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The Autumn 2013 issue
of Dialogue features “The State of Liberty” on the cover, with an illustration by Roman Genn of the National Review. On that two articles analyze the recent Snowden saga and one tackles the overarching dilemma of government corruption. In the debate section, Dr. Hungerford of Economic Policy Institute and Dr. Mathur of American Enterprise Institute clash over inequality. While one stands in defense of the 99 percent, the other perceives inequality as an illusion. In Europe we look at the Euro Crisis: where articles tackle austerity, Italy and Bulgaria. In the Middle East and Africa we explore the Arab spring, from chaos and violence in Egypt and Syria to stability in Morocco. Elsewhere, based on her recent presentation at a Norwegian Foreign Ministry event, Dr. Petra Dolata of King’s College London examines the global impact of the shale revolution. She argues that: “the shale revolution has been a game changer for the United States”. Most of all, this issue marks the one year anniversary of Dialogue. It has been an exciting year with three issues, dozens of articles and thousands of readers. We are truly grateful to all of you for your support. As always, the views expressed in this issue belong to our contributors and do not compromise Dialogue’s non-partisan stance. Happy reading!
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In this issue... 9
Cover story The Corruption of Democracy Apathy and Government Corruption Evaluating Congressional Oversight of Intelligence
5 7 9
North America Equality in America Today
A Multidimensional Canada
Understanding Obama’s Foreign Policy 21
Debate In Defense of the 99 Percent:
Rising U.S. Income Inequality Causes, Consequences and Solutions
The Inequality Illusion
South America Football, Politics, and Protests in Brazil
Tune in on Chile
Brazil’s Diplomatic Horizons
The Real Cost of Austerity The Porn Filter and I: Internet Rights in the Dynamic Online Landscape
The Letta Government and the Italian Situation
The ”Absolute” Protesting
A Tale of Bulgaria
Special report 42
The Shale Revolution goes Global? News From the Energy Front
Asia 45 47 49
a ray of Hope for India
The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands Dispute
Hufei, Outlaws of the Marsh and Universal Suffrage in Hong From ’Occupy Central Movement’ to the Road to Democracy
Middle East 51 53 55
Is Egypt to be the New Syria? From Tahrir Square to Nahda Square
Syria: No Good Options
The Paradox of Modern Iran
Africa 58 61
Successful Presidential Elections in Mali: What is Next?
Morocco and the Arab Spring: How the Monarchy Stands Through the Storm
The cover art for this issue of Dialogue is an illustration by Roman Genn. Genn is a contributing editor of The National Review. His caricatures has been featured in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, International Herald Tribune, and many other publications. To view some of the artwork and for more information on Roman Genn, visit his webpage at: http://www.rgenn.com
By Adrian Blau
hen we talk of corruption today, we mostly think about people misusing public office for private gain: politicians taking bribes, bureaucrats stealing money, and so on. But I want to discuss a deeper and wider idea of corruption, which I have called ‘cognitive corruption’: the distortion of judgement. And I’m going to show how cognitive corruption undermines three different types of democracy. ‘Distortion of judgement’ means different things to different people. For Thomas Hobbes, writing in the civil war period in 17th century England, cognitive corruption means the violation of reason, or people acting on passions which disrupt peace. I wrote about Hobbes’s idea of cognitive corruption in a 2009 article in the journal History of Political Thought. But John Stuart Mill has a more interesting and useful idea of cognitive corruption. In chapter 6 of Considerations on Representative Government, he discusses the common idea that people get corrupted by power. What is really going on here? Mill’s answer is unusual.
The moment a man, or a class of men, find themselves with power in their hands, the man's individual interest, or the class’s separate interest, acquires an entirely new degree of importance in their eyes. Finding themselves worshipped by others, they become worshippers of themselves, and think themselves entitled to be counted at a hundred times the value of other people; while the facility they acquire of doing as they like without regard to consequences insensibly weakens the habits which make men look forward even to such consequences as affect themselves. This is the meaning of the universal tradition, grounded on universal experience, of men's being corrupted by power. I love this idea that politicians ‘become worshippers of themselves’. It’s not just politicians who do this, of course: we all do it to some extent, and more so as we get older. (That said, I don’t worship myself. I don’t need to: I’m just so wonderful.
you on the PIE degree might be interested in a paper which suggests that such self-selection explains why economists tend to be more corrupt than non-economists: people who are prone to corruption are more likely to apply for economics degrees! (See Björn Frank and Günther Schulze, ‘Does economics make citizens corrupt?’, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 43, 2000.) The authors of that paper also found that male economists were more likely to be corrupt than female economists. And there’s a fascinating parallel with cognitive corruption in the second kind of democracy I wish to consider: deliberative democracy. Deliberative democracy – the key development in recent democratic theory – is about citizens meeting under conditions of inclusion and equality, open-mindedly listening to each other’s arguments, changing their minds as needs be, and making decisions for themselves rather than leaving it up to politicians. Deliberative democracy faces many challenges in theory and in practice, but Diego Gambetta raises a particularly inte-
is distorted because they rarely think for themselves but mostly do what they are told.
But lots of people worship themselves, and some of them also worship me, which is good, because I’m worth so much more than they are.) One other factor which Mill might have considered is that people who are more likely to be corrupted by power may also be more likely to enter politics in the first place. Those of
And many of us get corrupted too. We are often influenced by image, by soundbites, by a party’s history. Some people identify themselves with a party: they are lifelong supporters of Labour, or the US Republicans, or the Congress party in India, or the German Social Democrats. Sorry if I’m insulting anyone, but I find it odd to identify with a party like this. Political parties aren’t football teams. We should identify with policies
”Cognitive corruption helps to explain how people get corrupted by power, why deliberative democracy may not lead to open-minded decision-making, and why politicians and citizens may not think clearly in party democracy.” and ideologies, not parties. By all means feel proud about what a party has achieved in the past, but don’t let that affect your judgement about its present policies. I try to get round my own party-biases by not voting at all; but some of you will see that as a different kind of cognitive corruption! So, cognitive corruption is widespread in democracy. It helps to explain how people get corrupted by power, why deliberative democracy may not lead to open-minded decisionmaking, and why politicians and citizens may not think clearly in party democracy. I’m not denying that the standard form of corruption – misuse of public office for private gain – can be an immense problem in some countries. But we mustn’t ignore cognitive corruption.
resting problem: men! Or to be precise, those macho men who, according to Gambetta, are so full of themselves that they do not listen to others and rarely change their minds. (See his chapter in the 1998 book Deliberative Democracy, edited by Jon Elster.) Of course, many men do not act like this, and many women do. But the key point is that such distortions of judgement – which affect all of us to some extent – are cognitively corrupting. We do not make our minds up according to reason and evidence, and we are not influenced by what Habermas calls ‘the force of the better argument’. This can damage deliberative democracy as much as Mill’s form of cognitive corruption can damage representative democracy. The third and last kind of democracy to consider is what we might call party democracy: policy is made primarily by party leaders, with individual party representatives mostly doing what they are told. In party democracy, the judgement of party leaders is distorted because they often make political choices in terms of what will benefit them and their party, or what will cause problems for opposing parties. And the judgement of party representatives
ADRIAN BLAU is Senior Lecturer in Politics at King’s College London. You can see more of his thoughts on corruption and other matters at BlauBlog: http://adrianblau.wordpress.com.
By Ethan Brooks
he 2006 film “The Lives of Others” depicts the banal indifference with which Stasi agents routinely pried into the lives of the inhabitants of their East German fiefdom. A poignant reminder of what of what life was like not thirty years ago in what is now a vibrant and relaxed democracy, the film gives a chilling insight into the soul-destroying impact permanent and inescapable surveillance in an all-encompassing state can have on society. This film, like the others which form Germany's silver screen catharsis of the last century's traumas, achieved its goal of generating unease, and at times disgust, over the impunity with which security services will act away from the caustic scorn of civil society. Fast forward to 2013 and we find that paranoia over the limitless reach of government into society’s private sphere and the associated abuses of power is no longer fashionable. Those who speak up for privacy and demand freedom from the state’s panoptic gaze are consigned to the fringes of political opinion as “handwringing, foil-hat clad hippies” or “foaming at the mouth libertari-
ans” of the “Tea Party” variety. So to take the long view that these windows into our notso-distant-past offer, it's remarkable that current trends of a growth in state power and encroachment, - all too visible today thanks to this summer's noisy revelations of far more extensive activities by the United States’ National Security Agency - , haven't produced a more potent outcry by civil society. This can be explained by two equally worrying factors, although they are concerning for different reasons. The first, born out of political apathy in a society unaccustomed to guarding its civil liberties, is that we simply expect the intrusion and whilst not necessarily agreeing with it, don’t see the issue as rising highly enough amongst our political priorities. In an increasingly economics-obsessed world, we do nothing but mutter to ourselves whilst glancing at the headlines. A second, more insidious reason is that we don't instinctively fear the long arm of a state we have come to automatically rely upon for so much. The knowledge that “the state,” if it is ever
sensible to see Leviathan as a coherent being, means well and merely wishes to protect us, doesn’t mean we should be as relaxed as we seem to be about surveillance programmes such as Prism or the other powers acquired by the recently re-emerged “security state.” Those most laid back about the surveillance are those who point to it as a necessary evil to prevent terrorist attacks. The vast majority of the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic fall into this category. This is powerful and is a vital publicity coup for any “White House occupant” or any other political leader attempting , in the evasive manner typical of an embarrassed government, to let bereaved citizens know that it is only “wrongdoers” who must worry and that data is only ever collected about someone else. Without wishing to seem overly dramatic or clichéd, it is worth repeating that the liberties we take for granted and form part of a bitterly fought-for inheritance from the less lucky generations of a darker age, will not continue to exist without vigilance. Today, in our esteemed liberal democracies, we have been coddled into naïve blindness to the infringements upon our liberties by the one body which poses a credible danger to them. Advances in communications technology such as the internet, which should
“Today, in our esteemed liberal democracies, we have been coddled into naïve blindness to the infringements upon our liberties(…)” have strengthened the hand of civil society, seems to have left us more apathetic. It has made us more productive economically, but merely provides an entertaining diversion rather than being meaningfully empowering. It has given the state another tool of control, whether we choose to see it as such or not. As the power, the size and responsibilities of the state have grown, a space once filled by civil society has been progressively squeezed out of existence. When the backlash against the size of the state finally emerged in the eighties it was effective, but only in the economic sense of reduced taxes and reduced government ownership of industry. The increase in the social role of government only continued. Over time, social capital and interpersonal trust in western society has declined and life has become more atomized. People now have fewer friends, work more hours, see less of family and socialize less. All this means that society, as a counter-balance to the state, has become weaker. We are now called consumers, workers and tax-payers, but no longer citizens. In our democracy, voters now form an audience with a fleeting attention span fed by a 24- hour news cycle, rather than making up a meaningfully concerned electorate. Entreaties of vigilance such as this article tend to be met with slack-jawed indifference and glazed-over eyes. Attempts to resuscitate civil society, such as David Cameron’s ill-timed “Big Society” pledge as an alternative to big government, was met with a hail of scorn and confusion, acting as a lightning rod for those who suspect public-sector cutting
Tory duplicity in every mention of a more limited role for government in our lives. There is a genuine choice to be made. Some, very legitimately, see state intervention as a panacea for every societal ill they encounter, however, it must be recognized that when the things we rely upon civil society for are done for us by the state, there is nothing left for it to do but shrink away, leaving life emptier and less fulfilling. In my view, sentimentality aside, without these independent organisations, we are put in a weaker position as citizens to impose our will on the state rather than be swept along by its wellmeaning machinations. The first stage in reversing the trend would be to demand more transparency from governments and to embrace opportunities to revive the work-life balance and increase political engagement. This will be a long process, but we can only hope that this year’s revelations can spur people into greater suspicion of each and every government policy designed to make our lives easier, safer and less complicated. After all, only we, as individuals, can interpret what our interests really are.
ETHAN BROOKS is a second year International Politics BA student at King's College London.
By Glenn Hastedt
n 6 June 2013, The Manchester Guardian and Washington
occurs when a fire breaks out and ceases when the fire is extinguis-
Post began running a series of stories on warrantless
hed, to return again should smoldering embers produce another
electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) that involved the collection of meta data with the aid of traditional communication companies such as Verizon and internet providers like Apple, Facebook, Google Microsoft, Yahoo, and Skype. Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee working for the Booz Allen consulting firm was identified as the source of the leaked information.
fire. This pattern is very much in evidence in intelligence community oversight. Four major intelligence fires have been put out. In the mid-1970s the fire was widespread illegal Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) activity within the United States including wiretapping and mail openings.
In the mid-1980s controversy
centered on the Reagan administrationâ€™s covert action program in
A starting point to deciphering how effectively Congress
Latin America. The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States
has handled its intelligence oversight responsibility here is to look
brought forward the third congressional wave of intelligence com-
to existing studies of congressional oversight. They depict a weak
oversight system marked by two characteristics. First, it is overwhelmingly reactive, rather than anticipatory: it acts as a fireman responding to a problem rather than as police officers on patrol looking for problems. Congressional oversight is thus sporadic. It
Most recently we have witnessed a rapid series of fire alarms set off by disputes over the conduct of the Global War on Terrorism. Collectively they can be seen as constituting a fourth
major fire. The first involved a secret warrantless surveillance pro-
become partners and protectors of those they are intended to over-
gram authorized by President George W. Bush in October 2001
see. Intelligence oversight committees are no different. Commit-
giving the NSA
tee members routinely become cheerleaders or ostriches rather
the authority to “intercept communications
between individuals on American soil and individuals abroad without judicial approval,” in essence circumventing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. The second centered on the nature of the techniques used to interrogate suspected terrorists at the Guantanamo Naval Base. The third involved the increased use of drone aircraft to kill suspected terrorists, especially Americans.
the most current fire alarm to be set off. T second
insight from this
than skeptics and guardians. A final historical perspective of value in making judgments about the future shape of intelligence community oversight is the manner in which Congress seeks to put outfires. Solutions to organizational problems tend to be sought for from the vantage point of classical administrative theory that stresses the principles
“Organizations are viewed as machines lacking in any political dimension. The centralization of authority and functions along with heightened legal procedures are standard remedies for deficiencies of decentralized bureaucratic structures”
of efficiency and efectiveness. Organizations are viewed
machines lacking in
broader literature is that police patrol oversight tends to be rooted
authority and functions along with heightened legal procedures are
in the actions of individuals rather than Congress as an institut-
standard remedies for deficiencies of decentralized bureaucratic
ion. In some cases they are motivated by political conviction as to
what is right and wrong, in other cases by expectations of personal political gain, or a mixture of the two.
Committees tend to
This trend is every much evident in the history of congressional oversight of the intelligence community. The 1975 Church
approved a warrant application or you didn’t—period.” Among the most notable are applying and expanding the “special needs” doctrine to fighting terrorism and using the “third party disclosure” doctrine to legitimize the collection of data.
versial has been the interpretation given to section 215 of the USA Patriot act which was reaffirmed by a vote of Congress in 2011, and that has been cited as the legal basis for secret collection of meta data via electronic surveillance. It authorizes the government to collect “tangible things” to protect against terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. It is not to be used to collect information concerning a U.S. citizen. The Iran-Contra oversight episode ended with a Congress passing legislation that would have required presidents to inform Congress of the start of any covert action undertaking within 48 hours. bill. Committee hearings put forward two major reform efforts designed to improve the efficiency of intelligence oversight. First, where once intelligence oversight was carried out by a number of different House and Senate committees, there would now be one for each chamber. Second, the FISA Court was established to provide approval of surveillance activities in the United States. The standard operating procedures of each have limited the effectiveness of oversight. In the case of congressional committees these rules largely transformed oversight hearings into the category of oversight briefings. Committee members are only permitted to read key documents in specified areas and they must leave their notes behind.
Limits are also placed on their ability to discuss
sensitive intelligence matters with their fellow members of Con-
President George H.W. Bush successfully vetoed the The culmination of the 9/11 oversight episode was the
establishment of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The verdict is still out as to whether the DNI represents a unifying connecting force within the intelligence community or just another bureaucratic layer. Bush argued that two forms of oversight for his secret Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) existed: he reviewed the program about every 45 days in consultation with NSA and Department of Justice officials, and that he had briefed “the Gang of Eight,” a group of congressional leaders more than 12 times. With controversy over the legality of the program continuing and Democrats regaining control of Congress, the Bush administration announced in January 2007 that it was placing the TSP under the purview of the FISA Court.
gress, staffers, or outside experts. It is not unusual to have sess-
The NSA oversight episode fits comfortably into the patt-
ions in which only intelligence agencies or government representa-
tern described above. It is reactive, firefighting, oversight that has
tives present their case. Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. who helped
been pushed most vigorously by a few members of Congress and
draft the law authorizing bulk data surveillance and is now skept-
resisted by most on the committee, with the solutions ad-
ical of it described briefings as “rope-a-dope” sessions.
vanced consisting largely of administrative and legal quick fix so-
The FISA Court, likewise, has found itself severely handicapped by the lack of information in its oversight efforts. Accor-
lutions to promote privacy safeguards that downplay the underlying political dimension to the problem.
ding to its chief judge, the FISA Court is “forced to rely upon the
In the House Sensenbrenner, along with Justin Amash,
accuracy of the information provided to the Court” and lacks the
John Conyers Jr., and Zoe Lofgren have taken the lead in arguing
tools to independently verify how often the government‘s actions
for deep reforms on intelligence gathering, a coalition forces
violate the court’s rules. In 2012, 1,856 Surveillance applications
described by a defender of NSA’s program as the “wing nut coalit-
were presented to the FISA Court and 1,855 were approved.
ion.” They are joined in the Senate by Mark Udall, Rand Paul, and
The FISA court has also moved from rendering case-bycase judgments about wiretapping requests to issuing opinions and establishing legal principles on what qualifies as permissible. Judge James Robertson, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, observed that “in my experience, there weren’t any opinions…you
Ron Wyden. Support for the NSA programs came from Republican and Democratic House and Senate leadership as well as the majority and minority leadership of the respective intelligence committees. Rep. Jerold Nadler, a member of the Judiciary Committee, spoke to the difficulty of mounting an opposition to the NSA noting that classification rules prohibited him from making a
coherent case for curbing the NSA’s powers: “even if members
opinions and reports made available to members of Congress, and
know about it, they can’t say it, who how do you change it?…how
increasing the ideological diversity of the FISA Court.
do you get political support when you can’t say a reason?”
Oversight of intelligence is consistent with the more gene-
Indicative of the position initially taken by NSA supporters
ral pattern of reactive and limited congressional oversight, a patt-
was the title of a House Permanent Intelligence Committee’s hea-
tern that has led some to identify intelligence oversight as a failure.
ring on Snowden’s leaks:
“How Disclosed National Security
Yet, voluntarily changing the nature of intelligence oversight
Agency Programs Protect Americans, and Why Disclosure Aids
would seem to require a broader change in the practice of con-
Our Adversaries.” Subsequent disclosures of unreported NSA
gressional oversight. While that is unlikely there are signs that
collections violations said to number 2,776 in a one year period
simply continuing in this fashion may prove counterproductive
were characterized by NSA as “miniscule” and the result of unin-
and create a future intelligence oversight crisis.
tentional human or technical errors.
obvious is the problem presented to congressional oversight by a
President Obama argued against passing an amendment to a House Defense Appropriations Bill that would block NSA’s phone record collection program and force greater reporting by the FISA Court to Congress and the public by saying that Congress had received 35 briefings on the program, including several
and all-House meetings.
seemingly ever expanding stock of presidential powers surrounded in secrecy. Obama came into office promising to curb the Bush administration’s excesses in fighting the war on terror, but in the use of drones and warrantless surveillance has come to embrace and expand upon them. A second change is the identity of the
“President Obama argued against passing an amendment to a House Defense Appropriations Bill that would block NSA’s phone record collection program(…)”
ders argued that few committee members took advantage of quarterly staff briefings on counterterrorism operations.
A contrasting view is presented by
Rep. Rush Holt who observed that agency officials sought to ingratiate themselves with committee members by letting them introducing them to tools of spy trade and shooting weapons at a CIA firing range. With respect to the information presented to committees he noted “even in a game of 20 questions, they give us an answer that is precisely correct, they often delight in obfuscating behind a flurry of tech speak.” An example occurred in June 2013 when a NSA official asked about listening to phone calls or reading emails and text messages of American citizens stated, “we don’t target the content of U.S. person communications without a specific warrant.” But, there is a difference between intentionally targeting someone for surveillance and obtaining information on someone in the course of investigating other individuals. After the amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill was defeated by a vote of 217-205 Obama sought to mollify NSA critics by proposing a series of largely undefined reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, and the operations of the FISA
NSA. Oversight of secret governmental intelligence gathering
thing. Oversight of a
in intelligence gathering involving private contractors and cutting edge communications companies is quite another. Firefighting may be increasingly ineffective as a means of oversight here, but how does one engage in police patrolling in this context?
where Snowden’s revelations have fixated public and policy maker attention on the need to place limits on data collection, the bureaucratic reality for the NSA is that they are under pressure from other intelligence agencies to share their information and intelligence gathering tools. Rather than being a self-contained problem, Congress may be looking at only the tip of a potentially large ice berg.
GLENN HASTEDT Holds a PhD in political science from Indiana University. He was professor and chair of the political science department at James Madison University from 1999-2005 and since then has chaired the justice studies department. His most recent publications include: “The Politicization of Intelligence,” Intelligence and National Security (2013).
Court, including greater transparency and establishing an independent review panel. Diane Feinstein who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee also reached out to NSA opponents calling for reforms to increase FISA transparency and improve privacy protections. They centered on increased data collection, making FISA
This article was orginially published by e-International Relations and can be found at: http://www.e-ir.info/2013/08/23/evaluatingcongressional-oversight-of-intelligence/
By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld
ou cannot blame anyone who is confused by Barack Obama’s foreign policy. United States’ major media reporting takes Obama at his word, always with the
The Obama administration hardly regards itself to have failed at anything—least of all, in foreign policy. Why? Because it proceeds entirely in the service of what it considers righteous causes. It judges itself by its politically correct dreams, not by its results. And it demands we do the same. If we don’t, it doesn’t really matter. Right is right.
most favorable analysis. Our critical pundits argue as to whether publicly announced policies are incompetent or cover up various intentions that run contrary to what we are told. The public debate on this has reached no conFormer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her first clusion, as the Obama administration refuses to be party major foreign policy speech in 2009, put the Obama approto it. There is a general consensus, however, that the ach on the table for all to see. U.S. is not doing too well in To paraphrase: If we succeed the world under this presi“The Obama administration(…) around the world, it will be dent. This appears to perplex because of our honorable commost Americans and, appajudges itself by its politically correct mitment to politically correct rently the rest of the world. (read: “engaging our dreams, not by its results. And it process The key to understanenemies and disciplining our ding Obama’s foreign policy friends”). If we fail, it is demands we do the same.” rests not on what the admibecause previous administratnistration has said or not said, ions have made mistakes and or done or not done but, rather, on what it thinks of have given Mr. Obama a “bad hand” to play. In fact, Hilitself; that is to say, how it conceives its broadest intents. lary’s speech suggested, as has often been echoed by These do not need to be teased out: they have been appaObama, that all of American foreign policy history is at rent since the early days of Obama’s presidential tenure. fault. Clinton made it clear that the administration is
committed (finally) to doing the right thing by the rest of the world and, therefore, failure to be seen as doing so could not be its fault. This commitment to righteous process is grounded on a set of tenets that have either been implied or argued directly by members of the Obama administration and its media and pundit shills over the past five years. Accordingly, what follows is neither a caricature nor a parody. Where examples could have been given, savvy readers will themselves be able to provide them. * As Americans bent on ‘changing the world’ for the better (i.e., acting on the meaning of Obama’s reelection), we reject the values and policies of past administrations and see every reason not to find value in the history of what the U.S. has done in the world. * We must reject outright the thought that other countries are potential enemies, even after they have aggressed against the United States. Shows of strength and resolution are not solutions to dealing with enmities even if they protect our military from death or injury. * We must engage other countries, even while and after they attack us, as potential allies (e.g., Iran). Everyone’s values, including temporary or long-term political repression, are equally valid and should never be viewed as a real cause of enmity. As we should work for “international norming” and be the ally of every other country, do not think of or publicly call particular ones allies. All peoples are our potential allies because they are at least as good as we are. Indeed, some are better as their appetite for justice and equality is greater. If some call themselves allies and admire America, rest assured that they are worse than we are and should be treated accordingly. * We must assume that enmity and aggression are not signs of evil intent, but evidence of some kind of mistake or misunderstanding or the absence of social and economic justice in a country’s society. Denying that it occurred is the proper way to respond to aggression initially, and even, possibly, long-term. After all, if we engage aggressors properly, aggression will never occur again.
embrace those things and to learn from them so that a proper symbiosis will occur between how others and we think. The United States should refrain from telling other countries how we think and allow those abroad to tell us when the symbiosis has been reached. Whatever they come up with, we should sign on to. * When aggression occurs, the first duty of the U.S. is to look to its own sins. If an aggressor accuses the U.S. of something it purportedly did in the past (that is, before us), best to confess to it. This costs us nothing. We are not the U.S. of the past, but of the world-historical future. The aggressor may feel so much better that it will stop what it’s doing. If it does not, it is time for concessions and other gifts to go along with more confession.
“The United States should refrain from telling other countries how we think and allow those abroad to tell us when the symbiosis has been reached.”
* We must assume that the people in an aggressing country are just like us. If their culture, religion or history call for destroying us, we must not assume that it will always be so. We owe it to ourselves, those in enmity with us, and the universal culture and history of the future to
not be judged to contradict the above tenets. We may be able to prevent our successors from doing something worse. All right, the foregoing verges on satire, we admit. The absurdity of it all invites satire. One final thought: some of our better pundits regard Obama policy pronouncements as, variously; demagoguery, lying, and double speak. They are all those things. However, something crucial is almost uniformly missed, and it is that those pronouncements are rooted in the ideology revealed first in Hillary Clinton’s 2009 speech. Accordingly, it is possible for Obama et al. to blithely claim success and acknowledge failure at the same time. The War on Terror is over but violent extremism is worse than ever. Failure to deal with it in reality, however, cannot be Obama’s fault. We have won the War on Terror long since because we say we have. Because we have said it, it must be incontrovertible. What obtains now does not exist because we did not really win that war. Our advanced consciousness tells us that we now see the problem clearly and have moved to a more effective way of thinking about it. (It is unfair to say that this amounts to obscuring the problem or defining the problem down, or pretending that it doesn’t exist.) If the entire world thought the way we do the problem would be effectively removed. Inasmuch as it is just a matter of time before others think as we do, it is by no means illogical to pronounce the War on Terror over. Indeed, it is necessary and righteous.
* As for terrorists, never use an adjective in front of that word. If fact, don’t use the word “terrorist” at all. It is an inexact label freighted with judgments we have no business making (like thinking of terrorists or terrorism as inherently evil). Terrorism is a physical act, not a human quality or disposition. We must deal with those who commit acts of terror in the same manner as other criminals (or, rather, persons who commit acts against the law; “criminal” is also a demeaning label) and, otherwise, engage with them in the same manner as we engage with foreign countries (see above). * ‘Free elections’ create a legitimate Democracy. The newly elected regime is then free to establish whichever political/religious system it fancies. * We must affirm U.S. public opinion against foreign military engagement by pointing out the unfortunate consequences of past U.S. military acts and by assuring the world that war never solves anything. If our righteous government is compelled to commit military acts abroad in order to maintain its political advantage at home, this should
Dr. RACHEL EHRENFELD is the director of New York based Centre for Democracy, and author of several books and more than one thousand scholarly papers and articles.
By Kamelia Dimitrova
n 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. But we know that at the time this principle was enacted into the American value system, it was far from being true. Equality only applied to a small group of white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant males. Those of any other race, gender, or sexual orientation were considered outcasts on a social, economic, and political level. However, due to a variety of historical happenings, from the American slave trade, to industrialization, and to an influx of immigration in the late 19th century, society could no longer ignore the growing population of minorities. More and more non-white people were becoming permanent inhabitants in white-washed America, making their oppression much more difficult. As those new residence began to form families and give rise to new generations, a resounding sense of frustration began to set in. The labor force of America was being denied voting rights, education rights, and being physically ostracized from the society in which they lived. America was no longer one-dimensional. It was now home to a melting pot of cultures, religions, and ethnicities that could no longer be pushed to the waste side. People were changing, and the law needed to change with it. Now, it is the 21st century and we like to believe that we have come a long way from old America. That, today, rational and open-minded thinkers have replaced the shortsighted lawmakers from the past, and understand that fairness for all is a statement that carries no bias and no injustice.
ruled innocent, or the time when Texan women are bluntly denied abortion rights regardless of how hard they rally against it, are examples of when I am hesitant to applaud the strides this country has taken. In fact, these are moments that tug at the reigns of our forward -moving society, and revert it back to the era of exclusivity, bias, and prejudice. They are the ghosts of the old America that haunt the progress of our modern day.
”(…)just because we don’t live in the injustices of yesterday, does not mean we live in the fairness of tomorrow.”
Nonetheless what should be pointed out is that just because we don’t live in the injustices of yesterday, does not mean we live in the fairness of tomorrow. Based upon recent decisions made by our legal system regarding race and women’s rights, I have trouble believing in the modernity of our nation. The time when a black teenager is shot to death and his killer
The first illustration is the trial that took America for a whirlwind regarding the shooting death of a black teenager. Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot in his Florida neighbor-
citizen get away with murder? It was just another step in the wrong direction. Another example is the recent legislation passed in Texas that puts strict regulation on abortions. The governor waved his conservative flag by signing a bill that would inevitably shut down all of the abortion clinics in the state. Looking beyond the politics of abortion, there is an aspect that is even more upsetting. While the bill was still in the hands of the legislatures, before getting signed into law, one Texas Congresswoman stood on her feet for more than 10 hours to fight against it. During her filibuster, hundreds of Texas’ citizens gathered in the state capitol to rally with her. When it was time to finally vote on the bill, the protestors were rioting so loudly that the legislators had difficulty even hearing each other’s votes. The rioting persisted and the bill was not passed. Unfortunately, the governor rallied legislators a few weeks later to cast their votes again. There, with no protestors and no lengthy speech, the law was able to pass. Now I am no legal expert, but I do know that what happened in that state capitol is rare. I do know that we elect government officials to represent our ideals and this is proof that they did the exact opposite. This was an ardent fight for women’s equality, lost by the ignorance of a government run by men.
hood by George Zimmerman, a volunteer watch guard who perceived Martin of suspicious behavior. Martin was walking home from a nearby convenience store when Zimmerman first spotted him from his car. Zimmerman notified police of Martin’s whereabouts but police advised him to avoid confrontation. In disregard to their orders, Zimmerman proceeded to follow the boy. The two ended up in a fistfight during which Zimmerman shot Martin to death in act, he claims, of self-defense. Zimmerman went up against the state of Florida in a publicly broadcast trial, in which the jury rendered him innocent. The decision shook the nation as it exploded in protests and rallies. Members of more than 100 cities rallied in the street with signs that read “I am Trayvon,” and “Will I Be Next?” President Obama made a public speech in which he said that he, at one point in his life, could have been Trayvon Martin. Famous celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z walked side-by-side with protestors to show their support. It was a decision that people could not grasp. How could a so-called “fair” legal system let a
These are just two examples that reveal an undesirable truth about equality in America today. They represent how our present continues to play a mean tug of war with the past. But that does not mean, in any way, that we have not seen steps taken towards a better, more equal, world. The Supreme Court recently ruled that gay and straight married couples are to be treated equally under the federal law. Women now make up more than fifty percent of the country’s labor force. Stricter gun regulation has been on the White House’s agenda since the recent tragedies at Sandy Hook elementary and the Boston Marathon. Nevertheless that does not mean that we cannot keep our eyes open, and understand the nuances. It’s not about blaming the “system” but to be aware of its discrepancies, so that when they occur, we make it a point to fix them. KAMELIA DIMITROVA is a graduate from New York University and a journalist at ABC News.
Canada has reached a "danger point" in its free-trade negotiations with the European Union. It is advisable that any delays and problems should be avoided. That is because according to the figures revealed in a press release by the European Commission, the EU was Canada’s second most important partner in trade for 2012. Additionally the trade talk could potentially result in access to each others’ market and investment protection, among others.
By Ben Fockter
anada is at the center of sensational political talks on multiple levels including international, national and local. It could be claimed that for the first time for a while Canada is being multidimensional in its political course. Yet we rarely hear about that. And we should be. Because of the tight international relations of Canada with both Britain and the United States, it is important to closely follow the issues and observe their implications on the continent and abroad. For that purpose, Canada’s trade talks with the EU will be given thorough consideration, as well as its unemployment rate and its inner political tension. All of the aforesaid are piecing together the picture of what Canada is now and more importantly of what it could be in the future.
According to former Quebec premier Jean Charest, Prime Minister Stephen Harper must step in and get a deal done. In an interview with CBC Radio's, Charest, who was instrumental in getting Canada-EU talks off the ground, warns "there's a danger point for us right now because Europe and the U.S. have launched their negotiations." Maybe Canada is being lucky right now, because after the scandals with Edward Snowden and the recent shocking discovery that the US has spied on the EU, it seems that the USA-EU trade talks are being left behind, at least on behalf of the EU. That is where Canada steps in as a trustworthy partner in foreign affairs. John Manley, the president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and a former cabinet minister in the Jean Chrétien Liberal government, recently suggested that the prime minister sends a delegation of senior cabinet ministers to Europe to prompt final talks. Several issues remain on the table, however, including counterbalancing Europe's need to win greater access for cheese producers, with Canada's demand that Europeans open the gate to
”It is important to look at the current conditions of the parties that form the grand coalition and the opposition, since the survival of the government depends on their stability and cooperation.”
Canadian beef and pork exports. These can prove themselves as major obstacles in the face of the newly accepted CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reform in the EU. As well, Canada is being asked to accept stricter European standards on patent protection for pharmaceutical drugs, which provinces have resisted because it could hike drug prices by as much as $2 billion annually. Political scientists claim that there is a distinc difference between attitudes in North America and Europe, which consequently results in a huge gap between the politics of the two continents. Whereas the Canada –EU trade talks are considered an attempt to fill in that gap and additionally ease the trade, we have to ask ourselves if this is going to cost Canadians way to much efforts? A more concerning fact on a national level addresses Canada’s unemployment rate. For the fourth time in seven months, the Canadian economy has shed jobs, pushing the jobless rate in July up to 7.2 per cent. Statistics Canada reported that the economy lost 39,400 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.1 percentage points to 7.2 per cent. Much of the decline came from the public sector, where there were 74,000 fewer jobs. Regionally, the jobs figure declined in Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador. At the same time however, there were increases in Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. We should here give consideration as to whether a future agreement between Canada and the EU could act as a saving boat to employment in the country, what is more as a possible incentive for growth.
”We should here give consideration as to whether a future agreement between Canada and the EU could act as a saving boat to employment in the country, what is more as a possible incentive for growth.”
Finally, zooming in on local political aspects, conservative MP, Frank Klees, looks at debates concerning the Ontario Progressive Conservative party. Mr. Klees spent 39 years as a member of the Ontario PC Party, a candidate in 7 provincial elections, elected in the last 5, resulting in 18 years as a member of the PC Caucus. Winning only one of five by elections this past week left many PC party members disillusioned and wondering what it will take to throw the scandal-ridden Liberals out of office. Criminal investigations are underway in the wake of the Ornge Air Ambulance and Gas Plant scandals (here again the trade talks can prove decisive in managing sustainable development and ensuring that trade does not harm the enviromnet or nay social and labour rights); the public knows that millions of their tax dollars were wasted through mismanagement, incompetence and partisan selfinterest. Both the former and current Liberal Premier have admitted that they repeatedly put the Liberal Party's interests ahead of the public interest and under their watch, Ontario has become a have-not province with the highest unemployment rates in the country. The interest payments on the provincial debt are higher than the entire budget of some provinces with promises of even
higher taxes and more debt.
Ultimately, as one can see, Canada is currently in the midst of various issues, much of which has political implications. In the upcoming year or so, the future-determining issues will be resolved – the trade talks as well as the inner problematic. This will prove defining for Canada’s relations with Britain, the USA and the EU. Canada’s govern men have a lot of important decisions to take thus shaping the future of the country on all levels. But as in every deal, we should mind what we pay for. Could the Canada-EU free trade agreement be the key to all of our problems in the face of a complex domestic situation?
BEN FOCKTER is a second year International Politics BA student at McGill University.
By Dr. Hungerford
t has been fairly well established that U.S. income inequality has been rising significantly over the past 30 years after an extended period of a fairly stable distribution of income. The share of income accruing to the top one percent has increased by more than 10 percentage points – from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent by 2011. Inequality of after-tax after-transfer income as measured by the Gini coefficient increased by 33 percent over the same period. It is unlikely that such a rapid and significant rise in inequality has not affected the well-being of the majority of Americans. Reactions on the right have been varied. Some argue that income inequality is nothing to worry about because of high income or social mobility – a point made by Milton Friedman over 50 years ago. However, research has shown that U.S. intra-generational income mobility has not been particularly great and may have decreased over the past four decades – chances of moving up in the income distribution are not particularly great. The so-called “Great Gatsby curve” shows that there is a negative relationship between
inequality and intergenerational mobility. The U.S. with high income inequality has low intergenerational mobility: the apple does not appear to fall far from the tree in the U.S. This all suggests that income inequality is, indeed, something to worry about. Others deny that income inequality has risen. The more sophisticated among the deniers cite research by Richard Burkhauser and colleagues who try to examine inequality trends using their version of the more theoretically grounded HaigSimons definition of income (consumption plus additions to wealth). They find that the “observed growth in income inequality across the distribution” is dramatically reduced, especially the rise in income at the top. Implementing the Haig -Simons income definition, however, requires making several critical assumptions and decisions on what should be included and excluded in the income measure. I suspect their findings are due more to their specific assumptions and exclusions than to real changes in the control over the uses of resources. Research by Edward Wolff and colleagues suggests this may very well be the case. For example, accrued capital gains are difficult to measure especially for sparsely traded assets. Additionally, a full accounting of consumption would include consumption of home-produced goods and services as well as publicly provided goods and services, both of which are difficult to measure. Causes of Rising Income Inequality A great deal of effort has been expended researching the causes of the 30-year increase in U.S. income disparities to find the “smoking gun.” One explanation that some claim is the smoking gun is the skill-biased technological change hypothesis – stories based on the supply and demand for skills. In these stories, those at the top of the income distribution have unique talents that are in short supply and
”(…)closely related is the political powerlessness of poor and middle-income Americans. Individuals at the top of the income distribution influence the political process through generous campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door between government employment and the private sector.” command a premium in a market of increasing demand for these talents. Consequently, the earned income of those at the top increases relative to the earnings of those lower down in the distribution and earnings inequality rises. Greg Mankiw calls this the “just deserts perspective” on inequality in his embrace and defense of the top one percent. In other words, rising inequality is the result of competitive market forces. But this is not the only explanation that has been offered and other explanations are needed to explain the U.S. trend and the differing experiences with income inequality in other countries. Not only has earnings inequality increased, but also inequality of capital income. Additionally, capital income has become a larger share in total income over the past two decades and the correlation between capital income and earnings has also increased, which explains much of the increase in inequality between 1996 and 2006. Tax policy has also changed with the top tax rates on both ordinary income and capital gains falling, and the tax system becoming less progressive. This change in tax policy is part of the change in institutions or rules affecting income. The inflationadjusted U.S. minimum wage is about 30 percent lower now than it was in the mid-1960s and U.S. unionization rates have been declining since the 1960s. Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that policy-makers have changed the rules of the American economy to benefit the few at the expense of the many. The increasing use of stock options over this time to align corporate manager interests with shareholder interests rather than with stakeholders (i.e., workers, customers, local community and shareholder) interests may have further contributed to rent-seeking behavior. All of these institutional changes have increased the gains to bargaining and rent extraction by CEOs, managers, and others with bargaining power. Consequences of Rising Income Inequality Large and growing income disparities have been linked to various social ills. First, if the income gains of those at the top come at the expense of those lower in the income distribution, then poverty could increase as individuals are pushed down in the distribution and the income of some is pushed below the poverty threshold. The poverty rate in the U.S. has increased between 1979 and 2007 from 11.7 percent to 12.5 percent before rising to 15.0 percent by 2011. Further evidence of the top’s income gains coming at the expense of those lower in the distribution is the trends in labor productivity growth and average hourly compen-
sation growth of production and non-supervisory workers (about 80 percent of the private sector workforce). The two tracked each other quite closely until the late 1970s. Since then, labor productivity has continued to grow (by almost 90 percent) while average hourly compensation has largely been stagnant. If most workers are not benefiting from productivity growth, then who is? Second, rising income inequality could reduce social cohesion. The wide-spread but all-too-short-lived Occupy Wall Street movement could be one manifestation of the reduction in social cohesion. Additionally, a 2011 Pew Research Center survey shows that a majority of Americans (66 percent) think there are strong conflicts between the rich and the poor. Third and closely related is the political powerlessness of poor and middle-income Americans. Individuals at the top of the income distribution influence the political process through generous campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door between government employment and the private sector. It has been shown that policy outcomes often reflect the preferences of the most affluent rather of those lower down in the income distribution. Fourth, the well-being of the middle-class could be affected by rising inequality. The consumption of positional goods, which are goods whose value depends on how they compare with things owned by others, by high-income individuals could lead to increased expenditures by middle-class individuals as they try to “keep up with the Joneses.” In other words, a positional goods expenditure arms race ensues, which is inefficient as well as welfare reducing. Lastly, large income disparities can be hazardous to health. A large and growing body of research has shown a link between income inequality and health/longevity disparities: the larger the income disparities the steeper the health gradient and the larger the gap in mortality rates between rich and poor. Solutions to Rising Income Inequality Since there are many causes of the significant rise in income inequality, several policies will likely be needed to reduce income inequality to manageable levels. I am not proposing the complete elimination of income inequality, but rather reducing it to a point that minimizes the deleterious effects of inequality and yet maintains the incentives for hard work and risk-taking. I will limit my discussion to four sets of policies that I think are particularly important.
Labor Market Policy. Two long-term shifts in the U.S. have kept wages low for many workers. The inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage has fallen dramatically since the 1960s. At the same time, the private-sector unionization rate has fallen. While these shifts have benefited the Walton family and Walmart shareholders (those in the upper tail of the income distribution) they have harmed Walmart workers who are mostly in the lower tail of the income distribution. The national policies to counteract these shifts require some legislative action, which is unlikely to happen as long as the Republican Party retains control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Some actions, however, can be taken at the subnational level; for example, some states have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Tax Policy. Changes in tax policy over the past few decades were an important contributor to rising income inequality and are, therefore, a critical piece to reducing income inequality. The dramatic decline in the top statutory tax rate – from 91 percent in the 1950s to 35 percent in the 2000s (recently increased to 39.6 percent) – provided an incentive to those with power to increase their income through rent seeking. Many would argue that returning to a 91 percent top tax rate is neither desirable nor feasible. But Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez suggest that the optimal top tax rate for the U.S. is much closer to 75 percent than to 40 percent. There is considerable room to raise the top tax rates on ordinary income and capital gains. Macroeconomic Stabilization Policy. High unemployment rates mean the loss of labor income for a large number of workers. Replacement income – social insurance and public assistance benefits – often leads to a large reduction in living standards and movement toward the lower tail of the income distribution. Furthermore, a large proportion of the U.S. unemployed have been without work for over 6 months, which may leave permanent scars on the long-term unemployed that could prevent them from ever regaining their pre-unemployment living standards. High unemployment levels increase the lower tail of the income distribution and perhaps hollows out the middle of the distribution. Consequently, macroeconomic policies (both fiscal and monetary policies) to keep the unemployment rate low and to rapidly increase employment after recessions is critical to preventing a rise in inequality. After a brief flirtation with expansionary fiscal policy in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. essentially adopted an austerity program (mostly by default due to Congressional gridlock) and monetary policy alone has not been up to the task of rapidly reducing high unemployment levels. Consequently, the U.S. has about 2 million fewer jobs in mid-2013 than it did at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.
Human Capital Investments. Increasing educational levels and improving the quality of education is one policy that almost all observers agree upon. This would reduce income inequality to the extent that skill-biased technological change is a source of rising income inequality. But this is not the only human capital investment that would affect inequality. Improving health outcomes through better access to health care could reduce the burden of rising income inequality and perhaps actually help to reduce it. Poor childhood health has been linked with low parental income and low socio-economic status. Poor childhood health also is related to reduced human capital accumulation and poor labor market outcomes (high unemployment and low wages) later in life. Early interventions to improve childhood health could lead to improved labor market outcomes in adulthood and upward income mobility. This would require better access to quality health care for lower income families, which is one of the goals of the recent U.S. health care legislation often referred to as “Obamacare.” Concluding Remarks Income inequality in the United States rose significantly over the past 30 years. Income has become more concentrated at the top of the income distribution but more people appear to have become concentrated at the bottom of the distribution. The social ills associated with inequality have made a large proportion of Americans worse off in terms of income, health, and political participation. Given what we know about the rise in income disparities, the policy remedies are not drastic. As a matter of fact, some of the policies, such as higher tax rates on high-income taxpayers and a higher minimum wage, were in place 50 years ago when economic growth was higher and income disparities were lower.
Dr. HUNGERFORD is a Senior Economist and Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Economic Policy Institute.
“As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more complex and more mysterious.” - Albert Schweitzer
By Dr. Mathur
he state of debate on income inequality has reached exactly this juncture. To see why, consider the following. A recent co -authored paper by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez finds that the share of income going to the top 1 percent of the population has more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011. In other words, the top tail of the distribution now enjoys an ever-larger slice of the pie than it has historically done so. In a 2013 paper, however, economist Richard Burkhauser and his co-authors counter that by some measures, the growth in incomes at the top has been significantly lower than in incomes at the middle and bottom, such that the income share of the top quintile has in fact declined since the 1980s. The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis shows that incomes of the top 1 percent grew by more than 250 percent between 1979 and 2007. In another recent paper, Greg Mankiw posits that perhaps inequality is not a problem as long as the compensation of the top 1 percent reflects their contribution to society – the “just deserts” principle.
Clearly, the more we know, the more elusive the real answer becomes. One of the problems that plagues the research on income inequality is the lack of a common definition of income. Piketty and Saez use pre-tax pre-transfer income data from the tax records of filers and include realized capital gains. Thus, they fail to account for transfers and payments like Social Security, Medicare, food stamps etc. In addition, it is also worth noting that by focusing on reported taxable incomes, their data are biased by the fact that taxable incomes respond to changes in tax rates. There is a plethora of literature studying the taxable income elasticity. Essentially, when tax rates are high, reported incomes are lower since people engage in tax avoidance or tax evasion. Burkhauser, on the other hand, argues that the true measure of income should focus on the Haig-Simons definition of income. In other words, we need to include accrued capital gains on housing and other wealth along with earnings and transfer incomes to get at what people actually
think of as income. The CBO provides a post-tax and posttransfers definition of income, but does not include accrued capital gains. So after decades of research on income inequality, do we really know where we stand? At the heart of this debate, the real conversation is about living standards. Are people enjoying better lives today than they did twenty to thirty years ago? In popular perception, income inequality is bad to the extent that it reflects a general worsening of conditions for the common man. When politicians pitch the top 1 percent against the middle income classes, it engenders a belief that somehow the wealthier families are enjoying their comforts at the expense of the middle and lower class families. But is that the truth? Or is it simply the case that the size of the economic pie has grown over time, and while everyone is enjoying the benefits, a larger share of the benefits are going to the top? To study this issue further, my colleague Kevin Hassett and I conducted a study to track changes in consumption inequality over time. Why did we use consumption instead of income to track inequality? One thing economists agree upon is that consumption is a better measure of well-being than income. What we buy and consume with our income directly adds to our utility and happiness, and also has a direct impact on our standard of living. Individuals are also better able to smooth consumption rather than income over their lifecycle. While a retired, older individual has low levels of current income, he can still enjoy a high standard of living due to lifetime savings and other forms of wealth. A student with low current incomes can borrow to finance education and household expenses in the hope of earning high incomes in the future from a relatively well-paying job. So one reason why income and consumption are de-linked is the possibility of borrowing and saving. In fact, it is probably rational to assume that at least some part of a poor or low-income familyâ€™s consumption is being sustained by indebtedness. However, another reason for the
mismatch between income and consumption is likely the tax and transfer system. Many redistributive policies support consumption for low income households and provide transfer payments to them. As we discussed previously, most studies of income inequality are unable to get at these transfer payments. Before I get to the main findings from our study, I would like to point out that consumption inequality has also been extensively studied in the literature, though perhaps not as much as income inequality. Results from these papers are also mixed. Krueger and Perri find that while income inequality increased during the period 1980-2003, consumption inequality did not. However, Blundell and colleagues show that income and consumption inequality diverged between the 1970s and the 1990s. Other papers find that income and consumption inequality have tracked each other closely since the 1980s. In general, the data used in these studies comes from either the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) or the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. There are two problems with using the CEX to measure consumption inequality, however: measurement errors and a lack of information on the consumption of durable goods. Several authors, including Attanasio et al. and Aguiar and Bils, have attempted to account for the measurement errors in this data, by using techniques that enable them to predict expenditures for the less well-measured items by using information on better-measured items. While we do not criticize or applaud their approach, it does imply that in order to get anything meaningful from the CEX data for measurement of inequality, authors need to rely heavily on modeling assumptions and non-standard approaches, as opposed to simply using the raw data. Precisely for these reasons, in our study, not only do we work with the CEX data but we also supplement our analysis with the use of the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) data. The CEX provides a good overview of nondurablesâ€™ consumption by American households. In 1984, households in the top income quintile accounted for 37 percent of total expenditures,
while households in the bottom quintile accounted for 10 percent. Hence the ratio of top to bottom consumption was 3.7. In 2010, that ratio increased to 4.4. The gap was widest in 2005 when the share of consumption for the top was 39 percent relative to 8 percent at the bottom. In the most recent recession, it appears that households at the bottom increased their share by 1 percentage point while the share at the top either declined or remained steady. In the 2001 recession, the ratio declined as well, suggesting that recessions work towards a more even distribution. On average, over the entire period, the ratio is 4.3 with a standard deviation of 0.22. Therefore, using this measure, we find that consumption inequality has increased only marginally over time.
gue that the Diamond and Saez solution to inequality – a marginal tax rate of 73 percent – is based on unrealistic assumptions relating to how individuals would respond to high tax rates. Their modeling of the optimal rate assumes a “more equality is better” social welfare function and assigns no social value to the marginal dollar of consumption for the rich. Most importantly, it ignores the long-run behavioral responses and consequences of having marginal tax rates that are over 50 percent. In the article, we show that while these assumptions work well in theoretical models that are aimed at catering to an audience of professional economists, these should not be used as the basis of real world public policy formulation.
If we compare these trends in consumption to trends in income using the Current Population Survey data, which is widely used for research on income inequality, we find that the story is strikingly different. As per our analysis, in 1984, pre-tax incomes at the top were more than 11 times incomes in the bottom quintile. In 2010, that ratio rose to 15.4. The average for the entire period is 13.5. Clearly, inequality using annual incomes is significantly higher than when we use consumption, and it has tended to widen over time.
Whether the explanation for improvement in living standards lies in redistribution policies and the growth of the safety net, or technological improvements that allowed prices of electronics and other durable goods to drop, or real improvements in productivity and wages, the bottom line is: people are better off today than they were twenty or thirty years ago. Households are consuming more and the typical low income household possesses many more appliances and gadgets that have traditionally been considered the preserve of the rich, than at any time in history. Judging by these criteria, inequality is much less of a predicament than most politicians would have you believe.
As mentioned earlier, the CEX is not a good source of data on durable goods consumption. Therefore, we worked with the RECS data as well. This survey has questions on household use of appliances such as microwaves, dishwashers, computers, printers and other data. What we find is that the access of low-income Americans – those earning less than $20,000 in real 2009 dollars – to these devices that are part of the “good life” has increased. The percentage of low-income households with a computer rose to 47.7% from 19.8% in 2001. The percentage of low-income homes with six or more rooms (excluding bathrooms) rose to 30% from 21.9% over the same period. Similar increases can be documented for appliances like air-conditioners, dishwashers, microwaves, cell phones and other household items.
To conclude, the debate about inequality is also a debate about equality of opportunity. If the problem is disparities in income between the rich and the poor, is there a way that economic and social mobility can at least enable people at the bottom to aspire to be the next Bill Gates? Is equality of opportunity the answer to income inequality? I believe the answer is yes. In a recent column, Arthur Brooks states that 70 percent of Americans believe that everyone should get a chance to succeed or fail, on his or her own merits. But 30 percent prefer a world in which everyone ends up in roughly the same place regardless of abilities and efforts. Like most Americans, I believe in equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome, which is clearly neither desirable nor attainable. By providing the right framework for growth and free enterprise, so that people can aspire to work, earn and make a good living, we can ensure that America remains a land of opportunity for everyone in society. But to penalize the success of the rich for some strange notion of fairness is to aim for a fundamentally different kind of equality than most Americans care about.
”(…)the standard narrative that rising income inequality has somehow hurt the middle and lower income classes is not supported by data. ”
In general, we find that people at all income levels now have access to many more material possessions than they did in the 1980s. Moreover, there has been a narrowing of the gap between high and low income classes in terms of ownership of these items. It is hard to argue against the improvement in the standard of living that has accompanied these trends. Hence, the standard narrative that rising income inequality has somehow hurt the middle and lower income classes is not supported by data. Policies aimed at redistributing incomes from the top to the lower income classes have certainly been responsible for part of this trend. However, we would caution against using this argument for raising marginal tax rates at the top to levels seen in the 1970s. In another co-authored piece, my colleagues and I ar-
Dr. MATHUR is a Resident Scholar in Economic Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.
By Hélène Maghin
ince the beginning of its rapid economic growth in the 2000s, Brazil was predicted a great political future: leader among its Latin American neighbours, representative of the emerging countries, and world power comparable to China or the United States. And yet it seems to have attained none of those roles. Brazilian foreign diplomacy is currently enduring a period of restrained possibilities of move from all sides, as much regional as international. How was a prominent economic figure such as the sixth economy of the world did not able to gain recognition as one of the new world-leading countries? In the light of recent events, will Brazil remain trapped in a diplomatic deadlock or will it seize an opportunity of gaining the leadership it is worthy of? The Pacific Alliance: a nearby threat to Brazil’s position? Brazil’s aspiration to the South American leadership has recently been jeopardized by the rise of an alliance between Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru in June 2012. This union, called “Pacific Alliance”, offers an alternative for the region’s economic development: MERCOSUR, the southern common market predominantly supervised by Brazil could therefore not be the only way to facilitate regional and international trade anymore. Better yet, with a spectacular GDP growth and an effective free-market system, the Alliance is more attractive than the protectionist Brazilian-led market, which currently endures an economic deceleration. The economicsuccess of this new alliance is attractive to foreign investors. During the last EU-CELAC (community of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit in January 2013, the European Union reached agreements only with the Pacific Alliance. Not very surprisingly, MERCOSUR’s protectionist system was unable to find partners and South Americans are sceptical of Brazil’s ability to develop the region’s economy.
What makes this situation critical for Brazilian leadership is the lack of a strong foreign diplomatic support to overcome the economic crisis. When, at times of doubt, the European Union still manages to survive because the majority of its members are attached to a privileged cooperation, in South America none of the members are willing to fight for the deceptive MERCOSUR. Smaller countries view Brazil as an authoritarian imperialistic leader, which will not hesitate to act illegally if its interests are at stake, as exemplified by the exclusion of Paraguay from the south common market in 2012,benefitting the ideologically closer Venezuela. Foreign diplomacy with similar governments is not any better. Brazil failed to reach agreement with the leftist and protectionist Argentinian government during their last bilateral summit on April 25th, 2013. Instead of being open to discussions and accepting the length of negotiations, as expected, an annoyed President Dilma Rousseffput an end to the meeting. Brazil’s inadequacy and more precisely its lack of apparent will to resolve tensions is problematic for its regional diplomatic relations. How frustrated members can still see Brazil as a potential leader when the Pacific Alliance has been succeeding on both economic and political aspects in only two years? Uruguay, Paraguay and also others begin to show their interest to the new alliance by willing to be members or associates. Will it be the new driving force of South American integration and will countries slowly turn their backs on Brazil? This will probably not happen because of regional opposite ideologies. Some members of the south common market will remain in it because of their similar anti-Americanism, while some will enjoy the new alliance’s economic proximity with the United States and the European Union. Two blocks will inevitably confront each other. However instead of considering it a threat to its leadership, Brazil should take this situation as an op-
portunity to put aside political differences and to appear as a unity factor to those two alliances. If it shows to the deceived countries that it has abandoned for good its authoritarian behaviour and is ready to open itself to a free-market, Brazil can take this initiative and propose a unique South American solidarity. Brazil might also as well leave the south common market aside and work on its own economy. One thing is clear: it is now engaged in bilateral talks with the European Union to reach agreement on trade issues by the end of the year. A drifting diplomacy: an obstacle to or an asset for the international recognition of Brazil? Since Lula’s presidency, Brazil’s main concern has been to be considered as a necessary speaker in all diplomatic debates. The outcome of this policy is now uncertain. The United States behave especially paradoxically towards Brazil: after 20 years of mutual disdain, the two states finally anticipate deeper economic trade and defence collaboration, but at the same time Barack Obama is not ready to support Brazil’s demand for a permanent seat at the Security Council in the United Nations. The influence of Brazilian foreign diplomacy seems to be limited. The international scene is ignoring its calls for recognition because it is irritated by the South American state’s abrupt way of interfering in UN negotiations. While two blocks are confronting each other concerning the Syrian crisis (the United States and Europe are for the resort to strength while the emerging countries are against it since NATO’s interventions have overthrown regimes several times); Brazil offers an intermediary solution. The principle of “responsibility while protecting” should be the new prevailing state of mind of the UN: protect populations while not interfering, if possible, with internal power issues. By proposing this principle and expressing a particular point of view concerning the sanctioning of Iran and Cuba, Brazil seems to be attacking the international order’s lack of solutions while taking simple stands. This ambition of becoming the new world mediator is viewed with hostility and Brazil’s propositions are ignored on purpose, when they should actually be taken into consideration.
region. At the G20 summits, Brazil has long been confronting the United States and the European Union. However, with a rapprochement with the American authorities, Brazil can hope to have support when defending the interests and recognition of the countries it deems of importance on the international scene. The new Director General of the OMC, the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo seems to be best placed to ensure that this recognition will be real, at least on the economic aspect, since he will re-open the Doha rounds, which are negotiations on the liberalisation of the world market to foster the cooperation of developed countries and emerging ones. We can only hope diplomatic agreements will indeed be achieved by the two nations despite the number of conflicting political scenarios.
”Brazil’s inadequacy and more precisely its lack of apparent will to resolve tensions is problematic for its regional diplomatic relations….”
Brazil has long been criticised for not making a choice and drifting from partners to partners. This particularity, which under Lula meant a contradictory policy of rapprochement with democrats and autocrats, should under Dilma Rousseff’s respect of human rights be of great quality for resolution of the contentious relations between the developed and the emerging countries. Will Brazil save the United Nations from the blockage in which it is? In order to do that, the South American state needs to prove it is trustworthy, as well as not again form alliances with anti-American nations. Brazil should approach the United States not as a rival but as a great potential partner for its diplomatic position and also to help secure its leadership among other emerging countries in the
HÉLÈNE MAGHIN is a second year European Studies BA student at King’s College London.
By Jeffrey Garmany
s in many countries, Brazilians often joke that one should never discuss politics or football in mixed company. The potential for conflict and/or hurt feelings is simply too great. Yet in June of 2013, something amazing began to happen in Brazil: football and politics seemed the only two issues anyone wanted to discuss, and incredibly, nearly everyone seemed to agree with one another. In the days leading up to the Confederations Cup – the main appetizer for next year’s FIFA World Cup – university students in São Paulo began to organize around increasing public transportation costs. The questions they raised were myriad, but in the most basic sense they asked why bus and metro fares should be increasing when the quality of bus and metro service was decreasing? They mobilized in protest on the eve of the Confederations Cup, and very quickly found themselves brutally confronted by Military Police officers. When images of peaceful student protestors attacked by rubber bullets and pepper spray went viral, the ranks of demonstrators in São Paulo began to swell. And very soon thereafter protesters mobilized in every major Brazilian city. The fact that public transportation issues lit the fuse of what’s been burning since the beginning of June is perhaps not surprising: bus and metro service in Brazil’s major cities has grown increasingly crowded, unreliable, dangerous, and expensive in recent years. And it’s something that affects millions of people on a daily basis. So when students took themselves to the streets in protest over these issues – and were battered by police for it – nearly everyone in the country sided with the protestors. And to be sure, public transportation is by no means the only issue that has brought people together: since the beginning of June, people have taken to the streets for a host of different reasons, many of those related to the misuse of public funds, political corruption, and the country’s misguided development priorities. What international news media outlets have largely failed to recognize, however, is the broad spectrum of demands that unites this wave of Brazilian protesters. Unlike in past national demonstrations, there has been no singular, easily addressable issue raised by these protests. Rather than mobilizing around one common demand, people have come together to address dozens of very sig-
nificant, structural issues. Political parties and labor unions have been publically sidelined, and rather than directing their complaints towards a singular political leader or faction, protestors appear united in their dissatisfaction with how Brazil has been managed at nearly every administrative level. So what is it, then, that brought millions of people into the streets, every single night, all over Brazil, for the better part of June? As the protestors themselves made it clear, it is about much more than just public transportation. Recurring demands include better public education and university opportunities, improved healthcare services, public security, eradicating political corruption, and better use of public funds. Many Brazilians are appalled by how much public money has been spent preparing for the World Cup while basic urban infrastructural problems grow worse everyday. Who wants to live in a country, they ask, that has first-world football stadiums and third-world hospitals, schools, and sewage facilities? Taxes are in fact quite high in Brazil, yet the returns that people see are insulting. And at the root of this problem, as everyone in Brazil knows, lies a long history of corruption, legal loopholes, and impunity for business and political elites. Inflation and high costs of living are also concerning to many, and like nearly every other political leader, President Dilma Rousseff’s approval rating has plummeted in the last several weeks. People have come together, in the streets, online, and around television sets, and they have found that they share many of the same frustrations and concerns. Support for the protests has been almost universal in Brazil – excluding, of course, small groups of vandals – and politicians are now finding they must address the demands of an engaged citizenry. As journalists and some academics have recently pointed out, this wave of protests in Brazil, Turkey, and countries elsewhere, comes from a growing middle class that expects higher levels of political accountability. This expanding base of people feel they uphold their civic responsibilities – paying taxes, buying homes, investing in education, and so on – and in return, they expect political leaders to follow suit. And needless to say, they are nonplussed with what they’ve seen from politicians. To a certain extent, this is very much what is behind mass
”Who wants to live in a country, they ask, that has first-world football stadiums and third-world hospitals, schools and sewage facilities?’
mobilizations in Brazil. But there are other, perhaps more nuanced reasons as to why the Brazilian multitude should erupt at just this moment. To begin, the domestic economy has been growing, modestly but consistently, for nearly a decade now. And urban Brazilians in particular are no longer so willing to accept the narrative that they live in a poor country that should suffer so many ‘developing world’ problems. Coupled with this are economies in North America and Europe that continue to flounder, and Brazilian politicians are finding it increasingly difficult to blame so many of the country’s infrastructural woes on wealthy foreign profiteers. Yes, many Brazilians recognize, neocolonial interests are harmful to Brazil’s long-term development goals, but equally corrosive can be a domestic culture of political corruption and negligence. In just a few short weeks since people took to the streets, protestors have already made important gains. Many cities have frozen or even reduced bus and metro fares, and PEC-37, the constitutional amendment that would have prevented the Public Ministry from investigating cases of corruption and crime, met a very public defeat in the Brazilian congress. People are feeling increasingly empowered, and while this most recent round of protests has now faded, it is very possible that the streets will fill again this time next year, perhaps with even more people, as the World Cup kicks off. The multitude is growing in Brazil, people are becoming better connected, and until some profound changes have been addressed, demonstrators are unlikely to pass on the international platform provided by upcoming mega events (the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics).
While rivalries between different football clubs in Brazil can spark bitter debates, one thing that draws nearly everyone together is support for the national team. And throughout the month of June, as the Brazilian football team thrived in the Confederations Cup, protestors made it clear that their message was by no means anti-Brazil (or even anti-football). Rather, it was unquestionably patriotic: there is incredible love for this country, and those in the streets believe that Brazilian public education, healthcare, and democracy should be every bit as admirable as the national football team. It’s a message that’s brought millions of people together, in conversations about politics and football, and it’s sparked a growing sense of passion and excitement. June of 2013 will not be a month that is soon forgotten in Brazil: the team kept winning on the pitch, the people kept winning in the streets, and now, on the eve of the World Cup, there is cautious optimism about the future. This is an incredible time for Brazil, and people will be reticent to let this momentum slip away.
JEFFREY GARMANY is a lecturer and MA convener at the King’s College London Brazil Institute. This article was orginially published by Open Democracy and can be found at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/jeffgarmany/football-politics-and-protest-in-brazil
“Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia… several fast expanding Latin American economies consistently make the headlines. Ask a person on the street what they think of Chile and they will answer fairly honestly: not much…” By Capucine Riom
et Chile has a surprising range of key strengths that position it as the most stable and arguably promising economy of Latin America. It is time to tune in on Chile. Chile, an underrated economy? This July, Chile “graduated” top of her class tobecome a”high-income” country,distancing herself from herLatin American neighbours Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia or Mexico still in the middle-income category. Chile has concomitantly been the fastest growing economy in Latin America with a GDP increase of 5.8 percentage points from 2010 to 2012. Add to this the stability of its growth in the past 3 decades and Chile’s frequent budget surpluses throughout and you end up with low levels of public debt and a per capita income that doubled since 1990, topping the list of Latin American countries. Chile furthermoremaintained a low inflation, with a 0.8% variation in 2013. Unemployment levels lurk at a low 6.4% in May 2013 although its juvenile unemployment numbers remain high.The percentage of the population under the poverty line has similarly shrunk from 45% in 1987 to a low 14.4% in 2011– reaching nearly the same level of poverty as the US.
In addition, Chile has positioned itself as an entrepreneurial, dynamic hub. The Chilean government has financially backed several seed-capital programmes. Their recent initiative ‘Start Up Chile’ led bygovernment body CORFO, has striven to foment a “Chilecon Valley” through the annual allocation ofover one hundred 40,000 USD bursaries and red tape cuts such as free work visas for domestic and foreign start ups. This June 2013 during “Demoday” the top 15 start ups presented their concept to a range of international investors; among them a fiercely innovative 3D Printing company at low cost. Gaging the efficiency of the initiative remains difficult due to its relative infancy, yet it might be argued that it played a part in INSEAD’s 2012 ranking of Chile as the most innovative economy in Latin America and Chile’s first place in the 2012 World Bank’s “ease of doing Business” These strong assets have been reflected in Chile’s ranking amongst top ratingagencies’ such as Moody’s, Fitch, or DBRS. Will Chile face dead air? These strengths heavily rely on the export of one single resource: copper. If copper makes up 20% of Chile’s GDP and 60% of its exports, Chile heavily relies on the world’s largest cop-
30thcrowned Bachelet, head of the centre-left “New Majority” coalition party, with an “almost embarrassing” score of 73%. Bachelet’s popularity overshadows bothcentre right candidates, Pablo Longueira, former Economy minister, and Andres Allamand, former Defence minister. Bachelet indeed gathered 1.5m votes, almost twice as many as the two centre-right candidates combined. Pablo Longueira’s contentious withdrawal after the primaries left the right political landscape in a quagmire. New elections were scrapped and the Alianza coalitionself-elected a strong personality for the presidential second round: Evelyn Matthei, former Minister of Labour under Piñera. A female presidential finale is a first in Latin American politics. Michelle Bachelet‘s popularity can be ascribed to many things. While current president Sebastian Piñera shares a lot in common with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Bachelet shares some traits of current French President François Holland with a reassuring, soft, at times called clumsy attitude and strong socialist reforms.
“Discontent emerges from social inequality; the minimum wage painfully lurks at 210,000 Chilean pesos…” perimporters, China,to cast its spell. China’s relative deceleration is projected to greatly impact Chile’s copper exports and has already caused copper prices to slide by 15% since the beginning of the year. Out of all the Latin American countries, Chile might be the single most reliant economy on China: the OMC rates Chile’s exports as 23.2% Sino-reliant. Talk about a resource curse. Maybe in consequence, economic growth in Chile keeps increasing but is slowly decelerating from a high 6% in January 2013 to 3,5% in May 2013.In addition to that, Chile is not a densely populated country with only 17 million inhabitants. The domestic market remains thus considered low scale when compared to its neighbours, amidst strong consumer demand, so exports are key to its growth. Alongside the economy, popular discontentment is hurting the country, as is the case with many emerging countries. Students have been taking the streets for over three years now, protesting against over-priced, generally low quality education. Discontent also emerges from social inequality; the minimum wage painfully lurks at 210,000 Chilean pesos, which equates to 420 dollars, in August 2013. The return of Bachelet – Make it or Break it? While presidential elections are always risky to forecast, Chile’s upcoming one in October 2013 is as close as it gets to a done deal. When Michelle Bachelet ended her first mandate as Chile’s president back in 2010, she left with an approval rating close to 78%. The unconstitutionality of two successive mandates gave her time to prepare her comeback this year. The primaries this June
One of her central campaign themes was Taxation andHigher Education, in response to the 3-year demonstrations, which she promised to a not-for-profit institution, free within the six years. Not unlike François Hollande, Michelle Bachelet means to finance this free education, equivalent to 1.5% of GDPby raising the corporate tax from 20% to 25% over four years, and “doubling a stamp tax on borrowing operations to 0.8%”. Some argue further that her proposal to scrap the FUT – namely eliminating companies’ rights to retain profit for reinvestment- could undermine investment, akin to François Hollande’s contentious corporate tax reforms. In terms of social policy, Bachelet pushes forward an agenda similar to Hollande’s with her proposal to legalise gay marriage and allow abortion. Bachelet’s reforms will be key to either strengthen the entrepreneurial hub ignited by Piñera and help Chile’s economy diversify and innovate – or break past efforts and push forward anti-competitive, pork barrel spending policies. Will her next mandate make it or break it?
CAPUCINE RIOM is a recent International Politics BA graduate from King’s College London.
By Christina Anagnostopoulos
alks surrounding austerity often include ominous statistics, deadlines, and weak words of encouragement from economic institution executives. Yet the drastic policy of austerity that has been set upon some European countries should be looked at in its multidimensionality. Economic jargon most often fails to encapsulate the complex social dynamics of the societies affected by these policies. Consequently, many discourses neglect the consideration of what the long-term effects of austerity will be for Europe. Unprecedented mass protests, particularly amongst southern European countries affected by the measures, often appear to fall upon deaf ears to the European decision-makers. Yet do these protests depict an accurate picture? Europe has, for the last century, demonstrated a unique defiance of the ‘people’ in times of extreme hardship or discontent with the ruling elite. The often-underreported anti-austerity protests have increased since 2012, with many taking to the streets of Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, London, Dublin and Frankfurt. It is most wondrous that, regardless of these mass popular protests voicing their desperation on the streets of Europe, the EU has yet to change its recovery strategy (Barroso only just mentioned in April that austerity might not be the best path for the euro-zone) and there is little focus on considering what the effects of these austerity measures will entail for Europe's future – both socially and politically. While integration and unity is easy to formulate in times of economic prosperity, it is under times of real crisis that the fibres holding our union together are truly put to the test. And it appears that Europe's adopted policies to overcome the crisis have caused more division than solidarity. The harsh measures have divided Europe on national lines; Germany leads
the push for belt-tightening measures as many countries look upon them with disdain and anger. These concerns have come most prominently from Greece and Italy – where Prime Minister Enrico Letta described Italy as "dying from austerity alone"1 – but also from Holland's France. It appears that the seemingly unshakeable Franco-German axis established just two years ago has been replaced by a shaky, unsure relationship among the two European leaders, one which Hugo Brady from the Centre for European Reform in Brussels describes as being at "a post-war low."2 This schism broadly reflects divisions among the Member States on how to surmount the crisis (spending versus saving), also creating additional intra-EU tension amongst the two stronger countries of the euro.
“(…) the lack of growth broug hindering their prospects for
The role of Germany, Europe’s leading economy, is crucial at this time of unprecedented crisis. A leader should also accept criticism when it seems that its preferred policy of austerity is not succeeding and is contributing to its increasing unpopularity across Europe. The rhetoric of “lazy southerners who should have better managed their finances” is used as a way to justify pushing through with further cuts. Not only is this a myth – Germans work an average 1,400 hours a year, Spaniards, Portuguese and Italians work longer hours and Greeks account for 2,030 a year3 – but it is also an economically incorrect way of understanding how these countries find themselves in the troubled position they are in now. In fact, it must be kept in mind that while other European countries spent freely in the 1990’s, Germany adopted domestic austerity by suppressing wages in order to bolster its own exports. This had negative ramifications for the rest
Eurozone, almost perpetuating a crisis by persevering with policies of austerity. It has benefited vastly as the rest of Europe accounts for around half of their exports. Furthermore, the check-andcontrol mechanism within the EU, in which Germany plays a leading role, obviously failed to identify and report any problems for the past decade, thus a “punishment” like that of austerity now seems quite one-sided. As a European leader, Germany should accept some change to its policy that furthers rather than counters the effects on other countries, and embrace a more growth-led policy; investment and spending rather than austerity would be the solution to the economic problems in Europe.4 The political effects of austerity must be taken into account when looking at Europe’s future. Euro-scepticism is increasing in Europe, most commonly reflected in the rise of extreme (mostly right-wing) parties that ride on the promise of limiting EU interference in domestic affairs. In the Netherlands, for example, the controversial and extreme right-wing Freedom Party has shifted its political focus from criticism of Islam to criticism of the EU, reflecting people’s anger toward the Eurozone crisis. According to a Gallup poll, euro-scepticism in Holland, a historically proEurope country, has reached new heights with 39% wishing to exit the EU entirely.5 Similar examples can be seen in Greece (Golden Dawn), France (Front National) and Italy (Lega Nord).
ght by austerity is a bright future”
of the future Eurozone because while Germans consumed less, sold more and consequently got richer, the rest of Europe got into increasing and eventually insurmountable debt as they forcibly practiced the opposite. Low-interest-rate monetary policies supported by Germany increased this gap; while German trade surpluses rose over the past years, deficits increased for the rest of Europe. This doesn’t mean Germany should be responsible for patching over irresponsible spending on some of its neighbours, most notably Greece. However, Germany should now spend more and increase its own consumption to counter balance the budget cuts and lower spending that is being imposed on the rest of Europe. But Germany’s continuation of limited spending has allowed them to further prosper while doing no good to the rest of the
Lastly, the social effects of austerity should be taken into serious consideration. These are not simply perceived, but are concrete and do shape people’s attitudes toward Europe and their future life prospects within it. The most significant social issue that has stemmed from the crisis and has been exacerbated by austerity is youth unemployment. The statistics are extremely worrying: 30.4% in Ireland, 55.3% in Greece, 53.2% in Spain, 35.3% in Italy and 37.7% in Portugal.6 Europe’s politicians should consider the weight of the mental burden that is clouding this generation as they graduate from schools and universities with such bleak prospects. The social effects of this unemployment will resonate deeply for both the countries and the societal demographics, as young people in the countries hardest hit by austerity often see emigration as their only realistic option for bettering their futures. This will result in an impressive ‘brain drain’ for their countries of origin, and even Europe as a whole, as they look to other emerging global markets for employment. Before the EU loses even more credibility within its populace, it must truly put its young people at the forefront of its agenda, accepting that the lack of growth brought by austerity is hindering their prospects for a bright future.
CHRISTINA ANAGNOSTOPOULOS is a third year European Studies BA student at King’s College London.
By Jennifer Buttleman
he internet is the last remaining bastion of near unlimited freedom. It is the final technological frontier, growing exponentially in what it can provide and allowing instant access to information anywhere in the world. Due to its inherently global nature, it is often seen as a rather lawless place, with little central control or the possibility of such. The freedom it provides can be a double-edged sword â€“ the mask of anonymity can protect whistle blowers and activists or embolden those who wish to do harm. With recent controversies over rape and death threats to feminist commentators on Twitter sparking cries for more accountability and tougher measures for online harassment, it is unsurprising that there are those calling for more restriction and regulation over what can be said and done on the internet. With the rapid rise of internet usage, there has been more legislation to curb its use. America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has impacted many sites regardless of their geographical location and caused American internet law to become de facto worldwide. Jurisdiction is, however, difficult to enforce when
there are no clear boundaries. This is one of the problems the newly proposed internet pornography filter in the UK will run into â€“ there is no onus for non-British websites to filter their content, meaning large websites like Reddit and Facebook could be restricted. The default-on filter will be put in place at an ISP level by the end of 2014, limiting what can be done online unless one intentionally opts out. However, filtering something as large and amorphous as the internet is a Sisyphean task. As soon as virtual walls are erected they can be torn down with the use of proxys, VPNs and other methods to hide online activity from prying eyes. As shown with the court-mandated block of torrent websites, which can play host to illegal content (such as The Pirate Bay and other P2P sites), when a block is removed a myriad appear in its wake. As long as there is demand for circumventions to blocked content, there will always be those who can supply the means; a filter is no exception. This is why the new porn filter initially seems so heavy handed. Not only does it make legal pornographic material purposefully difficult to access, it also blocks the tools to get around the filter.
Whilst MP Claire Perry’s legislation to halt the “the corrosion of childhood” can be seen as admirable, it is ultimately untenable. Notwithstanding the rampant use of sexual imagery in advertising and the pervasive continuation of Page 3 (which anyone of any age can legally buy), there can never be a perfect system of filtering, or even a near-perfect system. Those who support such filtering methods have themselves become victims of filtering. Mediawatch-UK, a group that “campaigns for socially responsible media and against content which is potentially harmful” was itself blocked by mobile operators due to its content. The mere mention of the word “porn” was enough to flag them. Furthermore, the filter extends beyond pornography. The Open Rights Group (ORG), campaigners for internet liberties, say there shall also be options to block innocuous gaming websites, social media and other such “esoteric material” – a frighteningly ambiguous term which could be applied to almost any content. Jim Killock of the ORG says that the default-on position will mean most people will not change them; “We know that people stick with defaults: this is part of the idea behind 'nudge theory' and 'choice architecture' that is popular with Cameron.” False positives and over-blocking are a certainty when considering the laundry list of banned terms; sexual health websites, anorexia and eating disorders sites, self-harm and suicide prevention networks, as well as information for gay and lesbian children would all likely be blocked if such a filter were to be implemented due to certain filter-triggering buzzwords. A depressed teen or a child suffering from homophobic bullying would surely have their childhood corroded more if they were unable to get guidance from those websites. Whilst the four major ISPs have accepted the filters, not all are so willing. Andrews & Arnold have publicly denounced Cameron's filters, stating “for a censored internet you will have to pick a different ISP or move to North Korea,” adding that “[it] is your responsibility to stick to the laws that apply to you.”
servatives are particularly pro-family, this legislation does not promote family values in any way. Rather, it takes the responsibility of parenting from parent, and a childless household would be obligated to the exact same filters as one with children. A far more practical solution would be to teach parents about child protection measures that are already available for free, without the need to legislate. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and a high-profile adviser to Cameron, has called the filter “a ridiculous idea,” as “when Cameron uses the example of paedophiles who are addicted to internet porn, all that these plans would do is require them to opt in”. Wales further argues that “We should be devoting a significant proportion of that to dealing with the real criminal issues online, stealing credit card numbers, hacking into sites . . .that is going to take an investment in real, solid police work.” A censor on internet activity would only be treating the symptoms, not addressing the root causes of child abuse images. This legislation could also force those who create these images to go ‘underground,’ hiding themselves in the deep web using encryption and making them more difficult to find. Jim Gamble, ex-head of the government agency CEOP, criticised Cameron and Perry for reducing their budget in real terms, and that committed paedophiles will need “much more than a pop-up” to deter them.
”(…) there can never be a perfect system of filtering, or even a near-perfect system.”
More pressing than the simple fact that these measures will not work technically is whether they should be implemented in the first place. Pornography, as it stands, it not illegal. Sex between consenting adults is legal to purchase and watch with relatively little stigma. Whilst Cameron explained that he did not want to moralise porn, this is precisely what this legislation does; equating the vulgar and unforgivable crime of child pornography to that of safe sex between adults. The filter is anathema to the basic principle of conservatism that Cameron prescribes to – one of limited interference in the private lives of individuals with an adherence to the public/private distinction. The filter is emblematic that sources of information and freedom can and will be subjected to government control without referendum. The filter is not about child pornography – there are already ample laws in place and no one is contesting such a heinous crime. Nor does it protect children when anyone with computer literacy could bypass them in moments. The filter is an imposition of moral standards. Whilst con-
The filter, whilst parading as virtuous, is essentially and irredeemably flawed. It raises complex issues such as the limits of government and the liberty of citizens to view material in an unencumbered way. In 1996, John Gilmore of TIME magazine said, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it,” a statement still true today. A filter assumes criminality on every computer, whilst also assuming that all parents are incompetent to protect their children. In a time where the digital landscape is seen as dangerous, with fears from the NSA and GCHQ, SOPA and PIPA and the erosion of net neutrality still looming, the safety a filter provides is a false comfort. It may seem like only a small step, but it is wholly in the wrong direction.
JENNIFER BUTTLEMAN is a second year International Politics BA student at King’s College London.
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and his government moved the first steps towards the political and economic recovery, not without costs. While the main parties experience a deep structural crisis .
By Diego Grammatico
our months have passed since the beginning of the 27th legislature, which gave Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and his government the task of completing the structural reforms needed by the country. The Italian people already know that this emergency government is not meant to last long, therefore it makes sense to look at what the government and parliament have done so far in order to answer people's demands. So far, eight laws have been discussed and approved by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Among them are: the decree law n° 35, which calls for the state to pay its debt of 40 billion euros to private companies over the next twelve months; the decree law n° 54, which suspends the payment of an unpopular residential property tax (known as IMU), refunds unemployment benefits and abolishes the double salary for ministers who are also members of the Parliament; and the decree law n° 69, which contains rules for the relaunch of the economy (the so-called 'Decreto Fare'). These, along with other decree laws, aim to provide vital liquidity to firms and individuals who are seriously suffering as a result of the economic recession. But on the other hand, a number of these laws have only been discussed by one of the two branches of Parliament and therefore need further discussion and approval. Such reforms needing further debate are the institution of a parliamentary committee for the constitutional reforms and the decree law n° 76, which is designed to promote youth employment, social cohesion and to prevent the increase of the Value Added Tax (VAT) until October.
”It is important to look at the current conditions of the parties that form the grand coalition and the opposition, since the survival of the government depends on their stability and cooperation.”
Moreover, some very important reforms still need to be discussed by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. For instance, the Parliament has to vote on the abolition of public funding of political parties and on measures to enhance their transparency. Most importantly, the current electoral law (which is a closed-list system where voters can only vote for the party as a whole and not for the candidate they prefer) needs to be changed into an open-list system. Although the process for this
reform is not that far, as discussions on changing the Italian electoral law will begin in September. These measures are much needed by the Italian people in order to regain trust in politics and stop being disillusioned and pessimistic about the future. On the European stage, Italy is in a slightly better position compared to how it was one year ago, thanks to the country's efforts to comply with tough financial and budgetary discipline. As a result, Italy has benefited from the European Commission's decision to allow temporary deviations from the achievement of the medium-term targets for those countries within the Stability Pact. Such a resolution will make it possible for governments to extend public investments. However, the cost of reforming the whole system in such a short range of time is a considerable one, and it consists of a democratic deficit in the policy-making process. This is because almost every law implemented in the country is first of all a decree law, which means that it is an executive order initiated by the government regardless of parliamentary support. The Parlia-
ment then has sixty days to turn that decree into a proper law or reject it. This makes the policy-making process much faster, however, it may lead to a loss in terms of quality of the policy output. In Italy, it is normally only Parliament that has legislative power, but since the two branches of Parliament possess the same rights and powers, the policy-making process is usually very slow. This is why constitutional reforms in the country are so crucial for an economic and political recovery. It is also important to look at the current conditions of the parties that form the grand coalition and the opposition, since the survival of the government depends on their stability and cooperation. The PDL, ‘People of Freedom’, is more than
ever bound to the destiny of its leader, Silvio Berlusconi. His most recent conviction of tax evasion is a serious problem for the centre-right party that has never managed to develop an identity independent from Berlusconi’s charismatic leadership. He can bring down the government whenever he wants, therefore putting an immense amount of pressure on Letta and his ministers. The PD, ‘Democratic Party,’ is suffering a structural crisis as well; the centre-left party lacks a leader who is recognised as such by all its members and the party is divided into many different streams that struggle to cooperate together. As for the opposition, M5S, the ‘Five Stars Movement’, is more cohesive than the coalition parties but does not have influence on the
government, arguably because it did not want to be part of it. Its main purpose is to control the conduct of the other parties but this is not enough to bring change. A part of its supporters are beginning to lose trust in the movement since it did little to prevent the formation of the grand coalition and missed a chance to be an active part in the Italian policy-making process. The complications within the three biggest parties in Italy have resulted in the emergence of new parties who will try to catch the votes of those disappointed by the existing political order. The Italian political scenario is still uncertain, but maybe the Italian people are finally becoming aware that it is important to get rid of those actors who have dominated the political scene for twenty years without reforming a country with a great potential.
DIEGO GRAMMATICO is a third year International Politics BA student at King's College London.
By Thomas Dimitrov
or the last six months, Bulgaria, the poorest country in the European Union, has been in constant political turmoil. In February, there were protests all around the country that eventually led to the resignation of the government and new elections. What followed was a new Bulgarian government that ‘seized’ power. From the beginning of their leadership, however, the new government has made mistake after mistake, resulting in massive protests that have continued since their beginning in May. In February, the spark that ignited the people to rise against the government was the high price of electricity, whereas in May it was the appointment of Delian Peevski as Chief Executive of the SANS (State Agency of National Security). Peevski, aside from being the owner of one of the biggest media corporations in Bulgaria, is widely known by the Bulgarian people as a person associated with underground crime and oligarchy. These are the facts of the protests in Bulgaria. The international media, however, has covered both the events took place in Bulgaria for the last six months, and they are not clear and easy to understand. Behind these facts there are deep-rooted reasons and other not-so-popular truths that dwell in the minds of the Bulgarians. In this article, a small but more precise and objective picture of the Bulgarian reality will be drawn, in the hope that the readers will be able to see the realities of life in Bulgaria and determine how democracy works in the postSoviet countries.
munist era ended in 1989, Bulgaria became ‘a free democratic state’ wherein the richest people remained the same political elite that began investing their money by using the power that they still enjoy. As a result, deeply rooted oligarchic groups were created despite the slow transfer of money from the rich to the poor. Years passed and people began to learn about entrepreneurship, private property and most importantly, the meaning of democracy. However, this period of transfer from one ideological system to different one was, and still is, significantly obstructed by the surviving communist-era elite that seeks to serve only its own interests. So how does Bulgaria look today? Currently, most of the rich are corrupt or used to be corrupt, unprecedented numbers of young people are migrating to other developed countries, and those individuals who still believe in Bulgaria - and try to establish a life there - suffer the fear of not knowing whether they will be able to sustain an even mediocre day-to-day life.
“There is a desire for change in Bulgaria, but where to start or how to obtain it has not and cannot be established.”
Going back to the years before 1989, Bulgaria seemed to be stable and flourishing. Most people had jobs and earned enough for a normal every day life. However, the image of communist countries was based on misconceptions, and the corrupted system was working for the well being of few and a minimum living standard for most citizens. In the last years of the communist era, those privileged few people, officially called the “political elite”, understood that their so-called socialist system was nearing its end. They began to create schemes aiming at transforming the assets they controlled from public to private. Consequently, when the com-
This reality represents the real reasons behind the Bulgarian uprising. Bulgarians could no longer swallow the inequality and injustice of the tyranny of the socialist era’s political elites who now call themselves ‘businessmen’. It is obvi-
ous, even for ordinary citizens, that political parties work in the interest of the rich while ignoring a just government’s responsibility to improve the standard of living for the masses. What is more worrying, however, is that as a result of what Bulgarian reality is today, its society ultimately loses its unity and begins protesting against everything. There are no lists of demands or constructive debates that could suggest change but only angry shouts of ‘corruption!’. There is a desire for change in Bulgaria, but where to start or how to obtain it has not and cannot be estalished. The country’s streets and international media coverage will show that protestors are divided and unorganised; they do not produce constructive ideas and proposals. The disappointment and frustration of their situation has led Bulgarians to forget the most important fact of their reality: Bulgaria is now a democratic state. Despite the odds working against them, it is in the hands of the citizens to demand not only change, but one supportive of the democratic idea and process. History has shown that these kinds of revolutions are the most durable and successful for the future of society. The protestors have shown that they are experts at organising the demonstrations, but they fail to formulate specific aims that will inspire the people on the streets. Setting goals will spur the masses to continue, and will pave the way for successful outcomes to the protests. Unfortunately, however, the Bulgarian citizens have shown that they are not cohesive in their demands, that they are not ready for tackling specific issues and that, above all, they are not ready for constructive debates that could influence government. The realities of day-to-day life in Bulgaria have disillusioned its citizens. Our society has become one of the most influenced by stereotypes. People continue to call the socialist and the left-wing parties communists, while the right-wing parties, who are disorganised and currently do not have representation in parliament, are seen as fascists by ordinary citizens. The corrupted elite has led those people in the lower-rungs of society to believe that every rich person is immoral, corrupt and should be punished. Any society with these sorts of problems and misconceptions can hardly expect to experience development soon. In order for change to occur, there must be dramatic reforms in the system, especially with regards to education, which will allow the masses to understand democracy and slowly degrade bias stereotypes. The protests in Bulgaria are different from those that happened in Turkey, Greece and the Middle East. Whereas the uprisings in those countries protest for specific problems, the people in Bulgaria are protesting against anything and everything within their society. Bulgarians do not know how to find an answer to their problems, which only results in greater disappointment towards institutions and the system in general. Despite its many flaws, however, the Bulgarian protests show there
are great problems in the democracies of post-Soviet era states. In Bulgaria, citizens still do not associate ‘democracy’ with freedom and the fact that the government and its policies are ultimately in the hands of the citizens. This lack of understanding is where the country’s problems begin, as it results in the acceptance of widespread corruption in politics, as citizens, despite their knowledge and disapproval of it, do not know how to act against it. The European community, in order to achieve greater stability of the region as a whole, should assist states like Bulgaria not only by funding projects, which give opportunities in the realm of the entrepreneurship, but also through supporting massive reforms in the educational system. Although the Bulgarians may not know it, what they are really crying out for is this kind of help.
THOMAS DIMITROV is a second year International Politics BA student at King's College London.
Can women juggle a high profile job with a family life? This question has recently been discussed by two very successful women; Anne-Marie Slaughter, former senior adviser to Hilary Clinton, and Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook. While Slaughter believes the system and work culture prevent mothers from holding high positions of power unless they are “superhuman, rich, or self-employed”, Sandberg is of the opinion that women tend to restrain themselves and lack the necessary self-confidence to fight for better job opportunities. While not taking a position on the debate between Slaughter and Sandberg, Women in War and International Politics (WIWIP) is a student-led initiative that seeks to promote the role of women working in the male-dominated field of security, foreign policy and international politics. We host lectures and seminars by well-known women working in the field, and we bring together BAs, MAs, PhDs, Alumnae and faculty from the departments of War Studies and Political Economy in workshops, mentoring programs and socials throughout the year to forge connections, develop skills, exchange ideas and encourage career development. While the WIWIP membership is comprised of women, our public events are open to all. We look forward to welcoming newcomers and starting this year with a panel discussion on women in diplomacy, featuring female diplomats from different countries. There will also be a reading group on ‘Women and Foreign Policy’ that meets weekly from October to December on Thursdays (6-8 pm). Click on the link below to join the WIWIP mailing list: https://mailman.kcl.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/wiwiplist or see our Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/#!/WomenInWP?fref=ts.
By Dr. Petra Dolata
his summer’s demonstrations against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Balcombe, West Sussex, and the temporary suspension of test drilling by the energy company Cuadrilla have once again brought shale gas to the forefront of energy discussions. The UK and a number of other EU member countries, foremost amongst them Poland, are hoping that gas drilled from shale formations will create jobs, lower energy prices for consumers and decrease their dependence on foreign supplies. With North Sea production maturing and its decline predicted over the next years PM Cameron sees shale gas as a guarantor for UK energy security. Yet, environmentalists criticise the production of this unconventional energy resource citing adverse effects on water and air quality and possible earthquakes. Both sides are pitched against each other in a heated debate that led Financial Times commentator Guy Chazan to lament that there exists “no middle ground in [the] fracking debate.” What is often neglected in the news coverage of shale gas in the UK is a look towards the bigger international energy picture. This may help situate the current debate in the UK within a wider global context.
Ultimately, what the so-called shale (gas) “revolution” reveals is that international energy politics should be conceptualized as a complex system which can only be understood through examining all energy sources and energy uses in a comprehensive as well as national, transnational, regional and global perspective. Such a perspective also needs to take into account analytically that energy is located at the crossroads between markets and politics. Price mechanisms like public policies play a major role in understanding and predicting energy developments. Shale Revolution in North America The United States has experienced a shale gas revolution. Over the past years it recorded the largest increases in natural gas production worldwide. What is new in 2013 is that the shale gas revolution has now become a shale revolution covering both gas and oil. In 2012, the U.S. not only recorded the largest increase in natural gas but also in oil production. According to the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy the U.S. even “saw the largest gain in oil production in its history.” This is mainly a result of the in-
creasing production of shale oil, particularly in the extensive Bakken formation covering large parts of North Dakota. Most researchers agree that the shale revolution has been a game changer for the United States. Extremely low gas prices have made energy-intensive industries such as petrochemicals and steel production highly competitive. As a consequence economic activity has resurged and there is even talk of international companies relocating plants from Asia to the U.S. The increased use of gas instead of coal in electricity generation has lowered CO2 emissions in the U.S. Furthermore, in the near future the energy mix will include much more domestic unconventional oil and gas. This will affect other domestic energy sources such as coal and nuclear. It will also impact U.S. energy diplomacy. U.S. dependency on foreign oil and gas is projected to decline over the next decades. In its November 2012 World Energy Outlook the International Energy Administration predicted that the U.S. would overtake Saudi Arabia in the mid-2020s as the world’s largest oil producer and that “North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030.” This is a major shift for a country that since the late 1950s has focused on overcoming its oil import dependency and has incorporated energy security into its national security strategy. Not surprisingly, commentators now wonder what will happen to the 1980 Carter Doctrine, which highlighted the strategic importance of the Middle East because of its energy resources. A leaked study by the German intelligence agency BND even went so far as to speculate that this would translate into a disengagement of the U.S. from the Middle East introducing a farreaching geopolitical paradigm shift. Others are more cautious. They argue that the importance of Middle Eastern oil has more to do with international energy pricing mechanisms and that U.S. interest in the region transcends narrow energy considerations. Not only will the Middle East remain a strategic priority but there will also be a renewed interest in energy pipelines and shipping routes as well as refining capacities.
tion rather unique to the U.S. In terms of geology and geography Europe is at a disadvantage since the clay content in the shale formations is higher and a number of reserves are situated in populated areas. Due to clear and easy regulations with respect to subsurface rights and exemption from the Clean Air Act the commercial exploitation of shale gas enjoyed extremely favourable legal frameworks in the U.S. The vibrant energy industry in the U.S., which guaranteed investment, the many active medium-sized companies willing to be involved in shale drilling and the availability of equipment meant that shale gas and oil drilling could take off quickly. In addition, the existence of a developed gas market with advanced infrastructure and one of the biggest gas trading hubs (Henry Hub) helped initiate the boom (Westphal 2013).
“U.S. dependency on foreign oil and gas is projected to decline over the next decades. In its November 2012 World Energy Outlook the International Energy Administration predicted that the U.S. would overtake Saudi Arabia in the mid-2020s as the world’s largest oil producer(…)”
A Global Shale Revolution? In its June 2013 report on global shale reserves the U.S. Energy Information Administration adjusted its 2011 global estimate upwards by 10 percent. Do these revised numbers herald a global shale revolution? Probably not, and this has to do with the uniqueness of the situation in North America, recent developments in Europe and the many uncertainties surrounding an unconventional fossil fuel with a short history of exploitation so far. In addition, the complexities of an increasingly interconnected international energy market makes predictions extremely difficult at this stage. There are a number of aspects that render the shale revolu-
But even in the U.S. the current shale boom is surrounded by a number of uncertainties. It is still too recent a development to prove that it can sustain its profitability and generate long-term economic returns. Some authors warn of the “high well decline rates […] and low recovery efficiency.” Others caution that current exemptions from environmental legislation may be reversed or that new laws addressing methane gas and fracking may curb future shale production (Westphal 2013). The exact extent of the environmental impact is still unclear although evidence exists that fracking contaminates water and air and may cause earthquakes. And even though the actual use of the end product may be cleaner than oil or coal and improve CO2 emissions the amount of energy and water that is needed to produce this clean gas could offset its positive effect. Because it is such a recent phenomenon and it occurred in a rather unique environment in the U.S. there still exist many un-
Shale Revolution and International Energy Politics Even though the shale revolution may not become a global phenomenon it has affected energy structures and developments outside North America highlighting the increasingly interconnected and complex global energy landscape. The availability of shale gas has reinforced the fragmentation of the international gas market. As a consequence there are currently three separate regional markets with prices ranging from as low as 3$ in North America to 11$ in Europe and 17$ dollars in AsiaPacific. This impacts economic activities, particularly with respect to energy-intensive industries giving some countries and regions a competitive advantage. In addition, the North American gas price is no longer oil-indexed, a development that we have also seen in Europe, although on a much smaller and more short-term scale. This means that we may also see a further weakening of the link between global oil and gas price developments reinforcing the divergence of oil and gas prices that existed since 2009. The shale revolution in the U.S. has also highlighted the interconnections between energy markets. It has changed national energy mixes. Cheap gas replaced coal and nuclear and conventional fossil fuels in the U.S. This led to U.S. coal being exported to Europe where many coal-fired power plants exist and LNG destined for the U.S. being redirected to Asia. As a consequence CO2 emissions in Europe have risen. Furthermore, cheap coal and gas may also adversely affect the economics of renewables. More generally the availability of cheap oil and gas in the U.S. has accelerated “the switch in the direction of international oil trade towards Asia, putting a focus on the security of the strategic routes that bring Middle East oil to Asian markets.” As argued above this does not mean U.S disengagement from the Middle East but it will make it easier for the U.S. to use oil sanctions as a foreign policy tool. In addition, it will force oilproducing countries in the Middle East to focus more on security of demand for their resources. Thus, while the shale revolution may not be global in itself its impacts certainly are.
knowns about shale production in Europe. While the European Commission is still working on a fracking strategy, individual member countries have embarked on different journeys. France and the Netherlands have imposed a ban on fracking. Germany is still awaiting legislation. In Denmark drilling licenses are currently not issued. The UK, Poland and Ukraine are actively supporting shale gas and oil production. But as we have seen these policies are met by opposition from environmentalists and others affected by fracking, for example local residents but also industries reliant on clean groundwater such as breweries. Poland also witnessed a dampening of prospects this summer as reports of companies pulling out of Poland due to unclear tax and environmental legislation made the news.
Dr. PETRA DOLATA is Lecturer in International Politics at the Department of Political Economy and Research Director of the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Her most recent publication is a chapter on energy security in the Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies (2013). She is one of the faculty advisers for Women in War and International Politics at King’s College London. This article is based on a presentation that Dr Dolata gave in Oslo in August 2013 at an event organised by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.
By Tanuj Kumar
th June 2013 – Nawaz Sharif is sworn in as the new prime minister of Pakistan. A moderate at heart, he is considered as a peace-loving leader in the country’s recent history and seems eager to solve long-standing issues with India. He envisions India and Pakistan to “become good friends and hold each other’s hands” to work together. But fast-forward to 6th August 2013 – just after midnight, five Indian soldiers are shot dead in the Poonch area of Indianadministered Jammu and Kashmir by militants reportedly wearing Pakistani army uniforms. The Indian army accuses Pakistan saying that their soldiers breached the Line of Control (LoC) and a military official in Pakistan describes the allegations as “baseless”. Clearly, the road to peace is a long one and currently laden with many thorns.
agreement that both sides signed in 2003. It offers a bleak forecast for things to come. Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was furious stating that such incidents “don’t help efforts to normalise or even improve relations with Pakistan and call in to question the Pakistan government’s recent overtures”1. Although the two countries remain rivals, relations have improved in the recent years. The new visa rules were devised last September which eased travelling between the countries. Moreover, trade was given a push ever since late2011 when Pakistan granted India the “most favoured nation” trading status. Thus, the appointment of Nawaz Sharif heralds a new dawn in the relationship between the two countries.
”The prime minister has made his intentions clear that Pakistan will no longer be used as the land to hatch terrorist plots against India. [...]”
The situation in Kashmir valley remains volatile ever since the shooting of Indian soldiers. On August 19th, the two armies engaged in cross-border firing, thereby violating the ceasefire
The Promises of Sharif The prime minister has made his intentions clear that Pakistan will no longer be used as the land to hatch terrorist plots
India’s dilemmas The pressure is mounting on Manmohan Singh inside the Indian parliament. The opposition has raised the ante and wants Singh to resolve the issue soon. Things are made even more complicated by the fact that India goes to polls next year. The present Congress-led UPA government is short on time. The new government which comes to power in 2014 will need to continue the peace process. It will be a tricky situation if people vote Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power. BJP, the Hindu nationalist party of India, may not be as keen as the present Congress-led government to make peace with a Muslim nation. For now, India finds itself at the crossroads, notably on improving its relationship with Pakistan on various aspects. Therefore, the general elections next year will be crucial to Indo-Pak relations in the future. A tide in the affairs of men
against India. Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Zaeed, the mastermind behind the 26/11 Mumbai bombings roams freely in Pakistan spreading hatred and anger. Sharif says this will no longer be tolerated. He is not merely engaging in rhetoric like his predecessors as shown on the fact that he will investigate the complicity of ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) in 26/11 attacks and share the findings with India. Along with these reports, he has ordered an exhaustive enquiry into the Kargil War. On the other hand, in terms of economical cooperation, he is keen on boosting trade with India and particularly welcomes Indian investment. The key question remains: can he deliver? In the light of recent events, it is hard to keep pessimism at bay. Still, Sharif’s dogged approach to establish peace between the two countries is commendable for some hope. Pakistan’s double whammy For Pakistan, the trouble arises as much from within the country as from outside. The Taliban militant group plagues the nation and the sectarian fights between Shias and Sunnis are rife. Furthermore, there is an ever-growing rebellion from Baloch separatists in the south-western part of the country. Additionally, Afghanistan remains as a hotbed of violence and terroist activites. Skirmishes along the Durand Line are fairly common. This only makes Pakistan spend much more on security and defence than other important projects such as energy and power. The appointment of Sharif is considered as a silver-lining to the strained IndoPakistan relations. In a recent interview, Sharif said he is more interested in eradicating poverty and corruption than waste his country’s resources on war2. This shows that he is aware of the ground-reality which so many of his predecessors chose to ignore.
India and Pakistan are both nuclear-armed today. Since 1947, both have been to war thrice, two of which were over Kashmir. The kerfuffle has lasted for over 60 years. But Nawaz Sharif provides glimmers of hope, which India must positively react to. Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif are scheduled to meet in September at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. They should seize this opportunity to negotiate effectively to arrive at constructive conclusions which will help to establish peace in the region. In the wake of recent Kashmir shootings, advisors have suggested Singh to scrap the forthcoming meeting with Sharif in New York to express displeasure. However, this is no time for recriminations. Instead, they should use this moment with full might through searching for solutions to help the ailing nations. They both could perhaps take a leaf out of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar which imparts a priceless advice:
There is a tide in the affairs of men Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Consequently, Nawaz Sharif should tread cautiously to make peace with the neighbour, which has to be addressed with hope and sincerity through negotiations. Most importantly, he is a ray of hope that India can’t afford to miss.
TANUJ KUMAR is a second year Politics of the International Economy BSc student at King’s College London.
By Raymond Lee
he Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islets (referred to as “the islets”), lying in the middle of nowhere, occupied by no one, has been the centre of Sino-Japanese tensions in recent years. The dispute has had its roots since 1972, when the United States, under the Okinawa Reversion Treaty of 1971, gave “administrative rights” to Japan. This essay seeks to evaluate the historical arguments over the Senkaku Islands disputes. Particularly through examining the Chinese claim that its sovereignty over the islets derives from her discovering the islets in 1372; and the Japanese claim that its sovereignty derives from its geographical survey in 1885. Based on historical evidence, the essay purports Okinawa’s rightful rule over the islets. However, Okinawa’s ill-defined sovereignty in the Potsdam Declaration and the San Francisco Treaty has blurred the lines of sovereign rule over the islets. Consequently, this essay concludes, the islets are essentially no-man’s land. The Chinese claim over the islets comes in two aspects derived from historical evidence. The first claim is that historical records show Chinese fishermen discovering the Rykuku/ Nansei Island chain (which precludes the islets-in-question) in approximately 1372. The fishermen demonstrated Chinese control over the islets by using the islets as navigational aids and shelter. This is followed by the second claim, which is that the Manchu government had construed the islets as part of Formosa, and ceded the islets as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki’s Article 2(b).
Chinese coastal defense system and entered Chinese patronage in 1511. This shows Chinese recognition that the islets were not part of China upon discovering it in 1372, but part of the Kingdom of Okinawa. The second claim by the Chinese is questionable. Patronage over another kingdom does not equate to sovereignty and administrative rule. China had recognized earlier that the islets belonged to the Okinawans, and not the Taiwanese. Thus, China had no legal right to cede the islets to Japan. This is the reason why Japan’s annexation of Korea started off by forcing China to give Korea independence, instead of ceding Korea to Japan. Also, the Chinese claim that the islets are part of Formosa’s (Taiwan) appertaining islands lay in the fact that Taiwan is geographically the closest to the islets. Such claim seems arbitrary, as proximity does not equate control. Since the islets cannot be treated as part of ceded Formosa, the Cairo Declaration of 1943, which demanded the return of territory claimed by Japan through “violence or greed”, is ineffectual, as Okinawa was a prefecture of Japan since 1879.
“The sovereign rights over the islets are still controversial and blurry. Arguably, the islets do not belong to anyone.”
Against the former claim, there is credence in the Japanese refutation - discovery of a territory does not equate to sovereign rule over that particular territory. In fact, the Chinese never formally laid claim over the islets until 1968. If one were to assess the historical sovereignty over the islets, it must be noted that the islets were never part of China. The starting point when the Chinese considered the islets part of Chinese soil was when Okinawans joined the
On the other hand, Okinawa as a prefecture of Japan does not imply Japanese sovereign rule over Okinawa either. In fact, the Japanese claim originates from a latter survey conducted in 1885, which concluded in 1895 that the islets were to be terra nullius. This raises doubts and skepticism over the validity of Japanese claim. Given that the islets were in fact terra nullius (which is not necessarily true), the inter-
national law confers powers to the first nation discovering it. In this case, the rightful owner would be China, as in 1893, the Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi had laid claim by granting one of her subjects, Sheng Hsuan-huai, some of the islands as private property. Furthermore, the Potsdam Declaration of 1945’s Article 8 excludes Japanese sovereignty over the islets. It limited Japan’s sovereignty to “the islands of Hoshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we (the US, the UK, and China) determine”. The declaration however, fails to mention the sovereignty over the Okinawa and its territories. The only other claim over Okinawa was written in the San Francisco Treaty of 1951, when the Japanese ceded Okinawa and the islets to the United States. The treaty terms are insensitive to East Asian history, as they fail to recognize Okinawa as a separate entity and its histories with Japan. The sovereign rights over the islets are still controversial and blurry. Arguably, the islets do not belong to anyone. Japan’s ceding of Okinawa to the United States in 1951 was not legitimate as Okinawa was an annexed territory. As a result, the American “return” of administrative rights to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Treaty of 1971 is void. The islets cannot be legally belonged to Okinawa while the sovereignty over Okinawa is ill defined. Therefore, the islets are not formally under any state’s sovereignty. Japanese rule over the islets is not legitimate by nature.
The islets dispute has laid its foundation in fallacious beliefs by the Chinese, Japanese, and the Americans. The Chinese and Japanese claims are void, and with given credence, would have dire consequences on the laws of sovereignty. The Americans’ purported control over Okinawa and its islets, as part of the San Francisco Treaty has no legal basis. This lacks the sensitivity in understanding the Okinawan-Japanese relationship. Therefore, the islets, under the absence of its original owner and the ill defined sovereignty of Okinawa, are no man’s land that belongs to no man.
RAYMOND LEE is a second year War Studies and Philosophy BA student at King’s College London.
By Brian Mak
“Master Miao brought his sword forward, just to see that Hufei has already enshrouded him with flashes of the silver sword.”
ufei is the protagonist for Fox Volant in the Snowy Moutain, with ‘feihu’ being the Chinese word for Fox Volant. The novel is one of the fifteen by Jinyong, or Louis Cha, considered the master of Chinese ‘martial arts novel’, and one of the greatest Chinese novelists in the last century. Jinyong novels can be considered as an evolution from an earlier, and possibly better known worldwide, novel called ‘The Outlaw of the Marsh’. It is widely regarded as one of the ‘four greatest novels’ in Chinese literature, the other three being ‘The Journey to the West’, ‘Three Kingdoms’, and ‘The Dreams of the Red Chamber’. The Outlaws of the Marsh describes a group of unfettered heroes gathering in Mount Liang, who care about the commoners but do not wish to serve the corrupt government. As the story progresses, some cunning eunuchs suggested the emperor to offer amnesty to the thriving gang, of course with plans to crush them for securing their status. Disagreements then arose in Mount Liang between accepting and declining the offer. Travelling 800 years to recent Hong Kong, there is a similar debate. A group of scholars, politicians, and activists initiated a movement called ‘Occupy Central’, aiming to secure universal suffrage for 2017 Chief Executive election and 2010 Legislative Council election. The movement is delicately planned, unlike many other protests worldwide, which can be seen from the call for a quota of 10,000 participants, oathtaking days held in July 2013, and so on. The occupation will take place if the Chinese government does not warrant universal suffrage. The opposing group had been a loose, informal alliance of political groups, until this August ‘Silent Majority Hong Kong’ is formed, which has the clear and simple aim of
opposing the movement. It claims that the silent majority actually opposes the movement, and hence securing no legitimacy, it should be curbed. The main grounds for opposing is that the movement incurs momentous financial loss for Hong Kong, and also that it disrespects the Chinese government, since democratic progress requires mutual respect, as claimed by some. The opposition’s grounds are straightforward and sensible, and garner support of a sizeable portion of the public. However, for those who support the movement, their grounds may be slightly subtler. Mainly, they are vexed at how illegitimate the chief executive and legislature is. A committee of 1,200 people, from which candidates must request sufficient nomination to be enlisted as a candidate, elects the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Additionally, the Legislative Council is formed by a combination of functional and geographical constituencies. The former consists of 35 seats,
which are representatives of different sectors. Only eligible voters can vote for a specific sector. For instance, only lawyers are eligible to vote and run for the functional constituencies of the legal sector. The geographical constituency of 35 seats is where universal suffrage takes place. Yet, for a private member’s bill to pass, it has to secure a majority in both constituencies. Bills raised by the geographical constituency legislators are rarely passed, due to the consistently progovernment votes from the functional constituencies. Seemingly proposals that benefit the public but endanger certain vested interest groups are unlikely to get passed without a heated debate. It can be seen that the movement is a result of illegitimate and ineffective governance and legislation, due to the lack of check from the public.Personally, I do not think the conveners of ‘Silent Majority Hong Kong’are unaware of the causes of ‘Occupy Central Movement’. It is inexplicable to know that they keep emphasizing the cost of the ‘Occupy Central Movement’ and refusing to acknowledge its principles. They should be the one to blame if anyone is accused of deterring rational political discourse.Sadly, various political parties and politicians fail to offer directions and means on implementing universal suffrage in Hong Kong. As a result, Hong Kong’s political environment is stuck in a crossroad where leader-
ship is desperately needed. There are many reasons behind the timelessness of the Outlaws of the Marsh. Some say it is the spirit of Confucian piety, righteousness, fraternity, and valiance. Maybe the epigrams of the Outlaws of the Marshcan shed some light on the chaotic political situations in Hong Kong. Frequent protests and strained tensions among various political parties highlight the sense of insecurity and distrust towards the establishment. It is a difficult question of whether one should fix a faulty government from within or from without. Hong Kong has fallen into the dilemma expressed by the book, with two camps erected in Ming dynasty Beijing and Mount Liang. The time for Hufei to strike has come. But the question is: will he do it?’
BRIAN MAK is a second year Politics and Philosophy BSc student at London School of Economics.
By Charlotte le Maignan
f Tahrir square symbolized Egypt’s demand for change and a beacon of hope for the rest of the region, three years later, the bloodstained protests shaking Nahda square and the Rabaa al-Adawiyyah mosque tell a different story. Each in Cairo, the scenes tell the story of a divided city and of an even more divided country. On July 3rd, the country's first democratically elected president and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, was deposed by a military coup d’état only one year after his victory against opponent Ahmed Shafiq, Prime Minister of former leader Hosni Mubarak. The military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, intervened after President Morsi granted himself powers putting him above the courts, thereby showing contempt for both democracy and his electorate. Amendments to the Constitution by the Muslim Brotherhood also included several lossesto women rights and laid the foundations for the oppression of minorities – changes which were not welcomed well by the country's secular forces and Christian minority (which represents 10% of the 85 million
population of Egypt). Accused of mismanagement of the economy, Egypt's debt is a staggering 88% of its GDP. But once Morsi was ousted, the military immediately reestablished the country's despotic traditions. Adli Mansour, a little known judge of the Supreme Court, was quickly appointed as the interim President, while Mohammad elBaradei, a prominent liberal figure and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was named Vice President. The Brotherhood has installed two sit-in camps to protest and demand the reinstatement of President Morsi at Nahda and Rabaa alAdawiyyah. However, the interim government’s bloody retaliations against them have deeply hurt the chances of resolution to the conflict. On August 15th – Black Wednesday to Brotherhood supporters – more than 500 people died in confrontations between the army and protesters in the two centres of the pro-Morsi camp. Among them was Asmaa alBeltagi, “the martyr of Rabaa al-Adawiyyah,” who was shot by a sniper as she was rushing to help wounded comrades. She was seventeen and the daughter of a prominent leader of the January 25th Revolution. She had participated in the protests in Tarhir Square in 2010 and has been used as the face for all martyrs in the Muslim Brotherhood’s cause.
“There is no majority in Egypt, only a fragmented public opinion and large minorities: the liberals, the Salafists, the pro-army and the pro-Brotherhood.“
Even Baradei had resigned prior to the August 15th massacres because he no longer agreed with the decisions being taken by the interim government. On July 26th, he stated on his twitter account that ''nonviolence, rule of law and due process and reconciliation are key principles to adhere to at this difficult time,'' thus highlighting the necessity of dialogue for the resolution of the conflict. His voice has not been heard, but one must acknowledge the courage of a man who took a middle position in a revolution even when it cost him his country and political allies. The conflict now seems more intractable than ever as both camps harden their position and resort to the unhelpful rhetoric of us versus them, which could very well bring Egypt to civil war. There is no majority in Egypt, only a fragmented public opinion and large minorities: the liberals, the Salafists, the pro-army and pro-Brotherhood. The military’s popular support is circumstantial and the willingness and ability of the transitional state to organize elections soon is absolutely crucial. The question remains of whether this is what they intend to do. Is the military a transitional force or is it to become a fixture of the modern Egyptian political landscape? If it is to stay, it is a government that rose to power through hijacking popular discontent to protect its interests and remain untouchable within the realm of Egyptian society. Clearer policy lines have to be established by the interim government and dates have to be given if the current bloodshed is to have an end soon.
Egypt today is increasingly looking like the past. With the imprisonment of the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad Badie, for incitation to violence and the repression the Brotherhood is facing, 2013 resembles 1954 when the Brotherhood was still an underground and outlawed movement. Such intolerance of a movement like the Muslim Brotherhood – which has emerged as a potent political force second to the Egyptian army – is not without its dangers, and could lead to further radicalisation. In the winter of 2011–2012, the Brotherhood won a decisive plurality and a majority in the People’s Assembly elections and Shura Council elections, thus gaining control over both houses of parliament. With the liberation of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, 2013 also looks like 2010 when there was no democracy and people were protesting in Tahrir Square. Today the names have changed – it is not Tahrir but Nahda, it is not Mubarak but Morsi – but the scenario remains disconcertingly similar. The international response to Egypt’s crisis has been quite disappointing on the part of the west, which has failed to provide a clear position. While Germany has suspended the aid it gives to Egypt, the US has not suspended theirs. Saudi Arabia's unconditional support of the military regime and its promise to make up for any European economic cuts is worrying because Saudi's interests run counter to that of Egypt’s. Saudi Arabia hates the Muslim Brotherhood, and would gain immensely from their exclusion from Egyptian political life due to the Brotherhood's aspirations for caliphates across the Middle East. They support the events taking place because they never approved of the
revolution and would love to see it reverse. The negotiations and failed mediations in Egypt have also highlighted one other factor: the reduced American and western influence in the country. Egypt today is in the midst of a cultural war between proand anti-Islamists. The level of political violence in Egypt has not quite reached that of Syria, but the situation remains critical, with the society divided and the willingness to compromise very low.
CHARLOTTE LE MAIGNAN is a second year International Politics BA student at King’s College London.
By Tracie Landry
he Syrian Conflict is now well into its second year. In March 2011, there were high hopes both within Syria and abroad that yet another Middle Eastern dictatorship would fall – with Syrians joining Tunisians and Egyptians in “liberating” themselves from the yoke of tyranny. Over the coming months, as events developed across the Middle East, Western powers, relatively quick to intervene in Libya, remained cautious about intervention in Syria. The governments in Tunisia and Egypt were toppled with no intervention and relatively little bloodshed, but Libya’s dictator Muammar elQaddafi held on. While intervention in Libya carried little risk in destabilizing the entire the region, Syria presents extraordinary complications. From the start, instability in Syria has posed far greater concerns to the stability of the region as a whole. Syria’s neighbors, especially Israel (with whom they fought three wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973, and with whom a final resolution of these previous conflicts is still pending), and Lebanon (occupied by Syria during Lebanon’s own civil war from 1976 to 2005), fear the spread of the conflict. But how to end it well, is anyone’s guess.
“To back the rebel coalition would increase Saudi influence with its fundamentalist Salafiststyle Sunni Islam. “
Bashar al-Assad and his supporters have done terrible things during the twenty-nine month conflict. In August 2013, as UN inspectors examined previous claims of the use of chemical weapons by the regime, new reports accused the government of gas attacks “kill[ing] hundreds.” Meanwhile, Assad’s opponents are increasingly racking up atrocities of their own. In the last two months, some 30,000 Syrian Kurds fled to Iraq to escape the attacks from alQaeda aligned rebel jihadists. UN figures released in July 2013 put the number of casualties at over 100,000 with more than 1.7 million Syrians seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. So why do world powers simply not intervene to end the conflict? Because it’s becoming increasingly unclear which side it would be most ‘beneficial’ to back. Syria is the lynchpin to the entire region and has become the focal point of the growing struggle for regional influence between Shia dominated Iran and Sunni dominated Saudi Arabia. On its simplest level, to back Assad assists in expanding Iranian Shia-based Islamic influence that began with
the Iranian Revolution in 1979. To back the rebel coalition would increase Saudi influence with its fundamentalist Salafist-style Sunni Islam. Virtually every regional power, as well as the US, Russia and even China, have a stake in the outcome of Syria’s war, as do a number of non-state actors such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and alQaeda affiliates. Among these players there is little consensus on what that outcome should be. There are even some proponents that see benefits to the conflict continuing. Lebanon is divided in its opinion. Most Lebanese would like a swift end to the conflict as the fight threatens to spill over. At the time of writing, there have been a number of incidents in Lebanon: an Israeli missile strike against pro-Assad Palestinians, car bombs wreaking havoc in both Shia neighborhoods of Beirut and Sunni strongholds in Tripoli. Although it is always dangerous to over-generalize Lebanese political views, most Lebanese Shiites are pro-Assad, especially the supporters of Hezbollah. It is through Assad-governed Syria that most of Hezbollah’s material and financial support from Iran comes. Christians of the ‘March 8 Movement’ – a coalition of pro-Assad political parties – and virtually all of Lebanon’s tiny Alawite minority are also pro-Assad. Those same two groups found in Syria also support Assad. They fear retaliatory strikes from rebel forces – perhaps from the Syrian Free Army but most definitely from the extremist fundamentalists who are flooding in and slowly overwhelming the demographics of the rebel
coalition. Such fears are not unfounded, just look at the sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Lebanese Sunnis are a more complex story. Secularist Future Party Movement leader, Saad Hariri, is strongly anti-Assad, believing the dictator’s fall would weaken Syria’s hold on Lebanon and subsequently the power of Hezbollah. But his hopes are to avoid outright warfare in Lebanon. In contrast, for fundamentalist Lebanese Sunnis, Assad’s fall would help “restore Sunni pride” and allow them to bring the fight against the Shia and Hezbollah into Lebanon proper. For Shia Iran, this is more than just a battle to support two long-term allies (Syria’s Assad and Lebanon’s Hezbollah), it is part of a larger modern struggle being fought across the Middle East that has been going on since the 1979 Iranian Revolution brought a religious regime to power. In the 1980’s, Iran fought a bloody eight - year war against Iraq as Saddam Hussein tried to contain the revolutionary religious power bursting from Iran. Some 30 years later, it remains unsettled whether the Sunnis or the Shia will dominate the region. For their part, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States – in their quest to tip (or maintain) the balance in favor of the Sunnis – have been anti-Assad. Fundamentalist Sunnis and jihadist from throughout the region have joined the Free Syrian Forces in their fight. However, there are increasing fears that continued fighting creates just the chaos that al-Qaeda operatives can exploit to their own advantage. This poses the thorniest of issues for the West and Israel, both ideologically and security wise. The West, although pro-democracy, does not want to see any kind of fundamentalist regime emerge in Syria. As the civil war languishes, the Syrian rebel movement becomes increasingly fractured and infiltrated by fundamentalists and al-Qaeda cadre intent upon setting up a theocracy. Among the opposition forces this demographic shift has ignited a civil war within the civil war. To the West, a radical Islamic regime spells disaster, replacing one form of tyranny with another, creating a potential staging ground for terrorist groups, increasing the threat of war with Israel and potentially moving against Hezbollah and the unraveling of Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Israel looks on with increasing trepidation. Initially there may have been hopes that a new Syrian regime would be willing to negotiate a peace agreement. However, given the uncertain post-revolutionary state of both Egypt and Tunisia and the increasingly fractured nature of the anti-Assad forces, it may be better in the eyes of many Israeli’s to keep the ‘devil you know’ and hope for a return of stability. Continued fighting also poses numerous serious security concerns for the Israelis, including: the fear that Assad’s weapon stockpile ends up in the hands of Hezbollah or those of jihadists aligned with al-Qaeda or other extremist forces, or that Assad draws Israel into the conflict to try and unite his country against an external enemy. However, as mentioned above, continued fighting, especially with mounting losses of Hezbollah fighters, weakens Israel’s long time foe in Lebanon. Finally, Russia remains pro-Assad, having blocked a number of Security Council resolutions against the regime. Russia’s ties to Syria date from the Cold War, when aid to Syria gave the Soviets a presence in the Middle East to counter US ties with Israel. For the Russians, Assad’s ouster jeopardizes their political and economic influence in the region. Sadly, Assad’s fall would not bring an end to the chaos. The chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a letter to Representative Eliot Engel of New York, succinctly summed up the quandary of the Syria Crisis: “Syria today is not about choosing between two sides, but rather about choosing one among many sides.” None of those sides would be universally beneficial to the Syrian people, and some would threaten the region with continued instability. As the West ponders action in Syria, the increasing realization is that there are simply no good options.
TRACIE LANDRY is currently teaching and working in Beirut, Lebanon. Tracie holds a BA in History (Mount Allison University), a BEd in History and Languages (University of New Brunswick) and an MA in Humanities (California State University, Dominguez Hills).
Iran, a country more famous for its controversial nuclear program than its its ancient history. Having had the opportunity to travel throughout Iran this summer, it was a chance to visit a country full of paradoxes. In the West, Iran may be identified as a radical member of Bushâ€™s Axis of Evil, but beyond the headlines lies a country with hospitable people. When Iran qualified for the 2014 football World Cup, the street parties in Tehran did not resonate an overtly conservative country. Likewise, the celebrations following the election of President Rouhani did not signal a radicalized nation-state. In fact, in the chaos and violence of the Middle East, Iranians chose the path of moderation: they voted for a moderate candidate to replace the former president Amhadinejad. Modern Iran is a country full of paradoxes: an Islamic Republic with a religiously liberal-minded society that is one of the biggest importers of Porsche.
By Naffet Keita
y succeeding in organizing presidential elections in Mali, countries like France and the United States (through the Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF), but also the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS and WAEMU committed themselves to bring stability to Mali through the signature of preliminary agreements to organize those elections in the town of Kidal, in the base of the rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). Such an approach therefore prevented Malian people to deliver, through the organization of a summit or of a national Convention, on institutional and security-related problems following the coup d’Etat of March 22nd 2012, which had led to the occupation of most of the regions of Mopti and the north of the county by proindependence and jihadist groups.
At first sight, those elections led to the come-back of Mali on the international scene. Paradoxically however, the mandate of the elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is being reduced to “simply” continuing the transition. In other words, he will not be able to put into practice his program, though a large majority of the Malian electorate seemed to have supported him in the second round of the elections. With the restoration of the honour of Mali and the happiness of its people forming the basis of Keïta’s program, the latter revolves around different objectives such as the fight against corruption, the reconstruction of a strong State through the establishment of solid principles of justice and good governance. This program aims at ensuring that every citizen gets an equal access to health-care, education and a larger set of public services over the whole country. IBK
intends to set up the conditions for economic take-off in Mali through the emergence of a solid and responsible private sector. Before this election, the Malian people suffered a profound trauma during the occupation of certain parts of the centre and the north of the country. As a whole, the population felt humiliated by the falling down of the State, the breakup of the democratic system, the collapse of the army and the absence of robust perspectives of solution to end the crisis. For Mali to stand back on its feet, there is an absolute need for new methods, skills and expertise which will be based on the reorganization of a school system as well as the army, the creation of new jobs and an improvement in living conditions by taking into account previous experiences of Diaspora, the access to decent housing and good governance. The reconstruction of the Malian State goes through the management and training of the necessary human resources. President Keïta promised to tackle the problem of the Defence in order to effectively respond to the consequences of another potential conflict and to restore the historical leadership of Malian diplomacy serving Malian interests. In order to achieve strong, sustainable and inclusive growth, the new President has also planned to breathe new life to the economy of Mali through the support and promotion of the private sector and the construction of poles of development. To make this growth perennial, IBK thinks up the rereading of the constitution, the restructure of public administration, the enhancement of the management of public finances and the fight against poverty through the adoption of legislative and regulatory measures. These aim at reinforcing a culture of transparency, hardening the sanctions against people violating the Nation’s interests and mobilizing the different elements of civil society to contribute to eradicate the curse of corruption, elaborate and put into practice an action plan to vigorously fight this curse and create a central mechanism to coordinate the fight against corruption. The new government will also work harder for the adoption of a law on the access to information and on the transparency of public management, as well as the mandatory running of accountancy in all public and paragovernmental administrations. In addition to that, it will proceed to the development of digital governance to facilitate the transparency of the actions of
the State and the establishment of a policy of appointment to positions of public responsibility, based on merit and moral integrity, while prohibiting favouritism and votecatching. These various ambitions of the elected candidate will remain vain wishes if we do not take into account the sociopolitical and economic situation of Mali before the election. Indeed, the sociopolitical context had a large impact on the enactment of the 2012 finance law, leading to reduced internal revenues and contributing to adjourn official development assistance towards Mali. Government expenditure decreased a lot to solely rely on the internal revenues. Expenditure made are estimated to amount to 988,6 billion CFA franc in the 2012 amended finance law, while 1.423,745 billion CFA
”For Mali to stand back on its feet, there is an abslute need for new methods, skills and expertise(...)”
franc had been initially foreseen – i.e. a 30% decrease. The decrease mainly affected the investment expenditure. The 2012 events made mark on Malian common history. The country’s unity has been threatened, national cohesion has been disturbed and the republican institutions have been called into question. However, Mali had been presented as a model of democracy and stability. This crisis, which was a surprise for the world and many Malians alike, is a signal for the country and its neighbours. More and more analysts confirm that Africa can be the continent of the 21st century, and that its growth is in a position to become the driving force of the world economy. The worst is possible though. Analogous situations have developed or can loom in other African regions. In order to restructure the State of Mali to avoid its collapse, piling up good technical measures will not suffice. Calling on patriotism or State’s authority not be enough either, nor will condemning the past. The truth is that institutional and economic models from the time of the independence are no longer able to provide efficiency and consistency to even the most judicious programmes. The model must change. The challenge is historic for Mali, as well as for Africa. Once more, Mali is well placed for bringing the wealth of past experiences, crises included. This transition is perceived
as important as the accession to sovereignty – half-a-century ago. Such tremendous changes require time and do not take on only one generation. They must be planted in common values, where dignity ranks first, and where neither lie, threat nor betrayals have seats. This is a pact for the future with the people and generations ahead. The Nation’s unity is non-negotiable. We need to reestablish its solidity, by military means if necessary, and by fraternity which will ensure its sustainability. The Nation’s freedom must be protected by a republican army. Services provided by public authorities must be equally distributed throughout the territory. Only such strong resolutions will make it possible to overcome corruption, slackness, selfishness, etc. Inventing this new institutional functioning, this new alliance between citizens and those who govern them is a prerequisite nowadays to pursue development. Without it, we know from now on that our destiny can be brutally taken hostage. As from now, we are facing an emergency: weaving unity again. NAFFET KEITA is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Arts, Bamako, Mali.
By Zoé Canal-Brunet
s the chaotic consequences of the wave of revolutions that sparked across the Arab peninsula still ravage Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Egypt, Morocco seems to be one of the few countries in the region safe from serious political turmoil. The political and economic situation of the most Western country of the Arab world is, however, not better than its neighbours’: corruption, income inequality, unemployment among young graduates, ethnic and territorial disputes, human rights violations, an unreliable and arbitrary judicial system and a precarious economy are among the challenges it faces today. With its unproductive and uncompetitive labour force, Morocco’s 2011 annual GDP per capita at $5,100, it w a s ranked 150th in the world1. In 2010, 9% of its population was estimated to be under the poverty line, while this figure only reached 3.8% in Tunisia2. How, then, did the Moroccan monarchy manage to achieve relative stability throughout the storm?
1999, introduced a series of reforms granting more freedom and equality to his subjects. Key amendments include the 2003 New Family Code, granting more rights to women, and the creation of the IER (Instance, Equité et Réconciliation) committee, which investigates the human rights violations under his father’s reign4. While looking at their government and its evolution in the past decade, Moroccans have fewer reasons to rise up than many in the Arab world.
”While the Moroccan human mosaic appears divided on many grounds [...], their love for the monarch seems to be one of the few things that bring them together.”
One factor might be the relative democratic nature of Mohamed VI’s rule in comparison with that of his former counterparts Muammar al-Qaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, and foremost with that of his father, Hassan II. The previous Moroccan monarch, it can be argued, reigned as a proper 20th century dictator. In addition to an elaborate personality cult maintained through a tight control of the media and his status of commander of the faithful, Hassan II operated through merciless torture, murder and imprisonment of his political opponents, sometimes with the complicity of France and the United States. It is estimated that between 1956 and 1999, there were over 15,000 claims of Human Rights violations in the Kingdom3. His reign survived two failed coup d’états in the early 1970’s, which were harshly repressed. Mohammed VI, when succeeding to his father in
Once faced with actual criticism, Mohammed VI reacted cautiously, judiciously learning from Mubarak’s faux pas. Protests started in February 2011, spread across 53 cities but never reached the same intensity and violence as in other countries5. Both the contestation movement (known as the February 20th or 20F movement) and the government categorically refused and forbade resorting to violence6. Demonstrations took place peacefully, to some extent, as it would have happened in any European democracy. On March 9th, the King announced reforms to be enacted, hence proving that he had his subjects’ concerns and claims at heart. A new constitution to be approved by referendum on June 24th was introduced, abolishing privileges he previously enjoyed. An increase of the minimum wage by 15% over two years, a rise in scholarships for students and the pay for civil servants all addressed the people’s economic concerns7. The constitution’s impact was immediate and reached its goal to “build a bridge between the throne and the people”8. In reaction, the contestation movement, especially the PDJ
Moroccan population the eagerness to have their voices heard and to play a role on the political scene. The King’s decisions are now perceived as contestable – he is seen as having a ‘human body’ subject to misjudgement and mistakes. This is seen in the King’s forgiveness of a Spanish paedophile, Daniel Fino Galvan, on demand of Juan Carlos in August 2013. As considerable indignation and contestation spread across the country, the King eventually had to cancel his decision, an act that would have been inconceivable a few years ago. As the door is now open to criticism, further political change might be coming. Morocco’s situation is still far from ideal, as the King and his entourage, the Makhzen, still retain a tremendous amount of power in the economic, politic, religious and military sectors. As it is estimated that 49% of youth are neither employed nor enrolled in education, the economy remains plagued by inequalities. Transparency International rated corruption at 3.7/10 in 2012, a lower figure than in Tunisia, putting the country at the 88th position in the world12. Nonetheless, the King undoubtedly appears to be the key to Morocco’s political stability; Mohammed VI enjoys a genuine popularity among his subjects. While the Moroccan human mosaic appears divided on many grounds (linguistic, religious, cultural, racial, economic), their love for the monarch seems to be one of the few things that bring them together. The party in power since 2011, the PDJ – although a contestation party – is bringing change gradually and wants to proceed to a smooth ‘transition.’ In this framework, many compare Mohammed VI’s role with that of Juan Carlos at the end of Franco’s dictatorship. Moreover, it appears that this aura of stability was enhanced by the bloodshed and poverty that their Tunisian, Libyan and Egyptian cousins witnessed through social networks. As Moroccans know that their economy strongly depends on the flow of investments and tourism from abroad, the benefits of overthrowing the political stability of their country is not worth the cost.
ZOÉ CANAL-BRUNET is a third year European Studies BA student at King’s College London.
(Party of Development and Justice), adopted a measured approach, agreeing to comprise in order to guarantee the country’s stability 9. 74% of the population voted during the referendum and the Constitution was approved by 98%10. This success gained Mohammed VI respect not only in Morocco but also abroad as Hilary Clinton stated that “the United States looks to Morocco to be a leader and a model”11. The relative peace and stability should, however, not be taken for granted – especially by the King. If the 20F movement did not lead to a bloody revolution, the Arab Spring unveiled within the
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he start of this academic year, marks the second anniversary of KCL Politics Society. From what was initially a promising project, we have evolved into one of the largest and fastest growing societies at Kingâ€™s. Last year was a turning point for Politics Society. We started the year off with an exclusive pre-premier of Grassroots and launched Dialogue. We went on to host a series of events and published three issues of Dialogue. As a result of our ambitious plans and your generous support, we were awarded the 2013-14 KCLSU President of the Year and Media Silver Crown awards. Eager to continue this successful path and with our engaged members, we ended the year with a heated election and increased the size of our committee to over 20 members. So, the start of this academic year cannot be more exciting for us. Already, there are over 20 events planned for the upcoming term, covering six regions and eight topics. As part of the events team, we will be starting a careers group to provide you with best of networking opportunities. With the Autumn 2013 issue of Dialogue we have not only continued our mission as the first political society to publish a quarterly journal at Kingâ€™s, but also the only one to print its publication. After all, this society exists because of its members and for its members. Our main aim to engage you and without it none of our projects would render successful. So, first let me thank you all for supporting us along the way in the past two years and encourage you to get involved in Politics Society.
Ramtin Hajimonshi KCL Politics Society President
ÂŠ KCL Politics Society 2013 | www.kclpolitics.org.uk
Published on Sep 26, 2013
Published on Sep 26, 2013
KCL Politics Society's Autumn 2013 issue of Dialogue presents several articles by global contributors, including a number of cover stories f...