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Volume XIII, Issue VIII

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Volume XIII, Issue VIII

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APRIL 8th, 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, Rosellen Grant, 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 VIII APRIL 8th, 2013 Cover Image, Rembrandt van Rijn,Student at a Table by Candlelight, c. 1642. In the Collection of the National Gallery of Art.

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE WEEK IN REVIEW

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A SECOND LOOK ...................................................................

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Christine Server ’16

Rosellan Grant ’16

THE POLICY DESK A NEW ECONOMIC FRONTIER: THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTHEAST ASIA

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THE OFT-IGNORED ISSUE OF HOMELESSNESS ........................

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Ryan Bender ’15

Rachel Cohen ’14

EGYPTIAN SATIRIST MAKES CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS ...

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Randy Bell ’13

MARYLAND NEEDS THE GAS TAX .....................................

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Adam Roberts ’14

“CHINAFRICA”—FROM ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP TO EXPLOITATION, WHERE IS THE LINE? ...............................

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Lauren Yeh ’15

DEBUNKING DON DRAPER:

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CRITIQUING THE ABORTION DEBATE ..................................

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WHY AMERICA’S BEST DAYS STILL LIE AHEAD Ryan Bender ’15

James Harris ’13 3


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WEEK IN REVIEW By Christine Server ’16, Staff Writer Impending Iranian Elections Marked by Political Strife A power struggle is brewing in Iran ahead of the presidential election scheduled for June. This is current president Ahmadinejad’s last term, and he is trying to gather support for his handpicked successor, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. But Ahmadinejad is also fighting a solidifying opposition and the dissatisfaction of urban Iranians. The clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders who supported him during the past two elections have turned against him. These Islamic hard-liners and traditionalists object to the strong nationalist language that Ahmadinejad has been using of late, in addition to his sentiment for renewed talks with the West, and claim that he is promoting religious deviancy. Moderating the struggle is Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, who has purposefully deferred from backing either side. The outcome of June’s election will hinge on how he balances the opposing factions.

Obama Unveils Budget Plan President Obama’s budget plan for the next fiscal year includes cuts to both Social Security and Medicare, which come in the form of increased premiums for wealthy retirees and reduced annual cost-of-living payments. However, these cuts will be approved only if the Republican Party agrees to support a $580 billion increase in taxes for the affluent. The cuts and increased tax revenue together are to compensate for the spending cuts enacted under the sequester. The plan is a show of compromise meant to demonstrate that Obama is serious about long-term deficit reduction, but it is unclear whether it will gain the necessary political support to pass. The Republican Party has been sticking to its anti-tax platform, rejecting proposed tax increases back in December, while the proposed social program cuts are angering members of Obama’s own party.

The Hunt for Joseph Kony is Off Following a rebel takeover of the Central African Republic, Ugandan and U.S. troops have suspended their hunt for fugitive warlord Joseph Kony and members of his Lord’s Resistance Army. There has been unrest in the Central African Republic for some time, culminating last month in the toppling of the president. The new rebel government has yet to be recognized, but Uganda and the U.S. are complying with its demand that all foreign troops withdraw. This comes at a time when officials claim that Kony is as weak and isolated as ever, with only a few hundred supporters remaining. It has awakened worries that the respite will allow Kony to regain strength and supporters, while others are questioning the commitment that Uganda and the U.S. had to hunting down Kony in the first place. PP

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A SECOND LOOK By Rosellen Grant ’16, Staff Writer Assault in Afghanistan by Taliban Insurgency Seven Taliban insurgents dressed as policemen launched an attack against an Afghani courthouse Wednesday killing at least 44 civilians and marking the beginning of a warm-weather fueled “Fighting Season.” It occurred in Farah, a province adjacent to Iran, just as Afghanistan’s recovering intelligence chief returned from the United States. Such turmoil in Afghanistan is a discouraging sign for the United States and other NATO nations; in 2012, Afghan president Hamid Karzai agreed to the withdrawal of most NATO troops by the end of this spring, and the Obama administration has boasted a US mission end date of 2014. The recent unrest calls into question the capacity of Afghani troops to maintain stability without outside assistance.

Flash Floods in Argentina Recent flooding has overwhelmed Buenos Aires and La Plata, two cities in eastern Argentina. The inundation, which has claimed the lives of more than 50 people and displaced at least 3,000, marks the region’s highest rainfall in a century. With little advanced notice, government officials and volunteer organizations scrambled to deploy rescue missions and to set up shelters. A dispute between the Buenos Aires city government and the national government leaves the responsibility for this lack of preparation ambiguous. The city claims the state failed to allow funding for infrastructure projects that could have aided in relief efforts, while the state accuses the city government of failing to act despite knowledge of the flood’s power and proximity.

US Plan to Map the Human Brain In his recent State of the Union, Obama introduced initiative to “map” the human brain beginning in 2014. According to recent updates by the administration, this “Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies” (BRAIN) program will investigate “how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought.” The proposal, which will utilize $100 million in funding from three different government agencies, will also involve an inquiry into the ethical consequences of such an endeavor. However, its ambition does demarcate a refreshed emphasis on science development within the United States.

A Brief Update on North Korea On Wednesday, officials announced that the United States would deploy an advanced missile defense system, THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), to Guam within the coming weeks. The same day, North Korea refused to allow South Koreans into Kaesong, a jointly operated industrial park. Thursday, the South Korean Defense Ministry reported that the DPRK has stationed a “Musudan” missile on its eastern coast. While the weapon will fall short of hitting Guam, South Korea is well within its range. PP

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POLICY DESK By Ryan Bender ’15, Contributing Writer

A New Economic Frontier: The United States and Southeast Asia Economic grand strategy is a double-edged sword for great powers with domestic economies large enough to affect markets on a global scale. These broad and forward-looking economic strategies have the ability to visibly shape infrastructure development, production goals, and economic allegiances, of both great powers who dictate policy and smaller nations who follow out of necessity for a greater ally. For example, the original mercantilist grand strategy of 18th century Europe led to the imperialist race to colonize the world and led to the 1884-5 Berlin Conference and the colonial development of African countries for resource extraction. The important benefit of a successful economic grand strategy is increased national security for the great power resulting from political, economic, and military alliances with smaller nations whose economic success is dependent on the larger regional power. The massive size and scope of the United States economy gives American lawmakers the unique opportunity to unilaterally shape large-scale economic and political development in underdeveloped regions of the world. Much like the way the Marshall Plan worked to gain American influence and political sway during the Cold War, US economic strategy in the coming decades will not only shape the American role in the global economy, but will also impact the economic, political, and military influence of China as the next superpower. The US must continue to promote a steady economic growth rate, further develop current mainstays of the American economy such as food manufacturing and global financial services, and improve Asia Pacific strategic and security interests. It is crucial then that the United States pursues individual free trade agreements with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand over the next decade. Signs of economic recuperation in American manufacturing, real estate, and other financial markets are positive markers for a healthy US economy in the near future. However, the economic grand strategy that the American government has pursued over the past fifty years, which focuses on strong North American and Western European economic ties as a strategic economic pillar,

will require change in coming years in order to keep the US a competitive global economic player. Southeast Asia offers the perfect new market for trade and foreign direct investment, promising huge economic and strategic returns to a sluggish American economy facing a world economic shift toward the Far East. Now is the time for policy makers to revamp an aging economic grand strategy to benefit from new Southeast Asian trade potentials. A large new consumer market for US corporations, natural resource outlets in the region, and strategic alliances, are just a few of the benefits of building a stronger Southeast Asian trade relationship. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political bloc formed by the 1967 Bangkok Declaration. Two major groups comprise the bloc, the founding ASEAN-5 countries which include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, and the new member nations which include Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei Darussalam, and Cambodia. The population of ASEAN in 2008 totaled 540 million, making ASEAN one of the world’s largest political organizations. Encouraged by Singapore’s free trade policies and economic success during the latter half of the 20th century, ASEAN successfully established a regional free trade agreement in 1992. ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) was established to foster free trade among the Southeast Asia member countries, lower tariffs on regional trade, and develop a strong regional commodities and securities market exchange. In recent years, ASEAN has become one of the world’s most important economic blocs with significant power to influence Asian trade and world markets. AFTA has also unified Southeast Asia to become a viable market for multinational companies willing to expand across borders in the region. In 2011, Accenture conducted a study of the advantages of the Southeast Asian market for businesses. Accenture’s findings indicate that doing business in Southeast Asia will include strong economic growth prospects such as increasing consumer confidence and spending power, lowering the cost of doing business, and increas-

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ing the availability of skilled workers. In addition, American businesses will benefit from favorable intra-ASEAN trade policies. Predictions in the Organization for Economic Co-operation’s “Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013”, project average real growth in the region of 5.5% between 2013 and 2017. Over the same time period, the OECD’s Development Center expects Indonesian real growth to average 6.4%. The strong economic potential of Southeast Asia is unquestionable. US policy makers must pave the way for American businesses to lead economic development in Southeast Asia.

In addition to the economic benefits of expanding US trade and foreign aid investments in Southeast Asia, increasing economic relations will provide significant strategic benefits to US security in the Asia-Pacific region. Increasing regional reliance on US trade and foreign aid will motivate ASEAN nations to provide air and naval support to the US Pacific Fleet. For example, a long history of trade and strategic cooperation with Singapore led to the 2004 construction of the Changi Naval Pier, a Singaporean naval pier built to accommodate American aircraft carrier refueling and refitting requirements.

The 2004 US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (Singapore FTA) exemplifies the economic value of a successful American free trade arrangement in Southeast Asia. The trailblazing trade agreement has nearly eliminated all tariffs on imports and exports successfully increasing total trade value between the US and Singapore. In 2009, two-way goods trade with Singapore was up 17% from 2003 trade levels and amounted to $37 billion according to the Office of the US Trade Representative. These figures are impressive when considering the extent of corporate market failures since the agreement was signed. In addition to enhancing the sizeable increases in the value of US-Singapore trade, the two countries have entered into policy discussions about new ways to protect intellectual property, improve labor relations, and mediate collective bargaining more effectively.

With rapid industrial growth, China increasingly relies on Southeast Asia as a major supplier of oil, natural gas, and other natural resources. In 2010, China secured the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), which has become the third largest trade union by fiscal trade value after the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA has dramatically increased Chinese soft power in Southeast Asia and created a regional reliance on Chinese financial support and trade for growth. The US must counter increased Chinese soft power in the region by opening free trade and encouraging American investment in Southeast Asia.

However, Singapore is just one of many important players in a larger Southeast Asian economy which is quickly becoming one of the largest economic blocs in the world. To tap into the emerging markets of the other major Southeast Asian economies, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines for example, American policy makers should accelerate free trade agreements with each of these nations. Lower tariffs will increase trade value between the ASEAN-5 and the United States, and will allow for foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economies by American companies, encouraging further economic development in the region and aiding economic growth in the United States. A new American economic grand strategy must also reallocate additional foreign aid to trade partners in Southeast Asia. Increasing foreign aid to Malaysia and Thailand, with earmarks for government-sponsored infrastructure development, will improve labor force education, and increase production and transportation efficiency for American companies looking to expand into those countries.

The Strait of Malacca is also an important US security concern and has long been employed as a naval chokepoint for East Asia. The Strait is often considered the most important shipping lane between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. As US military strategy pivots toward the Far East in efforts to address potential security threats from North Korea and China, it is important for the US to maintain strong relations with the countries who control the fate of the Strait of Malacca: Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Free trade must serve as the cement necessary to form a strong US-ASEAN bond. The ASEAN-5 nations offer the US a promising new economic partners to replace the faltering economic ties with Europe. Building an economic grand strategy around free trade with Southeast Asian nations will open avenues to access new consumer populations for American corporations. These avenues will accelerate economic development in the region and allow the United States to counterbalance Chinese soft power while maintaining a strong military presence across the Asia Pacific region. PP

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THE OFT-IGNORED ISSUE OF HOMELESSNESS By Rachel Cohen ’14, Head Writer

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ometimes wars, thousands of miles away, can seem more pressing than the thousands of cold and hungry people sleeping on the streets of our communities. Too often people feel there is little they can do to actually affect long-term structural housing change. This view, while popular, is wrong. In many ways, the Obama administration has taken some innovative steps towards ending homelessness. In 2009 the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) was created; it allocated funds to state and local governments to keep individuals and families in their homes and to help people who were already homeless find affordable housing. This $1.5 billion program, which was included in the $840 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, worked to rehouse people, keep others off the streets with rental assistance, and provide emergency housing, security deposits, moving expenses, and other means of temporary aid. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), an independent agency within the executive branch, and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been leading these efforts. Over the past four years, the number of chronically homeless people—an at-risk population often in need of mental and physical health services—fell about seven percent in 2011 and more than 19 percent since 2007. Homelessness among veterans declined more than seven percent in 2011 and 17 percent since 2009. These drops are significant, and HPRP marked the first time that such a large amount of federal funds were made available for homelessness prevention at the national level. Real tangible progress can be seen when money is invested into the prevention and eradication of homelessness. In the past five years, HUD and USICH increased the number of available beds in emergency shelters by about 15 percent, and the number of beds in longer term housing by almost 50 percent. Despite decreases among particularly at-risk individuals and military veterans, homelessness has increased among families and young people, including college graduates. The Government’s partial success highlights the need for further investment into preventing this eminently avoidable problem.

Currently, tens of thousands of underemployed and unemployed young adults between the ages of 18-24, are struggling to afford shelter; the recession has left workers in this age bracket with the highest unemployment rate of all adults. Specific information on this population is difficult to obtain-most cities have not made special efforts to identify young people who tend to avoid ordinary shelters. However, the Obama administration has begun an information gathering initiative with nine communities to seek out those young adults who live without a consistent home address. In 2011, Los Angeles attempted a count of young adults living on the street and found 3,600—however, the city had shelter capacity for only 17 percent of them. Additionally there were approximately 64,000 more families in shelters in 2011 than in 2007—an increase of about 13 percent. Also the number of families with children in “worst case” housing situations—meaning that they spend more than half of their income on housing or that they live in dangerous, substandard buildings—rose to 3.3 million from 2.2 million. Many of these families are just one financial obstacle away from losing their homes. To be sure, some, particularly young adults, are often hesitant to reach out for governmental help. Additionally, there are others, even right here in Baltimore, who resist pressure to relocate from the streets into shelters or low-quality housing. Mark Johnston, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, told the New York Times that homelessness could be effectively eradicated in the United States at an annual cost of approximately $20 billion. The housing department’s budget for addressing homelessness is currently around $1.9 billion. While the Obama Administration has made the right choice in extending the homelessness prevention program, it is unfortunately running on less funding than the administration’s goals require. “The evidence is clear that every dollar we spend on those programs that help find a stable home for our homeless neighbors not only saves money but quite literally saves lives,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement. Ultimately, to address homelessness we must first realize that we indeed can. PP

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EGYPTIAN SATIRIST MAKES CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS By Randy Bell ’13, Events Chair

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eorge Washington once said that if “the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Never are the fruits of American blood and sacrifice more palpable then when we observe nations which do not know their taste. Many take for granted such seemingly trivial privileges, but a brief peek outside the bubble shielding us from the shortcomings of countries oversees reveals a glaring truth: while democracy may spread, the liberty to speak one’s mind must be the cornerstone of any free nation. Comedians and satirists have been lampooning the high command for centuries without fear of retribution from the unlucky butt of their jokes. Take Jon Stewart, a man who regularly roasts the government, media, and any entity farcical enough to be taken too seriously. While he and his colleagues enjoy a lavish living by playing the jester in American politics, their counterparts in less understanding nations are not so lucky. Bassem Yousef, host of Egypt’s satirical news program, El Bernameg (literally, “the program”), began his career in 2011 after the Egyptian Revolution. His first program, The B+ Show, was a hit on YouTube and earned El Bernameg a spot on Egypt’s ONTV, where he has interviewed many of Egypt’s prominent figures, including Presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. Never one to shy away from speaking his mind and believing that no topic is off limits, Yousef is accused of blasphemy against nation’s president Mohamed Morsi and the religion to which 95% of Egyptians adhere to. He specifically targeted the Islamic political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization which has made every effort to stifle dissenting media sources like Yousef with violence, legal discourse, and press releases. In response to the accusations, Yousef stated that “[The Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi] are not two things. They are one.” Despite efforts from Morsi to distance himself from the Muslim Brotherhood party, Yousef has consistently made efforts to lump the two into the same entity and mocked efforts from the president to distance himself as an independent leader. After jeering the president and his attorney general in front of

a highly entertained audience and Hamdeen Sabahi, the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current, a major opposition party to the ruling body in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood took legal action. Ordered by the state, Egypt’s Public Prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Yousef on charges of insulting the President and excessive sexual innuendo. Despite the accusations, Yousef, an unwavering comedian, tweeted on Saturday that “The warrant and order to arrest me is true. I will go tomorrow to the Attorney General’s office, but if you prefer to send a box to deliver me in today it will save me money on transportation.” Although the Muslim Brotherhood has filed a number of lawsuits against other public figures, Chief Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Maqsoud claims that plaintiff Mahmoud Abul-Enein acted independently of the organization. Nevertheless, Youssef’s interrogation drew criticism from the United States. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom called the Egyptian government out for what it saw as an attempt to stifle dissent in the nation. In one statement, the USCIRF said that the incident with Yousef and similar treatment of Egyptian comedian Ali Qandil were “just two of the most recent examples of a disturbing trend that affects all Egyptians”. They went on to say that while the stifling of Egyptian figures who were “insulting” the nation’s leadership is nothing new under the government installed in 2011, these acts were becoming more and more common. As the nation becomes more polarized under leadership far from adopting the principles of Jefferson and Paine, it is unclear how far the Egyptian government will go to prevent its citizens from what it counts as “corrupting of morals” and violating “religious principles.” PP

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MARYLAND NEEDS THE GAS TAX By Adam Roberts ’14, Staff Writer

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ast week, the Maryland Senate finally approved of a long-needed gas tax increase. The tax hike has been at the center of Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley’s initiative to improve public transportation throughout the state. It is expected that this tax increase will raise over four billion dollars, which will replenish the state’s depleted transportation fund. Yet, according to the Washington Post, this tax increase will force motorists to face a 13 to 20-cent increase in gas prices. Three large-scale mass transit projects will be the main recipients of incoming funds: the Baltimore Red Line, the Purple Line, and the Corridor City Transitway (CCT). The latter will be important in improving the connection between Washington and the surrounding suburbs. Meanwhile, the Red Line will provide Baltimore with a much-needed train line running from West Baltimore to East Baltimore along Pratt Street. Not surprisingly, this tax increase has been met with stiff opposition from Republicans in the state. Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil) commented that, “This is a regressive tax that hurts the poor.” What chutzpah. Suddenly Republicans are concerned with the plight of the less fortunate? I find that a little hard to believe. What Pipkin really means is that it will hurt the rural poor who rely heavily on driving. If he actually cared about the urban poor, then he would be strongly in favor of this tax hike. Of course, the urban poor are not the only ones who would profit from more public transportation funding. All residents of both Baltimore and its suburbs would find the the Red Line very useful, as would tourists wishing to explore places like Canton that are not covered by the Charm City Circulator. The Purple Line and CCT would also help ease the strains of travel for those who commute into Washington. Delegate Susan Aumann (R-Annapolis) notes in her opinion piece for the Baltimore Sun that, “An estimated 91 percent of Marylanders drive, while about 8 percent use mass transit.” She claims that because so few Marylanders currently commute via mass transit, it is pointless to invest in it. This thinking is incredibly short-

sighted. One of the primary goals of improving public transportation in Maryland is for Marylanders to have alternate means of getting to work in Washington or Baltimore. Commuters should not be forced to sit in hours of Beltway traffic every single morning and night. Maryland’s politicians ought to be forward-looking and realize the benefits that improved public transportation has to offer. How can Baltimore compete with Washington unless it has a decent mass transit system? Even though Baltimore may have a lower cost of living, young people and families prefer to settle down in places where they can actually get around. As anyone who has driven in Baltimore knows, it is absolutely impossible to find a parking spot, not to mention how terrible the downtown traffic can be during rush hour. Unlike Baltimore, Washington does have an expansive metro system that covers both the city and its surrounding suburbs. While the Red Line would not make Baltimore as easy to traverse as Washington, it would be a big step forward. It is also important that Maryland take notice of what its neighbor to the south is doing. Virginia has been far more proactive in improving its mass transit system than Maryland. In late February, Virginia passed a transportation bill that would also try to improve public transportation in congested parts of the state. Not to mention that a major expansion of the Washington Metro, known as the Silver Line, is being constructed in northern Virginia. The ease of traveling into Washington from Virginia may dramatically increase the already large number of people moving to northern Virginia. If both Baltimore and Maryland as a whole wish to attract new residents, they must have public transportation systems that can compare to those in Washington and Virginia. That is why I strongly applaud Governor O’Malley’s decision to push for the gas tax. In the short term it might be politically dangerous since no one wants to spend more money on taxes. However, in the long term it ensures that young people and families will choose to move to or at least continue residing in Baltimore and the rest of Maryland. Governor O’Malley chose the welfare of his state over his political career, which is something few politicians are ever courageous enough to do. PP

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“CHINAFRICA”—FROM ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP TO EXPLOITATION, WHERE IS THE LINE? By Lauren Yeh ’15, Contributing Writer

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he term “Chinafrica” refers to the increasing association between China and African countries, due to their privileged economic relations since China’s economic opening in 1978. According to the French newspaper Le Monde, today, about one million Chinese live in Africa, and with $93 billion worth of exports and $69 billion worth of imports, China is Africa’s number one trading partner. In 2000, foreign direct investments to Africa doubled and, since then, have steadily increased at a rate of 30% per year, mostly directed towards South Africa and Nigeria, the major economic poles of Chinese investment. China’s growing involvement in Africa has generated a series of claims and complaints typifying the Sino-African relationship, with definitions of it ranging from neo-colonialist to mutually beneficial. What is the extent of Chinese involvement in Africa? I argue that although China has greatly contributed to Africa’s recent development by fostering economic growth and increasing employment, it has also acted in a neo-colonialist way insofar as it has exploited the underdevelopment of African countries in similar ways to how the has West in recent times in both Africa (during the colonization period) and in today’s developing countries. China’s interest in Africa derived from its need for natural resources. African oil, which is exchanged for the basic infrastructures that Africa lacks, represents 35% of China’s oil consumption. Realizing that profit could be made, a variety of Chinese actors have invested in Africa and developed business sectors such as construction, mining, textile, finance, etc. The development of Chinese businesses in Africa has generated mixed feelings among the African population. In Zambia, for example, Chinese investments have generated $1 billion, a significant share of its $13 billion GDP, and have created 15,000 jobs. However, by offering prices 30% cheaper on average than domestic prices, the Chinese businesses challenge any form of local competition. Furthermore, China has been accused of unfair competition because of its deliberate violations of international laws and regulations regarding security concerns, environmental issues, and human rights. Many testimonies of African workers support these claims. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a construction worker testified that workers are not provided with appropriate equipment, thereby endangering their security while main-

taining wages lower than minimum wage, according to France 24. These appalling reports have contributed to the growing hostility to Chinese presence in Africa. China’s behavior is not so different from that of European countries only 30 years ago. China has indeed justified its non-interventionist strategy in African countries by recalling the principle of sovereignty, thereby legitimizing its collaboration with authoritarian regimes. By recognizing African dictatorships and granting them loans, China participates in legitimizing and perpetuating corrupt governments. Little concerned with the well-being of the population and lacking respect for human rights, economic considerations have determined intergovernmental collaboration between China and Africa. The self-interested Chinese government contributes to political instability through cooperation with authoritarian regimes, because supporting dictators is detrimental to the creation of sustainable local economies and to political stability. Sudan and Zimbabwe are examples of such harmful collaborations. China’s relationship with Africa is paradoxical because despite its strong denunciation of imperialism, it has acted in a colonial-like fashion in Africa. Although China is not trying to set up colonies, it collaborates with oppressive governments, just as European governments collaborated with kings and leaders of African countries during the colonization era, and invokes sovereignty to justify this approach. In addition, as a result of globalization, developed countries have been accused of exploiting developing countries by taking advantage of low cost opportunities and by disregarding the social costs and poor working conditions these opportunities entail. However, unfair competition has led unions and local workers to organize strikes to protest economic and social exploitation. Recently, the number of strikes in mines and other Chinese-led industries has dramatically increased. Today, the very ideology of imperialism that the Chinese fervently combatted until the late 20th century in fact characterizes their relationship with Africa. Although China’s exploitative behavior has been denounced, little has been done by international actors in order to favor the improvement of social conditions. Exploitation, it seems, is likely to continue until those who have the tools in their hands, Africans and their leaders, rise and speak up for their rights, banding together in an effort to improve their social conditions. PP

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A CRITIQUE OF THE ABORTION DEBATE By James Harris ’13, Contributing Writer

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ro-life. Pro-choice. Anti-choice. Anti-life. War on Women. War on Life. The messages embodied in such statements are based on both truth and falsehood. Extremists tend to present this issue as a binary choice. It is not.

support for either. A woman who chooses abortion out of fear that she cannot support a child is not making a free choice any more than one who keeps the pregnancy and gives birth due to fear of demonization and a lack of access to family planning services.

Radicals on both sides, professing to support the best interests of women and/or children, tend to regard any effort to move the debate towards a centrist, workable solution as a plot by their opposition to declare a holocaust on children or a misogynistic war on women. A binary choice forces the debate to ignore subtleties, casting it as an either-or matter. Either one is for life or for murder. Either one is for women’s right to choose or for gender-based slavery. The polar ends of the spectrum do not seem to make honest efforts to strive for a true solution. Banning abortions without exception answers the question of how to protect life. Guaranteeing choice and constraining outside influence answers the question of how to protect women. Neither truly solves the issue.

Both sides are guilty of skewing data towards their own perceptions. Consider Planned Parenthood and Crisis Pregnancy Centers, where each faults the other for doing the wrong thing. They kill babies! They lie to women! They encourage abortion! They guilt women into giving birth! Planned Parenthood has a role in providing abortions to women, but also has a role in making contraception available, thereby reducing the demand for the former. Crisis Pregnancy Centers put pressure on women, but they also empower them to keep their pregnancies and give birth. Each side lauds the good it does and criticizes the evil of the other even though common sense advocates doing the good works of each.

The ultimate goals of the pro-life and pro-choice movements are, allegedly, protecting human life, and empowering women to make informed choices and freely act upon them, respectively. Both groups have a tendency to focus on their side of the coin to the detriment of the fair points to be found on the other. One is not really pro-life if one is against that which would prevent even a single loss of human life. It is necessary to provide universal sexual education in schools that teach two obvious truths. Sex can cause pregnancy, so if you do not want yourself or your girlfriend to get pregnant, do not do it. If you are going to anyway, there are ways of reducing the likelihood of this result. Abortions happen due to a demand for them. A wider availability of contraceptives, and social safety nets that both reduce pressure on women to choose abortion and provide sufficient support should they keep the pregnancy and give birth, would prevent many from occurring.

Both camps must put aside their differences on other issues, come together, and forge real solutions. I am confident that some of the points above would then appear in the resulting basket of policies because they are readily apparent if the issue is analyzed without preconception. My educated guess as to why this has not happened? Partisan interests on both sides find the controversy of this issue useful in rallying support for their platforms. Not only do extremists have little respect for each other, but the right does not actually respect life, and the left does not actually respect choice. Politicians and activists on both sides often applaud common sense, but then turn around and reveal themselves as ideologues blind to the realities of the issue. Let’s see some real common sense. PP

One is not really pro-choice if one is against that which helps women to make their own free choices. It is necessary to provide comprehensive information about their options, and reasons both for choosing abortion and for keeping the pregnancy with full emotional and financial

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POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 8th, 2013

DEBUNKING DON DRAPER: WHY AMERICA’S BEST DAYS STILL LIE AHEAD By Akshai Bhatnagar ’15, Staff Writer

L

ike many Americans, I have a special affection for the 1960s: the Beatles are my favorite band, John F. Kennedy is my favorite president, and Lawrence of Arabia is my favorite movie. Yet as Mad Men returns this week, it is important to remember that our national affection for the past should not be overvalued. Far from being America’s peak, the 1960s was a darker era than our own; a time when the global order held back most of the world’s people from realizing their individual potential. This unfair system has been rolled back substantially as a result of globalization, to the advantage of the United States. Today, the U.S. can take satisfaction in the fact that its best days are yet to come. Like all myths, the myth of American decline has many different versions, all sharing several identifying characteristics. The broad outlines of the narrative go something like this: the United States emerged from World War II as the world’s sole industrial power, producing more than half of global gross domestic product. The resultant immense amalgamation of wealth propelled postwar America to be the world’s economic, scientific, and cultural leader. The fall of the Berlin Wall only amplified U.S. influence in the world, as the West won its decades-long battle against Soviet communism. Now, as countries as diverse as China and Brazil erode America’s relative economic advantage, the United States can no longer exert the unreserved influence it once did. At first glance, this argument appears reasonable, however, it ignores the tremendous improvements made in the last five or six decades. While the United States no longer produces a majority of global GDP, its real per capita GDP has quadrupled since the mid-1940s. This growth has allowed the United States to afford such popular programs as Medicare, Medicaid, and Sesame Street. It has provided the capital necessary to fund research institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University and NASA, whose advances have benefitted people all over the world. Indeed, much of the economic growth in the United States over the past sixty years has been tied to growth in foreign countries, whether the Europe of the Marshall Plan, the Japan of the 1980s, or the China of today. In foreign affairs, the world is no longer a Cuban

Missile Crisis away from nuclear winter, and the CIA no longer arbitrarily deposes democratically-elected governments based on a phone call from British Petroleum. These accomplishments are as impressive as they are underappreciated, yet they pale in comparison with the greatest achievement of the last fifty years: the equalizing of opportunity both at home and abroad. While relatively secure for many Americans, Don Draper’s era was callously oppressive to the vast majority of humanity. From blacks, women, and gays in the United States to the civilian casualties of Cold War power struggles across the Third World, the 1960s were far from a golden age for most people. Today, as economic growth moves literal billions out of poverty, hordes of people are acquiring higher life expectancies, more employment opportunities, and better health care access. Rather than feeling threatened by the “rise of the rest,” we should welcome and work with other countries to combat what President Kennedy termed “the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” The U.S. may no longer be able to exert uninhibited influence on the world, but doing so was always costly in the first place. It may be a far better thing if the rest of the world helps the United States shoulder the burdens of global leadership, whether that be footing the bill for Europe’s defense capabilities or being the most effective responder to many of the world’s humanitarian disasters. Today, the United States accounts for 25% of global GDP, but only contains 4.5% of the world’s population. Such inequality is fundamentally untenable – and it should be. It is contrary to our character to pine for the days when we were poorer just because the rest of the world was poorer still; the United States should never aspire to be richer at the expense of other countries when it can get richer alongside other countries. As we confront a new season of Mad Men, we could do worse than to remember that Don Draper’s America, although wealthier than its contemporary countries, was neither morally nor economically superior to our own. PP

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Volume XIII, Issue VIII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 8th, 2013

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T h e T r i pthel POLITIK e H e l i xPRESS presents‌

Volume XIII, Issue VIII

APRIL 8th, 2013

Discussion on Innovation for Global Health April 29, Charles Commons Ballroom 6pm

Dr. Sujata Bhatia

Dr. Harshad Sanghvi

Dr. William Ball

Dr. Youseph Yazdi

Dr. Koki Agarwal

Dr. Jonah Erlebacher

JHU Triple Helix epub.jhutriplehelix.com facebook.com/HopkinsTTH

The event will include a faculty panel discussing the process of innovation for global health including technical, policy, and social considerations. Harvard professor in biomedical engineering, Dr. Sujata Bhatia will kick off the program with a guest lecture about the development and design of biomaterials. Dr. Bhatia researches whether biomaterials can stimulate agricultural economies and spark low-cost medical technology innovation in developing 15 communities.


Volume XIII, Issue VIII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 8th, 2013

16


Volume XIII, Issue VIII

the

POLITIK PRESS

APRIL 8th, 2013

17

Profile for JHU Politik

The Politik Press, Volume XIII, Issue 8  

This week's issue of the Politk Press is here!

The Politik Press, Volume XIII, Issue 8  

This week's issue of the Politk Press is here!

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