Sir MT 2015

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DEPUTY EDITORS Amelia Cooper Rose Vennin

SUB-EDITORS Ed Bithell Emma Cookson Daniel de Lisle Katherine Crofts-Gibbons Allen Schaidle


PHOTO CREDITS Emma Cookson Katherine Crofts-Gibbons Thai Dang Leon Heng Peter Hudson Will Yeldham

But us he sends upon his high behests For state, as Sovereign King; and to inure Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut, The dismal gates, and barricaded strong; ('Paradise Lost' Book 8 John Milton) “It makes a difference, doesn't it, whether we fence ourselves in, or whether we are fenced out by the barriers of others?” ('A Room with a View' E.M Forster)


TABLE OF CONTENTS India-Pakistan: From Bad to Worse


Caucasian Culture: The Rocky Road


Our Man in Syria: The Increasing Dangers of International Journalism


'Quo vadis Europa’ : Merkel or Orban’s version?


The Chinese Perspective on New Model of Sino-American Relations


Taiwan’s Cross-strait Relation: A Challenge to Tsai


The Umbrella and The Identity


Are International Legal Barriers Sufficient?


Breaking the Barrier for U.S.-Cuba Academic Relations


A New Crisis in Europe: Physical and Social Barriers to Refugees


Overcoming the Barrier of Neglect: Latin America in World Affairs





arriers govern all of our lives. Whether we impose them upon ourselves through restraint or they are imposed on us by wider authority, we navigate our existence by them. They are ingrained into our language be it a ‘glass ceiling’, ‘red line’ or ‘final hurdle’. We use these borderland semantics to map our position in the world, marshal our experiences and dictate where we are headed. The most iconic barrier of the 20th century is arguably the Berlin Wall, which attempted to both stem the tides of Western cultural, social and ideological forces from encroaching on the East and prevent people leaving to embrace them. Though only standing for 28 years, it captured the fundamental bipolarity of the century. In the aftermath of its collapse, the world entered a period of clear American hegemony, yet this too is increasingly tested as Chinese economic growth and territorial claims in the South China Sea coupled with aggressive Russian foreign policy challenge American authority abroad. The result of this is the confusion of today’s multipolar world in which the need for writers to effectively chart the underlying forces governing diplomacy is greater than ever. This collection brings together a wide range of articles from writers across Oxford. Their job is to trace the shifting boundaries that dictate our modern world; to look beyond the geographical 4

and state defined borders to expose the interwoven social and cultural landscapes beneath. Their motive to map and interpret the world is an ancient one, yet from its inception it has transgressed literal representation. The Babylonian World Map, the earliest surviving map of the world (c. 600 BC), is far from a disinterested geography. It deliberately omits peoples such as the Persians and Egyptians, who were well known to the Babylonians, instead charting their own empire as dominant. The area shown is depicted as a circular shape surrounded by water, which also fits the religious image of the world in which the Babylonians believed. The fundamental question is one of perspective: the emergence of Christianity also prompted a desire to rechart the world and the results are documents such as The Ebstorf Map and others like it. Made by Gervase of Ebstorf and composed of 30 goatskins sewn together, it centres on Jerusalem, with Christ presiding over the entire work from the top. Its aim is clear: the map seeks not only to chart the world but to recast it as a Christian one. By shifting boundaries it strives to shift opinion and belief also. Indeed, the challenge for those who wish to accurately interpret and predict the events of our world today lies in where we draw these barriers. In the field of International Relations, Realist scholars take the state as a unified, independent actor and build theory

upon this almost personified conception of statehood. However, with the birth of the digital age and far greater economic and cultural exchange, we are becoming increasingly linked. Indeed, economic interconnectedness has been leading the global market with the advancement in communication, transportation technology, and free-market paradigm, allowing for dynamics for goods, capital, people, and services. Early theorists such as Richard Cobden argued that this strengthening economic interdependence, coupled with greater cultural understanding, would render future conflict too costly to be feasible. However, what we have actually seen is that the very nature of conflict itself is changing as cyberwarfare, economic sanctions and asymmetry play around the definitional boundaries of war. Indeed, here in Oxford this exact question is currently being debate through the ongoing ‘Changing Character of War’ programme. The greatest test to the liberal argument appeared in the so called ‘First Great Debate’ of IR between Idealists and Realists, which weighed responses to the increasing aggression of Nazi Germany. Idealists placed their faith in the ability of global peace projects such as the League of Nations to steer the international community away from conflict where as Realist scholars emphasized the anarchical nature of international politics and the need for state survival. E.H Carr’s famous

realist approach challenged such Idealist visions, instead emphasizing that there is no universal morality in the international sphere because theories of international morality are the function of dominant nations or groups of nations. They chart the world from their own perspective and dictate judgment based upon their own interests. However, in our increasingly interconnected modern world, is it time to reassess liberal utopian visions such as Cobden’s? The recent 70th anniversary of the UN provided time to both celebrate its successes and learn from failures, such as Rwanda, Srebrenica and the numerous current humanitarian crises, including Syria and Yemen. It is evident that growing connectivity has not eradicated conflict, as some of the utopian visions had hoped. Nonetheless, through the UN, IMF and WTO and principles such as ‘The Responsibility to Protect’, the international community has ever increasing legislative capabilities to tackle it. We too can play a role. By recognising the inherent subjectivity of our own perspectives as well as the biases and problems within wider international bodies, we can strive towards charting a balanced map of the world. One able to capture the shifting state and non-state forces underlying each week’s news and hopefully provide a template for effective diplomacy.


India-Pakistan: From Bad to Worse - Saim Saeed -



he South Asian press these days is dominated by good news about the India-Pakistan relationship. Geeta, as the local press calls her, is a deaf and mute Indian woman who spent the last decade stranded across the border in neighboring Pakistan. Recently, she was repatriated from Karachi, Pakistan, to New Delhi, where she was received by the Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj herself. “I thank the government of Pakistan from my heart,” she said. Geeta’s story gained attention because it resembled the plot of a Bollywood summer hit, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, in which the lead, an Indian man, tries to reunite a mute Pakistani girl stranded in India with her family back in Pakistan. Amid the celebration and selfcongratulation, one can almost forget just how terrible relations between the two nuclear powers actually are. It is an unfortunate fact that only the handshakes between heads of state, the exchange of sweets at the border, and stories like Geeta’s actually end up making the news. The status quo – constantly being on the brink of war – seems to merit less attention internationally and at home. Since India’s independence and violent partition in 1947, which carved out India and Pakistan as two different polities, the two countries have fought multiple wars with each other and countless skirmishes. Such conflicts tend to emerge over the disputed region of Kashmir, which both countries claim as a part of their territory. This is to say that at no point have relations between the two countries actively been ‘good’, but in recent years they have become even worse.

‘Epicentre of Terrorism’ In Pakistan, the military plays a dominant role in politics and it insists on portraying India as the enemy, partly as a justification for its inflated operational budget. Even token measures by the civilians to better relations with India – a process they call ‘normalization’ – are rejected. For years, Pakistan has tried to ratify an agreement that would grant India ‘most favoured nation’ status, allowing for more goods to be traded. In a bid to make it sound less threatening, they renamed it ‘Non-discriminatory Market Access’, but that still did not help. Under pressure from the military, the Pakistani ambassador to India backtracked on the proposal and scuttled the agreement. In 1999, there was a historic meeting between then (and current) Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Lahore, Pakistan, which claimed to herald a new era of friendly relations. Unknown to both Sharif and Vajpayee at the time, former Pakistani army chief Pervez Musharraf had launched a covert operation in Kashmir near the town of Kargil, cutting off Indian access to roads and communication. What followed was an intense battle with thousands of casualties and the threat of nuclear war. For good reason, then, India is sceptical of Pakistan’s commitment to normalization. India also argues that it has found very little evidence of Pakistan’s commitment to combat terrorism, which, it argues, is a perequisite for dialogue. Hafiz Saeed is the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant organization that frequently 7

targets India, most notably during the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 which killed 166 people. Saeed walks freely in Lahore under government protection despite a $10 million bounty on his head. Another militant, Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, known as the ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai attacks, oscillates between detention and probation as a lackadaisical prosecution dithers over his case. Meanwhile, suspected cross-border attacks in India continue, including an attack in July this year on a police station that killed 10 people in Indian Punjab, close to the border with Pakistan. The former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh called Pakistan the ‘epicentre of terrorism’ at the UN General Assembly in 2013, and from India’s perspective, it is still true today. India’s ‘Muscular’ Foreign Policy Pakistan’s troubles with militancy are not new, and it argues that a negotiated political solution to end tensions is only possible if both countries continue to engage in discussions. Under India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi, that has never seemed less likely. During his time in the opposition, Modi accused India’s former Congress-led government of being ‘soft’ on terror and on Pakistan, and promised a ‘muscular’ foreign policy once in government. He has delivered. Since his ascension to power a year ago, cross-border skirmishes have increased, and so have the number of casualties on both sides, forcing villagers to evacuate from their homes. For Modi, peace with Pakistan is not a priority. Even token gestures like the annual sideline meetings between Indian and Pakistani leaders at the UN General Assembly did


not take place this time despite Pakistan’s eagerness. The Indian government also cancelled high level talks scheduled for this August, accusing the Pakistani government of meeting Kashmiri leaders, a traditional practice that had never precluded talks before. Modi’s own foreign policy aims to elevate India to a higher global status. He has reached out to affluent Indian diaspora communities all over the world, including Silicon Valley, in an effort to attract talent and capital back to India. He has prioritized military and economic competition with China, multilateral trade with Southeast Asian economies, not unlike the United States’ Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements, and greater investment in defence expenditure and military technology. In essence, having seen the costs India has incurred by being bogged down by regional politics, Modi aims to transcend the region itself. But two factors prevent him doing so. First, and due to his deliberate inattention, regional security has deteriorated. Since December 2014, when the Taliban attacked on a school in Peshawar that killed 150 people, mostly children, Pakistan has been able to mobilize both public opinion and its military against terrorism. The fallout from the military operation currently going on in Pakistan’s tribal areas is yet to be fully understood, but both India and Pakistan, as demonstrated time and again, are vulnerable to further attack. The potential disintegration of the border ceasefire may escalate, and with

such trigger-happy militaries straddling the border, calm, effective leadership is essential. Token gestures like announcing a $10 million reward via Twitter to the Pakistani foundation that housed Geeta (they subsequently refused to accept) is not sufficient. War, never far away in South Asia, may actually be a product of his negligence. Second, communal tensions between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities have risen under Modi’s leadership. These tensions risk both its relations with Pakistan as well as India’s standing abroad. As the leader of a right-wing Hindu nationalist party, Modi’s record as a custodian of Indian secular values is poor. It was under his watch as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 that communal riots killed more than a thousand people, mostly Muslims. Although the courts absolved him of any crimes, he has refused to take any responsibility for the violence. As prime minister, Modi oversaw a beef ban in the populous state of Maharashtra, which has a sizable Muslim community. It is a contentious issue, since cows are sacred in Hinduism, but their slaughter serves religious purpose in Islam. In recent months, Muslims have been lynched by Hindu mobs for allegedly keeping beef in their homes. Since Pakistan was founded as an answer to the perceived persecution of India’s Muslims, both its leaders and citizens would be far less eager to engage with a government that treats Muslims badly (Pakistan’s own atrocious record of protecting its Hindu citizens notwithstanding). Alleged crackdowns

on the media, writers, publishers and comedians have also raised concerns over free speech. Reports of human rights abuses against marginalized castes and activists in Kashmir and the northeast are also ever-present. Touted as ‘the largest democracy in the world’, that moniker looks increasingly tenuous. Not Just a ‘Sibling Rivalry’ All of this is to say that the IndiaPakistan relationship matters, and leaders of both countries have clearly not done enough to salvage it to prevent an escalation of conflict, if not anything else. At present, neither side seems interested in doing that. Because bad relations have always been the status quo, citizens and politicians of India and Pakistan – as well as the international community – has always just accepted it. Some observers also believe that since both have the nuclear bomb, they will not fight a war because of the deterrent. The problem is that has proven to be empirically untrue. The Kargil war took place after both countries conducted nuclear tests, and was close to becoming nuclear. Given the stakes, the blasé attitude that South Asian politicians and the international community has towards India-Pakistan is criminally negligent. Belittling the conflict by calling it a ‘sibling rivalry’ is not just condescending, it also obfuscates the gravity of the security threat faced by the billion and a half people who inhabit the Subcontinent. Those people deserve greater efforts to live free from the fear of nuclear war.



he mountain range of the Caucasus acts as a jagged dividing line of ice and rock between Europe and Asia. Formed in the south of individual sovereign states, such as Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and in the north by regions such as Chechnya and Dagestan, which fall under Russian jurisdiction, it is one of the most politically unstable area in the world. Its natural landscape almost rivals the lifestyle of its native clans in its awe-inspiring, yet treacherous nature. This mountainous region has found itself, at different points in history, on the periphery of Ottoman, Russian, and Persian empires. Its historical scars, artistic marvels, and political upheavals, are a manifestation of the region’s liminal nature and the inexorable influence of its borders.

Supposedly deriving its name from the Scythian kroy-khasis (“ice-shining, white with snow”), the area is a natural barrier, with many passes only accessible at certain times of the year. Yet this inhospitable region has also earned itself a reputation as a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. With more than fifty ethnic groups and a linguistic variety that is second only to that of New Guinea, the numerous and glittering facets of identity and culture in the Caucasus have inspired thousands of artists, authors and poets throughout history. The region’s status as a “border” is therefore key to understanding its cultural representations. Bordering on some of the mightiest empires in history, the Caucasus’s reputation as a stage for drama was established early. The rising red curtain of this theatre reveals a similarly scarlet,



the rocky road - Marianna Hunt -


blood-stained history of medieval Arab, Persian and Mongol invasions, arrogant conquest by Russian colonialists, massacres of able-bodied males in Armenia, deportation en masse of entire nationalities by the Soviet Union, and more recently, barbaric infringements of human rights during the suppression of “terrorists” in the Chechen wars of the 1990s. In just three months of fighting in these grisly wars of independence, Russia lost more tanks in Chechnya’s capital than during the Battle of Berlin in 1945. The instability of this region persists even today. Its proximity to the volatile Middle Eastern border has led to the insurgence of ISIS extremists, affiliated with jihadists in Syria, in Chechnya in recent years. Over the years, incalculable political rivalries, military campaigns, and religious transformations have been acted out under the shadow of Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain. The perilous lifestyle, both politically and physically, of this rocky borderland has had an indelible effect on its native peoples, earning them a reputation in history as some of the world’s fiercest warriors and most resilient spirits. Countless invasions of their borders are often seen as having cultivated fiercely independent characters, and many of the highland clans of the Caucasus were never conquered — or even discovered — by invading powers. This proud “Caucasian” spirit can still be seen in modern times, in the activities of freedom fighters in the northern Caucasus, struggling against centralised Russian governance. The trend of depicting the Caucasus in art and literature finds its roots in antiquity. In Greek mythology, the region

held a special significance and was seen to be one of the great pillars supporting the world. Additionally, Greek myth established its ancient tradition of acting as a stage for drama - transforming from earthly borderland to border between the heavenly and terrestrial. The Caucasus also functioned as the sight on which Prometheus was chained and faced his eternal punishment for having presented man with the gift of fire. Though more recent dramas have featured few eagles pecking out human livers, the gory history of the Caucasus was thus established. Some of Russia’s most revered literary heroes have also attempt to deal with this liminal nature of the Caucasus in their literature. In many ways, Russian writers during the period of Russian annexation of the Caucasus expressed Romantic views of this exotic, “foreign”, region in their work. Tolstoy’s Olenin, for instance, abandons the “civilized” urban society for the wild Caucasus, and is bowled over by the region’s stupendous natural beauty and the discovery of a simpler world, bereft of modern artifice and hypocrisy. Tolstoy describes Olenin, after leaving Moscow, as finding himself “in that happy state of mind in which a young man, conscious of past mistakes, suddenly says to himself, ‘That was not the real thing.’” This transformation of the area to an idealised realm in literature is similarly evident in Pushkin’s 1821 poem, “A Prisoner of the Caucasus”. The poet recounts how his literary musings “Recalled to me the Caucasus”, where Mount Bashtáu “was for me a new Parnassus”. Through association with a mountain sacred in Greek mythology, Pushkin elevates the Caucasus to a mystical status. The 11

significance of Parnassus as the home of the Greek muses also implies the capacity of the mountainous region to act as poetic and literary inspiration. Thus, its cultural importance, already established in ancient mythology, cemented its foundations in society. Nevertheless, despite the salience of the Caucasus in Russian culture, beneath these idealised perceptions lurked the realities of arrogant colonialist thinking. Representations of the region and its peoples as an idealistically simple incarnation of nature stemmed from the basic assumption that they were less civilized than European Russia. The simplicity of Caucasian maidens such as Dina in “The Prisoner of the Caucasus”, by Tolstoy, is a manifestation of their assumed inferiority and lesser intelligence. Hence the representations of natives ranged from simple creature of nature, to barbaric savage. Though writers such as Pushkin may have admired the beauty of the Caucasus, their belief in Russia’s right to rule there emerges equally strongly. As such, the ending of Pushkin’s “Prisoner of the Caucasus” is heavy with imperialistic undertones: “So the furious shouts of war were silenced:/ All was subjected by the Russian sword”. The Soviet period’s attempts to incorporate, often by force, the Caucasus into their socialist state appear to be a continuation of this colonialist tendency. The Soviet mission to bring literacy, imperial language, and state literature to the region bears uncanny resemblance to attempts of other societies to “civilize” their imperial conquests. Exploration of national identity, which did not conform to accepted Soviet “Russianism”, was 12

eradicated by the prescribed conventions of the Soviet art. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, a new artistic trend seems to have emerged. The increase in personal liberties following perestroika and glasnost led to a search, in the Caucasus and other regions on the fringes of Soviet society which had once enjoyed autonomy, for their own national identity, in both art and literature. One such attempt to explore postSoviet national identity in the Caucasus was undertaken by Kyrgyz photographer, Alimjan Jorobaev. Jorobaev ‘s “Mirages of Communism” is a series of images which document the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as a return to religious and cultural identity. His photograph of huge crowds in the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, bent in prayer towards Mecca yet in the shadow of a huge statue of Lenin still looming there, illustrates the problem of reconciling traditional heritage with the recent Soviet past. In conjunction with this growing concern with their own independence in art, native writers in more recent times have expressed an increasingly dissatisfied view of Russian authority. This can be seen as the literary expression of Caucasian bids for independence, which have resulted in territorial conflicts, such as the Chechen wars, with the Russian state in recent years. In the 1995 story by Vladimir Makanin, “The Prisoner of the Caucasus”, a reference to both Tolstoy and Pushkin, a 16-year-old Caucasian boy is taken hostage by a Russian soldier. However, the sexual power he exerts over his captor, and

the Russian soldier’s sense of being trapped in these mountains, seem to up-end the traditional roles of the tale (and the role of “prisoner” which natives were often forced into by Russian invaders in reality) and pose the question of who is truly captive here. The reversal of the power relationship between conqueror and conquered is highly indicative of this increasing assertion of Caucasian national identity. The status of the Caucasus region as a land on the fringes of many different societies, as a “border”, has left an ineffaceable mark on the artistic creations which it has inspired over the centuries. Examining the transformations of art and literature taking Caucasian culture as their subject matter traces the dramatic development and often tragic history of this fascinating region.



The Increasing Dangers of International Journalism - Zach Klamann -


n the mid-morning light of revolutionary Misrata, Libya, renowned photojournalist Tim Hetherington was in a situation he’d been in too many times to count: trekking through a warzone with other journalists searching for the shot he needed for his story assignment. It was early 2011, so the war was just beginning to intensify across the country, and against his better judgement and usual practice, Hetherington had placed himself very close to the increasingly dangerous


fighting. When he and fellow wartimephotojournalist Chris Hondros crossed the street to get a photo of dead rebel soldiers, a mortar landed on them and the rebels with whom they were working. Immediately, the other journalists present rushed the two of them to hospital. Hondros would succumb to his wounds later that day, while Hetherington would bleed out in the arms of legendary Sunday Times war-correspondent Marie Colvin, who would suffer a similar fate just months later in Homs, Syria, as Assad forces mortared her compound.


Hetherington and Hondros were in Misrata a month after four New York Times correspondents, including three Pulitzer Prize winners, were kidnapped and beaten by Qaddafi forces before being released. In the coming years, the public beheading of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by Daesh would elicit worldwide horror. But, these cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Since 2011, 85 journalists have been killed in Syria alone, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Countless others have disappeared and remain missing to this day.

just ten years, every major publication from the Guardian to Al Jazeera had a bureau in Kabul and one in Baghdad. But today, not a single one retains a reporter in Damascus or Misrata, much less a bureau. The risk of having someone kidnapped and paying gigantic sums for his or her release is too great for most companies, especially with the budget constraints of journalism today.

Consequently, freelancers have filled the void where there were once well run, well organized and well paid organisations. For the freelancers themselves, this is often a bad deal. With regular reporters, there The danger has forced others out of are checks, a system in which someone is the game or away from the worst of it. constantly aware of where they are, what Prominent figures like Lynsey Addario, they’re doing and when they should be who considers back in the bureau. The work they do is Freelancers are rarely spending months in the Korengal often the only way we given this kind of Valley, Afghanistan support, being asked, have any idea what instead, to simply get (“The Most Dangerous Place work done. As is going on in Syria at the in the World”) with Richard Pendry put Hetherington and all, and they face the it in the Columbia getting kidnapped by Journalism Review, Qaddafi’s military same risks as foreign ‘News outlets are normal hazards of happy to reap the journalists, Except her job, now calls not rewards of dangerous they don’t have a going to Syria a “noreporting, so long as brainer.” Pulitzer home to return to in freelancers shoulder Prize winning Esquire all the responsibility,’ the West and New York Times — responsibility that, correspondent CJ because they don’t Chivers, whose expertise in artillery and have an organisation to fund them, means munitions helped conclude that forces getting first aid training, protective gear loyal to Qaddafi were responsible for and, crucially, insurance for themselves. Hetherington’s and Hondros’ deaths, has retired from war reporting because of its Yet, the allure of war reporting still growing danger attracts some journalists — for some it’s the possibility of glory and thrill seeking, but All of this helps explain where the trend most are really in it to show the atrocities of has led: war reporting is too dangerous for war. So for these intrepid few, what happens many of the big players. Looking back if or when they get to the border? 15

In the classic model, because visas in war-torn countries are hard to come by, most reporters are smuggled into the country and start paying translator and “fixers” to help them find drivers, places to stay and other basic necessities to take care of them in an environment they don’t know. Often, major publications have access to and knowledge of reliable fixers who can get their reporters to the story safely. This meant that, even in the old model, freelancers had a harder time getting around safely in war zones. Paying for all these people and the petrol and the hotels and the food is expensive, so without a wealthy media organisation’s funding, freelancers have to pay and make connections for themselves. Syria has made this all the more complicated. In the early days of the revolution, everything was normal, according to foreign correspondent James Harkin. However, he says, this ‘normal’


only works because journalists bring attention to rebel causes and sometimes the abuses of the regime, which, they hope, will bring action from the West. When the help never came to Syria, they found a new purpose for the journalists: kidnappings for ransom. Yet, while it started with ransom, it didn’t stay that way. When reporters are kidnapped, they aren’t always put up for ransom. Sometimes, they are traded back and forth between rebel groups, transferring between run-down factories and abandoned Roman-era catacombs. All the groups realise the prize of having a westerner, especially an American, so instead of hoping to shine international light on Assad Regime human rights abuses, they use reporters as trading pieces, as Harkin found in his search for the now deceased James Foley and the still missing Austin Tice. This shift in dynamics, in which no one wants the reporters for

anything more than currency, has made Syria more dangerous for journalists than Lebanon, or Iraq, or the Balkans or anything else in recent memory.

News outlets are happy to reap the rewards of dangerous reporting, so long as freelancers shoulder all the responsibility For those who do make it out, there’s often a toll to be paid. The University of Toronto conducted a study in which they found the rates of depression among journalists working in Syria were much higher than they had been in Iraq. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is finally being recognised among war reporters and is being seen in many who return from Syria, especially those who have been kidnapped. All of this has pushed media organisations like the Times, Telegraph and BBC to outlaw the usage of freelancers for their publications. However, many continue to do so when the need for the story is greatest, or skirt their own rules

by having the freelancer leave the danger area before filing the story, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. For those of us at home, the dangers facing freelancers are also incredibly important. It means, as Uri Friedman put it in Vanity Fair, ‘This century’s worst humanitarian crisis is grinding on as a dwindling number of journalists bear witness to its destruction,’ so we ‘rarely see it.’ While millions of migrants race toward Europe and hundreds of thousands die in the fighting, most of the freelancers have bowed out, leaving news organisations to gather what they can from a complex network of verifiable Twitter feeds and Syrian journalists, who often complain that they lack the training, safety or background to do their jobs properly. Yet, the work they do is often the only way we have any idea what is going on in Syria at all, and they face the same risks as foreign journalists, except they don’t have a home to return to in the West. So, as the US, Russia, Iran and much of the rest of the Middle East funnel fighters and firearms into the desolate country, most of us have little to no idea exactly what’s happening and what our governments are doing because the situation is just too dangerous to send in a journalist who, if he or she survives, will be treated like currency by those he or she paid for protection.


Quo vadis Europa? Merkel or Orban’s version?

- Susan Divald -


ne of the classic definitions of the state is from Max Weber, renowned sociologist and philosopher, in his essay Politics as a Vocation: “a human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” For Weber, borders define who the state can claim power over, whether it be to defend its community against outsiders or maintain inner civil peace. Through this lens of borders, force and the state, European countries sit in an odd position. The dynamics of Europeanisation have meant that the borders of Europe have been both reinforced and discarded. For those in the European Union, there is free movement of goods, people, capital and services; however, for those on the 18

outside, access into EU countries is far from easy, creating an “insiders-outsiders” phenomenon. The current migrant crisis brings into question these borders and if and when it is justifiable to defend them. It also shows the different conceptions of the responsibility of the state towards its own citizens and towards non-citizens. German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes the German community has a responsibility to the larger “human community” and should welcome those taking the perilous journey to Germany. Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán defends the state’s power to regulate who enters into its territory and who does not, in defence of its own Hungarian community.


What exactly is Orbán’s view of the state and where does it come from? One clear example is his 2014 speech at his party’s summer school in Tusnádfürdő, Transylvania where he coined the term “illiberal state”. His comments made waves in the press and attracted criticism from EU leaders. The phrase has become one which will forever be hung around his neck, but what did he mean? To answer this, we need to understand the historical context of regime change in Europe. Orbán argues that Europe has gone through three regime changes: World War I, World War II and the 1990 transition from communism. The 2008 financial crisis has led to a fourth regime change, one that has occurred more slowly and which questions the ideals and sustainability of liberalism. But what is liberalism? A term difficult to pin down, but for Orbán it has meant mainly upholding the ideal of being free to do anything as long as it does not impinge on another’s freedom. To him, Hungary’s 20 years of liberal democracy have led to the stifling of those with a weaker voice to the main advantage of the corporations and the banks who have stronger weights to throw around. On the national level this has also meant that liberalism could not serve the national interest. The Hungarian state had one of the lowest levels of public wealth in all of Europe, a large amount of debt to international financial institutions and a banking system with very little ownership by Hungarians. In this case, the state was the one with the weaker voice in the liberal order. For Orbán, therefore, liberalism has not provided the appropriate framework to organise society and the national

community, nor has it been able to serve the national interest. To be able to survive the regime change stemming from the 2008 financial crisis, he calls for the need to re-think how to organise a community and maintain a state which can make the country competitive. It will not be via a ‘liberal state’ but rather through an ‘illiberal’ one. He argues a democracy does not have to be liberal, nor does a state. Indeed, there are other varieties of conceptions of the state: nation-state, welfare state and liberal state just as there are varieties of ideas of democracies – Christian democracies, social democracies, popular democracies, etc. Looking to the future, Orbán believes the most competitive way to organise a state and society will entail one that protects the national interest, while still respecting Christian values, freedom and human rights. Is the “state” therefore still in vogue as the guarantor of national interest, or is it just the case in Hungary? Looking at responses to the migrant crisis, one element has been the protection of boundaries in both the physical and cultural senses. The most obvious evidence of the former is Hungary’s fence construction along the border with Serbia and then Croatia for which it has attracted widespread criticism from western European states. However, Hungary is not alone: Bulgaria built a fence along its border with Turkey, France erected fences in Calais to stop migrants crossing the Channel, Germany’s police chief has recently argued the case for fencing off the German-Austrian border and Austria has announced plans to build a fence at the main border crossing with Slovenia. In addition, border controls have been enforced – or borders even 19

closed temporarily – between European countries to manage the move of migrants, as happened between Germany and Denmark, Austria and Germany, and Hungary and Austria.

force for many during communism and contributed to its fall. Looking towards the future, all countries will have to consider an integration model to use, but the options on the table may be fewer than before: many political leaders believe Hungary has voiced the desire to that multiculturalism has failed. Angela preserve the Christian identity of Europe, Merkel, in a 2010 meeting with young drawing on centuries old rhetoric of members of her CDU party said that the being the protector of approach of building a Christianity from its Looking towards the multicultural society to southern neighbours – future, all countries “live side-by-side and to and at times invaders – the enjoy each other…has Ottomans. Safeguarding will have to consider failed, utterly failed.” Christian heritage is also a an integration model David Cameron in concern of countries such 2011 followed suit to use, but the as Poland and Slovakia, arguing that “state which only wanted to agree options on the table multiculturalism” has to take in refugees as long may be fewer than led to segregation and as they were Christian. toleration of behaviour However, this cultural before: many political that went against British preservation argument leaders believe that values. Moreover, the does not find sympathy – a longmulticulturalism has Netherlands in Western Europe’s standing supporter failed. arguably post-Christian of multiculturalism – societies, although the changed tracks with founding fathers of the European idea Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner’s – embodied in the European Coal and integration bill in 2011 with the goals to Steel Community and later the EU – were “shift priority to the values of the Dutch motivated by their Christian heritage and people” and where “integration will not ideals. be tailored to different groups.” The gap in cultural viewpoint highlights a significant divide in the ways Eastern and Western Europe think about pluralism. Western Europe has experienced a more extensive history of multiculturalism and immigration since World War II, and has been wary of encouraging nationalism given the World War II track record. Eastern Europe’s challenge has mainly been the treatment of historical minorities. Moreover, nationalism was a positive 20

In addition to the cultural and physical elements of borders, there is the issue of state sovereignty and Europeanisation. There has been an ongoing tension between giving up sovereignty to the European Union and maintaining control over domestic matters. One thorny example is the adoption of the quota system for refugee allocation, illustrating East-West divisions, with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania

opposing; in earlier discussion Poland and Latvia also opposed the measure. Why the opposition? As one Czech Member of Parliament said, “We were under the supervision of Moscow once...Now a lot of people have the impression...that the same thing is happening in Brussels.” In addition, Eastern European countries do not feel they bear the responsibility for the events that happened in the Middle East (as compared to perhaps France and the United Kingdom) and therefore should be able to decide for themselves how to handle the migrant crisis and not take orders from Brussels. Wrapping our heads around the migrant crisis is not easy given its multidimensional nature and humanitarian concerns. Yet, through the lens of the power of the state, it seems clear that the “state” has increased its conceptual currency and is seen as the guarantor of the national community’s interest, particularly in Eastern Europe. With the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in many Western European countries – including Germany and Sweden – the question becomes whether their political leaders can navigate between the definitions of the broader human community and national community. Moreover, the successful integration of the recent arrivals into the local population is essential for any long term policy solution to tackle the migrant crisis, and European leaders will have to successfully balance these two communities within their own countries. To do this, an acknowledgement and appreciation of the varied conceptions of statehood across EU countries is essential.


Escaping a


Chinese perspective on new model of Sino-American relations - Grzegorz Stec -


he rise of China, termed by some the most important event of the 21st century, is becoming acknowledged as a fact both internationally and in America. However, the United States (U.S.) is worried, as the U.S.'s position as first among equals seems challenged by the Chinese competition. As stated in the New York Times before President Xi’s US visit, “calls are rising for the Obama administration to develop better strategies to neutralize a more assertive China”. Indeed, disputes over the South China Sea and cyber security have recently placed an enormous strain on Sino-American relations. The U.S. has frequently accused Beijing of hacking America’s military and commercial secrets in order to leapfrog them in its development. On the other 22

hand, China is also concerned about American cyber-surveillance as exposed by Edward Snowden. The two countries created a cyber security working group in 2013, but the dialogue was halted by China after American accusations against five Chinese military officials in 2014. More recently, Chinese hackers performed a very sophisticated attack on the U.S. Office of Personal Management, obtaining the personal information of over four million former and current federal staff. Relations have been similarly strained over Chinese sovereignty in the South China Sea. On the 27th of October, the U.S. sent USS Lassen to perform a Freedom of Navigation Operation in the Spratly Islands. The destroyer sailed within 12 miles of artificial islands which

have been built by China since 2014 a claim that would put this operation within their sovereign territory, rather than international waters. This is only the latest in a series of provocative moves. In May, American surveillance drones were warned eight times to turn around during their flight over the same islands and in September, the Chinese navy went

within 12 miles of the Alaskan coastline during President Obama’s visit to the state. The U.S.'s continued presence in the region, alongside its pledges of defence to regional allies and the much debated ‘Pivot to Asia’, acts as a restraint upon China. It frustrates Chinese intentions in the South China Sea and renders the region a touchstone for future conflict.


Putting things in perspective – theoretical framework The Thucydides Trap, first observed in ancient Greece, is a dilemma in which tension and fear of power shift between the current and rising powers escalates the rivalry into war. According to the studies conducted by Professor Graham Allison, the director of Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, 12 out of 16 such cases in the last 500 years resulted in war. However, despite this, all the case studies since World War II have been handled without open conflict. This zero-sum perspective does not necessary have to be true for Sino-American relations. There is a possible solution to the trap, but it requires a change of focus narrative towards interdependence, stating that more is to be gained by cooperation than to be won by confrontation. The careful future negotiation of U.S.China relations is crucial, maintaining peace and adjusting the current international order without redefining the entire system. Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the U.S. and the speeches he delivered provide a fascinating insight into both how China is prepared to steer the relationship and what it offers the U.S. in return. Need for change - Adjusting the global order In his speeches President Xi stressed China’s perspective on the widely discussed shift towards an increasingly multi-polar world, which he calls “an irresistible trend of history”. He also emphasised the growing interconnections 24

between countries, with the rise of online technology facilitating cultural and economic exchange. These arguments led him to two very important remarks: firstly, “No country can maintain absolute security with its own effort, and no country can achieve stability out of other countries’ instability”, and secondly, “A great number of countries […] want to see a more just and equitable international system. But it doesn’t mean that they want to unravel the entire system or start all over again”. Implicit in these statements is the prediction that America’s unchallenged dominance is at an end, not through revolution, but evolution.

Cybersecurity remains a Gordian knot which future diplomacy must resolve if the U.S. and China are preserve their current peaceful relationship. Close links - Sino-American interdependence Xi focused on China’s economic interconnections with the U.S., reassuring sceptics at the same time that its stock crisis and slowing economy are challenges that will be addressed and overcome. Furthermore, the President’s activities on

the second day, when he attended the 8th U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, were a proof of how fruitful the cooperation can be. This is especially significant because the forums have continued since 2007, even in the shadow of the cyber security dispute, showing that business ties are not necessarily entirely subject to politics. Moreover, during the joint press conference the Chinese leader stated that “highly complementary economically” PRC and the U.S. have a “huge potential for further cooperation”, outlining his hopes for it to expand across multiple sectors. A proof of the possibilities may be the joint deal on carbon cuts from 2014. Furthermore, Xi announced the joint exercises, training, and policy dialogues between the militaries, and “step up cooperation within […] multilateral mechanisms”. Still, the issue of the South China Sea remained a topic of “in-depth discussion”. Despite the negotiations and increasingly interconnected business, cybersecurity remains a Gordian knot which future diplomacy must resolve if the U.S. and China are preserve their current peaceful relationship. Great come back - China’s greater role Fundamental to President Xi’s remarks was the principle that U.S.-China relations should evolve towards a model more resembling two equal partners rooted upon “pragmatic exchange and cooperation”. One ramification of this is that China would present a more assertive approach towards its interests in the AsiaPacific region. Demanding the issue to be solved by negotiations legitimises Chinese claims, at least partially. Such a version

also supports a vision of two partners sharing the power over the region. Cyber security, another hard nut, was referred to by President Xi, plainly denying any responsibility of the Chinese government, and by a joint statement by both presidents that the dialogue stopped in 2014 will be restarted. China’s demands clearly focus on recognition of its position and power; the new model of the U.S.-China relations is therefore to be a relationship of two equal partners, who do not always see eye-to-eye, but, are connected by a number of common interests, which leads them to this “pragmatic cooperation”. The Chinese President provided a plan of how to achieve the new model in 4 steps: (1) Properly understanding each others “strategic intentions”; (2) Focusing on “win-win cooperation”; (3) Seeking common ground in the disputed matters; (4) Fostering people-to-people relations among their citizens. Conclusions President Xi has tabled an answer to the Thucydides Trap but for the U.S. it may yet be hard to swallow. What Xi proposes is for the U.S. to relinquish its pre-eminence and let China peacefully ascend to a position of equal partners, with whom the U.S. pursues gain through interdependence. Solving the issues within the Asia-Pacific region is another matter. A major problem is the U.S.'s numerous commitments to its allies in the region, as leaving them behind would redefine regional order based on U.S. presence. That would also mean the U.S. backing out and, in the eyes of many, showing weakness in comparision to China. The recent American activity 25


More is to be gained by cooperation than to be won by confrontation. in the region has complicated the possible peaceful solution, but also undermined China’s position. Following the scenario of an evolutionary adjustment would require the U.S. to change its perspective on its role in the world. However, China offers substantial benefits in terms of possible cooperation in a number of dimensions and a solution to the question of strategic rivalry through “pragmatic cooperation”. However, with the U.S. presidential elections at hand it seems safe to assume that no conclusive decisions will be made until the beginning of the next administration, making the ongoing show of strength simply muscle flexing. “Pragmatic cooperation” - most probably within multilateral organisations - or escalation leading to a second Cold War? Hopefully an open conflict will never become a possible option. The rest of the world should simply hope that both countries will follow the words of Henry Kissinger and “remember that whatever their differences, their common interests are greater.”


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A Challenge to Tsai - Hubert Cruz -

For a long time, Taiwan’s cross-strait relation with China has hinged on a tacit consensus. The end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 has not stopped governments of both Taiwan and China from claiming to be the sole legitimate representative of the whole country. In an attempt to prevent political disputes from further interfering with normal interactions across the strait, Taiwan and China reached an informal understanding in 1992 after more than four decades of mutual hostility. Both sides acknowledged that there is only one China, but each side retained its own interpretation of “one China”.


Taiwan would claim to be the sole legitimate authority of the country as the Republic of China, the national title prior to 1949, whereas China would assert its own claim as the People’s Republic of China as recognised by the international community. This delicate compromise, also known as the 1992 consensus, paved way for normalising cross-strait business partnerships, cultural exchanges and tourist visits. It has also been a constantly contentious subject in Taiwan’s everchanging political landscape. As Taiwan elects in new president in January next year, the future status of this tacit consensus hangs in the balance.

The incumbent party, Kuomintang (KMT), has struggled to decide on their presidential candidate, and carries the legacy of an unpopular administration. Bolstered by the party’s land sliding victory in last year’s local elections, Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic People’s Party (DPP), is widely predicted to become Taiwan’s next president. Tsai has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the 1992 consensus, claiming the KMT dictatorship at that time had no mandate from the people when the understanding was reached. In her last failed presidential campaign, she called for an alternative “Taiwan consensus”, which aimed to determine the new direction of Taiwan’s cross-strait policy through a democratic process. It was heavily attacked for the unspecific nature of the proposed new consensus. Despite past criticisms of vagueness, Tsai current campaign proposes an even more ambivalent cross-strait policy that seeks “to maintain the status quo”. At first glance, Tsai faces a serious problem of reconciling her latest crossstrait policy with her rejection of the 1992 consensus. The status quo of Taiwan’s cross-strait relation with China is built on the foundation of the 1992 consensus. In fact, many agreements on trade, exchanges and tourist visits made by Taiwan’s current administration with the Chinese authorities would not have taken place without the 1992 consensus of putting cooperation before sovereignty disputes. Tsai has criticised many of these agreements as jeopardising Taiwan’s

sovereignty before, hence it is unclear whether she would retain them as part of the status quo, or opt for a fresh start instead. Some, including the Chinese government, worry that the strides of progress achieved with the current Taiwanese government would be undone by Tsai, and cast cross-strait relations back to the age of barriers and separation. Under Taiwan’s current administration, cross-strait interaction has become more comprehensive and frequent than it ever was in the past seven decades. Taiwan signed dozens of agreements with China that range from liberalising trade, enhancing transport and communication, to relaxing visiting restrictions of tourists. This vastly expanded the opportunities of Taiwanese businesses to invest in the mainland, as well as broadened their reach to Chinese consumers. Likewise, the Taiwanese tourism industry enjoyed a significant boom with the surge of affluent and sumptuous Chinese tourists. The rationale of the current KMT government was to maximise economic gains in crossstrait exchanges, while maintaining a peaceful relationship with their Chinese counterparts. Such an approach was largely welcomed by the business sector of Taiwan. The growth of Taiwan’s economy had reached a bottleneck, where local businesses had limited room of expansion in the saturated local market. Access to China provided an enormous consumer base whose consumption potential remained largely untapped. Taiwan’s corporations were also confident that the ongoing rise of China as a global economic powerhouse meant there would be plenty more opportunities 29

of investment and venture that lie ahead. Integration with China were also backed by the older “mainlanders”, who had always been loyal and supportive to the KMT. The “mainlanders” were officials and soldiers of the KMT government in the Republic of China before the civil war. They brought their families from the mainland to Taiwan to follow the KMT’s retreat, including the father of incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou. Holding on to their historical legacy, they believe that mainland China and Taiwan belong to one unified entity, hence they support any policies that would condition crossstrait relations and benefit the pursuit of eventual unification. As Taiwan and China formed a closer union, the Taiwanese society began to have doubts on the expanding Chinese influence in their homeland. They feared that Chinese corporations would win enormous political and economic clout in Taiwan, which would give them considerable sway over local matters. Furthermore, the influx of Chinese businesses and tourists caused much disturbance to local communities due to their crude manners and etiquette. There were also worries that changes, such as adopting simplified instead of traditional Chinese characters, to accommodate Chinese businesses would eventually erode Taiwan’s own identity. Resistance against integration with China are particularly strong amongst the younger generation, who are willing to take bold and direct actions to defend their cause. In March 2014, when the KMTcontrolled legislature forced through the much-disputed Economic Cooperation 30

Framework Agreement (ECFA), a preferential trade agreement with China, students broke into the legislature and occupied the main legislative chamber for 23 days. They demanded ECFA to be withdrawn since Taiwan should not become economically dependent on China, and the public had not had the opportunity to scrutinise the agreement. Their actions resulted in a partial compromise by the government which agreed to adopt a new mechanism that ensures greater public oversight for any future agreements with China. In April this year, students staged another movement of resistance over the implementation of the new national curriculum. The new curriculum was poised to reduce the amount of literature that is related to Taiwan, and increase the emphasis of Taiwan as part of China in history. Fearing that the government was marginalising local Taiwanese history and culture in an agenda to shape social norms that are more closely-rooted in China, students held rallies and protests that eventually resulted in the government backing down from compulsory implementation to allowing schools a free choice on this matter. The political momentum and public support gathered through consecutive student movements reflect a new vision of cross-strait relations in the Taiwanese society. The younger generation does not bear the historical burdens like the older “mainlanders” did. Many local people have forged identities that are firmly rooted in Taiwan, and recognises China as a totally different society who do not

share their cherished values of democracy, freedom and unique cultural practices. The growing presence of China in Taiwan is viewed by them as a threat to their identity through diminishing Taiwan’s political and economic independence. To them, preserving Taiwan’s values and identity is more crucial than economic gains in cross-strait policies. As Tsai seeks to soften her stance, her ambiguity has inadvertently created a dilemma for herself. While being sympathetic to progressive ideals, Tsai has learnt her lesson from the last presidential election, and settles for the status quo to avoid backlashes on her cross-strait policy. However, there is widespread discontent on the status quo, especially amongst the younger generation, who opposes the ongoing integration with China, and will not be satisfied with Tsai’s policy either. In more recent months of the campaign, Tsai has continued to appeal to the political centre. She attended the National Day celebration for the first time as opposition leader to show her recognition of the legacy of the Republic of China. While political gestures may

spare Tsai from contention in a relatively one-sided election, the problem of her cross-strait policy will eventually surface if she formally governs. Instead of shying away from controversy, Tsai could perhaps properly address the matter by articulating her vision of the “Taiwan consensus”. It may be difficult for Tsai to convince all parts of society that the gulf of difference across the strait means unification is unrealistic, but it would be a mistake not to assert the priority of Taiwan’s sovereign interests in cross-strait interactions. As the calls for defending Taiwan’s values and identity become more and more salient in the political arena, there is no doubt that society would expect the new government to critically assess the implications of further Chinese influence, and stand up to their cross-strait counterparts when necessary. Without sufficient discourse with the electorate, it is difficult to see how Tsai’s cross-strait policy can be truly representative of the Taiwanese people. The challenge for Tsai, then, is whether she has sufficient determination and political skills to bring different social groups to the table, and strike a genuine “Taiwan consensus” on the nation’s new cross-strait policy.



he 78-day Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong was a mass movement that attempted to achieve the right to unrestricted universal suffrage. Despite its critical contribution towards civil and political discourse, the mass movement has instigated further identity fragmentation in Hong Kong and significantly undermined the political capital of the opposition.

The Umbrella & the Identity - Brian Wong -


A New Topology for Hong Kong Identity Politics Traditionally, the political identity literature for Hong Kong has classified its political identities within a dichotomy: Pro-Beijing and Pro-Democracy. This should be challenged by introducing two new identities: the Nativist and the Moderate. Envision two political continuums intersecting at their centres: China-Hong Kong and ConservativeProgressive. The China-Hong Kong continuum reflects the understanding of the relations between the mainland PRC government and the HKSAR – on one end lies the Integrationist position, which advocates for complete reunification with China and adoption of its mechanisms; on the other constitutes the increasingly vocal Secessionist position, which demands Hong Kong’s independence from the PRC. The Conservative-Progressive continuum represents the normative form of governance advocated – at one far end lies the Conservative position, which seeks to uphold traditional, Confucian values concerning family, marriage, and society; at the other lies the Progressive position, which advocates for social reforms and devolution of civil liberties. The Pro-Beijing identity grounds itself on several central tenets: it sees the post-handover Hong Kong as solely accountable to China and so emphasises the ethnic connection between Hong Kong citizens and Mainland Chinese, relying on nationalist sentiments and post-colonial narratives. It downplays the contributions of British rule and amplifies the benefits of Hong Kong’s return to China, as well

as asserting the empiricist claim of China’s economic growth as an argument in favour of its rise. Grassroots groups such as the “Caring Hong Kong Power” and “Voice of Loving Hong Kong” have become increasingly active since the Umbrella Revolution, initiating street protests against the Democratic Movements in Hong Kong; their parliamentary counterparts, fronted by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) and the Liberal Party (LP) have been comparatively restrained. The rise of the grassroots forces signified a shift in political struggle from the parliamentary to the civilian, reflecting the popular radicalisation of politics driven by the large-scale social movement. The Pan-Democratic identity suffered considerably during the Umbrella Revolution. Despite their variance over economic policies, Pan-Democrats tend to share several key principles, namely: their call for democratisation across mainland China and Hong Kong; its advocacy of socially liberal policies; the maintenance of Hong Kong’s autonomy under “One Country, Two Systems”, which is in turn framed as the grounds for Hong Kong’s right to universal suffrage. Whilst most Pan-Dems (e.g. the Democratic Party) tend to believe in driving forward change through established institutions, pressure to distinguish themselves from competing parties and regain votes from rising radicals has forced the fringe of the PanDemocrats – e.g. the Civic Party – to turn to nativist pandering to survive. The PanDemocrats were heavily splintered during the Umbrella Revolution, as half of them radicalised significantly whilst the other half stagnated in both political stance and mass appeal. 33

The Nativist identity is embraced by a significant proportion of the vocal political youth as a denial of the allegedly ineffectual policies of the Pan-Dems. Nativism in Hong Kong can be seen as a reactionary challenge to the PanDems’ insistence upon change through established institutions. While Nativists differ significantly over their ideal conceptions of the State, ranging from moral authoritarianism to libertarianism, they vehemently and unanimously oppose the mainland “Other”, often characterised as “intrinsically or genetically inferior”, as well as seeking to uphold the autonomy of Hong Kong through radical but often vaguely defined “revolutions”, and rejection of conventional anti-Beijing factions. The Mong Kok and Causeway Bay protests during the Umbrella Revolution were largely driven by spontaneous crowds of self-identifying nativists. A new, fourth faction was born after the Umbrella Revolution. The Moderates compromise civic platforms and think tanks that seek to bridge the ideological differences between anti-and pro-Beijing camps by shifting the discourse onto practical and issue-based discussions. Despite lacking political representation (only one of 70 seats in the Legislative Council is held by an open Moderate), the Moderate identity has gained traction amongst many disillusioned academics and middle class citizens. On the Umbrella Revolution and Identity Construction This article employs “Hong Konger” as a classificatory label to denote the largely nativist identity described above. Whilst identity modification for the other 34

positions had also taken place during the movement, this section will focus only on the nativist “Hong Konger”, the only identity that was genuinely constructed from scratch over the 78 days. The Revolution saw the reinforcement of the unique “Hong Konger” identity as an exclusive tool that ostracised the “Other” (i.e. mainland Chinese) values, culture, and individuals. Cantonese music (often inaccessible to the Mandarin-speaking population up North) such as “Hoi Fut Teen Hong” and “But Zoi Yau Yee” were employed as a mantra that offered psychological support, guidance (both songs extensively underscore the power of the youth), and most importantly, a symbol for solidarity that enabled the protesters’ preferences to unite against the monolithic, illiberal, and linguistically distinct mainland. Furthermore, inflammatory comments from mainlanders, including tourists, on social media were often reposted and shared extensively, further branding mainland Chinese as “ignorant locusts” and “uncivilised barbarians”. With over 80% of the words posted by active Hong Kong users from October 2014 to January 2015 concerning the Umbrella Revolution, the dominant narrative encouraged the rise of prominent nativist pages such as The Passion Times, publicising emotive criticisms of the authoritarian PRC and its citizens. Through imitation and self-selection, social media users underscored a unique “Hong Kong” identity – not necessarily as a positive set of values, but as the “negative complement” to the many characteristics of their mainland counterparts. The Hong Kong identity was constructed not out of specific definitions or positive sentiments, but the desire to differentiate between “us” and “them”.

The Revolution also developed the “Hong Konger” identity as a politically involved skeptic towards authority. The earlier stages of the Revolution saw a heavily militarised police that was gradually replaced by a “wait-andsee” tactic. The crowd’s disillusionment with widely publicised incidences of governmental abuse of power contributed to the construction of an “independent hero” who could stand independently from the State’s protection and renounce the institutions of “false stability and order” in Hong Kong. Such sentiments later translated to what Runciman would term the “horizontal, organic organisation” of the social movement. The skepticism towards the government was expanded to include acrimonious rejection of the original “leaders” of the movement – such as the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Benny Tai (both fall into the category of Pan-dems). The development of competing sites of struggle accelerated the transformation in the Revolution’s mode of power relations from a hierarchal, individuals-based leadership to a crowd-backed, egalitarian, organic community. The new “Hong Konger” identity was hence born as the antithesis to all centralised authority, whether it be the HKSAR, PRC, or the “leaders” of the protest. The most fundamental mechanism through which the “Hong Konger” identity was constructed was predominantly the semiotics of the Umbrella Revolution. That it was referred to not as the “Occupy Central Movement” (planned civil disobedience spearheaded by a few political leaders), but as an “Umbrella Revolution” (mirroring the Colour Revolutions in Eastern Europe during the

end of the Cold War); that online literature branded the protesters not as mere “dissidents”, but as “heroes and martyrs”; that roads and streets in occupied zones were renamed in accordance with specific objectives, such as “Anti-689 Road” and “Democracy Square”; all these changes reflect an underlying intellectual shift. The specific symbols of revolutions and democratisation underpin a dream on which the “Hong Konger” identity is founded. While to be a “Hong Konger” had perhaps merely denoted one’s geographical birthplace and affiliation prior to the 78 days, the meaning of being a “Hong Konger” has been expanded indefinitely since to encompass a fundamental rejection of Chinese interference with domestic affairs. There is no single definition of what it means to be a “Hong Konger”. Yet the meaning of the term was most definitely altered and expanded through the Umbrella Revolution. To draw the political topology and the identity construction methods explored in this article together, it must be noted that the Revolution has injected a vigorous dose of adrenaline into Hong Kong’s Nativist movement, as well as fundamentally weakening the hierarchy-based political capital of the Pan-Dems. The volatility and surging bifurcations in existing political discourse is a variable that politicians from both Beijing and Hong Kong must factor into their considerations.


are international legal barriers SUFFICIENT? - Khoo Wu Shaun -

“The word international [law], it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible.” Jeremy Bentham


e live in a time when international law has steadily become an accepted norm of global diplomacy. Today, unilateral invasions of other sovereign countries are decried as ‘violations of international law’; barely a century ago, the only sounds anyone heard were those of the victors announcing their success. We have come quite a long way since Bentham first coined this term in the 18th century. Yet, international law has not shed its image of being toothless. We have seen 36

countries act in defiance of international law, but leave happily unpunished for their transgressions. This article will examine what these international legal barriers are, and whether they are currently sufficient to deter countries from intruding on the sovereignty of other nation-states. Questions of legality in an international context are far more complex than those in a local context. Within a country, sovereignty empowers the government to set and enforce laws on people within its jurisdiction. Globally, it is difficult to define any clear overriding principle 36

or government which can fulfill those roles. Our closest option is the United Nations (UN), an inter-governmental organisation which serves to promote peace and cooperation between member states. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), founded in 1945, serves as the UN’s judicial branch. Its purpose is to settle legal disputes submitted to it by member states and provide advisory opinions on legal questions for the UN bodies. But, since there is no global legislation for international law, where do these legal barriers we apparently pay homage to come from? In the landmark North Sea Continental Shelf case, the ICJ affirmed that there are two primary sources of international law: treaties, or customary international law (CIL). Treaties are more enforceable than custom, as the countries have explicitly consented to the provisions contained within the document. In contrast, CIL is derived from customary practices between states. Most are aware that UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions are legally binding on all member states in the UN. In some sense, UNSC resolutions also serve as a form of international law, since it applies to all countries regardless of whether they agree with the content of the resolution. Since their legal authority flows from the UN Charter, UNSC resolutions fall under the first category of treaties and agreements. Thus, international jurisprudence clearly exists, although it is less obvious than national legislation. Another question arises here: since there is no global government, what kind of punishments

can international law mete out, and are these effective? Theoretically speaking, the ICJ enjoys unfettered discretion in handing down punishments to countries which have violated international law, since there is no “international legislation” which states the maximum or minimum punishment for a particular offence. Realistically, the ICJ has little room to mete out harsh punishments, as their credibility hinges on countries viewing the ICJ as a fair judicial body, and not an overly strict and punitive institution. Despite this, the ICJ has doled out quite a few punishments, from ordering a country to withdraw from an occupied territory to ordering reparations for damages. Crucially, ICJ judgments are influential in global discourse. In the case of the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the ICJ ruling that Israel had violated international law served as a powerful riposte to Israel’s constant denial to the contrary. Although the ICJ seems toothless, its judgments are actually supported by the UN Charter, which empowers the UNSC to impose punitive measures for non-compliance, such as political and economic sanctions. Interestingly, most countries voluntarily comply with the judgment even if it was not in their favour. Countries are aware that if they lose and refuse to follow ICJ judgments, they will become outcasts for refusing to comply with international law. It is telling that no country has ever blatantly refused to comply with ICJ judgments. Akin to how punishments deter people from harming other citizens, international 37

law also serves to deter countries from harming the sovereignty of other nationstates. Examples of such actions include the use of force in disputed maritime areas or intentional neglect of transboundary crises. Is international law sufficiently robust as a deterrent to such actions? While treaties and agreements are legally binding, they also require all parties to unambiguously agree not to carry out certain actions. If, however, the country has a strong incentive to keep their options open, they would simply refuse to sign. For example, Israel and India are both powerful nuclear-armed states which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty due to regional security concerns. This hurts the treaty’s objective to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and its associated technology. Perhaps UNSC resolutions are a better option since the resolutions are binding on all countries, circumventing the problem of requiring consent. However, the UNSC is only empowered to use its power in cases of “the maintenance of international peace and security”— hardly applicable to most problems in the world. Furthermore, the UNSC is comprised of countries which can protect their interests against the weight of international law – Russia and its annexation of Crimea


come to mind here – and may not work in intractable situations. The last possibility is customary international law, which appears to be the weakest tool of all three legal instruments. Yet some fundamental international principles— the right of international passage, rules on the use of force, and the duty to cooperate in transboundary environmental harm—were first conceptualised and subsequently reinforced in ICJ cases. These landmark cases have reinforced widespread agreement on certain issues, and crystallised this consensus into official CIL, thereby ensuring its fair application to all countries involved. Moreover, as we’ve seen, the ICJ has the influence and backing to ensure that its judgments are respected by the countries involved in disputes. One drawback is that the ICJ does not have legal jurisdiction unless both countries declare they recognise the authority of the court. Some countries who have yet to officially acknowledge the ICJ have still proceeded with cases in it, somewhat undermining its authority. Furthermore, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), another international judicial body, recently ruled that it had jurisdiction over the Philippines’ case on China’s maritime

and military activities in the South China Sea, despite China’s opposition to the proceedings. This demonstrates the growing force of international law which is slowly increasing its ability to influence global discourse and pressure countries into accepting its jurisdiction. This strengthens international legal barriers against unilateral intrusions on the sovereignty of other nation-states. The implications of this are obvious. National legislation protects citizens, especially vulnerable ones, from harm. Similarly, international law functions as a protective barrier which shields weaker countries from the coercive pressures of stronger countries. In Nicaragua v. United States of America, the court ruled that the U.S. had illegally trained and funded anti-government rebels to overthrow the incumbent anti-American government. This sent a powerful message to the global community that superpowers cannot do as they wish: they are equally held to task by international law. Furthermore, global peer pressure and a body willing to persecute countries for illegal actions acts as a deterrent. For example, the U.S.’s foreign surveillance programme, PRISM, was criticised by government officials and legal experts from all over the world, forcing President

Barack Obama to strengthen restrictions on the National Security Agency (NSA). In the past, the U.S. would have simply turned a deaf ear. Having a strong understanding of its foundations, powers, and limitations is crucial towards developing this fledgling institution into an influential force for good in the world. Supranational judicial institutions, such as the ICJ and the PCA, still struggle for influence in countries where the rule of law and human rights protections are not as wellrespected. It remains an uphill battle for these international courts as they slowly overturn the old belief that countries may do what they please as long as it is within their borders, or if they are the victors. More essentially, international law serves as a platform for countries to tussle with each other over serious, but not drastic or permanent, intrusions of national sovereignty. In the past, the only available responses were acquiescence or full-out war. Today, international judicial bodies enable these countries to settle their disputes in a fair and peaceful manner. That must surely be the most important contribution that international law can make to the global community.

39 39


n July, the White House announced to vastly loosen travel, commerce, and investment restrictions previously imposed against Cuba. This signaled a new era for U.S.-Cuban affairs after nearly 50 years of estrangement from one another ended in December 2014. Cuba’s proximity, combined with the loosening of Communist Party control, underlines a fundamental moment to strengthen Cuban society and resurrect the country from economic turmoil. The White House will begin to issue travel visas more liberally: such licenses will remain within the preexisting categories, yet the number of U.S. visitors is expected to increase dramatically. Notably, this will allow a greater influx of students on educational exchanges, thus furthering the potential for U.S.-Cuban academic diplomacy Academic relations, particularity those involving institutions of higher education, are effective and meaningful methods of interstate connections. As demonstrated by similar cases, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates, higher

education exchanges have significantly contributed to developing and securing international relationships. Indeed, the countries with which the U.S. engages the largest student exchanges are additionally some of the most vital economic allies for the U.S. (such as China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia). Such initiatives are not only pursued by the U.S., but also have a rich history in European higher education. Prior to their introduction into the European Union (EU), Central and Eastern European countries participated in education and training programs with their western EU neighbors, in hopes of solidifying their position for EU membership. Investing in U.S.Cuban academic relations can potentially improve economic and political ties, foster greater understanding of Cuban society, and provide each country with new educational opportunities. The U.S. has the chance to cultivate foreign relations with Cuba once again and the importance of academic connections should not be overlooked. Previous academic relations with Cuba suggest that it may be a fruitful partnership

Breaking the Barrier

C . S . U r fo


to enter once again. While remaining a sub-category of wider diplomacy, they were key in fostering generational integration between the two countries and developing cultural understandings. In 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Cuba after Fidel Castro signed a trade agreement with the former Soviet Union. Following the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, presidential administrations fluctuated in the restrictions imposed on travel to and relations with Cuba. Consequently, the number of Cuban students studying at U.S. higher education institutions plummeted and American scholars overwhelmingly lost access to Cuba. The loss of scholarship resulted in American scholars, diplomats, politicians, and the wider public distancing themselves from Cuban society. With the distance, stereotypes regarding Cuban society flourished and political discourse became essentially nonexistent. Despite never explicitly prohibiting academic relations, Cuba’s status as a “hostile” country brought them to a dramatic halt. A glimmer of hope for renewing U.S.Cuban academic diplomacy emerged

during former President Clinton’s administration. Through Clinton’s initiatives and his Track II policy, between the years of 1993-2001, relations improved in a manner unlike any previous administration. During this period, an average of 30-40 Cuban researchers from the University of Havana traveled to the U.S. monthly. In addition, near the end of Clinton’s second term, educational partnerships amplified: roughly 760 American institutions of higher education requested licenses for student exchanges with Cuba from the Treasury Department. In addition, Cuba became the 14th most favorable destination for American students studying abroad. The benefits of Clinton’s administration efforts lasted into former President George W. Bush’s first term. However, following the growth of the Republican party in the early 2000s, Bush’s administration delivered a new blow to the already withered U.S.-Cuban relations by restricting academic programs to Cuba to only long-term programs (whole semester or longer). As a result, the number of American students and scholars

d a c A a b u C . S .

s n o i t a l e R c i em le -

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willing to participate dropped due to the time commitment and stronger travel restrictions. Bush’s administration froze academic exchanges with Cuba, directly ignoring the advice from his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on the importance of such exchanges in developing cultural perspectives within American citizens. Fast-forward to 2004, academic relations reached rock bottom with only 169 educational exchange participants (e.g. research participants or students on study-abroad schemes) between the U.S. and Cuba recorded by the Institute of International Education (IIE), down from 2,148 just the previous year.

90 miles from Cuba and with a high concentration of Cuban-Americans, Florida is geographically and culturally best prepared. Florida International University and the University of Miami have already shown an eagerness to increase student exchanges with Cuba’s nearly three-dozen higher education institutions. In addition, they have even hinted at the potential construction of branch campuses in Havana. However, the Florida Board of Governors continues to restrict travel, especially educational excursions, to Cuba, despite federal renewal of diplomatic relations, through the state’s “Travel to Terrorist States Act.” This came during the post-9/11 years where fears among Americans were exploited by Republicans to advance their political agendas. Passed in 2006, the bill largely affects Florida public higher education institutions because their funding is intimately connected to the state’s government. Thus, public higher education institutions are unwilling to contest the state government in fear of losing state allowances. Integrating Florida higher education institutions into Cuba can act as the initial step needed for further academic relations.

Without meaningful and consistent student exchanges, Referencing the academic relations most recent IIE data, floundered and the number of Cuban students enrolled in are thus where the U.S. higher education institutions in 2014 U.S. needs to focus was only 69. While in recent decades the number of Cuban students studying in the U.S. has been fairly stable due to strict licensing of student visas, the influx in educational exchange participants radically fluctuated due to the shifting policies of earlier presidential administrations. Without meaningful and consistent student exchanges, academic relations floundered and are thus where the U.S. needs to focus. Student exchanges are crucial for fostering younger generations with new cultural and international perspectives outside of their native countries. As relations thaw, Florida’s higher education institutions can lead. Only 42

Quality assurance is vital for American higher education institutions. With the renewal of U.S.-Cuban academic relations (branch campuses, student study away sites, research centers), relations in Cuba must ensure that high-quality educational experiences and academic freedom

prevails. Without these, important cultural exchanges or diplomatic developments will not follow. This entails monitoring the nature of teaching, research, and educational experiences on both sides of the exchanges. In previous academic relations abroad, this has proven troublesome for institutions. For example, the establishment of New York UniversityShanghai highlights the difficultly in achieving standards, particularly in teaching facets. Attracting professors to teach abroad is often expensive, and many academics are hesitant to commit to teaching in countries where academic freedom is questionable. If such relations emerge in the following years, the U.S. must remain conscious to avoid oppression of academic voices speaking out against Cuba’s Communist Party, which we have witnessed in Sino-American academic relations. Cuban students largely lack access to university entrance exams. This June marked the first time five Cuban students enrolled to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Havana, a test offered and administered by New Jersey based non-profit Educational Testing Service (ETS). ETS should follow with tests such as the American College Test (ACT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) in order to help Cuban students applying to U.S. institutions. Once access has been increased to Cuban students regarding these admission tests, deeper student exchanges will follow. However, American institutions should not directly impose American admission processes on Cuban students, but rather mix American and

Cuban admission practices. While this might cause some initial confusion in navigating application processes, it will avoid imposing unfamiliar admission processes on one population as opposed to another. This way, if branch campuses are to follow, admission processes will not favor one population over another and both American and Cuban students will experience a novel admission experience. Before forging fresh U.S.-Cuban academic relations, institutions should take advantage of academic connections previously established by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). This should not side heavily with scienceorientated pathways, but needs to be inclusive of all disciplines. NGOs like the Ford Foundation, Social Science Research Council, World Affairs Council, and IIE all have previous initiatives focused on Cuba. These pathways can guide the navigation for future academic relations and serve as the foundation. Cultural awareness and respect toward Cuban society must be a priority in all U.S.-Cuban relations. Furthering academic relations can be a great accomplishment, but otherwise meaningless, if the connections disregard Cuba’s rich and warm culture. Despite lacking material resources, Cuban academic institutions offer intellectual and cultural resources through their academic scholars and students. If U.S.-Cuban academic partnerships can be successfully nurtured in a culturally cognizant manner, the renewed relations with Cuba can lead to innumerable, mutually beneficial possibilities.



he barriers that are hardest to spot can be the ones that are hardest to climb. The European Union is a shared space, without internal barriers. This innovative organisation, where flows of goods and people could move freely within the Schengen area, is itself a paradox. A community does not stand in isolation, but rather in interaction with, and occasionally in opposition to, surrounding communities. Thus, the frontiers of the European Union are themselves barriers to the entrance of a barrier-less region. It was only matter of time, or perhaps desperation, until the ‘freedom of movement’ principle would be questioned. After all, while on the one hand it greatly benefits those within the system, i.e. the citizens of the member states, it also represents an imposed, and to a certain extent arbitrary, limitation to the access opportunities of those on the outside, in pursuit of work, and life.


new crisis in


Physical &


barriers to -refugees Gonzalo Linares Matas 44

The considerable influx of refugees through the borders of EU member states has been a constant since its inception, and particularly during the last decades of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. However, the increasing arrival of asylum seekers, over half a million in 2015 alone, in addition to non-regulated immigration, has exceeded all estimations. The inability to predict this phenomenon, together with the lack of suitable protocols for response, has fostered a situation which has been labelled a crisis. At the same time, this social context is generating a considerable debate beyond those whose job it was to predict: immigrants and refugees have never been doing more to make Europeans conscious of their own identity, and their place in a globalised world, characterised by more and more people on the move. Therefore, the current context could well be termed a crisis, but it is because of its potential to have a profound transformative effect in international relations, particularly within EU members, and the relationships the EU has with the rest of the world. A clear economic trend can be appreciated in EU member states since their integration in the Union. The economic integration of the national markets fostered growth up until the financial crisis. However, the strength of a relationship is better explored when the union faces adversity. The European Union is currently experiencing such adversity. Although the EU may be perceived as a cohesive, well-established entity, and mentioned alongside China or the U.S., it is not nearly as homogeneous. Each member country has its own historical background and faces unique social, political and economic

circumstances. Therefore, it was only to be expected that the response of individual nation-states to the uncontrolled arrival of refugees was characterised by diversity, rather than by following an overarching discourse dictated from Germany. Something that the initial responses from EU countries had in common was their controversial nature. Angela Merkel opted for a Welcome Culture, inviting migrants who entered the Union, particularly those from Syria, to come to Germany, where they would be regularised. Greece opened the frontiers almost indiscriminately, promptly letting migrants to continue their way into central Europe. The Hungarian government, presided over by Viktor Orban, believing that the country was being overwhelmed, decided to establish physical barriers to prevent the entrance of more migrants from south-eastern Europe. These enforced boundaries are contrary to the spirit of the Schengen area, as are the violent encounters that refugees have experienced with Hungarian citizens. This situation is at odds with the initial German policy towards the migrants. However, the situation in Germany is changing. After a month, the images of local communities in frontier towns such as Passau, cheering the arrival of the first refugees to the country have faded away; evaporated now that it is clear that the arrival was not a one-off event, but a continuous flow. Conservative politicians are claiming that this is a crisis, and that it is unbearable. In addition, controls in the Austrian border have become ubiquitous since mid-September 2015. Surveys from Germany’s Market and Social Research group show that, in August 2015, 66% of the surveyed population considered that 45

Chancellor Merkel was doing the right thing. Now, 59% think that Ms Merkel was wrong to allow refugees unhampered access to the country. It does not matter that Germany has not installed physical barriers deterring the entrance of refugees. Certain sectors of the European citizens, particularly those associated with the far-right, are starting to alienate them, considering them as foreign intrusions into the social system of their nations: 400 episodes of violence against migrants and migrant shelters have been reported in Germany so far this year, more than in any other European country. Furthermore, on Monday 19th October 2015, some 20,000 Germans rallied for Pegida, the antiimmigration, anti-Muslim group founded by Lutz Bachmann in Dresden a year ago. Akif Pirincci, a Turkish-German writer, was reported by the New York Times to have said in a speech: “Unfortunately, the concentration camps are closed right now (sic)”. National elections are becoming arenas where opposing views on migrants are playing a key political role. In Poland, the sixth largest EU economy, the recent Parliamentary elections demonstrated the political power of conceptual barriers: the ultraconservative party Law & Justice (PiS) won the elections with 37.58% of the vote, and 235 out of 460 seats. According to the BBC, it is the first time that a single party has won enough votes to govern alone since democracy was restored in Poland in 1989. It is relevant to note that the PiS rhetoric has been very critical with the previous policy towards refugees, a policy in line with the quotas established by the EU. They argue that Poland is the 46

most homogeneous European Society, and the different religion of the refugees is in clear contrast with the Catholic majority. Malgorzata Druciarek, from the think tank Institute of Public Affairs (IPA, Instytut Spraw Publicznych), argues that the position of PiS in the migrant crisis: “We will defend Poland, refugees will not enter”, has been paramount for gathering votes. This Eurosceptic party adds a further dimension of division within the set of responses of EU member states to the current sociopolitical context. The refugee crisis is generating tensions among member states, in the context of a weakened Union after the passing spectre of Grexit and the austerity measures enforced in several countries. The presence and indeed growth of these conceptual barriers against immigrants pose an even greater political threat to the European project than physical ones. Indeed, they are simply xenophobia made all too real. A considerable number of migrants will manage to integrate into the host society, but the limit for their assimilation is not determined by economic factors alone, and is in fact the result of the social imagination of the community. Physical barriers may de facto dissolve the Schengen area of free intercommunitarian exchange, but only the establishment of conceptual and ideological barriers regarding the future paths of the EU dream can truly divide member states. Crises are opportunities to unite forces collaboratively, but they can also foster division and mistrust. The history of the twentieth century reminds us of the dangers of a segmented European geography, but how, or how long, can the EU haven survive in isolation from the rest of the inhabitants of the world?

Overcoming the barrier of neglect: Latin America in world affairs


- Paula Melendez -

ince the independence of most of Latin America’s countries in the nineteenth century, the region has often found itself in the shadow of global attention. Being neither the West nor the Rest, Latin America is too often overlooked in public debates in the UK and Europe, especially in the media. The problem with this state of affairs is that we, as presumed global citizens in a globalized world, end up with a skewed perspective of what is happening around us – one that can only deceitfully be called ‘global’. This barrier of neglect is particularly deleterious when we consider the valuable lessons that Latin America’s tumultuous history offers. Of course, this phenomenon is not just apparent in the United Kingdom – even the United States, with its obvious connections to the region, has been

accused of ‘benign neglect’. However as a hub of internationalism, Britain’s lack of attention to Latin America is troubling. Why has this lack of attention been so prominent, and who is responsible? Journalists could be blamed for looking away from the region and directing their gaze towards the Middle East and Africa, with both having become significant focal points. Academics could also be criticized for turning their back on a region that they perceive as unconnected to the UK (the abolition of the Chair in Latin American History at Oxford in 2013 being reflective of this). When it comes to global governance, Latin America, largely as a result of the two factors noted above, ends up featuring near the bottom of policymakers’ priority list. Ultimately, this phenomenon is mostly underlined by a general lack of interest from many students and the general public. British 47

and European students may often include the region in their backpacking travels, but this is clearly insufficient to institutionalize interest in the region. Undoubtedly, Latin America has not been entirely absent from the radar of public attention over the last two hundred years. The Cold War is a prime example of a period where public interest in the region grew considerably as a crucial puzzle piece of the ‘domino theory’. In fact, Oxford’s Latin American Centre was founded in 1965 as part of the wave of Latin American Studies departments cropping up in UK universities following the Cuban crisis. Unfortunately, not only did the attention the region received in this period quickly subside, but it also left behind some damaging and oversimplified ideas about Latin America as a basket case overrun with Marxist guerrillas and military dictatorships. It is not that these ideas, found in much of the mainstream literature and media, are entirely false, but they are reductive of both the region’s heterogeneity and of the complex trends and dynamics at play. These stereotypes exacerbate the already confused identity of Latin America, both abroad and at home. Simon


Bolivar put this idea on paper as early as 1815 in his famous Letter of Jamaica: “we are neither indians nor Europeans, but rather a middle species between the legitimate owners of the country and the Spanish usurpers”. This dichotomy between natives and Europeans does not accurately reflect the identity of many of the region’s almost 600 million people, yet it is the one that has endured at the international level. The historian Niall Ferguson, during a presentation of his book Civilization, recounted his exchange with a Harvard expert of Latin American history: ‘Is South America part of the West?’ Ferguson asked. ‘I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that’ replied the professor. This is telling of the current situation, in which we do not know where to place Latin America in our narrative of world affairs, thus furthering the barrier of neglect. The notable absence of Latin America from academic debates and in the media furthermore hinders the analysis of many of the world’s most pressing issues – as examinations of these consequently remain incomplete - whether the topic be economic development, democracy or social justice.

This point was driven home to me when countries. For example, universal male I attended the International New York suffrage was introduced in Colombia in Times’ Democracy Forum last September. 1853 (albeit being restricted thirty years Latin America was not later) whereas prior just absent from the Athens may have to 1918, the UK still panel discussions but restricted suffrage to more generally in the been the birthplace male house owners. scope of participants, of democracy, yet it To be sure, both with Antonio Mugica, positive and negative founder of voting is clear a discussion lessons abound from software Smartmatic, of the realities of this long history – being the sole Latin many of the Latin American panelist. modern democracy American nations’ When I later re-democratization needs to move approached one the experiences since beyond this. Times’ senior reporters the 1980s are a rich and hosts of the event learning ground for with my grievance, he explained the gap democracy in the developing world. away by stating, ‘It is because people Athens may have been the birthplace of don’t know much about the region’. This democracy, yet it is clear a discussion of answer was unconvincing, considering the the realities of modern democracy needs fact that, as participants, we were there to to move beyond this. learn. And is there any region that can yield as much insight into the thorny affair of democracy as Latin America? The region has been experimenting with democracy since the first quarter of the nineteenth century – in fact, some of these democratic experiences predate those of European


On the topic of Greece, this summer’s crisis strongly echoed Latin America’s devastating debt crisis of the 1980s. Starting from the late 1970s, most of the region’s countries entered a ‘lost decade’ during which their foreign debt exceeded their earning power, creating a situation in which they were unable to repay the sums owed. The lesson yielded by Latin America’s experience was clear: the longer the attempt to enforce austerity by negotiating coercive debt restructuring plans, the more the recovery of the economy is delayed. To be sure, there are crucial differences between the European and Latin American cases – for instance, Western Hemisphere countries were not accountable to a central bank as Greece was to the European Central Bank. However, European leaders would benefit from examining the long-term consequences of the Latin American debt crisis and prevent a similar ‘lost decade’ for Greece.

American history – an obvious illustration being policy experience concerning cross-border traffic of illicit drugs. SIR being an International Relations journal, it is suitable to note how few interstate conflicts have taken place in Latin America (fourteen over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) and how close it has come to regional integration (more so than any other region apart from the European Union). Whether one subscribes to institutional, cultural, economic or multi-faceted explanations of this phenomenon, Latin America’s experience in this domain should not be confined to textbooks on regional integration. By including the region in everyday scholarly and journalistic debates about the shaky current reality of European integration, we can move beyond worn out Euro-centric discussions and incorporate underrated insights from other experiences of integration and disintegration.

The Cold War is a prime example of a period where public interest in the region grew considerably as a crucial puzzle piece of the ‘domino theory’.

In the early days of Independence, progressive men of letters and business arrived in London from all over Latin America to learn from Britain’s institutions and culture – then considered the most liberal in Europe. Many of the lessons they brought back were used to construct the vibrant nations that rose from the ashes of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. Today, it is time for the North to look to the South, and Latin America is an insightful starting point. Only by breaking through the barrier of neglect can our understanding of world affairs and the policies that emanate from it be truly enriched and worthy of the moniker ‘global’.

There are countless more examples of valuable advice emanating from Latin



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Come then all of you, come closer, form a circle, Join hands and make believe that joined Hands will keep away the wolves of water Who howl along our coast. And be it assumed That no one hears them among the talk and laughter. ('Wolves' Louis Macneice)

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