Fall 2011 I
A YALE UNDERGRADUATE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Who Will Help?
The Syrian Uprising Page 29
Fall 2011 I
What’s Inside The U.S. Military in the 21st Century The Department of Defense and its $708 billion budget came under sharp fire during the debt ceiling debate. What should the future of the U.S. military be in the new international arena? The Politic spoke with Professors Donald Kagan and Joylon Howorth to get their opinions. Learn more on page 17.
The Republican Primary Facing a flat-lining economy and widespread national malaise, President Barack Obama has never appeared more vulnerable. A diverse field of Republican Presidential candidates, boasting varying degrees of conservatism, is actively fundraising and campaigning. Whether any of the potential GOP nominees — from establishment favorites like Mitt Romney to Tea Party firebrands like Herman Cain — can ultimately defeat President Obama is anything but certain. Learn more on page 7.
The Future of Al Qaeda The Politic examines the future of al Qaeda under the new leadership of Ayman al Zawahiri in Iraq, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. How will the regional nodes come together to effectively pursue al Qaeda’s modus operandi? Learn more on page 21.
table of contents
Fall 2011 I - Volume LXIV
FEATURES The Syrian Uprising
Millions of Voices but Years Until They Will be Heard By Justin Schuster
The Power of Youthful Idealism in Syria
An Interview with Professor Ellen Lust Conducted by Hamara Abate
An Ambiguous Future, An Unacceptable Present
By Meredith Potter
Talk With the Chief: A Look Into Al Jazeera’s Reporting, Appeal and Controversy
An Interview with Amjad Atallah Conducted by Geng Ngarmboonanant
Springtime for North Korea?
A Closer Look at Burma
Lessons of Ukranian Independence: Democracy Demands Determination
Progress in the “Graveyard of Empires”
A New Approach to Global Health
A Dark Year in U.S.-Pakistan Relations
An Interview with Professor Joshua Landis Conducted by Justin Schuster
An Interview with Geroge Perkovich Conducted by Harrison Monsky
By Sun Woo Ryoo
NATIONAL Holding Justice Hostage
An Interview with Glenn Greenwald Conducted by Jack Newsham
Oval Office or Bust
The Race for the Republican Presidential Nomination By Eric Stern
HEAD TO HEAD The Limits to Leading from Behind By Kyle Hutzler
vs. The Infuriating Brilliance of Remaining Calm By Noah Remnick
By Lindsay Pearlman
American Power Projection
Moving Beyond the Cold War
An Interview with Professor Michael Mandelbaum Conducted by Josef Goodman
New Strategies to Confront 21st Century Reality By Austin Schaefer
By Matthew Shafer
Can Democracy Exist? By Eli Rivkin
An Interview with Habib Rahman Conducted By Cody Pomeranz
By Alyssa Bilinski
An Interview with Stephen Cohen Conducted By Kishen Patel
Pictures from CreativeCommons used under Attribution Noncommercial license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ In order of appearance: Dept. of Defense; AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall (Pool); flickr user; World Economic Forum; flickr user; flickr user; AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall (Pool); flickr user; Official White House Photo by Pete Souza; The U.S. Army; U.S. Mission Photo by Eric Bridiers; Wikimedia Commons by Hamid Mir; flickr user; flickr user; flickr user; flickr user; Organ Museum; Wikimedia Commons; flickr user; flickr user; Dept. of Defense
Fall 2011 I
from the editors
A Yale Undergraduate Journal of Politics
Managing Editor Gabriel Perlman Joseph Mensah
Venkatesh Upadhyay Sibjeet Mahapatra
National Editor Byron Edwards
International Editor Jacob Effron
Associate Editor Josef Goodman
Directors of Development Andrea Levien
Layout Editors Cindy Hwang Anjali Jotwani Arvind Mohan
Hamara Abate, Alyssa Billinski, Donna Horning, Kyle Hutzler, Harrison Monsky, Jack Newsham, Geng Ngarmboonanant, Kishen Patel, Lindsay Pearlman, Cody Pomeranz, Meredith Potter, Noah Remnick, Eli Rivkin, Sun Woo Ryoo, Development Austin Schaefer, Justin Eric Stern Jin Gon Park,Schuster, director
Cover Design by Anjali Jotwani
Board of Advisors John Lewis Gaddis
Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military & Naval History, Yale University
Editor-at-Large, U.S. News & World Report
Former Dean, Yale Law School
Director, Yale Center for International and Area Studies
For information regarding submissions, advertisements, subscriptions, contributions, or to provide feedback, please contact us at email@example.com or write us at
P.O. Box 201452 New Haven, CT 06520-1452 Disclaimer: This magazine is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents. The opinions expressed by the contributors to The Politic do not necessarily reflect those of its staff or advertisers.
Fall 2011 I
The Arab Spring of 2011 has often been compared to the revolutions that swept through Europe in 1848. “When France sneezes,” the great diplomat Metternich remarked, “Europe catches a cold.” The world witnesses a similar sequence of events playing out a hundred and sixty years later just south of the Mediterranean. Tunisia coughs and now all of the Middle East has a fever. Half a year since thousands first took to the streets, choosing dignity over despotism, the world is an entirely different place. Three heads of states – Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi – have toppled, joining the Bourbons and Romanovs in the dustbin of history. It is unclear what the future has in store for the Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. This moment, however, is surely a cause for celebration. Regime change has proven less successful the further east one travels from the Arab Spring’s point of origin. Protests continue to rage in Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, and in particular, Syria. As calls for reform go unheeded and the body count in Damascus piles up, the situation demands the attention of the international community. Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair acknowledged the absence of a comprehensive and cohesive policy towards the Arab uprising asserting, “We have to be players in this, we can’t just be spectators.” Three thousand protesters dead to date in Syria, the international community remains on the sideline. The “Libya Option” of intervention is proving harder to reapply with regional players, such as Turkey and Iran, complicating matters. Unlike his counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt, President Bashar al-Assad commands the strong support of a minority and military class as determined as he is to maintain the status quo. In this issue of The Politic, we examine the situation in Syria half a year since riots broke out. What have the protests accomplished thus far? What will an overthrow of the Syrian president mean for Iranian influence? What options are available to the United States and Europe in the face of Sino-Russian intransigence? The Politic zooms out of Syria to consider the broader implications of the Arab Spring. Until the rise of these democratic movements, the dismantling of autocrats and oligarchies was largely the purview of small groups. Usurpation was accomplished through coup, not populism. How will the Arab Spring change the influence and perception of small groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda? What will this revolution, strongly rooted in Western thought and history, mean for Islamic fundamentalism. The articles in this issue -- the future role of the U.S. military, the ongoing travails in Afghanistan, U.S.-Pakistan relations, and Al Jazeera coverage of the Arab Spring – should serve as interesting corollaries to the feature section. We move away from the current events of Middle East and Central Asia with opinion pieces on the democratic movement in Burma, successes and setbacks with Ukrainian democracy, and the possibility of regime change in North Korea. In the national section, we go head to head debating President Obama’s leadership style and explore the Republican presidential field. We invite you to take a closer look at the Perry-Romney rivalry and Herman Cain’s unorthodox 9-9-9 tax plan. From the Arab Spring of 2011 to the Presidential Elections of 2012, we live in an exciting world with a future hard to predict. We hope this issue of The Politic, with its exciting coverage and keen insight, will enable our readers to make better sense of the world around them.
Byron Edwards and Jacob Effron
Holding Justice Hostage An Interview with Glenn Greenwald By Jack Newsham Glenn Greenwald is an author and columnist for Salon.com. After graduating from the New York University School of Law, he worked as a civil rights litigator before becoming a full-time commentator. He has frequently been cited in other media outlets and on the floor of Congress, and has consistently been ranked as one of the most influential political pundits in the United States. His latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, will be released on October 25. The Politic: Let’s start things off with some background for those who might be unfamiliar with your work. How did you go about making the transition from litigator to commentator? What spurred you to take your work and your knowledge to the public? GG: I had always looked at politics as something that existed within an acceptable range of opinion, like a pendulum that just kind of harmlessly swung back and forth. Generally, I felt that range was within constitutional boundaries, and so my view was always that it was more important to defend the boundaries of the Constitution by litigating than to try and have influence over exactly where the pendulum swung. But in the wake of 9/11, I started perceiving that politics had moved outside of that constitutional framework. Things were becoming fairly radical, even dangerous, and I concluded that defending the Constitution on a case-by-case basis was inadequate for the extremism of the time. I felt I had to do something that would have a bigger impact in defending the political values which I felt were being assaulted, and I turned to writing as the way to do that. The Politic: You’ve been referred to by various publications as one of the most influential liberals in America, yet your commentary has rankled both Democrats and Republicans. What kind of politician do you admire? GG: There have been some good politicians when it comes to civil liberties and the rule of law. I think Russ Feingold was a good leader on those issues in the Senate, and there are some members of the House, like Rush Holt, who have been pretty stalwart in seeking to limit the surveillance state. I think Ron Paul as well has been pretty consistent and principled, and though imperfectly, so has Dennis Kucinich. But these issues don’t really fall into the classic liberal-conservative framework, which is why people have difficulty labeling me. There are conservative legal theorists like Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan Justice
Department, and even Bob Barr, one of the leading conservatives of the 1990s who led the Clinton impeachment, who have also been very outspoken about these issues in a positive way. The Politic: I’d like to ask you about your upcoming book. In it, you argue that American justice has become a twotiered system, with no mercy for the little guy, yet granting total immunity to the ruling class. What do you think are at the roots of that inequality? GG: Well, it’s always been the case that if you are rich and powerful, you have an advantage in the legal system. But it used to be the case that we embraced the principle of equality under the law. It was imbued throughout the writings of the Founders. Granted, the Founders believed in pretty vast inequality — some people were talented and others were pretty ordinary, and some would be rich and others would be poor — and they were fine with that, as long as there were a common set of rules that bound everybody. And so even as we failed to live up to the principle of equality before the law, we were at least appealing to it as an aspiration, and that’s what historically enabled us to move forward, leaving behind the vast inequality of our past and moving toward equality. But I think beginning with Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon—if you look back and read contemporary accounts, most Americans were against the pardon, and most elites were in favor of it. The rationale used by elites as to why the pardon was necessary became the standard rationale as to why elites generally should be immunized from the rule of law: “it’s too disruptive to hold people like this accountable, they have already been punished enough by being criticized and scorned. We need them, and if we bring the kind of political disruption that prosecutions bring, it’s harmful to the common good.” The difference is that we now explicitly repudiate the idea of the rule of law for political elites. And we have actually a whole series of platitudes and clichés—
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National The Politic: “Look forward, not backward.” GG: Exactly. And that was what was said about Watergate, what was said about Iran-Contra, what was said about other George W. Bush controversies like Iraqgate. But the problem isn’t leniency in general. The real problem is the contrast between the extreme leniency granted to elites, and the fact that America for the rest of us has become the largest prison state in the world. It’s because both parties became the party of law and order and tried to prove their bona fides through things like minimum sentencing guidelines and harsh prison terms for things that no other western country imprisons people for at all. It’s a complete departure from the way the law was supposed to be: the anchor to legitimize everything else. The Politic: So what do you think can be done to limit or end this practice? GG: The problem is that it is in the interests of both parties to perpetuate it; when one of them is in power, they know they can break the law without consequences, as long as they protect the other party from consequences. As The New York Times referred to Obama’s opposition to investigating torture in late 2008, it’s an ongoing gentlemen’s agreement. It is obviously in the interests of elites to sustain elite immunity, so the only way that it can ever stop is if the massive numbers of people who aren’t vested with that immunity demand that it cease. They have to look at the treatment to which they’re being subjected, contrast it with the treatment to which elites are being subjected, and decide that such treatment is really unjust and intolerable.
the government eavesdropping with no warrants at all! These partisans are not the people I am talking about. People who are genuinely adversarial to government—which is what the ethos of journalism is supposed to be—are people who are skeptical of what people in power are doing regardless of the political party to which they belong. As Jefferson said, “let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” The American model is designed to have all these institutions that are skeptical of the others and check them. The media was supposed to be the watchdog of the government, and it’s just become its servant. The Politic: You also have said that bloggers were filling the gaps where the press had failed. But it seems that the mainstream media still dominates: the audience of Salon.com would have a hard time stacking up against the readership of the New York Times. Do you think the American public, by allowing the mainstream standard to pass muster, bears responsibility in not holding its institutions to account? GG: This is a really complex question. For one thing, I don’t think there is much of a distinction – at least, not nearly the distinction there used to be—between bloggers and establishment media outlets. When the blogosphere first emerged, it was really intended as a challenge to different institutions. One was the Democratic Party and its propensity to capitulate to
The Politic: In the past, you’ve remarked that the mainstream media has failed to play the adversarial role against the government it is intended to play. But where do you think the line is drawn between being adversarial and being a shill for one side? GG: Obviously, there are people who are adversarial to the government only when one party is in power. Those are not watchdogs. Those are blatant partisans. They don’t care about checking political power. They only care about harming the other party. So you saw huge numbers of Democrats pretending to care about civil liberties when Bush was in power because it was an opportunity to undermine him, who suddenly have decided that they don’t mind at all now that they are in power. You saw the same thing if you go back and look at the debates of the nineties and you have Republicans who were freaking out about black helicopters spying on them on behalf of the UN. And the idea of the FISA court? They thought it was horrifying that there was a secret court that could issue warrants to eavesdrop in secret. But of course, as soon as they took over, they were not only fine with the government eavesdropping in secret, they were fine with 4
Netanyahu is now being threatened by his rightist coalition partners with government dissolution if he doesn’t punish the Palestinians harshly.
National conservatism, drifting toward centrism and corporatism in lieu of real liberalism. The other one was the media for what the blogosphere perceived as a pro-Bush bent. Though many liberal bloggers thought that was because they were the conservative media, I’ve made the point that I felt it was because the media were pro-government, and it just happened to be Republicans who were in power. But I think that the idea that bloggers are this oppositional force to the media has eroded, in part because some of the more successful bloggers have been absorbed into these media institutions, and at the same time, a lot of these media institutions—which kind of ignored blogging for a long time, and then paid attention to it only to mock it—have decided that they now need to be bloggers. Another notable shift is that the liberal blogosphere really was an outside, marginalized force at first, and took pride in that. When it largely devoted itself to Barack Obama’s election, though, it became more an organ of the Democratic Party than it did any kind of insurgent or outsider force. That is a little oversimplified; there certainly are a lot of bloggers who are still in that outsider role. There are some, like Matt Yglesias, who have one foot in one camp and one in the other. But I do think the dichotomy has blurred a lot over the last several years. Still, the blogging ethos has shaped and affected how many in the media report. So even though The New York Times is a lot larger platform that Salon, to use your example, I know that everybody at The New York Times who writes about the things I write about read my blog, so what I write can influence what they write. The same goes for MSNBC hosts or news segment producers. So I think influence can be measured in different ways. One is the size of readership. But I think influence is more than the number of readers you have; it’s your reach. One of the good things about the change the media has undergone is that it has amplified voices. So if you criticize a member of the journalist class, fifteen, twenty years ago they could easily ignore you, and the only way to hear about it was basically a letter to the editor—it was purely a one-way conversation. Now, it’s a two-way conversation. If you are a journalist, and you write something deceitful or propagandistic or sloppy or wrong, everywhere you turn, you are going to hear it - in your email, on Twitter, in the comment section of what you write, you are going to be besieged with criticism, and blogs have really fueled that. Something like that influences people and affects how they work. The Politic: In the past, you’ve written critically on Israel and of America’s unflagging support of the country. What do you think of the recent and ongoing Palestinian push for statehood at the UN? GG: I think it is remarkable. The Obama administration is desperate for this vote not to happen; they are going to veto it and it is going to be so completely apparent that the United States is not just willing, but forced, to incur huge amounts of damage for no reason except to adhere to Israeli dictates over American
interests. The vote is going to be extremely lopsided; we are basically going to be standing alone, and we are not going to be standing for any principle; it is not like we are, say, condemning aggression or defending Israeli attacks and pretending it is self-defense so we can at least drape ourselves in noble ideals. It is denying statehood to a people who have been occupied for forty years, which most Americans would intuitively think is deserved. I found it so interesting that Tom Friedman, of all people, wrote what he wrote; he really did use the language of Walt and Mearsheimer [the authors of The Israel Lobby] which was, three or four years ago, taboo to the point that you would be called anti-Semitic if you cited it. It is sad that the US is held hostage to the Israel lobby, which is an amazing thing for someone like Tom Friedman to say, but it’s become so glaring that no one can avoid it anymore.
“The media was supposed to be the watchdog of the government, and it’s just become its servant.” The Politic: What about peace and security, which have generally been the reasons given by Israel and the United States for their rejection of Palestine’s bid? How do you think these issues can be resolved, and do you think the United States has a role to play? GG: I think the U.S. did have a role to play, and given how much it influences Israel, it could still have a role to play. The United States is basically Israel’s only real ally left. If we really wanted to play a constructive role in forging negotiations, we could. That said, I don’t really see how there could be a peace agreement or a two-state solution based on mutual agreement because the influence of the hard right has changed Israeli politics so dramatically. I just read an article about how Netanyahu is now being threatened by his rightist coalition partners with government dissolution if he doesn’t punish the Palestinians harshly. So Netanyahu is a figure who is almost centrist at this point. Given these negotiators, it seems to me that the only plausible scenarios are either a one-state solution, which would obviously erase the Jewish identity of the state, or Israel basically becoming South Africa and maintaining anti-democratic dominance over the majority people. Both seem very untenable, but the Israeli right has been unwilling to appreciate the danger to itself and has put itself in that corner. The Politic: Next, I’d like to discuss Wikileaks. You have
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National praised its work in your columns for shining a light on abuses and cover-ups in the War on Terror, but taking into account its mistakes—not redacting the names of civilian informants, for example, or the leak of innocuous but widely misperceived emails of the Climatic Research Unit—what is your opinion of the organization as a whole? GG: I think it is important to remember that Wikileaks is an extremely young organization engaged in pioneering work. There is no template for what they are doing, so it is completely to be expected that they are going to make mistakes—and they have made mistakes. I criticized them for insufficient care in redacting the names of civilian informants in Afghanistan, although they did ask the government to help them do that and the government refused, and the first duty to protect sources lies with those whose sources they are. Still, Wikileaks has the duty as well to protect innocents the best it can when it leaks information. I also criticized them for this last unredacted dump, which was necessitated by security breaches that I think were more the fault of The Guardian. But again, if you’re going to be in the business of holding yourself up as computer security experts and you tell people they can leak to you and be protected, then you have the responsibility to safeguard that information. But on the whole, I think Wikileaks has done so much more good than bad. Additionally, the problem of excessive secrecy is infinitely greater than the problem of excessive disclosures. The dangers that come from allowing the government to operate from behind a wall of secrecy is in a different universe than whatever problems Wikileaks is creating by a few irresponsible disclosures. Given that Wikileaks is the only game in town for really bringing about true disclosure and striking fear in the heart of the national security state, I’m going to devote the bulk of my efforts to defending them. The Politic: Are there any issues about which you would
describe yourself as decidedly pessimistic, or even fearful? Issues on which you believe public opinion may never change? GG: I think it is an extremely difficult struggle, but if I really believed that it were not going to happen, I would not bother to wake up in the morning and go work on these issues. I tell people who express this kind of morose defeatism that their defeatism is unwarranted, because any human institution, no matter how invulnerable it seems, can be modified or torn down by other human beings. That is the lesson of the Arab Spring. If you are not winning, that is just because you have not figured out how to win, not because it is impossible. I do think things can change, but there are formidable barriers. I think that Americans have been inculcated with this learned helplessness and have been trained into accepting their own impotence. There are also very formidable weapons that have been deployed against them: a massive surveillance state that tracks what they do, police state tactics that let the state and those who control it intimidate and control and ultimately suppress meaningful dissent. The Politic: Would you say that’s what we’re seeing on Wall Street? GG: Exactly. That’s what pepper-spraying peaceful protesters is about. That’s what prosecuting whistleblowers is about. That’s what putting Bradley Manning in solitary confinement and then stripping him nude is about. These are lessons. As is always true of people in power trying to prevent challenges to their power, there are real tyrannical aspects to what the state is doing that are designed to prevent this type of change. The Politic: My next question goes back to the point you raised about influence not being correlated to audience size. You have raised awareness of the issues on which you write among thousands of readers. Above all, though, who do you hope is reading your blog? GG: Well, you obviously want to have as much influence as you possibly can. I don’t spend a lot of time plotting the ideal tactic for consolidating my influence, but I am aware that people in positions of influence and authority read my blog regularly. I am pretty content with the platform that I have. One of the things that I find challenging, though, is how to balance saying things I’m not supposed to say if I want to have access to mainstream venues with not letting myself be marginalized. It’s about striking a balance. I give thought to those kind of things and I’m pretty satisfied with the trajectory that my writing career has taken.
Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, has dedicated his organization to furthering government transparency. 6
Jack Newsham is a sophomore in Morse College.
Oval Office or Bust
The Race for the Republican Presidential Nomination By Eric Stern
After a relatively slow start, the 2012 race for the Republican nomination for President is undoubtedly in full swing. Candidates such as Mitt Romney are stumping and fundraising vigorously while others like Herman Cain are attempting to tap into the Tea Party’s anger over the beleaguered economy. The Politic examines whether any of the potential GOP nominees can ultimately defeat President Obama.
HOUSANDS of years ago, the Mayan people predicted that the world would end in the year we now call 2012. And according to this year’s crop of GOP presidential candidates, they may have been right. “One morning,” prophesized former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, “just like 9/11, there’s going to be a disaster.” Rep. Michele Bachmann ominously warned, “We’re in a state of crisis where our nation is literally ripping apart at the seams right now, and lawlessness is occurring from one ocean to the other. And we’re seeing the fulfillment of the Book of Judges here in our own time…” Indeed, Republicans all across the country believe threats to our country have never been greater and the threats have never been higher. President Obama, who has at times been derided as a socialist, a Muslim, an anti-American (perhaps not even an American), and an all-around job-killing nightmare, must be stopped. But by whom? Republican party leaders are in quite the quandary: they need a candidate who can fire up the base and talk to independent voters; who can tame the Tea Partiers and charm the establishment; who can stump, fundraise, smile for the camera, and, most of all, beat President Obama. What’s not exactly clear is who that person is. Nate Silver, a political journalist and statistician, noted the remarkable volatility of the Republican field. “Believe it or not,” he wrote, “there have been 10 different G.O.P. candidates
to have led at least one poll of Republican voters since Jan. 1: Mr. Cain, Mr. Romney, Mr. Perry, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee.” Dr. Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and a well-known political commentator, described the 2012 contest as “a crazy, topsy-turvy race.” “It’s an odd year,” Sabato said in an interview, “in that we have an incumbent president who was elected to such acclaim three years ago who is now struggling, and yet the GOP field is also unsettled. It’s a hard one to predict right now and it could end up being very close.” The Campaign Presidential campaigns used to be such humdrum affairs. Two or three years before the election, a handful of well-qualified candidates – Governors, Senators and a couple of other elder statesmen – would begin to test the waters. They would tour the early primary states (namely Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina), shaking hands and kissing babies, all the while quietly building a network of political operatives and fundraisers. Between two years and a year and a half before the election, candidates would begin to announce their intentions to run. Presidential elections were big, elaborate and, as the media Fall 2011 I
loved to point out, increasingly expensive. That was until 2010. The rise of the Tea Party threw the old map out the door. Staid, hand-picked and decidedly Establishment nominees for the House and Senate in 2010 (and even some incumbents) were swept away in a Tea Party wave of firebrand insurgents. The Democrats’ midterm “shellacking,” as President Obama put it, was felt just as strongly in Republican circles. Potential 2012 Presidential candidates closely huddled with their advisors and watched, carefully deciding what to do next. For the most part, fearful of ending up as the next Tea Party victim, they just waited. (It should be noted that Tim Pawlenty, the only candidate to follow the conventional game plan, was also the first political casualty of the 2012 Republican primaries.) Whereas by April 2007, for example, more than a dozen people had announced their Presidential runs, by April of 2011, not a single candidate had made an official announcement. Eventually, however, flag-draped announcement speeches were made and the field slowly solidified. By the time Rick Perry, the last serious candidate to run, had officially entered the race — August 13 — it was the latest of any major candidate since then-Governor Bill Clinton in 1991. Indeed, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sarah Palin’s decisions to forgo White House runs, the field finally appears to be set. Yale Political Science Professor Eitan Hersh believes that, for now at least, the declared candidates are wisest to try and attract core GOP voters. “The election they are in now is for the Republican nomination, so it’s probably a good idea for them to appeal to the base until the summer,” Hersh commented. “They need to win this election first. The activists to whom they are now appealing are the people they will rely on in the general election to be their core volunteers and donors. The candidates need their support now in order to move forward to the next round.” The Candidates Now that the dust has finally cleared, the Republican field can be quickly summarized thusly: Mitt Romney is the prohibitive frontrunner, with Herman Cain and Rick Perry running closely behind, and all of the other candidates are desperately nipping at their heels, trying to garner enough money and attention to stay relevant. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor and 2008 Presidential candidate, currently leads the pack of 2012 hopefuls in public polls, money and endorsements. Indeed, Romney has high name recognition, significant capital and a capable team (in addition to movie star-good looks). Moreover, he has the invaluable experience of his failed 2008 run. “Given the field as it stands now in early October 2011, I’d put my money on Mitt Romney,” said Hersh. “He has performed well in the debates and on the campaign trail. Compared to the other leading candidates, he is striking the right balance between
promising support for core Republican priorities and signaling that he is a level-headed executive, which should help him in the general election.” Yale’s Sterling Professor of Political Science David Mayhew agreed. “I say Romney,” he wrote, when asked which candidate he believed would win the nomination. “He is also a known quantity and a steady performer. He has been watched and vetted for years. Big surprises regarding Romney, either negative or positive, are not likely.” Nonetheless, Romney carries at least as much baggage as his fellow Republicans. Though his deep blue home state could be a boon in a general election, it will undoubtedly worry many hardcore conservatives in the primaries (his “Romneycare” health care plan will not help remedy this). Polls continue to show that despite his problems in early states such as Iowa, South Carolina and Florida (where he sometimes trails Herman Cain and Rick Perry by varying margins), he would run the closest against the President in a national election. Romney’s best hope at this point is that the possibility of actually nominating Rick Perry or Ron Paul (or really almost any of the other potential GOP candidates) so scares the GOP establishment that it will sprint toward his decidedly sober campaign. If, however, the Tea Party continues to exert its oversized influence on Republican primaries, Romney — with his past of supporting abortion rights, civil unions, and universal healthcare — may once again fade unceremoniously into the periphery. Unlike the staid Romney, however, Texas Governor Rick Perry may be just what dyed-in-the-wool conservatives are looking for. At this point, most Republican leaders are quietly taking a step back to see whether Rick Perry is for real, or just the latest member of a long stream of Tea Party darlings (think Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann) that have risen and fallen faster than Obama’s hair has changed from black to gray. Unlike Trump and Bachmann, however, Perry has a rock-solid resume, from humble beginnings to a youth spent as a farmer and air force pilot to a long political career, during which he served on every rung of Texas government. (He is currently the longest serving Governor in the state’s history.) Add that to fundraising prowess (he lassoed $17 million in a generally slow third quarter), his ready-made job-creation sound bite (“Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America”) and a few homespun stories about gun ownership, and the cowboy boot-wearing Perry may be the ideal GOP candidate. That said, Perry has some potentially serious drawbacks. The Governor is thought by many insiders to be too brazenly conservative for independent voters and “Reagan Democrats.” He is also a notoriously weak debater and has yet to show that he can attract voters outside of his home state of Texas. Moreover, Perry’s moderate positions on immigration and the DREAM Act, which may aid a general election campaign, greatly offend many of the GOP’s likely primary voters, who demand more
The numerous Republican debates this year have been important in shaping the public’s perception of the GOP candidates. ideological purity than in any other election in recent memory. Adam Bonin, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Netroots Nation and a featured writer on DailyKos, believes Perry still has a very good chance of winning the nomination. “I think ultimately, whatever stumbles he may have had out of the gate, Governor Perry is by far the most viable and experienced of the non-Romney field and I think given the composition of the Republican primary electorate, he stands a very good chance of consolidating the non-Romney vote and emerging victorious,” Bonin said. Yet because of Romney and Perry’s obvious flaws, Republican voters are closely examining the other choices, chief among them include businessman Herman Cain, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. Perhaps the most puzzling candidate of the 2012 race is former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and Georgia radio personality Herman Cain. At first dismissed by the media as a lowesttier fringe candidate, Cain has risen remarkably in the polls following several strong debate and straw poll performances. Whether or not Cain is simply another “flavor of the month,” as Sarah Palin has put it, remains to be seen. But Cain has the strongest “positive intensity” score of any candidate as well as perhaps the most room to grow of any candidate. Silver pointed out, “Mr. Cain is now polling in the high teens or low 20s despite name recognition of only about 55 percent. If the remaining half of the Republican electorate likes him as well as the half that has gotten to know him so far, he could be quite formidable.” Nonetheless, he has taken some extremely polarizing positions on a number of issues, and his campaign structure is nearly nonexistent. Moreover, as Hersh noted, “The last time someone without experience as an elected official won
the Presidency was in 1952 with Dwight Eisenhower.” “But Ike, of course, commanded the Allied armies in Europe during World War II,” continued Sabato. “Cain is no Eisenhower.” Rep. Ron Paul, who is often characterized as the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party movement, has run for President twice before. In this election cycle, however, the septuagenarian candidate is far better known and his operation is much better tuned than in past years. Moreover, his smallgovernment views (such as eliminating the Federal Reserve, legalizing all narcotics and opposing renewal of the Voting Rights Act) — which were once considered fringe — are now accepted by many Republican primary voters. Though he is generally thought of as a welterweight candidate by the media and GOP establishment, Paul is not to be easily dismissed. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is one of the strongest fundraisers in the House and a lightning rod for hardline conservatives, was seen as a potential frontrunner early in the race. She had a few solid debate performances and won the important Ames, Iowa straw poll. But a series of well-publicized gaffes, in addition to an evaporating campaign team and the rise of Tea Party favorites Perry and Cain, have relegated the Minnesota Congresswoman to second-tier status at best. (Recent polls show Bachmann with as little as 3 or 4 percent support nationally.) Ex-Senator Rick Santorum has the potential to be a serious contender, but so far nothing has gone right for the former GOP rising star. His rock-solid conservative credentials matter little next to firebrands like Perry and Paul, while his crushing 2006 defeat has downgraded the former Senator (from a well-populated and hugely important state) to second-tier status. That he has practically taken up residence in the early primary states means little now that the Tea Party has rendered his brand of compassionate conservatism near-obsolete. Santorum’s devotion to social issues such as abortion Fall 2011 I
National and gay marriage and his following among Evangelicals could still make him a serious candidate, noted John Brabender, a prominent Republican political analyst and advisor to the Santorum campaign. “Social conservatives play a bigger role in Republican primaries than any other part of the electorate,” Brabender said. “And what we’re seeing is that some of the other candidates that appeared to be strong social conservatives very much have cracks in their armor.” Nonetheless, absent of a stampede of social conservatives in his direction from the Perry and Bachmann camps, Santorum simply won’t have the money or the manpower to compete with the frontrunners. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich began what could have been a promising campaign, but it quickly imploded and has been flat-lining for some time now. Gingrich is largely viewed as a figure from the past and members of his staff departed en masse to join the Perry campaign earlier this year. Additionally, Gingrich is plagued by fundraising woes and a well-publicized Tiffany’s scandal (the Speaker embarrassingly had two lines of credit at the high-end jewelry store for up to $1.5 million). Although he has enjoyed a slight rise in the polls since his lowest point this summer, Gingrich has little chance of winning the nomination. His goal is likely no loftier than to leave the race with his reputation (and status as a party elder) intact. Jon Huntsman, a moderate former Governor who entered the race amid significant media fanfare, has not lived up to the expectations. He excites few voters outside of the editorials board of the Wall Street Journal and has significant handicaps for a candidate who must appeal to conservative voters. “Huntsman’s problem, I think, is that he’s the guy saying, ‘Hey look, I’m the moderate in the field,’ in a party where there aren’t that many moderates voting in primaries,” said Brabender. Indeed, Huntsman is plagued by relative social liberalism, service in the Obama administration and the fact that he is competing for (and overwhelmingly losing) the Mormon vote with Mitt Romney. His best hope is to slowly yet surely win over New Hampshire’s more moderate voters and hope for a late surge there that could propel him to a strong position in Nevada, Florida and Illinois. Most experts, however, agree that he will simply fizzle out. “That said, Governor Huntsman has more support than anyone in the field among independents and conservative Democrats,” commented Michael Knowles, the National CoChairman for the young voters operation in the Huntsman campaign. “[A] conservative that can appeal to independent and moderate voters will have the best chance of defeating President Obama in our center-right country.” Hersh, whose research examines campaign strategy, voting behavior, and election administration, is not convinced that any of these latter six candidates can overcome the odds and
claim the nomination. “Their particular ambitions may range from using the experience as a launching pad for another election to being tapped for the vice presidency, from expressing an ideological point of view to converting publicity into personal financial gain. Also, we shouldn’t underestimate the ability of politicians to delude themselves into thinking they have a real chance at victory in spite of their inability to connect with a plurality of voters,” he added. Looking Ahead to November The Republican primary race is still decidedly fluid. Another candidate could easily explode in popularity (as thenSenator Obama and Senator McCain did in 2008), and though Romney’s frontrunner status is just about set in stone, Perry and Cain’s are far from certain. If the Texas Governor’s gaffes and missteps continue, or if Cain and his catchy “9-9-9” tax plan fade into obscurity, it is likely that another anti-establishment favorite (possibly either Bachman or Santorum) will be pushed to the forefront as the “anti-Romney.” The sixty-four thousand dollar question, of course, is whether the eventual nominee will be able to compete with President Obama in November of 2012. Job growth is stagnant, the economic recovery is sputtering and President Obama has never been viewed as more vulnerable. Indeed, polls indicate that the general election will be far closer than it was in the President’s landslide electoral victory in 2008. “I look at any of these candidates, and I think that they can beat Obama,” agreed Brabender. “I think that you will find that the Republicans will be extremely unified and extremely motivated in the 2012 election.” But the President should not be easily dismissed. His campaign operation is well-oiled and his aides boast that he could raise more than $1 billion for the race, a massively daunting war chest. Moreover, demographics are changing, and increasing numbers of black and Hispanic voters in a number of swing states will greatly benefit the incumbent. Former Arkansas Governor and 2008 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee admitted in February that while President Obama will have “a huge social network and … the power of the incumbency,” Republicans “could in fact end up with a demolition derby.” “Whoever emerges will come out bloody, bruised and broke,” he added. Who that lucky person will be, however, is anybody’s guess. Eric Stern is a freshman in Pierson College.
Head - to - Head
President Barack Obama has come under a deluge of criticism lately for his leadership style. His lack of assertiveness in the healthcare and debt ceiling debates has disillusioned many former supporters. Are these criticisms of Obama justified? Noah Remnick and Kyle Hutzler go debate the topic in this issue’s version of Head to Head.
“In his passiveness, Obama has proven that partisanship is not an inflammation that ought not be provoked to heal, but a cancer that if not checked, will only spread.” See pg. 12
By Kyle Hutzler
“To many, [he seems] the only restrained, focused adult in a room filled with children throwing tanBy trums. Even if they Noah Remnick will not admit to it... Americans are showing trust in him on the particular, if not the general.” See pg. 14
Fall 2011 I
Limits to Leading from Behind By Kyle Hutzler
OR many of President Barack Obama’s supporters, the debt -ceiling crisis was the final proof needed to confirm their fears of a leaderless presidency. Over the past three years, they have watched an administration that was reluctant to push for a more aggressive stimulus after his inauguration, that allowed the opportunity of balanced climate change legislation to slip away, and that nearly capitulated on healthcare reform were it not for the decisiveness of Nancy Pelosi. Where, his supporters asked, was the Obama who gave the much applauded campaign speech on race during the debt- ceiling stalemate? Where was the Obama who would have spoken elegantly and forcefully against an ideology that in broadly demonizing government, threatens to undermine our democracy? Where was the Obama who would have spoken cogently about the harsh realities of fiscal responsibility – and denounced a party that in the course of a generation has nearly succeeded in transforming taxes from a duty to unpatriotic? It is beyond doubt that Mr. Obama’s presidency has been needlessly and shamefully hindered by an opposition so committed to his defeat that they were willing to sacrifice the interest of the American people. But it is chiefly Mr. Obama’s failure to have not been more assertive. In his passiveness, Mr. Obama has proven that partisanship is not an inflammation that ought not be provoked to heal, but a cancer that if not checked, will only spread. In the absence of a concrete program of initiatives, Mr. Obama has strengthened his opponents by allowing them to project their very worst assumptions on him, stoking the fears and anger of a considerable portion of the electorate. During his 2008 campaign, astute observers – and Obama himself – described him as a “Rorschach test” upon which the electorate projected their own hopes and fears. His passiveness and overly deferential stance to Congress has led many to revisit this “Rorschach test” as nothing more than a euphemism for a man without a vision for his country. Sympathetic observers respond that the enormity of the financial crisis would have overwhelmed any lesser president. In an essay in the New York Times, Emory Professor Drew Weston attributes Mr. Obama’s silence to his simultaneous presidential campaign as a unity and reform candidate; he ultimately could not maintain his commitment to one without sacrificing the other. Others may point to Mr. Obama’s silence as a consequence of the Henry Louis Gates incident, in which a plain-speaking Obama encountered the wrath of a country unwilling to be lectured on its faults. Still others explain his rudderless leadership by the departure of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, well known for his take-no-prisoners style.
The passiveness that characterizes his presidency resembles the restraint of a court that must wait for a case to come to them to decide what is right, instead of a president who must lead on an issue or risk being consumed by it. When difficult decisions do come to his desk, such as the risky decision to order the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, President Obama has made the right calls. Obama’s foreign policy has also encountered harsh criticism, particularly in the wake of his response to the Arab Spring. The Obama doctrine has been described as a policy of “leading from behind.” But international affairs are no different from domestic politics; you either are actively shaping events or you are perpetually at their mercy. If politics is football, you win by scoring the most points on offense; no matter how good your defense, you’re still not in control of your destiny while the other team has the ball. Mr. Obama has played his presidency with a strategy to not lose, not an outright attempt to win. Even if he were to fail in the active pursuit of an initiative, Americans, more than eager to provide second chances, could at least look to their president and know for what he stood. The president cannot passively wait for issues to come neatly packaged for judgment. Instead, as president one must
President Obama has faced significant criticism from his own party for his willingness to compromise with congressional Republicans.
National get out from behind the desk to shape and frame the national debate - and, above all, act with reason, not judge from afar. By treating the presidency as a judgeship, Obama has removed himself from the forefront of national leadership and has ceded it to a broken Congress engorged with too much money and that is (paradoxically) perpetually occupied with the next election despite being artificially safe in their seats thanks to political redistricting. Mr. Obama’s defenders defend his leadership as sensibly centrist. But centrism is not neutrality – it’s constructively channeling the passions and ideas of both left and right forward. Mr. Obama’s cool silence against the unreason that poisons this country’s political discourse and taints its future reflects the confidence of a man who knows in his heart that what is right will ultimately prevail. Where Mr. Obama errs is in his apparent belief that to confront ignorance only legitimizes it as an alternative. He is wrong. What is right must be
“Mr. Obama has played his presidency with a strategy to not lose, not an outright attempt to win. Even if he were to fail in the active pursuit of an initiative, Americans, more than eager to provide second chances, could at least look to their president and know for what he stood.” articulated, fought for, and defended. He assumes that what is wrong will exhaust itself – and it always will – but not before the gravest damage is already done. But it is a mistake to write off Mr. Obama’s presidency and there is still time for his administration to rescue the faltering recovery and drive jobs growth. Unfortunately he will have to work against the headwinds of the immediate cuts mandated by the debt ceiling agreement, which many analysts fear may undermine an already anemic recovery still without robust private sector demand. How, then, should Mr. Obama proceed from now until the election? In addition to his Jobs Bill, Mr. Obama should present a clear package of proposals to allow corporations to repatriate their more than $1 trillion in foreign earnings, push for the approval of the three existing free trade agreements lingering in Congress, and charter an infrastructure bank. The president should also do more to address housing - the neglected epi-
center of the recession - by proposing to refinance taxpayerbacked mortgages en masse. Some estimate that helping Americans refinance their homes would unlock as much as a $46 billion a year in savings for families and help right the still struggling middle class. Reports indicate that President Obama plans to push for at least some of these stimulus measures in the newly instituted debt panel’s recommendations, which would face only an up-or-down vote in Congress. It is likely that the new debt panel will achieve its target in cuts, but not much more, meaning Mr. Obama should be ready to face Congress directly. In 2012, it would be a mistake for Mr. Obama to run on a defense of his first term. This is not for a lack of accomplishment: indeed, his decisions prevented an out-and-out economic collapse and his tough call to bail out U.S. automakers has exceeded expectations. The administration’s Race to the Top program in education has helped spur the country towards stronger national standards and better instruction. For all its flaws, there are still redeeming qualities to his health care bill. But too many of these positive reforms are still in their incipient phases and their impact not yet felt by the American people; his prevention of outright economic depression is a counterfactual unfit to run on. Instead, Mr. Obama should run on ideas and clearly define the agenda of a second term in a way that he did not with his first, starting with a clear and ambitious plan for tax and entitlement reform. He should undercut criticism of “Obamacare” by proposing how it should be improved - for example, by enacting sensible malpractice reform. And, if the Tea Party succeeds in having one of its candidates at the head of the Republican ticket, Obama’s greatest coup would be to attract a moderate conservative as his running mate to split the establishment Republican vote. Someone like Jon Huntsman, the admirable and principled former governor of Utah (and Obama’s ex-ambassador to China) who deserves a place on the national stage that the Republican Party will, in all likelihood, regrettably fail to give him. In the past two presidential elections, Kerry unsuccessfully attempted to woo McCain and in 2008, McCain flirted with Lieberman; a bipartisan ticket is only a matter of time. It is an unfortunate irony that a president who said that he was more willing to be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president may indeed be a one-term president – not for the unpopular but right decisions he made, but for the many right ones he could have, but didn’t, make at all. Kyle Hutzler is a sophomore in Calhoun College.
Fall 2011 I
The Infuriating Brilliance of Remaining Calm By Noah Remnick
T has not taken long for former supporters of president Barack Obama, particularly on the Democratic Party’s left wing, to label Obama’s presidency a disappointment. Obama ran for president largely to counter eight years of increasingly radical conservatism under George W. Bush, with its legacy characterized by war in Iraq, economic decline, and heedlessness, anti-intellectualism, antiscientism, and much else. Faced with recession and foreign wars and an overall collapse of American confidence, the public wanted results from the man in whom they had entrusted so much faith. With the expectations of the nation weighing heavily on him, Obama sought to enact a range of ambitious reforms at the start of his term. But faced with the enormity of the country’s problems and hampered by an obstructionist and increasingly radical Republican congress, Obama found his small political and legislative victories to be a far cry from the grand ambitions that he his supporters had hoped for.
Many criticized the modest scale of economic stimulus; his refusal to act firmly against the worst behavior on Wall Street; his failure to take strong action on the environment, gun control, gay marriage, and human rights issues. A presidency that had begun with two million people on the Washington Mall and an atmosphere of radical change soon collapsed into the sort of partisan deadlock that the country could hardly afford. With rare exception, liberal critiques of Obama center not on his ideology, but rather on his demeanor and character. “Weak,” “conciliatory,” “incompetent” and “unstrategic” have all been used to describe Obama’s behavior in office. These censures are important because they come from people who have fundamentally changed their opinions towards the President and could potentially vote against him –– or stay home –– in 2012. But perhaps liberals should redirect their evaluation of Obama, as they fail to consider the radical transformation of the opposition, the
Since arriving in the Oval Office, President Obama has been labelled “weak,” “conciliatory” and “incompetent.”
National current Republican Party. Obama is not the first President whose party is the minority in one or both houses of Congress, but rarely before has a president faced such staunch congressional opposition, particularly during a period of severe economic crisis. The powerfully persuasive Democratic presidents who so many yearn for Obama to mimic—particularly the domestically accomplished Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson—faced vastly different circumstances. Aside from Roosevelt’s first two years in office, both FDR and LBJ had the good fortune to work with decisive and pliable majorities in both houses of Congress. Furthermore, it is impossible to overstate the change in the Republican Party. In the post-war era, the Republican Party featured right-wing conservatives, to be sure, but also moderate establishment “country club” conservatives and even a healthy number of liberals like Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller of New York, Charle Percy of Illinois, and Mark Hatfield of Oregon. Richard Nixon himself began the Environmental Protection Agency and social welfare programs. In today’s GOP, with its absolutist litmus tests on taxes, abortion, and many other issues, a national candidate capable of such flexibility is unimaginable. Obama has been confronted by a political atmosphere with nearly unprecedented rejectionists. The Senate leader Mitch McConnell has declared that his singular goal as a leader and legislator is to defeat Obama in 2012. That is, his primary value is not to create jobs, lower the national debt, or clean the air we breathe and the water we hope to drink; his primary value is partisan political power. And this is true even more so, for the increasingly obdurate leaders of the House—men like Eric Cantor of Virginia. What frustrates so many is to watch the president react to this ferocity with calm, with a never-ending desire to find common ground, to compromise. But perhaps what some have deemed a “character defect,” as Professor Drew Weston did in a recent New York Times editorial, is actually a principled method of conflict resolution that finds its roots not in American presidential history, but rather in the Civil Rights Movement. Time and again, Obama has taken the moral high ground and maintained his dignity, refusing to stoop to the level of his opponents. By setting up such a stark contrast between himself and radical conservatives, Obama has allowed the public to recognize their cruelty and hypocrisy. Take, for example, the recent debate over jobs creation. To the surprise of many, and no doubt the consternation of some, the American public is generally inclined toward Obama’s jobs plan. Recent polls by Gallup and Princeton Survey Research Associates International show that more Americans want their representatives in Congress to vote for the Obama jobs plan than against it. To sway the public to his side, Obama used the tactics that have been his mainstay throughout his presidency: reason, justice, pragmatism, and calm. In other words, he used the dignity of his office and his demeanor to make his point,
with minimal negative rhetorical flourish and a great deal of common sense. In this way, he has been able to persuade even people who do not approve of his performance as president to approve of this plan. To many, he likely seemed the only restrained, focused adult in a room filled with children throwing tantrums. Even if they will not admit it or cannot articulate it, on a very basic level, Americans are showing trust in him on the particular, if not the general.
“In other words, [Obama] used the dignity of his office and his demeanor to make his point, with minimal negative rhetorical flourish and a great deal of common sense.” Perhaps Obama is succumbing to the harsh reality that, given the circumstances and a looming election, he is unlikely to pass any substantial reform for the remainder of his first term. In that case, his best and really only choice is to try to stop the bleeding of the economy for now, while getting public sentiment on his side. Hopefully, he will be able to leverage this into success for the Democrats in the upcoming election and use this support to enact policy reform in a second term. Liberals call Obama politically naïve when it comes to the nature of the obstructionist Republicans, as if he has not spent hours negotiating with Cantor and McConnell face-to-face. They put more faith in Frank Rich and Paul Krugman than Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, as if either of those columnists have ever gotten a piece of legislation passed. Obama is compared to the feeble Jimmy Carter, as if other presidents are the only historical frame of reference. As I watched the jobs debate unfold, I was often reminded of the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins from the Civil Rights Movement. Obama sits at the negotiating table much like those kids sat at that Woolworth’s counter a half-century ago. As Cantor and the rest dump the proverbial ketchup on the president’s head, calling him a communist and an igniter of class warfare, Obama sits there, absorbing it all. Those kids may not have gotten their lunch, but they will forever be remembered as heroes. And history will smile upon Obama, too, as he continues to fight for liberal values with the greatest of dignity. Noah Remnick is a freshman in Saybrook College.
Fall 2011 I
Fixing America An Interview with Professor Michael Mandelbaum By Josef Goodman Professor Michael Mandelbaum is the Director of the American Foreign Policy program at John Hopkins University. He is the author of The Case For Goliath: How America Acts As The World’s Government in the Twenty-first Century. He graduated from Yale College in 1968.
The Politic: As a 20 year old, how angry should I be at my parents and grandparents for leaving me to clean up their mess? MM: Your generation should not be happy with the fiscal legacy that my generation -- the baby boomers -- will be leaving to you if things don’t change. You should be getting active politically to press for addressing the country’s fiscal challenges now. The Politic: In the chapter from “That Used To Be Us,” entitled Devaluation, you and Mr. Friedman discuss the erosion of values in American society. How do we revive these core values? MM: The first step in reviving our core values is to notice that they have eroded, and to remember how important and how prevalent they once were. That is one of our purposes in writing this book.
The Politic: You mention the campaigns of George Wallace in 1968 and Ross Perot in 1992 as examples. I am concerned, though, that you have exaggerated Wallace and Perot’s impact on American history and that this shock therapy lacks the necessary shock. Is a third party candidate destined for failure not too mild a solution? MM: By getting almost 19 percent of the vote in 1992, Ross Perot made deficit reduction the top priority of the incoming Clinton administration, which it certainly would not have been without Perot. A strong showing by an independent candidate of the kind we prefer next year by itself wouldn’t suffice to change the course of the country -- this is a long-term project -- but it would be a good start. The Politic: Do you have anyone in mind to lead this 3rd party movement? Has the next Ross Perot emerged?
The Politic: You leave your recommendation to all of America’s woes to the very end of your book. What America needs is Shock Therapy, a third – party candidate, who can administer, with her compelling hybrid politics, the needed shock to the American political system. What will this candidate offer? How will s/he look different than say, Obama back in 2008?
MM: We have an agenda, not a candidate. In politics, a demand usually creates a supply. If there is enough interest in such a candidacy, someone will step forward.
MM: An effective independent candidate will have to offer specific proposals for meeting the country’s major challenges: upgrading education to cope with the merger of globalization and the information technology revolution, a serious long-term deficit-reduction plan, and an increase in the price of fossil fuels to promote conservation and the long-term shift to renewable sources of energy. Obama ran in 2008 on a series of themes; an independent candidate in 2012 who can change the national agenda by winning, say, 20 percent of the popular vote (he or she doesn’t have to win to succeed) will have to run on specific proposals.
MM: Looking back (fondly) on my own time at Yale, I wish I’d taken more courses outside my major. I regret not taking Vincent Scully’s great art history course, for example. That fits in with a theme of That Used To Be Us: people of your generation have to be prepared to change jobs, fields, and careers more than once during your working lives, so get as broad an education now as you can.
The Politic: As a graduate of Yale College, do you have any advice for your fellow Yalies who will be reading this interview?
Josef Goodman is a sophomore in Morse College. Picture provided by Anne Mandelbaum.
American Power Projection New Strategies to Confront 21st Century Reality By Austin Schaefer
MERICAN leaders have misunderstood American power,” writes Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, in his recent book Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy. Power in the 21st century is really about “psychological and political pressure,” not just military force. What does this mean for the world’s largest army? How will the role and function of the armed forces change? How should the Pentagon’s budget reflect the new realities? I sat down with two Yale professors to discuss these questions. The strategic challenges confronting the United States in the next century will undoubtedly change. As the world’s lone military superpower, it is unlikely that any nation will challenge its very existence. Threats, therefore, will most likely confront its access to resources, influence over regional conflicts, and the security of its civilians against terrorism. Does a large, standing army, designed to defeat the Soviets in a global conflagration, address these concerns in a cost“
effective manner? Or will our threats be more asymmetric in nature, requiring not conventional warfare but counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence? The scholarly opinion on this matter is divided. Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University, insists that conflict and power struggle are an inevitable result of human nature, and that large, conventional warfare is historically cyclical and lucidly foreseeable. He cites Israel, South Korea, and Taiwan as defense obligations of the United States that could require the dispensation of large and immediate force. Jolyon Howorth, a Visiting Professor of Political Science at Yale University, disagrees, insisting that “the overwhelming evidence – statistical evidence, empirical evidence – is that war between major powers is massively on the decline.” With the notable exceptions of the two world wars, Howorth sees a distinct trend within the past 200 years away from major war, with the sixty years since the Korean War as an era characterized largely by peace.
The M1 Abrams tank was designed to defeat Soviet armor, not car or suicide bombs. Fall 2011 I
National “That’s a very short period of time in the grand scheme of things, but not only nuclear weapons but also the nature of sophisticated modern technological conventional weapons make the thought of war between consequential states absolutely horrific. What is the object of war?” The peace of the past 60 years, however, is not one devoid of violence and armed struggle. Civil war has constituted the vast majority of armed conflict in the post-WWII era, often in the context of post-Colonial anarchy, in nations with underdeveloped political institutions. Though the U.S. and Soviet Union never fought a conventional war during this
“The overwhelming evidence - statiscal evidence, empirical evidence - is that war between major powers is massively on the decline.” -Donald Kagan period, many civil disturbances in Central America, Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa were essentially proxy wars between the two powers, who backed opposing groups. Whereas the equilibrium of international relations has remained largely stable, the political balance within certain states has not. Yet the absence of inter-state war is certainly an indication of progress. This raises the question of how this “peace” has been acquired. Have nuclear weapons caused a fear of conflict escalation that has placated major powers? Has economic interdependence made the cost of war too high? Have international institutions enhanced cooperation between states and mitigated would-be conflicts? Howorth insists that they have, claiming that today’s arena of global politics is a more mature one than under the League of Nations. “The United Nations exists in a completely different international framework, where the norms of internationalism, the norms of institutionalism, the norms of multi-lateralisms, the norms of consultation, the norms of all sorts of arms control, regimes, have become pretty much internalized by the international community.” In response to this, Kagan makes a surprising and provocative claim, that the UN undermines global stability and encourages conflict. Instead of forming alliances and interstate agreements to maintain the balance of power, nations turn to a deliberative, powerless body. Halden Libby (JE ’15) son of a prominent official in the Departments of State and Defense, views the UN as not necessarily powerless, but certainly causing entanglement and interventionalism: “the UN creates a sense of international responsibility to involve yourself in foreign injustices.” Ulti18
mately, while the UN might facilitate cooperation between willing states, it is largely powerless to deter unwilling states, as evidenced by the continuation of the Iranian nuclear program in spite of economic sanctions. Perhaps only military action can stop such national resolve. A final question to consider is the role military will play as a guarantor of security. Regardless of the likelihood of largescale conflict, Howorth acknowledges that the maintenance of an advanced and capable military is still important, and perhaps itself deters war. “Militaries can serve purposes other than those of prevailing in battle. They can act as offshore balances, they can act as messages, they can act as discourse, you know, an aircraft carrier fleet in the Taiwan straits doesn’t have to do anything to exert its power; it’s just a message.” The maintenance of this power projection, however, is not without cost, as Howorth notes: “When the United States has a national debt approaching $15 trillion, there is no way in which Washington can continue to justify to the American people the maintenance of that degree of [Military] expenditure.” Indeed, the Department of Defense requested a budget of $708 billion in FY 2011. Whereas a previous generation of policymakers could write off these expenses by selling treasury bonds, the national debt has become an intense burden on the American taxpayer and can no longer withstand such massive borrowing. Cuts must be made somewhere. The overwhelming likelihood, however, is that defense spending will not substantially decrease in the United States. Eisenhower’s warning of the military-industrial complex and its implications for the American economy is just as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Defense is something of a sacred term in American politics, whose value cannot be quantified. And rightly so; drastic reduction in spending would greatly destabilize global politics, as the United States essentially underwrites the security of the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and Taiwan. The removal of this guarantee would force these states to invest more heavily in their own defense, leading to regional arms races and further insecurity. American power projection is an asset that cannot be relinquished, though this responsibility must somehow be reconciled with the fiscal reality confronting the nation. Perhaps the best approach is for the United States to increase the capacity of its armed forces while decreasing their size, a transition from power extension to power projection. Rather than involving itself in occupations led by costly ground forces, the United States should invest in aircraft carriers, precision strike capability, and intelligence gathering. Austin Schaefer is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards College.
Moving Beyond the Cold War By Matthew Shafer
UCLEAR weapons issues have become a more prominent part of political discourse over the past year. This recent upsurge in attention is due at least in part to the debate around and successful ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which entered into force earlier this year. A bilateral accord between the United States and Russia, the treaty imposed new limitations on the number of strategic nuclear weapons that can be deployed. The treaty was, on its face, a simple successor to the previous Treaty of Moscow, which was due to expire and which had already imposed somewhat less-extensive limitations on deployed strategic nuclear weapons. New START did not address the stockpiles of nuclear weapons that are not on active battleready status but are instead stored so that they can be made available for use with time-consuming preparation. Despite this similar past agreement, the ratification process became extremely politicized as it occurred during the American midterm elections and presented an opportunity for political posturing on the part of many candidates. Some right-wing organizations campaigned publicly against the treaty, presenting arguments that the accord would undercut the efficacy of America’s nuclear deterrent, or that it failed to account for strategic implications of nuclear weapons in countries such as China. Activists on both sides gathered petition signatures,
paid visits to legislators, and made phone calls to Capitol Hill. For the nuclear disarmament and reduction movement, this proved to be an opportunity to build new alliances, create new energy among volunteers and activists, and raise new awareness among those previously unfamiliar with the issue. Ratification of the treaty was therefore widely acclaimed as a victory for the nuclear disarmament and reduction movements, which had to some extent receded from American discourse after the end of the Cold War. With the demise of the Soviet Union as an “existential threat” to the American nation, the fears of mutually assured destruction that had catalyzed much anti-nuke sentiment faded, and many of those who had been active in campaigning for disarmament turned their political sights toward other targets. The public debate around New START thus contributed to a recent increase in attention to nuclear disarmament that has also been fueled by concerns about nuclear terrorism, rogue states, and “weapons of mass destruction” more broadly. Two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the public square is beginning to be populated by a new generation of policy students, activists, and others who grew up without daily reminders of a doomsday clock eternally set for five minutes to midnight, and who are therefore better able to address the question of nuclear weapons with new vitality and fresh perspectives.
The U.S. and Russian delgeations holding the closing plenary of New Start negotiations in April 2010 Fall 2011 I
National So what comes next for the nuclear disarmament and reduction movement? The successful ratification of New START affirms the fact that the nuclear weapons politics of the Cold War should rightly be put far behind us. In other words, antipathy towards Russia and its allies is no longer the dominant theme of American policy, and the bipolar world of those bygone days no longer defines the strategic questions that face us now. But sadly, even after the important step that New START made, some aspects of Cold-War-era policy remain in place. Central among these remnants of a bygone antagonism is the presence of American tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs), unlike strategic nuclear weapons (SNWs), are not intended to play a central role in the posturing and large-scale threats that lie at the core of nuclear deterrence. SNWs, with their ability to wipe out entire cities and threaten whole populations, were central to the assurance of mutual destruction that prevented large-scale military conflict between the two superpowers during the Cold War. In contrast, tactical nuclear weapons are intended for battlefield use in otherwise more conventional military situations. Delivery systems for these weapons vary: some are designed to be fired by standard artillery, while others would be carried to their targets by shorter-range missiles than the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles that have long been a standard part of the SNW arsenal. During the Cold War, the United States deployed many TNWs to NATO allies that were otherwise not nuclear-armed. Today, about 180 of these weapons remain on the territory of five members of the alliance (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey).
“New START affirms the fact that the nuclear weapons politics of the Cold War should rightly be put far behind us.” Proponents of nuclear disarmament and reduction have argued for years that a withdrawal of TNWs from Europe is long overdue. Such a move would be desirable on all fronts; the presence of American tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is a relic of the Cold War, and their deployment there no longer makes political, military, or strategic sense in a geopolitical era in which Western military engagements are more likely to involve conflicts with distributed non-state actors or confrontations with entrenched dictators than face-offs between global superpowers. Removal of American weapons
from the territory of European allies would strengthen the advances made by New START, providing further recognition that United States nuclear weapons policy no longer rests on antipathy towards Russia and is not based on a divide between “the West and the rest.” This would also lay the groundwork for future bilateral reduction agreements between the United States and Russia, which together possess around 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons, previous cuts notwithstanding. In May 2012, Chicago will host the NATO summit which gathers together heads of state and heads of government of the treaty organization members. The question of continuing TNW deployment is set to be discussed there. The potential for changing this policy appears to be unusually high, as, according to a widely circulated report from last July, the US seems to be considering withdrawing tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. It seems likely, therefore, that the issue of tactical nuclear weapons will provide a centerpiece for disarmament and reduction discussions over the next year. The attention that is likely to be focused on it will allow renewed discussion of other pressing issues related to disarmament and reduction efforts. Ideally, the energy produced by engagement with tactical nuclear weapon withdrawal will power a new push by proponents of disarmament for American ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would obligate states to forgo any “nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control” (CTBT Article I). The United States has signed but not yet ratified this accord, and the treaty cannot enter into force until the United States and several other specified nations give it the full support of ratification. By providing an opportunity for nuclear weapons issues to be brought back into public discourse, the Chicago NATO summit will set the stage for disarmament proponents to push for American ratification of this important document over the coming months and years. Proponents of disarmament recognize that the long road to a world without nuclear weapons will not allow a fast or easy journey. The U.S. will at times be forced to climb steep hills in the face of entrenched political opposition and to traverse rough terrain in tackling issues of rogue states and terrorism. But perhaps never since the end of the Cold War have the prospects of a successful effort looked better. The ratification of New START demonstrates the political possibilities that should encourage the American people to look ahead to the NATO summit and beyond as opportunities to work further for a safer world. Matt Shafer is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.
AFTER OSAMA By Meredith Potter
N MAY 2, 2011, American operatives stormed a residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing al Qaeda commander Osama bin Laden. The immediate effect on the United States and its allies was psychological; retribution had been achieved after the grand plotter of the September 11 attacks eluded United States intelligence agencies for nearly a decade. Yet, despite this blow to al Qaeda leadership, the War on Terror is not over. In his remarks after the raid, President Obama said, “His death does not mark the end of our effort…al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.” Thus far, the post-bin Laden phase of the War on Terror has been plagued by uncertainties about al Qaeda’s senior leaders and their ties to regional al Qaeda nodes in Iraq, North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. Though Ayman al Zawahiri succeeded bin Laden in June, will he be, as Retired General Chrystal described bin Laden, an “iconic figure… whose survival emboldens al Qaeda as a franchising organization across the world?” Fall 2011 I
International The al Qaeda Franchise Al Qaeda, which means “the Base,” formed as the Soviets were retreating from Afghanistan in 1989. Bin Laden and his group of mujahedeen, primarily from the Arabian Peninsula, received American and Saudi funding to participate in expelling Soviet invaders, who had been in Afghanistan since 1979. In 1990, bin Laden volunteered his organization to help defend Saudi Arabia from a possible Iraqi strike. The Saudis rejected his offer; instead, they permitted US forces to use the country as their base during the Gulf War. Angered, bin Laden publicly disparaged the Saudi monarchy and was forced into exile in Sudan. Al Qaeda relocated to Afghanistan after the Taliban, who shares bin Laden’s literalist Islamic theology, came to power in 1996. Al Qaeda’s deadliest attacks prior to September 11 were the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the USS Cole, which was docked in the Port of Aden off the
“Nodes are expected to conform to al Qaeda tactics and targets, [but] for the most part, are financially independent.” coast of Yemen, in 2000. Osama bin Laden sought to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Arab world by ridding the region of foreign influence and crafting a social order under an Islamic government akin to the Taliban. In his 2002 letter to the American people titled “Why We Are Fighting You,” he says, “you attacked us and continue to attack us,” and lists his grievances, particularly American support for Israel, Indian oppression
in Kashmir, occupation of Muslim countries, and theft of oil. He targeted anyone he considered complicit in the advancement of the “Western agenda.” Before the Arab Spring, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was an al Qaeda target because of his dependence on Western aid. In January, protests in Tahrir Square deposed Mubarak without al Qaeda’s assistance. Though established in Afghanistan, al Qaeda has spread throughout the Arab world, leading to the development of semi-autonomous “nodes” in Iraq, North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. Since 2004, regional groups with similar Salafi Islamic ideologies have been negotiating mergers with senior al Qaeda leaders. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) formally merged with al Qaeda in 2004, al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) formally merged with al Qaeda in 2006, and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) formally merged with al Qaeda by combining the Saudi and Yemeni al Qaeda contingents in 2009. Al Qaeda has adopted a franchise model in which they cede some authority to regional nodes in order to expand its reach throughout the Muslim world. Dr. Geoff Porter, the founder and director of North African Risk Consulting, says that senior al Qaeda leaders seek out Islamist organizations whose views and tactics align with their own. Though regional nodes are expected to conform to al Qaeda tactics and targets, for the most part, they are financially independent. Al Zawahiri, who has succeeded bin Laden, seems unsure how to direct them. Today, terrorists are conducting attacks in pursuit of the Islamic caliphate envisioned by bin Laden without consulting al Zawahiri. Regional nodes are becoming increasingly independent. Al Zawahiri is ushering in an era of further decentralization between al Qaeda senior leaders and their operatives.
Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) Even under bin Laden, al Qaeda struggled to control the actions of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Mus’ab al Zarqawi, whose target set included Americans, Iraqi Shi’a, members of Sunni resistance groups, and Sunni tribal leaders that refused to coalesce when confronted with his demands. The increasingly violent al Zarqawi sent suicide bombers to attack hotels in Amman, Jordan in 2005. In doing so, al Zarqawi alienated potential sympathizers. Ultimately, bin Laden tamed al Zarqawi, but not before al Zarqawi damaged the jihad in Iraq. Though AQI has been declining since the United States killed al Zarqawi, the story of AQI speaks to al Zawahiri’s primary challenge: to prevent the regional nodes from straying from the tactics and targets that benefit al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has always had a tenuous relationship with al Qaeda senior leadership. They formally merged with al Qaeda on the fifth anniversary of September 11; since the merger, they have conducted attacks against national, regional, and Western targets. From 2008 to 2010, ties between senior leadership and AQIM worsened; they disagreed over the kinds of attacks that were being conducted in the Maghreb, and Algerian counter-terrorism efforts challenged AQIM. I interviewed Dr. Geoff Porter, the founder and director of North African Risk Consulting, who writes for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
International I wonder is to what degree al Qaeda senior leadership is facing or is going to face fundraising constraints because of the death of bin Laden. As a consequence of that, I wonder to what degree al Zawahiri will lean on the franchises. AQIM is phenomenally wealthy. They have earned bucket loads of money through kidnapping and ransom operations. It is possible that al Zawahiri, when faced with financial challenges will call upon AQIM to give back, but AQIM may not acquiesce. There may be opposition from leaders in the south. The Politic: What does the Arab Spring mean for terrorism in North Africa?
Shortly after bin Laden’s death in May, Ayman al-Zawahiri assumed leadership of al Qaeda.
The Politic: How did AQIM come to be? Dr. Geoff Porter: For a while, the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat, or GSPC, did not want to align with al Qaeda, an organization with a global agenda, because GSPC had an Algerian focus. They wanted to topple the government in Algiers and restore the government there. Discussions between Abdelmalek Droukdal, the head of GSPC, and Ayman al Zawahiri, began in 2006. Bin Laden was always more cautious than al Zawahiri about sharing the al Qaeda name. After GSPC attacked a foreign oil service company in December 2006, thereby proving their mission was in line with al Qaeda’s goal of ridding non-Muslims from Muslim lands, the group became al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. The Politic: AQIM finances itself through kidnapping for ransom
operations. In September 2010, AQIM said it would not negotiate for release of the French hostages it is holding; all negotiations, it said, had to be made directly through bin Laden. Is this evidence of AQIM and al Qaeda senior leadership drawing closer or is it evidence of AQIM attempting to revive a faltering relationship with senior leaders? GP: It could be either of those things, but in 2009 and 2010, AQIM drifted away from carrying out sensationalist attacks against non-Muslims in the Maghreb, so I think it was probably evidence of AQIM attempting to revive a faltering relationship with al Qaeda senior leadership. The Politic: Will al Zawahiri improve relations between AQIM and al Qaeda senior leadership? Al Zawahiri facilitated their merger. GP: I am not sure. One of the things
GP: There is a broad argument that the Arab Spring has proven that al Qaeda is not the only vehicle for overthrowing Western puppets in the Middle East. Given that, AQIM is going to be at pains to prove that they are a useful movement for challenging authoritarianism in North Africa. I do not think AQIM is raiding Libyan weapon stockpiles, but there is no question that they will benefit from their eventual proliferation. Once they acquire Libyan weapons, they have three choices: (1) monetarize the weapons; (2) bolster their defensive posture to discourage raids; or (3) use the weapons for offensive purposes. There is no way to know which of these options they will pursue. The Politic: What kinds of AQIM attacks should Washington prepare for in the near term? In the long term? GP: I do not think AQIM has the capability to attack outside of North Africa. Marc Trevidit, France’s leading judge in counter-terrorism efforts against AQIM, recently declared AQIM incapable of attacking Europe. There might be an attempt to infiltrate Mo-
Fall 2011 I
International rocco, which is a target rich environment, but Morocco has an aggressive counter-terrorism policy. It is important to keep AQIM in perspective. It has an al Qaeda affiliation, however, it is a group that consists of maybe 500 or 600 hardcore members trying to cover a geographic area that is roughly the size of Australia. The number of people they have kidnapped or killed is relatively small compared to other terrorists and violent non-state actors around the world. While it is an al Qaeda franchise, I think its affiliation with al Qaeda has inflated the importance we ascribe to it.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
AQAP, unlike the other nodes, is modeled closely after the original network bin Laden built in the 1990s. Nasir al Wihayshi, the leader of AQAP, served bin Laden as aid and secretary for four years before the two were separated at the Battle of Tora Bora in 2001. He was imprisoned, but in 2006, he and 22 other Yemeni captives escaped. Since 2006, al Wihayshi has overseen multiple plots to attack the American homeland. Anwar al Awlaqi, a dual citizen of Yemen and the United States, helped AQAP recruit jihadists until his death on October 14, 2011; he was killed during an American drone strike. I interviewed Gregory Johnsen of Princeton University, who synthesizes Yemeni affairs in his blog Waq al Waq. He was a member of the USAID conflict assessment team for Yemen and writes for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. The Politic: Why is AQAP interested in domestic American targets in addition to targets in the Arabian Peninsula, an idiosyncrasy that does not seem to have taken root in the other nodes? GJ: There are different opinions on 24
this. Keep in mind that al Qaeda went through two different iterations in Yemen. It was after his prison break in 2006 that al Wihayshi came back on the scene. Into 2007, 2008, and even 2009, the group was resurrecting al Qaeda from previous defeat. They applied what I would call a “lessons learned” approach. Some scholars and policymakers believe that AQAP is an organization that evolves over time and that they only became strong enough to target the United States in 2009, so at that time, the United States became part of their target set. Others believe that AQAP always had aspirations to attack the United States, but they lacked the talent. These theorists believe that AQAP acquired the talent required to attack the United States when it acquired Anwar al Awlaqi. The Politic: What do you make of the death of al Awlaqi? Without him, what will become of Inspire, al Qaeda’s English language magazine? GJ: His death will not be a particularly debilitating loss to AQAP. There are many people – still alive – that pose a greater threat to the West. However, he did fill a special role in reaching out to English speakers in the West. In that respect, al Qaeda has lost a voice. The idea that killing him has made Americans safer – I disagree with that. The Politic: What kinds of AQAP attacks should Washington prepare for in the near term? In the long term? GJ: We cannot prepare for eventualities. AQAP is innovative; numerous times, they have caught the United States off guard, which was the case with the Christmas Day bomb plot. They have carried out numerous attacks, so it is difficult to be prepared for specifics. Instead, we are increasing air and drone strikes in Yemen in the hope that we can keep AQAP at bay, and that this will prevent them from utilizing the space they have acquired. This is not
a sustainable strategy in the long run. The Politic: What does the Arab Spring mean for terrorism in the Arabian Peninsula? GJ: At this point, we have a very messy situation in Yemen. We have an uprising that has gone on for months, we have an army that is split, and so there are still a number of different ways this could play out. I think the United States has to understand that we cannot simply look at Yemen through the prism of AQAP. We have to solve the political problem in Yemen first; first, there must be a political transition away from President Saleh, and then we can deal with AQAP. We have defeated al Qaeda in Yemen once, but we need to reform our policy in order to do so again.
Looking Forward Al Qaeda is struggling to make itself relevant in the Arab Spring. The organization has been unable to launch a spectacular attack for years. Al Zawahiri is likely to be unable to fundraise with the same alacrity as bin Laden; for that reason, he may expedite al Qaeda’s organizational deterioration. Bin Laden’s supporters were largely Persian Gulf Arabs, and though they loyally supplied bin Laden with fighters and finances, they are more skeptical of Ayman al Zawahiri, an Egyptian who has always been a loose cannon compared to bin Laden. Al Zawahiri faces the difficult task of ensuring that al Qaeda’s regional nodes pursue its modus operandi. When asked how senior leadership should control its regional nodes and affiliates, Mr. Johnsen and Dr. Porter have similar thoughts: if al Zawahiri does not carefully ally himself with loyal individuals, the al Qaeda franchise system will break down. Mr. Johnsen says, “as far as AQAP goes, one of the reasons bin Laden was so comfortable with the organization as it was set up
International from 2006 onwards was the individual in charge.” The leader of AQAP, Nasir al Wihayshi, was close to bin Laden. Mr. Johnsen says, “That personal tie gave bin Laden, and should continue to give al Zawahiri, confidence in AQAP.” Dr. Porter says, “Bin Laden’s rationale, which was a legitimate one, was always to refrain from allowing
“He [bin Laden] did fill a special role in reaching out to English speakers in the West. In that respect al Qaeda has lost a voice.” -Gregory Johnsen
organizations to use the al Qaeda name if he was not convinced that (1) they were likely to be successful in their efforts and (2) they were going to be loyal to him. Once you give someone the al Qaeda name, you cannot take it away from them. Al Zawahiri always played faster and looser with the al Qaeda name; given that, we may end up with a situation under al Zawahiri in which there are more al Qaeda franchises, but al Zawahiri will still lack an enforcement mechanism to ensure people are true Salafi jihadists, not criminals with local grievances.” Though al Zawahiri is likely to facilitate further decentralization and disorganization within al Qaeda, the War on Terror is far from over. If al Zawahiri fails to fundraise, regional nodes will continue to operate independent of senior leaders in Pakistan. What types of attacks can we expect from al Qaeda’s regional nodes? Where should the United States direct its immediate
counter-terrorism efforts? Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, recently described AQAP as posing the most immediate threat to the United States because of its interest in attacking the American homeland. In December 2009, a young Nigerian man tried to detonate a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight to the United States. Last year, authorities thwarted an AQAP plot to blow up Chicago-bound cargo planes. However, in the immediate future, the US should also be concerned about lone wolf attacks, especially attacks conducted by individuals seeking retribution for bin Laden’s death. They are virtually impossible to predict. Meredith Potter is a junior in Saybrook College.
The above map depicts the presence of al Qaeda in the Middle East. The black indicates al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb and the dark gray indicates al Qaeda’s node in the Arabian Peninsula. Another node is stationed in Iraq and was previously led by Abu Mus’ab al Zarqawi, who intensified attacks against Shi’a Muslims and uncooperative Sunnis. Fall 2011 I
Talk with the Chief: A Look into Al Jazeera’s Reporting, Appeal and Controversy An Interview with Amjad Atallah Conducted by Geng Ngarmboonanant Al-Jazeera has been at the forefront of reporting on the Arab Spring, and is widely credited for its in-depth, unbiased and often courageous journalism. In fact, AlJazeera itself has been cited as one of the factors behind the rapid change in the Middle East. Amjad Atallah is the current bureau chief of the Americas for Al-Jazeera English. Atallah worked as an editor of the Middle East Channel for Foreign Policy and as a co-director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation. He spoke with The Politic about the role of Al-Jazeera in the uprising, its reporting philosophy, and the controversies surrounding some of its work.
The Politic: You’ve worked at Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation. Why did you make the decision earlier this year to move, and how has work at Al Jazeera been different from work at Foreign Policy and New America? AA: My job at Al Jazeera is very different from my work at Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation. I loved my time at New America—it was a fantastic place to work, full of remarkable and creative people doing amazing things, across an entire spectrum of issues. But when I was recruited to apply to Al Jazeera, I could not say no. Al Jazeera contributes to journalism worldwide and provides a voice to people who’ve never had a voice on the international stage. Their cause was one that I was profoundly attached to, and it was a profoundly different task than ones I had at the think tanks. The journalists and staff at Al Jazeera are remarkably dedicated and committed to make the world a better place through objective journalism. I am honored to be working with them. The Politic: I understand that Al Jazeera is planning to expand its viewership in the United States. How does Al Jazeera coverage differ from the coverage of other American media companies? AA: I think that Al Jazeera offers an unparalleled breadth and scope to the news that most other news channels cannot offer. We have more news coming out of Latin American and Mexico than any other news channel; for example, we have had reports coming out of Mexico every single day in the last week, and we reported on Bolivia yesterday and Brazil today. This level of coverage doesn’t exist at other 26
channels. Secondly, we have a global context to our news. We only have one program across the world, so all our news is contextualized and geared towards a global audience. Other news networks may come across as more nationalistic or as catering to a local audience. This isn’t the case with Al Jazeera – we have audiences from the United States to London to Tokyo. In terms of stories originating from the United States, we present the American story to the entire world and the world’s stories to the United States. The Politic: What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring? AA: Well, I would first like to say that the urge for democracy and freedom in the Arab World has existed since the start of colonialism. The struggle of people to be free has been with us forever, and it goes on everywhere. The difference with the Arab Spring is that this time, it was covered. We gave news coverage to a desperate man in Tunisia who lit himself on fire in protest of the government. This time, when people demonstrated, we were there to give a voice to their protests and complaints. This is our goal, at the end of the day –to give voice to the people who are in fact making news. We often get trapped into the notion that only the elite and celebrities make news, and as a result, we don’t give voice to normal people who are changing the world. Al Jazeera, I think, has established a precedent of covering regular people who are fighting for freedom and who have compelling stories—and presenting their journeys to a global audience. Governments are responding to this by blocking our satellite signals and raiding our offices, so that’s been
International a very big challenge for us. But we’ve seen a rise in citizen journalism. Everyone with a cell phone nowadays becomes a journalist, with the ability to post their photos, videos and comments on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. We’ve begun relying heavily on citizen journalism in areas where our journalists can’t reach, and presenting it to the world. This is really transforming journalism. The Politic: Al Jazeera gained much recognition for coverage of the Arab Spring, especially the Egyptian revolution. What was and is Al Jazeera’s attitude or philosophy in covering these revolutions? How does Al Jazeera choose what countries to cover? AA: On any given day, a lot of stories come in. Many of these stories are news that every outlet covers. But we try to go beyond that. We’ve covered Bahrain, for example, since the beginning of its protests, even though it is not reported on as much in other outlets. For us, Bahrain is just as important as Syria, Egypt or Libya. We’ve covered student protests in Chile and Bolivia, and the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York. Our goal is to never exclude any news. Since we’re a 24/7 news channel, we are able to put all these stories out to our global audience. We give everyone our attention. How much attention? That always depends on what information our reporter can get from that region. But our goal is always to cover as widely as possible. The Politic: What role, if any, do you think Al Jazeera has had in pushing the Arab Spring along? AA: We have not pushed revolutions; we’ve followed them. We’re encouraging all Arab media outlets to do the same—to cover the stories and present them to the larger audience. Is our coverage what motivates people to fight? No, absolutely not. They were fighting a hundred years ago, fifty years ago, twenty years ago. They’re more successful right now because we are giving them a voice on the global stage and conveying their stories to the world. It’s a more level playing field right now. The Politic: Some claim that Al Jazeera is too proactivist and that it is actively pushing for regime change. Do you think this is a correct charge, and if so, are you concerned? AA: We’ve heard this claim a lot from the despotic governments in these Arab countries, who are accustomed to owning all the media outlets and cracking down on the free press. They’ve been used to having free reign in what to cover. What Al Jazeera is doing is not activism. We’re not supporting this group or that group; we’re simply reporting
on all of them. This is journalism. We’ve been accused a lot by Arab governments as taking the side of the people against the government. The truth is, we report on the government’s perspective on issues as well. However, our baseline is always international law and human rights. So when the government is spraying bullets into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators—yes, we’ll still ask the government why they did it. But they shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t devote equal time to covering their propaganda as the grievances of the people. The Politic: Has Al Jazeera itself changed, in any way, over the course of the past nine months since the start of the Arab Spring? Has the way you cover or decide on content changed at all?
“The struggle of people to be free has been with us forever, and it goes on everywhere. The difference with the Arab Spring is that this time, it was covered.” AA: No, I don’t think so. We still strive for editorial independence like we always have; we still try to cover every important story everywhere. That’s our overriding concern. When a moment reaches a climax, like the two weeks of demonstrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square in late January and early February, we went to live coverage almost full time. When a moment reaches a climax, we will always break in and that story will be our priority for that time period. However, one thing we won’t do is turn the camera away when that climax passes. I heard Anderson Cooper say to CNN viewers once that there were complaints that the network was covering Libya too much. But he said, in response, that he was not going to yield to these complaints because the network has a responsibility, as a group of journalists, to cover it. We embody that philosophy at Al Jazeera—we keep covering stories as long as we can. We don’t stop covering climate change and more amorphous topics because they are difficult to cover and we are afraid that people will become bored with them. Our viewers are not bored by the coverage; many times it is the editors themselves who become bored with these topics. The people impacted by these events are not bored. We pledge to keep the light on as long as we can. Fall 2011 I
International The Politic: Recently, Wikileaks published reports about negotiations between Al Jazeera and the Qatari and U.S. governments, and how Al Jazeera yielded to the wishes of these governments. Now that Al Jazeera’s director general has been replaced by a member of the Qatari royal family, there have been charges that its coverage is not truly independent, but rather a reflection of the views of the Qatari royal circle. In your experience, have you ever changed coverage because of pressure from the United States? AA: No. Absolutely not. I’ve been here about half a year and we’ve never yielded to pressure from the United States. I’ve also quizzed and questioned my colleagues who have been
“There’s a difference between reporting on issues and providing a platform for hate speech. But my principle is this: if we start second-guessing ourselves on the consequences of publishing news stories, we begin to self-censor ourselves.” working for years at Al Jazeera and they have confirmed that they have never changed coverage because of pressure from governments. Let me reiterate that: we’ve never changed our coverage because of pressure from any foreign or domestic government. Of course, we receive a lot of complaints from a lot of governments about what we report. Egyptian government officials, for example, complained during our reporting of the
revolution. When a complaint reaches us, our principle is that we will always meet with them. If the complaint is that our reporting is inaccurate, we will look into it and fix it if necessary. We will also apologize in some cases. However, if it’s a political complaint, we’ll listen to them but not do anything about it. We understand that the responsibility of government officials is to “spin” the news to change the coverage of events, but it is also our responsibility to not yield to that. The Politic: How, then, do you explain the recent Wikileaks reports that there were negotiations between Al Jazeera and the Qatari and U.S. governments? AA: It is clear that our director-general did not yield to political pressure from these governments. In that case, our directorgeneral met with the government officials and realized that a reporting mistake was made on our side. Specifically, there were pictures associated with a story that was not supposed to be associated with it. It was a mistake, and so we took it down. The Politic: Do you think there are times when coverage should be changed if it may insight riots or disorders? AA: There’s a difference between reporting on issues and providing a platform for hate speech. But my principle is this: if we start second-guessing ourselves on the consequences of publishing news stories, we begin to self-censor ourselves. For example, if we report on a government massacre, as far as the government is concerned, our coverage might instigate riots and disorders. It is, of course, not appropriate for us to tell our viewers to riot; however, it is our responsibility to report on the massacre. The consequences that follow the publication of news stories are unpredictable and too complex, and it is not our responsibility to predict them. Geng Ngarmboonanant is a freshman in Silliman College.
THE POINT OF NO
The Syrian uprising, and what to make of it.
Fall 2011 I
The Syrian Uprising Millions of Voices but Years until They Will Be Heard By Justin Schuster Across the Middle East governments are realizing that an iron fist can no longer silence a population. Through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the unadulterated idealism of youth, a generation has uprooted decades of authoritarianism. But Syria, like a misshapen puzzle piece, does not fit into the framework of the Arab Spring. Its origins of discontent may be similar, but its future will usher in a new chapter to this past year of political instability and violence. Shunned by the international community, brutally oppressed by a government and divided internally, the Syrian opposition faces a dark future. A nation is screaming, but not a single voice can be heard.
FTER decades of political repression, the Syrian pot has boiled over. There is no defining moment that marks the point of no return. Rather, the events in Syria over the past seven months have comprised a series of gradual yet chaotic shifts with no clear direction. With no defined leadership, Syria’s future appears equally uncertain, if not bloodier. What started as an eruption of fury, born from decades of tension, may drag into years of crippling civil war. One thing, however, is clear: a resolution will not come shortly, and it will not come cleanly. What is occurring in Syria is unique, and the eventual resolution will not be swift like in Tunisia, it will not be glamorous like in Egypt and there will be no international salvation like in Libya. While tumult and uncertainty characterize most of the nations embroiled in the Arab Spring, an all-consuming cesspool of violence may describe the situation in Syria. The Syrian uprising carries such a stigma because the regime has been largely successful. The military has remained loyal, the regime has managed to keep protestors divided and unarmed, and the nation is shrouded in a near media blackout. Moreover, rising world superpowers like China, India, Brazil and Russia continue to sustain the regime economically despite harsh Western sanctions. While scores are murdered daily by an oppressive regime, the international community treats the uprising like a pawn in a political chess match; Syria demonstrates a collision of regional geopolitical and international economic interests. As the international community continues their political game, millions of Syrians suffer from international inaction. The Syrian revolt illuminates the harsh reality that, in much of the world today, human rights are subservient to economic interests in practice, though perhaps not in name. Unfortunately, change for the opposition may only come at the barrel of a gun. Before one can envisage Syria’s future, one must first recognize the events that have led to the present situation.
The Turbulent Past Understanding Syria’s chaotic past few months requires knowledge of its diverse population. Along religious lines, 30
Syria is 74% Sunni Muslim, 15% Shia Muslim, 7% Christian and 4% Druze. A sub-division of the Shia, the Alawites, tend to dominate the highest echelons of the political and military spheres (President Assad, his regime, and top brass are Alawites.) Economically, there is a great divide between a growing upper-middle class and a super-rich class with rural pockets of immense poverty resulting from Assad’s economic liberalization. Demographically, Syria is especially bottom heavy; 49% of its population is 20 years or younger. The persistent theme of political repression, in addition to national diversity, adds to the understanding of the recent
“The eventual resolution will not be swift like in Tunisia, it will not be glamorous like in Egypt and there will be no international salvation like in Libya.” uprising. For forty years, Syria has lived under an Assad regime. When Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000, he ushered in an era of economic liberalization and quickly received the backing of business leaders. But freer markets did not translate into political freedom. The president maintained his father’s political repressiveness such that his changes to Syria were superficial at best - Syria remained a police state. “Assad had, with rhetoric alone, convinced so many people from outside Syria that he would carry out substantive reform, when the fact is that the structure of his regime internally makes reform quite difficult,” says Michael Reynolds, a professor of Near East Studies at Princeton. Despite decades of political repression in Syria, Harvard graduate and Arabic teacher Richard Cozzens notes the complete absence of palpable tension during his stays
Features in Syria from 2005-2009. Quite the opposite, he pointed to visible Syrian unity. “People were waving flags and putting up pro-government signs and propaganda on a constant basis.” The people loved Assad. He was perceived as a charismatic leader who ushered in a wave of growing consumerism that was altogether foreign during his father’s control. After the invasion of Iraq, Syrians were united by their hatred of President Bush. They rallied behind intense patriotism; Assad’s anti-Bush declarations fueled his popularity as national pride soared. The Syria of the past decade hardly resembles the home of the anti-Assad sentiments that are openly visible today. Professor Reynolds provides another perspective of the Syrian ambience over the last decade, classifying it as “motionlessness.” He likens Syria to “the Socialist Eastern bloc before the fall of the Iron Curtain, in that there was orderliness but also a sense of being stuck in a very stagnant country.” Despite appearances to the contrary, all was not well in Syria, and the people understood that intense Syrian pride served only to mask more systemic problems.
Outbreak When the Arab Spring took root in the Middle East and North Africa at the start of 2011, the typical Syrian gained a voice, realizing that Arab authoritarian control was not a fait accompli. Yet unlike other Arab Spring movements, the Syrian uprising began not as a quest for regime change but as an appeal for reform. Just like the Tunisian fruit vendor, Syrian Hasan Ali Akleh’s act of self-immolation in late January was a plea for the people’s voice to be heard. The complex and wide-ranging list of Syrian grievances can be divided into economic, political and social categories. Dr. Andrew Arsan, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton, points to Assad’s neo-liberal economic policies as a key source of rural anger. Assad’s neo-liberal cronyism emphasized favoritism and consequently mismanagement in the private sector, leading to increasing inequalities and financial crises. As a result, the rural population felt marginalized after suffering from decades of harmful policies, says Dr. Arsan. “It is no coincidence that the first protests broke out in the agricultural province of Da’ra.” Politically, Syrians pleaded for the legalization of political parties, the end of government corruption, and the repeal of the Emergency Law, which granted the government the power to arrest without charge. Socially, the pleas of the Syrian protestors resonated loudest. Syrians demonstrated against the regime’s use of humiliation, deprivation of freedom, and its willingness to attack basic human dignity to prove a political point. Here the multifaceted Syrian opposition found common ground, which would serve as the cornerstone of their demonstrations moving forward. This antipathy towards the regime intensified in early
March when the government attempted to forcibly suppress the protests. As demonstrations grew in response, the violence of the regime proved to be ruinously self-defeating. Syrians looked to the Arab Spring for inspiration and continued to speak out against their government. It was the regime’s policy of suppression that ultimately ignited today’s Syrian firestorm. Previously ambivalent Syrians flooded the streets. They came from all backgrounds to form a religiously and ethnically diverse opposition. Still, demonstrators are predominately young Sunni Muslims with vastly different professional backgrounds. The demonstrations span the entirety of Syria. “The movements are localized not in the sense that they are limited but rather in that they comprise local populations and local activists,” notes Dr. Arsan. The localized nature of the demonstrations evinces the breadth of the movement writ large, but it also indicates the absence of central leadership. Although the opposition can unite against the regime’s brutality, it has not organized consistently on a national level. This is in part due to the opposition’s internal divisions, but it is also the result of President Assad’s suppression methods. In addition to the regime’s forcible breakup of protests, the government has utilized more tactical interventions aimed at stifling the opposition. The regime has begun to pinpoint local leaders of the opposition, and according to Dr. Arsan, has initiated a “surgical removal” of the opposition’s leadership capabilities. The regime has also tried exacerbating sectarian divisions to keep the opposition divided, attempting to sow discord by inciting fears of a Muslim Brotherhood usurpation of the uprising. The chaos is inescapable. Though the regime has successfully enforced a media blackout, leaks of blatant human rights violations manage to trickle out of Syria. What does reach the Western press, thanks mainly to the Syrian Diaspora, rarely receives the attention that it deserves. The United Nations
The Syrian protests have spread to cities across the country. Fall 2011 I
Features Humans Rights Council has reported that as of October 6, the regime’s campaign of repression is responsible for over 2,900 deaths. In mid-August, the regime even used the Navy to suppress protests, killing 26 citizens in Latakia. With the civilian death toll rising and opposition numbers soaring, the two sides appear poised for a devastating future. Neither side is ready for a ceasefire. Accordingly, Syria’s future may rely on the actions of the international community.
An Uncertain Neighbor: Turkey he international community will greatly influence the fate of the movement, depending heavily on regional geopolitics and international economic interests. The significance of the Syrian uprising is too great to be ignored. The international response to the Syrian revolts may well clarify a shifting international power balance. With geopolitical and economic interests at stake, the Syrian uprising will serve as a vignette of international politics conducted in an emerging world order. Turkey’s role will be particularly critical to Syria’s future considering their long, contentious history. As Professor Reynolds notes, “Decades of hostility between Turkey and Syria have revolved around three pivotal issues: territorial disputes over the Hatay Province, water rights, and Syrian support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK.” Such tension nearly escalated into war in 1998, when Turkey threatened to invade Syria for harboring the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. However, according to Reynolds, “Relations changed 180 degrees after the AKP [the Justice and Development Party – a centre-right political party in Turkey] came to power in 2002.” With Assad’s visit to Turkey in 2004 and Turkey’s implementation of the “Zero Problems with Neighbors” policy, cordial relations approached their strongest level ever. Unprecedented cooperation became a reality as Syria and
Turkey initiated visa-free travel, cooperated on trade relations, and introduced the 2009 Strategic Cooperation Council. Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu even emphasized that the two nations shared a common culture, a common past and a common future. “From near war,” says Reynolds, “the two countries had come to emphasize a ‘common culture.’” Suddenly, a new power bloc appeared to be in the making with Turkish-Syrian relations as the centerpiece. But declining relations were as precipitous as their improvement. At the start of the protests, the Turkish government began to withdraw support from Assad to maintain its populist image. Now Turkish leaders are only meeting with opposition representatives. Still, Turkey is placed in a precarious position in that it must balance both internal stability and pan-Arab relations, which will constrain its support for the Syrian opposition. Of utmost importance for Turkey is preventing another PKK outpost. Yet taking swift action could threaten domestic stability by igniting a Sunni-Shia rift. Turkey must also consider the Iranian reaction; the IranTurkey relationship has been historically fragile and experts have long speculated over the possibility of a falling out between Turkey and Iran over Syria. However, the evidence points against a Syrian rift causing a break in their relations. Turkey needs Iranian cooperation in their fight against the PKK, particularly PJAK (The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan), the Iranian arm. Syria also serves as the gateway to Lebanon for Iran, and more importantly, for Hezbollah. A further destabilized Syria could produce dire implications for Israel, as it would give Iran a direct supply line to Hezbollah. Nevertheless, even Ahmadinejad has condemned Assad’s repression in order to prevent spillover. Though Reynolds presents numerous reasons for Turkish reluctance to actively address the Syrian revolts, he does not rule out interference altogether. “If things get really crazy [in Syria], and they look like they will, then I wouldn’t rule out any intervention,” he says. Fear of a PKK launching pad for attacks from Syria are real, and intervention may be seen as necessary to establish a buffer zone inside Syria to stem the refugee crisis. Turkey has taken the lead in supporting the opposition, permitting them to organize in Turkey. Still, any action taken by Turkey will be limited at best, insignificant with regards to the opposition’s plight, and driven by national and regional self-interest.
The West: Another Libya? As Syria’s neighbor proves to be a relative According to the United Nations, President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on the non-factor, the opposition must turn to the country’s protests has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths 32
Features larger international community to aid the cause for a swift and decisive change. Unfortunately, the Arab League cannot produce more than a disjointed condemnation of Assad. Furthermore, with Russia and China holding the international community hostage, little international support can be expected in Syria. Economically, the West can no longer single-handedly bring about the fall of governments through the use of sanctions. While the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions and bans on imports of Syrian oil, Russia, China, India and Brazil have continuously thwarted efforts to impose sanctions through the UN and the Security Council. China and Russia have also continued to sustain the regime through energy and military deals. The Director of Middle Eastern Studies at George Mason University, Professor Bassam Haddad, illuminates the deleterious possibilities of imposing sanctions, stating that economic pressure from the European Union and the United States could backfire. Pointing to Iraq, Professor Haddad affirms that, “Economic sanctions destroy the middle class which in turn makes the regime stronger. Sanctions may destroy the economy and weaken the society, but they can paradoxically make the government more able to pursue its own agenda.” With collapsing economic infrastructure, the regime could gain support by pointing to the West as a common enemy. The West is left in a difficult situation. They will maintain these sanctions, as they cannot fund Assad’s regime; however, such measures will prove largely ineffective in the short and medium term. Analysts project that Western sanctions may take as long as two years to significantly cripple the regime. Militarily, the United States will not intervene alone, and it is far from likely that a NATO intervention will occur with such strong resistance from China, Russia and other non-Western powers. Additionally, both China and Russia’s veto power will assure that a no-fly zone will not pass through the Security Council as it did to Libya in March. The fear of another Iraq has also incapacitated Western powers. Syria is fragile and on the verge of collapse. A Western tip of the scale would require years of rebuilding. This is not a price that Western powers are willing to pay. Shunned by both the pan-Arab community and the greater international community, the Syrian opposition is alone. If it is relying on support from abroad, then it is sorely mistaken.
Looking Forward In a country where the cries of millions have become deafening, they have fallen on deaf ears within the international community. The sad truth is that the legitimate protests of many against a cruel and repressive regime have fallen victim to another game of regional and global politics and
economics. Abandoned by the international community, the Syrian opposition faces a steep uphill climb. Nevertheless, in this period of political uncertainty, a number of possibilities lay ahead. One such possibility is that the opposition reaches a critical mass. At such a point, the regime will no longer be able to repress the groundswell of opposition. Such a possibility may be dubbed “The Egypt Option.” The Egypt Option, however, is quite unlikely, as it hinges on military defections. With the bulk of the army comprised of the Alawi clan, it is
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been widely criticized for his human rights violations. difficult to imagine substantial defections. As Yale Professor of Political Science Ellen Lust states, “If the military stays cohesive, the opposition cannot prevail.” Professor Reynolds posits a curious hypothetical when he discusses the possibility of a regime implosion as a result of “physical exhaustion.” Reynolds explains, “The regime’s support is not very large, and by doing all of this suppression, they are working overtime. Physically, how long can they keep this up?” With an incomparably superior military backing, the regime can afford going a few sleepless nights. What about an implosion caused by internal dissent? As Assad falters to maintain the support of his international allies and instill peace at home, skeptics within the government question his leadership. The government’s real power rests with Bashar’s brother Maher and his circle of ultra-loyal generals. Maher is eyeing the presidency, as his brother attracts international ire. A complete military usurpation of the government led by Maher could prove catastrophic for the uprising. Such a future will not lead to a regime implosion; Fall 2011 I
Features rather, this familial power shift would undeniably place the government authority in the hands of the military brass. With Maher and an entrenched military establishment calling the shots, the violence will surely escalate. Any attempt to maintain peace in the nation will be replaced with unbridled military suppression on a scale that has not yet been witnessed. While the opposition’s key to victory depends on fissures in government unity, such a power shift paves the way to a full-scale civil war. Is violence inevitable? The future could entail peace talks between the regime and the opposition. But it seems clear that the unrest has reached a point of no return and negotiations would prove nothing more than a facade. The regime has proved that it is unwilling to relinquish power and its superficial concessions would be little more than an insult to the protestors. Another possibility is that the regime will mirror its 1982 tactics when it brutally suppressed an uprising by the Muslim
A senior opposition leader commented to Al-Jazeera, “In the end we cannot be free without weapons… it is time to arm the revolution.” Brotherhood in what is now known as the Hama Massacre. Between 10,000 and 80,000 townspeople were killed. Robin Wright, author of Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East called the Hama Massacre “the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East.” This scenario is most likely to occur in a Mahercontrolled government; however, given Bashar al-Assad’s recent erratic behavior, such extreme violence cannot be ruled out. While a single moment of suppression may seem improbable in 2011 due to the sheer breadth of the uprising, a regime victory is not out of the question. Dr. Arsan notes, “Demonstrations no longer comprise 1-1.2 million people.
the evolution of terrorism With the beginning of the school year, demonstrations have stagnated and decreased in size to 200,000 people.” Additionally, Arsan points to the regime’s “surgical removal” of opposition leadership aimed successfully at “decapitating the uprising.” The regime has kept the opposition relatively splintered in playing up sectarian divisions. One last element to the regime’s advantage is the economic support found in China, Russia, India, and Brazil. If these nations continue to sustain the regime financially, Assad may be able to weather the opposition if protests are put to rest in the near future. Unfortunately, the final possibility looks to be the most probable: a lengthy and debilitating civil war. Some analysts contend that Syria has already reached this point. The government has the backing of a faithful military and funding from equally faithful superpowers. Conversely, the opposition has numbers and the fury of decades of repression fanning the flame. However, without the backing of the military, the opposition must rely on more than rhetoric and demonstrations to deracinate the regime. Rhetoric will become vitriolic and peaceful demonstrations will surely become violent. A senior opposition leader commented to Al-Jazeera, “In the end we cannot be free without weapons… it is time to arm the revolution.” For months Syrians have been trickling into Lebanon to buy weapons on the black market, but still such purchases will not be able to compete with a fully equipped army. Syria’s quarantine by the international community has turned it into a pressure cooker. Tension and hostility will escalate further to the point where the opposition will realize that their voices can no longer be heard without guns. While the opposition may have embarked on its uprising, dazzled by the glamour and youthfulness of Tunisia and Egypt, it will shortly realize that its future is not like its neighbors’. There will be violence, a growing refugee crisis and crippling poverty. Assad’s days are numbered, but the future of Syria is bleak. While general antipathy towards a repressive regime may be a unifying force in a revolution, it is certainly not a model for rebuilding a nation. Justin Schuster is a freshman in Branford College.
An Ambiguous Future, An Unacceptable Present
An Interview with Professor Ellen Lust By Hamara Abate Professor Ellen Lust currently works in Yale University’s Department of Political Science as an Associate Professor, with a focus on political structure and development. Having received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, she has written several books on the region, such as Political Participation in the Middle East.
The Politic: The recent revolutions in the Middle East have collectively been given the name The Arab Spring; how can Syria be placed in that context with regards to the grievances of protestors, the role of social media, and other significant features?
1982 and the protests and struggles leading up to it. But this sort of sustained pressure that goes across cities and literally from north to south and east to west has not happened and in that sense there is something new. Given the degree of state repression, this is an accomplishment.
EL: If you look across the region there tend to be very similar grievances: marginalization, youth unemployment, the increasing gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and liberalization that has helped some sets of people and not others. Syria clearly fits into the same realm. However, it has a slight wrinkle that is an important one for Syria, the issue of sectarian divisions. The issue of the Alawi minority ruling and the Sunni majority adds an extra degree of tension that helps explain the sense of violent conflict. There is a much greater sense of it being an existentialist threat to the regime, Bashar al Assad and those closest to him, but more broadly to those who support him.
The Politic: Would it be in the best interest of the Syrian people to have President Assad resign, rather than seek government reforms?
The Politic: Nearly seven months have passed since the Syrian revolution began. In recent weeks, members of the army have defected. What other progress have protestors made thus far? EL: In Egypt there was a warm-up and collective action of groups and elites who knew each other. In Syria that hasn’t occurred. The tame and nascent organizations often have their leaders in Washington D.C. Dealing with the stresses of coordinating protestors on the inside with the leaders on the outside has been accompanied by internal struggles. Thus, the degree of tolerance for these groups is minimal. Regarding military splits, they are not going to split vertically as we saw in Libya. We have Alawi officers in the lower ranks that are going to have a lot of sympathies with the people, so you can imagine horizontal splits. As violence spreads to more areas, soldiers will be less willing to shoot at sectarians, considering that the same is being done to their families. You cannot just throw the soldiers into areas that are not their own and assume that they will defend the state. This situation is unprecedented in Syria. We all know about
EL: There are two parts to this. One is the question of whether or not a post-Assad regime will be better than one with him. There are some who say that Syria will fragment into several pieces and that Islamists will take over, a situation that would be worst for Christians. I personally don’t think this is the case. Some people have raised the issue of the rights Kurds should have, but it is not clear if the Kurds would rally for separatism. If Assad were to leave the country tomorrow, would it be peaceful utopia the day after? No. The hard thing for Syria is the question of how fast the end can be reached. The air of uprisings led to a whole sense of impatience, which is really based on the notion that bin Ali fell so fast. The possibility of a better future without his resignation is possible but not assured. The second question is whether the opposition will follow through with their promises of reform. The only action that the citizens will accept is for them to reform. The question of whether or not the Syrian regime can credibly commit to reform is a big debate. I also think it is worth noting that in the mid to late 80s, Hama had massive amounts of people killed, but it never had sustained protests that we are seeing at this point. After that period security was very tight in Syria. There are going to be all sorts of reasons to say that we need to defend against infiltrators from the outside and therefore we can’t have this freedom, wait until we have protected the state. And I think that would be a concern in expecting that a reformist government would move forward. The Politic: In 1979, Syria was placed on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism due to its funding of various terFall 2011 I
Features rorist organizations in conjunction with Iran. If President Assad were to be ousted, what would this mean for ties with these groups and Syria’s relations with Iran?
“The one thing that nobody talks about but everybody knows is that whatever the next Egyptian government, it is likely to fail. In these kinds of struggles nobody’s demands are always met. These are long standing grievances.”
EL: Let me just point an objection to that, I am not going to call them terrorist organizations. The Iranians fear that the subsequent regime would not have as close ties with the country. You can see the argument for weakened relations because in terms of Hezbollah, and considering the fact that it is the Shia crescent, there is no longer the identity of a Shia, Alawi, and Iranian alliance, and at the same time the big issue is what would happen to Syrian and Israeli relations. Because Syria’s relations with Hezbollah and Hamas are not about financing these groups, but instead about Syria-Israeli relations that then get connected to Syria-Lebanese and Lebanese-Israeli relations. The questions is how should Israel’s engagement with its neighbors be structured in such a way that it minimizes the cost to Israel, to her security and to her neighbors? This suggests moving on with talks and stopping settlements, all these things that Israel does that exacerbates problems. You can’t expect to continue to have these types of engagements and not have harsh repercussions from a change in regime. It is ironic because the underlying question is this: since Syria has close ties with these anti-Israeli groups, what would happen if Assad were to fall, as he has managed to contain the groups. The Politic: On a grander scale, what other geo-political consequences would President Assad’s fall have in this region? EL: It would be depend on who takes over and how quickly change can occur. Some say that Syria doesn’t have enough 36
consolidated political power and that there will be fighting and weak spaces. It is going to be fertile ground for al Qaeda to hold up and use. The other extreme version says that they are organized and that they will march towards democracy and it will be orderly and easy. One is overly negative and the other is overly positive. But in terms of the broader sphere we need to think of how much these relations can end up being Realpolitik, how much Syria cares about itself as a state and how much they are identity based. When we look at this region, we tend to think that relations are identity. Bahrain is a great example. If it were to be ruled by Shia, there is an automatic assumption by the Saudis and the US, that Bahrain would not care about the financial interests it has in keeping the fleet there but it would care about the fact that Shia should be closer to Iran and that Iran would have an input. If you think about it, our reading of that situation was about identity, about Shia versus Sunni and what that meant for alliances. And there is one reading about Syrian politics that is about Alawite-Shia alliance and what that means for geopolitics. And there is another reading that says that Syria, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are states that are driven by what is good for their citizens and not what is good for Shia, Sunni or Alawi. If you accept that reading then other questions regarding Lebanese stability and Israel’s role in the start to matter more. The Politic: As for the Syrian people, what is their fate? Considering that they do not share political ideologies, is there any indication of who would come to power? EL: Kevin Russell, a graduate student in our department wrote that, “The one thing that nobody talks about but everybody knows is that whatever the next Egyptian government, it is likely to fail.” In these kinds of struggles nobody’s demands are always met. These are long standing grievances. The issue is that when immediate change does not occur, the person who comes into power is the one blamed. Will their demands be met? The answer is clearly no. Will they be met enough to establish institutions and procedures to keep marching towards that kind of goal? I think it is very possible. I don’t see anything wrong with the way Syria or Tunisia is being governed, I am more concerned about Egypt in terms of what is going on there. There is nothing inherent about these countries or their societies that they can’t move towards democracy, that they can’t have the same kind of divisions that we do among races and others in the states, yet at the same time see themselves as Syrians when the go to the polls. Hamara Abate is a freshman in Pierson College.
The Power of Youthful Idealism in Syria An Interview with Professor Joshua Landis By Justin Schuster
Joshua Landis is the director of the Center of Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Landis writes “Syria Comment,” the premier blog on Syria. He frequently consults with the State Department and is a regular analyst on TV and radio. Dr. Landis has received three Fulbright grants and has lived in the Middle East for over 14 years. Dr. Landis received his B.A. from Swarthmore College, his M.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Near East Studies from Princeton University.
The Politic: Good afternoon Dr. Landis. I was hoping that we could begin this interview by talking briefly about Syria Comment. When did you begin the blog? JL: I began it in 2004, and my motivation behind starting it was actually a dare. At that time I did not even know what a blog was, but my friend was insistent. I just started writing on Syria, and very shortly I found there was a hungry audience out there because no one was writing about Syria on a dayto-day basis. In 2005 I got my first Fulbright. I spent a year writing in Syria, which was great fun. That was during the time of [Lebanese Prime Minister] Hariri’s assassination and at the height of tension with the Iraq War. US Syrian relations went right to the bottom, and the Syrians were vocal even though there was no free press. The Politic: How have you seen “Syria Comment” grow over the years? JL: It has gotten bigger and bigger. Once the Arab Spring started, and especially once the Syrian revolt started, it went off the charts. The Politic: On that note, let’s talk about the current situation in Syria. Is it possible to put a face on the “typical” protestor in 2011 in a society with so many divisions? JL: The average protestor is a Sunni. He is young, rural, not wealthy – from a family that is not well off. There are minorities. There are some Christians, some Druze, and a few Alawis. But by and large there is a religious sectarian communal divide. The Politic: Is there defined leadership in the present situation?
JL: There are a lot of leaders, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good in the sense that the movement is being driven by the youth. They are relatively faceless and are unknown to the intelligence and police community. They have found a voice and some form of leadership especially through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and email. There are some traditional forces like the Muslim Brotherhood, Damascus Declaration, and Kurdish political
“They [the leaders] are relatively faceless and are unknown to the intelligence and police community. They have found a voice and some form of leadership especially through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and email.” parties that are already entrenched but have a very narrow social basis. The main forces are the new young activists. The lack of single leadership is a real detriment because the opposition and the foreign community need to see a clear guiding force steering them in a visible direction.
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Features The Politic: Can we talk about the significant age divide in Syria and its effects on the revolution?
The Politic: What role has the international community had in Syria?
JL: There are a number of contradictory sentiments. A lot of young people loved the president. Assad was a young guy and was thought to be moving the nation in the right direction. His foreign policy was popular because he was anti-America, proPalestine and pro-Syria. He roused Syrian pride in standing up for Syrian rights, and that gave him significant popularity. The regime, however, was hated. The Mukhabarat (Syria’s intelligence service) was feared. Syrian youths were told to stay away from politics. You can’t win so don’t go political. Make money and get the hell out but don’t get involved in politics. Before March, young people were apolitical and simply not that engaged. The Arab Spring changed all of that.
JL: The Arab League has unified to condemn the regime. The EU has sanctioned Syria, as has the United States. But the United States ambassador has said that any opposition should not expect the United States to rescue Syria by military. The United States can raise economic sanctions, but they will not use military force. It is not going to be another Libya.
“Assad is part of the regime, he is the regime, and the uprising brought that into high focus and exposed a stark divide. Young people are willing to risk it, but the elderly have a lot to lose.”
The Politic: In what ways has that idealism manifested itself over the past year? JL: The youth went down the path of protests, and once they began to be shot at, they learned what their parents knew from decades of oppression. The regime was in fact very brutal, but Assad had never really been challenged before. Assad is part of the regime, he is the regime, and the uprising brought that into high focus and exposed a stark divide. Young people are willing to risk it, but the elderly have a lot to lose. They have to provide, and if you go through a period of civil war you have the chance of going from petit bourgeois to poverty. It takes ten to fifteen years for things to return to normal; we are learning this from Iraq. If you are 45 or 50 you realize that you may be dead by the time that it is all settled. But if you are 20, then you realize that you will be in your thirties by the time that it is all said and done. Escaping from this kind of political oppression is worth a fifteen-year commitment. 38
The Politic: What about China and Russia? JL: China and Russia are holding out. The international community is already divided because China, Russia and India have said that they do not want to get involved. The established world powers are against the up and coming world powers. They are flexing their muscles and telling the United States, France and Germany that they can’t just decide this situation. Syria plays a very pivotal role as it did during the Cold War. If China and Russia were to condemn Assad in the United Nations, Syria would have every reason to believe that NATO would be bombing in short order. The Politic: Though it is near impossible to predict the future particularly in such a tumultuous situation, I was hoping to conclude this interview by hearing some of your projections for the coming months and years. JL: Things are going to get a lot bloodier. Syria is very divided. The Alawis at the top of the security system are not going to give up power easily. Many people want revenge, and these leaders will be lucky to be taken to court rather than killed in the streets if they lose. Still, the state has a lot of power: a lot of weaponry and a lot of tanks. The opposition must come up with a way to topple the military. It could change from predominately non-violent to a violent situation. There could be a much more difficult military challenge. As the level of violence increases, it becomes unclear which side it is going to favor because if there is a real insurgency the government may gain legitimacy in stomping out these armed gangs. But it may not go that way. It may only further alienate the government, for the more they kill, the more the average Syrians will hate the government. Also, there are very harsh economic conditions, and people are going to get very poor very quickly. No matter what, it is going to take a long time, and there is no pleasant outcome in the immediate future. Justin Schuster is a freshman in Branford College.
Moving to Global Zero
An Interview with George Perkovich
By Harrison Monsky George Perkovich is Vice President for Studies and Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has focused on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation, particularly with respect to South Asia and Iran. He co-authored the Adelphi Paper, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, published in September 2008 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Perkovich also co-authored a major Carnegie report, Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security, a blueprint for rethinking the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. From 1989 to 1990, Perkovich served as a speechwriter and foreign policy adviser to Senator Joe Biden.
The Politic: You have signed onto the Global Zero declaration, calling for the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons. And you have written extensively about moving toward “global zero.” What do you think is the most compelling reason to ban the bomb? GP: First, we have to be clear that what President Obama has in mind and what I would support is a decades-long effort to create the conditions that would motivate all the states that now possess nuclear weapons to give them up – collectively, incrementally, and with verification. This means the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. When you list them all you realize the difficulty and complexity of the challenge. The main reason why it should be pursued is that nuclear weapons actually can go off, they can be used. A nuclear war would be a truly horrifying, unprecedented experience. It is possible that governments can continue for another 65 years to preserve nuclear deterrence and that no one will make a mistake or a miscalculation, and no irrational actors will acquire nuclear weapons. But I don’t think human beings are that infallible. The longer the current possessors of nuclear weapons insist that these things are vital to their security or prestige, the more other people will want them, and the less likely, in my view, that they won’t be used. So I think it makes more sense to devalue these weapons and to identify with other states the conditions that would have to be met for us all to get rid of them, and then start trying to work through politics and diplomacy to create those conditions. The Politic: President Obama’s New START treaty was a step in that direction. What should the next step be in a global move toward eliminating nuclear weapons? What is realistically possible?
GP: What I think the next step should be and what is realistically possible are not the same things. The most important condition that needs to be created in order to have any chance to move the world toward elimination of nuclear weapons is for the U.S., Russia, and China to gain mutual confidence that they won’t go to war with each other and that they won’t use military muscle to challenge each other’s vital interests. The U.S. and Russia have 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons; China is the only global power that is building up its nuclear arsenal. These three therefore are the key actors. Without them, others won’t move. Right now none of the three has enough confidence that the other two (acting separately) won’t militarily challenge their vital interests. The U.S. is not worried so much about a direct Russian or Chinese threat on the United States, but rather that Russia might threaten American allies in Eastern Europe, and that China might threaten allies in East Asia, including Taiwan. Russia worries that a U.S.-led NATO may coerce it or interfere if it asserts its interests in its neighborhood. China worries that the U.S. is building missile defenses and advanced conventional weaponry that could threaten China’s nuclear deterrent, and then the U.S. would be free to project power to block China’s interests in Asia. I could go on, but the point is that these three states do not have a shared understanding of how to stabilize their strategic relations, build confidence, and gradually reduce their military postures. Unless and until this situation is improved, there will not be a lot of progress on the nuclear reduction agenda. And I don’t see the U.S. doing its part to make this happen unless the Republican Party changes some of its ideological assumptions and aversion to limiting U.S. military programs in any way. Vladimir Putin, trained as a counter-intelligence operative in the KGB, gives no hint that he will be less inclined to paranoia and bullying in his next presidential term. New leaders will soon be rising in China and it is not obvious that Fall 2011 I
International they will refrain from using assertive nationalism as a way to maintain political support. The Politic: The media have recently focused on an apparent crisis in U.S.-Pakistan relations. Are relations really that much worse than they have ever been? Was this inevitable?
“South Asia is very complicated and U.S. politicians don’t know much about it, yet they feel they have to say something when asked. So they say, ‘India is a democracy, we ought to team up with them.’ You can’t get in trouble for saying that.” GP: U.S.-Pakistan relations are very troubled now. Underlying this is Pakistan’s deep internal crisis. I just published an essay on this, Stop Enabling Pakistan’s Dangerous Dysfunction, which explains how Pakistan has gotten to this alarming point, and how the U.S. has in many ways enabled it, the way a friend can enable another person’s self-destructive tendencies. Basically, Pakistan has never established and supported institutions that have a chance of healing the countries many internal conflicts and patterns of injustice. The Army has been the country’s dominant institution, and armies generally are not best suited to structure and encourage the kinds of political processes necessary to reconcile conflicting aspirations of ethnic groups, competing ideologies, and parties, economic interests and so on. What the Pakistan Army has done is obsess on India. It projects India as an unrelenting threat that the country must concentrate its attention on. This justifies the Army’s dominant position of course, but it also has led the country into four wars with India and the cultivation of violent extremist groups (jihadis or terrorists, depending on how you look at it) who have brought violence to India and Afghanistan and are now threatening Pakistan itself. There is no evidence that the U.S. can give the Pakistani Army enough money or punishment to change its mindset. So I think the only hope is to do more to encourage those Pakistanis who want to take political responsibility away from the Army and put it into representative institutions. I’m not optimistic about this at all, but I think it’s the only chance that things can begin to be turned around in Pakistan. 40
The Politic: Politicians like Senator Mark Kirk have recently called for a strategic “tilt toward India.” How do you think U.S. relationships in the region will substantially change as we decrease our military footprint? GP: It’s easy to call for a tilt toward India, and India has much to admire. But India has plenty of its own problems and will not agree with many things that the U.S. says and does. Nor can India solve any of Pakistan’s major problems, or help the U.S. structure a more constructive relationship with Pakistan. I’ve written about some things India could do that would help progressive Pakistanis counter the Army’s narrative about the Indian menace, but those things will not change the Army’s obsessions. So when Senator Kirk or Governor Perry and others talk as if tilting toward India constitutes a new and improved strategy they simply reveal their ignorance of reality in the region. That’s not as harsh as it sounds – South Asia is very complicated and U.S. politicians don’t know much about it, yet they feel they have to say something when asked. So they say, “India is a democracy, we ought to team up with them.” You can’t get in trouble for saying that. As long as the U.S. has such a big military footprint in Afghanistan and acts as if Afghanistan is the most important venue in the region, we won’t be able to get at the more fundamental problem, which is Pakistan. Retrenching from Afghanistan will leave a real mess. There is no happy ending to be had there. But staying at the level that we have been operating will only postpone the years of reckoning through which factions in Afghanistan and the countries that surround it will have to struggle in order to find a tolerable equilibrium. The situation in and around Afghanistan resembles that of Vietnam in the 1970s and beyond. The Politic: You study one of the most volatile areas of the world. What (if anything) keeps you up at night? GP: My greatest worry is that terrorist groups with some relationship to Pakistan will conduct another major attack in India and this time India’s leadership will not be able to resist the temptation to strike back militarily. And if India acts to militarily punish Pakistan, however understandable the motivation would be, I think there is a real risk that Pakistan would escalate and use nuclear weapons. Then it is hard to know whether and how escalation could be contained short of a major nuclear war. The world has never experienced a nuclear war. I think its consequences would be horrendous for the people of Pakistan and India. The Politic: What are you working on now and what kind of research would you like to work on in the coming years? GP: I’m exploring how the theory and practice of nuclear
International deterrence depends on the assumption that states possessing nuclear weapons are unitary rational actors. That is, the actions of states – such as military incursions or operations by jihadi groups that they cultivate – are assumed to flow from directions by the leadership, and that whatever a state does in the way of signaling threats and managing violence is an expression of rationally calculating leaders. Similarly, the receivers of such signals are presumed to be unitary rational actors. In other words, deterrence depends on the giver of deterrence signals having a hierarchical chain of command that is unitary so that what is signaled by all actors projecting violence or threats of violence outside the borders of the state is intended and authorized. Deterrence also depends on the receivers of such signals in the escalation process of threat and counter-threat being unitary so that the responses to deterrent threats actually represent the intentions of the leadership and that leadership is in control. But in the case of Pakistan, it’s not clear how unitary the decision-making and actions are. When terrorists attack India, the Pakistani leadership often says, “It wasn’t us. We don’t control these guys.” But there is evidence to the contrary, and in any case this lack of unitariness of command and control is not acceptable or consistent with the model under which deterrence can work. This is a new problem and it is dangerous, so I’m trying to understand its implications. I’m also exploring potential parallels between the abolition of slavery in the U.S. and the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. This was prompted by reading Eric Foner’s Pulitizer Prize winning book on the evolution of Lincoln’s thinking and acting regarding slavery, The Fiery Trial. I’m trying to learn whether there are implications for efforts to get rid of nuclear weapons. There was an uplifting ending – abolition – but we
sometimes forget that it occurred through the course of a war that killed the equivalent of nine million people in today’s population. The Politic: What advice would you offer college students looking to follow a similar career path today? Looking back, what advice would you have liked to have had when you graduated? GP: The most important thing is to know what it is that you really love to do – that your passion is making things, or managing people, or earning money, or traveling….whatever it is. If you can figure this out, then the best advice I can give is to trust that if you pursue it you will eventually find a way to make a living doing it. It will not be easy and it can take time, but if you wake up each day and pursue what you are most eager to do, you will probably be good at it and eventually succeed. For me it was writing. I knew that whatever subject matter I was working on I wanted to be able to spend part of every day writing. The rest sort of happened accidentally. Harrison Monsky is a junior in Silliman College.
There are currently more than 22,000 total nuclear warheads in at least nine countries around the world. Fall 2011 I
Springtime for North Korea? By Sun Woo Ryoo
EORGE Kennan, the chief architect of the American strategy of containment, expressed his doubts for a quick end of the Cold War, saying it may only “be possible to negotiate the end of the Cold War when a new generation of enlightened Kremlin leaders takes power.” It took half a century, but Mikhail Gorbachev, a leader who renounced the cruelty of the Soviet system, finally emerged to fulfill Kennan’s prophecy. The world awaits the emergence of a Mikhail Gorbachev of North Korea. After sixty years of Communist rule on the peninsula, the world yearns for Plato’s philosopher king or Voltaire’s enlightened despot who would legislate a new glasnost and perestroika. Kim Jeong Un, the next in line to replace his father as head of regime, appears far from promising. As he celebrates the March 2010 sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean vessel, and the bombing of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong later that year, Kim Jeong Un entrenches himself deeper in the Seon -gun (‘Army First’) and isolationist policies of his father. Equally troubling was the complete calm in the country during Kim Jong Il’s long visit to China this year. The forecast predicts a Korean winter, not an Arab spring. Perhaps the meteorologists have underestimated the atmospheric pressure. Perhaps Korea’s Tahir Square moment is not too far around the corner. The young generation of North Korean people, while at the moment passive supporters of the North Korean regime, are likely to be a decisive factor in destabilizing North Korea, should appropriate conditions arise. It is the youth of North Korea that the world should look to for bringing changes to the North Korean regime. On the surface, this may seem like a bad bet. Unlike the generation of their grandparents and parents, the youth of North Korea has been force - fed on Juche, the doctrine of the “self.” The ideology arose from the turbulence of the Sino - Soviet split, during which North Korea could look neither to Beijing or Moscow for stable support. Drawing elements from Marxist-Leninism, Maoism, Stalinism and neo-Confucianism, the resulting ideology stresses nationalism and allegiance to the Kim family. In keeping with Juche gospel, the North Korean citizen prays to Kim Il Sung for good fortune. Juche nourishes the fragile North Korean regime and yet may be the source of its downfall. Juche leaves no room for other doctrines, faiths, or 42
opinions in North Korean society. Neo-Confucianism insists on the importance of the family, the country, and the teachers. Communism stresses solidarity with the party leadership and the international proletariat. Juche, on the other hand, has only one value: fidelity to the Kim regime. The result is a bare morality system, ill-equipped for the modern era. New developments in telecommunications have exposed residents of the hermit kingdom to the outside world. Many North Koreans now have Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“It is the youth of North Korea that the world should look to for bringing changes to the North Korean regime.” They have blogs and chat rooms. The North Koreans have not only imported Western technology, but also its vices. Prostitution, pornography, and infidelity are becoming more pronounced problems. Food shortages and poverty force many mothers to resort to prostitution to feed their families. Social pressures, meanwhile, impel their teenage daughters to sell their bodies to earn the cash for cell phones. Last March, a North Korean soldier was arrested for producing a pornographic film and selling it to a Chinese merchant. “The sex commerce will continue to thrive, as North Korean citizens who are exhausted from political suppression and hardships of life see the adult entertainment as a psychological relief,” said one unnamed source. The rise of infidelity is perhaps most worrisome. How can the Kim Regime demand loyalties from people not faithful to their own spouses? The rise of prostitution, pornography, and infidelity, more than erosion of values, are acts of resistance against the regime. Disillusionment with Juche is only likely to grow as appetite for the Western lifestyle expands. As the world has learned from the uprising in North Africa and the Middle East over the past year, sometimes it takes the pitchfork, not the philosopher-king or Perestroika, to achieve freedom and dignity. Sun Woo Ryoo is a freshman in Morse College.
A Closer Look at Burma: Can Democracy Exist? By Eli Rivkin
UNSHOTS pierce the night sky as the noise from the AK-47s wakes sleeping farmers nearby. Suddenly, a bomb explodes, igniting nearly half of the village. The military quickly breaks into livestock dens and murders the animals, takes the women as prisoners, and rounds up the village elders to use them as human shields against the prevalent landmines in the area. The able bodies sprint into the jungle while the sick and weak die amid the flames. This once peaceful, rural village turns into scorched earth littered with dead bodies and animal carcasses. Each village burned, exploited, and discarded with no one to stop the violence. This is the story of Burma. One teen explains this event from the floor of his home in a refugee camp as we gather around listening intently. The military killed his family and sent him and his brother on a two-week journey from his native lands of Eastern Burma known as the Karen State to the Thai border. The killing of ethnic tribal peoples occurs everyday as the government tries to extract resources from areas under rebel control, with innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between ethnic rebel groups and the military. In a country squeezed between India, China, and Thailand, Burma often goes unnoticed. The ongoing civil war that kills hundreds of people daily and sends a thousand more fleeing across the border remains hidden from the outside world. We must look briefly at the country’s history to understand the current conflict. During World War II, the young general Aung San led the Burmese military with British backing to victory against the Japanese. However, known for his anti-imperialism ideology, he later fought hard to free Burma from British rule. At the end of the war he successfully negotiated the country’s independence. Before he was able to help rebuild the country as Deputy Chairman to the executive council of Burma, anti-government militants assassinated him in July of 1947. Though by 1948 the country had become fully independent, clashes between democratic and communist forces ensued. In 1962, Ne Win led a coup d’état and ruled Burma through a socialist government for 26 years. However, a series of protests eventually led to Burma’s first national election in 30 years in 1990. In the election, Aung San’s daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, took an active role in the political party the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won over 80 percent of the parliamentary seats. After nullifying the votes, the junta led by Than Shwe placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. Since winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, Suu Kyi has been under house arrest intermittently
for 15 years. She was finally released in November 2010, albeit with many restrictions. In the 2008 Saffron Revolution, thousands of Buddhist monks peacefully protested in Yangon, but most were either killed or jailed to make the point that democracy was not an option for the relatively new nation. But now, 50 years after communist and military rule, the junta is ostensibly reconsidering its previous policies of brutality, secrecy, and suspicion. How seriously can we take these claims? Some say that the country is becoming more open to democracy to please the international community. Burma held its first election in two decades in 2010, in which only 49 out of the 224 seats were won by parties other than the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), headed by the new president Thein Sein of the military junta. Furthermore, civilians only won 65 of 330 seats in the House of Representatives. Although many people believe that this is a step in the right direction, the majority of the seats are still held by the military and its party the USDP. Some argue that Aung San Suu Kyi’s release marked a monumental step towards improved human rights, but why are the other 2,000 political prisoners still incarcerated? Even Suu Kyi’s release was half-hearted; it came with many conditions to stymie her influence and movements. The NLD has been largely dismantled and even today the government will not recognize nor register the party for elections. If the only prominent party advocating democracy in Burma is not registered, how can a democracy even begin to exist? Burma’s visitor policy is indicative of its strong censorship as well. While it has opened up 5 cities to tourism the rest of the country remains “black zones” accessible only to military personnel. Furthermore, the money Burma receives from its new tourism industry is transferred directly to government officials. Although it appears that Burma is making concessions to promote a pseudo-democracy, the human rights abuses continue, and the attempts to push forth more democratic agendas prove to be a façade. The question is whether change can be encouraged, or enforced, from the international community, particularly Europe and the United States. The U.S. takes in around 50,000 refugees yearly from the Burma/Thai border. In the past, the United States, Canada, and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Burma for its abuse of human rights. As a result, Burma only trades with China, Russia, Thailand, and India, which rely on Burma’s rice, oil, and teak to fuel their growing economies. In its search for raw materials, China funds the oppressive Burmese military by trading heavy artillery for Fall 2011 I
International illegal teak wood. The United States’ dual track policy places rigorous sanctions on Burma aiming more directly at harming the leading military junta while also being open to public dialogue and cooperation with government compliance. The policy thus far has not been effective for two main reasons: first, the sanctions hurt the people more than the junta, and second, the military leaders continue to find willing trading partners in China and Russia. The sanctions facilitate larger black markets, where people rely heavily on smuggled goods like motorbikes and electronics brought in from China. In order to fix this problem and force the Burmese government to end its human rights violations by freeing its many political prisoners, the United States needs to actively convince China, Russia, India and Thailand to place sanctions on the Burmese government by potentially explaining the benefits of a stable, capitalistic Burma. A secure and free Burma would allow many nations to engage in trade and gain confidence that their investments in the country would no longer be jeopardized by internal strife. The dual track approach will only be successful if Burma is truly cut off from the international community. In addition, the U.S must urge the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to put pressure on Burma. This organization tries to collectively develop Southeast Asian economies, and if Burma had the entire international community against it in addition to its economic allies, it would be further pressured to concede. However, a joint sanction is highly unlikely given China’s motives and the reluctance of Burma’s neighbors to recognize the long term benefits of such a deal.
The power rests in the Burmese people. With Aung San Suu Kyi out of house arrest and her party slowly reassembling, the hope remains that the various opposition groups in each of the seven states will join together with “the lady” as their leader to take on the government as a whole. The Arab Spring is proof that people have the power to change a faulty political system if they set aside their differences to unite for a larger cause. If an uprising occurs in Burma on a large enough scale, the international community under a United Nations resolution could offer military aid to fight for the people, as was the case in Libya. There have been signs of change. Just recently, President Thein Sein halted the construction of the Myitsone Dam project, which would generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity directly for China while displacing hundreds of thousands of people and flooding 64,835 acres of land. In addition, the new government now regularly holds talks with Suu Kyi, and has loosened media restrictions. It is too early to know whether or not these new reforms will last. This rural country contains the world’s finest sapphires and rubies, the largest teak forests, some of the oldest Buddhist temples, beautiful beaches, untouched Himalayan mountains, and a central river connecting the mountainous north to the tropical south. Once opened up under a democracy, the country can begin to modernize, compete on a global level, and rehabilitate itself from years of oppression and military rule. Eli Rivkin is a freshman in Trumbull College.
Burma has faced repeated calls for democratic reform since rule by the military junta began in 1962. 44
Lessons of Ukrainian Independence: Democracy Demands Determination By Lindsay Pearlman
N August 24, 1991, scholar Francis Fukuyama woke to find that, halfway around the world from his home in the United States, Ukraine had finally cast off its Soviet shackles and declared independence. For Fukuyama, this was hardly surprising. His 1989 article “The End of History?” had predicted a reverse-domino effect: as communism’s downfall accelerated, emerging countries would increasingly turn to democracy as their permanent political equilibrium. Twenty years down the line, the sense of promise has given way to more complex sentiments. Economic stagnation and high inflation set in soon after independence, stalling Ukraine’s movement away from a communist system. Ukraine’s constitution underwent dramatic changes under President Leonid Kuchma, who also cast the nation in the shadow of his rampant corruption and suppression of free speech. In 2004, the Orange Revolution, led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former President Viktor Yushchenko, challenged Viktor Yanukovvch’s electoral victory and threw the country into a series of rapid power transitions. These setbacks culminated in last year’s parliamentary egg fight, shaking expectations among the Ukrainian community. When asked about her feeling regarding Ukraine’s progress, former editor-in-chief of the internationally acclaimed
Ukrainian newspaper Svoboda Irene Jarosewich responds with, “It’s mixed.” This has become a common answer; after all, when the initial elation of achieving independence wore off, Ukrainians were faced with the tremendous task of rebuilding a social and political framework independent of Soviet precedence. Along the way, Ukraine has learned an important lesson: democracy demands determination. The road has not been an easy one. Stability has often been secured at the expense of civil and political rights, a trend crystallized in the complex and often contradictory goals of Ukraine’s leaders. Former President Leonid Kuchma, for example, advanced Ukraine’s economic prowess through comprehensive reforms, but was a suspected opponent of the independent media and transparent elections. Former President Viktor Yushchenko revived the Ukrainian national identity at the cost of economic stability and political infighting. And current President Victor Yanukovych endangers the rule of law in the nation by detaining multiple opposition leaders and harassing independent civic organizations. Over the past twenty years, Ukrainians have learned that their leaders, like their country, cannot always perform perfectly. Yet there still appears to be support for democratization among the populace that transcends the oscillating highs and lows
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for “abuse of power,” a decision many view as an attempt to suppress the opposition movement in the upcoming 2011 elections. Fall 2011 I
International created by changing administrations. “In terms of other democratic standards, yes, absolutely, I think Ukraine is in a very different place than it was,” says Christina PendzolaVitovych, Country Director for Ukraine with the American Councils for International Education. “People understand that they have rights, or at least they understand that if they want something to happen, it’ll be up to them to make that happen.” Many commentators agree Ukraine’s judicial system needs reform. From 2005 to 2008, Ukraine had a 95.5% conviction rate—the same as the Soviet Union. “The judicial system was inherited from the former Soviet Union,” says Ambassador Serheyev. “We need to modernize what we inherited, because the system and the management of the system is out of date.” The shortcomings of Ukraine’s judicial system are highlighted by the recent sentencing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for “abuse of power,” a decision many view as an attempt to suppress the opposition movement in the upcoming 2011 elections. Dr. Kuzio believes that judicial reform is more than just another step in the marathon of development. It is, he
“Ukraine’s independence movement offers guidance following an Arab Spring that continues to rock the Middle East. Eventually, the euphoria of deposing the oppressive regimes of the Muslim world will recede; this is when the lessons of Ukrainian democracy building become particularly relevant.”
says, the keystone of any liberal democracy. Only when we “criticize the selective use of justice,” continues Dr. Kuzio, can Ukraine finally separate its legal system from the influence of political banter. Reformers are targeting not only the court system, but also the very legal foundation of Ukraine. Says Ambassador Serheyev, “We need changes in our old constitutional documents, including the Constitution itself.” Ukraine’s Constitu46
tion has undergone its own batch of transformations since independence and is, in more ways than one, a summation of two decades of Ukrainian growth. Beginning in 1991, the nation’s legal code was still based on the Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR, a remnant from Soviet-era Ukraine. President Leonid Kuchma introduced the framework of the current guiding document in 1995, along with a massive set of reforms in 2004 that were later deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Today, the Constitution of Ukraine has decisively emerged from the shadow of the Soviet Union, but its practical influence is in doubt. “If the present constitution was implemented,” argues US Court of Federal Claims Judge Bohdan A. Futey, “many of these problems would disappear.” Most importantly, the Ukrainian court system must “offer anyone an equal playing field.” In other words, all individuals deserve “equal application of the law.” One victory Ukraine can claim is its successful management of a religiously and ethnically diverse population, a difficult task to accomplish under the transparent and multicultural implications of a democratic system. “This is one of the advantages of our society, one of the achievements, that with around 127 different ethnic groups, each with their interests and their demands, we have managed to move smoothly through any ethnic collisions and religious differences,” says the Ambassador. “Compared to Russia,” continues Dr. Kuzio, “the level of anti-Semitism in Ukraine is very low.” Though Ukraine often struggles to balance social investment in its namesake culture with investment in minorities, the nation has consistently supported tolerance and respect for all cultures, religions, and beliefs. In terms of its indigenous culture, Ukraine has also experienced a revival of interest. Though the Ukrainian language was marginalized under the Soviets, it has been reinstituted through multiple efforts to promote “Ukrainization.” Dr. Mark Andryczyk, the administrator of the Ukrainian Studies program at Columbia University, insists that “[Ukrainization] has occurred despite the efforts of those with power and money in the country.” Ukraine’s independence movement offers guidance following an Arab Spring that continues to rock the Middle East. Eventually, the euphoria of deposing the oppressive regimes of the Muslim world will recede; this is when the lessons of Ukrainian democracy building become particularly relevant. Ukraine’s independence campaign offers a framework for emerging democracies seeking to introduce political representation and civil society to their systems. Most importantly, it affirms the significance of optimism to fostering an enduring national spirit. The fact that Ukraine achieved autonomy twenty years ago does not date the movement’s persistent message that, while the road to independence is never an easy one, it rewards those who persevere. Lindsay Pearlman is a freshman in Morse College.
Progress in the “Graveyard of Empires” An Interview with Habib Rahman By Cody Pomeranz October 7, 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. Although the Taliban have been overthrown, they remain a presence in the region and have gone on a recent assassination campaign, killing President Hamid Karzai’s brother as well as the former President of Afghanistan, Burhanuddin Rabbani. While Afghanistan has made indisputable progress in security and the welfare of its citizens, the stability of the government remains in question. Habib Rahman is a Senior Researcher and Analyst for Hambastagi Consultancy Group. He has previously held many positions in the Afghan government, including senior policy advisor to Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar in the Ministries of Development, Education, and Interior. Rahman is a part of Yale’s 2011 World Fellows Program.
The Politic: What is your assessment of the current state of security, the economy and society in Afghanistan? HR: If we compare Afghanistan to what it was before 2001, we are in a much better position. We have a constitution now that is the most progressive in our history, as well as representative government institutions, an elected president, and freedom of speech, which is unprecedented. We have independent TV and radio channels, hundreds of political parties and associations, and a human rights commission that is demanding accountability and having an impact. There were no Afghan forces to defend us before 2001. Now we have over 280,000 armed forces. We have come a long way. In terms of education, only 150,000 children were in school before 2001. Now, we have almost 7 million kids in school. These are signs that we are moving in the right direction. Sustaining these achievements is our primary concern. However, in the last 11 months, there’s been an increase in violence. Since 2001, almost 1,700 American soldiers have been killed, as well as around 954 NATO forces and 10,000 civilians. We need to speed up our counterinsurgency operations so that we do not leave room for them to attack us. The south of Afghanistan has been the main hub of insurgent activity. It is now spreading to other parts of the country. The north had been safe from 2001-2007. We are moving in the right direction, but it will take us more time. Despite bin Laden’s death, al Qaeda and [other terrorists] are returning to Afghanistan. There have been a series of targeted assassinations, and it has created tension between the government and opposing parties in Afghanistan. There has been a rise in insurgency during the past 11 months mainly due to the announcement of President Obama’s plan to withdraw American soldiers by 2014. The Politic: Delving further into that topic of withdrawal, Ahmed Rashid recently said that, despite the significant weakening of al-Qaeda, the Taliban has grown stronger
as evidenced by its assassination campaign. Has the United States reduced the security threat and trained enough police forces to withdraw without the government being overthrown again by the Taliban? HR: I think there are two issues to this: one is that the government of Afghanistan is in a much stronger position than in 2001. If we have funding available to sustain these forces, we will be in a better position to protect ourselves. I won’t contradict Mr. Rashid, because there is a high desertion rate in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF): one in seven are deserting. We have to build the confidence of the ANSF, and in a way provide them security too. Right now the Afghan National Police (ANP) are fighting the terrorists in the streets and the cities, and they are not supposed to. They are there for law enforcement, not to fight terrorists. The Afghan National Army is a very strong army, well trained and well equipped. The only thing that concerns me is whether the government of Afghanistan will be able to maintain these forces once the U.S. leaves. Afghanistan is strongly dependent on aid. Ninety percent of the budget is being supported by international aid. How will they be able to sustain such a large force? The Politic: What steps can the United States take to further stabilize the government and the country at large? HR: I think the best thing will be to rethink the withdrawal date. This will give a sort of message back to Afghanistan that the U.S. forces are not going to leave them. We had this experience after they defeated the Russians in 1989 – we were left behind by the international community, which did not provide help to rebuild a nation that was at war for almost a decade. What the Americans and the international community should do is rework the withdrawal plan. Secondly, in the long term, a better mechanism of developing the national government of Afghanistan would be if the international community could fund the development budget Fall 2011 I
International through the national budget. They should put their money into the national budget instead of creating parallel structures. That will help in making the national government accountable to both the local population and the international community. Currently, 84% of development assistance is spent through parallel structures in place, for example through contractors and NGOs. The other major factor is that the international community should invest in certain sectors. One area would be in education, redevising general and Islamic education towards mainstream education. We should bridge the gap between Islamic education and general education. Another area would be involving the rural communities through projects like the National Solidarity Program (NSP), which is a major flagship development program of the government. The international community should continue funding such development programs. We should change from short-term to long-term development projects through the NSP. The Politic: How important is Afghanistan to the growing tension between the United States, Pakistan, and India? HR: I think as [President Karzai] said, “Pakistan is a twin brother, and India is a good friend.” [He said this] while he was signing this strategic partnership document between Afghanistan and India. These are our neighbors. We want to have very mutually respectful relations among neighboring counties… Karzai has taken on this peace and reconciliation effort, taking into account Pakistani government authorities. Recently, Karzai said that he doesn’t think we can move anywhere in these efforts with the Taliban without Pakistani support. The Politic: Afghanistan provides 93% of the world’s opium. The crop drives the Afghan economy, as well as the cash flow of the Afghan Taliban. How do you best tackle this problem? Is it possible to get Afghanistan off of opium (are there alternative crops)? HR: This is a critical question: As of today Afghanistan has 34 provinces, and 20 provinces have been declared poppy free. Only 3 percent of Afghanistan land is itself involved in opium production. Nine percent of the opium is reportedly grown in Southern and Western parts of Afghanistan, which are the most insecure provinces. Helmand and Kandahar are among the biggest producers of opium. Poppy has indeed created a challenging threat to long-term security, development and effective governance.
There are different ways that we could deal with poppy production: 1) providing farmers with alternative cash crops in accordance with the weather of the region; 2) using technical expertise to train Afghan farmers on growing vegetables and fruits like strawberries, melons, vineyards, pomegranates, pistachios, and almond orchards. Afghanistan was once the biggest exporter of dry fruits to the region.; 3) Creating markets for the agricultural products, the world should unite together to subsidize and procure Afghan agricultural products in order to give Afghan farmers the faith that what they grow will have markets locally and internationally.; 4) building infrastructure like roads, canals, and irrigation systems to connect farmers locally and acquainting them with the new initiatives of poultry and fish farming which they could do on top of traditional farming. The Politic: The cover of TIME magazine several months ago showed an Afghan woman with her nose and ears cut off. This type of cruelty, they argued, is the reason that the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan. Do you think that this part of society in Afghanistan can change, and more importantly, should it change? Is it an inevitable part of any future in Afghanistan? HR: I think there are still parts and pockets in Afghanistan where we face such problems. Let me also clarify that these sorts of incidents are not usually carried out by insurgents but by many primitive systems that have been in place in some communities in different parts of the country. As I mentioned earlier, the solution for these problems is investing in education and empowering women through different ways. I think we should promote education in rural communities. If you go to rural areas, most of the schools have neither boundary walls nor sanitation facilities. So with such a conservative society that we have, I think our first priority should be to build school infrastructure, using low-cost schooling with support from local people. I would say that such incidents will continue to be reported and with the aggressive withdrawal of international troops, we are sending a very negative message to insurgents. I think we should have taken into account all the aspects before setting up such deadlines. With withdrawal, we would see a spike in insurgents and criminal activities in many parts of the country. So I think the international community should’ve remained committed and not lost its patience. It will take time to change a generation and its mentality. Cody Pomeranz is a freshman in Branford College.
A New Approach to Global Health By Alyssa Bilinksi
CCORDING to the United Nations, one in six people on the planet lack clean water, and 13.6% of the world’s population is “undernourished.” The average life expectancy in Sub-Saharan Africa is 45 years, and 8 million children under the age of five die every year, most from preventable or treatable infectious diseases. The lamentable state of global health is no secret, and the oft-repeated barrage of horrifying statistics can be desensitizing. Over the past half-century, significant efforts, originating from both public and private spheres, have been made to improve the health problems that plague the developing world, but the situation remains grim, and millions lack access to inexpensive, live-saving care. While the humanitarian issue is compelling in and of itself, there are other, more pragmatic reasons for why the First World simply cannot afford to ignore the deplorable global health condition. Due in no small part to the increasing role of globalization in even the most exotic areas, disease not only threatens to cross state borders but also harm economic productivity and development. The disparate nature of the overarching world health situation makes it difficult to fix. Global health is often characterized as the study of a “collection of problems” rather than as any kind of cohesive discipline due to the vast range of problems that it encompasses – from direct access to care, to sanitation and infrastructure, to violence and war. The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that the international community currently has ineffective structures in place to address the problem. The United Nations has a variety of global health initiatives to address health disparities in developing nations and included health as a focus in the Millennium Development Goals. Laudable though these efforts are, they leave a gap as far as international cooperation is concerned. A team of experts, led by Lawrence Gostin at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Law at Georgetown University, believes that the status quo needs to change. Gostin explained the current inadequacies of the system, “We have global treaties on trade, intellectual property, and areas that have to do with health, but nothing on health itself.” To rectify the issue, he has proposed a Framework Convention on Global Health, which was recently endorsed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ideally, the Framework Convention would commit states to realistic targets for improving global health, bring together a wide range of stakeholders and reduce barriers to collaboration, and set basic standards for which health services constitute a right. An international agreement is unlikely to be a panacea for the widespread health challenges experienced by vulnerable populations throughout the world. Nevertheless, the cur-
rent lack of an effective international structure likely inhibits progress toward reducing this monumental problem. In the past, international treaties have played key roles in tackling similar world problems. The Montreal Protocol, which required drastic reductions in the use of chemicals believed to deplete the ozone layer, along with the Nuclear Test Ban treaties, are key examples of international treaties which have successfully mitigated significant global hazards. When dealing with less specific problems, treaties have been helpful in increasing the dialogue on crucial issues – such as the role the Universal Declaration on Human Rights has played in improving the discourse on human rights around the world – and in setting a timetable for important goals and targets, such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Even though an international treaty on global health will almost certainly fail to solve all health problems, there is little doubt that it will provide an important start.
“We have global treaties on trade, intellectual property, and areas that have to do with health, but nothing on health itself.” Some progress has been made. In 2009, the Joint Action and Leaning Initiative (JALI) on Global Responsibility for Health was created to combine the efforts of government and academic groups from around the world in exploring the right to health, the responsibility of state and world actors to help provide this right, and the role of a global health agreement in facilitating and monitoring the worldwide promulgation of effective health practices. Turning research into a final treaty – and lobbying for its approval among the various national, regional and international stakeholders – will take significant effort. But Gostin is optimistic. “I’d love to see it in my lifetime,” he says. “The US is not a very good global health player.” But he hopes a Framework Convention on Global Health will help break down barriers, transform outdated norms, and finally provide a cohesive structure for long-term global health improvements. Alyssa Bilinski is a junior in Calhoun College. Fall 2011 I
An All Time Low
A Dark Year in U.S.-Pakistan Relations and an Equally Grim Future: An Interview with Habib Rahman By Kishen Patel Throughout the United States’ time in Afghanistan relations with Pakistan have fluctuated. Recently, Admiral Michael Mullen publicly accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization of assisting the Haqqani network within their country. This comment is emblematic of the current strained relationship between the two nations. The Politic interviewed Dr. Stephen Cohen about the implications of this strained relationship. Dr. Cohen, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is an expert in South Asian political and security issues, particularly those about Pakistan.
The Politic: What is the current state of U.S.-Pakistan relations?
The Politic: How should U.S. aid to Pakistan change in light of the death of UBL?
SC: Interestingly, there’s no accepted way to measure relations between countries -- but if we look at four general categories, economic ties, cultural ties, strategic policies, and military relations, we find that the relationship has either been onesided, or in the case of strategic and military ties, tenuous. Subjectively, most people talk about the ups and downs in U.S.-Pakistan relations, they are at an all-time low, but could go lower.
SC: This is a non-sequitur. His death does not remove al Qaeda from Pakistan, it may have weakened it somewhat, but the larger problem is the growing incoherence of the Pakistani state, something we have only fitfully and ineptly addressed with the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. It was well-intentioned, but the U.S. has not been able to mount an effective assistance program, nor are the Pakistanis interested in furthering their dependency on the U.S. They hate the begging bowl, but don’t know how to do without it.
The Politic: What does Pakistan seek as an outcome of the war in Afghanistan? To what extent are they hedging their bets between the U.S. and the Taliban? SC: Their major concern is that Afghanistan not become a satellite of India. They use the Taliban and related groups as an instrument of state power. This is one area where our goals are mutually exclusive and contradictory, Pakistan is too obsessed with the Indian role in Afghanistan we are divided over whether an Indian role there is a good thing or a bad thing. The Politic: What do you make of the Admiral Mullen’s recent comments regarding the ISI’s complicity with the Haqqani network? How large of an obstacle do the activities of the ISI pose for better relations between the two nations? SC: He was expressing the frustration of many U.S. officials, which reflects the basic conflict between U.S. and Pakistani goals in Afghanistan. I think that the Pakistanis have legitimate interests there that we never fully addressed, but of course by using militant groups Pakistan has crossed over several important red lines. These groups are like a flock of bloodthirsty chickens coming home to roost, as they threaten the integrity of Pakistan itself. 50
The Politic: How do increased drone strikes in the area shape the U.S.-Pakistan relationship? By engaging in these campaigns is the US further alienating a potential ally? SC: We carry out some drone strikes with the knowledge of the Pakistan government, targeting individuals and groups that are attacking the Pakistani state; it would be nice if Pakistan publicly admitted this. Otherwise, the drone strikes have become more sophisticated, but there’s a risk that the target list will be expanded because of U.S. frustration with Pakistan. A myth has grown in Pakistan that we seek the destruction of the Pakistan state, but it is clear that the U.S. will continue to target groups and individuals that it feels endanger American forces in Afghanistan and even the U.S. homeland as long as Pakistan cannot control these groups. The drones could lead to a break between the U.S. and Pakistan. As for being an “ally,” Pakistan is a limited ally and its strategic interests are not identical to ours, although we do have a shared interest in preserving the integrity of the once-moderate state of Pakistan. The Politic: How much of a threat is the Taliban in Pakistan?
International SC: The Pakistan Taliban represents a mortal threat to the idea of a moderate Pakistan. They want to transform Pakistan and use it as a base against India where there are millions of Muslims waiting to be “liberated” by them, a fanciful notion. The Pakistani state can contain these groups, but can they reverse the creeping conservatism, paranoia, and anti-Americanism in Pakistan itself ? This is a far more intolerant country than the one I first visited in 1977. The Politic: If U.S.-Pakistan relations were to further crumble, how would this affect U.S. prospects in Afghanistan? SC: The two are interrelated; Pakistani strategists believe that the U.S. is headed out of Afghanistan regardless, but would like to retain the benefits of being a U.S. ally without the costs. However, they are transfixed by what they see as a U.S.-India alliance directed against Pakistan, that we have sided with India and might even support the recent Indian-Afghanistan strategic alliance, the first for India in South Asia. I don’t think this is true, but American policy has been notable for its narrow vision, viewing Pakistan through its engagement in Afghanistan, and ignoring the possibility of India-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan. But then we cannot talk to the Iranians about cooperation in Afghanistan, and it would take these three regional states, India, Pakistan, and Iran, to ensure that a regional approach to Afghanistan would succeed.
The Politic: Where do you see the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations headed? What is India’s role in influencing the future of this relationship? SC: I’ve commented on the Indian role above, but it cannot be overstated when it comes to influencing Pakistan’s perceptions and policies. The U.S. lacks an integrated approach to South Asia, whether you look at the structure of the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, or the Department of State. Bruce Riedel and I have written a short piece on this. Our argument is that without a sound organization it will be impossible to develop a sound policy that takes into account our diverse interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. We should also be looking for trade-offs, instead of pursuing a containment strategy towards Pakistan (which Bruce has supported) I think we ought to look for grand bargains, such as accommodating Pakistan’s interest in Afghanistan in exchange for its acceptance of the basic status quo in Kashmir. It does not want a radicalized Afghanistan either, it just wants to exclude Indian influence. No state can have everything. This, as the Schaffers’ argue, might be a grand bargain that works for the U.S., for Pakistan, and for India. Otherwise I fear a new civil war in Afghanistan, fueled from the outside, and the continuation of Kashmir as a flashpoint between the two South Asian nuclear weapons powers. Kishen Patel is a freshman in Trumbull College.
US and Afghan forces have conducted many missions against the Haqqani network. Fall 2011 I
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