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Volume VI, Issue II

February 14, 2011


ISSUE II, 2/14/11 Also in this Week’s Edition:


By Hilary Matfess, ‘14 -Page 2


By Colette Andrei, ‘14 -Page 3


By Jacob Grunberger, ‘13 -Page 4 BEER AND OBAMA President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt announcing he would not run for reelection. (Chris Hondros/ Getty)

by Jordan Kalms, ‘14 Staff Writer


he American media has spent the better part of the last two weeks exclusively covering the turmoil that has erupted in Egypt and Tunisia. From among the enormous amount of coverage that has ensued, a simple narrative has emerged. Egypt has proven a long term, stable ally in the Middle East, something the U.S does not want to see changed, though on the other hand, the millions of citizens of Egypt likewise deserve a democratic (or at least functioning) government. In the background of this coverage, however, there exists the tangential story of Israel, which is often reported as having similar if not identical concerns to that of American policymakers. Israel also


By Wolfgng Alders, ‘14 -Page 6

fears chaos in the Middle East and the possible implications a change in regime might have on Israeli society. However, the ensuing political disruptions that have emerged in the Middle East have far more complex implications for Israel than popular opinion would indicate. For instance, most major news stations have barely touched on the effects of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings on the Palestinian people. According to Haaretz, a left-leaning Israeli newspaper, the inhabitants of the West Bank have found the uprisings of their neighbors to be somewhat of an inspiration in their attempts to gain political sovereignty in the form of statehood. Haaretz reports

JOHNS HOPKINS’s Only WeeklyPublished Political Magazine

that, “residents of the refugee camp [in the west bank] closely followed events in the land of the Nile, in a mood of melancholy jealousy.” The notion that violent political uprisings are becoming bastions of hope for citizens of the occupied territories is troubling for Israelis and their government officials. Indeed, Israel’s top priority is the safety of its citizens, which is closely tied to the political stability of the neighboring regions. Last week, Israel officials met with diplomats from the U.S to discuss the volatile nature of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, and warned America of (Continued on Page 2)

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February 14, 2011




Joshua Ayal

Harry Black

Sam Lichtenstein

Staff Writers

Executive Editors

Randy Bell Alex Clearfield Rachel Cohen Rohit Dasgupta Eric Feinberg Becca Fishbein Conor Foley Cary Glynn Benjamin Goldberg Paul Grossinger Dan Hochman Jordan Kalms Anna Kochut Hilary Matfess Daniel Roettger Ari Schaffer

Managing Editor

Will Denton Morgan Hitzig Hannah Holliday


Casey Navin Neil O’Donnell Faculty Advisor

Steven R. David JHU POLITIK is a student-run political publication. Please note that the opinions expressed within JHU POLITIK are those solely of the author. Please sign up for our e-mail list on our website,

INTERNATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 1) the potential implications of supporting such demonstrations. According to the Huffington Post, Israeli officials have warned the U.S against “shunning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and pushing for swift elections in Egypt”, stating that such a strategy could easily result in “unintended results.” Undoubtedly, Israel has remained intentionally vague on the details of their support (or lack thereof ) for change in Egypt and hopes to maintain their bilateral peace accord. For Israel, events such as these always spark introspection, as well as a public image crisis. The people of Israel are forced to ask themselves whether the democratic aspirations of neighboring peoples is as significant to them as a potential threat to domestic security. Not only must this question be considered and answered internally, but must also be broadcast to and bought by U.S. and U.N. officials in such a way as to make Israel appear both sympathetic to the goals of self-determination, yet unrelenting on the issue of safety for its citizens. Though there must indeed be hope for the future, the past has held little success with regard to regime change in the Middle East as far as Israel is concerned. Indeed, the Jerusalem Post writes, “the notion of democracy as it is known in its Western incarnation is incompatible with present-day North Africa and the Middle East. Culturally, institutionally and religiously, democracy has not been able to gain a toehold”.


In the end, American support for Israel is crucial in times of political instability in the Middle East. President Obama has declared that the American people have been inspired by the events in Egypt, which has reportedly worried some officials in Israel, who are watching the events in Egypt with a wearier eye than that of America. Press Secretary Roberts Gibbs nonetheless noted, “it's important that the next government of Egypt recognize the accords that have been signed with Israel". Although statements like these do something to appease Israeli concerns, only time will tell what will come of the Egyptian regime and the implications for America, the Middle East, and Israel. s

South Sudan Votes for Independence by Hilary Matfess, ‘14 Staff Writer The results of southern Sudan’s referendum regarding independence, released last Monday, demonstrate the unanimity of support for independence in the south – an astounding 98.83% of the roughly 4 million ballots cast were in favor of forming a new state. As a result, South (Continued on Page 3)

Volume VI, Issue II

February 14, 2011


South Sudanese citizens celebrate the referendum results, which showed that 98% of voters opted for independence. (Pete Muller/AP)

Sudan will become officially independent on July 9th, 2011. Yet, what the results and celebrations do not adequately demonstrate were the immense difficulties this new state will face on its path to independent statehood. In fact, when asked if the new country was prepared for independence, the official response of the BBC was “to be brutally honest, no.” To be more even-handed, the remarkably peaceful nature of the referendum and the acceptance of the referendum results by the al-Bashir administration suggest that the independence process for South Sudan is not a doomed undertaking. Still, many central issues remain unresolved and the threat of violence still looms large over an already war-torn nation. Issues of land demarcation, citizenship, infrastructural development, resource allocation, and how to divide Sudan’s $38 billion foreign debt, plague the government yet to be formed. Land demarcation is among the most controversial issues. The referendum in the Abyei region along the border between the two countries was postponed due to the underlying supply of oil and fertile land. The debate surrounding demarcation has prompted George Clooney and other ‘actorvists’ to pay for satellites for troop monitoring along the border, and in particular near the Abyei region. The division of land is complicated by the pronent role oil plays in the composition of Sudan’s exports and the economic ties between the al-Bashir administration and an increasingly oil-hungry China. Although the uniform referendum results suggest a harmonized population, the emerging government in South Sudan must also cope with long-standing tensions between groups and factions within its society. These divisions have resulted in several hundred southerners being killed in ethnic violence the past few years. Some


commentators speculate that the young state could experience a surge in violence as it seeks to allocate its scarce resources and finances. Especially disheartening is the possibility that even if South Sudan encountered no issues in achieving independence, the nation would fail. This worry is a significant possibility because it largely lacks basic infrastructure and an educated population to enact reforms and fill the ranks of bureaucracy. Similarly, the issues of refugees, internally displaced people, and expatriates place additional strain on an infant government. The silver lining is the manner in which the referendum was enacted and received. The referendum is a vindication of a peace process that was undermined by the atrocities committed in Darfur. Cooperation among various ethnic groups and the al-Bashir administration seems increasingly likely and the United States has begun the process of removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The exuberance displayed in the streets of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, after the referendum represents a powerful sense of optimism in a long oppressed people. s

Prospects of Economic Recovery in 2011 by Colette Andrei, ‘14 Contributing Writer At the moment, the U.S. economy is poised to make serious headway in terms of recovery in 2011. Economic growth in the nation has been slow coming, and growth in the past few years has been lean, but gross domestic product (GDP) has finally begun to recover more swiftly. Corporations are experiencing surging profits, business balance sheets are strong, and the unemployment rate, which fell to 9% from 9.4% in the most recent release, is predicted to fall below 9% this year. The crash in the housing market, which has created the most significant drag on economic growth, is winding down, and with job growth and increasing availability of homes the housing market should begin to revive. In the private sector, households are rapidly reducing debt and delinquency rates on loans are falling, which should encourage banks to begin to extend credit to an increasing number of (Continued on Page 4)

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February 14, 2011

NATIONAL REPORT / OPINION (Continued from Page 3) households and small businesses. All of these indications suggest robust economic growth this coming year. However, as President Obama emphasized in both his State of the Union Address and a recent speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the health of a national economy is not measured by the balance sheets of its corporations, but rather by the quality of life of its people. The American people remain shaken by the uncertainty caused by the recession and they have begun to wonder if the American dream of economic opportunity is slipping away. Consumer sentiment remains extremely fragile and it would not take much to derail confidence. Therefore, policymakers must aggressively support the economy until ambiguity about future growth and employment is resolved. To combat the possibility of further economic decline, President Obama recognizes the ingenuity of the American people as the driving force of recovery. In his speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce he stated that historically in times of trouble, Americans came together as one people, and through hard work did what was necessary to “win for the future”. The president believes that in the face of current economic challenges it is the responsibility of the government to renew the faith of the American people in their national economy. He stresses investment in innovation, education, and infrastructure as the most important tools to drive economic growth in our free enterprise system. In the State of the Union Address, the president reminded Americans that the U.S. economy is the largest and most prosperous in the world, has the most productive workers, but that we need to “out-innovate” and “out-educate” the competition. While recent economic data suggests signs of a robust recovery, and while President Obama’s rhetoric may inspire optimism in the American people, recovery from this past recession cannot easily be supported simply by increasing GDP and investment in America. Typically, severe downturns are followed by robust recovery. However, this recession was the result of a complete breakdown of the financial system in the wake of a massive housing and credit bubble, and it will take years to clean up after the financial mistakes that generated the recession. The economy is certainly on the road to recovery, but the path remains unsteady and many things could still go wrong. A concerning challenge to recovery is recent budget cuts and tax increases by state and local governments in a scrambling effort to fill their gaping budgets. Federal aid for most nominal state and local governments will


dry up at the end of this fiscal year, and further help from Washington seems unlikely. State and local governments will have to place a freeze on spending, which could be a significant impediment to the job market and wider economy. Additionally, continuing foreclosures could preclude excitement about recovery in the housing market, and a vicious cycle of mounting foreclosures could lead to price declines. Ultimately, unemployment will remain high and household balance sheets will be diminished for a number of years. Despite these challenges, this coming year is shaping up to be much better for the U.S. economy. American corporations are in much better financial shape, and with high profits and expanding balance sheets businesses that have been reluctant to invest and hire aggressively should begin to do so, which will create payroll increases and decrease continued slack in the labor market. Certainly, the so-called “Great Recession” will not easily be forgotten, but its psychological effects are beginning to recede. There is no guarantee that the economy will live up to optimistic expectations, but with growth and continued aggressive support from policymakers, progress in recovery looks brights. s

The Corporatization of Government by Jacob Grunberger, ‘13 Staff Writer On January 31st, I caught a glimpse of an article lamenting a recent decision made by the United States Department of Agriculture to deregulate Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa. Alfalfa is the fourth largest crop in the United States and is used as feed for many livestock. While I have little connection to Monsanto, I was shocked that the U.S. government made this deregulation decision, lifting a previous ban that allowed for competitiveness from organic farmers who simply cannot compete against corporate giants. After reading subsequent reports, I was struck by both the harms to the agricultural laborers in the Midwest as well as the role that government is playing in facilitating this process. As an American, it is not very difficult to have an utter (Continued on Page 5)

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February 14, 2011

OPINION (Continued from Page 4) sense of revulsion toward Monsanto. The company’s legacy is one that is so bathed in turmoil and injustice that it is despised by two generations of Americans. Our parents first learned of Monsanto when the news media discovered that the corporation was key in the production of Agent Orange, a carcinogenic defoliant, for the United States armed forces in Vietnam. While Monsanto is no longer involved in the production of military-grade weapons, the company has failed to remedy its deplorable legacy. Monsanto has gained worldwide recognition as the model for the evil corporation, practicing just about every cost-saving misery-inducing tactic in the book. Some of the accusations launched against the corporation include bribing Indonesian officials working for the state’s environmental ministry in 2005, dumping toxic waste in the United Kingdom from the 1970s to 2003, (AP) and, according to the Committee of the Netherlands, employing child laborers to handle hazardous chemicals in India. In the United States, its practices have received an equal amount of attention, with many farmers being financially ruined by Monsanto’s law division, which formerly employed the Supreme Court’s very own Clarence Thomas. This strategy of destroying organic farmers has been reported in such films as “Food Inc.” and essentially involves the company suing farmers whose crops have been cross-pollinated with Monsanto seeds. The idea behind this tactic is that any organic farmers whose crops have traces of Monsanto products are liable for patent infringement. While this seems justifiable, one must remember that often times wind patterns are capable of spreading seeds to neighboring fields. These lawsuits have caused many farmers to file for bankruptcy and worse, given the impossibility of an organic farmer to engage in legal combat with a multinational corporation. Yet, beyond these harms, one must also consider the implications of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on the food that we eat. Roundup was famously touted as the miracle cure for plant death, a product that could boost agricultural production to unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, individuals working for the corporation did not fully grasp the role evolution would play after plants adapted to small doses of Roundup. Naturally, as is usual practice in this field, instead of fixing the problem by creating a new sustainable method of crop maintenance, Monsanto executives decided fields would simply be sprayed with more and more herbicides to work effectively on the mutated weeds and plant diseases. The re-


sults are unpleasant and studies have shown that soil nutrients, such as nitrogen and iron, have decreased in fields utilizing their herbicides by 18% and 49% respectfully. After briefly examining the history of this corporation, one would assume that the rational decision of our government would be to suppress it. Seeing as the company has made it just short of stated corporate policy to eliminate small farmers and has had its products raise a number of public health officials’ eyebrows, the U.S. government (one that is supported to live by the credo, “with liberty and justice for all”) would be inane to allow this unethical behavior/ The European Union has taken a firm stand against Monsanto and other large agro-business companies of its ilk by instituting a ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Sadly, our government has not only failed to take action, but has provided a means for this organization to thrive. According to Corporate Watch, Monsanto has sustained an ideal “revolving door” policy with the U.S. government, a system in which former Monsanto employees have become employees of the federal government. Beyond Clarence Thomas, Linda Fisher, who was at one time on Monsanto’s payroll, was appointed a key position in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Bush administration. Even more pressing is the fact that Michael R. Taylor, who in the 1980s worked for a law firm that lobbied the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Monsanto’s artificial growth hormone, has been reappointed by President Obama to a key position in the FDA. What is even more perturbing is the fact that in the past two election cycles, Monsanto donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians from both parties. The result is far from benign. The primary goal of a corporation is not to ensure that an air of equality is maintained in the state, but rather to make money. Our nation has come to the point where each political party promises to represent the best interests of the people, but the outcome is usually in favor of lining the pockets of corporate board executives. The situation has become so bad that American foreign policy has now grown to reflect corporate interests. Revealed in the most recent slew of Wikileaks cables, Craig Stapleton, the U.S. ambassador to France, suggested that the U.S. government “calibrate a target retaliation list” against those states unwilling to adopt GMOs. I have not written this article to chiefly blame Mon(Continued on Page 6)

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February 14, 2011

OPINION (Continued from Page 5) santo for our nation’s decline, but instead, to show that Monsanto is a microcosm of the influence corporations are having on American policy, both domestic and foreign. It is up to the American people to decide whether or not this practice is acceptable before our state treats us as employees rather than citizens. s

Beer and Obama by Wolfgang Anders, ‘14 Contributing Writer

You'd be hard-pressed to find an American who does not enjoy beer with the Super Bowl. The combination of social drinking and the football occasion of the year are an American pastime. President Obama is no exception; he enjoys a tasty brew just as much as the next man. For the Super Bowl this year, he allowed a White House chef to brew a special batch of “White House Honey Ale”


with homegrown honey from the presidential beehives. The beer was served alongside other microbrews from the respective towns of the two Super Bowl teams, to complement an assortment of pizza, wings, kielbasa, and cheeseburgers. The last time Obama's beer choice made the news was when he enjoyed drinks with Sergeant Crowley and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, two men involved in an arrest that sparked racial controversy. Obama's beer of choice then was a Bud Light. Every decision President Obama makes about how he displays himself to the American people is extremely calculated. Obama, a career politician, must surely understand the importance of the image he chooses to present. When he met with Sergeant Crowley and Gates, the purpose was to soothe divisiveness over Professor Gates’s arrest and smooth racial tensions rising across the country. What better beer than a Bud Lite to strengthen Obama's image as a man of the people? A Bud Light is class-neutral, gender-neutral, race-neutral; both bland and intoxicating, it is a beer that everyone can settle for. So what does Obama's new decision to publicly consume craft, home-brewed honey ale say about how he wants to be perceived? Surely he did not choose a beer as exotic as honey ale without considering that it would shape the way he is viewed. Perhaps this new choice of beer shows that Obama is no longer afraid to indulge his cultured sensibilities. Unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama has never been as ubiquitously keen to appear “folksy” or simple, but in the past he has always tried to downplay his aristocratic tendencies to prevent cries that he is an elitist. With a few legislative accomplishments under his belt, we might begin to see Obama let loose. The honey ale is certainly also a gesture of goodwill towards the nation-wide local food movement. Brewed in small batches, the honey ale used organic local ingredients and a pound of honey from First Lady Michelle Obama's own beehive on the south lawn of the White House. Local food consumption has increased dramatically over the last decade, and more Americans than ever support local food as an environmentally friendly option for healthy eating. Since the 1990s, the number of farmers’ markets nationwide has tripled, and the amount of food sold directly from producer to consumer has doubled. Michelle Obama maintains her beehives along with a (Continued on Page 7)

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OPINION (Continued from Page 6) garden of fresh fruits and vegetables. She also vehemently supports local and organic produce as a sustainable, affordable, and healthy option for schools and the poor. Her “Let's Move” campaign is a crusade to reduce childhood obesity through exercise and a healthy diet. What is truly remarkable about Obama is that he is a patrician with the love of the people, as well as a populist with good taste. As Jefferson loved fine wine and French cheese, Obama is inclined towards fresh and local produce, yet both men were able to rely on a strong grassroots upwelling of support in order to gain power. Where does it all come from? Perhaps in times of economic hardship, people identify less with a cultural attitude that glorifies rural quaintness and all the anti-intellectual baggage that goes along with it. The more people slip into poverty, the more they realize just how un-quaint it really can be. Folk-hero “campaign Obama” has officially changed into something more presidential. With accomplishments in healthcare, unemployment, and the war in Iraq securely under his belt, Obama can afford to do away with the false puritanical austerity of his predecessors. Like a full-bodied imperial stout, his character has become more rich and palatable over time. s

Hopkins This Week


Senator Chuck Hagel

Chairman of the Atlantic Council Co-Chairman of President’s Intelligence Advisory Board

Wednesday, February 16 at 7pm Hodson 110


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Volume VI, Issue II

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