Page 1

Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012


Volume XII, Issue X

the

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

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

EVENTS CHAIR/PUBLICITY Randy Bell

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

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Victoria Scordato

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 XII, ISSUE X NOVEMBER 19th, 2012


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

WEEK IN REVIEW by Chris Winer ‘14, Staff Writer

United States: King of Oil by 2020 In eight years, U.S. oil output should surpass Saudi Arabia’s. America will become nearly energy self-reliant and on track to become a net exporter, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. New technologies such as the hydraulic fracturing of shale have boosted crude oil supplies and will transform the U.S. into the largest producer for about five years starting in about 2020. For the first six months of this year, the nation met 83 percent of its energy needs, according to the Department of Energy. Crude imports have fallen 11 percent this year and America should produce its most oil since 1991. In a year when Iran has threatened to halt oil shipments, the growing output, plus a natural gas boom, may help cushion the nation from supply disruptions.

Next Terrorist Attack Could Come For Electric Grid Terrorist attacks on the power grid could cause massive blackouts throughout the United States for weeks or months, according to a Wednesday report by the National Academy of Sciences. Destroying substations or transmission lines with explosives or by launching projectiles could cause widespread energy failures, the report said, deaths from the cold or heat, and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage. The study, the most authoritative yet on the subject, repeats the chorus from independent engineers and the electric industry itself regarding the grid’s vulnerability. The Department of Homeland Security has attempted to collaborate with companies to rehearse responses. Meanwhile, the September 11 attacks and extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy have emphasized the need for more vigorous monitoring and technological improvements.

Fiscal Cliff Could Increase College Costs The $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that may kick in at year-end as part of the socalled fiscal cliff could result in an 8% cut in federal aid on top of recent reductions. Federal grants dropped 5%, after adjusting for inflation, totaling $49 billion during the last academic year. This marked the first drop after rising for five consecutive years. According to a report released last month by the College Board, federal work-study payments fell 4% to $972 million, after adjusting for inflation, dropping below the $1 billion mark for the first time in at least a decade. To prepare for these potential financial aid cuts, students should contact their colleges’ financial aid offices for school grants and search for scholarships in their community and on sites like Fastweb.com and CollegeBoard.org . PP

2


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

OBAMA MUST WORK TOWARDS TWO STATES by Rachel Cohen ‘14, Head Writer

L

et us be clear: it is never a “convenient” time to work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We live in a tumultuous world, with many serious foreign policy problems happening all at once. And, unfortunately, due to the nature of our political system, an American president has only so much political capital, time, and space to act on a number of issues before the next election cycle approaches. In his second term, President Obama will need to deal with the rising possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, plan for the safe withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, decide how to proceed with his controversial drone-strike policies, secure strong economic and military interests in Asia, and address problems that have yet to materialize. However, the time to use vigorous U.S. diplomatic leadership to negotiate a two-state solution is now; it will not be any easier four years down the line. Many experts agree that the window to achieve such a peace deal, --a deal supported in principle by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and every U.S. Administration since George H.W. Bush--is diminishing. Both sides know what the agreement would look like: what we now need is the political will to achieve it. The relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is strained, yet it is imperative that the two leaders get past their political differences and work together for two states. The two-state solution is simply the only way for Israel to remain both a Jewish and democratic state, and for Palestinians to be freed from a 45-year military occupation and obtain the full political rights they deserve. Negotiating peace is also a national security interest for the United States. We spend billions of dollars annually on Israeli security, but countries with clearly defined borders are more secure and better able to defend themselves against threats. In 2009, Obama visited the Middle East, and Israelis understandably felt snubbed that he failed to stop to meet with leaders in Israel. But despite the lack of presidential speeches in Israel, actions speak louder than words. Under Obama’s leadership, Israeli De-

fense Minister Ehud Barak, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, have all publicly stated that the security relationship between Israel and the United States has never been stronger. The amount of financial and military support the Obama Administration has given to Israel is unprecedented. Netanyahu received a lot of justly-deserved flack from Israelis and the international community during the U.S presidential election for intervening on behalf of Governor Mitt Romney. As Israeli Opposition Leader Shaul Mofaz, asked of Netanyahu in the Knesset, “Who are you trying to replace? The Administration in Washington or that in Tehran?” Netanyahu was open about his distrust of Obama’s strength, determination and capabilities, despite the praise that Obama had received from Israel’s intelligence and defense community. On the Palestinian side, there is a partner for peace. Recently in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Abbas declared: “Palestine for me is the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital... The West Bank and Gaza is Palestine. Everything else is Israel.” Hold no illusions: if the Palestinian Authority collapses (as Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman pledged to ensure if the Palestinians seek upgraded non-member status at the U.N.), the next Palestinian leader will not be so moderate, or so inclined to work towards a two-state solution. An inability to reach an agreement with Abbas and the PLO will only strengthen the hand of Hamas, making it more difficult to deal with the situation in Gaza. Rocket fire from Gaza is not an example of why peace is impossible, but how the absence of negotiations and agreements perpetuates an endless cycle of violence that leads nowhere. Obama must use some newly acquired political capital to revitalize the peace process. Netanyahu, Abbas, and Obama must move past rhetorical games and work together for a long-term secure and just future. Early in 2013, I would hope that Obama travels to Israel and Palestine, making clear to both sides that the peace process will be a priority. The United States wants and needs their President to act forcefully and urgently, before it is too late. PP

3


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

A CROSSROADS FOR THE LAME-DUCK CONGRESS by Randy Bell ‘13, Events Chair

L

ike a game of musical chairs, the men and women of the 112th Congress are shuffling to find their bearing before inevitably returning to their seats on Capitol Hill. When the music stops on January 3rd, however, scores of men and women will find their seat taken and will be forced to leave the game. In the House, 17 Democratic and 20 Republican incumbents lost their reelection bids, while 23 Democrats and 19 Republicans decided to call it quits. In the Senate, 2 Republican candidates lost their reelection bid while 5 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and one Joe Lieberman decided to step down on their own. With 91 congressional representatives leaving, the American public is left to wonder whether the legislative branch can depart from their usual modus operandi and actually enact real change.

is essential that Congress not only addresses these concerns in a timely manner, but that it does so in shrewd manner unmolested by partisan politics. This decision will need to be a precise solution walking the thin line between fostering growth in a stagnant economy and allowing the deficit to balloon to an irresponsible size. Apart from the Fiscal Cliff, there are a number of other loose ends to tie up before the January 3rd deadline. With 37,000 jobs at stake in the wind industry, the lame-duck congress must deal with the expiration of tax credits for wind energy at the end of this year. Notwithstanding a number of Republicans grasping at straws to convince Congress of its economic burden, it appears that there is enough support to renew the tax credits and to push the country forward toward a responsible energy plan. Congress is also faced with the looming expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, as well as numerous housing-related tax benefits and cost deductions. Congress must address other issues such as immigration reform talks, cybersecurity concerns, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and disaster aid to states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Many of these issues have been continuously put off despite campaign promises to address them, and need to be attended to before further procrastination weakens the country.

Historically, lame-duck sessions in Congress have stayed true to their name. In years past, these sessions were renowned for lacking the vigor and spirit of their respective pre-election sittings. Whether it be the lack of time to gather consensus, or the lackluster spirit of a group undergoing a radical transformation, these sessions manage to do the impossible and make Congress even more unimpressive. This trend was stalled in 2010, though, when the 111th Congress was able to pass the Stimulus Package, The Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, an arms treaty, and also put the gears in motion to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Waiting until the final minute, this Congress now has the advantage of accommodating an outgoing group that With nothing to lose, the current wave of outgoing is less constrained by the purview of political prescripcongressmen and congresswomen has the opportuni- tion. Unlike 2010 when the Democrats lost the House ty to repeat the success of 2010. It is essential for this and had the incentive to enact immediate change in the congress to accomplish its predecessor’s feat due to lame-duck session before losing their majority, neither the number of challenges it is being asked to address. house changed hands in this election. However, both Pushed to the forefront is the looming threat of falling chambers saw their majority decrease on November over the “Fiscal Cliff,” an issue that has no perfect or at- 6th, which could prove to light a fire underneath them tractive solution. On December 31st, a number of pay- strong enough to push through the necessary legislative roll tax cuts and tax breaks for businesses will expire, measures required before the 113th Congress is sworn and taxes related to the Affordable Care Act will take in. With less than two months, they need to act quickly. effect. In addition, spending cuts related to Debt Ceil- The major players will survive the upcoming transforing negotiations will be initiated. The Congress can mation, but they have good reason to compromise (in fachoose to let these changes occur (an act which would vor of the Democrats) in the wake of President Obama’s cut the deficit in half ), intervene to halt the tax in- reelection. The fate of the country for the next year and creases/spending cuts at some level, or install stop-gap beyond depends heavily on the actions taken by Conmeasures to push their responsibility to a future date. It gress in the remaining month and a half. PP

4


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

MOUAZ AL-KHATIB LEADS SYRIAN NATIONAL COALITION by Mike Bodner ‘15, Staff Writer

A

fter over a year and seven months of fighting, Syrian rebel forces finally have an internationally recognized leader to stand behind. Last week, Syrian rebel factions and coalitions united under the preeminent Syrian National Coalition (SNC). Before this union was formed, Syrian rebels were lead separately by multiple groups and coalitions, a situation that was leading to increasingly ugly sectarian conflict in Syria. The SNC was formed during an opposition summit convened under heavy pressure from the United States, who feared that the rebel’s inability to unite under one coalition would lead to a future Islamist theocracy should Bashar alAssad’s government suddenly fall. Many other Arab countries had also tasked the rebels with uniting, as they had no wish to see a Somalia-esque failed state suddenly arise in the Middle East. Much to the pleasure of international observers, opposition groups as disparate as the Syrian National Council and the Muslim Brotherhood managed to unite under one group. Elected to lead the coalition is Mouaz al-Khatib, a moderate preacher and former geophysics engineer. Al-Khatib—who has a history of campaigning for religious tolerance and Syrian unity—has been wellreceived as leader by the governments of many Arab countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who promptly declared the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. France also became the first Western country to recognize the SNC, and stated that it would consider providing arms to the Syrian rebels. Now that the Syrian opposition is unified under one group, it is crucial to ask if Mouaz al-Khatib is capable of leading his coalition through the civil war and towards a new liberal democratic Syria. The international consequences should al-Khatib find himself unable to lead would be dire. A chief concern of foreign governments is al-Khatib’s political inexperience. While al-Khatib has led a large congregation as imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and has made speeches flanked by Christians and Alawites, he has never held a political position similar to the one he has now. Should the Syrian opposition forces push Assad from power, al-Khatib will find that the hardest

part of his job, rebuilding a country torn apart by sectarianism, has just begun. In addition to his lack of political experience, some look with skepticism at al-Khatib’s base of support and his historic political statements. The Muslim Brotherhood was instrumental in electing al-Khatib, and they have also propped up opposition leader George Sabra to a top spot in the SNC. In addition, the SNC has established its headquarters in Cairo where they can very easily be influenced the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Egypt. In terms of his personal history, al-Khatib has a record of anti-Western and anti-Semitic statements. He has given praise in his writings to radical Egyptian preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has gone on record supporting suicide bombings. In a pointed move, the United States government has yet to recognize the SNC as the sole leader of the opposition, and President Obama has stated that he is committed to a “moderate Syria.” Successful revolutions of the Arab Spring have a very mixed record in terms of the success seen by postrevolutionary governments. Fresh in American minds is the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, and the Egyptian government has had a distressingly difficult time securing the Sinai Peninsula and dealing with Islamic extremists. Should Syria fall into a state of post-revolutionary chaos following a possible overthrow of the Assad government, Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, the third largest in the world, would be essentially up for grabs. Such a scenario presents a real and serious threat for the United States, Europe, and Syria’s Middle Eastern neighbors. Recent months have seen both car bombings and a massive suicide attack, fueling international fears of the rising prevalence of extremist fighters in Syria. Such fighters could quickly turn from the civil war to an insurgency should a future Syrian government fail to satisfy their demands. Mouaz al-Khatib may be considered by many to be a moderate and great unifier, yet his political inexperience and the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood should still make any foreign government think twice before they take the election of a Syrian opposition leader as a green light to lend the rebels military support. PP

5


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

THE NEXT TREASURY SECRETARY by Virgil Doyle ‘14, Staff Writer

S

ince President Obama’s re-election on November 6th, the efforts of political prognosticators have shifted away from the campaign trail and onto the subject of appointments. Several important positions need to be filled, including the Secretary of State, following Hillary Clinton’s expected resignation, and the Head of the CIA, in the wake of General David Petraeus’ recent resignation. However, the most important appointment President Obama has to make is that of the Secretary of the Treasury. Whoever becomes the next Treasury Secretary will have tremendous responsibilities regarding a diverse range of issues. These include managing our economic relationship with China, implementing the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, preventing contagion from the Euro crisis in American financial institutions, and creating a comprehensive and viable plan for tax reform. Due to these and other critical functions of the office, the new Treasury Secretary could very possibly be the most powerful position currently available in the Obama cabinet. There have been many rumored candidates for the position. They include Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock investment firm; Sheila Bair, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; and Erskine Bowles, former Chief of Staff for President Clinton, and a co-author of the Simpson-Bowles plan which intended to pay down the national deficit. However, each of these candidates has major flaws. Given the Obama administration’s emphasis on putting “Main Street over Wall Street,” Mr. Fink— as head of the world’s largest asset management firm—may be too close for comfort to the financial sector. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ms. Bair may be too opposed to the finance industry’s interests to gain Senate confirmation. This leaves Mr. Bowles, who appears to be the most likely and qualified nomination of the three. As a co-author of the Simpson-Bowles plan, he demonstrated the willingness to negotiate and act in a bipartisan manner, and he acknowledged the fundamental budgetary reality that any solution to the deficit must involve both revenue increases and spending cuts. However, recent reports from White House officials have indicated that Mr. Bowles is unlikely to receive the Treasury nomination.

Instead, the well-documented frontrunner for the position is Jacob Lew, another veteran of the Clinton Administration and the current White House Chief of Staff. In fact, his credentials are very similar to those of Mr. Bowles: both served as a Chief of Staff for President Clinton, both have some financial experience (Lew at Citigroup, Bowles at Morgan Stanley), and both are viewed as experts on the budget. Lew spent time as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Bowles co-authored his recent report. Despite this similarity between the two candidates and Mr. Lew’s current position as frontrunner for the position, I feel that Mr. Bowles has two key advantages. First, he has demonstrated willingness and aptitude for working in a bipartisan manner, highlighted by the fact that his partner in the deficit report, Alan Simpson, is a prominent conservative. Second, authoring the report has raised Bowles’ profile, especially among business leaders. JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, has expressed confidence in Mr. Bowles and in the Bowles-Simpson report, along with Jon Mack, former chairman of Morgan Stanley, and other financial leaders. Mr. Lew, conversely, is not well known within the business community. As Andrew Ross Sorkin, a financial columnist for the New York Times, comments, the response from many members of the business world to Lew’s nomination “might be asking, Mr. Lew who?” While the Treasury Secretary should not be an agent of Wall Street, a strong working relationship with the financial sector is key to the Secretary’s job, and Mr. Bowles has a clear advantage in this regard. The next Secretary of the Treasury must possess a realistic vision for America’s fiscal future, the ability to bring about compromise from diverse interest groups and coalitions domestically, and the tact and wherewithal to manage the United States’ position as the world’s financial leader. Though Jacob Lew is regarded as the frontrunner, and some have even reported that Erskine Bowles is no longer in the running for the position, Mr. Bowles has the reputation and the ability to compromise that will allow him to best serve the nation’s interest as Secretary of the Treasury. PP

6


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

A NEW BEGINNING? CHINA AND ITS NEW LEADERSHIP by Peter Lee ‘14, Contributing Writer

O

n Thursday, in a dramatic convention, China unveiled the seven new leaders of its Communist Party. Xi Jinping, the current Vice-President, succeeded Hu Jintao as the general secretary of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China. Li Keqiang succeeded Wen Jiabao as Premier. Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengshen, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli also ascended to the Politburo Standing Committee – the top governing body of the Chinese Communist Party.

power through the Communist Youth League. Li Keqiang is not a princeling and has an extensive background in economics and finance. However, he is regarded as less charismatic than outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao.

What does this all mean for China and the United States? Given the severe lack of information about many of the Politburo Standing Committee members, it can be difficult to project the path of China’s future. Many of the new members are princelings; however, some, including Xi Jinping, are known to be more friendly towards Political power in China is centralized in the Commu- the West and open-market economics. nist Party. There is little to no political competition and the Communist Party places great importance on Still, major reform is not likely to occur under the new leadensuring a seamless transition between new genera- ership. The more liberal members of the Politburo were detions of leadership within the party. cidedly not raised to the Standing Committee, thus signaling an intention for a more conservative and cautious adminisWith no democratic elections, the Communist Party tration. Furthermore, many of the new members have close continues a semi-oligarchic system that selects its ties with the old former party leader Jiang Zemin, revealing own leaders. The Politburo, a committee consisting a still-present connection to old party ideology. of 25 members, acts as the ruling body of the party. The most highly-ranked members in the Politburo Xi Jinping is regarded as more likeable and down-toare known as the Politburo Standing Committee, cur- earth than his predecessor, Hu Jintao. In a speech folrently consisting of the seven new members. The top lowing his appointment, Xi made no mention of Hu ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee, or former well-known Communist leaders. Rather, he the president, is elected for five-year terms. Often, criticized corruption in China’s government, promised leaders will choose a potential “heir” well in advance to help improve the lives of citizens, and called for a in order to prepare them for future power. “rejuvenation” of the country – a stark contrast to the somewhat enigmatic and bland personality of Hu JiThe transitions between new generations of leader- nato. At the same time, Xi Jinping made no mention of ship tend to be extremely secretive and guarded. As increased democracy or civil liberties. the Communist Party aims to project an image of seamless unity, internal debates and struggles dur- Ultimately, China faces major challenges as it moves ing the selection process are virtually unknown to the on to its Fifth Generation of leadership. While China public. This secretive process begs the question: who remains the world’s second-largest economy, it also really are the new leaders of China? faces slowing economic growth, a rapidly aging population and a potentially devastating property bubble. Of the top two leaders, Xi Jinping is what is known in Chi- Ongoing political unrest in Tibet, territorial disputes na as a “princeling,” or a descendent of a highly-ranked in the South China Sea, an unfavorable history of huCommunist Party member. The term “princeling” tends man rights abuses, and a younger generation that is to carry unfavorable connotations of nepotism. Never- growing increasingly Internet-savvy and pushing for theless, Xi Jinping has a reputation of modesty and ef- democratic reform only add to the obstacles the new fective leadership, having worked his way up the party leadership will have to overcome. Although China’s through various administrative positions in China’s new leaders intend to sustain the status quo, they may provinces. Li Keqiang, like President Hu Jintao, rose to soon be forced to adapt to rapidly changing times. PP

7


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

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 bio-molecular 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. Possible topics for our next special issue include the politics of financial aid and student debt.

If interested e-mail us at

POLITIK@jhu.edu Or find us online at

jhupolitik.org 9


Volume XII, Issue X

the

POLITIK PRESS

NOVEMBER 19th, 2012

Profile for JHU Politik

The Politik Press, Volume XII, Issue 10  

The final Politik Press of the semester!

The Politik Press, Volume XII, Issue 10  

The final Politik Press of the semester!

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded