Political Review 16.4 | May 2012 | wupr.org
My goal... combining public health and medicine to help shape health care policy. My motto: Live life with determination
My Career Advisors helped me figure out how to follow up and land the opportunity. My summer 2011 internship
Senior Class Council: I serve as VP of Campus Affairs Vaidehi Ambai, who will graduate in May 2012 with a major in Anthropology and minor in Public Health, interned with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF this past summer in Atlanta, Georgia.
Getting to know myself...
Initially, I was going to major in Biomedical Engineering. However, after my sophomore year, I realized that I didn’t have a passion for it. I explored my options and chose Anthropology, which feels like a great fit.
Bringing my story to life...
With the help of my Career Advisors, I identified my interests. Then I researched different Atlanta-based organizations over
winter break. This is how I found my summer internship on the UNICEF website. My internship with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF focused on fundraising and research. It provided me with a great experience and valuable skills.
Currently I’m working on two diabetes-related research projects. I’d like to finish both and then go to medical school. Ultimately, I would like to combine my interest in medicine and health policy.
FROM PASSION SPRINGS PURPOSE
“If you get thrown off you course it’s okay to take time to figure out where to go from here...” - Vaidehi’s Career Tip
Upcoming Events Junior Jumpstart: Registration Deadline April 30 Junior Jumpstart is a one-day conference for third-year students to explore their career interests after final exams in May. Report Your Plans/Win $100: Deadline: June 1 Let us know what you plan to do this summer. Will you be traveling, working, attending school? Let us know by June 1 for a chance to win one of five prizes of $100. Summer Parties: June 6-28 Network with past and present students and meet others that share in the success of Washington University in St. Louis. Parties will be held in St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C.
Upcoming Job & Internship Deadlines Direct Action and Research Training Center American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research Peace Corps U.S. Department of Agriculture PolitiCorps The White House Grassroots Campaigns Apply, RSVP, and read more in CAREERlink at careercenter.wustl.
Editors’ Notes WUPRites, It is difficult to overstate the fervor and manic punditry that has surrounded the “war on women” over the past few months. Whether it is a debate on contraception, employer rights to deny insurance coverage, or Ann Romney’s worth as a “working” mother, tempers have run high and commentators have quickly separated into defensive and aggressive groups. One issue neglected in the national conversation on women and politics is the extent to which women have a formal say in making the laws that affect the above controversies. We often talk about living in a post-gender society and about increased gender equality in the workplace. Yet, in spite of our self-congratulatory rhetoric, only 17% of the United States Congress is female. The United States ranks 70th in women’s representation internationally and has yet to elect a female chief executive. Men, of course, can represent women—one need look no further than Joe Biden and his leadership on the Violence Against Women Act to recognize this truth— but representation that more closely approximates gender parity would likely affect policy outcomes in a myriad of subtle ways. Why are women so underrepresented in politics? Perhaps women are naturally less motivated to seek political office than men. Or maybe entrenched gender norms in the United States suggest that political office ought to be reserved for men. Whatever the reason, be it demand-side or supply-side, it is a fact that many nations have surpassed us in female representation: India, Liberia, and Rwanda, to name only a few. Many of the countries that outpace the United States on this score offer limited rights and opportunities for women. This should trouble us. It suggests the counterintuitive idea that social progress, economic prowess, and political stability do not necessarily usher in an era of gender equality in the political sphere. One thing that is clear from the clashes and conflicts in the “war on women” is that women’s issues are not confined to the private sphere. The personal is political. And it is time for women to step into the public sphere to join the House and Senate ranks—and one day to assume the office of the presidency. On a personal note, this marks our final issue as Editors-in-Chief, and we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for reading WUPR. Producing this magazine has defined our four years at Wash U, and we have loved all our time spent engaged in its production. We hope that we have strengthened WUPR as an organization, and we know that we are leaving it in capable hands.
Thank you and keep on keepin’ on, Corey Donahue Hannah Shaffer Editors-in-Chief
Table of Contents National 5
Why Trayvon? Will Dobbs-Allsopp
Living in America’s Shadows Raja Krishna
Lessons Unlearned: The JOBS Act of 2012 Michal Orczyk
Women in Politics
She Blinded Me with Science Cici Coquillette
The Cries of the Innocent Gabe Rubin
Deep in the Heart of Texas: Women’s Health (or Lack Thereof) Daniel Rubin
Iran and Nuclear Politics: An interview with Ambassador Hossein Mousavian Sonya Schoenberger
Lifting the Veil of Abortion Policy in Chile Taylor Flohr
Give Her the Gun: Women in Combat Bryan Baird
Feeding Frenzy Andrew Luskin
Confronting Rape Myths on Campus: A Response Moira Moynihan 26
Déjà Vu or Crème Fraiche: A Tight Battle in the French Election Kelsey Garnett
The Afghanistan Quandary Nahuel Fefer
Paul Ryan’s Path to Nowhere Jared Turkus
The Daughters of Egypt Taka Yamaguchi
Africa’s Iron Lady: Sirleaf and the Role of Women Molly Prothero
Staff List Editors-in-Chief Corey Donahue Hannah Shaffer Executive Director Bryan Baird Programming Director Cici Coquillette Staff Editors Anna Applebaum Peter Birke Nick Hinsch Siddharth Krishnan Director of New Media Taka Yamaguchi Web Editor Andrew Luskin Treasurer Will Dobbs-Allsopp Directors of Design Stephanie Trimboli Audrey Westcott Layout Team Mitch Atkin Ismael Fofana Charlotte Jeffries Beenish Qayam Henry Osman Emily Santos Managing Copy Editor Stephen Rubino Copy Editors Kelsey Berkowitz Krupa Desai Abby Kerfoot Moira Moynihan Henry Osman Mary Prothero (Molly) Celia Rozanski Sonya Schoenberger
Katie Stillman Miriam Thorne Staff Writers Joey Berk Alex Bluestone Michael Cohen Matt Curtis Seth Einbinder Jay Evans Nahuel Fefer Kelsey Garnett Kim Gaspar Arian Jabdabaie Alex Kaufman Kevin Kieselbach Mike Kovacs Raja Krishna Ben Lash Trevor Leuzinger Martin Lockman Andrew Luskin Lennox Mark Fahim Masoud Molly McGregor Andreas Mitchell Zach Moskowitz Moira Moynihan Mariana Oliver Michal Orczyk Stephen Perlberg Daniel Rubin Gabe Rubin Razi Safi Sonya Schoenberger Jared Turkus Megan Zielinski Front Cover Illustration Simin Lim
Alex Chiu Kate Cohen Esther Hamburger Dara Katzenstein Simin Lim David Maupin Michelle Nahmad Karly Nelson Grace Preston Hannah Shaffer Audrey Westcott Board of Advisors Dean Ewan Harrison Political Science Department Robin Hattori Gephardt Institute for Public Service Professor Bill Lowry Political Science Department Professor Andrew Rehfeld Political Science Department Unless otherwise noted, all images are from MCT Campus. The Washington University Political Review is a student-led organization committed to encouraging and fostering awareness of political issues on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. To do this, we shall remain dedicated to providing friendly and open avenues of discussion and debate both written and oral on the campus for any and all political ideas, regardless of the leanings of those ideas.
Back Cover Illustration David Brennan Editorial Illustrators Mitch Atkin Laura Beckman Elizabeth Beier David Brennan
National By The Numbers 0
Days Ann Romney has worked during her entire life, according to Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen.
Pesos that a member of President Obama’s Secret Service detail owes a Colombian prostitute.
Days after the Trayvon Martin shooting that George Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second degree murder.
St. Louis penguins that have bitten a presidential candidate (Newt Gingrich).
What the Obamas paid in income tax in 2011.
Percent of Ted Nugent’s comments that he believed were positive, before going on to call Nancy Pelosi a “sub-human scoundrel”.
Amount that the General Services Administration, an agency tasked with reining in excess spending, spent on a lavish conference in Las Vegas.
Proposed tax of the Buffett Rule for those earning over $1,000,000.
Why Trayvon? Will Dobbs-Allsopp
n February 26th in Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s house, hoodie up and carrying only a pack of Skittles and an iced tea. At the same time, 28-year-old George Zimmerman was patrolling the nearby area in his truck; there had been several recent burglaries in the community, and he was captain of the neighborhood watch group meant to put an end to the crime outbreak. Zimmerman spotted Martin walking through the quiet, gated community, called the police to report seeing a suspicious person, and moments later got out of his truck. Somehow, a fight ensued; tragically, it ended with Zimmerman shooting and killing Martin. The story has since rocketed to the forefront of national discourse, and in a highly uncharacteristic move of the 24-hour news cycle culture, it has stayed there. Pundits, bloggers, academics, government officials from the Sanford police chief to President Obama, have all contributed to an endless
After all, Martin’s case is just another manila folder in a police drawer filled with an unfathomable number of equally distressing incidents. Take what happened in a Bronx apartment just a few weeks before Trayvon Martin’s death. 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was opening the door to his grandmother’s building when he noticed police officers from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit coming towards him. Panicked, he sprinted up to her apartment and shut the door. The police followed; though police observers had reported the possible butt of a gun tucked into Graham’s waistband, they did not wait for back up. Graham was frantically trying to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet when Officer Richard Haste shot him in the chest, and killed him. Afterwards, it was revealed that Graham had been completely unarmed. The story made news for a couple of weeks, but nowhere near to the extent of the Martin-Zimmerman episode. Why? The Graham shooting seems to have many of the
In short, the Martin case has become a blank slate. dialogue about Martin’s death. To be sure, the incident involves some hot button issues like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, where a person under a reasonable threat may use force in self-defense without an obligation to first retreat. Debates have also flared over whether Zimmerman is a racist, or if hoodies are suspicious articles of clothing. It makes sense that the reaction to the story has been so large. Yet I can’t help wondering: why Trayvon? Why does this tragedy, his tragedy, particularly warrant so much attention?
same inflammatory elements. Like Martin, Graham was a young, unarmed black teenager whose life was needlessly cut short. Martin’s death has fueled discussion on the racial profiling of blacks and Latinos by law enforcement; yet wouldn’t Graham’s death at the hands of a white cop be as pertinent to this issue as Martin’s at the hands of a Hispanic private citizen? Apparently not. Of course, nobody can fully comprehend why the death of Trayvon Martin has become a daily topic of national debate, but perhaps one reason is the mystery that
shrouds the whole affair. We have little evidence of what happened that night after Zimmerman left his truck, other than his own statements to the police. The result is that anyone with an opinion on any subject from race relations to gun control laws can find something in Martin’s death that justifies their own previously held beliefs. And because more people have more to say, the story has grown to epic proportions. In short, the Martin case has become a blank slate. David Carr, in his New York Times article from April 1 entitled “A Shooting, and Instant Polarization,” probably says it a lot better than I do. He writes that due to social media, “everyone with a keyboard is theoretically a creator and distributor of content. [They] begin from behind a firmly established battle line, then row backward to find the facts that they need.” Carr’s piece is a warning, a criticism of how cable news and social media can cavalierly treat a subject that nobody really knows anything about. Yet I am not so sure his take need be so negative. The high publicity surrounding the case, because of people’s tendency to project their own opinion onto the few known facts, has led to an important realization. On April 8th, an ABC News/Washington Post Poll conducted in response to Martin’s death found that 84% of blacks think that minorities do not receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system. Among whites, 49% agree, and 44% think minorities receive equal treatment. Clearly there is a divide over whether there is a racial profiling problem in this country,. The nature of the discourse surrounding Martin’s death has cast a muchneeded light on a subject too often left to judicial shadows. Sometimes, a blank slate is necessary to start an important conversation. Will Dobbs-Allsopp is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living in America’s Shadows: Urban Decay and Public Housing in the American City Raja Krishna
ubert Humphrey said in his final speech as Vice President that “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are... in the shadows of life.” If this is true, then the moral test of the United States government ought to be the way it treats the residents of public housing projects. They live in the shadows of skyscrapers that tower over their housing units, the shadows of a national media that rarely gives them any attention, and the shadows of big businesses that dominate the US urban centers..
Structural Damage: White Flight and Red Lines The problems facing public housing today can be largely located in the history of segregation. As black populations moved into cities from the 1930s –1960s, our nation became familiar with the term ‘white flight’; a name referring to the clamoring of moneyed white people to leave their once-beloved city cores in order to live in the serene, black-free suburbs. Businesses, jobs and economic prosperity followed. Fearing that a new influx of black people would lower city property values and make the inner city unattractive to businesses, the actions of white Americans helped make that fear a reality. By fleeing to the suburbs, they created a poor city core; as impoverished minorities flooded in, jobs were swept away to the suburbs. City cores could have flourished as mixed-income environments with high rates of upward mobility, as they had since the late 19th century. Instead, ‘white flight’ helped turn them into economic sinkholes. This was especially true for the medium-sized, mainly working-class cities of the Rust Belt. A second selffulfilling prophecy that led to urban decay was the banks’ practice of ‘redlining’, the consistent denial of loans or mortgages to certain neighborhoods. The name came from the red lines that banks would literally draw around poor or racially diverse neighborhoods on city maps, encircling the neighborhoods they would later flatly deny services. Because banks believed that certain urban neighborhoods would wither away after a fatal injection of black people, their refusal to pump money into such neighborhoods made it difficult for suddenly capital-deficient neighborhoods to flourish, thus bringing about their demise. Although ‘redlining’ began in 1934 with the creation of the government-sponsored Federal Housing Administration, denying mortgage loans to entire neighborhoods based solely on their racial
makeup is still prevalent today. Even after government-sanctioned segregation policies were outlawed in the United States, private lenders continue to unethically discriminate against poorer, racially diverse neighborhoods.. Studies have shown that even after controlling for factors such as income and credit history, blacks and Hispanics routinely get rejected by banks at a higher rate than other races; even when they do get loans, they pay much higher interest rates than do members of other races. So how do ‘white flight’ and red lines relate to the decline of public housing in the US city? These two self-fulfilling prophecies helped create the demand for public housing. Yet their prevalence in the story reveals the background of cities’ attitudes towards public housing and urban revitalization projects. If city governments were composed of those who moved in fear of black dominion of the city, and if banks institutionalized racism through discriminatory loaning practices, in what mindset did cities approach their poor?
A Shifting Mindset: From Containment to Integration Cities have approached public housing with two distinct policies: containment and integration. To understand containment, one needs to look no further than perhaps the most infamous failure of public housing: the St. Louis’ Pruitt-Igoe projects. From the view of the 1950s St. Louis Housing Authority, the increasingly poor black population in the city center was spreading like an oil spill, slowly creeping past its boundaries –, a scary prospect for a city that believed that poor blacks were a pollution rather than a population to be uplifted and assisted. To stem this flow, the city decided that the best solution would be to destroy the poor slums and cram all displaced persons into a cluster of 11-story concrete buildings, collectively called the Pruitt-Igoe housing project. City officials believed that if the poor were sequestered, there would be more space for commercial interests downtown that could lure back whites and prosperity. The project was a disaster of epic proportions. Completed in 1954, its thirty-three massive buildings were razed just twenty years later after the complex descended into poverty, crime, and disrepair. Much has been written about the role architectural and political factors played in Pruitt-Igoe’s failure, but it ultimately owed its failure
Our concentrated urban poor are stuck in a cycle of desperation, and until now, their pleas for help have echoed unheard across the cracked streets they are forced to call home.
Urban Decay: The Pruitt-Igoe housing projects being demolished in 1972 and the the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects in 2008
to the mindset of containment that led to its creation. Concretizing existing structural inequality in segregated public housing only furthered the problem the city wanted to eliminate. Thankfully, this mindset is starting to change. While redlining and practices of discrimination continue (albeit in subtler forms), new government policies have made them more difficult to pursue. Cities are also taking a new approach to public housing. Countless studies have attributed the cause of violence and drugs in public housing units to the sheer concentration of poor residents. With a system that can impose a concentration of the least well off, there are few role models for success in the community, few opportunities for upward mobility and economic success, and no access to adequate education; the concentrated urban poor are stuck in a cycle of desperation. Until now, their pleas for help have echoed unheard across the cracked streets of their homes.
A New HOPE One new government program, entitled HOPE VI, may better understand the problems facing the urban poor. HOPE VI is structured around the demolition of old public housing units and the construction of livable quarters capable of creating a mixed-income community. In other words, instead of concentrating the poor in their own section of the city, HOPE VI strives to integrate businesses, role models, and fresh ideas back into downtown. Since its 1992 inception HOPE VI had issued over $6.1 billion in grants to approximately 132 housing authorities. One of the hallmarks of the HOPE VI program is its emphasis on community, especially the linking of successes (such as reductions in crime and unemployment) directly back to community leaders. While the program has some flaws—some displaced public housing residents cannot afford the new mixed-income rents—its
‘heart’ is in the right place.Considering how the urban poor have historically been treated in the United States and St. Louis, this is a success in itself.
A Long Way Forward A few weeks ago, the BBC released a video about St. Louis’ beloved Delmar Boulevard. Yet the video didn’t characterize Delmar as the quirky, eclectic street that is the face of University City culture. Instead, it revealed that Delmar sharply divides the city of St. Louis into two wholly separate and desperately unequal halves. While Census data shows that from 1990 to 2010, almost every US city became significantly more integrated, one need only cross Delmar to see that ‘significant’ is a relative term. Regardless, the mindset of integration behind HOPE VI is a good start, but good intentions and $6.1 billion are not enough to solve the persistent problems of urban decay. Many black leaders call for a domestic version of the Marshall Plan: an enormous expenditure of money to redevelop our cities. Regardless of what solution is ultimately implemented, the nation should heed Vice President Humphrey’s advice and stop minimizing the plight of the urban poor.
For more on Pruitt-Igoe, watch the documentary, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth. Raja Krishna is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is studying economics, political science, Spanish, and Chinese. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Lessons Unlearned: The JOBS Act of 2012 Michal Orczyk
randed with an irresistible acronym and the claim of being a “job-creating” measure, the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) recently signed into law is actually an unfortunate legislative mistake. The JOBS Act has two important provisions. First, it creates a new category of businesses called ‘emerging growth companies’ that will be exempt for up to five years from many of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s reporting and accounting requirements for public offerings. EGC’s are defined as any business with reported revenues of less than $1 billion dollars. They can also raise $50 million of capital (up from $5 million) before registering with the SEC. Second, the Act removes many restrictions from the practice of crowd-funding, which allows startups to solicit funding online from multiple investors instead of relying on more traditional methods of selling equity. Opponents of the Act have warned that it will lead to fraud, but supporters of the bill counter that it will stimulate employment by making it easier for start-ups to raise capital and go public. Tim Worstall of Forbes writes, “Sure, an increase in fraud is a societal cost of this change in the rules: but what about the societal benefit that might also emerge?” ‘Might’ is the key word here, and there are several reasons to doubt Worstall’s claim. The United States, and particularly Califor-
nia, has always been the prime location for high-tech startups looking for investors. High-flying claims from President Obama and congressional supporters who say that the Act will allow “the next Google or the next Apple” to gain funding are unrealistic, according to many critics of the bill. The JOBS Act will not promote high-performing, high-tech job-creating enterprises, but mostly smaller, more mundane businesses. This would still be a good thing—if the Act would actually have the effect of making capital cheaper for these small businesses. Yet with the absence of traditional SEC regulations, investors will likely demand higher accounting standards. Yoni Jacobs, an in-
vestment strategist at Charter Prophet Capital told CNBC, “If anything, I might be more demanding now because there is more room for companies to hide problems.” So in many cases, SEC regulations will simply be substituted for higher standards from investors. And in the cases where self-imposed standards aren’t met, capital will simply become more expensive. James Kwak of the BaselineScenario writes, “The less confidence that investors have in a company’s prospects,
The JOBS Act will increase instances of fraud, raise the cost of equity for many businesses, and lead to bad investment decisions.
the cheaper that company will have to sell its stock.” Faced with less transparency and lower reporting standards, investors will be less able to evaluate investments. Finally, even in the few cases where capital becomes more readily available, it may be diverted to the wrong places. This is the most commonly heard criticism of the JOBS Act: capital may end up being directed away from productive investments and towards shoddy e-businesses and fraudulent schemes. As the nation emerges from a financial crisis precipitated in part by bad investments and fraudulent practices, one would hope that leaders would realize that some regulations could in fact make for a better business and investment climate. So why did the Act garner nearly unanimous Congressional approval, despite strong criticism from investors associations and prominent legislators like Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL,) who called the Act a “halfboiled concoction of ill-conceived ideas”? One reason may be the Act’s claim of promoting job creation, irresistible at a time when unemployment continues to be a primary electoral issue. Another is that powerful interests on Wall Street stand to benefit from provisions slipped into this legislation. The Act removes many of the rules that kept stock analysts and stockbrokers from colluding to dupe investors—a practice that caused scandal on Wall Street in the early 2000s. It also removes some of the important investor protections and reporting requirements required by Sarbanes-Oxley act of 2002, as the memory of scandal on Wall Street begins to fade from public memory. As The New York Times reports, Wall Street investment firms are already busy figuring out how best to exploit this newest bone. The passage of the US JOBS Act is a sign that Congress has yet to learn the lessons of its past lapses in regulatory oversight, and continues to promote the short-term benefit of a few Wall Street firms over the long-term prosperity of the American economy.
Michal Orczyk is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Ryan’s Path
to Nowhere photo by Gage Skidmore | Wikimedia Commons
n March 29, 2012, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) The Path to Prosperity budget plan for 2013. The Ryan budget claims the following: to cut $5 trillion of federal spending over ten years, to shrink the size of government spending to 20% of GDP by 2015, to reduce deficits to 3% of GDP by 2015, to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), and to offer massive tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, estimates that his plan would pay off our $15.4 trillion national debt by 2050. President Obama, on the other hand, called it “a Trojan horse…thinly veiled social Darwinism disguised as deficit reduction.” Unfortunately, the reality of the plan is even worse; Ryan’s plan would nurture the corporate interests favored by the Republican Party while allowing the debt and deficit to soar. If he were serious about cutting the federal debt and deficit, his plan would have focused more on shrinking our military and fully privatizing welfare programs. Instead, his unbalanced plan shows that he cares less about the deficit and more about selling out to corporate interests. The Path to Prosperity strongly emphasizes increasing military spending. Military spending over the decade would be $6.2 trillion; an amount that Ryan says is “consistent with America’s military goals and strategies”. He claims that the military is not a driver of debt burden, ignoring that the government has spent nearly $1.4 trillion on the war in Afghanistan since 2001, and that ending the war would save $105 billion per year. This is equal to $1.05 trillion over ten
If Congressman Ryan were serious about cutting the federal debt and deficit, his plan would have focused more on shrinking our military and fully privatizing welfare programs. Instead, his unbalanced plan shows that he cares less about the deficit and more about selling out to corporate interests. years, or 21% of all of Ryan’s proposed cuts. Far from being “consistent with America’s goals and strategies,” excessive military spending is bankrupting this country. Paul Ryan should be proposing to cut rather than increase military spending. The Path to Prosperity correctly identifies federal health care programs as a huge financial liability. Medicaid eats fifty-seven cents of every dollar spent on health care by the federal government while Medicare will cost 3.7% of GDP in 2012. The Congressional Budget Office expects the costs of both programs to rise exponentially over the next decade. Ryan favors cutting Medicare and Medicaid by $975 billion over ten years. The plan would also repeal Obamacare, which is expected to cost $1.6 trillion over ten years. Ryan’s plan acknowledges that federal welfare is untenably expensive, but fails to take the logical step of phasing it out entirely. To pay for these programs, the government either has to raise taxes or borrow money. If our creditors ever become reluctant to lend money to the government, people who have become dependent on welfare will get abruptly cut off. In the long term, it will be less painful to get accustomed to a country without government welfare if the process is carried out slowly. Privatization is a much safer, cheaper solution. People are more responsible with their own money because they have a personal incentive to be. Politicians have no incentive to cap spending because the money is removed from personal attachment. Phasing out welfare would save the government at least $3 trillion over ten years. Ryan’s plan simplifies the tax code, but only to favor the richest 1% of Americans. Marginal tax rates would be cut to 10% for individuals and 25% for corporations, and his plan repeals the Alternate Minimum Tax and all taxes in Obamacare. ThinkProgress estimates that this amounts to $3 trillion in tax cuts only for the wealthiest 1%, which would in turn add $3 trillion to the deficit. The Tax Policy Center estimates that on the whole, Ryan’s plan would cut federal revenue by $900 billion per year. The Ryan plan is right to raise the alarm over the United States’ unsustainable budget deficits. But the plan ultimately does little to tackle the deficit and instead caters to Republican special interests. Instead of adopting the debacle that is the Ryan plan, the United States should get serious about reducing military and welfare spending and set itself on a path to fiscal sustainability.
Jared Turkus is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Women in Politics
women in politics
She Blinded Me With Science: The Perils of Excluding Women from Scientific Testing Cici Coquillette
e hear the phrase “all men are created equal” and assume that it means, “all people—male and female—are created equal.” However, the use of a gendered male model for the ideal human, particularly in science, has had negative impacts for women. The hidden gender ideology in science means that our understanding of physical biology often comes with androcentric baggage, and also that women are excluded from scientific studies under the assumption that the male model will work for all humans. Unfortunately, this assumption is simply not true—from cancer treatments to crash test dummies, the simple fact that men and women have different physiology and different needs has been ignored for all too long, often to the detriment of women. The origin of this bias isn’t a coincidence: historically, women and minorities have been excluded from the scientific establishment. With most of the hard-hitting scientific work done by middle-class white men, some of their values and biases were destined to seep into their theories. Furthermore, because most scientific practitioners shared these values and biases, they were rarely questioned and therefore perpetuated the theory. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the gendered understanding of the biology of reproduction: most of us are familiar with what feminist philosopher Kathleen Okruhlik calls “the Sleeping Beauty/ Prince Charming model of reproduction.” The passive, receptive egg awaits the active, dominant sperm, which then penetrates the egg at conception. We’ve managed to add a layer of gender ideology to our understanding of gametes—just as we expect women to be submissive and passive and men to be active and dominant, so we expect their sex cells to carry the same attributes. In fact, the egg plays a much more active role; the egg has microvilli which reach out, clasp oncoming sperm, and pull them into the center of the egg. Though the scientific establishment has known about the existence of these microvilli since 1895, this information has not been reliably integrated into scientific theory, perhaps because it departs from our gendered, normative notion of how biology should be.
This same bias pervades our understanding of the differences in men and women’s biology even to this day. We’re accustomed to using a single male standard as the model for both sexes, even when that model doesn’t work for women. As Reshma Jagsi, oncologist at the University of Michigan Medical School, notes, “We’ve all been so subconsciously exposed to this male medical model, where the anatomy textbook shows you the male, and there’s one chapter on the female… She’s presented as a variant on the standard.” This understanding of women as an aberration from a male norm is most evident in the use of crash-test dummies. Crash-test dummies have been used to test auto safety since the mid-1940’s. However, all of these dummies had average male builds—“female” crash-test dummies were
With most of the hard-hitting scientific work done by middleclass white men, some of their values and biases were destined to seep into their theories.
only widely introduced in 2003. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), women’s smaller builds—particularly their lower bone densities and less muscular necks—means that they are at higher risk of injury during crashes. Indeed, University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics found that women had a 47% higher chance of serious car crash injuries than men, and a 71% higher risk of moderate injuries. Prior to the introduction of more diverse crash-test dummies, all data on car safety was generalized from injuries to a dummy meant to represent a 5’9,” 172-pound man. Obviously, this “ideal” human isn’t representative of all those involved in car crashes—not just women, but also children and men with larger or smaller body types. Again, the reason behind this oversight appears to be unchallenged assumptions from the scientific community: according to David Lawrence, director of San Diego State’s Center for Injury Prevention Policy & Practice, “Manufacturers and designers used to all be men… It didn’t occur to them they should be designing for people unlike themselves.” Now, of course, female crash-test dummies exist. However, two major problems remain. The first is that the typical female crash-test dummy is in the fifth percentile of American women: she’s 4’11” and 108 pounds, as compared to the average actual American woman, who is 5’3” and 163 pounds. Though greater crash-test-dummy diversity is a positive gain, it’s not yet representative of actual women and therefore may not have beneficial impacts on women’s auto safety. The second issue is that only one-third of the NHTSA’s crash tests have women in the driver’s seat. Though we’re developing greater sensitivity to the gendered norms of science, women’s differential needs are still not yet being met. Hopefully as more women enter medicine, engineering, and other high-level fields, they will continue to challenge hidden norms and assumptions and ensure greater equality and effectiveness for all. Cici Coquillette is a senior majoring in Psychology-Neuroscience-Psychology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
women in politics
Deep in the Heart of Texas: Women’s Health (or Lack Thereof) Daniel Rubin | Illustration by Mitch Atkin
n American Cicero once said, “Too many good docs are gettin’ out of business. Too many OBGYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” Former President Bush (not H.W.) must, at this moment, feel betrayed by his fellow Texas Republicans. They constitute a particularly egregious example of radical state legislators and governors hoping to insert themselves between women (particularly low-income) and the OBGYNs that love them. Republicans nationwide have employed a blast-from-the-past strategy that takes me (or perhaps my grandpa) back to 1961, when birth control was first publically marketed for contraceptive use and Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again” was burning up the charts. While the term “War on Women” has been somewhat cynically trumpeted for political gain, the actions of Governor Rick Perry and GOP-controlled Texas Legislature are difficult to describe in other terms. A few tidbits on the state of Texas healthcare: First, according to a Public Citizen Health Research Group study, the state’s Medicaid program ranks 48th in the US. While many states either ration services or decrease eligibility, Texas has done both (part of the “everything is bigger” ethos perhaps). Second, 25% of Texans lack health insurance, putting the state dead last in the nation. Third, uh, um… Oops. Despite the Texas economic miracle that Perry touted during his short-lived but entertaining presidential campaign, the federal government provides much needed funding for women’s health services while the legislature cuts state programs. For the Women’s Health Program, which is part of Medicaid, the federal government provides $9 for every $1 in state funding. This program does not provide low-income Texas women with abortions, but it does give them access to mammograms, birth control and papsmears. In many instances, it facilitates the only medical care such Texans regularly receive. But the debate over abortion has morphed into a behemoth that threatens to swallow basic and essential health care for women. The Texas GOP is willing to do away with both its core principles and women’s health care over issues with even a tangential, squinty-eyed relation to abortion. In mid-March, Texas lost $30 million in federal funding for the Women’s Health Program. A 2005 state law finally put into action denied funding to Planned Parenthood because of its abortion “affiliation.” (Abortion services are legally and financially severed from its other service provisions precisely to avoid this complication). Because of the Hyde Amendment, federal monies only go toward the 97% of Planned Parenthood services that are not abortions. In any case, the Texas
law ran up against a pesky federal statute from the Social Security Act, stating, “any individual eligible for medical assistance (including drugs) may obtain such assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person qualified to perform the service or services required.” As evidenced by their complying with all relevant ordinances and Texas authorities allowing them to continue operations, Planned Parenthood is clearly “qualified.” So, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned Texas that implementation of the rule would make the state ineligible for federal Women’s Health funds. Predictably, though ironically, Perry blamed the Obama Administration withdrawing the money. Perry seems to desire that the Federal government leave Texas be in nearly every other instance. Interestingly, I guess principles extend only so far. Perry’s solution: States to the rescue. He has vowed that Texas will cover the shortfall in federal funds resulting from the state’s violation of federal rules. Here’s the problem: in its gleeful desire to cut basic service provisions after the 2010 midterm elections, state legislators slashed the funding for women’s health and family planning programs run out of the Department of State Health Services. According to a report by Austin’s Center for Public Policy Priorities, these cuts left 150,000 women without vital health services. Without federal funding, another 130,000 could lose care (some estimates range up to 400,000 total), leaving it for only 61,000 women. This constitutes an 80% reduction in people served. Even if the state money miraculously materialized, Planned Par-
But the debate over abortion has morphed into a behemoth that threatens to swallow basic and essential health care for women. The Texas GOP is willing to do away with both its core principles and women’s health care over issues with even a tangential, squinty-eyed relation to abortion.
13 enthood currently handles 40% of Women’s Health Program services and is the only large-scale provider for women seeking low-cost care. Conservative claims that Federally Qualified Health Centers, county care providers public hospital clinics and other small-scale providers would replace Planned Parenthood strain credulity, as the vast majority of non-Planned Parenthood centers service fewer than 25 patients a year. Consequently, women will face longer drives to reach health care providers and longer waits for check-ups, breast exams, and birth control. Here’s the kicker for supposedly conservative lawmakers. I say “supposedly” because their actions directly counter dearly held principals. First, the Texas Legislative Budget Board estimates that the cut in funds will mean an additional 20,500 births in Texas. These births would disproportionately occur in families that Republicans would prefer not be supported by welfare payments. This is why family planning services save taxpayers $3.74 for every $1 spent. Second, Planned Parenthood abortion services will not be affected (because none of the money lost supports abortion) and the number of abortions will rise. As a Guttmacher Institute report makes clear, 40% of unintended pregnancies for low-income women result in abortion. With fewer funds earmarked for contraception, the number of unintended pregnancies in this group will rise. The old system worked (at least by Texas standards but not compared to Romney’s liberal health care dystopia, Massachusetts). It kept costs lower, it kept abortions down, and it allowed uninsured, low-income women to receive the services they would have otherwise been denied. By chasing the abortion boogeyman, Perry and the GOP legislative supermajority has strained its own principles and hurt Texas women in the process. Should we be surprised? This is the same legislature that slashed education funding, turned out comically partisan redistricting plans, and nakedly attempted to suppress Democratic turnout by passing Voter ID legislation. However, the obsession with compromising women’s health is puzzling. The loss of health funds coupled with a sonogram law designed to intimidate pregnant women seeking abortions makes the “War on Women” classification reflective of a widespread mindset among Texas GOP politicians. At least another nationally minded GOP governor, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, had the good sense to back off required sonograms when he realized his national ambitions would be jeopardized. Rick is not as perceptive. National debates over contraception provision by religious employers may make for sexier headlines, but the drama unfolding in the states is of equal, or perhaps of greater, consequence. Whether it is sonogram bills in Texas and Virginia, personhood amendments in Mississippi, or declarations of conception two weeks prior to pregnancy in Arizona, state politicians profoundly affect women’s health nationwide. During the 2010 midterms, the American people gave Republicans the keys to the state legislative kingdom, and women have not been the only group targeted since. (I didn’t forget you, minorities, immigrants, and labor unions.) Yet, the states have taken up the battle against women with particular vigor. In November, we cannot allow this to happen again. As you glance over down-ticket races on your ballot, remember these words from the Sage of Crawford, “Fool me once, shame on (pause) shame on you. Fool me, (pause) you can’t get fooled again.” My thoughts exactly, Mr. President. Daniel Rubin is a senior majoring in History. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Guess who’s back, back again. The state’s sonogram bill has been called by the Center on Reproductive Rights, “The most extreme ultrasound-related law” in the land. It requires physicians to provide a pre-abortion sonogram. The woman may choose (how generous) to view the sonogram or not. They may also choose to hear the fetal heartbeat or not. She must, however, hear a “medical explanation” of the sonogram at least one day before the abortion. Facilities face $1000 per act fines for non-compliance.
The state passed the misleadingly, or euphemistically, titled “Women’s Right to Know” bill in 2011. This legislation requires that women seeking an abortion see an ultrasound and hear the fetal heartbeat in addition to a doctor’s description of visible fetal characteristics. A gubernatorial veto was overridden in a special assembly session. The courts have blocked implementation, and litigation is pending.
An ultrasound bill was signed into law in early March. It formerly mandated a “transvaginal ultrasound,” which opponents derided as invasive and unnecessary. (Hmm, mandates: an expression is coming to mind about pots and kettles and such). Facing huge protests and potential damage to his VP prospects, Governor McDonnell had the mandate stripped in favor of a “reject” clause when an abdominal ultrasound would be performed instead. Why wouldn’t the Romney folks, facing a near 20% deficit with swing-state female voters, want McDonnell on the ticket?
In March, the GOP controlled Missouri House passed a bill allowing denial of medical services (e.g. abortion, contraception, sterilization, and assisted reproduction) based on the religious objections of medical professionals. The debate got quite vicious, especially when House Majority Tim Jones (R) was accused/denied comparing women to farm animals (assist Huffington Post).
We’ve arrived at that paragon of lawmaking; just ask any of your “suspiciously” brown-looking friends. They have moved on from immigration to House Bill 2625. Passed by the House and being considered in the Senate, this bill would allow businesses to exclude contraceptives from health coverage unless a woman can prove the contraceptives are being used for other medical reasons (i.e. not contraception). Proponents, including co-sponsor Rep. Debbie Lesko (R) claim the bill will protect employers moral beliefs. Opponents argue that this is an invasion of privacy, forcing women to disclose private medical information. Also, Google “Arizona, pregnant, two weeks prior to conception.” The Sun must be brutal out there.
Feeding Frenzy Andrew Luskin
Newark Mayor Cory Booker charged into a burning building to save a woman trapped inside. Not to be outdone, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie rolled into a bakery to save a tray of Danishes from being burnt. The Supreme Court has authorized police to perform strip-searches after any arrest. Although many liberals are furious, the ruling makes sense: how else are the police supposed to break up the party in my pants? Congratulations! You’re pregnant (in Arizona)! Arizona lawmakers redefined pregnancy as beginning on “the first day of the last menstrual period”—two weeks before conception. To avoid calling all women murderers for having a period, there’s a technicality: you’re only considered pregnant now if you later become pregnant. It’s a principle called Schrödinger’s uterus. A related bill allows doctors to lie to patients in order to prevent abortions. Arizona has no choice but to adopt such harsh laws: nobody would voluntarily bring a child into such an oppressive place. As evidenced by the NRA convention earlier this month, stupidity attracts company. The Mega Millions jackpot climbed to $656 million, with an estimated hundred million players. Three people won—and so begins the worst period of their lives. Lottery winners often find themselves friendless and buried in debt, wondering how their ex-spouses know so many divorce lawyers. Occasionally, a lottery winner is prepared to handle their money and plan for the long term, but those factors tend to keep people from playing the lottery in the first place.
Barring revelations that he is a Mexican drug lord, Mitt Romney will be the Republican challenger to Barack Obama. By picking Romney over Rick Santorum, the GOP has reaffirmed its commitment to its core principle: defeating Obama at any cost. North Korea tested a long-range rocket, claiming that they were launching a weather satellite. In reality, they were testing a missile capable of hitting the continental United States. The launch was a needless violation of international treaties, proving that new dictator Kim Jong-un could truly fill his father’s size-3 shoes. The launch went forward. According to North Korea, the satellite was not quite in orbit. According to everyone else, the rocket exploded seconds after launch. To save face after the fiasco, North Korea plans to detonate a nuclear bomb on its own soil. It would have been easier just to claim that the rocket was intended to be a firework. President Obama signed the JOBS Act, which passed Congress with bipartisan approval, since no senator has the guts to oppose a bill called the JOBS Act. The bill makes it easier for small businesses to take on new investors, and it also makes it easier to commit massive securities fraud. Some liberals are upset, but it’s an election year, and Obama has to compete with Romney for the corporate sociopath vote. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments about Obamacare last month. Sticking to the strategy they followed when they passed the law, the administration seemed unprepared to defend it. Many commentators now believe that the law will be crippled or struck down entirely. Conservatives
15 are thrilled that the justices are stopping Obama and Congress from overstepping their bounds, because the Supreme Court does it better. Tennessee passed a law allowing teachers to “teach the controversy” on evolution and global warming. I propose that we allow students to learn the controversy. For too long, we have been forced to learn un-American words like soufflé, and I have been unfairly marked wrong for believing that the capital of South Africa is Africa City. A JetBlue pilot started reciting numbers and ranting about Las Vegas, prompting his co-pilot to kick him out of the cockpit. The deranged pilot then began to bang on the cockpit door, yelling about Jesus and terrorism. Passengers restrained the captain, and he was taken into custody. Authorities are currently attempting to determine whether the pilot is legally insane or whether his behavior was a normal consequence of being on a JetBlue flight. Newt Gingrich wants the United Nations to expand the Second Amendment around the world. Of course, the US has been spreading guns around the world for decades. Gingrich proclaimed that “the right to bear arms comes from our creator,” a reference to Ezekiel 25:17—“And I will strike down upon them with great vengeance and Teflon-coated bullets, and they shall know I am the LORD.” Gingrich also claimed that gun ownership “is one of the inalienable rights alluded to in our Declaration of Independence.” Indeed, it may qualify as “the pursuit of happiness,” if Happiness is the name of a scruffy-looking guy who just took your wallet.
Thomas Kinkade, a painter in the same sense that Stephenie Meyer is an author, died at 54. Kinkade trademarked his name and built a network of stores that sell over $100 million of terrible artwork every year. The self-described “warrior for light” used his Christian faith as a selling point, though his definition of faith seemed to be giving all of his children the middle name “Christian.” Light comes from everywhere in Kinkade’s paintings, and all the windows glow bright orange, as if a portal to Hell has opened up inside. His landscapes seem to be made of radioactive melted ice cream. Kinkade resented how the art establishment refused to accept his work as masterpieces, while the art establishment resented that Kinkade made money. His sickly-sweet paintings have inspired greeting cards, straight-to-DVD Christmas movies, planned communities, and La-Z-Boys. In recent years, he drunkenly heckled Siegfried and Roy and pissed on Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland while saying “This one’s for you, Walt.” He explained that the incident was merely “ritual territory marking.” Someone will surely pick up his brush and continue his work, but until then, fans can only feel the effect of his paintings by chugging bottles of syrup or spraying cans of Febreze Gingersnap Vanilla directly into their nostril. Final exams are rapidly approaching. School officials are doing their best not to repeat last year’s fiasco, when the library vending machine ran out of Adderall.
Andrew Luskin is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Lifting the Veil of Abortion Policy in Chile Taylor Flohr | Photos by Taylor Flohr
pon arriving in Chile, our program director warns us about the Holy Trinity of topics that should never be brought up at the dinner table without first knowing the political inclination of one’s company: Augusto Pinochet’s near-two-decade military dictatorship, homosexuality, and, finally, abortion. My host family’s ritualistic viewing of CNN Chile at 9 PM each night provides an apparent gateway to breach these taboo topics. News covering the latest from Chile’s conservative right under beloved entrepreneur-turned-president Sebastián Piñera talks of implementing a vaguely worded anti-discrimination law. Another commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Pope’s last visit to the Republic during Pinochet’s regime. Such stories often elicit a grunt or faint, yet distinguishable “imbécil” from my host dad, Juan Carlos. Absent from most nightly headlines, the debate over abortion seems to be a whisper on the tips of many tongues that has been met time and time again with an unwavering and repressive “no.” Chile is one of five countries, including Vatican City, where abortion is illegal under any circumstances. Chilean law defines abortion providers and recipients as criminals and the people who accompany their friends, sisters, and daughters through the process as accomplices. Such offenses carry with them the possibility of one to five years in jail. If a woman comes into a hospital hemorrhaging from a botched abortion, she will automatically be made a suspect and runs the risk of being questioned, arrested, and incarcerated. Feelings of guilt and shame that come with a decision she made regarding her own body—a decision that is labeled criminal—compound the possibly traumatic experience of an unsafe abortion, often carried out by people without the necessary skills or in environments that do not meet minimum medical standards. She may additionally suffer from the ideological burden that under the laws of the state and according to the Church she has committed murder. Though one of the most stable and progressive democratic countries in Latin America, Chile is marked by extremely socially conservative policy. The country did not legally recognize divorce before 2004, for example. On April 5th, the Chilean Senate swiftly rejected a draft bill aimed at legalizing therapeutic abortion – the ninth such rejection since the Pinochet dictatorship abolished legal abortions in 1989. This vetoed proposal means that even if a woman becomes pregnant from an incident of rape or incest, the fetus is severely malformed, or the mother’s life is in question, no legally sanctioned health care professionals will conduct an abortion procedure if she makes the decision to terminate the pregnancy. The burden of her “condition” rests solely on her shoulders and even in these most extreme of cases, she is, to this date, denied assistance.
Despite this stringent policy, approximately 150,000 abortions are carried out in Chile each year. The procedure, performed covertly by private clinicians or doctors, can cost up to $2,000 USD, creating yet another barrier for low-income women in an exceedingly classdivided society. The legality of abortion is one of the main determinants of its safety. Abortion bans aggravate the problem by forcing women to resort to clandestine, unsafe procedures that can result in both poor physical and psychological health outcomes. According to the report “Mortalidad Materna en Chile,” abortion was the third leading cause of maternal mortality in the country – accounting for 12% of all deaths – between 2000 and 2004. Worldwide, abortion-related mortality ranks eighth. With many other countries, the abortion debate has divided into morality and gender politics. In Chile, this debate has been silenced by a retrograde Catholic morality and conservative majority that continues to reify traditional gender constructs. In fact, current laws against abortion are codified in the penal code under “Crimes and Offenses Against Family Order, Public Morality, and Sexual Integrity.” Though Chilean Gender Studies departments are a collegiate rarity, I spoke to Professor Olga Grau of La Universidad de Chile about the current state of abortion policy in the country. She acknowledges that sanctioning a woman’s right to choose would go against the nearly institutionalized ideal of a woman in Chilean society. Her identity as an “authentic” female is rooted in her role as a mother, in her maternal instinct. When a Chilean woman makes a decision regarding her own body—in this case, whether she wants to become this cultural archetype of a mother—she is automatically subject to a cycle of sociopolitical violence that denies her basic right to health or to resources that allow her to maintain a sense of autonomy and bodily integrity. During dinner following the La Marcha del Día de las Mujeres, I decide to defy the Holy Trinity and make a seemingly innocuous inquiry about the criminalization of abortion in Chile. An impassioned Juan Carlos reflects upon the current political stalemate regarding most current, controversial issues in the country. He concedes that without a space for open public discourse regarding social taboos, abortion policy is not likely to be debated seriously by the conservative majority and therefore, not likely to change any time soon. To this I say: perhaps here is where the debate should start, one dinner table conversation at a time.
Taylor Flohr is a junior majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, studying abroad in Santiago, Chile. She can be reached at email@example.com
women in politics
Give Her the Gun: Women in Combat Bryan Baird | Illustration by Elizabeth Beier
id you know that women in the United States Armed Forces are not officially allowed to fight? Despite the fact that approximately 15% of US active service military personnel are female, women face stiff restrictions when serving as pilots, sailors, and drivers, and are outright banned from serving in infantry, tank battalions, or special forces. More than 250,000 women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 140 have died in the line of duty, but only in February of this year did the Pentagon actually formalize the protocol that allows women to serve in the critical support roles that they have already occupied for the last decade. Now, the military of any developed nation is typically not the most responsive institution to cultural change. Most of the time, it is a poor environment for all but the most conservative of social experiments. This may well be for the best; after all, when all is said and done, the role of the military is to win wars and preserve the nation by (almost) any means necessary, so that those in the civilian sector have the luxury to pursue relatively modern civic principles such as gay rights, freedom of speech, and yes, gender equality.
There are a number of legitimate physiological concerns for why females are at higher risk in many combat roles. Muscle strength and physical fitness can be trained into anyone, but lower bone density in females places them in danger of debilitating fractures while carrying heavy loads in chaotic situations, times when reliable strength matters most. The Army has certainly kept out prospective recruits over less threatening medical concerns than that, from flat feet to asthma. As awful as it sounds, “it’s just not fair to keep women out” is not a convincing reason to bring women in combat – not when lives are at stake.
There is no good reason to keep any capable soldier from joining the fight because she was born with different sex organs. That said, the Armed Forces are overwhelmingly concerned with doing what it takes to get the job done right, and in that vein there is no good reason to keep any capable soldier from joining the fight because she was born with different sex organs. In the future, war will be fought in many different ways and the majority of them will not be in grunt infantry. If the Armed Forces do not adapt to recognize, embrace, and actively encourage the skills that 50% of the population has to offer, then it will undoubtedly fall behind in the long run. In many ways, this issue is simply a symptom of a larger issue: militaries are not only slow to adapt and progress (after all, it’s still spelled “Colonel” for some reason)(I don’t get this?), but they tend to view change as something to be done only to help with existing goals and worldviews. In current military hierarchies, advancement options are often most available to those who have “proved their mettle” in some way, almost always with some sort of experience in active combat. Achievements in tactics, strategy, operations, and support help less for promotions than demonstrated competency in the line of fire. Because these combat-based positions (and the promotions that come with them) are not available to women, very few can advance within military organizations, and most of the best and brightest leave before contributing to their maximum potential. War is a dangerous, complicated, and confusing place. Evils such as benign inequality or even outright misogyny may seem small in comparison to the impossible everyday demand to lay down your life for your country on a moment’s notice. But in spite of all that, it would be an absolute folly to ignore any available improvement, and that means letting those brave women who are willing to fight and die for their country do so – and giving them just as much gratitude as we would any man in uniform.
Bryan Baird is a senior in the School of Engineering. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Confronting Rape Myths on Campus: A Response to “Sexual Assault on Campu Moira Moynihan In its April 2012 issue, Washington University’s Political Review published an article by Anna Applebaum and Hannah Shaffer that sought to redefine some of the gray areas of sexual assault, dividing what has traditionally been called rape into two categories: rape and negligent sexual misconduct. The latter of these two crimes would include cases where a perpetrator did not have the intent to rape his or her victim*, instances where consent was unclear between the two parties. This new definition hoped to encourage more people to report instances of sexual assault by removing the fear of bringing harsh sentences upon their attacker. While the intent of Applebaum and Shaffer’s article rightfully sought to change the stigma and tone of discourse surrounding sexual assaults, their article failed to address the full complexity of the problem, oversimplifying the issue of rape and ultimately feeding into many of the rape myths that keep people from reporting in the first place. The article, “Sexual Assault on Campus: Statistics, Definitions, and Culture,” correctly identified the difficulty of finding accurate statistics on campus sexual crimes, citing acquaintance sexual assault and underreporting as problems as especially prevalent within college communities. While this is one aspect of the issue, sexual assault is a public health problem, and therein operates on several levels. Underreporting happens because of problems at intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy levels, making it a far more complex issue than any one action can solve. While confronting it at a community level is an appropriate step, Applebaum and Shaffer’s article identified a policy response to a community problem. This in itself seems a flawed reaction to an epidemic like sexual assault, and while the culture of our campus community certainly needs to be changed, a policy alone is unlikely to do this. The proposed change would introduce a new legal category, analogous to manslaughter, under which the end result is the same as murder (death of a person) but the sentence is intentionally lessened. This definition comes in response to an epidemic already well underway, and tries to “treat” the problem after the fact. This approach would seek to change well-ingrained mindsets through a shift in policy, but would likely not prevent any of these types of assaults from happening by simply excusing the behavior after the fact. A more plausible approach would be to do primary prevention and work with the community, especially those populations at the greatest risk, to stop these assaults before they happen. Wash U currently has a stellar definition of sexual assault, affirmatively defining con-
sent to ensure that the sexual and emotional autonomy of all parties remains intact: “Conduct will be considered ‘without consent’ if no clear consent, verbal or nonverbal is given.” Rather than justifying people’s failure to comply with this definition, our community must work to educate people to understand and adhere to this definition, working to prevent sexual assaults before they occur. We need not change the definition or policy of our campus, but instead we need to change the campus culture. Antioch College serves as a perfect template of a school facing similar problems, and it successfully implemented primary responses. After several rapes on campus, Antioch implemented mandatory classes for incoming students about the importance of their sexual assault policy and the understanding of consent, which they defined as “the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual act[s] of conduct… obtaining consent is an ongoing process in a sexual interaction. Verbal consent should be given with each new level of physical and/ or sexual contact in any given interaction.” This policy received an enormous amount of media attention, both positive and negative,
While the intent of Applebaum and Shaffer’s article rightfully sought to change the stigma and tone of discourse surrounding sexual assaults, the article failed to address the full complexity of the problem, oversimplifying the issue of rape and ultimately feeding into many of the rape myths that keep people from reporting in the first place. praising its commitment to consent and condemning its ruining of the spontaneity of romantic endeavors. While a verbal policy such as this may seem extreme, the emphasis on clear communication and possible awkward interactions following could potentially save men and women from a lifetime of emotional and psychological trauma should one party’s consent be unclear. Whether intentionally or not, Applebaum and Shaffer’s article played into many of the rape myths that fuel a culture of stigma and underreporting. As it defined situations that could lead to ambiguous consent, the article cited cases “that may involve alcohol, an absence of a ‘yes’ but a lack of a ‘no,’ or a ‘no’ without physical rebuff.” The proposed policy would accommodate for these situations, lessening the crime if any of these conditions were present. In regards to consumption of alcohol, it seems naive to ignore the reality that many of the instances of seemingly ambiguous consent with alcohol involve a perpetrator’s feeding of alcohol to a potential victim, undermining his or her ability to give consent. Michel Kimmel discusses this phenomenon on college campuses in his article “Predatory Sex and Party
mpus: Statistics, Definitions and Culture” Rape,” noting how “The Guy Code insists that men get as much sex as they can…Getting drunk, and getting her drunk, is seen as foreplay— whatever happens after that has already been declared consensual.” The reality is that after a certain point, alcohol removes a person’s ability to consent to sex, and rather than justifying this behavior, we should be teaching people to recognize and respect when someone is too inebriated to consensually participate in sexual behavior. Especially given a college campus in which socialization centers around alcohol, this point must be made exceptionally clear to promote respect for the sexual autonomy of all persons on our campus. The final two circumstances described by the article as ambiguous consent, lack of a “no,” and no physical resistance, are especially troubling, and in many ways hint at a victim-blaming culture that does not recognize the full scope of the complexity that comes with sexual assaults. The lack of a “no” is not sufficient for consent, by Wash U’s or any advocate’s standards. Oftentimes in cases of rape, a victim will freeze up, paralyzed by terror given the circumstances
in which he or she has been placed. Judith Herman describes this psychological state in her book Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror: “When a person is completely powerless…she may go into a state of surrender. The system of self defense shuts down entirely.” This freezing would entirely eliminate the possibility of physical resistance for many victims, another factor that Applebaum and Shaffer’s article cited as leading to ambiguous consent. Physical resistance is not required to prove a sexual assault occurred. Physical resistance is not the only way to signal that consent has not been given. While I assume, and hope, that their article was commenting on the freezing phenomenon that could make a perpetrator confused as to the willingness of a victim, in its present state, Applebaum and Shaffer’s article seems to touch back upon one of the biggest rape myths of all and puts some of the responsibility for a sexual assault on the victim. In the 18th century, English common law defined rape as “carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will” requiring specialized evidence that proved a victim resisted “earnestly” or “to the utmost.” As progressive as our culture seems on issues of sexual assault, many people are still hesitant to believe a victim if there was no physical resistance. For this reason, I am extremely reluctant to include “no physical rebuff ” among the categories of ambiguous consent. Our laws should in no way imply that a victim did not prove his or her lack of consent well enough. Policies such as the one proposed ignore circumstances of terror or non-physical coercion, dubbing them as “lesser” crimes that minimize the traumatic experience of the victim. The intentions of Applebaum and Shaffer’s article were good. College campuses breed a rape culture, and we do need to change the tone of conversation about sexual assault and remove the stigma placed on victims. My biggest qualm with their article is that it re-defines what is and is not rape, suggesting that some cases of acquaintance rape are not “real rape.” A rapist is not likely to be a dark hooded man in the bushes; it is most often someone a victim knows. Changing the law to accommodate for dangerous behavior, rather than preventing it in the first place, sets a dangerous precedent and minimizes the trauma of a victim whose assault does not fit neatly in the category of “real rape,” but whose emotional trauma is equally valid and lasting. As a community, we need to empower survivors of sexual assault and create a community that is intolerant of behavior that diminishes the sexual autonomy of any person. *For the purposes of this article, I chose to use the term “victim” rather than survivor to describe someone who has experienced a sexual assault. This term is not used pejoratively, but rather for its clarity of communication given the status of our cultural lexicon surrounding sexual assault and rape. Please visit www.wupr.org to see “Sexual Assault on Campus: Statistics, Definitions, and Culture,” the article to which this responds. Moira Moynihan is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
20 women in politics
Asmaa Mahfouz photo by the European Parliament | flickr Female protestors in Tahrir Square, December 23, 2011.
The Daughters of Egypt
n January 18th, 2011, Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz, armed only with her impassioned words and YouTube, called on Egyptians to accompany her in protest in Tahrir Square, Cairo. Only three young men came the following day. Undeterred, the 26-year-old posted a YouTube video challenging those who doubted the power of a lone protestor, much less a female one, by calling upon them to “prove their manhood” and join her. As the world held its breath, Egyptians of all stripes heeded Asmaa Mahfouz’s second call to action. Muslim men sporting full beards, Coptic Christians, girls in T-shirts, and elderly women in black niqabs stood side-by-side for a euphoric 18 days. Bound by a sense of frenzied hope, galvanized by their shared struggle, the old, bitter divisions of Egyptian society seemed to melt away. Empowered by social media, fueled by the demand for dignity and justice, female activists all across the Middle East became many of the leaders of the 2011 revolutions. Over this past year-and-a-half, participation and leadership by female activists, journalists, and demonstrators in the Middle East has shattered both internal and external stereotypical perceptions of Arab women as docile and closeted. This fresh memory of a truly egalitarian revolution is a stumbling block for those patriarchal segments within Egyptian civil society conspiring to minimize continued participation by women. History has shown us that although popular revolutions can unite a divided society against injustice, this solidarity is often fleeting. The deep cracks in Egyptian society are reemerging. The women who came out in massive numbers to fight against injustice are being asked to return home by many of the newly-
elected Islamist politicians. These worrying trends shed light on the unfortunate association between the old regime and women’s rights in the Egyptian political sphere. President Mubarak carefully cultivated the image that his secular but brutal and corrupt rule was the sole bulwark against extremist Islamists who would destroy Egypt. He widely publicized his support for women’s rights as a tool to boost the popularity of his oppressive government. The Mubarak administration instated quotas mandating that 10% of the Egyptian parliament—in reality, a rubber-stamping entity—be composed of female representatives. This quota was abolished soon after Mubarak’s resignation; the newly elected parliament has a total of four women among 598 representatives. Islamist political parties, and the Salafist Nour party in particular, are capitalizing on the general backlash against any and all policies of the old regime; with the Islamists’ new authority, Egypt’s women face an increasingly steep, uphill battle for equality. Of course, deploying religious claims to roll back previously made gains in women’s rights hardly appears a new tactic to those following the 2012 presidential campaign. In light of these challenges, some local and international experts have suggested that Egyptian women were better off before the revolution. They forget that the Mubarak regime’s gross disrespect of human rights and dignity was not gender-blind. He treated women as an interest group to make concessions to in exchange for quiescence—a more abominable indicator of a patriarchal government than a lack of representatives. The struggle for gender equality in Egypt is at a crossroads. If women are relegated to the sidelines as before, Egypt’s democratic
experiment will have failed, regardless of where else progress may have been made. Yet even as powerful forces attempt to stifle female voices, there is no doubt that the relationship between women and Egyptian society at large has irreversibly changed. Egypt’s women have experienced for themselves what it means to be on the frontlines of political and social change. Their resolve is strengthened by the knowledge that the men turning them away from party headquarters today stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them just one year ago in Tahrir Square. As post-revolutionary reality tempers hopes and fractures society, it is easy to forget that deep in the Egyptian social consciousness lay the seeds for men and women, Muslims and Christians, young and old, to put aside differences and fight for a new Egypt. Armed with this fleeting but tangible glimmer of hope, this generation of Egyptian (and Tunisian, Libyan, Yemeni) women knows that their people are capable of gladly welcoming women into the public sphere. If parliamentary representation is not the way forward for now, other avenues may lead the way. Egyptian women are now intimately familiar with the immense power of online activism. Whatever empowerment looks like, the genie has been let out of the bottle—and there should be no turning back. Asmaa Mahfouz’s rousing cry will amount to little if Egypt cannot live up to the revolutionary call for dignity and freedom. Throughout the Middle East, the Arab Spring is still very much a work in progress. For the daughters of Egypt, it is just the beginning. Taka Yamaguchi is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
women in politics
Africa’s Iron Lady: Sirleaf and the Role of Women in the Developing World Molly Prothero | Illustration by Esther Hamburger “Sirleaf demonstrates something that is all-too-often forgotten in politics: femininity can be a strength.” Just this month, the death of the president of Malawi resulted in a peaceful transfer of power to Joyce Banda, the first female president in southern Africa. In Chile, protests against social stratification are being spearheaded by Camila Vellejo, a female college student. Egyptian women were lauded for their role in invigorating last year’s protests and making their demands heard. Across the developing world, examples of women seizing and exercising political power abound. The case of Liberia clearly illustrates this phenomenon. Less than a decade after
sensitivity and emotion to the presidency,” comparing her country of Liberia to a “sick child” needing her care. Accordingly, her fellow Liberians came to refer to her as “Ma Ellen.” By emphasizing, rather than dismissing, her feminine characteristics (Sirleaf is also a mother of four and grandmother of six), she beat her critics to the punch, taking control of her gender and using it to empower herself and her presidency. During her six years in office, Sirleaf has dramatically increased foreign investment, bringing in millions of dollars to a faltering economy. As part of her hard stance against corruption, she established a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to uncover and prosecute corruption, bringing perpetrators to
Women such as the Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf should challenge us to question our perceptions of both American superiority and the inferiority of the developing world. emerging from civil war, the citizens of Liberia entrusted Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa, with repairing their country. Elected in 2006, Sirleaf threw a spotlight on the changing face of women in much of the developing world. At the time of Sirleaf ’s election, Liberia was recovering from a three-year civil war—the second in less than a decade. It was plagued by immense poverty and decrepit infrastructure. As a predominantly mono-crop culture, it was overly dependent on fluctuating world market prices. Sirleaf had little choice but to effect change quickly. Despite her impressive qualifications—she served as Assistant Minister of Finance, worked with the World Bank, and directed the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Bureau for Africa— Sirleaf was often confronted with skepticism about whether she was strong or forceful enough to deal with the immense problems facing the country. But rather than deny her femininity in order to escape its negative connotations, Sirleaf turned her gender into a strength. In 2006, she campaigned as someone who could bring “motherly
justice and alleviating ethnic tensions. She also increased international aid, decreased trade restrictions with several countries, and, though Liberia remains an impoverished country, eliminated Liberia’s international debt. Achieving such accomplishments while maintaining a maternal tendency showed Sirleaf ’s fellow citizens, and the world, that a woman does not have to be cold to be strong. Sirleaf strikes a balance between the two, earning herself the nickname of “the Iron Lady” —along with “Ma Ellen.” In this way, she demonstrates something that is all-toooften forgotten in politics: femininity can be a strength. This feminine strength has been embraced internationally more in the last few years than ever before. Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with fellow Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, for non-violent work promoting women’s rights and peace. The awarding of this honor to three women— there had previously been only twelve female recipients since the prize’s inception over a century ago—reflects a historic shift
in the relationship between gender and political power. It also acknowledges that the catalyst of such change lies not in the developed world, but rather in developing countries such as Liberia. All too often, Americans view the United States as “exceptional,” far superior to any other country in nearly every field, and miles ahead of those we consider to be “developing.” But can this position be defended when it comes to women and political power? For American women with political aspirations, it is often easier to look to developing countries for inspiration rather than their own. Not only does our country lack significant female leaders to match ones as influential as Sirleaf, but it lags behind in numbers of representatives as well. While women make up roughly 52% of Rwanda’s Parliament, they compose a mere 17% of the US Congress, placing the country at 79th internationally in terms of female representation in national politics. Despite a tendency to preach gender equality, a large number of developing countries rise above the United States when it comes to female representatives and leaders. Women such as Sirleaf should challenge us to question our perceptions of both American superiority and the inferiority of the developing world. Molly Prothero is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com
International By The Numbers 23
Countries with a presidential election in 2012.
Trade between India and Pakistan.
Trade between India and Sri Lanka.
Estimated cost of the failed North Korean missile launch.
North Korean GDP per capita.
Brazilian students to take part in Science Without Borders program.
Population of Cuba in 2010.
Cuban population in the US in 2010.
The Cries of the Innocent Gabe Rubin | Illustration by Alex Chiu In 1968, Paul Ehrlich released his book The Population Bomb, which claimed that humanity would starve to death in a matter of years due to overpopulation. At the time of this writing, his thesis has yet to be proven correct. China, however, took the issue of overpopulation so seriously in the 1960s and ‘70s that they instituted a program to solve their problem, central-planning style. Since 1979, the notorious One Child Policy has been in place, limiting each Chinese couple to one son or daughter, with minor exceptions for non-Han Chinese and those in rural areas. Unfortunately, since the implementation of the policy, daughters have been conspicuously and unnaturally rare. Chinese officials claim the law has prevented an unsustainable population boom, with estimates ranging from between 250 million-800 million prevented births. Beneath the veneer of beneficial social engineering (a concept already suspect to believers in civil liberties) lies a brutal propaganda campaign that can only be described as encouraging infanticide. Until 2011, common slogans promoting the One Child Policy included “Kill all your family if you don’t follow the rule” and “If you escape (sterilization), we’ll hunt you down; if you want to hang yourself, we’ll give you the rope.” These warnings graced street banners and appeared in state media to make sure that the populace understood the severity of the law’s provisions. (Where is he getting this info from? I wish we had the source…) Xinran, a female Chinese writer, exposed the ugliness of the onechild rule in Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, published in 2011. She related the story of a mother lamenting the cultural pressure to have a son in China: “you do not count as a human being unless you have a son.” To comply with both the One Child Policy and cultural mores, women who have access to ultrasound technology often choose to be screened for the sex of the fetus. If the fetus is
a female, many women (or often their husbands) opt for an abortion and hope for a son the next time. Sex-selective abortion became such a pervasive problem that Chinese authorities criminalized ultrasounds for the purpose of discovering the sex of the fetus in the early 1990s, though the practice remains rampant. Baby girls who survive long enough to be born then face the homicidal pressure on their mothers to get rid of them in any way possible. Baby girls are abandoned in public places or deserted areas where they are left to die. Some do not have any possibility for survival, murdered at the hands of terrified, ashamed, and anguished parents. Xinran details the scene of a birth in rural China: “When a child is born, the midwife prepares a bowl of warm water - called Killing Trouble water, for drowning the child if it’s a girl, or Watering the Roots bath, for washing him if it’s a boy.” Adoption programs for Chinese girls in other countries, notably the United States, deserve recognition, but they cannot possibly save all those in need of care.
Baby girls are abandoned in public places or deserted areas where they are left to die. Anti-female prejudices and the One Child Policy have combined to produce long-term social problems. In China, there are 119 boys born for every 100 girls. In some provinces, the split deepens to 130100, (actually the ratio for the entire country twenty years ago). By contrast, industrialized countries usually have a split of 105-100. Depending on the estimate, China will face a surplus of 30 – 50 million men in coming years. Lonely bachelors commonly serve as a catalyst for increased crime rates and social unrest. Just recently, China has made a commitment to tone down its promotion of the One Child Policy, though while still supporting the policy itself. To replace the threatening slogans, the government has put up signs saying “caring for the girl means caring for the future of the nation,” a vast improvement from previous propaganda. That being said, the Chinese government shouldn’t warrant any praise for simply stopping its explicit support for infanticide. Additionally, it seems difficult to believe that Chinese officials made their decision based on some sort of moral reckoning; they know they need to close the gender gap for political purposes. The One Child Policy will not disappear anytime soon, even if portions of it are relaxed. While possible improvements can be made to better protect baby girls (and their mothers), the fact stands that as long as there are penalties for having more than one child there will be forced abortions, child abandonment, and infanticide. For all those who praise the Chinese government’s ability to manage their nation’s economy and raise millions out of poverty, the One Child Policy demonstrates the full cost of a totalitarian regime: the supposed scions of economic growth have the blood of millions of baby girls staining their hands. Gabe Rubin is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Iran and Nuclear Politics:
An Interview with Ambassador Hossein Mousavian Sonya Schoenberger | Illustration by Stephanie Trimboli
ver the past few months, the media has been abuzz with fears, threats, and uncertainties regarding the Iranian nuclear program. Nuclear technology was first introduced to Iran by the United States in the 1960s, and today Iran retains the right to a peaceful nuclear program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Suspicions surrounding the Iranian nuclear program were thrown into the limelight after the publication of a November 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, which suggested possible military dimensions to the Iranian program. The international response to the possibility of an Iran with weapons of mass destruction was immediate and persistent. Bloggers made predictions of nuclear Armageddon, politicians imposed sanctions and discussed draconian measures, and the media catered to the controversy. The Iranian nuclear “crisis” continues to make headlines, and the conversation about how best to address the situation has proven both polarizing and contentious. In response to the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear program, the Iranian Culture Society and Global Zero, a student chapter of a larger disarmament organization, brought Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian to campus on April 4th. Ambassador Mousavian served as Iranian Ambassador to Germany in the 1990s and as spokesman for Iran’s team in nuclear negotiations with the European Union and IAEA from 2003 to 2005. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. During his interview with the Washington University Political Review, the ambassador spoke candidly about his views on everything from reasonable concessions Iran should make in negotiations to the national pride surrounding Iran’s nuclear program to the reasons the Iranian government is so suspicious of inspectors. He also addressed the Israeli threat of a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, stating that the ramifications of such an attack would be catastrophic, and explained his view on some of the political motivations driving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aggressive foreign policy tactics. This article consists of an abridged version of this interview, the full transcript of which can be found at wupr.org. WUPR: You maintain that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. When one reads the news these days, though, the headlines address not whether Iran’s nuclear program has military dimensions but rather how the global community can deal with a rogue Iran bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Do you believe that
the media is misrepresenting the current situation, and, if so, what information do you wish the average American understood? Amb. Mousavian: I am convinced there is no nuclear weapons dimension to the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranian nuclear program is 99% a political issue and 1% a technical one. There is consensus between the US, Israel, and even Europeans that: First, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear bomb; second, Iran has not decided to a make nuclear bomb; and third, even if Iran decides to make a nuclear bomb today, it would take years. These three issues are a matter of consensus between politicians, security personnel, and the intelligence services
international 25 of the US, Israel, Europeans, and all Western countries. The issue which has been discussed actually came out after the IAEA November 2011 report [about] possible military dimensions [to the Iranian nuclear program]. The questions or the ambiguities are not related to the current program, but are about Iranian intentions [regarding] programs in the mid 1980s, early 1990s. It is about past activities, not current activities. [What the IAEA report raised in 2011 about possible military dimensions to the Iranian nuclear program]…was nothing new, nothing new. It was more just for political propaganda. I believe, having been either directly or indirectly working on this file for ten years, talking with the IAEA, Europeans, and Westerners, that if there were a political compromise between Iran and the US, the file in Vienna would be closed within a week. This is just a political issue. WUPR: What concessions is the Iranian government prepared to make in negotiations? Is complete transparency a feasible goal? Amb. Mousavian: I believe the concession Iran should and would make is the face-saving solution: 100% transparency and an open fuel cycle with the maximum level of cooperation with the IAEA and with all commitments, and [a promise] that Iran in the future [would] not divert its nuclear capability towards nuclear weapons… They would make all of these concessions if the rights of Iran [to nuclear power] were recognized under the NPT… and sanctions lifted, and the nuclear file normalized in United Nations Security Council and the IAEA.
Amb. Mousavian: It’s because, first of all, what the IAEA is asking Iran is to implement additional protocol. They want more inspection, more access. Between 2003 and 2005, we implemented additional protocol, we implemented subsidiary arrangement code 3.1, and we even suspended the enrichment. And Europeans were not capable to deliver their commitments to recognize rights and normalize relations. And that’s why Iran decided to stop further access beyond the normal access the IAEA has in many countries. And the second issue is more cooperation, more access, more assassination of scientists, more leaking the Iranian information of military or nuclear activities to foreign media while the IAEA is responsible to keep everything secret for IAEA members. And at the end, while the US and Israelis are always talking about military sight, Iran is extremely suspicious that when they [IAEA inspectors] are talking about access to everywhere, they don’t mean the nuclear issue but they want to collect info about the location in order to provide the US and Israelis with good information to attack Iran. That’s why they are very careful, and very suspicious about these types of inspections. And this is the reason I believe we need a broad package on nuclear issues and on Iran-US relations. WUPR: Do you think that the Israeli threat to attack is credible? If so, what would the ramifications be for the US, Iran, and Israel?
Amb. Mousavian: Yes. 95% of Iranians support nuclear technology. 55% oppose nuclear bombs. 35% support nuclear bombs. 78% support for Iran to have the maximum level of transparency with no limitation in order to maintain the rights of the nation.
Amb. Mousavian: Ramifications would be catastrophic. Already, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was disaster for the US, costing trillions of dollars. After 10 years, they really have failed. They are forced to leave Iraq and Afghanistan while the security is far beyond worse than the period before the Americans invaded: no economy, no security, no stability, nothing. In ten years, the lives of thousands of Americans, trillions of dollars, and 200,000 civilians in the region have died. They are living while the Taliban is there. The security situation is a disaster. Already they have failed. But if they invade Iran or attack Iran, the consequences would be tenfold. You cannot compare the potential of Iran to Afghanistan or Iraq. And I believe it would be the real threat for the existence of Israel if they attacked Iran. Whether this is credible or not, I think Netanyahu from the beginning was going to make a credible threat in order to convince USA, the UK, and the EU to go for crippling sanctions of oil and central bank. And he knew without credible threats for nuclear strike, they would not compel Europeans and Americans to go for such sanctions. This is my general understanding. And the regarding other issue, policy, Netanyahu is going to divert national public opinion from the real issue of Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The third is to keep Iran as primary threat of region, while Iran doesn’t have nuclear bomb and Israel has a nuclear bomb. And the fourth is it’s [the Netanyahu government’s] own failure regarding social and economic activities inside Israel. They have an election [approaching], and Netanyahu will divert Israeli public opinion from dysfunctionality [sic] he has had and from the big social and economic problems in Israel. How can he divert the domestic public opinion? Iran is the best victim. I think these are the main reasons [behind his threat]. Israel knows they cannot attack—they are too smart to attack Iran.
WUPR: Since you assert that Iran’s program is purely peaceful, how can you explain the Iranian government’s actions to restrict IAEA access to some sites, and why does the government prohibit its nuclear scientists from being interviewed by IAEA officials?
Sonya Schoenberger is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
WUPR: Why has the Iranian government resisted offers to ship its Uranium abroad for enrichment? Amb. Mousavian: Because Iran will not forgo its nuclear rights at any price. WUPR: Just as a matter of principle? Amb. Mousavian: It is a matter of principle: this is the right of Iran under the NPT. It is a matter of consensus. It is a matter of national pride. Also, there are a lot of logical implications of this know-how for the country in other sectors like medicine and agriculture; this has huge implications in other parts of economy and technology. While Iran had an enrichment consortium with France to have its uranium enriched on French soil in the 1970s, right after the [Iranian Revolution] France declined to continue the cooperation. Therefore, Iran can no longer trust enrichment to other countries, because any day they decide, they can cut it. WUPR: Is the nuclear program a great source of pride for the average Iranian citizen?
Déjà Vu or Crème Fraiche:
A Tight Battle in the French Election Kelsey Garnett | Illustration by Laura Beckman
n April 22nd 2012, French voters will cast their ballot for the future leadership of France. Then on May 6th, they’ll do it again. Unlike the American system, France’s presidential election occurs in two waves. In the first round on April 22nd, voters select their favorite of the ten candidates on the ballot. The top two finishers will continue on to a run-off election on May 6th—the winner of that round will become president. Two candidates lead the pack: Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent French president, and François Hollande, the Socialist challenger. Polls indicate that Sarkozy and Hollande are in a virtual tie at 28 and 27 percent of the vote, respectively. Au contraire, when voters are asked who they will vote for in the predicted Sarkozy-Hollande election run-off, Hollande has a commanding nine point lead. The
momentum, however, belongs to Nicolas Sarkozy who has gradually been chipping away at Hollande’s seemingly insurmountable lead. Will Nicholas Sarkozy be able to pull off a dramatic comeback? How will the result impact France’s recovering economy? And perhaps most importantly, what are the consequences for a recovering Europe and the current global landscape? Super-Sarko vs. Monsieur Normal Nicholas Sarkozy came to power in 2007 promising radical change from the old French system of politics. In his presidential victory speech he proclaimed, “The French have chosen to break with the ideas, habits and behavior of the past. I will restore the value of work, authority, merit and respect for the nation.” But it didn’t take long for his personal behavior—a public third marriage to an Italian supermodel, vacations on multimillion-dollar yachts with billionaires—to antagonize the French. The 2008 global financial crisis destroyed his approval ratings and his hyperactive efforts to avoid total economic collapse were widely unpopular. His main achievements—university reform and a raise of the minimum retirement age—were barely passed in the midst of huge public demonstrations. In his past five years, “Super-Sarko, le omni-président” has little to boast about. In this election cycle, Sarkozy has adopted a “Romney complex:” the archetype of a rich flip-flopper. Dubbed “President Bling-Bling” by the media, Sarkozy and his pop icon wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, easily qualify for the 1 percent. Sarkozy raised his own salary to more than $300,000 annually—a 172 percent raise from the previous president (an income that alone puts him in France’s 0.1 percent). His nouveau riche image was consolidated when he gave a 10 percent tax break to France’s wealthiest 20,000 people (it decreased from 60 to 50 percent). His main justification was not one of trickle-down economics, but of economic morality; all people, including billionaires, should retain at least half their gross income. Sarkozy is now trying to distance himself from this image”; But when he promises to now make the rich pay their fair share, his words sound hollow. François Hollande is the exact opposite. A long-time politician, he prefers to project the image of an average Frenchman, directly contrasting himself with the mercurial Sarkozy. He hopes to become the first Socialist to win the French presidency since his mentor François Mitterrand won in 1988. Hollande took over the Socialist nomination after the previous favorite Dominique Strauss-Khan became under investigation for alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, even after the highly publicized sexual assault charges against a New York City hotel maid were dropped last year. Hollande’s platform is largely old-school Socialist, promising increases to popular social service programs, an appealing prospect to a France with a 10% unemployment rate. Since announcing his candidacy last October, Hollande has consistently topped the polls and has a comfortable lead in second-round opinion polls. Yet the tables turned a month ago in the wake of several killings in the city of Toulouse. On March 21st, a helmeted gunman approached a Jewish school and coolly shot dead a rabbi and three
27 children at point blank range before driving off on his motorcycle. Assumed to be a neoNazi, the killer was identified as 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, a Muslim French citizen of Algerian extraction. The campaign rhetoric quickly shifted to security and immigration—major strengths for Sarkozy and the right. A more powerful speaker, Sarkozy appeared strong in the immediate aftermath, riding the momentum to surge past fellow right-winger Marine Le Pen and developing a small first-round poll lead over Hollande. Whether or not Sarkozy can prevail on May 6th depends on which narrative appeals to the French public. Sarkozy is asking: Which leader can you trust to lead France in a crisis? Sarkozy’s team is betting on charisma and powerful rhetoric to surpass “Monsieur Normal.” Hollande’s strategy is to transform the vote into a referendum on Sarkozy’s term in office: he has deftly used every occasion to remind voters that public debt and unemployment have ballooned on Sarkozy’s watch. Sarkozy is on the rise, but there might be too much distance for him to catch up. L’Économie This March, Eurofins Scientific, a rapidly growing bio-analytics firm, abandoned the constraints of France’s high taxes in a move to Luxembourg. It is one of several important companies that have made public moves, fed up with intransigent unions, political meddling and strict financial demands. While other countries strive to encourage innovation and attract top minds, France continues to be uniquely hostile to globalization and competition. François Hollande has promised to raise the top marginal income-tax rate to 75% for those earning of €1m ($1.3m). With other levies, added, the total top marginal rate could reach 90%. Zurich, only an hour away, enjoys a rate of only 20% (the US is at 35%). While Hollande’s declaration of a war on finance is popular with the average voter, French businesses are in panic. Sarkozy on the right offers little solace; his unpopularity stems from his perceived closeness to the rich. The overall perception is that not only do French politicians seem to hate business, but that they also have little idea how it actually works. The French economy should be the centerpiece of this election. While France looks significantly better than European counterparts like Greece or Spain, it is structurally incompatible with the current global market. Public debt is at 90% of GDP; public
spending is 56% of GDP (the highest in the Eurozone); and unemployment has stayed above 7% for almost three decades. With the recession coming to a close, one would think that the debate would revolve around a long term economic plan for the country (much like the ideological polemic in the US) Instead, discourse has been limited to immigration, security and marginal tax rates. Euro Politics: Why This Election Matters In an unprecedented move, the current British Prime Minister David Cameron and the German chancellor Angela Merkel pledged their support for Sarkozy in the French election before he even announced his official intent to run. Merkel and Sarkozy in particular have formed a close relationship while managing the Eurozone debt crisis—leading to the popular portmanteau “Merkozy.” Merkel’s primary interests are continuing Franco-German European leadership and preserving the fruit of her efforts: the euro debt deal. She has significant evidence to believe François Hollande would sabotage that. Angela Merkel has publicly stated that Hollande is “not her type.” The latter wishes to tax and spend more when most of Europe—spurred on by Merkel’s austerity logic—is cutting back. Hollande supporters are significantly more anti-German than Sarkozy and have engaged in anti-German rhetoric. Furthermore, Hollande wants to renegotiate the European Union fiscal compact, a hard-won treaty on budgetary discipline that is critical to Merkel’s reelection prospects. After spending hundreds of billions to bail at weaker euro countries, Merkel needs to be able to say that she laid the framework to ensure it will not happen again. Over 80% of the French people approve of close ties with Germany. Cooperation between the two powers is integral to the stability of the euro and the European Union. If Hollande wins, Merkel will have to rebuild a relationship with a man she has snubbed for four months. The possibility of France and Germany in conflict could have major consequences for the outcome of the election and the future of E.U. economic recovery. This election might also set a precedent for pan-European politics. This is the first crisis for the nascent euro. How the European Union reacts now will provide an empirical example for what types of interactions are permitted in the future. For instance, Eurozone members have a direct interest in each other’s economic policies. As we saw in the financial crisis, countries can intervene if
Sarkozy’s team is betting on charisma and powerful rhetoric to surpass “Monsieur Normal.” Hollande’s strategy is to transform the vote into a referendum on Sarkozy’s term in office. a neighbor manages their finances recklessly. It is only a small step from economic intervention to political intrusion. Merkel has already played a role in removing the prime ministers of Greece and Italy. We could be on the precipice of a future where leaders coalesce to form pacts in a pan-European political web. The stability of France is ultimately vital to the world. French stability is fundamental to the future of the euro; the euro in turn is a fundamental part of the European economy, and the European economy is critical to global commerce. The chance of another economic collapse could severely disrupt international markets. This is to say nothing of France’s increasingly louder voice in the international community in recent years. Collaboration on today’s critical issues, especially in Syria and Iran, is essential to a new era of multi-lateral cooperation. Simply put, results of the face-off between Sarkozy and Hollande will have monumental consequences for the next five years.
Kelsey Garnett is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Afghanistan Quandary: How to Minimize the Costs of Withdrawal Nahuel Fefer
resident Obama recently reaffirmed his commitment to a hard 2014 deadline for US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The costs of “Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan” – a price tag of over ½ trillion dollars, and a human cost of over 2000 lives – justify the decision. Yet there is no denying that withdrawal will also have unique costs. The primary question is whether Afghanistan will retain the modicum of stability that the United States has provided. The chaos arising from American involvement in Afghanistan has provided terrorist organizations with safe havens far from the rule of law. Organizations such as al-Qaeda are most active in failed and unstable states such as Somalia and Yemen. As of 2009, US intelligence officials believe that there are only 100 members of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, a number that has the potential to spike as the United States withdraws. Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan is not completely ungovernable. Before the US invasion in 2001, the decade of civil war from 1989-2001, and the Soviet occupation of 1979-1988, Afghani-
Brokering a deal with the Taliban has few unique costs. Although it reinforces the (accurate) narrative that the United States has been defeated in Afghanistan, providing anti-American groups with effective recruitment propaganda, so does leaving Afghanistan even more unstable and chaotic than we found it. Although intuition might dictate that bringing the Taliban into the government would likely lead to government cooperation with terrorist groups and increased oppression of minority ethnic groups, political dissidents, and women, it is important to keep in mind that the Taliban are not a particularly unified organization. While it is currently led by fundamentalists, most of the Taliban’s supporters have no global agenda; they simply want an end to foreign occupation. If, in exchange for legitimate power, the Taliban is brought into established political structures in an environment with decreased US presence, more moderate factions within the Taliban will likely take control. The United States has an unfortunate history of conflating nationalist movements with anti-American ideology–our belief that
Without a deal with the Taliban, US withdrawal from Afghanistan will simply result in the same protracted civil warfare of the 1990s, recreating the chaotic conditions that allowed terrorist organizations to thrive. stan was a poor but stable nation. Kabul was known as the “Paris of Central Asia,” in which female university students were even allowed to wear miniskirts in class. Today, of course, the story is very different. Although NATO has roughly 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, and has built up the Afghan Army and Afghan Police to a combined force of roughly 330,000, the Karzai government is estimated to only control 30% of Afghanistan. The Afghan state’s armed forces face fundamental problems: aside from having a literacy rate of roughly 20%, the military and police are perceived as extremely corrupt. Even more awkward is the fact that Afghanistan’s military and police budget is roughly five times larger than the Afghan state’s entire revenue. The US currently provides funding, but if this dries up the government’s limited control of even a portion of the country will become completely unsustainable. Although the troop buildup has slowed the Taliban’s military momentum (the insurgency roughly quadrupled in size from 20062009), the Taliban is still expanding its political influence. Corruption is so pervasive in the Karzai government that many Afghans have turned to Taliban courts to mediate their problems. The Taliban collects taxes, runs schools, and performs other governmental functions in roughly half of the areas in which the government is either deeply distrusted or simply not present – the others are controlled by tribes and warlords who are only under nominal control of the government. Ultimately, without a deal with the Taliban, US withdrawal from Afghanistan will simply result in the same protracted civil warfare of the 1990s, recreating the chaotic conditions that allowed terrorist organizations to thrive.
Vietnam’s nationalist movement was firmly committed to communism was responsible for our outsized commitment in Vietnam. We should not let an inaccurate perception of the Taliban prevent us from engaging in negotiations that may result in a more stable country. In the long-term, stability is the most effective tool in reducing terrorism. As for human rights, the current government has a terrible record concerning women. According to the current chief justice of the Afghan Supreme Court, the only two rights women are guaranteed by the constitution are the right to obey their husbands and the right to pray, but not in a mosque. Although women are required to constitute a minimum of 25% of the Afghan Parliament, only one woman seriously opposed a recent law allowing men to rape their wives – she was dismissed from parliament and exiled from Afghani politics. As Sonali Kolhatkar the co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission (a US nonprofit) notes, “Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children. Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war.” Although this is an exaggeration - US intervention has improved women’s quality of life in at least two sectors: healthcare and education - the US has been conspicuously silent on the Karzai government’s human rights abuses. If the Taliban is incorporated into a new Afghan government, the US must use its funding as leverage to ensure at least a minimum standard of human rights in state controlled land.
29 Unfortunately, recent events have undermined the negotiations. Both the killing of 16 Afghan citizens by a US solider and recent Koran burnings have increased anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan. In a politically motivated move, the Karzai government has called for NATO forces to leave Afghan villages. This development will likely strengthen the Taliban and worsen the United State’s negotiating position. The Taliban has also recently suspended talks, objecting to the US insistence on the Karzai government’s inclusion in negotiations. The Taliban is also uncomfortable with the US demand that the Taliban promise to abide by the current Afghan constitution. For a worthwhile outcome, negotiations must be concluded in the near future while the United States is still in a position of relative strength. Political calls for the withdrawal of 30,000 US troops in late 2012 and reduced funding of the Afghan armed forces threaten to significantly weaken the US negotiating position. If the United States does not withdraw responsibly, with an eye towards compromise, we will condemn Afghanistan to the status of failed state. Whether or not President Obama sticks to his 2014 withdrawal deadline, it may be impossible to escape serious repercussions from the Afghanistan withdrawal. Nahuel Fefer is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com
Violence rises in Afghanistan Despite a massive U.S. military offensive in southern Afghanistan, statistics show violence and deaths throughout the country have increased.
Attacks by insurgents
Jan-Feb. of each year, by region 2010 2011
704 315 385 South
Civilian deaths Insurgents
’07 ’08 ’09 ’10
132 119 65 167 North
By type of forces U.S./NATO coalition
385 315 Southeastern
79 131 Northeastern
Other U.S./NATO coalition ’07 232 1,523 Military ’08 295 2,118 deaths since 2001 ’09 521 2,412 invasion: ’10 2,777 711 2,373
Change in violence by province
Only five provinces had a decline in insurgent attacks between 2009-10; percent change in violence -82 to -18%
100 km 100 miles © 2011 MCT Source: Indicium, U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Graphic: Judy Treible
The Afghan Economy Although Afghanistan’s GDP has experienced record growth, this appears to have been fueled mainly by the influx of foreign aid – a staggering 47% of Afghan GDP. Worryingly, not even US funded construction has been enough to stimulate Afghan industry in recent years – instead, manufacturing has contracted. Although massive mineral deposits hold promises of long-term growth, they may also infect the Afghan economy with “Dutch Disease”, an economic phenomenon in which a country’s economic dependence on natural resources harms other sectors of its economy, particularly manufacturing. The Afghan Drug Trade One sector of the Afghan economy is thriving: the drug trade. Afghanistan produces over 90% of the world’s opium, and NATO efforts to reduce opium production have been ineffective. A large part of the problem is that poppies are one of the few plants that are well adapted to Afghanistan’s climate (and certainly the most profitable given their worth and well developed agricultural infrastructure). Although in the long run the violence and criminality perpetuated by the opium trade stifles licit economic activity, discourages foreign investment, and significantly benefits the Taliban, ending the opium economy (roughly 1/3 of Afghanistan’s GDP), would be both incredibly difficult and counterproductive to US interests in Afghanistan. It would destroy the means of existence for most of Afghanistan’s farmers, increase anti-American sentiment, and destabilize Afghanistan. Increased Healthcare Access According to the Congressional Research Service, during the Taliban Era a mere 8% of the population had access to basic health services. Due to the construction of 680 new clinics and a number of regional hospitals by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, this number has skyrocketed to 65%. Infant mortality has dropped from 164 deaths per 1000 births under the Taliban to 35 deaths per 1000 births in 2010. Increased Access to Education A U.N. report notes that the Afghan student population, which was recorded at one million under the Taliban and was made up solely of boys, exceeded six million in 2008 and included two million girls.