Page 1

Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

1


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

the

APRIL 1st, 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 LAYOUT EDITOR Victoria Scordato WEBMASTER Sihao Lu

HEAD WRITER Rachel Cohen STAFF WRITERS Megan Augustine, Akshai Bhatnagar, Michael Bodner, Henry Chen, Virgil Doyle, Chris Dunnett, Cary Glynn, Archie Henry, Peter Lee, Adam Roberts, Daniel Roettger, Christine Server, Geordan Williams, Chris Winer EVENTS CHAIR/PUBLICITY Randy Bell

FACULTY ADVISOR Steven R. David 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 VII APRIL 1st, 2013 Cover Image: Unknown Photographer, A Monday Washing, New York City, 1900. This photograph is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art.

2


the

Volume XIII, Issue VII

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

INSIDE THIS ISSUE WEEK IN REVIEW

..................................................................

Page 4

Virgil Doyle ’14

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

Page 5

Christine Server ’16

THE POLICY DESK

DE-ESCALATING THE KOREAN PENINSULA: UNDERSTANDING THE NORTH KOREAN THREAT

...............................

Page 6

WHY ERDOGAN ACCEPTED NETANYAHU’S APOLOGY ..........

Page 8

Katie Botto ’15

Adam Roberts ’14

LIBERTY AND FIREARMS ..........................................................

Page 9

Alex Dragone ’16

“HABEMUS PAPAM”:

IS CHANGE ON THE WAY FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH? ............. Page 10

Abigail Sia ’15

OBAMA’S HISTORIC VISIT TO THE MIDDLE EAST ...................

Page 11

Christopher Dunnett ’13

DEMYSTIFYING THE CURRENT STATUS OF U.S IMMIGRATION ..... Page 12 Stephen Filippone ’14

3


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

WEEK IN REVIEW By Virgil Doyle ’14, Staff Writer Tensions Continue to Rise on the Korean Peninsula This past week saw threats, military exercises, and demonstrations occur in North and South Korea. After, North Korea cut off its final diplomatic hotline to the South on Wednesday, with a North Korean news agency saying, “War could break out at any moment.” The United States followed by conducting a military exercise over South Korea with nuclear-capable stealth bombers on Thursday, in what the U.S. military called a demonstration of American “capability to defend the Republic of Korea [South Korea].” Finally, on Friday Kim Jong-un, the North’s Supreme Leader, placed his nation’s missile units on standby, supposedly ready to strike South Korea, the U.S. mainland, and U.S. military bases in Asia. However, many analysts doubt the effectiveness of the North’s long-range missiles, which they have never tested. The specter of military conflict on the Korean peninsula has been steadily rising since the North’s February 12 underground nuclear test. Both China and Russia’s foreign ministries expressed concern at the increasingly heated rhetoric and military posturing in the area, calling for a lowering of tension on both sides. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that North Korea’s “provocative actions and belligerent tone” have “ratcheted up the danger” in the region, calling for American and South Korean forces to be prepared for “any eventuality” that may break out.

Banks Reopen in Cyprus after Bailout After being closed for two weeks, banks in Cyprus reopened this past Thursday after the Cypriot government reached an agreement on a bailout plan with international lenders. Despite fears of bank runs, Cypriot depositors remained calm and orderly, with Nicos Anastasiades, their president, praising his people’s “maturity and collectedness” and pledging his nation’s continued commitment to the Eurozone. The bailout agreement includes provisions to close Cyprus’ second largest bank, levy a tax on deposits over €100,000, and provide the country with a €10 billion loan from the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

Syrian Opposition Opens Embassy in Qatar This past week saw Syria’s opposition gain two major international endorsements. First, the Arab League gave Syria’s seat in the organization to Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, a leader of the opposition, during a summit in Doha. Then Qatar allowed the opposition to open its first embassy in Doha, with Khatib calling it “the first embassy of the Syrian people” and criticizing the lack of international support for the rebels. Iran and Russia, both major supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, issued statements condemning Qatar’s action, with Iran accusing Qatar of “intensifying the bloodshed” of Syria’s two-year-old civil war. PP

4


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

READING LIST By Christine Server ’16, Staff Writer “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the Sequel” by Rebecca Skloot Published in the New York Times on March 24

“This is Working’: Portugal, 12 Years after Decriminalizing Drugs” by Wiebke Hollersen Published on Spiegel.com on March 27

We all love to hear about technological progress and breakthroughs, but what we don’t often think about is the source of new scientific knowledge. In her article, Skloot casts some light on the kind of primary information that scientists handle. She is the author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book that charts the life of a woman whose cells were taken without her knowledge (at Johns Hopkins, incidentally) and used to develop vaccines, medications, and techniques in gene mapping and cloning. Skloot follows up on Henrietta with news that scientists recently sequenced the genome of Lacks’ cells and published the results without her family’s consent.

The United States’ “war on drugs” is about 40 years old, and most can agree that it has not been a rousing success. It costs billions of dollars a year to enforce, bloats the prison system, and has done little to deter drug trafficking. This article presents a case study of Portugal and an alternative method it developed of dealing with drug use.

This may not seem like a big deal—after all, Lacks herself passed away some time ago—but Skloot points out that this move raises a host of questions. Should consent be required before someone’s genome is sequenced and published? And what about family members who share genetic information? What right to privacy do they have? What was kind of frightening to learn is how easily genetic information, even if published anonymously, can be traced back to identify the person using online public. A site already exists that can, within minutes, generate a report of personal health information and predictions based on someone’s DNA. While this is good news from a medical standpoint, current privacy laws are outdated and research guidelines are slow to evolve. Society is not at the point where it can adequately deal with the legal and ethical repercussions of our scientific advances. Skloot’s piece does a nice job of highlighting ethical issues that are sure to come to the forefront of the public mind as gene sequencing technology becomes more readily available.

In 1974, Portugal emerged from a fifty-year military dictatorship, and, like a teenager in his first week of college, went dizzy with freedom. Drugs, cheap and easy to obtain, flooded the market. The result was that twenty years later Portugal had a rate of drug addiction and HIV infection that exceeded that of most other European countries. In response, the government decriminalized—but did not legalize—drugs. People are allowed to carry small amounts without fear of prosecution: one gram of heroin, two of cocaine, twenty-five of marijuana. If caught with an amount under the legal limit, they are sent to a “warning commission.” There are no criminal or legal repercussions for the first strike. If not caught in possession again within the next three months, the case is closed. Even for a second strike, the consequences are mild: community service, a small fine, and an invitation to participate in a non-mandatory rehab program. Data shows that while the number of adults who have taken drugs at some point has risen, the prevalence of teenage use is declining along with the proportion of HIV-infected users. This article was interesting for me because I had never really considered how other countries deal with drug use. This topic is especially pertinent now in the U.S.: the tide has been shifting for the past few years as more states pass laws legalizing marijuana or permitting its medicinal use. The time is approaching when this issue will have to be resolved at the national level. It is vital to study other countries, especially those that have developed successful models like Portugal, in order to develop more sensible effective policies. PP

5


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

POLICY DESK By Katie Botto ’15, Contributing Writer

De-escalating the Korean Peninsula: Understanding the North Korean Threat North Korea’s constant threats to obliterate America and South Korea have seldom been considered seriously in the past. Kim Jong-il would teasingly threaten his neighbors, engaging the international community in a frustrating game of tit-for-tat diplomacy. However, with the increased intensity of North Korea’s offensive rhetoric, the US and South Korea are beginning to think more seriously about the possibility of outright North Korean aggression. Whether these threats are serious or merely a continuation of North Korea’s system of using brash comments to keep foreign threats at bay and increase propaganda at home is yet to be determined. Regardless, the fact remains that North Korean threats and actions are more serious than ever before and, under the leadership of the young Kim Jong-un, it may be unwise to dismiss the nation’s threats too quickly. The international community should tread carefully and must be prepared to confront the unlikely but grave scenario of real North Korean aggression. The current situation in Northeast Asia creates dangerous possibilities. With brand new leaders in South Korea, North Korea, and China, the situation has become more unpredictable than ever before. In the South, Park Guen-hye has been in office for a little over a month and is still trying to establish herself as a strong president. In China, Xi Jinping and a new line up of communist party officials are changing relations with North Korea as well. Additionally, with barely a year of leadership under his belt, little is known about the ruling style of Kim JongUn, the biggest wild card in the region. His aggressive rhetoric may mirror his father’s, but he has shown that his threats are not empty. Nullifying the armistice and cutting off two hotlines, Kim Jong-un may not be bluffing. Further, with so many new developments in the region, Kim Jong-un is operating in a very different environment than what his father left behind. As she tries to establish her authority, Park Geun-hye is becoming more open to expanding her original “trustpolitik” strategy of dealing with the North. Her policy of trustpolitik was established with the long-term goal

of building mutual respect by keeping promises on both sides. In short, under trustpolitik South Korea pledges to follow through on promises it keeps to the North. This policy stands in contrast to Park’s predecessor’s hardline policy against North Korea, which saw little results. She is currently in talks with the United States to indigenize nuclear weapons in South Korea. Although this policy may normalize relations with North Korea in the long term, in the short term, this policy could give North Korea too much leverage over the South. Recognizing this, it seems that Park has taken trustpolitik in a more assertive direction, telling Pyongyang that its only “path to survival” is through the abandonment of their nuclear weapons program, a sentiment echoing her predecessor Lee Myung-Bak. China, North Korea’s only ally, began to outwardly express annoyance with its unpredictable neighbor after their third successful nuclear test this past month. Additionally, with the potential for Chinese cooperation, the UN Security Council’s new sanctions could actually have a serious effect on the North and damage the financial institutions that support the regime. With all these factors betting against North Korea, it seems that Pyongyang is feeling a little boxed in, perhaps leading to the heightened aggression. The international community has already seen the disastrous effects of backing a country into the corner with Japan in World War II. After Japan invaded Indochina, the US and UK’s oil embargo made it impossible for Japan to continue its expansion forcing it to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although its military capabilities cannot compare to Japan during WWII, the North does possess nuclear weapons of unknown strength, and suffocating the nation could lead to similar consequences. In the past, when North Korea began to feel the bite of international sanctions and regional tension, Pyongyang often ended up at the negotiating table. Most of these negotiations were full of empty promises, but at least Pyongyang followed a predictable pattern. This time, it

6


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

seems less likely that Kim Jong-Un is ready to go that route. Instead, international pressure has intensified his belligerence dangerously. North Korea has recently nullified the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War and, although it has happened twice before, this development should not be taken lightly. Kim Jong-un’s prompt cancellation of the armistice and termination of military hotlines indicates, at the very least, that he has little respect for the agreement. With the armistice as the only thing formally keeping the two nations out of war, this could prove to be a precarious situation. Kim Jong-un’s actions may be unpredictable but at least one thing is certain: North Korea has moved further from the negotiating table, and at a very vulnerable time for the region. As the North becomes more withdrawn and aggressive, the peril rises. Despite the superiority of the US and South Korean arsenal, the fact remains that, however inferior they may be, nuclear weapons are in the unpredictable and irresponsible hands of Kim Jong-un. If hostilities continue to escalate, the peninsula could become engrossed in a conflict that the international community cannot afford. South Korean and US provocation of the North with joint military exercises, especially the recent B-2 stealth bomber exercises, are poorly timed. If the US and South Korea continue to back North Korea into a corner, its actions may escalate. Therefore, it is imperative that we give tensions the chance to relax and avoid pushing the nation further towards conflict when the dynamics of the region are already increasingly volatile. Most importantly, the consequences of military conflict with North Korea would be chaotic. While it is unlikely that the Korean War will resume and much more probable that limited and localized conflict would result, with the armistice nullified and a brash new leader in power we should consider the possibility of more serious conflict. Of course, North Korea’s military is no match for its rivals. However, the potential willingness to use a nuclear weapon, with which they could strike South Korea, China, or Japan, is a matter of great concern. If the two Korea’s did resume war, US involvement would be significant as well. With around 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea, the US is already militarily committed to the region and could not avoid involvement.

APRIL 1st, 2013

the Brookings Institution, if the Kim regime failed as a result of conflict, a complicated situation would arise in which the US and South Korean militaries would need to at once locate all nuclear material in the nation, diffuse remnants of the Korean People’s Army, provide for refugees, and restore order. In a country holding eight to 10 nuclear weapons in unknown locations, the failure of the North Korean state would be an immediate threat to the lives of millions of North and South Koreans as well as to regional stability There is no feasible way to deal with the complicated situation that could arise after conflict with North Korea. Especially when there are no organized rebel forces or other potential opposition parties that could control the nation should the state fail, there is little prospect for a stable transition. Reports of assassination attempts on Kim Jong-un have surfaced. However, with the government’s tight control of dissent, it is highly unlikely that there exists any organized opposition forces that could rule. If conflict resulted in the end of the Kim regime, various military leaders or other forces would likely vie for power, creating an anarchic state of domestic conflict. The time will come eventually for North Korea’s leadership to transition to a democracy or a less authoritarian regime, and some analysts have expressed the hope that Kim Jong-un could potentially enact that transition. However, there is no recognizable path to reform within the North Korean state and any attempt to push for reform could lead to an uncontrollable feud over succession. At this point in time, it is impossible for anything productive to come out of increasing tensions with North Korea. The increased aggressiveness of the US-ROK military drills as a response to Pyongyang’s hostility may push the young and unpredictable Kim Jong-un too far for no purpose. The US and South Korea should be careful how they treat the North, lest they face a situation no one in the region is prepared for. PP

If war does erupt then, it is imperative for the region to have a clear plan for the possible outcomes; none of which will be simple. According to Michael O’Hanlon at

7


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

WHY ERDOGAN ACCEPTED NETANYAHU’S APOLOGY By Adam Roberts ’14, Staff Writer

F

or years, Israel and Turkey were each other’s closest allies in the Middle East. They kept a strong Western presence in a region where Europe and the United States are not exactly popular. Even when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his Islamist-leaning Justice, and the Development Party (AKP) came to power, the Turkish-Israeli alliance stayed strong. In fact, under the AKP, Turkey grew even more pro-Western, as it seemed inevitable that it would join the European Union. Unfortunately, European bigotry and Islamophobia prevailed, and Turkey’s EU accession talks stalled. Erdoğan needed to refocus Turkey’s foreign policy, so he looked away from Europe and towards the Middle East. There was one problem: Israel. To get close to the staunchly anti-Israel Muslim states in the region, he needed to have a break with Turkey’s formerly close ally. The Mavi Marmara Incident provided the perfect excuse for Erdoğan to break relations. When Turkish activists aboard the ship Mavi Marmara tried to break through Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, Israeli forces ordered them to halt. When the activists refused, their ship was boarded and a fight broke out, leading to the deaths of several Turks. Erdoğan could have made attempts to mend relations after this debacle, but he instead ripped them apart even further. His anti-Israel campaign, which had begun a few months before this incident when he verbally assaulted Israeli President Shimon Peres, now moved forward. For the next few years, he would repeatedly lambast Zionism, while simultaneously strengthening ties with many of Israel’s (and Turkey’s) traditional enemies. All of a sudden, things changed drastically. As he was boarding a plane out of Israel last week, President Obama made Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call Erdoğan and apologize for the Mavi Marmara Incident. Netanyahu agreed, and, surprisingly, Erdoğan graciously accepted. What caused Erdoğan to go from being incredibly anti-Israel to accepting Netanyahu’s apology with such ease? This was, of course, the Arab Spring. Erdoğan’s “good neighbor policy” quickly fell apart once the Arab Spring hit. As we now know, the Arab unrest has been about far more than just toppling dictatorships; rath-

er, it is about settling the old Sunni-Shia rivalry. It became increasingly difficult at home and abroad for Sunni Turkey to keep good relations with Shia-ruled Iran and Syria. Thus, in only a year, Erdoğan went from vacationing with the Syrian President, to supporting his overthrow. This has been good news for President Obama. While Turkey has not been pro-EU, it has become very close to the US. Both nations see the alliance of Syria with a potentially nuclear Iran as being totally unacceptable. Even with both Turkish and US pressure, the Shia regime in Syria has stayed in power, and Iran is moving closer to a nuclear weapon. Clearly something else was needed to be done. A reinvigorated Turkish-Israeli military alliance is the last thing Iran wants to see. If Turkey and Israel can get over their quarrel, there might finally be a credible military threat to Iran. Together, Israel and Turkey can put enough pressure on Iran’s leaders to force the dismantling of the country’s nuclear weapons program. In recent years, anti-Israel demagoguery has been politically advantageous for Erdoğan. It has strengthened his Islamist base at home, while cementing his ties with nearby Muslim states. Yet, allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon will do far more harm politically to Erdoğan than strengthening ties with Israel. While Sunni Islamists like Erdoğan may hate the concept of a Jewish state existing in a predominantly Muslim region, they understand that Israel is not much of a threat. A nuclear-armed Shia Iran on the other hand, certainly is. I am not one who thinks Iran will use a nuclear weapon, even if they actually acquire one. However, with Iran’s fiercely pro-Shia stance in an increasingly divided Muslim world, I can certainly understand why Erdoğan and other Sunni leaders fear for the worst. The fact that Erdoğan so quickly and easily accepted Netanyahu’s apology tells all. The Shia-Sunni split, not the Arab-Israeli conflict, is the real issue that prevents peace in the Middle East. Otherwise, Erdoğan would still be inciting anti-Israeli feelings among Turks, rather than possibly moving forward with Israel to stand against Syria and Iran. President Obama definitely understands this, so hopefully together the United States, Israel, and Turkey can stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. PP

8


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

LIBERTY AND FIREARMS By Alex Dragone ’16, Contributing Writer

T

he last two issues of the Politik Press have both featured authors writing in favor of increased gun control. What these two authors, one of whom advocated for a complete ban on the private ownership of firearms, seem to forget is the reason why we have the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is not primarily about self-defense, and much less so about hunting and recreation. The Second Amendment was written to protect the people’s right to defense against tyrannical government, domestic and foreign. To prove my point, we need only look at the words of the men who wrote and voted on the Bill of Rights. One of the Bill of Rights’ foremost champions was Virginia statesman Patrick Henry, who posed this question: “Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? ... If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?” Thomas Jefferson put it clearly when he wrote, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Sadly, the defense against tyranny argument has been largely shunned in our nation’s firearms debate. Advocating the overthrow of tyrannical government has been deemed an opinion only held by conspiracy theorists and nutcases. Even gun rights advocacy groups like the National Rifle Association do not often bring up tyrannical government, instead preferring to appeal to arguments of self-defense and sport. When Breitbart.com editor-atlarge Ben Shapiro argued for the need of powerful firearms to fight a tyrannical government on Piers Morgan Live, Morgan responded by saying, “Do you understand how absurd you sound when you say that?”

in legal, republican processes. The fact is that having a republican system of government in which leaders are elected in a democratic fashion in no way insures liberty. In this country, our government has repeatedly made speaking out against it a crime, in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and the Sedition Act of 1918, something which I believe most of us can agree is unconstitutional and robs the people of a fundamental right. So if our republican system cannot prevent tyranny, what can? I agree with writer Edward Abbey when he wrote, “An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.” A long-standing idea in political philosophy is the right of revolution, which holds that men can rise up against and overthrow their government when it violates the social contract, trampling the rights of the people who empowered it. This idea is what brought about these United States of America, and we must not forget it. It is only naïveté and wishful thinking that would make someone believe that our government could never turn against us. Like Piers Morgan, they prefer to scoff at the prospect. But as history has shown us, it is all too possible. The people must have arms, and those arms must match the current level of the military’s to offer effective resistance. Proponents of gun control assert that even if the citizenry was armed, it could not in any way withstand our powerful government and military, so it is pointless to try. In response, I would point to the current war in Syria, in which the rebels, who possess only small arms, are successfully fighting the despotic Assad regime, which is equipped with the latest in military hardware. As uncomfortable as it sounds, we must always be vigilant in safeguarding liberty from our government. It is the duty of all free men to take up arms against tyrants, and to forever preserve that most precious dream of freedom for humankind. PP

The fact is that republican governments have a sad history of turning against their people, depriving them of their liberty and lives. Napoleon I and III, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Alberto Fujimori all rose to power

9


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

“HABEMUS PAPAM:” IS CHANGE ON THE WAY FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH? By Abigail Sia ’15, Contributing Writer

H

abemus papam,” Latin for “We have a pope,” was spoken just over two weeks ago, when a new pope was chosen to succeed the retired Benedict XVI. Just into his papacy, the Argentinian Pope Francis has already won over many through his insistence on personal interaction and humility. Francis appears to be a new kind of pontiff: he creates nightmares for his security detail when he eschews the “Popemobile” in order to mingle with the crowds, and according to NBC News, recently he personally called a newspaper vendor back in Buenos Aires to cancel his subscription. A new pope could not have come at a more crucial time for the Church, which appears to be fighting battles on every front. Its influence is declining in an increasingly secular Europe, once a Catholic bastion. And while Catholicism is growing in Asia and Africa, evangelical churches are starting to win followers in South America. Meanwhile, the “Vatileaks” scandal (in which Vatican documents were leaked to an Italian journalist in 2012, revealing internal power struggles over financial transparency and money laundering) and the sexual abuse scandal are eroding the Church’s administrative and moral authority. Although Pope Francis seems to be rebranding the papacy, I believe that those expecting great changes in Church views will be disappointed. The new pope is widely considered to hold conservative views on social issues, and American Catholics—who are generally more liberal-minded than Catholics elsewhere in the world— will likely be particularly dissatisfied. Take same-sex marriage, for instance. In 2010, as Argentina was considering legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, Pope Francis (formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) publicly clashed with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner over his assertion that gay adoption discriminated against children. In a letter, Bergoglio referred to the legislation under consideration as an attack on the “identity and survival of the family: father, mother, and children” and as a “war against God.”

As the Defense of Marriage Act is debated by the Supreme Court’s nine justices, those who want to see it struck down are not likely to find support from the Catholic Church. However, a recent Quinnipiac poll suggests that opposition to DOMA is less prevalent among American Catholics than one might think: about 54 percent of American Catholics support same-sex marriage, whereas only 47 percent of the general population has expressed support. Clearly there is a gap between official Catholic views on social issues and the beliefs held by many of its followers here in the United States. The Vatican now faces a perilous dilemma: does it alter Catholic teachings in order to stay relevant in today’s increasingly secular world and avoid a flight of dissatisfied followers who cannot reconcile their personal views with those of the Church, or does it stay true to its traditional stances to avoid alienating the remaining faithful? Either way, the Church must continually find ways to appeal to new members, retain faithful followers, and bring back the lapsed in order to hold its ground. It is hard to say if this predicament will ever be fully resolved. But if Pope Francis’ history is any indication, the Catholic Church, an institution known for being steeped in tradition and as a fierce guardian of its views, will not be announcing a significant departure in doctrine under his direction. Yet this does not mean that Pope Francis will not be a reformer in other ways, especially in response to the recent scandals. Since he has never held a position inside the Vatican’s governing body, the Roman Curia, maybe he will be able to pursue objective reforms and prevent future scandalous leaks. Perhaps, given his fervent compassion for the poor, Pope Francis will pay special attention to the victims, whereas his predecessor oversaw a Church with a tendency to sweep such cases under the rug. Regardless, the Church seems to be far away from changing its views on many social issues. It must wait for a more socially progressive pontiff, and he may not arrive for years to come. PP

10


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S HISTORIC VISIT TO THE MIDDLE EAST By Christopher Dunnet ’13, Staff Writer

L

ast week, President Barack Obama visited the Middle East for the third time in his presidency, traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. Since Obama’s last visit to the Middle East, Cairo in 2009, the regional geopolitical realities have changed drastically as a result of the Arab Spring, and the civil war in Syria. Anticipation for the first foreign trip of Obama’s second term was high; many hoped that the president would inject much needed impetus into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process or adopt a tougher approach towards the Syrian government. In the end though, President Obama’s visit did not reflect a new American approach to the Middle East, nor did it signal any radical changes in current policy. Nevertheless, it was a historic visit. The president’s speech to young Israeli students in Jerusalem, in particular, was an important moment in the history of the United States in the region. The president used the moment to directly address the Israeli people, first stressing the historic trials of the Jewish people and the economic and political accomplishments of the Israeli state since its independence in 1948. The president then sought to reverse Israeli skepticism towards his presidency. Personal discord between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has highlighted a frosting in bilateral relations, most especially over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. Finally, Obama reiterated unwavering American support for Israel. Despite the President’s overdue reiteration of the inherent stability of the Israel-US relationship, Obama also gave perhaps a more cogent appeal for the necessity of an independent Palestinian state than any American president in recent memory. Addressing the students in Jerusalem, Obama asked Israelis to see the world from the eyes of the Palestinians and the justice of an independent Israel and Palestine side by side. This was met with enthusiastic applause from the audience. The President also addressed the Palestinian people during his visit to Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Like in Jerusalem, Obama stressed American commitment to a two-state solution. He further acknowledged the frustrations of the

Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination despite occupation, continued development of Israeli settlements, and other hardships. Obama’s eloquent calls for a revitalization of the peace process and American support for a two-state solution, although certainly long overdue and historic, are unlikely to alter the Middle Eastern geopolitical situation. Obama may have gained the tentative trust of many previously skeptical Israelis, but this fact alone is unlikely to accelerate direct negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis. Regardless of the President’s cogent and masterful rhetoric, uncertainty and past failures sow distrust between both parties. As long as Israelis fear rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and other terrorist attacks, in both Israel and abroad, peace is unlikely in the near future. As long as influential segments of the Israeli right continue to dictate Israeli settlement policy in land promised to a future Palestinian state, peace is unlikely. The tumultuous events in the rest of the region, most saliently the civil war in Syria and Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon, only complicate an already stalled and near hopeless peace process. The Israel-Palestine peace process is simply not on the table when there are so many exigent issues to resolve in the region. At the end of Obama’s Middle East visit the most important concrete accomplishment of the trip was not in the realm of the peace process, but instead achieving a rapprochement between Israel and Turkey. The relationship between both states, once regional partners, was strained since the deadly 2010 Israeli raid on a Turkish relief flotilla to the Gaza Strip. Just before he left Israel, Obama successfully convinced Netanyahu to personally apologize to the Turkish prime minister, which met Turkish demands for a restoration of diplomatic relations. The Israel-Turkey rapprochement was a significant and historic event, worthy of presidential intercession, and should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, as a whole, President Obama’s Middle East visit will likely fall short of unrealistically high expectations for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, regardless of his administration’s lofty goals. PP

11


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

DEMYSTIFYING THE CURRENT STATUS OF U.S. IMMIGRATION By Stephen Filippone ’14, Contributing Writer

I

used to think it made sense to deport illegal immigrants. Now I know it is not as simple as that. Non-citizens are still people with rights, though they may not be fully American. They take care of homes here, they work here, they raise families here, and they go to school here. And so while immigration contains economic factors, it is first a moral issue. We cannot turn our heads to human rights violations in our own country. We need laws that reflects our morals. We should think of the rights of immigrants living in the U.S. and those of immigrants trying to enter the country. Both groups deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and their most fundamental of human rights, to be free to pursue happiness and security must be protected. Raids prompted by racial profiling needlessly harass innocent Hispanics, forcing unreasonably long waiting periods is punitive and cruel, and the splitting up of families constitutes a clear departure from the American Dream. Targeting immigrant populations for raids without probable cause is clear violation of human rights. Raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement organization (ICE) unlawfully detain and incarcerate both documented and undocumented immigrants. Making people wait years to start their immigration process prevents them from living peacefully. Immigrants are not criminals; they are people engaged in the pursuit of happiness and should not be made to wait unreasonable amounts of time to start new lives in the land of opportunity. Families are at the core of our society. Allowing the government to keep families apart or to separate parents from their children is not the wish of any U.S. citizen. We should therefore have laws that uphold our family values. The reason so many human rights violations are commonplace is because of the many misconceptions surrounding immigration. Demystifying immigration is a clear step to stopping the mistreatment of immigrants. A few of the biggest misconceptions are that immigrants do not pay taxes but receive benefits, that anyone can

come to the U.S. legally if they just wait in line, and that immigrants take jobs from Americans. The truths to these misconceptions are simple. Immigrants pay sales taxes, property taxes and more than 50% pay federal, state and local taxes for benefits they will never receive, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2011. The truth about the “waiting line” is that for many non-skilled workers there is no “waiting line.” There is no path to citizenship offered to people who are not skilled-workers, escaping political persecution, or joining close relatives. Lastly, immigrants are job creators rather than takers. Immigrants actually contribute more to the economy in terms of consumption and job creation than they take. We need to keep these realities in mind when we think of reasons to justify legislation protecting the rights of all immigrants. Two important pieces of legislation that have been passed and help relieve some challenges faced by the immigrant population are the DREAM Act and Deferred Action, which both exemplify efforts to change our broken laws. The DREAM Act allows students without social security numbers who have attended three years of high school in the U.S. and whose parents have paid taxes for the last three years to pay in-state tuition at public universities. Last November, Maryland became the twelfth state to pass such a law. Deferred Action benefits undocumented youth by allowing them temporary residence if they are in school or the military though it offers no legal path to citizenship. These important legislative victories serve to awaken our sense of patriotism. This is our great nation. We should make it a welcoming place that our generation can be proud of because it protects the human rights of every person. Immigration policy should focus on the protection of immigrants’ human rights. Americans can help by understanding the misconceptions surrounding immigration and by clarifying misconceptions in their own communities. PP

12


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

WRITE FOR thePOLITIK PRESS

Photo Courtesy: United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division

The Politik Press, originally founded in 2008 as JHU Politik, is a weekly publication of political opinion pieces. We believe that progress comes from conversation and that every voice deserves to be heard. Our staff is made up of students with majors that range from political science to biomolecular engineering. We seek out the best political writers on campus and regularly interview professors and graduate students. In many ways, the Homewood campus is a microcosm of the American political landscape. We find ourselves at a crossroads defined by students from across the country, professors with disparate political theories, and a city constantly confronting racial violence, political corruption and systemic economic problems. While we publish the Politik Press weekly, we work simultaneously on our special issues. These magazines confront a single topic from multiple angles. In 2011, with the Arab Spring fully underway, we interviewed five Hopkins professors whose expertise ranged from Archeology to US-Israeli relations, in order to provide some clarity on an immensely complex and constantly shifting situation. In 2012 we focused on the political issues of Baltimore, conducting interviews with professors and local politicians in order to shed light on the complexities of our school’s relationship to our city. Our latest Special Issue was on the politics of research.

If interested e-mail us at

POLITIK@jhu.edu Or find us online at

jhupolitik.org

13


Volume XIII, Issue VII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 1st, 2013

14

The Politik Press, Vol. XIII, Issue 7  

The Politik Press

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you