Page 1

October 2011 Vol. 11 No. 1 The Student Newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

“Comcast Sucks and the Government Should Smash Them to Pieces” By Anonymous

Exclusive Interview with Dean Harrington: Inside the Calculus DVDs and More... By Adrian Stover

John M. Harrington Jr., Ph.D. is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professorial Lecturer in International Economics. He has also taught at SAIS as a professorial lecturer for more than 30 years, including throughout a 20-year government career at the U.S. Department of State, where he directed economics education for foreign affairs professionals at the Foreign Service Institute and directed the economic policy office for Latin American and the Caribbean. For many SAIS students, however, he is known for the two interactive DVD-based courses, pre-calculus mathematics and basic calculus for economists. The Observer sat down with Dean Harrington recently to talk about the DVDs, the half-life of lectures, and “a fear of symbols.”

SAIS Observer: How did the pre-calculus and calculus DVDs come about? Dean Harrington: This goes back to really when Pre-Term was started. Around that time, there was a perception that students at SAIS were not getting as much out of the economics program as they should. One of the first real objectives of Pre-Term was to have math as a key component of it. I taught exactly what is on the DVDs over 10 two-hour classes, five for pre-calculus and five for calculus. But the biggest problem we had was that for some people it went by them too fast. Sneak Preview: “Yes Comcast, we moved to a new place….What, you don’t have a button for that? So we never get internet?” When you really think of all the material that was covered in a five-day period, While setting up my new internet service last weekend, Comcast didn’t do any- starting with 2 + 2 and ending up with constrained optimization, it went over most people’s heads. When I thought about this, I thought why couldn’t we thing right. On my last try, the machine couldn’t even get me to an operator. design a course involving short lectures, or “bite-sized morsels of understanding?” Taking the material in the math component that I thought SAIS students They just kept asking me to punch in my telephone number and zip code. The call kept circling back to the main menu and asking for my zip code…and tele- needed to understand microeconomics and macroeconomics, I designed the course and we filmed it in Nitze 417. phone number. When was a live human going to answer? Turns out never. I hung up after a few SO: Why use DVDs as a format and why not stream it over the Internet? dizzying tours. DH: The technology of streaming five or six years ago was not there. The world of technology is changing so rapidly. We needed a high quality format so you After many attempts to subvert Comcast—and by subvert I mean change my could see what was written on the board, and have audio so you could listen. account address—I hung up. Why can’t they understand that I need internet at The way this was done, you just had to put me in front of a white board. I also my new house and not my old house, because I don’t live at my old house anydecided I didn’t want to have it distracting to have different clothes on each more? Is it really that hard? time. I had a few similar blue shirts, and the same tie that I wore. Last year, Over the course of an evening—literally 4 hours—my roommate and I tried set- some students doing a service project in Costa Rica were running an auction to raise money, so they asked if I might give out my tie for the auction. I rarely ting up internet service at our new apartment again and again. Hold. Call. Get used it, and it was actually pretty worn. So I gave it to them, and someone bid hanged up on. Confused person. Can we have your name again? Can we have $85 dollars for it. your name again? Hold. Get Hanged up on. Hold. He tried at least five times and I tried three or four phone calls, but nothing. Zero. The humans we eventually talked to just couldn’t understand that we moved across Washington, DC to a new place. “Did I tell you about the Comcast Customer Pledge, Sir?” Luckily his phone has a speaker and we had plenty of moving and unpacking to do while on hold. [an evening later...] After talking to five people, including managers in different languages, being hung up on thrice, and talking to “Mr. Donga,” representative number 3355, we called it quits. Were they playing a practical joke on us? Was it April fools in a far-off land?

SO: In your opinion, what is the most challenging module on the DVDs? DH: Nothing is hard on there, not if you have the foundation behind it. One of my best lectures on there is the one about elasticity. That is an area that confounds people. What is the elasticity of demand, and why do we have it? When I did that one lecture, I knew if people only watched this one lecture that would be good. SO: Some of those early algebra concepts are pretty abstract though. DH: Oh, yes. A weakness that most students have is a lack of understanding in what a function is. How do you think about this thing called a function? It is an abstract idea. What is an equation anyway, and why do economists refer to “equations,” when they are really functions? If you open up some econometrics textbooks they will talk about an equation, but it is really a function.

At one point in the night, we received an automated survey asking how satisfied we were with our Comcast call. Press more buttons and then tell the beep your But this is what economics is built up on; thinking about the billions of activities in the world somehow aggregated down into a relatively small number. To say feelings about Comcast. Beep. that out of the thousands or millions of people making decisions we can some(continued on page 9) how aggregate something that says quantity demanded is a function of price, income, and the price of other goods; that is profound. But with notation to express those relationships, you have a fear of symbols. (continued on page 3)


The SAIS Observer


FEATURE: INTERVIEW WITH DEAN JOHN HARRINGTON ...................................PAGE 1 OP-ED ON COMCAST INTERNET ...............................................................................PAGE 1 PHOTOGRAPHY BY JARED KATZ (SAIS ALUMNUS) ......................................PAGES 2 & 8 THE “DC PAUSE” ...........................................................................................................PAGE 2 页台湾 ............................................................................................................................PAGE 3 THE SAIS EXISTENTIAL CRISIS ...................................................................................PAGE 3 ‘HAVE HEELS, WILL TRAVEL’ COLUMN ....................................................................PAGE 4 ‘HAVE LEATHER SANDALS, DO TRAVEL’ COLUMN ................................................PAGE 5 SAIS THOUGHT LEADERSHIP AND THE NEW SILK ROAD STRATEGY ................PAGE 6 INTERNSHIPS WHILE AT SAIS ...................................................................................PAGE 6 OCCUPY WALL STREET PROTESTS AND SOCIAL CHANGE ....................................PAGE 7 APPRECIATING ITALIAN CUISINE WHILE IN BOLOGNA .......................................PAGE 8 UPDATE FROM SAISer IN EGYPT .............................................................................PAGE 10 JERSEY SHORE EXPLAINS THE MIDDLE EAST ......................................................PAGE 10 ‘SAIS IMPACTS’ COLUMN ..........................................................................................PAGE 11 MA LA TANG IN CHINA .............................................................................................PAGE 11 HOW BEN ALI’S “AUTHORITARIAN BARGAIN” FELL APART ...............................PAGE 12 “SHOW YOUR SAIS PRIDE” 2010 PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ................PAGES 12 & 16 DEBUT OF THE NEW SAIS BOOK EXCHANGE .......................................................PAGE 13 THE NEW STUDENT GOVERNMENT TEAM ..........................................................................PAGE 14 CLUBS & ACTIVITIES ................................................................................................................PAGE 16

Courtesy of Jared Katz PHOTOS: Italy’s Students Protest Education Cuts in Bologna, Italy (Sept. 2008) Photography by Jared Katz, SAIS Alumnus, BC 2009, DC 2010 See More of Jared’s Work at:

The “DC Pause” Needs to Get Paid! By The “DC Pause”

Courtesy of Jared Katz

Alright people, listen up. Too much has gone on for too long, and it’s time for me to get what I deserve. I ain’t doing favors for nobody no more, cause like Rodney Dangerfield I ain’t get no respect. The fact is, whenever you use me you don’t even realize I’m there! Here’s an example: You’re at a happy hour/party/bus stop/speed networking event (Damn, son, there are less embarrassing ways to find a job), you’re wearing a suit because you dress down for nobody, you’ve got a classy drink in your hand, and you start introducing yourself. You could be anybody and work for whoever, but this is how it might go down… “Hi, I’m Sarah. I work for Senator Dianne Feinstein (Pause).” See that pause? You just made it clear to that fool that you are the shit. Even if you ain’t! For Christ sake, you could be anybody. All I heard before I kicked in were the words “I”, “work”, and “senator.” But those words thrown in with the pause were all that you needed to impress the shit out of anybody. And that’s how I do my thing, baby. That’s the D.C. Pause.

THE SAIS OBSERVER Editors-in-Chief Peter Gruskin is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Finance, Middle East Studies and Global Theory & History, and graduates in December 2011

Pretty soon you’re talking about what you do and who you know, trading business cards, making plans to “do lunch” and all, and you’re one more contact closer to being the well connected DC-er that you’ve always dreamed of. You use me all the time. Fact is, you need me. But I’m not surprised that you’re taking advantage of what you can get.

Contributors (This Issue)

There’s people gettin’ used and abused all over this city, from Capitol Hill to K Street. Remember that college intern who worked in your office last year? The one who could have been learning valuable coffee-making and photocopier repair skills, but you made her enter data instead? That was just mean. You use me like you use unpaid intern labor, and I don’t know how the hell you sleep at night.

Adrian Stover, Jared Katz, Jimmy Church, Joe Wilson, John Pacheco, Katharine Cooley, Lindsay La Forge, Lubomir Sokol, Marisol Trowbridge, Melissa Morgenstern, Michael Carbone, Nic Wondra, Nicole Epps, Philip Zager, Suzy Xiu, Wil Jackson, Wu Hao

But I’m taking a stand! Here’s how it’s going to be. You make it worth my while, and I’ll continue to back you up. But if you don’t, I might not be there for you.

Ryan A. Pallathra is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Strategic Studies, and graduates in December 2011

Let’s see how that might play out: The SAIS Observer is a newspaper written, edited, and produced by the students of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. SAIS Students, Faculty and members of the Administration at the Washington, D.C., Bologna and Nanjing campuses are encouraged to submit articles, Op-Eds, photographs, and other items for consideration. Materials for publication, comments or inquiries may be sent to us at: The online edition of The SAIS Observer and its full archives are at: The SAIS Observer is an approved SAIS Student Organization. Opinions expressed in The SAIS Observer are not necessarily the views of the Editors, SAIS, or The Johns Hopkins University.

“Hi! I’m Sarah. I work for Senator Feinstein…and…um…I work on…um… what?” Awww snap! Your gravitas just went KOBLAMMO! You’ll just have to keep talking and pray that you don’t embarrass your stupid-ass self. Without me, you’re nothing, and don’t you forget it! Think it over, I’m sure we can work it out. You know where I’ll be if you need me. The “DC Pause” is a contributing writer for The SAIS Observer.

October 2011

The SAIS Observer 一页台湾 吴昊(2010-2012硕士生)

2011年8月4日下午,南京大学代表团12人(另有20人从厦门出发)搭上从南京禄 口机场飞往台湾高雄机场的航班,转机香港。将近深夜我们到达这次活动的目的 地:高雄佛光山。 我们这一次参加的活动叫做“2011佛光山国际青年生命禅学营”。后来我们才知道 有来自全世界40多个国家400多所学校的2000多名青年赴台参与了这一活动。 没有西门町,没有士林夜市,也没有忠孝东路,当我们知道这一次的行程时,确 实有那么一点小失落。可是当我们经历了这七天的行程,再回过头来看这一次的 台湾之旅,我们欣喜地发现,让我们感受到了这一次旅行别样的意义和价值,让 我们体验到了有着别样风情的台湾——一个在繁华和时尚背后有着文化底蕴的台 湾,有着人文关怀的台湾,有着浓浓真情的台湾。 我们的行程有两部分。 前四天所有学员在佛光山活动。在这四天里我们倾听了星云大师和众法师的对于 佛学和禅宗的开示,聆听了包括北大新闻与传播学院徐泓院长、台湾教育部吴清 基部长等学者对禅宗的体悟,参访了即将落成的气势恢宏的佛陀纪念馆。我们在 旭日初升的清晨与湖光山色中盘腿禅坐,在晨光暮色、葱郁宁静的佛光山中行走 ,在斋堂中与两千多名学员、法师和信徒安静地品用斋饭,在大佛前的广场上与 世界各地的青年一起献灯祈福。 后三天我们游览台南、台中和台北。主办方为我们安排了三条路线,南大的同学 走的是西二线。三天的行程中,我们在白河莲花公园体验了观音莲,在国立故宫 博物院见证了合二为一的富春山居图,在宜兰沙滩享受了海浪的洗礼,在金光明 寺欣赏了精彩绝伦的陀螺表演,在佛光山的各个道场感知了佛教的智慧,在仁爱 之家和新营讲堂感受了人间佛教带给世间的温暖和关怀。 此刻,我特别想用七个“最”字描述台湾之行的所感所悟。


The SAIS Existential Crisis By Jimmy Church Reset your spam filters. I'm doing this again. I’ll be the first to admit it. Last semester I had my SAIS Existential Crisis. Boy was it brutal. I didn’t want to hang out with anyone. I didn’t want to be a Strategic Studies person anymore. I didn’t want to go to my classes but did anyway. I didn’t want to write random e-mails about random things to make people laugh. I didn’t even want to flirt with Lois while she made my sandwiches. Life was miserable. There was even a point where I started writing a Broadway musical about how I should’ve gone to Business School. It wasn’t very good. But something happened. I woke up one day and everything was awesome again. I mean sure I’ll still be in debt until I’m ready to retire. And sure I still want to Hulk Smash Dean Har___ton for calling my language selections “obscure.” But that’s all okay because I can already tell this whole thing has been worth it. I realized this over the summer. You want a Macroeconomic analysis of why U.S. businesses should be interested in focusing their attention on the East African market? BAM. There it is. In your face. And with pretty pictures. Or how about one of our colleagues? You want someone to make sure companies in Southeast Asia are worthy of investment with a detailed analysis of why or why not? KABLAM. There it is “brah”. Next time why don’t you challenge him? It's all coming together and starting to make sense. And though I clearly don't owe this school one more dime, I at least owe them respect for what they're molding us into. So for those of you who are having the pleasure of Existentially Crisising currently or will Crisis in the months to come, just remember this:

最让我敬服的是星云大师。在见到大师之前,我很难想象一个建国初期只身来到 台湾的扬州和尚是如何在半个多世纪里,在一个完全陌生的地域,开创出如此一 We’re awesome. The world needs fixing. And this is where the world fixers come 大片蔚为壮观的人间佛教的事业。见到大师,聆听了他的讲学,观看了大师的纪 录片之后,方才懂得他的艰辛,他的智慧,他的慈悲。大师说过:“我不懂管理, from. 只懂人心。”这或许正是他能够经营这么一大片佛教事业的原因。 最让我惊叹的是佛光山的法师们。他(她)们有着极为高的学历,极为高深的学 问,极为流利的英文以及极为慈悲的情怀。他(她)们的个人素质和个人魅力, 每一刻都于无声无形之中影响着我们。人间佛教能有今天的影响力,正是有着这 一大批有着大学问、大道行和娴熟的语言能力的法师们,在世界各个角落传播佛 教,关怀世人。 最让我感谢的是每一队中为我们服务的小队辅们。他们大多是佛光大学和台湾其 他院校的在校学生,年龄与我们相仿,但他们的奉献精神却让我们自叹不如。七 天里,他们自始至终照顾我们衣食住行的每一个细节。而让我们最难以忘怀的是 ,有一次我们听完讲座回来的路上,突然下起了瓢泼大雨,在经过一段没有外墙 的走廊时,十几个小队辅穿着雨衣,打着大雨伞,排成一队,为我们依次通过的 两千名学生撑起了一片晴天,而他们早已被淋得全身湿透。 最让我享受的是台湾的素食大餐。在台湾的七天也许是我们很多人这一生最长的 一段只食用素食的日子。然而,无论是在佛光山,佛光山的各个道场,法师们都 用最好吃的素食大餐招待我们,让我们平生第一次知道原来素食也能那么丰富, 那么香甜。 最让我感动的是佛光山所举办的各种社会公益事业。其中印象最深刻的是佛光山 举办的仁爱之家,这里居住的几乎都是无家可归的老人。他们在这里的所有生活 起居都由法师们、工作人员以及义工们照料并且不需要支付任何费用。另外,仁 爱之家首创了老人日托班,招收宜兰附件的老人,给予他们各种文艺和教学活动 ,让老人们有了一个充实健康的晚年。 最让我觉得有创意的是在台北建筑工地的围墙上悬挂的一盆盆的绿色植物。建筑 工地或者维修工地总难免影响一个城市的形象。可是这样一种创意的装点却瞬间 把工地变成了城市的另一道独特的风景线。 最让我兴奋的是在佛光大学的最后一个夜晚。我们在露天广场上,一边为世界各 地的青年带来的自己国家和地区最具代表性的、最精彩的表演欢呼呐喊,一边品 尝着台湾各地的水果、小吃,还有经典的台式奶茶,还欣赏了惊喜而灿烂的花火 。闭幕典礼结束后,已经将近午夜,我们兴致依旧,便结伴往建筑在山上的佛光 大学的深处走去。在接近山顶的地方,我们看到了最最璀璨的,让我们一辈子都 难以忘怀的,一整片的万家灯火。那时的我们,只想并肩坐在台阶上,静静地看 着这最美丽的台湾灯火。 从台湾归来已有一个多月了,我依然会常常回忆起在佛光山国际青年生命禅学营 所经历的点点滴滴,依然会想起风光秀丽,充满魅力的台湾。如果说台湾是一本 书,我的七天台湾之行只是翻开了这本书的一页而已。期待着在不久的将来,在 台湾回归祖国怀抱的那一天,能够再去那里,阅读一个更完整的台湾。

This article was written by Wu Hao (pictured), who is currently a student at the Hopkins–Nanjing Center (HNC) for Chinese and American Studies, in Nanjing, China.

Jimmy Church is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Relations.

The Exclusive Dean Harrington Interview (continued from page 1) SO: Fear of symbols? DH: If you read an economics article, and you read all the words and come to some function, you’ll skip right over it and read the words. Words are symbols, but they are the symbols that we start learning when we are in kindergarten, so we are used to letter symbols and word symbols. But when it comes down to mathematical symbols, it is a lack of practice. Most people’s lives are not spent dealing with mathematical symbols. It could be that if you do mathematics, physics, or chemistry you get used to it. But if you are reading something, you tend to just skip over all of those complicated looking things. For example, f(x) is just an arbitrary symbol, but it can be used to take ideas and relationships to express them symbolically. SO: But it is the practice that helps you get used to it. DH: Exactly. Learning does not take place while watching lectures. I used to say this in statistics class, “You’re going to watch me lecture about statistics, and I’m going to go through and solve a lot of problems. And you’re going to sit there and say, ‘Sure, that’s easy.’ And then you’re going to think that it is easy until you go and try to solve the problem yourself and think ‘Oh, it is hard.’” What is hard is doing something. That’s when you learn. For every lecture there is problem, because learning is going to take place not watching the lecture. The half-life of a lecture is only about two weeks. The lecture is important because it should convey some information, presumably, but it mostly should convey excitement about the subject. SO: Have the DVDs affected conversations with students? DH: Not really. Sometimes I’ll be walking up the stairs, and the student walking down will take a double take and think, “Oh I know this person really well, how do I know this person so well?” My assumption is that most people know who I am because of this, or else they have not prepared for the math. I was just in Bologna, and some students came up to me and said “Dean Harrington! I just wanted to tell you how much I like the DVDs.” That’s all that really happens. Adrian Stover is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Southeast Asia Studies.


The SAIS Observer

October 2011

“Have Heels, Will Travel” An Advice Column by Nicole Epps Dear Have Heels, Will Travel, She says she likes me but has a boyfriend. What does that mean? --Sleeping Alone in DC Darling, what this means is that you’re on layaway. You are back-up. Indeed, this is part of a phenomenon rarely mentioned in polite quarters, one commonly referred to as the “Peer and Spare Rule”. Guys, let me spell it out for you. The peer and spare principle states that when a girl is in a ho-hum relationship and the thrill is gone, or it’s a long distance relationship, one must invest in a peer and a spare male-friend. Of course, both the peer and the spare are used to bolster the self-esteem and swipe plastic at the bar. Here is the huge difference: the peer is the guy who will listen to your problems, rub your back when you’re down and tell you you’re pretty on your bad day. There is no attraction on the female side. The spare, on the other hand, is still in the running for the next “boyfriend” or “love of the night.” Long story short, lonely SAISer, you need to figure out if you are the “spare” or the “peer”. By the way, it’s hard to shift from peer to spare, and we would need an entire column to explain. But here is an even better test that you can’t study for: ask her to hang out for a movie night, and if she comes over in a sweatshirt and baseball cap and eats garlic bread, you are most definitely a peer.

Dear Have Heels, Will Travel Are there secret, torrid love affairs at SAIS? --SAIS Single

Dear Have Heels, Will Travel, Why do SAIS guys never hit on SAIS girls? Is DC full of commitmentphobes? --Lost in Translation in Nitze Never is such an ugly world and I must believe SAIS guys do hit on SAIS girls because I see these happy couples holding hands and giving each other smoldering looks every time I walk into Nitze, and no, they’re not all from Bologna. Legend has it that when midterms are over and applications are in, the SAIS male after ingesting copious amounts of Dogfish beer feels the urge to interact with SAIS women with such sparkling gems as: “We should hang out sometime. I’m going to that SAIS party–are you coming?”

Well if it’s a secret torrid love affair then by power of deduction it would need to remain a secret to maintain the torrid factor. Anyway, yes, plenty of people are doing things they might never admit to, but I’m going to spill it anyway. SAIS’ secret shame here is the “ambiguous friendship-relationship.” You know those relationships where the couple spends all waking hours together—lingering lunches, finishing each other’s sentences, and most importantly, telling each other how attractive the other person is—but at the end they always remind themselves that they’re just friends? I know, me too. This epidemic is shocking, and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat with friends analyzing these pseudo-relationships in a Soviet-style building on Massachusetts Ave NW, I would probably be able pay my tuition. Or go shopping for more heels.

The SAIS female may even say something daring in response, like: “Sure. Would you like to go to the party together?”

Seriously, these freakish and ambiguous relationships are way too pervasive and they need to stop now. Can we talk about the rat problem in DC?

Invariably, the rapprochement is shut down by silence, awkwardness or my personal favorite the “SAIS fade away.”

Dear High Heels, Will Travel,

So no, I don’t think the entire school is full of commitment-phobes. Perhaps it’s more a mélange of commitment-phobes, the socially awkward, and the entitled players.

I’m paying $82 for a gym membership that I never use and these classes are sucking my soul dry? What can I do? ---SAIS Coucher

And the Balance of Claimants, or lack thereof, leaves a surplus of single girls.

It’s obvious you’re a Vida Fitness member, so take advantage of the amazing classes and the new pool on U Street. You’re already signed up. All work and no play makes John and Jane very boring people and you do need breaks. You can’t be productive all day. Like my friend Alex says, “health is wealth!”

Dear Have Heels, Will Travel, Why don’t SAIS students dance at Friday Happy Hour? --Dancing in the Dark Sometimes I feel like SAIS is the low budget version of Footloose and I’m talking the Kevin Bacon version here, not the bootleg remake with Julianne Hough of Dancing with the Stars. Why don’t SAIS students dance at Happy Hour, you ask? Could it be they’re too busy complaining about homework and the lack of jobs in time period “t-plus-k”? Is this just middle school all over again?

Take care of yourself and if you feel overwhelmed and it’s more than just missing a spinning class, talk to a good friend or talk to a counselor at JHU CAPSThey’re here to help and listen. Dear Have Heels, Will Travel,

You’re good. Do you have any other brilliant pieces of advice on love and Yes, it’s middle school—minus the fact that we’re taller and the acne has cleared life? up. At the end of the day it’s a bunch of really smart kids awkwardly two step--U.R. Phan ping to a beat no one else is hearing in our production of No Rhythm Nation in the Nitze courtyard. If you want to dance, who cares people?! We have music at Yes. My mother, the penultimate diva, once told me: “If someone likes you, every happy hour—go for it. you’ll know. If you’re confused, they’re just not that into you.” Nicole Epps is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Law and Organizations.

October 2011

The SAIS Observer


“Have Leather Sandals, Do Travel” An Op-Ed By “Plato” I’m not in the business of giving dating advice (nor should I be, really), and normally I don’t get roped into anything remotely resembling a “battle of the sexes,” but a recent SAIS Observer submission by “Have Heels, Will Travel” struck a nerve with me, and I couldn’t help but rise to the occasion to defend my fellow SAIS Men. In her advice column in this very issue of the SAIS Observer (if you haven’t read it already, please do), Ms. Heels Travel was asked why SAIS Guys never hit on SAIS Dolls. In her nature, the response is witty and fair. It provides microromantic anecdotes that can’t be disputed, and sheds light on the issue in an incredibly classy and tasteful way. But so much more needs to be said. I’ll go ahead and give it a shot. To be fair, SAIS Guys aren’t perfect. In fact, we’re awkward, we’re quirky, and maybe a little dorky. Some of us haven’t realized it or some of us hide it well. But I for one have fully embraced my awkward-quirky-dorkiness. I know I don’t always say the right thing at the right time, and I know I have no smoothness when it comes to dating. I can’t pick the “perfect” place to eat. I can’t transition seamlessly from one topic to the next. I can’t talk about “cool” things and impress you with how “cool” I am (because I’m not “cool”). And I don’t care in the least because just like my fellow SAIS men, I can do other things that I think are pretty cool.

And when you combine all these reasons into a great big lump of relationship stress, my theory is that you are left with a SAIS girl with so many barriers that getting into her heart is like infiltrating a fortress. And thus, without further adieu, I’d like to introduce what I refer to as, “The Allegory of the White House”: Barrier #1 - The Police Socially awkward guys who appear to be suspicious are asked to leave on sight. Barrier #2 - The Lack of Invitation Nowhere on the White House does it say, “Visitors welcome!”, and furthermore, nowhere on the White House does it say, “Guy X especially welcome!” Barrier #3 - The Fence Only those who are confident, stupid, desperate or some unity of the three typically have the courage to hop the fence into romantic territory. Some refer to this as the great leap from the friendship or colleague ladder to the romantic ladder. It’s all the same concept. Barrier #4 - The Lawn The lawn is peppered with snipers, automatic weaponry, land mines and guard dogs. Bullets of particularity shoot out various criteria of the most intricate design. “I like that he started a hedge fund in Southeast Asia and speaks three languages and all… but he doesn’t like Ke$ha…” A guy can only take so many hits before he falls dead in the grass.

And ladies, whether you like it or not, you’re all dorky just the same and I’ll admit that what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to all SAIS girls, because obviously not all of you are frustrated with not getting hit on by a SAIS guy, some of you likely want nothing to do with us, and some of you probably have no prob- Barrier #5 - The Media lem getting attention at school (maybe even to the point of harassment…). But As each barrier is infiltrated, the White House press secretary releases juicy play for those of you who are frustrated with not getting what you think you want, by plays of the entire infiltration process to her SAISy grad girl squad. Lame. read on and see what you think… Barrier #6 - The Door It’s been my observation that many women at SAIS put up some pretty hefty Even if the guy makes it all the way to the door, in a lot of cases the door’s barriers, and I’m not so sure many are aware of it. It could be for a variety of been locked all along. Turns out she wasn’t really interested in dating or having reasons (many of which are completely understandable), but here are some that I a relationship. Perhaps she was just lonely and starving for male attention. can think of: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

All the standard reasons to put up barriers + This is Washington DC Our school is an itty bitty fish bowl This is a very career-oriented institution with career-minded students You’re taking Corporate Finance We’re all under a tremendous amount of self-induced stress to perform Academics can be shy and the intelligent can be picky Living abroad hardens the outer shell, especially in countries w/ obnoxious men Some honestly believe our SAIS reputations will carry forward into our careers The Deans are always watching The list could go on and on…

So to the ladies who are upset that the dorky guys mentioned up above aren’t hitting on them, I politely suggest you do the following and see if your odds improve: 1. Fire the police. 2. Make an invitation with a clear indication. 3. Let a few of the snipers take a vacation. 4. Keep the press releases to a minimum. But most importantly… 5. Unlock the damn door. “Plato” is a SAIS Resident Philosopher.


The SAIS Observer

SAIS Thought Leadership and the New Silk Road Strategy By Lindsay La Forge When you make pleasant small talk at a SAIS event with a man you later find out is the Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., you know that what you have been a part of that day was not just enlightening and current, but impactful in the larger global dialogue on how countries function. This is what is at the heart of a SAIS degree, the guarantee to students that sets the school apart: a place at the table for discussions on some of the most timely issues global leaders are facing, as well as the education to capitalize on that opportunity. An event this September, titled “The United States’ ‘New Silk Road’ Strategy: What is it? Where is it Headed?,” brought this realization into focus. As a recent alumnus of the International Law and Organizations program, and more relevantly, of Fred Starr’s Central Asia and the Caspian Basin class, I was proud to see the SAIS community once again at the forefront of a new dialogue for global change. In my current capacity as a Program Officer for yet another Dupont think tank, I try to capture what institutions and processes have been essential in creating economic growth and how that growth produces measurable peace and governance outcomes. I do this in order to make recommendations to fragile state leaders on their nation’s development. Thus I found the event to be refreshingly practical, appropriately high-level, and deeply constructive in the move toward crystallizing a New Silk Road concept. Central Asia is an area of particular importance in my work, as the West slips out of Afghanistan and a mixed bag of challenges—economic, strategic, and political—that show themselves to be more durable than a decade of best efforts. The Central Asia- Caucasus Institute (CACI) at SAIS began a discussion fleshing out the details of Afghanistan and the region’s future, which up until this point had been characterized only by Secretary Clintons call to “create a New Silk Road” of interlinked markets in Central Asia, the Caspian, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, China, Pakistan, and India. Rich in imagery and promise, but ultimately at risk of becoming platitudinous, it was refreshing to hear Robert Hormats (U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs), Sham Bathija (Senior Economic Adviser to Hamid Karzai), and Juan Miranda (Director General of the Central and Asia

October 2011

Department at ADB) provide robust policy frameworks for dealing with these issues in the move to create a more comprehensive, regional, trade-based economic order. While gaps in the preconditions for regional cooperation were identified (i.e., security, infrastructure, commodities dependence, and investment risk), existing assets were also a focus. Both the policy progress in areas like customs revenue and border management and a discussion of potential for natural and human capital existing within the region were considered. The internal historical factors responsible for the doubling of trade in all the Eurasian sub-regions since 1995 came into play as indicators of the best practices which might result in successful future policy design. Tangible policy recommendations were synthesized for external actors in the planning for trade based growth, diversification, and mobilization of the private sector. The practicality of the discussions was evidenced by the broaching of the Iranian cooperation subject and a real consideration of comparative advantages within and outside of the region. The construction of institutions for peace and prosperity for the entire Eurasian continent is quickly becoming a call for action and leaders are excited to embark upon this initiative. This region is positioned to assert itself as a dominant player in global trade and politics, and the thought leadership provided by CACI, as well as the high profile of practitioners with capacity to institute change, were indicative of will that backs the necessary progress of the New Silk Road strategy. Lindsay La Forge is a SAIS Alumnus (BC ’10, DC’11) who concentrated in International Law and Organizations.

Internships While at SAIS By Lubomir Sokol Another year at SAIS means new people to meet and more parties to attend. It also means additional rounds of internship freak-out sessions for most first year students (and an even more exciting job search for us second years). The aim of this article is to give you some valuable advice that might just help you land an internship. “Relationship Building” Rather than “Networking” At this point you have probably been told by your career services advisor and your (SAIS) friends that “networking” is the key to an internship. I would argue that “Relationship Building” is the vital component that you should concentrate on during your search. This is a quantity versus quality process and quality almost always wins. Developing and maintaining a personal relationship with someone lends you credibility as a candidate. Moreover, if the person has any sway in the hiring process, they are more likely to back someone they can trust and know relatively well rather than someone who handed them a resume yesterday. In other words, who would you pick among two equally qualified candidates: Candidate 1 who befriended you on Facebook and forwarded his resume, or Candidate 2 who you’ve had dinner with on a few occasions over the past few months? I think the choice here is easy—I still have yet to hear of any SAIS student who got an internship through his random Linkedin friend. Bottom Line: Develop a personal relationship first with someone before asking him or her for leads. This takes time, so start now. How to Start at SAIS We’re all students at a prestigious institution and many of us worked before coming here. Most people get caught up “networking” with people outside of the school but in my opinion there are plenty of resources right where we are. So start there. Reach out to fellow classmates and professors who share your interests. They are often gatekeepers for contacts within organizations that you may be interested in, and chances are they would be happy to share them with someone who they know and trust. Bottom Line: Start developing strong connections with fellow students and with your professors. MIPP students are a particularly under-appreciated resource.

Questions & Answers: Topic: Interning while at SAIS (during the regular semester) Here is a question that I’ve heard numerous times, particularly from first year students and our returning Bolognese friends. The responses come from alumni and second year students who interned during the school year. Q: How many hours should I intern per week? A: 20 hours a week max, if you’re not taking a language, and less if you are. Remember your opportunity cost: you’re paying a lot of money in tuition. Q: Should I intern my first semester at SAIS? A: Absolutely not. Figure out the flow of the school before taking on an internship. This is also time that should be used for the aforementioned “relationship building.” Q: What’s the best time to intern? A: For students graduating in May, the spring semester of your second year is typically the best time to intern. At the end of your internship the organization can sometimes bring you on as a full-time employee. I hope this helps you navigate through the treacherous internship waters and if you find yourself stressed out, just remember that it could always be worse. You could be looking for a real job like the rest of us. Lubomir Sokol is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Latin American Studies.

October 2011

The SAIS Observer


The Occupy Wall St eet Protests and Social Change Through the Generations By Michael Carbone & Nic Wondra In the past few weeks the “Occupy Wall Street” protests have garnered much attention by the media, the Internet community, and even some presidential candidates. The common question among pundits is “who are these guys and what do they want?” The reply from the ether is vague but energetic, and the turnouts keep growing. In number and by location, the Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading. In this piece we discuss two opposing viewpoints on the nature of this protest movement, the context of social media in which it is set, and the prospects for its future. The Historical Substance of Movements It has been a number of years since the revolutionary social movements of the 1960s and 70s when we saw icons of change like Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Betty Friedan shake the foundation of American society. Unlike then, the social movements today are lacking in terms of formal organization, recognizable personalities, and concrete policy goals. Making noise is not the same as having a voice; and those that would claim that en masse turnout reflects a movement’s power are sorely mistaken. The focus until now has been increasing numbers and drawing attention. This Wall Street exercise may as well be a walk around town, because the sustainability of a movement is its agenda, not its numbers. Dr. King’s message became America’s message in the 1960s because of its simplicity and succinctness. The Feminine Mystique became the banner agenda for professional women because it shattered the misconception that feminism was mutually exclusive of femininity. A movement’s sustainability is derived from its common denominator policy goals, and with no concrete agenda it cannot survive to affect change. So we must ask ourselves: is it about “sustaining” a movement or achieving solid objectives in the end? The age of connectivity is here, but that does not mean we are actually empowered by connection alone. A movement’s power today is often measured by its Google search hits, number of “likes” on Facebook, and so forth, but the Internet’s ability to help fishers of minds cast a wide net is also its drawback. One doesn’t always get the catch he expects. Due to no center and no concrete agenda, the “Occupy Wall Street” events of late are easier to dismiss than embrace. But is it generational? Do we actually think differently than our parents once did about our roles in society? The stressors seem similar: school, job, government, friends and spouses; yet we subject ourselves to the diffuse and pithy conversation of the Internet rather than using that very tool to focus our rage. Be it a frustration with bankers, politicians, or corporations, our generation must not be distracted by the volume of our discontent. We must focus it into a genuine set of generational demands. The Modern Movement: Occupy the News Cycle There is little doubt that Occupy Wall Street is a movement of its time, borne from a generation used to web-based collaboration, connecting, and sharing. Using the Internet to promote participation in activism is not new, nor is using social media to increase its reach. However, the participants’ understanding of the media environment and decentralized administration have become the movement’s biggest assets as it has garnered attention. As is typical of the traditional news media, protests and marches in the new millennium have sometimes been noted, often been ignored, and only rarely have been analyzed. Pundits and writers may argue over whether the police estimates of the number of participants or the organizers’ estimates are more accurate, but rarely do they try to intelligently engage with what drives the protesters. The march or protest ends after a day or weekend, and once again it’s back to business as usual. The first novel aspect of the movement then is its emphasis on sustained presence. Inspirations mentioned by participants include the 2009 Tea Party protests and the 2011 Arab Spring, and although the Tea Party had the help and encouragement of the media from its beginning, its domestic political and media influence reinforced the importance of sustained pressure for Occupy Wall Street to build awareness, increase turnout, and stay on the minds of political leaders. Taken together with the increased dependence of the public and traditional media on social media, the movement has survived beyond the initial media blackout and condescending remarks, and forced the media and politicians to (begin to) critically engage with it. The second novel approach of the Occupy Together movement is its decentralized administration, inspired in turn by the Arab Spring movements and described by one participant of the Occupy DC group as “open source.” Besides highlighting the fact that much of the web infrastructure and social media used by the movement is free and open source (such as the WordPress publishing platform), the ethos of the participants is one where everyone contributes to the

movement and incrementally improves and refines its aims and ambitions. In this way, to start with specific demands seems counter-intuitive. Indeed, its decentralized administration emphasizes its strongest asset: decision-making by consensus. While the trope of Congress being unable to agree is pat (they have no issues supporting outsized military spending, tax cuts for the rich, and shielding officials and financial supporters from criminal prosecution, among other topics), productively investing in the country’s future for a timeframe longer than a campaign cycle does seem beyond them. The movement’s foundation on consensus and participation seems fresh, and empowers Americans to take part in the political decision-making process that ignores their interests. Fizzle or Flourish? Whether it can sustain its message of consensus against an entrenched political, media and financial class seeking to marginalize or co-opt it is unclear. The disenfranchisement felt by Americans will remain until corrected, but whether that needed social or policy change happens sooner or later, and in what context— the diffuse organization of the modern blogosphere, or with the leadership of a “center” with clear and concise goals—is still being fought over. At the first general assembly of Occupy DC the question of demands was raised; the media was berating Occupy Wall Street for its lack of demands. Indeed, one of the more popular calls for action from Adbusters at the beginning of the movement asked provocatively, “What is our one demand?” Here in the capital, one participant responded, “demands are for when you have leverage.” First you build movement around general demands and discontent, and only once you have the political class’s attention do you create policy demands. But another replied, “Are we here to demand, or to come together?” Is the intention of the movement to demand and be given concessions from those who hold power—in turn legitimizing the unbalanced political relationship—or to build participation and compassion into people’s interactions with each other and with a system seen as actively ignoring their interests? Concluding Remarks Indeed, will this be seen as one in a long history of traditional protest movements, but less successful in its organizational capacity? Or will it be seen as the start of a larger, deeper process, whereby Americans reconsider their powerless in the political system and attempt to build a more participatory and horizontal democratic process, where they not only feel heard, but can hear each other? While individual aspects of this modern movement may be nothing new, taken together at this time it is casting itself as something relatively unfamiliar to the U.S. political landscape. Rather than be driven by the formal institutions of labor unions, churches, or schools, people from entirely different walks of life are participating. But although the circles of those participating are expanding in breadth, are they in depth? In an age where the participants have only cursory contact with each other, the ability to connect disparate groups towards a common goal or enterprise becomes all the more important. If this is done by an emerging leader or organization, the more likely the movement will make and get some demands. But if it is done through its current participatory consensus model, the movement will more likely be transformative. Nicholas (Nic) Wondra is a first-year M.A. candidate & Michael Carbone is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in China Studies & Energy Resources and Environment.


The SAIS Observer

October 2011

Courtesy of Jared Katz

PHOTOS: Italy’s Students Protest Education Cuts in Bologna, Italy (Sept. 2008) Photography by Jared Katz, SAIS Alumnus, BC 2009, DC 2010 See More of Jared’s Work at:

An Italian Culinary Education: Studying Abroad in Bologna By Suzy Xiu I made the decision to spend my junior year abroad in Bologna with the intention of, above all else, studying Italian gastronomy. The city is generally claimed to be Italy’s culinary capital, even boasting the nickname “La Città Grassa,” the Fat City. I hadn’t actually undergone any formal culinary training, so my plan was essentially to try out every dish Italy had to offer. Once I got here, however, I quickly learned that this would be an impossible task. Tagliatelle, Fettucini, Spaghetti, Gnocchi, Linguini, Ravioli, Lasagna, Capellini, Fusilli, Farfalle, Tortellini, Tortelloni, Tortelli... the offerings are seemingly endless. Then there come the sauces. We start off with the traditional Bolognese sauce. The best ones are always freshly made "in casa" with a rich and savory—yet surprisingly delicate—ragù. It is perfectly spiced and then blended with plump red tomatoes, into a hearty, satisfying sauce. When this is paired with Tagliatelle— long, thin ribbons of pasta, you get one of Bologna's most classic dishes, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Courtesy of Jared Katz

Also popular is the Gorgonzola sauce. Generally known as blue cheese in the United States, it possesses a pungent aroma that is a deterrent for some. However, those people haven’t tried it coupled with the soft, little, melt-in-your-mouth pillows of dough called Gnocchi. While there are many specialties in the region to choose from, my favorites so far are the Tortelloni. Not to be confused with Tortellini, their tinier counterpart, Tortelloni are large, deftly folded pockets of pasta bursting with a cheese filling. The best dish I've had here so far is Tortelloni stuffed with sausage and Gorgonzola, topped with pancetta and truffle shavings resting in a light cream sauce. Heaven. Despite all the culinary wonders offered here, the best part about Bologna is its location. A central hub of the Italian rail system, it takes at most a couple hours to get to most major cities: Venice, Rome, Milan, and Florence, to name a few. I'm just a short (and cheap!) train ride away from the most authentic Florentine steak, Risotto alla Milanese, Venetian seafood, and Saltimbocca alla Romana. There is also a two-for-one Saturday train ticket deal until December to take advantage of. I fear I will really live up to the city’s nickname by the end of this year, but at least I’ll be sure to savor every bite along the way. Suzy Xiu is a Johns Hopkins University Class of 2013 undergraduate student studying abroad at the SAIS Bologna Center in Bologna, Italy.

Courtesy of Jared Katz

October 2011

The SAIS Observer

“Comcast Sucks and the Government Should Smash Them to Pieces” (continued from page 1) Like the brilliant social scientists we are, we finally got to the root of the problem (but didn’t find a solution). The problem, apparently, was that we live in a house with two units. Two separate units. With concrete floors and beams in between. “Oh, we don’t service that,” claimed a Comcast representative. “So we don’t get internet?,” we wondered. “Um,” they responded. “You can’t have two internet accounts in one place.” “Oh yes we can! And we’re going to get that internet!,” we cried. “Let me talk to your manager! I need internet and I need it now!” At one point—no at many points—after having our Saturday night ruined, we asked to speak to a manager. That got us put on hold for another 30 minutes and eventually the waiting music stopped. “Dude, where’d the waiting music go? I don’t hear it anymore.” “Dude, the customer service people probably get electric shocks or money taken out of their paychecks if a customer is on hold for more than X minutes. We definitely hit X minutes.” “Damn, they probably just hung up.” “Maybe they are messing with us,” I proposed to my roommate. “Why don’t we press “two for Spanish” next time and talk to someone in a different country. It can’t be April Fools Day in both countries. Plus, if they are messing with us, it is just the English-speaking team who celebrate. It’s not like they’re going to call another calling center and tell them in Spanish to mess with us because it’s April Fools in the first country.” Long story short, this didn’t work either. So in conclusion, Comcast is a bunch of idiots. Policy relevance: Comcast is a bunch of idiots and they need to be smashed to pieces by the State. “Anonymous” is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Middle East Studies and International Finance.

SAIS Student



The SAIS Observer

October 2011

The Latest from Egypt By Wil Jackson Summary: The current events in Egypt suggest Egypt has numerous challenges to address in the near and long term: rising debt levels, IMF loan refusal, increased borrowing from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, religious fractionation and state provoked sectarian violence between Egyptian Muslims and Christians, and an increasing level of hostility with Israel. These all foretell that things will remain extremely complicated for Egypt, and this is without even considering Egypt’s nearing parliamentary elections. In this piece I discuss a number of challenges Egypt is currently facing regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections. I begin by covering the divisions within the liberal and secular movements and the strengths of the Muslim Brotherhood in electoral competition. Next, I explore the shared ailments among the liberal and secular movements in both Egypt and Syria. Finally, I note the fear among Egyptian voters regarding continual political and economic stagnation in Egypt and the possible emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as an elected political party. The ruling Egyptian military council has recently moved the parliamentary election date from September to November 2011. It appears the liberals and secularists needed additional time to form cohesive political parties in order to compete in the elections. If the elections had taken place in September as scheduled, the individual liberal and secular parties would not have stood a chance against the Muslim Brotherhood at the ballot box, according to many analysts. Who Are the Muslim Brothers? The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest and best-organized political faction in Egypt. In the upcoming elections, they will run under the name of “Freedom and Justice Party,” and may prove to be more capable in attracting large numbers of committed voters than previously expected. Despite not participating fully in politics under Mubarak, the Muslim Brothers’ constituents still seem to know who the Brothers are as a party, what they stand for, and how they will implement various policies if elected. In terms of the liberals and secularists, they are still too divided and there exist too many uncertainties, considering how they intend to make their promises materialize for the average Egyptian. As the protests continue though, the Egyptian economy continues to suffer. It is reported that increasing capital flight could wipe out billions of dollars lent to Egypt from the Gulf Arab states in a matter of months. Currently, the capital

flight is ten times more than the amount of aid promised to Egypt from both the U.S. and Europe combined, or about $130 billion a year. The young protesters in January did a phenomenal job of rebelling against the state, and many lost their lives for it. However, this wasn’t necessarily enough to make long-lasting change. The protestors now need to learn how to “do politics”. These young protestors are not trained politicians and most do not have an educational background in politics, and it is questionable if they know exactly what they want to bring to the state. As well, there is no consensus among the liberals on what should be in the constitution. The liberals and secularists are more of a movement, and therefore should not be seen as representing any single political party. This further complicates Egyptian politics. What Does Syria Have to Do with Egypt? Although Egypt and Syria are in two very different situations, the liberal opposition in each share an important ailment - they are unable to unify. Both the liberal Egyptian and liberal Syrian opposition fail to offer a viable plan for a future without their respective despot. The opposition groups in both states learned to decentralize in order to avoid the targeted retribution of the secret police and intelligence apparatus. Centralization meant death and even asylum abroad didn’t safety from the assassin’s bullet. Now the opposition movements in Egypt and Syria must learn to bridge their divides in order to offer a clear plan on how their countries should be run. The liberals and secularists in Egypt should be careful; it is unknown how much patience the average Egyptian worker has for continuous protesting and political circus. The biggest threat for the liberals and secularists in the upcoming elections does not come from the committed religious voter, but from those Egyptians who want a little more daily stability. These voters want an opportunity to go back to a full day’s work and the ability to predict and manage a constant income. Where Economics and Politics Mix In order to reverse political and economic stagnation then, the Egyptian voter may vote for the Muslim Brotherhood even if they don’t quite agree with all their views. The average Egyptian voter may be impressed just enough with the party’s organizational ability and commitment to achieve any viable Egyptian future that they decide to place their bets with the Brotherhood. Wil Jackson is a SAIS M.A. candidate currently in Egypt.

How Jersey Shore Explains the Middle East By Philip Zager While writing a research paper on Iraq, I needed to illustrate Henry Kissinger’s statement about the Iran-Iraq War: “It’s best if both sides lose.” Simultaneously rooting against both the Yankees and Red Sox partially exemplifies this, but I needed an example with wider appeal. Then I found a suitable explanation: Mike “The Situation,” from Jersey Shore. Much like the Iran-Iraq War, the recent feud between cast members Mike “The Situation” and Ronnie presented a scenario in which one would hope both sides would lose. However, this analogy goes even further because Mike challenged Ronnie, who is approximately three times his size. Mike is Iraq and Ronnie is Iran and Mike’s decision to slam his head against the nearest wall as a means of resolving the feud is a metaphor for Saddam Hussein’s self-defeating tactics. Yes, Jersey Shore represents the end of MTV’s attempt to be music-related…a decade later. If The Real World was trapped in a tanning booth after a dozen vodka-sodas, it would be Jersey Shore. However, we are not finished yet. In addition to making the viewer feel better about their own life, the show is a metaphor for Middle Eastern politics. As mentioned earlier, Mike represents Iraq and his much larger rival, Ronnie, represents Iran. Mike and Ronnie started disliking each other while competing over their fellow cast member Sam. Ronnie ended up with Sam and their semi-functional relationship provides recurring drama. This surprisingly resilient alliance makes sense if we understand that Sam stands for Syria.

-struction projects. His tall hairstyle mirrors the tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa. Pauly’s best friend, Vinny, with his tendency to criticize the insanity of his housemates, is like the UAE’s neighbor and home to the highly critical AlJazeera. That would be Qatar. And with her combination of artificially enhanced cleavage and puritanical refusal to hook up with cast members, Jenni stands for Saudi Arabia. The mascot of the show, Snooki, serves as a mirror of the show. Author Sandra Mackey employed the idea of a single entity “mirroring” the regional geopolitical environment in her book Mirror of the Arab World: Lebanon in Conflict. With her hard drinking, constant searching for fun, adoration of beaches, and general lack of modesty, Snooki stands for Lebanon. Google “Haifa Wehbe” if you disagree with this assessment. Snooki’s closest friend, and late addition to the show, Deena, represents Lebanon’s neighbor, Israel. Deena’s inability to find a housemate willing to hook up with her, immortalized in the question, “Pauly, you don’t want to do sex?,” illustrates Israel’s difficulty in finding acceptance in the Middle Eastern community.

Despite Mike’s initial affinity for Sam—after all, the Ba’ath Party once ruled Syria and Iraq—Sam has stayed with Ronnie, just as the Iran-Syria alliance remains strong.

Finally, Jenni and Snooki’s friendship in the face of Snooki’s personal difficulties represents the role of Saudi Arabia in rebuilding Lebanon after its civil war. Yes, Jersey Shore provides a metaphor for explaining Middle Eastern politics. Further elaboration of the explanatory power of this model, including a discussion of the role of fame (America) in the region will be addressed in my forthcoming Master’s Thesis.

The rest of the cast falls into place too. DJ Pauly D, with his tripartite name and “Blowout” hairstyle represents the United Arab Emirates and its massive con-

Philip Zager is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Middle East Studies.

October 2011

The SAIS Observer


SAIS Impacts A Column about Innovative Impacts SAIS Students, Faculty, and Alumni are Making Around the World By Marisol Trowbridge “Trade and Aid at SAIS” Shamarukh Mohiuddin, a SAIS student from Bangladesh, has long had a passion for improving her home country’s opportunities for growth. So when she bumped into Shabbir Ahmed Chowdhury, the founder of the U.S.-Bangladesh Advisory Council (USBAC) at a social event, she swiftly pitched her idea to turn his small, but high-level initiative into a full-fledged organization and a significant player on Capitol Hill. Shamarukh, now the Executive Director of the U.S.-Bangladesh Advisory Council (, spends her time outside school doing research and advocacy on trade policy, foreign aid and climate change, introducing bills in Congress and hosting events with international dignitaries to foster better trade relations between the two countries. This work is currently supported by grants from individuals, corporations and a major foundation. This network has allowed her to take the USBAC from an organization that is primarily devoted to talks between high-level officials, to an organization with boots on the ground in the policy world. Currently she’s working on two main projects for the USBAC. First is legislation she helped draft, designed to create duty-free, quota-free market access for least developed countries (LDCs). For example, Bangladesh and Cambodia each face about $650 million and $420 million respectively in duty fees every year just on clothing and apparel entering the U.S. market. These amounts are much higher than the tariffs faced by wealthier countries such as Britain and France. Meanwhile, the annual U.S. aid budget for these countries is about onefifth of the duty fees. Many of these policies were put in place in the 1930s and remain in place today, although textile and apparel production and employment in the U.S. has rapidly declined over the past few decades. USBAC’s duty-free bill would correct these oversights, allowing trade policy to keep pace with the changes in the U.S. economy while leveling the playing field for developing countries. Shamarukh’s second big project is focused on climate change policy. Since Bangladesh is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, Shamarukh is working to retain Congressional support for funding climate change “adaptation assistance” to at-risk nations. The projected bill for the first five years of climate change adaptation in Bangladesh stands at around $5 billion over five years, but little support has been extended by the U.S. government to Bangladesh so far, despite pledges made at the Copenhagen and Cancun Summits. Beyond this U.S. policy work, the USBAC also advises the Bangladeshi government on how to strengthen laws and push for labor rights, aiming to get

Ma La Tang: It Hurts That Good By Melissa Morgenstern As a student at Beijing Foreign Language University (Bei Wai), I avoided Ma La Tang like the plague. The problem was that plague looked mighty fun! For the uninitiated, Ma La Tang is a customer-chosen concoction of vegetables, noodles, tofu, meatballs, and whatever else your procurer of goodies happens to have on stock. Everything is boiled in some kind of liquid, and served to the customer with a choice of condiments. Near my university, customers’ selections were boiled in frighteningly red oil, sitting in a burnt and beat-up traveling iron lung, and then served on a saran wrap-lined metal plate with a side of sesame sauce. But I refrained from trying the tempting culinary mystery for an entire year. Why? Well, there really is something about an industrial metal vat of pepperinfused neon red oil simmering away in an underpass at ten at night that speaks to one’s germaphobic side and curiosity simultaneously. For my first year in Beijing, the germaphobic side won. Hence no Ma La Tang.

Bangladesh on the list of Millennium Challenge Account countries. All this high-intensity work might seem intimidating, but Shamarukh was prepared for her role by the time she joined USBAC, and she’s not the sort of person who seems to need much rest. For several years before SAIS she worked multiple jobs at the same time. From her first position as Research Associate at the Progressive Policy Institute, where she studied the effects of trade policy in LDCs, to her work with GlobalWorks Foundation and its multi-stakeholder “Trade, Aid and Security Coalition,” to her simultaneous consulting gigs for the Business Council for Global Development and Fontheim International, Shamarukh has had ample opportunities to rub shoulders with policy makers. She has learned how to call people on the Hill, push policies, ask for support, and get comfortable bringing officials and other big-wigs to the negotiating table. She understands the process of getting work done in Washington and she has been prepared to navigate the system with patience and perspective. After five years in DC, Shamarukh also came to understand that there was a gap between academic theory and policy and that someone must bridge it. Today she does just that, boiling down her policy recommendations to simple talking points in order to get clear ideas across. After SAIS, Shamarukh plans to seek more funding for the USBAC and foster U.S.-Bangladesh relations by expanding programs. She also hopes to include a program to engage Bangladeshi expats in the advocacy process. Indeed, Shamarukh may get only four hours of sleep, but she appears far from burnt out. In fact, her work seems to energize her, and she bubbles over as she talks about it. Shamarukh will be a force to contend with in the years to come. Stay tuned for more articles about SAISers making impacts. If you know someone you’d like to see highlighted in this column, please contact with a few lines about who, when, where, and why. All nominations will be considered. Marisol Trowbridge is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Development. probably be at the top of the non-existent list of “edible threats to U.S. security”. That oily, sesame sauce-dressed concoction of veggies, noodles, and meatballs made my entire Beijing life! It also enflamed by tongue and stomach, but that was nothing a donkey meat sandwich couldn’t cure. My concept of Ma La Tang was completely rearranged by my introduction to Nanjing Ma La Tang. The dirty little laundry baskets were there, the selection of tantalizing local goodies was present, but no industrial vats, no neon pepper oil, and no evidence of sesame sauce to be found. All I could see was a spaghetti pot of water and some small colanders to easily remove one’s selections from the water. Where’s the danger? Where’s my feeling of violating the FDA? I quickly buried these questions when my bowl arrived. My bowl of Ma La Tang soup! It was a soup of mystery seasoning, garlic, sesame, and vinegar surrounding voluminous meatballs, almost invisible cellophane noodles and limp spinach. Eating my newly discovered Ma La Tang soup was a glorious mixture of sharp pain and delicious pleasure. The only thing missing was a donkey meat sandwich.

My second trip to Beijing introduced me to a new facet of Ma La Tang: one didn’t have to submit one’s self to the metal vat treatment to partake in the fun. A good friend took me to a Ma La Tang hole-in-the-wall between a donkey meat sandwich hut and a tobacco and alcohol store. I grabbed my little laundry basked and went to work stocking up on cellophane noodles, mushrooms, spinach, and meatballs. Somehow passing off my basket to the isolated chef in back, whose only friend seemed to be that very same vat of angry red oil, lent a sense of safety to the whole experience.

I guess it is a well known fact amongst the China and East Asian studies crowds that regionalism in China exists in everything, especially the food. But for me, that regionalism tends to really make the deepest impression in the form of a personal culinary adventure waiting to be shared with others. And hopefully they’ll find that it hurts just as good as you said it would.

With my germaphobic side appeased, I sat down and completely surrendered to the happiness of knowing that I’m finally going to eat something that would

Melissa Morgenstern is first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in China Studies at the Hopkins–Nanjing Center (HNC) in Nanjing, China.


The SAIS Observer

How Ben Ali’s “Authoritarian Bargain” Fell Apart in Tunisia By Peter Gruskin Society for the political-economist can be divided into two spheres perhaps: the material and the political. Materially, Tunisia was progressing to some extent under the Dictatorship of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, with a few economic indicators trending in the right direction after he took power in 1987. Economists seem to concur that Tunisia fared “ok” as a result of IMF-inspired liberalization programs initiated in the 1980s. The adjustment period—which can mean lower growth while reforms are implemented—went fairly well, and during the 1990s, Tunisia grew at around 5% annually. Not bad for a developing country, many thought. Economic equality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, improved over time too. But while Tunisia’s policy bureaucrats were on the right track, the Tunisian people were going nowhere politically. That wouldn’t last long. Even under Ben Ali, social indicators improved over time and today Tunisia enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. As well, gender equality was an important theme for both post-independence regimes. No matter how brutal they may have been against detractors, the two post-WWII governments prioritized development. They reduced infant mortality rates, fought poverty with direct transfers and educational programs, and achieved a decent degree of fairness in distribution of resources. However, in recent years the economic and political spheres became too entangled, which made for the backwards “separation of powers” set-up that much more difficult to sustain. After Ben Ali wrestled the presidency from the longstanding Habib Bourguiba in the late 1980s, he seemed decent on the political liberties front for a few years. Ben Ali initially let some Islamists out of jail and tried to co-opt his critics in a 1989 amnesty offer; but soon enough the repression set in. Readership of state-run and self-censored newspapers—arguably an indicator of how much propaganda the masses are willing to stomach—fell in the early 1990s, despite the advances in literacy. Islamists were rounded up and put in jail for political activities and the opposition parties were vetted by their main competitor—Ben Ali—before they could run against him in national elections. Contrary to what some initially thought, Ben Ali was not going to serve as a bridge president: he was in it for good. To this end, he proposed a constitutional referendum to abolish term limits and extend the maximum age for contestants to 75. Some speculated that he would be Tunisia’s president for life.

October 2011

Then, December 2010, the coil sprung. The main problem with this model of “developmental dictatorship” is simple: higher expectations. Take education for example. Under the “authoritarian bargain”—in which the masses received material benefits (government jobs, social services, infrastructure, food and oil subsidies, macroeconomic progress, etc.) in exchange for political accountability—education was free and the quality was fairly good. But the regime’s success in this venture was double-edged. People began to expect jobs commensurate with their higher skill levels upon graduation. The dilemma was that the good jobs tended to be in the public sector because the private sector was underdeveloped for a number of reasons. Not least among them was corruption, which foreign investors saw as an impediment to receiving reliable business information necessary for investment. Furthermore, economic liberalization programs called for making the public sector more efficient, which often meant cutting employees to keep deficits in check. The government simply could not absorb all the graduates, and in recent years unemployment for some degree-holders stood in the range of 20-30%. Tunisia could not grow fast enough to meet this lack. As a result of these structural problems in the economy and absence of voice in policy matters, Tunisia’s educated youth no longer bought into the authoritarian bargain, which political scientists have proposed to explain the lack of democracy in certain authoritarian countries. Thus when Mohammed Bouazizi, an unemployed graduate and street vendor, lit himself on fire in December of 2010, it signalled an end to the politics of compromise. It was no longer worth it for Tunisians to keep quiet. Today, there is an interim government in Tunis, which despite its shortcomings is more open and legitimate than the previous regime. Regular elections will now be held, and given Tunisia’s strong track record and macroeconomic knowhow, it is fairly likely that the country will continue to develop over the next few years both materially and politically. Tunisia is now generally considered to be the easiest economy to manage of all the Arab Spring nations. So while the initial results of the Arab Spring may be a dent in GDP and temporary bout of instability, in the long-run the country is considerably more likely to emerge as both a prosperous and fair place for the bulk of its citizens. Peter Gruskin is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Finance and Middle East Studies.

2010 “Show Your SAIS Pride” Photo Contest - Top 3 Winners 1. “SAISers in 中国 (China) - Jinghong, Yunnan” by Katharine Cooley 2. “SAIS in Kibera Slum - Kenya” by Joe Wilson 3. “SAIS at the Beach - La Ceiba, Honduras” by John Pacheco Courtesy of The SAIS Office of Communications (

1 2 3

October 2011

The SAIS Observer



DON’T STEAL. Sponsored by The SAIS Observer & The SAIS Review


The SAIS Observer

October 2011

Introducing Your SAIS Student Government Association Officers The SAIS Student Government Association (SGA) serves as the primary interface between students and the SAIS administration. We are your advocates with the Administration, Alumni, and other Student Groups and we strive to enhance the quality of student life at SAIS. Our goal is to make SAIS the best international relations program in the world. We aim to work with the student body, faculty, administration and alumni to seek continuous improvement of key SAIS performance indicators, including career placement, student satisfaction, and alumni participation and to continue the trend of a fun, lively school environment, by engaging students in social activities and functions.

Chris Cochran (MA-3), President Chris is from Searcy, Arkansas, a city where "thousands live as millions wish they could." Before coming to SAIS, Chris lived and worked in Honduras with CARE International. He learned Spanish while living with a Honduran couple, along with their four-year-old daughter. Chris rides his bicycle to school and can be seen riding all around the city, frequently donning fashionable socks underneath his rolled-up pantleg. He loves SAIS and is pleased to be serving you as your SGA president.

Marcus Watson (MA-3), Vice President Marcus is a born and raised Londoner, but regrettably speaks less like Michael Caine and more like Colin Firth. He spent his formative undergraduate years at Trinity College Dublin, in which time he made several dubious student films and became well acquainted with a certain black alcoholic beverage. After graduating, Marcus moved back to London where he trained and practised as a corporate lawyer. In between all this, he spent time interning with a microfinance organisation in East Africa, working as a pro bono legal adviser in London and travelling across the world whenever he could.

Cornelius Fleischhaker (MA-3), Treasurer Cornelius is a Latin American Studies concentrator, originally from Germany. He developed his interest in international relations living in the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, New York and Beloit, Kansas. This past year at SAIS, he has been active in the German Club, responsible for all beer centered activities and participated in the soccer club, the Latin American Club as well as the African Diaspora Club. During the fall semester, inspired by recent events, he completed a short, one night internship as a Chilean mine worker. By being German, he brings a competent and prudent approach to the treasury, proven by a strong track record of quantitative and organizational ability. As a rare example of the Europeanborn, first-year –DC breed, he is in a privileged position to inspire unity between different groups of students at SAIS.

Nicole Epps (MA-3), Social Chair Nicole was born and raised in New York City and can run a four minute mile in stilettos, hail a cab and order takeout at the same time. She has years of event planning experience, from intimate dinner parties to black-tie affairs for the Mayor of Atlanta. Whether you are into paintball, cocktail hours or listening to Malcolm Gladwell, Nicole is the girl for you when she's not studying International Law, combating international trafficking or impersonating Wonder Woman. Her top priority this year, will be hosting events that showcase the diversity of our student body and DC in general. Wednesday “Hump Day” activities including massages, movie night, psychic readings, casual dinners after speaker series, “SAIS Nite Out” at local sporting events, First Fridays at art galleries, and Music and Drinks at area museums, are just a few events that would make great additions to the SAIS calendar. She looks forward to being your Social Chair and discovering the DMV area with you this year!

October 2011

The SAIS Observer


Elan Bar (MA-3), Bologna Campus (BC) Representative Elan never knows how to answer the question “Where are you from?” Born in LA to Israeli parents, he went to school in Santa Barbara, moved to Italy in 2005, holds British citizenship and speaks some Spanish. While living in Italy, he came to appreciate the finer things in life, like how a glass of wine is exponentially more enjoyable when sipped along a Venetian canal, and that everything tastes better wrapped in lard. As the Bologna Center Representative, Elan looks forward to following up on his time as Class President in Bologna. He can’t wait to share some of the dolce vita with his new DC classmates. Good times will abound, with aperitivi, Euro-pop dance parties and possibly a revival of BC Gastronomica. Properly incentivized, he may even divulge the secrets to making a proper ragù. He also hopes to learn to love the East Coast, even if there's no In-N-Out.

Mary McGurn, M.I.P.P. Representative Mary comes to SAIS with extensive experience in Africa, including previous assignments in Namibia and Côte d’Ivoire. Most recently, she served as the Interim Director for Community Affairs at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, one of five U.S. Department of Defense regional centers. In this capacity, she was responsible for overseeing the Africa Center’s shortterm and long-term engagement strategies with over 4,000 current and future senior African civilian, military, and opinion leaders throughout the continent. She also had regional responsibility for Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean. Prior to joining the Africa Center, Mary ran a successful field program for the Sierra Club and served as Deputy Director for Scheduling on a national presidential campaign. She also held positions at the White House and the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. during the Clinton Administration. Mary earned a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service as well as a Certificate in African Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. In addition to English, she speaks fluent French and is learning Swahili. As the MIPP representative for SGA, Mary is looking forward to building bridges between the MIPPs and the rest of the SAIS community.

Bobby Corrigan (MA-1), 1st Year Representative Bobby was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil but speaks no Portuguese. In fact, learning the language of his country of origin is one of the reasons he's here. Prior to arriving at SAIS, Bobby worked at a homeless shelter in downtown DC and has spent most of his formative years in and around the DC area. As a child he spent time living in Brazil, the Philippines, New York, and Mexico. A huge Washington Capitals hockey fan, Bobby came quite close to declaring a Russian and Eurasian Studies concentration based solely on the fact that Alex Ovechkin hails from Moscow. Though adjusting to the culture and customs of further NW DC has been difficult, Bobby looks forward to representing his fellow first years.

Monica Kang (MA-1), 1st Year Representative Monica Kang is a Strategic Studies concentrator with an interest in East Asian politics and security. As a Korean-American, she has lived most of her life in both the United States and South Korea. She completed her undergraduate degree at Boston University and has worked at the U.S. State Department (Washington, D.C.), the United Nations (Geneva, Switzerland), and at Chosunilbo (Seoul, South Korea). Leadership has always been a key part of her life. While patience, diligence, promptness, and organization are her strengths, she believes that the key to good leadership is passion and willingness to ‘make things happen.’ (more SGA information on next page) SAIS students sand-skiing and riding camels outside of Dubai.


The SAIS Observer

October 2011

Clubs & Activities SAIS Corps

Careers in International Development

Looking for exotic community service opportunities that will make you feel better about spending 20 hours a week working on econ problem sets and prepping for interviews with McKinsey? Tired of writing about agricultural policy in your favorite emerging market? Then SAIS Corps is right for you! SAIS Corps organizes community service programs in D.C. throughout the year, providing rewarding opportunities for altruism in far-flung places more than a 7-minute walk from Nitze. SAISers know all too much about political systems in West Africa and water access in Mongolia, but spending too much time on Think Tank Row can make you forget that not everyone in the District wears a suit and works in a shiny office in the Northwest. SAIS Corps is notorious in the District for So far this year we have hosted events with past CID alumni, nonprofit leaders, canned food sorting competitions at the Capitol Food Bank and interpreting American culture in dance form for indigenous tribes in Panama. Want to be a and World Bank employees. We have events with the IDB, microfinance professionals, and a training on "austere medicine" for develop- part of the service madness? Then there’s an opportunity this year for you! See the below list of events for ways to get involved and keep an eye out for SAIS ment workers overseas this year. Corps emails coming soon.

Careers in Development club provides a way for students to learn about and connect to international development jobs. We host networking and informational events with SAIS alumni and other professionals, and also conduct several development-related trainings. Our events are run by volunteer facilitators, and students are encouraged to suggest and help organize events they are interested in. Students interested in joining our mailing list to be informed of upcoming events and job and internship postings should email with their name, concentration, and date of graduation. Also, if you have an event idea or would like to help with any of our upcoming events, please let us know!

The Tangential Economics Society

The Tangential Economics Society is a pompously-named-but-actually-veryrelaxed economics discussion group. We get together on Friday afternoons before happy hour and chat about economics and drink beer. Our discussions cover a wide range of topics--from ecology to politics to finance--and we dig into the ideas without worrying about what the prof might think or next week's paper. If that sounds like fun to you (and you know who you are!), send us an email at and we will be happy to add you to our mailing list. New econ nerds (and econophobes too) are always welcome--just bring your curiosity and maybe some snacks.

Russia & Eurasia Club

Questions, comments, gesticulations? Email SAIS Corps at Upcoming Programs: November 4: Capitol Food Bank Mid-November: Thanksgiving Food Drive December 19: Dreams For Kids Holiday for Help Gift Wrapping

SAIS SGA Officers and Committees

The Russia & Eurasia Club is a social and academic club. Members participate to whichever degree they like, from occasionally meeting up for drinks, to planning large academic events. One social event we did this semeser is a vodka tasting--distilled from different sources, infused vodkas, and even carbonated vodka. On the academic side, or club has put together some rewarding events. Last year we organized an all-day speaker series on three regions around Russia, with prominent speakers such as Angela Stent, and Thomas Graham. This year we plan to have a similar scale event on the region 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition, next month we are planning an event on the Caucasus. Club leaders are Serge Korepin and Tristan Zoerb; and

The Alexander Hamilton Society The Alexander Hamilton Society is an independent, non-partisan organization that seeks to promote constructive debate on contemporary issues in foreign, economic, and national security policy. Membership is founded upon a belief in a common set of principles, although we wish to encourage debate in order to improve the quality of public discourse. The Alexander Hamilton Society began last year at a dozen universities; there are now more than 30 Alexander Hamilton Society student chapters nationwide, as well as two professional chapters in New York and Washington, DC. We host public debates each semester on a contemporary foreign policy or national security issue as well as small, monthly lunches at SAIS to discuss a chosen topic among members. Leadership roles are open and available to any who attend meetings regularly. Contact information: Nicole Silverman or Jacklyn Schay at:

2010 “Show Your SAIS Pride” Photo Contest: "IDEV-China Studies Trip: Sparklers in Southwest China" by Meredith Gaffney Courtesy of The SAIS Office of Communications (