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Volume XIII, Issue III

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POLITIK PRESS

FEBRUARY 18th, 2013

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Volume XIII, Issue III

the

POLITIK PRESS

the

FEBRUARY 18th, 2013

POLITIK PRESS

A publication of

JHU POLITIK jhupolitik.org

EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Jeremy Orloff, Matt Varvaro MANAGING EDITOR Alex Clearfield ASSISTANT EDITORS Julia Allen Colette Andrei Ari Schaffer

HEAD WRITER Rachel Cohen

LAYOUT EDITOR Victoria Scordato

STAFF WRITERS Megan Augustine, Akshai Bhatnagar, Michael Bodner, Henry Chen, Virgil Doyle, Chris Dunnett, Cary Glynn, Archie Henry, Peter Lee, Daniel Roettger, Geordan Williams, Chris Winer

FACULTY ADVISOR Steven R. David

EVENTS CHAIR/PUBLICITY Randy Bell

The views expressed within this publication reflect the personal opinions of each article’s author and are not necessarily endorsed by JHU Politik or the Johns Hopkins University.

VOLUME XIII, ISSUE III FEBRUARY 18th, 2013

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Volume XIII, Issue III

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE WEEK IN REVIEW

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Matt Varvaro ‘13

READING LIST .....................................................................

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Jeremy Orloff ‘13

SECRECY AND DRONES .......................................................

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Rachel Cohen ‘14

ALL EYES ON TEHRAN:

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FIXING THE ROADS TO PROSPERITY .....................................

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THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN IRAN Christopher Dunnett ‘13

Cameron Davis ‘16

MADURO TO LEAD THE LATIN AMERICAN LEFT? ...............

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Dylan Moses ‘14

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WEEK IN REVIEW By Matt Varvaro ‘13, Editor-in-Chief Transatlantic Trade Pact Gaining Momentum In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for a comprehensive round of trade liberalization between the United States and the European Union. Several European leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have endorsed the idea. The proposed agreement would phase out remaining import tariffs and reduce other, more substantial, barriers to trade. For example, certain agricultural subsidies which give domestic producers a competitive advantage over foreign producers could be targets of the trade pact. On a similar note, both sides currently impose a stricter certification process on foreign producers of goods, like automobiles, which artificially restricts competition. Supporters of the proposed deal argue that reducing these trade barriers would promote economic growth in both the US and the EU by facilitating trade and lowering prices. Negotiations could begin as early as June.

U.S. Senate: Cooling Saucer or Tea Kettle? Newly-elected Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) represent the latest examples of a changing United States Senate. The Senate has always been the more deliberative and moderate of the two chambers and its arcane rules have traditionally put a premium on dealmaking and compromise. In recent years, though, the Senate has begun to resemble its counterpart on Capitol Hill. Senators like Cruz and Warren are replacing their moderate predecessors and winning elections on a devotion to principles and ideologies that can win in safely red or blue states. This week, Cruz continued his strident attacks on Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense and Warren engaged in an aggressive and near-theatrical interrogation of financial regulators. Both performances were criticized by industry insiders, but praised by those who admire the senators’ principled stances.

The Evolving Papacy Pope Benedict XVI’s unexpected resignation signals the importance of new papal functions and his successors’ evolving role. Traditionally, the task of overseeing the Vatican, leading masses, and issuing decrees has consumed the much of the Pope’s day-to-day activity. Today, in addition to these critical functions, the Pope’s role consists increasingly of communication and outreach to current and prospective Church members. These new tasks require a greater familiarity with modern tools like social media and an ability to travel to emerging hubs of Catholicism, like Africa and Latin America. For this reason, some speculate that Benedict’s successor will be relatively young and perhaps from a country outside of Western Europe. Whoever is chosen will almost certainly follow Benedict’s precedent as the first Pope with a Twitter account. PP

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READING LIST Memorable Pieces From the Past Month By Jeremy Orloff ‘13, Editor-in-Chief “When Jim Crow Drank Coke,” by Grace Elizabeth Hale Published as an Op-Ed in the NYT on January 28th Hale takes Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban in New York City as a jumping off point for a discussion of the century old relationship between soft drinks and racial politics. Why, in 2013, does the NAACP oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s health-conscious policy? Hale argues that its relationship with the Coca-Cola company can offer some explanation for this. In the lead up to nationwide prohibition beginning in 1920, many communities in the Jim Crow-era South made alcohol illegal in order to give their police all the pretext necessary to detain blacks on suspicion of drinking. Coca-Cola’s initial success was as a non-alcoholic beverage designed to quench the thirst of whites during the temperance movement. The drink’s initial popularity was likely due to the cocaine that lent it its name. Only after Coke was bottled and expanded past the all-white clientele of soda fountains did public pressure arise to eliminate the drug from its recipe. Hale contends that for decades, Coke refused to advertise to an African-American clientele and allowed Pepsi to become the preferred beverage of that market. By the 1950s though, Coca-Cola could no longer ignore such a large population and began a quiet but aggressive campaign to court it the African-American market. This included funding the NAACP and other community programs. The strength of Hale’s piece is in her ability to tie together contemporary issues with historical facts and to concisely explain the unseen history of this enormous industry. “The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden... Is Screwed,” by Phil Bronstein Published on Esquire.com on February 11th The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad Pakistan has spawned countless articles (Nicholas Schmidle’s in the New Yorker from August 8, 2011 remains the best), a blockbuster hit, and, some might contend, four more years for the president who gave the order to go in on that moonless spring night. Bronstein’s piece in Esquire is a sort of “Where Are They Now”, military

edition. Bronstein became relatively close to his subject while writing this piece and his empathy and sympathy for “the Shooter” come through. Just two years after pulling the trigger to end the life of the world’s most wanted terrorist, the shooter is unemployed and his prospects for future happiness seem bleak. Many of the members of Seal Team Six have found paying jobs in the video game industry, advising companies like Electronic Arts on how to make their violent games even more realistic. But the Shooter, perhaps out of fear for the safety of his own family, has avoided profiting in any way off of his unique experience. This article is something of a tour-de-force. Esquire is written for a specific market (men) and the writing can be crude and inappropriate at times (a lot of time is spent on the shooter’s need to urinate). But on the other side of its machismo, this article is the product of in-depth research and interviews. We see the shooter at every stage, from preparing for the raid, firing the shots inside the upstairs bedroom, to recuperating from that traumatizing experience and building a new life back home in the United States. The article underscores the importance of strategic raids on terrorist networks in Iraq and Afghanistan and shows the brutality of modern warfare. The scope of the article allows Bronstein to cover an individual story and place it within the context of the system meant to care for our veterans. It’s a long piece but certainly worth the time. “George W. Bush Is a Good Painter!” by Jerry Saltz Published on Vulture.com on February 8th. Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine’s unabashedly liberal art critic, reacts to the release of private photographs of the Bush family in this sardonic post. Although a hacker released a slew of emails—including ones related to George Bush Sr.’s recent hospitalization and seemingly imminent passing—Saltz chose to highlight a few photographs of paintings that George W. Bush has produced in retirement. It’s a piece full of political and art jokes and derives its humor from a realization that sometimes, critical analysis is not always necessary. PP

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SECRECY AND DRONES By Rachel Cohen ‘14, Head Writer

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t’s been a bad week for people concerned with drone warfare.

A week ago, a Department of Justice “white paper” memo was leaked to NBC spelling out what White House attorneys believe is the legal defense for authorizing drone strikes targeting American citizens. Despite Barack Obama’s insistent calls for greater transparency within his administration, this is the first time such arguments were shown to the public. These ‘legal rationales’ are chilling. According to the Obama Administration, it is lawful to target and kill American citizens if they are believed to be “imminent threats.” However, the language used to define what “imminent threat” means is so watered down as to effectively mean nothing. The memo states, “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons will take place in the immediate future.” I would certainly hope that when the government of the United States is authorizing the right to kill an American citizen without a trial and due process, they have some amount of “clear evidence” as to why this measure is needed. The scary bottom line of the white memo is: “just trust us.” Next up was John Brennan’s confirmation hearing as Obama’s nominee to head the CIA. During the hearing Brennan adamantly defended Obama’s counterterrorism policies, including the increased use of armed drones and the targeted killings of American citizens. This is not surprising since he is credited to be a main architect of Obama’s “kill list.” In one remarkable moment Brennan insisted that, “What we need to do is optimize transparency on [drones], but at the same time, optimize secrecy and the protection of our national security.” At best, that seems to be quite a difficult aspiration. And finally we arrive at Obama’s State of the Union address, which was utterly cringe-worthy when it came to drones. He danced around the issue with every euphemistic phrase—he just could not bring himself to say the “D Word.” He made a pitch for “enlisting values in the

fight,” but what does that mean? Because he also said that, “where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.” The lack of specificity is frustrating and leaves much to be desired. In his speech Obama said, “My Administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations.” In light of the leaked memo, this claim is disconcerting. He even said that America “will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security,” even though the resentment in those countries for U.S drones is sky-high. On The Voice of Russia Christopher Swift, Adjunct Professor of National Security Studies at Georgetown University, said, “popular resentment in Yemen at US drone strikes is so strong that it’s starting to undermine the political transition that the US and Saudi Arabia want to see there…The drones are encouraging people to see the situation in Yemen as one where foreign actors are interfering with their ability to chart their own future, and that has a lot of resonance with the Arab Spring generation in Yemen.” Drones can appear tempting. For hawkish Republicans, drones can be seen as taking a firm stance on terrorism. For Democrats, drones can be seen as a better alternative to the large, resource-intensive operations like we saw in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, when they undermine our moral standing in the world and give our government license to conduct secret killings far from public scrutiny in the name of “national security,” they pose a serious and terrible problem. On live television Obama said, “I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.” While there were disappointingly no direct mentions of drones in Obama’s speech, and his administration has failed to ensure transparency in the past, I certainly hope Obama holds true to this declaration. PP

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ALL EYES ON TEHRAN: THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN IRAN By Christopher Dunnett ‘13, Staff Writer

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or all the talk in the international media about Iran’s nuclear program—and the potential for negotiation or an Israeli military strike in 2013— there’s one upcoming event in Iran receiving scant attention: the Presidential election in June. In August, the controversial Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will complete his final term in office as allowed by the Iranian constitution.

condemnation throughout Iran. Iran’s Guardian Council, an institution composed of both religious and secular figures, frequently disqualifies candidates that fail to meet Khameini’s standards. Khameini is loath to allow another candidate in the independent mold of Ahmadinejad. However, it is likely that the election will pit Khameini loyalists, political conservatives, and reformists against one another.

President Ahmadinejad has been a particularly divisive figure throughout his presidential tenure, both domestically and internationally. Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier and provocateur; his Iranian political opponents have painted him as authoritarian on the one hand, and accused him of defiance towards Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini on the other. Ahmadinejad fell out of favor with the Ayatollah following the flagrant falsification of the 2009 Presidential election, which triggered international condemnation and the powerful ‘Green’ protest movement that called for greater democracy and the President’s resignation. More recently, Ahmadinejad has clashed with Iran’s parliament, which is controlled by Supreme Leader loyalists embarrassed by the President’s gaffes both in Iran and internationally. Just last week, Ahmadinejad and the parliamentary speaker exchanged insults live on the Iranian state radio. In a rare display of overt political fragmentation, Ahmadinejad publicly accused the speaker of corruption and other abuses.

Iran’s religious leaders are faced with a conundrum— they must simultaneously encourage a high voter turnout to legitimize the regime, while also ensuring that an Ayatollah loyalist gains office in August. The presidency has remained a troubling institution for Khameini since the death of previous Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, the founder and unquestioned ruler of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the past year, Khameini has even hinted at amendments to the Iranian constitution that would abolish the office all together.

Considering the domestic and international fallout from the 2009 election, it is unlikely that Khameini will countenance the kind of political divisiveness that might push Iran closer to the brink of upheaval. International sanctions, hyperinflation, and other economic problems have Iran teetering on the brink of economic collapse. Public discontent is high, and Iranian leaders know that Tehran cannot afford another botched election. Despite assurances from the Supreme Leader that this year’s election will be more transparent, there is little doubt that the Ayatollah will bar radical or divisive candidates from running, as in years past. One of Khameini’s closest advisors called for the country’s Revolutionary Guard to “engineer” the election, eliciting widespread

Regardless of the outcome of June’s election, one thing is certain: a new President will not alter the trajectory of Iran’s nuclear goals. The Supreme Leader and Iran’s religious leaders are in firm control of the country. It is unlikely that a new President, regardless of political ideology, would have the power or desire to curb Iran’s intentions. All the nation’s political factions are in support of Iran’s nuclear program, ostensibly designed for peaceful energy purposes. Iranian nuclear ambitions are still highly popular among the Iranian people, and it is unlikely that Iran’s political elite will risk further discontent on the streets. Ultimately, the Iranian presidential election is only important insofar as it might serve as a pressure point for the people’s frustrations with a weak economy and unrepresentative political system. A revival of the ‘Green’ protest movement is unlikely, given the greater caution of the Iranian authorities this time around, but entirely possible. Nevertheless, Iran’s religious and secular leaders still have reason to be worried about potential protests that could mar the election process. This summer, all eyes should be on Tehran for interesting developments surrounding the election. PP

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FIXING THE ROADS TO PROSPERITY By Cameron Davis ‘16, Contributing Writer

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n his first State of the Union Address after being reelected, President Obama revealed his thrillingly ambitious second term agenda, pointing out that America must seize the day. Indeed, it is time for America to rise above the political gridlock that has stunted growth and left it concerned only with budgetary matters. It’s time to lead the world with visionary ideas and endeavors and fix our problems. The safety and economic well-being of Americans are threatened by a dilapidated infrastructure, which Obama referenced when proposing his “Fix-It-First” program, but America’s true threat is not the crumbling infrastructure itself but rather a political one. If our country can put aside its irrational unconditional aversion to government spending, this infrastructural crisis can surely be averted, and we can rise with a much stronger economy that will attract investment from around the world. The World Economic Forum finds that the United States lags behind many European and Asian countries in the quality of its infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers, a prominent source of infrastructure rankings, most recently graded the United States with a “D”. The Brookings Institution and a report from Building America’s Future Educational Fund agree that American infrastructure is so poor due to two main factors. The first is underfunding, which clearly suggests an increase in infrastructure spending is appropriate. The second, however, is a common reason for opposition: while the economic benefits of infrastructure spending have demonstrably been great, because the federal government provides states with categorical grants and has few measures of ensuring financial accountability, cost overruns are common. However, this is a reason for reform—not discontinuation and deprivation. This is an extremely advantageous time for infrastructure spending for a few reasons. First is the short-term Keynesian benefit. The economy is still operating at a level far below full employment largely because consumer confidence and incomes are low, while debt overhang is still relatively high. The money used for infrastructure spending would be used to buy goods and services from everyone involved—for example, construction companies—resulting in new income for business owners and workers. This would increase consumption, leading to greater income for others, a cycle of increased economic activity (and hiring)

ensuing. Sylvain Leduc and Daniel Wilson found that in the past, infrastructure spending was particularly stimulative, resulting—in the short run—in two dollars of new economic activity for every dollar spent on infrastructure. Secondly, we must consider long-term economic benefits. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that investing an additional $157 billion per year through 2020 would prevent decreases of $3.1 trillion in GDP, $3100 in disposable household income, and 3.5 million jobs. Without this extra investment the supply will not keep up with the increasing demand for car and air travel, electricity or water. Because maintenance costs will increase for failing electricity and water infrastructure, the burden of cost will fall especially heavily on businesses and households. Additionally, blackouts and brownouts could cost businesses $126 billion in lost production. Moreover, these greater costs will deter investors, many of whom, as Obama pointed out, have already offered to move operations here if we update our infrastructure. Congestion due to inefficient road systems imposes great costs as well. The Brookings Institution estimates that “for the five most congested metropolitan areas for auto commuters, the annual monetary cost of time lost per commuter is between $1,110 and $1,738.” We must put aside our ideological aversion to spending. Government bond rates are near zero. Borrowing money costs almost nothing in interest. The economy is far below full employment. Contrary to popular belief, this is the time to rack up huge deficits. With the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates so low, crowding out is impossible. Future generations will be the greatest beneficiaries of this prudent investment. Plus, they may never have such low borrowing costs. As a result, the debt we rack up is not going to impose some immoral burden on future generations. Furthermore, as has been the case throughout American history, a sustainable level of debt is unthreatening. Its burden will be minimized because it will be spread among so many taxpayers and corporations, because it will be partially inflated away, and because as economic growth occurs, income tax revenues will rise accordingly. For the future generations—not only for ours—we must make this crucial investment. PP

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MADURO TO LEAD THE LATIN AMERICAN LEFT? By Dylan Moses ‘14, Contributing Writer

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enezuelan President Hugo Chávez, for many weeks has been hospitalized in Cuba fighting against cancer. Vice President Nicolas Maduro has been left in charge of the Venezuelan populist government, and the Latin American left, for the foreseeable future. Chávez has undeniably been the most prominent actor in Latin American politics for the past 14 years, and was just recently reelected for another six-year term. During those 14 years he has been seen as both a revolutionary and controversial figure. Once elected, he began to nationalize a number of oil companies, and increased oil royalties paid by foreign companies from 16% to 30%. From 1999 to 2009, unemployment dropped from 15% to 8% while the poverty rate was cut in half, all due to the influx of jobs generated by Chávez’s presidency. All of which was done against the will of the national elite, consequently changing the severe economic status quo that many Venezuelans endured since the 1980s.

their respective countries to Chávez. From my perspective, Cuba has a huge role to play in this political transition. Cuba is certainly dependent on Venezuela. Chávez supplies Cuba with nearly 100,000 barrels of oil per day, all of which is heavily subsidized. However, Cuba has also become involved domestically in Venezuela. Many of Venezuela’s social programs and intelligence organizations in Caracas are manned by Cubans. Chávez acknowledged as many as 45,000 Cubans working in various organizations throughout Venezuela, however other sources point to larger numbers. This amount of influence in Caracas gives Cuba considerable control over the country.

Since Chávez is receiving treatment in Havana, the Venezuelan government has been forced to stay in Cuba to obtain information on the president’s condition. Vice President Maduro has made most of his political announcements from Cuba, backed by the Castro brothers and other representatives in order to legitimate his authority. Gradually, it seems that Cuba is holding more and But with this last hospitalization, many feel that the more political power over Venezuela, and it is quite posVenezuelan president seems to be entering his last days. sible that Chávez’s selection of Maduro might have been If this is the case, then who will be next in line to cham- heavily influenced by the Castro brothers. pion the Latin American left? Well, as previously mentioned, Chávez has named Nicolas Maduro as his suc- The Castro brothers, looking at the political fragility of cessor should he pass away. However, one might wonder Maduro, should certainly see a candidate ripe for puppeif this was the right move on the part of the president. teering. As obedient as he was under the reign of Chávez, Maduro doesn’t nearly match the political “charisma” he would be just as subservient to their influence. or popularity that Chávez has (although I am sure few can). While his commitment to Chávez’s ideological re- Noticing this ploy by Cuba and the country’s growing gime may seem like that of a revering disciple, he seems influence in Venezuelan politics, many of Chávez’s folmore like the proverbial “lap dog,” judging by his lack of lowers are irate with Cuba’s interference on their soverinvolvement in Venezuelan politics outside of Chávez’s eignty. For them, a country much smaller in both size and orders. He does not control the United Socialist Party of population, inferior in economic strength, and poorly Venezuela, nor does he hold a seat in the National As- managed for the last 54 years, should have no say in what sembly. In fact, outside of Chávez’s appointment of him Venezuela’s political agenda should be. to the position, it was not even thought that he would be considered to be the new leader of the Latin American So what is to become of the Latin American left after left. He is not incompetent; he is just not fit to be the Chávez’s departure? Certainly this vacancy leaves room successor of the Bolivarian revolution. for politicians like Morales, Correa, and Kirchner to rise to the occasion, however none of them have the same poIn Chávez’s position, why choose a candidate like Madu- litical backing that Maduro does, nor the cash. Unforro to lead the Latin American left? Politicians such as Evo tunately, as of now, the Latin American left’s direction Morales, president of Bolivia, Rafael Correa, president of looks as though it will be skewed by Cuban interests. And Ecuador, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president with that, we will witness the end of an era that Chávez of Argentina owe a lot of the success of leftist reforms in worked vigorously to create. PP

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Foreign Affairs Symposium at Johns Hopkins University Stanley McChrystal

Andrew Ross Sorkin

Former Commander of US and International Forces in Afghanistan

Author of Too Big To Fail

February 27 | 8 PM | Shriver Hall

March 6 | 8 PM | Shriver Hall

Lewis Paul Bremer III

Elizabeth Cheney

Former Presidential Envoy to Iraq April 3 | 8 PM | Hodson Hall

Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs April 9 | 8 PM | Mudd Hall

Frank Jannuzi

Jerry Greenfield

Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA

Founder of Ben & Jerry's

April 16 | 8 PM | Mudd Hall

April 23 | 8 PM | Shriver Hall

FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

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