Archive for January, 2014

Russia’s influence on Ukraine

Ukraine is currently standing at a crossroads, it can return to overbearing Russian influence or it can align itself with the west. As of the past week, the Ukrainian government is aimed at returning to Russian influence. The current government under Viktor Yanukovych has recently signed a trade agreement with Russia and has passed legislation to restrict the freedom expression drastically. This is the latest example of Russia reigning in its former satellites. The Georgians were the previous victims of Moscow’s desire to keep its sphere of influence intact. In this case the west, not just the Obama administration, needs to send a clear message to Moscow and any other satellite countries that want to escape to the west. The west needs to be incredibly vocal of its support to the protesters and possibly levy sanctions against Ukraine’s government that would make dealing solely with Russia not worth the trouble.

Joshua Clarke 

Snowden stays in Russia

Russia continues to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, most likely because his presence as an exile in Russia and political figure in the US continues to make the US government look bad. A benefit of Snowden’s continued stay in Russia is that it deflects some of the attention away from Russia’s own problems with their government. By protecting Snowden, Russia is free to criticize the US and attack the “Big Brother system” that theyve created. The Obama administration is currently trapped in an uncomfortable position regarding Snowden, in that the only way to get him to return to the US would be to offer him amnesty. Snowden wont return under his own free will and the Russian government has no intention of expelling him from the country. The best possible outcome for the Obama administration would most likely come from offering him amnesty and getting him to return to the country. While this is not ideal, it would remove the ability from Russia to able to lambaste the US whenever its own record is being called into question.

Joshua Clarke

Syria: Talks Failed

Talks on Monday (January 27, 2014) over allowing an international aid convey to enter certain blocked areas of Homs failed. The Syrian government did not give the authorization, although Western countries threatened to take the government to the United Nations Security Council by next week. U.S and its backers expect Russia to vote in favor of aid access due to the Sochi Olympics opening next week. What other measures should the US and other countries take to ensure aid access, if Russia and China decides to veto again?


Doruntina Zekiri (Tina)

China Targets U.S. Drones

DroneIn the near future, U.S. drones, specifically the Global Hawk Drone, will take flight in East Asia on surveillance missions. The purpose of the missions will be to fly near North Korea in hopes of increasing spy capabilities in the region. Due to the close proximity of the drones and their “flight patterns” near Chinese “territory”, China is becoming increasingly concerned over the threat of drone surveillance. “Defense officials say they are worried the aircraft could become target of China’s military should its air forces try to enforce a newly established air defense identification zone over the East China Sea.” U.S. and Japanese governments do not recognize the zone, which China claims to be under Chinese control, since it encroaches on Japanese territory. China demands that pre-flight documents be reported by the U.S. government before flying within their “territory”. If the U.S. fails to comply with China’s demands, they’re threatening to use cyberattacks or military action to dismantle or electronically posses the drones if they cross into their air space. The use of military or cyber force on U.S. drones could very well be seen as a serious threat that could easily place the United States and China in a very tense situation. However, the U.S. cannot back down from China’s threats over drone surveillance as they posses no international governance over the territory. In my opinion, the United States, with compliance from Japan, has every right to fly non-lethal drones over the area. An attack on the drones would be a directed military action against the U.S. and would require an immediate and swift response towards the Chinese aggression.

-Andrew C.

Should Palestine allow Jewish settlers to remain?


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos. (Eric Piermont, AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that there is no need for a future Palestinian state to be “ethnically cleansed.” Prime Minister Netanyahu, firmly believes that all Jewish settlers should have the right to remain in their homes in a future Palestine.  His stance was immediately rejected by the Palestinians and the settlers themselves.  Throughout the years, it has been assumed that under a future peace deal, Jewish settlers not within Israeli territory would be evicted.

The Prime Ministers latest allegation could pose another obstacle to an agreement.  The Palestinians consider any settlements built beyond Israel’s 1967 borders  to be illegal land grabs. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated, “Anyone who says he wants to keep settlers in the Palestinian state is actually saying that he doesn’t want a Palestinian state.” Prime Minister Netanyahu, has stated that he wants to retain major settlement blocs as part of any deal.

Why should a future state of Palestine consider the wishes of the Israeli Prime Minister? Israel has occupied the territory illegally since 1967.  Allowing Israel to continue to occupy would not solve much of the problem for the Palestinians. On the other hand, how would that benefit a future state of Palestine? It wouldn’t. It would only allow Israel an upper hand to continue doing what it has done for years.  If the settlers were to remain and be included in a Palestine state, would they be granted dual citizenship? Allowing the settlers to remain would only bring more conflict.

Source: The Washington Post

– Fatima

Iranian conflict from a realist viewpoint

The article Rouhani comments rekindle fears over Iran deal, by Jay Solomon, discusses the conflict between the United States and Iran. The United States is attempting to stop Iran nuclear program. The Iranian President, Hasan Rouhani, claims the nuclear technology being developed by Iran will only be used for nuclear power and not nuclear weapons and will be rejecting the United States offer to stop development of nuclear technology. The United States does not believe that Iran will only use nuclear technology for energy purposes but they will attempt to build nuclear weapons with the hope to gain power in the middle east. This concerns realists because it will cause a change in the status quo and it will cause a security dilemma between the world powers and Iran. The article also discusses how Iran will support a stop to the Syrian civil war, even though Iran sent troops into Syria to help fight and which is the opposite action proposed by the President.DE-BB902_rohani_G_20140123105839

Al-Shabab member killed in U.S. Drone attack

A U.S. drone launched an attack against Al-Shabab in Somalia, killing a member of there intelligence unit. Al-Shabab an Islamic terrorist group with links to Al-Quaida threatened retaliation for the attack against its member. Sahal Iskudhuq, a member of the terrorist groups intelligence unit, and his driver were killed by a missile while in there car. Iskudhuq was in charge of picking targets and planning attacks for Al-Shabab. He had previously been in charge of kidnappings and ransoms and was close to the terrorist groups religious leader. The U.S. military confirmed there was a drone attack in Somalia but have yet to say who the intended target of the mission was or how effective they considered the mission. The Somali government commended the action taken by the U.S. and is continuing there fight against the terrorist group which operates within there borders.

U.S. Considers Resuming Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Opposition

( The article below was written ahead of the Syrian peace talks that are currently underway.)

The U.S. suspended its military aid last month when the Islamic Front  broke into warehouses and stole some equipment. Now administration officials are saying we may be able to resume giving this aid in light of recent alliance shifting amongst opposition groups inside Syria. Given that “the aid in question includes food rations and pickup trucks, not tanks and bullets”, one could argue that this is an inconsequential move that is more about the image rather than the substance…and that’s exactly my argument. We have been sitting on the proverbial fence over military action and military aid to Syria since the outset. Understandable given our recent involvement in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan), and the Al-Qaeda affiliate groups on the ground inside Syria. I don’t believe any move we make in the arena of military involvement can help our image, especially 3 years into that civil war. Also, we have never stopped the humanitarian aid to Syria, which quite frankly is more important than any weapon we could give to the opposition. The lives of the millions living inside Syria and millions living outside Syria in refugee camps are what’s truly important. And we would do well to maximize our impact in that arena.

Side note/Update: A very divisive issue over the Assad regime not allowing a U.N. humanitarian aid convoy to enter the city of Homs, was being hotly debated and argued over at the peace talks today. Oh the games regimes play with the lives of their citizens.

– David

Stuxnet- Two Weapons

Stuxnet, discovered in 2010, is the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon. Stuxnet is believed to have been created and used by the United States for the purpose of delaying Iran’s nuclear program. This article sheds light on the perceived failure of Stuxnet to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. This “failure” is unimportant because it is unlikely that the United States attempted to destroy the entire program. Rather, Stuxnet was used to delay the Iranian nuclear program while also making the Iranians appear incompetent. The attack came in two waves, the first of which focused mainly on remaining undetected by copying Iran’s existing program. The second method switched gears and utilized simplicity rather than secrecy. It is difficult to understand why a sophisticated cyberweapon’s second development would return to the basics instead of upgrading. The significance of Stuxnet’s discovery is that digital weapons work, it would be dangerous for non-state actors to have, it heightened the credibility of the United States, and conveyed the unpredictability of future relations between the United States and Iran.

-Emma Goodacre


High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay Calls for a Restore to Security

On January 27th Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights in the UN made an announcement calling for greater restoration effort to the security of the Central African Republic (CAR). Despite the number of troops being added to the security force in CAR along with African Union forces, violence is still an ongoing problem particularly for muslim citizens and those of the ex-Séléka rebel group. The anti-Balaka militia has been invading towns and destroying muslim communities as a retaliation to the Séléka rebellion. It would seem that the anti-Balaka are attempting to route muslims out of CAR and for those that stay behind are usually killed in the continued conflict.

The High Commissioner appears to be calling for greater international aid and for more deployment of security forces as a way to end the violence between the ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka groups. Also she wishes to promote reconciliation along with an end to impunity and a prevention of further violence. CAR is experiencing a huge risk to human security and rights. With the continuation of rebel forces fighting for what seems to be religious dominance in the nation hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are being displaced and forced into CAR’s neighboring countries as their homes and businesses are being burned and looted.




Central African Republic at critical juncture, UN human rights chief warns

-Scott McPeek

Return top