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T heC onsul A Publication of the International Affairs Association of the University of Pennsylvania

Fall 2013路 Volume I 路 Issue 1

Director of Publications: Henry Chang

Head Layout Editor: Andrea Yeh

Editors-in-Chief: Sam Blumenthal Jing Ran

Layout Editors: Karen Chen Iana Feliciano Sally Kong Business Staff: Adino Luo Louis Capozzi Brian Kwok Rami Saker

Managing Editor: Michael Luo Content Editor: Chloe Porter

Senior Columnists Christine Du Maxwell Hummel Minsoo Kim Julia Rossi Junior Columnists Taylor Evensen Michael Karam

The C onsul World Affairs The New Specter Haunting Europe.............................................................................4 The Palm and the Tulip - the Arab-Iranian Rivalry in the Middle East..............................6

North Korea: Special Feature North Korea: Is There a Way out? - Interview with Dr. Jonathan Pollack.........................8 Human Rights Violations in North Korea: An Old Problem That’s Getting Worse............10

Foreign Policy Is There An Obama Doctrine?................................................................................... 12

Science & Technology Graphene War: the Silent Struggle towards Global Hegemony................................14

The Consul

World Affairs

The New Specter Haunting Europe

By Maxwell Hummel The New Specter Haunting Europe The phrase “right wing” has a bit of a different connotation in Europe and America. In the States it conjures up images of deep-red ties, limited economic interference, and arguably outdated moral standards. That is to say, in American politics, “right wing” and “conservative” are more or less interchangeable. And one can certainly find conservative politics in Europe; Former Prime Minister of England Thatcher readily comes to mind. But to call a politician like her “right wing” isn’t exactly accurate; that term is better suited for the fascist ideologies that overtook the continent decades ago, an ideology whose resurgence in recent years poses a threat for Europe. A bit of history, if not necessary, might certainly be appreciated. Fascism is an arguably Italian ideology given that, although the political philosophy can trace its origins to thinkers and movements across the continent, Italy was the first nation to “elect” a fascist government, though “be violently overtaken by” may be a more accurate description of what

happened in 1922. The economic troubles of the time and the famous specter of communism combined to make fascism an attractive choice for many other European nations. Obviously Germany followed in Italy’s footsteps, and Austria, Spain, Romania, and Greece, amongst other, fell quickly in line. Even bastion-of-liberalism France had a few pro-fascist riots. And what happened next? Well, long story short, fascism lost, but defeat doesn’t mean its remnants don’t linger. The country whose fascist antics have (relatively) dominated the political news sphere would be Greece and the Golden Dawn party. Although not officially related to the Nazi party, they are openly racist, their emblem certainly bears a passing resemblance to the swastika, and the leaders of the party parrot Nazi talking points. Just last year, the party managed to take seven percent of the popular vote in Greece’s national elections. Fortunately for most people, the party’s luck has changed in recent months. After the murder of an anti-fascist rapper was found to have rather damning ties to members of the Golden Dawn, the political party was deemed a criminal organization ·4·

and its higher ups were subsequently arrested. Yet, the simple arrest of a party’s leaders do nothing to stem the sentiments that allow such parties to prosper. The beliefs of the members of the Golden Dawn are similar to the beliefs of those who voted Hitler and other fascist governments in to power throughout history. There is, of course, a strong current of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Greece’s proximity to Turkey certainly exacerbates this, with the subsequent population of Turkish immigrants angering those who hold that Greece is for the Greek. It is this same nationalism that fueled the Golden Dawn’s desire for more land they saw as rightfully belonging to Greece. Much like Hitler openly advocated the forceful taking back of lands he considered German, the Golden Dawn party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos expressed a desire to retake portions of Turkey, Albania, and Cyprus. The Golden Dawn also has, interestingly enough, a moderate anti-communist focus; the party sponsored a series of concerts called, “Rock Against Communism.” Another far-right party receiving significant percentages of the popular vote is found in Bulgaria.

The party, subtly named “Attack,” serves as a wonderful example of both how extreme politics can become popular and how a “far-right” party can actually be extremely leftist by our standards. A little background: lightly put, Bulgaria isn’t doing great, as far as quality of life goes. As such, it shouldn’t be too surprising that a party advocating the establishment of a minimum wage and a focus on social security and education managed to receive nine percent of the popular vote. But the Party goals are more complex than a simple focus on social welfare. Part of the party platform is the bizarre trifecta of nationalizing various private companies, giving political power to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and being openly anti-Semitic, anti-Roma, antiTurkish, and, most interestingly, antiMason. This combination of beliefs from complete opposite sides of our “liberal-conservative” political spectrum wonderfully demonstrates how far-right politics aren’t strictly conservative, by our definition. Other than these instances, there aren’t too many parties that both receive a respectable amount of the vote and are sufficiently outlandish. The Flemish Block, a right-wing Flemish separatist party in Belgium, carried ten percent of the vote in recent elections. And while the party would certainly be identifiable as right-wing by its open disdain for immigrants, such disdain is a position held by right-ofcenter parties throughout the world, including America’s own Republican party. A good example of the difference between the Flemish Block and parties like the Golden Dawn is that the Block actually reached out to Jewish voters in an effort to distance itself from the more fringe elements of right-wing politics, elements that the Golden Dawn readily embraces. The more mainstream of these parties, such as the British National Party in Britain, could easily be characterized as similar to our own Tea Party: a bit extreme compared to what we’re used to, but the BNP isn’t receiving enough votes to have significant political power. Political parties aren’t, howev-

er, the only method extreme-right ideas can be expressed through. The actions of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who committed mass murder at a youth camp two years ago,Who? serve as tragic monument to this. A brief skimming of Breivik’s’ manifesto again shows just how diverse a range of beliefs an extreme right-winger in Europe can hold.Anders Breivik is, of course, an Islamophobe of the highest degree; at this point, that is to be almost expected by far-right-winger. Unlike parties like

after such ideologies were rightfully scorned after the fall of the Nazi regime, they became a sort of counter culture political statement.

Attack and the Golden Dawn, Anders is an ardent Zionist. Now, one might think that may just be because he doesn’t want the Jewish people in Europe, a sort of Zionism held be several antiSemites of the Nazi party. . One would be wrong; he honestly feels sympathy for the suffering the Jewish people have endured at the hands of people who, like him, resort to senseless violence as a political statement. He also manages to contradict himself by heaping great praise upon al-Qaeda, in spite of their being very Muslim. And that isn’t even the strangest political movement in Norway. A very curious intersection of neo-Nazism and heathenism has gained popularity in recent years in Northern Europe. ·5·

While there are many different schools of thought belonging to the “Neo-Paganist” movement, they tend to center around similar beliefs. Odalism has some of the most clear-cut beliefs. More or less founded by the infamous black metal musician Varg Vikernes, the set of beliefs focuses on racial purity and heritage, environmentalism, and a rejection of modern Western civilization, characterized by Judeo-Christianity and capitalism. That revolt actually gives us key insight into what these right-wing movements ultimately are. We would certainly be thankful to not have to put up with these beliefs and the extremists who hold them. But we must also remember that at one point, these parties and the ideas they represent were in positions of power throughout the continent. And after such ideologies were rightfully scorned after the fall of the Nazi regime, they became a sort of counter culture political statement. Whether they lash out at immigrants and minorities or the dominant culture and political system in Europe, these right-wing parties are a reactionary mix of old customs and paradigms and changing times. We should be glad that these views are not shared by a sizable portion of the population, and even when they are in countries like Greece, the government and the average citizen refuse to let them have their way. This is the only proper response. Many of the tragedies of the 20th century can be traced back to allowing fascist groups to prosper; such mistakes cannot be made again. C

The Consul

World Affairs

The Palm and the Tulip

the Arab-Iranian Rivalry in the Middle East

By Michael Luo The Palm and the Tulip – the ArabIranian Rivalry in the Middle East In the Western media, the Syrian civil war has largely been covered as a continuation of the turmoil unleashed by the Arab Spring nearly three years ago. The recent diplomatic involvement of the United States and Russia has drawn comparisons to Cold War-style proxy conflicts, with the two great rivals angling for regional and global influence. However, Syria is also serving as the battleground for a proxy conflict of far greater regional significance – the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Though the West will move its eye to a different theater once the fighting ends, Iran and the Arab world will continue a struggle that dates back to the very first days of Islam. Persians and Arabs – the Struggle for Hegemony in the Early Islamic World Among the extant peoples of the Middle East, only the Jews have a longer history than the Persians, much of which was spent in exile, so Iran can claim to be the oldest continuous civilization in the region. By the time the

Arabs conquered Persia in 651 AD, the Sassanid Empire which they defeated was already the third in a line of Persian empires which spanned the ancient Middle East. To the Persians, the people who came out of the desert bringing their new religion of Islam are relative upstarts. All of the other places conquered during the early expansion of Islam are today inhabited by people who refer to themselves as Arabs. Though Iraqis and Syrians may be able to trace their ancestry to pre-Islamic Babylonians and Aramaeans, their current majority culture and language is Arabic. Try referring to an Iranian as an Arab however, and his reaction will instantly show you the fierce pride Iranians take in their unique heritage. Backed by military force and the power of their new faith, the Arab invaders ruled Persia for two centuries. However, Persia could not be kept under control forever. The overthrow of the Umayyad Caliphate by the Abbasids in 750 AD received significant aid from Persians, who in return gained a measure of autonomy and political influence in the new caliphate. Within another century, Persia was once again under the rule of native Persian dynasties such as the Buyids and Samanids. These rulers nomi·6·

nally pledged allegiance to the caliph in Baghdad but were effectively independent. Restoration of political autonomy brought with it a Persian cultural revival. Starting in Khorasan in Eastern Iran, rulers promoted the use of the Persian language by poets and intellectuals. Iranian scholars contributed a great deal to the Islamic Golden Age presided over by the Abbasid caliphate. The Persian mathematician alKhwarizmi developed algebra and introduced the decimal system from India. The architects who designed the city of Baghdad as a new capital for the Abbasids were Persian, as were many of the bureaucrats who later worked in it. The Persian scholar Ibn Sina (Avicenna) compiled the medical knowledge of the Greeks and Romans into The Canon of Medicine, a book which served as the basis of modern medicine when brought to Europe. All of these contributions had significant influence throughout the Islamic world and beyond. Several centuries after the arrival of Islam, the next group of invaders to pass through Iran was the Seljuq Turks, who swarmed out of Central Asia in the mid-11th century. As Central Asia had long been part of the Persian sphere of influence, the Turks

spread their Persian-influenced culture even further through their conquests. The Ottomans and modern Turks and Azeris are descended from various Turkic groups. The famous Saladin, while himself a Kurd, rose to power in the service of the Turkic Zengid Emirate. As is evident, Persia has had such a huge influence in the history of Islam that it is almost questionable why the rest of the Middle East refers to itself as the Arab world. The Arabian Peninsula was only the political center of the Islamic world in the first few decades after the foundation of Islam. Muhammad’s successors moved their capital from Medina to the much more prosperous Iraq. The capital moved to Damascus under the Umayyads, then to Baghdad under the Abbasids. After the Mongols destroyed Baghdad in 1258, Cairo became the center of Islam under the Mamluk Sultanate. A few centuries later, the Ottomans conquered Egypt and influence shifted to Constantinople. All of these groups from the Abbasids onward were hugely influenced by Persian culture. The Arabs may have succeeded in imposing their religion on Iran, but the culture of the Islamic world is arguably as Persian as it is Arabic. Sunni and Shi’a – Sectarian Strife in a Secular Age Iran today is isolated diplomatically due to its historic tension with the Arab world as well as its different religious sect. Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain are the only other Shia-majority countries in the world. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iran has been trying to increase its influence in Iraq, but American involvement as well as the legacy of the Iran-Iraq War have made relations difficult. Azerbaijan is culturally and historically linked to Iran (Supreme Leader Khamenei has Azeri ancestry), but it has turned more toward Turkey and the West. Iran also harbors fears of secession movements among its sizable Azeri community in its northwest. Bahrain is firmly aligned with the other Arabian Peninsula states. This has led to the curious situation of Sunni Syria being Iran’s closest regional ally. Shia states have been rare historically as well. The Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, the Persian Buyids, the Mongol

Ilkhanate, and the Bahmanis of India were the only major Shia states before the rise of the Safavid dynasty in Persia in 1501. The wars along Safavid Persia’s western border with the Sunni Ottoman Empire brought the sectarian issue back into the international arena. The Shahs of early modern Iran sought to transform Iran into a modern, secular state. This course was drastically reversed with the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In contrast to the monarchies ruling in most of the Arab world, Iran became home to a new political form of Islam. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was unique in being the only President to not be a cleric. Though the lofty theological issues that caused wars in the past are of lesser significance today, one contemporary sticking point is Iran’s claim that monarchies are an illegitimate form of government under their interpretation of Islam. This is a position that Arab kings and sheikhs obviously do not want spreading among their people. The 21st century is far removed from the years of the Crusades and the internecine warfare that characterized early Islam. Modern states no longer go to war to impose their religion, but sectarian differences can still serve as an excuse for leaders to fight each other to advance secular political goals. Civil wars in particular provide the perfect opportunity for religion to seep its way into conflicts which did not originally have religious pretexts. In Syria, Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters are pitted against Sunni extremists including Al Qaeda affiliates. On the other side, Saudi Arabia’s rulers have been exporting their Wahhabi branch of Islam for decades by funding fundamentalists in unstable areas as far afield as Mindanao in the Philippines. It would be only a bonus to them if Islamist rebels gain the upper hand in Syria and set up a Saudifriendly fundamentalist regime. A cautionary example for the West is the aftermath of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The United States funded guerrilla fighters to fight communism, a secular political aim. However, in the civil war that ensued, they failed to follow through and give adequate support to moderates, and the Taliban ended up in control. There exists a sufficiently strong moderate arm of the Syrian rebellion that the West can prevent the fundamentalists from ·7·

taking control, but without assistance, Islamist groups will inevitably have the edge due to their ability to draw support from regional powers. The Islamic World in the Age of Oil Persia has enjoyed a huge degree of influence over the rest of the Islamic world for centuries. Though the spiritual home of Islam has always remained at Mecca, it is only in the past few decades that the rulers of Arabia, flush with oil money, have tried to reassert their political influence. Most of the Saudi contribution to the various Arab-Israeli wars has been financial rather than material. Saudi subsidies helped keep Iraq afloat during the IranIraq War. More recently, Saudi Arabia pledged to send aid to Egypt if the United States cut its subsidies. Saudi Arabia has found money to be a more potent weapon than any army it could hope to assemble. Syria is the only Arab country allied to Iran, and in supporting the rebellion, the Saudis seek to complete Iran’s regional isolation and create another ally for itself. While the other Gulf States have focused on building skyscrapers and buying football teams, Saudi Arabia is putting its money to use in the geopolitical arena. For centuries, Arabia was a backwater whose only significance was as the home to Mecca, but under its sands it has found a resource with which to outcompete Tehran. Iran is painfully aware of this reality – it may be much larger in population but its own oil reserves pale in comparison to those of Saudi Arabia. Any conflict in the Middle East cannot be viewed as a simple rebellion by oppressed people against a brutal dictator. In a country as ethnically and religiously diverse as Syria, situated in the center of countless wars between regional powers throughout the centuries, this is doubly the case. Analysis of the conflict must look at the primary regional backers of each side – Iran for the regime and Saudi Arabia for the rebellion. The war has already affected the lives of millions of Syrians, but a broader conflict would put a hundred million more at stake. Syria is just one stage on which the eternal rivalry between Persia and its southwestern neighbors is being played out, and the international community must be prepared to prevent the next conflict when it comes.


The Consul

North Korea

North Korea: Is There a Way out? Interview with Dr. Jonathan Pollack By Jing Ran Dr. Jonathan Pollack is the director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. A specialist on East Asian international politics and security, he has published extensively on Chinese political-military strategy, U.S.-China relations, the political and security dynamics of the Korean Peninsula, and U.S. strategy and policy in Asia and the Pacific, including his latest book, No Exit: North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, and International Security (May 2011). During the summer, the Consul interviewed Dr. Pollack for his opinions on North Korea and its relations with China and the rest of the world. The Consul: In June, Xi Jinping met with President Obama in California and South Korean president Park Geun-hye in China. What do you think are the impact of these meetings on North Korea-China relations? Pollack: I think that the two meetings reflect a really big shift in Chinese calculations. Many people have

long wondered why China seems as tolerant as it has appeared towards North Korea, given North Korea’s dependence on China and given the fact that a lot of North Korean’s actions were harming what the Chinese see as their critical interests. The very fact of a) discussing these issues openly with Obama in California and then b) hosting Madam Park for a full state visit and describing her as an old friend of the Chinese people – when young Mr. Kim has not been to China and not described as an old friend of China – ·8·

reflects what I believe is a progressive shift in the strategic underpinning of China’s relationship with the two Koreas, because Chinese interests on the peninsula are increasingly weighted towards the south rather than the north. A lot of it is economic, but I think it goes deeper. North Korea for everyone is a headache and a potential nightmare, but China is becoming much more aware of how North Korean behavior undermines China.

The Consul: Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un invited NBA star Dennis Rodman, imitating the famous Ping Pong Diplomacy between China and the U.S. It ended up not having a good effect. How would you compare China in the 1960s and North Korea today? Pollack: Superficially there’s a real parallel between China from 50 years and North Korea today. But ever since Deng Xiaoping, China has tried to get North Korea to shift towards market economy, and it has failed every time. You could say that China at the time and North Korea today are internationally isolated with queue economic problems, but I think the difference between the two cases is that the leadership in North Korea is exceedingly uneasy about the implication of letting outside world in. You could say for many years the same was true for China, but that era has passed. North Korea is a damaged society, but it’s also a system of dynastic rule by one family and those close to it. Also, North Korea is a small state with a population of 23 million people. It’s not gigantic system like China. But there is still a siege mentality in North Korea – they defined themselves much more in terms of how outside actors in their judgment threaten them in a variety of ways, because the ability to categorize the international environment as very threatening to them justifies and legitimizes them as a state in their internal rules. The divergence between how China approaches questions of its own economic development and its relations with the Pollack: In some sense, yes. Ironi-

The Consul: What do you think about different international environment – does that make a difference?

cally of course North Korea under great pressure signed the non-proliferation treaty in 1985. They are the only state ever to withdraw from it. They can try to replicate Ping Pong

Diplomacy, but Dennis Rodman was a bad joke. North Korea is always looking for ways that can legitimize its standing. But the situation was just different. Even when China was economically backward, it was strategically significant in a way that North Korea is not and cannot be. North Korean significance or relevance is mainly its ability to cause great harm through its actions whether in the immediate contexts of the Korean peninsula or in the larger international scale. The breakthrough has to be consistent unambiguous evidence from the leaders in the north that they are prepared to explore different kinds of relations with the outside world. They would have to make clear their willingness to forgo their development of their weapons. But that’s something they’re unprepared to do in any way of reforms. They want respectability, however defined, but they also still believe that they must retain and even expand their nuclear capacity. This is not an acceptable proposition to the U.S. and to China. People say the U.S. should reach out to them, but the issue would still be: what is the attraction that North Korea would hold for outside actors to achieve their goals there? If you had a significant foreign presence in the north, this would undermine the regime, there’s no doubt. So what they do is when they do elicit any kind of support, including from China, they isolate it, they pursue what I call an enclave strategy. It’s true that China has presence economically in North Korea, but it’s not in any sense translated into any political advantage for China. I think that’s understood in Beijing, but for the Chinese leadership to truly come to terms with reality has been something that has waxed them for a long time. But certainly I think although there might have been a time in China-North Korea relations that the north could be seen as a strategic asset to China, those days have passed. And I think the Chinese understand that. It might also inhibit China’s peaceful development. North Korea’s engaging in threatening behaviors towards its neighbors, including Japan and South Korea, and that enables the US to now justify and legitimize its continued security role. That is potentially a bigger headache to China. Pollack: I think that’s a very large ·9·

The Consul: Do you think this is a result of integration into the international system?

part of it. For states to prosper and to have a long term future, you have to educate your citizens, you have to link up to the outside world – you cannot fence yourself off from the outside world. That’s basically what North Korea does. The exception is when they go out and search for aid, and they have been, in some measures, rather successful in doing that for a long time, first with the Soviet Union and then with China. For a time, Japan was a major trading partner with the north. At times the north has got significance assistance from South Korea and from the U.S. If you look at the 1970s, they looked out to the western Europeans and entered in to contractual relations with those countries. They imported a lot of industrial technology and goods from the west, but they never repaid any of them. So they’re really not what we call the normal state. They are suffering from the long term deficit of what they did, and they haven’t found a way out yet. C

For more interviews with China experts Dr. Cheng Li and Dr. Richard Bush from the Brookings Institution, go to

The Consul

North Korea

Human Rights Violations in North Korea: An Old Problem That’s Getting Worse

By Christine Du “I thought I would be nervous, but I am not.” Those were the first words of Azalea Kim, a North Korean defector who was brought in by Penn’s International Affairs Association, when she addressed a jam-packed auditorium of students on October 26th. Kim, whose real identity is kept secret to protect her family that is still in North Korea, recounted her experiences in North Korea before she escaped from the country in a very composed manner. She described the hardships she and her family went through as a low class household. “The government rationed food for every family, but it was nowhere near enough to keep us from going hungry. My dad blamed my mother for not running the household well enough and he would always beat her.” During the famine in 1994, Kim used her knowledge of chemistry to her advantage and created homemade medicines that she sold on the black market. “It is ironic that I became so well off during the worst years of the famine,” she said. She was arrested by the authorities and questioned for three months for that very reason.

Kim was finally able to bribe her way out of the situation, but after seeing another businessman, much like herself at the time, publicly executed, she made up her mind to leave North Korea. Her journey was a difficult one, passing through China, Thailand and Laos before she reached South Korea. Kim described a hard time assimilating into South Korean culture due to discrimination, and voiced the hope that North Korean defectors can face a more accepting environment from the international community, especially from South Korea. Kim’s story is not the only one we have heard in the past years. The flow of defectors from the authoritarian state started since the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953, and has been ongoing until today. Most of these defectors cross the border into the northern provinces of China at enormous risk. China does not recognize North Korean defectors’ as refugees, and in response to the climbing numbers of illegal immigrants has tightened its policing of these escapees. North Korean defectors who manage to reach South Korea speak of the various risks and dangers that they face in escaping to China. Chinese police officials increased surveillance of areas · 10 ·

surrounding the South Korean Consulates within the country. It is now extremely difficult for North Korean refugees to enter a South Korean consulate in China without being spotted by the police. According to some testimonies, Chinese officials exact fines from people who offer employment, housing or any other kind of assistance to North Korean defectors, which makes it extremely difficult for them to sustain themselves. In some rural border villages, corrupt officials would arrest the defectors and ask for a “ransom” price for their family and friends. Having paid that ransom, the defector would be released, only to be arrested again a few weeks later.

The Human Rights Watch’s 2013 World Report states: “North Korea continues to face serious food insecurity in 2012, following a major famine in 2011.

Defectors who are captured and sent back to North Korea face severe punishment including prison camps, reeducation camps or execution. Despite these risks, the number of refugees who escape from North Korea are increasing steadily every year.

The reason for this massive outflow of people is twofold: North Korea’s dire economic circumstances and its extreme violation of human rights conventions in its prisoner camps. The Human Rights Watch’s 2013 World Report states: “North Korea continues to face serious food insecurity in 2012, following a major famine in 2011. In November 2012, the World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated that 2.8 million vulnerable people, equal to slightly more than 10 percent of all North Koreans, face under-nutrition and a lack of vital protein and fat in their daily diet. The troubling food situation is the result of several factors, including a dry spell that heavily impacted soybean production in the first half of 2012; economic mismanagement; and the government’s blatantly discriminatory food policies that favor the military and government officials.” The extremity of famine that plague North Korea’s lowest social classes contributed to the widespread occurrence of malnutrition and epidemics, which as you may recall was what initiated Azalea Kim’s success. Many people who escape the country are sufferers from the famine, and they simply have nothing to lose. They flee the country with the simple conviction of seeking a better life. Their prospects are better anywhere else, unless of course they are returned to North Korea and sent to a prisoner camp, in which innumerable human rights violations take place. The international community acknowledges the existence and severity of these problems, and have dedicated efforts to alleviate the situation. An oral update delivered at the 24th session of the Human Rights Council on September 16th by the Chair of The Commission of Inquiry On Human Rights In the DPRK revealed that human rights issues in North Korea have seen little improvement despite continued efforts made by the international community. In his speech, he

outlined serious violations in all areas that the Human Rights Council asked the Commission to investigate. Some examples he gave include the testimony of a young man, imprisoned from birth and living on rodents, lizards and grass to survive and witnessing the public execution of his mother and brother; the testimony of a woman, whose husband is presumed to have been abducted or taken as a prisoner of war in 1951 and who has had no response as to his whereabouts; and the testimony of a young woman, forcibly repatriated and imprisoned for leaving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, describing how she witnessed a female prisoner forced to drown her own baby in a

The nature of collective international action is also constrained by the growing political tensions in East Asia and US-DPRK relations. As North Korea recently gained nuclear capability, it has become a legitimate threat to its neighbors, including China, South Korea and Japan.

bucket. North Korea’s blatant breach of human rights conventions is not a new problem. In 2004, the United States Congress passed the North Korean Human Rights Act, which authorized US action in promoting human rights in North Korea, assisting North Koreans in need and protecting North Korean refugees. The Act was reauthorized in 2008 and 2012. The UN General Assembly has also passed various resolutions involving North Korea’s human rights situation. However, these international actions seem not to have produced any effective improvements. The root of the problem lies in the unfortunate reality that North Korea simply rejects accusations of human rights violations put forth by the international community and dismisses them as “slander” against the DPRK, put

forth by “human scum.” There is simply very little other countries can do to alleviate the domestic condition in North Korea without infringing its sovereignty, which remains the fundamental axiom of international politics. Overwhelming evidence is enough to justify external pressure on North Korea, but useless in the face of its blatant denial. A UN General Assembly Resolution has no effect on how the North Korean state chooses to run itself. The nature of collective international action is also constrained by the growing political tensions in East Asia and US-DPRK relations. As North Korea recently gained nuclear capability, it has become a legitimate threat to its neighbors, including China, South Korea and Japan. Regardless of the validity of its alleged nuclear capabilities, North Korea now nevertheless has political leverage and bargaining power. This development has made other countries more hesitant in any form of assertive action, which out rules the possibility and feasibility of a more aggressive stance on North Korea’s human right’s problem; no nation is wiling to put itself at risk over something that brings no direct, tangible harm to its interests. In a condition where one’s national security may be under threat, the noble cause of promoting human rights is no longer a priority. It seems that the international community is at an impasse. There is no question about North Korea’s brutal rule on its people, many of whom live under excruciatingly inhumane circumstances. However, every country reasonably needs to ensure its own security before taking action to improve domestic conditions of another country. Change needs to come from within. What we can do is provide assistance to those who manage to escape from the country and help them find refuge. What we can do is attempt to spread awareness within North Korea and hope that a domestic grass root force will rise up and fight for their rights. The process would be a tragic and bloody one, but it seems to be the only way. C

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The Consul

Foreign Policy

Is There An Obama Doctrine?

By Chloe Porter The crisis in Syria has brought Barack Obama’s foreign policy into the spotlight. His ultimate decision not to act militarily and to accept Russia’s diplomatic proposal has revived a debate on what exactly the “Obama Doctrine” is. The debate is a dynamic one, with a variety of conclusions. Nevertheless, many of these conclusions fail to point to an overarching outlook on the world, one that informs Obama’s foreign policy decisions at every turn.

The Discussion About Drones

Obama is famously known for his extensive use of covert drone strikes, mainly in Pakistan and Yemen, to bring down Al Qaeda. He has certainly been successful in many regards, killing Osama bin Laden, and eradicating much of the network’s leadership. Despite the fact that Al Qaeda appears to be making a comeback, it was, for a time, largely incapacitated. And the Obama administration has claimed that strikes increase efficiency while maintaining a light economic and military footprint in the Middle East. However, the drone policy has frequently come under fire. Many criticize the president for hypocrisy:

early in his presidency, he promised greater transparency on matters regarding the use of lethal American force. Yet, drone strikes are shrouded in secrecy, casting a veil over what is arguably one of Obama’s primary foreign policy tools. The covert nature of such strikes, at times directed against U.S. citizens, makes it difficult for the courts to judge their legality. Furthermore, the secret nature of the strikes casts a shadow of doubt and distrust in the countries where drones are primarily used, tarnishing the U.S.’s reputation in those areas. And after disparaging predecessor George W. Bush for his secrecy regarding details of surveillance, interrogation, and detention practices, Obama is exhibiting similar behavior. Others are nervous about the implications of drones and similar technology on the balance of power in the government. Many are critical of the expansion of the executive branch’s ability to wage clandestine war without Congressional approval. By handing over a considerable amount of power to the CIA, which is the primary conductor of drone strikes, Obama is in effect loosening the rules surrounding American use of force. Indeed, there has been considerable backlash against the indiscriminate nature of drone strikes. Though the administration claims that force will be used “in a very precise way,” · 12 ·

the reality is quite different. There have been numerous reports of high numbers of civilian casualties. Not only is this knowledge unsavory to the American public, it has also hurt the U.S.’s image abroad. In November 2011, NATO airstrikes accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Consequently, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani of the Pakistani military insisted that U.S. drone strikes stop and blocked supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Moreover, opposition to the weak, American-backed Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardai climbed. Undoubtedly, the use of drones has comprised a significant part of Obama’s foreign policy. Many of the criticisms of the program are absolutely valid. It would be a mistake, however, to equate Obama’s use of drones with his foreign policy, or his doctrine. Drones are a means the Obama administration uses to achieve its larger foreign policy goals.

A Difficult Double Standard

Upon taking office, Obama was determined not to take Bush’s route of extensive military involvement, which cost the U.S. billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and sullied the U.S.’s reputation around the

world. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that Obama viewed drones as a good alternative to Bush’s much more heavyhanded policies. Indeed, whereas Bush was eager to involve the U.S., Obama has been trying to rein in American involvement. As such, he has consistently struggled with the question of when to assume the role of policeman and when to demand that other countries either take the lead or share the risks and costs of intervention. He has tried to navigate maintaining American power while sharing some of the responsibility of policing the world with other countries. Even more difficult is trying to better the U.S.’s reputation when it seems at times that no decision Obama makes will cast America in a favorable light. When Obama announced he would pivot his focus to Asia, he was accused of giving up on the Middle East. In a speech to the UN General Assembly shortly thereafter, Obama expressed his frustration at the double standard: At once the United States “is chastised for meddling in the region, and accused of having a hand in all manner of conspiracy,” he said, even as it “is blamed for failing to do enough,” and for “showing indifference toward suffering Muslim populations.” With each new crisis that arises, the Obama administration must painstakingly weigh the pros and cons of intervention. In Libya, for example, Obama decided to proceed and become involved, despite the fact that Libya is not particularly important to American national interests. Not only did he want to avoid a repetition of the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, the operation would be fairly simple and would have very low costs. The situation in Syria, on the other hand, was much more complicated. In Libya, Obama had a very short timeframe in which to make a decision. Such was not the case in Syria. Furthermore, from the start of the conflict, every method of intervention the Obama administration might have taken present-

ed limited advantages with numerous and important disadvantages and difficulties. Syria was much less accessible geographically than Libya, for starters. Other problems included the instability of the region and the divided nature of the opposition. But, as the New York Times points out, Obama’s decision not to act in Syria had deeper roots than simply logistical problems: “Mr. Obama had absorbed some bitter lessons. His decision to stay on in Afghanistan had not enhanced the perception of American power in the region, and Libya, once the bombing was over, descended into new chaos.” Essentially, Obama had learned from a decade of American mistakes, concluding that the unintend-

“Inaction could strengthen the Islamic extremist groups, many of which have ties to al-Qaeda, possibly resulting in a serious security threat to the U.S.”

ed consequences of military action are too great and unpredictable. So what is, exactly, the Obama Doc-

The Obama Doctrine

trine? Martin Indyk, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Michael O’Hanlon put it in very succinct terms: “The history of the Obama administration’s foreign policy has thus been one of attempts to reconcile the president’s lofty vision with his innate realism and political caution.” None of the dimensions of Obama’s foreign policy, be it his use of drones, his reluctance to cast the U.S. as the world’s policeman, or his uneven record of intervention, can stand alone as an Obama Doctrine. Rather, they work in concert and fit in very nicely with the above description. Upon entering office, Obama promised to better

the U.S.’s reputation, particularly in the Muslim world, end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, restore diplomacy with Iran, seek China’s cooperation on a variety of issues, and promote peace in the Middle East. He quickly realized that he would need to balance his idealistic goals with pragmatism. As such, he has exhibited a progressivism when possible, but has often had to resort to pragmatism instead. The future he envisions is one where the U.S. remains the most powerful country but not the only powerful country: he would like to see the problem of free-riding come to a close, with more countries stepping up and sharing burdens and responsibilities. Obama’s record is mixed. Among the notable successes are the weakening of Al Qaeda, the ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, the imposition of severe sanctions on Iran, and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Among the failures are a lack of progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the continued negative American reputation in the Middle East, the deepening of tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, and the continuation of Iran’s effort to acquire nuclear capabilities as well as North Korea’s development of its nuclear arsenal. Indyk, Lieberthal, and O’Hanlon assert that Obama’s foreign policy has been successful in terms of protecting American interests, but less so in terms of fulfilling his vision of a new global order. Indeed, that vision will continue to be challenged. Syria’s future is uncertain, turmoil in the Middle East persists, and both Iraq and Afghanistan remain deeply unstable. It seems highly unlikely that solutions to these problems will arise in the last three years of Obama’s presidency. If, however, he can push through policies that set the world on right the path to becoming more peaceful and cooperative, he will have secured the legacy of the Obama Doctrine as one to be remembered and emulated for years to come. C et%20al%20Scoring%20Obamas%20Foreign%20Policy.pdf id=_129372_1

· 13 ·

The Consul

Science & Technology

Graphene War:

The silent struggle towards global hegemony

By Minsoo Kim Ever since the advent of nuclear weapons, maximizing influence in international politics has no longer been one of straightforward military dominance. As exemplified during the Cold War in the 20th century, any large scale military conflict between two world powers would quickly devolve into a nuclear standoff, assuring both sides to suffer heavy casualities should the conflict escalate to a nuclear level.1 Such pyrrhic nature of military conflicts precluded either the United States or the Soviet Union from achieving the sole global superpower status militaristically. To further complicate the matters, even conventional warfare tactics sans nuclear weapons have proved to be increasingly ineffective in realizing military and political objectives in the postWWII era. Whether the conflict was a limited proxy war such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, or a post-Cold War conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the evolution of guerilla warfare and terrorism yielded a rapidly diminishing return on investment.2 Of course, this does not mean that military capacity of a country is no longer relevant in tipping the world balance of power. Defense sector isstill the

bottom-line of a country’s prowess because it gauges the the countries’ ability to protect their sovereignty. Yet, when the dust settles and the world military landscape is more or less in a gridlock state, countries rely on their more liquid asset to jockey for world influence: economy. An excellent example of economy maximizing the power of a country is Japan. Despite lacking a true military force due to post-WWII restrictions, Japan grew its Gross National Income to 3rd in world, behind the United States and China.3 As a result, Japan was able to exercise an unprecedented level of leverage in international politics by means of capturing market shares of key industries including the automobile industry.4 In fact, even though Japan lost much of its luster as an Asian economic powerhouse by the end of 1990s, it still enjoys a high level of international prestige. With the premise that modern international politics is largely driven by a realist theory of economic maximization, how does graphene, a layer of graphite just one atom thick, play into the countries’ jockeying for power? The answer lies in the explosion of patent applications towards the fabrication and the use of graphene. Ever since the initial discovery of graphene in 2004, the number of patent applications have grown exponentially from less than 300 · 14 ·

to over 8400.5 Even between July 2011 and February 2013, the number of published patent applications for graphene nearly tripled from approximately 3000 to over 8400.6 Such assertion of intellectual property via patents became the new Cold War among countries as infringement of an intellectual property can implicate the said parties in a multibillion dollar lawsuit. High profile patent cases such as Apple v. Samsung indeed demonstrate the impact of patents as Samsung faces up to $1.0 billion in damages and $18.3 billion in fines.7 As the force of law continues to precedes the law of force in the international arena, graphene is the archetype of a growing movement of different countries using intellectual property to reap the economic benefits of an emerging technology. So graphene is one of many emerging technologies with a tremendous number of patent applications. But what makes graphene different from all of the other patent wars? The idea of protecting intellectual property is certainly not a new idea, so what make the graphene war the hallmark of a new era? There are two main reasons for this: the growing respect for crossborder jurisdictions and the potential of graphene to make an enormous impact across various key industries. Thanks to the lack of large scale military threats as a means of conflict

and ideological resolution, respect for international arbitrations increased. For example, intellectual property disputes during the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union were essentially nonexistent because a constant threat of war led to a mutual mistrust of the respective parties’ legal frameworks. If Soviet Union threatened to launch its nukes and obliterate the U.S. tomorrow, why should the U.S. respect Soviet Union’s intellectual property laws? However, the end of the Cold War impelled countries to participate in open international trade. The participation and access to a single global market led to the creation of a series of international agencies including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Because abiding by the regulations created further economic opportunities for the signatory countries, international arbitration began to enjoy an increasing power of enforcement. Such proliferation of legal institutions that arbitrate international disputes reinforced the power of patents to an unprecedented level, especially as the countries enjoy access to not only a regional market, but a global market. In conclusion, the strength of the patents grew proportionally to the strength of the international enforcement of law,

which made patents a much more powerful source of economic leverage than ever before. More importantly, the reason that graphene heralds a new era of economic jousting is the material’s sheer potential to make an impact on the world economy. The potential of graphene is largely characterized by its extremely attractive properties that can be harnessed to become a disruptive force in major indus-

“the reason that graphene heralds a new era of economic jousting is the material’s sheer potential to make an impact on the world economy”

tries.8 For example, graphene exhibits higher electrical conductivity than any other material on earth. Also, the extremely short carbon bonds of graphene make graphene the strongest material on earth. Moreover, because graphene is only one-atom thick, the material can cover a vast surface area while being virtually weightless. Graphene can also be folded, rolled, and manipulated like a sheet. Potential applications of gra-

Graphene Published Patent Applications (2000 - 2012)

· 15 ·

phene include supercapacitor, touchscreen devices, solar cells, desalination and more.9,10,11,12 It has been touted as the miracle material that can solve many of world’s problems including energy and water security. For that reason, the graphene patent war distinguishes itself from other patent wars for its scalable impact on the world as a game-changing factor across most major industries. Finally, graphene is poised to be one of the first products on the market where the entire product cycle (discovery, research and development, and commercialization) protected by a global legal framework. The level of openness in research facilitated by the published patent applications promotes a truly global monopolistic competition. And such structure of competition has great implications on the balance of world economy. Because the product cycle of graphene is documented from beginning to end, the field is wide open for any interested party. As such, the graphene patent war serves as a litmus test of how countries will battle for patents in order to maximize their economic power over rival countries in the modern international political arena. C 1. Barry R. Posen, Inadvertant Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks (Cor nell University Press, 1991) 2. 4GW+Original+Article+1989.pdf 3. GNI-Atlas-method-table 4. article/0,9171,922519,00.html 5. phene-2013.pdf 6. phene-2013.pdf 7. /17/eu-samsung-idUS6N0I71RQ20131017 8. story/properties/ 9. 10. news/2010/june/20061001.asp 11. graphene-solar-cells-now-one-step-closergraphene-retains-unique-set-propertiescoated-silicon-research-finds/ 12. lockheed-martin-desalination-graphenefilters-2013-3

The Consul

Dear reader,

We are extremely excited to ring in the new year with this new issue centered around one of the world’s most controversial countries, North Korea.

As an irregular actor in the international community, North Korea has recently drawn a lot of attention due to its nuclear tests. On the other hand, we actually know very little about the country due to its isolation. After a great speaker event from our parent organization, the International Affairs Association, featuring a North Korean defector, we felt the need to carry on further debate and exploration into this mystery in Northeast Asia. In addition to a discussion on human rights violations in North Korea, it is also our great honor to have Dr. Jonathan Pollack, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, share his view on North Korea. Our goal through discussions like these is to make The Consul the best forum for international political discourse on campus. We hope you enjoy these features and our other sections on world politics, foreign policies and technology. As always, we encourage you to check out our website at for daily blog posts and to discuss and debate the happenings of the day with the Penn community. Happy reading! Sam Blumenthal & Jing Ran, Editors-in-chief, The Consul

The International Affairs Association University of Pennsylvania

The Consul October Issue  

What's going on in North Korean prison camp? Is there an Obama Doctrine? What constitutes the Arab-Iranian Rivalry? Is fascism taking over E...

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