Political Review 15.2 | October 2011 | wupr.org
In Their Own Words
“I’ve got all this stuff twirling around in my head.”
“Now with the president, he put us in Libya. Now he is putting us in Africa.”
—Herman Cain, explaining his inability to reply to a question about President Obama’s policy in Libya.
—Representative Michele Bachmann at a recent GOP debate, forgetting that Libya is in Africa.
“I would do away with the Education, the Commerce, and let’s see... I can’t... Oops.”
“Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases are rat heds in a Coke bottle. They damage the brand for everyone else.”
—Texas Governor Rick Perry, in a recent Republican presidential debate, failing to remember which federal departments he would end.
—President of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist, arguing that Republicans should vote together against tax increases for the sake of their party brand.
“Listen to these songs, they are for you. Listen “I am the government.” to them when you have a thirst for caresses, —New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, arguing that his sing them when you are hungry for tenderness.” high voter approval is due to improved perceptions of the —Lyrics from an upcoming love song album written by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Editorsâ€™ Notes WUPRites, Protests have swept the globe like a spreading disease. From the streets of Cairo to the parks of New York, protest fever has taken hold. Americans in the Occupy Wall Street movement camp out in cities to show their disapproval of income inequality. Protestors throughout the Middle East have risen up to oust dictators and autocracies. Europeans complain about austerity efforts that reduce government services. Indians have conducted hunger strikes to fight corruption. More now that ever before, disenfranchised citizens are expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Where did this anger come from? The global recession undoubtedly was a contributing factor. When the worldwide economy loses trillions of dollars, people are bound to react. But most protestors are responding to conditions that existed long before the recession: dictatorships in the Middle East, corruption in India, insufficient school funding in Chile, and inequality in America. Perhaps the Great Recession served as the trigger, pushing people to voice their frustrations after years of pent up grievances. What does this mean for the future? Will mass uprisings become a norm of world news? Power is clearly shifting from institutions to the people. Government and military strength in the Middle East is deteriorating. Political parties in America have struggled to deal with grassroots movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Protests in Europe over austerity measures have sought to derail the efforts of European Union technocrats. Yet unlike historical revolutions led by a single person or a small band, these protests are largely leaderless. This has helped these movements gain legitimacy by posing as a movement of the people and also avoid attacks against specific leaders. However, a lack of organization may also hinder their efforts and prevent the realization of their goals. Libyaâ€™s rebel forces were disorganized and likely only succeeded because of NATO help. And some have disregarded Occupy Wall Street, claiming it has no specific goal or structure. Although lacking leadership may help to spur the initial uprising, the next crucial step is to retain popular support and impose structure. The following pages will explore these movements and attempt to understand the protest pandemic as it spreads around the world.
Sincerely, Hannah Shaffer Corey Donahue Editors-in-Chief
Table of Contents 5
Democrats Must Put a Brake on Bullet Trains Nick Hinsch
Our Biodefense Failure Will Dobbs-Allsopp
Kicking the Can on Corporate Taxes Jake Lichtenfeld
Surrender the Class Warfare Strategy Ben Lash
Free Speech (Most of the Time) Megan Zielinski
11 St. Louis: The GM Expansion Peter Birke 12 Governor Moonbeam: Then and Now Sonya Schoenberger 14 A Broken Primary System Gavin Frisch 15 Donâ€™t Tell Republicans, But Obamacare is Working Steven Perlberg 17 Our Romantic Protest: A Day in the Life of the 99% Moira Moynihan
18 Feeding Frenzy Andrew Luskin 20 Is Quality Education Part of the American Dream? Mariana Oliver 21 Give Me LIberty! An Interview with a St. Louis Tea Party Member Eve Herold
30 Obama and Drones Zac Moskowitz 31 Israeli Settlers Matt Curtis 32 The Return of the Taliban Jon Luskin 33 China International Fund Jay Evans
22 We are the 99% Raja Krishna & Nishanth Uli 23 Sexual Assault and Occupy Wall Street Cici Coquillette 24 The Organization of Occupation: Running a Movement with No Leader Alex Tolkin 25 So...Now What? Gabe Rubin 26 Aspiring Rebels Seek a Cause Abigal Kerfoot 28 World News WUPR Staff 29 Somalia: Trapped in a Nightmare Corey Donahue
34 Post-Revolutionary Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya: The Struggle for Democracy Nahuel Feffer 36 The Nuclear Veto: Why the Security Council Needs Explosive Change Dan Bram 37 Are You in the 1%? Seth Einbinder
Staff List Editors-in-Chief Corey Donahue Hannah Shaffer Executive Director Bryan Baird Programming Director Cici Coquillette Staff Editors Peter Birke Nick Hinsch Siddharth Krishnan Directors of Design Audrey Westcott Stephanie Trimboli Layout Team Ish Fofana Beenish Qayum Emily Santos Anna Shafer-Skelton Art Coordinator Audrey Westcott Managing Copy Editors John Moynihan Cici Coquillette Copy Editors Sonya Schoenberger Celia Rozanski Abigail Kerfoot Stephen Rubino Moira Moynihan Molly Prothero Katie Stillman Kelsey Berkowitz Director of New Media Taka Yamaguchi Web Developer Adam Cohen Advertising Director Will Dobbs-Allsopp
Treasurer Gavin Frisch Staff Writers Tripp Brockway Arlan Cohen Michael Cohen Matt Curtis Mark Dally Neel Desai Wills Dobbs-Allsopp Seth Einbinder Jay Evans Nahuel Fefer Alex Kaufman Abigail Kerfoot Kevin Kieselbach Mike Kovacs Raja Krishna Ben Lash Martin Lockman Andrew Luskin Lennox Mark Fahim Masoud Molly McGregor Zac Moskowitz Moira Moynihan Mariana Oliver Steven Perlberg Daniel Rubin Gabe Rubin Razi Safi Shelby Tarkenton Alex Tolkin Megan Zielinski Front Cover Illustration Elizabeth Beier Back Cover Illustration David Brennan Editorial Illustrators Laura Beckman Elizabeth Beier David Brennan Kelsey Brod Kelsey Eng Esther Hamburger Chris Hohl
Dara Katzenstein Anya Liao Susannah Lohr David Maupin Michelle Nahmad Karly Nelson Katie Olson Grace Preston Hannah Shaffer Stephanie Trimboli Alex Vitti Audrey Westcott Board of Advisors Dean Ewan Harrison Political Science Department Robin Hattori Gephardt Institute for Public Service Professor Bill Lowry Political Science Department Professor Andrew Rehfeld Political Science Department Unless otherwise noted, all images are from MCT Campus. The Washington University Political Review is a 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 email@example.com
National By The Numbers 19%
Support for Michele Bachmann among Republican candidates from a Rassmussen Reports poll released on June 19th.
Support for Bachmann from a Rassmussen Reports poll released on November 2nd.
Support for Rick Perry among Republican candidates from a CNN/ORC poll released on September 26th.
Support for Perry from a NBC/ Wall Street survey released on November 13, four days after his â€œoopsâ€? debate.
Support for Herman Cain among Republican candidates from a PPP poll released on October 10th.
Support for Cain from a CNN poll released on November 13th.
Support for Newt Gingrich among Republican candidates from a Washington Post poll released on October 9th.
Support for Gingrich from a PPP poll released on November 13th.
Support for Mitt Romney among Republican candidates from a PPP poll released on May 8th.
Support for Romney from a CNN poll released on November 13th.
Democrats Must Put a Brake on Bullet Trains Nick Hinsch
f you ask a Democrat to envision the future of public transportation, you will almost certainly be regaled with a description of bullet trains whisking passengers from city to city at speeds approaching two hundred miles per hour. After all, bullet trains are operating successfully in Asia and Europe, they are environmentally sound, and their sleek and futuristic appearance practically screams progress. Who but a Republican could possibly oppose something as progressive as this? Unfortunately, Democrats are blinded by these glamorous bullet trains. By championing high-speed rail, they squander limited money and political capital on a form of transportation that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and does little to solve the pressing transportation problems facing our country.
Democrats are blinded by glamorous bullet trains. Take the city of Los Angeles as an example. Built around the automobile, Los Angeles is choking on thick pollution and traffic jams. The economic costs associated with millions of people sitting in traffic and breathing smog-filled air are staggering. Fixing this transportation nightmare by creating a public transportation system should be among Californiaâ€™s top priorities. Instead, the state is planning to build a bullet train connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco, which would allow a seven-hour trip by car to take less than three by rail. Airplanes, however, make the
same trip in an hour. Even if this train did become the most popular way to travel from one end of the state to the other, it is a solution in search of a problem. The problems that plague congested cities like Los Angeles are not rooted in intercity travel; they are a result of a transportation system that cannot accommodate the daily lives of the population. Moreover, those who travel frequently between cities for business or pleasure are likely to be relatively wealthy and would be better able to manage increasing fuel prices than those whose travel budget is solely to get around town. Democrats who argue for high-speed rail consistently fail to recognize that subsidizing a travel option that caters to the affluent is no less regressive than shifting the tax burden onto the poor. All of these considerations would matter less if high speed rail werenâ€™t so expensive, but the price tag for the proposed bullet train is eye-popping: one hundred billion dollars. Thatâ€™s enough to buy a world-class system of public transportation that would fundamentally transform the lives of most people living in Los Angeles. Such a system might not be as impressive or sexy as a bullet train, but it would help to solve real problems that plague the daily lives of Californians. The misplaced priorities of California are unfortunately just one example of an unhealthy national obsession with high-speed rail that restricts necessary improvements to public transportation. Democrats should recognize that high-speed rail belongs at the back of the line for public funds and prioritize projects that deliver greater benefits for a fraction of the cost. Nick Hinsch is a sophomore majoring in Political Science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Biodefense Failure Will Dobbs-Allsopp
ver since the United States dropped the first two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many Americans have believed that a nuclear attack looms as the most significant threat to our national security. Wil Hylton argues differently in his New York Times Magazine article, “How Ready Are We for Bioterrorism?” Hylton asserts that our biodefense program is dangerously deficient, and he makes a compelling case for bioterrorism rather than a nuclear attack being the most menacing threat to our national security. One major obstacle to improving our biodefense program is the widespread inability to recognize a biological agent. A few days after the 9/11 attacks, retired Air Force Colonel Randall Larsen entered the White House to meet with then Vice President Dick Cheney about the possibility of a biological attack on the United States. At the end of his presentation, Larsen pulled a vial out of his briefcase and showed it to Cheney. The vial contained a weaponized powder similar to anthrax, which Larsen had smuggled past some of the tightest security in the country into a room with the Vice President of the United States. Although report after report has placed biodefense at or near the top of the national security agenda since 2001, the federal government has yet to provide adequate defenses against a biological attack. Just this past year, two reports criticized our biodefense program, and one report even gave the program an F. This failure is partially the result of the complex web of bureaucratic agencies in which our biodefense program operates. The Department of Homeland Security is tasked with creating a list of possible agents used in a biochemical attack; the National Institute of Health is responsible for developing research projects to find cures; Project Bioshield provides financial incentives to encourage pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines; and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) attempts to connect the dots, pairing private corporations with government contracts. If this mind-boggling mishmash of agencies weren’t disquieting enough, consider the people running operations. There is no direction; instead, every agency head has an opinion on the direction of biodefense policy. The heads of BARDA believe that the United States should focus on developing therapeutic drugs, which could treat a wide variety of viruses but would do nothing to prevent healthy people from becoming sick. The director of the biological material threats list at Homeland Security believes that the BARDA approach is bankrupt; the Homeland Security director would rather see the United States stockpile vaccines. Vaccines can keep healthy people safe and would protect individuals from attacks of the same chemical compound. The drawback to this strategy is that vaccines must be carefully tailored to each chemical agent. Anticipating what compounds would be used in an attack in advance is difficult and expensive. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases disagrees with the above views entirely and believes that his agency’s money shouldn’t be directed at biodefense at all. This director holds that naturally occurring compounds are a more serious threat.
Although report after report has placed biodefense at or near the top of the national security agenda since 2001, the federal government has yet to provide adequate defenses against a biological attack. The Obama administration has done even less to untangle this mess than previous administrations. At least under Clinton and Bush, a biodefense official was nominally in charge of coordinating the agencies’ efforts. The current White House has instead tasked four separate White House officials with biodefense operations, all of whom have other areas of responsibility. Although the Obama administration promised to revamp the US biodefense program, nothing more than a few meetings have actually occurred. Biodefense is not a new area of concern. Chemical agents have been weaponized since World War I, and the United States had its own chemical weapons program during the Cold War. Biological attacks have also been on the government’s mind more recently; after all, part of the Bush administration’s rationale for invading Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical agents. Despite all of this, the US still does not have an adequate defense against biological attacks. Even the threat of nuclear proliferation doesn’t stack up to the threat a chemical attack presents. It is easier to control the spread of nuclear materials and monitor the complex process required to produce nuclear warheads than it is to control and monitor chemicals. With a lab and access to fairly common materials, a knowledgeable terrorist could create a deadly compound in absolute secrecy. And once obtained, it is easy to repeat the process again and again. The United States must improve its defenses against biological attacks. To do so, the US must recognize the urgency of the problem and streamline its messy organization to respond more effectively to the threat.
Will Dobbs-Allsopp is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Kicking the Can on Corporate Taxes Jake Lichtenfeld | Illustration by Audrey Westcott
s voters fret over the economy, politicians have increasingly discussed changes in tax policy as a key to recovery. “We need to make ourselves the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs and pioneers and business,” said Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in a recent speech. “How do you do that? One, you make sure our [corporate] tax rates aren’t the highest in the world.” This desire to reduce the corporate tax rate is standard in the Republican Party. Democrats feel that a higher corporate rate is a means of ensuring that large corporate conglomerates pay their share in taxes to contribute to the $3.5 trillion budget. The impasse between the two parties will likely prevent Congress from taking action and leave reform a distant possibility. The corporate tax rate is more complicated than a simple percentage. The statutory rate is the combined taxes of federal and local governments. However, the actual or “effective” tax rate, which accounts for deductions, rebates, and tax credits, reduces the total tax burden. Compared to the average statutory rate of 39.2%, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the effective rate averages 27.1%. So politicians who claim that the US corporate tax rate is the highest in the world are mistaken. The US rate is lower than the rates of several other developed nations, including Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. And the US rate is actually higher than rates in troubled European nations such as Ireland, Greece, Spain, and Italy. The average effective rate differs for each industry. According to a joint study
While both parties agree that our tax code suffers from its complexity, the two cannot agree on how to simplify it. between Dartmouth College and the University of North Carolina, retail companies are subject to the highest effective tax rate of 31%, while manufacturers pay 26% of their earnings and financial service companies pay only 20%. This is the result of a convoluted tax code that allowed General Electric, one of the largest US corporations, to pay no taxes at all in 2010. According to the Congressional Budget Office, corporate taxes made up $300 billion of the $2.5 trillion tax revenues collected by the federal government in 2008, or about 12% of the federal government’s total receipts. The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank with pro-business leanings, found that US corporations deducted $331 billion through tax breaks, which is greater than the total they paid in taxes. Politicians dubiously claim that high corporate tax rates send manufacturing jobs overseas. Although corporations are incontrovertibly shipping employment to foreign nations, such countries tend to be to laborrich like China and India. The United States cannot compete with the low wages and lack of regulation; and a lower corporate rate would not change that. According to the
Wall Street Journal, United States multinationals added 2.4 million jobs overseas in the 2000s and cut 2.9 million domestically. In the 1990s, these companies added 2.7 million overseas and added 4.4 million in the United States. According to the AFL-CIO, one of the largest labor unions in America, most of the jobs lost were in manufacturing, a semi-skilled, labor-intensive industry. Despite the rhetoric urging a trade war with China, both parties accept that the United States cannot compete with populous, developing countries for labor-intensive jobs. While both parties agree that our tax code suffers from its complexity, the two cannot agree on how to simplify it. Several plans have been proposed, but the most plausible is to broaden the tax base and remove the tax loopholes (in order to keep the tax code revenue neutral). There are several issues with this effort, though. Both parties are highly exposed to lobbying efforts, none of which would be supportive of this effort, as tax exceptions and tax breaks are how lobbyists contribute to their firms. Secondly, Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to agree on a rate. As demonstrated by the debt-ceiling debacle, the threat of default is barely enough to encourage lawmakers to compromise and swallow a controversial vote. For tax reform, with no immediate crisis, the odds of reaching compromise in our toxic political environment are slim.
Jake Lichtenfeld is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surrender the Class Warfare Strategy Ben Lash | Illustration by Michelle Nahmad
hen President Obama unveiled the American Jobs Act in September, he was prepared for the torrent of conservative criticism on the proposed tax increases on wealthy Americans proposed to help fund the act. In a preemptive attempt to counter the Republican complaints that the measure would foment class conflict, the president announced that the plan “is not class warfare; it’s math.” Convinced that his proposal would stand on its own merits, the president initially defended it in numerical terms, admirably avoiding the pitfalls of class-based rhetoric. Predictably, Republicans played up class tensions anyway. House Speaker John Boehner stated, “I don’t think I would describe class warfare as leadership.” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan chimed in as well. Speaking about Obama, Ryan claimed, “He gave us a message of hope three years ago of uniting, not dividing. And what we’re getting now is class warfare.” Rick Perry, GOP presidential hopeful, went even further. He opined that President Obama is “trying to engage in class warfare and shoot high-powered bullets at people who have corporate jets.” This rhetoric is troublesome for a number of reasons. First, as many Republicans seem to forget, President Obama is himself a millionaire and would see his own taxes increase under his own proposal. The notion that he intends to wage class war on his own class should give critics pause. Second, the assumption that tax increases on a specific income bracket is “class warfare” implies that any policy proposal impacting a specific economic group is by definition against or for that class. Raising taxes on the wealthy may indeed be bad policy, but this is not inherently evidence of class warfare. By their own logic, proposed budget cuts that disproportionately impact the poor make Republicans guilty of their own charge of class warfare. To accuse President Obama is hypocritical at best and duplicitous at worst.
Last, and perhaps most obviously, the rhetoric of class warfare is inflammatory and ultimately not conducive to compromise. Invoking the phrase “class warfare” likely does more to fan the flames than the actual policy in question would. When a person believes that the opposition party is “engaged in class warfare” and “shooting highpowered bullets” at people in his social sphere, serious debate on the policy becomes impossible. President Obama and the Democrats had an opportunity to take the high road on this issue. They had a chance to rise above the fray and appear serious about the economy. Instead, in a disappointing reversal, the president accepted the class warfare premise and decided to choose sides. In a shameless attempt at populism, the president has started courting the working class by demonizing the wealthy. “I’m a warrior for the middle class,” the president declared in a recent rally in Ohio. “I wear that badge with honor.” With this shift in the president’s strategy, both sides are now engaged in a dangerous class battle. Both the president and the Republicans must realize that igniting social strife does no good. In a stagnant economy, the country has too many pressing needs to get bogged down with pointless class warfare. Pitting groups of Americans against each other may be good short-term politics, but it detracts from the substantive issues facing the country. Instead of worrying about 99% versus 1%, politicians need to spend more time thinking about the 9.1%: the proportion of Americans that are unemployed. That is the debate the country needs to be having. Toning down the class warfare rhetoric would be a good place to start.
The rhetoric of class warfare is inflammatory and ultimately not conducive to compromise.
Ben Lash is a sophomore in The College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com
Free Speech (Most of the Time) Megan Zielinski | Illustration by Dara Katzenstein
hether in the form of harmless fibs or sly deceptions, lies are part of our daily reality. But does the government have the right to prosecute us for those transgressions? The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear United States v. Alvarez and will determine whether lies fall under the free speech protected by the First Amendment. The case concerns the
to protect the integrity of the honors awarded to exceptional soldiers. The Obama administration’s sentiment reveals the problem in this case: the Stolen Valor Act is emotionally charged. People would be less likely to support a law banning any false claims of receiving a book award or graduating college with Latin honors. Military honors evoke a different response
not allow these emotions to blind us to the rights enumerated in the Constitution. Currently, the only types of speech that Supreme Court has ruled unprotected by the First Amendment is “the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words...[which] tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” Although presenting oneself as a recipient of a Medal
No matter how good the government’s intentions may be, it should never be acceptable to censor speech only because it could be considered undesirable. constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which makes it illegal for a person to “falsely represent himself or herself… verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” No matter how good the government’s intentions may be, it should never be acceptable to censor speech only because it could be considered undesirable. In a 2007 public meeting, Xavier Alvarez fraudulently introduced himself as a retired Marine and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He quickly charged under the Stolen Valor Act. During his trial Alvarez claimed that this act violated his First Amendment right to free speech, but the judge claimed that the protections afforded in the Constitution do not apply to known false statements and rejected his plea. However, an appeals court reversed his conviction in 2010 because of the potential to set a dangerous precedent. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski concurred, concerned that upholding this act could allow the censorship of “the white lies, exaggerations and deceptions that are an integral part of human intercourse.” Following the appeal, the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to hear the case in order
from our patriotic nation. People are aware of the unspeakable acts that soldiers have had to take and the unbelievable atrocities that they have witnessed, and consequently have a deep respect for these brave men and women. Their willingness to protect the integrity of awards for those who have gone above and beyond their already demanding job is understandable. It is vital that we do
of Honor does not seem to fit into this category of speech that causes tangible harm, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., who wrote the majority opinion for Alvarez’s appeal, cited a 1988 case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had the right to censor false statements unless immunity has been granted. This ruling contradicts all precedents by suggesting that there are no basic protections for false statements and that the burden rests on the accused. It is unlikely that this act will result in a nation that censors all undesirable speech, but it remains dangerous to blur Constitutional lines. Despite the best intentions of Congress, the Stolen Valor Act is in tension with a principle that Americans prize: the ability of all to speak freely without fear of government interference. What will the Supreme Court rule? Based on this Court’s previous rulings, it is likely that the justices will side with Alvarez and declare the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional, perhaps even overturning the 1988 case. The Roberts court has been receptive to free speech claims in the past; last term, it ruled to allow protestors at military funerals, another case in which emotions ran high. The court will likely wade through the emotional language to make a decision based on the principle that we cannot restrict speech just because we don’t like it. Megan Zielinski is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
My goal… finding a career that combines my passions, ideally in international relations
Fiona O’Leary Sloan, who will graduate in May 2013 with a major in anthropology, and minors in public health and creative writing, spent a summer interning in Seattle and volunteering in rural India.
Getting to know myself...
I have been meeting with my career advisor, Aimee Wittman, since freshman year. Aimee has genuinely changed my life. She helped me realize that my career doesn’t need to fit within a predetermined box. Aimee continues to guide me toward opportunities I never would have considered, yet are perfect for me. Aimee equipped me with the skills I needed to land my internship in marketing and advocacy at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle.
My Career Advisor, Aimee
Bringing my story to life...
I also spent a month volunteering for the Rural Development Foundation in the village of Kalleda in Andhra Pradesh. There, I was able to put to work my passions: cross-cultural communication, photographic storytelling and women’s self-empowerment.
A career path in which I can find both success and meaning.
FROM PASSION SPRINGS PURPOSE
“Use the Career Center as much as possible—they are helpful in every way and truly want you to succeed.” - Fiona’s Career Tip Upcoming Events
Upcoming Job & Internship Deadlines
Alumni Career Externship (ACE) Shadowing Program Meet and shadow an alumni sponsor in his or her place of business for two or three days over spring break. Apply via CAREERlink by Dec. 9.
Center for National Policy
Career & Internship Connections (CIC) Career Fairs This January, meet with employers in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Visit careercenter.wustl.edu/events for details.
WUSTL Winter Parties Network with past and present students in Washington, D.C., Boston and New York this January. Visit careercenter.wustl.edu/party for details.
Environmental Law & Policy Center
The Brookings Institution American Council on Renewable Energy The Atlantic Council League of Women Voters New American Foundation Apply and read more in CAREERlink.
St. Louis: The GM Expansion Peter Birke
photo by David Herholz | Creative Commons
n September 2010, Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon traveled to Detroit to meet with Daniel Akerson, the CEO of General Motors (GM). Nixon’s goal: to convince Akerson to reinvest in Missouri’s once-proud automotive industry. When GM announced earlier this month its decision to spend $380 million in an expansion of its manufacturing plant in the St. Louis exurb of Wentzville, Nixon triumphantly stated, “The future of the American auto industry starts right here, right now.” The investment will greatly expand the Wentzville plant. GM plans to add 500,000 square feet to the facility and 1260 new workers in 2012 to begin production of the Chevrolet Colorado, a mid-size truck. The move will nearly double employment at the plant. This marks another chapter in the state’s lengthy history with the automotive industry. In the 1980s, Missouri ranked second (behind Michigan) in number of automotive workers and plants, and until 2006, the St. Louis region alone was home to four plants: a Ford plant in Hazelwood, two Chrysler plants in Fenton, and the GM plant in Wentzville. In 2006, Ford announced it was
to pass the Manufacturing Jobs Act, which provides incentives for manufacturers to create or retain jobs in Missouri. For GM, these tax incentives spoke louder than any overture by Nixon. The company has received $36.8 million in tax credits through the Manufacturing Jobs Act. Nixon will certainly use these triumphs to build his case for reelection next year and rightfully so. The average annual wage for the automotive industry is $57,440, which is higher than the U.S. median income of $46,326 and the benefits extend beyond those who work at the plant. The addition of manufacturing jobs builds the state’s consumption base and attracts other businesses (i.e. the multiplier effect). The Center for Automotive Research estimates that nine jobs are added to the state economy for every additional car-manufacturing job. While the St. Louis region should join Nixon in celebrating GM’s announcement, it is understandable that St. Louisans are tempering their celebrations with a bit of skepticism, given the city’s past with the automotive industry. Unfortunately, the migration of car assembly plants across the country is often a zero-sum game for the US. The assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana where the Colorado was previously assembled will close next year as a result of the move. This time, the St. Louis region was on the winning end of the deal, but, in order to appreciate what the losing end of the deal looks closing the Hazelwood plant. In the shadow of like, one need only drive west on I-44 from the Great Recession three years later, Chrysler Washington University to encounter one of the announced the closure of both of its Fenton vast assembly plants that Chrysler left fallow. plants. The Wentzville plant almost faced a simi- Alden Jewell | Creative Commons This is not to say that GM will pack up and lar fate. Amid their 2009 bankruptcy filings, GM leave Wentzville in the near future. The size of announced that it would lay off half of the workforce of the Wen- the expansion and the scope for future growth in manufacturing the tzville plant—almost 800 workers. In just two years, the number of Colorado suggest that GM will be in Wentzville for many years to autoworkers in the St. Louis area fell by over 80%. come. But with the good wages and the multiplier effects of car manAfter years of decline, why did GM decide to reinvest in Wentz- ufacturing jobs comes the volatility of the automotive industry. The ville? Much of the credit goes to Governor Nixon and his administraWentzville expansion will not curb these fluctuations. The assembly tion. Shortly after he was elected in 2008, Nixon began aggressively plant might not close, but the workforce will certainly ebb and flow pursuing strategies to return the automotive industry to Missouri. In with industry tides. 2009, Nixon formed the Automotive Jobs Task Force to investigate ways to retain Missouri’s existing plants and attract future industry Peter is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com. expansion. In 2010, he successfully lobbied the Missouri legislature
After years of decline, why did GM decide to reinvest in Wentzville?
Governor Moonbea Sonya Schoenberger | Illustration by Stephanie Trimboli
oday, California Governor Jerry Brown is recognized as an experienced, pragmatic, and respectable politician. A balding septuagenarian with an extensive political career under his belt, he appears serious in photographs and speaks with avuncular charm. But the name Jerry Brown once evoked a different image. When inaugurated in 1975 at age 36, Brown joined the ranks of California’s youngest governors. His political experience was limited and his credentials modest. While his resume was lacking, Brown had a significant family tie: his father, Pat Brown, had been a popular Democratic governor two terms before. The younger Brown rode this name recognition into office. Once governor Jerry Brown proved his worth. From 1974 to 1982, his innovative and ambitious leadership garnered national interest. He boosted California’s economy, led the nation in environmental awareness, increased education standards, and cracked down on crime. And he did so with style. Brown inherited a state facing economic decline in the midst of the 1973 oil crisis. By holding tax rates and spending constant, Brown rode out the recession and led California to a surplus of over five billion dollars by the end of his first term. This sum was higher than the surpluses of all 49 other states combined. In 1976, he stated in response to comments about his fiscal conservatism: “It’s not because I’m a conservative, it’s because I’m cheap.” And he mirrored his conservative approach to state spending in his own personal budget. He turned down the governor’s residence and a comfortable bed in favor of modest apartment and a mattress on the floor. This kind of thrifty flair endeared Brown to voters, and he kept his approval ratings high by consistently pursuing a path straight down the middle. He refused to increase spending on social services and universities but also refused to cut taxes.
am: Then and Now His one political misstep involved Proposition 13, an initiative put on the ballot by far-right activists. Brown was opposed to the extreme measure, which sought to reduce property taxes and require a two-thirds majority to raise taxes in future. However, he failed to take a strong stance against the initiative and had no alternative solution to the popular demand for a lower tax burden. As a result, the proposition passed. The day after Proposition 13 passed, Brown flipped his position to save face, declaring himself a “born-again tax cutter.” He
Chicago Daily News gave Brown the nickname “Governor Moonbeam” in reference to his youthful idealism and his support of space exploration. The name stuck. Despite his numerous accomplishments during his first two terms as governor, Brown’s seriousness as a politician was compromised by this moniker and by publicized escapades with his rock star girlfriend Linda Ronstadt. But the people of California loved their Governor Moonbeam. After two years in office, Brown’s approval ratings were the highest in California history. Brown’s popularity
those most in need the hardest, but nevertheless stands by the importance of limiting the state deficit. Brown continues to be a proponent of alternative energy, and this year signed a law that will require California to obtain a third of its electricity from alternative sources by 2020. During his campaign, Brown claimed that 500,000 new jobs lie in the expansion of California’s alternative energy base, an important benefit of pursuing a greener future for a state with unemployment hovering around 12%.
Jerry Brown hasn’t become less progressive with age—America has caught up with him. promised not to raise other taxes to replace lost revenue, treading carefully while looking toward his upcoming bid for re-election. He was able to compensate for the lost property tax revenue with surplus money at first, but over time Proposition 13 gutted funding for higher education, public transportation, and health care services. Though fiscally conservative, Brown was progressive in other policy areas. An environmentalist, he focused on limiting electricity use and finding alternative sources of power. He pioneered the country’s first energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, and, during his term, California led the nation in its investment in solar energy. Fascinated by space, Brown made plans to purchase a satellite and increased math and science requirements at state universities. Brown enacted collective bargaining for teachers and public employees as well as the first agricultural labor relations law in the nation. He funded the arts, legalized acupuncture, and appointed more women and minorities to high-ranking government positions than any other governor in US history. He earned a reputation for being innovative and a little unreasonable, a skilled politician who sometimes kept his head in the clouds. In 1979, journalist Mike Royko of the
confounded politicians across the nation. He was young, inexperienced, and unconventional. And he was not only well-liked but could boast solid political accomplishments. Brown did not seek a third term in office and instead pursued unsuccessful congressional and presidential bids. After a 16year hiatus from public office during which he studied Buddhism in Japan and tended to the dying with Mother Theresa, Jerry Brown returned to California politics as mayor of Oakland in 1999 and served for eight years. Then he set his sights again on the governorship. In 2010, Jerry Brown was elected to a third, non-consecutive term in office. Today, older and perhaps wiser, the once enigmatic governor has mellowed. He has been busy over the past year coping with the budget crisis, a much less glamorous task than dreaming about space exploration. He has struggled with Republicans and fellow Democrats alike to create a budget plan that limits state debt while preserving the most vital state services. The final outcome, which he signed into law on June 30 of this year, cuts funding for the UC and California State University systems and services for the poor, elderly, and disabled. The plan does reducing the state deficit by 15 billion dollars. Brown says he finds these cuts “painful,” as they hit
Brown also retains some of his moonbeam social progressivism. His recent approval of the “Dream Act,” which goes into effect next summer, will give illegal immigrants eligibility for state-sponsored college scholarships and financial aid. Some of Brown’s priorities, such as the environment, have remained consistent across all three of his terms. Others have changed. What is most striking in the contrasts of Brown’s two gubernatorial stints is not the changes he has undergone but the changes the United States has undergone during his two-decade career gap. Jerry Brown hasn’t become less progressive with age—America has caught up with him. What was avant-garde in the late 1970s is now the norm, and he does not stand out at the head of the pack the way he did 30 years ago. Now, in the midst of drastic budget cuts and financial uncertainty, California needs an innovative leader with the foresight Brown brought to his first two terms. California needs a Governor Moonbeam of the 21st century. I hope that Jerry Brown is up for the challenge. Sonya Schoenberger is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a California native. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Broken Primary System Gavin Frisch
2012 GOP Primary/ Caucus Schedule
bout four years ago, Illinois 2008 presidential campaign. With the Senator Barack Obama made 2012 Iowa caucus on January 3, the 2012 national headlines by defeating presidential election cycle will likely set January 2012 Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus. The another campaign spending record. momentum from this victory allowed The question is how to fix the cur1 2 3 4 5 6 7 him to challenge Clinton in subsequent rent broken primary system. One natural IA primaries and eventually win the Demoidea is to have the entire country vote on 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 cratic nomination. Had Clinton won the the same day, mirroring the format of the NH Iowa caucus, she might be sitting in the general election. However, such a solution 15 16 18 19 20 21 Oval Office today. would have negative consequences as well. 17 We need to change our primary elecRather than Iowa and New Hampshire SC tion system. Currently, the first few states having significant influence over the presi22 23 24 25 26 27 28 to vote exert too much influence. The dential nominee, populous states such as standard argument in favor of the current California and Florida would consistently 29 30 31 system is that the evangelicals in Iowa, the dominate due to the large number of deleFL rugged individuals of New Hampshire, gates those states send to party conventions. the large Latino population of Nevada, Candidates will spend even more money February 2012 and the mix of Southerners and African and time attempting to win the large states Americans of South Carolina make up a and ignore the smaller states. Although the 1 2 3 4 NV microcosm of the United States. While current primary system is flawed, it is better ME that claim is plausible, these states voting than this alternative. 5 6 7 9 10 11 CO 8 first in every election cycle causes considAnother option is to randomize the MN ME erable problems. Although Nevada and primary schedule. In this system, dif15 16 18 12 13 14 17 South Carolina are relative newcomers ferent states would have influence each to the kick-off of the election cycle, Iowa presidential election cycle. Complete ranand New Hampshire have been first for domization, however, could have strange 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 decades. The victors of the Iowa caucus consequences. If the first three primaries and the New Hampshire primary instantwere Texas, Vermont, and Oklahoma, 26 27 28 29 ly gain momentum for their campaigns. the candidates would spend minimal AZ MI In fact, the last time a candidate lost Iowa amounts of time and money in the two as of October 28, 2011 smaller states in order to focus all of their and New Hampshire and went on to win the nomination was in 1992, when forresources on the big state. Considering mer President Bill Clinton received 3% of the influence that Iowa, New Hampthe vote in Iowa and 25% of the vote in shire, Nevada, and South Carolina have New Hampshire. on determining each partyâ€™s presidential In addition to the tremendous influcandidate, winning a large state so early ence four small states have in determinin the presidential election cycle could ing party nominees, another problem clinch the nomination. To illustrate with with the current system is that other a specific example, if Texas were the first states attempt to increase their influence primary in the 2012 presidential cycle, in the presidential cycle. In 2008, Florida and Michigan moved their Rick Perryâ€™s chances of winning the Republican nomination would primaries ahead of the pack in violation of national party rules. As a drastically improve. result, the Democratic Party stripped Michigan and Florida of their The ideal process would chart some middle course: randomdelegates and later decided to award each delegate half a vote at the ize the order of states and factor in the size of the states to ensure 2008 Democratic National Convention. that the most populous states do not dominate the process. GroupState laws in Iowa and New Hampshire that help ensure that ing states into categories by size, and then randomizing the order in these states vote first have caused the presidential primaries to start which each category holds their primaries is one viable option. Or we earlier each cycle. For example, the New Hampshire primary, which could retain our current system and allow voters in just four states ought to take place on the second Tuesday of March, will actually be to determine our nominees for the most important elected position held on January 10 because of other states attempting to move their in the world, leaving the rest of us to cast nearly meaningless ballots. primary dates earlier. And a two-month longer presidential campaign cycle leads to even more expensive campaigns. Every presidential cycle since 1976 has seen campaign spending increase, and Gavin Frisch is a junior majoring in accounting and finance. He can the largest increase was the additional $606.8 million spent during be reached at email@example.com SUNDAY
The last time a candidate lost Iowa and New Hampshire and went on to win the nomination was in 1992.
But Obamacare is Working Steven Perlberg
ust when you thought “Obamacare” was officially a dirty word, think again: it’s already working. But don’t try to tell most Republicans; all of their 2012 presidential candidates have emphatically promised to repeal it. Recent data suggests that the nascent health care reform provisions are indeed helping to insure the previously uninsured. That, however, is inconsistent with the current GOP narrative of Obama’s liberal overreach and unconscionable big government regulation that lead only to hardship. Republicans seem more concerned with ousting Obama than seeing all Americans have health insurance. Don’t be fooled though. Health care reform is already showing signs of success. While much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will not go into effect until 2014, one provision has already started helping the previously uninsured. Young adults under the age of 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance program. The provision has resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans in the first quarter of 2011. This is great news for many different reasons. For example, consider a 23-year-old kid who has insurance as a result of this ACA provision. Last year, if his appendix burst, you and I would have footed the bill. This year, he is insured. Better still, people who are under 26 tend not to get sick, and more healthy people incorporated in insurance pools means lower premium charges for everyone else. It’s a win-win. This accomplishment is even more impressive in the current economic climate. Historically, rough economic times coincide with an increase in the number of uninsured. When people’s salaries get cut or they struggle with debt, it is more difficult to pay health premiums. And the unemployed do not have access to employersponsored health insurance. Hundreds of thousands of middle-aged adults who recently lost their jobs but do not yet qualify for Medicare become uninsured. At the same time, half a million 18-to-25-yearolds gained coverage by staying on their parents’ plans. Moreover, recycled Republican arguments against the ACA are beginning to fall flat. ACA critics contended that the law would kill Medicare Advantage, a program that gives seniors the opportunity
President Obama and senior staff react to the passage of the ACA in March, 2010. photo by Pete Souza | Wikimedia Commons
to choose private insurance over the conventional government program and allows private insurers to compete in market for senior insurance. The ACA attempts to improve this system by reducing the high level of subsidies for these private insurers to offset the act’s cost. Republicans once claimed that this would force private insurers to charge more or leave the market altogether. However, the Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that Medicare Advantage enrollment is up, and premiums have decreased. In other words, insurers are still making enough money from the program to keep it viable. It may be only one year of data, but it does calm fears that Medicare Advantage would be destroyed immediately. President Obama is not deceiving Americans when he claims that the Affordable Care Act is working. The provisions that have been rolled out already have been strikingly effective. Republicans would have us believe the 2014 provisions will have the same success, but on what basis?
Obamacare is working, and it is the Democrats’ seminal achievement. They should start acting like it. Anti-Obamacare sentiment fits neatly into the current Republican narrative. The GOP partisan elites do not seem concerned with making health care available to all Americans. They are in sabotage mode, which is the most unfortunate (and morally reprehensible) part of the whole affair. The Republican candidates for president and their congressional colleagues are unable to divorce health care from political ideology. And they are in such a virulent anti-Obama fervor that they can’t see that the Affordable Care Act is working. Instead, they are content to deny its policy successes and hope that the Supreme Court jettisons the individual mandate. Independent of the ACA’s constitutionality, Republicans have given us no reason to believe they care about insuring all Americans. While the ACA’s success is potentially problematic for the GOP, it is even more problematic for the Democrats if they cannot demonstrate its success to American voters. The Democrats will face many electoral challenges next year: unrelenting unemployment, a stagnant economy, and lackluster polling. The ACA doesn’t need to be one of these obstacles. Liberals have no reason to be apologetic or shy away from “Obamacare.” It is working, and it is the Democrats’ seminal achievement. They should start acting like it. Steven Perlberg is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and the liberal voice of reason on WUPRadio every Thursday at 6:30 PM CST on KWUR. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protest Pandemic By The Numbers 3500
Civilian deaths in Syria due to protesting since March.
Civilian deaths in Egypt due to protesting during the January revolution.
Occupy Wall Street arrests in New York City.
Occupy Wall Streets arrests in St. Louis.
2400 Occupy spinoffs.
Our Romantic Protest: A Day in the Life of the
99% Moira Moynihan
6:30AM: An Angry Awakening The sun rose over Wall Street as it had every morning before. Its soft light spread across our tents, filtered by the thick air of righteous indignation. There was, however, growing concern that waning anger and the thin walls of the tents would be insufficient to sustain us in the steadily approaching winter. But it was no matter. Our commitment to egalitarian democracy was steadfast and wouldn’t waver. 8:30AM: Reflections on a Night of Progress We’d spent most of the previous evening deliberating about the most populist way to arrange the tents. We debated, took a straw poll, realized we didn’t have a counting system, and moved on. Our everpresent problem of waste management persisted; we searched for bathrooms and got kicked out of McDonald’s before returning to the egalitarian tent debate. We heard from the steel drummers and pirate factions until we finally decided that everyone had gone to sleep. Thus, the tents fell where they may. I had hoped we’d end up to the far left of the stock exchange, but the reality was that no one was sure where we stood at any given moment. 10:30AM: Picking up our Parent’s Batons Why were we here? This was the question the generation before us asked, searching in vain for the elusive answer. But it was no matter. Stand we did, some to the right, some to the left, and some in the best position to get some protesting ass, because we’d been dreaming of this moment our whole lives. We could not care less what we stood for; it was only important that we stood at all. That’s what we’re supposed to do. We were raised in the shadow of our Vietnam hellraising parents, but now this, this was our time. Our parents wanted to end a senseless war, and we, we want…well, it doesn’t matter what we want, just that we demand it. Our parents marched on Washington and stood on the mall together in the face of incredible injustices, just as we stand on Wall Street today. They had a slogan of common
ideology, demanding peace, but we have one better. Our umbrella classification gives us power and identity, which no one can dispute either ideologically or mathematically. They are the 1%, and for that reason alone we despise them—top income earners, corporate investors, or peanut-allergy sufferers. Until they join with the majority or we all become part of the 1%, we will keep our Birkenstock-clad feet planted where they are. 2:47PM: Let our Voices be Heard We shouted our numerous demands up to their elitist skyscraper offices; we refused to use their capitalist, corporate, made-in-China microphones and instead used each other, amplifying our voices one for another. And they shouted back: we can’t understand you. Sure, consonant clarity took a hard hit as our numbers grew, but the symbolism of our human microphone was too strong and too cult-like to stop. So we kept shouting again and again, until they feigned understanding. But I don’t know what we’re yelling about. 8:30PM: The Widening Divide But how could they ever understand us? They force us to fill our time with protests, while they, in their life of luxury, spend their days successfully searching for and retaining jobs. How could they understand our struggles? They were them, and we were us. The emptiness behind their eyes brimmed with corporate greed, but as I looked to my left and right (though mostly my left), I saw myself. The flannel shirts, the unwashed hair, the questionable smell emanating from our collective presence—I was them, and they were me. I felt so much a part of the whole. As I looked into the crowd I could see the truth: we were the 99%. Moira Moynihan is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com.
photos by David Shankbone | Wikimedia Commons
The nation had been long overdue for a molestation scandal, and fate finally complied. Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, known for his autobiography Touched, was indicted after abusing at least nine boys in the team’s locker room. Both the university president and the head football coach, Joe Paterno, were fired for covering up the allegations and allowing the abuse to continue. In support of Paterno, students took to the street, setting fires and flipping news vans. They wouldn’t protest war or poverty, but when their school fired a coach for allowing child molestation, the students found their voice. Campus activism isn’t dead; it’s just a little uncomfortable. The Zetas are Mexico’s most feared crime syndicate, known to be merciless and shorttempered. People who stand up to the Zetas do so with the knowledge that they are putting their lives, and the lives of their families, at great risk. Police can do nothing; cities quiver and fall in their shadow. Sometimes, however, we find heroes in the most unlikely places. When an innocent girl was kidnapped in broad daylight, a brave group of trolls groaned, lifted themselves from their computer chairs, and proclaimed that they would destroy the Zetas like a bag of half-pound gorditas. The hacking group, known as Anonymous, threatened
to release a list of corrupt politicians if the girl was not released. Although the hackers would appear outmatched, they had a key advantage over the Zetas: it’s hard to behead somebody when you can’t find their neck. The Zetas, sensing the desperation of a hundred virgins who were convinced that their time had come, released the girl. Both groups are sworn to secrecy, raising suspicions that the whole saga was just a hoax based on a pasty white-knight fantasy. Still, it’s an inspiring story, paralleling that of David and Goliath, except that David is twice as heavy as Goliath and instead of a sling, he’s armed with a twenty-four pack of NOS.
what it takes to become a fixture in the Republican Party. Cain is clumsily handling allegations that he sexually harassed several underlings, who he paid to keep silent. Some party leaders are concerned by the allegations, mainly because the government would not be able to afford paying out every time a politician sexually harassed an employee. If anything, the allegations have helped Cain’s campaign: his poll numbers look good and donors poured money into his campaign, ensuring that it would be able to handle unexpected expenses. Moreover, Newt Gingrich, feeling a sense of camaraderie, agreed to a series of cross-promotional debates with Cain.
Rick Perry’s meteoric rise to the top of the Republican race is burning up in the atmosphere. After a string of embarrassing debates, Perry dropped to fourth place in the polls, behind Newt Gingrich, whose campaign is little more than a book-signing tour. In desperation, Perry proposed a universal 20% flat income tax and has even turned to birtherism, but nothing seems to appeal to voters. Mitt Romney grows smugger by the day, and Perry seems outclassed. It’s no wonder that his campaign is struggling: what’s a cowboy without his swagger?
The city of Topeka, Kansas repealed its domestic violence law in order to save money. Possessing a bong will still land you jail time, unless you use it to hit your wife.
Just when pundits were about to write off Herman Cain, he showed that he had
The Libyan rebels captured Muammar Qaddafi, recorded a couple cell phone videos, and then killed him. Observers around the world were horrified that Qaddafi was executed without a show trial. After he was killed, Qaddafi’s body was put on public display, moving from house to house and eventually winding up in a meat freezer. Locals lined up to see the body and take pictures with it. Libyan Facebook is about to be swamped by profile pictures featuring Qaddafi.
19 As the violence of Libya’s new regime became apparent, the leaders announced plans to install a conservative system of Sharia law. It’s remarkable how eager people are to exchange one form of tyranny for another. The FBI arrested four 70-yearold Georgian men for planning to “save the constitution” by waging biological warfare on American citizens. If you’ve ever been within noseshot of an elderly man from Georgia, you know how scary their idea of biological warfare is. The men planned to process castor beans into poison, which they would toss from their cars as they drove along the highway. The men also wanted to bomb a government building, but they could not decide which one. Let’s be thankful that our education system neglects math and science; otherwise, these men could have done some real damage. This year, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee have raised $100 million and spent $87 million. The Obama campaign has opened three new field offices every week, keeping them on pace to employ the majority of the country by the 2012 election. The Michigan Senate passed an anti-bullying bill that will protect schoolchildren, but not as much as it protects bullies. The bill specifies an exception for “a sincerely
held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.” In other words, it’s fine for a parent or teacher to bully children, as long as they really believe that the child is an ugly dykaholic who should be given a swirlie, in accordance with the Bible. Japan is rebuilding the sea walls that did nothing to slow the tsunami last year. It will be an engineering feat that will test the limits of the Japanese government’s capacity for denial. Andy Rooney, televised curmudgeon, died at the age of 92. Rooney spent the last decades of his life in senile, rambling dementia, which resonated strongly with the American viewing public. He leaves behind a large family that plans to honor his memory by complaining about everything at his funeral. Investment bankers are defying Occupy Wall Street, boldly claiming that they won’t let the movement distract them from building the foundation for the next great recession. The central mortuary of the US Air Force mixed up an undetermined number of bodies. The guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will now have to patrol the entire cemetery.
Andrew Luskin is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. His mind is so sharp they won’t let him take it on a plane. He can be reached at andrewluskin@ go.wustl.edu.
Is Quality Education Part of the American Dream? Mariana Oliver | Illustration by Alex Vitti
ast semester I studied in Santiago, Chile, where students are inducing a migraine for President Sebastian Piñera. Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, parents, and administrators have joined together, demanding a better education system in what has now been seven months of public protest. Chile’s largest public university, Universidad de Chile, has cancelled the rest of its semester. When I returned to the US this past July, all seemed relatively “quiet on the Western Front.” And I did not think that the form of public protest I witnessed in Chile was possible in the United States. I waxed eloquent about our culture of political apathy and then, seemingly from nowhere, the Occupy Wall Street protests began. Although the basis for protestors’ complaints have been a long time coming, occupying Wall Street, the symbol of our nation’s wealth and stability, was still unexpected. Journalists have reported on the mushrooming, copy-cat movements around the US for some months now. My purpose in this essay is to describe what I would like to see protestors demanding in this country—the cause that would get me out in the streets: education equality. I remember one day confronting a Chilean student with the situation of many public schools in the US, and being asked the question, “Well, why don’t you all protest like we do?” So, why don’t we protest? It’s not as if we don’t have enough problems to justify protesting: students at public colleges are facing tuition hikes each year, public school teachers get laid off and are paid abysmal salaries, No Child Left Behind seems to be leaving most children behind, and, as always, in tough economic times, the first thing to go is education funding. This summer, the University of Memphis announced it would be raising next year’s tuition by 11%, causing serious problems for students who pay their way through college. Having attended public schools in Memphis, TN for twelve years, I have become familiar with the reality of American, inner-city public schools. With a graduation rate of just 62.1% in 2009 (down from 66.9% in 2008) and a dropout rate of 1 in 7, Memphis is not a shining model of what Chileans believe to be the “outstanding” American educational system. The sad truth is that public education for most in the US is mediocre and gets worse every year. The Wall Street Journal reports, “In the nation’s 50 largest cities, the graduation rate is 52%,” and in Detroit, only 25% of students are graduating from high school in four years. Those numbers signal that something is horribly wrong. Beyond public schools, colleges are raising tuition fees every year, making a higher education less accessible and more a sign of economic privilege. Of course, this is not news to us. The Occupy Wall Street movement lacks organization, leadership, and most fundamentally a unifying cause. What could be a better starting point than education? Everyone can relate to the educational system in some way, whether as a teacher, former student, current student, or parent. So what do we need for inspiration: more school dropouts, higher teen pregnancy rates, or more teen violence? Sure, we can protest against this or that political party, but actively demanding a sweeping education reform would be an admission that
Any Chilean who got a tour of our inner city public schools would be in for a harsh reality that is not sold on television: the American Dream is just that, a dream.
our country’s problems go way beyond political banter on Capitol Hill. It would be admitting that we have a crisis on our hands, and it’s a crisis that is affecting the next generation of Americans. Any Chilean who got a tour of our inner city public schools would be in for a harsh reality that is not sold on television: the American Dream is just that, a dream.
Mariana Oliver is a senior in the College of Arts and Science. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give Me Liberty! An Interview with a St. Louis Tea Party Member Eve Herold
his November 1, I sat down with Tea Party member, Carol Bloomberg. The Tea Party has become an undeniable force in the upcoming elections. Politicians such as Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry have risen in fame due to their backing of the movement. While many critics laugh off Tea Party ideas and its supporters, it is a force to be reckoned with. As we enter a new era of political advocacy and protest, we should hear firsthand why people protest and how they envision the future of our country. Carol Bloomberg grew up in Long Island in “a mostly blue-collar, bedroom community of NY.” From her upbringing, she was taught “self-reliance,” that “nobody was gonna hand [her] anything in life.” It was these common principles that first attracted her the Tea Party. “In 2006 through the 2008 elections I was living in Italy for a couple of years and… I began watching… what was happening up to the presidential elections: Lehman Brothers’ collapse that happened in August, September, October of that year; and I said, ‘What in the heck is happening back home?’ Having lived in Italy, which is a socialist country, I lived with some of the… programs that people were trying to have the be-all and end-all, and I knew that wasn’t right. And in February I heard about this Tea Party thing that was happening, a bunch of people that were upset about the way in which the country was going.”
tioned her about the newest protest movement: Occupy Wall Street. She informed me that her son is an avid supporter of the movement, and thus she is familiar with its ideas and methods. She acknowledged similarities between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street but then identified a main difference: the method. “While a lot people U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) speaks at a Tea Party rally March 31, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. compare the two because of their rallies and sign carrying and so forth, I can tell you from welfare: they know no other way. No one’s personal experience that every Tea Party raltaught them another way. They have never ly I ever went to, we always got a permit, we been required to get off welfare and work. knew our allotted time, we set up our stage It’s just been a handout and when something and our mic and so forth, and broke down is handed out to people, they become very and picked up our trash and went home at complacent.” the end of the day. We are law-abiding citiThis response led me to question how zens who have a message to get out to Amershe proposed moving away from a system ica, but we aren’t going to infringe on someof welfare without leaving populations in one else’s rights, personal property, public destitution. Her response was succinct: job property, or the right of someone else to use creation. The welfare system, which she that park and enjoy that neighborhood.” equated to a “government plantation” where After discussing the difference between “[the government will] give you the money the two protest movements, we moved on to and you behave this way,” is “not liberty!” discussing social issues, specifically poverty “It is the government’s basic responsibility and welfare. to protect the freedoms of the people. The “Welfare is taking money from one government does not grant the freedom. The group of people and giving it to another government is not the giver of liberty. The cosmos, God, whatever you want to believe, “It is the government’s basic responsibility is the giver of liberty.” In her closing remarks, Bloomberg idento protect the freedoms of the people. The tified the “professional politician” as a key government does not grant the freedom. The problem in our political system. Politicians government is not the giver of liberty.” are “only interested in getting reelected and holding onto power; [they] play the AmeriShe describes the three main principles group of people who didn’t contribute to it. can people against each other.” She identifies of the Tea Party as “fiscal responsibility, con- Now, there may be reasons for it… Certainthis as “what we mean when we say we want stitutionally limited government, and free ly there are people who are truly poor and to go back to constitutional principles.” And, market solutions.” These ideas, which she unable to find work: you have the disabled, as the Tea Party has shown her, “We the peobelieves most Americans support, drove her mentally ill, physically handicapped people. ple need to stand up for ourselves!” to take an active role in the Tea Party. She As a society, it is our responsibility to make attended the first Tea Party rally in Wash- sure those people are taken care of, because ington, DC in 2009, and has since continued we realize that they can’t take care of themher activism at the local and national level. selves. But where I think welfare has gone Eve Herold is a junior in the College of After she explained the fundamental off track is that it’s become a lifestyle. A lot Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at email@example.com. beliefs of the Tea Party movement, I quesof people are born into welfare and stay in
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” chapter of the Tea Party came to Occupy St. Louis to discuss issues and common ground. It was eye-opening to see that both groups, despite how the media might portray them, are genuinely interested in tempered discussion and debate. “This space,” John insisted, gesturing around him, “is for putting what divides us aside.”
We Are The 99% Two students’ experiences with the Occupy St. Louis movement
Raja Krishna & Nishanth Uli | photos by
From our vantage point at the top of the steps, Kiener Plaza looked deserted. And yet jackets, shirts, pants, towels, and blankets lay strewn on the concrete steps leading down into the concrete gathering space, presumably drying in the late afternoon sun. Multicolored tents were slumped around the periphery of the plaza. We picked our way down the stairs, being careful to avoid treading on the drying clothing. An enormous canvas bearing the legend “OccupySTL.org” divided Kiener Plaza into halves. At the base of the canvas stood a woman, hunched over a pile of hundreds of signs and posters. She introduced herself as Barbara-Jean, and before we could open our mouths, she began to speak, as if to preempt our questions: “We don’t have a leader. Some people just do more than others.” When we asked about the role of politics in the Occupy movement, she referred us to John, a chubby, acne-ridden young adult who was smoking a cigarette. According to John, there are two reactions politicians typically have towards Occupy: they either “want to co-opt us and take control of us, or they’re scared stiff. The real problem is no matter who you vote for, everyone loses.” This disillusionment with politics contradicts the standard assessment of the Occupy movement as the liberal Tea Party. In fact, John, who has been a member of Occupy St. Louis since day four, estimated that the political split in the movement was 70% liberal and 30% conservative. He even recounted an incident when the St. Louis
After speaking with John, we learned that Occupy St. Louis was gearing up for a Friday march. Barbara-Jean asked us to help select and distribute signs, which ranged from laments about corruption (“FOR SALE: Congress”) to anti-war slogans (“Invest in Clean Energy, Not War”), and, within minutes, 60 or 70 protesters were milling about Kiener Plaza, signs in hand. “Bank of America! Bad for America!” The chants resounded as we walked with the crowd, making our way past curious onlookers. About 20 police officers appeared, as if on cue. They rode their bikes alongside us, weaving calmly through parked cars and the light downtown St. Louis traffic to keep up with the march. “Don’t worry,” whispered Barbara-Jean. “They’re here to protect us. When we first decided to occupy, they had orders to shut us down. Once they realized how resilient we are, they made it their mission to keep us safe.” In front of the bank, Occupiers with megaphones addressed the crowd, each touting a different message before reverting back to the refrain: “Bank of America! Bad for America!” It is interesting to note that the messages, which ranged from rants against predatory lending to protests against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, varied in relevance to Bank of America. The next stop on the march was the Attorney General’s office. On the way there, we had a chance to speak to Ryan, a retired military officer who was cheerfully waving a US flag. To us, he seemed to be the image of an effective protester: levelheaded and charismatic yet knowledgeable and steadfast. When asked about the movement’s future, he said, “We don’t really know what’s going to happen to us in the future, and maybe that’s a good thing. It keeps us all going. If this movement ends, at least we stood on the side of righteousness.” Whether or not the protesters believed they could really affect change, they all subscribed to Thomas Jefferson’s famous words: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
We were surprised by how well versed the Occupiers were in the causes of the financial collapse. The people we talked to all cited the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as a catalyst for predatory lending and speculative investment, two factors that led to the collapse. Nevertheless, the protesters varied in their conception of the movement’s goal. To Barbara-Jean, the Occupy movement’s ultimate goal should be “to shut the system down” because “capitalism is in its death throes.” Drawing parallels between the Occupy movement and the revolutions of the Arab Spring, she proclaimed that the worldwide “system” is in the process of being destroyed. “I want my country back,” said John. “The banks and lobbyists
own our candidates.” To him, the ultimate goal of the movement is not the dismantling of the system, but rather its reclamation by the 99%. Ryan’s vision for the movement seemed the most attainable. Describing how he saw “the corporate entity worming its way into every facet of life,” Ryan felt that the movement should attempt to prevent its advance peacefully. According to him, if enough people stand on the “side of righteousness,” the government is obligated to follow their wishes.
Moving past the people and chants that surrounded us, there were two symbols in particular that best spoke to the Occupy movement’s future. The first was a woman with a tambourine and a dog that seemed to attach herself to the movement without actually understanding what it stood for. Frequently interrupting speakers with loud declarations about the greed of the banks, she became a source of annoyance to the other protesters. “You’re trying to muzzle me!” she barked as another member tried to quiet her. “You’re trying to leash me like Bank of America!” If the Occupy movement is to succeed, it must be aware of these people, who Ryan admits “have become swept up in the movement” without any real understanding of its goals. Not only are they distracting those who know for what they are fighting, these stragglers also have the potential to turn popular opinion against the movement with their erratic and violent behavior. The second symbol, however, represented the most pressing concern for the Occupy movement. As we marched, we noticed that not everyone was chanting and stepping in unison. “We are the 99 percent! We are—wait, are they ahead of us? I give up.” These miscues represent what the Occupy movement cannot afford to do as it works to achieve its goals. It must step as one, chant as one; it must be one unified movement larger than the sum of its parts in order to truly spark change. Raja Krishna and Nishanth Uli are freshmen in the College of Arts and Sciences. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively.
Sexual Assault and Occupy Wall Street Cici Coquillette
recent slew of sexual assaults among Occupy Wall Street camps raises questions about women’s position in the movement and stances toward victims of assault on both sides of the protest line. Tonye Iketubosin, a 26-year-old kitchen worker for Occupy Wall Street, was arrested on November 1st for raping an 18-year-old girl from Massachusetts and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl. At Occupy Dallas, registered sex offender Richard Wayne Armstrong, was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl. A 19-year-old was sexually assaulted at Occupy Cleveland, and complaints of groping and harassment have been rampant at other Occupy sites. Despite the seriousness of the trend, critics within and outside the Occupy movement have criticized the victimized women for compromising the key goals of the movement. According to Occupy Baltimore media contact Jenny Gaeng, “Dominant, mostly male voices are calling constantly for an end to discussion of ‘genderspecific issues’ in order to focus on the nebulous call for economic reform, which has defined the Occupy protests across the nation. Complaints of sexual harassment at the site are belittled as ‘personal problems.’” Conservative radio host Howie Carr also offered his evaluation of the sexual assault victims: “What is wrong with these people? What did she think was going to happen? ... They’re really making a great statement against capitalism, aren’t they—getting raped and groped?” According to US Department of Justice statistics, every two minutes, someone in the US is sexually assaulted—a total of 213,000 victims per year. 60% of these assaults are not reported to the police, and 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a single day in jail. Sexual assault is not only a problem in the Occupy community but in American society at large; and since the perception of assault as a gendered issue leads to victim blaming, these high levels are unlikely to change.
Cici Coquillette is a senior majoring in psychology-neuroscience-philosophy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Organization of Occupation: Running a Movement with No Leader Alex Tolkin
he Occupy Wall Street protests are distinct from most movements in history because they do not have a distinct leader or set of objectives. Yet the protests have drawn international attention and increasing support and recognition among Americans, as documented by a series of Gallup polls. How has an organization with no leadership structure managed such remarkable growth? The left wing magazine AdBusters began discussing a mass protest over the summer. This protest was intended to be a hybrid of the two major protest campaigns of the first half of the year: Spanish acampadas, protests in which Spaniards camped out in cities to push for a campaign of policy change, and “day of rage” protests in the Middle East, in which protestors expressed general frustration with their rulers. On September 17 the American day of rage kicked off the start of the Occupy Wall Street Campaign. Despite being the force behind its creation, Adbusters has had little influence in shaping the movement’s direction. It has covered the movement extensively but has not attempted to dictate policy or provide direction. On September 15 the Adbusters website called for the creation of a manifesto that made the American people’s “one demand” clear, but what that demand is remains a mystery. Without direction from a group of organizers, Occupy Wall Street has developed its organizational structure organically. Occupy Wall Street’s only clear message is the rejection of privileges that come with wealth. Their organizational structure fits with this egalitarian theme. Every city with an Occupy movement has a “general assembly,” a legislative group open to everyone that debates issues and can pass motions. All major decisions, including purchases over $100, must be approved by the general assembly. People can interact with the assembly through a system of hand gestures to maintain order. The general assembly model provides more just a method to set policy; its fairness and emphasis on consensus serves as a stark contrast to the partisanship and ineffectiveness of the US government. General Assemblies also benefit from the ease of establishment: more
than 800 have emerged across the world since the start of the protests. As Occupy Wall Street grows, direct democracy becomes increasingly difficult. Some specialization of labor is inevitable, but an unclear organizational structure means that important people have difficulty communicating. “Working groups” conduct organizational tasks, but leaders of working groups sometimes don’t know who the other leaders are. This creates situations in which, leaders of fundraising groups don’t know the people in charge of groups who manage funds. For Occupy Wall Street, sophisticated organization has become necessary for several reasons. First, managing people without causing chaos or public ire becomes increasingly difficult as numbers increase. Second, Occupy Wall Street’s financial resources have ballooned to about $50,000 mostly through small donations, and someone needs to manage the money. Managing large amounts of money is difficult without a clear leadership structure. Without a central organizing structure, no institution can guarantee that a donation will actually go to an Occupy group. There are over 200 campaigns on the fundraising site WePay that claim to be affiliated with various Occupy movements. The New York Observer has claimed that some are likely fraudulent, but no authority can determine this for sure. To meet these challenges, Occupy Wall Street’s organization continues to evolve. The New York City “General Assembly Structure” working group is developing a proposal that would allow the movement to manage large numbers of people. Based on the current proposal, working groups would be split into three types depending on their responsibilities and goals. Leaders of working groups would meet at a “Spokes Council” where they would deliberate; these deliberations would then be streamed online. Occupy Philly has pushed for this “Spokes Council” model to be expanded to the entire Occupy movement. Each city would send a representative, creating a sort of super council responsible for shaping movement policy across the globe. A movement that protests against a bad system of distributing resources and influence now faces the same challenges. It re-
mains to be seen whether Occupy Wall Street can do better than the US government.
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Alex Tolkin is a junior majoring in Political Science. He can be reached at atolkin@ wustl.edu.
So…Now What? Gabe Rubin
he morning after is always awkward. Unlikely bedfellows accomplished something beyond their wildest dreams, and now they have to live with the results. Arabs of all stripes have participated in the Arab Spring protests and revolutions. Three dictators have surrendered to the people’s unified fronts. But once the dust settles and the celebrations end, can groups with wildly divergent views unify and stabilize their reeling nations? In Tunisia, the formerly banned Ennahda Party marched alongside secular unemployed youths in the streets of Tunis, demanding a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And they got what they wanted. After a month of protests, the kleptocratic 23-year tyrant Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on one of his several private jets. In Egypt, a similar but bloodier struggle broke out between people calling for the “downfall of the regime” and the security forces and thugs of 30-year strongman and Western darling Hosni Mubarak. Less than a month after Ben Ali’s flight, Mubarak was licking his wounds in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, soon to go on trial behind bars in the traditional Egyptian fashion. Western pundits crowed in approval, scoffing at those who were wringing their hands at the possibility of the rise of Islamist, antiWestern parties manipulating the legitimate pursuit of freedom. “I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt hijacking the future,” sniffed Thomas Friedman, The New York Times self-proclaimed Middle East expert. The next phase of the revolutions has arrived, for better or worse. In Tunisia and Egypt, the Islamist parties tend to be prepared for post-strongman life. Ennahda was a thorn in Ben Ali’s side during his dictatorship, leading him to ban its activities and force its leader Rashid Ghannouchi into exile in London. Ghannouchi has returned and is leading Ennahda to sweep the October 23 legislative body elections. The body will serve for one year, during which time they will write a new Tunisian constitution to determine the guiding ideology of the nation. Recognizing the unease some have with Islamist principles, Ennahda pulled out all stops during the election campaign to portray itself as a modern, moderate Muslim party that is anathema to radical Islam. Ghannouchi interviewed with Western media, proclaiming his support for women’s rights and religious freedom. “What’s the use of barring alcohol when you can drink it at home?” was his response to questions regarding one of Sharia law’s prohibitions that would not be enforced in Tunisia. Party workers delivered flowers to Jewish communities on Yom Kippur in an effort to exude religious tolerance and support for minority rights. The party won the good graces of the international community with its full cooperation in the freest elections yet held in the Arab world. In Egypt, tensions have flared. Unlike Tunisia, with its ethnically homogenous, well-educated population, increasing sectarian violence and unease over the role of the military in civil society has characterized Egypt. The worst case of ethnic clashes came on October 9, when 26 Coptic Christians died in street battles against military forces. Coptic Christians, members of Egyptian society for centuries, are increasingly worried about their place in the new Egypt. The possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood-led government only adds to their worries. The Brotherhood, which had been banned since 1948, has
rigidly stuck to its conservative platform and has issued conflicting statements on women and minority participation in a Brotherhoodled government. With offshoots such as Hamas in Gaza, the election of the Muslim Brotherhood could have serious implications for regional peace, including the reconsideration of Egypt’s three-decade peace treaty with Israel. Secularists in both nations have pointed to the election of Islamist parties as the antithesis of the revolution’s spirit. But the Islamists’ popularity is hardly surprising. Ennahda and the Muslim Brotherhood were both despised by their country’s respective dictators, lending them credibility as revolutionaries. Many secular parties in Tunisia and Egypt are tainted by their “collaboration” with the past regimes. This may be an unnecessary and unfair disqualification. Government service does not imply malicious intent. In fact, any new government would benefit from retaining some old regime defectors, as institutional memory is invaluable. Iraqis and American policymakers learned this lesson the hard way in Iraq after “deBaathification.” The first priority of both nations must be transparency and a commitment to democracy. The Arab Spring has drawn many comparisons to the Velvet Revolutions of Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. These comparisons will become overly optimistic unless the nations seize the opportunity and remake themselves as Ennahda leader, Rashid Ghannouchi representative gov- Photo by Ennahda party | Creative Commons ernments and economic liberalizers. Egypt will be particularly closely watched, as the most populous Arab nation and historic leader of the Arab world. It is much easier to be against something than to be for something. Tyrants maintain their power through fear, intimidation, and playing different groups off of each other. If opposition to the tyrant is sufficiently high, regime change is possible. But afterward, the old tensions remain. The Islamist and secular visions for Egypt and Tunisia shared one key aspect: the absence of Mubarak and Ben Ali respectively. What they have in common after this task has been completed remains unclear. The optimistic view taken is that political organizations with wildly divergent views can serve peacefully together in government. Consider the US (relatively) civil society, despite the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Pessimists worry that civil strife could lead to new dictatorships. Which of the two views is right will determine whether the Arab Spring turns into a bright, bountiful summer or a brutal, bitter winter.
Gabe Rubin is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Aspiring Rebels Seek a Cause Abigail Kerfoot | Illustration by Laura Beckman
ome protestors have painted the Occupy Wall Street movement as the Millennial Generation’s defining cause, which promises a revolution in American society and politics if it succeeds. However, it is clear that this outcome is far from being realized: the lack of central organization or clarity of message is obvious to all observers. And although Occupy Wall Street purports to emulate the protest movements of the past, much of its youthful base lacks the sincere devotion to a cause that made the Civil Rights Movement, women’s liberation, and the Vietnam anti-war movement truly revolutionary. In modern America, disillusionment with the status quo and acting to affect change is the truest rite of passage. Children learn about the American Revolution as an example of our right to challenge what is unjust—the principle we believe sets us apart from other nations. The American protestors of the 20th century took this principle to heart and set out to change their world. Their children have yet to find their generation’s cause, despite possessing the cultivated urge to revolt. Therefore, the longing to feel devoted to an important cause drives many of these Millennial protestors more than any one cause in particular. With the advent of cell phones, the Internet, and other personal technologies, inane media content has saturated our culture, and it is natural that we seek a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives. This alone may be the impetus for many young people in the Occupy Wall Street protests: the movement provides an opportunity for them to be part of something larger than themselves and to affect real change. In the time since the protest movements of the 20th century, revolt and questioning authority have informed how Americans think of themselves as a people. The overwhelming popularity of the 2007 Beatles-based musical film “Across the Universe,” a romance set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protests, reveals our generation’s fascination with activism. The attempts in 1994 and 1999 to recreate the famous Woodstock music festival of 1969 are further
evidence of this fixation. The Baby Boom generation’s perceived influence and impact on American foreign policy has led to a modern fetishization of their culture and activism. The difference between the groundbreaking movements of the 20th century and Occupy Wall Street is glaring. The freedom riders, sit-in participants, and those who burned their draft cards had one thing in common that the majority of the Occupy Wall Street protestors lack: placing the cause above their own welfare. Rather than politely asking for the nation’s attention, previous revolutionaries demanded it and proved their devotion by putting themselves at risk. Freedom riders challenged segregation without the guarantee that the police would take their side, and, in many cases, they paid a heavy price. Occupy Wall Street has an ambitious vision, but it lacks the level of dedication necessary to see this vision realized. The wave of protests and revolutions known as the Arab Spring parallel the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Like the men and women of the 1960s revolution, participants in the Arab Spring put their lives and safety on the line for change. Millennial ennui may have found an outlet in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, but many protestors seem unwilling to do more than parrot slogans. By contrast, the so-called “Twitter revolutions” of the Arab Spring have depended on the courageous real-world actions of deeply committed individuals. Occupy Wall Street masquerades as a meaningful protest in the model of the 1960s protests or the Arab Spring, but if its base consists of teens aiming to feel rather than be revolutionary, it will fail to bring about sweeping change. Though the goals are important and the outrage is justified, the protestors’ numbers may overstate the movement’s strength. One dedicated activist is a more valuable asset than many who join for direction and purpose.
The Baby Boom generation’s perceived influence and impact on American foreign policy has led to a modern fetishization of their culture and activism.
Abigail Kerfoot is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International By The Numbers Real interest rate on ten-year bonds
World News North America
After a months long, controversial debate, the Obama administration postponed the proposed US-Canada oil pipeline by up to eighteen months. The pipeline, called Keystone XL, would cost the state department up to $7 billion and would stretch 1,600 miles from Canada to the coast of Texas. The controversy, which has engendered harsh word against President Obama from environmental activists, is rooted in the proposed pipeline cutting through Nebraska’s Sand Hills region, which contains a large water aquifer. While environmental groups applauded the president’s decision to delay construction until further review, oil industry groups have warned that stalling the project will both slow new job creation and endanger US energy prospects. Needless to say, both groups will be monitoring the president’s moves on the issue closely as the presidential election looms closer.
Haiti With the recent (2010) outbreak of cholera in Haiti, victims of the disease are now seeking millions of dollars in compensation from the UN. Cholera has not been seen in Haiti for almost one hundred years, and the source of the disease may in fact be UN peacekeepers. The almost 5,000 cholera victims are being backed by the Institute for Justice and Democracy, which has filed a formal demand on their behalf. The institute claims that the UN’s lack of proper screening and sanitation proves their culpability in the outbreak and is demanding a public apology from the UN, as well as $100,000 compensation per death. Currently, the death toll stands at more than 6,500 people.
Mexico Limon Sanchez, a senior drug boss of one of Mexico’s most important drug rings, the Sinaloa cartel, was arrested a few days ago in the state of Sinaloa. Sanchez has been charged with transporting large shipments of cocaine into Southern California. Mr. Sanchez has been associated with “El Chapo” Guzman, the cartel’s fugitive leader who now holds the title of most wanted drug-boss in Mexico and faces extradition (the US has offered $5 million for his arrest). Sanchez’s arrest is the latest in President Calderon’s fight against the drug cartels. Nevertheless, the president’s offensive has faced heavy criticism, as the death toll from drug violence for the past five years stands at more than 40,000. Some even argue that the government’s counter-insurgency plan has only worsened the violence.
Italy Italy is now in the hot seat of the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis. A Greek default is mitigated by the country’s relatively small economy. And the fear now is not Greece’s default but what has been termed a “contagion” effect, the possibility that Greece’s default could spark
financial troubles for countries with large economies, such as Italy. Economists predict that if Italy defaults, Spain will follow shortly after. These fears have led to an increase in the bailout fund. While some have argued that Italy’s financial troubles stem from its large debt, others argue that Italy’s weak economy is to blame—its aging population, lax regulation, and limited production. The biggest problem will be when anxious lenders stop lending money to Italy, which may result in an Italian default. Unlike Greece, an Italian default would be a much harder blow to deflect.
Syria With more than 3,500 people reported killed in anti-government protests, many have called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose rule is not expected to last much longer. The Syrian crisis, which has caused thousands of Syrians to flee to Turkey, began last March during public protests demanding democracy and freedom in a country that has been ruled by the same family for more than forty years. Although on November 2nd Syrian authorities agreed to an Arab League plan to withdraw from peaceful cities and free political prisoners, since then as many as 60 people have been reported killed by government forces. On November 9th, 33 people were shot and many more arrested during house raids. The failure to end government repression has since resulted in the very recent decision by the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership.
Afghanistan An international poll conducted by the Thomas-Reuters Foundation has named Afghanistan as the “most dangerous” country for women. The poll consisted of 213 gender issues including access to healthcare services, human trafficking rates, discrimination, and perception of danger. Afghanistan ranked first, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, and India. In Afghanistan, NATO airstrikes, lack of education, and cultural discrimination landed the country in the number one most-dangerous spot. For India, factors contributing to its number four rank include sex trafficking and selective abortion of female fetuses (foeticide).
Somalia: Trapped in a Nightmare Corey Donahue
omalia is experiencing the worst famine that Africa has seen in over 60 years. Tens of thousands have died, half of whom are children, and as many as 250,000 people could starve to death in the coming months (although the projected number has recently declined from 750,000 because of increased rainfall and aid). The UN Children’s Fund estimates that 168,000 children under the age of five could die in the coming weeks. Ad hoc camps of displaced starving Somalis have cropped up as people search for food and water. With inadequate sanitary facilities, diseases such as measles, cholera, and malaria are of particular concern. While Africa has faced calamities before and constantly struggles with food security, this famine stands apart because of the extraordinarily high number at risk and the inability of aid groups to access those in need. Contributions from international aid organizations usually mitigate a crisis on this scale, but aid groups are having difficulty helping Somali civilians. Resistance from the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab has prevented food aid from reaching half of the four million who need aid. The organization, which has declared allegiance to alQaeda, rose to power by capitalizing on anti-Western fervor and has banned Western clothing, Western music, and even Western nongovernmental organizations. Aid groups have responded by redoubling their efforts, finding creative ways to circumvent al-Shabaab such as electronically wiring money to cell phones. Other aid groups have allied with Turkish and Muslim organizations that al-Shabaab allows into the region. Already spread thin by its military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, the US has been unable to prevent the growth of al-Shabaab. Unlike Yemen, where a strong government facilitated US efforts to curb the growing influence of al-Qaeda, Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. Instead, African Union (AU) forces from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti have stepped in to stop al-Shabaab. The AU has stationed 9,000 soldiers in Somalia since 2007 but has next to no influence outside the capital, Mogadishu. Because of this, other countries have decided to take action unilaterally. After alShabaab militants kidnapped foreign tourists in Kenya, the Kenyan government sent troops backed by tanks to clear al-Shabaab out of southern Somalia without giving warning to the Somali government or its close ally, the US. In addition, Ethiopian troops recently declared their intention to enter the region, causing concern among Somalis who are still angry about Ethiopia’s intervention in 2006 that crushed another Islamist movement. The Ethiopian troops’ long stay and reckless shelling spurred support for al-Shabaab, who took full advantage of anti-Ethiopian sentiment. As if the rest of East Africa’s involvement wasn’t enough, Eritrea, considered by some to be the most militarized African nation, has reportedly shipped cargo planes full of arms to al-Shabaab. Although the Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers may soon become absorbed into the AU forces, these autonomous actions have hampered efforts to aid civilians and defeat al-Shabaab. There are no easy or obvious solutions to a starving country with an impotent government and an antagonistic militant group. However, increased cooperation among countries in the region and aid groups is a necessary first step to saving the Somali people from one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades.
While Africa has faced calamities before and constantly struggles with food security, this famine stands apart because of the extraordinarily high number at risk and the inability of aid groups to access those in need.
Corey Donahue is a senior majoring in political science and economics. He can be reached at email@example.com
Obama and Drones Zac Moskowitz | Illustration by Laura Beckman
n three years, American military policy’s shift to more located strikes, such as ground Special Forces teams, targeted missile strikes, and drones, has weakened al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The most symbolically important success was the Navy Seals raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Besides this mission, most of President Obama’s kills have gone under the radar, popping up as news stories for only one day. One factor in nearly every important strike by the Obama administration has been the use of drones in Afghanistan and, more controversially, by the CIA in Pakistan. Since Obama took office, over 1,500 suspected militants have met their ends by missiles fired from Predator or Reaper drones. The Pakistani government allows CIA drone attacks but has grown more wary as public opposition rose. Now, the CIA must inform the government before carrying out strikes with predicted casualties of 20 people or more. Targets have included important figures like Baitullah Mehsud (killed in August 2009), Pakistan’s most wanted man at the time. The majority of the drone strikes, however, do not target senior leaders. Instead,
they attack groups of low-level foot soldiers in “signature strikes.” The problem is that the CIA attacks without ensuring that the targets are actually fighters. This kind of action is not in the United States’ best interests. While targeting a senior al Qaeda leader like Atiyah Abd-Rahman, the deputy leader of the terrorist, can be useful in disrupting the communication and organization of the group, targeting low-level foot soldiers does not have nearly the same effect and renders the fight against terrorism a futile war of attrition. There will always be more soldiers, and the enemy will find it easier to recruit locals when American missiles kill innocent children and family members. The State Department is making this argument and is also contending that antiAmerican sentiment may encourage a movement in Pakistan to elect an anti-American government. This possibility concerns the military; an unfriendly Pakistan would further complicate an already difficult situation in Afghanistan. In addition to the political drawbacks of the attacks, the number of civilian casualties from the strikes is troubling. While the CIA
Since Obama took office, over 1,500 suspected militants have met their ends by missiles fired from Predator or Reaper drones.
claims that only 60 civilians have been killed since the inception of the drone program under President George W. Bush, the Washington Post and other sources estimate that as many as one third of all drone casualties are civilians. In order to avoid this high level of casualties, targets require stricter and more careful consideration. The groundlevel operatives in Pakistan gather detailed visual intelligence on the target sites, and interpreting the information before a strike is difficult. This difficulty is why the identities of those on the ground are not always known before a strike; many are simply assumed to be militants. The consequence of this attitude: innocents are killed. While there are many drawbacks to the drone program, it is nonetheless an effective tool. Because of the program, hundreds of militants are no longer able to kill innocent people. The program is also safer for Americans, as fewer boots are needed on the ground to kill enemy combatants. Drones were a component of one of Obama’s primary military successes. Before Muammar Qaddafi was killed by rebel troops, a US drone missile struck his convoy, leading to Qaddafi’s capture. In order to maximize drone strike effectiveness, missions should focus on killing leaders. Obama needs to heed the advice of the State Department and more strictly regulate the drone attacks. This is not a war of attrition, and a large casualty count does not signal success. Instead, it is the effect of each kill—the amount it disrupts operations and communications—that matters. Obama has not received a political boost from his drone warfare record, and Obama still isn’t seen as a foreign policy president. His opponents have controlled the narrative, painting him as weak and ineffective on foreign policy. More fundamentally, Obama receives little political credit for drone missions because voters aren’t as concerned with drone warfare, or foreign policy in general, when the economy continues to reel from the Great Recession. Until unemployment decreases and the economy improves, Obama’s military accomplishments will not register with voters. The drone program should not become invisible, and Obama must be held accountable for drone warfare’s collateral damage. Zac is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Israeli Settlers I Matt Curtis
llegal Israeli settlements have long been a source of friction in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; they receive international condemnation and are cited as the primary reason for the breakdown of peace talks in the mid-2000’s. The settlements, however, are not the only problem. Extremists with a well-documented history of perpetrating violence against neighboring Palestinians operate with the approval—tacit or otherwise—of the Israeli government in these settlements. Their attacks, though less covered by the press than the mere existence of the settlements, are destructive to the peace process and sully Israel’s image abroad. Israeli settler violence takes many forms. One favorite is the pollution or destruction of Palestinian water supplies. Some settlers target the Palestinian economy, specifically Palestinian olive trees, which occupy 45% of Palestinian agricultural land. This year alone, settlers have destroyed 7,500 trees. Admittedly, this number pales in comparison to the estimated 10 million olive trees in the West Bank, but the 7,500 figure does not capture the frequent harassment of farmers who are harvesting crops, harassment that is in many cases regulated by the Israel Defense Forces. Most importantly, the destruction of olive trees is a powerful symbol, regardless of the magnitude or percentage. Still more devastating, some settlers desecrate mosques. Most recently, a mosque in northern Israel was torched, and the words “price tag” and “revenge” were spray-painted on its walls. Although the moniker is primarily reserved for Palestinian-perpetrated violence, Israeli settler actions border on terrorism, and international bodies are quick to denounce the violence. In 2008, the European Union condemned Israeli settler violence and called on the Israeli government to put an end to it. The United Nations has issued similar statements, most recently in 2011. All nations and international bodies agree that Israel must keep settlers from committing acts of violence against the Palestinians. Indeed, this was a fundamental part of the 2002 “road map” for peace, as agreed on by the US, Russia, the UN, and the
Although the moniker is primarily reserved for Palestinian-perpetrated violence, Israeli settler actions border on terrorism, and international bodies are quick to denounce the violence. EU. However, the 2009 United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict found that “little if any action [was] taken by the Israeli authorities to investigate, prosecute and punish violence against Palestinians,” and concluded that “Israel has failed to fulfill its obligations to protect the Palestinians from violence by private individuals.” As far as the signatories of the road map for peace are concerned, Israel is capable of and responsible for halting settler violence. And Israel’s failure to comply with the road map for peace says, in the eyes of international observers, that it is simply not willing to do so. This is not to say that the Israeli government condones the actions taken by its settlers, but it is possible that it would be politically counterproductive to prosecute settlers planted by the government. Israel’s refusal to protect the Palestinians in occupied territories, even after receiving a direct mandate, has further alienated Israel from the international community. In response to Israeli settlers damaging the 2011 olive crop, the Palestinian Authority released a statement claiming that the Israeli government was “implicitly encouraging settlers to continue on their rampage” by not making any effort to quell the violence. Much of the allegation is simply political posturing and exaggeration; but regardless of the Israeli government’s true feelings on the killing of Palestinians and the destruction of their property, it is important that the
Palestinian Authority feels justified in claiming that the Israeli government encourages the violence. Abbas and his government no doubt believe the claim, as do many Palestinian civilians, and Israel’s inability to defend Palestinians from its settlers—or to at least prosecute those involved—is cooling the already icy relationship. In fact, this claim is substantiated by reports that IDF soldiers have overseen the violence undertaken by settlers. In March 2010, the International Solidarity Movement reported that Israeli soldiers were protecting a group of settlers as they poured a mixture of cement and sand into a natural spring. Such incidents are unusual, but the Palestinian Authority seizes upon each instance to illustrate Palestinians’ mistreatment at the hands of Israel. Not all Israeli settlers are terrorists. Out of 500,000 settlers, only a few hundred are violent. However, because of the tension surrounding their existence, any act of settler violence is disproportionately high profile. Israeli unwillingness to take steps to correct this behavior causes its international popularity to plummet. Israel must take this critical first step or risk losing what little support it has left.
Matt Curtis is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The Return of the Taliban Jon Luskin
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and US President Barack Obama
resident Obama declared that the “tide of war [was] receding” in Afghanistan this June. Since that time, all indicators point toward a rising tide. Obama was right to say that the US troop surge had made advances against the Taliban insurgency. But whereas the surge in Iraq was effective because security begot a government, security in Afghanistan begot stagnation and corruption in the government. Since June, military policy has pivoted from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism, leaving Afghan security forces to beating back Taliban forces. In the short term, counterterrorism makes sense: al-Qaeda’s reach has diminished, NATO troop casualties have decreased, and troop drawdowns have begun according to the exit timeline that concludes in 2014. In the long term, however, the US should be concerned with Afghanistan’s stability. Since Osama bin Laden was killed last May, rocket attacks on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have escalated. The attacks are believed to be organized by the Haqqani network, a conservative Muslim terrorist organization based in northwest Pakistan that Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called “a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Internal Services Intelligence agency.” On September 13, insurgents assaulted the US Embassy and NATO headquarters with rockets. A week later, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, was assassinated by a suicide bomber. A United Nations study released in October 2011 revealed that the Afghan Intelligence Service and Afghan National Police routinely abuse suspects. The report found “a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment” in detention centers operated by the Afghan National Directorate of Intelligence. Suspects are hung by their hands, beaten with cables, and have their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness. It also appears that Afghan security forces are unable to defend their country from a resurgent Taliban (bolstered by Pakistan). Repeated terror attacks underscore the inability of security forces to
stall the insurgency in the absence of American support. As of today, security forces are unable to prevent the Taliban from regaining former strongholds and making further advances. Therein lies the problem with the shift away from counterinsurgency. If the government remains inept and the security forces unable to defend against Taliban attacks, the Taliban insurgency will likely overcome Afghan forces and regain control, restoring the government of 1996-2001 (as it has already in Taliban-occupied regions of southern Afghanistan). The Taliban will restore the debt-dependency cycle in which destitute farmers must plant more poppy for heroin production in order to repay their debts to the Taliban rich. The already limited secularization will be reversed, and Sharia law will be re-imposed. Most frightening, the Taliban will again be able to grant havens to terrorist organizations, providing a base for groups like al-Qaeda to plan attacks on the United States. US troops cannot win the war before 2014. However, the United States can give the Afghans the tools to win the war. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right to press Pakistan to end support for the Haqqani network and should push for UN economic sanctions on Pakistan if it continues to sponsor terrorism in north-west Waziristan. Security forces must be able to rebuke Taliban advances and prevent major attacks, and Afghanistan needs 350,000 in the security force by 2014. But, thus far, Afghanistan has not met benchmarks. NATO forces should invest more time and funds in police training, and the United States should make continued monetary support contingent upon Afghanistan meeting its training quotas. Secretary Clinton also should make more demands of the Karzai government in return for the promise of US-funded aid. Karzai funnels transactions through Afghanistan’s outdated and convoluted banking system, and consequently, the government’s appropriations are untraceable. In 2010, Kabul Bank reported the loss of nearly $900 billion in fraudulent loans to bank insiders. This level of fraud is not an aberration: diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in December 2010 suggest corruption—including open bribes and drug trafficking—at the highest levels of government. By appointing lackeys to anti-corruption posts in the Major Crimes Task Force and Sensitive Investigative Unit, Karzai has impeded US-led efforts to curb corruption. Since the Afghan government has been capable only of gridlock and corruption, the State Department should consider bypassing the Karzai government to ensure that aid is not squandered. Ultimately, the Afghan people must be willing to fight for democracy. After years of internal strife and conflict with the USSR, Afghanistan saw the Taliban rise to power in 1996 with promises to restore Islam to daily life and end corruption in a war-weary country. Afghans today face a similar situation: WikiLeaks reports suggest that bribery, extortion, and embezzlement are the norm as politicians and drug traffickers prosper while the rest of the nation founders. Open fraud and voter intimidation characterize the “free” elections. Controversy over rigged elections paralyzes the government and prevents progress despite the Taliban retreat. In 2014, Hamid Karzai’s term expires, and he will relinquish his position amid circumstances eerily parallel to those in 1989 after the Soviet exit. As US troops exit, Afghanistan will vote for the leader to guide the country either into disarray or a democratic future. Jon Luskin is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
China International Fund Jay Evans | Illustration by Karly Nelson
he saga of the China International Fund reads like a thriller novel: a mysterious board of directors, unreported profits in the billions, and the ability to bypass customs. The firm deals in shady agreements with African dictatorships, and best of all, the deals concern oil. According to its website, the China International Fund deals in “large-scale national reconstruction projects and infrastructure construction in developing countries.” In exchange for oil and mining rights, the firm promises to build infrastructure in countries like Guinea and Angola. The exchange of oil rights for infrastructure sounds beneficial for Africa, until you run the numbers. In 2005, the firm brokered a deal for oil rights in Angola in exchange for low-cost housing, railways, roads, and public water lines. Some news outlets estimate the potential revenues of the China International Fund at tens of billions of dollars, while even the most expensive infrastructure project wouldn’t exceed a few billion dollars. This difference goes straight into the coffers of the China International Fund. In Angola’s case, the money intended for the infrastructure projects disappeared. Most speculate that it went back to the China International Fund, and since the firm finances are so opaque, no one can definitively pin down where that $2 billion went. Angola is not alone in undelivered promises. Zimbabwe is still waiting for its promised $8 billion for infrastructure projects. And Guinea still has not received the buses promised as a contract bonus. Meanwhile, oil and minerals are shipped to China. Little is known about the composition of the company. While there is no hard evidence that the Chinese government is involved, many Chinese elites are partners at the firm. African state-run oil companies sometimes welcome high-ranking Chinese politicians, including Vice President Xi Jinping. Of course this fishy coincidence does not prove anything, but questions arise when the Chinese vice president hosts Man-
uel Vicente, CEO of Angola’s state oil company and a partner at the China International Fund, with such pomp and circumstance. Probably the most unsettling aspect of the firm is where the money goes. Evidence points to the firm giving $100 million to the junta of Guinea, who likely used the funds to fuel their rampages, including a deadly outburst in September 2009. A new minerals deal was signed a month later. In general, the China International Fund appears to be supporting multiple political factions in Africa that incite violence in the region. If this allegation is true, the firm is purposefully
The exchange of oil rights for infrastructure sounds beneficial for Africa, until you run the numbers. fueling conflicts to gain profits and materials for China. Tom Clancy could not make this up. Questions remain as to who actually benefits from these deals. Obviously, the members of the China International Fund gain the most. But China as a whole also benefits. Oil, gold, natural gas, and platinum are shipped to the mainland—to businesses and people who eagerly use them as the country continues to grow. Predictably,
the Chinese government takes a hands-off approach to the firm so that Chinese officials have deniability. Oversight of the firm is “almost non-existent,” according to The Economist. No one knows exactly how the ownership works, as the corporate structure is dizzyingly complex. Some 30 subsidiaries own the firm, but with no systematic organization. The firm consistently ranks low on transparency spectrums by corporate openness advocacy groups. People are reasonably wary of a firm as extremely opaque as the China International Fund. The business model itself is not to blame; trading oil rights for infrastructure materials in the countries that need them most is laudable. But such transactions should be carried out openly. Global Witness, an international watchdog, denounced the firm, calling them “buccaneers” taking from “Africa’s resource cake.” The China International Fund has yet to hit the mainstream news cycle. But if it continues its opaque and dishonest operations, governments will slowly take notice. The combination of oil, disregarded African citizens, and, potentially, the Chinese government all make the situation quite worrying.
Jay Evans is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Economics and Religious Studies. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Post-Revolutionary Egy The Struggle for Democ Nahuel Fefer
he term “Arab Spring” is misleading. It reflects the media’s borderline compulsive need to fit information into a cohesive narrative. Today this simple narrative is inadequate. Libya recently emerged from civil war and remains unstable, Tunisia is on the path to democracy, and Egypt is realizing how little its revolution has accomplished.
would be confronting the armed forces. In short, a second revolution would resemble Libya’s civil war, but with one key difference: the United States would be unlikely to get involved. While Qaddafi exported terror, the Egyptian military has been a useful American ally.
The story in Tunisia is more positive. About 11 months after the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi, and 10 months after the ousting of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia hosted their first free and fair elections in late October. These elections resulted in a plurality of votes (41%) for Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party. Although Ennahda has captured 90 seats in a 217-strong parliament, Tunisia is historically secular compared to other northern African countries. About 60% of voters supported the more fragmented secular parties. Of the secular parties, left-leaning parties were most successful, winning 78 seats, while center and conservative secular parties won only 11 seats. While Ennahda is an Islamist party, much of its appeal stems from its cultivated aura of integrity and numerous pledges to fight the rampant corruption of the former, secular dictatorship. Its efficient political organization also set it apart from the secular parties. Ennahda appears to understand that voters were not casting their votes in favor of creating an Islamist state, and the party has pledge to preserve a secular state.
Egypt’s revolution began on January 25th, and although President Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11th, it is far from over. Unfortunately, Egypt is not yet a democracy and is not yet ruled by its people; instead, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces—a military junta—rules Egypt. While the armed forces claim to be an interim government, the military has been the dominant institution since Nasser’s coup in 1952 and is unwilling to give up this power. Consequently, the interim government (appointed by the military) has sent the Supreme Council a proposal that drastically augments the powers of the armed forces. Apart from removing parliamentary supervision of the military budget, the proposal gives the armed forces absolute veto power in civilian government by declaring the military “the defender of constitutional legitimacy.” As for hopes of a new, progressive constitution, the proposal also gives the military the power to appoint 80 of the 100 members of the constitutional assembly. Ultimately, the Egyptian revolution’s achievement has been replacing a dictatorial puppet with a symbolically more legitimate puppet. While the military appears less willing to use violence after the demonstrations last Spring, there is some evidence that the military have already reverted to using “plain-clothes thugs” to attack protesters. The military has also begun imprisoning Egyptian citizens without charging them of any crimes. These developments have resulted in predictable calls for a second revolution. Unfortunately, even if a second revolution gets off of the ground, it is unlikely to be successful. Protestors would no longer be confronting an expendable puppet; they Demonstrators rally outside the municipal theater in Tunis, Tunisia, to demand further political reforms, March 29, 2011. Tunisia overthrew the dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January but sporadic protests continued as some activists worried about the pace of the transition to democracy.
ypt, Tunisia, and Libya: cracy Although Ennahda emphasizes their progressive stance on issues ranging from gender equality to alcohol consumption, many remain distrustful. The most optimistic way to view the party is an Islamic version of the Christian Democrats, and the most pessimistic is a precursor to an Iran-like theocracy. Most likely, the party will emulate Turkey’s Justice and Development Party. The JDP has respected democracy and maintained the church and state divide but allowed Islam to inform their political positions on issues such as adultery.
Libya recently emerged from civil war and remains unstable, Tunisia is on the path to democracy, and Egypt is realizing how little its revolution has accomplished. After the religious repression in Tunisia at the hands of a secular dictatorship, the election of some Islamists is simply evidence of a functional democracy reflecting the country’s real divisions.
Libya In Egypt and Tunisia, the army refused to fire on civilians, but in Libya most of the army remained loyal to their dictator and escalated a revolution into a civil war. While the army’s defeat may keep Libya from becoming like Egypt’s, the army’s defeat also makes stability unlikely. Although Libya’s interim government, the National Transitional Council, has attempted to fill the power vacuum, it possesses no real military might and thus little power. Instead the rebel army, now the national army, is made up of local militias. Unelected military councils in charge of local militias now govern most Libyan cities and have refused to turn in their weapons. Even more ominously, many military councils have secured influence in Libyan politics by threatening military intervention if the National Transitional Council makes any decision with which they disagree. Libya has quickly morphed from a nascent democracy to a confederation of autonomous territories ruled by military juntas. While the National Transitional Council understands the need to assert and legitimize their central authority and is attempting to push up elections, high unemployment keeps militia involvement high, and the militias’ strong desire for power will be difficult to combat. While Libya’s geography and proximity to Europe is conducive to stability and may lead to a successful central government, a democratic Libyan government will be different than that of Tunisia. The National Transitional Council has declared, with popular approval, that Sharia law will be the foundation of Libya’s laws, and further that any law in tension with Sharia law will be legally void.
Libya’s Transitional National Council President, Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril officially announces Moammar Gadhafi’s death in his hometown of Sirte, in Tripoli, Libya, on October 20, 2011.
The Tunisian revolution destroyed the status quo and replaced it with a better system—the hallmarks of a successful revolution. Unfortunately, Egypt is stuck on the first step, while Libya is struggling with the second. Revolutionaries around the world (including those in the United States) should heed this warning: do not settle for false change; protest and revolt with purpose.
Nahuel is a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nuclear Veto: Why the Security Council Needs Explosive Change Dan Bram | Illustration by Kelsey Brod
ast November, President Obama endorsed the efforts of both India and Japan to receive permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The logic of the endorsement is simple enough: both nations are among the world’s top ten economies (as measured by GDP), and both are emerging international industrial powers. It also doesn’t hurt that both are potential checks to China’s regional power and, therefore, are natural allies for the United States on the Security Council. But critics have rightly argued that the endorsement is nothing more than an empty gesture. The US does not yet share enough in terms of culture or policy with India to justify support for such a radical change in India’s standing. India’s recent abstention from a vote in the UNSC to condemn Syrian violence illustrates this policy divide. Furthermore, the Chinese know that the United States is attempting to assert more power in the region and will veto any resolution for permanent Security Council seats for India and Japan. This snippet of political theatre brings to light a reality that few would outright admit: the UNSC is outdated and must be changed. The rationale of the original structure of the UNSC (i.e. France, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, and China as permanent members) was simple: it reflected the international balance of power in the 1940s, as defined by offensive nuclear capabilities. But if this principle were applied today, every nuclear nation
would have a veto and a permanent seat in the Council. This includes Pakistan, Israel, India, and North Korea. Imagine a North Korean veto—goodbye international order, hello belligerent chaos. The question now, as indirectly raised by the US endorsement of India and Japan, is how to structure a Security Council that reflects the new international order. The nomination of India and Japan, President Bill Clinton’s support of a permanent German seat in 1993, and current whispers of a seat for Brazil suggest that international power is defined by economic stature. But wealth does not always translate into international influence. A nation can easily have a strong domestic economy yet fall short of international leadership for a myriad of reasons. Some claim that Germany, despite boasting the strongest economy in Europe, doesn’t want a seat on the UNSC, as it has no desire to participate in international politics. So if pure economics isn’t a good indicator of international prominence in the United Nations, what is? In 2005, the US State Department proposed a list of criteria for Security Council membership, including financial contributions to the United Nations and contribution of military personnel to peacekeeping missions. Which nations fit these criteria? See the sidebar for the answer. Determining seats in the UNSC by financial contributions would bias representation toward Western countries, and such a bias would lead to a façade of true international order. Contributions of military personnel to peacekeeping missions has little hope of deciding seats as none of the top five contributors of military personnel (with the exception of India) exert much international influence, particularly militarily. Most recent international military intervention has come from the five current permanent members
These are two lists from the United Nations website that demonstrate which countries would be candidates for permanent seats that meet the State Department criteria (compiled August 2011).
Top 5 Contributors to the UN Peacekeeping Budget (2011-2012): 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
United States – 27.14% Japan – 12.53% United Kingdom – 8.15% Germany – 8.02% France – 7.55%
Top 5 Contributors of Military Personnel to UN Peacekeeping Operations: 1. Bangladesh – 10,655 troops 2. Pakistan – 9,154 troops 3. India – 8,408 troops 4. Nigeria – 5,624 troops 5. Nepal – 4,340 troops
of the Security Council (P5). This suggests that true international peacekeeping does not come from the Security Council itself but from international bodies outside of the UN, such as NATO, the European Union, African Union, or member states acting under authority of UNSC resolutions. Since fair criteria to determine permanent seats or veto power is unviable, due to regional rivalries and lack of clear international leadership, only one option remains: destroy the power of the veto. The UN should implement a veto override mechanism such as a ¾-supermajority vote in the General Assembly. This would allow the true intentions of the international community to be heard rather than unilateral decisions by presumed superpowers. Permanent membership leaves no room for changes in the balance of international power and allows an irrelevant nation to have unjustified power. Therefore in addition to creating a veto-override mechanism, “permanent” members of the council ought to be evaluated every 20 years, or however long the body determines is adequate. Reforming the Security Council in this way will ensure that the body reflects democratic values and the most current global balance of power. We live in an era of a fast-changing international order. It is time that we escape the specter of the bomb and move towards a sustainable Security Council that recognizes current realities, not those of the Forties.
Dan Bram is a freshman majoring in Political Science. He can be reached at d.bram@ wustl.edu.
...ever wonder if you are in the 1%?
e! r e h art
WUPR brings you the answer. no
Do drum circles make you want to dump hot oil out of your corner office?
is your wine cellar actually a cellar dedicated solely to wine?
your garage > 3 cars? no
does she call herself an escort?
yes do you own season tickets to an NFL team? yes
do people call you
a â€œjob creatorâ€? ?
is it the Rams? yes
do you pay full tuition at Wash U? yes
Are you on a first name basis with your lobbyist? no
when you go to subway, do you get a premium footlong?
does your caviar cost 3x as much as your cocaine? no
Good news! In the time it took you to read this far, your net worth increased by .03%!
Seth Einbinder is a junior in the college of arts & sciences he can be reached at email@example.com design by matt callahan
Published on Dec 2, 2011
For November 2011, the Washington University Political Review looks at protests around the world, the Republican primaries, and drone warfar...