Why this Midterm
A Midterm that Matters By Nathaniel Perkins, p. 8
Book Review: Kyrgyzstan
The Army Wants Gamers
Our Schools are Mediocre
By William Schreiber, p. 17
By Ajay Kumar, p.7
By Chelsea St. Onge-May p. 14
STAFF Andrew Detsch Assistant Editor Political Theory
William Schreiber Editor
Ajay Kumar Assistant Editor Domestic Affairs
Dan Rozenson Assistant Editor International Affairs Nathaniel Perkins
Joshua Tallis Daniel Trombly
Emily Sieg Seth Christman
Adrienne Keamy Clay McKeon Elise Corbin
Adam Humayun Sarah Khederian Chelsea St. Onge-May
TABLE OF CONTENTS A West Bank Wall of the Mind
The Dutch Outrage
A Midterm that Matters
Itâ€™s Our Debt
The Politics of Psychology
Ideology of 21st Century Conflict
Fixing Our Economy
The Balance of Power
Student Loan Reform
Exclusive or Equal
CD/CR Faceoff: Economic Recovery
Chelsea St. Onge-May
Moses Weisburg and Ryan Ashley
Savior of the IAEA?
Book Review: Kyrgyzstan
A West Bank Wall of the Mind
By Joshua Tallis It is a common sentiment among observers on both sides of the fence – as well as those teetering on it – that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a two-thousand-year-old rivalry with roots so deep and ingrained that it is foolish to assume any solution could be successfully implemented. This theory is grounded in one particularly important and misguided notion: that nationalism among Palestinians is in essence timeless. Indeed, “since 1948, three separate and distinct Palestinian movements, with differing ideologies, approaches, and even, to an extent, goals, have arisen in succession: the Movement of Arab Nationalists (MAN), Fatah, and Hamas” It is well documented that Zionism in its modern and most recognizable form only traces back to around the mid to late 1800s. Jewish nationalism took its root in a number of different societies and fostered a number of different identities. The first aliya, (wave of Jewish immigration to Israel) in the 1880s, of young idealistic peasant farmers was a direct response to aggression, libels, and pogroms in Eastern Europe. However, they were not the sole “flavor” of Zionists. Zionists gathered inspiration from things ranging from social ideologies to religious fervor. Nevertheless, a shared common goal, and the shared struggle to achieve that goal despite splintered organizations and beliefs, led to the success of a Jewish nation-state and an overarching Jewish national identity.Substitute Palestinian for Jewish and the stories appear to share similar veins. And yet, today’s Palestinians lack a shared identity to the extent Jews do, and their political and ideological splits seem to be too great to foster the unity necessary to support a general nationalist identity. The purpose here is twofold. First, to expose the roots of Palestinian nationalism and explore the effects that has on the prospects of their unity. Second, to demonstrate that by debunking the myth of the “two-thousand-year-old conflict” and by exhibiting issues in a new and historically appropriate light, perhaps alternative solutions will arise.
Israel’s birth coincided with, and perhaps prompted the development of, Pan-Arabism radiating from the Arab world’s religiously moderate Mediterranean centers––Beirut and Cairo. The defeat of a half dozen Arab nations by Israel was a major bruise to the Muslim world’s ego. Yet through its defeat was born a symbol that over the decades would evolve into the tangible plight of dozens of authoritarian leaders attempting to guide the anger of impoverished citizens outward toward a cancerous entity (Israel). This symbol is, of course,
Palestinian refugees. It is important here to understand that the origins of nationalism for Palestinians are neither religious nor political. The Movement of Arab Nationalists (MAN) was the brainchild of largely Christian middle class University students in Lebanon. In the 1950s and 60s it succeeded in galvanizing Arabs against Israel through the image of Palestinian expulsion. It embraced Pan-Arabism and Arab unity as the way to liberation. However inclusive and dependent it was upon Palestinians though, it was not exclusive to them. MAN was an important precursor to Palestinian nationalism, but its necessarily broad following lead to some divisive issues. As power grabs and regime changes altered the political landscape of the Middle East, Pan-Arabism’s center drifted from Beirut to Cairo. The broad appeal of MAN and
similar transnational movements began to crumble as Egypt’s socialist agendas clashed with some founders in Lebanon. The emergence of Fatah, a truly Palestinian organization, slowly deteriorated Pan-Arabist claims to bring honor back by means of traditional armies. The ultimate blow to this mantra came in the Six Day War. Israel pushed out its borders on virtually every front, seizing the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, East Jerusalem from the Jordanians and sections of the Golan from Syria. The military miracle of the war effectively ended MAN’s hold on Palestinians and opened the door to a new era of national ideological development. Fatah’s major appeal in the late sixties through the early eighties was its reversal of traditional Palestinian national conceptualizations. Palestine was no longer to be liberated by Arab forces, but by the Palestinians themselves. It was the motivations of a new generation of Palestinians to reclaim their land and oust Israel. Nationalism is all very much dependent on an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ For the first 20 years of Israel’s existence, the lines were drawn based on whether you were Arab or Jewish. As the tides changed though, Palestinians began seeing themselves cut off from the rest of the Muslim world. They began to see themselves as others not only to the Israelis, but to Arabs as well. Arab resistance to open their doors to refugees as a means of gaining sympathy and moral validity began to drive Palestinians together. A mix of political risks and keen leadership by Yasser Arafat kept Fatah in control of the PLO for decades. Fatah’s major contribution to the nationalist movement was that it solidified the grouping of Palestinians as ethnically distinguished from the broader Arab identity. The next evolution would encompass the as yet unmentioned role of extremism in the conflict.The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was traditionally non-militant in its early years. Despite a dedication to sharia, jihad was thus far a motivation left untapped. In the Gaza Strip however, this began to become overrun by See Page 4
“The earth belongs to the living,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, and therefore, the question of present generations paying the debts of their forefathers was “a question of generosity and not of right.” Though Jefferson was himself deeply indebted in constructing Monticello, he believed it a violation of natural right for governments to contract debts beyond the present generation’s means. Today, America heeds his personal example, not his philosophy.
sustained high economic growth and increased taxes. The US achieved budget surplus and stemmed debt growth. Kennedy and the other declinists had fallen out of fashion.
often assumed. The greater danger is that China will stop financing American debt – while it purchased the vast majority of newly issued US debt in 2007, it purchases less than 10% today. Domestic purchases of US debt are The 2000s defused that optimism, as America undertook an alternating series of compensating for slackening demand, but this trend is unsustainable in the tax cuts and wars, increasing debt again. long run, since it would crowd out priDespite new wars, military spending revate sector spending as the economy mained a modest percentage of GDP, not recovers. If other economies do not climbing above 5% to normal Cold War choose to finance US debt, weakenlevels. Total discretionary spending never National debt stands at 87% of GDP after exceeded 9%. However, lost revenue from ing demand for Treasury securities will wars, financial crisis, and the attendant tax cuts and unchecked growth in entitle- further increase interest rates. high deficits. Economists Carmen Reinment significantly contributed to the Debt’s implications for American policy hart and Kenneth and spending are the root of its threat Rogoff estimate to American economic strength. As that advanced interest payments increase and entitleeconomies with ment programs, especially Medicare, debts at 90% of grow unchecked, American politicians GDP suffer 1% of will be forced into harder fiscal choices. GDP decreases Attempts at health care reform will in growth rates. come again, designed to reduce costs Therefore the and manage care. Social Security redebt will weigh form and tax increases, perhaps even a increasingly heavnew consumption tax, might also. Even ily on long-term with reforms, two pressures will remain recovery, especialfor future administrations hoping to ly if interest rates cut costs – inflating away the debt and By Daniel Trombly rise to normal levels reducing America’s security arrangeand increase the debt burden further. ments.
American debt has been higher – during WWII, it reached 120% of GDP, before steadily decreasing over the next three decades. America achieved superpower status and healthy economic growth during this time. However, there are striking differences. War-related expenditures were the primary source of debt. When WWII ended, the need for massive defense spending decreased, eliminating need for debt increases. Today, defense spending is just 20% of the budget and roughly 5% of GDP. Most spending is locked in mandatory domestic spending and entitlements, which are much harder to cut than military spending post-war. Debt thus fell to around 50% of GDP in the 1970s. The national debt began its steady increase in the 1980s, when tax cuts and military spending promulgated high deficits. Meanwhile, Germany and Japan’s growth furthered fears of American decline. Paul Kennedy, in his Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, blamed deficit spending on military buildups as seeds for decline. However, the USSR’s fall prompted major military cuts, and the subsequent decade
debt, a problem the expensive Medicare Part D drug benefit only exacerbated. The final blow was the financial crisis, which induced a cyclical deficit (from lost revenue and payments from programs such as unemployment benefits) Troubled Assets Relief Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. National debt seems symptom and source of national decline, particularly since much of the debt is foreign-held. While tracking foreign debt ownership is difficult, the Treasury estimates foreigners own 50% of US debt, with China holding 10%. Borrowing from a rival power seems emblematic of decline, but the issue is more complex. China’s ability to influence American policy through debt ownership and currency reserves is weaker than
The first pressure, to inflate away the debt, would erode America’s economic standing. Fears of US default on its securities are overblown. America, in its most dire straits can direct the Fed to print more money and pay off the debt with it. This process of “monetizing the debt” could mitigate rising interest rates’ harshest effects. But it would also damage global confidence in the dollar, undercutting its reserve currency status. Were confidence to fall unabated, the dollar’s waning influence in commodity pricing and lending would make borrowing funds and importing vital natural resources more expensive. America would endanger its privileged economic status. The pressure to reduce the size and strategic scope of the American military would also alter global politics. American allies in Europe and Japan spend relatively little on defense as a percentage of GDP, as they maintain strong security arrangements with the US military. As the United States looks See Page 7
In mid-February Iran made overt moves toward “weaponizing” its nuclear program despite the threat of sanctions from the West and potentially the UN Security Council. Usually, budding nuclear programs are shrouded in secrecy. In contrast, Iran has showcased its stockpile of low-enriched nuclear fuel by moving it to an above ground plant with intent to concentrate it into high-grade material, fostering speculation as to Iran’s motivation. The West’s response has been predictable; the US has increased its call for both UN sanctions and punitive measures from its allies. Iran’s quest for nuclear power is easily understood. The various political factions in Iran all promote different goals, from religious leadership for the Shi’ite clergy to secular anxieties about historical PersianArab tensions and how well Iran would fair in another ethnic conflict. Persian-Arab tension last erupted in the Iran-Iraq war, which immediately followed the overthrow of the Shah and inflamed Iranian hostility toward the United States. In 1984, the war impacted oil shipping via Iraqi attacks on Iranian tankers, thereby threatening global oil supplies. Western sentiments favored Iraq during this period, and while the United States was publicly aligned with Iraq, American aid was clandestinely channeled to Iran in an apparent effort to promote a bloody stalemate with the intent of maintaining the flow of cheap oil. Any chance of diplomatic normalization following the war has been stymied by ongoing Iranian resentment over the West’s role in elongating the war to keep the region off-balance. Iranian resentment is also fostered by anxieties concerning increasing US influence in the Gulf
From Page 2 popular Palestinian militancy (as originally illustrated by Fatah’s popularity). The final step in this chain of nationalist evolution was the fusion of the Brotherhood’s ideologies and Fatah’s violent propensities into Hamas. Tracing its emergence to the first intifada of the late 1980s, Hamas shed the philosophical leanings of its parent organization in favor of more practically addressing issues in Gaza. Galvanizing support through popular and populist conservative ideals, Hamas began to develop through the
Chiran By Adrienne Keamy
region. This continued mistrust is illustrated by the pattern of career failure for those Iranian politicians attempting to be more open with the United States. Given the deep-seated suspicion of past American behaviors and current policy, a softening of the relationship seems improbable any time soon. Iranian anxieties over pervasive US influence in the Middle East are shared by China. The US either controls or carries significant influence in most oil-producing Gulf countries; Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar all have close Western ties. Turkey is in NATO, and Afghanistan and Pakistan are closely tied to America. 1990s and the second intifada ushering in a 21st century of sectarian radicalism. Today, Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah control the West Bank, While Hamas was democratically elected to lead Gaza. Darwin’s theory of evolution teaches us that two populations of the same species, separated for a long period of time, evolutionally diverge into separate but related species better adapted to their isolated environments. While Pan-Arabism consolidated Palestinian nationalism in the wake of the 1948 loss, the West Bank and Gaza have over time grown apart in both need and identity. While that fissure is as yet not enough
4 For China, the third largest oil consumer in the world, securing strategic petroleum access remains a key foreign policy objective. Iran becomes the logical provider for Chinese oil because of their shared concerns over regional US hegemony in the Middle East. While China continues to outwardly assert its commitment to the non-proliferation treaty and urges diplomatic engagement, its refusal to vote to allow UN sanctions serves as tacit consent for Iranian nuclear development. Washington is pondering the motivations for Iran’s blatant display of nuclear intent. If Iranian nuclear ambitions represent a defensive posture, or are intended to address domestic energy needs then nuclear capability may be stabilizing both domestically and regionally. If, on the other hand, this nuclear capability fuels a Persian agenda of extending its influence, religiously or politically, what little stability existing in the region will be threatened. With Iran’s volatile president threatening to ban airlines that use the term “Arabian Gulf “ rather than “Persian Gulf ” from Iranian airspace, it is hard to infer peaceful motives from the venture. In recent weeks, Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon have also indicated their mounting unwillingness to support UN sanctions, suggesting that the momentum for Western-promoted punishment is dwindling. While Washington is contemplating the reasons for Iran’s recent move, time for possible diplomatic answers is running out and countries anxious about US predominance in the oil-producing regions of the globe may be taking measures to secure their access to US-free oil.
to spawn two separate nations, it has succeeded in defining two different nationalisms. Fatah has enjoyed hegemony over the PLO for some decades. With limited economic prosperity and the presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank placed in direct contrast to Gaza’s relative autonomy and poverty and proximity to Egypt, it is inevitable that the organizations that best galvanize (and therefore define) nationalism have grown apart. By appreciating nationalism’s only recent expression, its continuing development and the significant divides it has highlighted between communities we can better approach building a more peaceful future.
Yukiya Amano: Savior of the IAEA?
By Dan Rozenson In September 2007, the Israeli Air Force took most of the world by surprise when it bombed a nearly-complete nuclear reactor in the deserts of Northeastern Syria. The existence of this reactor was known to a very small group of people, and it did not include Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In an ideal world, his agency would have known about this covert reactor and persuaded Syria to declare the facility open to inspections. If the facility was for peaceful purposes, it would be treated like any other nuclear power plant in the world. If there was evidence of an illicit military program, the matter would be referred to the UN Security Council. But in this decidedly non-ideal world of nuclear non-proliferation, ElBaradei was left out, and according to a subsequent IAEA statement, angry: “The director general deplores the fact that this information was not provided to the agency in a timely manner, in accordance with the agency’s responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enable it to verify its veracity and establish the facts.” (ElBaradei never definitively decided that the destroyed building was nuclear in nature.) It’s hardly surprising that the IAEA was not informed of this highly secretive information. ElBaradei had established a track record of acting in ways that perturbed those who possessed pertinent intelligence. His legacy may well be one of a politicized and irrelevant organization.
His pattern of behavior began, understandably, after the failure to find weapons of mass destructions in Iraq in 2003. ElBaradei had opposed the Iraq invasion, believing correctly that Saddam Hussein had not reconstituted his WMD programs. But the failure of U.S. and British intelligence in Iraq seemed to have caused him to forever disregard Western intelligence on WMD again, as he revealed in a recent interview with Foreign Policy: “Iran continued to say that [evidence showing Iranian military nuclear progress] are all fake documents and reminded me of our experience in Iraq. … [T]he million dollar question is the question of authenticity.” Another development that brought ElBaradei into conflict with the West was how he viewed his role as head of the IAEA. Rather than confining himself to the technical issues of non-proliferation, ElBaradei made his role political. In the interview, he described his job as “partly mediation, partly inspection, partly diplomacy.” He has repeatedly and in harsh terms (“utterly crazy”) denounced the idea of using military means to halt Iran’s nuclear program. His diplomatic efforts did not gain him friends in Washington, as Condoleeza Rice remarked, “The IAEA is not in the business of diplomacy. The IAEA is a technical agency.” ElBaradei’s distrust of Western intelligence and his view of himself a statesman led him to artificially soften language in IAEA reports in order to avoid setting up confrontations between states. And he refused to publish a report by the agency’s Safeguards department which took a much darker view of Iranian nuclear intentions than what ElBaradei mentioned publicly. Frustrated, officials from the Safeguards department leaked the report to Western governments, who in turn leaked it to the media last August.
When ElBaradei’s term expired in December 2009, Western countries scored a political victory by electing Yukiya Amano, 3 a native of Japan who had previously served as the IAEA’s Board of Governors, to be the new director general of the agency. Amano is widely regarded as a technocrat, someone who is not interested in the political grandstanding that was typical of his predecessor. Though he has applauded dialogue between the Obama administration and the Iranian regime, he also his much more willing to make use of Western intelligence. The difference made by Amano’s leadership of the IAEA was felt quickly on February 18 of this year, when he released two reports that took dissimilar approaches to ElBaradei’s work. The first report spelled out in much clearer terms the likelihood that the Syrian building destroyed by Israel was, in fact, a nascent nuclear reactor, built secretly and in contravention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The second report indicated a belief by the organization that Iran was hiding a military component to its nuclear program, a charge ElBaradei could never bring himself to make. Amano wrote in the report, “The information available to the agency raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” The use of the word “undisclosed”—rather than ElBaradei’s preferred term, “undeclared”— points to what Amano believes could be intentional, rather than incidental, failure by the Iranians to report these details. Though Mohamed ElBaradei tried to use his position as head of the IAEA to increase his organization’s role in preventing the outbreak of conflict, he left his body marginalized by Western governments. The tenure of Amano could be an opportunity to improve trust and more effectively coordinate nonproliferation activities. Amano’s report on Iran, for instance, gave the foreign minister of Russia the diplomatic cover to issue a rare rebuke of Iranian actions. Hopefully, Amano will find that emphasizing technical excellence and avoiding politics are the best things for his agency.
The Dutch Outrage: By Emily Sieg
Local elections in the Netherlands have brought the Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders to the forefront of Dutch politics. Although the party only ran in two districts on March 3rd, the results were astounding. In Almere, a pleasant middle-class suburb of Amsterdam, the PVV received the greatest number of votes. In the Hague, seat of the International Court of Justice, they were second only to the Labour Party. Wilders may not have anything close to a majority of votes in these districts, but his strong plurality is a resounding success for the Freedom Party.
Wilders and his work as provocative and controversial if not also inciting, it is less easy to suggest that he has overstepped his rights. His words are crude and disrespectful, but they contain more than just insults. Wilders may be looking for a fight, but he is not using “fighting words.”He is presenting political views and is doing so by conventional means. Wilders is not the first to face such charges.The Netherlands has protected the speech of others like him. Pim Fortuyn
Wilders won another battle outside of the polls. A year ago Wilders was deported from the UK, but last week he was permitted to show his incendiary 15-minute film about Islam to the House of Lords. During his visit, some 300 members of the far-right English Defense League (EDL) gathered with signs reading, “England needs a Gert [sic]” while another 100 demonstrators from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) gathered in protest. The film, which Wilders produced and screened in the UK, is titled Fitna and it packs quite a punch. Using a collage of footage from 9/11 and the London bombings, the film portrays Islam as a direct threat to the Netherlands and the Western world. Using the infamous Danish cartoon by Kurt Westergaard, the film begins with an illustration of the prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb for a turban and the film ends with a loud bang of an explosion. As a result of the film, Wilders will face charges of discrimination and inciting hatred at court in the Netherlands, although it is unlikely that he will be convicted. Wilders leaves no room to doubt his opinions. Openly he has denounced Islam as a “totalitarian idealogy” and a “retarded culture.” He wants to limit the immigration of, and even deport Middle Easterners from the Netherlands.
was another (in)famous Dutch politician renowned for his vitriolic wit. He was subsequently assassinated in 2002 by, intriguingly enough, an environmental extremist. More gruesome was the death of Theo van Gogh, a provocative television show presenter and co-director of the film Submission. While bicycling along a street, van Gogh was shot 8 times, nearly decapitated and stabbed multiple times by a Moroccan-Dutchman named Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri also left a death threat against another controversial activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, pinned to van Gogh’s body.
While it is quite easy to characterize
Outside of the Netherlands there have
been several attempts on the lives of individuals who have portrayed controversial opinions. Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist portrayed the head of the prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog and has been living under high security ever since. On March 9th of this year Irish police arrested seven Muslims who allegedly plotted to murder Vilks. On New Year’s Day of 2010, a Somali man, wielding both an axe and knife, broke into the house of Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoon was first published in 2006 amid great controversy. This was also not the first attempt on Westergaard’s life. While there are many who oppose these cartoonists’ choices to publish disrespectful illustrations, their rights to free speech should not be curtailed – much less the lengths of their lives. It is these stories which make it so easy for someone like Wilders to attract a following. In spite of threats he continues to spout his rhetoric, even if it is in the ever-presence of body guards. However, Wilders is not a hero for his “bravery” – he is only a fearmongerer. He constantly invokes the memories of 9/11, recites the murder of van Gogh and emphasizes the assaults on Western tradition. Wilders does not present viable solutions to extremist violence whether Islamic or otherwise. The Freedom party presents knee-jerk and contemptible reactions such as mass deportation, major immigration restrictions and the banning of headscarves and copies of the Quran. These policies are not only impractical, they are totally impermissible. The tolerance and morality that the West claims to champion is exactly what extremists like Wilders are tearing apart. Moreover, Geert Wilders is not a hypocrite but also an opportunist. His success in Almere and The Hague was not accidental or spontaneous. His choice to campaign only in Almere and The Hague was carefully calculated according to polls. Particularly in Almere, these districts are home to the middle-class who is at once distanced from immigrants and most fearful of the “Islamic Threat.” Wilders is waiting until the summer See Page 8
By Ajay Kumar
The early development of video games is closely related to Cold War defense research. The earliest video games were developed at universities in the same laboratories that were conducting defense research. Many of the computer scientists who developed these first video games were also on the cutting edge of military technology. This relationship is idealized in that eighties classic, WarGames, with Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. In the time since then, video games have gone from a geeky, esoteric hobby to a mainstream, popular, and most importantly, profitable endeavor. In part due to this success, the military has begun a renewed interest in what video games have to offer. This renewed interest has sparked criticism from all sides of the defense industry’s utilization of this technology. The most visible sign of this is in recruit-
ment. Mainstream video games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Battlefield Bad Company 2 are just the biggest of a slew of so called tactical shooters that have come out in recent years. Modern Warfare was the biggest entertainment package release of all time, getting $310 million dollars of sales on the first day of its release. It clocked 4.7 million players on that day, which is a little over 1% of the entire country. The game stresses its gritty realism and true-to-life action that clearly appeals to a large segment of the population. There was also America’s Army, a game developed by the Department of Defense to aid in training and recruitment. The game has become very popular across the country and around the globe, with nearly seven million players. The game was so popular in China that it was banned by the government. The
US Army has seen these successes and developed this into a new strategy for recruiting kids. A glimpse of this strategy is offered by a newly opened recruiting center near Philadelphia. It is called the Army Experience Center (AEC) and caters to kids 14-17. Instead of the old fashioned recruiting centers, the AEC is more of a community center where kids are allowed to play video games. There are nineteen Xboxes and sixty computer gaming stations. The idea is to entice kids playing military themed video games into actually joining the army. The US military is not the only force to use video games as recruitment tools. Hezbollah also developed a computer game that it uses to recruit followers in the Middle East, a surprisingly visceral game focused on attacking Israeli soldiers. Video games have become a key tool for recruitment across the globe. There is quite a bit of controversy over the use of video games as recruitment tools by the US military. Many feel that it lulls kids into thinking that war is simply another game, to be played regardless of the real world consequences. However, this thinking fails to take into account that boys have been playing soldiers for decades. Concerned parents have been warning about boys imitating violence, since there have been concerned parents. Also, men have sought to simulate war for centuries through games like chess. Modern Warfare 2 is simply the logical progression. Video games are also being used to train soldiers going into Iraq and Afghanistan. An article in Foreign Policy discusses how game-like simulations are being used to train soldiers on everything from See Page 8
THE LOOMING DEBT
From Page 3 for expenditures to cut, the US might well cull its overseas bases and the divisions, fleets, and air forces that they host. Though there are many bloated programs the Pentagon can eliminate, the US would not be able to reduce its military expenditures below their 1990s lows without reducing its security commitments in Europe and Asia and abstaining
from costly military overhauls. Weakening American security guarantees would exacerbate problems such as reserve currency status. Absent US presence in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia has little reason to privilege the dollar. America has been living beyond its means for decades. Overhauling entitlements, cutting defense, and preparing
for receding influence in global affairs may all be inevitable or even desirable changes. Postponing them further, however, is only likely to amplify their worst effects and engender crises. Paying down the debt is no longer “a question of generosity,” but of necessity. Future generations will not have the luxury of deciding otherwise.
FREEDOM OF (HATE) SPEECH From Page 6
to attempt a full-scale campaign but has used these local elections as a springboard. What makes Wilders’ success so surprising is that he, as a right-extremist, mobilized the citizens who usually do not vote. Patterns of voting have shown that non-voters most often tend to be moderates whereas extremists are typically the ones most likely to vote. Wilders however, through a combination of right-wing populism, scare tactics, racism and bigotry has gained the support of not only other extremists, but also middle-class moderates. Due to the collapse of the Dutch governing coalition on February 20th, there will be national elections on June 9th. Wilders is projected to make a strong showing and maybe even form a part of the ruling coalition. Yet, throughout all of this, there is an even more important issue. The afore-
mentioned individuals, from Wilders to van Gogh and Westergaard have taken their opinions right up to the blurred line of permissibility. They are offensive, even immoral and seek to provoke, but they are still legal – whether we
agree with the opinions presented or not. Non-violent expressions of political or societal opinion are indubitably a fundamental democratic right. Among the most famous phrases that Voltaire did not actually say, but remains essential to the Western tradition, is the line: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The violence and threat of violence proclaimed by Islamic, Fascist, Marxist, environmentalist or any other extremists is what should not be tolerated. Terrorism, the use or threat of violence against civilians for political means, is what is absolutely impermissible in democratic society. If you do not like people like Geert Wilders, then do not vote for them. But you cannot cut out their tongues.
MODERN WARFARE 3
From Page 7 “cross-cultural understanding” to how to operate the robots that are used in the field. Theses games are more similar to role-playing games where soldiers must make decisions on how react in certain situations and deal with the local populace. A recent interview in Training and Simulation Journal describes how the Army even tried to get a hold of Xboxes to use as training devices for its soldiers. However, Microsoft turned them down, citing among other reasons that it could taint its reputation as a device for entertainment when it is used for military purposes. As it is the role-playing games that have been built for the Army and used for training have been described as creating “a far more antiseptic version of war than the real thing.” Maybe the military should try to work with the developers of Mass Effect to create better training simulations for soldiers. In our military there is also another trend, the growing concern that the
actual war itself is being waged like a video game. The Pentagon has poured millions of dollars into Predator Drone programs for surveillance and offensive purposes alike. A recent PBS Frontline report on the so-called “Digital Nation” describes how Air Force pilots can conduct strikes on Taliban targets and support ground operations from control stations in Nevada. Then, they can come home for dinner with the wife and kids. War has always been when two enemies meet on the field of battle and risk both their lives, and many argue that Predator missiles challenge this assump-
tion. With the cost in lives of waging war decreasing as a result of these new technologies, will war fundamentally change? All of these concerns sound as familiar as the concerns that people had about pilots not seeing the face of their enemy during the Second World War and beyond. War will not fundamentally change, and if anything, the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan will show that while technology can be helpful, there is no actual substitute for soldiers on the ground. It is clear that video games and their technology are changing the nature of the battlefield. It is quite possible a change as monumental as the invention of the gunpowder, rifling, engines and aircrafts. They are changing how we recruit soldiers, train them, and kill our enemies. Yet, it is still one man with a weapon trying to kill his fellow man. These technologies will allow the military to be more efficient and more effective, but, in the end, the fundamental nature of war itself will remain the same.
9 psychiatry. The current edition, released in 2000, is the DSM-IV-TR, a minor textual revision of 1994’s DSM-IV. With nearly three hundred disorders over a whopping 886 pages, it represents the consensus of the American psychiatric establishment. It is, however, more than fifteen years old, and we’ve learned a lot since 1994. The DSM is past due for re-evaluation.
The Politics of Psychiatry Psychiatry’s core set of definitions are up for revision. The implications are far-reaching. By Seth Christman
SCENE: An elaborately furnished office. Patient lies on couch. The psychiatrist sets down his meerschaum pipe, brushes off his beard and tweed jacket, and turns to his impressive bookshelf. PSYCHIATRIST: Tell me about your mother. Times change. While the modern shrink may be a nonsmoking, Freud-skeptical female, the bookshelf remains. And on every psychiatrist’s bookshelf, one volume stands out: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A publication of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it includes symptomatic descriptions of every generally recognized mental illness. In the United States, it is the textbook of psychiatry – for a disorder to appear in the DSM means instant legitimacy.
Published in 1952, the first DSM was adapted from Medical 203, an Army bulletin that attempted to standardize and categorize mental disorders. It featured a humble 106 disorders and reflected the limits of 1950s psychiatry, but represented a step forward in creating standards for a growing field. Since then, the DSM has been revised every fifteen years or so. The process of periodic revision has been reliably contentious and often political. In 1974, after years of protests and even sabotage from activists, homosexuality was removed as a disorder from the DSM-II. The legitimacy it gave to the gay rights movement is immeasurable. 1980’s revolutionary DSM-III shook off the Freudian influence of its forebears, virtually eliminating the word “neurosis.” Widely adopted, it helped usher in the modern paradigm of evidence-based
Originally slated for 2012, the DSM-V’s release has been pushed back to May 2013 to “allow more time for public review, field trials and revisions,” as well as to synchronize the DSM with the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases. In other words, the APA has a lot riding on this, and wants to get it right. In recent years, the APA has been hit by allegations of unhealthy ties to the pharmaceutical industry, from expensive sponsorships to conflicts of interest in research. More broadly, psychology and psychiatry have been torn by fierce debates over the nature and direction of research and practice. Is medication a blessing or a trap? Should psychiatry move further towards science, or return to its therapeutic roots? How far can we journey into the human mind before we risk playing God? “All right,” you say, “but what does all this academic stuff mean to me, the loyal reader?” As it happens, quite a bit. Like it or not, what psychiatrists think and say affects how people live. The DSM makes waves beyond the psychiatric community. Health insurers use it when deciding which disorders and what treatments to cover. The legal system considers it when examining mental illness as a mitigating factor. As for politics, it would be difficult to imagine the gay marriage debate if medicine still considered homosexuality a disease. Even the word choices of the DSM filter down to the general public – people don’t talk about “neurosis” the way they used to. In the spirit of transparency, all proposed revisions are posted at the APA’s website. Many changes are mostly of interest within the discipline—the revision of the multi-axial organization doesn’t mean much to John Q. Public—and others are See Page 16
Unemployment Benefits, Jobs Bills and By Clay McKeon
Fixing Our Economy
Debate in Congress has heated up lately with regards to the labor market. Two main topics of contention between Republicans and Democrats are the extension of unemployment benefits and a possible new “jobs bill”, with the tradeoff between improving the labor market and the growth of the federal deficit as the points of concern that are dividing the parties. Unfortunately, current ideological splits are harming the economy and job prospects for every American. Most bitter has been the debate over the extension of unemployment benefits. In early March, Senator Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) drew criticism for his obstruction of a one-month extension for the long-term unemployed whose benefits were set to run out. He explained his move as coming out of concern that the extension, as proposed, ignored the new “payas-you-go” rule and did not specify a source of funding for the new benefits, estimated to cost around ten billion dollars. Some blasted Bunning for interrupting the flow of benefits to more than one million Americans who were about to be cut off; others hailed his move as a step towards forcing fiscal responsibility on the federal government. In addition, this escapade began a larger discussion over the role of unemployment benefits during the Great Recession. Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona explained that “continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.” This perspective on unemployment seems out of touch, given that over the past year we’ve seen five to six unemployed Americans for every open job, by far the highest numbers since the Great Depression. Kyl’s comments explaining that unemployment benefits do not “create new jobs” are also off the mark. During boom times the usefulness of unemployment benefits for creating jobs is definitely minimal;
when our economy is depressed as it is now, the benefits of such a program are not in question. To understand this, consider the fact that the main problem facing our economy is a lack of demand. As total demand for goods and services has fallen, millions of jobs have been shed (and don’t look to be coming back
anytime soon—hence the rationale for extending unemployment benefits to record lengths). This reduces demand further in a vicious cycle we’ve all observed over the past two years, as those without jobs (and anyone fearing layoffs) cut all nonessential spending. In order for the economy to recover, something must stabilize the freefall, or we end up in a serious depression. Federal unemployment benefits will not be enough to push the economy toward a recovery, but they help a great deal. Studies repeatedly show that the vast majority of unemployment benefits are spent quickly, becoming the income of stores and other businesses across the country, which themselves turn around and spend and hire more, and on and on— helping improve final demand and stop the shrinking of the economy. This is why unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways that government can spend to improve the economy, even without any consideration of all the humanitarian arguments for providing such extended benefits.
Beyond unemployment benefits, is the debate over more stimulus. As our national debt ramps up to a projected level of around 90 percent of GDP by 2015, will for additional federal spending has waned. Split public support over the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (worth $787 billion) has hampered chances that Congress— mainly Democrats—will take the risk of passing another large spending bill in order to try and fill the output gap. This is despite the fact that, after considering shrinking state and local budgets, there was almost zero net stimulus in 2009. Instead of another big-budget bill, Obama and the Democrats have chosen to focus on passing smaller bills with specific goals. Viewers of this year’s State of the Union saw Obama begin to heavily favor utilization of terms like “jobs bill” instead of the much-maligned “stimulus”, even though each is essentially the same as the other. In mid-March the $17.6 billion HIRE Act was passed, focusing on providing financial incentives through tax breaks to companies that hire Americans who have been out of work for sixty days or more, in addition to adding funding for highway and other infrastructure spending. While Obama and Congressional Democrats cited this as an attempt to bring down the highest numbers of long-term unemployed ever seen in our country, it is unlikely that a fiscal bill so small relative to the size of the rest of our economy will directly spur more than a few hundred thousand jobs. Other similar bills have been promised, but the big picture remains disappointing. Lack of political will to spend means we will be left with a sluggish economy for what could be years, making it more painful to eventually balance our budget than if we had healthy growth and more robust tax returns. In the near future, nothing looms on the horizon that will bring back the economy of 2007, and partisan disagreement means our country will be on a painfully slow path to recovery.
A Midterm That Matters
By Nathaniel Perkins There is no doubt that 2010 will be the most important midterm election in at least two decades, if not longer than that. President Obama’s team at Organizing for America would have you believe this importance stems from what it will mean for his agenda in the 112th Congress. That is not the reason. The real cause that makes 2010 so important is summed up in one word: redistricting. As most readers doubtless already know, the federal government is mandated by the Constitution to count everyone living in the US once a decade. This count takes the form of the census, and is done at the start of every decade. (The DC government would prefer I urge you to make sure to fill your form out and return it.) These counts shape a large portion of future policy, as they are essential for distributing federal funding as well as Congressional seats. Once the Census Bureau finishes the count, they use some fancy math to calculate how many seats in the House of Representatives each state should have. To this point, everything is relatively apolitical. The intense partisanship takes place in each state, as any state awarded more than one seat must draw district lines to form districts, an inevitably controversial process. A very small number of states have turned this function over to independent boards, leaving about 40 states with partisan districting processes. These are controlled initially by the state legislature, and can be vetoed by the Governor. Unfriendly legislatures can combine opposition districts, pack together voters of one party, or strategically split up groups to limit their influence. The ability to decide where district lines are drawn is why races for Governor are the most important going on in the nation today. In 2010, there will be 37 governorships in play, including the top five most populous states. Combined with the significant population shift out of the northeast that has taken place over the past
decade, this means that the redistricting process in 2011 is incredibly important. While official census decisions on which states will gain and lose representation in the House will not be released for another year, expert predictions based on yearly population numbers are reliable indicators of where the most intense redistricting—and gerrymandering— efforts will take effect.
Texas is the biggest winner, expected to add four seats to their already massive haul. The redistricting process has historically been extremely partisan in Texas, with Tom DeLay’s famous 2004 gerrymandering being only the latest example. The power given to those drawing the lines is further amplified by the vast expanse of land and skyrocketing number of people, allowing for lots of flexibility to arrive at the perfect partisan make-up to produce the results the Governor wants. The expected battle makes the upcoming election between incumbent Governor Rick Perry and ex-Houston Mayor Bill White that much more important. The winner of that race could easily control the mapping of eight House seats—more than enough to stymie President Obama’s second term agenda. Florida is another important state for both parties, as many expect it to add two seats to its Congressional delegation. State CFO Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum have been going negative on each other for months
already, and it will only intensify as outside money pours in, hoping to control the outcomes of another five seats. A Democratic sweep in New York, Florida, and Texas is not unimaginable based on the enthusiasm surrounding Sink’s campaign and excitement the national media is treating White’s with (as well as the seemingly unstoppable New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo). This could result in a swing of almost 20 seats to the Democratic Party, which would put them at an advantage for the next decade. Other states that are expected to gain or lose seats include Ohio, New Mexico, and Arizona. Each of these features a competitive governor’s race with unpopular incumbents favoring the challenger. From these and other smaller states alone, a swing of up to ten additional House seats is possible. Democratic losses across the board could mean devastation for President Obama’s agenda and the nation’s economic recovery. Wins could mean a generation of success for the Democratic Party, as well as a certifiable stable of formidable Presidential contenders for years to come, as governorships are a sought after credential. California, out in front nationally as usual, has instituted an independent commission of citizens that is charged with drawing boundaries apolitically. While Democrats have complained about California’s commission, because they will no longer be in charge, removing the polarization is the kind of change needed to right America’s ship. With more moderate districts nationally, more moderate Congressmen would emerge, and maybe (just maybe) there would be no more talk of “death panels” and accusations of socialism.
Ideological Roots of 21st Century Conflict By Adam Humayun Despite the end of the Cold War there is no shortage of conflict in the world today. Naturally, as seen in the struggles of the various powers to reach an accord over climate change at the Copenhagen talks, incongruity between the vital interests of various parties can come from economic differences. These differences are termed “vital” because of their importance, not because they cannot be the subject of mutually beneficial compromise. Conflicts based on matters of objective fact can, at least in theory, be resolved through compromise, if for no other reason than the mutual recognition by states that the alternatives to compromise are worse for both. There is another class of conflict, however, that arises not from the rational economic or political interests of individual states but from a much deeper, subjective part of their world-view. These are the irreconcilable differences between understandings of what it means to be human—and by extension, what the proper relationship of individuals are to their governments. It is difficult, if not impossible, to defuse this kind of conflict without changing the views of one or more actors: No compromise is possible because in this type of case winning means the vindication of identity and losing means total negation. In this century, the United States is likely to see a new challenge along philosophical lines. I do not believe that this challenge will come from the enemies we are fighting now in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The political philosophy of religious extremists such as Al-Qaeda is nebulous, poorly-defined and offers no signs of meaningful competition with the model of the West. To the extent that it will have influence outside a fanatical core, this will be predicated on extraneous factors such as economic and historical griev-
ances from colonialism. Neither will it come from Iran or Venezuela: these countries, whatever the scope of their regional ambitions, want things—namely military and diplomatic power-- that are based on rational-utility calculations and not on ideals. While their rhetoric holds out the promise of “Bolivarian” or “Islamic” alternatives to the Western model, it is end just tha – rhetoric without any credible intellectual development beyond the use
petrodollars as a political pacifier. North Korea, with its uniquely uncompromising racial-supremacist flavor of Stalinism, offers no challenge either – it relies on aid for day-to-day existence and its example is unlikely to be inspiring. The single greatest ideological challenge to the democratic values of the West comes, of course, from China. After 1989, the CCP has pursued a cautious strategy predicated on liberalization restricted to the economy. Meanwhile, it has moved away from the internationalist theme of Marxism and emphasized the nationalism of its Maoist intellectual heritage. We cannot afford to forget that the government with which we are dealing has, like the old Soviet Union, some important internal pressures that will compel it to behave aggressively. To a certain extent, the CCP may already be a prisoner of its own bellicose rhetoric over Taiwan, charges of currency manipulation, and the long history of documented abuses of its own citizens. The regime cannot af-
ford to back down because it has made the restoration of China’s economic and political power the source of its legitimacy. The real abuses that the Chinese people themselves have suffered over the past few centuries have created the ideal conditions for this cynical, manipulative strategy: co-opting entrepreneurs and supplying the urban middle class the prosperity that will keep them satisfied. At its base, this is a shell game where “bread and circuses” are used to draw the eyes of people away from the harsh restrictions on their freedoms, and the increasingly ugly picture which their government paints of their desires. An understanding of the ideological gulf between the U.S. and the Chinese government rests on an understanding of our own intellectual heritage. The United States was founded on the understanding of man propounded by Locke, Montesquieu and other Enlightenment figures: Mankind, born by default without an earthly ruler, was entitled to the fruits of its labor and to the freedom with which its mind began. Government is legitimized only by the consent of the governed. The greatest insight from our own history which can be applied to the Chinese situation today is this: without any popular check on government action, those in power tend to serve their own ends first. While the current system persists, these ends will be those of regime preservation—requiring more aggressive behavior to unite the populace against an external enemy. Mao is well-remembered for his belief that power comes “from the barrel of the gun.” Over the years – whatever the economic ends to which he and his successors have reached – no meaningful, lasting departure from this philosophy See Page 16
THE BALANCE OF POWER Millitary vs. the State
By Sarah Khederian South America, Africa and Eastern Europe have been plagued by military dictatorships of various severities over the past half century. With populist leaders, notorious torture regimes and bloody coups, it’s no surprise that populations hold both sentimental and hard feelings about their undemocratic pasts. A recent coup in Niger, the arrests of coup plotters in Turkey and the presence of military assistance in the wake of Chili’s devastating earthquake each present important revelations about the evolving role of the military in democratic societies. African politics has traditionally been dominated by personalized politics, corruption, nepotism and prolonged military rule. While Larry Diamond claims that African politics is entering a “(somewhat) new political era,” with “the world’s three poorest countries (Mali, Niger, and Sierra Leone)…becom[ing] electoral democracies,” the February 19 military coup in Niger may reverse Diamond’s optimism. The recently deposed president, Mamadou Tandja has been criticized over the past year for his autocratic policies including the dissolution of parliament and the extension of presidential term limits. Due to these increased restrictions on democratic institutions, Tandja faced both domestic and international dissent. The military coup and takeover by the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSDR) was heralded by the population as well as “local humanrights campaigners say[ing] the army has indeed halted a worrying turn of events.” The United States did not even explicitly condemn the coup. Instead the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, William Fitzgerald, stated that “we would encourage them [the CSDR] to move as quickly as possible if they are serious, and we hold them to that, to restore, in fact, the democracy that existed before Mamadou Tandja himself had begun to modify the constitution and extend his rule extrajudicially.” Other nations did not welcome the coup so readily, notably
France, which holds a vested interest in Niger’s uranium production. And while the CSDR claims it will return governance to civilian rule, the African Union, which recently strengthened its language against coups, argues that “a coup is still a coup”, despite its aims.
Turkey has found itself in a similar situation four times over the past half century (1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997). For the most part, the public’s tolerance of the Turkish Armed Forces’ overtly political role comes from the need to protect the secularism that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established after World War I. However, the discovery of what the current government (led by the Justice and Development Party, or AKP) believes to be a coup in the making has led to the first arrests of military officers since the creation of the modern Turkish state. The coup plot, codenamed “sledgehammer,” would plunge the nation into chaos, calling for the military to step-in and restore order. Turkey’s government and military have always existed in a tenuous balance, where the military intervenes when it feels the state is moving too far from secularism (recently, toward forms of political Islam). And while this investigation into the plot attempt appears to be the Turkish government taking serious steps towards keeping the military at bay (and potentially extricating it from political affairs altogether) and furthering the consolidation of its democracy, Turkish society
feels differently about the military. As an article in the Economist points out: “Millions of Turks believe that, had it not been for Ataturk and the army, there would be no Turkey today… For millions of secular Turks the army remains the sole guarantor of their freewheeling lifestyle.” The military plays a very different role in Chile, where the lasting memory of Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year brutal, military rule was evoked by the renewed Chilean armed forces in the aftermath of the February 27 earthquake. The previous Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet made the tough decision to deploy troops to stop the looting and crime which resulted from the earthquake’s damage. Though Chileans were grateful for the aid and protection the troops offered, others, like Hernan Vidal expressed their dissatisfaction with them: “‘I don’t know what they exist for,’ he said. ‘I guess to defend the country and to fight. But they’re real dictators, and it’s always their way.’” Each of these nations is at a different stage in their democratic development, trying to define the role of the military. Chileans’ coming to terms with their military history is something that all once military-led countries have to deal with and it seems that there is no better way for this to happen than through the humanitarian role the Chilean military has employed. However, the Turkish who have experienced a very different kind of military would be anxious to see the tension between the state and the Armed forces go away. Finally, the military in Niger has almost come out of the coup as a defender of democracy, though it remains to be seen whether the junta will actually secede power to a civilian government. One of the key characteristics of democratic society is the separation of the military and the political arena, yet these three diverse states have recently demonstrated the inherent tensions that exist between the two.
When Alexis de Tocqueville published the first volume of Democracy in America in 1835, he found a love for equality unique amongst other democracies of the day. It is this abstract penchant for egalitarianism that today still prevents the American education system from reaching its highest potential.
basis of his claim is that the appetite for equality creates an educational standard that lacks variance or exceptional forms. Average Americans never learn critical thinking or acquire a mastery of abstract concepts, and very few are highly educated. Tocqueville laments a nation
Colonial America was settled largely by those fleeing the oppressive social, religious, and political regimes of Europe. A class of landed nobility was and remains an impossibility in the United States because inheritance protocol dictates that wealth be divided amongst children – a drastic departure from European primogeniture standards. While this circulation of wealth negates the possibility of generations-long prosperity, there remains a constant awareness and apprehension of the dramatic difference between rich and poor as in Europe. Or, as Tocqueville puts it in Volume One of Democracy in America, “…one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”
collective body of citizens determines policy in a communal effort – which bonds individuals outside class or income. In Europe it was possible and customary for the elite classes to control political dialogue, whereas in America all classes of society must be regarded as potentially influential. American democracy demands a certain minimum level of education in order for all citizens to participate in a locally organized style of self-ruling. In some ways, Tocqueville’s claim of mediocrity in education arguably fails to retain saliency today. American universities and higher educational institutions are undisputed world leaders and serve as the birthplace of numerous technological and medical developments every day. With that said, though, it is our elementary and secondary schools that fail systemically. An obsession with assuring educational equality based on social class prevents the necessary shifting of resources for advancing promising students. American commitment to equality - to making sure each student, no matter their family financial stability, disability, or language barrier - essentially creates a drain on resources.If we as a country are to remain internationally competitive, and remove ourselves from the track of what Tocqueville warns is a mediocre, anti-intellectual culture, then we need to find new avenues for talented, gifted students. In short, it is a question of survival by investing in the leaders of tomorrow. Such avenues could include bilingual immersion schools, intense and properly funded fine arts programs, advanced science and mathematics curricula, as well as extending preschool education to younger pupils.
Exclusive or Equal: The Perception of Choice in American Education
The state of Massachusetts began ordering townships to create elementary schools in the late 1640s, insisting that all children attend. Though it would be many years before a modern standard of universal and mandatory education would emerge as we recognize it today, its heritage is deeply rooted in American social culture. Now, some 370 years later, American educational history is a complex, woven tapestry of good decisions, poor decisions, failed programs and unfulfilled commitments. The underlying theme of a disconnect between the need for educational egalitarianism and the allure of elitism remains, and it is this flaw that will continue to effect American equality-based education.
The defect in equality-based education as Tocqueville saw it is that, lacking sources of guaranteed wealth, there is no class of people with the financial freedom to pursue academic topics. He unhesitatingly describes the resulting culture as mediocre and anti-intellectual. The essential
By Chelsea St. Onge-May void of great artistic or scientific triumph, and sees instead a general mediocrity. Americans have seized upon the tradition of universal education rather than risk relegating knowledge as a privilege of the wealthy. Therein lays the most crucial challenge facing American education today: educational standards and funding have been framed as a choice between elitism and egalitarianism. From private school voucher programs to charter school funding allotments, we are led to analyze education in the context of class – every systemic policy change can be considered in terms of conflict between the affluent and the underprivileged. There are massive obstacles to overcoming this ingrained thought. The American federal system of governmental structures identifies and manages local issues at a local level. Necessarily then, the
America’s proud, four century-old tradition of universally available education is a landmark in egalitarianism. Schools must meet certain minimums and allow all students to attain basic skills. But if we are to truly regain our intellectual edge, or perhaps gain one for the first time, then we must reduce our somewhat unreasonable love for egalitarianism.
Why Isn’t Student Loan Reform a NoBrainer? By Elise Corbin It has been over a year since President Barack Obama first praised the proposed student loan reform, and about seven months since House Democrats passed their version of the bill. After waiting several months for its turn in the Senate, the bill was brought up again by President Obama, this time in his state of the Union Address. He emphasized all levels of education, asking that when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is renewed to expand these reforms to all 50 states, and to revitalize community colleges because, “a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job.” With this as his segue he turned to loan reform, outlining his plan: “To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years -- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.” The Senate received the bill on September 21, 2009, and was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pen-
sions the next day, where it has stayed ever since. But why has the progress on the bill stagnated? The benefits to college students brought by this bill are irrefutable, and today the increasing cost of college tuition and the hulking debts loom over many students after graduation. Surely a reform bill could only make things easier on the future leaders of this country. Furthermore, the reform is reported to save Washington about $87 billion over 10 years, aiding the elimination of federal deficit.
Opposition reaches the state level as well with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who wrote a letter to the President urging him to reassess his proposed changes to the student loan program. McDonnell predicts the loss of “hundreds of jobs” in Virginia if the bill passes, and calls the bill an unfunded mandate upon colleges and universities as reasons to reconsider. What the lending industry does not mention is that this number comes from a survey which counts all the workers employed by loan companies, rather than expected job losses. If the legislation does pass, lenders will not only still need to service the loans they have already made, but several will also gain lucrative contracts from the Department of Education to service federal direct loans, which would replace their federally subsidized loans. Additionally, there are other benefits included in the bill that the President did not mention in his State of the Union; the bill also contains funds for school modernization and construction, grants for state programs to increase college access and completion, investments in early education programs, and support for community colleges and minority serving institutions. Student loan reform would require some adjustment in both the private and public sector, and involves both positives and negatives. However, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and it seems reasonable when Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he has real confidence that the bill will pass.
The obvious dissenters are those in the lending industry, but the bill also faces an opposition from the Republican minority and even some Democrats. The Democratic majority has put student loans on the back burner during the extensive health-care deliberations. The lenders are claiming that the bill will eliminate thousands of jobs, and that there are ways to save the government money without shutting out private lenders. In their role as defenders of market competition, the Republicans side with the lenders.
The most recent news is that the reform was tacked onto the healthcare reform bill. The vote came to the floor of the House on Sunday, March 21st and was passed, eliminating a $60 billion program that subsidizes private loans and replacing it with government lending to students. The savings are designated to go towards Pell Grants, a program that would have otherwise seen cuts. The new bill also includes a $1.5 billion initiative that would cap a borrower’s monthly loan payments at 10 percent of income, down from 15 percent. All that remains is the Senate vote on the reconciliation bill.
DSM-V CONTROLS YOUR MIND From Page 9 Personality disorders are set for a sweeping re-organization. The ten disorders, including such familiar names as borderline and antisocial personalAutism, that media darling of mental ity disorder, will be replaced by five disorders, will see important changes. Autistic disorder and Asperger’s syndrome subtypes on a sliding scale. Although will be folded in with two other disorders the new criteria will likely help reduce overlap between disorders, they are into the broader grouping of “autistic spectrum disorder.” The change reflects a growing trend towards considering such disorders as facets of a syndrome related in cause and scope. essentially changes of phrasing. Others, however, are likely to make headlines.
In a conceptual change, Substance-Related Disorders is slated to become Addiction and Related Disorders. The distinction is subtle but crucial. Pathological gambling, formerly categorized as a problem of impulse control, is now one of addiction. The legal ramifications are worth considering. As addicts, are pathological gamblers less culpable for their actions? Are casinos responsible as enablers? Lawyers will certainly have an easier time convincing juries that gambling addiction is real with the weight of psychiatric opinion behind them. Other unconventional addictions are not expected yet, but the door is open for addiction to shopping or video games to appear in another fifteen years.
inmates are sociopaths. Though schizophrenia is one of the most researched and cherished mental illnesses, its family of disorders may too go under the knife. The subtypes, such as paranoid and catatonic schizophrenia, are somewhat arbitrary, and are expected to be cut. The rare and fascinating folie à deux, or shared psychotic disorder, lacks use as a diagnosis, and will fade into legend. Disorders new to the DSM-V may include hoarding, binge eating, restless leg syndrome, and hypersexuality. More tentative are seasonal affective disorder, Internet addiction, and the intriguing “male-to-eunuch gender identity disorder.”
a bit complicated for a general public that has trouble telling psychosis from psychopathy. A good public understanding of personality disorders is vital – one figure often kicked around suggests that twenty percent of prison
The DSM-V will likely have no sea changes—psychiatry is past her formative years. It is more significant as a reflection of what is and isn’t mainstream in abnormal psychology. Given the politicization of autism, depression, and their brethren, that’s a bit more important than the average academic debate.
IDEOLOGY: THE SECOND FRONT From Page 12 has been shown. The political philosophy of the CCP seems to be this: the ends justify the means. It may be that many officials within the current Chinese government sincerely mean to do good by their people, and that they have in many cases done real good. But the mechanism by which even legitimate policies are carried out is corrupted, and its capability circumscribed, by its inherently undemocratic nature. Certainly, many examples of cooperation appeared in the Cold War. Neither
the U.S. nor the U.S.S.R. wanted to be economically marginalized or incinerated; through bilateral treaties both sides often benefited from greater security in the nuclear realm and other areas dealing with certain “rational” conflicts. Yet there was no meaningful ideological compromise between Washington and Moscow – neither could there be when the two countries’ respective political systems were founded on entirely different understandings of humanity and its relationship to the government. We will see some degree of compromise and cooperation in the economic field with China in the years to come, and we ought
to seek this out in good faith. We ought especially to remember Eisenhower’s words in his 1953 speech, “The Chance for Peace”: “No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.” To vilify the Chinese as people – to blame them in any way for the abuses committed in their name – would be both unfair and factually wrong. But, emphatically, we must also recognize the fundamental limitations of where discussions with the Chinese Communist Party as it stands today can take us.
Are Kyrgyz Tulips Exotic Invasives? By William Schreiber Say what you will about him, during his tenure as president of the Kyrgyz Republic, Askar Akaev was a prolific writer. All of that changed in 2004, when he published the unfortunately titled Looking to the Future with Optimism. In it, Akaev argued that a Colored Revolution would not happen in Kyrgyzstan. Certainly, the March 2005 Tulip Revolution did not help sell Akaev’s Optimism. The book was a great reminder to world leaders to keep their memoirs in their desk drawers.
read this book, especially if you lack a full seven-to-eight hours to devote to sleep. Akaev’s prose exhibits the verbal kitsch of an antique store in Moscow. Kyrgyz Statehood, unlike Optimism, is rife with the embarrassing Central Asian tendency to confuse the language of democracy with former Communist vocabulary. Take for example the following passage from Akaev’s thoughts on history, or as he prefers to call it, “The national idea of Kyrgyzstan – Our Common Home”:
But Kyrgyzstan had Manas. Manas would save the republic. No, not the U.S. Air force Base called Manas, though the exorbitant base rent couldn’t hurt. The epic poem Manas. “The epos Manas, and the seven great precepts of Manas, became a kind of national Constitution for the Kyrgyz people, Akaev explained in Optimism. Manas is in many ways responsible for “determining the main directions and characteristics of the democratic process in the country.”
Roza Otunbayeva, the leader of the “opposition” that seized Bishkek a few weeks ago was in both the Akaev administration and the Bakayev administration that replaced it. Bakayev’s was the very regime she just ousted. It’s her third time around the block. Akaev writes that only “complainers and those of little faith” would see “isolated dramatic events” as pivotal. Here he is referring to a land dispute in a town called Aksy, where police fired into a crowd but were never charged. Here we start to see Akaev lose his credibility.
But Akaev himself was a believer until the very end. The movement’s flowery moniker stemmed from a December 2004 speech accusing the West of trying to transplant “tulip revolutions” of compliant allies. He once again promised his people it would not work in Kyrgyzstan. Colored Revolution revisionism came in vogue this year, after the world witnessed political roundabouts in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. In that spirit, it’s worth asking what made Akaev so confident his regieme could avoid the writing on the wall. Geographically, Kyrygyzstan was similar to Georgia. It had the same weak democratic institutions and the same problems with corruption. Akaev freely admitted this.
loyalty. There is no democratic accountability, and unlike in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the relatively small number of elites prevents an authoritarian figure from excercising the axe option. No one can run a country entirely alone.
He writes that human rights are fundamental to democracy. “Kyrgystan – the country of human rights,” that should be the new national idea. Yet at Aksy he ignored human rights where it was convenient. He writes about the need to reduce corruption, but the election that inspired the Tulip Revolution brought two of his sons into parliament. “Hard work lies before the Kyrgyz people in preparation for the wide range of activities devotes to our glorious history. [Fortunately] We have enough scientific cadres who will undertake this task with enthusiasm.” Despite his fondness for cadres and national ideas, not to mention his inability to tell hard from soft science, Akaev also presents some insight on the limitations and failures of political process in the Post-Communist space. You just have to read between the lines.
Luckily for the uninitiated, Akaev had already written an entire volume on the subject: Kyrgyz Statehood and the National Epos Manas.
In Kyrgyz Statehood, we learn that one of the greatest threats to the country is “poor coordination” caused by “democratic shortages.” It’s hard to imagine a more nebulous description of a national security threat, but it is likely Akaev was referring to the impossibility of cooperation between political elites.
Before we go any further, let me be perfectly clear: I am not suggesting you
One problem for elites in Kyrgyzstan is that there are few disincentives for dis-
It is still unclear whether the Tulip Revolution actually happened. Was it genuine change inspired by democratic mass protests, or was it a negotiated show to ease the tension on the streets? What is clear was that Akaev’s illiberal rule went contrary to all of his own national ideas. If, after studying the models of Georgia and Yugoslavia, Akaev could not see the consequences of his policy, it was probably out of self-delusion. But 2010 proved Akaev was profoundly right when he wrote that even dramatic historical events, in the end, are only stages in a difficult historical process: “Tolerance, patience and a consistent step-by-step movement forward toward democracy is the best approach.” Bakayev, whose rule was by all accounts as corrupt as his predecessor’s, is gone. Perhaps Otunbayeva is genuine. Let’s hope Roza takes those first steps forward. Let’s be optimistic.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY By Moses Weisberg Like in many issues, the Democrats are mistaken about job creation because of their belief that government spending can solve all the moral, social, and personal problems of the nation. This is most evident in the first iteration of the jobs bill that came with a price tag of $85 billion. It was subsequently slashed down to $15 billion when the public began howling. Apparently the first stimulus and second authorization of spending didn’t entirely cover every Democrat pet project, so they felt compelled to sweep up the remains under the guise of creating jobs.
ment even if they were never at risk of firing. True economic prosperity and job creation will come when we remedy the underlying problems of the economy. Businesses, small and large, are starved for capital. After a decade of negligently loose monetary policy, businesses are trying to survive with realistic assessments of risk. They are denied access to banks because of government-sponsored sub prime debt, and are denied access to personal capital because of restrictive capital gains taxes.
The federal government should realize that it cannot centrally plan its way out of this dilemma. Rather, it should allow the conditions of prosperity in which business can thrive. It is incomprehensible to expect job creation without business success. Along these lines, the government should stop trying to pick winners and losers. It should stop subsidizing harebrained job creation plans that entail giving money to politically favored groups. It should ease the restricBoth history and common sense tions on the access to capital and show this to be false. Real economic allow the American economic prosperity and durable jobs come machine function at what it does from actual economic development. best: making America prosperWhen the government has to spend ous. half a million dollars to “create” one job, something is wrong. That reality The government has neither would even be better than what the the knowledge nor the ability to Democrats now try to sell us. Obama dictate what needs to be done to has changed the metric for job cre- create jobs. It can bluster about ation three times. He began with the how bad the economy is, but it lacks the foresight to intervene in respectable measurement of jobs the amazingly complex machine created. When he realized that he that is the American economy. wasn’t really creating a net surplus The result will be the creation of jobs, he changed to “jobs saved or created” to subjectively claim jobs (or maybe just involvement) of a few token jobs. The real creation that he thought would have been will be crippling debt that puts cut, but were preserved. When his efforts turned out to fail even by this our triple-A credit rating at risk. The Democrats love to talk about metric, he changed to “jobs saved, small business and job creation, created, or involved.” That means but when the rubber meets that if the government contracts the road, they want to increase a company to manufacture some good, all of the workers involved in the scope, control, and size of the project are counter among those government at the expense of economic prosperity. who owe their job to the governThe rhetoric that politicians use is a good indicator of what the American people care about. This is why Cap and Trade and Healthcare were almost entirely and mostly (respectively) sold on the basis of their ability to create jobs. In addition to showing the importance of job creation to the American people, these two bills also reveal the character of Democrat job creation. If government spending could truly create wealth, American would never be poor.
By Ryan Ashley Ask an average American what their government’s number one job should be, and you’ll probably hear jobs. Our GDP may have bounced back from -6% to +6%, but that’s not comforting at all to someone who is unemployed. As the old adage goes: recession is when your neighbour loses his job, depression is when you lose yours. Let’s be clear: the primary job of the Obama administration is economic recovery, and job creation is one of the most important aspects of that task. The first major bill that was signed by President Obama was the stimulus bill, which saved or created almost a million jobs by investing in crucial projects in districts across the country. The stimulus bill effectively stopped the bleeding; instead of a free fall of about 800,000 jobs lost per month, we now have about net zero job loss. However, it is important to realize that job creation is not a one-billfix-all issue; there is no magic bullet that will fix America’s job machine. Instead, a series of steps must be taken in order to put America back to work. As job creation is an intrinsic issue within most public policy decisions, jobs can be created in any number of ways through government action. What that means is that an energy bill can also be jobs bill, a trade bill can also be a jobs bill, and tax cuts can also be a jobs bill. So, what comes next is even more investment in the American people by our government. The stimulus bill brought essential projects to districts that even Congressional Republicans touted as sound investments, but there is still plenty of work to be done. This means more direct government funding for job creating projects, a freeing
of private capital, and even more middle class and small business tax cuts. As I said before, more government funding for many types of projects can result in job creation. So why not fund energy projects and infrastructure improvements, employing Americans in the process? Of course not all job creation will be spurred by direct government projects, the backbone of the American economy has always been small businesses and entrepreneurs, and any jobs policy must make it easier for small businesses to restart America’s job machine. That is why President Obama has signed some of the largest small business tax cuts in history, with even more to come including a massive capital gains tax for middle class Americans. Also, the historic health care bill that was recently passed allows for small businesses to stop choosing between hiring employees and providing them with health insurance, by giving federal aid for health insurance and providing exchanges that allow employers to pool their employees the same way that large companies and congress do. Another crucial step for allowing small businesses to thrive is giving them the capital and credit that they need to invest in their future. By bringing our nation back from the brink of economic disaster, and by promoting soon-tocome financial regulations, the Democratic Party is supporting America’s small businesses from bank abuses and usury that have stifled economic growth for decades. By investing in crucial projects, promoting small businesses, and freeing private capital, the Democratic Party and President Obama are taking the first steps towards fixing America’s jobs machine.
The spring 2010 issue of the student-run publication of George Washington University's poltical science department.