Category Archives: Politics and Society

The Window is Closing

Bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be, at times, an insurmountable task. As time goes on, peace does not get easier, it only becomes more and more difficult. If the bloodshed does not come to a halt soon the situation will only deteriorate further. This puzzle has proven itself an extremely tough one to solve, and as time goes on, the solutions put forward seem to head in one direction. It’s no secret that with continued settlement expansion in the West Bank Israel has made it harder and harder to envision a viable, contiguous, Palestinian state coming into existence there. While it would be difficult, is it in fact too late? Is the only reasonable solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, as of right now, either a bi-national state or a single state encompassing all of Mandate Palestine? Continue reading

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Arab Spring: A Not-so Twitvolution

The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia were quick, rapidly changing events that occurred during a a period of widespread access to modern technology. Organizers used contemporary communication techniques by leveraging social media through their own personal computers. Protests and demonstrations spread faster through digital means because of the capacity to be organized quicker and become more sporadic. Thousands of Egyptian youth successfully demonstrated in Tahrir Square by harnessing social media tools, using Facebook and Twitter for planting the seeds of revolution. Young Tunisians collaborated with young Egyptians through online forums; Tunisians would tell their fellow Egyptians, “Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”[i][1] Even though the digital age has fueled protests and mass mobilization as shown by the tech-savvy generation of restless young Egyptians, the idea that technological social media platforms are providing the foundations for revolution is an immense exaggeration of their true proportional significance on the revolutions. Continue reading

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Socialism for the Few, Free Market Cannibalism for the Many

The rule of law, and the so heralded “invisible hand” of the market seem to apply to everyone in America. That is unless one owns a large corporation, manages a hedge fund, or finds oneself sitting at the top of the food chain wealth wise. Then reality looks something like this:

A company is in trouble because the CEO made bad business decisions? It’s too big to fail and is given billions of taxpayer dollars to avoid bankruptcy. The CEO doesn’t feel like paying taxes this year on the billions made? Hire a team of tax lawyers to find every loophole possible to avoid paying, and still get a return from the government. Continue reading

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The Big One

“The Big One” is a term used by those involved in emergency management to describe an inevitable cataclysmic event. A constant denial at a political level hampers efforts to protect lives and infrastructure against the worst imminent catastrophes. These events shape the national consciousness, but are often downplayed before on can truly learn its lessons. The USA’s most recent “Big One” was Hurricane Katrina, which was the costliest natural disaster and among the most deadliest in the history of the United States. At least 1,836 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods and the total property damage was estimated at $81 billion. Continue reading

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Democratic Double Standards: The Election of Hamas and the Aftermath

In January of 2006, Palestinians took to the voting booths and made their displeasure with Fatah, the former majority party in the Palestinian Authority, known. It was not a mandate from the heavens, but due to the electoral system set up in the Palestinian Territories with around 46% of the popular vote, Hamas won over half of the seats in parliament [1, 2]. This wasn’t due to vote rigging, nor was it due to threats from radical Islamic militants at the polls. A wide array of international organizations determined that the elections had been free and fair. Continue reading

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How the U.S. can Use the Arab Uprisings to its Advantage

The entire world anxiously watched as Tunisian and Egyptian presidents, Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, were ousted from power by rebellions that were sparked by a combination of high food prices, unemployment, and corrupt governments. Their demise was a shame as both leaders were staunch American kinsmen, and had a history of promoting cooperation with the U.S. on the global war on terror. Due to the success of the rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt, violent uprisings have ignited throughout the rest of North Africa and into parts of the Middle East. It is important that the U.S. stay frosty as many of the countries that have been pulled into this mess are its strategic allies. Necessity calls for the Obama administration to do its very best to influence the outcomes of at least some of the uprisings that are plaguing allies, and crushing enemies. Continue reading

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The Chimerican Threat

The People’s Republic of China and the United States have experienced sharp disagreements in economic policies for some time, straining Sino-American relations. Among all, it is the pertinaciously undervalued Renminbi(i) that has drawn much criticism from the developed world. Due to this condition, it is generally believed that China’s economic policy is the main cause of global imbalances in current account positions and that its policy poses a great threat to global economic stability.

In response to the Great Crisis of 2008(ii), a “global saving glut”(iii) theory, postulated by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2005, emerged as the prominent narrative to explain the major causes of the crisis. The theory maintains that excessively high savings by some countries pushed their savings towards current account surpluses and away from Continue reading

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False Consciousness: The Middle Class Illusion

The American middle class is an ambiguously defined social class. The ambiguity stems from the discrepancy in popular opinion and vernacular language use. According to contemporary sociologists, the middle class may constitute anywhere from 25% to 66% of households [1]. Due to this broad categorization, the middle class is sometimes sub-divided into the upper- and lower-middle class. Dante Chinni, senior associate with the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, sarcastically wrote: “Everyone wants to believe they are middle class…But this eagerness…has led the definition to be stretched like a bungee cord — used to defend/attack/describe everything…The Drum Major Institute…places the range for middle class at individuals making between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. Ah yes, there’s a group of people bound to run into each other while house-hunting.” [2] Continue reading

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Israel or Bust!

On May 31, 2010, a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla intersected Israeli naval ships. The account of this event differs depending upon which news source you read; either the spiteful Israeli navy savagely brutalized humanitarian relief workers looking to transport goods to Gaza or the demonstrators aboard the Mavi Marma (the Turkish ship) reacted in violence to said navy [1] upon denying a request to dock at the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the Israeli navy hoped to inspect the cargo carried on board. [Note: if there is any doubt as to the legitimacy of Israel’s actions towards the Turkish flotilla, be sure to take a look at The Naval Warfare Publication regarding The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations”i.] Instead of orating some concession of affirmation regarding the Israeli navy’s choice of engagement with said Turkish flotilla, the current U.S. administration chose to tote the line carried by the likes of the United Nations – namely neglecting to conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter before severely admonishing Israel’s alleged poor behavior in blindly attacking those aboard the Mavi Marma – and relinquishing the opportunity to demonstrate a proper response to this event. Continue reading

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Dalai Dilemma

Since the Dalai Lama’s exile from Tibet, it has become a tradition that the Dalai Lama meets with the American president—and this has not changed. However, as China’s power has grown, it has begun to stand up to the United States on issues that the Communist Party views as key. The relationship between the United States and the Dalai Lama is one of these issues. For China, the visit between the President and the Dalai Lama is more than respect for a leader of one of the major religions—it is an insult.

The relationship between China and Tibet has always been tense, and as the Dalai Lama’s international popularity continues to rise, the situation has grown worse. China’s long time history of relations with Tibet led to their invasion on the claim that Tibet is part of China—and this stance is one that they aggressively seek for the other countries to recognize. This has been a particular problem for Chinese internal politics because of the immense nationalism fostered by the Communist Party, which is continuously offended by Western actions towards Taiwan, remembrance of the events of Tiananmen Square, and common perspectives on Tibet. Throughout modern history, Chinese sovereignty has been trampled by the West, as was seen in the Opium War with Great Britain, the presence of spheres of influence, and the Boxer and Taiping Rebellions that had to be put down with European troops. Continue reading

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