Political Review 18.1 | February 2013 | wupr.org
The WAR ON TERROr:
TO BE CONTINUED
My goal... working in public service. With my internship supervisor, who I connected with through the ACE program
At Dance Marathon: my favorite event at Wash. U.! My favorite spot on campus: benches outside Ridgely facing Brookings
The best things come to those who do.
Olivia Cosentino, who will graduate in May 2014 with majors in Spanish and Latin American Studies, participated in the ACE program and interned with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in St. Louis.
Getting to know myself... My four-year advisor and my major advisor are people I’d want to be like. Both have pushed me in the right direction. Overall, Wash. U. has opened me up to more opportunities: I don’t need to subscribe to a traditional career and could do something really different.
Celebrating leadership, scholarship, fellowship, and service with my fellow Lambda Sigma members
Bringing my story to life... The Career Center helped me find a really fantastic summer internship through the ACE program. After my externship over spring break, I expressed interest and was hired as a Student Legal Intern within the Volunteer Lawyers Program. The internship taught me that I’m in the right area for a career: one involving public service and interacting directly with the people I’m serving.
I’m thinking about pursuing law school or perhaps the government or nonprofit sector. I’d like to continue to explore.
FROM PASSION SPRINGS PURPOSE
“Go after what you want. I wouldn’t have had the summer I did if I hadn’t gone for the ACE externship.” - Olivia’s Career Tip Upcoming Events Washington, D.C. Road Show: Government & Nonprofit, Jan. 9-10 During this two-day event, you will have the opportunity to meet with select organizations, including the Center for American Progress, Congressional Budget Office, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Apply by Nov. 26. Peace Corps Info Sessions: Nov. 13, 6-7 pm and 7-8 pm, Mallinckrodt Center, Multipurpose Room (Lower Level) Learn about today’s Peace Corps and volunteers’ work in emerging and essential areas such as information technology and business development.
Upcoming Job & Internship Deadlines U.S. Department of State U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) The White House American Council on Renewable Energy Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) U.S. Department of Agriculture Apply, RSVP, and read more in CAREERlink at careercenter.wustl.edu.
Editorsâ€™ Notes WUPRites, On September 11th 2001, the United States woke up to the most devastating attacks on its territory since the Second World War. Nine days later, President George W. Bush declared a global war on terror and the world changed irrevocably. The last twelve years have represented a clash of ideologies, religions and economic interests. What was once supposed to be swift and decisive action has turned into a quicksand of war, insurgency, and failed diplomacy. Yet, the nature of the war on terror is very different today than it was twelve years ago. Insurgencies have been met with a dedicated counter-insurgency strategy and cyberattacks have opened new theaters for the war. As leaders of terror cells have retreated deep into the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States has pursued a ruthless, controversial, and, arguably, effective drones program. Even the very location of the war is changing; from Afghanistan and Iraq, the base of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates has shifted to Yemen and North Africa. Recent developments in Mali and Algeria could be a chilling sign of things to come. At home, the newly re-elected Obama administration is facing very different challenges. Gun control, immigration and climate change are all a part of an ambitious second-term agenda. The national unemployment rate remains uncomfortably high, and the debt ceiling fight shows no signs of abating. The president has also been forced to make a number of key cabinet appointments, and his choices have ranged from the expected to the left field. Given how much rides on the positions, it is not surprising that the most controversial nominations were for the posts of Defense Secretary and the Director of the CIA. After twelve years, with six thousand American soldiersâ€™ lives lost and over a trillion dollars spent on the two wars, the United States, and the world, are justified in asking the question: how much longer?
Sincerely, Siddharth Krishnan and Anna Applebaum Editors-in-Chief
Table of Contents
Let My People Vote! Aryeh Mellman
16 Frisky Business Alex Tolkin
28 An Endless Fight: The Search For Peace In The Congo Henry Osman
U.S. Prisons: Preverse and Unsustainable Incentives Nahuel Fefer
17 Guantanamo Bay Detention Center Jessie Bluedorn
30 Just Who is Mexican President Enrique Nieto Govin Vatsan
You Are Using an Outdated Version of Internet Legislation. Would You Like to Update? [Yes] [No] Nicholas Siow
Call to Arms or Arms to Recall? Jared Turkus
18 Lest We Forget Taka Yamaguchi
20 Terrorism: An Equal Opportunity Disease Ruthie Shaffer
22 Zero Dark Thirty Review Jay Evans
10 Do You Hear the People Petitioning? Fanghui Zhao
12 The RHEEVOLUTION Kaity Shea Cullen
13 A Force To Be Reckoned With: The Militaryâ€™s Effect On Social Change Hannah Waldman Serena Lekawa
14 The Institutionalized Truth: The Mentally Ill Shira Weissman
31 A Radical Remembered
23 French Intervention in Mali Molly McGregor
24 Excelsior, But Slowly
32 Do Tibetans Want Tibet or Do Tibetans Deserve Tibet Kelsey Garnett
33 Orphans In The Crossfire Gabe Rubin
34 Are Protests Finally Combatting Indian Political Corruption? Nishanth Uli
26 Nonmilitary Counterterrorism Josh Jacobs
35 Arnab Goswami and the Great Indian Debate Raja Krishna
36 Science Column Bart Kudrycki
Staff List Editors-in-Chief: Anna Applebaum Siddharth Krishnan
Alex Bluestone Maureen Saylor Rohan Samarth
Executive Director: Peter Birke
Director of New Media: Taka Yamaguchi Steven Perlberg
Programming Director: Molly McGregor Staff Editors: WIll Dobbs-Allsopp Nick Hinsch Raja Krishna Gabe Rubin Features Editor: Nahuel Fefer Director of Design: Max Temescu Layout Team: Mitch Atkin Ismael Fofana Beenish Qayam Emily Santos Fanghui Zhao Charlotte Jefferies Henry Osman Art Coordinator: Max Temescu Managing Copy Editor: Stephen Rubino Kelsey Garnett Copy Editors: Sonya Schoenberger Celia Rozanski Abby Kerfoot Miriam Thorne Molly Prothero Katie Stillman Krupa Desai Henry Osman Curan Hennessey Jon Luskin Michael Greenberg Trevor Leuzinger
Web Editor: Alex Tolkin Jay Evans Sonya Schoenberger Treasurer: Gavin Frisch Staff Writers: Jessie Bluedorn Dan Bram Kevin Deutsch Seth Einbinder Arian Jadbabaie Josh Jacobs Abby Kerfoot Kevin Kieselbach Bart Kudrzycki Ben Lash Serena Lekewa Andrew Luskin Fahim Masoud Aryeh Mellman Henry Osman Razi Safi Rory Scothorne Ruthie Shaffer Kaity Shea Cullen Nick Siow Lisa Soumekh Ari Spitzer Jared Turkus Ninshanth Uli Hannah Waldman Shira Weissman Els Woudstra Fanghui Zhao Front Cover Illustration: Max Temescu Back Cover Illustration: Cord Luehrman
Editorial Illustrators: Mitch Atkin Andrew Catanese Alexandra Chiu Alexis Copithorne Danielle Clemons Margaret Flatley Kimberly Gagnon Esther Hamburger Chris Hohl Dara Katzenstein Simin Lim Sydney Meyers Michelle Nahmad Carly Nelson Katie Olson Grace Preston Jacklyn Reich Jen Siegel Nicholas Siow Elin Wojciechowski Board of Advisors: Robin Hattori Gephardt Institute for Public Service Professor Bill Lowry Political Science Department
The Washington University Political Review is a studentled 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. Submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
By The Numbers 598
Years since a Pope has retired
Money in Zimbabwean public coffers as of January 30th
Minimum wage target set by President Obama in the State of the Union address
Minimum wage in Germany
Syrians fleeing Syria every day
People injured by a meteor that exploded 20 miles above Russia with the force of a small atomic bomb
The number of confirmed self-immolations in Tibet since 2009
Trillions of dollars held in offshore tax havens according to McKinsey’s former chief economist
The magnitude of the earthquake produced by North Korea’s most recent nuclear test
Signatures on an open White House petition to classify the LAPD as a domestic terrorist organization
Number of countries in which the United Kingdom is considering launching a negativeadvertising campaign in an effort to reduce immigration
Times MSNBC replayed Senator Rubio’s water break on February 13th
National Let My People Vote! Aryeh Mellman
axation without representation was a common war cry during the American Revolution. Over 200 years later, those words still adorn the license plates of many Washington, D.C. residents. Unfortunately, this is more than an archaic historical reference as it expresses the current reality of the 617,996 people who live in D.C. and have never had the privilege of congressional representation. To add insult to injury, D.C. cannot even pass its own budget; the budget must first be approved by Congress. Why is D.C. so dependent on Congress? Why aren’t members of the District afforded the same representational rights that the rest of the country takes for granted? The easiest answer to the latter question is that, strictly speaking, it’s unconstitutional. When the Constitution refers to Senators and Representatives, it uses the equivocal noun “state.” For example, “representatives shall be apportioned among the several states” in the 14th amendment, “two senators from each state” in the 17th amendment, etc. Since D.C. is a federal district, not a state, the Constitution falls squarely on the side of denying D.C. Congressional representation. However, the Constitution is not an unchangeable text. It is malleable, and has been amended 27 separate times when the significance of an issue has outweighed the cost of potentially subjecting our Constitution to arbitrary and capricious change. Thomas Jefferson believed that “no society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth always belongs to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please…Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years”. The political realities of D.C. in 1789 are vastly different than today, and maintaining constancy in our Constitution is not reason enough to deny district residents their voting rights. At the very least, D.C. should have autonomy over its own budget. Instead, the budget is subjected to approval by Congressmen who have no accountability for the decisions they make regarding the district. Allowing budget autonomy will let those who live in D.C. – instead of representatives from Alabama, Hawaii, and California – decide how to spend money in an area that pays the most federal tax dollars per capita. This is far from a fringe notion; over 70% of people nationally favor D.C. budget autonomy, with little partisan difference. However, this idea has failed in Congress thus far due to those, like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who prefer to keep D.C. disenfranchised in order to promote personal political agendas. A budget autonomy bill that was expected to have support was pulled last summer after Paul attached amendments that would strengthen the abortion ban in D.C., weaken unions, and increase access to firearms. These three amendments are pet Republican issues that the heavily Democratic district is strongly against. Paul feels that his continued power over the residents of D.C., with
whom he has little to no relationship, is “a good way to call attention to some issues that have national implications.” In other words, the primary role that D.C. plays in Paul’s mind is that of a personal bulletin board for issues that he feels are important; actual governance of the district is secondary. The district’s Democratic character also plays a role in this conversation. Republicans claim that Democrats only want D.C. to have representation in order to bolster their Congressional numbers, while Democrats fire back that Republicans’ sole reason for opposing D.C. representation is their fear of adding another Democrat-controlled district. This factor does the most to restrict D.C. representation, yet
The political realities of D.C. in 1789 were vastly different than they are today, and keeping our Constitution pristine is not reason enough to deny district residents their voting rights. also has the least basis in principled policymaking. States’ political leanings shift and change as the parties themselves undergo transformations. Until the 1970’s, the South was heavily Democratic; in 1964, Texas went to Lyndon Johnson by a margin of almost 30%. Now, the South is a conservative bastion and solidly Republican in every cycle. However, there are hints that, due to demographic changes, Texas may soon vote Democratic once again. Supporting or opposing a proposal for D.C. based on its current political affiliation is simply myopic. Fortunes change, and majorities can become minorities quickly.Amidst the uncertainties, there is at least one sign of hope for District residents: President Obama recently requested to have the traditional “Taxation without Representation” license plates affixed to his presidential limo, a move President Bush opposed. It can’t hurt to have a President on your side, and through all the political machinations, the unlucky 617,996 will need all the help they can get.
Aryeh Mellman is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
U.S. Prisons: Perverse and Unsustainable Incentives Nahuel Fefer | Illustration by Andrew Catanese
Penal Labor 93% of domestically produced paints are made in prisons. Why? The story boils down to the following simple fact: laborers producing paint face a significant risk of cancer. In fact, across the United States, prison labor is being used for the many of the most unpleasant and dangerous jobs. There is a reason that the United States forbids the importation of goods produced by slave or prison labor. Inmates have extremely limited work options, and can be easily punished - some U.S. prisons condemn prisoners to solitary confinement for opting out of work. Perhaps most crucially, inmates do not have to be paid the minimum wage. The federal government hires convicts at rates of between 23 and 115 cents an hour and relies on them to provide helmets, uniforms, and other military essentials such as bulletproof vests. States vary in how much they pay their prisoners; the most generous may pay their workers up to 5 dollars a day - others, like Texas and Georgia, offer inmates nothing but the possibility of cutting their sentences. Trading work for years of freedom is morally ambiguous to say the least, but it has also driven sentencing laws to become harsher and harsher. Private prison companies that profit from larger prison populations and companies profiting off of cheap labor have lobbied states to impose harsher sentences for the same crimes.
Mandatory Sentencing These efforts have produced a host of state laws that, despite superficial differences, do the same thing: force judges to impose a minimum sentence whenever a defendant is convicted of certain broad types of crimes, without regard to the subtleties of individual cases. An infamous example is Californiaâ€™s three strike policy. It mandates that state courts sentence defendants convicted of 3 felonies (defined as a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than 1 year) with 25 years to life in prison. The result? Judges have been forced to sentence roughly 4,000 prisoners to life in prison for offenses that were neither violent nor serious (often involving possession of controlled substances), and would not have merited much more than a 1 year punishment under normal circumstances. This doesnâ€™t just harm the defendantsâ€“ it hurts society. Califor-
nia spends $47,000 per inmate per year. This means that it wastes $188 million every year on those 4,000 prisoners, and wastes even more on the thousands more sentenced to 25 or more years in prison for nonviolent, trivial crimes. Thankfully, this law was repealed by popular referendum in November 2012 - but most laws are more subtle, and do not successfully mobilize the people against them. After all, even one as seemingly clear cut as the three strikes policy lasted 18 years, and almost all states still have mandatory sentencing laws.
Protecting Society Prisons were originally designed to get criminals that pose a massive danger to society off the street, to impose a significant punishment on average criminals in order to deter crime, and to, where possible, rehabilitate convicts. Today prisons are profit-generating machines that actively harm society. Of course, not everyone agrees. Some argue that a massive prison system is a prerequisite for an effective justice system. This taps into conventional wisdom, which argues that there are a fixed number of criminals in society, and that the only way to keep society secure is to lock them all up.
National Today, however, most experts find conventional wisdom severely lacking. Of course, condemning criminals to massive sentences reduces crime in the short run by keeping criminals off the street, but ultimately, it treats a symptom. If crime is profitable, people will be drawn to it, and getting one drug dealer off the streets will only pull another in. The U.S. inmate population numbers roughly 2.3 million - 7 times the population of St. Louis. The United States, the land of the free, imprisons three times as many of its citizens as Iran, and six times as many as China, per 100,000 people. Clearly, imprisoning all criminals is an unsustainable and fundamentally short term solution to the problem of crime.
mates across the United States represent jobs that could be held by those unemployed Americans who have led law-abiding lives.
The United States imprisons three times as many of its citizens as Iran, and six times as many as China per 100,000 people.
Once prisons stop selling their inmatesâ€™ labor, they can start doing what is best for society: turning prisoners into contributing members of the community. Unfortunately, the United States has a history of neglecting rehabilitation. The United States has a correctional system focused on punishing wrongdoers, and that is at odds with helping them become productive members of society. The Norwegian prison system is in many ways the polar opposite of the U.S. system - it is radically rehabilitative. Prisoners live in dorm rooms with televisions and mini fridges. They socialize with guards and have free access to education covering anything from mathematics to cooking and music. It seems alien because it contradicts our natural desire for fairness. The fundamental goal of a correctional system, however, is not to punish wrongdoers beyond what is required in order to deter future crime, but rather to maximize societal good. So, which system is preferable? The answer is complex. The Norwegian emphasis on rehabilitation certainly works - only 20% of Norwegian convicts fall back into crime after leaving prison. This is particularly impressive considering that roughly 60% of U.S. inmates return to prison after being released. On the other hand U.S. punishments likely have larger deterrent effects on crime. Furthermore, it costs more to rehabilitate prisoners than to simply house them, although there is also some truth to the argument that rehabilitation is an investment that repays its cost by adding a productive member to society. The United States has a choice: it can attempt to prop up a morally corrupt prison system that exploits inmates and encourages unjust sentencing at a crippling economic cost, or it can work to transform a prison system characterized by profit-generating machines that actively harm society into a more humane one that balances deterrence and rehabilitation.
appreciate the cheap labor, massive inmate populations are bankrupting their states. These states have already started decriminalizing as much nonviolent crime as their citizens accept. It is important to note, however, that decriminalizing non-violent crimes makes sense only so long as the financial punishment approximates the cost of the appropriate prison sentence, and depending on the perpetrators ability to pay, cost to society of the crime. There is a real danger of financial punishment being too light, and functioning as a slap on the wrist. If implemented effectively, however, decriminalization, and a shift towards financial punishment, can reduce prison populations massively. Two reforms which are desperately needed but do not appear likely to materialize are a legally mandated shift away from private prison contractors, and a law requiring that inmates be paid minimum wage. These would go a long way towards reducing the exploitation of prison labor, and would reduce the incentive to increase the prison population. Forcing companies to pay prison laborers minimum wage would also reduce the inhibitive effect that cheap prison labor has on domestic industry. Prison labor took over paint production from a domestic industry that paid its workers minimum wage, and was likely subject to stricter health standards. The 1 million jobs held by in-
Nahuel Fefer is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reform Thankfully, two reforms seem both obvious and feasible. First, states must repeal mandatory sentencing laws that are prejudiced against the defendant. Californiaâ€™s experience demonstrates that, while it will require a movement and expanded awareness, a reality without mandatory sentencing laws is within reach. Second, states must work to decriminalize most nonviolent crime. Tellingly, the states which have the largest correctional systems, such as Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia, seem to have realized that although it looks good to be tough on crime, and companies
You are using an outdated version of Internet Legislation. Would you like to update? [Yes] [No] Nicholas Siow
f there’s one place where you can generally get away with minor wrongdoings, it’s the Internet. In fact—so long as you stay within the boundaries of the law—you’re free to lie, cheat, and post pictures of cats to your heart’s content. Stepping outside of legal boundaries, however, can result in some of the harshest punishments dealt by the criminal justice system. Internet law violations can also result in almost no punishment of any sort—or anywhere in between. While other laws become increasingly codified, those regarding cybercrimes fail to keep pace with the technology they govern. Legal restrictions on the Internet recently surged in the news after the death of Aaron Swartz, an internet activist and co-founder of Reddit. Swartz took his own life following his arrest and subsequent trial over his involvement in multiple counts of computer and wire fraud. His charges revolved primarily around his downloading of data from JSTOR (a digital journal for academic articles) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s school network. In all, the 13 charges levied against Swartz were enough to put him behind bars for upwards of 50 years if the maximum sentences were pursued. Given the severity of these allegations, one would suspect Swartz’s operation to be prolonged and destructive. Yet the source of most of those charges was anything but. One night in an M.I.T. closet with his laptop, Swartz used M.I.T.’s server to begin downloading large batches of JSTOR files. When the university kicked him off the network, he changed simply the “identity” of his computer to allow him to continue. How did a few clicks and key-presses result in such a heavy sentence?
tracts, opening up the door for prosecutors to follow this interpretation to whatever extent desired. A similar complication exists for wire fraud within the Communications Act Amendments. The definition of wire fraud dictates it as a “scheme to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false pretenses, representations, or promises”. While “false pretenses” occupy a large enough category of subterfuge in the physical world, it contains the possibility for even more online, where an “identity” is comprised of a significant number of codes and addresses. For example, Swartz’s charges come from changing his IP and MAC addresses to conceal his identity—two adjustments that can be done right from Windows menus. Under this precedent, the notion of “false pretenses” can be extended to include a variety of techniques that everyday users employ to retain anonymity. In a realm where namelessness is valued, false pretenses such as these can be brought up whenever convenient. A body of law must remain current if it is to remain applicable. Just as the invention of new guns should effect a change in the law concerning firearms, so should the progression of technology change the regulation of cybercrime. Following Swartz’s trial, interest groups have pushed for the amendment of many of these laws in an attempt to turn the open-ended legal jargon into applicable, technical terms. One such proposition by Representative Zoe Lofgren, dubbed “Aaron’s Law”, attempts to deal specifically with the terms of service agreements that could possibly fall under the umbrella of “unauthorized access”. Multiple such amendments could soon begin to transform these vague guidelines into an actually relevant body of law. Modern automobile law is not dictated by the horse-and-buggy laws of the 18th century. There is no reason for the antiquated and outdated laws regarding cybercrime to govern the Internet of today.
Nicholas Siow is a freshman in the School of Engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Call to Arms or Arms to Recall? Jared Turkus | Illustration by Danielle Clemons
here are over 11,000 annual gun murders in the United States, making gun violence an incontrovertibly critical issue. The issue has roughly divided the country into two camps. The first espouses that the only solution to gun violence is government firearm control; the second suggests the only answer to an armed criminal is an equally armed citizen. Most Democrats argue that background checks, waiting periods, and bans on high capacity magazines protect people from gun violence. Most Republicans contend that any government regulation of gun trade violates the second amendment. Both of these approaches to gun violence are wrong. The ideal solution is deeply pro-gun while acknowledging the value of government oversight. Switzerland does not have a standing military. Instead, every male citizen is trained to use and can legally acquire assault weapons. While Switzerland allows civilians to own assault weapons to pro-
tect their homes and country, the government takes four preventive gun control measures to prevent high homicide rates. First, all gun owners must undergo psychiatric evaluations to prove mental stability. Second, each individual can only own three weapons. Third, all weapons must have serial number registration allowing government regulation of firearm distribution. Finally, all gun-owners must have had training and take annual refresher courses. These caveats prevent irresponsible gun ownership from culminating in mass shootings. Governmentâ€™s purpose is to protect individuals. It must infringe on gun ownership rights, ever so slightly, to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Republicans should retreat from their rigid interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and move towards the idea of
practical ownership. Democrats should embrace elements of gun culture because the Swiss gun experiment is proof that, with oversight, individuals can responsibly own high capacity weaponry. Gun control proponents argue that the Swiss example will not work in the United States due to our lack of national service requirements and larger population. Swiss law requires all male citizens to under-
Both schools are wrong about guns. The ideal solution is deeply pro-gun with strains of government oversight. go a twenty-one week course in which they are taught to handle, fire, and maintain assault weapons. The United States lacks a draft or a gun ownership training program, which can explain the homicide disparity. Assault weapon opponents argue that loose gun laws account for the disparity between the almost 11,000 people killed by guns per year in the United States versus only sixty in Britain, which bans most firearms. These numbers account for neither per capita gun murders nor total homicide statistics that stem from gun regulation. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there were only fiftythree total homicides in Switzerland in 2012. The UK, France and Italy have all banned civilian gun ownership and seen their homicide rates rise to 722, 682 and 529 in 2012, respectively. It is easy to see why gun bans fail. Fear of fatal retaliation deters crime. Mutiny in modern militaries is nonexistent because of its fatal consequences. When everyone knows that everyone else is likely a trained and armed military officer, the law becomes a deterrent against crime. Conversely, gun bans disarm people who want to defend themselves legally. Banning guns will drive them into an underground market, much like drugs, gambling or prostitution. Criminals will acquire their weapons illegally, leaving the government with no record of their existence. Criminals who illegally acquire their weapons know that their victims have less self-defense capability, making gun owners more likely to assault unarmed civilians. Not only would a privatized Swiss style military reduce crime, it would save billions of dollars on defense. The federal government should mandate that all retroactive and current gun owners either relinquish their weapons or go through a Swiss-style training course. This program would initially be a new federal expenditure but can eventually become revenue neutral by reallocating some military spending. Our defense budget can afford cuts when Americans become responsible for their own security. In the wake of rising gun violence, a government-trained private military must no longer be a pro-gun pipe dream, but rather the American reality. Jared Turkus is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at jturkus @wustl.edu.
Do You Hear the People Petitioning? Fanghui Zhao | Illustration by Esther Hamburger
he White House had a secession crisis on its hands. Citizens from Texas and eight other states had petitioned the White House to allow their states to withdraw peacefully from the Union. While the crisis did not break up the Union, it did make famous the platform that allowed this to happen: the White House online petitioning website, “We the People”. We the People was launched by the White House in September 2011 to allow citizens to directly petition the White House. Petitions with signatures above a given threshold number, currently set at 100,000, would get an official response from the administration. This online petition system is part of the Obama administration’s effort to create a more responsive and transparent government. The attempt was initially met with ridicule and skepticism. An article in the Wall Street Journal mocked frivolous and wacky petitions that called, among other things, for the administration to acknowledge the existence of aliens, while wondering out loud about the glaring absence of petitions regarding serious issues such as the national budget and job creation programs. The underlying concern was that this petition platform demonstrated the downside of democracy, where provincial concerns overshadow more pressing national concerns. The concern, however, was misplaced. A blog post from The Huffington Post argued that such is exactly the nature of petitioning: to bring new issues of concern onto the agenda of political leaders. National issues such as the economy would always be on top of the agenda, with or without petitions. But without the petition system, some important issues would have gone ignored. One petition, for example, called for the digitization of federal public records, a topic hardly at the top of the national news but nonetheless important.
Skeptics have also questioned the efficacy of such online petitioning. Critics pointed to the lack of substantive outcomes, as most of the White House responses merely reiterated the previous official stance and offered no signal of policy change. The gradual increasing of the number of signatures required to trigger a response from the initial 5,000, to 25,000, and then to 100,000, also made many suspicious of the administration’s sincerity to engage the public. While it remains to be seen if this website is more than a technological gimmick, the criteria to evaluate the merits of petitioning should go beyond whether or not petitions lead directly to policy change. Public support may be necessary but not sufficient by itself to bring about policy change. Further, many of the petitioners themselves are not pleading a case for policy change, but are making a political point: secession petitions and Obama impeachment petitions were never about leaving the Union or impeaching Obama. Alex Jones, who started a viral petition to deport CNN anchor Piers Morgan for his views in favor of gun control, had admitted that his purpose was mainly to create a spectacle.
This could be a significant step in the evolution of public sphere. At less than two years old, the platform is still young and growing. It now has more than 5 million registered users, 140,000 petitions, and receives an average of 807 signatures per hour. Last August, the White House made the website open source, and it has recently announced plans to launch a version 2.0 in March. The White House is dedicated to improving this project. So long as the government treats this public forum with enough sincerity and respect, this open platform could be a significant step in the evolution of public sphere in the Internet age Fanghui Zhao is an exchange student from Waseda University, Japan, currently in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
OUR PETITIONS, THEIR RESPONSES Peacefully grant the State of ______ to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government.
Thank you for participating.
Formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.
“Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet”
“The Short Answer is No.”
To digitize all federal public records.
There have been several digitizing projects going on. The petitioners and others who are concerned about this are invited to contribute their opinions to improve the projects.
Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016
‘The Administration does not support blowing up planets’, and urged people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, so ‘the Force will be with us!’
By the way, here are some cool things (hyperlink) that NASA had put in space.
PERSONAL FAVORITES Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening.
“We’re listening. Seriously”
Release the recipe for the Honey Ale home brewed at the White House.
“Ale to the Chief’! **The following content is not for audience under the age of 21**
The RHEEVOLUTION Kaity Shea Cullen
n January of 2007, Adrian Fenty assumed his position as mayor of the District of Columbia. He entered the office on the heels of a landslide election victory, having won every precinct in the general election. But when, four years later, he failed to win even his party’s nomination, the headlines the next morning were not about Fenty. The focus instead fell on Michelle Rhee. At the request of Fenty, the little-known and inexperienced education advocate had accepted the challenge of reforming D.C. Public Schools (DCPS). Her efforts to improve one of the nation’s lowest-performing school systems brought much-needed change within the city’s schools and launched education policy back into the spotlight of American political discourse, but invited a backlash that ultimately cost Fenty the mayorship. During her time as chancellor of DCPS, Rhee enacted significant reforms. Arguing
wards to those whose students showed the most significant gains. Additionally, Rhee worked to highlight and eliminate bureaucratic red tape. The headstrong chancellor, always determined to make a point, brought the district’s bureaucratic failures to the public eye when she invited local media to tour warehouses full of years-old and desperately needed textbooks and school supplies that had never been distributed. She advocated for charter school expansion and parent trigger laws, which enable parents to petition for changes like new curricula, staff overhauls, or even closing a school entirely. Although Rhee’s changes brought significant gains to the troubled school system, they also created an outcry among the entrenched groups she was targeting. Teachers’ unions and bureaucrats alike spoke out against her actions, claiming that her methods of accountability made teachers fear for their jobs
Michelle Rhee’s ideas for academic reform have found their way into the political discourse.
that all children are capable of academic success regardless of challenges they face at home, she demanded more accountability from teachers, principals, and bureaucrats. Using test scores and in-class evaluations to assess teacher performance, Rhee removed unsatisfactory teachers and administrators. She closed failing schools and sought to replace the district’s tenure-dominated “last hired, first fired” layoff system with one based on merit, even offering monetary re-
and failed to recognize the dedication and hard work administrators put into their jobs. But Rhee’s priorities did not lay in the hurt feelings of the district’s employees. During her time as chancellor, graduation and enrollment rates both rose and DCPS achieved notable improvements in state test scores. Although many of Rhee’s critics created a media firestorm over high rates of wrong-to-right erasures, a federal investigation did not find evidence of widespread cheating within the district. Moreover,
DCPS also made significant gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a test that is administered by federal experts and was never compromised during Rhee’s employment in D.C. Following Rhee’s success in D.C., 38 states implemented similar methods of test-based
[Fenty’s] loss, and Rhee’s subsequent resignation, demonstrates the political challenges that inhibit substantive and effective educational reform. teacher evaluations. Her methods have garnered support from both sides of the political aisle. Although Rhee’s policies provided a great service to the district and its students, she was met with less success in the political arena. Teachers’ unions and bureaucrats joined to launch a fierce campaign against Fenty, ultimately costing him the primary. His loss, and Rhee’s subsequent resignation, demonstrates the political challenges that inhibit substantive and effective educational reform. Rhee went on to establish StudentsFirst, a non-profit organization that lobbies for new education policy and works to mobilize students, parents, and educators in the pursuit of meaningful education reform. It advocates a performance-based system of employment and remuneration, as well as increased variety in school choice. The organization works to continue Rhee’s legacy of ending bureaucratic inefficiency and ensuring that children are not condemned to failing schools because of low lottery numbers or unlucky districting. Michelle Rhee’s career trajectory highlights not only the need for such changes, but also the strength of the powerful and established groups that stand in the way of truly helping students.
Kaity Shea Cullen is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
A Force to be Reckoned With: The Military’s Effect on Social Change Hannah Waldman and Serena Lekawa
olonel Eugene Householder argued in 1941, “The Army is not a sociological laboratory. Experimenting with army policy, especially in a time of war, would pose a danger to efficiency, discipline, and morale, and would result in ultimate defeat.” Fast forward 72 years, and the Colonel’s thrust still holds relevance as the United States struggles to solve social issues and their moral implications. In the Civil War, slavery was the central point of contention, so there was special poignancy in the image of black soldiers in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment fighting to defend the Union. Since 1863, black men and women have served the United States Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey sign a memo to lift the women honorably. However, the U.S. combat exclusion ban. military was not officially desegregated until President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 in 1948. While this seems A woman makes only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes in the overdue as black men had proved their value to the United States same job and gender roles remain preeminent in many facets of somilitary for almost a century, in a sense the military was actually ciety. However, one wonders if gender inequality could be hanging ahead of broader U.S. society, whose Civil Rights movement made by its final thread. its greatest progress in the 1960s. While the evidence suggests that the United States is capable of Military desegregation was not the only catalyst for the black eventually changing social norms, the embarrassing reality remains Civil Rights Movement, but the two ideas are related. The military that our nation procrastinates in addressing tough issues. Colonel continues to act as a social trendsetHouseholder’s statement implies it is ter. In 2010, Congress voted to end the better to cling to antiquated habits military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy than to broaden ourselves to progreswhich prevented gay, lesbian, and bisive thought. This perspective places sexual soldiers from openly serving in the United States under a perpetual the armed forces. Since the restriction gag rule: we are slaves to tradition, was lifted in 2010, voters in New York, afraid of nothing but the problems Maine, Maryland, and Washington legalwe internalize. As a result, it took 100 ized same-sex marriage. While not necyears to desegregate the military. The essarily a causal relationship, the military’s powerful voice swayed phrase “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” inherently instructs people to avoid the American people towards action. By taking a clear stance, the challenging things we know to be wrong, but are afraid to confront. military proved its own courage in confronting social equality and We live in a nation fraught with peculiar institutions yet to be solved. challenged individuals to do the same. On January 24, defense secretary Leon Panetta announced the lifting of the combat exclusion policy. With this change, women will now engage in direct combat and have access to the full veteran’s benefits and honors they have long deserved. While this represents Hannah Waldman and Serena Lekawa are freshmen in the Ccollege progress for the women’s rights, exemplifying success in an male- of Arts and Sciences. They can be reached at hannahwaldman@ go.wustl.edu and firstname.lastname@example.org. dominated system, a “glass ceiling” remains intact.
Rather than restraining the United States from progress, the armed forces move the country forward.
The Institutionalized Truth: The Mentally Ill Shira Weissman | Illustration by Michelle Nahmad
t age fifteen, Armando Cruz stole tools from his neighbor’s garage and was forced into a psychiatric unit while his court proceedings took place. Throughout this time, Armando began to hear voices and paranoia overtook him. At age seventeen, prompted by the voices inside his head, he attacked a police officer. After two years of forced psychiatric treatment, Armando was sentenced to life in prison. There he committed suicide, unable to survive in the jail’s solitary confinement. Cruz needed help, not isolation. Armando was just one of the hundreds of thousands of mentally ill in prisons today who turn to the prison system as their only source of refuge from homelessness. During the 1940s, exposés revealed the horrible conditions within mental health hospitals. As the innards of these institutions were publicized, society was so perturbed by their high costs and dehumanization of the mentally ill that in the early 1960s the United States began deinstitutionalizing patients from these hospitals. Alongside this deinstitutionalization, the federal government worked towards starting community-based mental health centers, but incomplete funding limited their establishment. At this time, half of those re-
now accustomed to being on medication or in solitary confinement, they are unable to reacquaint themselves with normal society and they end up back in jail. According to a PBS Frontline documentary, mentally ill prisoners released from Rikers Island, a New York prison, receive none of the medications they were taking while confined, no referrals to mental health services, and only $1.50 in cash, They are set up to fail once back in society, driving them to cycle back into jail. Moreover, wardens and officers are not equipped to deal with the mentally ill. Jails are not set up to be substitutes for mental health hospitals, yet they are being treated as the new asylums. Many of the mentally ill, for lack of a better living situation in normal society, actually want to live in prison. Historically known as a place of punishment, Jail is now perceived as a safe haven by the mentally ill. Prisons have become de facto mental health hospitals, but are ill-equipped for the role. Training wardens and officers is one short-term solution to this problem. Officials who know how to properly work with the mentally ill will provide mentally ill prisoners with a much healthier experience in jail. But doing so would raise the cost of maintaining a psychi-
Jail—the place historically known as a place of punishment—is now being thought of as a safe haven for the mentally ill. leased from the institutions were left with family or in adult homes, while the remaining half were left homeless, unable to access the limited community-based programs. Many of them found themselves back in the governmental system relatively quickly. Unable to survive with little to no resources, many turned to criminal action, such as stealing food or other basic necessities. Without mental institutions to turn to, they were led to jail. Officers force many mentally ill who are unable to behave within the regimented order of the jail into solitary confinement. In more extreme cases, they can be sent to the psychiatric ward and be put on forced medication. Once they finish their time and are released,
atric ward in prisons and might prove to be ineffective. The prison is a poisonous environment for most everyone, but it hits the mentally ill especially hard. The money being drained into the prison system should be diverted to instead expand community mental health centers as originally promised. These community-based centers would help to ensure that more mentally ill individuals are being provided the proper treatment and fair punishment for their crimes. Prisons should be reserved for criminals, not people like Armando Cruz. Shira Weissmann is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The War on Terror
The War on Terror
Frisky Business Alex Tolkin
ong security lines. Invasive scanning. Removing shoes, jackets, belts, and dignity. Since its founding after the September 11th attacks, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has provoked controversy. Its goal is to ensure that U.S. transportation is safe from terrorists, especially aviation. Over more than a decade, the TSA has consistently adapted its policies and regulations to try to remain ahead of terrorist threats. However, a look at the development of the TSA’s screening policies demonstrates that the TSA is perpetually a step behind those it attempts to stop. September 11th caused a radical reshuffling of funding and responsibilities throughout the U.S. government. The rapid creation of the Department of Homeland Security mirrored the rapid creation of the TSA, which soon replaced the patchwork of private screening companies which had previously handled airport security. The TSA also dramatically expanded the Air Marshal program, which stations federal agents on planes in case a dangerous situation develops. Both of these initial measures were necessary steps in addressing prior egregious failures of the American security system. After these early successes, however, the TSA has struggled to keep up with evolving terrorist tactics. The TSA ban on liquids in excess of 100 mL is particularly notorious. The TSA instituted the policy in response to a 2006 plot to
The TSA is perpetually a step behind those it attempts to stop. attack planes using liquid explosives. However, other less well-known policies developed in response to specific attacks demonstrate the limits of a reactionary security philosophy. For example, the TSA banned large ink cartridges on planes in response to a 2010 plot to hide explosives in toner cartridges. Presumably, a terrorist group could figure out some other office product to hide a bomb in. Focusing on a patch approach, or addressing a specific method of an attempted attack rather than a broader strategy means the TSA will always be acting retroactively rather than proactively. It is not difficult to find potential weaknesses in current security policies. Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) is a powerful explosive that both the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and the “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab used. The explosive remains difficult to detect with current scanners, and advanced scanners are not in widespread use, especially for freight aircraft. The strategy of fixing security breaches is doubly problematic, because the TSA has done such a poor job of actually fixing these past problems. Airports have begun checking liquids after passengers have gone through the security checkpoint, which means passengers can’t even bring liquids bought at the gate onto the plane. This new
initiative aims to combat sloppy screening practices that often miss liquids during the first security check point . The initiative is also a sign of poor implementation of new security measures. Remarkably, a 2012 Department of Homeland Security report found that screeners only correct security failures 53% of the time. The TSA is using a reactionary approach to combat terrorist threats, but they are not properly reacting. Not only is the TSA failing to predict future challenges or adapt to past ones, but it also struggles to even perform basic security checks. A leaked 2006 report on TSA security found that screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport failed 20 out of 22 security tests, allowing numerous bombs and guns through. Had it been terrorists rather than government oversight officials smuggling the weapons in, America might have had its second devastating terrorist attack of the decade. What makes the TSA’s issues most egregious is the tremendous inconvenience they create for travelers. While the TSA hassle is of questionable value for deterring terrorist attacks, it seems to be effective at deterring air travel. A 2007 study estimated that the increased security caused air travel to decrease by 6%. Not only does this hurt airline companies, but it also hurts consumers. Nate Silver estimated that the car deaths from decreased air travel are equivalent to four Boeing 737s crashing every year. The TSA works hard to create the illusion that it is thoroughly examining cargo and passengers, a practice that computer security expert Bruce Schneier calls “security theater.” Sadly, despite its theatrics and reassurances, the TSA is struggling to ensure transportation safety.
Alex Tolkin is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Be Continued
Guantanamo Bay Detention Center— An American Humiliation Jessie Bluedorn
s President, I will close Guantanamo” President Obama repeated tzhis promise many times during his 2008 campaign, making it a central issue in the election. In the beginning of his first term he did take several steps, which made it appear that a closure was looming in the near future. In fact, on his first full day in office in 2009, the President issued an executive order mandating that the prison be closed within one year and its prisoners transferred. Later that year, however, the Senate did not approve the necessary funding to execute this initiative. After these initial developments and subsequent setbacks, it seems that the public interest in Guantanamo Bay has waned, but what is the current status of the nation’s most notorious prison? The first prisoners arrived at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center (Gitmo for short) at the US Naval Base in Cuba January 11, 2002. The White House did not acknowledge the application of the Geneva Convention, which regulates humane treatment of prisoners, until 2009. During these early years, Guantanamo was used for the detention and torture of suspected terrorists as well as individuals with information pertinent to the U.S.’ War on Terror. As Susan J. Crawford, the Convening Authority for the Guantanamo Military Commissions, explained with regards to Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused of attempting to participate in the 9/11 hijacking, “The techniques they used [to interrogate Qahtani] were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent…you think of torture, you think of some
good. With evidence of former interrogation techniques such as strip searches, use of chains and leashes, and 18-20 hour interrogations, it is clear that Guantanamo Bay has become, in the words of Admiral Blair, Obama’s former head of National Intelligence, “ a damaging symbol to the world.” This perception was only furthered by the release of the Guantanamo files after they were provided to Wikileaks by soldier Bradley Manning. These files provide disturbing details on the detainees of Guantanamo. For example, it was revealed that a fourteen-year-old kidnapping victim was held and tortured for information on Al Qaeda leaders. Though many individuals may argue that these horrors are in the past, and though torture may no longer be common practice at Guantanamo, the air of secrecy surrounding this prison as well as its damaging reputation more than substantiate the argument that it is in the best interest of the United States to close Guantanamo immediately. Currently, trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, specifically the 9/11 masterminds, are underway. These trials have raised many questions about the secrecy surrounding Guantanamo. For example, the defense team has requested to spend 48 hours in Camp 7, referred to as Guantanamo’s “crown jewel of secrecy” to observe some version of their clients’ day-to-day reality. Tellingly, the Prosecution is fighting back against this request, offering instead a two hour guided tour of the prison. This type of continuing secrecy, coupled with earlier revelations of censoring, simply reinforce the problems with Guantanamo. Regardless of the
The air of secrecy surrounding this prison as well as its damaging reputation more than substantiate the argument that it is in the best interest of the United States to close Guantanamo immediately. horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health, it was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive.” The reality of Guantanamo since 2009 is certainly very different than during the Bush administration. It is accepted that methods of advanced interrogation, or torture, have not been used under President Obama. Despite this success, Obama has made very little progress in actually fulfilling his promise to close Guantanamo. In fact, it is highly unlikely to be closed anytime in the near future. Despite the President’s confident claims, he has been unsuccessful in gaining support for closure in the Senate. In fact, in January 2013, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) that stipulates that the executive branch cannot transfer detainees to a different country. In other words, just within the last month Obama signed away his ability to transfer the current detainees out of Guantanamo and shut it down The strong governmental resistance to the closure of Guantanamo convinces many citizens of its importance in defending the United States. In truth, however, this prison is doing much more harm than
positive changes the detainee program has undergone, this prison holds too many secrets, corruptions to remain open. Ultimately, the necessary resolution is clear—the United States must reach a bipartisan agreement to shut down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. It serves as an embarrassment to this country and what we stand for while providing very few real services to our national safety, especially as information obtained under duress is often unreliable. Of course some of the prisoners detained at Guantanamo constitute legitimate threats to the United States, and it is imperative that these individuals face swift and severe repercussions. However, these repercussions must be dealt through legitimate legal channels both for efficacy, morality, and the reputation of the United States.
Jessie Bluedorn is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The War on Terror
Lest We Forget Taka Yamaguchi
lindsided by an unexpected attack on its soil, Americans are sad, fearful and angry. Thousands of fellow countrymen’s lives have been cut tragically short. The nation is gripped by a spasm of national hatred and rage; the media gladly fuels the flames of xenophobia. War is declared. The president calls for Americans to rally around the fallen, and says we must stand by our nation—and the freedom, liberty, and justice that it stands for—more than ever before. As much as the tragedy unites Americans, it divides them as well. Friends, coworkers, and neighbors have overnight become a security risk and a “fifth column” not to be trusted. Wary stares and bricks through windows become common occurrences for those unlucky Americans. History has a funny—and tragic—way of repeating itself. Americans were jarred awake on the morning of December 7, 1941 to learn of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They found their country suddenly plunged into war. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were viewed with everything from suspicion to outright hatred. American citizens of Japanese descent, previously touted as model immigrants, were spit on in the street, their stores firebombed. FBI agents barged into homes in the middle of the night to detain and question Japanese-Americans for an alleged lack of loyalty to the United States.
Apparently, anything could compel the untrustworthy Japanese-Americans to turn traitor. No one raised the point that their seeming inability to “prove their loyalty” had less to do with their culpability and more to do with the audacity of the accusation itself. No one bothered to notice that they were just as shocked and enraged by the attack on
The specter of the untrustworthy foreigner, unwilling and unable to assimilate into American society, raised its ugly head as it did in 1941. Muslim women wearing headscarves discovered that a piece of cloth made them a magnet for raised eyebrows. their country, especially because the attackers hailed from their ancestral home. Three months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 into law: 120,000 American citizens were torn from everything they knew and shunted away to the desert wastes of the American West. 60 years later, Americans on their way to work stared at television screens in disbelief as passenger planes smashed into the World Trade Center. By the time President Bush solemnly addressed the nation, setting the stage to declare a “War on Terror” nine
As a Japanese-American, I vividly remember first learning about Japanese internment following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hearing that thousands of Japanese-American families like my own were given 48 hours to abandon their careers, lives, and communities for shacks and horse stables was, to put it lightly, sobering. “Model immigrant” became “permanent foreigner” became “enemy alien.” Every day, Americans and politicians alike accused Japanese-Americans of pledging their loyalty to the Japanese Emperor over the United States.
innocent Americans faced insults, arson, assault, and murder because they looked wrong. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh-American, wore a turban—stereotypically associated with Muslims—as his religion prescribed. He was brutally murdered five days after September 11th because his murderer mistook him for a Muslim.
days later, 2,996 people had been killed. In the subsequent days, reports of hate crimes against Muslim-Americans and anyone else deemed “the enemy” skyrocketed—a trend which continues to this day. As in 1941,
Suddenly, the fact that Muslim-Americans are among the highest educated, most productive members of our society was irrelevant. The specter of the untrustworthy foreigner, unwilling and unable to assimilate into American society, raised its ugly head as it had in 1941. Muslim women wearing headscarves discovered that a piece of cloth made them a magnet for raised eyebrows and a surprisingly large number of random screenings. As The New York Times uncovered, NYPD officers were shown Islamophobic propaganda films as part of their training. The Associated Press recently reported on the NYPD’s illegal 24/7 surveillance program over entire neighborhoods, solely because they contained Muslim communities. Who knew when Muslim-Americans would heed the call of jihad and fly a plane into a building? High-profile politicians— Republican Senator Rick Santorum comes to mind—have called on American Muslims to publically renounce terrorism and radical Islam, whatever that means. Until they had done so, they were not to be fully trusted. Why is this cohort of Americans guilty until proven innocent? Why is the bar for proving loyalty to the country higher for an ethnic and religious minority? These difficult questions have been avoided, the tragic results of which can be seen in Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act, and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
To Be Continued As a Japanese-American, I vividly remember first learning about Japanese internment following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hearing that thousands of Japanese-American families like my own were given 48 hours to abandon their careers, lives, and communities for shacks and horse stables was, to put it lightly, sobering. Encouraged by popular resentment towards Japanese people, the federal government stripped the civil rights of citizens in a wholesale, discriminatory manner. Even my 14-year old self had trouble reconciling this dark phase of our history with the American ideals taught in civics class of equality and opportunity for all. Today I feel the same disgust, the same sense of disheartenment as I witness Muslim-Americans besieged by institutionalized discrimination, normalized racism, and legal curtailment of their rights in the same way that hundreds of thousands of Americans faced after Pearl Harbor. The truest test of a nation’s commitment to the rights of its citizens is when it is the hardest to abide by them. After Pearl Harbor, after 9/11, these rights were quickly dropped in favor of a cynical pragmatism. Hence, JapaneseAmerican internment. Hence, Guantanamo Bay, where American and international civil protections are mere impediments to be tossed aside and legal recourse to torture (sorry, enhanced interrogation) is nowhere to be found. What does it mean to be fighting for freedom when back home, civilians are penned in a camp for four years, or when suspects can be indefinitely detained without due process? Answering these questions forces us to consider how honestly we stand by the ideals of the United States. The very reason that generations of immigrants, Japanese, Muslim, whatever, came to seek a better life in our country is at stake. Do not argue that these are necessary evils in an uncertain era: just as in the entire four-year period of internment, not a single Japanese-American was charged with treason or conspiracy, administrative detention today has proved a flop. The ACLU reported that among the thousands of Muslim-Americans illegally detained in the months immediately after September 11th, not a single detainee was found to have a connection to the attacks or to terrorism in general. Contrary to what you might have seen in the newest Islamophobic blockbuster, Zero Dark Thirty, Senator John McCain has stated that information acquired from waterboarding and other forms of torture did not provide any intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden’s killing.
Systematic, institutionalized discrimination does not develop in a vacuum. Its legitimacy and apparent necessity are dependent on maintaining suspicion of the enemy “other”. Politicians, eager to capitalize on anti-Mus-
apology to internees and their families, and the $1.6 billion in reparations payments proves that we have moved beyond those dark pages in America’s history. Reagan admitted that “race prejudice, war hysteria,
The shrine at the site of the Manzanar internment camp.
lim sentiment to gain votes, feed this suspicion. Just as officials warned against the conniving Japs’ designs to sow disloyalty among Japanese-Americans, Representative Michelle Bachmann has declared that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the American government. Bombarded by the fear-mongering claims of government officials, armed with racist preconceptions about Muslims, it is not surprising to expect many Americans to respond, “I knew it all along,” rather than question the motivations of such alarmism. And so it comes as no surprise to me that in this culture of fear and distrust, a fellow student will flippantly crack a racist joke about Muslims but would never dare to make one at the expense of African-Americans or Jews, new NYPD recruits receive anti-Muslim indoctrination, and mosques such as the one in Joplin, MO, are burned to the ground. Dazzled by great victories like the Civil Rights Act, or the election of a black president, many insist with smug confidence that institutionalized and politically-motivated racism is but a memory in the United States. In the case of Japanese-American internment, perhaps President Reagan’s 1988
and a failure of political leadership” led to Japanese-Americans’ rights being trampled. Are we going to hear a future President of the United States apologizing to wronged Muslim-Americans in 2070? That is not progress. That is not American. The purpose of an apology is that the offender truly feels remorse, and recognizes the harms done in such a way that similar offenses will never occur again. In launching the national crusade against Muslim-Americans, the American government has failed spectacularly at apologizing to JapaneseAmericans, to generations of Americans like me; it is a vile insult to the memory of those who suffered. For the sake of all Americans, for the very foundations of what this country stands for, we cannot let the dark legacy of those bleak years be lost in vain. Lest we forget, the suffering of one generation of Americans is enough. Let us not add another.
Taka Yamaguchi is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his twitter handle is @takatalks.
The War on Terror
Terrorism: An Equal Opportunity Disease Ruthie Shaffer
mericans need to resist letting popular assumptions about terrorists cloud our judgment as to the true meaning of the word. There are consequences to incorrectly defining terrorism, and although it may seem a matter of semantics, there is a lot at stake. Two years ago, in New York City, Michael Enright flagged down and stepped into a cab. He began what appeared to be a casual conversation with the driver, Ahmed Sharif, asking the cabbie questions about his life and faith—nothing out of the ordinary. However, upon hearing that Sharif was Muslim, Enright, an American whose country purports to value the principles of religious freedom and tolerance, brutally assaulted Sharif. Is it not the case that Enright, in a reversal of the usual stereotype, perpetrated an act of terrorism against the innocent, law-abiding Muslim? Sadly, in our country there are
religion? What about Adam Lanza, and his ruthless murder of Sandy Hook elementary school students and teachers; why are his religion and culture not to blame for his act of terror? Conversely, why do we not attempt—at least in part—to attribute the horrendous acts of 9/11 to the insanity of the hijackers, not solely to their religion? The answers to these questions about the nature of terrorism are not easily determined. What is clear is that we use the term far more than we did before 9/11, and we need to do a better job of defining it and of employing it uniformly—disregarding the cultural, religious, or ethnic identities of the perpetrators and victims. Otherwise, we can expect more appalling events like the Enright taxi-cab assault, and more instances in which Americans violate each other’s freedoms in a much more fundamental way than terrorism ever could. Clear action in tackling the problem of terrorism demands clear thinking.
It is long overdue, but it is time for America to redirect its anger and apply the definition of terrorist and terrorism fairly—and to avoid resorting to a double standard, in which it is invariably a male, turbaned Muslim who is the villain. many such examples of brutality committed each year in the name of American freedom and against the threat of foreign subversion. Do our assumptions about terrorists and terrorism defy accurate definitions of terrorism? Do racism and discrimination remain problematically bound up with these assumptions and definitions? The above incident suggests that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes.” It is long overdue, but it is time for America to redirect its anger and apply the definition of terrorist and terrorism fairly—and to avoid resorting to a double standard, in which it is invariably a male, turbaned Muslim who is the villain. The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as “the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” But Americans in practice use the term selectively; we are quick to jump on the “terrorist” train if the perpetrator of an act of violence is of Muslim faith, yet we seldom if ever use the term to describe American or Western acts of violence against others that conform to the above definition. Many Americans and Europeans act as if their histories remain unblemished by acts of terrorism. Yet we need only remember the murder of millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust, or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Federal Building to see that our assumptions about terrorism contradict the reality and that terrorism transcends any single religion, nationality, ethnicity, or ideology. There appears to be an equal opportunity disease. For that matter, is the erratic murder of innocent moviegoers at the Dark Knight Rises opening in Colorado an act of terrorism? If it is not, then what is it? Do motives matter in determining a terrorist act’s status? Why did James Holmes’s seemingly random movie murder spree stem from his “insanity” and not his culture or
Ruthie Shaffer is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
To Be Continued
Zero Dark Thirty Revisited Jay Evans | Illustration by Sydney Meyers
ny film about terrorism will garner some attention by the media, but Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty struck a chord deep within Americans. The events of 9/11 and the killing of Bid Laden live within every citizen and so a movie tack-
news article for that matter, it creates a narrative and takes some license to ensure coherency and consistency. Above all, it remains a movie, something people pay to watch, never intending to be a documentary. It starts with the problematic statement that the film is
ling those issues is bound to take scrutiny. Zero Dark Thirty purports itself to be based on first-hand accounts, most of which cannot be proven while so much remains classified. But for the commentators and politicians taking aim to the film, one aspect remains at the forefront: torture. The film succeeds because it created a blank canvas for each audience member to paint their personal convictions and morals onto. Many challenge the accuracy of Zero Dark Thirty, an issue no one can fully confront because so much is based on un-verifiable accounts. And as with any movie, or
“Based on Firsthand Accounts of Actual Events.” While the language doesn’t guarantee accuracy, the statement suggests it to the point where many call the film “journalistic.” I will not delve into a gritty debate over the historicity of each scene because the film’s major success is not trying depict history as it happened but trying to confront Americans with the choices the country made for the better part of a decade. The film begins with a long torture scene, where the interrogator using waterboarding and humiliation. The same interrogator goes on to commit many more torture acts. But
halfway through the film, he quits, either because he became bored or the job became too distressing. No clear answer is given. And even later he asserts the enhanced interrogation program as a success, complicating any reading on his true thoughts. His character encompasses the ambiguous nature torture plays in the film. The morality and effectiveness come into question throughout the movie but only in subtle ways, arming detractors who point to an absence of any obvious rejection of the methods. But for every torture scene, the film shows Jessica Chastain’s character pounding out intelligence work behind a computer and mounds of files. The role of torture becomes ambiguous, as the detainee program stops halfway through the film. They find Bin Laden through “normal” intelligence work, sitting behind computers and staring at photos on the wall. Any role torture takes remains understated; if so much could be accomplished without it, then why would they need it in the first place, the film asks? At no point does the film make a direct link between torture and finding Bin Laden. Instead, every route is obscured with uncertainty, frustration, and ambiguity. The film presents the scenes without leaning toward one way or another. In effect it forces the audience to weigh the moral ramifications of the torture acts. Some will leave feeling torture as justified, others seeing it yielding very little. Any definitive stance on the morality and effectiveness of the actions on screen must be painted by the audience; the film does not afford us the luxury of making those decisions. I find the ending fitting; it shows the final outpour of emotions encapsulated in dedicating one’s life to finding and killing a man. And in reality definitive truths may never be known. People will continue to debate torture’s effectiveness, and the film recognizes that it cannot solve the debate. So it leaves it up to the audience, leaving everyone unnerved and uncomfortable on some level. The film starts with a black screen and real recording of a 911 call from within the World Trade Center on 9/11. The film never intended to let the audience sit passively. Any attempt at dismissing the gravity of the film wash away before any actor is shown. It forces each person to reflect on the last decade, and whether it was all worth it.
Jay Evans is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The War on Terror
French Intervention in Mali: Why Success Will End in Long Commitment Molly McGregor
he world has watched in horror as Islamist militant groups took control of the northern half of Mali in recent months. The insurgents have commandeered an ethnic rebellion that arose from increasing political instability following a coup d’état in March, 2012. These groups, including terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), established jihadist mini-states and imposed strict Sharia law as thousands of refugees fled south or to neighboring countries. Since the French intervention beginning in January, however, there has been new hope for Mali. At the request of the Malian government, French forces deployed as part of “Operation Serval.” In a matter of weeks, the French chased the Islamists from the largest northern towns of Gao, Kidal, and the fabled Timbuktu, which had been under Islamist control for nine months. Malians are ecstatic, and grateful crowds holding French flags and shouting “Vive la France!” welcomed French President Francois Hollande during his visit to Timbuktu in early February. Mission accomplished? Hardly. Wary of being dragged into an indefinite occupation or branded neo-colonialist, the French are eager to return control to Malian and other West African forces, but in reality are unlikely to leave anytime soon. If Mali is truly to stabilize, the country requires long-term foreign intervention, both militarily and economically. Undoubtedly, Mali will remain in headlines for much longer. The crisis gripping Mali began last March, when a military coup d’état destabilized this large but poor West African nation whose northern region was already being rocked by the most recent Tuareg rebellion. The rebellion, led by the some members of the Tuareg ethnic population, sought the establishment of a separate, secular state, commonly referred to as Azawad). The dysfunctional Malian army poorly contained the insurrection — particularly the efforts by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) — which had been renewed by an influx of Libyan arms and former Qaddafi mercenaries.. The rebellion was quickly co-opted by a hodge-podge of Islamist terrorist groups that had long operated out of the Sahara Desert as bandits, smugglers, and kidnappers.
The months following the coup have been characterized by severe political instability. In the southern capital Bamako, the military junta reluctantly relinquished power to an interim civilian government in April after threats of sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but junta leaders have continued to insert themselves into politics. In December, officers associated with the junta, many of who had been opposed to the use of foreign troops in Mali, kidnapped the prime minister and forced his resignation. Their influence and continued political instability complicated foreign support for any military intervention. Many countries and the United Nations refused to even consider an intervention until Mali returned to democracy and held elections, a near impossible prospect given the Islamists’ territorial advances in the north. As a result, the French decision to intervene surprised many observers. After already having struggled to fight the Tuareg rebels, the Malian military retreated from the North in the face of the superior weaponry of the Islamists and confusion brought on by the coup. The inefficacy of the Malian military allowed the Islamists to gain control of Malian territory greater than the size of France. In northern cities, Islamists
raised the black flag of jihad and strictly implemented Sharia law, forcing women to veil, forbidding music, and amputating hands in cases of suspected theft. Last year in Timbuktu, they destroyed sacred Sufi shrines and World Heritage Sites, claiming them to be idolatrous. Many journalists asked if Mali was becoming an “African Afghanistan.” Just prior to the French intervention, the Islamists had taken the town of Konna. This town lies close to the military base in Sevaré, which contains the northernmost airport with a landing strip capable of receiving cargo planes. Had the Islamists taken control of Sevaré, any foreign intervention would have soared in expense and logistical difficulty. Given the Islamists’ easy takeover of Konna, some, especially Malians living in the South, feared that the Islamists would continue their military conquest all the way to Bamako. Arguably, this was never a realistic option for the militants. They have long operated out of the ungoverned and sparsely populated northern Sahara region, which is hundreds of miles from Bamako. Moreover, their small numbers would not have favored a campaign to capture the most populated areas of Mali. Regardless, the Islamists’ capture of Konna proved to be a watershed; this success was enough to convince the Malian government to ask the French to intervene.
To Be Continued Shortly thereafter, the French began airstrikes of Islamist camps and later deployed about 4,000 ground forces. The French operation has liberated towns at lightning speed, and has earned the support of the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, the last of whom continues to logistically support France by means of transporting French cargo and aiding in refueling aircraft for airstrikes. (The Pentagon has stated US troops will not be involved in the conflict.) Despite successes, there have been few actual military confrontations with the Islamists, who have retreated from the towns with traditional guerrilla tactics. Islamists have faded into the northern desert wastelands, which they know well. Rooting out these elements of the Islamist groups will prove a difficult task for the French forces. The crisis in Mali may have ignited after the coup d’état in March, but its root causes are much deeper, making a quick in-and-out strategy by the French difficult. Given the military superiority of the French over the Islamists, the more problematic obstacles to stabilizing Mali are less capably addressed by military tactics. The dysfunction of the Malian military and the unresolved tensions between Tuareg and non-Tuareg Malians, or separatist Tuaregs and the Malian government, are now the greatest threats to relapse. These are not only historical roots to instability in Mali’s northern region — they have also been exacerbated by recent Islamist military campaigns and rule.
as they work alongside the French troops to regain the north. There have been reports that Malian officers have murdered suspected but unconfirmed Islamists in a wave of battlefield executions. Because the Islamists groups draw heavily from the Tuareg popula-
Tuareg separatist problem cannot be reached, ethnic tensions and rebellions will continue to destabilize the region. tion, it seems that the result has been deadly ethnic profiling. While the majority of ethnic relations in Mali are tolerant and peaceful, especially by African standards, the history of the Tuareg is an unfortunate exception. They are a minority ethnic group in Mali whose ancestral homeland includes parts of northern Mali and surrounding areas located in neighboring countries. The Tuareg are distinguishable from other Malian ethnic groups because of their lighter, Berber skin tones and because of their traditional nomadic lifestyles as herders and traders. In recent decades, many of the Tuareg have been forced to abandon their traditional lifestyles because environmental degradation, repeated droughts, and the obsolescence of their caravan trade routes have rendered their way of life extremely difficult if not unsustainable. Poverty, lack of investment by the government (until the resolution of the last rebellion in the 1990s, there was only one paved
The crisis in Mali may have ignited after the coup d’état in March, but its root causes are much deeper, making a quick in-and-out strategy by the French difficult. First, the dysfunction of the Malian military cannot be underestimated. It has long been underequipped, and its inadequate training has resulted in a dangerous lack of discipline. After its ineffective response to the Tuareg rebellion in the north last year, the Malian military’s coup d’état last March turned Mali’s military problem into a military and political catastrophe. The fight of military personnel from the north allowed the jihadists ultimately to take complete control of the largest northern cities. Military entanglement in politics threatens Mali’s return to stable democracy. Worse, the Malian military has been accused of gross human rights violations, even
pathetic to the separatist aspirations of even secular Tuaregs. Similar to the Malian military’s reported ethnic profiling, non-Tuareg Malian citizens have occasionally targeted innocent Tuaregs in reprisals for the actions of Islamist or separatist rebel groups.
road north of Gao), and the Malian military’s history of brutal repression of rebellion have made many Tuareg desperate and distrustful of the Malian state and military. Given these circumstances, it comes as no surprise that some Tuareg have turned to drug and weapons smuggling and the ransoming of foreign hostages. Though some act independently, others act as part of Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda of the Maghreb or Ansar Dine. Tuareg predominance in these Islamist groups reinforces negative stereotypes, especially amongst populations formerly under Islamist rule. However, most Malian citizens exhibit an unusually strong sense of national identity and are unsym-
Any lasting solution in Mali must resolve these ethnic tensions. The MNLA, which has begun supporting French military action against the Islamists, has indicated a willingness to negotiate with the Malian government in exchange for greater autonomy and investment. France plays an important non-military role as it strongly encourages the government to negotiate. If a resolution to the Tuareg separatist problem cannot be reached, ethnic tensions and rebellions will continue to destabilize the region, allowing it to remain a haven for criminal activity and insurgent recruitment. Additionally, the Malian military must be adequately trained into a professional and disciplined force capable of reasonably securing its own borders and maintaining security within them. The French cannot and will not stay in Mali forever. However, the task of securing Mali is by no means easy: Mali’s northern region has been a refuge for smugglers and rebels precisely because of the vast desert terrain that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to patrol. Currently, the French forces’ presence is compensating for the inadequacy of their Malian counterparts, but initiatives by the French as well as British to send military trainers are an important part of the foreign intervention. In both of these cases, Mali’s poverty is a glaring obstacle. Investment in the north is especially expensive, given how sparsely populated and remote the towns are. Poverty also limits the country’s ability to adequately train, pay, and support the kind of security forces the country needs. Foreign aid, used effectively, is essential. If France and other countries including the United States are serious about making Mali a success story, long-term foreign investment may be the only option.
Molly McGregor is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The War on Terror
Excelsior, but Slowly Kevin Deutsch
rom the top of a mountain in my hometown of Millburn, New Jersey, you can see the New York City skyline 16 miles away. A paved road runs up to the south face, Washington Lookout, frequented by joggers, dog-walkers, and mothers with baby carriages. Each passing day, they witness the new One World Trade Center inch closer and closer to completion. The building has topped out, so now all there is to see are glass windows rising floorby-floor to replace black netting and, eventually, the installation of a 408-foot spire, which will cap the building at a patriotic 1,776 feet. Despite the visible progress, there’s relatively little excitement about it—so little excitement that some people in Jersey think the site is still in limbo as Ground Zero. For those aware of it, the new tower isn’t a reminder of the horrors that took place eleven-and-a-half years ago, but is instead a symbol of New York City’s future, and a materialization of New York State’s motto, “Excelsior,” which is Latin for “ever upward.” For the better part of a decade, the site of the World Trade Center was an ugly hole in the ground—a bullet wound in Manhattan’s thin body. A retaining wall held back water from entering, but the hole was already filled with a sense of death and regret. The anxieties of Afghanistan, the War on Terror, and even Iraq trickled in. For liberals, frustration with the Bush administration sat there too. Unsurprisingly, the hole became a breeding ground for Islamaphobia, as evidenced by the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. Ground Zero was empty, yet couldn’t possibly hold more trauma. And so it sat. Reconstructing the World Trade Center became a headache for the city while it recovered from the shellshock of 9/11. George Pataki, then the Governor of New York, set up a commission to redevelop the site in November 2001, just two months after the attacks. This was the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), which needed to select designs for the new buildings, and simultaneously meet the specifications of several organizations. One of these was the site owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a complex interstate organization that polices the ports, airports, and bridges in the two states. Another was Silverstein Properties (owned by Larry Sil-
verstein), to whom the Port Authority granted a 99-year lease of the site in 1998. Silverstein Properties had the right to develop the site. The LMDC also needed to satisfy the NYPD’s security concerns. The victims’ families wanted a say too, so they formed the September 11th Families Association, whose desires the LMDC had to take into account. Numerous designs were drawn up for a main building. Two were accepted and then rejected; the first by Silverstein for not being
commercially appealing, and the second by the NYPD for being susceptible to car bombs. The main building has also gone through two names. The first, “Freedom Tower,” was coined by Governor Pataki. This was eventually changed to “One World Trade Center” by the Port Authority. In 2009, the Port Authority estimated the World Trade Center would not be completed and occupied until 2037— 36 years after the destruction of the original buildings. As late as 2010, 60 Minutes of CBS
To Be Continued Illustration by Katie Olson
ran a story about the slow progress of the site. In an interview with Scott Pelley, Silverstein called it â€œa national disgrace.â€? Notwithstanding all of the bureaucracy and contention, construction on many of the buildings was set to begin in 2007 or 2008. But then the recession hit, and the buildings lost many tenants. Two, Three, and Five World Trade Center are all still stalled or in the very early stages of construction. The sixth building could become a performhead-
aches, shouting matches, and compromises. The work, however, is on well on its way. Now, a glass tower rises from the dust.
Kevin Deutsch is sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The War on Terror
Nonmilitary Counterterrorism Joshua Jacobs
s the United States mulls over yet another extension of its drone warfare program, this time in order to combat Malian Islamists in northwest Africa, it is time to disassociate the War on Terror from military intervention. Armed strength has characterized the global, and particularly the American, approach to combating terrorism to such a degree that the use of force has become synonymous with counterterrorism. The United States has conducted targeted killings using unmanned drones in at least three countries (Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan), with which it is not officially at war. Were force the only avenue for resolving conflicts, then a well-designed drone warfare program, albeit with significantly clearer rules of engagement, would be a pragmatic modus operandi. But drone strikes are not the only answer. Warfare, and especially drones, risk significant civilian casualties. Such operations also operate on the edge of legality, both in American and international law. American military intervention, such as drone warfare, should not be relied upon as the only, or even primary, method of resolving the War on Terror.
Military intervention comes at a heavy price. In addition to the tens of thousands of lives lost in such endeavors, there are financial costs to consider, both to the American taxpayers and the countries we invade. Furthermore, as I will discuss later, the removal of Muammar Gaddafi from Libya by force, while substantially helping the cause of democracy in Libya, may have led to the current insurrection in Mali, as some Tuareg members of Gaddafiâ€™s forces were forced to move back to their native lands. When wars are fought, old hatreds are stirred, and this destabilization leads to further conflict. Americans need to remember that force is meant to be a last resort. There are times and places where intervention becomes a necessary and indeed desirable option, but given the potential costs, it is hard to defend the scale of current military operations. Economic sanctions have proven to be remarkably efficient in isolating despots and suppressing state-funded terrorism and strong military buildups. While sanctions are seemingly ineffective in ending regimes, as is evident in the decades-long American embargo against Cuba and current sanctions against North Korea and Iran, they have been suc-
A predator drone. Drone strikes are one method of military counter-terrorism implemented by the United States.
To Be Continued cessful in removing a state from the global market. Eventual change, even revolution, becomes more likely as economic conditions deteriorate and governments become unable to support their belligerent aspirations, as evidenced by the devaluation of the Iranian rial and the failure of the North Korean missile programs. Coupled with economic sanctions, diplomacy provides another useful tactic in the fight against terror. It is often difficult to negotiate with the sorts of leaders who use terrorism or blunt force to advance their cause, but it is simply unwise not to try. The United States cannot, of course, allow the other party to use the threat of terrorism as a negotiating tactic. It is, however, possible gain concessions, particularly when negotiations are coupled with economic warfare. Unfortunately, domestic politics can undermine this strategy. In the 2008 Presidential campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama promised to conduct bilateral talks with the Iranian government. Republicans criticized this policy as being overly naive in a time of heightened danger and terrorism. Obama’s critics complained that he would “apologize for America” or show weakness. The President backed down, but had he chosen to capitalize on his campaign promises, relations with Iran might not be so heated. Generally, the President has done a poor job at conducting such talks, and thus, has ironically proven the Republican critique prescient, for he has truly shown America’s weakness and naiveté. The Cold War highlights the efficacy of non-military options. While engaging in highly destructive wars in Korea, Vietnam, or by proxy in Afghanistan, the United States was able to contain and eventually counteract Communism only through economic and diplomatic strategies. In Cuba, the CIA failed to overthrow the communists. In Vietnam, the Communists won the war after massive US casualties, which led to significant political repercussions back home. Through diplomacy and economic sanctions, however, the United States was able to isolate Cuba, sow discontent in Eastern Europe, open relations with China, and eventually starve the Soviet Union into the limited democracy they have today.
stead, they preach and propagandize to the weakest members of their societies, who are easily swayed given their weak economic conditions. They are swayed by the promise of provisions for their families; simply joining a terrorist cell often pays better wages than traditional work. The Somali pirates, for example, were fishermen who were unable to compete. Malian Tuaregs were nomadic Berbers made irrelevant by modern trade routes, many of whom found work in the army of Muammar Gaddafi. The Malian rebels today are in many cases second-generation Tuaregs, born in Libya, newly returned to their father’s homeland Gaddafi’s ousting.
Few men would take up arms who could, instead, live well without the fear of bullets. If we want to ensure that our children are not relegated to fighting these same types of wars, we must do our part to prevent the fighting in the first place. If we allow Somalia, Afghanistan, and Mali to develop by supporting stable governments, infrastructure projects, and industry, and ensuring their people have legitimate means of income, we can cut off terrorism at its root. Few men would take up arms who could, instead, live well without the fear of bullets. Americans must support development from afar, encourage trade, the building of roads, and the improvement of democratic institutions. Property rights need to be protected, and the freedoms of speech, worship, and identity guaranteed. Disease must be controlled, and the exploitation of resources stopped. Prevention of violence is hard and industrialization is complex, but it is only through development, not aggressive drone warfare, that future terrorism can be stopped.
American military intervention should not be relied upon as the only, or even primary, method of resolving the War on Terror. Admittedly, these methods may not be enough to reduce terrorism, or to win the War on Terror. When fighting against a traditional army or state, there are clearly defined objectives and conditions for victory. Conventional wars end with either occupation or surrender. Under those conditions, military intervention is a reasonable avenue for conflict resolution. In the modern world, however, we fight a different style of war. The enemies of the United States do not have presidents or standing armies or generals. They operate as “freedom fighters,” armed with guerilla tactics and grass roots recruitment strategies. No matter how many terrorists we kill, these organizations will still grow. There is no single territory to occupy nor is there a way to outlast a foe whose ranks swell with each of our perceived successes. Terrorism will always exist as long as there is a reason for it to exist. The best offense against terrorism is not warfare, which only treats the symptom. It is only when terrorism is a poorer choice than an honest living that it will cease. Few ideologues are so convinced of their beliefs that they will martyr themselves for their cause. In-
Joshua Jacobs is a Junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He may be reached at email@example.com.
International An Endless Fight: The Search for Peace in the Congo Henry Osman
The Conflict Today They came, they took the city, and they left. In just nine days, Goma, the capital of the war-torn Congolese province of North Kivu, was subjected yet again to rebel control, this time after a tenuous three year peace treaty. The issues at the heart of the North Kivu conflict are representative of the larger, often paradoxical problems troubling the continent as whole: poverty, instability, and a lack of infrastructure. The latest group to take advantage of these weaknesses and further destabilize the province is M23, who formed in April 2012 and have quickly overrun the province. The organization has deep roots in the province; it formed from disaffected officers of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a Rwandan-supported militia active from 2006 to 2009. The last peace treaty dealt with the CNDP, and a fragile ceasefire emerged between the CNDP and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government on March 23, 2009, the date from which the M23 rebel group derives its name. Three years after the treaty ended, M23 emerged with 300 exCNDP soldiers and began to march towards Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Their progress was slow at the beginning, but in July 2012, government opposition melted away, with DRC troops simply evacuating many towns once the rebels neared. As their march continued, more and more refugees moved towards Goma, a city already engorged with displaced persons. In November, M23 began their first
major offensive against Goma itself. The U.N.-peacekeeper-supported government army fought back, but was unable to stop the rebels. Then, before they breached the city, M23 made an announcement— they would stop fighting if the government agreed to peace talks. Despite the offer, the government refused to communicate with the rebels and M23 entered the city, taking the airport. The army, U.N. peacekeepers, and local police stopped fighting and let M23 take the rest of the city. The army fled while the rebels allowed U.N. forces to continue patrolling the streets. A day later, DRC troops attempted to take back the city but failed.
The issues at the heart of the North Kivu conflict are representative of the larger, often paradoxical problems troubling the continent as whole. Ten days later, however, the situation changed yet again; on the first of December, M23 left Goma and returned to the territories they had captured over the summer due to pressure both from the Congolese
Resources and Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo The DRC contains some of the largest mineral deposits in the world, and yet it remains among the world’s poorest countries. This 24 trillion dollars’ worth of mineral wealth is especially concentrated in the southern reaches of the country and controlled by large multi-national corporations. North Kivu, however, has some of the largest reserves of coltan in the world, a mineral integral to production of cellphones and rechargeable batteries. The wealth generated by this mining has made a select few very rich, while most of the country remains mired in poverty. At the same time, there has been widespread unrest for the last decade in the relatively mineral-poor eastern regions, where Rwandan, Ugandan, Burundian and rebel forces continue to cause severe unrest. Al-
though there have been multiple peace talks and treaties, the violence always returns, a devastating cycle that has held the country back while neighbors have prospered and modernized. The weak central government based in Kinshasa in the western edge of the country does not have the resources to fight back. It doesn’t help that DRC President Joseph Kabila is an inexperienced autocrat who only inherited power after his father’s death. In this power vacuum, rebellion has occurred again and again, with the provinces of North and South Kivu on the Ugandan, Rwandan, and Burundian borders suffering the most, subject to an ongoing epidemic of sexual assault and economic deprivation that has killed five million over the last decade.
International government and surrounding countries like Uganda. Although their control over Goma was brief, it caused extensive instability. Over 140,000 people were left displaced and many civil and social institutions were destroyed. M23 also assassinated several local figures, adding to the precarious nature of the region. These targeted assassinations highlight an important part of M23’s doctrine; they specifically state that they are fighting against a government they view as corrupt. This means that it is highly possible that they chose to kill officials whom they believed had abused their power. Of course, moralistic views just as often hide the crimes they say they fight. M23 is just as corrupt as the Congolese government, with many officials having made money through controlling border crossings.
Economic Repercussions M23 has also raised taxes to obscene levels; in some instances, the tariff for transporting goods through the region is more expensive than the goods themselves. These absurd policies demonstrate the disastrous effects the rebellion has had on the regional economy. Even more alarming is the fact that the rebels have also removed traditional tribal chiefs from their villages and replaced them with ones who support the rebels. This has lasting impacts because it effectively destroys the social network that ties the villages together and slows trade through astronomical tariffs. Economic issues like these are particularly important because the region contains considerable quantities of tin and the world’s largest reserves of coltan, an integral component of mobile phones and batteries, as well as considerable amounts of tin . The illegal mining of coltan helps fund the rebel forces, although the actual amount of ore produced has been decreasing due to the ongoing conflict, further depressing local incomes. Although the DRC contains receives support from the largest U.N. peacekeeping force in the world, with almost 20,000 peacekeepers and 6,700 in North Kivu alone, they have not been able to help Kinshasa stop the rise of the rebels. Even if the government desires to control their country’s wealth, they lack the power to do so.
rounding countries. The United States has even trained Rwandan troops, although it cut funding for such training last July. An important advocate of this has been Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Rice worked for Kagame’s government during her time as a consultant for Intellibridge, and has defended him in the United Nations. She has continuously denied both Rwandan support for M23 and the atrocities those troops have committed. Recently, however, the U.N. has come down harder both on the Kagame regime and M23, with a ceasefire happening at the beginning of the new year.
Peace Talks and Conflict Today After months of deliberation, a preliminary peace treaty was formed on February 5th , 2013 in Uganda. Success, however, is impossible to predict. The previous treaty from 2009 had a provision stating that all future conflicts should be worked out politically, not militarily; yet this has obviously failed. And the characteristics that make North Kivu so volatile, namely its massive mineral reserves and strategic geopolitical location are impossible to change. Hopefully, this treaty will effect change in the region, but past attempts have all failed. Peace is currently contingent on two developments. First, the international community, and particularly the United States, must fully face its role in the conflict and be open about the influence of Rwanda in the region. Rwanda also has to work for this peace – if they continue to support military groups, a peace will
Rwanda Besides the obvious economic and social issues that have plagued North Kivu for decades, there is a larger force at play: Rwanda. Although the province only shares a short border with the country, Goma lies right along this border and is a major checkpoint. Rwanda has historically had an outsized influence throughout the region, funding the rebel troops during both the First and Second Congo Wars. Although Rwanda denies supporting the M23 rebels, many sources, including the United Nations, have said that M23 is supported by both the Rwandan and the Ugandan governments. The fact that a small country such as Rwanda could have such an influence over a country that is so much larger and has almost ten times the population demonstrates the weakness of the DRC. The larger question, though, is why the international community has not pressured Rwanda to stop funding rebel groups. One large roadblock to coordinated international efforts has been the ongoing U.S. support of Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda. Paul Kagame has been in power since the end of Rwandan genocide, when he was elected president largely due to his efforts at ending said genocide. Owing to his early success, many countries have been unconditionally supportive of Kagame even as he has projected Rwanda into sur-
never happen. Yes, Kagame helped end the Rwandan Genocide, but he has started a new one here and that must be recognized. Second, the mineral resources in the region have to begin to benefit the people and rebuild the damaged infrastructure of the province. The DRC is one of the few countries in the world that have gotten poorer over the last few years, and per capita income is around 200 U.S. dollars. Such dire poverty is a breeding ground for anger and rebellion, and corrupt government only magnifies the issues. Although the war spilled throughout the Great Lakes region, it started in North Kivu, and North Kivu is where it has to end, a recourse only economic stability can create. Henry Osman is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences studying. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just who is Mexican President Enrique Nieto? Govin Vatsan
e is the 57th president of Mexico, he took office last December, and his name is Enrique Peña Nieto. President Nieto is the leader of the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which ruled Mexico for 71 continuous years until it lost in 2000 to the National Action Party (PAN). The return of Nieto and the PRI wasn’t completely peaceful: hundreds of protestors opposed his election. In the past, the PRI often obtained power through questionable, and usually fraudulent, means. Yet many Mexicans still believe that the PRI will be more effective against crime than the PAN. 60,000 Mexicans have been killed in the ongoing drug war over the past six years which Nieto has promised to fight through unusual means. Nieto’s plan limits military involvement, and instead focuses on protecting citizens directly. He plans to create a 10,000 man police force to send into Mexico’s remote regions to limit egregious law-breaking, believing that because of the war, citizens have not been as well protected against extortion and murder. This signals a crucial change in Mexican counternarcotic policy. Whereas the previous administration attempted to directly take military action against the drug cartels, Nieto plans to shift focus from attack of the cartel to the protection of citizens, from war to the economy, from the military to industry. Restoring legitimacy and the perception of safety is critical because Mexico has one of the most stable economies in Latin
Yet not all Mexicans are enthusiastic about Enrique Nieto’s rise to power. For many decades when the PRI had a stronghold on Mexico’s politics, the party worked indirectly
nomically weak Mexico. The question is: will Nieto’s strategy succeed? Even if Nieto’s plan works, how long will it take Mexico to reach a level of economic
with the drug cartels through a tacit agreement to not make laws too tough on crime in exchange for few direct murders and some political organization within the cartels. Enrique Nieto promises Mexico to lead a new PRI with this new citizen-focused agenda. Nieto’s ascension raises concerns in the United States about the extent to which Mexico will cooperate with U.S. officials in
stability that it can be a more equal partner to the United States? And how will drug cartels react in the interim? Enrique Nieto has only been in power for two months, so it’s unclear exactly what his policies will be. For now, Mexico is receptive to his fresh approach, and he represents a fascinating new arc in Mexico’s history.
60,000 Mexicans have been killed in the ongoing drug war over the past six years. America, with low inflation and steady growth. However, organized drug and weapons trafficking have overshadowed Mexico’s economic achievements. Nieto’s large-scale plan prioritizes the economy over waging a drug war. The economic empowerment will bolster both the Mexican government and its citizens which will allow the Mexican government to better protect its citizens and limit the power of the drug cartels.
limiting drug trafficking across the border. If Mexican officials are unwilling to directly confront the drug cartels for a period of time, U.S. officials will have to exert extra strain to combat weapon trafficking and fight the drug war. Nieto counters that Mexico needs longterm solutions which are worth short-term losses. An economically secure Mexico will definitely be a more capable neighbor and stronger ally to the United States than an eco-
Govin Vatsan is a sophomore in the School of Engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.
A Radical Remembered Abby Kerfoot
spokesperson for the Venezuelan government announced in a brief press conference Thursday that, despite losing a protracted battle with cancer, President Hugo Chávez will continue to govern post mortem. Chávez confirmed via Twitter his intention to retain his post for the foreseeable future despite pressing questions about what his death might mean for his ability to carry out his presidential duties. He followed this up with a selfie from his slab in the Havana Mortuary of Cuba, tagging it “#vivachávez #RTporfavor.” His office dismissed concerns over the president’s health and lifelessness saying, “President Chávez suffered only a brief lapse in vitality, and statements to the contrary are simply relentless imperialist propaganda from neoliberal hell-country America.” Hugo Chávez was elected in 1999 on a platform of anti-American rhetoric and extreme leftist economic reform. He implemented this early in his first term through such radical measures as increasing trade with the United States, contracting with Halliburton, and employing the Third Way policies of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, whose revolutionary tendencies are well-documented. In the fourteen years since Chávez was first elected, the size of the public sector in relation to the rest of the Venezuelan economy skyrocketed from one-third in 1999 to still one-third today. Chávez quickly became known throughout the geopolitical world for his steadfast commitment to the radical economic system he devised and referred to as “21st century socialism,” or, as it’s commonly known, capitalism. Nonetheless, Chávez’s policies arguably improved the quality of life for most of his nation’s citizens. Venezuela’s expensive social programs allow it to enjoy one of the highest standards of living in South America, a fact totally unconnected to the massive oil revenues it gains from trade with bourgeois capitalist giants China and the United States. In his time as a living president, Chávez took a hardline stance on climate change and carbon emissions, capping Venezuelan oil exports to the United States at a scant 1 million barrels per day, or enough to heat 13,600 homes for a year. The United States saw Chávez as a threat to civil rights and free trade, portraying him as a tyrant with little concern for the
wellbeing of his own people or that of his Latin American neighbors. Indeed, in profound contrast to American domestic policy, Chávez’s totalitarian approach to issues like poverty, inequality, and health care deprived Venezuelan citizens of their inalienable right to die destitute and miserable.
of bounds,” raising serious questions about the U.S. State Department’s commitment to the War on Puns. Not to be outdone by his imperialist enemy, Hugo Chávez was also celebrated for his comical performances on the world stage. Some of his greatest successes came
Chávez’s totalitarianism deprived Venezuelans of their inalienable right to die destitute and miserable. Before his death, Chávez further broke with American policy on foreign relations in Latin America by entirely failing to depose democratically elected leaders in the region. However, much like the United States in Latin America, Chávez was fond of throwing his unwavering support behind leaders who abused human rights in the name of a shared ideology, like his friends Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad. The United States has also criticized Chávez’s fledgling space program, with a State Department spokesman quipping that
from good-natured and nuanced satire of his fellow leaders, such as asking the king of Spain “Why don’t you just shut up?” In recent years Chávez said that Barack Obama shares the same sulfurous stench as George W. Bush, that he wants to befriend Obama, that the US president is a clown, and that he would vote for Obama in the US elections if he could, revealing himself to also be an accomplished amateur philosopher well versed in the Hegelian dialectic. It remains to be seen how Chávez’s style of leadership will be affected by his own
Venezuela should expend its resources in a way that is “perhaps … more terrestrial than extraterrestrial,” ignoring the obvious economic benefits to be gained by establishing an interstellar communist regime. When Chávez proclaimed in 2009 that golf is a bourgeois sport and began shutting down several Venezuelan golf courses, the same U.S. spokesperson called Chávez’s suggestion “a mulligan” and accused him of being “out
death. Chávez’s Twitter announcement was met with confusion and dismay by some, but others say that he is simply following in the footsteps of Kim Jong-Il and Muammar Gaddafi, two deceased leaders who have similarly declared their intent to retain power after their deaths. Abby Kerfoot is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do Tibetans Want Tibet or Do Tibetans Deserve Tibet? Kelsey Garnett
anted along the foothills of the Himalayas, the small Indian village of Dharamshala buzzes listlessly in the twilight. The winter has brought a subtle surge of tourists—parents trying to inject culture into children just old enough to form memories, twenty-somethings spurning the familial holiday—and the shopkeepers are happy to oblige. The austere countenance of the villagers contrasts with the cavorting of the twentysomethings as the colored lights of the city mottle the white-capped peaks overhead. The travelers have journeyed to this particular Himalayan village for an inimitable reason: Dharamshala is the present home of the Dalai Lama.
I, and presumably most Americans, have been spoon-fed a single, simple narrative of the Tibetan cause. Tibet, the home of peaceloving Buddhist monks, was imperially invaded by a tyrannical Communist China in 1950. Since then, China has not only illegally claimed sovereignty over Tibetans lands, but has also brutally oppressed its defenseless inhabitants. Popular websites like Tibettruth purport that “[w]ell over one million Tibetans have perished, including nearly 100,000 Tibetans tortured to death.” Hundreds of thousands more have fled their homeland to escape economic discrimination, religious suppression, and political oppression. To an extent these claims are grounded in truth, although some realities might be
speaks of Tibetans he’s spoken to, who elect to flourish in India rather than struggle in their old homes. Despite our objection that Tibetan self-immolations assiduously blaze, Youssef rejects resistance as the norm: “Tibetans are unwilling to fight for Tibet.” He ultimately declares, “You must fight for your own liberty. You must shed blood for your country’s freedom. Otherwise, your country won’t have any color.” I peek furtively at my friends to conjoin my reaction. One nods out of diplomatic habit; the other grits his teeth, eyes cast downwards, stifling back a riposte. I lift a hand to my mouth and ruminate pensively on my fingernails, deciding how I feel. The quandary between ardor for peace and the
The quandary between ardor for peace and the necessity of selfdefense pricks me insidiously. Tibetan pacifism is venerable and, if universally practiced, would yield a halcyon world. Tonight is Christmas Eve and it is cold. I sit inside on a couch in the back of a tiny textile shop. Two of my friends are embroiled in the weird mixture of self-abasement, jest, and outright lying that defines haggling in a world of relative prices. The shop owner, Youssef, refuses to devalue an orange cashmere scarf, disbelieving my friends’ portrait of their abject financial status (probably because one of them wears a $4000 Canon around his collared neck). After an absurd 20 minutes, my friends and Youssef reach an agreement: 1600 rupees for the scarf, a sumptuous two U.S. dollars knocked off the original price. As we are about to exit, Youssef offers the three of us tea. We happily accept. Youssef sets water on to boil, and we exchange a thorough round of pleasantries. We learn that Youssef is Kashmiri, and moved his wares to the Himalayas as much for business as for safety. The water heated, Youssef pours cups. As everyone steeps the redolent Darjeeling green, one friend innocently inquires into the status of Tibetans in Dharamshala. Youssef ’s indelible reply still flickers in my mind, but before I recount it, let me step back for a moment.
exaggerated. The status of Tibetan legal independence before Chinese occupation remains contested. Furthermore, the original POWs of Chinese invasion were reportedly well treated. Tenzin Gyatso, the then and current Dalai Lama, has publicly stated that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army never attacked civilians. But after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, China and human rights violations merged into one within the American political consciousness. NGOs like Free Tibet flourished and effectively inundated U.S. cities with Free Tibet paraphernalia. It is the Free Tibet narrative that rose to my mind that night in Dharamshala, the story of a small peaceful population forced into exile by a large and unjust imperial power – Tibetans without a choice. “If the Tibetans truly want to live in Tibet, they would be in Tibet. You cannot sacrifice for your country if you’re not in your country,” Youssef says. He contends that the Tibetan diaspora prefer their expatriate lives in villages like Dharamshala. He claims Tibetans live an easier and more felicitous life in India: employment is available, kids are educated, and they live in relative peace. He
necessity of self-defense pricks me insidiously. Tibetan pacifism is venerable and, if universally practiced, would yield a halcyon world, but in our bellicose times their pacific ethos has left them subject to domination by the stronger. Should a community use violence to preserve their sovereignty, sacrificing ideals for ancestral land? As I unconsciously lift the tea to my lips, the aromas of fresh honey and misted grass direct my vaporous musings to Gandhi’s march to the sea. One man seized a disparate group of oppressed, unified them, and led them to political independence. And he profoundly condemned violent resistance, fasting each time brutal protests arose. Nonviolent civil disobedience manifested the liberation of the land beneath my feet, but after 60 years of Tibetan non-aggression, must Tibetans do more?
Kelsey Garnett is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com
Orphans in the Crossfire Gabe Rubin | Illustration by Dara Katzenstein
isitors to the New York Times website in late January could be forgiven for worrying that the Russians, 51 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, were finally attacking the United States. A full-page advertisement blanketed the screen, appearing as a Russian newspaper. The mirage quickly melted away to reveal the ad’s true goal, the promotion of a new KGB-undercover-in-America TV show on some godforsaken cable network. Poignantly, the show (The Americans) arrives at a time of increasing tension between the U.S. and Russia – or so it would seem at first glance. On the surface, the main news story pertaining to U.S.-Russian relations over the past few months has been Russia’s stomach-turning anti-American adoption law that would bar Americans from adopting Russian children. Americans adopt thousands of Russian children each year, many of whom have disabilities and would otherwise suffer in Russia’s Dickensian orphanages. The law’s populist proponents, allies of President Vladimir Putin, have long contended that Russian children in American adoptive homes have been subject to abuse. They cite a few factual cases of child abuse, including one sixyear-old molested by his adoptive parents and another who was sent back to Russia with nothing more than a note. Tragic as these cases certainly are, the idea that they are particular to American parents rings hollow, especially because Putin and Co. don’t seem to be making grand pronouncements about child abuse in Russia or pumping funds to improve dilapidated and poorly staffed orphanages. Rather, the method to their madness can be found in the chilling words of one of the ban’s sponsors: It is better for children “to die in Russia than to live in America.” So what (allegedly) provoked the Kremlin’s burst of nationalistic biopower? Just after Thanksgiving, the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, named after Sergei Magnitsky, a corporate lawyer who exposed widespread corruption among Russia’s political and bureaucrat-
ic elite. Magnitsky died in police custody in 2009 following his arrest on dubious charges. The act limits Russian officials connected with the Magnitsky Affair from traveling to and doing business with the United States. Congress coupled the Magnitsky Act with the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a 1974 provision that restricted U.S. trade with the USSR for not allowing Soviet Jews to emigrate. Repeal of Jackson-Vanik was required for the U.S. to accept Russian membership in the World Trade Organization. However, eliminating one human rights statute, albeit a defunct one, looks bad without the institution of a new one. The Magnitsky affair offered Congress an easy, good-PR cause célèbre with which to publicly slap Russia on the wrist while benefiting from the improved relationship Russia’s WTO membership would offer. The Cato Institute estimated in 2011 that U.S.-Russia trade could double in only five years as a result of Russian ascendancy. Congress and the Obama administration likely assumed that the Russians would grin and bear the fairly minor insult of the Magnitsky Act. Accordingly, the adoption ban probably caught them off guard. But as Garry Kasparov wrote in a late January op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the assumption that Putin would allow some of his close allies to be slapped with trade restrictions and then not respond is preposterous. Despite the Western media’s heart fluttering over upper-middle class demonstrations last year in Moscow (the phrase “Russian Revolution” has never been so trivially employed), Putin maintains strong support in most of the country and has carte blanche for all policy decisions. His punishment of Russian orphans and American adoptive parents hurts those constituencies exclusively, and Putin couldn’t care less about either. But frankly, beyond the professed outrage from State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the U.S. government hasn’t exactly pushed Russia on the issue. With the economic recovery still limping along, Obama has chosen to limit human rights criticisms that might jeopardize job-creating measures. Despite his robust labor union support, free
It is better for children “to die in Russia than to live in America.” trade agreements have actually been a hallmark of the Obama administration, having signed deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Others are in the works, including an ambitious Pacific trade group that will include Russia. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, a cabinet-level official, lobbied hard for Russian inclusion in the WTO. Though not confirmed by the White House, both Russian and American media outlets have reported that President Obama will visit Russia at some point in the next year, likely for an economic summit. Lip service will be paid to human rights, but policy makers will be hard at work on matters of realpolitik. Adoption bans make headlines for a week, but trade agreements make money for a lifetime.
Gabe Rubin is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are Protests Finally Combating Indian Political Corruption? Nishanth Uli | Illustration by Alex Chiu
or the past month and a half, the gang rape and deathslaughter of a New Delhi woman has dominated headlines around the world. A medical student from a small village, the victim was assaulted and brutally raped while riding a bus. Despite the best medical care, she died two weeks later due to injuries from the assault. The victim, whose name cannot be released in compliance with Indian law, has become a powerful symbol for women’s rights in India, a nation with that has a troubled history when it comes to gender equality. The savage attack has sparked a massive movement against the rampant sexual assault and discrimination that pervades much of Indian society. This type of unified political movement is somewhat rare in India. Of course, the country’s first and most memorable movement that engaged all levels of Indian society was the fight for its independence. Subsequent political movements, however, have been characterized by pronounced sectarian divides. From the agitation of Sikhs for their own nation to anti-Hindi demonstrations in Tamil Nadu, politics in India have very often been characterized by a certain “us versus them” mentality. What makes India’s situation unique is that this mentality — North versus South, Hindu versus Muslim—is prevalent in nearly every facet of society, not just politics. Since its establishment, Indian politics politics in India have been dominated by singular entities: the ruling Congress Party has been out of power at the federal level just once during India’s history and Congress has, for the most part, been run by the Nehru-Gandhi family. The sheer vastness of the country has engendered a corrupt, sprawling bureaucracy that is slow to respond to the needs of the people. More often than not, successful politicians gain power by exploiting divisions in Indian society and pitting one group against another, much like the British did in the colonial era. Indeed, manipulating caste differences and stirring populist, lower-class sentiment seems to be a particular favorite of many including Mayawati, the wildly popular former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
who recently came under scrutiny for building statues of herself with taxpayer money. As the protests have shown, Indians are increasingly rejecting the bitter divisionary politics that have dominated their country for decades. Instead, they are coming together as one people and uniting behind a cause. This newfound unification will be for naught, however, if it fails to effect real political change. Before the current string of protests, the most
recent unified political movement in India was a series of anti-corruption demonstrations in 2011. During these protests, the main rallying cry of the protestors was the creation of a powerful Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption charges. After the series of highly charged protests, the government capitulated and passed a Lokpal bill in the lower house of Parliament, but as of this writing, the bill legislation is still pending in the upper house, over a year after its introduction. In addition, the present form of the bill has been heavily criticized for taking away much of the Lokpal’s authority, neutering its effectiveness as an anti-corruption tool. In this way, the government, which had a golden
opportunity to bring together all levels of Indian society, failed by adopting half-measures designed to simply appease the demonstrators, not to truly fix the problems that they brought up. In addition, it seems that the Indian government is willing to react to these demonstrations only when ignoring them would entail dire political consequences. During the 2011 anti-corruption movement, the government was initially unresponsive to the demands of the protestors before until Anna Hazare, a social activist, undertook a hunger strike strike until the government established a Lokpal. Faced with the possibility of widespread unrest if Hazare were to died, the government finally started planning a Lokpal Bill 98 hours into his fast. In a similar vein, women’s rights in India have been the topic of much discussion in the past few years. However, it took the senseless death of a young woman and the fierce protests that accompanied it to get the government to start addressing in earnest the country’s gender inequality that plagues much of Indian society. The Indian government’s full reaction to the demonstrations over the Delhi rape remains to be seen, but it cannot take the half-measures likethat it has before. A new sense of indignation and social awareness is the hallmark of these new unified movements and its their participants. They know their goals and will grow increasingly restless until they are met. In order to respond to the people effectively and truly live up to its title of biggest democracy in the world, India and the Indian political system will have to let go of its focus on exploiting the differences between people and instead look to enact policy that will bring them together.
Nishanth Uli is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Arnab Goswami and the Great Indian Debate Raja Krishna | Illustration by Lexy Copithorne
f you switch on a television in India at dinner time (8 or 9 p.m. there), chances are that the first sight to meet your eyes will be the face of bindi-ed North Indian actress holding a shocked face as the camera zooms into her gaping, screaming, lipsticked mouth to the repetitive cacophony of an artificial thunderstorm—a typical tableau from an Indian soap opera. She has probably just been delivered shocking news. Now if, between bites of paneer, you were to change the channel to TimesNow News, you would likely be delivered some shocking news yourself, especially if you’ve tuned in “The Newshour Debate” with host Arnab Goswami. That’s because watching the no-nonsense Arnab Goswami host his show is like watching a lion tear into an antelope. His
imity. Goswami led the charge both against the men who committed the crime but also against female representatives from both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata parties, India’s two main political machines, who for some unthinkable reason came onto his show unable to propose any heightened legal enforcement measures or new legislation to combat rape against their own sex in their own country. Mr. Goswami represents the cream of the crop of Indian journalism, and his show in many ways represents what other Indian prime-time news shows strive to achieve. Many American shows could take guidance from him as well. Still, while his show is driven by a grounded dedication to exposing the corrupt, twisted nature of the state of affairs
gutsiness makes Anderson Cooper look like Steve Ducey, and the jackhammer-like way he attacks his guests makes Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” look like the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s. When you tune into “Newshour Debate,” that’s exactly what you get. No frilly human interest stories, no RidicuList—just straightforward, clear cut debate (read: yelling) for an entire hour. Because I was in India during the height of the protesting and media frenzy surrounding the now-infamous December 2012 gang rape and violent assault that resulted in the death of a young woman, I had the opportunity to witness the way the Indian media handled the revolting event in close prox-
in India, Goswami and other top Indian reporters add a certain populist flavor to their reporting to it that displays a lack of maturity in their reporting. Two incidents occurred during my time in India that solidified this sentiment for me. First, when a god-man / con-man, Asaram Bapu, told his millions of followers that the gang rape victim was just as much at fault as her assailants because she didn’t call them her “brothers” and “beg for mercy,” Goswami was rightfully outraged. He angrily called out the god-man (which takes major cojones in India) and verbally disemboweled any politician who didn’t immediately and forcefully denounce the despicable comments. But
then, Goswami went a step further—he called for Asaram Bapu’s immediate arrest, on the grounds of slander, that he had “disrespected women.” Instead of letting Asaram Bapu’s bigotry speak for itself, he lost some credibility on a slam-dunk news story. (Fun fact: the godman dismissed his critics by asking, “Does an elephant listen to barking dogs?”) A few days later, a border incident with Pakistan (one of dozens in recent years), resulted in the death of two Indian soldiers. Goswami rightly brought representatives from the Indian military, political parties, peace activists, and high-ranking Pakistani officials onto his debate show to discuss the incident. But instead of giving them all the opportunity to speak, Goswami directed the majority of his questions to the Indian side, allowing them to fully articulate their thoughts and concerns, while asking curt, accusatory questions to the Pakistani representatives, frequently interrupting them, cutting them off—even screaming “Coward!” at them from his seat in the “Newshour” studio. Needless to say, Goswami received high ratings for the exchange, but brought little substance to the India-Pakistan debate, choosing instead to incite the jingoistic passions of his millions of nightly viewers. Goswami’s tactics are broadly reflected across most major Indian news shows. In part, this is a good thing—when Goswami grills guests, he is the Coleman to David Gregory’s Easy-Bake. After all, the media in India arguably has a much tougher job reporting the truth, earning trust, and gaining credibility than the media in the United States do. But gaining credibility while sacrificing balance is risky business. “Newshour” is lucky to have a voice as loud, aggressive, and intelligent as Arnab Goswami’s, but the program has room to mature into something far more substantive. Why not use the credibility Goswami has built up to present a balanced, less populist view to the Indian masses? If you’re going to yell at viewers until they’re deaf, at least leave them with something to think about. Raja Krishna is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Science Biometrics: Laser Show Bart Kudrzycki In Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s fugitive cop circumvents the film’s omnipresent iris scanners by submitting himself to a black market eye transplant. Though widespread in popular culture, the technology of biometrics, or human identification by means of inherent biological traits (fingerprints, eyes, speech, etc.), has remained difficult to implement in practice. This is partly due to evasion tactics much simpler than eye replacements: researchers at one laboratory have engineered contact lenses which can fool commercial iris recognition systems at a rate of 80%. Yet biometrics research continues at an astounding rate, with the benefits of an effective and foolproof recognition system ranging from enhanced security measures to improved health care responsiveness and efficiency. A technology that should sound quite familiar to science fiction fans is now advancing the science of biometrics: lasers. Using a technique called Laser Doppler Vibrometry, or LDV, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that they can register impressive amounts of biological data simply by pointing a low-power laser at a person’s carotid artery, located just below the jaw. The projected light reflects with a higher frequency if it hits the skin as it is pulsating outward; a receding surface produces a lower reflected frequency. The resulting shift, measured and recorded by a detector, is akin to the Doppler effect, or the change in frequency of a wave based on its movement relative to an observer. The famous example of this effect is the noticeable difference in the pitch of a passing horn or siren: as the vehicle moves towards the observer, each successive sound wave is emitted from a position slightly closer to the observer. The increased frequency with which the observer receives the waves results in a higher pitched sound; as the fire truck or ambulance passes, the receding source produces the opposite effect. How can using the Doppler effect help with human identification? Changes in blood pressure cause the carotid artery to vibrate. Tracing this physical fluctuation yields a variety of information ranging from the subject’s basic vitals, such as breathing and heart rates, to more sophisticated indicators of muscle activity, speech, and even emotional state. The mechanical energy imparted on the artery depends on the highly individualized structure of the heart and arterial tree, such as the diameter of the carotid artery itself, resulting in an LDV signal so textured and unique to each individual that it is just about impossible to mimic or counterfeit. If a database matching people to LDV patterns were to be established, the technology could soon join iris recognition and fingerprinting as an effective biometric identification method.
Yet the applicability of LDV seems destined to surpass identity verification. LDV measures many of the same body functions as the commonplace technique of electrocardiography, or ECG. Because LDV allows data to be collected at a distance, however, it could offer serious advantages over methods like ECG, which require physical contact with the patient. In neonatal wards, for instance, foregoing the application of sticky ECG electrodes to the hypersensitive skin of a premature newborn might lead to safer monitoring. Both in the emergency room and on the battlefield, LDV technology could improve assessment speed and efficiency: assessments could be provided in seconds, on an automated basis and with no need for electrodes.
Despite all its promise, however, LDV technology is still far from perfect. The LDV pulse signal, although different for every human, can vary greatly for a single individual depending on factors such as motion, body position, and emotional or physical state. Until researchers understand more about how such variables affect the pulse signal, a reliable identity check will depend too much on ideal conditions. Despite these challenges, researcher Ikenna Odinaka of Washington University is optimistic about the potential of the technology. ECG has been a proven biometric for years, he points out, and LDV “provides a much richer signal”. It’s just a matter of time, it seems, before scientists figure out how to harness that richness and apply it to biometrics, healthcare, and more. We might soon even see LDV feature in its own futuristic fictional dystopia, courtesy of Hollywood.
Annual Deaths vs. Cost of Preventive Measures
443,000 Deaths $459,000,000 Alcohol
80,000 Deaths $457,104,000 Diabetes II
62,071 Deaths $3,693,000,000 Suicide
38,364 Deaths $55,600,000 Illicit Drugs
17,000 Deaths $1,400,000,000 Terrorism
17 Deaths $121,000,000,000
* Death statistic represents the number of deaths where the factor presented (i.e. Tobacco) was identiďŹ ed as the primary cause of death, and only includes US citizens. Expenditure statistic represents both state and federal spending from 2011. ** The scale of bars representing the dollar amounts for Tobacco, Alcohol, Diabetes, Suicide, and Illicit Drugs has been modiďŹ ed slightly. Had these bars been drawn to the scale established by government spending to prevent terrorism, they would have been too small to be visible at all. Data collected from the CDC and the New York Times