who advocated limiting collective bargaining rights for public sector employees, including teachers. His attempt to limit union rights caused uproar and led to weeks of protests. Democratic reform policies had thus far avoided this kind of rancor, until Chicago.
STILL FAR APART: A NEW CONFRONTATION The new reform era received a jolt in September when Chicago teachers decided to strike when multiple concerns over the proposed contract drew them into confrontation with Emanuel. One dispute centered on the mayor’s plan to extend the school day without increasing compensation. While Cedarbaum was quite supportive of more class time, he told the HPR, “I think it’s a little silly to expect anyone to work 20 percent more and not give them any sort of pay raise.” Another concern focused on changes to teacher evaluations that heavily weighted standardized test scores; students’ scores would have accounted for over half of teacher evaluations under the original agreement proposed by Chicago. Cedarbaum dismissed this method as one that would not account for all the variables that influence test results. He argued that teachers are confronting many barriers to strong test scores, particularly in schools where students come from low-income neighborhoods. Chingos meanwhile strongly criticized the strike itself: “We should not accept teachers striking. If kids are not in school, they’re not learning.” Chingos highlighted the detrimental impact time off from school has on children, particularly poor students, who often lose ground during the summer. Furthermore, he described the strike as a push for “more job protections.” For Chingos, the debate over the percentage weight of test scores was simply another “bureaucratic solution to the problem.” He would rather shake up the bureaucracy and allow for greater choice among public schools, because ‘choice’ simply involves not tying where a student lives to where they attend school. He says, “Rich families have always had a lot of choice. They can move to places with the best schools or send their kids to private schools. Poor people don’t have any of these choices.” Schools would no longer have a guaranteed customer base and would theoretically be encouraged to improve in order to remain open.
WHY CHICAGO? These debates however have dominated teacher bargaining negotiations over the last decade, even when cooperation occurred. Several unique factors escalated the Chicago debate into one that dominated the national news throughout early September. Besides Mayor Emanuel’s celebrity, budget realities
and a sense of “enough is enough” from teachers unions catalyzed the strike. West discussed the effects of Chicago’s tight financial situation on the administration’s ability to negotiate, saying, “The Mayor is very committed to a reform agenda that contains elements of education reform normally opposed by teachers unions and teachers, but he is not able to come up with compensation to get reforms through.” This situation contrasts sharply with the way Michelle Rhee pushed for education reform against union opposition in Washington, D.C. Rhee was able to make reform more palatable with increased salaries and bonuses, as well as buyout packages for teachers nearing retirement in failing or under-enrolled schools scheduled to close. Teachers saw the contract dispute in Chicago as an opportunity to push back following years of quantitatively driven reforms, flexing their political muscle. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed following the strike’s resolution, CTU President Karen Lewis and the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten stated that the strike “changed the conversation about education reform.” With the new agreement, teachers reduced the weight of standardized testing in evaluations, emphasized reforming and not closing failing schools, and boosted their political clout.
THE ROAD AHEAD With both teachers and education reformers presenting divergent ideas on education policy, there is worry about future feuds. The strike’s demonstration that drastic action can enhance teachers unions’ bargaining position has only increased concerns especially now when cash-strapped school districts cannot negotiate effectively. Some lawmakers have tried to curb the potential for these disputes by limiting collective bargaining rights for public workers, but many, including West, do not believe that this is, “politically feasible on a broad level.” Ultimately, what will affect future relations between teachers unions and reformers is how they view one another’s motives. As Cedarbaum commented, “I think from the teachers’ standpoint, we’re just looking for some respect, and I guess honesty from the Chicago mayor’s office.” Teachers meanwhile cannot view education reformers as threats; reformers are equally concerned about public education. Should this antagonistic relationship exist though, as West summarized, we are “likely to see more of what happened in Chicago.”
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LIBERTARIANISM A MOVEMENT IN CHAINS Tom Silver
or those who oppose big government on principle, the current American political climate is a perfect storm. Support for Congress remains around 10 percent, the Afghanistan war is increasingly unpopular, and Americans are becoming more distrustful of their own government. The Tea Party’s ascendancy in 2009 demonstrated grassroots support for fiscal conservatism, and soon after, the Occupy movement manifested support for social libertarianism. With the opportunity to draw a following from both momentous protests, why does the Libertarian Party remain in relative obscurity? After weighing the perspective of the party’s presidential candidate against those of a libertarian professor and a nonpartisan historian, one arrives at a complex answer: media coverage, presidential debate rules, state ballot laws, and the organization itself are all forces constraining the Libertarian Party.
KEPT BEHIND THE CURTAIN Despite his low polling numbers, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is optimistic about his presidential campaign on the Libertarian Party ticket. He believes the only thing standing between him and the Oval Office is the right microphone. Because the media has focused its attention on Obama and Romney, Johnson has not been given an equal chance to convey his message. Governor Johnson told the HPR, “If my name was mentioned five times for every time Obama’s name or Romney’s name was mentioned… I think I’d be the next President of the United States.” However, even if his campaign successfully emerges on political analysts’ radar, a large institutional barrier remains: the rules established by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). After Reform Party candidate Ross Perot was allowed to participate in the presidential debates of 1992, his support jumped to 19 percent by Election Day. When he ran in 1996, the CPD blocked him from the podium, pleasing the Republican and Democratic campaigns. University of Michigan Professor Lisa J. Disch, author of Tyranny of the Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate
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for president, speaks at CPAC 2011.
Two-Party System, told the HPR that these rules “favor the two major parties, and often those structures are drawn up by members of the two major political parties.” Therefore, she says voters believe that the two major parties are “somehow more legitimate” than any third party could be.
LESSER-KNOWN BALLOT CONTROVERSIES While the CPD keeps Governor Johnson offstage, ballot laws are keeping him mired in the courts. According to the AP, the Pennsylvania Republican Party sued Johnson’s campaign because it found his nominating petitions “riddled with errors, duplicate signatures and in some cases, blatant fraud.” Similar charges have been leveled against the Libertarian Party in six states and the District of Columbia. Despite these challenges, Johnson’s campaign recently announced that his name will officially be on the ballots of 47 states and D.C. He says, “It borders on the ridiculous how that process is manipulated. ... You’ve got Republicans and Democrats in office in every single state that administrate ballot access. They have no desire to see a third party on the ballot.” Ballot access controversy is not new, nor is it limited to the Libertarian Party. Disch reminds the HPR that, “it was the two major political parties at the turn of the twentieth century who designed ballot laws,” and asserts that they were and remain “prejudicial against third parties.”
TAKING RESPONSIBILITY Disch, an expert on third parties, acknowledges that while there are many adversarial institutional forces, third parties often bring about their own demise. Too many become “campaign vehicles in the presidential elections,” rather than legitimate, principled parties. However, she believes that the Libertarian Party is “distinct for the fact” that they are “also trying to build themselves at the grassroots, run in smaller offices, and build themselves as a party.” Nevertheless, some libertarians are not ready to let their party off the hook that easily. Harvard Economics Professor and Senior Cato Institute Fellow Jeffrey Miron believes that libertarians including himself must improve the marketing of their party. He tells the HPR, “We do a good job of trying to be consistent, trying to say what we think is right, and not just leaning towards what seems politically expedient, but… we somehow have not packaged our message in a way that makes it broadly appealing.” Johnson recognizes that many major Libertarian tenets are simply not being communicated. Now, campaigning around college campuses, he has ditched the suit and tie, instead adorning a peace sign t-shirt to convey the party’s dedication to military non-interventionism. Beyond issues in their PR department, libertarians con-
tinue to struggle with internal disorganization. Johnson’s campaign conspicuously lacks the endorsement of Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), the committed libertarian who many credit with bringing the philosophy to the mainstream. The two remain publicly amicable, with Paul calling Johnson “wonderful,” and Johnson identifying himself as Ron Paul supporter. However, as Johnson makes appeals to Paul supporters and sees them “coming on board,” he identifies the reason why Paul is hesitant to give the explicit endorsement: “His son is a U.S. senator, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize his son being a U.S. senator.” Ron Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul (RKy.), would likely suffer considerable political consequences if his father broke from the Republican Party. Despite these concerns, Johnson remains optimistic about the Libertarian Party, believing with a resounding “yes” that American libertarians are united under the party. THE PARTY’S PROGNOSIS Miron recognizes that despite considerable effort, libertarianism remains on the fringes of the political sphere. While the ideology “doesn’t seem to be doing that great” in the United States, Miron sees a glimmer of hope in Johnson, whom he identifies as a rare political figure with a consistently libertarian record. In fact, while Johnson’s approximately four percent polling standing seems insignificant when compared with the support for Romney and Obama, the number represents a substantial increase from the 0.5 percent of the popular vote that the Libertarian presidential nominee received in 2008. Disch provides more reason for libertarians to remain hopeful, noting that the Republican Party has adopted staunchly conservative stances on social issues, causing the socially liberal members of their party to explore other options. Johnson is even more optimistic about the current political climate, claiming that “with a broad brushstroke, the majority of Americans are not Democrats, they’re not Republicans. The largest segment of American politics today are independents and… that reflects socially accepting fiscally conservatives.” Despite this, the Libertarian Party must work well beyond the 2012 campaign to become a significant challenge to the two-party establishment. Given the narrow media focus, exclusivity of presidential debates, distractions of state ballot battles, and fractures within the party itself, libertarians have their work cut out for them. The current political climate may favor the Libertarian Party, but it is not yet strong enough to bring the institutional barriers crumbling down.
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THE GANGS OF SYRIA Gram Slattery
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casual observer of the Syrian uprising could be excused for viewing the conflict as a battle between good and evil. The narrative that dominates Western media coverage has a tendency to paint the struggle as a black and white contest between freedom-lovers and bloodthirsty authoritarians. But in reality, the revolution-turned-civil war can be properly described only in a smear of grays. Contrary to neoconservative innuendos, Syria’s story is not that of a unified rebel army, acting on a popular mandate against an unsupported tyrant. Rather, it details a multi-layered, kaleidoscopic civil war. Of Syria’s myriad ethnic and religious elements, many wish to dispose of President Bashar al-Assad. But most factions, gripped by the constant fears of a post-Assad state, also wish to dispose of or disassociate themselves from one another. The once anti-autocratic rebellion has devolved into an all-encompassing internecine war of ethnicities and ideologies. Through this devolution, the rebels have destroyed all prospects of a pluralistic, post-Assad democracy, and have rendered the West’s pro-resistance, interventionist designs both unrealistic in their goals and immoral in their effects.
THE ETHNIC CAULDRON To understand the fractionalization of Syria, one must first understand the nation’s demographics. Sunni Arabs, by far the largest ethno-religious group, comprise approximately 65 percent of the population. The Kurds, non-Arab Sunnis with their own irredentist ambitions, compose eight percent. Meanwhile, although they only represent 13 percent of the population, the Alawite Shiite Muslims controls the state bureaucracy almost in its entirety. Christians, accounting for around 10 percent, comprise the only other significant ethno-religious group. The Sunni Arabs, the meat of the resistance, are embittered about their relegation as second class citizens. Although they had deprived Alawites of many basic civil rights before World War I, the Alawites turned the tables beginning in the 1920s through their complicity with the French counterinsurgency in the region. Having gained control of the military, the Alawites slowly took over the Syrian government in the 1950s before consolidating power through Hafez al-Assad’s installation as dictator in 1970. For the next 42 years, the Sunnis became inured to the rule of an ethno-religious group they had once suppressed. Hafez al-Assad and his hereditary successor, Bashar al-Assad, have become symbolic targets of this discontent. However, the Sunni majority’s hatred of these leaders touches merely the surface of historical foment: the substance of the current Sunni gripe lies not necessarily with Assad, but with the Alawite sect. Indeed, the sectarian atrocities committed by Sunni rebels make painfully clear that the war is primarily one of ethnoreligious grievance. In Sunni cities like Homs, Alawites must disguise their accents for their own survival, and in certain regions, Alawites who travel outside of their village confines are routinely murdered. In one chilling Reuters account, 39 Alawites from the village Rabia were slaughtered, and one was dismembered and delivered in a paper bag to his family. The atrocities committed against the Sunnis, mostly by the notoriously gruesome pro-regime shabbiha, are equally repugnant. These are the massacres with which we are most familiar, smattering the front pages of most major Western, Saudi, and Egyptian newspapers. In one such incident, 108 Sunnis, including 34 women and 49
children, were summarily executed in two “line-ups.” Before rushing to judgment, one must note that the actions of the pro-regime forces, however offensive, are typically driven by fear rather than by bloodlust. They are a collection of Alawites, Christians, and other minority groups, who believe with fair reason that a Sunni takeover would lead to massacre, exile, and abuse for their respective peoples. A longtime Western liaison to the Assad regime, Trinity University Professor David Lesch explained to the HPR, “the shabbiha is motivated by survival, by the belief that if the Sunnis come to power, they’d be wiped out. Unfortunately, this fear is not unfounded… this is a cycle that’s been repeated throughout Middle Eastern history.” After half a century of Alawite domination, the Sunni majority is also driven by fear of marginalization and abuse. Over the past 18 months, what political scientists call an “ethnic security dilemma” has taken hold of Syrian society as multiple groups attempt to destroy one another in a self-defeating but self-perpetuating effort to ensure their own security. Confounding Western moral stereotypes, the Christian component of these pro-regime forces is as much a party to the security dilemma as any other actor. Though the group had been largely insulated from the pernicious elements of Syrian society by the relatively secular Assad regime, 2.1 million Christians now find themselves among the victims of lurid Sunni violence. The Syrian Orthodox Church for instance has described an “ongoing ethnic cleansing” against Christians by the Free Syrian Army, and has claimed that Islamists of the al-Faruq brigade have expelled 90 percent of Christians from Homs, confiscating their possessions in the process. However, speaking to the HPR from the Syrian National Council (SNC) headquarters in Ankara, SNC spokesman Radwan Ziadeh claimed that the Christians would “be protected” in a rebel-controlled Syria “because they are part of the revolution.” During the conversation, Ziadeh even implied that Christians supported the resistance, but this pro-rebel narrative is little more than a propagandistic façade. As Lesch notes, “Bashar al-Assad has co-opted Christians into the government,” and it is Assad’s pro-minority regime to which they have staked the survival of their community. The ethnic groups that have avoided this dilemma have often done so by forming militias of their own. While some have tucked their separatist ambitions into the Free Syrian Army, the Kurdish peshmerga in the northeast have organized into fully autonomous militias. They now control at least one significant city, and with northern Iraq a de-facto Kurdish state, the specter of an independent Kurdish nation has stoked separatist ambitions. With Kurds pining for independence, Sunnis conniving against Christians and Alawites, and Alawites dependent on a destructive regime, one must wonder how this broiling ethnic cauldron, artificially constructed by French imperial whims, ever sustained itself. It turns out that in addition to a healthy dose of Ba’athist nationalism, the fabric of civil society was reliant on a Leviathan. As Lesch pointed out in The Atlantic, most Syrians looked “across the borders into Lebanon and Iraq to see how sectarian-based countries can implode and fall apart.” Because of their observations, they long accepted a “Faustian or Hobbesian bargain of ‘we will provide stability in a very unstable neighborhood in return for your support and subservience.’” When the stabilizing Leviathan was removed, an interethnic, post-state civil war inevitably arose.
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Protestors against Syrian President Assad shout during rally in March.
A HOLY WAR Ethnic sectarianism is not the only casus belli; paralleling the region’s other recent upheavals, the disparate views of Muslims on the role of religion in society have all found violent expression in Syria. The Druze, Christian, and Alawite minorities favor the strict secularity provided by Assad’s Ba’athist regime. Meanwhile, thousands of Sunni jihadists and armed Islamic extremists have flooded into Syria from neighboring countries. Some clerics are encouraging young men in nations like Pakistan to fight in Syria, ensuring an influx of radicals. These jihadist cells are demanding a greater role in the management of the rebellion, and Syrians involved in the struggle claim that antiAssad forces have become increasingly fundamentalist. Even FSA commanders, belonging to an organization whose purpose is theoretically non-religious, have framed their struggle as one between Islamists and secularists. “For the first time, we are able to proclaim the word of God throughout this land,” one FSA official announced to the BBC. Speaking for the SNC, Ziadeh downplayed the role of the radical Islamists in the resistance, describing their numbers as “small” and portraying rebels as, “freedom-fighters…. [aiming] to free their country from dictatorship.” Ex-Israeli ambassador to Syria and current University of Tel-Aviv Professor Ibrahim Rabinovich provided the HPR with a more balanced assessment, conceding that the conflict was, “not started by the Muslim
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Brotherhood,” but also asserting that, “Islamists of all shades are well-represented in the militia… and the SNC… they are there, and they are significant.” Not only does this polarization contribute to the irreconcilability of pro and anti-regime forces, but it also has divided the resistance’s base of support. Sarah Birke and Katie Paul documented for The New Republic extreme unease amongst the Sunni populace over the Islamism of anti-Assad militias in the rebel region of Jebel Zawiya. Furthermore, because of the radicalizing resistance, Alawite defectors who have taken up arms against their former comrades find themselves extremely isolated within a movement increasingly hostile to their interests. Even if the extreme ethnic tensions that underlie the Syrian Civil War could be assuaged, discordant views on religion in government would hinder statecraft.
THE GANGS OF SYRIA Compounding these ethnic and religious divides, the sheer disorganization of the rebels has created a spider-web of the civil war’s political factions. The basic unit of anti-Assad resistance could best be described as a gang. There are hundreds of them, ranging in seriousness from a group of miscreants organizing over Facebook to a highly militarized network with a sophisticated leadership structure. Unfortunately, many gangs are more interested in loot than justice. In a New York Times dispatch from Aleppo, residents
Contrary to neoconservative and liberal internationalist impressions, Syria is mired in a multi-layered, kaleidoscopic civil war. claimed that not only were rebels fighting pro-regime forces, but they were also battling rival militias over control of the city. Militia roadblocks that rob Syrians of all ethnic stripes are commonplace, and even ‘gangs’ with nobler intentions are hopelessly disjointed. Though the FSA is attempting to legitimize itself as the central anti-Assad commander center, the hawkish Institute for the Study of War (ISW) concluded that it, “functions more as an umbrella organization than a traditional military chain of command.” Most militias nominally affiliated with the FSA maintain no direct contact with its leadership, and plenty dismiss the FSA’s authority altogether. Lesch said that the rebels were, “certainly not one group,” a product of the Sunnis’ “natural decentralization.” What’s worse, he claims fundamentalist militias can typically rely on aid from conservative foreign Arab sources, allowing them to easily brush away the FSA’s requests. Birke and Paul encountered three such militias in Jebel Zawiya, finding them boastful of their independence from higher command structures. Accordingly, the Syrian National Council, Syria’s nominal opposition government, performs few useful functions. Lacking the participation of even moderate pro-regime groups and Kurdish nationalists, the SNC has little chance of transcending the sectarian fray. Even the SNC’s members characterize the organization as an ineffective, hopelessly corrupt front for Islamists, frustrations which led to the resignation last March of three of the Council’s most prominent liberal members, Haitham al-Maleh, Kamal al-Labwani, and Catherine al-Talli. Partly because of this leadership vacuum, most anti-regime militias show little civility. Among other abuses, one armed group, Saquor al-Sham, was shown on YouTube sending off captives in booby-trapped cars to blow up army checkpoints. Though Western media rely disproportionately on rebel rumors, tilting opinion in favor of the Sunni resistance, it should come as no surprise that these roving gangs of young Islamists are hardly more disciplined than the pro-regime forces.
THE FUTILITY OF INTERVENTION With all sides motivated by fear or faith, a pro-rebel intervention would simply tilt the scales in favor of one ethno-religious coalition over another. The end result would simply replace a secularist, Alawite, pro-minority regime, with a conservative,
Sunni, anti-minority government. Furthermore, because the fault-lines of the conflict are largely ethnic and religious rather than political, it is hard to see how deposing Assad would assuage sectarian violence. Even if the West supported the resistance, it remains unclear which elements the intervening powers would back. There is no organized resistance, a fact that neoconservatives readily admit. The Free Syrian Army and Syrian National Council are fractured, unrepresentative of the rebel movement, and tainted by Islamism. According to Lesch, “hundreds of CIA agents” are on the ground trying to separate the democratic wheat from the radical chaff. But with a gang-driven, revanchist Sunni population dominated in the countryside by religious conservatives, we might be simply culling worms from a rotten apple. So what will happen if the West refuses to intervene? This is a matter of debate among experts, but it currently seems unlikely that the Assad regime will fall anytime soon. Despite the panoply of high-level defections and the frenzied coverage of Homs and Aleppo, the government still controls the vast majority of the country. But as civil war continues, with the Syrian government ostracized from much of the world and hated by its subjects, its military and administrative capacities will likely atrophy. If the government’s hold on Syria collapses altogether, it is highly probable that the country will devolve into fiefdoms. Rabinovich opines that the Alawites will likely construct a rump state in their mountainous heartland between Turkey and Lebanon, while the plains and the Mediterranean coast fall under Sunni control. The Kurds would also create an independent state in the northeast, forcing a cascade of strategic assessments in Ankara, Baghdad, and Tehran. Thus, the kaleidoscope of Syria, in the absence of interference, will break into its component parts or remain controlled by the Assad regime. In the former case, the artificial, colonial boundaries of Syria would melt into a more natural arrangement. However, neither effective Balkanization nor continued minority domination is ideal, especially given Assad’s recent resort to unscrupulous violence. But a brutal, Islamist-tainted, anti-minority confederation of gangs is not a preferable alternative. Given some rebels’ radical tendencies, gruesome behavior, and closedtent, trigger-happy approach to minorities, supporting them is tantamount to pouring fuel onto the raging sectarian fire.
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BREIVIK, JUSTICE, & PHILOSOPHY Oliver Wenner
On July 22, 2011, a car bomb detonated in central Oslo, killing eight people and injuring an additional 209. That same day, the island Utøya was hosting a youth summer camp for the Norwegian Labor Party. A few hours after the bombing, a man posing as a police officer opened fire on the camp’s participants, killing 69 innocents. Anders Behring Breivik was quickly identified as the perpetrator behind both attacks, and this summer a Norwegian court deemed Breivik mentally sane, guilty of terrorism, and sentenced him to 21 years’ imprisonment. The court left open the possibility of indefinitely extending the sentence as long as Breivik is considered hazardous to society. The New York Times reported that many victims and their families were content with the verdict. Yet, Americans would have reacted quite differently had the crimes been committed in the United States. While the Norwegian system prioritizes restorative justice, focusing on rehabilitating the victims, society, and perhaps most importantly the perpetrator, the American system emphasizes retributive justice, in which punishment is central. These competing visions warrant a closer examination of their respective philosophical assumptions and their pragmatic societal costs.
PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFICULTIES Most would accept that a legal apparatus is necessary in modern society. The fact however that a legal apparatus is not
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conceptually necessary for society creates tension between what is empirically needed and what theoretical account of justice can be rationalized. To exemplify this conflict, assume that human beings possess fundamental rights given either by convention or nature, and that it is the paramount aim of proper governments to safeguard these rights. Systemic failure in doing so violates citizens’ trust. If philosophers however fail to provide an adequate justification for awarding governments legitimate authority, can the government be moral when enforcing these rights? One must consider these factors when approaching the legal proceedings against Breivik, because reconciling ethics with the needs of safeguarding society is a challenging balancing act. The Atlantic writer Max Fisher’s inference that the, “Norwegian-style restorative justice subverts those human desires for justice and fairness… the American system’s heavy emphasis on punishment has a history of leading it to horrific excess and abuse – but at least it’s meant to be just,” establishes a false dichotomy. Restorative justice, contrary to its retributive counterpart, does not inherently require imprisonment. Rehabilitation may be better served by avoiding incarceration completely and instead engaging in education. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive; a restorative system can incorporate conventional imprisonment, and a retributive system can rehabilitate the offender and accommodate the victims’ healing processes. Moreover, sanctions can be imposed with intentions beyond simple vengeance; it
crucially can rehabilitate the offender, victims, and society at large.
normative grounds for privileging restorative over retributive justice; however, there is one positive reason to consider.
THE PREDICAMENT OF PUNISHMENT
The introduction to philosopher Richard Burgh’s paper ‘Do the Guilty Deserve Punishment?’ underlines the moral difficulties of punishment: “[punishment] involves the deliberate and intentional infliction of suffering. It is in virtue of this that the institution requires justification in a way that many other political institutions do not.” One common justification for the rigorous imposition of legal sanctions is to satisfy the victim’s or society’s desire for vengeance. The state, by acting instrumentally in this pursuit, compensates victims for their grievances by depriving the transgressor of certain liberties. The desire for vengeance, a basic human emotion, parallels the retributive conception of justice. Yet, society must reason with the highly subjective nature of such sentiments. Justice clearly does not entail capital punishment for shoplifting, even when the shopkeepers demand it. Proponents conflating vengeance and justice must provide a satisfactory account of what punishments are necessary and appropriate for various crimes, and why the desire for vengeance, contrary to other emotions, requires state enforcement.
Admittedly, demographic, social and cultural factors will influence the practical considerations behind favoring one system. For instance, restorative justice may be suitable for a small, wealthy, homogenous society like Norway. Restorative justice, however, has a unique philosophical feature that makes it morally preferential. As previously noted, these two frameworks are not mutually exclusive. Yet the systems differ in one crucial way: the restorative system intends for the well-being of all parties involved. Such intention is simply a contingent component of the retributive system, which does not have to consider any person’s well-being, especially that of the perpetrator. In philosophy and law alike, intention and its relation to permissibility and action are fundamental considerations. Should consequences including incarceration and recidivism rates be equivalent, the restorative system seems preferable. Unlike retributive justice, it necessarily intends rehabilitation and improvement. Admittedly, it seems questionable when pursuing justice to take certain things as inherently good; here however, I refer to moral propositions that are agreeable to most people. With this conception of good, the restorative approach is preferable because it attempts to target the roots of transgressions. For instance, systemic features may exist that render certain societal groups at disadvantages. With marginal outlooks for achievement, an individual may look outside legal bounds for opportunities. A system that attempts to rehabilitate and reintegrate a criminal recognizes and assumes responsibility for the limitations of existing societal frameworks, rather than punishing an individual for the almost deterministic forces that a flawed system can exert. Overall, from a philosophical perspective, restorative justice seems preferable, and empirical data from Norway shows that the restorative model has lower rates of recidivism and judicial costs. The American demand for punishment could reflect a failure to comprehend the moral and empirical considerations that lend restorative justice its credibility. Though the monstrosity of Breivik’s case represents a unique challenge, the Norwegian restorative system, like its retributive counterpart, can impose appropriate and just sanctions against Breivik and other criminals. The court’s indefinite sentence extension demonstrates a fundamentally punitive feature, and it seems unlikely that the remorseless Breivik will ever rejoin society. Yet, through its treatment of Anders Breivik, the restorative justice system retains a distinctively superior moral character.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIETAL COOPERATION Early natural law theorists including Grotius, Pufendorf and Hobbes have suggested that upholding the law helps facilitate social cooperation. Likewise, others have suggested that justice should be seen through lens of utility and consequence. An essential feature of this view is the relationship between punishment and deterrence. A legal system that cannot impose sanctions is one where transgressors can evade consequences, which will not foster social cooperation. It is critical that potential lawbreakers believe that laws are effectively enforced. Consider a scenario in which the Norwegian police, after months of dedicated investigative work, failed to apprehend the culprit, and faith in the justice system subsequently declined. However, if the legal system eventually convicted any suspect, then faith would be restored. Under the scope of utility and societal cooperation, the suspect need not be guilty. One could justify the punishment as deterrence against future crimes, and as long as the population is kept oblivious to the punishment of innocents, optimal social cooperation has been met. Since arbitrary arrests and the imposition of punishments on innocents are unjust, a purely consequential account of justice is inadequate. This conception provides
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BETWEEN TECHNOCRACY AND DEMOCRACY Krister Koskelo
he Eurozone’s tumultuous struggle to extricate itself from its sovereign debt crisis has dominated international headlines since 2009. However, only recently has any substantive progress been made by policymakers. The combination of the European Central Bank becoming the effective lender of last resort for Eurozone members through its new bond-buying program, and the German Constitutional Court’s sanctioning of the European Stability Mechanism constitute the first substantial buffer against financial panic. Though the crisis remains far from resolution, the breathing room created by these recent developments has allowed E.U. leaders to consider long-term solutions for the Eurozone’s structural problems. This debate over reform, however, has shifted from economic to political grounds.
ECONOMIC SOLUTIONS From a purely economic standpoint, nearly all technocrats support tighter fiscal integration for the Eurozone. As former Bundesbank board member HansHelmut Kotz told the HPR, “there are absolutely no new arguments in the euro debate.” The current ones were raised when the Eurozone was created but ignored for political reasons. For example, Kotz notes that Robert Mundell and others argued as early as the 1960s that relatively tight fiscal and monetary integration, including some minimal fiscal transfers and robust labor market mobility, were necessary for maintaining a currency union. Kotz argues that none of this has occurred on a sufficient level at the Eurozone level thus far. However, today’s crisis has enlivened an active discussion about these issues of economic union, and has forged a consensus among policymakers at both the European and national levels. At the E.U. level, a strong commitment to, and blueprint for, economic integration was laid out by the European institutions. Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission, described to
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The European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.
the HPR the Commission’s three-pronged plan for bolstering the Eurozone’s viability. The first prong concerns financial integration through a banking union, which would be comprised of a single supervisory mechanism, a European-wide deposit insurance scheme, and a bank resolution fund. The second prong entails more budgetary control, and the third is increased institutional legitimacy. For Rehn, banking union is the “most urgent” priority, because it can be implemented without treaty changes, whereas the other two are only feasible long-term. Within individual member states, debate has been more discordant: northern creditor nations are advocating tight fiscal supervision to avoid profligacy, while southern debtor nations are pushing for mutualisation of risk. Yet, from the Commission’s perspective, the dichotomy between mutualisation and supervision is illusory. Rehn states that because of the need to avoid moral hazard, there can be, “no mutualisation without increased integration.” Thus far, the Commission has focused on bolstering supervision, but plans to subsequently increase mutualisation. Despite what he calls, “divergences in the political discourses of member states,” Rehn argues that within the Eurozone, there remains a deep commitment to further integration. Member states have assured the Commission that, “in the case of a tight spot, they are ready and willing to go far,” to support the Euro. The European Stability Mechanism rescue fund underscores this significant step toward mutualisation. Long-term, Rehn’s vision of Eurozone integration is a currency union with extensive coordination on both fiscal and budgetary policies. Even if, “the E.U. will not become as integrated as the U.S.,” Rehn believes that the Eurozone will ultimately embody a significantly more robust economic union than its current form suggests.
A VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE Unfortunately, European citizens are not nearly as enthusiastic as the Brussels technocracy about this ‘Eurotopian’ economic vision. They have recently expressed their dissent through social unrest in Greece, Portugal and Spain, and through their support of far-right, populist, and Eurosceptic parties. This latter undercurrent, present in many member states, is most prominent in Finland, the Netherlands, Hungary, and France. Vivien Schmidt, an expert on democracy within the E.U. at Boston University, tells the HPR that such reactions are “dangerous” to European stability. However, these actions can and should be viewed as citizens trying to intervene in a process in which they have little input. Given the consensus that fiscal integration is necessary and that political unrest is increasing, Schmidt proposes an ambitious plan for political integration. She argues that directly electing the Commission President, and having each European political grouping propose its own candidate, would allow for, “more politics, more debate, and less technocracy.” A partisan Commission President could conduct policy in line with his or her political leanings. Elections could provide an opportunity to debate Eurozone policy at the national level, whereas much is currently decided among Brussels technocrats. The idea that fiscal federalism requires political federalism has been making some headway in Europe. For example, a study
group of E.U. foreign ministers called the ‘Future Group’, led by the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, released a proposal in mid-September that included many democratic ideas mirroring Schmidt’s. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, especially her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, have started using the word “political union.” Even Eurosceptics are convinced that the two are intrinsically linked: Jan Fischer, a Eurosceptic candidate for President in the Czech Republic, recently said at Harvard that he opposes fiscal federalism because it “inevitably means” political federalism. Putting preliminary ideas on the table, however, could calm political tensions. Democratization of E.U. institutions would undercut the message of far-right Eurosceptics, as average citizens could help shape European affairs.
OPTING OUT? Amidst these ambitions for an ever closer economic and political union, the issue of dealing with member states left outside the common currency is almost completely ignored. E.U. member states except for the U.K. and Denmark are technically obligated under the E.U.’s fundamental treaties to join the Euro. However, Sweden has been holding off since a popular referendum rejected the Euro in 2004, and policymakers have resigned themselves to this de-facto opt out. Following Sweden’s footsteps and refraining from using the Euro for the foreseeable future has become an attractive option for E.U. member states outside the Eurozone with the debt crisis. Grzegorz Ekiert, Director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard, points to Poland as a prime example. Its finance minister, Jacek Rostowski, despite being “highly educated and pro-European,” recently declared that Poland would not join either the banking union or the Euro. The Bulgarian Prime Minister recently declared similar intentions for his country. Schmidt, nevertheless, does not see the fact that the Eurozone includes only some E.U. member states as problematic. After all, she says, the European Union has always been, “a regional state of nations,” consisting of many overlapping policy ‘clubs’ that include subsets of member states. The Eurozone, or the proposed banking union for that matter, are no different in this respect. However, Ekiert predicts political problems with this increasing policy fragmentation, which will make “political consensus even more difficult to find.” Although much remains unclear, and new developments can still emerge, the E.U. and Eurozone are nearing substantial transitions. If the Eurozone becomes as robustly integrated as policymakers hope, Ekiert argues that the distinction between Eurozone and non-Euro nations will, “lead to a two-track Europe.” The only question that remains is whether the two tracks are compatible with each other. Deeply Eurosceptical nations like the U.K. and Czech Republic, for instance, are unlikely to further ingratiate themselves in the European project. Ultimately, though the reforms spurred by the crisis originated from the economic necessities of correcting a flawed monetary union, the intra-E.U. battles over further integration will for the foreseeable future entail political and philosophical concerns as member states and E.U. institutions carve out roles in a new order.
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AUSTRALIA’S DILEMMA BETWEEN STRATEGY AND CULTURE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC John F.M. Kocsis and Alasdair Nicholson Last year, President Obama announced the ‘Pacific Pivot,’ a rebalancing of American international emphasis away from Europe and the Middle East and toward East Asia. In declaring this new foreign policy doctrine, President Obama addressed the Australian Parliament and revealed the deployment of an additional 2,500 U.S. troops in Australia. This symbolic measure established the Pacific as the geopolitical playing field for the next century. Anticipating the ascendancy of nations from the Asia-Pacific region, the United States is quickly establishing the former British prison colony as its foreign policy anchor for potentially tumultuous times ahead. Comprehending America’s particular interest in Australia is easy: the two nations share a common heritage, language, and powerful values system. Since the emergence of their alliance during World War II, the two have fought together in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan,
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bound together by the 1951 Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS). Sixty years later, the United States still has this geopolitically critical cornerstone as its leading ally in the Pacific. However, this relationship is worth exploring from both perspectives. Australia, a vestige of colonialism, is much closer geographically to Asia, and as China spreads its wings, Australia is the first Western country on the frontline of massive Chinese immigration and direct investment. In an opinion piece for The Australian, Chris Bowen, a member of the Australian House of Representatives remarked, “Immigration paves our way into the Asian century.” The article highlighted that last year, for the first time, more people moved to Australia from China than from any other country. China has also emerged as an important Australian trading partner, accounting for around 25 percent of
Australian bilateral trade. Its prominent economic relationships with East Asian countries, attributed to the Anglophone country’s unmatched exports of coal and iron core, has led to Australia’s active participation in and leadership of various regional multilateral groupings. If the next century belongs to Asia, Australia appears primed to engage the world.
THE INTERNAL DEBATE Despite the confluence of geographical and demographic factors that suggest an Asian-oriented future for Australia, top Australian diplomatic voices reject this possibility. Prime Minister Julia Gillard remarked last year, “Australia is an ally [of the United States] for all the years to come.” Accordingly, the relationship Ms. Gillard has with President Obama is as strong as the one her predecessor, John Howard, had with President Bush. In 1996, the conservative Howard became Prime Minister, a moment crucial to understanding the recent history of competing Australian visions of the Asian neighborhood. Howard’s predecessor, Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, championed a policy of ‘Asian enmeshment.’ Keating’s government played a commanding role in the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), a primary institutional driver of trade liberalization in the Pacific Rim. By the early 1990s, scholars were predicting the ‘Asianization of Australia,’ most notably in Samuel Huntington’s book The Clash of Civilizations, which characterized Australia as one among a few “torn countries” on the world’s civilizational frontiers. Despite Keating’s assurances that he did not envision Australia as an Asian state, he was trounced at the polls. As Michael Evans, a fellow at the Australian Defence College told the HPR, “Culture will always trump geography in Australian political discourse.” Continuing, Evans underscored the importance of the, “inner strength of Australia’s liberal democratic culture and its JudeoChristian ethic.”
ECONOMICS OF STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT While Howard’s government came to power partly because of the unpopularity of his predecessor’s Asian enthusiasm, it was George W. Bush’s ‘man of steel’ that presided over the beginning of the Sino-Australian trade boom. China’s rapacious importation of Australia’s natural resources might have even saved Australia from following into the recent recession. A mere three years ago, energy and mineral exports to China comprised 80 percent of Australian merchandise exports, evidence that an Australian economic shift towards Asia is perhaps inevitable. From Australia’s perspective, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the lucre associated with the Chinese economic
boom. The increasing rivalry between the United States and China will dominate Australian strategic thought throughout the upcoming years. But while recognizing the economic realities of the Asia-Pacific region’s ascendancy is essential, Professor Nick Bisley of Australia’s La Trobe University reminds us that one must also recognize the significance of the Australian-U.S. economic relationship. He tells the HPR, “The U.S. is Australia’s number two [bilateral trade] partner and… accounts for the lion’s share of [Foreign Direct Investment].” Simply put, while maintaining a solid relationship with China is undoubtedly important, it would be unthinkable for Australia to jeopardize its economic ties with what the world’s primary superpower.
STAYING POWER OF AMERICAN ARMS Of course, the American Pacific pivot has one focus in mind: reminding China that the United States retains a significant role in the region. This represents a new step in the 60-year military alliance between Australia and the United States, and although Sino-American conflict in the region could theoretically give Australia importance as a regional fulcrum, wartime financial damage would far outweigh any benefits of increased geopolitical importance. Bisley states plainly, “Given our strategic links to the U.S., however, there’s pretty much only downside to Sino-American conflict for Australia. Hence we are very keen on multilateral processes that include both China and the U.S. as they provide the only venue in which exposed third parties can shape the big bilateral relationship.” Though Australia hopes to avoid international crisis, political realities are impossible to ignore. Evans made it clear that pure neutrality is, “not an option for us because we are on the cusp of Southeast Asia and the long memory of the war with Japan informs the need for alliance partners.” Fundamentally, “a neutral Australia aligned to neither the U.S. nor China is highly unlikely. China has long reconciled itself to the reality of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty. It may not like it, but it accepts its reality.” One might conclude that Australia’s preference for the American camp in the likely future bipolar world is rooted in a perceived kinship of history and culture. While both are important, the pragmatic case for this trans-Pacific alignment remains strong. As Australian domestic politics lead to the development of European-style social democracy, record-low defense spending will pave the way for America to ramp up its military assets in Australia, intertwining the two nations’ fates for years to come. With this in mind, it becomes a bit clearer why Australian politicians remain keen, despite changing regional fortunes, on reminding America of just how much they appreciate its patronage.
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The New Age of Pacific Trade Obama’s Trade Agreement for the 21st Century
he Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the culmination of a broader ‘pivot’ on trade policy that has at times brought President Obama into conflict with his supporters and key Democratic constituencies. Currently entering a delicate phase of negotiations, the TPP could usher in a new age of U.S. trade policy. Described by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk as a “21st century trade agreement,” it focuses on new issue areas, including intellectual property. With the fourteenth round of negotiations concluded and the fifteenth round set to take place in Auckland, New Zealand this December, the participating parties have set an ambitious goal of reaching an agreement by next January. It is important that the American public takes the time to consider the implications of the TPP through the lens of both domestic politics and U.S. Pacific policy.
UNDER THE RADAR: THE EMERGENCE OF THE TPP When negotiations first began in 2005, only four countries, Singapore, Chile, Brunei, and New Zealand, were involved, with the aim to create a comprehensive, open Pacific market. Neighbors including Peru and Malaysia gradually joined, but the TPP only gathered serious momentum near the end of the Bush administration when the United States announced its interest in the agreement. Today, Robert Lawrence, a Professor of Trade Policy at the Kennedy School, describes the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a “coalition of the willing” that is intended to “set the standard” for all free trade agreements in the region. In fact, around half of current TPP members already have free trade agreements with the United States but are willing to meet the higher standards that the agreement demands. Other nations, including China and Japan, remain reluctant to join. This agreement follows current movements in free trade negotiations. With the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization dragging on and abandoned by many countries, new bilateral and multilateral initiatives have been advanced as alternatives. Amid these developments, restrictions on trade have been growing in recent years. The Secretary General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, described the current rise in trade restrictions as alarming. The imposition of further measures could endanger the fragile economic recovery worldwide and increase volatility on a global level. In this uneasy environment, the impact of the
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TPP remains uncertain. For the United States, expanding trade in the Pacific could boost U.S. exports to meet the President’s National Export Initiative goal of increasing exports to $3.14 trillion by 2015; last year, the value of U.S. exports was $2.1 trillion, around 13.8 percent of GDP. In securing economic recovery, preserving the openness of the international economy to U.S. goods and services is critical.
DOMESTIC DEBATES Negotiations around TPP have focused on sensitive topics including patent protection and creating rules for state-owned companies. Yet, whereas the passage of NAFTA was greeted with heated debate and the infamous warning by Ross Perot on the “giant sucking sound” of U.S. jobs being outsourced to Mexico, few have even heard of the TPP. This is attributed to the near-absolute secrecy of the negotiations and relative lack of input from domestic constituencies. Celeste Drake, a trade policy specialist at AFL-CIO, tells the HPR, “it’s [largely] a one-way conversation.” Even after fourteen rounds of negotiations, very little information has been released, despite demands by the AFL-CIO and other organizations to increase transparency. Still, the TPP has provoked strong debate in certain circles. Lawrence observes that issues of trade policy tend to be “very problematic and particularly difficult for Democrats,” as their natural base of support is generally hostile to free trade. Indeed, even strong supporters of President Obama are concerned with the effect of the TPP on American jobs and workers. In July, thousands marched on the White House against the TPP, fearing that intellectual property provisions addressing prescription drugs could provide pharmaceutical companies with monopolies and increase the costs of medication worldwide. Even more shocking for the President, a union picketed a fundraiser that he held in Portland, Oregon. The Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW) fears that the TPP could lead to manufacturing job losses. Gregory Pallesen, Vice President of AWPPW, characterized the deal for the HPR as a “NAFTA-style, Bush-style trade agreement.” Pointing to job losses that have reduced his union membership from 25,000 to 5,000, Pallesen explained, “the trade agreements are for us the root of all economic evil.” Particularly concerned that the TPP would be passed with an ‘up or down’ Congressional vote
The October 2010 TPP Summit with the original signatories and leaders of the negotiating countries.
without amendments, he believes “it’s not being negotiated the way it should be.” Even some Congressmen and women argue that the President lacks the authority to negotiate because the President’s Trade Promotion Authority expired. Recently, 130 members of Congress expressed in a letter to Trade Representative Kirk that indicated their belief “that important policy decisions are being made without full input from Congress.”
THE PIVOT ON TRADE Beyond domestic concerns, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement consolidates the United States’ economic and political objectives in the Pacific. Trade policy can be used to strategic ends, strengthening economic ties to bolster political alliances. Former World Bank President Robert Zoellick,
speaking at Harvard, said that he sees the TPP as “emphasizing the commonality of interests, the common rules.” Similarly, Dr. Nicholas Burns, who served for 27 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, told the HPR that, “at its core [TPP] is an economic institution, and yet it always has a political cast to it. The countries invited to participate are democratic countries…I think that’s a force multiplier.” The TPP, unprecedented in scope and scale, is ultimately a bold new step in U.S. trade policy and may become an important element of President Obama’s legacy, but uncertainties remain. According to Drake, the AFL-CIO is “not confident that it’s going down the right path,” and transparency remains a concern. Translating the ambitious aims of this would-be trade deal into a viable agreement will require a willingness to accommodate divergent interests, both domestically and among negotiating partners.
Pointing to job losses that have reduced his union membership from 25,000 to 5,000, Pallesen explained, “the trade agreements are for us the root of all economic evil.”
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BOOKS & ARTS
PATHOLOGIES OF THE
ONE PERCENT Wendy Chen As an MSNBC host and editor-at-large of The Nation, Chris Hayes has written extensively on liberalism and labor politics; and as a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, he has worked on issues of socioeconomic inequality. It is this political and analytic background that Hayes brings to bear upon his diagnosis of America’s current condition in The Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy. Hayes offers a strongly evidenced and well-developed case concerning the disastrous role of the American meritocracy in creating failed institutions, a convincing examination characterizing the majority of his book. The solution that Hayes proposes to address the maladies of meritocracy, however, highlights the underlying tensions in the author’s argument, resulting in a puzzling and unsatisfactory conclusion. On the whole, Twilight of the Elites is an eminently confronting and deeply compelling book that serves to provoke both debate and action.
A DECADE OF FAILURES Hayes begins by taking stock of America’s recent history—a downward trajectory of public and private sector failings and institutional dysfunction—culminating in the “Crisis Decade” of the past ten years. “America feels broken,” writes Hayes. “The cumulative effect of these scandals and failures is an inescapable national mood of exhaustion, frustration, and betrayal,” leaving us “in the midst of a broad and devastating crisis of authority.” To understand why “all the smart people fucked up, and no one seems willing to take responsibility,” Hayes contends that America’s meritocratic system, which cultivated these leaders, has faltered. And the fragility of the meritocracy and its reinforcement of inequality have led to an America that “isn’t very meritocratic at all.” Hayes draws upon the work of theorists Robert Michels, Vilfredo Pareto, and Gaetano Mosca to explore the inherent pitfalls of meritocracy. It is an approach that at once illuminates and adds much analytical weight to Hayes’ empirical evidence. Drawing from Robert Michels’ Political Parties, Hayes argues that the need for organization and delegation in any political party leads to the creation of an elite cadre. It follows that true
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democracy is in practice impossible, and oligarchy is inevitable. For Hayes, this progression is a key explanation for what he calls the “Iron Law of Meritocracy.” Taking the idea of a pure, functioning meritocracy to task, Hayes posits that meritocracy, which combines a difference in talents and the possibility of mobility, runs up against reality, where “the inequality produced by a meritocratic system will grow large enough to subvert the mechanisms of mobility.” That is, under the “Iron Law of Meritocracy,” the meritocratic elites who have risen to the top find ways to keep themselves there. Hayes develops his case by examining the way our meritocratic system—a legitimized “hypercompetitive social order”— has created morally hazardous conditions. Hayes assesses cases such as Enron’s fraudulent business practices and the drug doping scandals that rocked American baseball, detailing the ways in which the competitive environment and incentive structures within these institutions rewarded cheating and fraud. Tying his thinking to “Gresham’s Law,” whereby dishonest behavior crowds out honest exchange, Hayes sees a similar process at work within the meritocratic system. In the case of Enron, “bad money drives out good,” while in baseball, “players on steroids push out those who don’t juice.” Thus America’s fetishization of “ceaseless competition and meritocratic ascent” has in fact enabled an intensely competitive, high-reward environment that is “prone to produce all kinds of fraud, deception, conniving, and game rigging.”
THE MERITOCRATIC MIND Hayes’ method for examining these meritocratic blunders brings him to a detailed analysis of the mindsets and pathologies of those at the very top. He sees the symptoms of elite failure (corruption, self-dealing, status obsession, and blinkered thinking) as linked to the psychology of “threatened egotism.” This mindset in turn stems from the pressures of a meritocratic system that emphasizes constant competition and endless striving. The end result is a less empathetic ruling class, one that is “always looking at the next rung upon on the social ladder” rather than empathizing with “those on the rungs below.”
BOOKS & ARTS
Hayes also alleges the development of a “Cult of Smartness,” where so much faith and deference are paid to experts that thought becomes deeply inflexible and in some cases—such as the misguided information that facilitated America’s path to the War in Iraq—utterly disastrous. Furthermore, Hayes provides well-documented examples of institutional inter-dependence, collusion, group thinking, and inappropriate conflicts of interest such as doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, financial firms and ratings agencies, and Capitol Hill and lobbyists. All this paints a grim picture of just how much the meritocratic process has crumbled at the very top. With all their shortcomings, Hayes envisions the ties between the nation’s leadership and its citizens at a breaking point.
INSURRECTIONISM V. INSTITUTIONALISM While the strengths of Twilight of the Elites lie in Hayes’ use of theoretical explanations that are strongly reinforced by studies, polls, and other sources, the author is at his most compelling
in his ability to stir emotions. Hayes raises a sense of collective injustice and outrage at just how badly the game has been rigged and calls for solidarity in overcoming such corruption and inequality. This call echoes throughout the entire book, with most of its chapters ending in a conclusion that the situation is one of them-against-us, with the elites only growing more powerful. It is for this reason that the solution that Hayes comes to at the end of Twilight of the Elites is discordant with the rest of the book. Hayes argues for the mobilization of a “radicalized upper middle class” in order to bridge the social distance between elites and their victims. Yet this mobilization is expected to occur within the existing meritocracy. It is puzzling that, having established just how badly the meritocratic system has malfunctioned, Hayes argues for a solution that is still based on working within meritocracy—using a broken system to fix the broken system. Moreover, the solution he presents comes across as a feeble appeal to the dysfunctional elites themselves: “they must be convinced that the current status quo is unsustainable.” One reason for the not-wholly-satisfying nature of Twilight of the Elites is that Hayes seeks to straddle the fine line between what he describes as “insurrectionist” and “institutionalist” reform. Hayes alludes to this tension early on, briefly contrasting the role of insurrectionists who see the system as broken and in need of a complete change of leadership with institutionalists who worry about the public’s loss of faith in authority and the potential chaos resulting from institutional skepticism. Hayes proposes a vision of reform that summons the anger of insurrectionist sentiment while maintaining a faith in the authority of institutions. But the difficulty is that Hayes has essentially written an insurrectionist book which harbors institutionalist fears. His sophisticated and well-supported analyses show exactly how, why, and by what means meritocracy has led to a self-serving elite; his insider anecdotes show just how cynically corrupt our leaders were as they skirted the system. His focus on unfairness and inequality orients his book towards the masses and non-elites who must work together. With an insurrectionist arc and an insurrectionist message, the book’s institutionalist ending is both jarring and disappointing. One can understand why Hayes does not want to position himself wholly in either camp, avoiding what he dismisses as “nihilism and manic, paranoid distrust.” One is left with too many questions. Why should we trust the meritocratic elite to fix itself? How can we believe that they will care about its victims? What makes these broken institutions worth fixing? Had these problems been addressed earlier (or at all) in the book, Hayes’ prescription would appear much stronger. Twilight of the Elites is still a compelling and powerfully argued read, particularly given the substantive and nuanced analyses developed in most of the book. As a diagnosis of America’s condition, Twilight of the Elites elucidates a richly drawn narrative of what and how things went wrong. A convincing solution, though, might have to be found elsewhere.
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I AM A FEMINIST, AND SO CAN YOU! Holly Flynn and Valentina Perez
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BOOKS & ARTS
Moran believes that all women are inherently feminists unless they reject any notion of personal freedom. What she aims to do is make women realize the importance of claiming the feminist identity, and putting it into the practice of stamping out misogynistic relics.
f you have ever wondered what a feminist is, Caitlin Moran has an answer for you. In her best-selling How to Be a Woman, which Slate called her “memoir-slash-manifesto,” Moran argues that feminism is practical, universal, and crucial for 21st century women. With stories from her own life, she presents a humorous and in-your-face diatribe about everything from periods to thongs to childbirth. Her goal is to change the definition of feminism from something radical to something any and every woman can and should practice. She succeeds—with many capital letters, exclamation points, and stories about her transformation from overweight, lonely teenager to successful journalist who parties with Lady Gaga.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS As the oldest of eight children in an impoverished family from Wolverhampton, England, Moran initially believed that there was “absolutely nothing to recommend about being a woman.” She came into her own at an early age, though, writing a novel by 15 and working as a columnist for the music weekly Melody Maker by 16. At 18, she was the host of a national television show, Naked City and later landed a job at The Times of London, where she is still a columnist. Early in her teenage years, Moran compiled a mental manual for navigating womanhood and discovered the feminist theories that she now brings to the common woman. At 15, she read the feminist canon of Germaine Greer, the author of The Female Eunuch, which encouraged women to embrace their differences from men in their struggle for liberation. How to Be a Woman has been published in 18 countries and was on the British Top 10 list for almost a full year. In addition, she is active on Twitter with over 290,000 followers, to whose questions and general obsession she finds time to respond. Moran’s persona and fame are essential components to her
message of making feminism mainstream. Her hundreds of thousands of readers are necessary for her goal of reaching all types of women, particularly those who would not otherwise be exposed to these ideas. Moran acknowledges that feminism has negative, radical, bra-burning and man-hating connotations, but wants to reclaim the word. To her, feminism does not need to be dumbed down in order for it to be practiced by any and every woman; feminism only needs to be packaged in a way that women find accessible.
DO-IT-YOURSELF FEMINISM Moran’s central argument in How to Be a Woman is that “it is technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism.” She bluntly conveys her disdain for the 71% of American women who declined to describe themselves as feminists: “What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?” As vitriolic as this sounds, for Caitlin Moran, this is feminism: it is not about theory or hating men but about the very real ways in which society holds women back, from strip clubs to sexism in the workplace. Moran believes that all women are inherently feminists unless they reject any notion of personal freedom. She wants women to realize the importance of claiming the feminist identity, and putting it into the practice of stamping out misogynistic relics. Whatever beliefs stem from a woman’s personal acceptance of feminism are secondary to the feminist label itself. Furthermore, Moran believes that feminism is important for everybody, men and women; in fact, she cites her own husband as one of the most strident feminists she knows.
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BOOKS & ARTS
timate of socially acceptable objectifications of women. In her words, “But what are strip clubs and lap-dancing clubs if not ‘light entertainment’ versions of the entire history of misogyny?” She similarly makes a serious and in-depth comparison of the merits of Lady Gaga over popular British media personality and glamour model Katie Price (“imagine a cross between Snooki and Kim Kardashian but incalculably less charming”) as role models. To her, Price is not an example of female sexual empowerment but instead is a product of misogynistic cultural norms. Lady Gaga takes the over-sexualization of pop stars and turns it on its head: her music, videos, and outrageous fashion do not cater to men’s sexual desire but to Gaga’s own creativity. Moran’s most earnest moment is her chapter on her personal experience with and opinions about abortion. Moran rejects the notion that all abortions are surrounded with shame and that each baby “that is not brought to fruition must be accounted and mourned and repented for, and would remain unforgiven forever.” While How To Be a Woman explodes with hilarity, the author tempers her lightheartedness at crucial points.
A BILLION DIFFERENT FEMINISTS
Moran is convincing because of her forceful and self-deprecating humor, which allows her to take on the persona of the everywoman. However, her style also has the potential to alienate many readers. Her desire is “that women counter the awkwardness, disconnect, and bullshit of being a modern woman not by shouting at it, internalizing it, or squabbling about it— but by simply pointing at it and going ‘HA!’ instead.” Though this philosophy makes feminism engaging and practicable (not to mention entertaining), she often seems to make light of serious affronts like sexual harassment in the workplace and pornography. This could inadvertently repulse readers who are already more accustomed to orthodox feminism or those on the other end of the spectrum who are completely unfamiliar with these ideas. Both may find her levity equally off-putting. While Moran would like every woman in the world to read her book, her target audience is women who are sympathetic to the ideas of feminism but have not yet identified with the word itself.
MORE SERIOUS NOTES In some important areas, though, Moran puts joking aside. There is her analysis of strip clubs, which she views as the ul-
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Wouldn’t a book called How to Be a Woman imply a single, monolithic ideal of feminism? When asked by the HPR over Twitter if her book is prescribing how all feminists should be, Moran was quick to clarify that her path to feminism is not the one that every woman should take. “Of course not!” she replied. “I want a billion different feminists!” This response ought to be reassuring, since many may find some of her proposals for correcting sexism hard to swallow. Take, for example, her position on sexism in the workplace. Now that women are vying for the same positions in the workplace as men, Moran thinks sexism is an attempt to preserve the traditionally held dominance of males. But she does not frown upon flirting in the workplace to get ahead, as most canonical feminists do. “Your male peers are flirting with their male bosses constantly,” she writes. “That’s basically what male bonding is. Flirting…. They are bonding with each other over their biological similarities. If the only way you can bond with them is over your biological differences, you go for it.” This demonstrates Moran’s firm belief that women should make feminism work for them. However, her opinion could also estrange readers who believe that playing into the system is degrading and inimical to progress. In Moran’s feminism, there are a billion different feminists. Readers of How To Be a Woman might not agree with Caitlin Moran on many issues. They might find her style distasteful. Yet that is not what is at stake for the author and for women everywhere. Moran’s message is clear: feminism is for everyone. It is not about bra burning, hating men, or rejecting femininity or sexuality. It is about women having power over themselves. Women achieve that by making their own choices, be they about getting a Brazilian wax or an abortion.
INTERVIEW: PRES. ELBEGDORJ with Zorigoo Tugsbayar
we are making some progress, but making the hard decisions related to corruption requires political will from everyone from the President to the ordinary people in Mongolia. We have the political will and I hope we will succeed.
Will the new coalition government be more capable of facing those challenges than the previous one? Yes, I do believe that the new government is more capable.
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is the current President of Mongolia. An alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, he is striving to promote democracy and reduce corruption.
Mongolia’s economy has grown rapidly lately. However, one-third of the population is still below the poverty line and there are questions about whether another ‘resource curse’ might occur. Will Mongolia’s development of natural resources help more escape poverty or will it lead towards a dark road? There are many countries that are endowed with natural resources and there are also many countries that have failed in using their resources wisely. But, Mongolia is an open country, and open countries are more prone to succeed. In Europe, Norway has great mineral wealth and is succeeding with those resources, as are Canada and Australia.
Mongolia is a flourishing democracy, but it is also struggling with corruption. How will you face this challenge? Corruption is the mortal enemy of any open society and democratic values. Fighting corruption is not easy and it requires more action. It requires forceful decision making. It requires tougher laws, which must be enforced. I think, on that front
China is Mongolia’s main export partner for its commodities, as most mines are located near Mongolia’s southern border. However, China is paying below market price. What should your nation’s relationship with China should be? Do you think China is dominating Mongolia’s economy? China is still our biggest trading and investment partner. One reason why Mongolia has become such an attractive location for investments is its close proximity to the Chinese market, the most important market in the world. We want more gateways to other markets through China, such as Japan, South Korea, Europe and Russia. However, I think those issues you mentioned will always be on the table, and the people demand a fair deal. In order to meet that demand we have to talk with China, which is tough, but I hope that our new government will continue to do that.
You studied at the Harvard Kennedy School not too long ago. What do you think Americans overlook or get wrong most when thinking about Mongolia? We have great relations with the United States. This year, we celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries. We have common values and shared interests such as freedom, democracy, human rights, rule of law, and transparency, which we are working and fighting for together. Our men and women served together in Iraq and now they are serving together in Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world. We must expand our relationship and there should be more investments from North America and Europe. However, we need to balance that with investments from our neighbors, and because of that our relations with China and Russia are also very important. This interview has been edited and condensed.
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INTERVIEW: ROBERT ZOELLICK with Rajiv Tarigopula
ety, and research. We need to gather knowledge and learning, finance, etc. to strengthen institutions. One of the core challenges for the Bank will be serving rising middle income countries (the Chinas, Indias, and Brazils) while also drawing them in. But we also need sound policies for Europe and the United States, open trade markets, support for investment flows, and doing away with subsidies that inhibit developing countries’ abilities to compete.
What are some policy issues you would emphasize differently if you were Secretary of State today?
Robert Zoellick has served as President of the World Bank, Deputy Secretary of State, and U.S. Trade Representative. He is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
You’re the head of Governor Romney’s national security team, and have spoken about how the World Bank can pressure Iran away from developing a nuclear program. Can you speak to your view? Well, I don’t know if there’s a lot that the World Bank can do with Iran – quite frankly, I think that’s a different set of issues. Where the World Bank fits more in the security picture is in countries that have been facing or are emerging from conflict. There, where the World Bank can play a constructive role is in trying to interconnect security, economics, and governments.
As President of the World Bank, you pioneered the goal of an “inclusive and sustainable globalization.” What specific steps can world leaders like the United States, China, etc. take today to facilitate that mission? I think the bank’s role is to be a catalyst within a network. You now have much more private sector capital, NGOs, civil soci-
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My background in foreign policy is a little different from many of my contemporaries who came up more through the political and military track. While I have dealt with those issues, I had experience with economics. I worked at the Treasury Department, as Trade Representative, etc. And so, what I’m trying to encourage and think in foreign policy, including for the State Department, is how one can effectively integrate economics as a dynamic process in your larger foreign policy agenda. This contains everything from resources and power to the basic fact that healthy economies are important for modern political systems. Economic reforms over time have been associated with democratic development. Sometimes there’s a debate in foreign policy about idealism and power. I find that economics is actually a way that can engage both those topics, because the economic agenda focuses on private sector freedom, liberty, openness, and obviously growth opportunity, but at the same time it’s important as a fundamental basis of power. Earlier I was in Singapore, Taiwan, and Korea, and anyone who spends time in East Asia recognizes that economic strength and dynamism is the coin of the realm. For the United States to lead and compete effectively, we have to start by fixing problems at home. I’ll share with you an observation that came from the Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, a longtime friend of the United States. He said, “The United States is one budget deal away from restoring its global preeminence.” And that was striking because what he’s partly saying is that it’s not only a question of getting your financial house in order, but it’s also showing that your political system works and that your political system can deal with the challenges of the day. But he added one other point, saying that there are countries and people in his part of the world, the Asia-Pacific, that are saying, “This time the United States isn’t up to it. This time
the United States isn’t going to be able to fix its problems, so you better listen to our interests.” It’s a way of demonstrating that what sometimes looks like domestic economic issues are also fundamental to not only a country’s economic strength but also its political leadership.
Your views have been described by commentators as more mercantilist and unilateral than free trade-oriented or multilateral. Do you think this is a fair characterization? I don’t think the mercantilist charge is accurate; I negotiated more free trade agreements for the United States by four or five times than all my predecessors and successors. I took a strategy of competitive liberalization as U.S. Trade Representative, pushing for treaties bilaterally, regionally, and globally. The result is that the United States now has free trade agreements with over 50 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s GDP, not counting the United States. This includes Chile, Colombia, Peru, Central America and Panama, and that is important for U.S. relations. Also, now when the U.S. does free trade agreements, they’re more comprehensive, so they cover intellectual property and other issues.
In a post-Bretton Woods world, what are your views on international currency flows, especially with respect to a renewed gold standard? I wrote a piece in the Financial Times a year or two ago talking about the need to shift thinking about the international currency system. I referred to how the G7 advanced economies should have a principle of floating exchange rates, except when others consent to intervention, a concern that Japan has raised. But, the gold reference was that we’re in an era where monetary policy is moving into new territory, and people are taking bold steps.
United States, my view was that the gold price was useful as an indicator of confidence, particularly in a time when we are pursuing very unusual monetary policies.
Your career has spanned finance, government, law, academia, politics, international relations, and more. As a Harvard alumnus, what advice do you have for Harvard students hoping to make a difference? Anybody who has the good fortune to go to school at Harvard has a wonderful world of opportunity open to them. Beyond that, I would just say two thoughts: one is that I did a joint degree with the law school and the public policy school in part because I felt that service to country and to the public was important, and I wanted to learn the skills, both analytical and managerial, to do that. I hope that people begin with different walks of life and different callings, but consider a potential avenue for public service, which I still think is the highest calling. On a more practical side, you’re going to have to make calculated risks and judgments. When I graduated, people often started with law firms, business, consulting firms and other such jobs. It’s easy to follow that path, and there’s a lot you can learn there, and there’s a lot you can contribute there. But, now and then there’ll be an opportunity that will involve a certain amount of risk: maybe it’s working for an elected official, maybe it’s going into a government policy position. One has to assess your own life, family and other calculations. I would just suggest that now and then that you have to make some of those calculated risks, and my experience has been – but this varies – that the greater variety of experiences you have, the broader base you have. You mentioned economics, finance, law, and other [fields] – when people have asked me what I do, I see myself as a problem-solver, and I tend to bring multiple disciplines to the task of solving problems. This interview has been edited and condensed.
I’m suggesting that it’s important to look at what markets signal; my background in addition to policy has been market orientation. And so, what markets signaled through the gold price (and this is also the case for some other commodities) was some level of discomfort with what they saw the central bankers were doing with fiat, or paper, money. Not surprisingly, the central banking community doesn’t like to be criticized, but the debate has not gone away since I wrote this piece. If you think about the recent debate about QE3 in the
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WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE? Paul Schied
The sky over Cambridge is grayer these past few months. It has been a difficult semester for Harvard. We lost two students—one to an accident and the other to suicide. The former was a prodigious and ambitious young scientist set on shaking up the world for the better, the latter a kind and poetic soul that lit up rooms with his music, warmth, and smile. Losing these young men made it impossible not to question if Harvard is really the promising, compassionate community we want it to be. The most disheartening thing about the cheating scandal that made national news early in the semester was how unsurprising it was to students. Some in the outside world may think of us as paragons of hard work and academic achievement (perhaps with some snobbishness thrown in for good measure), but we are painfully aware of our own failings. It is no secret on campus that not every course is an uplifting intellectual experience and that even those that could be are not always made meaningful by the students in them. And this election. The candidates have three Harvard degrees between them, and yet they spent the majority of last week’s town hall debate barking at each other like rabid bulldogs. This campaign has shown flashes of coherence, even substantive discussion about big ideas. But for the most part it has been characterized by the shallow and closed-minded politics with which we have become so accustomed. And for as much as each candidate tries to pin down the other on his plans for the future, how either will play with an inevitably dysfunctional legislature is anything but clear. The world, like an overcast Massachusetts afternoon, is a bit grayer too. It is grayer not just because of the challenges facing the global economy and our oft-insufficient politics at home. It is grayer because it is more uncertain. It is unclear which way things break from here. We have killed Osama bin Laden, but we have not defeated terrorism. Ghadafi, Mubarak, and Ben Ali are gone, but the Middle East is not close to stable. Globalization represents the greatest hope
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for increased human productivity and prosperity since the Industrial Revolution and the greatest threat to our social and economic order since the same. The demons of today are in many ways fundamentally different from the demons of the past. Nazism and Communism were existential evils, but they were existential evils that could be confronted—ideologically, militarily, and morally. Absent these unitary threats, but still plagued by uncertainty about the future, we’ve turned inwards. The Tea Party is the enemy. Or the President. We can no longer claim to be experiencing the end of history, but neither can we be sure of the narrative in which we are living. Are we destined for decades of economic instability? Is America truly in decline? What happens next? We hear a lot about pivotal moments, pivotal elections, pivotal ideas, and pivotal times in our lives. The argument that remains to be made is for ours as a pivotal generation, and no one will make that argument but us. We’re a generation that has so far experienced much. We witnessed September 11th. We’ve weathered disasters natural, political, and economic. We’ve seen historic elections at home and abroad. And we’ve watched as our country has developed deficits monetary and moral, and our peers across the globe have thrown off oppressive governments only to see their struggles co-opted by entrenched political, religious, and social interests. So the question becomes: how do we deal with this uncertainty? How do we grapple with this incipient grayness? I won’t presume to have any definitive answers—things aren’t that black and white. But it would seem to me that answering this uncertainty will require of our generation at least two related attributes. The first is honesty—intellectual and otherwise. The greatest value of a place like Harvard, and a place like the HPR, is exposure to those that think differently: differently from the norm and differently from one another. The true challenge for our generation, and the personal challenge I issue readers and writers of this magazine, is internalizing these modes of thinking and treating them fairly and truthfully. And if ours is to become a pivotal generation, we will require a different kind of leadership. We need leaders who embrace the uncertainty of our times, and we need to see such recognition not as weakness, but as strength. We must constantly be striving to improve and must constantly redefine who we are, or, perhaps more accurately, who we think we are. Our principles can and should remain the same—peace, prosperity, tolerance, and freedom—but our methods and our mindsets must change. We may not be able to dispel uncertainty, but if we recognize it and adapt, the skies will be a little brighter in the months and years ahead.
The Harvard Political Review Literature Review. Long-form investigations covering nuanced issues. HPROnline.org/lit-supplement